Sunday, April 30, 2006

Oh, and...

...woohoo! Thirty poems in thirty days.

*dusts off hands*

bible poetry

This is the third poem I've written about Samson. He's such a weird character, really, all bi-polar and anger management impaired. I just can't seem to get at him, somehow.

Oh, well. If at first you don't succeed, rip that attempt apart for the good bits and try again.

Samson's wife

I did not mean to catch
his eye - the young giant of Israel,
the young son of our enemy. He wore
practically nothing, his body
gleaming in the sun. Some of the women
called him beautiful, followed him,
offered him water in the heat
of the day. I didn't see it. I saw
his narrow eyes, I saw his cleverness.

When he came to ask my father
for me, I could feel
those clever eyes on me, reading
my bowed head, my
downcast face. You please me well,
he said, but I said nothing.

Seven days our wedding feast lasted.
On the first day, as the sun sank red
in the west, he stood and laid it out
for them; the riddle. Eater and meat,
strength and sweetness. Thirty of this,
thirty of that, if they could not answer.
He laughed to see their faces, and then took me
into his house. Meat, he said, working
above me, sweetness.

They caught me by the well
on the sixth day, their hands hard
and desperate. We have not the answer,
they said. You must get it from him.
He gave them no choice. They gave me
none. A blade, a clenched fist. My cousin
spat at my feet.

Women have no country. We go where
we must, we cleave to those who
protect us. Setting his meat before him
I saw that he would never keep them
from me. I saw, behind his cleverness,
his weakness. His eyes followed me still,
my limbs, my body. I cast down my hair,
bared my breasts. I lay upon him and then
I wept. Do not you love me? I asked him. Tell me
then your riddle's answer, clever my lord.

I no longer believe that I was
the cause of all that came after. The
slaughter and the fire, the death and ruin.
He was god-ridden, his rage a wind blowing
all before it. I was only the first to close
those clever eyes - he was born
to be betrayed.

things changed

Changed the title and added a blurb to explain said change. NaPoWriMo is nearly over, and I kind of like having a seperate blog for poetry, so I'm going to continue on here with MayDay and after that with semi-regular updates and new first-drafty poems. Perhaps the occasional nearly-done piece.

Stay tuned!

the sunbeam

I gave in today.
There she lay in the warm
golden wash of light, her small
sleek body stretched out, every
fine hair and every pore drinking
drinking like a tree in summer.
You could almost believe that it
was possible to live on sunlight,
that she'd discovered the secret
and transcended her mammal
flesh to become one with the light.

I lay down beside her. She
didn't so much as twitch, even when
I put my hand on her belly, felt
the slow heat of sun and cat married
amidst the fur. The glowing red
universe behind my eyelids was
full of secrets. My toes began to
warm. I could smell the oil and faint
shampoo smell of my hair, everything
about me became unwound, released
by the heat, the light, the silence.

The bitch looks back

I'm sorry for all things I've done
to various boys and men
who did nothing to deserve them.
Kevin, I'm sorry I wouldn't kiss you
until I was ready to break up with you.
Jerry, I'm sorry that I broke up with you
because you weren't cool.
Mike, I'm not sorry for anything,
you were an asshole.
John, you were nice and I
just ignored you.
Adam, you were the same
as John.
Reggie, if only the timing
had been different.
Stewart, I could have been gentler
when I dumped you.
Dennis, I used you for sex
and didn't notice that you minded.
But hey guys,
thanks for the practice.

*names changed to protect the hapless. Except for Mike. He really was an asshole.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

still more poems

I think I'm going to make it. Three poems tomorrow and I'm golden. I did it today, so it is possible.

A group of poets here in Winnipeg are organising for a similar project, called May Day I think? Same idea, a poem a day only this time for the month of May. (duh) So I signed up. Why not? I did it for one month, I can do it for two!

I must be insane.


god I loved those people those
crazy actor types afire with passion
and talent and hormones. Barely
old enough to buy liquor, we screamed
and laughed our way through that year,
insanely in love with ourselves and one
another and the idea that we built
between us that this whirlwind would
blow forever.

It didn't. We graduated, and left or
stayed. We went on, our lives
unwinding, carrying those memories
away behind us. I read my journals now
and the girl I was becomes less
and less familiar.

