Marks The Spot


Amanda Clouds, one bee poem for you today, one for tomorrow.


Marks The Spot


In the field behind the church

and just west of the lynching

tree, you led me to a vacant

beebox, where over many days

and months you had hoarded stolen

loves of mine.  They refused to fly

when you opened the lid:  a toothache

kit from the old war; a Spanish

comb, a Hong Kong dime; a bottle

of liquid mercury.  No less strange

or private than when tucked into my hope

chest, they’d been rendered stingless,

and my hands hovered but did not care

to descend or touch.  I froze there

in your line of sight, my cousin,

a mad boy seduced by my fidelity

to distances, the flight only certain

girls realize.  How slow

the spinning world, after fifteen

long, blossoming summers!

How narrow and immediate.

I thought:  I will paint honey

into all my locks, and stop him.

The day swayed like a drunken fool, I missed

the bees, I miss them still, I mourn

and resent them as if they were the thieves

who put this lovely, piercing hex on me.

Published in: on October 29, 2008 at 12:31 pm  Comments (96)  


  1. love, love, love, love, love!!!!

    more when i am feeling smarter!

  2. Nope…….my folks still live in Mooreland. No, I am a dude with long blond hair and a beard who looks like he should be an honorary member of The Allman Brothers Band…….

  3. “seduced by my fidelity / to distances, the flight only certain / girls realize.”

    i am puzzling over this bit… is it the pressure or desire to move away/move out/move beyond?

    also, the image at the top. is that a painting? love it too.

  4. it’s exquisite and powerful and intentional and wild and black and sweet all at once. that’s your voice.

    “I thought:
    I will paint honey
    into all my locks, and stop him.”

    magic. i love hearing in your poetry your inner voice –when it goes all primal and shocking and italic, we as the reader get invited into that moment, into your voice itself! and it tethers the poem right in the center of who you are

    in all poets i truly admire, there is a gutsy, ambitious, raw, erudite, oddly delicate patterns to their work…and fierce desire for the poem to convey all sides of the thing, to set the whole stage down, to say, ads the great Robert Lowell famously did “Why not tell the thing that happened?.”

    you do that with genius and a sductive power that ive only felt from about 50 poets, whole life, and you’re swiftly gaining on some of the greats. it’s a beautiful gift and a wondrous fireworks and magic show ew get to see and bear witnessto, here.

    i’ll even go so far as to say that through this blog and its fanning outward god knows where, a lot of people who have had poetry sort of crushed out of them by daily life, early criticism involving knives, lack of confidence or sobriety or depression , or gave up because they weren’t perfect at age 24 as poets, and also a lot of people who just NEED TO BE WRITING THEM SOME POETRY, RIGHT NOW, OR GO CRAZY OR DIE? i love that Haven,via her blog and outside its realm – has inspired us all to reconsider poetry as an ancient, true art form,one that is neither shaneful, absurd, irrelevent, hippie-like, subvervise, lazy, hysteria, or anything but what she calls it: Salvation.

    How slow

    the spinning world, after fifteen

    long, blossoming summers!

    How narrow and immediate

    this bit has lovely wings, and the precision of the hard truth right after. it’s very Nature vs man, the way time marches on and is ruthless and retains a dense, remember shape, a tunnel you can not re-enter but that is with you to the end; the tunnel simply lengthens and grows more interesting.

  5. What she said.

    I especially agree with Suzanne that it is salvation. More than anything.

  6. Suzanne:

    You said precisely what I was thinking: Shocking.

    Once more, here there is an honesty that exposes itself so pure and unfiltered, no revision….um, I stammer.

  7. jim. caryl. jodi. brandon. amanda, almostclouds, particlesofspirit, miss cake, jerry. george. george’s SON. carrie. sher. dorian. tim. the beloved wife battling cancer, johnM, john, scott!, ghettogirl. melinda Lindy, the big sister hitman saint, melinda! delonda “dee”, Kat the Statuesque, the nine year old sassy boy who pirates his way onto the blog, his parents, the man at the Regulator who lurks, everyone who lurks,

    this litany of names and people whose hearts i get to have a little piece of, and they in turn carry a piece of mine, for me. it’s communion, a privilege….this list of names is like a poem, to me now. i know Haven feels the same. i know i forgot someone. so, especially to you, the one whose name escapes me, playfully xo sf

    October 29, 2008 9:46 AM

    finnablog said…
    the big sister hitman saint, melinda! delonda “dee”, Kat, the nine year old sassy boy who pirates his way onto the blog, his parents, the man at the Regulator who lurks, everyone who lurks

    and my astonished gratitude for all you people? it all begins with my brother, ken, who set all this up for me, my soul brother ken woodard. he’s a GENIUS,award winning and very COOL,GAY designer/artist/director/man – he made my website too. he’s a genius in SF, he freelances everywhere around the country – or via email/phone.and right now ken really needs the work. so i’m praying that ken receive some freelance designing/website designing/logo designing/director/graphic artist/bookjacker designing/cd designing work.

    and especially the list of gratitude for you people begins with my brother, ken, who set all this up for me, my soul brother ken woodard. he’s a wonder designer/artist/director/man, made my website too.

  8. Seductive.

    “How slow
    the spinning world, after fifteen
    long blossoming summers!”

    Oh my goodness. I remember this at fifteen. I have a story about that. I also wrote a poem about it for the same class as my grandparents poem. Seriously.

