Monday, May 30, 2011


Philately (n.)

The love of traveling
and of places
and the people in them.

The love of life,
of living larger than one's home
or town or nation
or time.

The love of breath
that speaks words across doorsteps,
across miles, across months.
Breath that caresses a note
imbuing it with scents of home.

The love of tangible reminders
that people love and care
and shop and argue and move
and joke and spy
and live and breathe with each other
from half a world away.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Arash, Director of Graduate Studies.
He knows the professors, the science, the system.
He understands the students, the questions, the indecisions.
That is why, when you give him your opinion,
he can answer with a confident affirmative:

Friday, May 27, 2011


why is it called a crush?

is it the way he hides the smile he gets,
bumpy and wavy and scrunched
as a squished soda can,
every time he sees her?

is it the way she crumples the corner
of a candid photograph,
fingers massaging the paper
back into rumpled smoothness?

is it the way our feelings,
almost by definition, are stamped
"undeliverable. return to sender"
with all the rubber finality of a post office?

is it the inevitable rejection
that leaves hearts smashed, smooshed, squashed,
and a hundred other variations,
leaking disappointment into your chest?

or is it the way your photos and smiles,
your moments of one-way proximity,
smell happy as crushed oranges, cranberries,
allspice, cinnamon, and cloves?

PS Sorry for the delay in getting this week's post up. I'll throw in a few extra in the coming days to try to make up for it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Two Windows

Directly in front of me
the one that stretches wall-to-wall,
really four windows latched together end-to-end,
makes it look hot outside:
sun glinting on white stucco walls
and silver ventilation covers
and short-sleeved arms that
swing and stretch on their way
to "opthalmic research laboratory"

Off to the right
the one where I look each time
I talk with those working beside me
peers into greenery:
small square of forest
glowing bright as birdsong
but hinting of shadowed secrets
sheltering branches
and a conspiracy of caterpillars.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Mouse

The mouse is essential to science.
Hardly a day goes by that i do not handle one,
and I have never worked in the lab
not once
without relying on information
derived with the use of a mouse.
Mice are honored, elevated,
always at the right hand of an effective
and efficient researcher.
Mice change our work from difficult to easy,
from impossibly complex to intuitively simple.
A mouse is the perfect size,
nestled in your palm, making you feel that
yes! you are accomplishing something.
I cannot imagine science without the mouse.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Five Star Mother

Her youngest plays marimba songs
like the Star Wars cantina,
has lots of friends, and acts in plays
though he is just sixteen-a.
Her oldest is the sweetest wife
that you have ever seen-a,
edits books and always cooks
despite hectic routine-as.
Her middle child has dino bones
once under a patina
of dust and rock-- but now they smell
good as lemon verbena.
Her younger daughter soon will leave
to speak like a latina
and share the gospel in Salt Lake
with those from Argentina.
The final son is trying to
decide his course between-a
several labs in which to do
work for his PhD-a.
All five of these her stars wish we
could hear her concertina,
then give our heartfelt thanks to her:
the mother we call . . . Mom!

Happy Mother's Day!

For the holiday, I also recommend Ted Kooser's poem Mother, featured a week ago on NPR's Writer's Almanac.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Streetsign Shadorma

Highway signs:
"Fast break for breakfast-
think QuikTrip"
"Grab & Go!"
"First moves us forward, faster"
"Xpress park and ride"

No stop lights,
hardly pausing for
"Jiffy Lube"
"RaceTrac Gas"
"Minimum Speed 45"
No one can slow down.

Monday, May 2, 2011

National Poetry Month: Wrap Up

I did it! The poem-a-day challenge is complete, and I'm feeling good about it. I review my month below. I'm very glad I participated--it was a lot of fun, and if it weren't quite so much work to make sure one got written every day I would try to continue through the whole year. I loved trying to make poetry a part of my day. The only downside is that it took a lot more time than I can consistently commit to giving.

That's why, now that April is over, we're going back to the old schedule of. . . oh, wait. I haven't actually set an official schedule. I guarantee a post once a week, which will probably go up on Mondays. I will try to post two or three times a week, but make no promises beyond the one.

Review of Poetry Month:
The best thing about poetry month was the opportunity it gave me to experiment with different poetic forms. I tried shadorma (Day 26), cinquain (7 and 12), pantoum (11), reverso (13), and sonnets (23 and 24). I also wrote a smattering of limericks and haiku that didn't make the blog.

I was surprised at the difficulty I had with the sonnets and with some of the apparently straightforward forms like the cinquain--I'm so used to the 5/7/5 of haiku that even-syllabled lines were remarkably hard to feel the meter for.

I enjoyed the Promises of Princesses sequence (Days 14-19) because I got to use a similar meter in each but adapt it for a different voice. I haven't tried to pick a favorite from the month, but Promise the Third (17) is the one I am the most proud of. I think its form does as much to evoke feeling as the words do.

In learning about the forms I tried this month, I found some others that I intend to attempt soon. I also found a large number of excellent poetry websites and blogs that I highlighted in individual posts. A few, especially The Miss Rumphius Effect and Poetic Asides, are especially notable as excellent resources and gateways to the wider community. If you haven't checked them out yet, you should!

I hope your poetry Month was great, too. Thanks for celebrating with me!