Friday, February 29, 2008

Relinquishing self-delusions of control

My power
is in knowing
and acting on
its ken:
too much might

Flashback friday: flash way, way back

The pictures from yesterday of Audrey eating her first solid food prompted me to dig through our photo vaults and check for a family resemblance. Yes, this is me at approximately the same age. Clearly (and not that I was ever actually worried), Audrey wasn't accidentally switched in the hospital.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Coming soon: audio chicklegirl

I was rather (pleasantly) surprised by some of my readers expressing an interest in hearing me read one of my poems, After Winter's Thousand Days. I hadn't ever considered doing it, but I enjoy reading poetry aloud, so I'm excited to try something new.

After consulting my technical guru (Jim), I realize I have a few small issues to iron out. Check back soon!

Monday, February 25, 2008

After winter’s thousand days

Constant cold but for a rare ray teasing
too few fine hours melted, then re-freezing
harsh months chill till finally thawing through
each windswept, washed-out, worn-down winter hue
of barest brown, bleak black, stark white, drab gray
the dreary steel-domed sky at last gives way
to gilded clouds and soft sunlit caress
lightly kissing with verdant tenderness
one by one each tentative blade of grass
my warm breath barely frosts the fragile glass
twixt me and vivid violets who sing
Salutations, sweet prodigal called Spring!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Trimming the fat

First, a birthday shout-out to my baby sister Meredith. She's a gifted writer, a lover of dogs, and an old soul who turns 19 today. I miss and love you, girl!

(Abrupt segue...)

Lately I've been trying to streamline: my household, my relationships, my schedule, my commitments, my character, my body, and yes, my writing. It's a challenge to trim away what is undesirable or unneccessary without cutting to the bone; finding the balance takes practice and finesse often beyond what I think I have. But I keep on trying, having occasional moments of brilliant success that sustain my momentum through the rest of the day.

This morning I was meditating on my efforts and the perfect analogy came to me, I think, because my brother-in-law is a meat cutter. I shop at the supermarket where he works and have come to respect him as being more than a tradesman; he's an expert artisan who knows his craft completely and always gives me the best advice about what cut of meat to use, recipes, and even what will be on sale in the near future. Maybe someday I will have that same thorough expertise and artistic skill in shaping my own life.

Trimming (the) Fat

There is the finest of lines
between being a butcher
and a meat cutter

knowing exactly where
to insert razor-edged blade
gently but firmly sever
a joint’s connective tissues
without tearing tender flesh
carving choicest cuts
rather than hacking out
shapeless chunks of meat
slicing off cartilage, gristle, bone
and finally
trimming away just enough fat
to leave a little for flavor

there is the finest of lines
between being a butcher
and a poet.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

If at first

If at first I

keys, wallet, nerve
perspective, temper, mind

toilet paper, gasoline, food
money, talent, time

places, numbers, dates
appointments, people, promises

fail to
floss, recycle, exercise
savor, pray, create

lazy, snippy, clumsy
vain, vindictive, depressed

and worst of all, I
unleash my tongue to
a full measure of its mordant potential
against those I most love

a second chance
is simply insufficient to
refocus, repent, remember

how I am also
generous, funny, faithful
a seeker after truth

and so like the sun
I rise again each morning.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What is real?

It’s laundry day
I’ve spent all morning and half an afternoon
carrying baskets of dirty clothes
and baskets of clean clothes
up and down
down and up
three flights of stairs
camping in front of my television
folding while I watch
all those too-pretty people
in their perfectly packaged lives
so much drama, so much sizzle
while I create ordered stacks of
ordinary underwear, towels, socks and shirts
no lace, leopard print or designer labels to be seen
and on commercial breaks
I’m whisking baskets of neatly folded laundry
back upstairs
placing each item with care
in its appointed place
now a load of sheets still warm from my dryer
no need to fold
as I fling soft flannel
across width and length of my bed
stuff pillows in freshly clean cases
and tuck hospital corners
it hits me what is real
is how one edge of the top sheet
is still damp.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I’ll live this hour

Until ten I lived my now
sleeping under large stones among crabs and anemones
searching for unbroken sand dollars and sometimes
drifting between sky and silvery waters on the lake of rocks
just he and I, needing few words
then death brushed my cheek
as it took him
and I began to grow up

From ten to twenty I lived for later
staying up all night until tomorrow came
wondering who would love me so I could love myself
rushing fast forward into my future
I barely felt more
than a fleeting moment
of his memory
as I grew up too soon

From twenty to thirty I lived looking back
waking from nightmares of possession
exhuming and rearranging bones of past mistakes
stirring ashes of every old grievance
for a few shining minutes
he returned to sit beside me
held my hand
as I grew old before my time

After thirty I resolved to create a new now
conceiving life afresh from ashes and bones
savoring late afternoon scent of lilacs, honeysuckle, cut grass
hovering between past perfect and future participle
and he is watching me
fulfill our shared destiny
of joy in word and deed
living in this hour.

