A Poem about Frat Girls

October 12th, 2006

This is a poem I wrote about frat girls, the ones who you always see at the frat parties on other campuses and this campus. I wanted it to be funny, but somehow it just ended up making me sad and almost pitying them, but here goes:

Nights on Stupid                        by Richard Vasquez




As they go hand in hand,

giddy and carefree with their purses engorged with

loose cash,

flavored, ribbed, glow-in-the-dark condoms,

credit cards, fake IDs that say they are 25 and from East Lansing,

makeup from Sephora,

birth control pills, and sparkly lip-gloss.

This is an old mission, the same as every

other weekend.  Perhaps play some Beirut, get some numbers,

generally forget about any sort of manners or

moral upbringing.

An elitism that

gets written about too little

these days

is imbedded in the psyche of

every made-up trollop.  It doesn’t matter

whether each is rich or destitute,

pretty or putrid,

a vestal or a vacancy.

In the recesses of each mind

is a goddess persona, put on this earth

for the sheer purpose of being a bimbo who

thinks she is something sacred to behold


Which one carries the camera tonight?

How many

will she take of herself holding the camera away from her

face?  How many will be of her

friend chugging cheap sweaty beer with one of the frat guys?

Will their eyes be able to decipher the visions

between the agglutination of caked-on make-up?  Will the drunken

swaying of their young bodies somehow

make them feel they are the womanly wonders

of the world?


Will they ever get a clue

or will they continue being cliché?


The Dissident Student

October 12th, 2006

For years he listens to me
Like the trees listen to the seasons.
With me he crossed the current
To the fountain . . . He never lets me rest, even during my siesta,
Dictating into my tired mouth the most confusing gibberish.
Yet always mindful, as if he was holding back.

One day in my old age, he, blue like a diamond, bursts onto me
Strips off my turban,
Throws my ink and my tattered papers into my face,
And takes off as if for a rendezvous with fate.

For years people never stopped visiting
To console me. I used to indulge them
Without any conviction.
For even now, ever since he destroyed my isolated perch
And left,
I see in his footprints
A path for wisdom beyond my inkpot and my paper.

I don’t know what this poem is supposed to symbolize.  The best I could guess was a storm or some sort of natural occurence.  The most interesting part is the title, dissident student.  The footprints indicate that an actual person existed but its still difficult to tell.  Him being “blue like a diamond” confuses me, because I do not usually see diamonds as blue.

revision of dog poem

October 11th, 2006

so I’m not sure if we’re supposed to post revisions, but here’s one of my dog poem. hope its a little more cheery now:


Perhaps it was a bad idea, taking her

to my house for the week. I insisted;

“She’ll love it.” Dad frowned

and left the address of the beach house prefaced

with emergency vet numbers

and 24-hour kennels.

I envisioned wagging tails and long walks

but I couldn’t avoid the warning signs. Fur ruffled

along her shoulder blades as we passed under the

foreign door frame together. She searched the house

as if there had been some mistake; there was no doggy door,

there wasn’t even a fireplace. Perhaps I should not have ignored

the quiet cries as I helped four tired legs

up the unusually uncarpeted stairs.

But I could have sworn

I saw her black beagle lips form a soundless smile,

thanking me every time I reappeared in view.

The first to come under attack were the bedposts,

carefully whittled to jagged edges. She had autographed

my chair legs by the second day, scrawling her name

with hundreds of tiny teeth marks along the dresser

and desk posts. I let her take over

the room, but it was not until she found

the purse from New York that became supper

and the shoes from Paris for desert

followed by presents scattered to every corner

that I surrendered and packed up the car for home. She watched

knowing where we were going, her tail

beating against the passenger seat like a pulse

as we pulled onto the highway.

“She’s just old,” my mother said. “you know

she can’t be away from the house.”

I should have known

she couldn’t be away from the house, and yet

somewhere between Fredericksburg and DC

between the reassuring pets and promises of her bed

I thanked her for her inability to change.

