Friday, April 8, 2011


On Wednesday, Tom came home after his morning PT session and we made breakfast before I left for work. As we sat at our dining room table, Tom suddenly slapped the front page of the newspaper in front of me, blocking my view of peanut butter toast with a fantastic article. "Abby. You HAVE to read this," he said.

And I did read it. And I cut it out and kept it too.

Here's a picture of Luna, the jumping cow. Her owners, a family in Germany, were unable to give their daughter (Regina Mayer) a horse, so Regina decided to go riding on one of their cows... and she taught Luna how to jump.

(photo from Spiegel Online)

I admired what this article captured so much, it influenced my poem for Day #7 of NaPoWriMo. Of course, this wasn't all that influenced it... I started to notice how often I have heard of the surreal or unthinkable taking place, and it's usually happening in modern Germany. Just a couple Christmases ago, Tom and I were staying up late in a friend's living room in Morlaix, France, watching a TV special about how a German man claimed to be able to tell people's fortunes by placing his hands on their naked butts. You've heard of palm-readers? Germany goes one step further by producing a butt-reader. (Our French friends shook their heads and laughed that night, muttering "Only the Germans.")

It all made me wonder whether modern-day Germany was sneaking into the rest of the world's wildest dreams at night, then managing to make a profit off of our off-the-wall thoughts. Why don't we wake up and try out the weird ideas ourselves? It's a valid suggestion... and I have ALWAYS wanted to ride a cow.


Napowrimo day #7

So many times

I have dreamed

of accomplishing

the extravagant.

Bouncing on

a small green

saddle atop

the knobby spine

of a dairy cow,

while bystanders

with faces like

flashbulbs look on.

So many times

I have dreamed

of jumping

on my steed

over painted logs

and beer crates,

of landing

on a bed of


So many times

I dream of sailing

through bluish

pastures frosted

with dew

only to wake

and hear it has

all been done,

just last week,

in the German



Monday, April 4, 2011


Welcome to National Poetry Month, a time when all the closet-poets around you suddenly make their presence known by writing one poem per day for thirty days, complete with fanatic revisits to old author-favorites, nervous breakdowns at 11:53pm when a poem still hasn't emerged, the joyous discoveries of new poets and their publications, and a frenzied sort of appreciation for poetry as a craft. Our eyes may be bloodshot and we're speaking in tongues (Ah! Dactylic hexameter!) but we're totally safe, I promise.

I started this period of designated writing time after a month that left me feeling as if I'd endured enough stress to keep my list of creative prompts flowing. Tom came home from Iraq. We've begun this dance (for a second time) that involves complicated steps around living with a partner after living alone for a year, the twirling of occasional mood swings and the quick rushes of celebration.

Then there's been the little things, mostly around the house, that have kept me ridiculously busy. Spring Break was filled with papers to be graded. Flynn ate one arm of the couch (literally. She ATE. IT.) which kept Tom up for one night, sewing for my sanity. A panel of our backyard fence blew over in a windstorm. Stuff like that.

I've more or less been caught in a dry spell when it comes to writing, surprisingly. As I've scrubbed or repaired or graded or driven up and down I-25, I've had imaginary glimpses of a familiar book cover on my reading shelf: Woolf's A Room of One's Own. I can't help wondering if I'd really be able to come up with anything to write if I had guaranteed peace and quiet-- or whether I'd be bored out of my mind without the distractions to write about.

But right now, I'm sitting at my dining room table, and if I lean to the left to see around the vase of half-wilted roses and daisies (they still smell good) I can see my neighbor, Tim, lying on his back in his front yard, tossing a tennis ball up in the air for Louie, his Boston Terrier (Flynn's nemesis). Tim's an older guy, and he's been out raking for the past couple hours as I've worked on class stuff and cleaned up the house. One minute he's filling a garbage can with yard debris from the last windstorm; the next minute he's on his back, side to side with Louie, both of them exhausted from play.

And there might be nothing poetic about it. And I'm learning to get okay with that. I've noticed I've opted out of living in the moment several times before in order to observe the facts, the imagery, the details of a situation. I haven't developed the talent (yet) for multi-tasking in that way-- observing and living, simultaneously. So for now I'm observing.

Tonight, just before I go to bed, I'll check my memory for anything that stuck, and I'll write a poem that stands just as much a chance of being trash as it does for being submitted to a journal. I'll read some William Carlos Williams to console myself in my lack of words. I'll read some Ron Padgett to laugh at myself. And I'll go to bed tired.


Napowrimo day #1

I like the color silver

but tonight

it is a boat too small

to carry my thoughts

and myself together,

a shallow dish

placed on the lip

of a river.

It trembles in the current

as it balances

a load of moonlight,

some cigarette ash,

a letter written in pencil.



Napowrimo day #2

I could never tire of looking

at this guy’s wife,

this guy big as a house

and his wife

like a Porsche parked in front

of him,

he says honey I can’t open

this damn beer

so she says give it here

and the beer is passed

between the two,

catching the bronze afternoon light

which flashes like a candle

blown out

in an upstairs window

across the street.



Napowrimo day #3

The flower shop three blocks from home

sells orchids and cacti and ladyslippers

but won’t be open long on account of its inventory,

solitary blooms looming over sculpted pots,

ogling clientele with orange and yellow eyes.

They pull away from their painted green stakes.

But we can walk there from here

so we do, and we each pick out a cactus.

I say I need something hardy. You say

you want something easy on the eyes.

Cacti are difficult to kill, easy to ignore,

and some of them have dusty pink petals

that burst from the tips of pale tendrils

to touch their neighbors lightly, blind.

You pick the kind that flowers,

I choose a squat, silvery one with spines arranged

on half-moon leaves like teeth. Walking home,

I say our family is growing. You say

my cactus looks impatient.