    Haven and Suzanne- you are both miracles to me. For those of you who have not visited Suzanne’s blog, do so right now. She has some poems posted that will blow your mind. Between these two beautiful and strong women, I just don’t know what to say.

    here is the link to read Suzanne’s poems:

  9. YES! I, too, love that line:
    ‘I will paint honey
    into all my locks, and stop him.’
    This poem gives me immediate sensory images (I love that!!)..the heat of summer the sounds of the bees; especially the smell of the honey. And a sense of danger, not only from the boy, but remember that small vial of mercury….
    Thank you, Haven.

  10. i feel sad to begin: “In the field behind the church/

    and just west of the lynching/

    tree, you led me to a vacant/

    beebox, where over many days/

    and months you had hoarded stolen/

    loves of mine. They refused to fly/

    when you opened the lid

    these bees as love and the love the author feels for them and love in general….but they can’t fly–can’t emerge, even when the lid is open.

    i get a little angry here, as the “hope” chest is full of anything but hope. it is filled with despair.

    No less strange/

    or private than when tucked into my hope/

    chest, they’d been rendered stingless/

    the bees can’t even sting, their only defense. They are powerless, vulnerable.

    the poem then goes into an interaction between author and her male cousin:

    I froze there/

    in your line of sight, my cousin,/

    a mad boy seduced by my fidelity/

    to distances, the flight only certain/

    girls realize.

    she thinks she can realize it–love? anger? hurt? lonliness? desperation? powerlessness? so many questions.

    the ending leaves me bittersweet, as though i have been on a journey and have emerged from it with more knowledge.

    The day swayed like a drunken fool, I missed/

    the bees, I miss them still, I mourn/

    and resent them as if they were the thieves/

    who put this lovely, piercing hex on me.

    the juxtaposition of lovely and piercing is so effective. fist i am thinking lovely–as in everything good and sweet, and immediately, i am thrust into piercing–painful, sharp, full of hurt. and a hex? hmmmmmmmmmmm…

    i think this poem is beautiful and powerful. i read it a whole buncha times before i had something to say. i love when a poem or a song or a book or a piece of art or anything really, just gets you. Right in the gut, hard and heavy. i LOVE that.

  11. maybe it is about growing up in general?

  12. Gorgeous.

  13. Ahhh, I just love the poetry here. Does anyone else feel like they are part of this really cool underground club that had like secret handshakes and matching leather jackets?
    Suzanne, my darling, you forgot me…small tear drops from my eye:~)

  14. I wish I could keep up with all of this better, but when I do get caught up, I absolutely love it. I especially love this and the last poem, Haven. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  15. Amy, don’t despair. Suzanne did not mention me either but I took that as a compliment because she also said, “i know i forgot someone. so, especially to you, the one whose name escapes me” See, she said ESPECIALLY to you. So, we are special. Don’t we know it?! xoxo

  16. “I will paint honey into all my locks, and stop him.”

    I like this line, its fierce and determined. I am not a poetry expert, so if I’m way off please don’t hate on me cool blogger people. And amy from Ohio, yes, I do feel like we are all part of the underground, but I feel more like the fat girl in the corner wanting to be dancing in front of the stage!!!

  17. Just dance honey! I was standing the corner next to you and I forgot to grab your hand and pull you along when I ran out front.

  18. Thanks Linda, we are special huh?!

  19. YES, girlfromtheghetto, and Linda and Amy…I am the nerdy too skinny girl with the pointy glasses next to you…but even from the sidelines, we love it here! I feel like it’s a bunch of people who ‘get’ me. There’s only about 2 of them where I live. WAHOO!

  20. Yeah,

    Well, I’m the whack-job wearing glasses who hides a copy of Robert Bly poems underneath a Japanese comic book.

  21. …and I am still dizzy from this latest poem. It invites me to an area where I feel very undone by its plain, open honesty. I am dumbfounded — just like I feel when I encounter such other unvarnished scenes in books or while living.

  22. I am undone.

  23. Today I met with my new editor at Algonquin, and my god, if I had drawn a blueprint of the perfect editor for me it would have been him. And then I had my mentalist so I was gone a long time, and I drove for the first time (farther than a block to the Regulator) in more than a month, so I had alone time and I was thinking, “How could I count them all? How could I say, ‘Everyone, line up and count off, so I know how many of you there are?” It would be impossible. And yet what you all give to me is so great — it is so huge and salvific and the best humanity has inside — that the effect is greater than the sum of the parts. You are more than five or ten or fifty; you are God-sent, love and generosity and brilliance personified, and I think my tombstone should read, DAMN! SHE WAS ONE LUCKY-ASS WOMAN!

  24. The painting is by Cathy DeLeree — there’s a link to her page over there on the right, and PLEASE go look at her beautiful work. I have an entire wall of her paintings, and every day I wear a piece of jewelry she sent me. Last night when she found out I’d been ill she told me she was sending me a healing bracelet. Her paintings are AMAZING; she takes pages out of old, old encyclopedias and paints over them, but in a way that some of the words still show, particularly the word at the top of the page. The effect is breathtaking. There is holiness in everything she makes, and she charges so little it’s as if she’s offering the world a mitzvah. Last night I ordered a painting of a two rabbits over an OLD BINGO CARD! Have you ever?!? If you’re reading this, Cathy, you are just wonderful, and I’m so sorry about your dear dear dog, but we will see him again in Heaven, I promise.

