A Good Talk

You said, “I have something I was thinking about telling you, but I wish I knew how you’ll take it.”

Your truth wasn’t something I had to “take”. I love you, actual you, real you, all of you. Knowing more of your truth, more of your reality gives me more of you to love, and I’m grateful for that.

You said, “I thought you might have this image of me, and I’d ruin it.”

Nobody is entitled to hold an image of you over the real you. That nobody includes me. And I would never want you to be anything other than absolutely who you are, because I totally love you. And truly, my image of you has always been of a happy you. Anything beyond that remains blurry and terrific. Terrific blurs and I love all that, too, because whatever and whoever is in that blur? That’s what’s making you happy.

You said, “I hate keeping secrets, but it seemed safer.”

Secrets should be made of crushes and birthday presents. Have lots of all that good stuff. Let me giggle and crush on cute people and wrap presents with you. Identity is a big, hard secret, and I don’t want anything in your way in this world. I want you to be you.

And there was hugging and good food and the blurs began to seem less blurry and more terrific than ever.

About the erasure below: I constructed this for all my MFA people during the last of our time together. I had this heart absolutely bursting with love for everyone I was with, there, in that moment, specifically, on the shores of Puget Sound. But to me, this poem stands for love, all love, all acceptance, and embrace. To me, this piece celebrates how good it is to know your people as they are, and love them deeply, and want them to know it.
from Henry van Dyke’s Out of Doors in the Holy Land:
erasure pnw (1).jpg

I grant you a wandering on the shores of Puget Sound/Have hundreds of secrets/sing to all the roads by which we meet/My friends/love is no sin.

Sending love, celebrations, and safe harbor to my LGBTQI family and friends. Happy National Coming Out Day!

Posted in awareness, celebration, erasure, family, friends, joy, LGBTQ, LGBTQI, love, National Coming Out Day, poem, Uncategorized, wandering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Naming the Wingman

Hey y’all, I want to talk about Billy Bush, so I’m going to.

Actually, let’s talk about the tape. I won’t embed it, but you can follow the link if you haven’t seen it in its ugly entirety. Please don’t claim you just can’t. You can. You should.

The emphasis, rightly so, has been on the behavior of the presidential candidate, who clearly used vulgar ideation and verbiage, who has been repeatedly accused of assault and rape, who pretty much embodies the scary stupidity of the addled right. The orange pustule is more important. Absolutely.

But could we pause for a moment to talk about the commonplace shittiness of Billy Bush?

We’ve all listened to the audio, but have you watched the video of Trump, Bush, and Arianne Zucker, the actress whose job it was to escort them onto the “Days of Our Lives” set? Did you see the part where Billy Bush gets off the damn dick-mobile and says to her, “How about a little hug for the Donald? He just got off the bus!”

Because getting off the bus is so hard, it requires hugs and kisses.

Zucker had offered the two men her hand, which is business-standard. It is Bush, notably, who turns their professional encounter into a sexualized performance. As the group walks the studio hallway, still on camera, it’s Billy Bush who insists she walk between them, who insists she choose one of them…for??? For sex, of course. As if. As if right there, right then, and at least Billy B. might get to watch.

I get it. I understand him. Billy Bush here assumed the venerable positon of rapey wingman. He made the heavier aggressor of the two seem passively preferable by forcing a kind of impotent frat-humor into an otherwise neutral, professional encounter.

Virtually every woman I know has experienced this virulent little weasel and suffered the consequences of his “I’m just kiddin’ around” assault-lite.

How did a grown woman get pushed into behaving as though she wanted to hang on Trump’s arm? How does someone who just admitted doing actual harm seem less pushy than the yapping pincher he’s with? This humiliating pushiness is a job.

The rapey wingman is a sexual predator’s best prop because he makes the aggressor look less obnoxious in public.

