Monday, December 29, 2008

In 27 days I will be here

E and I are leaving for Mexico at the end of January. I believe it has become sort of an obsession for me---maybe because it is 20 below zero most days in Minnesota, maybe because we, the two of us alone just get to sit back and listen to the ocean.

Yesterday I saw the sun. I gathered the children and made them bundle up to go sledding in the park across the street. We live on a sledding hill and on a good night you can hear the people like birds sighing in ohhhhhhhhhhhhh and ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh speeding down the hill.

Yesterday was not a good night. I fell straight on my back and gave myself a slight concussion. We saw a child run straight into a tree and knock himself out. It was incredibly icy. I herded the children back inside and nursed all my wounds.

Dreaming some days is a bit safer than living.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Without fail every year I go to post on my blog an image of a Christmas tree on fire and every year it is a surprise to me that I feel this way. I am a girl with strong desires. I want the bread baking, the children running hither and yond but what happens is reality and it stings me every time.

I am a girl with strong desires and no memory.

I just finished a non-fiction piece by Harrison Solow about Wales, a tenor, the inner eye lid of the Welsh and the word hiraeth. The word speaks more about what it does not mean than what it does. I love words like that. Hiraeth is not longing or emptiness but the heart that surrounds longing, a hungering vessel that without its existence emptiness would not exist.

I am chuck full of hiraeth! (hear-eye-th)

Wales reminded me so much of Novy (nova scotia) when I was a girl. Today I have no idea why I am living in this cold tundra of Minnesota. I have no idea why I am doing the things I do or living the life I live. I hunger for this “true life” in a way I can’t describe to anyone. I constantly feel as if I am in a room of appetizers while the main dish is being served elsewhere.

That said, I am not unhappy…it should be clear that I am not trying to say that. Just that I am missing something vital to the puzzle of existence and I’m not sure where I fit in it. Yet I want to understand everything.

Every single damn thing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

the photo

I changed the photo in my bathroom and now Marguerite Yourcenar is staring down at me saying, what the hell are you doing with your life. Go write something this very moment. She looks all strong and beautiful when she says this but I know she is going to kick my ass.

She replaced Edna St. Vincent Millay, who just simply told me I looked pretty every morning and asked me if I wanted an apple.

I miss Edna.

Day One of Christmas Break

Today while running to and from without blinking from the cold, the girls and I picked up hot sandwiches for lunch from the local deli. We had been shopping all day and I was ready for a nap. On the way home Olivia asked me if I had a dollar for the guy standing on the corner by our car and I told her all I had was a check card.

Sometimes this kid surprises me; she asked if she could give him her sandwich b/c she really didn’t need it as much as he did. Of course, I said. We drove home. We carried all the packages up stairs. We unpacked our lunch.

My daughter gave him MY SANDWICH!!!!!

Sometimes this kid doesn’t surprise me that much;)

Beginning of Cannibalism

We were quiet with our mouths full of words—
the three of us, carbon copies of the other
growing lighter, the younger

a pale outline of the elder.

Our father would serve tongue
wrapped in bacon or plain
salted with a bit of grease.

It was the knowledge of eating
a part of the body we possessed.

The nubs of our tongue
rubbing against the nubs
of the familiar--

Beginning of cannibalism.
No tribe, no order.

Each of us trapped
no matter how similar,

we could be devoured by the other.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Christmas tree is almost parallel to the floor. It looks as if it is growing off a cliff in the corner of our living room or the invisible winds are blowing in from the east. I rather enjoy this and have begun stacking presents at odd angles to heighten the effect.

When I was I child, I’d tell anyone who would listen that when I was old, I was going to have a room in my house. A special room, with the floor painted white and all the furniture glued to the ceiling. I would sit there and look down at my world and try to find my balance. I pictured people wandering in, writhing in fear then eventually laughing silently to themselves as they realized all the rules had change. Here is the new world.

My mother told me when I grew up I would no longer want my special room. She told me this a great deal. She told me this so much that every birthday eve I believed that in the morning I’d wake up and I would no longer recognized my self.

A stranger, who my mother would welcome with open arms, sit her down and in the kitchen and say, “finally darling, you have come.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I love living in the city.

Yesterday at Home Depot I went to buy a tree. Yes, I know it is pitiful to buy your tree at Home Depot but Bella and I had 15 minutes before we had to be home and it is right by school. Besides those farm stands with can music and people who work really hard to make you feel like you are in the country and not, “standing in a parking lot in the snow”, freak me out!

Anyway Bella got her hot dog…another great thing about Home Depot and the only person I could find to help me with the tree was a three foot Somalia woman who ensured me that she could indeed handle an eight foot tree.

Okay, so at one point the woman is standing in full head dress with a welder’s mask over her head and a chain saw, swearing at the tree in Somalian. Bella’s hot dog is hanging out of her mouth and I’m going through basic first aid blood splattering response in my head, do you try to attach the arm back on or tie it off with tree rope.”

When Bella turns to me and says, this is the best Christmas tree EVER!!!!!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I’m in a mood---which means I’m blogging about 90 miles an hour in my head and not accomplishing anything.