  25. Also, Suzanne sent me some poems last night that were so good I read them aloud to John this morning and he stood perfectly still, not moving or blinking, and then said, as he does when really impressed, “Wow.” Then a couple seconds later, “How fascinating.” That’s tremendous praise from him. For instance, when he finished the final draft of IODINE he didn’t move for a long time, then he turned to me and said, “You are really something.”

  26. Oh, the Suzanne poems I adored most were Autumnal Equinox and Sending My Regrets. (I think those are the right titles.)

  27. Hey ya’ all – I’m nearly cross eyed from looking at spreadsheets all morning, and exhausted from talking to high school students all afternoon (not complaining here – I love it!) so this won’t be a long post, but I wanted to echo the sentiment of appreciating all of you here. I do feel like I’ve found a special secret club where everyone gets me, and Scott will attest to how very rare that is! Haven, I want to thank you for sharing your poetry, your vulnerability, insights, and your humanity. I have learned so much from reading everyone’s comments – I can’t imagine not checking in with all of you every day. Peace! Steph

  28. Haven: you opened a book, mistakenly called a blog, and a bunch of characters walked in, saying hi to an author they had already met somewhere in their souls, saying, “Write me in, write me in.”

  29. Haven: after I moved to KC three years ago, I kept looking for the “mes” in this area. You know, the ones who read too much, think too much, would rather discuss what life means than what some pop star wore (or didn’t) out to bars.

    Sadly, I haven’t found many yet. So finding your blog and the brilliance bandied about on it has changed my days, given me an outlet for all the longing I’ve felt for this…this communion of souls.

  30. God I could cry right now, I have sent two lovely and quite eloquent posts over and they won’t go through. So in the event they ever do make it, and so as to not be redundant, I will just touch on my main points. This is my first foray into poetry, and my gratitude to Haven and Suzanne is immense. My daughter and I are having the most amazing conversations of late and it is a direct result of what I am reading on here. I love that I have these two beautiful and brilliant woman to introduce her to. I am weepy because this is changing me in so many ways and I am just so grateful to be here, and to be a part of this with all of these awesome people.
    Charlie is still sick and he doesnt sleep because his breathing treatments make him hyper. I am so tired that weepy comes easy right now. But coming on here feeds my soul and keeps me going.

  31. George,
    Wow I could not have said that better. AMAZING !

  32. Go on Cathy Deleree’s site, her art is awesome and I just did my Christmas shopping.

  33. HAVEN

    The author has blank paper
    The artist has a blank canvass
    The musician has silence

    I am very much anticipating this horror story !
    I am also happy for you today, It sounds like you had a good one !

  34. George, as they say in the mountains of North Carolina, “What an air you are.”

  35. Good night sweet people. I am off to bed to read Used World.

  36. Caryl. Your posts are ALWAYS eloquent and lovely. It’s just who you are.

  37. Carrie, right back at you.

  38. I’m so happy for you, Haven — that you found the perfect editor is big cause for celebration. That you are driving again, even moreso. And as much as this community is giving to you, we are all beneficiaries of its ambient light. Suzanne’s roll call up top had me just so very teary, saying yes, yes, I adore her, and him, and him, and her, and her light like sun, and his brilliance and insight, and her tenderness, and how did I ever get through a day with any degree of presence before: and I’ve never even met any of you!

  39. Carrie, exactly how I felt when reading that. I wonder what the energy would be like were we all in the same room, can you imagine?

  40. Caryl, the three I referred to were, respectively, Suzanne, George, you.

  41. I cannot! I hope it will not forever be up to my imagination!!

  42. Are you feeling a bit better? And Charlie? I was so touched by your descriptions of how this has opened up something between you and your daughter (is it Stephany we speak of?) — it has done the same, this week, for my only sister and I. Long story which I will save for testifying at the convention.

  43. Now I am teary again. Charlie is crazy, part medication and part just Charlie. We aren’t sleeping much, but thats okay because I am retired now. Yes, Stephany is my 16 year old, and she is such a deep old soul. Some days I have a hard time connecting with her, so I have been taking what I read here and sharing it with her. To amazing success.
    You and your sister are close, right?

  44. On Cathy DeLeRee’s website is a link on the right side to the Newmann Gallery in Prescott, Arizona…which is where I am! Is that synchronicity or just the 6 degrees of separation thing??? I am gonna run myself down there and see just what the connection is to her and by the way, I love her stuff, too…especially the apocalypse stuff and crows and dogs…all good stuff in my psyche. Very southwestern, too.
    Off to bed, Goodnight all.

  45. No, Caryl — quite the opposite. All the more extraordinary. Just as connecting with a 16-year-old daughter sounds.

  46. This poem quite literally stabs me in the HEART.

  47. Haven’s poetry provides such balance. It is like the perfectly prepared chocolate – smooth as silk with little zings of citrus or chili pepper. It is the yin/yang of lavendar spice or whatever perfectly paired paradox you can think of – one with out the other would be less – but each pearl of a word strong together and knotted – it just sparkles. The dark & the light . . . I’m waxing poetic about Haven’s poetry . . .

    And everybody else’s sharing, whether it is in word or story or emotion – we make a purty snazzy rainbow and the pot of gold is near.

  48. Caryl, your comments tonight have touched me, truly. Thank you for sharing with us. Speaking as a 25-year-old, please tell your daughter to ENJOY EVERY DAY. Also speaking as a 25-year-old I know that she might not hear that from anyone, but I try to get the message out as often as I can.

    I hope you all have a lovely evening. You are the best people in all the world.

  49. When, when, when does the new HORROR novel come out???? My other Kimmel’s are getting very highlighted and flag-eared . . . I need something fresh to digest.

