Week 41: Humming the Tune

I don’t know the words
but I’ve been humming the tune
of the song that was playing
that night
when we got stuck
at the railroad tracks
and watched the train
roll slowly through.

Author’s Notes:

The thing I like most about this week’s poem is that the first three stanzas have a catchy kind of rhythm that feels like it could almost be in a pop song, which of course mimics the content. I like doing these little gumdrop poems.

Favorite Line:
“roll slowly through”

Most Catchy Line:
“but I’ve been humming the tune”


Week 40: Shiver

I would hum a note so quietly it vanishes
No soaring words will you hear from me now
I’m too young to write about anything but confusion
Turn off the lights and you will know me better

For now I wish only to brush gently against your cheek
I would hire a bead of sweat to roll down your brow
I enter your ear as a particle of dust
You taste me faintly, like a single granule of sugar

I write small things and watch them shiver
Mountains may tumble up from these foothills
But only if you read me in a quiet room
Only if you shut off all the lights

Author’s Notes:

It’s late right now and I’m too tired to come up with a good commentary this week. The poem feels very Walt Whitman to me in tone though—he had a way of reaching through the page and directly talking to the reader I an intimate way that I admire. It has his self-confidence too.

Favorite Line:
‘I would hire a bead of sweat to roll down your brow’

Most Interesting Line:
‘I’m too young to write about anything but confusion’


Week 39: Even as I see it

“There it is, I swear.” I gesture urgent
insisting that you look, but so elusive
it dances out of sight. Bright and vibrant
fiery plumage flickering through
the grey-green, gone even as I see it—
either a wicked mirage, a magician’s trick,
or the most beautiful secret in the city.

“Did you see?”
You shake your head.
“But it was there,” I say.

Your eyes meet mine, “I believe you.”
You try to smile and reassure me
but of course I feel the doubt.
You blink. I flinch.
“I believe you,” you say again,
one too many times to be sincere.

I’ve seen the creature time and time again,
a glint of color in a drab corner,
a strange flutter breaking the busy night.
Something strange—a vagrant parrot or macaw.
Some equatorial marvel lost north.
But it remains unreal—just a story.
I’m the only one who knows.
You need to see it or it’s a daydream.

I lean forward intent
trying to catch any sign,
any note of life. My eyes go dry.
“I believe you,” you say again.
“What are you trying to prove?”
I scan again for any flash, for any odd shine
or unnatural bustle, but there is nothing.
There is just a bush and the city around it.

You take my hand and pull
“Let’s go,” you say. “Let’s keep moving.”
And I follow you,
but my head is spun around, and still
the bush sits quiet and empty.

Author’s Notes:

This poem feels stylistically out of place in my project for some reason, but I like it. It has periods, for instance, and it feels a lot more story-like than most of the poems I’ve posted. One fun thing to note is that I generally don’t care for adverbs in poems (short explanation: they’re like dumping a bunch of sugar on a poem, and can get gross), so on a lark, I took the ‘ly’ off the end of the two adverbs in this poem (urgently and intently) to make it less adverb-y. Probably not something I’ll always do, but it’s interesting I think.

I hadn’t explicitly thought about how much I don’t like using adverbs until just now, so I did a quick search for ‘ly’ in all the poems I’ve done thus far, and there were only about 50 ‘ly’ adverbs that I found out of 38 poems so far. A full 7 were the word ‘slowly’. At the end of the project, I’m very excited to do more word usage analysis like this.

Favorite line(s):
‘either a wicked mirage, a magician’s trick,
or the most beautiful secret in the city.’

Most grammatically insecure line:
‘“There it is, I swear.” I gesture urgent’


Week 38: The Canyon

There is no good way to say goodbye so
we went into woods, bearing through the nettles
wearing old tennis shoes and dirty jeans
and we found a deer trail to take us down
into the canyon where our stream has lived for eons

We wandered the creek bed, looking for special rocks
glossy caramel pebbles, pieces of broken glass
bits of ancient coral frozen in limestone
and we didn’t know what to do with them
so like six-year-old boys, we put them in a pile
in a way that seemed right
and we left them there

And in the end, we didn’t really say goodbye
because we didn’t have much to say
but that’s how, on a quiet day in mid-September
we happily remembered our old friends
Matt & Brent—dearly loved, now missing.

Author’s Notes:

I don’t have a lot to say about this poem, other than it felt good to write. I have a group of close friends from home that has now lost two members in sudden, untimely ways. We recently got together as a way to remember Matt in particular (who died earlier this year) and of course thought a lot about Brent too, who died when we were still in school.


Week 37: A Stranger Once Again

Each breath of you is a baffling occurrence
Like a lizard you, moving in stops and starts
Blazing rapid through doorways, vibrant hued
Then dripping as wax, cooling into shades of blue

She is a stranger, though I know the color of her eyes
Though I know each of her eyelashes by name
Though I know every sigh and blow and whistle of her
Though I know her by the sound of her feet in the dark

It is a stranger and it walks at night
It holds wild rituals just over the crested hill
Dancing with moonbeams and lapping dew from fallen leafs
It is a foreign beauty, the mist of an ancient valley
A pagan of the north wind and the churning sea
A prelapsarian devil, unmarred by hell or heaven

It, or she, or even you—once just a stranger
And then a name and a vague color
And then a face, and then more than a face
A person then, and then a person who I knew
And now, up close, a stranger once again

Author’s Notes:

This week’s poem is an odd one I suppose, but I like it. It’s about getting to know someone well, but not totally being able to relate to them or get inside their head, so the more you know about them the stranger they seem. Maybe it’s a bit too clever and just ends up being confusing, but I thought it was fun playing with the pronouns as the poem progressed, emphasizing the weirdness and distance.
I’m very pleased with myself for working the word prelapsarian into the poem, (meaning ‘characteristic of the time before the Fall of Man’), and love that line because it has a timeless gravitas that makes it sound like it was pulled directly from Milton or something.

Favorite Line:
“A prelapsarian devil, unmarred by hell or heaven”

Line Even I Don’t Really Understand:
“Then dripping as wax, cooling into shades of blue”


Week 36: Proof

I encounter a shadow cast in a pleasing way
the outline of something interesting
something beautiful or artfully twisted
cold marble or maybe a thing that breaths
maybe a thing with skin that burns in sunlight
a dancer captured in bronze, or a doe
stretched out, drinking from a cool lake

and I reach for my camera, because
in that moment I am reduced to an algorithm—
compelled to harvest beauty and convert it into bytes
that serve as frail proof I am present in the world.

Author’s Notes:

I very much love photography, and I think that it’s a great hobby that can actually help you experience things in a more vivid way, because it makes you pay attention to things you’d otherwise miss. But sometimes the instinct to capture a moment changes the quality of the moment itself, and it’s good to be able to enjoy things without relying on a camera to tell you you’re having a good time.

Favorite Line:
“that serve as frail proof I am present in the world”

Oddest Line:
“maybe a thing with skin that burns in sunlight”