June poetry gong: Carolee’s #3

Killing a beetle

I don’t want to get to know you, but I want even less to know the sound of you dying beneath my shoe. I am not afraid of death, but I do fear the noises it makes. This consequence — the crunch of bone, exoskeleton against my sole, audible collapse of kindness — brings to mind the crushing of protections that should keep us safe: the skins of planes, the skulls of children. How I cringe in anticipation of your demise, shudder at the thought of stomping. Your greatest defense is forcing me to think twice.


I had some of this last night and I almost stayed up to finish it, but sleep beckoned louder. I like the idea of this, but not its execution. I think it’s one I need to free-write on and then pull out the stranger bits for the poem. I have skull-crushing on my mind. “Bumped her head” made it into my butterfly poem, if you remember.

On Wednesday, my oldest son tripped and fell on his head on the concrete while he was in NYC for a field trip. Instead of a boat tour and museum trip, he got an ambulance ride and a few hours of observation in the ER. He’s fine. And it’s such a relief. He handled himself so well, and if I may pat myself on the back, I handled myself pretty well, too (jumped on a train and brought him home).

But I think the panic is working its way through my body. My back is in near lock-down mode, and just last night I had a nightmare about the same son getting hit by a car right in front of me. The images were so terrible and powerful I sat up for about 45 minutes replaying the accident and how I could have prevented it. Considered what I could have done differently. The dream accident, mind you. The dream one. I have promised myself to never give a description of the images in that dream. I want them erased, not embedded further.

Apparently, I was more stressed from his big NYC adventure than I thought. It’s seeping out in dreams and in poems.

June poetry gong: Deb’s #3

When the Sun Comes Out So Do the Flyers

Bits of fluff float, tiny
whirligigs of aspirational intent
as effervescent as spring in the northwest —
ephemeral spring triggered by a shy sun
that came into its own.

We have been waiting.

White flies? Maybe.
You lift as if on thermals too tiny to note.
I imagine whirling dervishes slowed
to consider my sluggish awareness.

Oaf. Only two feet, no wings, no sense.

And a phone call from home. Or two.
Hold onto those floating vowels that don’t quite
connect the me to you – a frayed braided story.
Something about the universe flying
and the soft green of freshly folded leaves, aloft.

That day you were lost souls gathered
for a festival of warmth, respite from clay,
slow dancing only when absent fire is hot — not
here long. And how did we know you were lost?

The white dust gathered & glowed.
And flew.

/ / /

And more for our first gong.

The sky was cloudless, today.

First Warm Days bring flying creatures who seem to inhabit another world.

June poetry gong: Deb’s #2

ants: acrobat, Allegheny, argentine, bigheaded, carpenter, citronella, cornfield, crazy … crazy Rasberry, cut, false honey, field, fire, flying, fungus, ghost, harvester, honey, larger yellow, leafcutting, little black, little fire, night, odorous house, parasol, park, pavement, pharaoh, pyramid, red imported, red town, small honey, southern fire, thief, velvet, velvety tree and whitefooted ants; whitefooted, velvety tree, velvet, thief, southern fire, small honey, red town, red imported, pharaoh, pyramid, pavement, park, parasol, odorous house, night, little fire, little black, leafcutting, larger yellow, honey, harvester, ghost, fungus, flying, fire, field, false honey, cut, crazy Rasberry … crazy, citronella, carpenter, bigheaded, argentine, Allegheny and acrobat ants; acrobat, Allegheny, argentine, bigheaded, carpenter, citronella, cornfield, crazy Rasberry … crazy, cut, false honey, field, fire, flying, fungus, ghost, harvester, honey, larger yellow, leafcutting, little black, little fire, night, odorous house, parasol, park, pavement, pharaoh, pyramid, red imported, red town, small honey, southern fire, thief, velvet, velvety tree and whitefooted ants.

Little honey, find your way
past my sugared jam & crumbs,
beat a path to the velvety tree
& fly like a parasol in a fiery field.
A little black or larger yellow,
you crazy odorous red, red, red ghost
waving lines of bigheaded night.
Sweet ant, it isn’t June until you
cover my peonies with your adoration.