The prompt at Writers Island this week was "time travel". I've never had a desire to travel anywhere (anywhen?) in time, but I used to live less in the present than I do now, and reflecting on that became my initial impetus for a poem. As my ideas about being in the moment coalesced, my mind went to the title of one of my grandfather's novels, "I'll Live This Hour"—which made perfect sense, because I had already been writing the poem about us.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Ode to hips

A girl
straight and narrow
as a pliant green stem
their force carried me
up trees, down rocky beaches
through deep blackberry tunnels
past secret unseen places
to sunlit ends

Puberty’s first fragile bloom
shapely swelled them
embarrassed at the stranger
my body had become
I hid, shamed and shameful
in shapeless layers of denial
my light beneath a bushel

Then a woman
come into full flower
finally embracing my fecund curves
accepting all the fertile promise
their span encompassed
ripe in every glorious sense
radiant with ecstasy

At last, fruition:
one tender bud
and then another
nourished by their strength
power now girdled
in a soft glow of silvery stretch marks
earned and worn with pride.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Awe inspiring

I've participated in a triathlon, but I couldn't begin to imagine how arduous it would be to swim 2.4 miles in open ocean, bike 112 miles, then finish off by running a full marathon in the intensely humid heat of Hawaii. This morning I watched NBC's coverage of the 2007 Ironman World Championship and saw two amazing athletes do just that—one who competed without sight, and one without legs.

I cried when I saw each of them cross the finish line, wept at the triumph of sheer will. Thoreau said, "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined." What I saw today reminded me I can accomplish anything if I believe and then work for it.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Flashback friday: love stinks

Since Valentine's Day is all about celebrating love, the day after should, I think, be dedicated to mourning its loss—or at least to commemorating how heartbreak lends perspective and, let's face it, a bit of drama, to what might otherwise be a pefectly boring, passionless, respectable life.

So today I'm digging back in my poetry notebook to some of my old unrequited-love-and-break-up-catharsis poetry. But before I do, really quick, here's a clip from my favorite scene in that great 80s flashback flick, The Wedding Singer:

Okay, we now resume our regularly scheduled programming...

Did I Forget? (October 1986)

Did I forget to tell you
how beautiful you are?
I wasn't sure—
I was so busy yesterday.
But I saw you across the room
down the hallway
through the bus window
and you were beautiful each time.

Still Friends (May 1993)

It might be easier if I never saw you again
just so I wouldn't have to fight
wanting to hold your hand
putting my head on your shoulder
remembering how my heart beats faster
when you kiss me goodnight
how I could call you any time
and talk for hours about anything and everything
the funny things you say and the way you laugh
the things your smile still does to me
every time I see you.
I've read so many melodramatic rantings of lost love:
anger, jealousy, desperation, or love-turned-hate.
Somehow, I can't relate.
All of that is overcome by wanting to do what's right
to show my love for you
by letting you be with the person you love
...and what's left
is the ache, lingering dull and real
because we're still friends.

Untitled (August 1993)

To say I cry myself to sleep
is almost, not quite true
for even when I cease to weep
I think all night of you.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy valentine's day

This is a special valentine just for my family. I first wrote the poem in 1992, while I was a missionary in California. Even though I wasn't far geographically, I didn't see my family for 18 months, could only keep contact through letters and rare phone calls. Now all of us have spread out (Washington, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Germany), and even my mom, who is nearest, lives over a hundred miles away.

I've updated a few lines, but the sentiments were and are so perfect, the rest of the poem is essentially unchanged. I miss you and love you all!