    Well, that sounds like the true voracious reader I am – always wanting more of a good thing.

    Haven, you mention that you quit writing poetry. But, if I understand you, this happened when you moved to NC and then worked on the essays which BECAME the Zippy memoir, then came SOLACE, then later She Got Up Off the Couch and the other of the Hopwood Trilogies? So, are you saying the poetry bug was dormant at that time and you are now writing them again, or you are sharing some of your former work?

    This creativity thing is just so fascinating to me – focusing on one outlet in one style is the advice I am given, but it just never seems right for me. I have to have several series going, working on simultaneous pieces WHILE I am formulating (in my head) the future, AND altering/editing past work. I’m hoping that makes sense to somebody . . .

    So, beating around that bush, to say:

    Thank you for sharing both facets of yourself with us. Actually you have shared all facets of yourself with us and I think each view or expression contrasts and complements the others

    showing us




    when I write like

    it FEELS

  50. maybe I need a new editor.
    who wants to

  51. Sher, I’d say you’re doing just fine editing your own work. 🙂

  52. All, I posted a photograph of Sher’s prayer flag photograph . . . by which I mean a photograph of a photograph, on the yahoo site, or you can just see it here:

    I was having a terrible time with the flash, so sorry, but you can see how gorgeous the flags themselves were.


  53. To all of you who ordered from Cathy, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Her husband is just home from Iraq, she has been in poor health, and they just had to put down their beloved dog. Rocky was a pit bull they rescued from a life of cruelty and abuse, and they showered him with love and kindness every day, and as she put it, he never stopped thanking them. In the time I’ve known her, no matter what was going on in her life, she has never been anything but grateful for every day and has never stopped making her beautiful art. She is a woman of great depth, I believe, and also of vision. It gives me enormous pleasure to introduce her to all of you.

  54. I must say, this has been one of my favorite posts, out of all our conversations. There is something in the energy — Suzanne’s exquisite roll-call — George’s (so delicately) artful insight, the way you as a group have read this poem with care and masterful skill. I love that those of you who don’t feel confident with poetry are brave enough to join us anyway, and then you turn out to be dead-on right in your comments. What that means to me is that you are brave and intellectually curious — two of my favorite traits. Every single statement about this poem has been right; no one has misread it even slightly. I am most surprised by your response to I will paint honey into all my locks, and stop him, because when I was first drafting the poem that was the moment I felt the lightning bolt of THAT’S IT, that’s the voice of the speaker. It’s also the heart of the matter. I love how Steph said, “Maybe it’s about growing up in general?” Occam’s Razor right there — she cut to the bone.

    Amanda (I think it was you), you’re right to question the ‘fidelity to distances’ line, which I have rewritten upwards of 47,000 times. I know what I mean, I know it at depth, but I haven’t yet said it. When I finally do it will be something very simple and I’ll be walking around in a pair of boxer shorts and one of the hats Dianne crocheted in the third grade, and I will marvel again that I ever learned to tie my shoes.

  55. In answer to Sher’s question, here is how things went. As those who go all the way back with me — Mom, Melinda, Jim Shue — poetry has been my LIFE since I was nine years old. I could, very happily, think about it and read it and write it all day every day and never tire of it. I find it to be the highest, most sublime art form (Nietzsche disagrees with me — OH, THAT HURTS MY FEELINGS). And while I am one who has always felt that there is actually nothing that separates us from animals, the only area I’m tempted to say is the sole province of humanity is thinking in analogies. To connect two disparate objects or ideas, to do so with intensity and music and craft, to convey what is essentially unspeakable: I can’t say whether animals do this. I CAN say that I’ve always thought it was what made me human.

    By the time I moved to North Carolina I’d written, without exaggeration, at least a thousand poems. I applied myself to the task nearly single-mindedly. I was distracted by only two things (besides academia): my daughter, and a horrific marriage about which I never speak. And I can’t remember who said it about Plath and Hughes, but yes, he was another poet. Kat and I fled here and started over and we just made this implicit . . . I don’t know, we reinvented our lives and we didn’t speak of him or the epic disaster, and nothing has ever shocked me so thoroughly as to discover that one can simply walk away from horror and misery and rebuild a life of happiness and joy and safety, but that’s what we did. Except I lost the ability to write poems, because I lost my vast horizons, my farm, great-horned owls, the haunted house we lived in, my best Beth, my mother and sister and everything I’d ever known, and most of all, my curiously intimate understanding of Indiana. No, wait — I didn’t lose that, I just couldn’t see the materials every day, as I had before. I’d spent my whole life with a mind like a camera, in which an infinite number of images were filed: mulberry tree, pony grazing in ground fog, the woman who lives in a school bus, limping stray dog.

    Without sounding like a massive drama queen, there was a brief time, after I realized I could no longer write, that I decided I didn’t want to live anymore. I wasn’t literally suicidal, but my soul might as well have flown. Then I started writing the little Zippy essays for Mom and Melinda, and you know the rest of that story. And it turned out that I loved writing prose — I’m a much better novelist than poet (who knew?) — so I came to peace with the loss. Then, very recently, I decided to write a memoir in poems about that bad marriage. It’s called SEVEN YEARS and it’s in three parts: A Scholar of the Other; Three Honeymoons; and Elegy. Each poem is overseen by or braided by an American author, because my ex-husband was a senior professor of American Literature, and we had one true and good thing between us, which was an all-day, every day joyous conversation about literature. We had an unusual intellectual compatibility, and absolutely nothing else but a bleakness so thorough and rage and misery so unrelenting I don’t believe The Plague would have had us.

