Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Bragpost: Dappled Things

I have three poems in the new issue of Dappled Things, a journal I really admire that explores issues of faith.

For those who have stumbled onto this blog and don't particularly like poetry (for example -- my family members, my enemies, and fans of Steely Dan), I'm posting the poem the journal takes its title from.  It's by Gerard Manley Hopkins.  You'll like it!  Well, maybe.  As much as you like anything, you grumpy rascals.

Pied Beauty

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Feelin' Old

This semi-offensive challenge comes from my brother Sam. His challenge is to write about the first time I felt old. Now...this doesn't sound like a huge challenge in some ways. On the other hand, I recently turned 30, so he's probably suggesting that I should feel old. So that is a pretty serious challenge -- "Feel old, Ivy! And write a sad poem about it." But the thing is, I've always wanted to be old. I spent most of my early years pretending to be an adult and trying to convince other kids not to pick their noses. I still relish moments when I feel old and wise, and I dread feeling small and young again. I wrote this poem with all that in mind. Sam also hates poetry that reads like a diary entry, so I figured I'd throw a little of that in, too.


When I was three and setting tables
for my bears, my heart
wasn't in it, was above
the trees, in the white pulse
of new songs and Birmingham
in the distance, the blinking buildings.

Youth is a long clearing
of the throat before you begin
to love the city you were born in,
kid. The oldest and wisest man
I work with (on the 19th floor
of one bright building) says
I remind him of Lauren Bacall sometimes,
all shoulder pads and haughtiness.
Like her, I want to be heavy
as a cigarette.

She was seventeen in her first role,
and the director taught her to act old,
talk deep and slow. It's taken me years
to say to hell with directors.

I feel old for the first time every time
I turn away from the sky
and remember my dinner companions,
realize once again that the bears
I used to love are only men
I don't recognize anymore.

The remedy for age is time,
and as I outgrow my soft
and bloodless friends,
as I outgrow my own successive skins
between this life and the next,
I insist on being older
than the songs I teach myself.

Sam's review: 

Older siblings are so smug about being old--they could invite you to their bear parties, but instead you get left out in the cold. However, I will say, that this is much better than your diary entries used to be (having secretly read them many times). Can younger siblings ever feel old?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Steely Dan, etc.

This challenge comes at my request from Brennan Marks, my brother Sam's friend. Brennan founded "The Steely Dan Conversation Group" while they were in high school, and I've read some of the really funny speeches and poems he's written from the group's annual banquets and for Facebook birthday posts.

So naturally, I wanted a challenge from him. I figured it would have something to do with Steely Dan. I didn't realize it would have to do with so many other things as well.

His challenge:

Write a poem explaining how Steely Dan is the greatest band of all time in a non-ironic, non-sarcastic completely genuine manner, how your dear cousin Adam Witcher Greene agrees that Steely Dan is the greatest band of all time, and that basketball is the greatest sport of all time.
Must be iambic pentameter
  • ABAB rhyme scheme (can be slant rhyme if necessary)
  • 10 4 line stanzas (or more than 10 if you need them but no less)
  • Must reference former Alabama Crimson Tide QB AJ McCarron
  • Must use the phrase "Quoth the GAYven" 
  • Must use the phrase "isometric indifference curve"
  • Must quote a portion of the following Biblical verses: Leviticus 19:27-30.
  • Must incorporate this in a line exactly as quoted: "Barack HUSSEIN Obama"
  • Must use phrase "I'm better than Nabokov"
  • Must make reference to the Rothschild banking family
  • Must make reference to Ben Grimes

  • My poem:

    All We Know Is This

    When sunlight bangs against the moon, that's jazz.
    My cousins think the sun is a basketball.
    Cousin Adam says the moon is just a spazz
    whose soft white forehead is a moving backboard.

    Our president plays basketball, the sport
    of passing, our president, the papers say
    Barak HUSSEIN Obama is a part
    of the ending nation, part of the sad play

    full of actors who strut and fret and reel the years
    as Donald Fagan says, the mastermind
    of the world's greatest band, oh losers don't fear--
    there's a name for you when you win, and it's Ben Grimes,

    my brother, author of the ballad "Gynn Tarry".
    But I digress! My kin and their opinions
    could fill eleven stanzas, outstar stars.
    "Steely Dan," says Adam Grimes, my cousin,

    "is the world's greatest band," and that's the sum
    of some law and knowledge, plus do not
    tattoo your bodies for the dead, plus some
    of my kin would say I'm better than Nabokov.

