Happy Mother's Day

A year ago I posted this poem for my mom for Mother's Day. This was before the prospect of losing her became real just a few weeks later. The last line, "who will never, ever leave" haunts me a little, but when I wrote it I knew I would likely lose her in my lifetime. But I also knew her influence would stay with me forever. In her absence, I've found this to be absolutely true. So even though you aren't here in the flesh, Mom, happy Mother's Day to you. Here's another poem for you :)


From a very young age I knew
the one thing my mother hated most
was a liar.

Maybe that is why Mom and I
sometimes fought
sometimes had difficult conversations
about race and gender and politics.

She surely didn’t know
how her request for honesty
from her children
would one day backfire.

That her daughter would call her
on her white privilege ceaselessly
and casual conversations about network tv
would evolve into heated debates.

And now I wish I had been a little less honest.
Maybe a little dishonesty
would unburden me from so much regret today.


National Poetry Month: & the Words In-Between...

A few of the poems this month didn't quite fit into Death, Life or Work so those became "the words in-between." Here's one of those poems that didn't quite fit, a history in haiku form...

Family complete.
History Haiku

A winter night
in LA thick with cosmos
and love at first sight.

Moved here for some boy
but I stayed in this city
all because of you.

Single apartment
a futon and a circle
commute. Our courtship.

No-ring proposal
A summer evening wedding
Baseball honeymoon.

We didn’t know how
to be married but were good
at pretending house.

We buried ourselves
in truths and somehow became
perfect together.

First there was the pup
and then a daughter. A bite
and we lost our dog.

Unexpected loss
brings our baby boy to us
family complete.  


National Poetry Month: Work Poem

Writing Death, Life, Work, & the Words In-Between was work. And writing it reminded me of all of the work being done by so many. And in that work, there is the attempt to find balance. Here is a poem about breathing in the space of all that work.

How to Find Balance

Up early.
Feed the little one.
Hold him close
and try to enjoy
these fleeting moments.


Get up and shower.
Hope the baby is still asleep.
Eat breakfast with
the not-so-little one.
Let go of the princess shirt
and princess necklace
and princess conversation.


Steal a few moments
to write
a few words.
To capture
and see the world
in all its beauty
and tragedy.


Drive to work.
Drink the coffee.
Start checking off
the list of to-dos
before the students
enter the room.
Be kind.


Because the little one
is still so little
and this is the time
in the day when
you are connected
even though he
is far away.


Return to the to-dos
and the students
and ignore the noise
outside the classroom
that distracts from
the real work.
Eat. Coach. Teach.
Drive back home.
Pick up the kids.


Attempt to enjoy
these fleeting moments.
Hold them close.
Laugh and play.
Brush and read.


Go to bed early
because tomorrow
is another chance
to balance it all. 


National Poetry Month: Life Poem

Yesterday's poem was a bit of a bummer, I know, so I'll try to lighten it up a bit. While writing Death, Life, Work & the Words In-Between, I learned that I tend to write pretty serious poems. Many of my students write about kale, the Illuminati, pickles, and raisins while others write about death, suicide, and serial killers. My poems definitely lean toward the latter, but this one isn't so bad.

"Morning Conversations"
Spring Day

A spring morning 
still in bed
with all of my loves:
the baby
the toddler
the partner.

A morning run 
after breakfast
under clear skies
still clean 
from the rain
of a few days ago.

A late-morning walk
for coffee
when the toddler notes
“It’s a beautiful day”
reminding you
that it’s a beautiful day.

A long nap
when we all sleep
and dream
and wake
taking a few moments
to reopen our eyes to the day.

An early bath in bright light
that floods our afternoon
and a cool breeze
under cloud-dappled skies
before an early bed time
on a spring evening.


National Poetry Month: Death Poem

For National Poetry Month I wrote a poem a day with my students and assembled a collection. This year's collection: Death, Life, Work, & the Words In-Between captures the early months after my mother’s passing, the early weeks after my son’s birth, and the early days I spent back at work. This week I'm going to play catch-up here on the blog and post a poem from each section. So, for today, here's a post about those last days before letting go of Mom. 


In the days when your departure
was eminent
but your outcome was still unknown

as machines pumped air
in and out of your lungs
and triggered your heart to beat

I whispered in your sedated ear
I urged you to acknowledge
an impending arrival

The night before there had been the taking
of an unexpected test
and the surprise prospect of a new life

so I hoped this news
might delay your departure
might be something to fend off what was coming

but there was never an acknowledgement
never the happy spark in your eyes
of grandmother-hood all over again

and days later your departure
seemed a cruel trick

with this new life swelling toward arrival.