Archive for the ‘What does it mean?’ Category:

Wordless Times


I lost my father in July. Then in August, my husband underwent a high-risk surgery. And then last week, I had surgery to determine whether I have cancer. (It looks like I do not.) Now everything that has always felt certain is entirely up for grabs. We have been so well-loved and supported by friends and family that I am not frantic or filled with dread. In fact, the time feels distilled. But I am wordless.

Usually, if I sit very still, the words for what I believe and experience will slide into place. There’s a “click” and I know that the sounds and meanings I’ve gathered say what I want to say. But now is a time of half-completed phrases, of writing one word and replacing it with three more, none of them right. It’s a time of short, stiff journal entries.

Instead of writing, I am reading: Madeleine L’Engle’s A WIND IN THE DOOR, which I hear from childhood in my Nana’s voice; the stream-of-consciousness poetry of Jorie Graham’s OVERLORD, which made no sense to me ten years ago and now makes me weep without explanation; Mary Doria Russell’s THE SPARROW, which my husband and I read aloud, and are still unpacking. Right now questions are more nourishing than answers.

I think that I am lying fallow—resting and waiting to plant new words: lush and vibrant ones that will emerge when it is time for harvest. Deep underground my hidden story waits. I’m going to trust it to come when it’s ready.

I’d love to see you on Wednesdays, at Bellevue College North Campus, starting September 23 for fall classes: Writing the Hidden Story, The Plot Thickens, and Cultivating Complex Characters. Sign up ASAP to insure a spot.






Who is This?

I shot the pic ten years ago when I saw this unmistakable image in my backyard. Unmistakable, but I have no idea what it is. (I showed it to some students today who are going to use it on their new writing blog, for which I’ll give you the link as soon as it’s up.) What do you think? Anyone you recognize?

Analyze That!

Another poem, discovered as I was packing. Evidently, I had to include certain words, chosen by the audience, hence, “the niceties of samosas and ivory smiles.” What does it all mean?

The Snoqualmie River


You have arrived at the place where the water turns south,
the place where you dispense with the niceties of samosas and ivory smiles.
It is the tertiary question that will hopscotch you to the truth.

The first: With what adjective
does one define waiting?

The second: Connect the dots;
what feather image forms itself?

The third: Listen to each breath.
It is enough.

Now you swim wearing only
the questions—
a kind of nakedness that offers you no foothold,
only the shock of full
the rush of current,
your own strong lungs.

This is Not a Poem

Is not a poem,
so don’t go thinking it is.
Poems are loaded
with similes
like peach trees in August
and metaphor~
a naked man running.
But this is not one,
so don’t bother analyzing it,
writing exams about it,
or pretending to understand it

Analyze This!

Found a bunch of somewhat-weird poems I’d never typed up. Here’s one. No idea what I was thinking when I wrote it, so have at it:


The day I stumbled into the house you built,
it was a labyrinth—
Chinese boxes
or Russian dolls,
each growing smaller
until I disappear.

You can get lost in a house like that.

I wonder about the rat.
Did he starve
when there was no longer any malt?

I could never begin to clean a house like yours,
all lopsided,
falling in on itself.
It makes me angry.

You should hire
the third pig,
the one with the bricks;
he knows more
about solid things
than you.

As it is
you trap people in here—
all the stairs,
windows that go nowhere,
the locked back door.