Things I am thinking about:

I’m the average age that a female elephant dies in captivity. I heard that on NPR yesterday and it is bothering me a great deal. Do I relate to the elephant? Am I not satisfied? It is the same age an elephant dies in the wild. Does that seem right to you? If I’m going to live in a treeless euphoria shouldn’t I get a few more years?

The next time I turned on my car yesterday, NPR was talking about Nixon and ladders. Nixon was a ladder climber and once he got to the top of the ladder, it frightened him so much he knocked himself off because what he truly enjoyed was the climbing—not the actual going anywhere. The basic theory that no one was out to get him, he screwed himself out of the presidency on purpose.

It was all very poetic—about how most of us cannot handle being truly who we are so we think up some way to mess up the whole thing so we can comfortably go about our business with less.

God NPR is depressing.

Any way I would kick myself in the balls if I had any, for not seeming to care anymore if I am GREAT writer. To be truthfully honest, I just want the girls to grow up happy, I want to love E well and I if I figured out how to do all that without fucking it up, falling off a ladder or dying an elephant’s death---I will feel pretty damn successful.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

It was the biggest, craziest weekend ever! I had my reading at the Loft on Friday and because it was here in Minneapolis, there were a great many friends and family. People who don’t usually go to readings, who threatened to bring foam fingers and yell loudly when I was called on stage.

It was a blast. I wore my new, funky, motorcycle boots and I just read b/c I love poetry and didn’t give a damn what anyone thought. Did I mention it was really, really fun????

Last night the non-profit I work for had a huge art fundraiser at a fancy, dancy museum so I had to be there at 8 in the morning to hang art with about ten other people who had never hung an art show and it was HORRID. You know that great reading high that lasts about three days? Well, they sucked it out in about an hour. What a waste of good writing buzz.

Em and I were at the show till midnight, we hardly raised any money and it was like watching the titanic sink into the sea---a slow and painful death and no one is leaving the boat as it goes down.

My weekend is gone and I plan on reading all the yellow books on my shelf because they look happier. I might also go walk around the track at the gym. I stress ate about 20 chocolate strawberries while I watched the ship sink.

In any crisis, I am always well fed.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

I tried to explain to my children yesterday why our dining room table was covered with over forty poetry books with various sheets of paper sticking out of the binding.

These books are not to be touched. These books are not to be drawn on. These books are to be returned to the powers that be for the Minnesota Book Award without a scratch on them and with mommy’s careful notes on the so called artistic merit of each publication.

Yes, I am in poetry hell. And I had no other way to explain it to my children except to say, it was like in the beginning stages of America’s Next Top Model, where you have all those twenty five hopefuls gathered in a tiny room but only one will win.

I did indeed make myself into the Tyra Banks of Poetry. Mothers have no shame.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

strange, strange ride

I’m beginning again. I thought about posting the last eight months in photos and I still might do that but here is a brief overview.

Things that are the same:

Still 5 foot 4
Still in love
Still two amazing, crazy girls I call daughters
Still teaching (though far less)
Still in the same Victorian house, with the same garden, cats, tower and art

Things which are different:
My hair is redder
I’m older
I listen better
I try harder to listen better
I grow eggplant
I went back home to Maine for a bit
I finished a manuscript
I started writing fiction
I won a state arts board grant
I’m judging the Minnesota Book Awards
I applied for $46,000 endowment to write
I won a Loft Mentorship which is a year of intensive writing and reading
I painted a mural on a bus
and far, far more…..

Friday, November 28, 2008

I know Ive been a bad blogger

but you can still come to my reading and drink wine

Friday, December 5, 7 p.m.
Mentor Series Reading
Richard Terrill, Teresa Ballard and Kara Garbe
Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis Minnesota

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I think I’m over the hump of what the hell is going on with Teresa Ballard. The surgery is minor and I meet with the surgeon on Friday and they are not doing the actual operation until next week but I’m fine. Nothin’ to see here folks...

Except that it is almost May Day and I will have giant puppets in my front yard, children running through my flowers and a parade—they will be a parade. All my friends will march and I will watch with Em and her mom. My girls will be on stilts or sun runners. It is my favorite day.

In poetry news, Valzhyna Mort is making me incredibly jealous. She is on the cover of the new Poets & Writers. I can’t wait to read her new book but I swear to god, if she tried to published the manuscript “A Factory of Tears” through the normal venues of sending to a first book contest---it may not have seen the light of day.
But maybe I’m wrong. Am I cynical to believe that we offer foreign born writers more freedom with poetry?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

After my fourth conversation with my mother this week I decided to look up my horoscope and see if Mars was in retrograde again. Actually after the week I had, I wanted to see if it was possible Mars BLEW UP or some shit like that b/c my universe was definitely wacked.

My parents after 40 some years of marriage, which explains why a lot of poems are DARK, seem to have succeeded in finally killing each other, unfortunately they don’t do well without an audience so they’ve been trying to include us every step of the way.

My brothers, sister and I voted tonight and we are officially all adopted. Thank god I live half way across the United States---though this unlimited phone minute thing is killing me.

