Friday, April 29, 2011

April Resolutions Check-In

1. Write 30 Poems
Done. Best April ever. I'll try to say more about that for Motivation Monday. :)

2. Get on more stages
Well, let's see, I read at my own venue, in an anarchist bookstore, at an art gallery, at Kelly Writer's House, and tonight I'm in the Philly Slam Semifinals. Resolution #2 FTW.

3. Do more things that are just about art.
As I spent most of the month doing nothing but obsess about poems, even when I was at work, even when I was in math class, and my favorite of my 30/30 poems has Duchamps in it, I'd say this was successful. Plus, I've decided to take up my old hobby of collecting romantic art history facts.

4. Secret resolution, continued.
The secret resolution started out specific a few moths ago, but it has evolved into sort of a nebulous thing about being more brazen. I think I can safely say I've done it, especially since I've overcome my fear of sending love  poems to people. 

May will be the last month of The Happiness Project, so I'd better make the resolutions good!

Friday Love Poems: Bonnie MacAllister!

Hiss Story

My story is hewn in fishhooks and mealworms,

Stilted verbiage and archaic theme songs.

Transgressed and trampled--

Implicitly, illicitly,
Honed in twenty year time lapses--

Hidden in his Liberian beard.

A global odyssey is beginning--

Take away my old haunts gladly.

Lock me into your china cabinet--

Keep me there with the strongest of twine.

Collect the simplest adjectives--

Hoard them for future liabilities.

Host Like

Last night I heard you simmering
Downstairs, emptlike radio static.
Maybe you were wondering
Who would hear your procedures.
The faucet flowed thickly over dishes,
Drowning the aroma of yesterday’s meals.

The apples sat on the table mealy
And brown. The sugar became liquid, simmering
On the stove. Tottering next to several dishes,
The crumble flattened as the evening static
Illumined the baking procedures.
I was always wondering

How it would rise, wondering
What the method was to the preparation of meals,
How to dissect your procedures.
It would always make me simmer
That I could not uncork you, a bubbling static
That sifts its way like flour into our dishes.

I would wish that you would dish
It up, serve it with some wonder,
And be sure to unmix the static.
A mix tape seasoning our meals
Now plays a solo simmer
Just as the tea kettle plays a tin procedure.

Now I peek down the staircase, afraid to procede
Seeing you beside those stacks of dishes
As the kettle continues to simmer
And I cannot stop but wonder
How you can let that sound peal, if a small meal
Can make you forget our personal static.

There is just so much distance in the static,
Our selves separated in distinct procedures,
Hosting those rituals that have become our meals.
I would bless those ecumenical dishes,
Call you monastic now as I wonder
If we will again together simmer.

We could still simmer statically, find out status
As we throw wonder into and out of our procedures
Making on those dishes a meal we could break together.

Bonnie MacAllister is active with the Women's Caucus for Art, Green Light Arts, and the Plastic Club (Philadelphia's historic art club).   A playwright, she is the author of She Should Have Written It:  A Story of Bohemian Surveillance (Shubin Theatre) and Crowning the May Queen (Philadelphia Fringe Festival).   She has also published Written in Paste, Paid in Goats, Some Words Are No Longer Words, Women and Children of Ethiopia, and Coptic:  Ethiopian Mysticism.  She curates the collaborative multimedia magazine Certain Circuits (, and she has recently shown her visual artwork at the Delaware Art Museum (along with her husband Victor Thompson), the Center for Green Urbanism (DC), University of Pennsylvania, Montclair State University (NJ), Boricua College (NY), and Florissant Valley Art Gallery in St. Louis, MO.

Poetic License Horoscope for April 29-May 5

Taurus (April 19-May 18): “We are strong, we are faithful/ we are guardians of a rare thing/ we pay close careful attention/ to the news the morning air brings/ we show great loyalty /to the hard times we've been through.”(The Mountain Goats) Gather everybody up, Taurus, and hang on ‘til your knuckles are white.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): Velcro your feet to the ground and wait for the mail to come. You can hope for be-stickered an, handwritten letters, on time and with stamps marked “Celebrate.” So celebrate!

