Wednesday, July 31, 2013

You Never Know

You Never Know

A before shot followed by
another before shot followed by

more and more, all befores, no after
to speak of because the minute

we place the next picture down,
boom, another change, more light

on the brow and more shade under
the cheekbones, more oily sheen

of wild delight in the eye.
Whole stack of photographs, you look

happy in this photo, but in another,
I think a buzzard is perched

on your heart. Before, before,
surely there will be an after

but why am I looking for it
with my hands all full of camera.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

House Hunters International

House Hunters International

Such kerfuffle in arranging
where to live,

clusters of rooms
sought and sold,

the sense that you will know
what you are looking for

when you see it,
that space will speak to you.

The good news:
you can’t get it wrong.

Your future does not depend
on the percentage

of Hacienda-style design
slithering within

the house’s veins
and along the arched doorways.

The world is your house.
Well, the world is your apartment.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Bon Voyage

Bon Voyage

We were waiting for a boat that was never a boat.
Waiting is a kind of journey.

We waited and looked. A gull became a boat.
Wind in our own hair

sounded like a sail accepting the air in order
to move. On the morning

that we found a broken sand dollar, the oldest
person in the village said,

The boat will be here soon. I felt relieved that
we weren’t waiting for

a train, it would have been worse, silent railroad
tracks, leaves instead of water

in the harbor. One time, I tried to shout out, It’s
a kite, not a boat! This whole time

it’s been a kite! By then my voice had dispersed,
it was all I could do to wave.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Bookmarks List/Bedside Table

Currently reading and enjoying...

Crapalachia: A Biography of a Place, by Scott McClanahan (published by Two Dollar Radio, a Columbus-based press!). Boy oh boy oh boy....this is some gorgeous, demented writing (my favorite combination). I recommend this book SO MUCH. I meant to read just a few chapters to start with, but I ended up reading the whole thing in one sitting.

One of my favorite passages:
“I felt darkness because I had been deep in the hollers, and I knew glory because I had stood on top of the beautiful mountaintops. More mountaintops, please. More mountaintops.

This is a lie I was told as a child, but it’s still true. The New River is one of the only two rivers that flows directly north. The other one is a river called the Nile. Those rivers are inside of me. I have a river inside my heart. You have a river inside your heart. There are diamonds inside of both of us. We are all flowing North.”

“Lost at Sea,” by Casey N. Cep, an essay on the trope of the shipwreck.

This essay, “Smells Like Words,” by Rebecca Steinitz (at The Millions), on anosmia (lacking the sense of smell). Fascinating!

And you? What are you reading? What should I be reading?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tour of the House Falling Down Around Us

Tour of the House Falling Down Around Us

Come with me, come inside,
half of the rafters have fallen

but on the plus side, that means
the roof does well under pressure,

or that the rafters that remain
were the strongest and most

loyal. Window there, window
with no glass over here, but

still very much a window, maybe
even more a window now.

The chandeliers leak crystals
and the grass is coming up here

in one corner. But you can unzip
your hazmat suit, I want you

to be comfortable while walking
through this wreck. Every minute

it gets worse, but we can live out
our remaining days here. All things

fail, there is no permanence in any
shard of our universe, it doesn’t have

to be hard for us. I still see at least
three walls here, dear, I’m rounding

up, and even after every splinter
has rotted away into the bellies

of earthworms which will also
be obliterated by the next asteroid,

there will be the memory of a
house exploded amongst the stars.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013



Where does beauty register in the body.

In the chest, the heart, and the forehead.

Why, when looking at a beautiful thing 
do we close our eyes, sighing.

To make the pleasure more private,
but also, to sketch the lines of what we saw
so we can bring them back.

Why does beauty prompt a twinge of pain.

Because it isn’t yours. Nothing is.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013



The house.
The family who loves it suddenly,

they move there for it,
it was so inexpensive
they cannot believe their fortune.