My horoscope quoted Carl Jung “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate." And that my friends just about sums it up.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Today we woke to snow so I closed the door and went back to bed. In four days E’s mom will be here and in five days I will have surgery. Only E’s mom was expected. I hate people seeing me sick so I plan to be instantly better, five minutes after I see the doctor.

At the thrift store we found a first edition Anne Sexton which convinced me once again, that I don’t like most poetry books written in the last twenty years. Maybe it’s the modern voice. Maybe I have old ears. Yet give me Sexton and Celan each and every day. I think old poetry can heal me.

Oh and did anyone else read the Spencer Reesce became a priest?

Friday, April 25, 2008

I’ve grown tired of the excessive
noise within my head. All the rooms
of the body lock down with the same key,
yet faith where do you live?

I do trust anything,
facts are fractal, even the blue door
is every color but blue, my eyes call it so,
and my tongue follows.

Here are the words my mother taught me.
Yes, there’s nothing here but silence

and the blue door, closing
over and over again.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

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A bit of devastation, a bit of pestilence

So I’ve been in and out of the doctor’s office/ hospital the last few days and I need to go back on Friday for an ultra sound. Professional note: I really think doctors should have different hand outs for moms to be, verses people who are getting scanned for tumors. The note about being able to bring a “partner” and video tape the whole procedure is very disturbing when it is the latter.

And if this isn’t hell enough the dreaded “lice” parasite has found my house again. Yes, my daughter Bella still hugs with her head but it was I, her mother who was escorted OUT of Aveda by way of the back door, my head still dripping wet while they “yellow taped” the station I was sitting at.

Emily is still laughing and I feel like a leper.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Because I was alone in the house for two whole hours at supper time I decided to eat the things in my fridge that no one else would eat. The lone pickle, the half eaten sandwich because I reasoned, in my rather adult head, that even if it didn’t satisfy me or made me slightly ill, I would NOT feel guilty for throwing large quantities of food out come Saturday morning.

Well friends, I’m here to tell you TWO HOURS LATER that guilt is not a physical response--- food poisoning however, sure the hell is!!!!

Rule number one in life: never, ever put anything in your mouth you don’t want there.

Rule number two: if someone else puts it there---spit it the hell out!

Why do I always feel like I’m living one of those educational videos of what not to do with your life.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Okay so I suck at a poem a day and I’ve turned in my poet badge and my secret de-coder ring. I know I can’t be in the club so I’m starting my own with a top-secret handshake and you don’t have to write anything unless you want to. Swing to your own drum. Play with sticks.

On Friday I went to see the wonderful Lee Ann Roripaugh read and then we went out for dumplings and Saturday we went out for sushi. It was a high holiday weekend. And this weekend looks to be more of the same. Ms. Fannie Howe is coming to my town, along with Mary Jo Bang & Mathea Harvey, they will be at the Loft this Friday in Minneapolis at 7 p.m.

I will be the girl in the audience drinking beer, because at the last reading I found out that if you go to the coffee shop and bitch the manger brings you out one from the "back room". I will also be the girl, next to the girl who is trying to sneak my beer because she never, ever buys her own!

Side note: at my feet right now ----- a purple mermaid, a monkey, pink bunny ears and a panda. The cats are fornicating again with Bella’s stuffed animals and it is oh so very wrong!!!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Thank you for noticing

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The feats you're pulling off may not appear spectacular to a casual observer. But in my view, they are some of the most interesting accomplishments you've enjoyed in a while. Here's a brief description of some of your subtly glorious breakthroughs: 1. You've made yourself less susceptible to being manipulated by guilt or pushed around by bullies or fooled by phonies. 2. You're getting smarter about how you treat the people and things you love. 3. You're at the peak of your ability to discern the difference between rash risks motivated by fear and smart gambles driven by authentic intuition.
Alex’s reading was really fun last night. Milkweed hosted it in a place, where you actually have to walk through a bowling alley to get to the theatre. This strongly appeals to me. A friend opened with guitar and was amazing; music, good food, and a full house of over a hundred of people who came to hear Alex Lemon read---not a bad way to begin your second book.

Milkweed is having an open reading for poetry in June. Come one, come all. Out of the six books up for the Minnesota book award, they had I believe five. They are a press to watch, not to mention they have the good beer at their parties.

But where oh where, are the female editors of small presses, does anyone know??????

In other news, Spring lasted a total of 48 hours in Minnesota and then promptly hauled its ass inside and shut the door. Today Em and I are supposed to do our taxes but it is 10 in the morning and still black night outside. I think the coyote urine caused an eclipse in our front yard---not to mention the fact that it didn’t work at all!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

day four

All of it is about longing
blossom and branch, cup and saucer
even contentment in her little white slip
is swaying away.

Yes I know I owe you two!

Even though I haven’t been writing much, my poetry life feels incredibly busy…as busy as it can be with my other life which often seems like this giant poetry weed killer that sucks it all dry. I enjoyed the craft talk with Raphael Campo a few weeks ago very much, and last night I went to a wonderful reading and sat next to my friend Alex Lemon who has this brilliant new book out and a book opening tonight at The Bryant Lake Bowl. If you happen to live anywhere near this part of the world GO---I will be the girl wearing black leather boots and drinking beer. And Em will be the poor tired girl I dragged along to go with me.

