Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wishing and the End of Wishing

(During the holidays, I wrote a Christmas song for atheists and then was too shy to sing it because I thought it might hurt people's feelings. Then, this star was all lit up and everyone was happy.)

(Lucas and I hiked a lot and found this bridge for magical things. Also, so many mushrooms coming out of the ground like winter blossoms. There was lots of crossing. Lots of leaping. Last year, this season, it was C's last Christmas. It was really hard on all of us. But she was lovely and full-hearted. I miss her.)

(When you examine broken things, sometimes they stop looking broken all together. They look like something else more beautiful, more powerful. The motor of this life goes on and sometimes hums long after it has stopped doing what we expect it to do. Our machines are made for so many wonderful things.)

(Sometimes things get so swirly and tumbley. My limbs are part atmosphere! If I go under, I will be pulled up by you. Or we'll just go under together. There are instructions everywhere. Keep turning upside down and right side up again. Make a circle of yourself. Make a wish.)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Rules for Walking

When I was growing up, just a few feet from the back of our house, all these wonderful meadows and woods sprawled out and upwards. I'd go for long walks by myself, with Cyrus, or Sarah, but mainly with our labrador, Dusty. We'd walk for hours. Since I've been back home, I've been doing long hikes in that same area. It might be one of my favorite places in the shire. I've been listening to audio books and also, just listening to the sounds of the valley. I've come up with a new idea for a young adult series of books based around these woods. More on that...once I write it. For now, the novel is in chapter 7 and moving along slowly but surely.

In Brenda Ueland's, "If You Want to Write," which is a helpful book (albeit a bit archaic), she says this about nurturing the creative spirit: “I will tell you what I have learned myself. For me, a long five or six mile walk helps. And one must go alone and every day.”

I also love this one: “So you see, imagination needs moodling - long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering."

And so I do. (And, as someone who has not had the luxury of writing full-time until now, I am grateful every day for this little carved out space. I only hope I can keep carving it out.)

Rules for Walking:

(First you will encounter a great oak. Here, you must listen carefully and lay down your worried brain.)

(Then, you must rub the soft dark bark of the manzanita tree three times for luck.)

(When you come to the reservoir and see the stones, practice gratitude (and also worry a little and then stop worrying.))

(When you can see the mountains of the valley, think of yourself as a real animal.)

(Where all the low hanging oak branches drop their grandfather's moss, get just a little lost.)

(When you climb down to the creek, this is surrender and dissolve. Also, remember the dog you had growing up, throw a stone in for her.)

(Think of everyone you love and blow them a kiss.)

Monday, December 06, 2010

Fall to Earth

I keep falling and falling to earth. Through it, even. Soft ground and air so cold you could stand on it. You're here. And there are trees. And inside our small cabin we're writing things and staring off into space, which is really a wall, but we call it space. December, I love you.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Sunday: Wintering

Still snowing in Lexington, and it's so beautiful. It's allowing me to catch up on poems and correspondence. I'm deep in chapter 5 of the novel and I am enjoying the absolute mystery of fiction.

I have three new poems up on Connotation Press, two are about horses, and two have smoking pot in them, but none of them have horses smoking pot.

Also, a couple of weeks ago, someone wrote this lovely review of Sharks in the Rivers. It's up at Flotsam. Wow, thank you.

Now, new poems on the rise and I'm unwinding into winter. May the tunnel of cold we are entering into, allow a little opening time to write.

"Oh, come! Renew in us the ancient wonder,
The grace of life, its courage, and its joy!
Weave us those garlands nothing can destroy!
Come! with your radiant eyes! — with your throats of thunder!"

Invocation to the Muses, Edna St. Vincent Millay

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Kentucky Snow!

Haiku for Men Shoveling Snow

The shovel suits you,
its pow against the snow light,
how you lift the day.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Today, I woke up to my poem Territory featured on Poetry Daily. It was a lovely surprise. I wrote for a bit and then climbed up the Sugarloaf Ridge to Bald Mountain. I hadn't done that hike since I was a kid. I had forgotten what is what like up there. How you can see both valleys (Napa & Sonoma) and how at one point, you're higher than the birds.

It was a good walk, until I realized I was making a list of all my biggest fears and worries and replaying them over and over again like a little torture machine. I was thinking of my old meditation teacher and how she once said, "We can be in the most beautiful place and feel absolutely disconnected and stressed." And so I said, "Stop it!" real loud to myself and continued walking. It got easier and the worries got less loud.