The parents, their marriage with
bruises, trying to grow,

children who run test the walls
of this house with their play.

First, the pet goes missing
after acting nervous,
a bloody collar on the lawn.

Next, an occurrence.
Thump-thump on the floorboards
while everyone sleeps,
the mother listening.

A vanished toy.

The child speaks of her friend
who is lonely and sad
and invisible.

The longest part is about

there is a basement to be found,
a shed,
a closet with a shrine inside,
some space watching the family,
entering them.

The kitchen cupboards thrown open,
a door that won’t let you out when you
try to leave,
a dish or a picture frame swooping
toward you and smashing
against the wall behind your head.

There are only two people in this movie,
the house and the family.

This is a love story
in which the lover
cannot be trusted.

There is only time
for the family and the house
to react
to one another.

No groceries,
or email,
or snoring.

The family dreads every evening
when the house is most awake.
All it wants is to bring them home.

Monday, July 22, 2013

But You Recognize It

But You Recognize It

This is new,
the light is new.
Water tells you a new story
and you are compelled
to kick the puddles from land to sky
which have crossed the room
from sky to land.
The fields are new.
Baby fawns are new.
Elderly deer in their twenties are new
with halos of new invisible antlers.
The neighbors are new
with new unscuffed welcome mats.
Handcuffs are new
and they do not hurt
but they restrain with steely strength
and in the absence of painful wrists
prisoners can better reflect on their actions.
Murphy beds are new.
An engineer just thought of a new kind
of Murphy bed that is hitched
to a trap door in the floor.
The elementary school: new.
The road leading there: new.
New trees on either side of the road
rising up like flying buttresses
to show you a new cathedral
that you can inspire their builder to envision
by touching them once.
New earthquakes, new flash floods,
new tornadoes with old names so we feel
we know them better,
new birthday parties, new cake,
new voice in your own throat,
new blood.
The perfect dinosaur skeleton is new,
complete, a side-sleeper in the dig site.
Sleep is new.
New images are served to you
as dreams, new glasses
to gulp from, new exuberant thirst.

The Storialist Turns Five

Today, I celebrate five years of posting every weekday at The Storialist. It feels like a significant milestone, especially now, just one and a half weeks from the release of my book (yay!!).

If I could go back to July of 2008, when I first started The Storialist, I’d tell myself: “Hey, you only have to write every day for four years, and then your book will be accepted for publication! One year from that, anyone (including readers of this blog!) will be able to hold this book, and read it in their home, on the bus, in the bathtub, or before falling asleep. All you have to do is make the commitment to write every weekday for five years, and this will happen.”

Honestly, I might have been scared off by the sound of that (the amount of time and work). But now, I want to say it to you, all of you artists and writers and makers. All you have to do is make a commitment to your work, to sharing it and becoming an active member of your community, and to being open to how you will grow and change.

A hard lesson: nothing will happen before it can happen. We are impatient for results, for success, for a limited view of what we think the end is.

But then we miss the process. We miss the failures, the shifts, the wonderful results that are unpredictable because they look nothing like books or awards. And when we are immersed in process, our goals change.

I have valued so much connecting with readers, with fellow creatives, with artists and thinkers of every genre. To live attentively, and to be able to throw inspiration to one another across the weird, friendly abyss that is the internet....I feel so fortunate and grateful for this.

Thank you for reading! Keep making what you make. And please share it with me (and others!). If you haven’t yet jumped in to the project that is calling your name--now is the time.

Today's poem is sparked by an image from....guess who? 

Previous anniversaries:
July 2008
July 2009
July 2010
July 2011
July 2012

Friday, July 19, 2013

Countdowns (and Yoda)

The #kettleshriek contest sure was fun! I’m happy to announce that Allyson Whipple, Donna Vorreyer, and Juliet Wilson will all be receiving copies of my book with SPECIAL SURPRISES inside (secret little notes on Post-Its, bonus poems, and other little goodies). Allyson, Donna, and Juliet---in the mail, your books (very Yoda-esque, isn’t it?).

