Don’t Think of a Pink Elephant

Day 9 of a poem a day from Vagabonding, my second poetry book manuscript.

About this illustrating and blogging a new poem a day experiment… The drawings aren’t working. I’m sorry. They suck, right? And I know it, but I keep doing them anyway. Why? I’m on the road, I’m making some sketches I could go back to later and play with layering on an iThing to add color, modify composition, and incorporate text (I’m excited to try this, someday, soon-ish)… But I’d probably rather just illustrate properly (analogue) in my studio under less (as usual) arbitrary, self-imposed, not particularly helpful pressure. So maybe I’ll ditch them for now, or just do them when I feel like it.

Today I feel like it because I don’t hate what I had already made for this poem. Tomorrow I don’t think I can do the poem I’ll probably blog justice, since it’s about a beautiful woman and I haven’t done her justice. She’s very beautiful. It’s possibly not possible. So that’s an easy decision point or moment to change the way I’m doing things over here. Bye-bye drawings. Experiments are experiments because they can fail.

About this poem. It’s from the “Back for Forwards” section, after “The Living Murder,” “Snake and Not Snake,” and “Like a Moth to Flame.” It’s about the battle of ironic process theory in which flow or sweetness beats intrusive thoughts. On a lot of these poems including this one, I could write an essay (or a book); but generally I agree with the emcee rule that the most you can say about any bit is two sentences or get off the stage.

“Don’t Think of a Pink Elephant”

Don’t think of a pink elephant
with crushed mauve eye shadow
blending into the gray of her knees
neon blue powder caking off her back
as her daughter nuzzles the back of her leg
there in the room with your mother
who you will never nuzzle like that again
because she cannot face the truth.
Not out of principle—motherhood
is about raw need, the crush of blood
and love, the flickering pulse under
talk of right and wrong that says only
is is is is is is
but out of equal and opposite necessity
to feel the way you feel
to have the real be real.

Don’t think of a polar bear
lunging, back arched toward sky,
nose aimed at seal, and wet hair freezing
in haywire strands descending from his belly
so long and low it looks as if he’s floating
on a tumbleweed, when really
he’s lunging suddenly in another direction
eating not the seal but your brother
who after all is more terrified of emotions
than anything in the world,
and so the best candidate
for being eaten by a polar bear.

Don’t think of the black snakes
their dark, sharp arrowheads shooting
the flowing ribbons of their bodies forward
just past instead of into you,
don’t think of the black snakes
that come back out of dark branches
when you are walking by the bushes alone,
don’t think of the black snakes
that live everywhere
in every forest and suburb
near every lakebed and basement
that seem to press themselves
onto and into everything
and we were too ashamed to say
but now everyone admits
it happened to me too.

You cannot stop the polar bear,
but you can try to feed him some snakes.
The elephants, having been discussed,
are no longer your concern. Rest now.
You are not your brother’s bear’s keeper.
Think of the icy sea that takes him back,
embraces him with a chill he knows as home
and how your brother will be warm and safe
churning in his stomach, without fear or intimacy.
Think of the oceans flowing from that sea
as the icecaps melt and the water rises
over Bangladesh, where pink mother and daughter
elephants carry the poorest family in the world
to safety, or at least up to India’s electrified fence.

Think of the man, warm and asleep
in the floating bed of gossamer and music
that glows with his welcoming heat
and how it is a spaceship
you have tethered to while going for a walk
where there is no up and down
to see what aliens you can meet.
But you find what you have always found—
dumb rocks and faraway stars,
too bright to think of anything else
when you look to the horizons,
but too far to touch as if your hands
would know how to nuzzle them
this star is my mother
this star is my brother
this star is my man
smoothing out the covers over my exhaustion
slowing my racing heart with his smell
insisting that I rest and let life be sweet
and hunt for my own happiness as well.



Like a Moth to Flame

Day 8 of a poem a day from Vagabonding, my second poetry book manuscript (this one, too, from the “Back for Forwards” section, after “The Living Murder” and “Snake and Not Snake“).

“Like a Moth to Flame”


We do not know
why go they go
into the light
burning them bright.

