I write my way out

Most of my writing is personal narrative, but I've also written website copy for over 400 websites, ghost written a number of speeches, municipal declarations, and auto-biographies and would love to help you spin your content, bio, presentation, or curriculum for use or distribution. 

I’m tracing the lines between an evangelical childhood and the radical events of January 6th.

White Washed American Evangelical Exceptionalism Showed up at the Capitol in Jesus Name, Amen

I am a follower of Jesus. And I watched, in equal parts horror and unsurprise, as others who claim to work in Jesus’ name enacted terror in America on Wednesday. I believe that White Washed American Evangelical Exceptionalism led us here, tracing the ocean of anger backwards down the rivers of revisionist history into the streams of insecurity and the trickles of denial of truth. The only way forward is all the way back, digging new trenches, hydrating new fields, harvesting new crops, bearing new fruit.

How do we tell our children Black Panther is dead?

A Lament for Black Panther

Wakanda Forever we
lament from the blood bathed
city streets where black abundance
insists again on rising from ashes
and children of Power rise to be
princes of peace

A really long exploration of sexual shame culture in church and personal history.

“Straight” White American Evangelical Masculinity looks a lot like Jerry Falwell Jr.

I don’t know Jerry Falwell Jr. Or, rather, I do not know Jerry Falwell Jr. specifically. My entire childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood was shaped by and in the presence of “Straight” White American Evangelical Masculinity so it is safe to say I know his type.

A piece for Big Feelers

Squint - A list of controls for my son

This is an impossible time in an incredible world and you are spinning down this drain, full force, alongside Persons who love you. Reach for the Love. Create a daisy chain of people holding onto broken wood from sunken ships in treacherous waters. Build upward and outward but don’t forget to build something you like inside, too. Remember that none of us get out alive but all of us get to change and grow and learn and discover. We won’t be the same so, with imagination and tenacity, let us be better, Big Feeler.

End of National Poetry Month

End of a Run

I run until the
sidwalk ends in
gravel rubble
symbol to turn around
or run deeper
depending on what
symbolism you seek

it isn’t that I have hit a stop
writer’s block
on day thirty
it is just that the well
has run dry

I can barely spell rhyme

Time Rhymes

I don’t want to steal another’s stories but
I do want to have the courage to tell my own
in the lines between the inbetweens of time
and rhyme like
would you believe me if I told you I once
witnessed a miracle
would you believe me if I told you I have loved
with everything I had
for as long as I can remember
would you believe me that it has never been enough
would you believe me that I’ve never felt like
I could do anything except write
out words in lines
and rhyme
like

on silence being loud

Screams in My Sleep

I grew up in a house of silence
secrets eeking from the walls from the
rooftop attic that held empty bottles and old
newspapers and the sound of my
first muffled cries
when I finally left its structure
rubbled and ruin
echoing empty
I built my own house out of silence
and I can tell you
it’s more like a scream

on my favorite word

Fuck

I try not to rely
on the word fuck
in my writing
but its the only word I know
that equally contains
poetry
praise
panic
pain

On Shakespeare

Tragedy

today I realized
that in between epic sonnets
and love stories
exacting
comedies and romance
boy meets girl and
sweeping off of noble feet
Shakespeare wrote
tragedy

shouldabeenaweddingday

shouldabeenaweddingtoast

I’ve heard it said that love should be long-suffering but I don’t think you should have to suffer much, in love. Love should be long-celebrating — late nights collecting kisses and storing memories in lightning bug jars, travel memories pasted with crooked corners in scrapbooks and the way your love’s face lights when you enter a room. Most rooms. Most of the time.

on exhuming and letting go

Waves

From the time I was a child I was told that love could
only unfold in a pre-patterned way
where it happens on time
unhurried and stays
and stays
I didn’t know that love could come in waves
didn’t know that love could grow in place
light the skies
amaze

I didn’t know that love could be the shortest distance between
shoulder blade and shoulder blade
the arch of a jawline the dirty hands
that put dinner on a table the dirty feet
that run away

anxiety is a bitch

Forty-One

When I was a little girl I broke my friend Amy Wood’s Barbie while we played on the floor in her upstairs bedroom and instead of telling her that the left leg just fell off when I didn’t mean for the left leg to fall off I waited until she wasn’t looking and threw the body under the bed and picked a new doll

