Tag Archives: Arts

Poetry Colonoscopy?

I hoped that this Thanksgiving break I would write plenty of fiction and nonfiction. To finish my short story and my creative writing portfolio. But at this time, everything I see is poetry. I feel poetry. And I miss Travis, so I write him poetry.

I find that my poems long to turn on a colon. More than any other punctuation, the colon has the most power to change the way I read a sentence.

Colons are preceded by a phrase and the colon turns it into a label and generates the suspense: to what will that label be applied?


The poem I wrote yesterday had two colons. Can any punctuation mark generate so much drama while maintaining such subtlety?


In my favorite poem I’ve written, about dealing with a breakup while studying abroad in Peru, I use a colon that turns the phrase “I don’t want you, but I need you” into a noun I define as “the least healthy combination.” I always enjoy how the use of the colon groups that whole sentence into the name of one condition.


Talking about the colon also makes me think of the colon’s utility in conveying analogies. x:y::a:b (x is to y as a is to b).


At Thanksgiving dinner last night, my mom was talking about her recent colonoscopy. (You can’t blame her for bringing it up. I’ll admit it was remarkably more pleasant than the conversation that preceded it.) Now the word colon has a heavy association (for me) with something so much less lovely than my current favorite punctuation.


Some people use the em dash to do what I do with a colon, but more ambiguously. As I flipped through Tin House this morning, I saw these lines in a poem:


A burst of birds shooting up the morning–

a slow parting.


Is the burst also a slow parting? If so it’s doing the colon thing. Or is a slow parting interrupting the burst? Therein the ambiguity lies. I prefer the colon, although the em dash is more appealing to the eye. Except that I still don’t know how to make an em dash without just doing a double hyphen. I’ll go learn now.


They All Curled Up Like Lil Fetuses

So, I found this thing that I wrote. It is a monologue. And it’s pretty strange. I kind of can’t believe I’m sharing it. The character, let’s call her Maw the Artist. She’s ranting about the relationship between love, art, and faith. Sometimes her language is a little offensive.

I been singin songs. Losta songs. Daydreamin and daydreamin and takin down notes. Takin notes on the songs. I wanna write them down but I can’t. They stay in my brain all crumpled up. Them and the pictures I wanna paint. They all curled up in the back a my brain. Curled up like lil feuses. Bitty babies. When a baby comes out it starts lookin like a good idea. It smell you, you smell it, but from that moment it aint never going to be the same. No never. You gotta take care of that child even when it starts to feel like a bad idea and you just wanna leave it there in the bathtub til she drown.

Can’t let em come out. Gotta keep them in there til yous bout to splode. Yeah splode. It might kill you, but there’s never been a splosion that made bad art. Nope. The art always kills the artist. Always. If it don’t they ain’t no real artist.

Careful what you give birth to, better be somethin worth dyin for. Cause you ought to know that once it comes out, somebody gonna try to kill you for it.

Like that Becky Black. Yeah all she did was sing someone else’s song and now she gotta stand by it. Billions of people none of them knowin little Becky, but now they know her song. They hate her for it. Can’t never go back. No, she sung it.

Gotta love what you do. It’s gotta be your lovechild. No bastard is worth dying for. It’s gonna be hard. Always hard. Better, safer, bein alone.

The lover and the artist aint different. Nope. Child kills the mother, takes over her. Art kills the artist. Jesus aint no different neither. Nope that Jesus, don’t you dare let him grab your heart. Lock it away safe and sound. He got the key, but he don’t always use it, so you gotta lock it and hope to the devil that he don’t come knockin. You let him in and there aint gonna be no you left. He gonna squeeze the you right outa you. That’s what he done to me.

He’s done a lot, but I’m still too much alive. But I am gonna be the most dead person you ever knew some day. That Jesus is gonna knock down my damn door and make me all him.

Then some man, a real man, he gonna do it too. I’ll be all his and we’ll both be dead with that Jesus takin over us. Then we gonna love and sing and and run hard through life. And our lovin and singin gonna bring about a damn love child and a song. And theys all that’s gonna be. They gonna outlive us. My baby out there singin Maw’s song. That’ll be it and we’ll be done. Done and dead. That’s how it’s gonna be. But thas the right kinda dyin. Dreamin till it kill you.

Choose your murderer. Choose what you give birth to. Don’t give birth to no Friday. Them Weekend parties aint worth dyin for. Don’t go dyin for no parties. Choose your murderer. He’s gonna out live you. Member that. Before you, through you, after you. Shit.

Something to Add to Your Reading List

Oh dear, I forgot to post yesterday! There goes my one-post-per-day-record since I started this page. It’s okay, I never intended to put that much pressure on myself. Today I don’t really know what to write, so I will go to my list of recent bloggish thoughts. Just kidding. I will tell you about a book that’s coming out in the near future.

I finished reading the edited manuscript of All You Can Eat, a novel by Richard Harlan Miller. Though it clearly defies easy genre categorization, Gray Dog Press categorizes it as a work of comic/literary fiction. I would highly recommend this book to just about anyone. The great thing is that there is something for everyone in it. The characters are well-developed and there is a range of different lifestyles and personalities. There is Darius, a middle-aged looking vampire (the novel never actually uses the V-word) who keeps to himself, inhabiting the skywalks of Spokane, drinking excessive amounts of wine, watching the nature channel, and making frequent visits to Seattle to date, and when he needs to, kill women. He’s my favorite. Lucio, a.k.a. Luke, despite his age (150 years), keeps with the times, blending well into hipster/hippie crowds. Susan is a no-nonsense nurse on whom Darius intends to feed, but instead he finds in her a woman for whom he cares deeply. Dimitri and his young helper Tomas make it clear that, while all vampires must kill to survive, some are certainly more evil than others.

If you’re a stickler about your vampire myths, these characters might be a little too human for you.

One of my favorite parts about the novel is the email correspondence that takes place between Darius and the women he meets on a dating site called He@rt. The dialogue is stunning. The prose style is both clever and beautiful. It is definitely a novel for someone who loves words. It comes out October 18th! You can keep checking in at the Gray Dog Press website to find out more about when you can pre-order. Also, the shape of the book is great. I love books that are of a slightly different shape and size than is typical. The design isn’t final yet, but the ARC’s look great!