Coffee Cup Poem no.93

When Women Write about Death

Roxanne Roberts wrote about how the Grieving
“never ends,” how suicide stays with you,
her father, dead, like mine—two events
so singular and so unique, but then again not.

I feel more like Joan Didion at the death of her husband,
a cool customer, unable to formulate thoughts,Coffee Cup Poem no.93
wasting brain on the fly on the wall, waiting
for the panic to hit—the frenzy to begin.

I am still young in my writing—
without the luxury of looking back, years later,
and putting this in perspective, if possible.
No, it never goes away, but lingers

sometimes in the front of consciousness,
but sometimes just as that fly on the wall,
the monster in the closet that no bedtime story
can eradicate. I am no cool customer, and no

statistics citer—I will never be either,
I am a mad woman in the attic, biding time
until I feel better and some days I do and
that nightmare under the bed goes quiet.

Some days I sleep peacefully and restfully
without waking in a sweat, without seeing violence
under my eyelids, without cringing at images,
once indifferent but now unsettling.

Some days things are alright, but other days
I hold back the frenzy, like a shadow it follows me
sewn to my toes and mockingly dancing with pain
as it pokes at the back of my neck trying to get a rise.

No, I am no cool customer and no trodden advocate—
I will never be either; instead I am a mad frenzy
of pent up energy and love that bangs on the edges—
knock, knock, knocking—at my head continuously.

Slam Poem

This week my students had a poetry slam and I participated. This is the poem I shared/performed with them titled “Nerd.”

When I was a kid I won a medal
For reading two hundred books in the third grade
Cool, right?
You see, back when we were wild eyed children
peering at the grass and searching through it
to see if it held secrets, and rummaging
through cabinets trying to find a hidden
door to a secret world, only to find that box
of pop-tarts mom put high up so we wouldn’t
gorge ourselves on sugar,
well, being a nerd was alright.

Then something changed—
suddenly it was uncool to read and
in middle school I was meant to spend time
practicing N’Sync dance moves.
My friends would say that books made me look
like a geek and nobody wants to be friends
with a geek. Turns out I needed new friends,
because really I was led in a terrible direction
when they prompted me to tie my hair in
a fake-haired scrunchy,roll my shirt up
to expose my tummy, and put on
3 inch foam Spice Girls platforms.
I was 5’7 in the 7th grade and I looked ridiculous.

So in high school I decided to hang out in a different click,
because everyone has clicks in high school even if
they don’t like to admit, and I was deemed a punk and a nerd-
which was fine because I was no longer the “geeky giant”
with a man-shoulders and weird Next-Gen t-shirt that
I wore at least once a week—although it still made appearances.

Now I get called a nerd at least five times a week,
which is okay, because I am.
But I also see it being used to put kids down,
like it’s something terrible—a visible scar,
but it’s not an insult that could be hurled
or at least it shouldn’t be.

I’ve come to terms with what it means to be a nerd.
My nerdiness connects me to the world and
to something larger and less self-serving
than just myself. It connects me
to ideas and feelings and wonder
about where our world is going
and also where it has been
To me, being a nerd means I take time
to investigate the world around me
and that I form relationships
with others who also question
and think critically,
and most importantly have curiosity
about anything.

You see, being a nerd is never an insult,
but a point of pride and self-love
and I will go on being a nerd
because like bowties,
nerds are cool.

So take some time to pull those glazed over eyes
from the glare of a screen and examine what it means
to be a human being.
You see, I think it is a human strength that we
cannot fully understand our own existence.
In hundreds of years of good and bad guesses
music that pulls that heartstrings, literature that seeks
to define love and grief, as if it is possible, we have yet
to come up with a ‘right’ answer or an encyclopedia entry
on the perfect and purest form of humanity.
It is our vast complexity and trek for discovery
that really keep us going.

The minute we have all the answers—
solve every equation, predict every outcome,
analyze every emotion and idiosyncrasy
or worse, the minute we don’t care to seek,
is the minute humanity ceases to be unique.

