Tag Archives: poetry

Chapbook on Sale

Hello awesome followers,

Finishing Line Press has offered to publish my chapbook, Last Train to the Midnight Market! I spent the greater part of the day rolling around the floor in a seizure of joy.

But I need your help. The press determines print runs based on pre-orders only, and they will not print my chapbook unless I get 55 pre-orders. Right now, I only have about 20. The deadline is November 30.

To those of you who have already purchased a copy, I am forever grateful. Please support me in my first publication!

Purchase a copy here.

See a sample here and below.

Shame to Line My Casket

Come sit on the bridge’s steel girders above the water’s graveyard.

Hang your feet over the edge and wiggle them in the mud of nostalgia.

While you searched for me in clamshells sucked clean,

I’ve been lifting my shirt to stare past the curve of my breasts into my navel.

My abdomen is flat, scarred with the heaviness of having cradled you.


I used to feel you kick against the darkness.

I used to think that children are old people with new faces.

I used to think that death comes easier to those who have lived too much.


Your sister curled the umbilical cord in her fist, strangling herself in blood.

How easily she slid out of me, without apology.


I saw you walking down the boardwalk, lifted my hand and you did not see me wave.

If, with each step, you counted the times you heard your father and me make love,

you would not have walked very far. He doesn’t know

how your sister murdered herself last summer,

how I could not keep her inside the darkness of my womb.


Come sit with me over the reflection of my shame.

Scrape your nails against the rust for the blood of your sister.

The evening shakes with the friction of cicadas.

Death must be like the hurricane of vertigo rippling below

our suspended bodies. We all desire death.


When I saw you coming, your beautiful face was tilted toward me.

It’s nobody’s fault, you might say. It’s got to be somebody’s fault.

Maybe tomorrow. Come back for me tomorrow

when the cicadas have shed their skins.


Originally published in The Oakland Review Alumni Edition, Fall 2011.


Late Start to Summer

Apologies for being AWOL. I promised my dog I’ll be better. I went on a roadtrip from Miami to New York, and have finally settled back in my parents’ house for the month of June. In July, I’ll be at Skidmore College’s Summer Writers Institute to write write write! In preparation for that, I am kicking off an incredibly and inexcusably late summer post with Louise Glück’s poem, “Matins” from her beautiful book, The Wild Iris.


Unreachable father, when we were first

exiled from heaven, you made

a replica, a place in one sense

different from heaven, being

designed to teach a lesson: otherwise

the same–beauty on either side, beauty

without alternative– Except

we didn’t know what was the lesson. Left alone,

we exhausted each other. Years

of darkness followed; we took turns

working the garden, the first tears

filling our eyes as earth

misted with petals, some

dark red, some flesh colored–

We never thought of you

whom we were learning to worship.

We merely knew it wasn’t human nature to love

only what returns love.

Drivers, Start Your Engines!

Sparky says I need to reprioritize my life. She took a whiff of my to-do list for SPRING BREAK! and saw it sadly lacking in sunshine.

– coordinate Billy Collins reading April 1 (I’m working on it!)

– read Secret History for Transgressive Literature (first page down!)

– work on ePortfolio for Pedagogy class (erm…)

– revise observation report for Pedagogy class (just opened the file!)

– workshop Writing Place workshop pieces (7) (Wednesday work)

– read Lynne Barrett’s “Texaco on Biscayne” story in Magpies (Wednesday work)

– write blog about AWP in Chicago (erm…)

– read Tomas Transtromer’s Selected Poems (bedtime story)

– re-read Robert Hass’s Human Wishes (bedtime story)

– finish all 6 books I borrowed from Campbell, and all 8 books I borrowed from the library…last semester (erm…bedtime stories?)

– lay out POB Issue 2 (tonight!)

– confirm printer for POB (tomorrow!)

– revise chapbook (erm…)

– submit to 5 journals

– Sena QT Note & Book Review (any suggestions for Christian youth books?) (next week)

– finish reading Gulfstream poetry submissions (32) (ehh…)

– find twitter quotes for POB (copy from bedtime stories! >:])

– work with Parthenon on POB website (Thurs night)

– write write write! 5 poems by the end of the week! (yeah…1-ish down)

When I have a lot to do, I need background music to get lost in.