And when I ran into you last week
outside the Starbucks, you seemed
altogether different, taller somehow, less
embraceable, although perhaps it was me
who'd changed too much to even call up
the ghost of that camraderie. Our small
talk was painful. I made excuses to go.
When I looked back you were buying
a latte.

I hope you still sing along to Rent.
I hope that you found time to write
that play you always talked about, the
one with the two sisters and Coyote. I hope
that my memories are faded, and not
brighter than the times
I imagine they recall.

breaking up

I never really understood the term, never
knew it truly until I did it to him. He stood at my
front door with his face trying to go in two directions,
dumb like a kicked dog who doesn't comprehend
the reason it was punished. We don't work, I told
him, feeling very calm inside and sort of impatient,
you and I, we don't work.
he asked, and I didn't know what to tell him.
Go home, I said.
is a terrible thing.

On quitting my job

It's hard not to go a bit weird when
you stay at home all day. Once
I didn't bathe for four days. Paltry, but
still a wild and exciting break
from society's norms. I went
to the grocery store with greasy hair
tied back in a knot, two day old
underwear. I was not hit by a car,
so no one knew. I stayed in my office,
writing poems about how much I hated
people. Eventually filth lost
its appeal, but still these days
I could care less about my lack
of perky smile, my distressing habit
of choosing comfortable shoes. I feel
as though I am returning to
myself, a culture-shocked traveler,
drunk from jetlag, slowly re-inhabiting
the space that used to be me.

Friday, April 28, 2006


When I was twenty, new to
the idea of power as it related to me,
I went with friends down
to the Legislature to protest

something. I can't remember what
it was they said to me that fired
my nascent social consciousness;
it must have been good, since even
then I didn't much like crowds.

This was different, though, all
quiet and purposeful we went down Memorial,
a crowd of some three hundred or so, and more
gathering at Broadway to join us. We
were not a mob - we were orderly. This
was civilized protest, this was our right
to gather and have our opinions known.

I didn't know my opinion. I'm not sure
I had one, I was there wide-eyed and curious
like a solitary sheep among purposeful goats.
When we got to the steps, Brownian motion
herded me to the front, where I watched
the signs go up and down, shouted the words
others shouted, and tried to spot my friends
in the crowd.

When the premier came out on the steps
and spoke to us, I was unimpressed. He said
the right words, and we dispersed. I kept
some goats between me and the TV cameras
as I left, drifting down the side of the Ledge
toward the river. I found myself

a bench and sat, watching the water. Those
who protested were excused from further
classes that day, so I skipped Sociology and
Theatre Aesthetics and tried to feel
like I had done something important.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Note on the garbage bin of an apartment block

"To the person
or persons
using this BFI bin for their personal
garbage; please stop. The cardboard
was bad enough, since recycling receptacles
are but three steps further
but really, sir or madam,
a six month old Christmas tree
your ancient, wartorn toilet?
You have crossed the line.

I have complained. The city has
given permission to name names,
to write down houses. Tickets
may be written.
The garbage man is pissed, as
your pissoire dented his truck.
Enough, already. Get a can
of your own, you freeloader.

don't think I don't know
who you are.
I do.
An anonymous notes, however,
gives you the chance to bow silently
from the field, retaining whatever dignity
you have after hauling a used toilet
up to the level of your eyes so as
to make it over the edge of our bin.

Heed my warning, sir or madam.
I am watching you.


Every night we hear them, conducting
their affairs in the alley behind
our house. She cries theatrically.
He shouts, angry and sad at the same
time, he slams car doors, he tells her
that he loves her in the same tone
as he tells her to shut up. In a bit
she will start to scream
profanities. He will tell her to
get in the car or I will fucking leave you here.

Usually she does, although once
we heard him peel out and then
her soft weeping, so different when
her audience was gone. I guess
she didn't know
we could hear everything.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I know that some friends and family read this blog, so, no, I am not pregnant.


Like a distant comet, like an unaffiliated atom,
you are drawing closer. A bun for this oven, a
coalescing star, a thousand possibilities, you are
coming to me. At night, after love, I think about
what I will give you. It is likely that you will
be stubborn. It is possible that you will
have a cowlick above your right eye. I wonder
if you will hate it.

