Sunday, June 23, 2013


it was a relief
not to come home to someone
I no longer loved
didn't know how to love again
and wasn't sure I could

moving her out felt right
we packed together
carefully rewrapping fragile wedding gifts
padding boxes with linens
upon which we had once made love

dividing our things
not truly grasping
we were dividing a life.

we were dividing a life
we'd stood in front of our parents friends God
and created. and promised to upkeep.

that's when it got harder
when the immediate relief was over

I realized I was separate
from that life

and the house we'd shared
got very, very quiet
and full of ghosts

she wasn't there to fold the laundry

to turn the washing machine on
to ignore the dryer signal buzz

or laugh at my attempts to cook

to bang pots around
to blend, to chop, to advise

or cry at those dumb commercials meant to make certain women cry

during shows certain women watch

or to yell 
up the stairs
"can you bring me my ____?"

the sounds of her movements
the presence of another
opening the door in a rush
to retrieve a forgotten item
reminding me of weather changes
of air filter changes
of our cycles and patterns

the creaky, almost loose stair
remained unfixed
and the ghosts of children
I had expected to climb the stairs
got really big

They grew up:

I had expected to scold children for sliding down the banister
and to mend hurt knees
when they did

to carry them upstairs to their bedrooms
when they'd fallen asleep

without these sounds
of the life I had intended
--of our life--
I had to leave.

I spent lots of nights in bars,
where other patrons became like family
and lots more nights working late

(a euphemism for nothing
since trying to find sex
or anything resembling romantic love
has been divided.)

some days,
the quiet is tolerable
or I turn on music she wouldn't like
and make monstrous sounds in the kitchen
or turn on the television

or turn on the bath faucet
and watch the water run
watch it fill the tub
I always loved more than she did.

climb in.
sink my head underwater.

try to drown the guilt
the disappointment
the sense that I betrayed everyone
myself most of all

try to balance the mourning
of separation
with this new life
I vowed to never want.

--February 17, 2012

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21, 2013

The summer solstice,
an almost full moon? Let's sweat,
be humid, mate, love.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I have been flustered all day.
I can't seem to shake being frustrated.
I can't seem to get uncranky.
I keep forgetting things, missing things, overlooking.

Driving back from lunch, where I dropped a bottle of wine in the parking lot of where I had purchased the wine, I thought of this poem (one of my favorites).

Accept the hour badly spent.


One Art, by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant 
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied.  It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


The most difficult thing you will ever have to do in America is learn to read English.

And you have to do it when you're five years old. You have to be done doing it by the time you're about eight years old, or you will likely be permanently behind on some academic level.

It is really, really hard to learn how to read, but it is especially hard to read English. Our language is full of ridiculous combinations of silent vowels ("question") and consonants that combine to make new sounds (g + h = f)... sometimes all in the same word ("laughter")! We have homonyms, rules that have more exceptions than the rule applies to, and a lot of other things that are terribly difficult things to get correctly as adults, much less at an age when all of your teeth are falling out.

So, thank your teachers and parents and all other adults who made sure you could read this. And congratulations for this accomplishment!


The most difficult thing you will ever have to do as a human being is learn to forgive.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

my father moved...

I have so much to say about fathers, and I hope to have more time later this week to write about them.

For now, I'm posting one of the first things I thought of this morning when I awoke.

To all who are fathers: Happy Day. I hope you will all model the kindness we need more men to have and to show and to be. Because love is the whole and more than all.


by ee cummings

my father moved through dooms of love
through sames of am through haves of give,
singing each morning out of each night
my father moved through depths of height

this motionless forgetful where
turned at his glance to shining here;
that if(so timid air is firm)
under his eyes would stir and squirm

newly as from unburied which
floats the first who,his april touch
drove sleeping selves to swarm their fates
woke dreamers to their ghostly roots

and should some why completely weep
my father's fingers brought her sleep:
vainly no smallest voice might cry
for he could feel the mountains grow.