By the time I was back in the valley, I felt better. I thought of how everyone has all these big thoughts in their brains all the time, and how it's so remarkable that we get up and go to work, and do our jobs, and love one another, and go grocery shopping, and pick up the kids, and write, and work more, and meanwhile our heads are so heavy we can barely lay them on our pillows.

So here's to carving out space, not just time, but space to live. Space in that brute of a brain. Space in this brute of a body. Just enough to drive home and return to the normal world, a little lighter, a little better for having seen the view from up there.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


"Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
— E.L. Doctorow

This morning I was writing a little and then went for my morning walk. Having never worked fully on a novel before, it's very interesting. I find myself getting far ahead of myself in terms of where I want it to go, what I want to happen, what should happen...instead of just focusing on the moment and letting it take ME where IT wants to go.

This is going to be a very strange writing year, I can tell already. But I'm hoping the writing really happens and that I'm able to let it guide me instead of the other way around.

Okay, fog. I'm going to walk into you slowly. Don't swallow me whole.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

17 Days Later

I've lived in California for 17 days now. I am 17 times different than I was and 17 times the same. My fridge is plugged in now and all seems to be getting into order.

1. I've gone wine tasting three times.
2. I walk up and down a mountain almost every day.
3. I drive everywhere. I have California plates.
4. I wake up when the sun comes giant, glowing my room.
5. I see my family, even a surprise visit from my father.
6. I think about things a lot.
7. I've given 2 readings.
8. I've written 1 poem.
9. I've driven to San Francisco twice.
10. I've eaten grapes off the vine.
11. I've met seven lizards.
12. I've gone swimming twice.
13. I've learned that my love is a good painter, we painted the kitchen and the bedroom.
14. I've learned that I am spatially challenged, I cannot see how things fit together (unless they're words).
15. I helped serve pancakes to 85 people.
16. I'm getting better with the dark, and all the spiders in it.
17. I'm getting better with the light, and all the light in it.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Post from Post-Everything

It's been one week since I left New York and my lovely little Brooklyn apartment. Now, I sit right where the above picture is my view. I am am learning the lay of the land, the thick oak smell of the fast-coming fall. The low hanging grapes, the harvest upon us. I have forgotten all about what it is to be here. I am at once homesick and home.

I am not in a writing routine yet, but I feel it looming. The town is not much different, but also very different. I walked into the local liquor store that seemed much wider and cleaner. And I said, "Wow, this place looks different." They explained that there were new owners and that there had been some trouble with selling alcohol to minors. "Oh, I was SO one of those minors I replied." And here I am not even carding age.

I am getting comfortable slowly with the sounds. A good wind up the mountain can sound like a hurricane. I can hear leaves fall and I think it's giant animals. And here is a new sound: the sound inside. The one that says, "Wait, what have you done?" And also, "Thank you, thank you."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Thanks for a great night!

White Swallow Reading Series. Cornelia Street. Nick Flynn and Jason Schneiderman were awesome. Thanks to all who came out.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer's End

From the album called, "Wet Paint." (Trish made the wet paint sign out of lipstick and stuck it to the bench with chewing gum, it was a MacGyver way of making sure no one took our bench while we took trips to the Turkey's Nest.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Last Night

We cruised around the city while Kathleen Edwards played an amazing show. It was hot out, but not on the water. On the water everything was dream-like and swift. We made a slow turn under the Brooklyn Bridge and made up names for the buildings. Joy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Repair with Yellow

Been back from the woods for a couple days now. I was to go through C's things. I barely touched them, but what I found was wonderful and reminded me so much of her. Today, I am wearing her yellow sweatshirt, her sunglasses, a gold ring, her earrings, her yellow bag on my shoulder. I am dressing myself up with her. I feel like this barn, dressed up with the sun's warmth, that likes the light that pours through all the space, all that giant, empty space.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Moss Boot

"I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . . ."

Jane Kenyon from "Briefly It Enters, Briefly Speaks"

Sunday, July 04, 2010


Happy Fourth of July! It's raining in the Northwest. The house is sleepy and somewhat soft around the edges. It's been four months since C died. Yesterday we climbed deep into the tree farm and let some of her ashes drift into the field of wild flowers that bloomed in a clearing. Open, open, and opening. One cannot help but open.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Longest Day of the Year

Happy first day of summer. This solstice is for you.

An Interview for the Poetry Society of America

The Poetry Society of America kindly asked me some questions. Then I kindly evaded most of them. You may read the interview here if you feel so inclined.

Monday, June 07, 2010


I have a new poem up today in the Harvard Review. It's called, Overjoyed and appears in my new book Sharks in the Rivers coming out from Milkweed in October.

