the new season

Reviewing everything I wrote this summer, it was pretty much just chaining fears about global warming, nuclear war, putting my child through change, and extreme weather. Here’s one in not its worst state.

I’m so grateful for the grey, cool, desperately needed rain. I’m already full-on with making squash and mushroom stews, thick soups, and warm breads. Give me wool, coffee, herbal tea, and excuses to hang out and read, and I’m good for half a year.

And in the past couple months, 3 people have asked me to give them tarot readings. 😍 I haven’t been brave enough to do it yet, but I’m gonna. Because everyone deserves a little extra guidance from the ether now and then.



palms / chrysanthemums

Earlier this year, for a number of months, I felt like I had chrysanthemums in my hands. It was an odd, sudden sensation one day, both palms full, each with the soft weight of a chrysanthemum in the middle.

I hadn’t ever seen a nice chrysanthemum, just obligatory ones in grocery stores every autumn growing up, with brash harvest colors and struggling, spidery blooms. But the chrysanthemums in my palms were full, generous, neatly feathered. Some days they felt white, and some days they felt light yellow.

Sometimes I loved that they were energetically there, and some days I felt frustrated because I couldn’t understand what they were supposed to mean. Sometimes I would try to shake the sensation from my hands, but they just remained. They felt like being around people who know a lovely surprise that’s coming to you, but it hasn’t arrived yet.

I drafted notes for a poem about it, looked up chrysanthemum meanings, researched what it could possibly mean to energetically feel like you have chrysanthemums unfolding from your palms, and then then slowly, the sensation dissipated.

But today, in a florist shop there they were, my chrysanthemums. Or ones that looked like them. I chanced upon them on a day of my son asking if it was snowing, and having to say no, it’s ashes. He asked, from what. I said, Well, …everything. And then explained that sometimes things have to burn entirely to be renewed.

I can’t take pictures of each one in each of my palms, because I can’t hold the camera and the flowers at the same time.

chrysanthemum bloom
rough notes for a poem

A bad thing: A strange, extreme outbreak of house flies?! Eclipse energy? Last gasp of a very old, detrimental belief, symbolized? Who knows! But I killed between 70 and 100 in 3 days. I love having superior reflexes; If I were rolled on a stat sheet, I’d have a 19 dexterity (there is that one time on the shuffleboard court…), but only probably like a 7 physical strength so good thing they weren’t flying bears (leave me alone… I’ve been listening to a lot of Critical Role podcast). The pest man could find no reason for them at all. He just foam-sprayed some cracks around the foundation and said good luck. Of course, they seem gone now, after basically a horror film for 3 days.

A good thing: When I sent out a rash of 10 manuscripts earlier in the year, I did so with the hope that at least 2 would come back with a non-form rejection of: “We passed on this, but all really liked it and it went far. Please try us again.” And they did! And even getting that far is really hard! Imagine what would happen if I could really spend time writing and reading! How exciting.

eclipse season, cont’d.

The wildfires grow so that by the end of the day, breathing is difficult. I bolster my lungs. All light is rubbed-raw pink, or beige tinged, like the walls of a smoker’s home. Just ashes falling now.

wildfire shower


Dreams and sleep and information have all been wild around this last eclipse. A few nights ago I had an epiphany while watching The West Wing (leave me alone, I’ve never seen it and it was Adam Arkin episode). It was a tremendous shift, posing as a smooth one, like simply rounding a corner in a familiar neighborhood or like stumbling upon an overgrown formal garden and its right amount of concept, and juxtaposed feral growth.

Before sleep I tug at my red grounding to the earth, making sure, clear blocks that look like burnt bricks, comb my green of white threads, frown at my weak yellow; not canary or goldenrod, more a thinned butter. But marvel at the saturated prussian blue, the plum-black purple.

