Friday, February 25, 2011


And here you may notice, at the end of the day
That three cups of very hot chocolate,
A good and true friend,
And the end of a project
Will solve everything.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Then there was that time in the spring
When I was riding my bike down 5th
(At that point I still didn't recognize anything)
I was riding as fast as I could pedal
Feeling foreign, feeling new
And realizing what seemed at the time
The most important realization I would ever make:
(Being human, being incomplete,
Being young and lost, by virtue of being young.
Being confused, being in love,
Being eighteen and riding a bicycle)

That I am not yet what I am meant to be.

These were the most joyous words I knew.
(I whispered them to the stranger streets)
That I will never be in life what I am meant to be
That all I can do is add miles and years.


There are things I shouldn't have told to people
Things I didn't know were inarticulate
And best left that way
Until I put them crudely into words
And lost their meaning completely

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Posters I Made and Liked:

Guess what? I discovered Helvetica Neue the week before last and now I can't stop using it.

I am especially proud of this typewriter. Credit for the concept to the incomparable Tess Kelly.

P.S. I definitely submitted to the Mayhew Contests and so should you.

Monday, February 21, 2011

On Flying

Flying at night is best.
Look down at all those burning dots
And all the darkness between them-
And maybe it's all floating on a deep, deep body of water
And the lamp-lined streets
Trailing out like warped fingers
Are bridges from house to garden to city to highway
Or maybe each bright car is a gondolier on fire
Later if you're lucky
Notice there are festivals spread out on every island
They have lit all their torches, rejoicing
Some, blinking lanterns, sending signals of joy
To all the neighboring tribes.

Here in the air the flight attendant demonstrates the use of an emergency mask.
Overhead reading lights click on
Or maybe it's only Sudoku puzzles and algebra homework
iPods glowing with Tetris and album covers
And some catastrophe shouting, breaking windows, exploding and burning
On the bluish screen glaring forward and to the right
Then again, to the right, soldiers with angry faces.

It's harder to believe it of these blocked-out cities.
Sitting flat in grids on some plateau I can't see.
Each light is just a repetition of the last and of the next
Row of dots square on graph paper.
And then swallowed by cloud cover.
Maybe further away a silvery row of lights
Pointing out a caravan of sailors.

We are lost inside of a cloud, because some announcement comes on about turbulence.
And every passenger wonders not-so-secretly (looking around wide-eyed and maybe
Clutching the armrests with each lurch)


"Oh God, is this how I die?"

Maren's Lullaby

Here's the lullaby, as finished as it can be for now. I got Madelyn and Melissa to sing on it, and I think putting this together was pretty neat to do as sisters. Madelyn is the lowest voice and Melissa is the inordinately high one. They made up their own harmonies. My favorite part of this song is about a minute in, when some cool harmonies come in and there are a few soaring notes in all the parts. Anyway, the song is the second track on this music player. Happy listening!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Seeing Maren

When Dad called me in I walked over in the soft light,
And kneeling next to a crib I know I laid in
Peeked through at her for the first time
Sometimes there aren't enough words
The tiniest yawn I've ever seen
(Between quick, sweet breaths)
Coming from this perfect face and nose
And blinked-shut eyes
Her head the size of a fist
And fist the size of a thumb
Her fingernails drips of barely opaque paint
On the ends of blushing curled fingers
She blinked for an instant
The dark globes of her eyes
Maybe having registered a stranger
And then closed.
I crouched before her, transfixed.
There was nothing else.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


The last time was about a year ago,
Watching the tiny lights of my newest hometown
Blinking closer as we landed,
Six months previous I was hunched over writing a poem
While the plane turned out over the sea and then in again at LAX.
And year before that on the Fourth of July
I was walking through Heathrow
Listening to the drawling accents of the women behind me
And I wondered aloud why we were going back to America.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A VERY corny poem about an adventure I had one time.

I walked away and crumpled in my car
The night the ides of March struck sharp and true
I drove home- the familiar roads, I barely knew
A block away, I slowed to wonder who you are

So why in Paris? Why, at seventeen,
Did I find you, miraculously there,
Know you so well, that from the topmost stair
I called you, and you turned- what did it mean?

