Baker’s Lament

My brownie recipe has died.

/Is dead to me.

I think that recipe worked by magic
by a particular magic
that was only available in one kind of space and time and since we moved


it’s gone.

I know it’s the recipe because I’ve Tried Everything

I know it’s my failure because for god’s sake

who has this much trouble making brownies.

This means something about me, I know it, I know it even if I know it

-they’re like bricks-

I think it’s just not a good day.

Art of the Class

Teaching is like
making crafts.

There is so much potential in the pieces,
the little sequins that think they’re real jewels,
the wide-eyed googlies that don’t know where to look
or how to see,

black faux-leather cords
bare wood with that just-cut smell
scraps of patch and fabric

each of these arrayed before the artist,
ready to be shaped into something
fun, interesting, colorful, complicated,

Some teachers survey the scene and grab the glue and
voilá! they’ve hit the mark. Pinterest these kids, I want to make some
for my classroom.

Other teachers don’t have the eye for glue and ribbons.
Don’t have the patience to thread the beads, to hold the pieces together
until they’ve truly connected; don’t have a head for cuts and colors.

They can see the final project
in their mind’s eye;

But this crooked, unfinished thing they hand back
to the parents

is not quite it.


“If you don’t study the past you are doomed to repeat it!”
we say, and that is sense to us, common sense to Us,

but not to Them;
“History is written by the victors,” they say
“We want to repeat it
threepeat it
in perpetuity”
(Do they know such big words???)

“We want,” they say, “to gild it,
polish its rough edges till they shine like glory
so there is no wrong path,
or splinter to snag

we will build a yellow brick road to follow
to an Emerald City,
the future, our future, the future of the past,
history reflecting off emeralds, reflecting on emeralds
and sparkling as it has always done”

we say

that’s not how it works!
What of the scarecrow and the tin man–
the man behind the curtain–
not a wizard at all, and what–
and those who live outside the city, they–

what about the witches? we ask

History is written by the victors;
victory to victory, victory to victory–
who are We to break Their streak?

When Trucks Pass Trucks

Loneliness is like any other beast

It just wants to live
to hold on where it has found purchase
and grow, quietly

In the embrace of loneliness it is we who become strange
Crying out and shying away at the same time,

we wonder why no one takes the hand
we are not offering.

If I drove a truck
mile after mindless mile
feeling, always, a dizzy sense
of boredom behind the eyes

and forever being passed by

then maybe if I found a friend —
a fellow truck, to chug quietly behind
a partner in size, no minnow
of a car to be dragged away by the current

I could understand
how the loneliness on my skin might grow hot
and I might churn, and chafe
and declare in pique that I would not follow

And I can picture, maybe
the satisfaction of creeping foot-by-foot, even and ahead
of that other truck, hulking whale of a thing

the delight of trailing impatient cars behind me
raging like a comet tail
all eyes on me in perfect frowning focus

and the driver of that other truck,
glancing over at the moment of reversal;
a single,
stupid moment

of contact.

To That Guy From The Subway

To that guy from the 7 train
and then, if memory serves, the 6

-This was over two years ago-

To that guy who talked to me
for what, twenty minutes
maybe a bit more

I want you to understand.

Because your recent visits
to my linkedin profile
(the only social media that leaves fingerprints)
that perhaps I am still on your mind.

There was never going to be anything romantic between us.
Not ever: I didn’t live there;
I wasn’t staying; I had a different crush;
I was never, ever going to start something with a guy
I met on the subway.
It’s not my way.

But perhaps, you might say, perhaps
despite all that, we could have been friends
and maybe, you might say, with a slightly wounded look
maybe that’s all you wanted in the first place.

I will tell you why we are not friends.

We are not friends because you changed your opinions
to match mine, and I didn’t trust you.

We are not friends because when we talked
you leaned one hand high against the wall of the train
and held the pole I was holding with the other,
effectively trapping me in the corner
and you were much bigger than me
and I was uneasy.

We are not friends because you followed me
from one train to another, even though you’d told me
you were headed in a different direction.