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Switching from winter clothes to summer clothes reminds me of you, all lacy and bright, all glittered and optimistic. Fold up all the sweaters and throw out bedraggled boots. Keep out only the most flowered scarves.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): I fell in love with my wife for her Texas accent, and I am just as in love with her family for the same and other reasons. Notice the speech patterns of daily love. Notice its turns and its terms and its phrases. Memorize every consonance, each elision.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): “Like a jack-in-the-box/ / Like a hundred-thousand cuckoo clocks /From the Oregon corners /To the Iowa corn/ To the rooms with the heat lamps where the snakes get born.” (The Mountain Goats) That’s you. That’s your heart. Love it.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Oh, my dear sweet Libra, you can leave it on the field if you want to, or on the stage, or on the dance floor. Or you can carry it like a locket, like a splinter, like treat.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): “The cakes were too pretty to eat. Mary and Laura just looked at them. But at last Laura turned hers over, and she nibbled a tiny nibble from underneath, where it wouldn’t show.”( Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little House on the Prairie) Do the opposite of that.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Every city will welcome you, don’t worry. They are all full of students, and poems, and comic book shops that need staffing. They’re waiting with weddings and book parties and lifelong friends, all of them. Go there.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): If today is a job interview, you are wearing the exactly right thing. Your hair is perfect and smooth. You’re wearing pretty jewelry, but not so much that it jangles. You say just the right things and remember to ask at least one question. You are so very, very hired.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): Find yourself where you always do, in your to To Do list. Build the future in check boxes, in workouts and rehearsals. Study your math and hope for a more romantic horoscope next week, it’ll come back, I promise.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): See Capricorn. Also: high five!

Aries (March 21-April 18): There’s a little mystery in what you’re looking for—sleuth it out! dust for longing-prints and peer around with a magnifying glass ground especially for wistfulness. Make list of possible suspects and start making calls.

Poetic License Horoscopes is a free syndicated series which appears weekly on such lit blogs as The Serotonin Factory, Critical Mass and The Legendary and Apiary If you are interested in adding the Poetic License Horoscopes to your lit journal / lit blog, please email me at

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Bi for Real/ Free Love is Sometimes Actual for a Minute

Okay. I’ve been putting off this post for a few weeks or just taking some time to piece things together in my head or being worried about privacy or all of the above, but this is how I figure things out, so here goes.

(Hi pal. Hi wife. Hi everyone—hope I write this okay.)

For the past eleven years, as honest and out as I’ve tried to be, I’ve half-thought that being bi/poly was a distraction, or a symptom of commitment-phobia, or something I thought up to keep myself from settling in and being loved. So many, many paragraphs and stanzas have been spilled worrying back and forth about it.

Without going into detail, I can no longer half-deny it or deny it at all. Once my boy-liking self found true, adult, HAPPY expression, I felt free. It really, really isn’t something I can let myself go without anymore, at least if I can help it.

At first, I tried to treat the change like it was no big deal. As soon as I knew things were okay with my friend and okay with Amy, I tried to just be brave and push ahead to whatever came next, but what came next was that I had to admit that I had a lot of feelings coming up and swirling around, both good and bad, and to sort of try to navigate through them.

I’ve said elsewhere, part of the reason I’ve stuck with women over the years is that testosterone tends to make me feel kind of graspy. I’ve been walking around for a few weeks feeling 17 and 36 and infinite all at once, feeling alternately Empress Card goddess and teenage needy. Luckily, some kind of sensible riot grrl middle ground prevails when I remember to stay in the present, in what’s really happening, and keep it separate from all the neuroses and dumb flashbacky stuff.