Think about Arianne Zucker. She hugged them (because wingman goaded her to do it in a way that would have reflected badly on her had she refused), she took Trump’s arm (because wingman was physically crowding her), she wound up appearing to flirt  with Trump (because wingman made it clear he wasn’t going to stop the sexualized onslaught while he had a turn to speak).

Who are they, these buttresses of rape culture?

Picture the guy calling himself “little buddy”; the Eddie-‘at-a-boy who jumps into the passenger seat while you’re trying to get out;  the jerk who starts Daffy Ducking you toward the asshole you’re really trying to avoid by calling you slutty names like it’s funny. How far will you have to retreat into real danger to make him stop?

In a few moments of video, we see that pricky chump, Billy Bush, turn a professional encounter into hugs, kisses, touches, innuendos, sexualized speech, and coerced role play. Should Trump go down for this? Sure, but in the sense that this can be added like an anchor to a long list of heavy reasons his cancerous candidacy is sinking. Billy Bush deserves the same cold deep.

Posted in activism, politics, protest, rape culture, Trump, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Meto-news: Smokelong Interview with Zach VandeZande

A much needed step toward some happy shares to come, please enjoy my all-in-the-spirit-of-angelic-fun interview with writer, Zach VandeZande, currently up in the new issue of Smokelong Quarterly.

A shout out in thanks to Mike Czyzniejewski, Smokelong’s interview editor, for letting me in on this gig. This is my third interview with SLQ, and it’s always a pleasure. The approach they take to the interview allows everybody to have some cheeky fun, framing the writer through the lens of their work. Sensible, really, since it is through a given piece a journal reader feels connected to a particular writer. Also, it’s nice to be given some freedom and a license to enjoy yourself when talking to someone new. As an extroverted introvert, I thrive under those working conditions, a feeling I hope shows in the interview. Zach was certainly a lot of fun to talk with through text. And like I always say, I love talking to writing people about writing.

Keep in mind, SLQ interviews every single writer they publish. This is issue #53. The math, people–that’s a bunch of writers talking about writing, which has to be a score for good.

Check out Zach’s excellent piece of magical realism here and our interview here, in case you didn’t take the bait already.

Smokelong Quarterly Issue 53

Smokelong Quarterly Issue 53

Posted in fiction, flash fiction, humor, online journals, process, Smokelong Quarterly, writers, writing, writing community | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

For my father-in-law, Downer


Mostly, I have written here about writing. But sometimes,  in a life of writing, things happen and then there is no way forward but through. Downer, I wrote this for you a long time ago.  Now I imagine I read it to you and you liked it. Or maybe you explained to me how pine cones are really nothing like desert arroyos. papa-gardens-with-liv-effectYou probably blushed and groaned–things like poems about you embarrassed you miserably, which is why I never read it to you. The closest I ever came was saying once, “Hey, Pop, you know I wrote a poem about you one time.” You pretended to be looking out the window at something that suddenly needed doing. Okay, later, Pop. Livy used to say, “Oh, Downer, my Downer.” And then she’d take your face in her hands, and you would make silly faces until she laughed or squished your cheeks, still saying, “Oh, my Downer.” Downer, always.


Papa knows all about pine cones/about their bowered nests that scratch/at the sky like cheek whiskers

Papa knows about their fall into hiding/where they wait for fire to burn them/free, where they wait for snow/to kindle their physics, where/children may find them/heaped in pirate caches

He can unwind stories of their/winding trails through/masonically secretive chambers/spiraled as tombs of warrior kings/who lay undisturbed under desert arroyos/dressed in armor, wearing masks, holding swords

Papa says, There are more rooms in the kingdoms/of a pinecone/than in all saltbox subdivisions/stacked rooftop to rooftop, folded in ways/the world will appear when/all heaves over again to mountains/and mountains are pierced

by the swords of seeds




Posted in family, Grief, grieving, loss, love, memories, nature, parenting, poem, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Returning from the Ghost Pile


Tree of Stars/acrylic on gloss plate-visual erasure.  "The future enters into us, in order to transform itself..."  --Rainer Maria Rilke

Tree of Stars/acrylic on gloss plate-visual erasure.
“The future enters into us, in order to transform itself…” Rainer Maria Rilke

I’ve been away for a long time. What makes that absence kind of strange is that I have a pile of writing, and specifically blog posts–those essaying conversations–never to see the light of day. I wrote them, but didn’t post them, instead creating a kind of ghost file/pile on my desktop.