/ / /

More for our first gong. Just a bit of word play because I had no idea there were so many ants with such funny & interesting names. I don’t mind ants much. Of course, I don’t have fire ants up here in Portland.

June poetry gong: Carolee’s #2


as though she has nowhere to go
(which is different from having nowhere she has to be)
as though no one waits for her at the bar (at any bar)
as though desire is an afterthought (it’s not about you)
as though no babies will miss her while she’s gone
as though she may be gone long as she likes
as though she bumped her head
as though amnesia
as though kissing everyone she sees (right on the lips)
as though air is her only dance partner (& ours)
as though trying too hard just isn’t done
as though flower is now (& next)
as though you & me as much time
as we want


I realized when I got to the kissing line that I could make wings out of this if I wanted to. And why not? It’s a gong. Being silly is encouraged. I like some lines better than others. And some transitions simply seem to be missing. But I’m pleased to squeeze in a draft between work and a lacrosse game. Off to the fields now!

June poetry gong: Deb’s #1

Western Yellow Jacket
…….Vespula pennsylvanica

Bitten of stung?
It’s a matter of sex.
Queens can deliver either,
while males give over
their striped abdomen
to other pursuits
& die in the cold.

The fertile female
moves on & overwinters
& next summer will find the sweet
call of rotting fruit, your cologne,
something on the grill.

Don’t flail about or wave—
you’ll only egg her on
& those jagged mandibles
or a stinger never lost
will take you on
rather than turn down
a fight.

/ / /

For our first gong. Thanks, Carolee!

I have more to say about this insect, but it will wait.

June poetry gong: Carolee’s #1


When Jeff Goldblum turns
into a fly on the movie screen,
I am 14 and suffering
my own transformation.
In front of my eyes fragments,
fragments everywhere, dozens
of images that refuse to
become one. Even now,
the world is in pieces.
It’s in pieces, and so
we invent our own excuses,
say, I see three of me
and four of you and
together we are only two.

I fly I fly I fly except when I creep,
creep along window frames
(panes in every house) buzzing with
buzzing with the hope
some of us will make it out alive.


I took some notes for this on the train to NYC early this afternoon, and now that all the kiddos are tucked safely (thankfully!) in their beds (or in the case of my injured oldest son in MY bed), I turned the notes into my first contribution for the gong. I didn’t intend for it to become an extended metaphor. Well, I’m not sure it’s even that. What I mean is, I didn’t mean to stick with the fly image. I had others I wanted to include, but I didn’t manage to work them in. Maybe I’ll graft them onto a revision of this, or maybe they’ll make their way into a different piece.

P.S. “14 and suffering?” I know. Ugh. 🙂 But don’t claim it ain’t so!!

Poetry gong: June 1, 2 & 3 (and 4th if you need it)

We’re going to write (at least) three poems between June 1 and June 4. It was initially going to be a 3-day poetry gong (which is an extended, daily practice “poetry” style), but schedules (work, travel, appointments, etc.) are such that we want one extra day for wiggle room. So over the next few days, Deb, Jill (who hasn’t officially signed on for the gong yet, but we’re hopeful we can coerce her) and I will be posting poems for the gong here at the Kettle.

Here’s our topic/focus: bugs or insects. Here’s how that came to me: Just now, I was thinking of June. And that lead to “June bugs.” And then I remembered I have a bug bite (mosquito) on my ankle. And then I remembered how itchy it was. And then I told myself not to scratch it. And it made me frustrated with bugs. But then I remembered how much I like butterflies. So, bugs/insects it is. I know. It’s a little weird. I am confident we can work with it.

Some of you expressed interest in writing along with us on your own blogs, and of course, we’d love it! Feel free to let us know here or in any of the gong-related posts that you’re writing with us. You can even leave a link to your draft if you want with the understanding that people may or may not come by to read (since that isn’t our focus anymore). If people tromp around and read — great! If not, it will be enough to celebrate our “solidarity” in the challenge. Sound good? OK!