Did it mean Fate rules Paris, or the Louvre?
Did it mean I should find the things I miss?
Or God set us in clockwork- maybe this
Is blasphemy- or maybe this is proof

Of graciousness- some grain of hope in love
For seventeen, that day has been enough.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sometimes it was late
And I was walking outside still seventeen
Into the backyard of the house I grew up in
I would lie in the hammock, looking up
Finding the only constellations I knew
Sometimes humming to myself
Sometimes talking at the sky
Sometimes it was late and I slipped out the back door
And then through the fence and onto the stretch of grass between our houses
And if the sprinklers were on, I was there anyway
Lying in the middle of the belt of green
And waiting for a star to fall
Tracing the paths of planes flying in
And watching satellites drip carefully across the sky

I Like You by Sandol Stoddard Warburg.

I like you and I know why.
I like you because you are a good person to like.
I like you because when I tell you something special, you know it’s special
And you remember it a long, long time.
You say, Remember when you told me something special
And both of us remember

When I think something is important
you think it’s important too
We have good ideas
When I say something funny, you laugh
I think I’m funny and you think I’m funny too
I like you because you know where I’m ticklish
And you don’t tickle me there except just a little tiny bit sometimes
But if you do, then I know where to tickle you too
You know how to be silly
That’s why I like you
Boy are you ever silly
I never met anybody sillier than me till I met you
I like you because you know when it’s time to stop being silly
Maybe day after tomorrow
Maybe never
Too late, it’s a quarter past silly
Sometimes we don’t say a word
We snurkle under fences
We spy secret places
If I am a goofus on the roofus hollering my head off
You are one too
If I pretend I am drowning, you pretend you are saving me
If I am getting ready to pop a paper bag,
then you are getting ready to jump

That’s because you really like me
You really like me, don’t you
And I really like you back
And you like me back and I like you back
And that’s the way we keep on going every day

If you go away, then I go away too
or if I stay home, you send me a postcard
You don’t just say Well see you around sometime, bye
I like you a lot because of that
If I go away, I send you a postcard too
And I like you because if we go away together
And if we are in Grand Central Station
And if I get lost
Then you are the one that is yelling for me

And I like you because when I am feeling sad
You don’t always cheer me up right away
Sometimes it is better to be sad
You can’t stand the others being so googly and gaggly every single minute
You want to think about things
It takes time

I like you because if I am mad at you
Then you are mad at me too
It’s awful when the other person isn’t
They are so nice and hoo-hoo you could just about punch them in the nose

I like you because if I think I am going to throw up
then you are really sorry
You don’t just pretend you are busy looking at the birdies and all that
You say, maybe it was something you ate
You say, the same thing happened to me one time
And the same thing did

If you find two four-leaf clovers, you give me one
If I find four, I give you two
If we only find three, we keep on looking
Sometimes we have good luck, and sometimes we don’t

If I break my arm, and if you break your arm too
Then it’s fun to have a broken arm
I tell you about mine, you tell me about yours
We are both sorry
We write our names and draw pictures
We show everybody and they wish they had a broken arm too

I like you because I don’t know why but
Everything that happens is nicer with you
I can’t remember when I didn’t like you
It must have been lonesome then

I like you because because because
I forget why I like you but I do
So many reasons
On the 4th of July I like you because it’s the 4th of July
On the fifth of July, I like you too
If you and I had some drums and some horns and some horses
If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines
We could be a HOLIDAY
We could be a CELEBRATION
We could be a WHOLE PARADE
See what I mean?

Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
Even if it was no place particular in January
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again
That’s how it would happen every time
I don’t know why
I guess I don’t know why I really like you
Why do I like you
I guess I just like you
I guess I just like you because I like you.

14. Read aloud with a little irony.

Welcome to your first car accident.
You are nineteen.
It is Valentine's Day.
You are delivering Valentines,
driving in the town where you will someday attend university.
You are nineteen and wearing a pink shirt and heels.
You turn a corner in the dark,
Muttering something to yourself,
When another car's lights jump past you,
And the turn sharpens, and you lose control for an instant
With a scrape like a knife on burnt toast
You take the mirror clean off of the car next to you

In shock you pull your car backwards
Into what isn't even a parking space
In shock you climb out to assess the damage
You pick up the dismembered mirror, feet away on the asphalt
You lay it carefully on the windshield
Searching for a piece of paper in your car, all you can find are Valentines, love notes
And so flipping one over, you scribble a note of apology
Black ink running from a found pen
Your name, your telephone number

You drive home half-astonished
And your brother mutters things about fixing the car
Looking at it thoughtfully.
You are nineteen.
Your parents were just beginning to trust you.
You hand your brother the Valentine you made for him
And he leaves with the car.

