Saturday, April 30, 2011


A teenage boy can have nine teaspoons of sugar a day, he says,
defiant and demanding I give him four of these teaspoons for his cereal.
The juice he already drank most likely had about seven teaspoons of his daily allowance,
but remembering this brief health and diet tidbit means something of my
unrelenting barrage of anti-sugar information stuck
and that deserves guideline breaking.


I guess I can't complain when
work feels boring.
Boring means no one is
going through a crisis
fighting or refusing to speak to me.
Boring means watching movies
Royal Wedding highlights
teenagers doing homework.

Space Maintainer

So, what about this thing? my dentist asks.
He pokes his dentist tool around my mouth,
taps on the spacer separating two teeth--
a quick fix after my braces came off in middle school,
meant to someday become a bridge or implant.
Except it's grown on me, so now I appreciate the gap
and the discreet tines, the way my tongue curls over
and under them when I'm thinking.
I won't change and I don't have the money to pay
for what amounts to vanity, I think to myself,
but out loud I say, It can stay for a while.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Know your boundaries; respect them."

They are one training and two meetings,
three mothers, three brothers, ten children
thirteen complex personalities
two and two hundred people to please
one of me.

They are Racine to Polk at a dead sprint
one close call with an inattentive driver
striding with purpose to May's cul-de-sac
a break to stretch and spit by the fountain
jogging back up Racine
stopping short on the overpass--boundaries--
racing from Van Buren to Jackson
waiting outside the Sherwin-Williams for the coast to clear.

They are no, we can't be friends or
no, we can only be friends
and don't worry about what I'm doing,
it doesn't concern you.

They are no more specific than this,
because that's crossing them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Besides, It Is The Playoffs.

If I had a quarter for every time someone asked
why I wore a Bulls jersey today,
well, I'd be making more than a MercyWorker.
Is it so weird for someone to move to a city
and then support that city's sports teams?
Especially if there is no team where she came from?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

So Now I Am

I want to write,
I told Katie and Laura.
And the universe said to me:
What's stopping you?

Monday, April 25, 2011


She slipped into my bed in the early morning
Lying on our backs we became kids again,
using made up words and playing made up games
while the rest of the world slept.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An Open Letter to the Guy I Danced With First Tonight

First, I'm sorry I'm such flake.
You see, I get so scared when you guys
continue paying attention and entertaining me,
even after the initial dance.
My subconscious threw itself at the first chance to disengage,
even though it looked more like I replaced you with someone taller.
You were funny and a fun dancer, and I'm glad you
and your wingman were so unorthodox.
I hope you aren't angry or hurt;
we didn't even exchange names, only dance moves.
You'll be out there again next weekend, I'm sure,
and maybe the fates will bring us together for one more dance.
Probably not, though, it's a big city.

Work in Progress

It has taken me a long time to begin putting to rest the person I thought I was,
or the person everyone else thought I was.
Every day I have to say,
No I will not be her. I will not be her for you,
I will not be her because she is what you want,
because she is familiar and people like her.

I know that saying goodbye to her is like
throwing away my oldest pair of sneakers.
Dirty, stinky, they no longer have a purpose,
but they are comfortable and take no risks.

Still, there is no room for her where I am going.
She can only get in the way, bring me down,
trip me up, cause trouble.
I'll try not to miss her, the ugly thing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Wholly Thursday

That library miracle happened again,
the one where the books show up on
exactly the day I want to get them.
And because the sun was shining,
my body didn't seem to notice the wind.
I will the warmer weather to stay with my spring wardrobe.
Leftovers for dinner and sloppy Bulls scored mediocre victories
while dancing got us through the rain.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The In Between

Tonight's for thinking about why
the Paschal Mystery never really interested me
like Nancy Drew
What it means to celebrate
with yellow tablecloths and
frozen yogurt on a Monday
When Mother Earth will decide
to show up for Spring
Where I got my aversion to
emotions and attentive waiting
How so many things can be so
connected it overwhelms.


How is this month flying by so fast
and there's still over a week left of it?
The passage of time confuses me.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Easter celebration
Earth Week

I'll write a poem including some/all these things when I have electricity in my apartment.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Through No Virtue or Accomplishment of My Own

What I have found
is things seem to always
work out for me
What I don't know
is if I'm well-prepared and smart
or just damn lucky.

Real Life?

Mortgages, Plumbing, and Breastfeeding
are all things I never talk about seriously,
but they seem to be key to adulthood.
I pretend to know about these things, fake maturity,
rub elbows in a world I don't really belong.

Barbie on the Bus

On the megabus to Madison I sat behind a little girl fashionista:
pink pants, pink shirt, pink barrettes dangling from each of her braids
She pulled out her Barbie Loves Beauty styling doll
with creamy peach skin and big blue eyes
twisted her flowing white yellow locks into braids just like hers
though the end result wasn't quite the same
neither Barbie nor Jr. Hairstylist seemed to care.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Seventh Day

On the seventh day,
God rested and I went to work
Not alone, coffee came with
paperwork met me there
We listened to classic rock together until
the children came home from school,
permission slips and projects in hand.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's Probably a Wednesday Thing

It's one of those days where I use the tortilla as a
modified spoon because making an actual burrito
is just asking too much
and I can't be bothered to sit like a lady, or not burp,
or keep my inappropriate comments to myself.
If I sit still too long I want to explode
out of my skin I about vomit when I
stop moving; I focus on
breathing, but that's when the air
presses down and I can't
get enough and sometimes it's
easiest to let the chaos
happen instead of fighting the stillness.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


