Back to Top


One of Denise Levertov’s poems illustrated by Ohara Hale, courtesy of Brain Pickings. Thanks Austin Kleon for sharing these, they’re lovely.

"I want to be a teacher.""What’s the best part about being a teacher?""Teaching."


"I want to be a teacher."
"What’s the best part about being a teacher?"

Don’t we all. Seen at Powell’s on Burnside. Portland.

Don’t we all. Seen at Powell’s on Burnside. Portland.

North Portland.

My brother’s bachelor party was Saturday night. We ate many choice cuts of meat served to us from swords. I fell asleep in a chair by a fire pit. I’ll be at the Oregon coast this weekend with my closest friends. My heart needs them. The sun has been in Portland since I arrived. The heart needs this too. It has been hungry for light. Light comes in several different forms. Sun. Milkshake. Grandfather’s breath. Tiger’s fur. Carl Sagan. Being the cause of Wife’s laughter. My mother and hers. Sister’s persisting kindness. The heart is hungry for light. Sometimes reaches for it. Sometimes pushes it away. Somehow does this sometimes with the same motion. Right now my heart is softly turning towards that light. Ours is a strange and tiring and beautiful magic. We know our love for each other but do not always know how. Tulips in North Portland. The morning rain on their petals. I will see nearly all sides of my family in the coming weeks. The in-laws next week. My parents and sister the following. I wish there was a better word for the family one becomes through marriage, other than in-laws. It is too “at arm’s length”. I will see family next week. And family the following. Creating one river from several tributaries. The cherry blossoms conversing. Wearing a scarf. Swimming. The boat I am in has been so rocky over this last year. Even when the seas have been still. It hasn’t yet capsized though. Even when the seas have stormed. A rough year. A rough fistful of months. Many rough days. The sea is currently calm. The boat currently still. The path is open right now. The light soft. Sleeping beside a fire pit. The beach with chosen family. The promise of summer. The knowledge of its presence. The heart, my heart, is a bird of light colors and dark eyes cleaning its feathers. The love held warm to its breast. Everything is good. Not everything is good, but everything’s good.


Tonight, I look, thunderstruck
at the gold head of my grandchild.   
Almost asleep, he buries his feet   
between my thighs;
his little straw eyes
close in the near dark.
I smell the warmth of his raw   
slightly foul breath, the new death   
waiting to rot inside him.
Our breaths equalize our heartbeats;   
every muscle of the chest uncoils,   
the arm bones loosen in the nest   
of nerves. I think of the peace   
of walking through the house,
pointing to the name of this, the name of that,
an educator of a new man.

Mother. Grandmother. Wise
Snake-woman who will show the way;   
Spider-woman whose black tentacles
hold him precious. Or will tear off his head,   
her teeth over the little husband,
the small fist clotted in trust at her breast.

This morning, looking at the face of his father,
I remembered how, an infant, his face was too dark,   
nose too broad, mouth too wide.
I did not look in that mirror
and see the face that could save me
from my own darkness.
Did he, looking in my eye, see
what I turned from:
my own dark grandmother
bending over gladioli in the field,
her shaking black hand defenseless   
at the shining cock of flower?

I wanted that face to die,
to be reborn in the face of a white child.

I wanted the soul to stay the same,   
for I loved to death,
to damnation and God-death,   
the soul that broke out of me.
I crowed: My Son! My Beautiful!   
But when I peeked in the basket,   
I saw the face of a black man.

Did I bend over his nose
and straighten it with my fingers   
like a vine growing the wrong way?   
Did he feel my hand in malice?

Generations we prayed and fucked   
for this light child,
the shining god of the second coming;   
we bow down in shame
and carry the children of the past   
in our wallets, begging forgiveness.

A picture in a book,
a lynching.
The bland faces of men who watch   
a Christ go up in flames, smiling,   
as if he were a hooked
fish, a felled antelope, some
wild thing tied to boards and burned.   
His charring body
gives off light—a halo
burns out of him.
His face scorched featureless;
the hair matted to the scalp
like feathers.
One man stands with his hand on his hip,   
another with his arm
slung over the shoulder of a friend,   
as if this moment were large enough   
to hold affection.

How can we wake
from a dream
we are born into,
that shines around us,   
the terrible bright air?

Having awakened,
having seen our own bloody hands,   
how can we ask forgiveness,
bring before our children the real   
monster of their nightmares?

The worst is true.
Everything you did not want to know.

Bloomington IN.

Gone till May something.

Gone till May something.