I can explain, but the narrative of that explanation wouldn’t be particularly interesting. Life and its components—time, energy, and material demands obliging the use of time and energy—can place many seemingly essential pursuits squarely beside the point, negotiable as ballast.  That right there is probably more than enough information about what could take someone who loves their blog like a piece of chocolate cake away from posting for more than a year.

And I do love my blog, cakishly. I love the galleries, the comments, the assortments of photos and art pieces I’ve made for metopen. I appreciated (maybe not enough) how each post would drive me to create something new, both written and visual.

So I’m returning, or rather my blog is returning.  Please consider the missing months more of an interregnum than a lapse, during which time I have come into possession of a new set of experiences and reflections to feed the keys. Metopen is back from the ghost pile just in time for the lovely, long dark of fall.

Posted in blogs, creative process, creative writing, demiurge, erasures, inspiration, process, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

May ’15 Meto-News: New Publication in Timber, Vol. 5

Timber - image

I am happy to share with you the publication of my short story, “Revival”, in Timber, Vol. 5. This piece is yet another of the upcoming—nearly there—Southern story collection I began working on in earnest during the final phase of my MFA in 2013.

I so appreciate finding this story looking pretty on page 1, because its road to publication was sort of remarkable as submission experiences go. And a word of caution before you click through the link above or below (yes, twice, because I know you’re going to read it), “Revival” is the most experimental piece I have ever written, seeming to provoke quite strong reactions, both positive and uncomfortable.

From the beginning, “Revival” muscled its way into a voice I have not used before or elsewhere. As a mytho-memoiric study, the piece was planned. I knew what I was going to write. I knew the imagery I wanted to bend and expand—magical realism felt right for such strong and gothically dark statements. I also wanted to try, at least dryly, subtly, to include the bits I found so funny about this composite of memories and fictions.

That’s generally my process—I like to dream, to think, to know, to outline, to follow my plan. But once in a while a story utterly surprises me. This story was a huge surprise and became more surprising as I wrote it. Not only was it emerging as a piece of magical realism, but as a piece of syntactical experimentation.

After it was done, I had no interest in revising the story’s kinky relationship with syntax and voice. I knew that I needed to find a home for “Revival” where it would be appreciated, where it might be read with an open mind. I figured, lots of places publish highly experimental pieces. Granted, there is a bit of a temporal style signature to what passes as experimental literature, and maybe this story isn’t trendy so much as it is an individual. Still, I figure, editors are writers, too, and someone will read it all the way through and realize it really does work in its crazy multiple persona-ed voice.

But when I sent it out the first couple of times, not only was it rejected, but so spectacularly rejected that it caused the only actual submission uproar I’ve ever experienced. The first journal (to return it) sent it back the very next day with a note: “This story is nothing we could use. You should read our journal before submitting.” What? I know it wasn’t the Southern feel, they had printed other such stories. I know it wasn’t the magical realism, same there—I read journals carefully before submitting. Always. So it was the syntax. Yikes. I’m pretty chill about rejections, but I’d never gotten a personalized kiss off before.

The next place? Worse. First, I again received an almost immediate rejection and it, too, was personalized: “We appreciate the esoteric nature of pronouns, but really think this story’s pronouns are too esoteric for us. We imagine you examining this story again and submitting it elsewhere.” I’m guessing they’d only read the first page and mistakenly figured I didn’t know the pronouns were radically fancy. I decided to wait on submitting this story until I could find the perfect place, somewhere the editors, you know, read stories all the way through.