This morning the poetry editors of Milkweed Press, Coffee House Press and Graywolf had an open forum. It was good though lately I feel like sometimes my new work is like building a lightening rod in the middle of a field. It is possible I may get hit by lightening and an editor will notice but it seems to happen to men 10 times more;)

Did you know there’s actually a metal in the male bloodstream which makes this statement completely true? Oh the things I know and have no way to work into a poem.

Right now I am sitting here feeling sorry for myself, which E says is the highest form of laziness. On a side note: the squirrels are eating my bulbs and leaving beautiful yellow stamens on my door step to make me cry. I can’t even kill a squirrel with my bare hands. I lack in all forms of character--- I must use five gallons of coyote urine which supposedly will make them leave me alone.

I've considered bathing in it for the bravery factor but I’m sure the E would leave me.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Poetry month sucks

It seems I write short poems b/c that’s my way of cheating and getting it done and it still gives me time to watch trash TV before I sleep. Pitiful I know. E has challenged me to write a ghazal which will really suck b/c I have to show her I can do it and I don’t think I will be able to pull it out of my ass—maybe those should be my closing lines. Ass rhymes with so many things:)

Really there should be a list when you fall in love, things you won’t ever be asked to do! I don’t mind weird sex play but who the hell thought of ghazals!!!!!

Day Two

Day II

Oh the body temporal! Oh the mind obtuse!

Lift your fingers to the sky—
Everything is gone: trees, blue

Only the flesh survives. If God
Is next to cleanliness, only

Earth survives. Call me brother
Let me remember

What a cock feels like.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

So this is the challenge

Post a poem a day on your blog for thirty days (even if it is crap) not to publish or work on, or include in your manuscript, or add to a fellowship app or turn in, or give to a lover, or seduce. Write a poem a day, for thirty days just for the beast of poetry.

Day 1

This is a poem without animals,
nothing braes, bothers or finds its way through the grass.
This is a poem absent of reproduction:
the fuck, the sway, tilt of the hip.
This is a poem drained, left on its side,
white grass under stone, deformed.
This is the sprout and the seed, the cock and the void.
This is the thread sewn into our eyes, here is the needle
This is the point, silver and clean, absent of sacrifice.

Monday, March 31, 2008

At times it feels like the world is cracked, as if there’s hairline fracture running from top to bottom and when the world is rung like a bell, the sound scatters, empties out and is lost. I wonder if only I hear it because of the same crack which runs right through me or if, every being is a damaged container pretending to be whole.

Pain is a great listener. When I’m in pain I view the world more clearly. I experience every noise and I’m acutely aware of each second of my life. Is this painful? Awareness. No, but the futility of hearing---that is the most painful sound.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The best meeting EVER!!!!!

Today at 10 a.m., I had a meeting at a restaurant where I’m painting a sixty foot mural and I had to discuss the grid with the owner, several elected officials, my boss and the head of the neighborhood association. Everyone went to the open restaurant cooler to grab a diet coke and I too, grabbed a coke and headed to the table, opened it and began talking. My boss turned to me with this weird look on her face and said, “why on earth are you drinking beer???????”

Well the moral of this story is…once I opened I HAD TO DRINK IT and
Thank god Mexican beer comes in red cans!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Poetry Rocks

The Reading world in Minneapolis is amazing right now. The Easter Bunny decided that I get to hear Mary Oliver, Lucille Clifton, Mary Jo Bang, Matthea Harvey and Fanny Howe all read within the next few weeks.

Truth: I am going to a dinner with Ms. Clifton and it will take all my will power to not fall at her feet, ask her to touch my head and make me a poet.

Is greatness transferable?????

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

Reasons why I am sitting here eating fresh figs in bed---

In one word Rafael Campo. He came to our house for dinner last night and I made this wonderful veggie curry with mango chutney, baklava, humus and there were fresh figs rolled in coconut and almonds which are now all mine;)

If you are in Minneapolis tonight at 7 come hear him read at The Loft with the famous and non-loving fig eater Emily Lloyd.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Screw you Will

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): According to the automaker Saab, this year's sedan has 2,157 features that are different from last year's, including snake-eye headlamps and a clamshell hood. Your assignment in the coming weeks, Leo, is to be roused by Saab's willingness to depart from tradition. Speaking on behalf of the cosmic powers-that-be, I'm asking you to commit to making 21.6 changes in your life, which is a mere one percent of Saab's total. If that's too much to handle, would you consider making 2.16 changes? A good place to start might be to add your own personal metaphorical version of snake-eye headlamps.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

my father as metaphor, my mother as a topical map

And they were beautiful, at times, the animals—
misshapen, torsos distorted, legs outnumbered.
On her belly, he let the beasts run wild with fever,
killing everything: grass, thistle, flowers .
Until the land was flat , emptied even of insects.
A land full of distance and clouds.
It was not until later, when the children came
to pitch their tents, run in the open fields. It was the children
who knew enough to look down,
to see nothing to live on. Everyone paid attention then
to the drought, and the earth which never filled
with water. Everyone forgot the animals
except for the father, he kept them close,
leaving the others behind to care for the land.