    He's dead, and I'm not. And basketball, yes,
    my cousin Brennan Grimes says (I agree)
    it is the best sport, almost as powerful as rest.
    Old quarterbacks don't die, they just impede

    the progress of the team with bloated ghosts.
    Remember former quarterback, AJ
    McCarron, how he was known to say, "Quoth
    the GAYven, 'I believe in second place'."

    But cousins, brothers, countrymen, I do
    believe in second place, in the gutrot "okay",
    the redemption of our ugly, hated, foes,
    and sometimes being worse than Nabokov.

    It's impossible to say just what I mean!
    With all things being equal, an isometric
    indifference curve, your spleen is worth my spleen.
    My kin believe my attitude's pathetic.

    All Grimeses of the world, unite in panic!
    Our reign is but a portion of the Rothschilds',
    but it lasts as long as we can fit
    jazzlight, sport, and words into our lives.

    Brennan's masterful review:

    Review of All We Know Is This
    The stanzas flow like the River Nile
    The imagery in the first stanza ain’t chopped liver
    Love the first line; will have to keep in my file
    Congo, Niger, Orange, and Limpopo are also African rivers
    Fame equals length is what the kids say
    It’s a nice tie-in that Obama likes basketball
    And the poem I’m reviewing reminds me of flowers in May:
    Sweet. But with Obama in charge, do the cherries blossom on the National Mall?
    Third stanza, we finally get to the Dan
    But my one complaint is that FagAn is misspelled.
    Should be FagEn, Adam Greene is his #1 fan
    But of course, you could easily fix the typo after thereview and send me to Hell
    And here, the overall theme of the poem comes out
    Truly this is about the importance of family and
    Achieving immortality through family and art, a Grimes would know no doubt
    That family is immortal and of all time, Steely Dan is the greatest band
    But back to the previous stanza real quick
    “Outstar stars” is a genius phrase in my opinion
    Some lines from Leviticus really make me tick
    And Nabokov couldn’t do this or my name isn’t Brennan
    This stanza, I really like the last line, and how it transitions
    I also like the analogy to rest
    Rest, I agree, is important and deserves to be mentioned
    Right before the QB who will always be second best
    To Adam, in his heart, and to Steely Dan musically speaking
    AJ McCarron really adds depth to this poem
    The perfection of Steely Dan and basketball compared to this weakling
    Shows that most of the world is flawed but we must keep on rowin’
    And as you said in this stanza, it’s okay to finish in second
    And that’s quite an all right sentiment
    Which is what the poet in all of us might beckon
    But the poets among all people perhaps are first at being sentient
    For instance, until this poem and all poems by Ivy, myfavorite poem of all time
    Was the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. How did you know, unless you could tell
    From my prompt, that I would love this stanza’s first line
    Much more than sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells?
    But the theme hits hard in this final verse.
    Family and imperfection and immortality perhaps even love, which is mighty
    So I appreciate you not making my difficult prompt terse
    I enjoyed what you did with it, well-done, thank you Ivy!

    No, thank you, Brennan! Hopefully we will work together on poems and poem-reviews-in-poem-form in the future.

    Wednesday, October 1, 2014

    Corn Love

    I asked one of my former writing professors, Michael Martone, for a challenge.  He's always reminded me a little of David Lynch in that he's Midwestern, he's often cryptic, and he's obsessed with corn.  And he's someone I've learned a lot from!  He was an encouraging teacher who championed my zaniness in class, and I'll always appreciate that.

    And he has his own Wikipedia page:

    At any rate, his challenge for me was "the sex life of corn."  It was a puzzler, and props to Alana Baldwin (featured in a previous post) who helped me edit this poem by cutting it in half, putting the beginning at the end, and cutting out a stanza that featured the phrase "inert within its husk."

    So here we go:

    Corn Love

    As its husk loosens, Corn enjoys
    glossy magazine pics of barbecues...

    ...sauce delirious, pepper shimmering.
    And on the side of the grill, Corn himself.

    Aluminum tuxedo. Butter that smooths pocked skin.

    How fine it is to look at other versions of ourselves.

    To get ideas.

    Corn wants Corn, but Corn
    wants to be dressed.

    It takes a lover, Midwestern at heart,
    a farmer, a fieldfly,
    a strong rabbit to undress it.

    Midwesterners think blood, like taco soup,
    is full of red-coated Corn.

    Corn thinks Midwesterners are sweet,
    but too sweet.