I was afraid that being with a guy would open a floodgate, that kissing him once would mean that I’d always want to be kissing him, and that’s kind of true, but now that I’m typing it, it doesn’t really seem like much of a new development. But yes, floodgate. I’m keeping my head above water, mostly by writing the bejesus out of some poems. The flood is in my life now, and like any other aspect of myself, I would like to learn to love it.

All in all, it isn’t as scary as I expected. It's mostly freeing.

And now that I know for sure that I can be liked back, and that it can be romantic and specific and real, I would please like to not have crushes anymore. As productive as crushes can be, I hate the way that they take real live friends and turn them into imaginary ones. I think I can commit here to letting things happen in real life.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Motivation Mondays: Hitting the Reset Button

After you’re done here, may I recommend this excellent Radiolab episode: Desperately Seeking Symmetry.

When I first started thinking about what to write for today, I felt pretty bereft. This has been maybe the most prolific few months of my life, and all of the swirling emotions and the crush of prolificness had me feeling a little bit drained. Also, I have the blues about 30/30 being almost over—it’s my favorite part of the year and I really am gonna miss everyone so much.

Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed/blue like that, I try to remember to fill the well a little bit, to take  some time away from producing work and just have some new experiences, not in the sense of Finding Something to Write About, but just for the sake of feeling refreshed. Luckily, I was away with my in-laws in Dallas, so it was easy to jump into my beauty-queen cousin’s Zumba class, or see what it’s like to throw peanut shells on the floor in a chain “roadhouse,” and attend my first ever ice cream social. (Which, how could that be anything other than awesome?!)

Neurologists have shown that even the smallest learning experience physically changes your brain. I certainly felt that as I was sitting on the plane back to Philly, spilling out all kinds of stanzas and paragraphs. ( In between rounds of Falling Block Game, the open source Tetris game Amy found me.)

Even if you can’t go to Texas and pal around with the Huckabees, Lawsons, and Douthits, little changes to the (in my case, BELOVED) home routine can be just as restorative. I very much look forward to walking the Wissahickon without headphones today and then visiting a library other than the one I work at. Little things like that can make me feel so optimistic sometimes.

I guess maybe I’ll write more next week about the end of 30/30, but if you have some ideas about how to keep that feeling of playful-prolific community going during the regular year, please do email me with suggestions.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

(Early) Friday Love Poem: Shappy Seasholtz!

OMG Shappy is one of my very favorite people in the universe. As you well know. 

And in case you can't tell, this is a picture of him laying down some phat beets.


When taking a lover, one must proceed with caution.
One mustn't dilly dally like a flim flam man
or titter willy nilly like a precocious school girl
with a daisy in her knickers!

When taking a lover one must pay close attention to ones toenails.
Save the clippings until you have enough to fashion some sort of
toenail sculpture to present to your lover for your four month anniversary.
This is a common practice among lovers in Bavaria and Wichita Falls.

Do not take your Lover to see The Blair Witch Project or The Blair Witch Project
2 or Hellraiser 3 or Friday The Thirteenth in 3-D or Paranormal Activity.

These films will most certainly upset your lover's delicate constitution.
Instead, take your lover to see The Other Sister in which Juliette Lewis
plays a retarded person who falls in love.

When procuring licorice for your lover, please make sure you get red Twizzlers.
If your lover refuses the Twizzlers, this means your lover will never share a
Barq's Root Beer with you on a sweltering, summer day.
Also, your lover may not be so keen on oral sex or religious sects.

When making love with your lover make sure to whisper the lyrics to the Mary
Tyler Moore theme into their left ear.
If this fails to entice your lover, then try humming the theme to Law & Order :
Criminal Intent.

Be sure to have something to nosh on for the post-coital period. I suggest
Flamin' Hot Cheetos but if you are feeling particularly randy-FUNYONS!

If your lover feels the need to continually tell you that you smell of cat piss,
rest assured, what your lover truly means is that they wish to take you to a
Dave & Buster's or a Hannah Montana concert.