I am surprised

Period

today I was surprised by
my own period
like it hasn’t come clockwork
for over twenty years

the days now are
both numbered and
no longer numbered
if you know what I mean

Thoughts on being unboreable

The Waiting Room

when at the beginning of the year I said
I want to be unboreable
I didn’t mean I wanted to see if I could
withstand watching paint dry
I didn’t mean I wanted to relearn
statistics and attempt to understand
curves and ratios and numbers and
survival
I didn’t mean I want to do things that
are boring and try to find
delight

A History of Everything to be afraid of

Things We Are to Fear

mni wiconi
grandmothers holding water to the sky
grounding on mother earth standing at Standing Rock working class native american
families with more than one irresponsible child
the audacity of the open plains
water protectors who wear the scars of
struggle across pockmarked faces and
ruddy hands
lines of teepees stretched across barren North Dakota landscapes
covered in early morning snow
sage burning
smudging sillhouettes

A Tourette Syndrom Poem

Transient

first it was hand squeezing
balled up fists digging fingernail into
the palm of tiny hands
I’d pry them apart slowly singing
a song or telling a story
making no mention of the tiny wounds on
tiny hands

tic tic tic tic

if I didn’t bite my fingernails since the first
day I discovered teeth
down to the quick
near to the bone
always under control
I might not have understood
his first tic

A bit of a poem for my dad

Death in the Distance

I am following my Dad down
a gravel road on
a bike that will never
move as fast as his
not because I am a woman
or his daughter but
because his has pedal assist and a motor
and mine
does not
and his was a gift to himself as he
started chemotherapy for
a lymphoma that is diferent
than the lymphoma my mom has
and has fought
and will likely fight again

LIBERATE MY STATE

Nobody Told Us

except for all the
warners who
warned us
we throw up our
hands and say
nobody told us
that if we died this month
we’d die alone
the only face in
view covered by
a mask a shield and goggles
the last touch of a
gloved hand

Let me count the ways

A List of Injustices

To date, there have been more deaths in Kenya
from police brutality trying to enforce curfew
than from Covid-19

there are men serving life sentences for posessing less
marijuana than I brought back from Colorado
that one time

some april days i don't wanna write

The Will to Survive

sometimes
poetry is
waking up early to write a few lines
because you told yourself
you would
calling your Nana during pandemic
even though her voice breaking
breaks yours
homemade whipped cream over
homemade waffles on a homeschool
morning
head resting precariously on the
same shoulder after
seventeen years

A poem about love and loss

Hardscrabble Shrine

It’s the point in pandemic where
we take stock of the lives we
find ourselves alone in
together
stockpile goods and memories
pantries of staples and
stapled photos around mirrors frame
lock stock and
barrels
of wine consumed or
whiskey straight up
I’ve built a hardscrabble shrine
to everything I love and have
lost

A poem for April 14th

Alarming

When my alarm clock sounds this morning I am jarred
more than a regular alarming
which is how I’ve felt for one hundred days
it’s funny how we make peace with the piece of life where we
wake from our few minutes of wonder with an ear piercing
alarm
and call that normal

nothing is normal anymore

The last resurrection poem

April 13th

they say
Jesus died for your sins and
I think
“all of them?”
and I think
“maybe I should have sinned more to make it
worth it”

 

Easter in Innuendo

Enough

here is a stone rolled
to the side of a whole hole
wound wound around the
inside of a whole hand
whole world sin sitting
on the crown of one man
god head

I never expected to be old by 35

My Oldest Son

my oldest son stretches three and a half inches over
my graying head and looks
down on me
most of the time
because nearly sixteen is nearly knowing nearly everything
and I do not

Corona Poem

The Story Isn't New

you tell me about Easter and I’ll
tell you about the year
where during unprecedented
global crisis we
rejected a Jewish
messiah with good ideas
in favor of a landlord
who pussy grabs you by the throat
makes you a whore
collects the rent and tells you
to get bent
in Brooklyn

Corona Poetry

Crying Out for a Dream

the Chinese character for
the word crisis
is a combination of two Hanzi symbols
danger
and
opportunity

the Italian root of
the word disaster
is constellation turmoil
stars imploding
and
exploding

Passover Poem

Some of Us Won't Come Back

Passover
and the fullest pink moon
rising
everything full

everything up
while everything is
empty
and down

On my younger brother

Stranged

a few years ago before we were so worried about
Russian intelligence taking our identities and
deep faking our decisions
before we had forgotten the definition of
Presidential
or redefined it at least
there was an online game where
you’d upload a selfie and the app
would generate your face
opposite gender

Easter Soliloquy

Holy Week in Hell

It’s Holy Week in Hell this week and they’re considering burying bodies in New York City public parks.

