Category Archives: BA in English

proud of me

Today my mother told me she is

proud of me

because the police report said I was

polite and cooperative

she said she knows how hard

it can be sometimes



My Brother Does This Too

Sometimes I get emails from my oldest brother, and often times they will look something like this:

“cleaning out the stuff from my office… found a poem, written in my handwriting, that I have no recollection of whatsoever… written on the back of a grad school rejection letter”

The road runs right through most of the

country. Sometimes

the cross streets come fast with red, yellow

and green lights

telling you what to do, their colors spangled

together with the rest.

Pre-interstate, this road has two lanes or four,

some lines

or none, pedestrians and crossing guards,

speed limits

in the sixties sometimes.

The road runs from the east coast, somewhere

in the middle, south for a while.

It gets to the big wide open parts quickly and

runs right off the side of the map,

as if tit was destined to claim half the world.

But most people just take the

interstate. This road manifests itself in

names: Main, Elm…

solid names.

It didnt’ have much neon, but that it did have,

it liked. There were some on the

gas station, and the bar. Here, they called it

Main. They wanted

to be left alone. That’s what I heard, anyway.

We never met.


Always Beautiful

I knew a girl once,

who beauty killed.

She knew more about

looking, than feeling.

She’d been fat,

she’d been beautiful,

she’d been wanted,

she’d been scorned.

She bloomed like a flower,

and when the vase dried up,

she wilted.

A tenth grader who already felt

past her prime.

A tenth grader who was made to feel

ugly again.

Sucking on a malboro red,

windows down,

hair a mess.

Never ugly.

I remember the yearbook pictures,

reading like an age progression

for a girl who wandered off years ago.

She was called fat,

she was called beautiful,

she was wanted,

she was scorned.

She was beautiful.

If she could only see,

that she still is.

She still would be.


I Believe

The first thing we noticed when we walked in was that it looked… old. Maybe old isn’t the right word. Out-dated isn’t right, either, because it was almost certainly done on purpose. It was antique. Antiquated. The carpet was thick, and the chairs had claw feet. Upholstered furniture with the type of golden-threaded patterns you would expect in Buckinham Palace. The artwork and the wall-paper didn’t help much either. That deep crimson laced with flashing gold. Old money. This place had been around. Kept up, too though. It was clean, well-lighted. Outside the window you could hear the indefatiguable sounds of the river rushing relentlessly to it’s massive drop. Niagra. All in all, it was beautiful. And we had finally made it.

The road trip began in Burlington, Vermont. By lunch time I had picked up my travelling companion in Massachusetts, and continued on to Pittsburg. Nightfall would see us cruising into Columbus, Ohio. Onward from our short stop in Ohio, we reached Chicago. Beautiful stay. Beautiful city. Two days later we had cruised back through Cleveland, the mistake by the lake, and were working our way up the lakes towards Canada, and our final stop on our semi-cross country trek.

The inn was well-known enough, by the standards of the town. Not cheap, but also not the most posh place around. There were spider webs in alarming numbers all down the wrought iron front fence, that separated the inn and it’s slightly over-grown landscaping from the promenade of pedestrian tourists.

I made no further thought of the spiders and was content to enjoy the last days of my journey with my sweet companion, in relaxation and good spirits. We made quick work of checking in, and I happened to find an old and battered copy of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary in the small library that doubled as the general waiting area for the inn. I dropped the book in my bag, after reading the first chapter, and walked from the waiting room to our suite.

It wasn’t long before we started to discuss the slightly creepy feelings that the room brought out in us. It definitely had the feeling of a room that has been through a lot. You could tell that it was old, and you could tell that you weren’t the first to have sat on those old divans. But the sound of the rushing water and the road-weariness that dragged on us were pleasant lulls.

As we sat listening to the water go by, we snapped a few pictures in the room. Us sitting bolt upright in the old armchairs, hands folded on our laps, poking fun at the decidedly stiff motif of our room. All we needed was a platoon of fox terriers around our feet, and the picture would have been complete.