We are not friends because it didn’t occur to you
that I might find it unsettling that you followed me
to that second train.

We are not friends because even though the 6
was packed literally to the gills, and I was the
person who could fit,
you shoved
your weight in
such that every single person in the car
was jostled to fit you.

We are not friends because I was worried
about what would happen when I got off the train.
If you would follow me then, too.
If you would dog me until you got my number.

I gave you an email address instead, forgetting
that my name was attached to the account.
(Rookie mistake.)
I didn’t know how to just say
because you didn’t seem like you knew how to hear it.

I want to be very clear.
I didn’t think you were going to kill me.
I didn’t think you were going to rape me.

But that’s not the point.

Sharing Cre8ivity: A song about a poem…

Jenny LaJoye is a singer/songwriter who came up with a project called Sharing Cre8ivity that goes like this: you send her something cool you created (song, poem, art, story…) and she writes/performs a song inspired by your work. Then everybody shares.

A few weeks ago, I submitted my poem Little Tykes to the project, and today Jenny came out with this lovely song in response. Check it out, and if you’re interested, submit something yourself!


…For reference, here’s the original poem the song is inspired by:

Little Tykes

Holding a glass of milk with two hands
while I drink doesn’t just make me look childish
it makes me feel like a child,
which is why I do it—
to remember when a glass of milk was big
and required two hands
to put myself back in smaller shoes and
a time when looking over the edge of the glass
in wide-eyed innocence and enjoyment
wasn’t the least bit disingenuous

and I recommend it.

Act like a child sometimes—
not just “someone who hasn’t matured
to adulthood,” but an actual child
run like a child, hold a crayon
in a ham-fisted grip good for scribbling
(hold a crayon at all)
do simple tasks as if it makes you proud
and important
to have done them—
Look mommy, I finished my milk!
taste things as if you’ve never had them before
take the steps two feet to a tread,
because once your little legs
needed each other’s support for each ascent

Remember what it was like
when the world was so much bigger than you
and realize that it still is

Window Thoughts

The squirrels are thin here, which I like
full of energy and brass, unwary
or maybe just wary enough

The locust outside the living room is massive
far enough away that it doesn’t obscure the view but fills it,
from certain angles
and from those angles it makes me think of dinosaurs,
as trees often do;
of herbivores, monumental, not frightening but
absorbing of attention

The sky changes frequently.
Weather predictions can’t keep up with it and often
do not seem to try;
I have seen it slate and cobalt, white and yellow-
tinged, lit, touched
with pink and orange, blue
and haze-blue and gray-blue
and piled with puffed white clouds
with sooty bottoms

The rain streaks cleanly down the panes.

Living Alone

It came up with the couch and left through the plumbing,
and if I could have saved it, I…might have

if it hadn’t crawled up near my ear;
if it hadn’t been so damn fast

The theory behind a bowl is supposed to be catch-and-release;

Trap. That is the theory.

I left it for days.

I didn’t want to kill it
I told myself it had to die
I repeated the words of murderers before me
I’m just following orders, I almost said.

This was not a triumph.

In anything like a fair fight
the spider would have won.

Poll Results and Poem

For anyone who’s interested, let me summarize the poll results from my last post — and thank the voters! In general, it seems people prefer when papers are due in class (although midnight was a close second) and hit the sweet spot between choices and guidance. They have a strong preference for guided, partnered peer review and a dislike of chalkboard lectures, and they really like sitting in circles. The comments I received on facebook were also really helpful, and I’ve already started to incorporate ideas into my course calendar and syllabus. Thanks again!

Now, here is a short poem about my week before I get back to work:


Should I be appreciating
last twine-around-my-legs-of-the-cat
last loading-this-dish-into-the-dishwasher
(or maybe still second-last)

Should I be tearing up whenever
I look at the flowers outside,
or the pictures on the wall,
or light in trees where soon I’ll have a parking lot

I’ll be coming back but
it seems much more meaningful
more dramatic
to act like I am losing something
if only
to force myself to realize

that I am gaining something