The car went into park as her nose left its last smudge on the window

and we both smiled as we unlocked the front door

and went from room to room, turning on all the familiar lights.

Mmmmmm, words.

October 3rd, 2006

My Name Is Donald

Like a fish on a hedge, the horsefly
Lands on my wife’s lipstick.
That is sobriety.
That is the end of my hayride with oblivion.
I wonder: How long will it be until no one
Knows what a hayride is,
Or was? I’ve never been,
But the happiness I’ve seen in movies —
All the kids piled up in hay & a fiddler driving —
Is very real. It was real for a while.
Only a child can watch a movie sober.
He is younger than the mule pulling the wagon.
He is unshamed by the fiddler’s expertise.
His birth trumps all, which is to say he’s flying.

–Donald Revell

OK, I love it. But do I get it? I’m not sure.

It kind of reminds me of Faulkner-meets-JohnAshbery-meets-billycollins or something. (I know, enough Billy Collins already)

The hayride stream-of-consciousness is great. The words transient, nostalgic, youthful, rural, and tradition[al] all come to mind. Maybe I only think of Faulkner because of the thing about the fish… like My Mother is a fish… or whatever.
“Only a child can watch a movie sober,” what an interesting line. I wonder how much sobriety refers to alcohol and how much it refers to coming to terms with mortality. Oblivion suggests mortality. What is sobriety? The realization of something dangerously unexpected. A horsefly on lipstick, for example. Then how is a child sober? Perhaps, a child is able to make realizations with more clarity, with more acceptance. There are less preconcieved certanties with children.

The ending is so positive. Life trumps all. Surprisingly positive in light of the rest of the poem: a hayride with oblivion and whatnot. “He is flying,” though, suggests a connection with the horsefly–the cause of sobriety.

I suppose that children bring about a sort of sobriety as well as experience it.

There’s a lot more that could be said about this one. I like it.


October 2nd, 2006

by Victoria Redel

Tell me it’s wrong the scarlet nails my son sports or the toy
store rings he clusters four jewels to each finger.

He’s bedecked. I see the other mothers looking at the star
choker, the rhinestone strand he fastens over a sock.
Sometimes I help him find sparkle clip-ons when he says
sticker earrings look too fake.

Tell me I should teach him it’s wrong to love the glitter that a
boy’s only a boy who’d love a truck with a remote that revs,
battery slamming into corners or Hot Wheels loop-de-looping
off tracks into the tub.

Then tell me it’s fine – really – maybe even a good thing – a boy
who’s got some girl to him,
and I’m right for the days he wears a pink shirt on the seesaw in
the park.

Tell me what you need to tell me but keep far away from my son
who still loves a beautiful thing not for what it means –
this way or that – but for the way facets set off prisms and
prisms spin up everywhere
and from his own jeweled body he’s cast rainbows – made every
shining true color.

Now try to tell me – man or woman – your heart was ever once
that brave.

I’m not entirely sure about all of her line breaks, or her choices to make some lines run together, but it occurs to me that the structure of her poem is almost like the facets she writes about – a little fractured, a little distorted, but sparkling and lovely all the same. I love the idea that “he’s bedecked.” It carries so many connotations: luxury, extravagance, even something (like prejudice or stereotypes) that’s put upon one. And I love the last line. Maybe I’m sappy, but it gave me chills.

this was the poem featured on my birthday

October 2nd, 2006

the poem of the day on poetry daily, may 1, 2006:

“When Dylan Left Hibbing, Minnesota, August 1959”

by John Hogden

Not even Dylan then, more like David the Blue-Eyed Shepherd Boy Giant Killer instead,
the way he must have looked in those Golden Book Illustrated Bible Stories we never read,
the ones with the pictures of the prophets, each with a gold record stuck to his head,
or like the Classic Comics Crime and Punishment, Raskolnikov rocking and rolling on his bed,
heading on down the highway out of St. Petersburg, the landlord’s axe still in the shed,
throwing stones at all the stop signs a-bleeding in his head.

