Poem: For the Apple

For the Apple. 

I delight in the crispness of an apple,
 my lips wrapped around smooth skin
 and pure, sweet flesh
 broke open between my teeth. 

To hold it in my hand, 
 the weight of it reminds me, 
 the gleam of green skin reminds me 
 of growth 
 of goodness
 of briskness and autumn
 of contentment 
in the order and seasons of things. 

and rain
and leaves of trees
then blossoms bursting to this new thing,
  this sweet new thing,
ready for the picking, 
for the plucking,
for the grip of my fingers,
for my lips on its skin
for my delight in this gritty, delicious 
  nectar of nature 
  and newness of life. 

In one sweet moment, 
I hold goodness in the grip of my hand.

The Velvet Coat.


It hung on her coat rack for most of my childhood. My five, six, seven year old hands would pet the cuff, rub it against my cheek as she shoved my feet into snow boots before school. A picture of her in it hung above my Grandmother’s rocker for years. Her dark feathered tendrils disappeared into the dark velvet collar, her face and eyes shining out from it with happiness, mischief. She was gorgeous, I thought.
One day she handed it to me.
“It’ll fit you now. Do you want to try it? I used to wear it to see the opera in the city while I was at college. Made me feel special with heels and my tweed skirt.”
And as I slip it on in the mornings, right sleeve then left sleeve, flinging my own dark hair from beneath the collar, I imagine her in this life before we knew one another. Laughing, glamorous and innocent and young in a dark velvet coat in the amber glow of city lights. I wrap it closer to myself, this jacket, this girl in another world. Stay with me now.

Poem: The Return.

I’m returning to days now -


A natural order of things. 

I think in grief, to return to simplicity is the only way to seek restoration, to find healing, to cope, to comfort one another. 

The sound of your loved one’s steady breath, 

a clock as it flicks mutely in the dark, 

a bed that is our own.

Guest Poem: Joe Bunting

Today’s poem was written by Write Practice blogger Joe Bunting, and we’re bringing a little bit of the Write Practice process to Writes & Rights. This is Part I of a two-post dialogue about what makes a poem good. Tomorrow I’ll share a new poem I’ve written over at Write Practice, but for today, we’re looking for constructive criticism on Joe’s piece. So share your thoughts- what parts of Joe’s poem stick with you, resonate and tap into your innermost thoughts? Or does it? What parts of the poem are effective, and what parts need work? Do the imagery and message behind it speak clearly through Joe’s language? Join the conversation about good poetry.


Learning, Still, to See

Where are you?
Do you see that white bird
in the red branches of the shrub?

Do you see this pile of dead leaves
pushed into a ditch from a parking lot
sprinkled with soda cans?
And do you see me, sitting atop this yellow
flower quilted hill—did you look close?
Did you notice each flower is the size of an ant?
Did you notice each is shaped like a stretched out bell?
Did you see the millions of ant-sized yellow bells?
If not, where are your eyes?
Where are your eyes and where are your feet?
Did you dance while God played the pipe in those red branches?
Did you weep when God played a sad song in that pile of leaves?
And did you see the old man dressed in a cornflower gown?
Or the old woman wheeled against the wall?
He stares dead ahead. Drool drips down her lip.
(They watch television and wait to die.)
Old man will you teach us to dance?
Old woman will you teach us to weep?
And will you teach us to see that white bird
Singing sad dance songs in the red
branches of a shrub I do not know the name of.
Maybe then you will learn to see.
(Maybe we’ll learn to see too.)

Joe Bunting heads up The Write Practice, a blog of writing prompts for people who don’t do writing prompts, where he considers himself the community editor. As a day job, Joe is a ghostwriter and canopy tour guide. (seriously. he hangs out in trees all day long.) Follow him on Twitter. Woohoo!

What Makes a Poem Good?

“Good poems tend to incorporate some story, some cadence or shadow of story… You could, without much trouble, commit these poems to memory and have them by heart, like a cello in your head, a portable beauty to steady you and ward off despair.” 

Today I’m thinking about how thankful I am for words and that feeling that you get when you read something that feels so right, so accurate that it taps into your innermost being. I’ve been rereading Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems, and I finally read the introduction. He had some beautiful and amusing ideas about what makes a poem good, but I love this point in particular.
It is this concept that has motivated me to paint and produce artwork, and now share it with others. I am deeply interested in the steadying effect that art and poetry have on human nature, the way that these things color my world, bring it to life when everything feels grey and desolate.
This week I’m swapping guest poems with another blogger, an exercise meant to open the discussion about the process of writing poetry, and using language to tap into the deepest parts of ourselves. Stay tuned.