Now all I can imagine is Yoda reading my poems out loud. And I love it.

Next week...a big anniversary on The Storialist (on Monday, in fact). And the countdown continues to the book’s official release (less than two weeks now)!

What creative projects are you working on, friends? What inspirations have been bouncing around your brain?

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Miniature Inferno

Miniature Inferno

The sky is a blanket.
Stop it.

Whatever we think the stars are
when we decide to look up,

with the force of oh,
a ladybug tripping over a pebble,

we are wrong.
The pretty star will

flametorch you.
It only wants to keep living.

A little star here, one there, one there,
that’s how you make

a sky, for humans,
but up there,

each famished fire
is one ferociously-burning world.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

They’ve Been Practicing

They’ve Been Practicing

You get back here,
we’re not finished with you

The trees bellow this
out at you,
but only because
those are the only human words
they can pronounce

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

From Inside the Aquarium

From Inside the Aquarium

If you stood inside your memories,
and looked out at yourself,
here is what you would see:

small figure at the end
of a long hall,
squinting through the fog
chalkdusting the air.

After a while, you’d forget
what you were looking at
but you’d still look
for a minute
while the colors moved.

Monday, July 15, 2013



There can be no untangled thing,
even a stone that pulls neatly

from the dirt has lived complicatedly,
worms have swum past it for years,

and died, and the soil has grown
a bit more acidic. Where is the center,

this is the question we ask, but really,
we mean, it is us, isn’t it. What edges

do we aim to gather up, what picnic
blanket, what park. One day, this planet

will cure itself of all of us, we have
never not suspected this. We hold hands

with thousands of people, genetic
acquaintances, the builders of our

cities, not-yet-born neighbors who
find our buried dogs’ bones, Ring

Around the Rosie is in eternal session,
each single stem a bouquet, orbiting.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Spider Solitaire?

No, it’s not a game of spider solitaire, but my next poetry manuscript begging me for some attention (along with one of my cats, Roy--he’s “helping” me). This is, apparently, my method for organizing a book...

Most of my energy has been focused on In the Kettle, the Shriek...there’s a release party planned here in Columbus (on August 3rd! If you live nearby, you’re invited!), and the #kettleshriek contest has been in full swing (just one more day to get those entries in).

I’m loving all of these fun projects this summer, although I’m not good at working on them all simultaneously. Instead, I just rotate my energy on one at a time (two hours on one thing, an hour on another). I envy all the talented multi-taskers of the world!

Any tricks for toggling between projects? What are you working on this week?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Calm that Comes vs. The Calm We Put On

The Calm that Comes vs. The Calm We Put On

Hand me that tranq dart, would you,
actually, throw it at me
and I will catch it with my arm.

The mascot of anxiety is the house
centipede, feathery, fast,
fluttery legs above you on the wall.

The cat found one yesterday in the
corner, I try to prioritize
its life and family above my fear,

but it’s hard. On America’s Next
Top Model there is a
whole sequence of the girls screaming

at the spiders they discovered living
in their house, and footage
of the girls talking to the camera about

the spiders, saying infestation of spiders,
shuddering at what the words
do to the mind, in the air. You can only pause

fear by squishing what you think you see,
this is a terrible lesson.
Every smudge and spot leaps to life,

trembling for you, see what worry stirs
up. House centipede, it’s not
that I want you dead, I just don’t want

to see you. For every bug you see there
are millions unseen, poor bug,
symbol of all we don’t want to know.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

