a little snow poem

in honor of the first snow – November 15th 2018 


a little snow poem


now it has snowed
and I am peeking out
for when the squirrels with their
tender, agile feet
hop lovingly into drifts
then freeze and snapshot their eyes
at any sound, their paws to their chins,
as though any disturbance to this
quiet must mean wolves.


November Writing

I’ve loved many Novembers in my life, maybe because I improperly interpret it as Nova and embers and love the contradiction of newness with the dying of the light and the darkness that sets in so, so early.

I’ll be attempting to write every day again this month, as I did last month. I didn’t write every single day in October, but I did write quite a bit. I have many poems to harvest, a couple of interesting ideas for essays and stories that could be pursued further. And I wrote some things that I hope will make an immediate difference in the world: college recommendation letters for my beautiful seniors.

So, what’s happening next with Pace writing?

  • Why am I writing these days? What’s at stake? And especially – why write poetry?

    Mostly because I feel a compelling need.

I hope you continue to tell your own story and point to the map of your body and say, “brave.”

One of my favorite places to read about poetry is The Paris Review’s “Poetry RX” Column. Sarah Kay tears it up this week: “You Could Make this Place Beautiful”

I write to unravel my trauma, to make sense of the world, and just because it pokes my brain in all the right places.

  • Where is my writing going?

    I’m sending out poems and flash fiction whenever I can carve out time to actually complete the process of submitting. Right now I have 18 poems that are out there (ah, my little sterling silver babies!) to 9 publications, and my favorite flash piece is awaiting 2 responses. I don’t know if these numbers are good? I don’t know what other people do? But since submitting is a relatively new thing for me, I’m feeling brave everytime I send those little baby spoons out into the world.

  • Will I be doing NaNoWriMo?

    It’s tempting, sure, since I have two novels barely started and they could use a big pouring out of time. But it seems so brutalist to me — is it really about the numbers? I don’t really get along with numbers, and I really don’t want to fall into a pattern of being annoyed or disappointed with myself. My goal is not about volume, but about the consistent practice of this thing I love doing.

  • What’s the future of this blog?

    To anyone who’s been loyally reading, THANK YOU! Creating a blog was a way to force myself to show people my writing and put myself out there. I’ll still be talking about books and practicing the literary analysis that I teach to students, but I’d like to share more of my own impromptu writing, and every once in a while talk about the craft of writing.

    A year ago I wrote one of my favorite blog posts: Resuming. I still feel this way often, always coming back to things and starting over and renewing my energy.

If you’re writing this November for NaNoWriMo or for any other purpose, I’d love to follow your journey! Leave me a comment 🙂





girls I’ve known (part one)

I wish I had a name like Frankie DeBella. Back when I was a kid playing rec league soccer in my hometown, she was renowned for her prodigious skill. For years we dreaded the weeks we played “Frankie’s team,” because she could dribble circles around us and through us. She’d score on us four or five times int he first half and even when their coach (her father) would take her out after half time, we were so shaken by the maelstrom that hit us that we would play badly.

It was always “Frankie’s team” because there was no amount of mediocrity that could dull her, and no amount of skill that could compete. It was irrelevant who else was on her team that season; she carried them.

At one point in middle school I grew into a solid defender (as long as I didn’t have to run too much) and when we played Frankie, I was assigned to mark her. It was probably the most aggressive I ever played, the most competitive I ever felt. If I could beat that name, stop her progress, slow her down, I could be important to the game, and people would notice me.

Up close, she was beautiful, Francesca DeBella with Italian skin and long swishing dark hair like a horse’s tail. She seemed older than the rest of us, svelte and muscular without the pudginess that ringed our midriffs and thick ankles. She wore eyeliner. She never crowed and never smiled. She was hyperfocused without being overly aggressive. She knew she was on another plane; I’m sure she knew how her name was thrown about in loving, fearful whisper. But for her, the only chase was the ball, the only game was perfection, the only living person at that game was her father, and maybe if she scored one more goal, he would take the rage out of his voice when he screamed the name he gave her.


From an in-class writing prompt: “Write about mailboxes,” in AP Lang, which spawned the poem “Mailboxes,” by C.W., whose first and last lines were “Mailboxes. / They’re for mail.”


Mailboxes are a way to tie a thin string between me and the outside world. Dropping a letter in the rusty one on Waterman or the nicer, bluer one on Elmgrove is a way and a reason to leave my house. Last time I walked out, letters and bills in hand, someone had left a stuffed unicorn, with pink stripes and a bow on its horn, right atop the mailbox. I was hoping some wee child would come along to claim it with a cry of glee; in truth I was hoping she’d be so small that she’d need to be lifted up to reach the top of this squat blue box that towered over her. She never came; I walke on.

But it had me thinking about how mailboxes are safe places in our neighborhoods. They’re places where I can leave a wedding RSVP, knowing it will make it to Indiana. Or a postcard saying, “I miss you,” or a thank you note to my Aunt Laura for sending me my mother’s 1986 Princess Diana wedding dress, which had appeared on my porch, right under my own mailbox 2 days before. They’re repositories of words.

importance of breathing

part of an essay in progress about how we view our lives….I’m thinking about how air is so easy to see through and move through that we are always looking ahead toward our goals. But water– water is immersive experience, and if we tried to swim through life, maybe we could be more present in the moments around us. 


the importance of breathing is that it’s molecular.

Our bodies are porous and admit toxins of all colors, but breathing is what we choose to bring in. Like water, we imbibe air to sustain and purify our every inch. Think about a square inch of your body: how much blood, how much oxygen, how much nitrogen, how much water? We are but fragile things. Delicate ratios.

In air, breathing is plentiful, easy, mindless. In water, it becomes a primary concern. Like in winter, but louder, we see our breath, we hold it like a petal we are slowly crushing, we struggle upward for it.

In water, breathing is an intensely sought break from intensity. It is a moment of self-care more intimate than any other. It is the only life we can find.



the importance of breathing

is that it fills and fullfills, sustains, tames: we take deep breaths to calm ourselves. It lets us pause the moment and imbibe time. Yet we breathe while every other moment is ocurring, so it’s not a forced, separated break. We can allow time to move in a way we choose (for once) by breathing low and long, devoting attention to what the body usually does without us asking. A breath is a set of parentheses around time, ours to employ at will and as needed.



the importance of breathing is that it’s instinctual. I can hear the wail of a newly loosed infant, emergent from the womb in which it swam, complacent, warm, stunned by silence. Suddenly it ruptures into air. Breath is everywhere, cold, to be grabbed, sucked in eagerly.

And once we stop breathing, we’re gone. First to last breath. Desperate clutching at life to gentle loosening of hands. Last breaths like melodies, like white flags, like sinking deeper into water and no longer looking at the surface. When we stop breathing, we curl into ourselves, fetal and petaled into bloomy curls. Then we sink.