Poetry in Motion Monday: Emily Dickinson


“Hope” is the thing with feathers—
That perches in the soul—
And sings the tune without the words—
And never stops—at all—

And sweetest—in the Gale—is heard—
And sore must be the storm—
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm—

I’ve heard it in the chillest land—
And on the strangest Sea—
Yet—never—in Extremity,
It asked a crumb—of me.

—appeared previously on Poetry Foundation


An Evening of Poetry with David Dodd Lee

Hi everyone! David Dodd Lee will be reading from a variety of his nine collections of poetry this Thursday, March 10, 2016, at 7pm, at Indiana University South Bend—and yours truly will be introducing him. We hope to see you there!

UPDATE: Event postponed and rescheduled for March 10, 2016.


Poetry in Motion Monday: David Dodd Lee

Hello all! This week, the wonderful David Dodd Lee will be reading from a variety of his nine collections (view the event here), and in my excitement, I have decided to share three poems instead of one. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. All Best!


Beautiful scallops of painted metal drip in the rain.
Love just keeps smacking
Into these tormented cold mirrors, like leaves
Throwing down their wet brown faces.

Perhaps the moment is inside the woman,
Or contained inside her yet-to-be daughter.
Perhaps I’ll find
In a field lassoed by the curves of a stuffed river
The fingerprints of my only love.

Or perhaps I’ll simply stand in the horizon
Of a lamplit doorway
And fix my lapel for the duration.
Watch the past fly over the harbor, a missile,
That explodes like an exhalation of paint.

Someone has thoughtfully lined the cold floor
With tissues.
I could live with this kind of never-ending . . .
A vanishing point. A hallway.



The earth turns around its molten core.

I know that. I knew it, felt it.

Empyrean. Dream.

Lavender heat, streaming. In bed.

Moths swallowed in the lost porch light.

Hot and sweet, tallow.

Beneath a racing of blue-black clouds.

She breathes on the tree.

A boat drifts halfway home, gets mired in the reeds.

The windows glow.

Moths in the soup. The moths are angels.

Angels with snatches.

They flow from dark banks in the North. “Eros (The Fisherman)”

He heard a flock of geese whispering once.

She shows him what they meant.

Her throat is like a tunnel. Her heart spits sun spots.

The moths piss on his stomach. They sing.

He eats one. (Taste of salt, a finger.)

He imagines a drill bit piercing the crust of the earth.

Instead of water, birds fly out of the hole.

They cover the moon.

He smells animal flesh cooking, hot in the wind.

Love on the river.

Mouth of hell. Mouth of heaven. A cave.

Drink until you’re no longer hungry.



It wasn’t all that long ago I watched a guy drink himself
to death he really died   pissed all over himself first   all over the couch
later I saw the box cutter in the sink   I wish I could have saved him
that same week I saw a giant swallowtail come up from Florida banking like
a boat through the Dakota-like plains west of Galesburg
and I knew I was a little bit singing / dying each minute   my hands
clutching the wheel of the mower she was the angel of death that butterfly
And then my hands on the girl   who dreamed and dreamed while I kissed her
I watched her circulate in her clothes   Then I start thinking
I’m not capable of thinking   I’m just beating the wind with my nuts
I tell you from there things get foggy   like many arrows whistling
through rain   a confluence of vanishing points   As a child I lived near a hollow
scooped out in the dunes   I watched the dying alewives
float under my balls while the hair sprouted around my
nipples and my spine grew long as a vine strangling a phone pole
As long as I can remember the trees
clung to the cliffs of sand   Nothing begins with me   Nothing stays the same
Nothing gropes its way home   Those days and now These   snap dragons
and tulips   marigolds   I ate a basket of purple beans last night
grew them in the damp arbor sun of the late afternoon
when you throw them in boiling water they turn green
it’s a miracle of alchemy   they were crunchy because I was so hungry
I went to buy my lover a goldfish   I think of minnows shifting
over a moonlit bed   I think of hot water cutting grease off a knife
I clotheslined a bastard once   he was holding a beer in a cup
it was a long time ago   there was an old wood stove smoking in the corner
of a room   it was full of burning hickory
the ground outside was littered with fresh dogwood petals
I reached my fingers out for a second because I thought it was snowing
I left the fish in its bag   he didn’t die but almost
Tom   she said   Rick?   the T.V. was airing a show about weather
All I could see was a shutter torn off a house and blown
across an empty street   one lamp was on   I got
out of there quickly   I started thinking about my life   the way it sometimes
sparkled like a blue gill caught in the sun or grew dark
like the rain in a yard full of lumber and bricks   I could see my breath
I peeled off a culvert   I listened to the hum of a street light
it kept getting later and later   I walked all night
At dawn I saw that giant swallowtail slowly fanning her black wings
in my driveway like a candle burning in an empty church