There Are Always Consequences

There Are Always Consequences

A peaceful stroll through this woodland
kills three insects, flattens ferns,
drives a bird into a farther-away tree
that she has not stepped on yet,
a nest would look good here, maybe,
she thinks, though the branch will
snap in a month. At a Matt & Kim concert,
I saw Kim walk toward the edge
of the stage and keep walking,
flinchless, across the hands of the crowd,
palms upturned like lily pads to hold
her as she danced. The ground does this,
too, grass giving us its back, a twig
becoming two twigs because we thought
of a person’s voice, looked up and just
then loved the light through the pine needles’
interlaced fingers.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013



The beach is
the ocean eating the land,

it is so magnificent
we want to be near it, we leave

whatever we are doing
for it. This is vacation, to vacate

one’s home and come
here, to where everything breaks.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Rest Up

Rest Up

Quilt, bed, and between, someone

hungry for sleep. Here is
a private world, perfect, compact,

speech bubble of an unseen being,

an angel. Last night, I
dreamed of the angel of death, she

is blonde, is young, crawls into

the bed of another woman,
a woman tight-faced with pain,

the angel of death holds

her feet, massages them, shhhh,
this is ok
. The body chases

its rest, knows to stop moving

for hours so that the body
in bed becomes a floating island,

and all else, an emptiness so empty

it is soothing, this is the same
ocean that brought you here,

you visit it every day, bring all

that you are. An eye to the
peephole, an eye behind

the lid, a hole within the eye, flashes

of something peering out, body in
the sheets coming back to life.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Bookmarks List/Bedside Table

Currently reading and enjoying:

Don’t forget about the #kettleshriek contest. I’m accepting entries until the July 12th, so make sure to submit your images/Vine videos. I want to give away some copies of the book!

Have a wonderful weekend...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Letting It Get to You

Letting It Get to You

The clearing could have been an orchard,
this fence could be a road. Standing along it,

the people who didn’t own what was not
the orchard, that clearing belonging to no one.

Maybe a family for the orchard, girl wanting
out ever since she was small, climber of trees

in the orchard, a few apples falling each time
she jumped down, small shadows thudding

behind her heels, an echo. There she is, running
along the road, her house just beyond those

trees if trees would have grown here. Sometimes,
the clearing is the orchard. You can see one

shimmer in the other, can smell the apples,
the orchard is getting braver, showing itself

for seconds at a time, waiting for a woman
who feels she certain she has been here before.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Potting Soil

Potting Soil

The tenderness with which
a singer handles the quiet
even before the song

will slay you if you let it
into your ears, if you remind
yourself that what we hear

the song emerge from does
not count as silence.
Can true silence be heard,

what would that sound like.
We follow sound, watch
the voice sparrowing

through the song, each
breath a branch. Lift
us, we want to be carried

by a song, to be slayed,
to be taken above life, no
cumbersome dartboard ear.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Distance Is Distance

Distance Is Distance

How long does it take to invent
new nostalgia, do we measure
the distance in years, one year,

five years, twelve, or in miles,
thousands of them. Distance
is distance, either will work.

Train the eyes to settle over
the brick and stone of a place,
and the muscles behind your

eyes remember: here, an arch,
a 24-hour library, a bench, pale
tile of a lobby flecked with green

and black, a tree exactly where
you expect a tree to be though
you didn’t recall the tree itself,

explicitly. You know this place,
meaning, your body knows
where to go, and for that, you

feel grateful. All the things that
had not happened to you when
you were last here, oceans

yet unvisited, heart missing the
more recent dents. That distance,
that difference, you feel it,

it travels with you, back to now,
aims its lamp over the ordinary
to inoculate you with prenostalgia,

saying, you will dream of this
one day, the chipped windowsill,
the gate’s yelp in closing.

Monday, July 1, 2013



Dusty shelf, your sin is in
how you tell everyone

you’ve gone untouched
for so long. The invisible

world was here today, again,
and I stood still while it

swirled around me,
this is what you mean,

but it’s hard to get past
your skin, filmed with time

itself. It’s not that we
want to kill the dust, just

hide it, move it from
one surface to another,

there will be no aging today,
not under my roof.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.