Posts Tagged ‘story’




reading the book again—

the dogeared pages the same,

the story in them, wholly changed


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“Sometimes I draw a straight line

and the other artists tell me

to squiggle it—“


all night I re-imagine

our storyline with curves

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Stages of Grief


We sat in the round

and rubbed our stories

like prayer beads that

we’ve kept,


but one man let

the world erode him—

so naked, so sacred

he wept.

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Rewrite the first chapter,

the one in which someone else

starts to tell your story.

Notice how when you erase it,

all the chapters after it

go blank. Fields of blank pages.

Skies of blank pages. Blank minutes,

blank days, blank years. Listen

for what’s left of your story—

nothing. Miss your friends.

Miss your mom. Miss your old house

and your problems. Go back

to chapter one. Rewrite it exactly

as it was written, but keep

the pen in your hand. You want

to be in charge of the story

from here on in.

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It Used to Rule Me

that old story—
I laugh now through the darkest part
and the weight breaks
into a thousand thousand

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Pay Attention, Heart

After the frost, the cosmos fronds
are brittle and brown. Not a hint
of return. Not a trace of pink. Brown.
Partially dust already. Sometimes it needs
to be this way in order for us to do
the work that must be done—the pulling
up of things by the roots and discarding
them into a pile. No, if there were any green chance
that the cosmos might bloom again,
it would be easier to tell the self a story
about how, with some luck and some care,
the plant might leap back to life.
But the story is a trick ladder,
every rung is covered in oil and even
if you reach the top it leads to nowhere.
Look. The flowers are dead. They were lovely once.
Say thank you. And give the stem a tug.

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For all the history of grief
an empty doorway and a maple leaf.
—Archibald MacLeish

I wanted to start this story
at the end, but couldn’t think
of any stories I believe are truly over.

Certainly not the one about you
and me and our lilies, the way they
bloomed beyond their time, how

even long after they dropped their petals
they still manage to plant themselves
in my thoughts every week. And bloom again.

The end. Well, there’s just nothing
more to say after those two words,
and nothing else to listen to.

I don’t know about you, but I love
a cliffhanger in every story except my own,
love the way my stomach

turns inside out while I wonder what
happens next. Will he forgive her?
Will her body open again like day lilies,

over and over? Our books are written
in unreadable ink. And oh, this longing
for completion, this longing to know.

Any garden could tell you that even after
the flowers die there’s the long slow plot of rotting,
the unhurried scenes of worms and grubs,

and even if the flowers are later replaced
by weeds, well the story itself doesn’t care
where it goes. Only the hero wants to know

that everything will be okay. But the story
it just keeps rising from the loam
of any old once upon a time.

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We tell stories about who we are and what life is, but seldom see that they’re only stories. The good news is that the truth is never far away. It’s right here, in fact, posing as backdrop.
—Erik Hansen, “The Island,”
Tricycle Magazine

Tonight the truth is posing as a short-haired cat,
gray and increasingly white muzzled.
She wants love. Now. She will scratch
for it, push for it, shove for it, yowl.
She has been left alone too long and
her black spine rises up to meet my hand
as I reach down toward her back. Not enough.
She leaps up and curls herself into an island
on my lap. People are usually more polite.
Unless we pout. Send darts with our eyes
with a note attached to the shaft that says,
Fuck you. I need you. Goddammit. Now. Please?
Oh the truth. How it messes everything up.
Like the story that says, I need your love.
It’s got so much drama, so much pull.
That story, a woman could build a whole life
around it before she ever thought to ask herself,
Is that true? The cat curls deeper into
my lap. I feel the tug toward the love
that I call you. My spine arcs as it rises up,
starving for your touch. My claws
come out as I start to purr. Who says
it has to make sense. I’ll do
whatever it takes to make you close.

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Winter Mundane

A glove in the road,
there it was, so misshapen
and flattened that at first I mistook it
for a dead bird, black,
run over by countless tires
until its feathers were
as unrecognizable
and useless as an old single
glove lost on the road.
There was some Once
Upon a Time in it, enough
that I read a whole life story
into the trampled threads.
I imagined how another someone
might peel up the remnants
of that old glove, take it home,
stretch it onto a canvas
and paint it, reclaim it as art.
But I was more filled with the part
of the story in which I walk past The End,
past the black glove, changed who knows how
by this simple trodden thing, finding myself
on the cliff of tears and strangely unable
to stop one foot from moving
in front of the other.

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Forgive me.
I was hurt
you did not
seem to care
about the story
of me. Ha.
The story of me.
It is not
so grand a thing.
This living, now
living is grand.
This living is
everything. But
the story? It
is just marketing.
Something I tell
myself and others
to believe
I am important.
Special. As if
it could be
any other way.
Every one of us
telling each other’s stories
every time
we open our mouths.
In the end,
which is to say now,
it does not matter
if you read
a single poem
I write. It does not
matter if you
never hear about
the silver wig
I ordered today
for the show
next week I
bought you a ticket for
so you might
be there with me.
Isn’t that funny,
after all these years,
I still long
for you to see me.
As if that act
of witness would fulfill
some mysterious
math in which
one and one
make something blissful
I dream is possible—
the way I try
sometimes (impossibly)
to be that mysterious
integer for you.
With this slight remove
of space and time,
I see it does
not matter if you
hear my story
or miss the show.
But it matters
if I can sit with you tonight
and know in my every breath
that I am enough.
That I have no lack
that you could ever fill.
I am empty for now
of once upon a times,
including the story that says
I need your forgiveness.
Here are two chairs.
They are side by side.
My darling. Here we are.

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