If your lover makes a pizza for you out of Play-Doh, it is your duty, as a
lover, to pretend to take a bite out of it and make nummy sounds.

Make sure your lover wears their American flag pin on their left lapel. This
will ensure that your lover will kiss your right cheek while riding the

If your lover throws two red Legos at you during a discussion about German dwarf
porn, give your lover some Pop Rocks and a Coke Zero. Make sure this takes place
near a heated swimming pool in case of bloating.

Most importantly, when taking a lover, make sure to dry hump to classical music
or Sammy Hagar's first album.

Lovers are totes awesome. Plus, they love you and stuff. For REAL!

Poetic License Horoscope for April 22-28

Poetic License Horoscope for April 22-28

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Taurus is closed this week for renovations. The stars are recalibrating. Thanks, The Mgmt

Gemini (May 19-June 21): I think of you and Mitch Hedberg whenever I see an escalator that is “Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience.” You may need to climb a little, but not that far.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): You’re wondering what to name your story. May I suggest Comfy Forever or Sharper Than Sun? How about Happy on the Couch? The stars just won’t call you late for dinner.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): My wife was quite heartbroken this week when the Science Carnival was rained out—all I can do is promise her that next year will be all blooming trees and sunbeams, rich with experiments.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): “You will spill over the rim of your flowerpot. /You will trail toward the floor in two long tendrils/rippling with soft green spades, /but your roots will stay in the dirt”—Scott Beal

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): The stars are still drawing little doodly hearts next to your name, they do it absentmindedly, like a default setting or a dream. We’re watching our mailboxes (Yes, stars have mailboxes.) for Valentines back.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): You’re sending out love like dandelion seeds, stretching out fast and prolific over every blessed lawn you touch, soft little sunshine head, keep seeding.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Soon your home-city will welcome you with open water-ice stands and free-on-Sunday museums. Lay down in the arms of it and take a snooze.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): You love like a preteen girl writes fan mail, prolific and a little wild—make it more so. Unicorn sticker every parking meter and post. Make your tag a heart with an arrow through it and bomb it up everywhere.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): It’s time to think about May, which for you means wisteria blooming sensibly, editing millions of poems, and typing up businesslike letters. After that, you’ll have everything.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): You have been known to compare love to Reese’s peanut butter cups. We stars have been cautioned against emotional eating, but nonetheless, love is coming, whole Easter baskets of it.

Aries (March 21-April 18): Close down all of your devices, even your music players, even the clocks. Sit and see what you hear then, like the Quakers, like the birds. Be ready to witness or startle to flight.

Poetic License Horoscopes is a free syndicated series which appears weekly on such lit blogs as The Serotonin Factory, Critical Mass  and The Legendary  and Apiary If you are interested in adding the Poetic License Horoscopes to your lit journal / lit blog, please email me at

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Song of the Week: Riches and Wonders

Everything's a day ahead here, since I'm leaving for my in-laws' in Dallas tomorrow. So how about my favorite non-bitter Mountain Goats song, from All Hail West Texas.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Motivation Monday Off

I'm on a nice internet fast til next Wednesday, so please enjoy your guest motivators, The Mountain Goats!

Poetic License Horoscope for April 15-21

Poetic License Horoscope for April 15-21

Aries (March 21-April 18): I tried cutting up the lyrics to T.I’s Whatever You Like in order to rearrange them into a poem, but with little success. The song must’ve already been perfect, like you.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): Enjoy another fine day of being a prodigy. Compose a symphony before dawn and bring down the house. Install environmental art to rival Christo and Jeanne-Claude. After lunch, save lives.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): Yes, the car keeps breaking down, but at least you’re stranded someplace nice, with plenty of snacks and video games, with everyone you love the best.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): Are the daffodils still blooming by your back path, or are they done? Do you still like medical marijuana and Lost? Are there still wine bottles under the guest bed? ‘Cause I’d like to come visit.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): Things might be crumbling down like Inception buildings or they may just be a little frustrating. Either way, here’s what you do: Kiss your dearest with your whole mouth. Hug your friends. Use your voice in as many ways you can possibly think of.