Lifting the valleys of the sea
my father moved through griefs of joy;
praising a forehead called the moon
singing desire into begin

joy was his song and joy so pure
a heart of star by him could steer
and pure so now and now so yes
the wrists of twilight would rejoice

keen as midsummer's keen beyond
conceiving mind of sun will stand,
so strictly(over utmost him
so hugely) stood my father's dream

his flesh was flesh his blood was blood:
no hungry man but wished him food;
no cripple wouldn't creep one mile
uphill to only see him smile.

Scorning the Pomp of must and shall
my father moved through dooms of feel;
his anger was as right as rain
his pity was as green as grain

septembering arms of year extend
yes humbly wealth to foe and friend
than he to foolish and to wise 
offered immeasurable is

proudly and(by octobering flame
beckoned)as earth will downward climb,
so naked for immortal work
his shoulders marched against the dark

his sorrow was as true as bread:
no liar looked him in the head;
if every friend became his foe
he'd laugh and build a world with snow.

My father moved through theys of we,
singing each new leaf out of each tree
(and every child was sure that spring
danced when she heard my father sing)

then let men kill which cannot share,
let blood and flesh be mud and mire,
scheming imagine,passion willed,
freedom a drug that's bought and sold

giving to steal and cruel kind,
a heart to fear,to doubt a mind,
to differ a disease of same,
conform the pinnacle of am

though dull were all we taste as bright,
bitter all utterly things sweet,
maggoty minus and dumb death
all we inherit,all bequeath

and nothing quite so least as truth
--i say though hate were why men breathe--
because my Father lived his soul
love is the whole and more than all

Saturday, June 15, 2013


I moved to New Orleans and developed an allergy to live oak.

I grew up on "South Live Oak Parkway," so, no irony is lost on me.

So for about a month every year, I am unable to wear contact lenses or eye makeup because my eyes are allergic to the air. This is not an exaggeration.

I'm blonde. Mascara is my stranded island beauty product. I do not appear to have eyes unless I am wearing at least 18 coats of mascara.

I tweeted something to this effect (obviously, more succinctly), and the Skin Studio wrote back something like "Have you ever tried an eyelash tint?"

You, ma'am, are doing social media correctly!

So I booked with Ashley. It changed my life. I decided on a combo lash/brow tint for $30, which was a great deal. After 20 minutes with Ashley, I don't feel like an albino misfit if I leave the house without eye makeup. I don't have to spend four minutes filling in my eyebrows, which are 80% of one's facial expression, as I need 100% of my facial expression.

I look like I am wearing mascara when I am not. All of my lashes, from the roots to the tips, are a color no blonde owns naturally but every one wishes she did.

I really cannot speak highly enough to this beauty treatment.

Last week, it was time to do it again. Ashley was booked at the time I needed, so I went with one of her colleagues and was so disappointed in the results that I went back yesterday for a redo with Ashley.

They compensated my entire service.

Ashley now has a client for life, and I think you should consider becoming one, too.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

learning to say "no"

People beg because it works.

Every day on my way to work, a man is at this particular intersection, begging.

And nearly every day, someone gives him money.

If he gets a dollar for every time the light changes, he is making close to $100/hour. And he's making it in cash, so there's no FICA or IRS.

I will buy someone food. I will give someone a bottle of water, especially if s/he has a pet. My career has basically been built upon loving my neighbor.

I'm not mad at the beggar, because clearly he's the smart one, making so much money he can probably quit his corner and start spending his cash before it gets really hot.

I'm mad at the enablers.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


so much luck
so many blessings

I don't know
you pout.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

mark your answer

High-stakes testing.

Y'all know what that is, right? It's like the bar exam, but for elementary school students.

I'm not going to argue the pros/cons of student/teacher accountability measures, because I am not educated on the issue/research enough.

But as I led a group of four first grade students through a makeup exam today, three of them cried.

And I thought, "Get it together! You're going to be taking tests for the rest of your life!!!"

But, really: will they?