    Michael's review:


    Friday, September 12, 2014

    Working Moms

    My friend and coworker Caroline's challenge to me was to write about working moms.  She has three young kids (all girls, and including a pair of twins) and she's a great mom who still works like crazy.  She says that people see her kids and ask how she could still work, and she replies, "How could I not work?"  So in this poem, I'm thinking about how working to take care of your kids and working to take care of the world often go they dovetail and support each other.

    Unfortunately, the challenge was extra challenging, because the subject of working women/working moms always makes me think of this song from my youth:

    It's not very conducive to poem-writing.

    This is another poem where I go really macro, talk about "the world."  I think that along with the next challenge I receive for this blog, I'll issue my own challenge to myself...go micro.  Write about the trees and don't mention the forest. 
    At any rate, here's my poem:

    Working Mother

    A girl and her long hair are grass--
    need care, but grow regardless
    of your tugging.

    Art is swirling her hair into a bun,
    and work is entering the wilderness,
    the world of ungroomed beauty.

    A girl is part of the world,
    though sometimes driven underground
    to muffle the sound of her tears.

    A girl's work is to stop hiding.

    A mother's work is to unearth her,
    show her that the world
    is strong and wild enough to hold her,
    and make this true by being strong
    and wild enough to hold the world.

    God is pleased with the man who cleans the floor
    when the floor is caressed into a diamond.
    God sees our work and sees our work to love,
    make things glisten
    for children, and for everyone.

    Caroline's review:

    I sometimes wonder if all of the tasks and reminders I expect of myself each day really affect my life and my daughters' lives in a positive way - or really in any sort of way. I don't believe any woman sets out to achieve a title of "superwoman". I believe women have an inherent nature to multitask, and occasionally that quality/flaw will tip the scale and seems a bit overboard. I have a constant internal struggle over whether or not I am making the right moves as a woman and a mother. I want my children to see my choices as strong ones and persevering ones, but I don't want these choices to be at the sacrifice of my responsibility of being a mother. So, the question is... Are the late nights and laptop-weekends teaching my young and impressionable tots something positive? Or am I doing them a disservice by confusing them on where my priorities stand?

    So my answer to the dreaded question I get day in and day out - I do what I do because it is my human nature kicking into survival mode. I don't stop to think about how I haven't showered that day or how I thought I've had my much-needed third dose of caffeine, when really I look down to stare at my full and cold cup of coffee from 5:15 that morning. I do, however, remember seeing the three sets of big-beautiful-sleepy-brown eyes that brightened as they met mine that morning when I dragged them out of bed way too early to go to daycare so Mom and Dad could go to work to help provide for our family of five. 

    I think the man who I shared the elevator with this morning before work summed up my response to this:  "I don't know how you do it?!" As I am clearly breaking a sweat at 7:30am with my middle child strapped to me in an ergo carrier and her four-day-fever penetrating my skin, he says, "a mother does what a mother has to do." Very true old man - thank you for those wise words of clarity.

    And Ivy... the Sammy Kershaw song... really? Haha... But, no, seriously - I agree 100% that mothering can very much be broadened into the larger concept of caring for the world. We all do what we feel we are called to do. It is not something we have any control over - it is just there as part of our makeup.

    Friday, August 29, 2014


    For this challenge, I asked Jamie Sharp, a writer and editor who once published a couple of my poems in his journal, The Associative Press, and whose work I love. He has an amazing book of poems that stretch your logic-skin the way a jawbreaker stretches out your cheek. And it's hilarious. It's called Animal Husbandry Today:
    So his challenge for me is, in his words:

    Given that not all gibberish is equal, why do we form preferences for one kind of nonsense over another? Can nothing be conveyed; is every word/note/brushstroke a mirror?

    He directed me to this music video by an Italian entertainer, Adriano Celentano, who wrote a song meant to mimic the sound of English, but where the words (as you can hear) are meaningless:

    So this is a question I'll be thinking about for a long time. With or without the help of Wittgenstein, I can't say.

    But I can say for the present that poetry is most interesting to me when it does function as mirror, at least in some ways...when it gives me space to imagine...when it acts as a spark for meaning-making.

    I thought about Jabberwocky here, too, the most famous nonsense poem. One technique there is the portmanteau. Similarly, I decided to try a poem that looks like it's written in a different language, but which is a series of combined English words that can (usually) be pulled apart and translated. This is especially apparent by the last stanza. But once you translate the words out of their combinations...there's still some meaning-making left for the reader to do. 