Song of the day (or week, depending on how much work I [don’t] get done):


See that list, Booker? Just so you know, I AM having fun. I like work. I like productivity. Efficiency! This is how I’ll feel at the end of it:

Image Danica Patrick is so sexy. She’s the first contemporary female race car driver to be awesome and beat a lot of guys. I hope one day I grow up to be so cool. I’ll even have a win grin.

In the Kingdom of the Sea Monkeys

What was I doing this Saturday that I wasn’t blogging?

I was going to Campbell McGrath’s birthday and book launch party. Party on the rooftop with Campbell!

This is his book, which came out today but has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day. So for all you lonely poets who hate being reminded that you’re lonely, this one is for you. I bought it on February 11. Special privilege for being friends with Campbell ^^

It’s beautiful, lovely, wonderful to read. The font is pretty too. As a bit of a font nerd, I appreciate it. You really should read it. I think it might be my favorite, even more favorite than his last collection, Seven Notebooks. Come on, people. Don’t these lines just draw you in??

So….remember my last post in which I described that Campbell’s favorite book was The Essential Haiku? At the party, before the cutting of the cake, a bunch of Campbell’s former students and his son, Sam, recited a couple haikus each, because that is his favorite poetic form ever. You had to have been there to fully appreciate it, except that his son, who wanted to show us that writing is only a small part of his father’s life, shared these lines with us: (disclaimer: they may not be exactly accurate. possibility of faulty memory.)

sci-fi, lit, beside these things,
poetry is shit.

Here is what I gave him at the end of the party, as we were all about to go home because Miami was about to freeze over. It’s a coaster. We read this haiku in class last Wednesday. Considering his book was about to come out and he did just turn 50, I thought it was appropriate. And he drinks a lot of iced coffee, which sweats on his desk and threatens all his papers/books.

I love giving gifts when I can think of good ones (which is rare, so carpe diem, gift-givers!), don’t hate, anti-gifters. It’s practical. I’m all for practical gifts. I’m a terrible gift-giver, and feel awkward giving/receiving them, but I love giving/receiving them also.

Disclaimer on gifts: People don’t have to like the gifts I give them. I don’t expect them to. Campbell doesn’t have to like this, or use it. He could conceivably hurl it into the ocean. But I like the IDEA, okay, people? I like the ideas behind gifts, and hope that comes across in my awkward “here, Campbell, I brought you a badly-wrapped (in stiff, hopefully and probably recycled commercial packing paper) birthday gift even though I didn’t have to and I’m probably not considering your delicate position as my professor, but whatever I like doing nice things for everyone, especially on their 50th birthday” gift.

Also, there was cake. I’m not a huge fan of cake myself, especially specifically birthday cakes because they tend to be spongy but dry, and bland but with overly sweet, unnaturally fluffy frosting. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for fluffy frosting. But not UNNATURALLY fluffy frosting. There’s also the decision: DO I WANT VANILLA OR CHOCOLATE!!!!  *gasp* D: and you don’t want to be that bastard who asks for half of each slice, because then someone else has to eat half of each or have a tiny piece, and what if everyone else at the party loves cake? You’ve screwed up the cake-slicing system! But this cake. This cake. Was. Good. The entire giant cake had vanilla AND chocolate layered together THE WHOLE WAY THROUGH! The choice is made for you! You can now have your cake and eat it too! 😀 I was happy. And the frosting was naturally fluffy. How could I have doubted the wonderful hosts at the Betsy Hotel?

On a personal note, I made a monster smoothie. It’s green. Think the Hulk of smoothies ripping through all that instant ramen you made last night. Think spinach, frozen bananas, and PEANUT BUTTER! :9  The recipe is here.

I recommend it for its peanut buttery deliciousness. Peanut butter is one of my favorite foods. I eat peanut butter by the spoonful. I do. Ask my mother. She used to buy me my own jar of Smuckers Natural Peanut Butter, which is the best kind, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. I’m really not trying to lose weight. I promised myself I would learn to cook and eat healthy things that are cheap and don’t taste like pasta (hence, don’t cook pasta). But it is fast and good, and I love using blenders. I have my grandmother’s, a really old square one which is difficult to wash but still works like the mammoth it is.

Yes, that is my desk. I love postcards. Yes that is Batman giving me the Uncle Sam point and saying, “Quit procrastinating. Work on your art.”