It is a cheat
to call it heat.
The pheromonal draw
cannot explain it all—
not only male moths
drawn to not only
infrared lights
seeking not only
female mothly delights.

The Mach band, then.
Bright light, when
you stare at it,
gives off a dark hit.
Moths fly to it,
circling the light,
seeking cover of darkness—
getting reality’s opposite hardness.



You can’t see
what it means to me.
Why I must go back
to the scene of the attack.

I will tell you why
the hardest things
call to my wings.
A far cry
from self-destruction.
The moth knows
the flame is real—
wants to live, fly, heal.

I do not know
if it is courage or cowardice,
the opposite will to letting it go.
To know the pain of fire,
the wounds of its burning,
and return to this.
You think it does not matter
as long as I live.
Sometimes I flatter
myself that I might have
something more than living
to give.



It is the moon, they used to say.
The moth is navigating by the biggest light.
Then is confused by electrics at night.
It’s nothing to do with heat—
just a mistake in navigating flight.

Like a moth into flame,
I used to navigate by pain.
I have to learn again and again
that getting back to work
doesn’t mean doing things that hurt.

Just because it’s hard
doesn’t mean you need to use more force
against your own wings that are charred.
Although the older moths may have said
to navigate by the bright light overhead,
you have to listen first to what feels right.
Do not fly into painful light.



The modern moth enjoys more equality than ever.
The empowered moth is both fashionable and clever.
The agile moth reaches her goals with grace and speed.
The evolved moth reports high life satisfaction and low need.
The independent moth is successful in career and family.
The feminine moth is strong and independent, but not manly.
The surviving moth is focused and productive while alive.
The ambitious moth flies directly into the flame and dies.



When you’re flying, sometimes you can’t tell
if you’re heading up or down.
It’s how many pilots fell
to the accidental ground,
or into the ocean and drowned.
When you’re doing something hard
and perhaps well worth doing,
sometimes you can’t tell there’s heat
until you’re already charred.
A cigarette falls on you, and it’s the hole
that brings you back to greet
the body in your soul.

Sometimes you can’t feel it at first,
can’t tell if you’re hot or you’re cold.
At that moment pulling away is the thirst
and every touch is too bold,
but you can’t tell which way is away
and anyway, insisting gets old.

I need to be alone with the night.
I need to try to grasp the darkness
and beat it with my wings
while also dancing in the light.
Mark this:
moths are not delicate things.
Moths do not need your protection
(although moths enjoy your company).
Moths do not exist for your dissection
(although moths may enjoy showing off, when they feel free).
Sometimes I lie, but always with the truth.
(I only feel safe when your shoulder gives me proof.)
There is no animal so full of wonder
as a poet, except a moth.
No one so willing to fight
existence itself for the light.


Of the Surviving Family

Day 7 of a poem a day from Vagabonding, my second poetry book manuscript (this one from the “Relations” section). In this poem, the newly normal winds, fires, and storms refer to both literal forms of climate weirding and figurative forms of contemporary weirding phenomena (e.g., rising autism rates, the growing precariat, and other difference and instability). One of the reasons I love poetry is because it lets me use literal, autobiographical references (like my brother and I both changing our names) that people would never guess are true—with multiple meanings.

“Of the Surviving Family”

Of my family there were four known survivors,
only one of whom could be reached for comment.
Thus I am up all night, writing and rewriting the story.
I am pained that I cannot change the world.

Scientists say the wind events were unlike any they’d ever seen,
but may become the new normal. In my motherland, other scientists say
the winds are fine, but the fuel is dry: blame the forest for its burning.
The house where I grew up until the fire is still standing.

Insurance brokers projected the sea level rise decades ago,
and refused to underwrite the marriage. Other salesmen claimed
the market is absolutely stable and responsive to demand.
My mother still keeps the waterlogged ring and name she never liked.

Stronger storms come every year—hurricanes, rains, and floods.
My father who I met again after a lifetime, a smart and funny man,
could not withstand them. Turned into a tree and was broken.
One of his arms smashed into the attic and was thrown away.