I’m not religious. Maybe vaguely spiritual, these days, but Easter week has always held me in rapt suspense. What if!? The magic and miracle is within us — just tomb laid and ready to rise? What if!? Love so great it tears a curtain of separation — God and woman. What if!? A message so hopeful it changes a hell bent world for eternity.

Kingdom come.

Corona Poem

Saul Kutnicki

When I tire of
endless tab opening and
window scrolling
social media
fake news
scientific graphs and
video chats
I wonder about the people I
haven’t wondered about in a while

Corona Poem

Scales & Teeth

break it down to the cellular level
everything has scales
everything has teeth

my housemate all flesh and muscle
peels the sunburnt skin off his left arm
with a smile
he has biked hundreds of miles during The Virus
as he would have before
as he will after

Corona Poetry

Hazel Eyes

my dogs will only eat popcorn
if it is thrown
arching
into their mouth from the
hand of someone who loves them

I wake to a missed kernel in the middle of the
kitchen floor

how many times have I rejected a gift
because it cost the giver nothing

Corona Poem

Sobering

there is little more sobering
than a friend whose grandfather lives
a few blocks from my grandmother
eight mile
detroit
whose grandfather is in the hospital
covid-19
and I think
I’ll drink to his health
and his chances

Corona Poem

Skills

Experts on quarantine have offered suggestions to use this time of shut down to pursue a new interest or expand on a skill
Online dance class
Build a birdhouse
Write a memoir
Bake your own bread
Paint a statement wall
Rotate your tires
Learn jujitsu
Conquer your fear of public speaking
While social distancing

Corona Poem

Ninety-One (Eighty-Eight)

There are ninety one days from
the start of the year until
this moment
first of april
no joke
even though that ninety one days
feels like ninety one years
or ninety one lifetimes
ask me how I know and I’ll
tell you that I called my grandmother
eighty-eight in isolation
and twenty twenty is the sum of
every summer sun she’s sat under
and every morning light she’s risen to
and every starry sky she’s slept beneath
for every year of her long stretching life

Poetry in the time of Corona

Lines

In the past few days I’ve paid attention
to the lines drawn in my forehead
the creases around my mouth
my dry lips my old eyes my
sandpaper skin
the story wrinkles that corner my
muddy eyes
the way the folds above them
fold into the folds
above them fold into
the folds
above
them

Paha Sapa (in the time of Corona)

I drove out a gravel road on the cusp of society past a lumber yard and the deep rutted ruins of a drive-by deer decapitation and I parked in the dirt parking lot of a pole barn and looked to the east
Where the air curdled and spun above murky swamp areas the snow melt
The Badlands
Rising into the low hanging snow clouds threatening apocalypse on apocalypse
The lone blackbird on the telephone line
Eyeing for an apology

Go make me a sandwich

International Women's Day

We lost an hour on International Women’s Day 2020 because daylight savings time took precedence because even on our one and only day on a leap year where they already get 365 days to be men, they needed one hour from ours
Let me tell you what it is like to be a modern mother in America, twenty twenty, fam.

and yet I do

I do not have any reason to practice lent

I didn’t grow up in a Lenten tradition. This is not to say that I didn’t grow up with an above average dose of faith-based ideology and rigidity but that, specifically, my brand of Jesus didn’t include much for Lent. I remember a few childhood Ash Wednesdays where I wondered at the dirty foreheads of a few parishioners of our local Catholic church — wandering the aisles of our IGA grocery store or picking up their daughters from my dance class. But the idea of Lent was foreign to me — as much so as sex before marriage or homosexuality or feminism.

