Category Archives: every day angels

Find Your Tribe!

A friend of mine recently observed that this has been the year for me of finding my tribe.

It’s true, and it’s a very important thing to do, for everyone, but I’m thinking specifically for artists and writers and other creative types.

At the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Summer Conference in Los Angeles last weekend, YA author Laurie Halse Anderson referred to us as the Island of Misfit Toys. Remember that place from the old animated Rudolph flick they showed on TV every year? I laughed because I’ve often thought of myself as one of those misfit toys. Since junior high school,  when all that insecurity begins.

Creatives tend to be the oddballs. The weirdies. The ones who think differently, feel awkward in social situations . . . can anyone out there relate to this? I was a square peg in high school. I didn’t belong to any particular clique. I was smart, too, and got good grades, which can also be a hindrance in high school (in the U.S. at least). I mean, I got teased for being smart by many of my classmates. I got bullied on a few occasions (physically threatened twice). I wrote poetry. I bought clothes from thrift stores and cut pieces out of them (my favourite shirt was a Mobile gas station shirt that had the name BRUCE on it – not very PC, but I loved that shirt). My friend Dawn and I would freak our make-up and clothes and lurk around Pier 39 scaring the tourists.

Even as an adult, I’ve walked into a crowded room and felt like that 14 year old misfit. Not hip. Not cool. Not happening.

But at the SCBWI conference, I immediately felt like I belonged. It was one giant celebration of childhood misfitness. Of all the gritty things that have bombarded us and made us the writers we are today. The ones who can articulate that awkwardness. Whose characters speak to the minds of children going through the same dang things we went through, whether we place them in a dystopian future or a fictional past.

When you find that place that feels like home (and I’ve found it other places as well, like at FaerieWorlds this summer!) I believe it not only means you are connecting with your purpose and passion, but you have found a safe and supportive place to be authentically you.

Seek out those like-minded people. Seek out those who celebrate who you are and your successes, and who empathize with your misadventures and misteps. Boo to people who shut you down. Boo to people who zap your energy.

One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is to bring that kind of light into your life, and to shine it back.

Find your tribe!


Filed under every day angels, inspirational poop, truth and beauty

Interview on Blog Talk Radio

Mende Smith interviewed me today on her Blog Talk Radio show Writing on Demand.


Listen to internet radio with World Wide Word on Blog Talk Radio


Books mentioned in the interview are all available through en theos press

Leave a comment

Filed under every day angels, her red book, poetry, Reviews and Interviews, spokenword, writing life

Thought About You

Okay, a singularly unoriginal title for my experiment.

The last writing workout was writing about loss. I had wanted to write a poem for a friend on the anniversary of her death, so I experimented by writing snippets, thoughts, images, mememories of her out on cards over the whole weekend and then collaging them into a poem.

At one point I had gone out for the evening and forgot that I was “remembering” Gabrielle over the weekend until the next morning, then felt guilty for forgetting. So that’s in here, too.

Thought About You

For Gabrielle Bouliane, One Year Gone

I’m done baking and remember you.
Remember that I’m supposed to be remembering.

I want to say I’m sorry for every minute gone by,
but that is mortal guilt and not for angels or sunflowers.

Your candle lit in the livingroom and I must leave the house.
Someone once told me
never blow out reverent candles,
but snuff them with metal.
I hear you laugh through my superstition.
Motorcycle lipstick, coming down at me love.

Is it better to leave a candle nub or burn it to the end?

I think about my old motorcycle,
wonder if I’ll ever be that daring again.
I bet you ride sharp and clear like a sting.
I bet you leave star dust, kicking into cosmic gear.
I bet your kiss could wrap humanity,
and we’d all grow suddenly hungry.

Oh, Gabby, I’m afraid
the world has gone crazy.

I wish there were more of you
of your voice    of your word
I can hear your tone your eyes your stance
I can hear the waves of you on stage
I can hear you working next to me,
cranking through ideas.

First day on the job at The Poetry Factory,
you spilled a coke on the new Mac keyboard
and it didn’t work for a day.
But it was just us, and we could laugh it away.
What isn’t done in the sticky hours isn’t what strikes us down.

Oh, Gabby, the only thing I fear
more than this crazy world
is not living in this crazy world.

To be alive is to get uncomfortable,
to get up on stage and tell the world
I’M DYING and you’re all coming with me,
my friends, my beautiful beautiful friends.

You caught us with our genius showing,
a challenge dancing in the wind.

You came into this world gifted and aimed,
and I can’t help wondering
what target would you have hit
in your Golden Days?


Filed under every day angels, monday poetry thang, poetry, writing exercises

Monday Potes: ReFound

For kicks and giggles I randomly opened an old journal to see what I would find. I found the original version of a poem from my book Every Day Angels. Because my kicks and giggles quota is down, I decided to edit the original journal poem again, to see what I would come up with. My only rule was that I couldn’t end or start with the same lines.

I ended up with something completely different.

HERE: mysterious one HRB is the version that ended up in Every Day Angels

BELOW is the version from today.

