Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

cactus heart
December 3, 2014

Despite what my lack of recent blog posts might suggest, I haven’t completely neglected my creative writing since starting grad school. In fact, my poem “Two for the 8 o’clock show” is in the latest issue of Cactus Heart! It was just released today, and I can’t wait to read it once I’m done with all of my term papers for this semester.

I also recently had a few pieces very graciously rejected by The Open Bar (Tin House’s blog). Their Broadside Thirty series features short pieces (thirty lines or less) by poets under thirty. Below is one of my thirty-line cast-offs. Enjoy!

Confession

I’ve seen oceans from airplanes.
I’ve seen Asia in electronic
pixels and plastic.
I’ve heard that if you put a shell to your ear,
it blocks out the traffic.

The bus schedule is in hieroglyphs,
the newspaper in Latin.
I’m a land of busted languages,
land of crumpled receipts, land of dollar bills.
My politics are shallow.
My pockets are deep.

Eat me to death –
I am sugar and syrup and salt.
The cabinets are empty
and the plates are filth.
My nails are grit.
My teeth are plaque.
My brain’s in the gutter
and my lungs are in bed.

Binge on borrowed money,
stolen sweets, waste time on wifi
from the neighbors next door.
Quest through the comments section –
“Asshole, idiot, faggot, slut.”
Sticks, stones, bones, and such.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll take out the trash.
On Tuesday I’ll wash the dishes.
On Saturday I’ll put the dog to sleep,
grab my bootstraps,
pull.

prey
September 8, 2014

Track my path, unfurling

distance.

Pocket knives with
their sick slick sheen
open
blood-rusty and hot.

Fists clench on cue.

I am the life let loose,

rabbit evading the snare.

afterlife
August 11, 2014

I study indifference,

pause the expansion of the universe,

desire curled as a bud in the flesh,

burrowing down in the gut.


Now, my soul is

weightless.

I float between the twinned stillnesses

of hunger and fear,

drawing breaths never to be exhaled.

 

 
So light

the wind on sunny days

is my fate,

my body drifts,

unexpectant,

ethereal,

limned.

#gpoy
June 25, 2014

The one and only downside of being included in a print publication is that I can’t easily link to my work online. I’ve wanted to share my poems that have been published in Pages for a while, and so here they are, thanks to my realization that camera phones exist. (On that note, I recently started using instagram. So far, this has primarily involved posting pictures of Austin with artsy filters. Follow me so that I feel validated in this endeavor. As always, my handle is hctrees.)

from Belleville Park Pages 21, Late May 2014

from Belleville Park Pages 21, Late May 2014

from Belleville Park Pages 12, Late November 2013

from Belleville Park Pages 12, Late November 2013

glutton
June 20, 2014

I am binging to fill up the empty parts of me.
Oil and grain and sugar and salt
all packed in until I am solid stone.
I will sink to the bottom of the pool
and no one will look for me there.

I am building muscle, all density and heat
until I am a molten mass
hurtling through space, reckless.
I am a loose cannon, iron, wrought.
My flesh will bash through your flesh.

Was it good for you, too?
Good is a loaded word for loaded bodies.
My eyes are brimmed up with glances,
my wrists are weighted: blood and tendon and time.
Hear me out. My hands are wide enough for us both.

an origami trick
June 13, 2014

In a single omnipotent gesture, I would
fold the map of the earth onto itself,
connecting all disparate points,
the state borders lying on each other,
languishing,
all the geographic limbs –
peninsulas, archipelagos, valleys –
mingling their longitudinal longings,
latitudes drifting across
oceans, wave
by wave, from parallel to
indelible proximity,
evergreens twining roots
with palms, dawn and dusk
loosing themselves into risings,
fallings, winds
collapsing into their opposites, until
in stillness all the world
faces itself and sleeps
as a single speck,
all closeness closed,
hands clasped,
a brilliant winking spot of
singularity,
and outside of us,
nothing.

This poem is in part inspired by Sharon Olds’ “Topography,” which includes the brilliant lines, “my Kansas / burning against your Kansas your Kansas / burning against my Kansas.”  If you aren’t familiar with her work, I’d suggest starting with her 1987 collection, The Gold Cell

Pages 21
May 28, 2014

This is just a quick update to let my followers know that one of my poems is being published in the upcoming issue of Belleville Park Pages! You can pick up Pages 21 in a select group of bookstores in the US and Europe (here is the full list), or you can order it online here. As some of you might remember, I had a poem in Pages 12 last November, and I’m so excited to continue to contribute to this wonderful little publication!

And because I cannot make a post without including poetry suggestions, below is an excerpt from Anne Carson’s Glass, Irony and God. I’m currently staying in LA with a friend who works at Book Soup, a shop in West Hollywood, and because it is a universally acknowledged truth that if you enter a bookshop, you are obligated to buy something, I ended up with this collection of Carson’s poetry.

from “The Glass Essay”

Perhaps the hardest thing about losing a lover is
to watch the year repeat its days.
It is as if I could dip my hand down

into time and scoop up
blue and green lozenges of April heat
a year ago in another country.