    Now the odd thing is that once I started those poems, I wrote 66 pages in one week. Delonda called every evening to ask me to read what I’d written that day, and she honestly believes that this is the book that will be my masterpiece. It’s very very odd, because it’s narrative — it’s a memoir, a true story — and so there will be one poem in a big chunk of story, and the next poem will be a villanelle or a sonnet, but every poem moves the story forward, as if it were a novel.

    The problem, of course, is that no one reads poetry and most people hate it openly. People who would FAINT with happiness if I asked them to read a working draft of a novel or collection of essays make little hairball noises when poetry is even mentioned. Publishers are wary, agents treat poetry as if it were an envelope full of leper skin. I have John, I have Scott, and I have my mother. Even Suzanne has only seen one (I think) of these new poems, because it’s possible they indicate incipient schizophrenia or rabies and I don’t want to scare her away. I’ve stopped working on that book, because — well, wait. Let me say this. I had written about three poems and suddenly became violently ill; I had a fever, I couldn’t get out of bed, and one day Kat appeared in my bedroom and sat down on the edge of the bed. She said, “I heard you’re writing about [Dr. Blank].” I nodded. She said, “I have two words for you,” then held up two fingers. “Ick. Poison.” And I knew immediately she was right — I was so frightened of him I had somatized that fear into an actual fever so I could stop. I never, ever wanted to revisit those years, not ever. But instead of giving up, I stood up. I went at it harder than ever, and the poems got better and better, because goddammit, he may have dominated those seven years but he has no power over me anymore — he is a shadow, and I fucking OWN that story.

    I stopped working on SEVEN YEARS because I have to finish the Quaker book; I have to edit the horror novel; I have a children’s novel to write. I’ve decided to write the poems in SEVEN YEARS one at a time, instead of in the flame that produced the first 66 pages. (Also, I’m no dummy. That’s how Plath wrote ARIEL, and it didn’t turn out so well for her, as a live person, I mean.)

    What I’m trying to say, without even the vaguest success, is that my debt of gratitude to all of you is so great I will never be able to repay it. You actually read POEMS, and you read them WELL, and you care — and so I find myself, nearly fifteen years later, enjoying the most sacred of conversations, and the holy light that had been extinguished in me is flickering . . . something is returning to me I thought was gone forever. Sock Monkey e-mailed me tonight and asked how this blog happened, and I wrote back, I DO NOT KNOW, but George described it best, I think. Or else it’s like that scene at the end of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS where everyone gathers around the pointy-headed aliens. That movie takes place in Muncie, Indiana, by the way — it says so right at the beginning — and there isn’t a single air particle of Muncie in it. I believe the producers might have thrown a dart at a map, and then said, “Seriously?!? Well, whatever.” We were drawn together by something, and if there were more I could do or say to thank you I would. Because just tonight I sent my favorite Philip Levine poem to Suze and one of my favorite James Wright poems to George, and afterward I thought, “Remember this. Right now, you are sublimely happy. You could not ask for greater happiness.”

    Thank you. The words are inadequate, but . . . thank you.

  56. Caryl, you are very much on my mind. Granted, it’s a SERIOUSLY odd place, but you’re in there, and I’m sending you whatever that stuff is, energy or prayer or hope, or maybe just the reminder that only one thing is for certain: tomorrow will be nothing like today. There’s AT LEAST a 50/50 chance it will be much better. (And I say I’m not good with math!)

    p.s. Actually, my 9th grade algebra teacher said it repeatedly. At the end of the first semester I went to him and said, “Look: you can pass me, or you’ll have me back here over and over, singing Christmas carols just barely loudly enough for you to hear them, as I have been doing for the past nine weeks. Your choice.” He passed me.

  57. Haven, I will read Seven Years. I will buy several hundred copies of it too. I know I will need that book.

    You and this group have been a life line to me. That is not an exaggeration. I was dying inside before you all became a part of my daily day.

    “daily day” is one of my son’s sayings. If you ask him how he is doing he will say, “Oh, I am just doing my daily day.” I love that boy.

  58. Haven: If it weren’t for you, the only poetry I might have ever read would begin with “There once was a man from Nantucket…”

    I had serious problems reading, enjoying or (gasp) writing poetry.

    “I don’t GET it!”

    “Jim, you don’t have to pause at the end of each line. Just let the punctuation work for you.”

    “Then why WRITE it that way?!?”

    “You’ll get it.”

    And I did.

    I’m sorry that your poetic voice was ever silenced. It’s a powerful one. Truly.

    Just because they share the same timeline, you can’t associate that wonderful voice with such a dark time (unless using it for creative fodder.)

  59. Haven,

    Like Linda, I need that book. And will read it and tell everyone I know to read it and buy them all copies and make them read it.

    It feels… wrong… to say that it makes my proud that you are writing this work. Pride in my life has usually implied ownership and I have none of that, but I feel SOMETHING good and whole and triumphant about this fact.

    I have so much more to say about this but the words are hard to come by. Perhaps I will find them later.

  60. I am quite possibly the most confident person I know, and without just cause. But this book makes me quake in my cowboy booties. It isn’t just that it’s epic, and poetry really has to be flawless — he might come after me with his horns sharpened.

    Recently I said to Kat, who is INFINITELY kinder and more compassionate than I, “Is it just me, or would the entire world be a better place if he were dead?” She said, “God yes it would be better. I can’t believe you even have to ask.” And she’s a SAINT.