ii. my sister concave, and I convex

We called each other valley, mountain. We were not girls,
who braided hair, or stared at the moon
but using our hands as claws,we carved rivers
into each other’s palms so when the wild dogs came,
we were girls, prepared to fight.
The earth was not our mother
but a second skin we wore at night.
We did not care for the land but the dogs, the dogs
consumed our minds. We believed ourselves people
without scent, naked we walked into the den
of we what feared. What rose and fell
from us was not a god, nor a deity we knew to name.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

My true nature is happenstance. My books are disorderly they crowd each other on the bed, shelves. I put tools in the pen drawers and candles with the dishes. I see beauty in the chaos of it all sometimes, the finding of things where you least expect and I believe all the objects talk amongst themselves. Because I have no expectations, the screwdriver fondles a spoon and Hemingway lies on top of Dr. Seuss.

I want you to understand everything is chaos, then underneath that pattern, predictability but those two things: chaos, order—fuck each other long into the night, trying to understand who will stay, who will leave. And no, love is not part of this Ménage á trois who sits in a chair. Love is the air, the blood—the very thing which causes order and chaos to move, to breathe and because of that very nature—love is indeed, trite.

Chaos and order pay her no heed.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Every day the world breaks a little
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Monday, March 03, 2008


I had an Alexander no good, very bad, horrible, do good day today. I went in to have my back molar checked and they ended up doing a two hour root canal and not only did I have to sit in a chair with plastic wrap over my mouth, like a piece of fresh fruit under cellophane but my dentist is having her office remolded and in between hearing the drill enter my bone, I got to hear construction workers saw and hammer.

Novocain really fucks with one’s mind and I swear to god, at one a point a man named Joe was jumping around inside my head talking about his ex-wife--and they did not have the best relationship.

Sadly, the worst part of the day was ripping my favorite (hey I look like a stud, if only in my own mind) black leather jacket on my way out the door to pick up the girls. Yes it was a horrible, terrible no good, very bad day. Tomorrow I’m moving to Australia.
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Sunday, March 02, 2008


Friday, March 14, 7:00 p.m.
Rafael Campo with Emily Freeman and Emily Lloyd.

Rafael Campo is the author of The Other Man Was Me, which won the 1993 National Poetry Series Award; What the Body Told, winner of a Lambda Literary Award for Poetry; and most recently, The Enemy. He is also the author of a memoir, The Desire to Heal, which also received a Lambda Literary Award. A graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Medical School, he currently teaches and practices general internal medicine at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, where his medical practice serves mostly Latinos, GLBT people, and people with HIV infection.

Emily Freeman (fiction) is completing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota. She recently served as the editor-in-chief for Dislocate, the program’s literary journal. She lives and works in Minneapolis.

Emily Lloyd (poetry) is a freelance writer and librarian for Hennepin County. Her work has appeared online at and and in the print journals Cream City Review, Phoebe, and elsewhere.
$5/Free Loft members
I am in a pissy mood and I don’t want to be because we have company coming over so I’ve made curry, baklava, listened to Bach’s cello music, folded laundry, scrubbed the tub, went to Target and I’m restless and whinny and I’m tired of myself.

I’ve been reading Julio Cortazar (because dead poets are so cheery) and I don’t understand why I can read the same poem one day and think it’s stunning and then buy the damn book and think it’s crap. I began to feel that maybe his writing is alive and what I truly lack in my work is life. My words are flat.

My problem is I’m not trying to write my way out of anything and the sad thing is I only write half way decent when I’m doing that---a mouse in a maze.

I know this post sucks but I’ve made really good curry and you can show up at my door and collect your reward for reading.
E & I spent several hours last night talking about words that are “sexy”: heliotrope, flax, diadem---(I’m giving you all mine b/c ya know, mine were better.) It was hard for me to let this game go and at two in the morning I rolled over and said, axis really loud in her ear. She didn’t ever stir and yet claims to be my true love;)

One of her writing exercises this week is to make a list of all the words which sound good to her and then use those words in a poem that she has never used in writing before. We have a running bet that neither one of us can use the word plutonium, in a way that actually works.

My conclusion: all bug words ROCK. extroskeleton, larvae, pupis
When I get old I’m going to illustrate books on insects and live out my days in tranquility.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

New Bumper Sticker for Ballard—bitch less, write more

If your idea of a perfect vacation is to walk from morning to night, eat mango stuffed chili relenos for breakfast, go in and out of bookstores, devour Dim Sum soaking wet then I had your perfect vacation. We had so much fun in San Francisco even though it poured a great deal of time and I discovered that one can actually DESTROY an umbrella by pointing it in the wrong direction.

On the way there I sat next to a professor of Islamic Literature and we spend four hours non-stop talking poets---E was ready to kill me, but this is what happens when she sits across the aisle to sleep. I wrote a great deal in my head, and planes for some reason make me want to write. Maybe because, I think I am going to die. I always freak myself out by realizing exactly where I am in space and that six inches below my feet, is just one big “fall”. Yeah I'm really fun to fly with.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


We leave for San Francisco on Thursday and I celebrated by dying my hair red. I tried to dye it bright red but it just kind of turned out auburn which is a polite way of saying brown hair with the inability to flame;)

I keep trying to convince myself that maybe no one will recognize me at work tomorrow nor will my children be able to punish me for the desire to leave town without them but thus, I look pretty much the same. I know they’ll find me. Truly, there are days when being on America’s Most Wanted sounds appealing.