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Get yourself a little something, a pretty necklace to reward yourself for the nice cliffs you’ve jumped off of in dreams.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Reward yourself for all of your small and unmentioned acts of chivalry. Gifts include but are not limited to: cupcakes, lavish hugs from grrrls, notebooks, blank CDs for burning, the thanks of children, and Easter candy.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Confess everything. Get it over with. Write a mass email to a decade of crushes, with well chosen words for each and every one. Admit to tastes you’ve never savored, and all the bands you are supposed to like, but don’t.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Do some nothing. Sometimes you forget to.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): Write a list of made-up memories and hand them out like fortunes. Slip them through the bars at the zoo, across coffee-counters, into the hands of ticket agents. The world is your own nice friendly fiction. Just live in it.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): My friend Susane says flightiness is an Aquarian trait, and, not being an astrologer, I’m in no position to disagree. Get lost in the breeze a little. Lose your address book, your contacts, your keys. Like always, you’ll trust it all to come back.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): You and me, Pisces. We’re collaborating on a poem. It’s called Adorable Things That Are Adorable and it includes appearances by kittens, nieces and nephews, baby dachshunds, pez dispensers, half friendship bracelets from the Goodwill, and the caramel creams you bought me, because you knew they reminded me of racial harmony.

Poetic License Horoscopes is a free syndicated series which appears weekly on such lit blogs as The Serotonin Factory, Critical Mass / and The Legendary and Apiary If you are interested in adding the Poetic License Horoscopes to your lit journal / lit blog, please email me at

Friday Love Poems: Amanda Mathews!

In This Room

My darlin’ I won’t lie to you,
there are still chasms of dense black
within my chest,
your restless palms may wander there but
they’ll have to find their own way home.
Your fingers may catch
in a thicket of stitches,
bring scissors, work
your way through.

If I tell you
there are parts of me still fast asleep
beneath this dress,
come wake them.
Tear silk from seams
wrap them in finer things
like warmed breath tea from lips,
or the soft tremble
of needing bones.

My darlin’ I won’t lie to you,
I won’t be happy
until my feet
are left swollen
from this dance,
this room
a dizzy spin,
my mouth
sung empty
of song.

These Arms of Mine

It is a hot, thick soup
this lonely,
clings to skin like lips should,
and fuck if those eyes
aren’t tomorrow’s promise of bluer skies,
those whispered sighs the parachute kisses
of escape,
retreat into him, into the shadowed shallows of arms &
swelled thighs entwined with sinew of muscle,
in the slow, sink, swim
of bended bodies beneath sheets.
His name bitten in
to the slick of your lips
like lyrics to a song you swear you've never heard
but just can’t seem
to forget.

AMANDA MATHEWS resides in Astoria, NY. She writes poetry in between molding clay, painting curvy women and illustrating books of poetry for fellow writers. Friday nights she can be found perched at the end of the bar at the Nuyorican CafĂ© sketching poets on stage. If you feed her wine, she probably won’t bite, ahem probably.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Song of the Week: Baby, I Owe You Something Good

Some weeks the name of this blog is less ironic than other weeks. At the moment, I really do feel like a Serotonin Factory. Also a romance machine.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Motivation Mondays: Trust Vs. Perfectionism

“Perfectionism has nothing to do with getting it right. It has nothing to do with fixing things. It has nothing to do with standards. Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. It is a loop—an obsessive, debilitating closed system that causes you to get stuck in the details of what you are writing or painting or making and to lose sight of the whole.” --Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

Well, it seems kind of after the fact to be writing about Black Swan, but I only just saw it the weekend before last and I love what it has to say about the creative process, how the refusal to let go can keep an artist stagnant, stuck, frigid.