Family Love

How I miss my heavenly home
and all that happened there
bonds of love so strong
tying me to my family like cords of precious gold
here, it's so easy to forget
sometimes those bonds
seem like chains
and golden light of love
fades as I forget
fades in ugly darkness
of anger and misunderstanding
impatience and selfishness
if only I could always remember
the value of love
how its strength spans
from before this life, then beyond
those golden bonds between me and
my husband and children
my fathers and mothers
my sisters and brothers
generations past, present, future
I would always polish that love
and keep it bright

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Lunatic fringe

As in, my hair is making me utterly insane. Last time I cleaned my bathroom, I swept up enough hair to make myself a wig. Not a Burt Reynolds rug, mind you; I'm talking one of those foofy Eva Gabor specials.

After two months, the mass exodus of hair to all points distant from my head is finally starting to taper off. Now the problem is this bizarre little fringe growing back in at my hairline which no amount of hairspray, gel or serum can beat into submission. A sufficient amount of product to tame it simply does not exist. I finally trimmed my bangs quite a bit shorter than I usually wear them to try and camouflage the renegade regrowth. It's working. Sort of.

And no, my cranium is not actually as disproportionately large as it appears in this picture.

NCS, I ♥ U

NCS, this is Your. Very. Own. Post.

Totally and completely dedicated to recognizing the thoughtful wonderfulness that is you.

You rock my rickrollin' world!

Monday, February 11, 2008

You like me, you really like me

Ah, yes... it's awards season. Again. Still? Time for red-carpet fashion faux pas, effusive acceptance speeches, and a lot of mutual admiration hoo-hah.

This year I'm not as irritated with it all as I usually am, because: a) it's sadistic fun to see the Academy sweating though the WGA strike and trying to plan a big night that may not actually happen; and 2) I've actually won some awards, too! First it was Aubrey giving me an "excellent" rating, and now NCS has bestowed upon me:

Thanks, chica! It's almost like I've won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award! [Insert long-winded, self-serving speech here.]

The best thing about this type of award (unlike an Oscar) is I get to share it with others. I'm passing it on to Aubrey and Margaret, who both go out of their way to post beautiful photos and positive, inspiring thoughts on their blogs, as well as in the comments they leave for others.

Sunday, February 10, 2008


Curled at my breast
her tiny fingers tangle in my hair
and I
feel each gulp of warm milk flowing into her belly
count each barely perceptible pulse of fontanel
measure each perfectly wrought limb
wonder how I could begrudge her
sucking all my strength from me
she does, but oh
with each swallow
we are both more alive.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Ten by ten

The task at hand: ten stanzas about me
ten couplets full of useless facts, you’ll see

I write calligraphy, draw, paint, can fruit
do triathlons and sew myself a suit

each number and each letter I’ve assigned
gender; as a synesthete, it’s only in my mind

I’m loyal but I tend to talk too much
forget birthdays, thank you cards and all such

I’m kind but have an unforgiving heart
procrastinate a task when loathe to start

my urge to fold and stack towels just so
is bordering compulsion, yes, I know

no less obsessive is my closet’s view
of all-white hangers, sorted clothes by hue

somehow housework dodged my neurotic streak
I only scrub my toilets each fourth week

my predilections run to hounds-tooth plaid
cheesecake, new shoes, massages, being glad

I would take the burnt bacon slice, before
to be nice; I don’t do that any more.

Deb at Stoney Moss tagged me with a meme to write ten stanzas about myself. After several attempts, I finally settled on this rather silly version in iambic pentameter. I'm tagging people who don't usually put poetry on their blogs because I'd love to see what they write: Dory, Ruth, Meredith, Margaret, Lo, Hilary, Aubrey, NCS, Kim and Dean (yo! Dean, you're the only person I know without a single post on your blog; what's up with that?!)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Flashback friday: for kim

This little trip down memory parkway is brought to you by a good friend of mine. Kim and I go way back (was it fifth or sixth grade?) and she's always been (still is) one of the wittiest people I know. The other day she surprised me with a comment about a poem I had written when we were in high school. I was stunned she actually remembered the title.

Like many people I know, I hated my life in high school and tried hard to forget it after graduation. I have a few dim but bitter recollections: the time I got stood up for homecoming when I was a sophomore; my parents getting divorced my junior year; not going to my senior prom; and finally, the small matter of not actually having graduated because I failed my senior health class (I didn't find out about the not graduating part until eight years later when I ordered a transcript I needed to get into the UW). Good times.

Fortunately, I channelled much of my teen angst into prolific poetry writing, spent six years and big bucks on professional help, and got my health class waived so I could finally graduate (technically it was 1996 instead of 1988!), and I stand before you today a reasonably happy and well-adjusted grownup who got her associate degree before her diploma.