    O moodim offall orich fishearer
    rubyells areating gleamstill
    o goldoor.
    Dontake damnos
    dontell theater goldoor

    Heartear comesoft overwhelmy bellights.
    Tastevening, teaseven,
    believe o droppedeal.
    tone saidove, tother nominalion.


    Illeave beforeverest
    toverwhelm tovercome
    toffer mysteryous
    foreaching goldoor.

    Here's Jamie's review, which parodies certain approaches to the interpretation of poetry and raises some deep questions in the process:

    Another Ivy Grimes poem, printed long ago in The Associative Press, asked “How could they wrap their minds around it,/ like foil around a piece of red candy?”

    Take a single golden idea and wrap it around: the Italian music video; Ivy’s poem; the world. Everything contained in the wrapper is now digestible: is sense. Everything outside the wrapper is nonsense.

    What is the golden idea that can envelop Ivy’s poem, “Goldoor”? Psychoanalysis!

    Notice the toffee in this piece and the red candy in her previous poem. The world—its sweetness—is primarily to be explored with the mouth. An oral fixation is strongly at play. The poet was probably switched to bottle feeding, at around six months, and now feels disconnected from: the real, the mother, the world.

    But what if the golden wrapper is actually Efficient Market Theory? Clearly the poem’s “nominal lion” is…

    This is too hard. But existing without the wrapper is hard too. I am overwhelmed! I can’t embrace “toffer mysteryous.” And one thought frightens me most: if the gold door doesn’t exist, is the reaching for it real?

    Great poem, Ivy. Now I’ll go cry myself to sleep.


    Thursday, August 28, 2014

    Skyrim: Elder Scrolls

    My next challenge is from a colleague who chooses to remain anonymous. Why anonymous? Because he doesn't want anyone in his professional life (the guys who belong to the nice country clubs in town) to know he is into a game called Skyrim: Elder Scrolls.

    As always, the Elder Scrolls Wiki was quite useful in my poem composition.

    The Game of Quests

    A dragon's always poised
    to wreck everything,
    and as I speak into your hagiography,
    I choose to describe you
    finagling a spear into the monster's wing
    like a fork into dry meat.

    When you begin your quest, you choose
    what kind of creature to be,
    for the sake of redeeming those
    like and unlike you.

    But you don't choose your soul.
    You are finite, a seabird
    who can't eat all the fish in the ocean.

    Whatever language you learn,
    the devil learned it first.
    Every game has an author.

    Don't bruise your tongue
    with spells.
    The dragon will terrorize itself.
    The world it haunts can only rob you
    of your hero's hat.
    Let the snow eat your enemies.
    Give the snow your meat.

    Anon's review:

    Interestingly, there is some gameplay truth in this poem. Sometimes you don't have to fight the dragons but wait for them to be killed by others. Also, the dragon shouts you learn is really just rediscovering an old dragon language. There does always seem to be a dragon about to wreck everything--in life and otherwise.

    Though, of course, there aren't any spears in Skyrim.



    This challenge involves an unwieldy economic theory!  It's a challenge from my friend Harry David, who is not to be confused with Harry & David, a gourmet fruit basket company. 
    Harry has studied economics extensively and written much on the subject (he blogs at, and he also does an excellent job of making writing publish-able, as you can see here:  
    He also recently accepted a challenge from me to write from an economic perspective about the 613 mitzvoth in Jewish law, and the result was informative and deep: His challenge to me was to write about rent-seeking.  As he explained to me briefly and quickly:
    "Rent-seeking is the pursuit of income in excess of that which is necessary to induce a factor of production to put itself on the market (a "rent" in the technical meaning), where the means by which this income is created destroys social value. It erodes the rule of law, it wastes resources as producers compete to gain the rents, it contributes to the ossification of the political economy." I Wikipediaed it of course, but even Wikipedia failed to explain the concept simply to me, and in short, the poem was in fact a good challenge for me.  I thought about a variety of potential (surreal) situations involving using resources to eliminate barriers to profit (such as spending money to lobby for tariffs or restrictions on your competitors).  But of course, I brought it around to the mythic and didn't deal with the concept as it exists in the world of fact and logic it was invented in.  Is this cheating?  I don't know!  Probably!  Let's find out.

    Honey Baron

    Let's conspire, buy armies to depose the king,
    and impose a leader who is friendly to monopolies
    so I can be a honey baron.

    I’ll sell zebra-flavored honey to lions,
    seed-flavored honey to birds.
    For women, amber and orange,
    for men, sour and smoke,
    for the heartbroken, honey with hints
    of persimmon, meringue, tulip.

