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.


Week 14: With a Smile

Nights so dark they are navy blue
Her eyes are candles in the desert
She wanders like a leaf falls to earth
Lizards dance at her ankles
Even the owls have forgotten how long

One more step is the very last one
Suddenly she is a pile of bones
A brittle memory bleached white
Her tired lungs hardly whispering

Rolling onto her back she sees the north sky
Draco arches his spine, white teeth glittering
She shudders and rises unsteady to her feet
She lifts her chin and addresses the starry dragon

He bows his great head to listen
A quiet moment passes

Now he snaps his tongue and snarls
A comet of fire rages from his nostrils
Red hot, it glows and spits as it rattles down
Sparks cascade, igniting fires across the galaxy

She reaches out and her fingers melt into gold
The flame wraps around her like a silk cloak
She crumbles into ashy oblivion with a smile
And Draco curls back into his timeless slumber.

Author’s Notes:

I like the first stanza of this one. It’s very loose and ambient, but together creates an image that I think is really nice.

Favorite Line:
She wanders like a leaf falls to earth

Line that I Think is a Bit Off:
Suddenly she is a pile of bones


Week 13: Child of Fury

A crisp, magnificent shadow cast off a rough monster
the impotent child of fury, a cauldron of denial
this drowning man, the last ember of a raging fire
this is the vividness of desperation

no gentle voice will soothe or quiet
no hand upon hand will lend comfort
no drink will quench or satisfy

the man steps out onto the balcony
he beams as the crowd chants his name
only I can save you, he says—only me

and they don’t believe him
but they’d love to watch him try—
a step off of the brink just might be
a step in the right direction

Author’s Notes:

I’m not sure what sort of frame I need to put around this week’s poem. It has political subtext, but it’s also interesting that it doesn’t have to be read as being about a political figure. There are lots of charismatic leaders who fit this mold in some way or another.

I think the thing that feels good about this poem to me is that I don’t think it is about the leader as much as it is about the crowd.

Favorite Line:
“No hand upon hand will lend comfort”

Most Overwrought Line:
“this is the vividness of desperation”

p.s. I tend to think of myself as a progressive liberal, so yes this is written with Trump in mind, who I don’t care for. If you do happen to have a positive perception of the guy, I think you’re foolish but that’s ok. Incidentally, for those who are curious, at this early point I’m most interested in Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren in the Democratic primary.


Week 12: These Letters in a Row

These letters in a row I place
They are no accident, but their reasons
Are ants slipping through cracks
Escaping from the desert sun

This line is only an acquaintance
She knows me better than I know her
She bats her eyelashes from afar
And I may do naught but write her

With every word I scrawl
I am whittled into a new shape
I am a creature of the creation
It has made me more than I have made it

Again, these letters in a row I place
They are no accident, but their reasons
Are ants vanishing through fissures
Hiding from the glowing moon

Author’s Notes:

This poem is definitely on the more self-reflexive, pretentious side, but it feels like a good description of the creative process to me, both in doing this project and in other things like my day job. Obviously, I am the one making the stuff, but it’s not something that I feel like I have much control over, even though from an external perspective I do. When I make something good, I usually feel lucky more than I feel accomplished.

The line about being a “creature of the creation” reminds me of my favorite book, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

Favorite Line(s):
Are ants vanishing through fissures
Hiding from the glowing moon

Least Favorite Line:
She bats her eyelashes from afar