At night I think of the world in flames, whether a weird new wind blows,
why my father builds a new house on the most-doomed coast,
inviting with his remaining arm wide open a newly normal storm.
My brother and I both changed our names and blew away.

We have survived each other, but only as ourselves.
Not as a family. My brother became a feather, light and easy to flight.
My mother became a mouse, stealing crumbs and ready to bite.
My father who was a laughing tree became an acorn; and, for now, a tree again.

I became what I have always been. A wolf hunting for prey and kin.


Two Poems on Autism

Day 6 of a poem a day from Vagabonding, my second poetry book manuscript (these two from the “One Step Forward” section that I made out of the second half of the too-big “Back for Forwards” section). On Saturday, Ian McKellen celebrated his 30th anniversary of coming out publicly as gay in a BBC interview, saying:

I’ve never met a gay person who regretted coming out – including myself. Life at last begins to make sense, when you are open and honest. Today is the 30th anniversary of the BBC radio discussion when I publically said I was gay. So I’m celebrating!

What a brave and beautiful truth! Being bisexual certainly matters and has been important for me to be open and honest about with family, friends, and in my art/work at various points. But it does not make my whole life make sense in the way being autistic and coming from a family with autism does.

Sometimes the first response I get to saying this is disbelief, because most people don’t actually know what autism is. It presents differently and is less common in women. I didn’t know it when I was younger, but have the genetic disorder in my (broken) nuclear family, as well as other familial risk factors. So everybody including me—the lifelong “little professor” diagnostician bookworm who’s read all the studies since being nicknamed Encyclopedia in elementary school—in other words, a typical autist—missed it. It sounds weird to be happy to have an incurable disorder, but it’s really helpful to have a name for how I’m different—and to accept that difference. Life at last begins to make sense when I talk about autism. 

So here are two poems about that.


“Welcome Home”
After Mary Oliver’s “Members of the Tribe.”

You said when at last I lit my fire
on the dark planet
of our tribe.

Should I name it?
The name makes a basket of shadows.

Pour them out.


Look again.
They are not snakes
slithering closer and closer
in the light.
We are not aliens
whether or not
you like our planet.
And there is no asylum
for the different.
We cannot be cured.

But most of all
for me it matters
that the reason I could not mend
the reason I failed again and again
in that good and human work
was that
I am different.

And if you persist
in trying to cure me
until I am like you,
you will kill me.


That time
I should have died
held my hair
held my hand
prayed with me
in bed
as I waited.

It was Plath
who preferred
the library.
It was Millay
who wanted all of the fuck
and none of the fuss.
It was Dickinson
who stayed home.

In the study
a man with no more manhood
was painting an apple
with cyanide.


on the level red shore,
by riverbeds long dry
of blood and tears,
the others were waiting;

and when they found me
or I them—
I no longer pretend to know which;
it was my own planet,
but I was lost—
there was such dancing.

The savages,
they took me in.
They fed me,
the brutes,
and laid me down
to rest
at home at last.

This was the work of being seen.

This had nothing to do chess
or memorizing π to 27 digits
because e begins so beautifully 2.718…

Jefferson, looking away,
kept revising Monticello;
Carroll stammered, it is said,
only with adults,
preferring Alice’s company.

On that other dark planet
of the past that is an asylum
locked to us
and holding
of our kin
whether they will or no,
a young father who couldn’t love well and knew it
was scrubbing the smokey bar
from his sure and drunken hands
to save life after precious life.
You know that
often when we are very stupid
we are also very smart.


It is not for me to forgive
the shock therapy,
the vibrator,
or the castration.

But as I grow milder,
having put down the scissors
and let my hair grow long again
to see its natural shapes
that I was only frightened
into cutting,

as I grow wilder,
and the forest grows around me
along with the fire
and its shadows,

I forgive
what is mine
to forgive.


And Oliver,
whom I come behind
for advice

but who did not know
the name
of Mozart’s strange faces,
the long-unwanted love of Yeats,
or how Michelangelo
would finally pull off
his own skin
along with
his dirty dogskin stockings.

She knows many things.
How to love the world, for example.
How to breathe each day a poem in thanks.

May she live to be a hundred years old.