Yes, that is a Macbook Pro. I’ve only just converted to the dark side, but they have nicer user-friendly interfaces, so I think I’ll stay here a while. Besides, as an editor for Print Oriented Bastards, I need something that will allow me to sanely do my work. Speaking of work, I have work…

Banana Trees and Bastards

This is a late post. I apologize. My dog bit me for my lack of discipline.

While reading Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84, I am also reading books for school. This is the book I just finished for my Poetics class with Campbell McGrath.

[Tangent] YES THAT IS ELI MANNING’s #10 GIANTS JERSEY! YES THE SUPERBOWL WAS FANTASTIC! I have been wearing this jersey all week

(Sparky: It’s the children’s size jersey.

Me: Don’t hate, dawg.)

I live in Miami, where people don’t really care about sports, since we really don’t have any good sports teams. People around me: Florida International U’s football team is pretty good (T.Y. Hilton was a Heisman candidate this season), and our cheerleaders apparently have been featured in Playboy. FSU’s football games are good. But other than that, nobody cares about football around here. It has less to do with ecstatic winning or sore losing, and more to do with not caring. Oh well. Eli Manning is still the man. He got a corvette for being MVP again. I’m satisfied. Tangent over. Back to poetry.

The Essential Haiku Versions of Basho, Buson, & Issa.

Campbell McGrath said that this is the book he would choose if he were stranded on an island and could only take one book etc. etc.

It is quite excellent. It is the most intricate yet accessible explanation of the haiku history and form that I have ever read. It makes me want to learn more about Buddhism, purely for the meditative roots embedded in each bite-sized text.

The spring we don’t see —
on the back of a hand mirror
a plum tree in flower.
          – Basho
When the winter chrysanthemums go, 
there’s nothing to write about
but radishes.
          – Basho
They don’t live long
but you’d never know it —
the cicada’s cry.
          – Basho
The snow is melting
and the village is flooded
with children.
          – Kobayashi Issa
In this world
we walk on the roof of hell,
gazing at flowers.
          – Kobayashi Issa

I have a feeling Campbell is going to ask us to write a deep, subtle haiku for our next workshop. I’m excited. It’s worth a read, and since it’s such a small book, you can breeze right through it. But you might want to brew yourself an aromatic cup of tea, sit down at a manly desk or in the plushest chair you have, and take your time with it.

Okay. Part 2. Bastardisms.

Print Oriented Bastards is exploding! We are now on Twitter. We are now an international journal. Submission period is still open, until February 15!

In the meantime, I have about 40 submissions to wade through right now. It’s exciting! I could really be an editor for the rest of my life, I think. I am also planning for a lot of stuff, and have deadlines to make. I have to get a custom t-shirt/button/postcards to hand out for AWP. I’ll be in Chicago from February 29-March 4, so if you’re there and want to ask questions about Print Oriented Bastards, shoot me a comment or twitter. POB will be twittering throughout the weekend.

Okay, manuscript time. Puppy out. I am also submitting to 4 literary journals/contests this weekend. Wish me luck!

It’s a Tribal Monday

Today my dog is judging me. I’m completing the rollover of Sunday’s to-do list:

– Transgressive lit readings (6 articles)

– Notes on transgressive lit readings

– Write a Petrarchan sonnet

– Memoir essay (1500 words) – midnight market?

– Find an excerpt that describes what I envision Miami to be

– Look up creative writing website designs

– Register Print Oriented Bastards on Duotrope

– Start TA certification online orientation

– Get groceries

Look how far I’ve gotten!……oh. Yes. I should clarify that. 3 things is actually quite productive for me.

Anyway, I’m procrastinating again because I had to share. This just came in the mail.

“I don’t want to go on no more adventures with Spike, the leader of hte Spikes, because my good sense tells me he is someone Death wants to educate.” – Terrance Hayes

Terrance illustrated it himself! It’s a unique chapbook both in form and content. Quite a leap in experimentation from Lighthead, which I prefer. However, I love seeing how my professors change their style. It’s quite inspiring, really.

You can get your own copy of Who are the Tribes here. Limited print of 300.