    I’d sell everything
    to have one kingdom.

    To succeed, I only need tariffs
    on sweets, and on invisible forests
    that house wild bees
    whose honey in this world is fire.

    When all the bees know my heartbeat
    and their bodies move like waves to my words,
    they’ll make honey from anything—
    past and future, the tree of knowledge
    and the tree of life.

    Protection for my business
    will mean profit for everyone.
    When I’m queen of my own kingdom,
    the honey will be free.    

    Harry's review:

    This is beautiful, Ivy. Magical. 

    First, the criticism: I don't see why a self-interested honey baron would want to provide honey for free. After all, the point of the tariff was to increase her profits. 

    And I don't see how in her new kingdom there would be profit for everyone -- not, again, why she might want that. In a sense, though, it makes sense. Tariffs are usually dressed up as being in the public interest, even as they in fact only benefit the lobbying special interest. So that line may reflect a statement for public consumption. 

    The rest of the poem captures the concept nicely. You are right about the effect of a tariff, for instance. And your point about hiring an army to depose the king is quite astute. Spending resources to supplant the king is indeed a form of rent-seeking, and one that is not often written about.

    Beautiful, imaginative, astute. You beat the challenge. Good job!


    I met Alana Baldwin ten years ago in college at Auburn.  We were on Auburn's student literary magazine together, and we bonded when we realized the same guy had invited each of us over (on different occasions, of course) to hang out at his place, where he spontaneously broke out his guitar to stare into our eyes and play us a song.  He played her a Pixies song, and he played me "Kiss Me" by Sixpence None the Richer, solidifying which of us he thought was cooler.  (And yes, I ran the heck out of there as soon as the song was over.)   

    Her challenge for me to was to write about continuity.  She was inspired by the documentary Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?, a series of interviews with Noam Chomsky by Michel Gondry.  I came very close here to explaining Chomsky's idea of psychic continuity as he relates it in the film, but I was beginning to bore and confuse myself.  Suffice it to say -- he's interested in how we put together our observations (that to him often have no inherent meaning) and see them as whole.  One example he uses is that the Charles River could have many additions (pollution, tributaries), but remain the Charles River to us. Gondry uses the example that when he meets with an old friend he hasn't seen in a while, at first the man is like a stranger, but after he speaks with him for about 20 minutes, the man transforms into his friend again.
    I put all this together and related it to something else Chomsky said about how many people have the need to believe that existence continues after this life ends, and that he doesn't need that, but he is sympathetic to people who do. 

    A decade of friendship with someone necessarily means reconciling the new self with the old self I remember from ten years ago.  This also reminded me of friendship with God, and how this friendship causes you to change in ways that are difficult to reconcile with who you once were.   
    At any rate, Alana is an incredibly creative person, an excellent graphic designer, and a good friend.  You can find some of her work here -, and you can also peruse some accidentally obscene logos she is in the process of collecting here -

    The Beginning and The End

    We were taught scripture, though
    we misrememebered it--
    in the beguilement, mouths corrupted the holy
    and the born, and the born were without fortunes,
    and dogwoods shadowed the nightmares of the sea.
    And the sputter of ghosts marred the first weather.

    And both of us said - let this be left.

    When I met you, you collected odd shirts,
    and as I follow the progression of human history
    from Adam naming the animals to the moment
    we became friends, I note
    the shirt you wore the day we met was covered in animals
    wearing braces, holding up mirrors for each other,
    each one enraptured by his own caged smile.

    You still have the shirt, ten years later,
    but don't wear it anymore when making friends.

    "I know Christians by looking
    in their eyes at that unearthly kindness,"
    you said, and you weren't sure
    if you saw it in mine then.

    When you graft an odd branch to a tree,
    when does it begin to belong?
    A man to the faith of men,
    a friend to a friend.
    It belongs in stages, and even
    when it rises, seamless,
    its fruit could be a different shape
    than the fruit of the other branches.

    We could choose
    to see this world as whole.

    As an act of friendship, you entertained
    my worries, which you said were contagious,
    that I'd bring with us like smallpox
    into eternity.

    I learned slowly that when we worry,
    we lose hope, and when we lose hope,
    we lose our friends.

    After Christ ascended,
    his friends thought they were living in the end.
    I think we're living, and I know it ends.

    This is all very touching. I appreciate your thoughtful words + wish I could reciprocate on the same level. Flexing my visual muscles all these years, instead of the verbal ones, has made my thoughts very muddled and strangely pictorial. So, I'll draw you something.