It was actually kind of fun digging through my old notebooks and reading my early poetry. Kim, this one's for you...

I Hope You Didn't Miss the Sunrise

When I woke up this morning
it was waiting for me
vast and patient in the sky.
All I could feel was joy
all I could feel was love
all I could feel was wonder
at its beauty.
It called to the world,
"Be at peace;
each new day brings hope
and the chance for improvement."
I wanted more than anything
to share how I felt at that moment.
I hope you didn't miss the sunrise.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Over easy

One morning
in the seventeenth year
he said
“You know, dear
I really don’t like
my eggs scrambled”
and she replied
“Then cook them yourself.”

He was already in the kitchen
when she came downstairs
the next morning
table set, skillet and spatula in hand
meekly greeted her
with a soft kiss and
“Honey, how do
you want your eggs?”

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K

Okay, I admit it: I like Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. What can I say? It's got So-crates, Keanu Reeves before his Shakespearean aspirations, and a totally bodacious soundtrack. My favorite song was "Two Heads Are Better Than One" by Power Tool (yes, please ignore the less than subtle sexual innuendo), which played as Bill and Ted were getting acquainted with Joan of Ark (Noah's wife).

Moving along... I've been away from my computer most of the day, but when I checked in this evening, I got a pleasant surprise; my dear friend Aubrey bestowed this upon me:

I, in turn, would like to share the love by rating the following blogging poets as most excellent and inspiring:

I've been reading each of them for a while now and am continually amazed by this diverse group of women writers, their command of language, and gift for crafting beautiful poetry. They are quite deserving, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Monday, February 04, 2008

All of the taste, none of the guilt

Did I mention I gave up sugar again at the beginning of 2008? After Audrey was born, I felt (mistakenly) like I had a get-out-of-jail-free card, and I got a little nuts with the sugar again. I did my obligatory overindulgence around the holidays, and then it hit me: I was ready to climb back on the sugar-free wagon.

I realized even though I'm no longer pregnant and battling g.d., I felt so much better when I wasn't eating sugar, with the added bonuses of losing weight and not having my skin break out. Surprisingly, this time around hasn't been too hard; I've dumped my old friends Ben and Jerry and started hanging around with the Blue Bunny and Skinny Cow again.

On Saturday I was at Super 1 Foods doing my grocery shopping and I noticed Blue Bunny has a new flavor out: No Sugar Added Reduced Fat Cherry Vanilla. I know that sounds like a mouthful, but trust me: it's a delicious mouthful. Just add a bit of Smucker's sugar-free hot fudge on top, and it tastes like those cherry cordials Jim always gets in his stocking for Christmas. Only better.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Early rising

Stolen minutes 'twixt
dawn and day when only I
am awake: magic.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Ten signs a book is written by me

Juliet at Crafty Green Poet challenged her visitors to take a go at this meme, and I confess it daunted me... which is why I decided to face my fear and do it.

Sometimes I think I was born with a genetically imprinted need to write. My maternal grandfather penned several never-published novels and I feel like I inherited his unfulfilled dream; from an early age I've fantasized about an illustrious career as an author (and as the world's first archaeologist ballerina; it could happen).

Sadly, most of my ideas for books have been rather hackneyed and lame; the only viable one has been for a historical tome about my great-great grandfather, an architect from Maine who left his family and went to the Klondike for the gold rush (which would be a strictly academic analysis and annotation of his Klondike diary).

I'd love to have my poetry published, but have only done so twice (and it was ages ago), so the thought of an entire book... boggles my mind. But I'm willing to try a bit of positive visualization in the form of a meme.

Ten signs a book is written by Chicklegirl:

1) It's dedicated to my grandpa, Clark Cottrell, Jr.
2) It is most likely poetry or nonfiction
3) It will make readers laugh (hopefully on purpose)
4) It probably contains too many four-syllable words
5) It has lots of pictures
6) It will make readers cry (also on purpose)
7) People who purchase it will feel they got their money's worth
8) People who borrow it from the library will decide to buy their own copy
9) It is short enough to leave readers wanting more
10) It won't inspire a string of slickly-produced Hollywood blockbusters starring Angelina Jolie as a buxom archaeologist/poet/ballerina who finds the Holy Grail and vanquishes the undead with a lethal combination of free verse and grand battement