NPM – 18 of 30

what do you make of a day
that begins deciding if
you’re well enough to
return to work

you do

your ten years of working
is celebrated with the
head honchos and others
who have also endured
for a decade

you eat mediocre pizza
and must recount how
you came to work there
then share a favorite story

because you are who you are
your voice almost breaks in
recalling this past portion of
your life in some pithy story

it’s not that you’re terribly emotional
about this position, it’s that you want
to do a good job, even at this awkward
task, and the responsibility of it
almost overwhelms you

you finish

listen to other stories, collect
your crystal award, and return
to your desk, where you have
been invited to be a featured poet
at a new reading

you accept

you leave early to attend
to a yearly exam, the walk
down the corridor seems
so long, you feel grateful
you only have to come here
once a year

you undress

you are glad that the
technician is nice, encouraging
(again with the need to
be praised for a good job!)
but it always works, you
feel like you nailed
the way you held your arm
so she could press your flesh
flat to check for abnormalities

you dress

an hour to get home
your neighborhood alive
with baseball & sunshine

you walk

and now here you are
baseball outside your door
work open in the
next computer window
reality game shows
a click away

but first this poem
this snapshot
this recounting
of a day

 

NPM – 7 of 30

day in the sun/a night in the night

there is nothing quite like
the feeling you have after
a lazy day in the sun

your face warm
your skin slightly salty
your hair maintains
a sun scent

you decide to take a walk
as evening comes
to shake off the haze
mix up the mindset

the people are drunk
from sun, baseball, libations
they’re mad with Friday
with no thought for
the end of the party

NPM – 6 of 30

“a hard cry could draw walls in, it could bend metal,
it could turn a full moon into a sliver”
– from The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

not as much as before
not like it used to be
tears enough to drown in
sorrows fit for a crone

but the aftermath produced
no supernatural
redemption, no relief
just fatigue

slow unrolling
of hours, lists of
ingredients for recipes
that will maybe
get made, wait on
stovetop for others
to maybe eat

waiting to give in
to sleep, to hear
one or another return
not call out to me
the awkwardness
seemingly too much
to overcome

if only the sobs
could have broken
open more than
just my heart

if only the weeping
could have been
a baptism, a beginning
rather than the exit
sign that finally lit up

NPM – 4 of 30

Another Girl in the Car Behind Me

she looked younger than me
hair up haphazardly
as if she just worked out
or is the type of woman
who can wear her hair
casually & still look good

suddenly she raised
her cell phone to the top
of her steering wheel
and kept it here
like she was filming
the road ahead
or speaking to someone
by video chat
or maybe the worst option
taking selfies

it became more difficult
for me to pay attention
to the road ahead of me
as I was legitimately concerned
that she would run right into me

I watched this ridiculous girl
like it was my own private movie
the distance between us growing
then diminishing as she didn’t
seem to be paying attention
to the flow of traffic
slowly drifting from one side
of the lane to the other

when there was enough space
between us for someone else
to get behind me, I relaxed
and made sure to put more
distance between us

NPM – 3 of 30

uneven

last night, my chin gushed blood
due to an unfortunate launch
of the cat from my face

in sleep, an apology given
soothed a troubled mind

in the morning, as I brushed
my teeth, an unexpected
tilt
I tried to balance myself
tried to steady what I
didn’t understand

it turned my day upside down
from the start, brought a
foreboding I tried to manage
mostly successfully

as the workday wore on
I distracted myself from
fear, telling myself it was
in my head

but now as I prepare for bed again
I still feel like I’m trying to right
something

NPM – 2 of 30

flight plans sparked daydreaming of Savannah
orange blossom honey lotion soaked into hands
that seem too old to belong to me
my first mocha in 10 days went down smoothly
as I hoped it would
then the meeting ended with, ‘thanks, gentlemen’
focus
wait
anticipate
read
focus
plan (always plan)
warm hint of a breeze at the end of the day
satisfaction
~~

I wrote this one in a writing workshop at the beginning of March. Ironically, it was a prompt that the instructor, Jill Badonsky, uses regularly that is called “the Lizzie Wann” because it’s based on my poem, “Declaration.” The idea is to make a list of what happened to you in a day and find the poetry.