Writers for Migrant Justice

I know, I know, it's been far too long since I've updated this blog. I'm guilty.

Summer wasn't even incredibly busy, so I don't have a great excuse other than the fact that sometimes I just don't have a whole lot to share in terms of my writing progress. That's not even true. During the summer, I completed a brand new poetry manuscript (Benzene Benedictions), found a publisher for my collaborative project (yay!), presented at Gemini Ink, and taught a poetic analysis class for the first time. It was a good summer overall--a little stressful because B was furloughed from his work, but he's since found a new job, so we're found a new sort of normal. His new job is in Beaumont, so we're waiting for our lease to finish, and once that does come the new year, I hope we're moved to Beaumont so we can both ditch this nasty commute from Houston (but damn, I really love Houston's poetry scene!).

The fall semester has begun, and it's off to a f…

Napo 23

I got behind again. I don't think I'll make the 30/30 goal this year, but maybe that's ok. Here's one I wrote today, a sort of ars poetica. I usually HATE ars poeticas, but the prompt was to try one, and the purpose of 30/30 for me is to really try new things.

To My Students
Your poems may not always sing like a mockingbird’s crepuscular serenade. They may not always trill with the wind In spring, tinged with love and lust and magnolia blossoms opening their wide eyes to the world.
They may not always sit on a wooden fence On another peaceful southern morning Calling out to other mockingbirds With beauty. Always beauty.
And that’s ok. Some songs have a greater purpose than melody.
Come dusk, today, a chick Must be nestled in the branches of an oak In my backyard. The song its parents sing isn’t beautiful—it’s a war cry, a warning to the waiting cat below, that they, like a poem, can dive-bomb down from the sky, beak pursed, ready to hit the powerful, the huge, the…

Napo 22

Today's writing was a little difficult. The prompt was to write about a word in the dictionary.'s word of the day is rhubarb, so I titled my poem that and meditated on the color red, how it means both beginning and end, love and anger, the two extremes. Maybe the "two extremes" aren't so different . . .

I think about the paintbrushes, How they fill the roadside lawns with flecks of red, The color of flush flesh, of blushed cheeks, Puckered lips, the tongue
How red attracts the bees, The hummingbirds, the hungry, How it whets the appetite— Cherries, rhubarb, radish
The fine line between love And anger Carries the scent Of passionfruit
Whenever I wear a red dress, The color of those wildflowers, And slather my lips in that same hue, I too become spring, No matter the season, And behind me, the heat Of summer seems to follow
My face turns that color as the blood rushes to skin
Sunrise, sunset, We drip with it The moment we come Into the wor…

Napo 21

Today's prompt was to write about a bird. I saw a roseate spoonbill on my commute this morning, and it was striking.

Texas Flamingo
On another dreary Houston morning, I’m driving on the freeway, staring up Into the smoky sky. I sip my coffee, Let its lukewarm bitterness slide down My throat. I cross the San Jacinto River— Wonder how many years this waterway Has donned this hue of rust. This city robes Everything in somber colored shawls, it seems.
A roseate spoonbill proves my theory wrong. He rises from the brackish estuary waters, Dodging barges, flying through the smog, And soars across my windshield’s field of view. The bright magenta of his feathers fill The morning’s vista with a flash of glory as he glides with grace above the highway.
How did his feathers get so bright and pink? He breathes this same stale air. He feasts on fish From this water where refineries Dump waste. Like me, he calls this bustling wasteland Home. But somehow, still, he spreads his wings And finds…

Napo 20

Yesterday's prompt was to use spoken word, actual speech, in a poem. I went to Subway yesterday and was really delighted in the way the two "sandwich artists" spoke to one another. They were excited about the Subway actually being closed on Easter. I want to revisit this idea. At the end of this poem, I'm playing with the idea of the speaker as a contemporary Mary Magdalene.

Overheard at Subway
Don’t bake no more bread, girl. Tomorrow’s Easter and we closed.
We got to throw All that bread out And yeah, I know it feels like sin but the old’s gotta go, make room for the new. Ain’t nobody want Stale bread sandwiches After their Easter hangovers, Know what I’m saying?
Course you do. Shit. It's spring and outside, I feel like the whole world blooming again. My backyard's done full of myrtles blooming, and bees too, if you'd believe it. Here in the middle of Houston. You imagine that? Bees. Shit.
What you got planned tomorrow? I feel like it's a gift, you …

Napo 19

Yesterday, I had some brain fog from the aftermath of a migraine and I couldn't focus on writing or anything mentally demanding. So, instead, I went for a nice long run, grocery shopped, and played some video games to let my head work through the mush.

Today, I feel sharp. Ready to write.

The prompt for today, Easter Sunday, was to write a surreal poem modeled after Lorca. I love Lorca, but I can never make sense of his poetry. That's the point though, isn't it? Today, I practiced letting go of sense in favor of sensory details to describe what it's like to live in Baytown, to live within spitting distance of both the Exxon Mobil refinery and the Chevron Phillips refinery. It's never truly dark here because those are so bright. In a strange way, like NYC, Baytown, too, never sleeps.

The Sun that Never Sets
Here, a fire always burns in the sky— The flare stack opens its mouth And never closes it, breathes fire And light into the night sky, the stars Faint but there…

Napo 18

My brain fog is gone, thanks to some vitamins, some caffeine, and a run. So I was able to come back to write another poem draft to catch up a little. Yesterday's prompt was to make the abstract feeling of grief concrete. I really haven't experienced profound grief, but B has.

The Gold Watch
I don’t know when the gold watch stopped— It sits, tucked into the darkness of the cupboard, No longer catching the rays of sunlight, Telling him the time, Or clanking on the dinner table As he ate his dinner. Once, its face looked up, Met the curious eyes, or the worried eyes On a Monday afternoon, or the languid eyes On a Sunday morning, or the tired, bloodshot eyes After one too many martinis. Now it collects dust. The time reads 7:56. I wonder if it stopped In the morning, or in the evening, it’s gold hands Showing the way cryptically. I wonder if the gold watch Felt the moment the pulse Stopped. I wonder if this gold watch went cold, how it felt to feel the heat of that old man’s bod…