Poem a day #30 Another Poem about Privilege

And here ends my National Poetry Month poem-a-day exercise. I did it—yeah! And yeah, too, for the month being over. Having to produce something every day has been amazing, and exhausting. I have a paper to finish now, so need the time I’d spend doing this. Last year I started poem a day and got, I think, to day three. This year I finished, and some of them are even really good. I’m going to keep pushing myself to write some every day, but if every once in a while I need to sleep or, goddess forbid, go see a movie, I’ll give myself a day off. And for all of you’ve I’ve not seen or called cause I’ve been writing—maybe in June, before I go back to Poetry Camp?


Another Poem about Privilege
SB 170—a proud heritage of hate

If you own the woman you love
as chattel
and you do not set her free,

If you bring her nightly to your bed,
but in the morning
she rises to empty the mansion’s chamberpots,

If she is the half-sister of your wife
and you still fuck her
and you still are considered a model citizen,

If you scream human rights
in elegant prose
but protect your right to own humans,

If you can live this way
for years
and not kill yourself
or your children, the ones you own
on and off the record,
or blow up the capitol
or set fire to the precious parchment
of your hypocrisy,

then you are, absolutely guaranteed,
no doubt about it, history only continues
to prove that this is true,

white—a dangerous social disorder
we hope to eliminate
before the turn
of another bloody century.


Poem a day #28 The First Defense Attorney Addresses the Jury of History

The First Defense Attorney Addresses
The Jury of History

I ask you to consider events
of that day, the circumstances—
no one had ever died before.
How can this young man be held to blame
for murder when he hadn’t been told
humans were not immortal? His
parents never mentioned the apple
incident. How could Cain then know
they’d been evicted before they found
the fruit of eternal life? What had
been brother was now bloody meat,
so he is innocent of lying as well—
he spoke only the truth when he said
he did not know where his brother had gone.

Poem a day #27 And enter into my body

And enter into my body

Do you believe there is some place that will make the soul
less thirsty? […] Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
There you have a solid place for your feet.

It takes a certain strength
to enter into my body

To enter into the cave of my
ancient history, bloody handprints
decorating the walls

To enter into
the electrical storm raging
between nerves and neocortex,
where fight and flight are
Rock’em Sock’em robots who
cannot leave the ring, where I
may knock your block off then
retreat, neither action fully under
my control

It takes a reckless fortitude
to come home to a house
of sagging plaster hanging
from creaking joists settling
into a slope with no record
of termite inspections and taxes

Will you enter into if you must
learn spelunking? Will you enter
into if I cannot promise the survival
center of my brain stem will learn
to live civilized? Will you come home
to my bed in the room with no heat
and only one outlet?

Will you enter into my body,
into the animal core of me
through the door made for your key?

Just file it a bit on the end
and turn hard to the left, twice

Poem a day #25 Bound


In the center, I,
swirling, sure in the pull
of my mass—neutron

Circling, she, tethered
to me—proton

Only when bound one
to the other
am I fixed, force
elemental, shaped
by dark matter and
god particle

Broken from her
by a blast of destruction
I’d wobble unstable,
freed I’d radiate
residual fallout

Proton! Bind me!
Keep me bound
to you, bound
and stabled.

Poem a day #24 Saturday Afternoon Nap

Saturday Afternoon Nap

beep beep beep
your oven is preheated you can cook now

beepbeep beepbeep beepbeep
your coffee is brewed and hot

your clothes are dry

beep beep beep
if you don’t make dinner you’ll be sorry

beepbeep beepbeep beepbeep
just how are you going to function without a second cup?

you wouldn’t want your clothes to wrinkle now would you?

beep beep beep
wasting energy will destroy the planet!

beepbeep beepbeep beepbeep
do you think I’m just sitting here waiting for you?

your work shirts are puckering! get down here now!
beep beep beep
is there a problem young lady?
beepbeep beepbeep beepbeep
I won’t keep this warm forever you know
I’m only going to warn you so many times
beep beep beep
beepbeep beepbeep beepbeep

Poem a day #23 Missing Minnesota

Another Emily-inspired poem, again stealing a first line from her.


Missing Minnesota

Blazing in gold and quenching in purple
Minnesota sunsets stretch
Hudson Bay to Oaxaca
Rocky Mountains to tropopause,
light stratified by the lust
of prairie for heaven,
bright sky breaking open—
color volume amping up as sky
darkens around a semi-circle center,
searingred, balanced on a strip of gold,
pushed—finally—out of the day
by the weight of the hush of the night.

I’ve seen the sun set over Cape May,
Key West, Big Sur, Laguna Beach
the Western Alps, the San Rafael Swell
and the Galapagos, several of these
daily accompanied by fanfare and flags
cruise ships and applause, and all
have made me miss Minnesota—
prairie, high desert, Superior,
Boundary Waters, 10,000 lakes’
dreams refracted May to September
through prisms of brown pelicans and red pines,
sky’s dreams captured October to April,
pulled to earth to drift through days,
to remind us that even at 4:30 pm
and 40 below Minnesota sunsets cry Praise me!
pausing time until we too pause
to cry Glory, Glory, Glory.

Poem a day #22 I felt my life with both my hands

another Emily-inspired poem. Read her text here. Singer/songwriter Carla Bruni performs a setting of the poem on her album No Promises. You can sample that here.

I felt my life with both my hands

I felt my life with both my hands
though it had been—years
How civilized it was, though warm—
the glacier—booming—as it cracked.
Silent—I’d thought—for listening’d
stopped. My ear—now—to my
own chest—the humming
one thousand acres clover—
a bee on every bud.

Poem a day #21 They shut me up in prose

Another first line taken from Emily Dickinson. You can find her original, with excellent manuscript notes, here. Her poem keeps haunting me; it could have been written yesterday, and makes Emily real to me in a way she hadn’t been up til now.


They shut me up in prose

They shut me up in prose
With essay—gagged—theory
bogging my mind—my voice
stilled by easy praise

With syllables—I picked locks
with lines—unsyntaxed—
left to lose

A single sound—ah or
unh— a window
A single word—treason
an open portal—to I