I think we all have own version of that creeeeepy mother character in our heads, the vain perfectionist who doesn’t want us to take risks or make out with Mila Kunis. It’s that inner censor that I’m always going on and on about, that protective force that warps us and keeps us from knowing our own strength. It’s hard to get privacy from that judgment and fear, but we really do have to bar the door and get on with it.

Unlike Natalie Portman’s ballerina, we can do it. We can let go without self-destructing. I think it has to do with that tricky thing I’ve been wrestling with for the whole life of this blog: trust.

That’s why am so profoundly in love with 30/30—I’m so very very grateful for the amount of trust and generosity it takes to post an early draft every day and invite our friends, some of whom we’ve never met in real life, to read and comment. I really can’t think of a more loving or faithful gesture. In showing each other our flaws, our vulnerabilities, our stories we only tell when things get urgent, we’re writing ourselves a real intimacy and a real way forward. Thank you, and thank you, and thank you, and thank you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Poetic License Horoscope for April 8-14

Aries (March 21-April 18): Happy birthday to my dad, the stand-up comedian. May you be as sharp as Bill Hicks, as revolutionary as Jon Stewart, and far more emotionally healthy than Marc Maron.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): You're talking to the pieces of a man who's trying to make it/through the puzzles, travels, struggles, battles/a body pillow pimp trying to snuggle with my shadow.” (Felt) Of course, sweetheart, of course.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): To the Gemini browsing the art supply store with me, saying he misses drawing—so draw! Look at all these sketch pads, in every shape, size and texture. Look at all the pencils and markers and paint. Look at the glitter!

Cancer (June 22-July 23): “All of your poems always ask a good/hard question.” (Rachel McKibbens re: Daniel McGinn) Keep asking, like a little kid, until they answer.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): I found a stack of lottery tickets on the ground, and I knew you’d be mad if I didn’t pick them up. I didn’t win, of course, but what a sin to leave maybe-luck on the ground!

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): Oh nice girl, you can dance the Black Swan, of course you can. Just block the door, smash you ballerina jewelry box, get mixed up with Mila Kunis. You’ll be fine. You’ll end up blissful and totally not dead.

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): Who knows where you’ll be this weekend, shoulder to shoulder with solemn suits or coaching children’s poetry? Wherever you are, you’re generous, brilliant and true, and you make great mixes, too.

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Make lists of your loves, past and present. Never mind that you’re giving away secrets or revealing cute little elaborate scars. Write them on fancy paper and float them out on streams like hopeful little boats.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Every time you didn’t go out to play, or watch a movie, or eat booze-flavored gelato, or pet dogs on the street, or skip writing that one last thank-you note, your little sacrifices are adding up like mosaics, ready to be pieced together into something big.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): To the Capricorn who couldn’t get a ride to the Dead Milkmen show at the Troubadour in 1994: Missed connections are just as important, or at least I hope so, because I can’t afford Death Cab tickets this summer.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): The stars still love you. That is all.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Write love poems to the best things that’ve ever happened—that time your parents were nice, amusement park refreshments, chewy cherry-flavored Spree—everything loves you back.

Poetic License Horoscopes is a free syndicated series which appears weekly on such lit blogs as The Serotonin Factory, Critical Mass and The Legendary  and Apiary  If you are interested in adding the Poetic License Horoscopes to your lit journal / lit blog, please email me at

Friday Love Poem: Michelle E. Crouch

This week, it's a tiny, cute poem from a tiny, cute, pal:

each morning i kiss
your appendectomy scar.
it brings us good luck.

Michelle E. Crouch is a co-founder and co-editor of APIARY, a Philadelphia-based literary magazine ( Her writing has been featured on and in the forthcoming issue of the Indiana Review.  She lives in Philly with a midwife, a farmer, a teacher, a dancer, a barista, and a cat. 
More of her writing can be found at 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Song of the Week: Remember Mary's Danish? Maybe Not.