Wasn’t he a singing terrorist then, slaying us in the aisles, knocking us dead,
like some wild-eyed kid from Fallujah now, his machine gun guitar slipped over his head,
his ass in a sling, his mind full of dynamite, his righteous streets turning red,
his only song his heaven’s door, toward which he runs, arms outspread.
Oh, Zimmerman, we never heard a single word you ever said,
from Ararats to ziggurats, from alpha down to zed,
our heads cut off, our tongues cut out, no words left to be said,
all the things we’ve ever loved, dead, dead, dead, dead.

like I’ve said in a couple responses, I love Bob Dylan, probably because I grew up with my dad reading me dylan songs and poems, by both bob dylan and dylan thomas. this poem is actually about the day bob dylan, then bob zimmerman, left his small hometown of hibbing, minnesota to go to college and eventually get his music career underway.

this poem almost sounded to me like a dylan song. the sound, especially the endings, all variations of the sound “dead” all just remind me of something dylan would write. im pretty sure its about when dylan changed his name from zimmerman to dylan, maybe explains the line “oh, zimmerman, we never heard a word you said,” since he wrote everything under the name dylan. im not really sure of the literary references in the first stanza, and theres quite a shift to the second, especially with the violent imagery, but i really like the phrase “singing terrorist,” implying that dylans songs actually elicited some sort of physical response.

Mary Karr on Poetry Daily

October 2nd, 2006

Delinquent Missive

Before David Ricardo stabbed his daddy
           sixteen times with a fork — Once
for every year of my fuckwad life
— he’d long
           showed signs of being bent.
In school, he got no valentine nor birthday
           cake embellished with his name.
On Halloween, a towel tied around his neck
           was all he had to be a hero with.
He spat in the punchbowl and smelled like a foot.
           His forehead was a ledge
he leered beneath. When I was sent to tutor him
           in geometry, so he might leave
(at last) ninth grade, he sat running pencil lead
           beneath his nails.
If radiance shone from those mudhole eyes,
           I missed it. Thanks, David
for your fine slang. You called my postulates
           post holes; your mom endured
ferocious of the liver. Plus you ignored —
           when I saw you wave at lunch —
my flinch. Maybe by now you’re ectoplasm,
           or the zillionth winner of the Texas
death penalty sweepstakes. Or you occupy
           a locked room with a small
round window held fast by rivets, through which
           you are watched. But I hope
some organism drew your care — orchid
           or cockroach even, some inmate
in a wheelchair whose steak you had to cut
           since he lacked hands.
In this way, the unbudgeable stone
           that plugged the tomb hole
in your chest could roll back, and in your sad
           slit eyes could blaze
that star adored by its maker.


This past Saturday, Leah and I got to listen to some of the readings at DC’s Bookfest, and we heard Mary Karr read some poetry from her book, Sinners Welcome. Two of her poems were featured on poetry daily a while ago, neither of which she read outloud, but what was featured in both venues showcases Karr’s narrative technique.

I really like Karr’s sense of humor and sarcastic quips (I would hate to land a spot on her bad side). There are some great sounds in this poem, like “the unbudgeable stone / that plugged the tomb hole,” and I think reading this poem outloud, to another person, is the only way of summing up the story of David Ricardo. This poem reminds me of how you can only recall a person from high school, one that you didn’t know too well, by way of saying “the kid who….”  and then when you’re done remembering, you make your predictions as to how they’re faring these days. For the line “you are watched. I hope” makes me think that since she only worked with him, but didn’t know him personally (and didn’t want to know him personally, as she ignored his waves) she feels she owes him at least a little concern on his whereabouts, but not necessarily a phone call. She at least gives him the benefit of the doubt, it seems.

I’d like to hear what anyone else thinks about the title “Delinquent Missive.” I’m interpreting it as a failing to send a message, that maybe she did indeed have some thoughts (and feelings?) for this person, at the time that she knew him, but was too young to express them.

