Monthly Archives: December 2017

Monday’s Verse 12/18/2017, mid-week edition

Dear readers,

What I’m looking forward to most this week is getting together with loved ones to celebrate a miracle of rebirth, to sit in a reverent and music-filled temple, awe-struck by the mysterious forces of good in the universe. I’m speaking, of course, about my Saturday night tickets to go see "The Last Jedi" with my HS besties in Indianapolis. Can’t wait!!!

Well, I rounded out the Pitt alum reading series last week with Stacey Waite. So I’m done running poems by live poetry witnessed in November, right? Wrong! Because the week Brandon Som was in town, I managed to see 7 poets read in a 3-day span; more poetry than I usually take in in a 6-month span. At the White Whale book store, 3 semi-local poets shared their work. Up first was Rochelle Hurt of Slippery Rock U’s English Department. Several of her poems had people laughing, in a good way. Later, I found this one from 2107 online. The nice thing about it for me is the McDonald’s reference and this week’s intro, given that in HS the McDonald’s parking lot was a regular meet-up for me and my friends. I think the idea was that it was a launching pad for other, more diverting venues… but sometimes, hanging out in the McDonald’s parking lot, or the McDonald’s, was itself the event. Why? I don’t know. We weren’t what you would call "cool." We also weren’t what you would call cool. Lot of good sounds in this poem — it’s a quick read. Lots of assonance, which also happened to be Brian’s nickname in HS. Have a good week, -ed.


I want to wade there with you on a snow day,
wheeze-winded & teary. I want to smash the ice
in your lashes, then let the oily steam breathe us
back to running blood. Or I want to walk there
in crop tops we’ll swap in the lime fluorescent
of the slime-tiled john so we can walk home as one
another. I want to wooze in your menthol-cherry
aura as we find every flickering arch in the city.
Delicate licker of grease-dipped French tips,
send me a Rite-Aid valentine that says be my bitch
& I’ll be yours. No take-backs, no joke, no jinx
when I answered that trick crush question with you,
you who then flipped & tramped the whole year solo.
But I swear on my mamaw’s spine we can walk
it all back with Big Macs & a thousand half-hug pats.
Please let’s just meet on the mouth of straw,
suck it up, crush only our cups, & let the year drip down
the sewer slats as we walk back & back & back.


Monday’s Verse 12/11/2017

Dear readers,

Rounding out my recap of Pitt MFAs who read in Pittsburgh last month: Stacey Waite (Wait–cat’s eye). I can’t recall if we have read her poems before — I’ll name drop and say she’s one of the MV poets I’ve met in person. We got a quick handshake in as our dinner plans and mutual friends overlapped for 10 minutes or so at the MLA conference in Chicago about 4 years back. I know we’ve got at least one slam poetry fan (and competitor) out there in MV dist-list-land, and Stacey is not only a lit professor, not only an award-winning published poet, but a slam poet as well. Accompanying this piece, which she read in town, is a link to a performance of it.

One reviewer said that Stacey Waite’s poems do not so much rearrange language, they rearrange your internal organs. How do your guts feel after this one? -ed.


"Mommy, that man is a girl," says the little boy
pointing his finger, like a narrow spotlight,
targeting the center of my back, his kid-hand
learning to assert what he sees, his kid-hand
learning the failure of gender’s tidy little story
about itself. I try not to look at him

because, yes that man is a girl. I, man, am a girl.
I am the kind of man who is a girl and because
the kind of man I am is patient with children
I try not to hear the meanness in his voice,
his boy voice that sounds like a girl voice
because his boy voice is young and pitched high
like the tent in his pants will be years later
because he will grow to be the kind of man
who is a man, or so his mother thinks.

His mother snatches his finger from the air,
of course he’s not, she says, pulling him
back to his seat, what number does it say we are?
she says to her boy, bringing his attention
to numbers, to counting and its solid sense.

But he has earrings, the boy complains
now sounding desperate like he’s been
the boy who cries wolf, like he’s been
the hub of disbelief before, but this time
he knows he is oh so right. The kind
of man I am is a girl, the kind of man
I am is push-ups on the basement
floor, is chest bound tight against himself,
is thick gripping hands to the wheel
when the kind of man I am drives away
from the boy who will become a boy
except for now while he’s still a girl voice,
a girl face, a hairless arm, a powerless hand.
That boy is a girl that man who is a girl
thinks to himself, as he pulls of out of the lot,
his girl eyes shining in the Midwest sun.


Monday’s Verse 12/4/2017

Dear readers,

the anagram for C.M. Burroughs’ name is something you might say coming in from a frigid walk this month: "Brr! Um… [coughs]." I can hear Gabriel say it as he literally sweeps Lily, the caretaker’s daughter, off her feet while entering Aunt Julia’s house… This is how we’re trained to think in December, even though it’s 60 degrees in Pittsburgh.

But speaking of Pittsburgh, C.M. Burroughs was one of the "alum" poets invited back by the Pitt English department for a reading last month. She completed her MFA here, and now teaches at Columbia College, Chicago. She has composed poems in conjunctions with art installations at the Warhol Museum, and the Studio Museum of Harlem (which incidentally did a collaboration with our Carnegie Museum this fall, from which the "Cleopatra’s Cape" we looked at while back was taken). She’s also the winner of several prestigious fellowships. Her first full-length collection came out in 2012.

The Poetry Foundation’s Twitter feed brought this new poem to my attention today, as a reminder that I wanted to share all the poets I heard read back in November. This looks like a sonnet with an extra stanza thrown in. Has a lot of noun repetition, but I haven’t figured out the pattern to that. Have a good week! -ed.


Do I have to dress up or can I wear jeans? Dear Joaquin,

casual Sunday is a plus! Can a woman be fully present in heels?

Remember the other day at the shops, we saw the T-shirt that

read “Blessed” across the front? I know

you picked it up for me as a joke, but it made me pause. I think

I am blessed in the way I understand people to mean it: having

good fortune. But this is where faith messes with my clean concept,

because practicing Christians don’t believe blessings come

out the clear blue sky. So here’s God again, all up in the Kool-Aid.

I’m dating myself, but I mean that He gets in the way of

spiritual minimalism. He is at once contained and uncontainable,

which, intellectually, is hard to understand. So being blessed

must require that one acts in such a way that presses God to bestow

blessings, which isn’t the same thing as good fortune, but I want

to believe that people are saying, “You have such good fortune,

I hope for good fortune, too,” because it means that no one is

preaching at me like, “You have good God-God,” “Father

God I hope He Gods for us, too,” “You got God?” Et cetera.