Monthly Archives: September 2014

Why I Don’t Enter Contests

It’s karma, you know.
The reason behind me not winning anything–ever.
Unless you count the red chicken suit
from the office’s secret santa.

It’s the syllogism behind every speeding ticket,
a shattered champagne flute,
and why Micah Ballent broke my heart
in the second grade.

Because I’m short tempered with incompetent waiters
who serve hair in my parmigiana
or salesclerks who can’t accept emailed coupons
that’s not printed on a tree.
Because I refuse to let merging cars merge in front me.
Because I don’t like cats or babies
or men in Star Trek uniforms.
I detest letters with upside-down stamps
or Mother’s Day flowers
and partners who snore with sleep apnea
(which makes me afraid of waking up
next to a dead body).

I should go to church, maybe take pilates, or self-medicate with an acai bowl, in order to be a better person.

I am karma-tically predisposed never to win the lottery.


Unavailable: Birding Outing on the 22nd Floor of the First Hawaiian Center

Unavailable: Birding Outing on the 22nd Floor of the First Hawaiian Center


Tuesday, 12:05pm
She never leaves her office for lunch on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Always on Mondays, she leaves late, around 1230. Wednesdays later, but never past 1:15.

Wednesday, 12:55pm
It’s power-suit Wednesday red. And she’ll sit in the shade nibbling her sandwich like a mouse and pretend saving the world with her swift email replies—except when she needs both hands for her yogurt cup. It’s a silent tradition of unpacking empty cups and bags in front of her kitchen sink late at night. Later tonight, I’ll call red haired Nicki and we’ll go a few a rounds before I send her to the corner mart for a bottle of vodka.

Thursday, 2:25pm
Shoes off, hair up, tightly hunched over. I used my binocs once, but damn if the people in the photos didn’t look like them models when you first purchase those frames. Even the golden retriever was smiling.

Thursday, 5:28pm
Wed Nicki, Thursday Kari. Usually Monday or Tuesday Nicki will roll around after her husband’s sleeping. I can always count on egg rolls and beer with Nicki. Kari brings blindfolds and cigarette burn marks. Shoes off, hair up, tightly hunched over. Still.

Soma(tics) While Living Among Others: If a woman eats an entire shark, what does she become?

Birds' Nests

Birds’ Nests

Sharks’ Fins

Dried Abalone






 First 20-minute decoction
My stomach curls around my back pulling you taut
stringent you—my umbilical cord—
dusted with ginseng
my ocean tongue salivates
peddle faster to the tornado of blue birds
Second 20-minute decoction
There’s a knocking at the back of my head
bleached bones reaching out, scooping me silver
Exhale—pass over me
We’re beautiful hush now
Third 20-minute decoction
My nostrils inhale you frayed
you—turgid and propped against the wall
Together we count your ribs: yellow, two, three, epsilon
I made you wave hi with your bleeding cheeks
Final decoction:
A catheter instead of a cock
dried sea glass blue and non-orgasmic:
a soup of ashes and cucumber floods my bed sheets
a million threads short trimmed, swimming free

 Soma(tic) inspired poem. See CA Conrad’s blog.

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Writing Contest for September

The Bamboo Ridge Press is home to many local writers (and I use that term loosely). Transplants, tourists, and residents have much to share about their stories in paradise.
Here’s the link to September’s writing contest Year of the Horse September Contest

I just received noticed that my dark lady photo poem won for August’s contest! (Small yay for me).

Good luck! Keep writing!

I Never Asked Him about the Dark Woman in the Photo

I heard my parents arguing
until the coldest part of the night
held hostage “happily ever” from my mom.
Afterward, they shared no one bed
and erased their anniversary celebrations.
We ate in silence: pan fried liver and sweated onions.

I wasn’t supposed to know
my father brought her into our living room,
past our kitchen with the new microwave,
past all my siblings’ bedrooms.

I wasn’t supposed to know
this affair went on for months–
months my mother grew her voice
among self-slicing thorns and her wrist.

I knew my father paid for us to vacation
in Europe, which he canceled abruptly,
stepping on a sharp rock
and tripping over his marriage.

After the night when my parents fought,
no one could find their way back home.

So You Want to be a Buddhist Monk, I mean, a Writer?


The first step is recognizing the Noble Truth: that some dissatisfaction comes into our lives and alternatives are sought. For many, there is something that registers as ‘interesting’ – or even inspiring – and we all come back to writing.

The process of training a monk or nun or writer is one that involves time and is not just about ‘learning the rules.’ There is much that can only be learned by patient observation.

The new novice is expected to commit to a stay of one year’s training under the general guidance of the sangha (Mentors). The ordination ceremony itself is quite simple. It would usually be in the evening on a full moon day, as part of the community’s usual observance, and the candidate would have had help learning the necessary chanting and the ‘choreography’ of the ritual. (I was planning on editing this out, but it’s actually true–chant and perform away young novices! You’ll be amazed how it can affect your writing!)

Respect for elders is a significant part of defining the monastic ‘container.’ As a novice, or junior member of the sangha, one obviously arrives with a range of preferences and views. In a mentorship life, there must always be a readiness to relinquish these and ‘bow’ down to the lead suggested by more senior members of the sangha.

The general process is one of patience, calmness, and humility. Monasteries and mentorships are blessed in that they don’t have production quotas, and training is able to be seen as a lifetime’s work. There is no hurry. Relax. Write. Create.