Ever since I wrote this, I've been excavating the Nineties
to see what wisdom I might glean from my messed-up teenage self. It brings back great songs like this:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This Is Just Cute

My mom just posted this on the fb, and I just wanted to put it here so I'd remember to write it a poem. That's me in the middle, with my sister Katie and my brother Eddie.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Motivation Mondays: Prompts and a One-Person Writing Retreat

Hi loves! How is your 30/30 going? You can follow my poem-a-day shenanigans here . I would love to read yours, too.

Here are some prompts if you need them! If you want to suggest prompts or just say hi, you can write to me here:

The first two prompts are from John Beck,whose Friday Love Poem we can look forward to on May 13. John says:

“1. Pick a rhyming poem form (sonnet, sestina, etc) - select your rhyming words semi-randomly, then make it work. Don't worry about meaning, just rhythm and rhyme.

2. Write in response to a favorite (or least favorite) poem or song.

3. Go over to Radius and find out how to write a made-up (but still magic) horoscope. (Also it’s a great place to submit political poems and other things!)

4. This is the one I’m writing for today, courtesy of my poems’ soulmate, Cristen O’Keefe Aptowicz.  


So last weekend, one of my favorite pals was having the blues. I couldn’t do much about it, but I suggested something that almost ALWAYS makes me feel better when I’m all complicated/overwhelmed/lonely: a one-person writer’s retreat:

  1. Set aside 4-5 hours—as much time as you can, but usually an afternoon will do it.
  2. Turn off your phone and computer and don’t turn them on again until you feel better.
  3. Get a stack of poetry out of the library or just catch up on the ones you have around the house.
  4. Read, dawdle, write, draw, generally just do whatever you want. Sometimes I like to de-clutter on these sorts of days, but maybe that’s just my own kind of fun.
  5. But no poetry chores, like submitting or writing cover letters or anything. those things usually cheer me up too, but for now, it’s just about listening to yourself and filling the proverbial well.
  6. If something bores you, put it down and find something more fun.

You’ll feel refreshed and less lonely, and maybe you’ll even have some new poems.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Poetic License Horoscope for April 1-7

Aries (March 21-April 18): It’s been so chilly out, it’s hard to see the little blue flowers, the blooming trees, the armies of narcissi on the median strips. But they’re there, sure as the sky is blue.

Taurus (April 19-May 18): "The eye of the storm is where I operate, I'm surrounded by chaos but I concentrate." (Brother Ali) Everybody’s been dreaming about waves, but in yours, there’s no drowning. Your breath is infallible, and your head always stays above the froth. It’s okay to pick up your feet off the sand.

Gemini (May 19-June 21): “Let me be universally true without having to be egotistically right. Let this piece find the me that I knew little about. Let the reader find the self they always wanted or was scared to know. Let this piece be a mirror that reflects YOU in us and US as kin folk.” (Sherod Smallman, Prayer Before I Write) Pal, you are a faith millionaire, a glittering handful of true verbs. You’re right to drop your defenses. Go you.

Cancer (June 22-July 23): “Every Christmas is better than the Christmas before,” says little Laura Ingalls in By the Shores of Silver Lake. “I guess it must be because I’m growing up.” Like the Christmas sequence in every children’s book series, you are the best part.

Leo (July 24-Aug. 23): “You took matchsticks/ turned them into architecture.”-Anis Mojgani

Virgo (Aug. 24-Sept. 23): “Go on, take everything, take everything, I want you to.” (Hole, Violet) The sky is full of violets, dear, but maybe you can kind of start to trust people to stick around, even after they’ve gotten what they wanted. Isn’t a purple sky reason enough to believe?

Libra (Sept. 24-Oct. 21): How many times can I tell you, you’re a map of constellations, a pre-digital navigation system, a painting in which we can tell time, just by the shadows? One more time? Three?

Scorpio (Oct. 22-Nov. 22): Bon voyage, Big Love sisterwives! May your mission boat take you to more love, Margene. May you finally master hugging, Nikki. May you continue to follow the guidance of radical Mormon lesbians, Barb. May you explore your girl-liking side more, girl-who was-also-Mac-on-Veronica-Mars.