Poetry in Motion Monday: Chase Twichell


A sparrow lights
among the open cones
high in the white pine.
Then slips, a leaf
travelling the green ladders
down to the spiced humus
which feeds on all things
missing, all things lost.
The cloven prints of deer,
a squirrel’s immaculate spine,
and somewhere between
the wind and the gray leaves
a far-off waterfall
pours through the cold air,
dismantling a tree,
stripping away the bodies
that the souls may not
linger here among us.
The migrant orioles
disown the paintless birdhouse
vacant in the birch.
Pendulous with grapes, vines
scrawl across the lattice,
scattering raisins
darkened with wine
into the black breakdown of soil.
For years a neighbor swept
the long, cloud-colored
boards of his porch,
and the grit suspended,
like the sound of the axe
in the stacked wood.
Now he lives where even
the wind dissolves,
in a house of breathless passages,
the windows open to birds and snow,
a lock full of rust on the door.

Favorable Fiction Friday: Lydia Davis



If we hadn’t stopped on our way to the ceremony to look at the pen of black pigs, we wouldn’t have seen the very large pig lunge at the smaller one, to force him away from the feeding trough.

If we hadn’t come early and seated ourselves on a bench in the sunlight under the pavilion roof to await the start of the ceremony, we wouldn’t have seen the runaway pony trot past trailing its rope.

If we hadn’t heard the sudden murmur of our neighbors on the benches in the cold sunlight under the pavilion before the start of the ceremony, we wouldn’t have looked up to see the bride coming in her bright green dress from a distance walking briskly with long strides hand in hand with her mother.

If we hadn’t craned our necks to look around the people standing in front of us, prepared to officiate and take part in the ceremony, we wouldn’t have seen how the bride came, her head bowed, her mother’s head bowed, her mother talking seriously to her, the two of them never looking up, as though there were no one else present, toward the pavilion, the guests, the poised cameras, the ceremony, and her future husband who stood waiting for her.

If we hadn’t looked away from the ceremony in which the couple getting married stood before their officiating Buddhist friend while their other assembled friends and family chanted Indian and other chants, we wouldn’t have seen the Hasidic and Asian families walk past the pavilion gazing curiously at us on their way to and from the Corn Maze.

If we hadn’t walked across the room in which the reception was beginning, past the two accordionists, man and woman, to look out the back windows at the wedding party being photographed in the cold October sunlight late in the day to the sound of klezmer music, we wouldn’t have seen the two families of pheasants run along the crest of the pumpkin field toward the shelter of the woods.

If we hadn’t walked across the reception room to stand next to strangers at the back windows, we wouldn’t have seen the wedding party being photographed with their faces toward the setting sun, holding each other in the cold, laughing and stumbling as they changed positions and poses between shots, with accordion music behind us in our background so that the scene we were watching was suddenly like the end of a happy Italian movie.

If we hadn’t returned to look out the back windows later during the reception, after the speeches in the far corner of the room and after the dinner sitting close to people we knew but across from strangers, we wouldn’t have seen the brown cow raise her nose and toss her head, standing under a tree, and chew her cud looking up at the sky.

If we hadn’t left the reception hall for a moment after dark, before coming back in to the light and music and dancing, we wouldn’t have seen the black round shapes in the branches of the trees which were the chickens roosting.

—Previously appeared with The Paris Review

Workshop Wednesday, with a Chainsaw

Hi everyone! To get your writing juices pumping today, I’ve put together something fun for you to do. You’ve probably seen this image around on Facebook:


So now I want you to do something similar! I want you to either take a story or poem that you love, or one that you are working on, and add “with a chainsaw” to the title. Consider how that changes the story or poem. Seriously, especially with poetry or surrealist fiction, this could be really great! Or really scary. Especially now that the Weather Channel is talking “blizzard.” Uh oh.