A few weeks ago, in a not-yet-sleep-but-not-still-awake was shown: my own hand pulling a heavy brass knob closed behind me; a thick door closing off the before. My baby on my hip, my dogs at my feet in a new, lit, white and pink, all warm, calm, and possible. A relief and a *finally,* and the space expanding for us to walk in and be now… just this gratefulness, and relief. And promise.

This lady closed a book. A sting on my arm, while sitting on my steps and then her insides expelling. I sat with her for her last, gave her honey, warmed her with my breath, a prayer of thanks and goodbye.


Yesterday, a passing, but somehow it feels like a gift. This is just something else he crafted to share. If I think of Ashbery, all I think of is: permission. His work grants permission. Or at least, it has always granted me permission where I have otherwise not been able to find it. All personal space, and all clouding out, and filling in.

Some John Ashbery Poems


My Erotic Double

Some Trees


John Ashbery, Obituary



(she) bang(s) the drum

I went off about bees and pollinators… again. I feel like all of these quotes should wind up with me saying: “…and get off my lawn!”

It seems I said: “And finally,” twice… the ol’ bait & switch. You think I’m going to make my final point and then bam, one more point for your face! Thanks to Avital for… well… so much, but especially for including me here; really good company to be in.

Screenshot 2017-03-18 13.32.59

written items

A day of: We-really-loved-these-poems-but-we-are-passing;-please-send-us-more-of-your-work-soon-though, rejections from much admired journals somehow feels like a win?Especially since all writing takes place usually pulled over on the road shoulder and tapping in Google Keep. If my earnest, (if inconsistent) efforts submitting work yield positive feedback instead of the standard: hey NO WAY, I have to find actual discipline around submitting, a process that for whatever reason feels akin to ripping off my skin in long strips.

There’s an old theologian whose name escapes me and he kept journals for decades and every year said the same thing: I’m focused on becoming more disciplined around my work and goals. I think of that a lot. And that guy probably wasn’t primary parent to a young child, a business owner, and managing being a woman in this eye-rollingly frustrating and threatening culture. So if he couldn’t even manage it and all he had to do was spend time contemplating God and faith, I’m going elect being kinder to myself and remain doing it as I’m able, with continuous intent to do more and better.

I feel a small internal thrill that the Richard poems are doing well for themselves and being understood. I was concerned they would be written off as poetic fan fiction (which, technically they are) and thus have sat on them, in some cases, for four years. But there’s a lot of them now and I so much want for them to become their own chapbook.

My goal this year was one complete manuscript (done), and a stretch goal of three manuscripts, the two others being chapbook sized. But the Richard poems need loads more work. About five are in really good shape. Eight are in the middle, and then it gets really rough. And, I don’t know when to stop writing them? The narrative is so loose I can justify a lot falling thematically in line. So I wonder if the device is just turning into a crutch and detracting from otherwise strong poems by utilizing the apostrophe? The one thing those poems do for me is generally force me to write succinct, one or two breath poems (on the side of the road), which is something my dearly loved Stephanie Adams-Santos has been urging me toward for a long while. I feel sorta nude without a lot of movements stringing.

I’ve been trying to write outside of the Richard poems and I have, but if I add: Richard, at the top, they all still work, just differently. Like, this I drafted last weekend (it’s rough, so, so rough)…

Screenshot 2017-03-17 10.47.03

It works, in his one time paramour’s speaking voice that I’ve created,

but it also works this way, if very differently and with different implications.

Screenshot 2017-03-17 10.47.03

So, idk. It’s very fitting if in Richard, I’ve created a monster that’s out of my control… sort of like the country did in his narrative, by sending him to war. JUST SAYING.


previously the end of a poem about worsening pneumonia, fever hallucinating, and existing in the inbetween. this doesn’t belong to that poem. i’m not sure where it belongs so it’s staying here for now. 

i was born on a pile of needles,

all fir green and mountain balm

i was born above fresh earth,

outside a town, a sleuth of bears

circling, i was born, and the bears

did raise me after


julianna swaney. ❤︎