“Love Poem”

You are a dog
and I am a cat.
You do not understand
my reticence,
and I do not care.


Dialogues with Angels

Day 5 of illustrating/blogging one poem a day from Vagabonding, my second poetry book manuscript (this one from the “Back in the Colonies” section). Spacing doesn’t work exactly the way I want it to in WordPress, so some of that is lost (grrrr). My road-idea illustrations are frustrating me in their sketchiness, so here is an even sketchier road-idea illustration (GRRRRR). This poem came out fairly complete already one night/morning as the writing demon was upon me, but now reminds me of an old favorite. So I’ll include both.

“Dialogue with an Angel”

Years ago, in the darkness of my youth,
a brush-fire destroyed everything I owned.
The flames licked my home hollow.
At first, for the moment that the hollowness felt clean,
I thought they were my sisters.
Awakening from that moment
of false beauty was the hardest part.
I ran away and rebuilt.

But another disaster followed
swiftly on the last.
This time it was a tornado,
roaring from the sick, green sky
like a train
like a lion
and like an angel of some terrible judgment.
I could not look the angel in the eye and,
knowing my home would again soon be hollow, left
to make anew a better life.

The caravans I followed seemed friendly enough,
until they disappeared one night
as the snows began to fall
and the wind began to rip
at the fabric of all things.
At last, I was alone.
It might be peaceful to die like this,
I thought, and lay down to sleep.
A pack of wild dogs encircled me then,
barking their
“Now-now, now-now, now-now”

Then, I knew it was really time to leave—
a greater leaving
than I could yet imagine.
“Go with God,”
my blanket-holding brain suggested,
bullied down that plank by pranksters, programmed ecstasy, and force of need.
And I did, the ghosts of the brush-fire sisters still licking my skin.
Sometimes, at night, their beautiful faces flash back at me,
with the shock, the stab, and the jolt
of realizing the false friendship of their warmth.
“Get on,” says the conductor.
“Stay back,” says the lion-tamer.
“Now be still,” says the angel,
as the world I left already ashen, burns.

In my new life, I am not a brush-fire victim.
You are not my beautiful sisters,
sipping air and letting slip your torn stockings of combustion.
The storms that grow stronger as the climate grows weirder
are not trains we can ride into the city
are not lions we can watch roaming from the car
are not angels of some terrible judgment.

“Don’t be so sure,” says the angel,
salting a hole in the sky with his tears,
not of remorse, guilt, or shame,
but of anger.
The tide rises,
the tides rise,
the rising tides sighed and sighed.
“Why,” I ask the silence where the angel last stood,
“am I being still?”


This lovely image seems to be from Shoestring Press’s recent Little Dutch Books edition, but I don’t see an artist credit…

A Man and an Angel, studies for a poem

By Toon Tellegen, trans. from the Dutch by  Judith Wilkinson

A man said:
I can’t live
and he lived long and meticulously

then he stood still and said:
but I can’t love
and he loved women and peace
and unspoken shyness

and an angel fought with him –
I can’t fight, said the man
and he fought like a tiger, like a hare,
and like a bag of bones

the sun went down
and still they fought on,
the man and the angel,
and the man said,
with a melancholy note in his voice:
now I know,
I can’t lose.

Believe me, said an angel, I will save you.
No, said a man, I don’t believe you.
You have to believe me, said the angel

and he drove away the ambition of the man
and his painful omniscience,
gave him peace
and large quantities of a rare,
resilient happiness, such as had never been described.

Do you believe me now, the angel asked
and he looked at the man with unparalleled love
and tenderness
and the man whispered: I don’t believe you.

A man searched for his conscience
and an angel saw him and asked:
might this be it?
showed him a large and orthodox conscience

that is yours, said the man,
but the angel shook his head:
we don’t have a conscience,
we are too light,
we would fall,
we would lose from everyone,

and with a nonchalant gesture
he struck the man down and dragged him away

and the man felt ashamed.

In the end,
if we just wait long enough,
if we have seen beauty change shape
and justice bend over backwards,
if we have cherished hope,
if we believe we have believed in something true
and feel we have loved until we withered
and could not go on,
so help us our self-knowledge –
in the end,
out of everything that was
and could have been and should have been
in heaven as on earth
there only remains
a man fighting with an angel,
night falls
and the angel strikes him down.