  61. Haven: If you want to finish the book, pull up those booties and get cracking.

    For one thing, the louder and more fearsome the fellow, the less real power he has when confronted. (I learned this the hard way. Over and over.) Stand your ground, own your story, and he is likely to slink away with his ugly head between his legs.

    If he does attack, his sharp horns would have to be very, very long it get through the throngs that would gather to protect you.

    After years of study and struggle, I’ve developed a new sense of God through your work and your words here. So have others, I know.

    Please don’t let his ugliness deprive you of the pleasure of completing your work or us of the pleasure of reading it.

  62. I’m one of those people that would probably never read poetry, but you, Sher, Linda, Suzanne, George and KateCake have helped me enjoy the poetry that’s been posted. So, y’all keep posting! I take my time with reading them, reading each line slowly and repeatedly. But each one is a gift.

  63. part of me now wishes I didn’t know about SEVEN YEARS because i desperately want to read it NOW damnit. your description makes it sounds as complex as my beloved Rosmarie Waldrop (who, I bet, would LOVE this book).

  64. I’m with Brandon….I read only what little poetry we had to in our requisite English Lit class as a freshman….But these are little gems…little gems with PRIZES inside like cracker jack, and I love them, too…and I want the book, too….I am envisioning artwork for each poem…I must say thank you for giving me back that connection to my visual art and words…my two most favorite things in the world.
    Gotta go to work, but just sending y’all my gratitude.

  65. Scott, who designed this gorgeous website (and a TERRIFYING cover for my horror novel) read the poems and I swear, in about fifteen minutes he had created this cover:

    Well dagnabbit, I’m going to have to put it on the yahoo page because I’m doing something wrong. But it’s worth it.

  66. Here it is:

    /Users/havenkimmel/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Originals/2008/Oct 30, 2008_2/VII.jpg

  67. i can’t wait to read SEVEN YEARS. HK: “he may have dominated those seven years but he has no power over me anymore — he is a shadow, and I fucking OWN that story.” perfectly put.

  68. What a beautiful cover…it gives me shivers….I WANT to see what’s inside.

  69. Seven years:

  70. Gorgeous cover! Kudos to Scott. Many thanks for sharing it, and the story behind the poems, and your poetry in general…fascinating stuff and I once again find myself in awe.

  71. I’ve said to both John and Kat that I can’t wait to finish it, not because it causes me any pain, but because there is such joy at the end. I’m here, my daughter’s life is charmed and she is good in every way, I’m married to a man who is as thoroughly opposite Mr. Dark as humanly possible, I have two precious sons. And oh, wait, there’s that other little thing . . . yes, I remember now. I was told repeatedly that I would never be anything without him, and within two years of leaving him I had written a #1 New York Times bestseller. A mistake must have been made somewhere, because that AIN’T how it was supposed to turn out in the story he was writing in his black hole.

  72. “I find it to be the highest, most sublime art form (Nietzsche disagrees with me — OH, THAT HURTS MY FEELINGS)” ~ I actually heard your voice when I read that last part. It was as if you were reading aloud when you typed it and it transferred over the internet somehow.

  73. phew. glad you got out of that relationship with Mr. Dark. look at what a talented, artistic, sensitive writer, mother, friend you are. later, Mr. Dark.

  74. Beautiful cover, cannot wait to read it.
    Off- the subject but I am reading Home-The autobiography by Julie Andrews ( what can I say, I am a softie for memoirs and bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens) and she talked about a snood!!! And because of you lovelies, I knew what it was!!!!

  75. Haven, I will buy a copy of Seven Years for every single one of my friends and family for Christmas when it comes out. And my own copy will be dog-eared and overly-loved within days. I’ve said it before, but I truly do think that you will one day be remembered among literature’s greatest; it’s so exciting to see your career progress and have this extraordinary community with the best-kept secret of the writing world, yet so frustrating that the rest of the world hasn’t caught on yet.

    Yet another reason why this blog is a godsend: Sometimes I just need to cry, but I’ve built up these walls in my everyday life that won’t allow me to, but every time I visit these posts, the tears just pour, no matter the topic. The beauty and compassion that radiates out of you all just swallows me up and lets me know that I am safe here.

  76. A lot to chew on this morning, folks.

    Haven: I think in this case, we can judge a book by its cover. I am thinking great. Can’t wait to see it. I have to cheap out this morning. Do you mind if I just send up a poem of sorts?

    Here goes: A wise and beautiful woman once told me that sentimentality and brutality are the same side of one coin.
    Uprising on White River

    No spark spiraling bonfire licking the night was ever needed to inspire the beating of tom-toms on White River.

    These wild and proud Mississinewa chant their own rhythms in the woods. Singing their heartbeats with a song all their own. All they own.

    Their great and terrible legends, dancing their victories, stomping their defeats. Without ceasing. They whistle and call out their own cries and the noises of animals they eat and wear.

    And thus this tale of a squaw from Flat Belly’s Village who mastered the bow and sharpened her own flints while the other women were stewing.

    Of course, the man was gone to hunting, the squaw’s lodge was hungry. So she walked across the river in the cold.

    Up in the branches she saw him. The ones the French priest called coons. She delighted in his busy little paws and respected his mastery of the tree. She knew the thoughts behind his masked eyes. She felt the sinews in her arm. She let the arrow fly.


