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Poetry

Poetry

Fruit

As for the process of writing the piece—this was one of the pieces I wrote with fellow writers in a weekly writing session where someone gives a prompt and we each take an hour to create something. I have a fascination with the bubonic plague and fairy tales so I wanted to combine those elements. I got the idea of burying someone by a tree from “The Juniper Tree” story. My medical profession also helped in the making of this poem—since I’m a surgeon, I can actually say I’ve seen a couple of human hearts that really resemble fruit.

Poetry

Three Symptoms of a Disaster

Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s run in the family—both paternal grandparents had it, now my father, and it often feels like a neurological heirloom waiting for me. I wrote this poem after accompanying my father for his monthly Parkinson’s checkup and wanted to convey how surreal a doctor’s diagnosis can feel when it’s essentially telling you your body will eventually feel like a stranger.

Poetry

For You Were Strangers in Egypt

This poem is one in my @notaleptic series of poems where the Twitter bot of the same name provides the first line or lines. I wanted to put a Jewish hero into one of my “creepy off-planet work assignment” poems, with the help of a Jewish sensitivity reader. I’m very pleased with what resulted.

Poetry

Ritual

This poem is inspired by what I call “the miracle industry” in Nigeria, where pastors carry out exorcisms on their congregations. Because I have been taken to certain pastors to supposedly cast away demons inhabiting me, I thought of writing a poem mocking pastors who engage in that act.

Poetry

much to be mourned

While jogging in the woods, I was thinking about a past relationship, attempting to locate the first warning sign that it wasn’t going to end well. I came across a lake, and looking at the water, this awful memory resurfaced. I wrote the poem on the trail, expecting to heavily revise it, but something about the memory, without any exaggerations or literary illusions, seemed more unsettling.

Poetry

Around the Corners

Struggling with lifelong mental health issues means I’ve heard a lot of suggestions from folks who seem to think I’ve overlooked any number of simple remedies. It often reminds me of the confidence on display when, while watching a horror movie, some viewers are just so certain that they would make smarter, quicker, braver decisions than the characters on screen. How calm and bold and logical they would be while surviving the deadly threats. 

Poetry

Bitch Moon

I spent much of my early life in a tiny community on California’s distant North Coast. Isolation breeds secrets; the peaceful dark of an old-growth redwood forest provides easy cover for violence, and speaking out carries devastating social consequences—especially for women and girls. I wondered: what if their whispers grew teeth?

Poetry

warming

Arctic temperatures are at a record high. Next year they will be even higher, and then even higher than that. Oh, friends, we shouldn’t panic; we can’t give in to despair, not when there’s work to be done. But sometimes we need to feel it. We need to shine a light into the hole and see how far down the bottom really is.

Poetry

Field Notes from the Anthropocene

The imagery is from time spent in the woods, including in an area here with 14,000-year-old glacial soil deposits—how special is that, people clean up your garbage. Back then it would’ve been predominantly oak trees, but we now see a lot more maple, as well as other introduced species. The fireflies . . . the species here overwinter in the soil.

Poetry

Said the Carrion to the Corvus

Recently, it’s been hard not to feel consumed by outside forces. There’s always someone coming to take something from you. The taxman, the debt collector, familial relations, whomever. This poem is for those who have given everything.