In other news, one of my artists today wanted me to help them get a life sized elephant out of the basement b/c they didn’t really consider the doors when they decide to bring “jumbo” to life. I think when Victor asked me, “hey Teresa, I want to make a realistic elephant downstairs, is that okay?", I was thinking more the pigmy variety.

I’m here to tell you---life size is friggen HUGE!
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Sunday, February 17, 2008

as promised the link to my front yard

There’s something about winter that makes me hunger for color. I want to paint everything orange. Olena Kalytiak Davis wrote, I am in love with a certain kind of cloud which makes me jealous b/c I wish I had written that line though I did read a line similar in some obscure Russian poetry book a few years ago which I’m sure Davis somewhere in her subconscious read or heard thus producing her poem.

I’m a firm believer in no original thought and rather sadly, I understand I have this idea, that the human race is like this big soup pot, you pour in the ingredients out comes soup, slightly varied, but basically the same damn chicken noodle.

It sucks to be a cynic and an idealist. It is kind of like being ambidextrous with no hands.
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Coffee House Press seems to be putting out some really good books lately. I just finished Sun Yung Shin’s Skirt Full Of Black which was very good, though it always freaks me out to read local writers who I might run into at the coffee shop who turn out to be assholes thus ruining the whole literary experience for me.

I told E last night, that I like all my authors dead. Selfish I know, but if you write a really good book, just put in your will for me. Mediocrity is okay to mail.

The big sled rally was yesterday which meant that we made giant puppets out of cardboard, attached them to sleds, then sent them down the hill with children inside. Seriously, one had to sign a release form! I have photos of a life size woolly mammoth, a black bear, and a star wars thing that exploded into the crowd and took down at least three people. My friend Mark always has to use pyrotechnics whenever he creates. One does not dress flammable when teaching next to him.

Ohhhh the beauty of art in Minneapolis!

Saturday, February 16, 2008

I’m trying to form language
with my hands but when I open my mouth
out flies a cathedral of birds.

I crush wingbones brittle from flight,
brittle from wind, because I need to breathe. Constantly
I’m reminded of my limitations. Growing

large to the eye, like a flock of crows
black coming to land, and if I spoke a name
would wings enter my throat-

land on the wire rib, peck out my heart?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

if you live in New York

check out this link

come to my house, drink beer

we will build a fire
nine more days before I put my head in the mouth of the dragon

today I ordered my garden


crooked necks, everlastings and cut&come again

Yes darling I did remember the moon flowers.

I keep checking on-line to look at the photos filled with all the possibilties of what the seeds may become. Planning a garden is a marvelous thing in the winter--it is like hope all wrapped up in an UPS box!
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Monday, February 11, 2008


Anyone who has ever written a brilliant book has had

a)A house keeper
b)No children
c)Great blocks of time
d)Someone or something that supports them while they write
f)Clear ideas
g)Have found themselves neither boring, self portentous nor empty headed
h)Great shoes
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Sunday, February 10, 2008


Happy 10th Birthday our darling pirate girl---we love you!
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Saturday, February 09, 2008

We’ve all been at a hotel for five days, which seemed like this splendid idea in the middle of February, while our house was being worked on and we as a family could sit in the hot tub and swim laps in the morning in the heated pool.

Of course we hardly did any of that and ended up driving hours out of way just to get to work and school and life but it was also oddly peaceful, in my heart I am much more transient than I allow myself to be. I am home now. The house seems lonely & empty. We have new windows. All the shades have been torn down, rugs rolled up. Furniture gathered to the side. And because we have new windows, the wind doesn't blow in and out of the rooms. It seems as if the house has stopped breathing. Everything is too quiet.

So many times in my life I have felt this odd sensation of walking in on death. The chairs are moved—everything out of place, I want myself to find the order but I cannot. I sometimes feel, as if I don’t remember the simple procedure of putting one foot in front of the other.

I am temporal. While others, it seems walk around with the permanency of planets.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

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I love language. I love the way it smells and taste. It reminds me of earth, of dirt. I want to gather it up and swallow, let it grow into all that I am. It is tied into my essential humanness.

I read this article recently about how words become less used as one grows older; we tend to simplify our talk. Even our ability to create interesting combination of words lessens. I think this sucks if you’re a writer.

The article talked about when people die they tend to use vulgar words, b/c there is hierarchy of where language is stored in the brain. Even people, who never use vulgarity in daily life, find themselves using their last breath for that.

I find this so interesting. How the body will degrade into just sounds. How we universally as people, share the same sound, even if we speak in different tongues, the last monosyllable will be the same.

