Coffee Cup Poem no.94

Happy Birthday Visit for July

I went to celebrate your birthday
armed with beer and a heavy heart,
drove to the sunny cemetery,
and found men mowing the lawn.

I waited.

And kept waiting for thirty minutes
ccp94 alone in my car, until finally
I had to open up the beer.
Had no opener, so I fought with my keys
which took about ten minutes
so I guess that passed the time.

They werestill mowing and I know
they saw me sitting in my car
waiting and yet they kept driving
on those tiny golf cart mowers
up and down, up and down
to feed my anxiety.

I finished my beer and felt
at a loss of what came next.
I opened another, because, after all,
that’s what one does when at a loss.

Still they mowed until finally I got out,
walked to the grave, small steel plaque
flat in the ground. The bastards probably
mowed over the damn thing.
They gave me judgmental looks,
so I quickly prayed and left.

All the while I was wondering
how the dead feel, up in heaven
or down in hell, about being
mowed over with a heavy machine
on a weekly basis.

I suppose some are just happy
for the visit.

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.

“Year of Magical Thinking”

Joan called it her year of magical thinking
and I cannot help but be anything
but captivated by her words, so true
in their applications.

I still seem to muddle through
not noticing the illogical holes in my view
of what happened, and where you’ve gone
as if you are anything but.

I get stuck on the details, even ones
that I can’t remember clearly, they’ve gone
from view and I am motionless
in thought.

It has been a year, my year
of magical thought and I fear
that it will go on somewhat longer
than simply one year.

It seems these thoughts have been put off
and I struggle to place them in any logical
context of time and space.
Instead they float, elusive as I have made them
waiting, patiently, to be addressed.

Coffee Cup Poem no.81

Daydreams

I’m running out of dreams in days of thoughts
thoughts that take me to the reaches of space
to a blue bigger on the inside box
to everything that will be, is and was once
to every possible me, no mater how farfetched,
to every impossible me, far too farfetched
and foreign to the maps I’ve so long depended on.

I’ve blundered, in my thoughts, a disappearing act
of time and space, those wild concepts
between the synapses and regions of that vast map
that charts our souls and logs the latitudes of dreams
into what dangerous depths, so strange
are the longitudes of young and old and linear,
I pushed to the edges of the big flat world
sailing, myself, in wood or metal or air
on something old, new, borrowed, and blue
something evading my thoughts anew.

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.64

Definitely a work in progress, but for now:

Reading Musings of Childhood Nostalgia

My hands linger on these pages
as if trying to take back
my childhood
even if just one word, one word
of something I know is gone.
I want these words to look as they did,
promise the same enchantment,
as I stay longing on this page
am I looking for answers?

Could I still make friends
with a Black Stallion,
when shipwrecked after raiding
a hooked captain’s ship
deep in the Wonderland
I found hidden in a wardrobe
or was it Platform nine and three quarters?
 As I take a magic carpet into the sunset
not with a prince,
but with a friendly giant,
will animals guide me anywhere, anymore?

Magic, I miss
magic is what leaps into my mind
from these words, childhood’s words
but I no longer believe it
the way I did ten years ago or five.
Nostalgia is the word I find,

for the places this story
used to transport me
the first time,the second time,
the times I believed.

No, no.
I don’t think so,
My imagination has grown up
and these are no longer beliefs
but wistful musings.
Still, I’d rather let them take me
far away to lands un-inhibited
by thoughts of politics, economics…
Wendy returned from Neverland.

A smile returns to my face
hoping to travel away
as I turn the final page.

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.

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!