So you don’t have to be a nerd about sci-fi or books,
You don’t even have to be a nerd about anything “nerdy”
but be a nerd about something–engage it,
because once you believe you have all the answers
life ceases to interest you—time
becomes a constraint sent to bind you
in infinite boredom, but you are bored
not because you have all the answers,
you are bored because you have ceased to look.

I may be a Trekkie and still aim for 200 books a year,
but that is simply what I chose to love.
That is simply how I discover and chart my world.
Pursue wonder and never stop searching
for that something that makes you passionate
and makes you feel something.
Because at the heart, being a nerd is not about what you love
but it is about the way you love it.

Coffee Cup Poem no.76

Words of Wisdom

Sometimes I feel as though I’m a raving lunatic
Simply hiding behind a facade
of compound sentences
neatly arranged words
that sometimes transform
into something coherent.

The pen moves sturdy and even
across the page, making clear
the thoughts raging and banging.
Is the page an outlet
or a lined cage?

Words some may call wise
are sometimes thoughts of madness
merely packaged and sold
to a wantingaudience.

Life lessons from the Mad Hatter,
what a confused philosophy.

Coffee Cup Poem no.68

Come With Me, Little Girl, Dusk is Drawing Near

The world I know is burning away
Beams of sunlight fall with ashen tips,
On fire and lost in the surges of gray.

My heart sinks, lost in the searing fray
As light fades black behind an eclipse
The world I know is burning away.

And yet I drag my feet, stumbling astray
As songbirds sing for me. Mute, my lips
On fire and lost in the surges of gray.

Someone’s voice is telling me to stay
But I do not want to hear, lost, my mind slips.
The world I know is burning away.

Before my eyes, the town ignites, a bouquet
Of ashen coals and sunset singed tips
On fire and lost in the surges of gray.

I force a breath, thick with cinders, melee
Has taken over and I search for a grip–
The world I know is burning away

I fall in front of a charred alter, pray,
But its all so overwhelming and I see it slip
The world I know is slowly burning away
On fire and lost in the surges of gray.

Coffee Cup Poem no.72

I know, I know. I took a bit of a vacation due to a very busy school/work schedule, but I’m back and writing!

Delivery Matters

In a bookstore,
a peaking light
streaks the new covers
of old titles
siting idle on dusting shelves.

The electronics section buzzes
with their future, their fate
hanging on shrinking shelves
as seldom turned pages crumle in
on themselves.

Will they ever be turned
or stay in exile,
exile from modernity
and quick convenience?
Some shall stay loyal

Loyal to their pages
full of the past’s secrets,
in printed words, annotations…
there is nothing quite like
turning a page by force

and not by the simulated
the one-hundred-percent glare protected
the adjustable font and spaces
the immune to inked annotations
the coffee stain resistant

perfection of a digital book.
I don’t believe literature
was ever meant to be so clean
as made by the computer screen.

Coffee Cup Poem no.67

Something Wicked This Way Comes

The leaves dance in anticipation,
Letting loose a sea of green
That travels in waves over the wind
Landing in swirls of verdant

This is only the beginning

Clouds presume over sinister waltzes
Performed for a gallery of crying of swallows
As they loom, watching, waiting
Threatening to pour over souls restless.

And now, the rising action

Ominous drums quicken their step,
While spotlights flash in the dark
And illuminate the tempest dancers
Twirling faster, faster to keep up.

Time for the denouement

A strike across the sky, chaos
And confusion of light, no one
Can see the play as gleams fall heavy
Across the stage, a menacing act.

The Shadow Show has come to town to stay.

Coffee Cup Poem no.63

Happy Easter! I decided to write a poem about a rabbit, but it’s not exactly cheery. It’sreally just the retelling of a Grimms’ fairy tale “The Rabbit’s Bride.”

A Rabbit’s Tail for Good Luck

Sit on my tail and go with me,
Go with me to the Rabbit hutch, he said
Gathering cabbage, waiting patiently
As the girl, young and clever, looked suspiciously
At what the Rabbit had said.