I wonder what you will do to me, what I
will become as you become you beneath my
beastbone, behind my ribs. I am waiting for
that me that knows you, the me that will hold you,
the one who will draw you slowly from
the universe and one day, joyous and grieving,
set you free.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

A poem isn't real until it's read.

A poet at a reading I was at recently said that - I think it was A.J. Levin? Anyway, it struck me as at least partially true, which is the best that I hope for in any desciptor or definition involving poetry these days.

I just finished recording "After the garden" for The Goodnight Show, a podcast that features poetry read by the poets, drawn from online sources. It was a bit weird to read it, since it is very much a rapid first draft, as are all my NaPoWriMo poems, and as I'm reading aloud to get the rhythm and where I want to put emphasis and all those other reading tricks, I'm also resisting the urge to edit! slash! hack! fix! since the poem they want is the poem on the website. Never edit a poem after it's been accepted somewhere. Well, you can edit it after publication, but don't try and pawn a "better" version on them when they like the one they saw in the first place.

I think I did an okay job. My voice always sounds so light and childish in recordings. The husband assures me that I don't sound like that in read life. Whew.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

more spring poetry

the trees are chanting to themselves.
Even at night I can hear them, shoving
sap around, gnawing the earth. They are getting
while the getting is good,
eating sunlight, shitting air, gearing up for
the coming orgy of summer. Leaves open
like hands begging. Later it will be seed pods,
gravid and sexy. For now, they concentrate
on the foliage, intense as any mammal that
sees its desire in sight.


In summer, we used to go barefoot
all the time, across the pasture behind the house,
through the bush, down the gravel road, our small
narrow heels white with callus, black with dirt.
We rode barefoot our bikes to the corner store
to buy gum and candy and Archie comics, hopped
barefoot over their rocky drive to the cool linoleum
refuge of the floor. Barefoot we ran to the lake, barefoot
and stupid we mowed the lawn, toes
unfearful of the blades and turning green as
old 7-up bottles. I stepped barefoot on a spider once
on the deck, crunch, to make you scream
and laugh at the same time. I loved my feet
as I loved all my body, whipcord and swift,
their crooked toes, their flexible arch,
naked and unafraid to the world.

injudicious sun exposure

My first sunburn of the year
is always a surprise, as though I'd
forgotten that the sun has a mean
streak. As though eight months
of huddling has made me forget that the world
and my body have a relationship, a set
of standard interactions, and
delayed ultraviolet B-induced erythema
is among them.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

we constantly return

Wow, a biblical poem. I was starting to think that well was dry for now. A different feel than my earlier ones, less obviously feminist. Eve as woman, rather than metaphor or icon.

The Bible is such a gift to feminist poets, really.

After the garden

The worst part was the cold; no,
the worst was the stones beneath our feet,
the way the world hurt us constantly,
sunburn, wind, the sting of rain.
The worst was the loneliness.

The worst was meat. The fawn caught in the branches
by the river, the mud, the look
on Adam's face. What are you doing,
I asked, and he said, we are hungry.
The rock, falling, the spray of blood.
The sound it made. The worst was
that I ate.

Later, Cain, with that look on his face,
and I knew. I knew.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Falling behind

I went away for a short writing retreat to work on the book and now I'm five poems behind.


I feel like that tube of toothpaste, where all the tube part has been rolled up, and you have to extert the kind of pressure that turns carbon deep in the body of the earth into diamonds to get any paste out of the damn thing anymore.

There's going to be some serious squeezing going on around here in the next little while.


Slowly the lake fills with birds
tapdancing on the ice, ducking into
the melted pools, laying four toed footprints
across the mud. On the ground
they are hilarious squabblers, wings lifted
in indignation, beady eyes, the quick jerk
of heads. Seagulls, those cockney bastards,
are taking over the sandbar. The ducks complain.
The geese, magestic with a hundred years
of national pride, ignore it all.

They shit on everything. My car
escapes somehow, though the ground is
white with evidence. I clean a chair and sit
on the back deck, make their screaming congress
into human metaphors. Parliament, I call them,
and feathered stock market.
They go on shrieking, an endless
fascination, dotting the skin of the lake
far as the eye can see.

the white truck

Your white truck, your father's
gun, oh Stephen, your eyes, your smile.
No one knows another human being no one
knew you, Stephen, or knew what you planned
northwest of Bangor, Maine.

