Waffle Wednesday and AP Gothic Lit.

This morning before classes started I had a lot of tech to fuss with because of a guest speaker Skyping in (which was great), and my kids and I were late getting out of the house this morning (which wasn’t great but wasn’t too bad either), and there was just a lot of stuff to do and people to talk to and things to deal with, and so the long and short of things was that by five minutes before class started, I still hadn’t gotten any breakfast.

That’s not good, especially since I wasn’t going to get a break until lunch.

My students told me, “Go get some breakfast!” It was Waffle Wednesday in the cafeteria, my favorite. My very favorite. The only breakfast I love.

I’d like to get some breakfast.

“We can start class ourselves. Go get some food!”

I thought about it. Okay, sure, you probably can. Here’s what I want you to do. Yesterday each of you wrote about one of five analysis questions. Find the others who had your question and talk about what you came up with. When I get back, each group will present their analyses to the class. Sound good?

“Yes, go eat! Get a waffle! Don’t skip the whipped cream!”

Oh, don’t worry, I never skip the whipped cream on anything.

I went. Got a waffle. With whipped cream. When I came back ten minutes later, they were all doing just as they were supposed to. I sat down and ate my waffle while they regaled me with some really good ideas about the stuff we’re reading and the moral questions it poses and how those themes relate to other elements of our culture.

Sometimes, my students are the best.

A Poem Has Resurfaced in the Midst of My Editing

I’m nearing the final stages of editing my new collection of poems, Playing House. In this long process, I’ve uncovered some old poems, essentially my personal back catalogue, some of which hasn’t been published yet. There are poems in here that are more than fifteen years old, and I’ve been examining them to see what can be revised and useful now, if anything.

One poem I’ve run across, which I love but probably cannot include in the book, was an exercise from a poetry workshop I took back in 2002 through Inprint in Houston. The teacher was Alan Ainsworth. He had everyone in the class come up with a line of blank verse, and then our homework was to arrange all those lines together into a poem. There must have been fourteen of us, because we ended up with a collection of extremely different sonnets.

I don’t remember which line I contributed. I actually don’t even remember if the poem I collated was truly all the lines from the class, or whether I ended up taking a few of the lines I especially loved and writing the rest of it myself. I do remember that all the resulting poems were wildly different, and that we enjoyed the exercise. It’s one I’m planning to use in my own classes this spring.

Anyway, since I’m not still in touch with any of the other poets in that workshop, I have no way to verify anything about this poem — assuming the others would even remember it. I remember it only because I have a hard copy of this poem in my archives.

So with the disclaimer that I don’t remember how much of the following poem I composed but I certainly did arrange it all, and with grateful acknowledgement of all who were in that class, including Alan, and a desire that any of them who might see this post come forward, here is the cleverly entitled “Exercise.” Enjoy.







Whisper to me in Urdu, “I know you”:
after we kiss, mildew falls from heaven
and the old silence suffocates the hills.
Turning from you, I decipher voices


like a sandy crust. In my mind, lazy,
thought collapsed upon thought in lines,
remembering the frayed pockets of ancient ships,
where I wrapped my legs around your wooden ones


while two lawyers watched from across the room,
leering over the table, grinning gin.
They swarm, these creatures of the night.
Ten years have passed since you finally left.


Now you enter again in a battered white van, senseless.
You should know better than to summon a holy scribe.