Sit on my tail and go with me,
Go with me to the Rabbit hutch, he said
Twitching now, impatiently,
Jerking his ears, leaning back on his haunches,
You will be my wife the Rabbit said.

Sit on my tail and go with me,
Go with me to the Rabbit hutch, he said
And she gathered a boquet and accepted his plea
Thinking what a beautiful bride she would be
I will go with you to the Rabbit hutch, she said.

So the went together to the Rabbit hutch
To be married happily, as he said
But the girl, very clever indeed
Snared the Rabbit, her groom to be
And carried him home, so it is said.

She took the Rabbit to her mother
And they cooked him in a stew as they said
Never again will he steal our cabbage
Or tempt this young clever girl to marriage
And mother and daughter kept his tail, so it is said.

Coffee Cup Poem no.62

Jolly Holiday

We rode our dreams
on a carousel
and let it carry us into dusk
where our eyes fluttered
with the blurring colours
of kaleidoscope horses
until dew tipped the panes
and pryed open our hearts
letting in the grey light
of dawn.

My mind goes to the darby though
with dusk’s spinning horses
across now distant thoughts
I close the shutters
and welcome the night’s races.

Coffee Cup Poem no.61

With Heavy Pockets She Followed Your Banks

She lingered in an oversized coat,
Shrugging off crisp morning air and
Slipping out for a dew laden walk
Certain she is going mad again.

You could have turned her away,
Not beckoned her with the gentle silver
of a bitter oasis, singing a sirens song
so welcome through the fog

but through the fog.

She walked steadily, serenely,
with purpose into the frigid stream and
With heavy pockets she followed your banks
Certain she was going mad again.

Soldiers passed on a bridge ahead, ready for war
as you carried her away safe and in solace,
and a trench coat filled with stones.
There, you held her secrets tight with yours.

Bedtime stories turned insomnia cures

In my opinion, one of the most challenging things to do as an author is to create a work that is both appropriate and enjoyable for young readers, yet equally entertaining for adults. For adults this entertainment is not purely nostalgic, but genuine. These stories are plain and simple magic. They combine elements that capture a young person’s imagination and stimulate an adults. Since I think this is a great accomplishment for any author, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite books that I feel fit very neatly into this category.

1. Anything by Roald Dahl. Really. Take your pick. Here is the short list of some of my favorites/his most well known.

  • The BFG
  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • Matilda
  • The Witches

2. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll
3. Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
4. The Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
5. The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien
6. The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
7. Peter Pan, J.M. Berry
8. Haroun and the Sea of Stories, Salman Rushdie
9. A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens (Can’t forget the holiday spirit, now can we?)
10. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster (One of my sister’s favorites)
11. Watership Down, Richard Adams
12. The Giver, Lois Lowry

One of my favorites on this list is Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Rusdie (its sequal, Luka and the Fire of Life is equally entertaining). There is a wealth of history and culture in this book, and I would eventually like to incorporate in my curriculum. When High School Students are taught multi-cultual novels, they are often from a very short list of books in the cannon (India, if covered at all, is usually studied through the eyes of Kipling). Now, Rushdie is certainly in the canon, however when teachers decide to use one of his novels it is usually Midnight’s Children, which is an extraordinary undertaking for a HS student. Haroun offers a literary merit that should satisfy even the most enthusiastic clingers to the classics, and, most importantly, a story and characters that students can connect with and will root for. You can’t help but feel as if you’re carried along on a magic carpet and transported into a world where the Word and Stories not only have extraordinary power, but are valued by all. Not only is it fun, but it actually satisfies Common Core Standards too.

These are just a few in what is probably a list of many. My options are not terribly extensive considering the fact that I’m limited to books I’ve read both when I was younger and as an adult. I would love to hear some childhood favorites that you still pick off the bookshelf for a good read. Hopefully (although you are no longer a child or young adult) you can find enjoyment in reading some of these books. I know I certainly still do!