A broken child, a 57 year old
man, oh Stephen, you didn't know them.
You walked into their sordid story and blew
it open. 34 rapists. Did you make a list.
Did you check off the names in your head did
you think what you were doing

was right. Stephen. I heard
your name on the TransCanada west of Winnipeg,
driving alone, the unwinding road, the dispassionate
CBC voice telling me your name, the bare facts
two men dead and you. You said nothing
when they boarded the bus.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


Spring in Winnipeg like a hammer
between the eyes, like a sudden drop
into green, like the whipping off
of a tablecloth from beneath the dishes.
Spring like a sock in the face, spring
like flinging open the curtains to the sun,
spring making us squint like hermits
unearthed, spring remorseless and loud,
spring revealing all our old sins, laughing
forgiveness, singing glee, oh spring.
Spring in Winnipeg, calling and calling
the streets full, the sidewalks noisy,
spring with its socks off, spring in sunglasses
spring with a handful of mud, spring
smelling the rain, spring like a shout
of trumpets, oh spring, oh joy,
oh spring.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sister #5

You always look slightly worried
in those pictures, even when
you are smiling.

I paged through the album last summer,
pictures from the trailer, pictures from Africa,
school pictures, always your
pinched brow, your wary,
questioning eyes.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sister (mine) #4

this fist this fist of anger
never raised to you this angry fist
of hurting inside me is hot
and deep

what ways did I hurt
you back I wonder all the
knowing turned back on itself
all the secrets told all the soft
places we knew
we knew
would hurt
the most

words words
I hit you once, slapped your
glasses right off they fell
down the stairs and your face hot
with surprise and outrage
I thought now is when she hits
me back but instead you burst
into tears and went to get your
glasses I felt so hot with
triumph and fear it was
the only time I ever touched you
in anger

Sister (mine) #3

It was Africa, it was
the heart of Africa when we loved
each other truly, with no one
to tell us that we shouldn't.
You were my compass, you told me
this way, and I went. Follow, and I did.
When I fell down, you picked me up. Older
sister, you loved me then.

I loved you, and you loved me.
In Africa.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Sister (mine) #2

Oh, failure. I could never
speak to you, could never
hear you, could never
face the right way with you, we
always slid like oil and water
in the same jar, resentful and

Resentful and tense I hear
your voice on the phone now,
come talk to me, come visit me
come be that person you are
when you are with me, that person
you hate, come open to me,
forget all the ways we've hurt each
other, come be my sister,
my sister.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


I was having a sandwich.
Ham, and gouda cheese. Milk
filming the glass, the sun bright
on the table, sparking on my knife.
My throat closed. I left my meal, went
into the living room to lay
on the floor and let the cat lick
my salty cheeks.

My grandmother used to cut
the crusts off, the milk was whole
and creamy. The vinyl tablecloth,
brown and yellow daisies, the underside
soft as kitten chin. I remember
I once took a pair of her earrings from
a velvet box, put them in my pocket.
When my mother asked, she said
she'd given them to me. That kind
of love, forgiving

Friday, April 07, 2006

Sister (mine)

You spelled your name with a "y."
I thought it was stupid, I didn't see
what it was that you were doing, the way
that you tried over and over
to remake the world. The world
and you were not friends, constantly
it was the world that you rammed your forehead
against, trying with sheer will to
break in.

My husband goes away on business.

The hours pass, and darkness creeps
When you're not here, it's hard to sleep.


Hey sister, she says, she has
long black hair and no gloves, hey
sister she says, someone gave me a dollar I
need another one for the bus, hey sister
can you help me out.

I don't know what is in my eyes I'm
hoping for I don't know, interest, commiseration, I've
been short for the bus myself on occasion, I'm
afraid though that it is pity because I
do feel sorry for her, I hope I
don't look afraid although I am, I
fear everything about her, she's
poor and that scares me and she's
needy and that scares me, and I
tell her, I don't have change but here I
have bus tickets, I
can give you one of those.

Her face falls apart around her eyes
she looks near tears, she says, thank
you, bless you, I have to get to Osbourne
and I can't walk that far I've walked
from the North End already and I'm
so tired, thank you. No worries, I
say and I walk away and I feel, I
don't know, relieved or sick or
filled full of loathing for everything
about this city, everything I ever
hated about myself.