Or, at least not laying claim to the title

On Probably Never Being a Writer

When I open my laptop to set it on my knees, perched upon metal bleachers, back pressed against the wall, its metal is cold with the winter of South Dakota seeping through its keys and bones. I’ve left it in my car much of the day, flitting in and out of appointments and meetings and errands and my keyboard feels foreign now, to accustomed fingers, keys worn down in proclivity to use. E, mostly. I, because everything I write is about what I know. Backspace, too. See above.

For my youngest son

March Forward, First

When it came time for him to be born, I was well accustomed to the ways my body would shake and erupt. The third son to occupy and intend to vacate my womb in less than four years, I was the 23 year old mother of a three year old, an almost two-year-old, and, almost (yet already, I suppose) him. “You know how this happens,” people would joke, as my belly grew and stretched and I wrangled toddlers in a grocery cart or at the playground. Eyebrows were raised, advice often given, inadequacies glaring - but I was accustomed to this as much as I was familiar with the ache in the center of my hips, the movement of a son’s heel stretching across my taut midsection - the way a baby can wedge behind a ribcage for days. We say that things “get under our skin,” but it wasn’t until I reflected on carrying my three sons that I really understand what it means. They take over, use your food, take your energy, are connected by blood. There is no escaping the ways they move and shape us.

There, I said it out loud

Both of My Parents Have Cancer

There are like 44 individual sounds in the English alphabet and another tens of blends. Millions of combinations, few sensible, often misunderstood and mispronounced by myriad humans trying to speak English or make sense of American ways. We’ve somehow rallied to convince a big and diverse beautiful planet, teeming with life and language and history and resolution, that this hodgepodge of Germanic tribute and romantic resolve is worthy of being taught in every nook and cranny of a wide world and so, even in remote villages in Sri Lanka

Parenting, Growth

The Only Way to Do What You Cannot Do is to Do it Over and Over Until You Can Do What You Could Not Do.

On Saturday, at his urging, I drove my youngest son to our local YMCA and bought him a youth membership. For $14 a month, coupled with his bicycle, my son imagined freedom. With no training, having been forced out of swimming lessons years too early as his older brothers lost interest or achieved proficiency, my son has decided he wants to swim laps.

we are born into poetry.

Immigration

English is my
second language
poetry is my first
the slipping soul language
seldom spoken with fluency
the art of insatiability
the way words climb and clamor in corners
catch sparkles of sunlight riding specks of dust
starlit remnants
lick snowflakes off the face of a stranger

we are all immigrants to language
born into the mute space between
silence and everything
born into the tongue held mystery of imagination

Nobody wants to read your stupid metaphor

Editing a Love Poem

edit: do not
rely on metaphor
as no one wants to read about how

your love is like a tree trunk
standing against
come what may
wind whipping leaves off at spring limb
roots uncovered by bulldozer blade
or carved into with knives or blood or
the Hope of Next Year

A love letter to my former best friend

Goodbye, Love

A year ago I asked her, “can we talk?” “What happened?” “What did I do?” And a year ago she asked for “time to process,” and a year has passed and I’m wondering, “now?” “Is it enough?” “Can we talk?” and now my words float like whispers on a haunted wind, unnoticed. I never wanted to be a ghost.

the recurring dream

Teeth

The first few days after I turn thirty-five
I cannot will myself to start the year
Or even a day
I lay wrapped in too many blankets
Lights off and blinds closed
Heat blaring so I sweat through my clothes
And stick to my satin pillowcases
But I do not have the flu

I have altitude sickness from falling from
Such great and
Imaginary heights

I have the reckoning

Poetry

I Do Not Owe You My Beauty

I do not owe you my beauty
or
the youthful glow I collected
some summer on the shores of
Lake Superior
throwing fish hooks into open mouths
of well fed fish
throwing glances at boys on docks and shorelines
shorts and sandals
grit in my mouth as I chewed my tongue to a pulp asking for my
towel back
spit not swallow
swimsuit top
giggling boys snapping beach towels on sandy asses
give me my name back

I’ve never let myself feel — only function — through my anxiety.

Is this what anxiety feels like?

I woke in a cold sweat, for the first time afraid, for the first time, ever last night. Don’t, pray, get any ideas that my life has been so mundane or simple, cozy or complete, that I’ve never had reason for anxiety or worry, stress or distress. Rather, sleep has always worked for me, not against me. The respite of messy hair pressed against pillow is an actual release, for me. I do not dream — sleep befalls me seconds after I turn off my lights. I do not wake until my music gently alarms me into daylight.