It's a true story from my hometown, the waxwings get drunk off the berries and throw themselves onto the road. We used to watch them from the park across the street. You can still see them by the archway on Lovall Valley Road, plunging themselves into a frantic happiness.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Jennifer L. Knox in The New Yorker!

My dearest friend and dearest poet, Jennifer L. Knox is in the New Yorker this week, with her poem Pimp My Ride.

Long known as one of the best humorous poets in the country, I am often defending her to those who see her only as the "funny poet" as a true craft-goddess (of the line break of sound play of heart-opening imagery). She is at her height of her powers with this poem and I cannot tell you how much I love it. It's funny in places sure, but most of it is a humming sadness of life choices, of different possibilities of love, of different ways to have lived and been loved. It's a true beauty of a poem. Check it out. Look for her new book in October.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Jason Day #16 (caught up!!!)

(was about drinking)

Jason Day #15

(was about Texas)

Jason Day #14

(was a poem of the factoid)

Jason Day #13

(was about love)

Jen's for the 16th

That's all she wrote.

Where do all the poems go?

Well, we put them in our pockets and our hearts and we fix them and fix them and fix them until they are really ready for an audience. This is fast and furious draft-writing. We need to go back and really work them for weeks, months, years and then we shall release them some day when they are all grown up and wearing their sexy dresses and wanting the keys the car and we'll stand at the door and wave and cry and hold each other and say, "It just all happened so fast!." Until then, more to come. Maybe even one today! Probably. Thanks a ton for reading so far. And for your awesome comments!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ada's for April 13


Jen's for Day #13


Quick Observation: Day 13 Check-In

I am writing with a lot of "ands."
I have said "fuck" and "fucking" in two poems!
(I never fucking do that.)
I am writing poems about horses.
I am writing poems about sex.
I am writing poems about death.
I am writing poems about grief.
So, sex, death, horses, and grief.
What have you done to me National
Poetry Month!?

Jason Day #12

(was about a house)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Jason Day #7

(was about zombie e-mail)

Jen's for Day 7

Later, gator!

Jason Day #6

(more found poetry)

Dr. Ada's Day 7 Check-in on Mental Health

If I was a doctor or particularly, a therapist, I would observe that the most difficult thing about writing and posting a poem every day is that you cannot afford to censor yourself. Usually, if a poem comes out raw and unready, or could be embarrassing due to its tender subject matter, we can tuck it away for a month, or a year. During the month of April, this is impossible. We can't censor ourselves or protect ourselves from our own naked ideas. Because we are writing A POEM A DAY. This is why it is very difficult and, I think I can speak for Jason and Jen here, it leaves us feeling skinless in the wind. So, if you see us crumble here, it's because usually we can close the curtain... heal a bit before letting you all peak in. But not in April. In April we're naked in the window, probably crying, maybe laughing, and most likely torturing ourselves into a tizzy. Dr. Ada thinks this is actually good for us. Though it might not look or sound good to you. And not because poems are like therapy (I do not believe that), but because writing every day awakens those hidden parts, the parts that desire to be squelched, and makes them parade down the street in all their awkward glory. Tada!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Jen's for Day 3


Ada's for April 2

{poem was here}

Ada's for April 2nd.


Jen's for Day #2


Jason Day #1

(was a lullaby)

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Ada's for April 1st


Jen's for Day #1


National Poetry Month!

April 1st marks the first day of National Poetry Month. In a tribute to the month, many things will happen. First, there will be cake every day. Secondly, there will also be flowers. Lastly, there will be three first drafts of poems published here from me, Jennifer L. Knox, and Jason

These cannot, will not, be finished poems. Unless the skies open for a quick little miracle of art, one rarely finishes a poem in a day, or a week, or a year. BUT, as an exercise for's quite useful. We take them a away and fix them over the following year and sometimes they morph into really lovely talking pieces of paper!

So happy April. Happy Spring. Happy Poetry. Happy clumsy drafts of first starts of poems. Be easy on us. We post so that we actually complete them, but it's terrifying.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Take a Minute to Get Your Heart On Straight

I made this for you. Well, no I didn't. But I did take the picture and then I put it here!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Cold Drill for a Cold Rain

Just got this in the mail. Some real great poems from some great writers. I was lucky enough to be included. Here are the three that they chose from me, thanks editors!:

Big Idea

He clutches the gas pump
nozzle in his hand like a gun,
swings it carelessly.
She thinks he's pretending
to be an adult, an adult
cowboy. Perhaps he doesn't
know how to drive, even breathe.
She watches the woman in the
far parking lot put her child in
the car-seat. The wind comes up
from the California grasslands
and the whole car smells like
gasoline, one easy-strike match
away from orange salvation,
one quick-lit wish to make
a sound so loud even the dead
could hear her booming.

