52 Poems: Week 17 Henry Luke

This week I'm sharing a hapa slam poet. It hits close to home with issues of racial identity. I love how he asks his audience to stand up, to take pride in being whole. Our world might want to break us down and make us invisible but we define who we are. Take a listen because poetry is meant to be heard!


52 Poems: Week 16 Billy Collins

She's cute, but why did she make me so dumb?
Jane Hancock of the UCLA Writing Project introduced me to the poetry of Billy Collins. I just came across this poem and I think I can relate, but I can't really remember. For over a year-and-a-half now, I feel my brain has left me. Baby brain, I am telling you, is a real thing. Becoming a mother has made me so stupid
I forget students' names, why I'm standing at the fridge, my phone, what street Kiara's daycare is on, all of it. My mother would say I've always been a little forgetful (lost jackets and sweaters, scarves and mittens) but now it's ridiculous. Today I lost my wallet (then found it), my keys (found them too), and my mind (maybe I just need a little more sleep).

Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.


52 Poems: Week 15 "Haircut"

So, for National Poetry Month my students are working on collections and I am working on poems about motherhood. If you read last week's poem, you will recognize a few touchstones in "Haircut" in this call of words poem about those first snips of  Kiara's hair.

by Noriko Nakada
Inspired Pablo Neruda's “You Will Remember”

Today I cut your hair
for the first time
just after your first birthday
because of Filipino tradition.

I consider keeping
those precious wisps of hair
like tiny feathers between my fingertips
and tying them up in ribbon.

I can hardly believe you—
the girl molded like clay
in my swollen womb—
are this little person sitting here now.

But the morning is busy
so I watch your feathery wisps
wash down the kitchen sink
and float away in silent water.


52 Poems: Week 14 Pablo Neruda

Love the language of this poem... we used it for a call of words in class this week and wrote about what I will remember, what Kiara will someday remember, where nothing is waiting and everything is.

You Will Remember
By Pablo Neruda  

You will remember that leaping stream
where sweet aromas rose and trembled,
and sometimes a bird, wearing water
and slowness, its winter feathers.
You will remember those gifts from the earth:
indelible scents, gold clay,
weeds in the thicket and crazy roots,
magical thorns like swords.
You'll remember the bouquet you picked,
shadows and silent water,
bouquet like a foam-covered stone.
That time was like never, and like always.
So we go there, where nothing is waiting;
we find everything waiting there.


Thanks, Village.

I never read Hillary Rodham Clinton's It Take a Village, but after this first year of parenthood I am so appreciative of the village David and I have around us. We have our families and friends and the virtual community who has supported every moment of Kiara's well-documented first year. So, thank you.
Thanks for helping us prepare for our baby-girl before she came. Thank you for welcoming her when she arrived, and for providing parenting guidance in those early, frightening days, weeks, and months. Thanks for celebrating every little milestone along with us and for putting up with the over-exposure of KHarp on social media. We love our little girl and know she feels the love of this village. Thank you.


52 Poems: Week 13 Eloise Klein Healy

Eloise Klein Healy is Los Angeles' poet laureate and this past summer, at a house-warming/birthday party with the most delicious ceviche, we visited about her forthcoming book of poetry, A Wild Surmise. She was the founding chair of Antioch where I worked on my mfa. We are part of a community of LA writers.

This week, as I reflect on the early days of Kiara's life, I read this poem and realized I gave up a beloved animal for my child. But I also don't like to be watched while I eat.

By Eloise Klein Healy

I am thinking about romance and its purpose.
Children and why I didn't have any.
I would have left the cave and them with it
or I would have tied them to me forever
with my own sad dreams and finicky order.
I've liked young animals better.
I could put their heads in my mouth.
I could lick and clean them like a mother,
but I could not raise a child.
The first thing a child should see
is the pink sunrise of a nipple, not the green wind
of a branch whipping in passing.
I chose to keep animals around me instead
because we are the same. We have habits
and make strange circles before we sleep.
We don't like to be watched while we eat.