There’s only one thing which robs us of language. It is not sleep, or famine, or even the end of life—what robs us is pain, true pain. When the body passes it threshold of tolerance, it is the first thing to leave us. Our speech. Our sound. We are abandoned by even our animal utterance.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

who says

there isn't a santa

The New Yorker and The Sun both came in the mail today.....

my dealer (mail carrier) really should learn to space these things out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

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Tonight was a good night. Isabel finished her bath and I spent at least an hour combing her hair b/c I think the last time a brush went into the inner layers was in 2007. I rewarded her for enduring the pain by doing so many little braids that the poor kid now looks like a white Bob Marley….but oh, what a wonderful feather fan it will make when we take all the braids out in the morning.

Work highlight: strangers wandered into my office for a site visit today b/c they wanted to start their own afterschool program so I got to do my bitch and trap, which is basically me locking them in my office and talking to them about what a horrible job our government does with afterschool programming for low income children.

Someone, somewhere, decided that we as a society would spend millions of dollars getting kids off the streets and then bore the pluck out of them!!! So when these guys came into my office I started to talk about how I write “gifted and talented” curriculum for low income children, and they couldn’t understand how I found “gifted” children in poverty.

I then explained very slowly and kinda loudly how every kid is brilliant, we just have to find out what they love. And then I started to talk about how nonprofits tend to pay their teachers very little and their administrators way too much and if the administrators actually taught, how the whole industry might change.

Well, needless to say I think I scared the hell out ‘em and for some reason they didn’t schedule a second visit. But my friends, I have 67 kids in my after school program alone, and a waiting list of twenty and when I started there were only 20 students and twice as many staff, so they should be frightened. They should be very frightened indeed.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I’ve spent all day virtual planning our trip to San Francisco. God bless the age of computers. I know I’ve been before but E hasn’t and there is so much I want to show her, places I want to go, art to look at, food to eat.

Plus we are going to be there for Chinese New Year, which I know the locals avoid like the plague but hell, there is fireworks, dragons and little kids with fans. Plus all the dead farm animals hanging in the windows---I love Chinatown.

Meanwhile back in Minnesota, it is “get out and doing something week” but considering it is 4 degrees I am not sure what exactly one is suppose to DO besides freeze your ass off.

Yes, I felt guilty when I looked out the window and saw ppl. ice skating on the lake but I feel warm and guilty and I can live with that!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008

Well, I almost had to…(gasp) go to the doctor but I think I’ve gotten over the hump now, though I’ve had more drugs in me the last few days then I thought possible. I made it through the work week AND it should be noted that in my Nyquil stupor I was able to plan and book a vacation to San Francisco in the next few weeks.

Thank you dear Jesus, b/c it’s going to be 40 degrees BELOW ZERO this weekend and if I don’t have something to visualize I might go insane. While taking the girls to school today (it was a warm 1 degree in the sun ) the radioman said, if one wanted to boil a pot of water and throw it up in the air outdoors, it would actually make SNOW. What a great party trick.

The fact that I live in a state where entertainment involves throwing things up in the air, while freezing your ass off, is enough to make me want to stay in San Francisco and never come back.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

my head

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A first it was fun. I woke up sounding like Betty Davis, with the deep sexy voice and then the pity from strangers b/c one sounds terribly sick, but feels okay. And then my friends, the “okay” left me and I started to sound like Beaker from the muppets---hell, he’s not sexy at all.

I tried to convince E, I woke up from my nap old. I told her I understood old age perfectly, b/c I fell asleep with my glasses on, then I couldn’t find them. She came to help me and everything was LOUD, her moving the covers, the books. (I sleep on piles of things) The world seemed this chaotic jumble tied somehow to a great ear which amplified everything and was now tilting me off balance.

It would have been a great drug trip if I actually WAS on drugs! Of course, it freaked me out so bad I hobbled into the bathroom to take some.

Now the world is standing straight but I still feel like crap.

Oh and in literary news—I got a big check in the mail, which I would have thrown away, had my name not been misspelled b/c it looked more like a postcard for Rogaine then a check.

And here is a residency to check out if you are a Minnesota writer or a woman photographer in any state…

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

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I’ve been reading some wonderful writing lately. It’s amazing what happens when you give up your need for sleep. Gluck’s October is brilliant, did I mention I bought it for two bucks? Best buy ever! I've read it about 16 times and I still think there’s a secret language I might be able to discern if I keep reading it again and again.

death cannot harm me
More than you have harmed me,
My beloved life.

If I was going to have a tombstone, I might put those lines on there but alas, I’m donating my body to science, to be cut up in small pieces and held in glass jars. The word specimen REALLY appeals to me.

Other great books I’ve read: Rae Armantrout’s Next Life and Jeanette Winterson’s The World and Other Places.

Rae Armantrout…and I wish I had written it….
Come close.

The crowd is made of
little gods

and there is still
no heaven

Monday, January 07, 2008

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a boy

When I was in Boston a boy died. I haven’t talked about it much, though I find myself writing about it more and more. He was 19. He was attending the same art school I had attended when I was 19. We sat up and talked about drawing, the digital age and how we as artists, were losing the purity of the pencil.

We watched Jeopardy together and both of us failed the famous German artists’ category and we laughed at our ignorance.