Monday, February 14, 2011


I was drifting to sleep in my bed
When I realized I'd rather be dead
Than miss writing tonight
So I flipped on the light
And wrote this lame limerick instead.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


I fell in love with a human sigh
For his quiet voice and his tired eye
Though soon I lost the thrill
Yet I thought of him still
For the wind in the night whispered just like his cry.

This is what Freshman year was like.

I walked fourteen into Geography embarrassed enough
(Wearing the same tan sweater I just put on-
Today, in my sophomore year at university.)
“That’s a good color on you, Emily,” said Mr. Areu,
who always addressed me by name.
“Bet you’ve got your eye on some boy.”
A pause.
“He’s probably a senior.”
And with a chuckle to himself, he turned away as I
slid red-faced and bleary-eyed into my plastic chair.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


The other night I was walking
Letting the cold air numb my fingers and face
Listening for the rustling of stubborn leaves frozen to trees
The apples brown and shriveled, topped with snow
The other night I was walking with my hands crammed in my pockets
The tips of my ears frozen
And I breathed into my palms
And rubbed all the heat I could muster into the thin cartilage of my nose and ears
Passing a streetlamp, I noticed my hands
And a cut, stretching across two of my right fingers,
(Ring and middle)
That I did not remember.
This has happened before.
                     And then I start wondering, imagining this:
An acquaintance
                     A stranger holding a penknife,
Looking for something to say
                     edges around a corner,
Will notice hands and say
                      Spying elbows, knees, fingertips, ankles,
How did that happen?
                      Scraping and scratching knuckles and skin.
This is the first time I have ever noticed my hand, or it’s two-fingered cut.
                      I blame a thorny bush or the sharp corner of a table or a cement ledge.
I don’t know, I respond. And I do not.
                      But from behind a tree I pass every day
I imagine the scene in my mind’s eye.
                      The knife darts out to gnaw a line across my fingers.
                      Oblivious to the hand and knife,
                      I feel hardly anything, and what I feel I assume is a jutting branch.

And later I notice and I watch the red edges smart, wondering where it came from.
It’s something to look at.


I promise I wrote the ninth poem. I'm not going to post it here, because it's personal and would offend some of my family.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011



Dear Scott, I haven’t
Received your poem tonight
yet- but here is mine.
Forgive the length; I have to
write a short story for class.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Building on 2nd.

Last year we used to say this house was haunted
Before he and I knew the names of the streets, we got lost in what is now our town-
Or at least my town.
We used to look up at the eerie windows and the creaking staircase
Trailing from the back of the building
We saw its widow’s walk, we saw its chipped paint and old door
And the dark hall and narrow stairwell
Behind the bruised number etched into the glass
And even when he left I walked past that house
(from the library, from downtown, from down the street)
And noted a thin white stump, jutting from the ground like a human limb

Tonight there was snow and there was a train whistling
Whistling so loud I could harmonize under my breath
Taking the sound as the tonic and walking past house after house
Avoiding the usual streets, I turned down this one and ran into it
Creaking and gray and darker with night it leaned down at me and the sidewalk
I glanced into its shadowy back windows and then back at my feet
And looking up again, noticed a light, glowing from an upper room
Saying, Someone lives here, and it isn’t a ghost, and it isn’t a murderer,

But be glad it isn’t you.

Turning the corner,
I couldn’t help but turn my head to see the silhouette of the long staircase.
A mother stepped from the door of the next house and called a name
And I hurried home.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Walking to Church in Paris

We walked the bright sidewalk on our way to the Métro
Passing a café overflowing with tables, strangers in sunglasses
Crumbling pastries and drinking tiny white cups of espresso
They saw us through their beards and hats and brown jackets
Watched me in my white blouse and tweed skirt
And my sister and her polka-dotted dress
Waiting for the crosswalk, we glanced both ways for hurried buses
Flailing taxis, confusing foreign drivers
And strode across the road
Meeting the white pavement on the other side
We turned toward the tiles of the underground
And started down the stairs,
Stuck with old black gum,
Littered with cigarette butts,
A crumpled napkin blowing east
Shirtless, mad and bearded, someone brown and weathered
Climbing the short staircase we were just coming down
"Jolies filles Françaises,"
He half-muttered, half-shouted at me, and SLAP
And my arm was pink,
And I held my breath,
And I hurried down.