I can feel that other day running underneath this one
like an old videotape – here we go fast around the last corner
up the hill to his house, shadows

of limes and roses blowing in the car window
and music spraying from the radio and him
singing and touching my left hand to his lips.

ten poetry suggestions
April 25, 2014

During a recent afternoon haze, I was browsing through Buzzfeed’s never-ending stream of quizzes and listicles when I came across a surprising article on poetry (surprising in that it was 1. a collection of full sentences, and 2. a reasonably thoughtful collection of full sentences). Once you get past the initial fact that “life changing” [sic] is negligently unhyphenated in the title of the piece, it’s not bad. I was especially glad to see Nabokov’s Pale Fire and Joni Mitchell’s song, “Both Sides Now,” included on their list, both of which I would highly recommend. 

And so this final week of National Poetry Month has seen me thinking about life-changing poems, trying to decide what counts as life-changing, what counts as a poem, and falling down the rabbit hole of the Poetry Foundation website. I’ve finally come up with a list of my own “life-changing” poems, and if you’re feeling particularly gluttonous, I would also suggest reading this wonderfully diverse selection recommended by various Carleton College professors.

1. “Loves” by Stephen Dunn – from Landscape at the End of the Century. When people ask me what my favorite poem is, this is usually the piece that comes to mind.

2. “She Had Some Horses” by Joy Harjo – Listen to the recording of Harjo reading this. It’s worth it.

3. “America” by Allen Ginsberg – Why should “Howl” get all the attention?

4. “i like my body” by e.e. cummings – It was incredibly hard to choose a single poem by cummings; reading 100 Selected Poems in its entirety is a worthy pursuit.

5. “Fever 103˚” by Sylvia Plath – From Ariel, another amazing poetry collection that I first read all in one sitting and instantly loved.

6. “I Don’t Miss It” by Tracy K. Smith – From Duende. I would also highly recommend Life on Mars, her Pulitzer-winning collection.

7. “Madame George” by Van Morrison – Yes, it’s a song (track 6 on Astral Weeks).

8. Antigonick by Anne Carson – This is a translation of Sophocles’ Antigone, so it is perhaps a bit of a stretch to claim that the entire play is a poem. But it is one of the best things I’ve ever read, and to call it prose does not do it justice.

9. “I Go Back to May 1937” by Sharon Olds – Olds’ work is fearless in its transparency. I can only hope that one day I will be brave enough to write as honestly as she does.

10. “The Waking” by Theodore Roethke – A villanelle that puts every villanelle I’ve written to shame.

the elk breaks up with me
April 15, 2014

Stop what you’re doing. Stop it right now. Okay. Now go read Patricia Lockwood’s hilarious essay, “Is It Work?” In addition to being an extremely talented poet, Lockwood is insanely hilarious (and also really good at twitter). But to the point: in this particular satirical essay, she argues that poetry is indeed work, even if the only sweating involved is “the weird thing that sometimes happens under your right arm because you haven’t lifted it up for 8 hours.” And she also pokes fun at several canonical poets, such as Elizabeth Bishop, who “only ever wrote one poem, a villanelle about an elk breaking up with her (“The Elk Breaks Up with Me”).” On that note, I realized that the internet needed this poem. Desperately. So I wrote it. 

(With endless apologies to Bishop, whose original poem, “One Art“, you should probably read)

The Elk Breaks Up with Me

Breaking up isn’t hard to master;
so many loves seem filled with the intent
to break that their break is no disaster.

Break a heart every day. Accept the fluster
of broken promises, the text badly sent.
Breaking up isn’t hard to master.

Then practice breaking farther, breaking faster:
engagements, marriages, who it was you meant
to call. None of these will bring disaster.

I broke my purity ring. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of friends with benefits went.
Breaking up isn’t hard to master.

I broke two romances, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some oaths I swore, two pacts, without lament.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

–Even breaking up with you (the fuzzy nose, a feature
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
breaking up’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

skeptic
March 24, 2014

I am worried about the children 

who too soon stop believing the lies they are told,

which is to say I am fearful

for my self, alive, limbs still attached,

miraculous unity, symbiosis 

of muscle and mind.

I am stitched together,

threadbare at elbows, knees,

lips and tongue;

pull me and I’ll tear

in all the necessary places.

Cut me loose, watch my self spill

across the altar of virtue and decay.

What a way to live, but tell me,

do you know another means 

of making it from one day to the next?

You, who would live,

memorize the names of the dead

and speak them again into being.

For a moment, feel the privilege

of your heat and terror

while I remind my self 

to breathe, to sleep, to breathe again.