    A shallow drawing for a deep + meaningful poem. Tradesies?

    Friday, June 13, 2014


    My friend Sarah (an activist and poet who blogs here: has seen me flip out a time or two (or three) about something ridiculous.  Her poem challenge for me is related to a minor flip-out she once witnessed where a mutual friend of ours told me (out of nowhere) -- "You know, you'd have made a good homeschooler."

    I turned around slowly, menacingly, and said, - "What is that supposed to mean?"

    He couldn't give me a good explanation, and I wouldn't let it go.  Unfortunately, in my indignant huff, I forgot that our friend who commented on my homeschool potential had himself once been homeschooled.  Later, he got a little indignant with me about what was offensive about being called a homeschooler.

    And of course, he should have been indignant.  I was wrong.

    As I took Sarah up on this challenge of writing a poem about homeschooling, I thought about the stereotype of homeschooled children being sheltered.  Then I thought about stories children often hear from their parents, myths and fairy tales, and how parents use these stories to prepare their children for the awful things in the outside world.  Even within the relative safety of a supportive home with kind parents, kids have to deal with loss, fear, sadness, the past.  No one can be all that sheltered by their parents.

    Home School

    Even if a mother won't go to the depths
    of hell to find her daughter,
    she'll search for her name
    in the crossword on the cereal box.

    When she loses the family's minds,
    she can shape new ones from dough,
    drenched in red sprinkles
    to signify the world's commotion.

    The world is fearful.
    Even horror stories are less painful to enter,
    where drywall can be replaced
    with gingerbread, and still the house won't shake.

    You stop teaching kids when you notice
    they learn alone
    to find psalms in soda cans
    and dissect frog songs.

    In the yard,
    generations of kin stretch back
    from solid to spirit
    to give her what she needs
    to give the children:
    a holy coal;
    apricots for oatmeal;

    Sarah's review:
    "As I've generally come to expect from your poems, there is a stream of consciousness that initially seems somewhat unconnected, but begins to fall together as the list of thoughts goes on to form a cohesive impression by the end.  In the case of this poem, just one word is sufficient, "coats."  The single word acts as a capping image for the concept of shelter that has already been explored in the other stanzas, whether positive or negative: the mother who may not go to the depths of hell, but will search for her child's name (possibly read as identity), or the mother who shapes the mind like cookie dough, but always with the inclusion of the "world's commotion."  There is an effective parallel throughout the poem of life within the home and the world without. I  think you've done a good job of communicating shelter.  As far as form goes, your line breaks are also very effective, especially in the last stanza: "from solid to spirit / to give her what she needs / to give the children..."  Thanks for including me in the blog.  You probably would make a good homeschooler."

    Thanks for this insightful review, Sarah!  You'd make a good homeschooler, too. 

    Friday, June 6, 2014


    My youngest brother, Ben, gave me the word "stereoisomers" to write about while he was studying for a chemistry exam.  At first I thought this would be easy.  Chemistry IS poetry, right?  It involves speaking about things you can't see with the naked eye, and there are a lot of weird names to marvel over.  Unfortunately, I didn't know what stereoisomers were. 

    I ended up reading about them for a long time, trying to understand them.  The basic idea is that they are two sets of the same atoms in the same order with the same sets of bonded atoms, but arranged differently in space.  One type of stereoisomer is a diasteroisomer, which I misread as "disasteroisomer"...and if I could have written about this, the poem would have just written itself.

    At any rate, here's what I came up with.  Ben's review is to follow, and it's ambivalent at best.


    If your eyeballs were placed vertically,
    I'd tilt my head.
    Like molecules, we're made
    from distinct parts, oh let me teach you
    this word:


    Stereoisomers are arrangements
    of the same atoms in different places.
    They're different bodies
    with similar traits.

    The carriage to the ball
    is not the pumpkin rearranged.
    The dentist's mold made of your teeth
    can't chew your meat.
    These relationships
    aren't like us.
    You and I, love, are
    I'm the slightly altered heart unseen
    in the tarnished mirror,
    the secret body hidden
    on the other side of the tree,
    the sadder smile
    on the second carved pumpkin.

    What we share is stronger
    than what separates.

    Ben's review:
    "This poem is a fine piece of modern expression. While the writer evidently lacks proficiency in the particulars of organic chemistry, the poem conveys the molecular nuances that are present in stereoisomers. While a few phrases lack conviction, this poem is refreshing."

    He's right...I often lack conviction, and I also find that to be a refreshing quality.