  77. Whoa…Haven has posted another one!

  78. Oh, George. My heart.

  79. Kimberly, I’ve been crying for two solid days. I’ve cried over things that were truly terrible and over trivial things and last night it just became alarming. Then I realized, oh of course. Your heart is open. That’s the trade you make: you don’t glance, you look; you don’t make small talk, you make yourself vulnerable; you invite other people to share anything and everything with you — guess what happens? You bloody well feel it. Now that I realize it I don’t care anymore how much I cry. I’d rather feel overwhelming empathy for Caryl or Jodi or Dee or any and every single one of you than keep my heart closed. I can get more tissues. I belong to Costco, so it’s cool.

  80. Haven, from one cry baby to another, go ahead and cry all you want. I’ve come to believe crying is natures way of relieving our bodies of poison, whether is be from poisonous people or, poisonous things we breath and eat.

  81. Oh we need that book Haven, my daughter needs that book. Every woman, and man, who has been somewhere they never imagined getting out of, needs that book.
    The cover gives me chills, good chills, it is the kind of cover that promises something brilliant.

  82. I wish I could cry. Just a little. That’d be enough. There was a time after my Dad when I could cry over any darned thing. During that period, I covered a story about this huge, huge AIDS quilt that covered the base around the Washington Monument. Each panel of the quilt was made on an individual blanket in tribute to someone who died of AIDS. The year before I had covered the death of Ryan White and had gone through the passing of my father. Wouldn’t you know it, the first panel I examined was that of a man named Bruce Eberle. I had written a feature about him when I was a cub reporter for The Evansville Press. My editors sent me to do the home-boy-makes-good” story because he was a highly-trained, renowned pianist. I remembered our interview and how he had opened my brain up to such great music. He played pieces for me as I scrawled in my notebook — this great musician! He died in 1991. I saw his little panel and I cried. I cried for everyone in my life who had died and who was going to die. And I have hardly cried since. I felt like an asshole when I attended the death of my uncle this spring, leading him over to the other side. His friends’ grief ran like rapids while I, dry-eyed, tried to comfort them. Instead of crying, sometimes I write a little. When I see the results, I often feel like crying! Or I tee up a golf ball and smash it high and far into the sky. Since July, however, I have been coming here for the catharsis. It’s here and often my heart wants to envelope with a hug those here whose stories and confessions I hear. I suspect there is something wrong with me and this tears business, however.

  83. Amy, Brenda & George – I’m so glad we will be dancing together, whether or not George will be holding his Japenese comic book in hand, lol!

    Stephanie – I would love to be apart of your secret club. I’m in isolation 1/2 the time in real life.

    Haven – When I read this by you I had a mini heart attack:

    “I am most surprised by your response to I will paint honey into all my locks, and stop him, because when I was first drafting the poem that was the moment I felt the lightning bolt of THAT’S IT, that’s the voice of the speaker. It’s also the heart of the matter.”

    Hearing that you were in agreement about what I said was like my teacher in class telling everyone how great my paper was. Yeah! I so aspire to write professionally, even though I have no idea how to begin, and reading your blog has been great, as you show me that “real writers” are just real people. I desperately want to attend grad school, but I can’t afford it, and I wondered if you SERIOUSLY would share some of your educational tips with me.

    I would love to see a blog post from you with your suggestions of the 100 or so greatest/most important/vital books you suggest for us to read. Or even to make it easy, what were the 100 or so books you had to read & review for your MFA? Will you do this someday for me? You can even email me that info. I just don’t have another $28,000 – $36,000 for tuition. I’d love the chance for a free education!!!

    Thanks, and I almost forgot, I’m so excited to read your masterpiece book of poems someday. You have a lot going on, and I’m amazed you have time to blog and respond to comments in your spare time!

  84. I just popped back over here to see what’s been going on after spending some time working on a few things. I’ve actually been sobbing like mad the last hour or so, off and on, thinking I had a broken hear when all the time I’ve been looking at it wrong. It’s not broken, it’s OPEN! Yes, there’s hurt, anger and resentment (the unholy trinity), but there’s also Great Joy, Truth, and Love! Jeez! Exclamation points everywhere!

    And yeah, I can cry at a Kodak commercial. I told Robbie one time that I hated that, and he told me that was one of the things that made him love me. The way I FEEL.

  85. for whatever reason, i feel the NEED to post these lyrics here. these are from the group Over the Rhine:

    Jesus In New Orleans

    The last time I saw Jesus
    I was drinking bloody mary’s in the South
    In a barroom in New Orleans
    Rinsin’ out the bad taste in my mouth

    She wore a dark and faded blazer
    With a little of the lining hanging out
    When the jukebox played Miss Dorothy Moore
    I knew that it was him without a doubt

    I said the road is my redeemer
    I never know just what on earth I’ll find
    In the faces of a stranger
    In the dark and weary corners of a mind

    She said, The last highway is only
    As far away as you are from yourself
    And no matter just how bad it gets
    It does no good to blame somebody else

    Ain’t it crazy
    What’s revealed when you’re not looking all that close
    Ain’t it crazy
    How we put to death the ones we need the most

    I know I’m not a martyr
    I’ve never died for anyone but me
    The last frontier is only
    The stranger in the mirror that I see

    But when I least expect it
    Here and there I see my savior’s face
    He’s still my favorite loser
    Falling for the entire human race


    Don’t be bothered by the fears
    I’ll try to bottle them
    Like my mother’s perfume
    She wore it only on Sunday
    Kept it safe in her room
    In a chest with a key
    We found it anyway

    Don’t be bothered by the fears
    They’ll only join us like the sky
    That blushes red tonight
    And makes the wind die down
    Calms the troubled sea
    More out of duty than pleasure
    But out of pleasure nonetheless

    Your fire burns me like a favorite song
    A song I should have know all along
    I feel you move like smoke in my eyes
    And that is why

    Don’t be bothered by the fears
    That sing from my eyes like carrillon
    Ringing only on Sunday
    On the roof down our street
    Finally over the river
    Ring for you ring for me
    Finally forever
    It’s just I never
    It’s just I never thought
    I never thought that I could be this free

  86. Jerri: perfectly said. You’ve flawlessly written, without a wasted word, the perfect response to Haven’s description of that horror of an alliance. I want to read Seven Years now.

