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Showing posts from 2014

Post-Christmas Poem

Some receive it as a gift, like a child—               wrapped in festive tissue paper,               encased in sturdy (yet velvety) bows,               delivered in public, out in the open, for all to see.
Others toy with it as a string, like a kitten—               dangling from above by an unseen hand,               dancing from side to side (albeit erratically),  enticing the playfulness from within, out, for all to see.
I walk behind it as an enigma, like a disciple—               examining its angles and edges from afar,               imagining (fancying, even) the mechanisms on the inside,               yearning to clasp it in my hands, out in the open, for all to see.

This poem is for you and you and you (and also you).

This poem is for your bones, those cramped calcified frames waiting to unfurl.
This poem is for your words unspoken, those we repent for not having heard, those we wish we could still hear.
This poem is for the kaleidoscope of your eyes, those revolving hues of browns and greens and blues, those nearsighted retinas oblivious to the blurred distance, those irises slamming down the windows to the light.
This poem is also
for me.

Past, Past, Future?

When I was very young               and oh so dumb                              (like a couple of months ago)
I felt attraction               based on physicality                              (fatally so I might add)
Now I am charmed                       by a sense personal responsibility                                       (cheers to that)

poem featuring a forced conceit of commerce

i will my form into the cardboard cube and feel the constriction in my lungs as the shrink wrap seals me in
the thud of my own weight resists the conveyor belt shaking my organs until I lose my mass and float
then the vertigo of transport lulls me into unconsciousness until dozens of rough hands pitch me about and arrange me for display
oblivion takes over and once again the darkness awaits the disturbance of another set of rough hands on my fresh smooth exterior cluttered with refrains of corporate fingerprints
the beep that peppers such commercial haggle assesses the merit of my varying black lines until the reluctant rough hands tender paper currency and remain outstretched for the leftover pennies

Live Open Mouthed

I no longer delight in the delusion of being right.  The years pile up, yielding wisdom—the kind that I feel deep in my belly. The kind that pries the masks off of all of those faces.
When I was young, I believed in absurd things: the things that deep-belly wisdom debunk. The trick is to juggle the hostile aftertaste of deep-belly wisdom with the honeyed piquancy of open-mouthed laughter without dropping all that is you.
I look at the lines staring back at me in the mirror and I open my mouth and I force the laughter up like bile until it becomes real. Then, my laughter transforms into a growl, a guttural grunt that renders the lines staring back at me in the mirror savagely beautiful.  Finally, I stop tripping over the heap of years and faceless masks: I just live open mouthed.

Wednesday's Nightmare

It’s silly really . . . the terror, I mean.
Such a benign sight: the grayness of the tile, the starkness of the bathtub, the clarity of the water, lapping over the edge, soaking the orange fibers of the mat.
My toes drown and my panicked feet lead me away and back and my tense arms heave the towels to the floor and my unnerved eyes shut out all sight.
The more I try, the less it slows: I become the little Dutch boy’s finger in the dam, submerged in water as the pressure builds and then bursts.
The silly terror hangs on even after my eyes open.

Ringing the Alarm in Olathe, KS

There’s an alarming trend in public education.
Is it the dismal prospective of today’s students? Nope. Kids are kids. While generational differences exist, my fifteen years of teaching have proven that some things just never change: gastrointestinal noises will always be hilarious to freshmen boys.
Is it the oppressing arm of the federal government slapping down local control? Don’t sound the alarm bells on this one yet. It’s true that Mr. Duncan’s insistence that teacher evaluation include student performance data is simplistic and misguided, at least the US Department of Education is beginning to show signs that they understand student performance is more complicated than test scores (despite a long history that has already proven this fact).
Unfortunately, the trend of which I am speaking slaps me in the face every day as I enter the school at which I’ve taught for twelve years, Olathe Northwest High. For the first time in my memory, we are approaching the end of the first quarter wi…


My mother's maiden name is Werth. This gives me pause. Lately, my own worth has been called in question, which is hilariously ridiculous at 36.

I have always prided myself on independence. I have never relied on anybody for anything. True, people have helped me along the way. But...I have really never put my eggs in any basket, so to speak.

So, here I am.  Thirty six. Single mother of two adolescents. Have I finally reached the status of reliance on another? Or, is that a fallacy?

Truth be told...I have no clue.


Some rank the light of the public like the shine of a designer shoe Others dwell in the dankness of a secluded alleyway
where we put those things we know exist
but wish to deny in “proper” company
the homeless veteran, drowning his vision with a bottle
the days-away-from legal girl, boasting a set of skills
that make suburban housewives in designer shoes blush
and their husbands in designer shoes patrons
Still others tiptoe in between light/dark, light/dark, light/dark, light/dark, light/dark, light/dark, light/dark, light/dark
where they are deceived by the shine of designer shoes 
and willfully unaware they are what is denied in “proper” company


Guilt is a peculiar creature. At times, it’s an ever-present bedfellow. It expands gradually, scooting you farther and farther to the edge. You have that moment in which you teeter there—knowing you are destined to fall, even more that you deserve to fall—but in that moment, you just focus the weightless serenity of imbalance (willfully ignoring the impending crash).
Other times, it comes out of nowhere. You scurry from task to task, the rush and automation of every monotonous day, heedless of it crouching in the corner. Then, one image. One word. And—SLAM. It hits you like a brick. Like a brick-filled sack of clichés. It sucks the air out of your lungs with its tired familiarity.  Your heartbeat surges until your head whirls with the old thoughts. You are left . . . gasping. Off balance.
Sometimes, its aftertaste lingers. It colors your face and body movements as you play the role of yourself for the remainder of the day.  At least one notices but remains silent. Other times, it dissip…

poem written in 60 seconds

apply the functions
2 the columns
the values fail
2 add up

your face
the wrinkles outline your eyes
framing their inhumanity
the familiar scent welcomes
my false sense of security
null value

run the calculations again
check 4 errors
a misplaced decimal
some faulty estimation

simple math


I want to feel packed in
     the weight of feet of snow
     the heaviness of the moist granules
gnashing at my skin
    an unfit wrapping for its interior

I want to feel suffocated
     breath constricted in my chest
     fingers laced around my neck
reaching across its expanse
    anxiety building until

r e l e a s e

Four Fallacies of Motherhood

I’ve been thinking a great deal about motherhood lately. About my own mother, my grandmother who raised me, and even myself as a mother. About its essence, its challenges, and its victories. About my oldest, recently 18, who moved out of my home only to return weeks later (to my relief). About my youngest, recently 13, who strikes a fragile balance between wisdom beyond her years and naïveté of one much younger (to my consternation).  My reflection has led me to many conclusions, one of which is motherhood comes with a lot of . . .
How can I put this delicately?
Well, it comes with a lot of stupid shit.
1. Being a mother makes me special.
Nearly ¾ of American women have children, according to Gallup. Now, I may not be a math whiz, but how does being part of the super-super-majority make one exceptional? This is not to say that being a capable mother is easy or trivial, but the state of motherhood is in itself the norm.
2. My children are not average.
Average is, by definition, calculated u…

Trial After Fire

Some say
               "trial by fire"
                                   a weary cliche
But much more vibrant
                                   in first person
The sting of the flame

But most fail to acknowledge
         the true test


Once all is built back up and tucked in place
the broken glass swept away
the sooty surfaces wiped clean

             then the pressure mounts
                        to be

Then those things that don't have mass or form
                 are eaten away
                                         by flame

But one that is cold and invisible
One that licks the wounds
nobody cares to see