Week 33: By Order, Not by Name

You know me by sight
By order, not by name

I know you by your freckles
Medium light roast, please

You hand me my drink
The same one I always get
I smile and say thank you
You smile brighter, right on cue

I will see you in a week
And probably the next week
And maybe the next one after that

And then on some gray Friday
You will be gone
A shift change or a new job
I will never know

Author’s Notes:

There is a unique kind of relationship that you have with people who you only interact within specific, limited contexts that I think is interesting—a lot of times this might be customer service type relationships, or people who regularly overlap with your public transit schedule, or things like that.

You can develop a certain type of comfort and coexistence with them without necessarily knowing a thing about them, and your mind automatically fills in gaps, and you start to feel like you know them. And it’s funny, because eventually one day, they’ll be gone and you’ll never see them again, and it’s not exactly sad, but it does feel odd— like you were robbed of a goodbye.


Week 32: Dressed and Ready

There is a car parked out front—
its headlights on, engine running quietly

you peek through the drapes, careful not to be seen
and you see me sitting there at the steering wheel—
not starring at the door impatiently
not muttering to my wristwatch about lost time
not looking nervous or full of expectation
but just waiting, as if waiting were itself a thing to do

you can’t recall how long it has been, seconds or days
but you look down and see you are dressed and beautiful
and you notice your hand is on the doorknob, turning it
and you find yourself stepping out into the cool breeze
walking lightly down the steps with a little bounce
moving carelessly, as if you were a slip of the tongue
or an accidental smile

as you open the car door you feel the feeling
of not quite remembering—the feeling
of having lost your page in a book—
what once was is no longer
the world is an empty place
all you know is you are going somewhere new.

Author’s Notes:

I think this week’s poem is interesting because it has as oddness and unanchored feeling to it, while still being sweet and optimistic. I like it, but I’m not sure if it will read well for most people or not. There is some funky stuff going on with narrative perspective that is a bit risky. I’m tempted to try and talk through it, but that sort of kills the poem, so I think I’ll refrain.

Favorite Line:
“moving carelessly, as if you were a slip of the tongue”

Line that I Stole from a Friend:
“what once was is no longer”


Week 31: Autumn will Come

The corn is in the fields
the sun is high
a cool breeze is moving
the cicadas are whirring
birds are chatting between branches
a yellow crop duster buzzes overhead

I am sitting outside in my chair
thinking about how soon autumn will come
and I will have to remember where exactly
I packed away my flannels and my jeans.

Author’s Notes:

This week’s poem is a little low-key, but a nice thing about doing a year-long project is that having a few seasonal, environmental poems sprinkled throughout feels right.

Upon reviewing the poem, one thing that strikes me is that it is interesting how the feeling of a particular moment in the year is affected by the prospect of the coming season. Even though the start of August is by no means the end of summer, there is something bittersweet about it.


Week 30: One After the Other

Percussion of pavement, dull crush of gravel
the sound of one after the other underfoot
again and again, one after the other
one after the other
steady breaths, slowly in and out
not gasping—churning like a storm
one after the other and the other

tingling sensation in the cheeks, wind-burnt lips
the sting of salt at the corner of the eyes
blood pumping loudly in the eardrums
heartbeats rippling through the entire body
one after the one after the other after the other

one stride at a time, one breath at a time
just follow the stripe rolling down the road
the horizon is nothing, is nothing, is nothing.

Author’s Notes:

I’m not a runner, but recently I’ve been getting out and running a little (I’m very bad) and I’m interested in the idea of what it must feel like to actually be a good runner. I have a cousin who is an accomplished marathoner so I think about what his experience of running must be like. A thing that is crazy to me is that when running a marathon there’s got to be a moment where you first start to feel tired and realize that you’ve got, like, 24 miles to go still, but you keep running. It seems like you must have to hunker down into a more rhythmic type of focus, where you aren’t constantly ‘deciding’ to keep going—you just maintain the status quo.

I haven’t read many poems about exercise, which on the one hand makes sense because it’s sort of gross, but on the other hand it’s this very intense human experience that lots of people regularly encounter.


Week 29: Haze

The low shimmering light—a chill and a slight haze
this sunset was lit four billion years ago, and still it glows
the river below tells its ancient story to the rapids
the squirrels have taken to their branches
and the songbirds have forgotten their songs

the moon aches in anticipation of the night
early stars begin to arrive and take their seats above
and satellites leave home to wander heaven’s streets
as darkness seeps into the cracks and low places

if you took a photo of us, it’d say we came here together
but accidents like this are more divine
soon I’ll watch you walk away, and soon we’ll both forget
for the moment, though—at least for the moment
each of us is here, and together we are perfect.

Author’s Notes:

I don’t have many thoughts about this one, other than to say my goal was to work a moon into the poem for moon landing day and I did succeed. I like how it focuses in on a particular moment, and just sort of lets it hang there.

Favorite Line:
“the moon aches in anticipation of the night”

Most Confused Line:
“the river below tells its ancient story to the rapids”


Week 28: The Mourning Dove

The air, it echoes, ringing sweet
sorrows sung, replete repeats
a breast is beaten, garbs of gray
and burdens born away, away
so close your eyes, enough! enough!
and listen…

Love,

The Mourning Dove

Author’s Notes:

Short and sweet and simple this week. Lots of repletion in it—the idea being that it mimics the mourning dove’s call in a way. It’s funny, but reading it somehow it doesn’t really feel like a ‘me’ thing to write, but a change of pace isn’t a bad thing. It feels a little old fashioned, or cutesy or something—I’m not sure.

I do think it is soothing in a nice way though.

Favorite Line:
‘sorrows sung, replete repeats’

Shortest Line:
‘Love,’