Day 5.

In the next room there is glass breaking
There is a horn blaring outside my window
And a fluorescent light above me
There is speckled carpet and tan shoes
There is a letter on my desk and a letter in reply
There is a book and another book and a card stamped with my name
And a trail of coins leading to an alarm clock
And when does a finger become a finger again?
When it isn’t purple anymore?
When the fingernail falls off?
When the surface of the nail is growing back smooth and pink?
And even I can’t tell that something dark and blue crept up beneath it
The night after the day I crushed it in the door.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Important Things:

Today my newest little sister was born. She is pink and beautiful and literally reminds me of a flower. She doesn't have a name yet.

In other news, my excuse for a poem today:

I'm too tired to write
something, much less something good.
Here's a lame haiku.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

On the Beach at Night.

Most nights there we would walk down to the dock together,
Dipping our feet in the dark water, strewn with light
We would squint across the bay, pairs of red and green lights swimming down in the water,
Rows of gold lights dripping toward our toes
On the peninsula we saw the ferris wheel, like a dream
Turning and glittering, the boats drifting before us, one or two at a time
And the dance hall, brightest of all
The roof covered in electric bulbs,
Boats crowded around it while the moon spilled white and close
And always I asked you for the same stories,
There was the one about the lilac water,
About the dances in the hall across from us,
About the things you used to do and the people you used to know.
Huddled in a slick green jacket and cross-legged on the dock floor,
I looked up at you and then out at the water until we walked back.
Later it was gardens and shops,
Later it was restaurants and museums,
Later it was streets, hotels, French windows and New York leaves,
Later it was souvenirs and postcards,
Later it was letters,
Later I was only coming home, instead of leaving
(for a little while)
And I would hold you longest of anyone,
And love you more than all the rest,
And last summer at the dock I swear-
I swear I saw something bright and blue and wondering,
Swimming in tiny circles,
And the next night and all the nights after, it was gone.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wet magenta jewels sticking to our fingers
We sat salty on the back of the golf cart
Barefoot and sandy, a shared pomegranate cupped in our hands
Spitting the brown juiceless seeds on the disappearing road

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Come, cordial and not poison.

I stand transfixed in an apothecary’s shop
Slick bottles of all colors,
Clear green, deep blue, frosted pink
Porcelain jars patterned with Delft
Tarnished copper pots and their lids, lined up meticulously
From smallest on.
Tiny thimbles glittering in a row,
So little substance in their hold
That any good they did would be over in a week,
Or even in an hour.
One hour of sweet taste, of bright cheeks and ready smiles,
And the next, illness restored.
Back again to slow shuddering and languor.

Peering through the glass, hands cupped around eyes,
I notice labels.
Each the same size,
Written in the same careful cursive, dated, numbered
And yet-
All named alike, stamped with the same arbitrary name,
Which must, at this point, seem a panacea.

In a rush, I choose the first bottle, and
Dropping a handful of brass at the counter,
Break from the shop.
Laughing in the streets, I swallow the bottle
(silver and bright)
the taste of mint slidingdownmythroat
I am brightness, sweetness, inside and out
I am feeling I am noise I am joy

And in a minute I am myself again
Unmoved, unmoving, gray, cold
The bell rings as I walk through the apothecary door
And complaint reaches my tongue
When the apothecary, glasses bright, holds out another bottle
Labeled the same, it is red and lacquered, and,
On looking inside, the substance is different
Ignoring the label, I swallow it, brilliant summer on my tongue until it ends
And I am gray again.
“This,” says he, and I taste butterscotch and nuts,
Labeled, the same, ending, the same.
And “this,” and the squinting flavor of sugared lime
“This,” and “this,” and nutmeg, and ginger,
And I taste and smile and frown and gray,
Tasting each time something new,
Waiting for the taste of something dreamed.

And the sun falls low.