He was always cold so I sat by him and tucked things in around him like a nest—a blanket, Katelyn’s scarf. I watched his parents wait on him; bring him flat ginger ale with lime. We joked about family. He was one of those people you might have walked by on the street—one you hope didn’t like you in high school b/c you didn’t want to cause him the pain of rejection. A boy, whose parents adored him, overly and he didn’t seem to go grow green in that love but stunted somehow, made pale.

I watched him though, notice a girl, a girl who had come to volunteer at the hospice where I was staying with my niece. I watched his face redden when she accidently brushed her skin against his. I believed then, the body an odd machine, how it hungers on, even the dying body continues to want, to desire. It never makes this conscious decision to stop. The heart always forgets mid beat.

I knew he was sick. I knew there was cancer in his liver and a month ago he had stopped art school. It had all happened so fast. He was dizzy while painting. I wondered when he would paint again. I wondered if he'd ever get laid. And I wondered somehow if we were connected and I used up too much life, I lived too many lives, had too many wants and if somehow I had used up his.

I wanted to give it back. I wanted to stop living so much...using up all the air in the room.

But the morning when I awoke, the shy boy was dead and what I wanted didn't matter. His parents were weeping in the kitchen and I helped the volunteer change the bed and sweep the floor. And I opened the windows even though it was snowing, even though the snow was coming in on the sill, the blankets, the bed. Everything was wet and I thought he deserved at least this---the wild wind, the cold of December.

I thought he deserved at least this.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

I actually sent out two submissions today

I’ve also spent the day working on my National Endowment Application which one might say is an early start, since it is not due until March but considering it is my half done application from two years ago when poetry was in the running---I’m not sure you’d call me an early bird;)
Fellowships I would apply for if I was you and not me (two children, a love and a full time job)

But no, I think I am going to go here (an hour from my house) and dream.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

i love this poem

John Colburn

Dawn came and there was something like a great ear
behind the sun.
Ashes drifted down though nothing had burned.
I wanted to shine like a fish.
Supposedly there are people who
will not burn in a fire.
Biblical people.
I carried my bucket.
Dead men pumped water from
the center of the earth.
We all drank it.
More ashes arrived.
We caught them on our tongues,
angels of next time receiving the body.
The earth tumbled then,
the pump handle creaked.
When soldiers came, we ran.
Like always.
I did a snake dance into the culvert.
Soldiers were afraid of ghosts.
A tongue is like a fish worn dull,
shine gone.
Day after day pieces of wood
floated down the river.
What were they building down there, at the end?
They were building a cross.
They were building a bird to fly us out.
They were building a new city
for the dead to lead from
and the soldiers were blind to it.
By noon the ghosts were gone.
The pump handle creaked, but no water.
When the soldiers came back I changed.
I became an angel of next time.
I said the words and
scales fell from my fish tongue
but the giant ear was stone.
Soldiers drifted like ashes.
I told them:
Downriver, they are building
wings that will not burn in a fire
and you are right to hide.
Put down your guns.
Soldiers put us in trucks
and took us downriver to become ashes.
The shine stopped.
The giant ear heard everything but
there was no mouth to speak.
In the cage, we counted.
Flies rose from the ash piles.
We counted screams.
A body floated downriver.
Dawn came and men
with no eyes talked
to the giant ear.
Roadside men who
lay dead in a snake dance.
The fireproof bird might rise
tomorrow or never.
All believed in it.
It rained or it would
never rain.
We counted Americans.
Flies performed their math on the dead.
We counted silences.
The sun had one voice
and the river had one voice.
Burnt people dropped from trees.
We slept to the rustling
of boots through weeds
and I remembered the water
of a dead nun’s voice.
We were all floating downriver.
Dawn came.
We knew nothing and they shot
half of us, with American guns.
At the sound of it we forgot.
We listened to the river.
Each gunshot carried by water
to dazzle the great ear.
That night I became a snake.
I slipped between the beams.
Crawled among the dead.
I followed the sound of bells.
The soldiers could not count
or didn’t care to.
The river counted to one
in its long voice.
Some snakes do not end.
Mythical snakes.
I passed a village.
Downriver there was nothing
except ashes.
The village boiled in silence.
A snake does not scream.
The choices were:
Become a snake.
Forest creatures swam in blood.
My voice was in the past,
covered by the long scar of forgetting.
I know the great ear turned.
That ghosts rose and began their work.
That voices fell from the trees.
I remain in snake form.
I whisper instructions to the great ear
following each little death.
Because now we are ready.
We have so many ashes
for our bird to rise from.
We have a sound to carry us
home, the river’s one voice
singing all day to a giant ear.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

I’ve been up late into the night the last few nights, writing what Sexton calls essential crap which means writing even when you know it sucks b/c well that's how it works.

My writing head doesn’t trust me anymore so it has gone on a major hiatus. It seems I wasn’t listening, so every time a poem would come into my head, I’d tell it to go away.

I was trying to be loved, to love, be a good parent, trying to teach, trying to do my damn job which paid my bills. So my poet voice said *&%@# which sounds a lot like loud silence. You know, the kind of quiet that gets in your brain, slowly slinks down the spine—that scary quiet.

Now I am humbly crawling on my belly, begging to hear voices again. I’m here. I’m here and I’m listening, please talk to me.