Snake and Not Snake

Day 4 of a poem a day from Vagabonding, my second poetry book manuscript (this one from the too-big “Back for Forwards” section that I just broke in two, adding a new “One Step Forward” section that now comes after). My liebe Schwesterchen (dear little sister) Eva K. said she loved “The Living Murder“—enjoyed exploring the rich and beautiful dark side, knowing that I’m in a good place now. This gives me a convenient, other party on whom to blame my decision to continue for now in that vein.

It’s also germane to this week’s Nassar sentencing and the general din—the for-now white noise of news about violence against women, and the wave of sometimes small, sometimes Pyrrhic victories, but nonetheless victories over it. So far I feel good about the poems, and bad about the admittedly sketchy road illustrations. (Shrug.) I’m an artist. I make messes. MESSES ARE MY LIFE.

“Snake and Not Snake”

Something dark, glistening, and fast moved through my life.
I could tell you it was a snake.
Or describe the shock of making sense of the slither only after it was gone.
The shock is so much more like the experience
than a neat story that knows from the start
who is moving where, and who is cold-blooded at heart.
The not snake of not knowing what dark thing moves
wears its own uniform of death, its own fear-brain grooves.

I could focus on the bright city around me now.
Or remember the dark woods I ran through to get here.
Sometimes I’m in both places at once.
The dark branches of night reach out to me in the living room.
I run back to shiver in your arms,
and you warm me instantly.
My shivering melts into purring,
and although I want to cat you like a radiator until dawn,
and my body wants to wake your body up to play—
we go back to sleep
at least
until the break of day.

Snake and not snake still come back to me.
I don’t know who to give them to,
to set myself more free.
There and not there
make me here and not here,
but I won’t fly back into the fire,
won’t live in the old fear.
Will not fly back into the fire
that calls me still, my dear.


Publish and Perish

Day 3 of illustrating and blogging one poem a day from Vagabonding, my second poetry book manuscript (this one from the “Finding Berlin” section). Although it is an early draft and I’m not sure… The point of this exercise is to get over it, put some imperfect new work out there, and move it forward (somehow) that way—editing, visualizing, sharing, learning from what people like or say, learning from how it feels if nothing else.

This poem seems especially topical today, since WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s doctors yesterday protested in the Guardian that his indefinite detention continues to violate his human right to his now badly-needed medical care.

“Publish and Perish”

  1. When I’m a man with men,
    they say you have blood on your hands
    and I say,
    Good. At least he has acted.



When I’m a man with women,
they say you have
at least
dishonored a woman’s wish
and I say,
are we living in 1800?
Let due process
roll along,
as I suppose
that is what
due process
like buffalo lumber and gazelle leap—
or let him go.



When I’m a woman with women,
I grow quiet,
wishing you had listened.



When I’m a woman with men,
as it sometimes is,
I notice
that I am a woman
and you are a man;
but that this
is not
what I want
to notice.


When you are less
the silver lion
of a child’s perfect dream
and more
the human man
I’ve heard
you to be;

and I am myself
from the beautiful bluebird
in his short, distracted bursts;

I like to imagine
the other two boxes
in the spread.

In one, I am me
and you are you.
We are alone
and we are not
alone together.
We are home,
among friends,
the nightmare ends
and life
at last begins again.

In the other,
in the life
that is more real
than in real life,
it may be
that you are trapped
The me that reaches
the you that remains there
does not care.
I tell you
the secret,
dark and precious,
and you do not see me
and you do not hear me
and you do
what keeps secrets
what keeps secrets worth telling
what keeps secrets worth telling out loud.

It is not the right thing.
It is a right thing.
It is a listening,
your telling and retelling—
and distracting


Due process do not roll along, lumber, or leap.
I am not sure they are alive.
But in the open air of witnessing, they seem to oxidize.
The mint patina that covers what was a beautiful gleam
of what might have been blind or seeing eyes
decorates the skyline of my now-faraway shore.
It is not a degradation to ignore.