We--you--hooped at Skinner Park after school.
I got your rebounds, took in the cool April air,
wondered how to interest you in your own life.
The ball--new at Christmas--soared through the crooked metal rim as
you hopped back from your jump shot.
What was left of the net flapped as the ball dropped and--thunk--sank
into the mud at the edge of the blacktop court.
I stepped one foot in to reach the ball,
wiped it in the short grass as you shared your aversion to mud.
"When things get dirty, I toss 'em."
I looked up. Your eyes squinted in the sun, making you seem disinterested.
You stand taller than me, but your honest observation makes me want to believe
You are too young to have meant that metaphorically.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Really Human

Every time I think I might make a
meaningful contribution to the world
with my writing,
I read a book like The Poisonwood Bible
and realize most of what I think has already been said,
far more eloquently.
For a minute I feel lost because with
nothing original to say, nothing new to add,
what am I even doing?
Proving my humanity.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

You People Bore Me

In a day it became summer
the West Loop is alive again:
dogs out for walks with their people,
young parents jogging with strollers,
couples holding hands,
me getting some sun before work.
I go a few blocks west to Skinner Park
to see something other than
the WASP-y homogeneous population of my immediate neighborhood.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


This whole poetry thing
feels like cheating
when I just hit enter as I free-write stream of consciousness crap.
But it all boils down to word choice and
line breaks eventually, right?

Friday, April 8, 2011

"No matter how chaotic it is, wildflowers will still spring up in the middle of nowhere." --Sheryl Crow

Yes, "Alex," my hidden message finder,
that note presumably discovered in a library book
does look familiar.
Here's to renegade marketing ploys
thought up during a barrage of final essays
and executed over the course of several days.

If only I could capture the sneakiness
that came so easily as a senior in college.

Instead of scheming I struggle to type up my paperwork
at least the words with hjkl;yuiopnm,./
I can't even punch in and out;
the stupid machine is prejudiced against left hands.

I discuss finger sprains with Lee,
the white-haired receptionist who at one time in her life
was going to school to be a gym teacher.

I get stuck in Friday downtown traffic
while the 15-year old I'm chauffeuring around
refuses to talk to me, or even to sit in the front seat.
"I don't want to be seen with you. And in case of accidents."

I power struggle with a 14-year old over
what a clean room looks like
how to mop a floor
using appropriate words to express himself.

I eat chips and salsa for fourth meal,
then stay up too late writing poetry.
I fall asleep to Sheryl Crow.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Saved By The Best Dance Crew

Don't worry, Jersey Shore,
we still do Thursdays big,
this time with Mario Lopez...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Who knows why it took me over
22 years to experience my first
semi-legitimate athletic injury
All I can say is this fat finger and
the bruises around my knuckle
mean more than that missed rebound
and I don't care if the swelling ever goes down
as long as I know it convinced even one teenager
I'm not another white woman social worker who could give a damn.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


We share K last names, Thursdays off, the hallway space between our rooms
facing each other
nothing looks similar, not eyes or noses or mouths or hair
yet children, coworkers, strangers in Target
have convinced me it's normal to answer to

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sad and Stupid

Your insults are lame.
I don't say this outloud
instead I do my best to appear
supportive and understanding,
all the while thinking
I am sad you wanted to hurt me,
and I do sometimes feel stupid
when nothing I say gets through to you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Yoga Haiku

Girl in car
what do I know
of Western Union?
I walk to yoga
Out of breath when I get there
I find it again
Yoga instructor
is a schoolteacher by day
used to fourth graders.
Muscles warm, breath soft.
Heart open towards the lake.
I'm not judging me.


When I ask the guys
what they want to do
on a Friday night,
I always know the answer.

An entire city at their fingertips,
possibilities numerous as the
stairs of the John Hancock Center,
but location means nothing to a teenager.

I've seen more horror movies
in the past seven months
than I ever hoped to
see in my entire life.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy Poetry Month!

I realize I jumped right in with my poem in reaction to last night's talent show for the youth, but I'd also like to offer an explanation: April is Poetry Month and in honor of that I plan on writing a poem every day. Nothing spectacular, just a small poetic nugget from whatever happened that day.

Poetry doesn't need me to defend it, but here are a few lines from Lenore Kandel that I think are appropriate for the beginning of this month:
Poetry is never compromise. It is the manifestation/translation of a vision, an illumination, an experience. If you compromise your vision you become a blind prophet. 
Poetry is alive because it is a medium of vision and experience.
It is not necessarily comfortable.
It is not necessarily safe.
Poetry as poetry has no need to be classified in either of the above pigeon-holes nor in any other. It exists. It can no exist in the company of censorship.
When a society becomes afraid of its poets, it is afraid of itself. A society afraid of itself stands as another definition of hell.
Those who read modern poetry do so for pleasure, for insight, sometimes for counsel. The least they can expect is that the poet who shares his visions and experiences with them do so with no hypocrisy. To compromise poetry through fear is to atrophy the psyche. To compromise poetry through expediency is the soft, small murder of the soul.

All of the Lights pt. 2

The only rule at the talent show
is no booing
clapping only.
We clap for the surprising
slightly embarrassing.
Everyone makes a big deal
out of this production
and the kids don't disappoint.