Then, nearly two months later, I got a separate rejection from the same place. I am not making this up. The second rejection was from a different editor whose note was just as personal, but way better: “The language is eloquent and compelling. The story is complex. I’m sorry we’re deciding against it.” Whoever wrote those words to me—I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Those words renewed my quest to find “Revival” a home. After that, I was like Eldad with a stray puppy.

Researching much, much harder, not only reading back issues of journals, but poring over editors’ interviews and mission statements, I found Timber. Folks, when they say innovative literature, they mean it. I am thrilled with this edition and with my story in its new home. The experience has been lovely and stress free.

Thank you to Loie Merritt and the Timber editors and staff. Welcome home, “Revival”. And you guys? CLICK HERE to read it. Syntax purists, you’ve been warned.

Posted in bad advice, creative process, creative writing, creativity, Encouragement, Experimental Literature, Experimental Prose, fiction, Literary Journals, process, Publications, short story, submitting, Timber Journal, writers, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

April Throwback Thursday: A Storybook

cat didn't care pnt 15

Of all the lame social media/facebook trends out there to which I wish I wouldn’t succumb (“What Avengers Character are you? Let’s Play!”), I admit there is one I actually like and even value.

Throwback Thursdays have given me the opportunity to dig through old photos, reread announcements from family and friends, and I love seeing into the past through everyone else’s eyes.

So I thought I might bring a once-in-a-while TBT right here.

Here’s my throw and how far back it goes: 2000-2001. I was working with young children. We were in the middle of studying about farms when my kids, knowing my soft spots, begged me to write them a story about a farmer who has a family and some pets.

Now, had this happened more recently, I’m positive I would have explained to them that if the farmer has a family, then the farmer’s partner is also a farmer. But, this was a while ago, and I suppose it’s good to see how much my ability to realize these sorts of glaring oversights has improved.

I wrote them their story, drew the pictures, and put it all away. I did send a copy to a beloved niece who was still little at that time. Funny thing is, I found this all recently while looking for pictures of stars (my filing system is weird) and was completely gobsmacked when I saw that I had drawn my own daughter years before she was born. That’s her little, round face and the half undone braid I perpetually tried to re-braid for the first five years of her life. Also, that can only be her middle of the night operatic yoo-hoo. How’d I know? I guess this is a bit like a belated Mothers’ Day blog, in a way, since it is a memory of predicting so much that I’ve actually lived in the last ten years.

And the dog? We wound up with Booger, too. Different color, same silly grin.

So here is my first blogged TBT. Picture heavy and so un-me these days. I was toying with all things cartoon when I drew these and in love with innovations in children’s literature.

Also, clearly I was in need of a paradigm update. But then, that’s the -back part, right? What I love about it is the serendipitous clairvoyance of the imagery. Now, if I can just find myself that farm, though, naturally, I will not leave the cat in the yard. Or the dog, either…makes me wonder what I’m currently guessing correctly (and not so much) about the years to come.

A Mouse Ran Home Through the Forest

mouse  paint 1

bear paint 2 bear river paint 3 bear fish paint 4fish moon paint 5 goose 6 goose mountain paint 7 goose on wolf  paint 8 wolf on hill paint 9 wolf in wind paint 10 wind to valley paint 11 woke the dog paint 12 dog in the yard pnt 13 dog barking  pnt 14 cat didn't care pnt 15 cat scratched pnt 16 hinges pnt 17 woke the child pnt 18 child sat up pnt 19 called pnt 20 mother and father pnt 21 cat in pnt 22 curled up pnt 23 dreamed pnt 24mouse  paint 1

Posted in art, artist, awareness, bears, children's literature, creative process, creativity, family, imagery, memories, motherhood, painting, parenting, stories, storybook, Throwback Thursday, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments