Three Unfinished Poems


Part of my purpose in keeping this blog is to document some writing samples. I want to approach some prompts and preset some works-in-progress just to get comfortable putting my work out there…and hopefully one day in journals.

My goal is to have a different sample up every month. This month, I have three poems I’ve been wrestling with over the past month.

This is where we start practicing vulnerability. I’m not a poet, but these vignettes weren’t manifesting themselves as short stories…one of them isn’t really manifesting itself as a poem well either and is probably actually an essay, but I’m a firm believer in the rule of three.


Walking, the autumn sun was uncharacteristically warm in the contrast
of your lanky shadow draped across me like a dad-borrowed blazer on
my shoulders, eagerly placed on the walk home from a jr. high dance.
We, in the moment, too pleased with our luck of being away from your
meathead friends and chaperone eyes, to notice the inelegance of us.

My rib cage filled with cotton balls, the lightness rotating inside me with
each step, as I hopscotched your long leg lines across the graveled path.
You seemed to glide, tall and erect, as I wallowed in the thirteen year-old
feeling wondering if I wanted to hold your hands. They had carried a lot
since your gym dance days and mine had been too open to carry anything.

Judging whether it’s still appropriate to arrange for my best friend to give
Your best friend a note: Check yes or no—because maybe we had something
right at thirteen. Maybe we were supposed to risk, to ask and fail rather than
rehearse the fall once the leaves cleared. The walk feels cold without your
shadow-jacket on my shoulders, the note in the pocket check-marked “or.”

Screen door poem II

The screen door slap was the exclamation point to our fragment.
My wineglass rattled, straddling the uneven slats of the rough table
And my eyes blinked as the slam-noise silenced my rolling brain.

Tracing the knots of the table wood, I try to trace where we started,
where we turned to end up with your chair flat on its back and my
napkin wet with mascara. Out of breath, I blot and blink on the cotton.

Blink in surprise that you’d leave when the results returned negative,
blink in prayer the door spring-echoing open would bring you back in,
blinked in relief that I wouldn’t have to follow through at your side.

But I sit here still—now in the royal blue dark, the wine glass gulped dry.
And I can’t bring myself to admit I’m wrong when hurt sits across in the
upturned chair, our statement unresolved—like an em dash waiting for—

Wisdom Lost

I have never been more aware of the gaping holes in my head, like
the clam whose pearls were stolen, drawn to aching openness—
air split across the hole making ache rather than lilt of fife-tweets.
High tide and the world flattened to echoing sonar in the dark.

Necessary entrance, but hesitant and unwanted attention chancing
the hopeful irritant, the salt of sand makes naught of pearl-value.
The puss of a gape-hole left to fester with the constant tongue push.
Fog does clear, world tilting open to find blood, gauze, and nothing.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

First, an apology for the dead interwebs last week. I was actually not able to have internet access in Mexico like I had originally thought. I still have posts that will go live next week. I am so excited to share what happened over such a wonderful and eye-opening week. In the mean time, check out #BHBCMex on instagram or twitter!

Now: Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I plan to celebrate this evening with some Irish tea and enjoyment of some of my favorite poems from poets of the emeraled Isle. Here is my favorite poem EVER written by the incredible underrated Patrick Kavanagh. 

I find great resonance in this poem as I journey through this season of the unknown. For me, it illustrates God’s control and my need to trust. Please enjoy!

Having Confessed
by Patrick Kavanagh

Having confessed he feels
That he should go down on his knees and pray
For forgiveness for his pride, for having
Dared to view his soul from the outside.
Lie at the heart of the emotion, time
Has its own work to do. We must not anticipate
Or awaken for a moment. God cannot catch us
Unless we stay in the unconscious room
Of our hearts. We must be nothing,
Nothing that God may make us something.
We must not touch the immortal material
We must not daydream to-morrow’s judgment
God must be allowed to surprise us.
We have sinned, sinned like Lucifer
By this anticipation. Let us lie down again
Deep in anonymous humility and God
May find us worthy material for His hand.
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For Seamus

In case you have not heard, wonderful Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, passed away last week. In the past year, I have really fallen in love with his work and the great depth and meaning he slips into to such simple phrases. I was very sad to hear the world lost such a great, artistic soul.

He won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1995, and is best known for his poems exploring the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

After visiting Belfast earlier this year, I was given a very small taste of the conflict there. It is hard to describe the heartache the region has experienced in the last hundred years. So much death and bloodshed. Heaney often pondered the role of the artist in such a conflict in his work. Never once did he use his work to take sides, despite the Catholic nationalist influence of his background.

His poems are beautiful and complex. He often talks of his life on the farm, or simple everyday experiences, layered with undertones of historical musings or political thoughts.  There is so much in a Heaney poem, that I am sometimes left breathless after a reading.

In honor of his passing, I would like to share “Digging” one of his most popular poems that just happens to be about writing.

Below is a video of him reading and the text beneath that. I feel his poems are best experienced when heard with his accent 😉


Between my finger and my thumb   

The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound   
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds   
Bends low, comes up twenty years away   
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills   
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft   
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.   
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Writing Samples: Chicago

I told you not to hold your breath for poetry. It’s about a month into the blog, so again, I hope you haven’t been holding your breath.
Today is actually Preppy Bohemia’s first month out there, so that’s exciting. I figured to celebrate, I should actually put some writing out there. I think it’s kind of funny that my first creative writing sample is actually a piece of poetry. In my defense, it is prose poetry. I’m really not much of a poet. Anyway, I thought I’d get away from the personal essays for a bit.

This poem was inspired my a spontaneous trip to Chicago to see a concert. It was a beautiful night filled with friends and music and chai. I was in the final stretch of my senior thesis project when one of my dearest friends threw out this concert as an option. I got out of work early and three of us ran out of Grand Rapids for a beautiful night. It was a rainy night in April and as we left the concert, the city was encased in a fog that made everything look soft and glowing. From this, I was inspired. The poem is copied below.
My first instinct is always to run. Hardness comes with age, and time, and hurt, but that was not 
why I wanted the road beneath me. Sometimes it just gets so damn difficult to think of how 
to breathe. I slam my fists down on the desk and push my chair back and look to the ceiling 
and sigh whatever words God will listen to first. I think about walking the gray sidewalks 
surrounding silver buildings like moats, watching the lake in the distance between the steel
towers. There is freedom in the skyscraper jail – the anonymous nature of the suburban serf
hiding in the wealth of State St. In a bar on the north end, the mandolin plays the song I listened 
to while avoiding life, overwhelmed by the requirements of adulthood. And wheeling down 
Lakeshore Drive, watching the field of lights, ripe for the harvest, I return weary to what I 
promised. The hardeness is gone for maybe only the three hour drive. But it was the song that 
made the stone melt and the hole grow through its cracks. The water that fell on us as we ran 
from the concert to the car helped the seed to grow and settle and root me to what I swore.