  87. Linda — I’ve been reading you two months now, and in that short time, you have grown like the perfect storm in your ability to access your beauty and your brilliance. Watching you become more of yourself is more of an inspiration than you can ever know. xoxo C

  88. FYI all: I ordered from Cathy around… i dunno… noonish. AND SHE ALREADY MAILED IT!

    CRAZY good service that.

  89. George, it’s so unfairly much more difficult for men to cry. I’m not saying this is true for you, but I mull this and wonder if it is possible that tears rely on an intimacy, an opening of the heart, that feels like an infidelity to a spouse.

    I can’t conceive of you ever being an asshole, and certainly not while comforting grieving friends. Everyone grieves in their own way, and tears aren’t always the signifier.

  90. CARRIE: I was just trying to put something into words. You give me something to think about, your likening it to intimacy, opening of the heart.

    LINDA: I agree with what Carrie said about you. If you want, I am happy to mail you the new Joni Mitchell CD. I already copied it to my MP3. Let me know your pleasure.

    I have loved Joni most of my life. I’ve only seen her in concert once. I do hope to meet her someday.

  91. Haven, for what it’s worth, I weigh very often whether it is better to be completely open to others and enjoy the benefits of that sort of miraculous connection while balancing the possiblity of sharing pain that often comes from openess – does one justify the other? Sometimes I think it’s better to hold everyone at arm’s length and not hurt quite as much. I juggle this choice all the time, and recently I’ve been hoping for a serendipitous answer, and I believe I’ve found it here, in this blog, where I’ve found so much wisdom. You are right, Haven – it’s much more beneficial and human to be open and empathize with others – like so many have said, I have been blessed by everything shared so openly and so beautifully here. And Haven, I have to say – I will buy a copy a copy of Seven Years for all the women and a few of the men I know – I know so many that would benefit. And this is from the girl who way too literal to get most poetry – I am TRYING to hang with you all! The best you’ll get from me is haiku about my favorite breakfast cereal. You all are so way out of my league! But I support – and, like She Got Up Off the Couch – I am certain Seven Years would be an inspiration to everyone who is lucky enough to reach it.

  92. I know I’ve said it before, but I cannot wait to read Seven Years the 20 or 30 times it will take me to really absorb it.

  93. VII YEARS –

    I get that darkness. I’ve heard those same toxic lines.

    This bounces back to the spark of resilience which can be found in us – it is the innocence of children who grasp for the hand that just struck them. In their voice of “I’m sorry” when they were the ones wronged. Because in that resilience is the survivor.

    Haven: I would say that in your post DR DARK years you were marinating in your creative poetry juices and that you are now full to brimming and it is ready to overflow. I think you are smart to parcel it out, one cup at a time – this way you won’t be lost in the flood.

    Even When We Feel Static, Progress Is Occurring – our creativity is like unto the lunar tide – moments of fullness and moments of waning. The pull inward and the push outward. The unearthed debris visible one moment and submerged the next . . .

    My hardest realization is that even when I am sewing a halloween costume that I am growing my soul and, therefore, my art/life work. When I stop and stare out the window (like Laura) i am absorbing the energy of nature . . . so no moment in time, in my past, in my future is ever lost or unworthy.

    And, geez, I canNOT wait to read all the new things you will be releasing.

    One reason I love poetry is because I can read it quick, but slow and then contemplate it – swish it around my heart like a sip of good wine – then take another sip, smell it this time, and QUICK tip my glass and savor the last ruby drops. I read a line and shut the book and repeat it to myself and sometimes aloud, forming the syllables like french kisses . . . like chocolate, I can’t overdo it in one sitting . . . it has to melt in your heart, not in your head.

  94. OMG – I sound SO drunk, but I swear on my child’s last baby dimple,

    am only

  95. Carrie, next to Haven saying she liked my grandparents poem that is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. And, George, well, you know.

    I was thinking the other day about this place. This may sound corny but if feels to me as if I have found the high school group I never had, the college coffee house I never went to. It is like I am remembering things I hoped for when I was 18. Maybe it is the sobriety, maybe it is watching my daughter at almost 18. To say that I cannot believe my daughter is almost 18 would be the understatement of the century.

    Sigh. I am work so I guess I should “work”. I see my mentalist today. May I borrow that word, Haven? I have not seen her all month as she is from Australia so when she takes a break she goes home and is gone for two weeks. I don’t want to hurt her feelings but you all have done a great job in her absence. xoxo

  96. the Seven Year book will be epic, a quasar; it will be a colossus, but without the ending of plath or sexton.

    and yes, we were all worried that you were writing them all at once,to the very brink of exhaustion and beyond. but fear not: they will all be there when you turn your hand to them again. and you will have gained something vital in the interim.

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