Lyrical, by Joseph Millar

October 2nd, 2006

The spaniel next door yaps at the sparrows,
he yaps at the crows and the mailman,
yaps at the compost pile and the sunflower,
yaps at the rain and the sky. He yaps
at the steps leading down to the creek
where the flax plants bloom high as my waist
and the blue flowers force their way up
through small stones the color of night. He
yaps at the garbage truck’s back-up beeper,
iron bell song of the priest and bridegroom,
song of the lone ship, song of the train,
song of the big waves rolling and breaking
over the western reefs. He yaps at the rosebush,
yaps at the fence, song for the sidewalk cracked
in half, the wine bottle resting against the curb,
the neighbor who doesn’t come home.


i liked this poem initially because i thought the subject matter was rather funny; everyone has been around a dog who barks at literally everything. also, the title “Lyrical” was initially funny as well, as most people wouldn’t necessarily think of a dog’s bark as having any “Lyrical” qualities. however, but the end of the poem, Millar breaks the pattern of “Yaps at…” and refers to the sound as “song” and then brings in the idea of a neighbor who has not come home. i was struck by the ambiguity, and rather serious nature of this last line when compared to the rest of the poem, which to that point, felt rather light-hearted. in an untraditional sort of way, assuming there is a neighbor who is missing, a dog’s bark could to some degree be seen as an elegy, or lyrical somehow. i also thought the ambiguous nature of the last line was intriguing and thought-provoking.

What the Gravedigger Needs

September 30th, 2006

Teuva, Finland


rubber boots

leather gloves

iron spear to loosen up the frozen ground



length of rope

board to prevent mourners falling in

bicycle to go from grave to grave

Rachel Loden
New American Writing
Number 24, 2006


Is a list a poem?  This poem makes it hard to argue otherwise.  The items are well chosen, the list brief and pointed and powerful.  Some have obvious uses, and are left undescribed, some you fill in by yourself (rope to lower the coffin in) and others are described for you, but in terms simple and short enough that they compel imagination anyway.  This poem was a real gem, to me.  I can tell partly because now I want to imitate it.

Verse Daily: Cat Nap by Asa Boxer

September 29th, 2006

Enjoying rest, the feral house-cat wears her twilight coat, curls up,
and disappears among the waves of a rumpled blanket. So softly does she sleep,
it seems birds could fold safely into her paws, mice slip out of her pockets.
But in her brain, the owl flicks awake the dim lanterns of its eyes.

The mice stash their tiny beds safely under the boards of the hardwood floors.
The birds have worried in the eaves, tucking in their quiet nests, weaving whirlwinds
of twigs, pine needles, and string from the forest’s busy kitchen, where the fall
is cooking up a dreadful storm; mixing in every wild spice the forest can afford.

The woodpecker has peppered the trees and peppered the air with its knocking.
By ant-back, bee-sock, and squirrel-cheek, the forest is getting carried away.
The forest is shedding and shifting while the cat twitches an ear, listening
as the porcupine munches the main beam of the house down to the sweet core.

When the main beam snaps and the house leans with a groan of steel and wood,
when its hidden shelters crack and betray the mice at their gnawing, the eyelids
of the cat will split, her eyes break open, her claws slip out. She’ll leap at the bird,
toy with the mouse, and hunt till the buzz of the forest is caught.


It was the prosy quality of this poem that initially drew me to it. I think it allows for the lyrical quality of its stanzas. This is indicative in lines such as, “The forest is shedding and shifting while the cat twitches an ear, listening …” Also, the slant rhymes (see: whirlwinds / afford; wood / bird) afford the poem a whimsical property appropriate to its subject matter.
What I enjoyed most about this poem is all the animal imagery throughout. It sounds cheesy but birds “weaving whirlwinds,” “porcupine[s] munching,” and the concept of “forest’s busy kitchen” made me grin (in a good way).