A Fruity Lady and a Lucky Fish

B. came to visit earlier in the month, and on Saturday, January 7, we went to a place called Lincoln Road, which is where all the wealthy people bring their dogs to rub shoulders, eat, stare at incredibly dressed people, and shop at high-end chain stores.  B. treated me to dinner at Balans, a delicious Italian restaurant. We got to watch people wander up and down the street while we ate and had stimulating conversations about poetry. I love watching people interact. I love streets where the most beautiful strangeties (yes, I made up a word. Word) occur. For example, we saw this lady, and had to stop and watch her move like a graceful robot, with all the fluidity of an artist:

 Daniela Viotti, Living Statue Artist

After a bit of research, I found this article. Cesar Lopez Claro was one of the artists for whom she modeled. Apparently, he was a close friend of Diego Rivera. Here is the story of her connection to him:

“He was looking for a new model after his old model moved to Europe. I went to his museum to interview and saw a long, fast-moving line of models there to be considered. At one point his secretary announced, ‘The master needs to take a break.’ I knew that I wanted to be the model of a master, so I sneaked into his private studio and I put up a base. Then I did the pose Camille Claudel used to captivate Rodin. In the silence of his studio I could hear the sound of graphite on paper and smell the perfume of his pipe. His secretary abruptly interrupted, saying ‘Sorry, I don’t know how this happened.’ And the master replied ‘Don’t bother me. I am working with my model. Tell the rest to go.’ I learned that day, that you have to take a chance to win.”

Cool, right? She’s elegantly beautiful too.

Sparky demanded to know why I wouldn’t take her out on the street with the other fancy dogs. I told her I would rather go with B., no offense to her furry face.

On to the Lucky Fish.

This last Thursday, I dragged my housemate to a poetry reading at Broward College. Aimee Nezhukumatathil was the featured poet of the first semester’s reading. She started her reading with a few of my personal favorites from her second book, At the Drive-In Volcano.

Tangent: This is a bit of a special book to me. When I transferred to Carnegie Mellon to finish my B.A. in creative writing, my very first poetry class was with Jim Daniels, who later became my much-admired thesis adviser and friend. We read 3 books that semester: At the Drive-In Volcano, Beauty Breaks In by Mary Ann Samyn, and Lowering the Body by Stephen Murabito.  Jim was able to invite all 3 poets to give an informal reading and Q&A at CMU. Aimee was by far the sweetest and most beautiful. She explained how she tries to respond to every single fanmail. She also explained how she liked to personalize connections with readers even through autographs.

Aimee is an excellent speaker, with a clear, sweet voice and an easy stage presence. Her latest book, Lucky Fish, is a wonderful collection, perhaps her most insightful yet. Her poetry is clean and simple. She has a sense of humor and lightness not found in many of her colleagues. She is drawn to weird facts as a starting point for her poetry (something I should do as well, Sparky suggests). For example, January 19, over 30 years ago, was the last time it snowed in Miami. Also, there is a Center for the Apes in Central Florida, somewhere nearby, where all the monkey actors retire. All the Planet of the Apes extras, every chimp ever in a commercial, etc. The center is closed to the public except one day a year, which changes every year, because apparently they really don’t want people to go inside. (Sparky says monkey conspiracy).

Aimee also has a very keen sense of humanity. She brought 2 signed Broadside poster prints of Lucky Fish as incentive for the first 2 people to ask questions during the Q&A session. She was very aware of the fact that this reading was mandatory for the poetry classes. Brilliant! She also mentioned that, as a poetry exercise, sometimes she gives students this website, and asks them to write a poem about any phobia of their choosing. Her own poem, “Hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia”, came from that exercise.

When I stood in line to meet her and get my book signed, I asked her about Kundiman Asian-American Poetry Retreat, which she had recommended to me when visiting CMU 2 years ago. She served as a faculty member several consecutive summers, although she said this year she and her husband want to have a quiet summer with their adorable 2 sons, and so sadly will not be in attendance. I’ll be applying for this summer, so wish me luck!

Sparky: You’ll need it.

Me: Shut up, boogerbrain. The worst they can say is “no”.

Sparky: Or “you’re an abysmal failure of a poet and therefore we must kindly decline”.

Me: …thanks…just “no” works too.

Sometimes I wonder if it is possible to claim persecution from pets. Anyway, read Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s book. It’s beautiful and funny.

If a man in China can keep ten thousand dollars worth
of caterpillars in a metal box underneath his bed
for medicine, then I want to collect flakes of light
for those winter months when we go a whole week

without seeing a slice of sun. The light I want to collect
is free. Can’t be sold as a cure for muscle ache
or to ward off evil eye. I write this in August. It should be
illegal to talk about snow in Western New York now…
(excerpt from “The Light I Collect”)