Bathing in the River

Day 2 of illustrating/blogging one poem a day from Vagabonding, my second poetry book manuscript (from the Vagabonding Anew section).

“Bathing in the River”

Natural Reserve of Mas Larrieu, Argelès-sur-Mer

“It is good to have an end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end.”
—RIP Ursula K. LeGuin

The water was cold, but I had to wash my hair.
We’d been driving for days, though we weren’t going anywhere.
It was green and sandy, with a reedy forest by the sea—
where a passerby could giggle and squat down for a pee.
You coaxed me in with kisses and the current swept us out.
And it looked the same to you as when your father caught a trout.

The water was cold, but I had to wash my hair.
We’d been driving for days, though we weren’t going anywhere.
And we lay in the sun shivering, and dried—went right back in.
And a stranger with his dog teased us that he saw a fin.
All that stillness, all that shimmering, the water felt like home.
But when we reached the outlet, we couldn’t hold our own.

The water was cold, but I had to wash my hair.
We’d been driving for days, though we weren’t going anywhere.
Next time we’ll sleep nearer to the water, on the shore.
And I’ll ask the handsome stranger with his dog to stay some more.
The water was so cold, I could barely wash my hair,
and the river swept us both out to sea right there.


The Living Murder

This is the first poem in the long, dark “Back for Forwards” section of my second poetry book manuscript, Vagabonding. As I mentioned here yesterday, I’m gonna try illustrating and blogging one a day for a while to get a better sense of the whole, solicit feedback, and generally see how it feels. Because I’m on the road again, these first illustrations will be simple. Because people did not clamor to hear anything in particular, except the Nuremberg 2027 series envisioning future war crimes trials that I already illustrated and blogged, I asked someone else to pick.

“Pick a poem,” I demanded.

“From what list?” my hapless victim replied.

“You don’t get to see the list,” I replied. “Just pick a poem.”

“Number seven,” he declared. I looked up the seventh italicized poem I had been thinking about blogging, but couldn’t decide among the list.

“Are you sure? That one’s really dark,” I explained. He rolled his eyes.

“There are more topical ones in relation to the news,” I protested. My poetry blogging decision-making assistant clocked out of work for the day. Union rules.

So here is number seven, the first in one of the darker sections in a manuscript with a lot of focus on light. If I continue through the italicized poems in this series, that’ll be eighteen dark poems coming at you soon. I’m undecided on whether to present them together like that, or break them up. (Or throw them all away. Or light them all on fire and take pretty pictures of roasting marshmallows. Options!) Stylistically at least there’s a lot of variation within the thematically organized section. So there’s that. Without further procrastination…

“The Living Murder”

Something happened in the dark,
while I was sleeping
and did not wake.

When I came to,
I was dead.
But I startled back
from Death,
or from the man who killed me
in my sleep
his sickly heat
his smoky breath
the feel of his unbearable weight
and his moan become my own.

Back out in the light, alive and freezing,
I ran from people
I ran from sun
I ran from God who I had promised
never again to try to sleep forever
never again to give up battling the darkness
never again to raise my hand against myself
unless this happened
unless one more lead straw fell on the pile
unless I had to see one more monster smile.


So Maybe I Will Blog Some Poems

“The Journey,” oils on 40 x 50 cm stretched canvas (sold).

Last week, I holed up alone for the first time in years, working on my second poetry book manuscript. (My first poetry book is illustrated here.) I wrote a lot. I went outside twice for food. It was great. It was NECESSARY. It was mostly not a good week of editing. The editing I got done was good. But it was mostly a good week of writing—clearing the decks of notes to self, travel notes, poetry snippets I had meant to fill out. And now have.

That means now the manuscript is again over 200 pages, when a week ago I had cut it down by nearly 50 pages and meant to cut more. It’s not ready for a second set of eyes—first it needs that good edit that I thought I’d do last week. So I will either let it rest, or proceed to illustrate and blog bits of it in an effort to get it further outside my head. I am trying to decide if and how to do that illustrating and blogging while vagabonding, since I am vagabonding again. Does this mean sketching simple drawings to go with drafts? Is that too messy to go here?

