Friday, February 14, 2014

First poem in 15 years


This is the first poem I’ve written in more than 15 years. I wrote it for a poetry workshop I’m taking at UNLV, as a graduate assistant in the MFA creative writing program. (My concentration is fiction, but we have to take some poetry classes, too.) The theme of the workshop is the “immediately accessible sublime” or, as I simply interpret it, that which is near and dear.

This is the second draft. The teacher Donald Revell and my remarkably talented classmates provided plenty of feedback, a lot of which I incorporated into the poem.

Breaking and Entering

Standing on the sidewalk
Screaming
Half English, half Farsi

Her refuge
Shattered
Interior lights on
Porch light off
The door splintered and ajar
Faceplate and screws
Sprawled across the floor

The scene is secured
Doors and drawers dusted
She enters
Past a palm print black on white

In the squad car
The officer asks questions
Despondent she responds
He pecks an antiquated computer
While reading aloud
“The victim stated that the jewelry
Was given to her
By her grandmother in Iran”

They leave us alone
Noticing a painting
She no longer likes
She observes
They never take what you want them to

With ink-stained hands
We push the suddenly mobile
Media center
Against the door
Drag the mattress into the living room
Everyone’s a suspect
The neighbor, the FedEx guy, the security guard
Finally a kiss good night
Then with all the lights on
We lie down and act like we’re asleep

Saturday, February 8, 2014

On the death of an old friend


As some of you know, my first (and only) fulltime journalism job was with Las Vegas CityLife. After freelancing for the well-rounded alt-weekly for two years, I was hired as a staff writer in early 2000.  I spent eight years at the paper, including three as managing editor, and it proved to be an amazing and defining experience.

Sadly, CityLife  recently stopped publishing. I don’t have the time or inclination to perform a proper autopsy (I’m teaching, taking graduate courses, freelancing, etc., and, over the past several years, I lost touch with the paper), but several other people have weighed in on its demise. Here are four pieces on the subject, three of which include my thoughts or info about my time there. If you only read one of them, I highly recommend the last link (a meditative, metaphoric column by Chip Mosher that doesn’t directly mention the paper’s passing).