I highly recommend this as a writing exercise if you are having muse issues. Take the original (hand written / in journal if you can find them) from years back, another lifetime ago so that you are in a new place, wiser, more experienced, more cynical, whatever. Write an entirely new poem from that place.

the field

I was up all night
(she said)
turning pages
pulling weeds

we drown or swim or let the tide
take us somewhere new
we are ships
even in (the) afterlife

I dreamed it was the
end of my world (she said)
and wrote it down

knowledge is a kind of rotten fruit

little deaths
are what save us
from wanting
too much

smells like tornado weather
(she said)
high above the plains

for a thirsty world
touch   is matter
not minutes

or anything anticipatory in the mail

but I exist in books
(she said)

things on earth are definitive

squirrels die in trees
magpies gather in roads
we run out of gas and ink

the sun admits clouds exist
the foot
a path

it goes or doesn’t go
(or becomes something else)

my hands are tied
(she said)

we don’t imagine pain
but imagining there is something else
keeps us here

I think I’m going a little crazy
(she said)
and did

no plan
just dizzy in the sea


I don’t know which I like better. The one in EDA has some lines that are not in the hand-written version and I’m not sure where they came from. The one I wrote today doesn’t flow as much as the other – it’s more fragmented. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it just reflects something about my state of mind.

Here is most of the hand-written version. You can see that it was written in fragments even then.


Filed under every day angels, monday poetry thang, poetry, Previous Lives : Poems ReFound, writing exercises

Spider Relocation Project and Avoiding the Woolly Worms

It’s Day 28 of the Spider Relocation Project (aka Shed-to-Office-Renovation) and we’ve lost two more little dudes. One was into the vacuum and the other one was painted over with a roller. Sorry guys!

Total Saved: 56*
Total Lost: 3

*It’s possible I could have saved the same spider more than once.

I can’t show you the current status of the renovation because it’s too close to being done! The big reveal will be within the next week, I’m betting. Squee!

For the Monday Poetry Thang, and in the spirit of being concerned about little critters, I bring you (from my book Every Day Angels):

avoiding the woolly worms

I drive 10 miles an hour slower
to avoid them crossing the road
it is the season for so many things
don’t know what they will become
if left to become
some moth or butterfly fluttering to light
but for now they simply creep across every path
subtle as skin
twice as vulnerable
and I know I must be insane crying over
black and orange fuzz-piles on blacktop
as commuters back up I
swerve into the opposing lane my life
an unconcern as worms are enlightened
be free                 be free

in the next lifetime
perhaps they will live
in a great ocean

*            *            *

if you listen to sea turtles laying eggs
it sounds like a moan of human pleasure
exhale so familiar it makes one shiver
afterwards they abandon their young
to predators and elements
return to ocean         straight necks
sun and salt     stinging tears     mistaken
for regret

at recess village school children
shield emerging baby sea turtles
from vultures
They would tear their heads off
if we let them…

they say in Spanish

so few
so few after egg gathering season
ever make it to the water

*            *            *

upstairs I stand at the window
wondering if you are asleep
in the hammock
one leg thrown over the side
it is as if I am looking down
on the memory of something
or a distant happy dream

it is green and dry through the trees
I’m at the window upstairs
as the hammock swings back and forth
and back             and forth
filling the space between us

You wave slowly and I
wave back
far too calm and quiet


Filed under every day angels, monday poetry thang, poetry, renovation

for Gabrielle Bouliane (1966-2010)

Gabrielle’s last live reading.

The poem below is the best I can do right now… and it doesn’t feel like enough. How, ever, can words communicate what is ripped from the heart. I feel like I should watch this video every day, so that I remember how to live.

for Gabrielle Bouliane
(1967 – 2010)

you disappear on a full wolf moon but not really
in the age of a technology you shaped from, created you
send messages across miles and friends echo
that feisty stance, fiery angel,
oh, poet, gift-giver, love-master, my hours
in your presence are locked, sealed and
delivered  – – my dream-memory
days and nights spent on projects for literary minds
together building a factory to keep those hearts alive
smoke breaks outside the office in rusty Seattle
mother hens to spoiled wordsters all worth
while, our while, through earthquakes and madness
and divorces and spilled salt
we know life turns, tears, surprises for the
girls next door, tomboys and hippies and
drive, you had it, rode long highways, following
a bliss only shadowed by your gracious love

I can’t say good-bye, not here, not now
not with those wide-eyes in mine —

I’ll see you backstage, poet, that’s a promise
and meanwhile, this light you lit, I’ll shine.


Filed under aw... poop, every day angels, music / poetry videos, poetry, spokenword, truth and beauty

Hello Mister Moon


The other day I saw an excited little girl run out of a furniture store and look up into the sky.

“Mister Moon says hello!” she declared to her mother. “Hello, Mister Moon!” the little girl cried and waved at the moon.

Ah, to hear the moon…


Filed under every day angels, inspirational poop, random poop

Dropped Pages – Whale Calls

Late for the train. Let’s blame it on the time change, shall we?

This was a poem dropped from Every Day Angels and Other Near Death Experiences.

whale calls

clouds in two separate directions
     move overhead
skink on rock, copper head
world a smooth glass
the largeness
     of your palm on my ribs
I was going to sleep

before in the jungle your smile
I couldn’t help
but love that
every step gentle
     the way it should be
each stop equal to the last or next
balancing at the base or edge of something
I understand you

hanakapai beach milky way fired from pink
you take pictures of a young couple
celebrating by the shore
          like out of travel magazines
where the girl is perfect and the
boy so careful in her presence

I lost the shell I picked from the beach the one
you blew as a miniature instrument in the
rental car where I think I dropped it
nothing was coming home with me
not even you

and I knew this before we left for the journey
I was unstuck in time
and saw our parting as one
continuous moment
as I dreamt it always but kept
under a spell

your footprints in the sand I walk inside of
     forward     and backward
I watch you read or pick lemons

the way your feet turn in as you walk
the breath at which you
     confidently blow     sweet low music
whale calls

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

da train!  da train!


Filed under dropped pages, every day angels, monday poetry thang, poetry