Blogging drafts, especially poetry drafts, can be tricky. Sometimes poetry/writing/art is of the moment and you want to speak/show/share it in the moment. Sometimes you look back and realize only 30% of what you make hits, makes the cut, would even be something you would want to hear at an open mic. And maybe you already blogged that other 70%. Ok, maybe it embarrasses future-me when that happens. But it’s not a big deal. People are wrong on the Internet, and artists are people, too.

So I’m looking at my Table of Contents trying to figure out if I want to start now, or on the road tomorrow. Try to make it a daily thing for a while, or go with the flow. Blog thematically organized (draft) sections of poems, which would break down to roughly a theme every two weeks, or take the one poem I feel like editing/sharing/illustrating on a given day, and run with that.

The Table of Contents looks like this:

  • New Arriving, Europe—10 poems from London to Lisbon and Amsterdam, where I lived when I first immigrated to Europe.
  • Finding Berlin, Germany—12 poems that are loosely about making my home in Berlin. I already blogged early versions of a few here and there. Some are more sexual/romantic, some are more political. A bit of a mix.
  • High Art—10 poems on art. Some early versions of a few out there (e.g., 1, 2).
  • Back in the Colonies—11 poems on goings-on back in the colonies, mostly America. Some early versions of several out there (e.g., 1, 2).  A few new ones I think are really strong and would like to put out there.
  • Back for Forwards—19 poems. Oy—I guess I’ll need to hacksaw edit or break up this section. The first nine are sort-of #MeToo related, but I hope in poetic ways that make them broad and deep. Then four on the difficulty of leaving the past. One on a murdered woman I met doing my dissertation research. One on moths flying back into flames. One on resilience. Two on autism and its misunderstandings. All on looking back to go forward. I don’t think I’ve blogged any of these and at least some are worth sharing.
  • Relations—10 poems on family. A few early versions out there (1, 2). Includes what you may have heard me mention on Facebook as the nine-page poem on having versus not-having kids, which is now ten pages and seems to have convinced me not to. At least if this poetry thing doesn’t work out, I can always go back to stand-up.
  • Nuremberg, 2027—10 poems envisioning future war crimes trials. I’ve already illustrated and blogged early versions of all these (and more—but I also already cut a bunch of them out of the manuscript).
  • Vagabonding Anew—10 poems on traveling around Europe with my love in a camper van. Amazingly, I don’t think I’ve blogged any of these. They’re fun, happy poems about fun, happy adventures. Why have I not illustrated and blogged these? Was I too busy being happy, or what?
  • Newly Arriving Every Time—10 poems on happiness and home with my love in Berlin. I think I already blogged just this one early version. Some of these are more sexual and as an artist they’re important to what I do, but it might also be a little scary to put them out there and see what happens. I also might need permission for that. Hmmm. Hi.
  • Others—15 poems on sex, sexuality, desire, wildness, and the like. I definitely haven’t blogged these. Can I blog these? Among experiments last year, I was going to experiment with sex writing under a different name, but never did. I guess it wasn’t right for me. This year I decided I want to publish stuff under my name. Hmmmm.
  • Sweet Home—12 poems on being happy at home with my love again, with a bit more of a domestic (but also sometimes sexual) bent. Some of them are probably too silly to include in the manuscript, but then I think—Mary Oliver gets away with being reverent and grateful for absurdly little things—maybe I can, too. The only one of these I’ve blogged, here, might not even stay in this section so that doesn’t really help.
  • Sweet Roam—5 poems. At last you think I have won out and edited my hypergraphia into submission. But no, the last two are long poem sequences about longer, farther travels with my love. The first few are love poems.

So this turns out to be a pretty good summary of my life and what I’ve been up to lately. Does it help me figure out how to move forward with the manuscript? Can people even read this the way it’s formatted? Why do I write so much when generally the question is “What do I DOOOOOOOOO?????” and the answer is “Try some stuff that feels good and see what happens”?

I guess I will just post this, since I didn’t write it for myself. And maybe then ask people on Facebook/Twitter/email to tell me what you think. Or figure it out. Or finish packing. Whatever comes first.