Tuesday, October 25, 2011


(May 8, 2008)

Shirt rumpled, sleeves rolled up,
Deadline looming, wheels turning
Pausing only to put thought into words
Furrowed brow, mussed hair,
Tie loosened, open shirt collar
Lean back in the chair,
It’s after hours

Papers scattered, thoughts focused
Intense, adrenaline-fired exhaustion
Lights dimmed,
Features bathed in monitor glow,
Intelligence, inspiration in overdrive, overtime
Inspired by Ira Glass and “This American Life Live” as seen at Kerasotes Showplace 16 in Rockford, IL.  In Dec. 2008, I saw him live in Springfield.  And yes, I'm a giant dork, but you probably already knew that.

Address Rasa

(July 31, 1999)

At the cusp of the future
I sit in the blank void
Listening to the voices
I caught years ago
When someone else was me

Friday, August 12, 2011

Best Friend

(December 12, 2010)

The sisterhood of comfortable silence
Of girlish laughter and knowing looks
Being only a phone call away

The sisterhood of facing it together,
The crazy joy and tribulation of life,
Or just going out on a messy December day

I miss you like the one that got away

Monday, April 4, 2011

Scenes from a Small Town that Starts with a Z - circa 1989*

The other night, I was rooting around in the ancient history of my high school journals. After catching up with an old friend recently and reminiscing about a deep conversation on the staircase at an alcohol-free cast party at my house, I wondered how much of that conversation I’d recorded 22 years ago. (Yes, I spent a lot of time on a dark staircase just talking at a party at my own house. My shoes have been neat to stare at for my entire life.) I didn’t remember all the details then. Nor do I remember all the details of the recent event, but both were they type of conversation I’ve apparently always loved, the sort that meander from one thing to the next that are an exchange of ideas instead of a competition.

Here’s an excerpt of my summary of that conversation in Nov. 1989:
We talked about what we think of dating (those of us who don't 
and why we don’t),about our morals...
I don’t remember what all but it was just good conversation. I
found it special. Some of us got to know each other quite a bit better.”

Deep stuff, this stuff of high school students! Ah, but lest you think I was only introspection and angst as a teenager, I offer you this from October 31, 1989:
“Happy Halloween! B. and I had a great time. We just went out ‘raging’ more or less.
Piled 5 people in M.’s jeep and 4 more in K’s car and egged D.V.B.’s house. 
Actually, we just drove by and threw the eggs, so I doubt
the house actually got hit.”
I apparently also smoked a lot that night, even going so far as to buy my own cigarettes for a change. I’m not sure what’s more hilarious – the fact that we egged someone’s house, but not exactly, or the fact that I had completely forgotten about that night.

 *Names have been abbreviated to protect the vaguely guilty.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Tribute

I haven't written much lately. What you see below is a small tribute to my Aunt Dawn. She passed away last month, and I still tear up thinking about the fact that she's not on this earth anymore. I miss her, but wherever she is, I know she's having a grand old time, smiling that smile as wide as the day is long. It's probably summer, she probably has a lot of people over, and there's plenty to eat and drink.


When I think of Aunt Dawn, I think of her sprawling vegetable garden, full of prickly cucumbers and red tomatoes and who knows what else that would be canned or frozen for later use. I think of the velvety petunias out front of her trailer. I think of friends and family teasing her about what all you might find in the big chest freezer in the garage – frozen corn, beans, beef, venison, maybe 4 kinds of ice cream – and whatever it was you were actually looking for.

I think of her two mailboxes out by the road – the short one for regular mail and the really tall one for air mail. I’m not sure how long they’ve been gone, but I think I was well into double digits before I got the joke.

I think of the two cats Tom and Pandy that she fed at different points in time. I don’t know about Tom, but I think Pandy started out as a housecat that eventually had free access to all of Six Lakes. Eventually, Dawn just let both of them do their own thing. They led their own feline lives, but they could always stop by for a bit to eat and a little affection.

That was how Dawn was – she let you do your own thing but you could always drop by. She would always listen and always offer you a cold Diet Coke or something stronger. I could be myself around Dawn. I could always speak my mind to Aunt Dawn, whether I was 10 or 17 or 38. We may not have always seen eye-to-eye, but we could always shoot the breeze and be ourselves.

One of the first summers at the old farm outside of town, the question was, “What are you doing?” The answer was, “Waiting for the bus.” I don’t remember who came up with that answer – it sounds like something Grandma Neva or Dawn or my Mom could have come up with. It’s a phrase that still makes me smile. We live our lives while we we’re waiting for the bus – planting gardens, traveling, working, just getting by, laughing, crying, having family fests in the summer, making memories. And I’m glad I got to spend some of my time waiting for the bus with my Aunt Dawn.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Untitled (last edits 11-20-2010)

The words come and go into short lines, just emotions laid bare, like it always was, like it always has been, maybe like it always will be. Just short lines, poems, free verse. She feels she can only write as herself. That means poems that are intense and sometimes over-wrought. It means essays in a conversational tone and occasional musings. It does not mean short stories, because who is she to think she can get in someone else’s skin and feel with their senses and soul? She doesn’t even remember the last time she dared.

How, she wondered, do you get inside their skin? Do you slip in the ear when they are overcome by music? Do you float in on a thought take up residence in the brain? Are you so bold as to dive in through the mouth when they take a deep breath and expand from the lungs until you fill them everywhere, body and soul? Or do you creep in slowly over time until you inhabit their very being? Perhaps, she thought, she had it all backwards. Maybe she doesn’t inhabit them. Maybe they inhabit her, seeping in any way they can. Maybe they’re already inside, just waiting until the time is right.

She wondered if it is permissible to write about someone so very like yourself but isn’t you. Does it matter if those who know you best can see right through that character to you? Do you make yourself paper-thin by explaining the motivations of that fictional person? Does it matter if they think it’s you, even if it isn’t? Does it matter if it is you?

“Well,” she thought, “You can think yourself in circles and talk yourself out of trying, or you can just get to it.” She warmed up her imagination, fired up the computer, and began to type.

“Brian had really just stepped inside the church to get away from the hot, crowded streets of Florence in August. He only wanted to rest his feet for a little while and cool off. He found a pew and let the quiet coolness wash over him.

“At the end of the day, she’s the one who began it, ” she sang to herself. Different context than the Les Miserables song. At the end of the day was not the time to start writing, she thought. She was no night owl. Yet, here she was, wringing out a few lines. If not now, then when?

The answer is “Whenever you can,” she told herself. There was a time when she wrote whenever she could, whenever a line or two occurred to her. She wrote on napkins, in the margins of notebooks for other things, in moments between classes…In moments between classes – that was how long it had been since she had written regularly. That person, that girl was twenty years past. There had been short periods of time since when she wrote for a few weeks or months, but life or her practical side always eventually shoved creativity back in a dark corner where it would cower until it was nearly forgotten because it didn’t know how to fight for itself.

She looked back at the page and considered Brian. Who was he? What was he doing in Florence, Italy? She decided she would abandon him on the page. She had done that to other characters over the years and felt bad about it. But Brian? She felt nothing for him. He had just wandered into one of her memories. He could just as easily wander back out in to the ether and she could keep that moment in Florence to herself.