Sagittarius (Nov. 23-Dec. 22): Don’t worry, Liz Lemon, the world will ALWAYS need you, and Aaron Sorkin, and every other bespectacled sweetheart with a pen, every walking-and-talking angel. At least I hope so.

Capricorn (Dec. 23-Jan. 20): If I am judging Apples to Apples, here are some things you should know: 1. Unicorns are trustworthy. 2. My wife will always win unless 3. Someone puts down “Love Letters,” which are almost always the best answer to anything.

Aquarius (Jan. 21-Feb. 19): To the Aquarius who seems to have every adorable social justice job: May you be inundated with the glittering thank you notes of children. May you get paid what you deserve, which is everything. May you have your own Lost-island lighthouse, where you can see the whole life of every good deed.

Pisces (Feb. 20-March 20): Get yourself some lacy presents and write yourself a Valentine like Hannah McDonald, who says this: “Let’s face it, I must be the one for me/ Because I’ve been loving me in some way or other /For 29 years going strong,/ And that’s longer than some folks stay married.”

Poetic License Horoscopes is a free syndicated series which appears weekly on such lit blogs as The Serotonin Factory, Critical Mass and The Legendary  and Apiary If you are interested in adding the Poetic License Horoscopes to your lit journal / lit blog, please email me at

Friday Love Poem: More Elliott D. Smith

I'm so happy to be celebrating the first day of April with a poem from one of my most inspiring pals.

After you read him here, you should go over to the SF's sisterwife publication, The Legendary, and read/listen to For Everyone Not Convinced By Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" Campaign. You'll be glad Elliott's on your side of the playground, giving the bullies what-for.

So about this love poem. I get a lot of really hot poems emailed to me, but this was the only one that made me kinda wish it was just being...sent to me, not submitted. I may or may not carry it in my pocket sometimes for luck. But enough telling on myself.

after Bikini Kill “For Tammy Rea”

I like women.
Women in high heels who slow sip whiskey
far straighter than they are;
Women flaunting tank tops and tattoos
telling stories of tethered promises.
Women who borrow hips
from cupcakes and six packs.

I like women
who love without a plan,
who fuck in the time signature
of riot grrl,
and make love out of white-knuckled-headboards
and handcuffs.

This is a pick up line
smeared across my pillowcase
in the three fingered fashion of last night
asking for more.

I like women
who smile morse code
(long long short short short long long)
into the payphone of my subconscious
and tell the operator to fuck off.

Which brings me to you.
I know we haven’t been on a “date”
yet, but I checked our romantic compatibility
on, and boy are we in trouble.
Apparently our union is one
of innate practicality, and I don’t know about you,
but that terrifies me.

Let’s pretend we’re seventeen,
when my version of chivalry was sneaking you in
to my parent’s house.
We’d watch infomercials til 5am,
then, when the earth conspired to freeze you
out of your car,
I’d bring glasses of hot water
to melt the ice.
I would’ve rather chiseled your bottom lip,
chipped away at your smile until I could hide there,
let your tongue lick my wounds,
but I wasn’t that smart.

Instead, I waited ten years,
listening always to our favorite song,
“Past the billboards and the magazines
I dream about being with you,
we can’t hear a word they say,
let’s pretend we own the world today,
the sunny side of the street where we are.”

I have walked the sunny side
of every street
looking for your shadow
only to be disappointed by congruent strangers.

“Wipe the tears from my face.
Wipe the sweat from my hair,
tell me we’re not better off” (alone).

Elliott D. Smith believes in the power of tattoos and reference books. He currently works with people with conviction histories, helping them to reduce barriers to employment and housing. Elliott also conducts research on masculinity, friendships, and identity formation. His writing tackles issues of gender, sexuality, and family, and is greatly influenced by the people and places he loves.