After a bit of similar horsing around, we decided to take a short rest before getting ready for dinner. Lounging on the couch we both subtly turned our heads toward the door to the bedroom, and the bathroom inside there. It was clearly nothing. Just a rattling of pipes, or a breeze. But it certainly sounded like the door of the closet coming unlatched and opening into the bedroom. We couldn’t remember having closed it, particularly, but after furrowing our brows and staring into each others’ eyes for a short interlude, I got up to see what might have made the sound.

Well, the closet door was definitely open now. But maybe it was open before. Or maybe it just wasn’t closed all the way, the spring action in the door handle had been pressing the dead-latch against the frame. Eventually it built up enough pressure to push the door all the way open. Right?

In any case, the door should probably be shut. I shut it. Firmly.

By this time, we are pretty much done with the possibility of taking a nap. And I am pretty wary of picking up a Stephen King book when this room is clearly putting myself and my lady friend in such an agitated state. I decided to try some TV.

My companion headed to the bathroom for a shower, and I decided to turn the TV off and try to get a bit more shut-eye. I put the remote on the coffee table– one of the more modern-looking pieces of furniture in the room. It was glass-topped with a wooden frame around the outside edge, about an eighth of an inch tall. I remember being pleased that a pen would never roll off of it.

I remember looking out the window and wishing that I could open it all the way. Instead, I closed the small opening, to muffle the sound of the water. Minutes later, I am finally relaxing on my bed, with a wary eye still cast towards the closet door, to my left.

After a few minutes of listening to the shower run, I feel the same breathless sensation as when I heard the closet door open before. But this time, a noise had come from the other room, where I had just been minutes before. I sit bolt-upright, and think. I closed the window. The door is locked. Nothing should be making any noise. Especially not a sudden sound like that. It sounded like something had fallen or been knocked into something else. Something had fallen onto the carpeted floor.

Before my friend got out of the shower I went to investigate. A couple of deep breaths and glances around the room and I see what’s different. The remote. The same one I had just put down a few minutes before, is no longer on the coffee table, but on the floor a foot away.

At this point, I am down-right agitated. My neck hairs are standing on end, and I am starting to sweat. I’m not exactly a skeptic, I believe that there is a lot out there that we humans haven’t figured out yet. But I also wasn’t ready to brand myself as a “believer.” To this day, I have not been able to come up with a satisfactory explanation as to how a half pound TV remote could move itself a foot, lifting itself over the lip on the edge of the table, and clatter down on the floor, in an empty room.

When my lady friend emerged from the bathroom, she found me looking distraught, sitting on the couch. I told her what had just transpired, and she couldn’t help but believe what I told her.

She walked back into the bedroom, to get ready for dinner. She cleaned up quickly and was cautiously pawing her way around the rooms, waiting for me, when I heard something I didn’t expect from behind me.

“Oh my god!. You aren’t going to believe this. Well. You probably will.”


“Did you see that there’s a guest book in the drawer of the beside table?”

I hadn’t.

“Well it’s pretty cool, and I was looking through it to try to get some ideas for restaurants or whatever. Well. Here. Just read this one.”

“Beautiful room. Lovely view. We had a great time. But, this room IS haunted. Not in a bad way though. It’s just a nice old woman, we think.”

“This is too f***ing weird,” I said, taking the book from her. “If one person wrote about it, there has got to be at least one other person in here.”

The majority of the notes left were very run-of-the-mill. Great view, great staff, perfect honeymoon, anniversary, etc. Except for two others.

One of them read something like this:

This room is really creepy. We like it here, but it is definitely haunted. Things moved around when we weren’t in the room. And something woke my husband (a very heavy sleeper) up in the middle of the night.”

And then there was the last one, from a mere three weeks prior:

What a great place! It IS haunted though. My husband woke me up in the middle of the night to point out the old woman in an old fashioned white night gown who was standing just to the left of our bed. She seemed kind. She smiled and looked at us for a moment, like she was just checking on us, and then disappeared towards the closet.”


true story

Behind the Times

I still say my alarm clock “ticks”

and my beeping cell-phone “rings”

I’ll say to “roll” your window down

and other ancient things


You’ll tell me to “hang up” my phone

but there’s no cradle on the wall.

Should I dial “Oh” for Operator

and “Klondike 5” to call?