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I can tell that this quick poem-a-day thing is going to be good for me. I have, as a past teacher once told me, a habit of liking tidy, poetic endings. Everything wrapped up together, like being haunted by the spirit of a sonnet's final couplet. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, I think, but neither should I be bound to it. Eventually, that need for sweet, rounded closure can damage a poem, lead it in a direction that isn't true, for the sake of tidiness.

This roughshod sort of writing has really loosened me up, and I'm only five poems in. I also want to start playing with formatting a bit, see where I can go with it. The hardest part is letting go of the need for all the poems to be "good." I've completely fallen out of the habit of writing everything - most of the time I do extensive editing and even discarding of ideas and lines in my head before I ever set a word down. I think that I'm rediscovering the value of writing crap. Because every failure is a tool for learning, and if all I accept as worthy of writing is the things that I feel succeed, then I am crippling that learning.

I expect that I will fall on my face quite a bit this month. I just have to train myself to regard it as a good thing.


The air is full of some pheromone
desirous of order. I am driven, anxiously
washing floors and windows, straightening
the linen closet. My cats flee the vaccum
created in my wake. Young men's minds
turn to fancy but mine is riveted to dusting,
swabbing, scouring.

I am a bird, heavy with eggs.
I am a bee, coveting pollen.
I am a bear, lean with Winter,
in love with Spring.

A bit light, but sort of fun, after all that sorrow and angst.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

NaPoWriMo, 2006

My name is Karla Andrich. I created this blog to host the poems I'll be writing for National Poetry Writing Month, a spin off of the more well-known NaNoWriMo.

NaPoWriMo is held in April, and requires the participants to write a poem a day for the whole of that month. I'm pretty sure that I can do this. It'll be a great spur to me either way, since I've been in a bit of a slump recently with my poetry. Lots of great notes and ideas and disjointed lines, but no actual poems. Well, that's about to change.

I found out about NaPoWriMo over at Erin Noteboom's blog. Read her stuff, it's great.

Being as NaPoWriMo started April 1st, and I found out about it yesterday, I'm already behind. I wrote three poems yesterday, and one so far today. See them below. From now on, it will be one poem per post. Should I decide that they are worth editing, I'm going to do so offline. What you see here is first draft goodness in all it's raw and untouched glory.


He was going to ask me
something. He had a hand out.
I assumed, spare change, and leaned
backward, instinctual, disassociative,
don't touch me.

When he fell, then
I was too far away to catch him.
Blood on the ice, his
dazed eyes. Shame
bitter in my mouth.

I bent to help him, I put
a hand beneath his arm,
and when I could not lift
him, had not the
strength, or the leverage,
I knelt on the street.

2)My Grandmother's Death

She is far away now,
it becomes apparent. Her eyes are open
to an unseen realm. The face of god.
The trackless desert. Her feet are
bare upon its sand.

They touch her hand. They
speak her name, and her eyes flicker, tracing
the faraway horizon, and the distances
of forever. Her body, a slow and
emptying vessel, lies low upon
the bed.

Not long now, say the nurses. Thank
you, says my father.
Goodbye, he says.

3)You cry too much

You cry too much
he says,
you take it too much to heart.
It’s true, I know.
My heart is an open door, the least thing
strikes me to the core, I cry
at commercials, for god’s sake.
Some part of me tasting the sorrow like
fine wine, some part of me liking
the ache in my throat. Grief
like an addiction, or an answer

to the persistence of tragedy.
Negation through acceptance, submission

that never ends. Turning over and over
in my mind old pain like a stone
worn smooth and gleaming.


The body betrays us
by not being what we expect.
The elderly know this. Pain
and failure, the weakness of
flesh - truths that they lie
in bed with every night, their
cartilage and fluid and tendon
all moaning into the dark, their
mind still wondering where ease

Even young, we are
betrayed - the snap of bone,
the fleeting reel of balance, blood
pooling beneath the skin. A stranger
with a knife takes away your surety,
breaches your last defense and leaves
you lying in a hospital, unable
to forgive. Trust is gone, your
blinders ripped away, the utter
fragility of the world laid
bare before you.