Diagnosis: Even the Stillaguamish River Cannot Stop Time

Your cat has dragged a dead bird onto the porch again.
Fragments of its dull wings still hang in the air, the real live
wind brings a cold rain up from the Sound. Your hands
are wet; time moves too fast. Things were easier earlier,
when the Snow Goose was open for business and the sun
lay its original light all up and down the Stillaguamish River.
Everything, now, is an interrogation. Why this bird? Why
this interruption, soaked to the bone? The river is still there—
steady and cunning with current. It does not answer,
but it loves the conversation; it is both the cat and the bird.
It is at once your body dissolved in this rain and your
beautiful wet hands trying to hold onto water.

The Barer the Bones

Centered in the streets
under clouds of miscalculation,
I’m taking off my creature-drapes
for the record. The primary
animal is not as upset as
the one we are told to be
(the electronics we are tied to—
our sudden lack of atmosphere).
Be a doll and get the door,
remove the cross from its hinges.
The mountains are all gone
around here, all done and gone,
even the sea is trapped in a plastic
bag stuck in a tree, some flawed
trash-bird we have made
of our own poor boredom.
Let’s go find the unusualness,
the great giant wonder,
the lasso that brought down
the last remaining metal mean.

Monday, March 08, 2010

May I Suggest Yellow?

Photo by Tim Limón at my stepmom's memorial February 27, 2010

When my stepmom was in her last few days, she said to me while she lie in bed..."May I suggest yellow?" She looked around the room and it seemed as if she was saying we should paint it. Or it was the color for "afterward." For after the leaving and after the grieving. There was first purple, then space, and then yellow. On Saturday I missed her. I was low and so I walked across the bridge into the city and suddenly found myself in a store that sells home-goods. A yellow bedspread and $500 later, I was home with a bunch of cut daffodils and a house that felt lighter. I've never really liked yellow. And now I have it everywhere in my room. It makes me happy. It's spring. It's defiant life. It's weeds in the sidewalk. It's weeds in the heart. C'mon weeds, I'm rooting for you.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Thanks, Universe, for Last Night, for Poetry...

Photo by Alex Battles

Last night was lovely. I read with Lindsay Turner and John Burnside. How wonderful. I had never heard John read, but I was familiar with his work. Beautiful, sad, Scottish poems. He introduced one like this, "There is nothing worse than being in love, and there is nothing worse than a Scot in love." A man after my own heart. Here's to poetry! Here's to the universe! Universe, I'm going to write you a poem.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

After the Gate Opened and Let Her Out

(This car represents my soul at the moment. Big tree through it, bullet holes, rust, devoured by the universe itself, but also becoming the universe itself. Not unhappy with where it is, but only able to be where it is at the moment. Not stuck, but not able to start again.)

(But inside there is a blooming still, a warming up slowly to life, that song underneath things, that motor of life that keeps going despite all the frosts still coming, the part that gets up and makes coffee, pets the cat, the brain stem that says breathe, the heart that races when the crocuses insert themselves into the world with such umph and pazzaz that you want to clap just so they do it again.)

Saturday, February 13, 2010


I don't know how to draw, but after I saw Carl Jung's Red Book back in October, I wanted to try and sketch out some of my own "representation of the unconscious self." I've got at least a dozen now. This one is called, my heart.

I'm in the woods, in so many ways. But I'm with C and family and today we are all big real things. Like hearts. And mouths. And lungs. And skin. And arms. And breath and breath and breath.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Promise Me an Olive Garden of Dreams

I've been back in the city for approximately two and half weeks. I have forgotten everything I know about parking lots, but still remember the deep of the deep woods. Sitting in the car while running errands for the family, I felt so much like my "other self." That self that is out in the America of our minds, the self that lights the home fire, picks up the kids from school, the self that you would have been if you had married that first love, that second love, the self that would drive and wonder what her other self was like writing poems in the non-wooded city of windows. I was having a hard time that day, and then the image of the Olive Garden made me smile. As if it was some kind of castle of unattainable normalcy. All-you-can-eat American dreams for everyone.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Back in New York. To the winter. To the cold. To the low low low in the heart. But how nice that we have each other. And are alive. 

Here's a new essay I wrote about Brady (my stepdad) and living with veterans of war. It's simple, but I hope it's truthful. 

The essay is up on InDigest and is called, Listen. I hope you read it if you have the time.

I haven't made a New Year's resolution yet. I am resolved against delusion, but I am tossed up in dreams.