When you whisper to me in bed at 3 am with the lights off and the window blocked

the telling is as much the story as the told
because you run your fingers along the inner curve of my elbow
and press your forehead against mine
as you work your words into the air
that is heavy with our breaths
and the muted buzz
of your roommates’ television two rooms over.


Prompt: Open any book you have and turn to page 7. Write down the 7th sentence on this page as the first line of your poem. Write a 7 line poem using this opening line.

Book used: Points of View: An Anthology of Short Stories.


Stream of Consciousness: The Book Left on the Shelf

I wish she would finish me. I miss her gentle grip on my pages as she turns them. She was always so careful not to tear me. There were some days when she read me for hours, hardly stopping. She would turn page after page after page. I could feel her eyes burning into me, memorizing me, falling in love with me. She started reading me less and less though. It became thirty minutes here or thirty minutes there. She’d skim a page or two and set me face down on the windowsill, leaving me nearly suffocating for days until she remembered to pick me back up and read another few paragraphs. She started putting me in her bag instead of carrying me in her hand. She shoved me in , jostling me, bending the corners of my covers. I thought that her putting me in her bag and taking me places might mean that she wanted to show me the world that she wanted to read me in faraway locations so that we could experience adventures together. Really it just meant that she was bringing me to work in case she had a few spare moments of down time. She never did. I sat there in her bag for weeks on end until her water bottle leaked and drenched everything, including me. I was soaking. The water consumed me, crawling up each of my pages. It was cold. I felt mushy, as I waited for her to save me. She took me out of her bag and laid me on a shelf in her room. She didn’t dry me. She didn’t really save me. She left me there. I wish she would finish me. I wish she would touch me, open me, read me. I miss her.

Prompt: Write a stream of consciousness piece that gives a voice to an object that does not typically have a voice.

(I’m back to teaching creative writing, so enjoy the occasional prompt that I do with my students.)

The Midsummer Body Consumption Ritual of Sugar Ants

Ants crawl along your arms,
whispering as they pass through the valley of your elbows,
dancing along the soft shallow dips of skin along your collarbones,
humming graceful hymns as they approach your throat,
throwing their voices higher and higher,
as they climb over
the curvature of your chin
and prance across your swollen
purple lips.

They enter you,
coating your mouth
with their squirming bodies,
jostling one another
as they descend your throat,
filling your body
with their own.

Tell Me Where You’re From

I remember San Francisco sadly as the place I go
to be in San Francisco. The supposed left ventricle of America’s heart,
breathing and pulsing out art, money, and Silicon Valley,
removing minds
from older molds we knew.
I lived in California
for 9 years. The state bird
I saw on a homeless man’s jacket. The state flower
was supposedly innovative, growing in
the fecal matter and trash
left behind in the criss cross of streets.
A Californian can describe her state
with adjectives that are synonyms of positive words that
she’s never had the cause to actually use in conversation ,
but in truth
the city and the state
are little more than their name.
When I go back to San Fransisco I drive from Sacramento.
there along the road are fields, aching and empty, so life
goes field, field, field, homeless camp field,
I wave at the stark land and
ignore the whimpers it makes
as I pass.
Then San Fransisco goes skyscraper, skyscraper,  skyscraper,
goodbye homeless camp, goodbye drought,
but you never forget,
how to lie when
you’re from California.

After Bob Hicok’s ‘A Primer’ 

I am taing a high school creative writing course for gifted ninth and tenth graders this summer. As a part of the course, we are having the students do a lot of exercises. In order to both encourage them and to encourage myself to keep writing, I am doing these exercises as well. We’re getting a lot of them from The Practice of Creative Writing: A Guide For Students by Heather Sellers. Check it out here if you’re interested!