Poetry

My Brothers' Engagement

my brother’s engagement is my first tattoo
18 years old
driving home from college
early morning hours
crashing on my parents' sloping
living room couch
awaiting mom’s chemo results
dad sees the tramp stamp
symbol in the space between my
shirt and the waistband of my
flannel pajama pants

But I actually hate to run

I Want to Run a Marathon

I’m not a runner. Like. NOT a runner. Like, joined a CrossFit gym last year because on TV I’ve seen them flip tires and climb rope ladders and lift heavy things and never run and give me a thousand heavy things and I’ll lift and I’ll lift and I’ll lift but when you ask me to run down to the end of the driveway, cross my two lane neighborhood street and jog up to my neighborhood mailbox I’m already tired.

poetry

grace

My original son was born
Original sin stained and
Wailing
At a hospital called Grace
And middle-named Determination

a recap of 2019

It was a year

(a semi recap/what rolled out when I set out to write so I’m sorry and also you’re welcome.)

I’m writing for my own recollection, potential remediation, hopeful reconciliation.

 

On Stumbling Sobriety

I Don't Even Know Her Name

The first time I met her she was chasing a boy up a mountain, barefoot, with a ripped tanktop showing the sort of b-cup bra that doesn’t scream “sex” so much as “my mom still shops with me.” She was wild-eyed and tangled-hair, sixteen years old, with a bloody knee and the scent of the everclear she’d pounded like water on a hot day coming from her laugh, her pores. 

on childhood marriage

Vows

We wrote our own vows
But I do not remember them
Childish words from
Children’s lips

A word of advice

Always Go To the Funeral

When you can, (you almost always can), you show up for the ones left behind - whether you knew or loved the deceased well or at all - because when a life is over, we measure impact by who comes.

Some sort of whore or

Some Sort of Holy

The thing about telling a story is that you’re basically bound to fuck up and lie. Accidentally. Our memories are shattered, shaky, unreliable bits of brain and firing neuroreceptors and perceptions and imagination and we so often see what we want to see that we neglect to see what was there, in flesh and reality. 

End of 2019

When it isn't Merry Christmas

Christmas Eve is either a joyous celebration of new life, hope, and peace on earth or a stark reminder, in the dead of night, that your sun has yet to rise.

Poetry

Carry The Weight

he comes home
from school
with his heavy
tye-dyed backpack
draped across skinny shoulders
walking with that slow
sixth grade swagger

In 2019...

So I read a bit in 2019

My 2019 resolution was more of an intention than a resolution — I set out to read a book a week for the entire year.

On my little sister as she donates a kidney

Bean

She follows me by six years but, in ways, it feels like 12 — the split between my oldest child and hers. At times, our distance was expansive — I left for college as a seventeen year old sophomore and she stayed behind, 11, in many ways. During my single formative educational year in Minnesota, Mary became passionate about words on pages, blogs, coffee cups, and souls. This was the season of the quotable Starbucks cups, of poetry magnets on refrigerators, just north of ‘zines and just south of Facebook.

parenting

On Flying

If you are not already, someday you will be older. Someday you’ll feel old. Or you'll find yourself sitting next to your child, the one you birthed from a teenage womb, on an airplane at take off and you'll notice his right leg shaking rhythmically and you'll wonder if he is scared and you'll wonder how you've flown so many times with him and still don't know if take off makes him scared and he won't kick the seat or ask a million questions or want two snacks or need the bathroom as soon as his seat buckles.

a verbal vomit

What Is the Word?

It’s Thursday and
I’m supposed to have something written
And I’m supposed to be ready to share
But instead of writing
I’ve been running my fingers across the raised lymph nodes on my neck
Googling my blood work
Looking for answers in hemoglobin
And putting my hope in the Hippocratic oath
Wondering if the numbers will work themselves out
The way I hope my fingers will work
The lymph nodes back under the skin

on protection and safety

You Do Not Celebrate When Judgement is Passed Down

You do not celebrate when the judgement is passed down. You do not clap your hands together or snap your fingers, you do not exclaim in enthusiasm or in relief but you do feel air rush quietly from your lungs and then, for the first time in six weeks, slowly, like you’re relearning, like you’ve forgotten, like you have never been human before, you begin to breathe again.