June 11, 2019

In March, in Portland, a young man in a wheelchair asked me if I shape my poems the way I often do—long lines, a continuous strophe down the page—as a means of experiencing velocity, speed, and I said, yes, smiling, gratified by the insight. We were in a crowded space, the din of passers-by almost too much to hear his quiet voice, and I leaned over to better hear him. To give my attention in the b...

April 29, 2019

Years ago, when I was an undergraduate taking my first poetry workshops, writing bad poems and nursing agonizing crushes on girls I had classes with—I remember one who had the distracting habit of applying lotion during lectures—I would take seminars in the morning and afternoon, reading Homer and Hawthorne and Faulkner, then waiting around on campus for my evening workshop. The library was kind o...

February 27, 2019

The first poem I ever wrote—besides a few I wrote in a yellow notebook by hand in the sixth grade, that were really little more than reconstituted song lyrics—came to mind in my junior year of high school, in A.P. Biology. It was the last week of classes, and I think Mr. Leather had run out of lesson plans (all these years later, as a teacher now, I can empathize). He had sent us out onto the scho...

January 30, 2019

When the ambulance doors opened up, sunlight fell in, too bright and caustic and nothing like the warmth I mourn each fall, just a little bit and then more fervently with winter’s gray advent. When that day rushed back at me, there in the belly of the ambulance, I blinked and blinked, and though an oxygen mask was tied over my mouth, I struggled to breathe. I was hurt, badly. I think now of the gl...

November 30, 2018

There was nothing special about the morning — in fact, thirty-two years later I remember only a little of it: how the sun was bright and hot and it was the last day of May and I had just graduated from the sixth grade the day before. I hadn’t slept well, the kind of deficit that would crush me today then was merely the blurred excitement at a life opening up. In my mind, in my imagination, the fut...

October 31, 2018

I am trying to remember the last time I was angry. Or the first. Maybe I am trying to recall anger. I remember my brother, asleep in my bed, the twinge of mute resentment I felt that he was there at all. How I wanted him to wake and go and leave me to the cool quiet of the basement, where my bedroom was. He wouldn’t stir. My mother, upstairs, called for him. I don’t remember what she wanted him fo...

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