Week 20: Footfalls in the Dark

Fireflies swirling, you are more beautiful
Listen for footfalls in the dark
We are alone until the curtain goes
Smile again, my cheeks will burn away

Glasses fog in the cool air
A quivering lip says more than a tongue
Your eyelids don’t keep their secrets well
I won’t waste my breath on questions

The moon is snow and ice tonight
It will weep if it ever learns
the cruelty of its beauty.

Author’s Notes:

I’m very happy with this. It’s pretty and mysterious and I think you can read it in a few different ways. I’ve found I enjoy doing these little vignettes that focus on a small moment, without building much context around it. Like looking at an old photo of people you don’t know anything about, one snapshot is enough to provoke your mind into reflexively generating a meaning and context that is relevant to you.

Favorite Line:
Your eyelids don’t keep their secrets well

A Line I Find Slightly Cliché, But Still Like:
Fireflies swirling, you are more beautiful


Week 19: Wash Away

Letters left on the beach to wash away
a song sung into a cassette recorder, a box
of player piano rolls lost in an attic, Polaroids
tossed on a dashboard, edges curled by the sun

a stack of diaries in the basement, a manuscript
stored away in the back room of a museum
a mural painted over in white, ashes delicately chalked
onto the walls of an unexplored cave

a wish whispered to the stars
a postcard lost in the mail
a message left on an answering machine
and never heard

Author’s Notes:

A classic ‘list of things’ poem. This is the first week I’ve had trouble landing on a name for the poem. My practice has always been to pull text directly to use as a title (which I did end up doing here), but it really seems like ‘Washed Away’ would be a better title. I’m not sure, but Polaroid might be the first Brand that I’ve mentioned so far in this project.

I’ve been experimenting with something called enjambment recently, which is when a line ends uncompleted and continues on the next line. I like how it can add a bit of energy and flow to this type of poem that might otherwise seem really flat.

Favorite line(s):
a song sung into a cassette recorder, a box
of player piano rolls lost in an attic

A line that I removed, but still like:
An ancient echo, wandering its canyon like a ghost


Week 18: Veil

Wash of color on the driveway
purple shadows longer than the trees are tall
eastern sun, a veil of mist
a mourning dove calling from the wire

a loose brick in the sidewalk
a beam of light that appears from nowhere
there is something in the works, I can feel it

you may be warm and tight beneath your covers
but I am out here on my toes, shivering
waiting for something unexpected to appear
waiting for church bells to ring without a reason
or a bushel of apples to drop from their stems all at once
or a giant peony to bloom just below the surface of the earth
and open to the sky like a secret, velvet cave
and swallow us together into its ruffled folds, you and I

Author’s Notes:

This week’s poem very much fits into a style that I seem to have developed—create a setting using gentle, placid imagery that lulls you back, and then toss a pebble into the pond and watch the ripples.

The poem doesn’t totally resolve, which I sort of like, because it’s a poem about anticipation. I’m curious if it reads as being full of excitement or dread. I was trying to make it ambiguous, but I suspect that it will feel like one or the other depending on the person reading it.

Favorite Line:
and open to the sky like a secret, velvet cave

A Word that I add in and then deleted about 6 Times:
Light: [Light] wash of color on the driveway


Week 17: Vacancy

Look up—here is a monument to vacancy
a beacon floating bright above the motel
but then, a moment later, flip the sign
the last key is taken
all rooms are occupied, tired traveler
drive safely through the night
I hope you find a place somewhere
with a sink and a lamp
and a well-made bed

Author’s Notes:

This week’s poem is a little vignette. To me it feels like the motel itself is the one speaking to the traveler, which I like.

Favorite Line:
all rooms are occupied, tired traveler

The Line I Spent the Most Time On:
I hope you find a place somewhere


Week 16: Without Knocking

This visitor comes without knocking
She slides her hand into mine the instant I turn away
The pink spectacles of evening reduce the sky to a blush
I listen to the wind and feel her there beside me

I would sing if I only knew her name
I would dive into an ocean of leaves and I would sing
I would glaze the land with crystal ice if I could
And write her name twelve thousand times in the clouds

But these words are no friend to me
In an instant she is gone, even as I pull her close
Even the residual warmth of her palm is gone
She is gone and every sign of her has vanished

If this is some cruel trick of the shadows
The shades may take their ransom and leave
They may take my ashes and my divinity alike
There is no use for either without this one thing
For which I have no name to breathe

Author’s Notes:

This is one of my favorites so far, but I’m not quite sure why. I’m curious what other people think of it because it’s hard for me to know if it is easy to follow or not. Normally I’d go on and try to explain my take on the poem here, but maybe it’s better to just to let it stand on its own.

Favorite Line:
The pink spectacles of evening reduce the sky to a blush

Line the Seems Strange to me but Feels Right:
I would glaze the land with crystal ice if I could


Week 15: Wake Up

Wake up
faint morning arrives
black burns into ashy-gray
and gray blooms into roses

Wake up
there’s coffee
it’s hot and ready
so wake up

Author’s Notes:

This week’s poem is on the minimalistic side, but I’m really happy with it. The description of a sunrise is understated in a way that I think suits the poem, and I think that the poem makes a very practical argument to get you out of bed:

Wake up
there’s a beautiful sunrise out there
and also I made coffee.

(Note on the Author’s Note: At this point in writing the Author’s Note, the author has stopped writing and now has a very confused look on his face as he slowly realizes that the little poem summary he just wrote is probably a better poem than the actual poem itself. He looks at his computer dumbly, and doesn’t really know what to do about that.)

Favorite Line:
there’s a beautiful sunrise out there

Favorite Poem:
The poem I accidentally wrote when I was trying to describe the original one.