The last major test I took was whatever GRE stands for. It got me into my Masters program, nearly a decade ago. Before that, it was the SAT. Before that, it was my driving test.

Now, sure, if my profession involved licensure, I would take exams with some frequency. If I was an accountant, a cosmetologist/masseuse, a member of certain law or health professions, an engineer, or a social worker, I would have taken an exam in the past decade.

But how many other jobs, from minimum wage to billionaire profits, require regular testing? What kind of real world situation are we preparing students for once they get out of school, whether that's at age 13 or age 33?

Yes: life is full of tests. There will be a million times in your career when a supervisor or a client needs something on a deadline, and you will need to be able to manage your time, multitask, and focus. Professional athletes, along with everyone else on the planet who wears a uniform, have their performance tested every time they wear said uniform.

You will be judged all the time, by strangers, friends, lovers, family. Hell, you'll be tested at least a dozen times a day just on how good of a driver you are. 

But actual Number Two pencil tests? They mostly end when you're done with school. They mostly end when you enter a profession. 

It makes you wonder why we need very young children to learn how to manage anxiety. So that we'll have fewer adults taking medication? driving drunk? abusing drugs or their spouses? So that we'll have more adults enter professions that pay living wages? stay married? exercise?

It's a nice idea, right? To tie what we learn in school with what we're going to need to know for college/careers/life?

So, on that note: tell me why you thought that outfit was a good idea, because it is the most unflattering thing I've ever seen.

Monday, June 10, 2013


I am so glad I haven't lost this poem.

I would retitle it, but I think that alters it in an uncomfortable way.


                       our saturday

i awake
beside another
shower without you

drive into the city
and share your strawberries

it begins to rain.
we begin to walk.

first to the newest memorial
where i begin to cry when i say "thanks"
to a man for whom appreciation
isn't enough.

the rain stops
we stop to rest, to kiss, to revel in the sunshine of each other.

we wander through the orchids
of someone else's garden

join hands and lips
during the next museum
where you observe,
"green is the color of envy.
it's also the color of deterioration."

then to the market
you buy me my two least favorite flowers
and because you don't know
and because i am so grateful for the gesture

i immediately inform you
that white flowers wilt quickly

so be sure not to touch them.

i marinate our dinner
while you nap

when you awake
the pillow lines have left behind
dimpled flesh

i laugh
you echo my tones
and gaze deeply into
a part of myself i've forgotten

i no longer own.

-16 oct 2004

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Friday, June 7, 2013


Today at school is "dress up like what you want to be when you grow up" day.

When I was the students' age, I wanted to be an author and a mom.

So. Since I can't be a mom, I'm going to rekindle my elementary school dream.

I'm going to start posting every day. I won't have time to write every day, so some days I will post poems I've written in the past two decades.


This morning, one of the third grade special education students I've been trying to build trust with brought me a magnolia. He picked it from one of the "trees" we have growing in the "quad" area of our campus.

(The school I work with is housed in modular buildings. It's like a cheery trailer park, complete with xeriscaping of grey gravel/rocks. And the "trees" are in giant boxes.)

I don't see many magnolias in New Orleans. I don't know if it's too wet or hot here for them, but it's one sign that New Orleans is not really the South. So the fact that we have them on campus makes me really grateful.

Magnolias were a really important part of my childhood. We had a huge tree in our front yard, with lots of low, thick branches... making it the perfect climbing tree. My brother and I would dare each other to go up one branch higher each time, and as we grew taller, we were able to get nearly to the top. It taught us about teamwork: how to look out for each other and how to work together to accomplish a goal. It gave us shade and a hiding place. It also taught us risk, which is something children don't learn anymore in the litigious era.

We would pick magnolias for our mother, and in the month of June, our whole house smelled of crisp white goodness. At Christmas, she would line a non-working fireplace with their waxy green leaves.

The rest of the year, my brother and I would climb.

Magnolias smell like the best parts of my childhood:
innocence, laughter, playtime with my brother
the unconditional, unquestioning love of a child for her family
coming home.