I should say “album” or “mp3”

but I’ll say “record” when it plays

tell me I’m behind the times

I like it best that way.



500 Character Story

He slipped soundlessly from the plush hotel room, leaving the door slightly ajar behind him. It was basement-after-dark quiet, despite being four floors up– silent, but for the soft creaks and patters of unknown feet on unfamiliar floors. When he reached the end of the hallway he realized how unsettled the lack of sound had made him. He pondered momentarily before turning on his heel and dashing back to the heavy hotel room door.

“Ah,” he whispered, firmly closing the door before him. “Better.”




I was wondering if maybe you could

see me.

Do you? Can you?

I see your eyes

Like staring into an unlit window

There’s something inside, I know

There must be

But what is it?

Can you see me?

Do you?

Can you?

I think I can see you

I don’t think they can.

They see someone else when they look at you

And I know how that feels.

I just ask for the chance to

see you

and be seen.


I Wish I Could Hit All the Right Notes

from low down baritone and bass right up through alto

I’d be showing off my vocal chops

in key, maybe with some viiiibrattoooo

the major chords, vibrant and bright

and our minors dark but full


My words now just seem flat and plain

and just so awfully dull

They need air and they need life

like a Tenor’s chest they need to swell


If I could hold a note, if I could carry a tune

could I have your ear a moment maybe?

Maybe if I learn to sing,

I’ll find a song that saves me.



Nick of Time

Me, getting into the season… Enjoy

There was no sneaky way into this house, being as it was only a small cabin of a home. He let himself in through the front door, letting it close very quitely behind him. It was dark, but for festive electric candles glowing in the two front windows. There was soft music playing, but it could have been coming from outside. He hadn’t noticed until he descended into the silence of the sleepy house. Immediately after hearing the music he turned his head to the left, and realized something else. The two bedroom doors were open; he was in the house alone. No one was there for him to worry about waking. It seemed strange at this time of night, but then again, he wasn’t entirely sure of the time. With so little moon in the sky, the darkness fell quicker than usual. He mused over this for a second, deciding he must be earlier than he’d planned. Must have made good time getting there.

He crept silently around the house, out of respect for the silence that had been there before him. (It seemed like the right thing to do.) No pets, no living things that he could see. Furniture, even appliances and decorations, although sparse. Pictures, photos, artwork. A family. Kids. Not much, but he could tell that it was a loving home. Then he finally found what he had been looking for, tucked neatly into the far corner of the living room. Very simple but clean and respectable; he could tell they took pride in it. They’d been here not too long ago. He could still smell something that had been cooked with a good amount of garlic.

Well, he thought, I can still do what I came for. He made his was across the length of the small abode in a few ranging steps. He set his bag down on the floor and began searching through it in the semi-darkness. He was being meticulous; he didn’t want to leave any signs of his presence. As he began to place his items on the floor, he heard a noise. Before he knew what he was doing he had dumped out all of the contents of his bag onto the floor in a messy pile. He grabbed the empty bag and scrambled to the back door, just as the front door was opening.

As he made his way around the house, the sounds of his movements muffled by the fresh blanket of heavy snow, he realized what he had been hearing when he got to the house. The family was back inside the house discussing how nice it had been to sing carols together. They had been out singing. He paused to listen to the sounds of the family for a moment. They had spent the later part of their evening at the shelter, spending time with the less fortunate, making sure they had a warm meal, place to stay, and that all of the kids got a present. They knew the children by name. Suddenly he realized that he was meant to drop that bag, and sneak out before he could do anything about it.

Finally, they turned on the lights in the family room to enjoy a glass of egg nog before bed. That’s when they heard the screams.

The children were used to getting the same toys or games that they gave to their neighbors at the shelter each year. Never much, but always enough. They had never seen so many presents before. They were beside themselves with glee, they didn’t even know how they would play with them all. Santa knew, as he got back in his sleigh, that he’d given them the perfect number of toys this year. The perfect number for them to share. Like he knew they would.


Ode to the iLoad

Silently watching blue bars grow

and percentages that only slow

frozen screens, rainbow pinwheels

time once fluid, now congeals