May 17
poetry challenge: Another Decade

The Picket Line

I was born on the picket line
Banner in one fist, rattle in the other
My body wasn't, of course
But my spirit
She came out kicking and crying and singing
I was born on the picket line
I learned to walk on the steps leading up to the Capitol building
They were taller than I, ice cold, sharpened by the stern heels of stern men
So my feet grew calloused and spiked, and when I step on the flowers
They die and it is not my fault as
I learned to walk on the picket line
I learned to speak from the top of the Washington monument
So forgive me when I only know to shout
To bellow, to fill my frail lungs with thin air and whistle
I learned to speak from the top of a turret
I learned how to sing on the picket line
Young voices, old voices, Black voices, white voices, women's voices, girls' voices, angry voices and tired voices
Voices that were terrifying and beautiful and furious together
May 11
poetry challenge: Water

I Dreamt It

The truth is
I dreamt of those ships
Long before the brig was barred
The wheel was spun
The sails were hoisted
I dreamt of that ship, pine and cotton dancing across my tongue
I do not mourn the sailors
A thousand widow's tears could not embitter me
Before anyone, I was salt
I do not weep over the trees hewed down, resin gurgling
Over the bent backs of iron stores, or the silent pleads of coal
I dreamt of those ships with dry eyes and the only knot a panging one at the bottom of my stomach
I mourn my children
Eddies overcome by bunches of lumber
Waves smothered while fighting a desperate craft
Whirlpools, my eldest, my dearest
Whirlpools choked, the thing in their throats born on land but promised to me
I dreamt it
I mourn for my children, their fight is never easy
Their job, to feed me, is never over
May 08

Animal Ailments

An alternative alphabet poem addressing animal ailments
Bears bearing boils but belabored by bronchitis, burn up
Caribou counting coughs who caught common cold
Down dogs don depression, dimples drooping with doubt
Earaches emanated from epileptic episodes exasperate emus
Fetal fertility frightens feverish feathered flamingos
Goofy geese gone to gorge on groupers get gout
Hog heads hurt, hats heavy with head lice
Insomniac iguanas ignore irritable ideas 
Killer kidney stones kick keeled over koalas
Laryngitis lulls limericks lilting limply from lemur lips
Measles and mumps muddy mongoose's memories
Narwhals nudge noggins, inventing nosebleeds
Obsessive orangutans observe overactive otters
Pleurisy plus parkinson's pain panicking penguins
Rosy-red rhinos run rashes from rosacea
Sunburnt slithering snakes shake, spines skewed sideways showing spondylolisthesis
Apr 05

Running on Church Bells

I stumbled out into the light only to find an empty space
Under my bare feet lay the sands of time, now cold and stagnant
I stooped to scoop a handful, the gristle of eternity scattered around my ankles
In my bare palm the grains etched long-lost constellations 
The sand was heavy and dark, my wrist bent as the back of a washerwoman
I brought a granule closer to my frozen eye, growing larger and larger while my lashes stood
And then that piece of sand was a church bell, corroded and rusted, cracked, missing a ringer, but still a church bell
And then all the sand was church bells and they shifted when I walked and I couldn't hear their pealing but I could feel it beneath my bones
So I ran
Every step shoving aside, displacing church bells
Every step shaking some skeleton that was not mine anymore
Mar 28
poetry challenge: Vacation


The deepest, darkest pits of hell look nothing like a scary place
There are no demons, are no trolls, are no skins ripped into lace
There are no cauldrons full of kids, nor deep thumb screws or stretching racks
There are not squished remains of men, marble stones upon their backs
Instead, open your eyes to see a sitting room with soft pillows
Instead, listen to the sounds around you, brooks that babble, wind that billows
Instead, look for a way to leave, a door to pull, a hidden lever
Insted, wait for it to dawn upon you
You're all alone
Alone, forever
Mar 22

Clouds to Sun

I'd like to say with all my heart that I prefer a cloudy day
I'd like to try and find the beauty in a solemn, somber sky
I'd like to wait for wind-swept cheeks, for echoes down a narrow strait
I'd like to find a calmness in the clouds
The day's begun at half past five and I look up and wait for sun
The sky is bright and everywhere I go I'm basking in the light
I'd like to say with all my heart that I prefer a cloudy day
But I have found a sister in the sun
Mar 08


I have not seen the sunrise since 1933
When a woman cursed my eyes shut, and I lost the way to see
And in 1934 I lost my sense of scent
The flowers, onions, chocolates gone, I don't know where they went
1935, I'm sad to say I couldn't hear
No more laughter, no more songs would fall upon my ear
I couldn't taste food any more in 1936
Gone was honey, gone was stew, gone were pixie stix
In 1937, my hands no longer felt
Smooth things, round things, ice cream cones
How fast ice cream can melt
The worst came in 1938, when I began to lose my mind
This is the last thing I'll be able to think
Tomorrow's 1939

Feb 06
poetry challenge: Teenager

Wonder Bread/Sourdough

Last month
someone told me,
"You know, Zoe,
you're not a very nice girl."
I asked for more information.
It was quite a terrible accusation.
They said I wasn't unkind.
I wasn't unpleasant.
I wasn't untrue.
I just wasn't a nice girl.
It struck a chord in me because
I've spent my whole life trying to be nice,
the Wonder Bread of a woman
Unpleasant when paired with lettuce.
I don't want to be forgettable, but certainly not someone to be remembered.
And it turned out, I was a complete failure.
I've failed at a lot of things in my life.
Basketball, softball, soccer, tennis, consistency with book clubs, knitting, interpretive dance, ventriloquism, a promising career in scones.
But a failure to complete the basic tenets of womanhood was not on my 2023 bingo card.
“Too” was the word he used to sum it up.
Feb 06

Trying to get over writer's block

Feb 06

Roadmaps II

Yes, I know your hands like roadmaps
Your eyes, banded and shadowed as Jupiter
Earth and Mars lying somewhere far behind them and my hands woven between yours
I know the slope of your shoulder like the feel of my well-worn banister
The dip of your collarbone like the topography of my bedstand
The contour of your fingerprints like how I know my own breath at night
I know your footsteps, I have heard them in desolate supermarket aisles and the crackling of pine needles on the forest floor and the smooth jazz my father falls asleep to
Trick question, your voice is a baptism from city smog, railroad tracks make you nervous and ravens are terrible liars
Left. When in doubt, skew left
I know your fingertips like monks know the chase of peace, as cows know rain, as a grandmother's knees know when a storm is rolling in
Have I proved my worth to you?
Is it enough to know your hands like roadmaps?