Reading response

May 2nd, 2013

I went on March 28th to the Judith Vollmer poetry reading as my poetry reading. She read some of her poetry from her book The Water Books.
I found the poetry reading very remarkable. She read Cleaning an Alley which was one of the poems I had chosen in class which I really liked. I thought it was interesting how she read the third line in the fourth stanza, “condomtwinkiedogshitbirdpart.” In class we read that part very quickly but in her reading she read it out as if they were separate words. While she still highlighted the facelessness of the trash and how it was all melded into one, I thought it gave a different tone to the poem. I felt more of a familiarity tone more than a tone of anger, because she drew it out more slowly.
The first line in the seventh stanza was read in a way that heavily conveyed the grossness of the situation which for me appealed heavily to my sense of smell. She emphasized the “s” on the word sucking in that line. It made me feel like I was too sucking on the disgusting pollution from the street near the alley. She did not drag out the “s” but placed just enough emphasis that made me feel the imagery she was going for.
She also read the quote in the eighth stanza well and made it even more humorous. The joke is about Roosevelt and I still found it funny even though it is a dated joke. She did not change her voice drastically but just enough that you could tell someone was speaking in the poem. That helped to not take away from the joke, and everyone including myself found it humorous.
She appealed very well to the sense again through sound with her detail of the voice-box from the bus. Again she did not change her voice drastically while reading but just made a point to let it be known she was quoting. While the idea of what a bus’s voice-box may seem like an insignificant detail it really portrayed how familiar she was with the area that small sounds like that were both memorized and comforting in their frequency.
The overall tone she conveyed with the poem was one of familiarity with a slight hint of contempt. The detail on the lot size with how she stated it sounded sarcastic which gave me the idea that there was some contempt. She also emphasized the “dead” in “dead –headed geraniums,” which alluded to a sense of contempt. There seemed to be no will to want to change the situation though, and I think she found comfort in the familiarities because she took a softer tone when addressing them. She also did not sound sarcastic when talking about “Pennsylvania twisted sideways,” “inspiring,” her. There was a small hint of pride in her voice, for the state that she is doing this awful work in.
The poetry reading was very interesting to be at especially since we had read her poems. It was also interesting to hear about her as a teacher when a former student of hers spoke about her. Vollmer also included in-between poems would occasionally explain the inspiration for the poem, which I liked because it made the whole experience more personable. Overall it was a very different poetry reading that I went to than most but I really enjoyed it.

Hell Opened

April 19th, 2013

The fire balls torrent from the sky
opening like the gates of hell,
Meteors crack the earth open
like an egg on the edge of a bowl.
The smoke envelops the surface
in a dark dangerous deadly haze.

The voices cry out
to a God that will never answer.
The smoke chokes their lungs,
shortening their cries.
They run wildly looking for salvation,
like the earth did before we destroyed it.

Why didn’t we stop the pollution?
Why did the ozone disappear?

No reply,
just punishment.


April 15th, 2013

Children, my children,

cling to my neck.

Dirtier than trash in the street.

Hungrier than a bear that’ just awoken from sleep.

Sadder than a widower in mourning.

Hopeless, almost more hopeless than me.


Their stomachs growl like lions,

begging to be filled.

I have given them all

and I would give more.

Two children as scared as a rabbit cornered by a fox.


Worry plagues my mind,

worry fills my soul,

worry is my every thought.

Worry may keep them alive,

worry has become me.

A Blood Soaked Beach

April 12th, 2013

The blood congeals and clumps

the white sand beneath my boots.

I see fear and smell death.

The cries of my fellow comrades are heard.



God, not Richard!


The bombs are deafening.

The men are caught in bob wires

like fish in a net.

Smoke creeps across the ground,

until it attacks my nostrils.


Sand explodes around me

and skims my dirty cheeks

like a caress before a slap.

The icy sting of the water

splashes around mimicking the sand.


Where is God?

Basking in the Sun

April 8th, 2013

The sun is so nice

this time of year.

It warms my fur

and makes it cozy

on the patio all day.


I hear the students

in the building next door.

They speak of metaphors

and similes, and tone.


Old bones keep me from

running like I used to.

They creak and moan,

so I’ll just sit here in the sun,

just a little more.  

Sip from a Straw

April 7th, 2013


The dark crisp liquid

enters the cavernous

straw. The brown

liquid dyes the

pink straw dark red.


The color races to the top

seeing who can beat the rest

to the exit of the straw.


The journey takes forever

an eternity of pulling

and pushing upward.


The straw is filled

the liquid has reached its goal.


And it continues until it is gone.


April 3rd, 2013

You were the smile on my face

the laughter in my throat.


You were the admiration in my eyes

and the awe in my voice.


You were the war hero

everyone wanted to be.


You were the comforting smell

that told me I was with family.


That changed, and you became

the tear in my chest.

The painful memory

I feel every day.


One day you will be only a happy memory,

but for now you are nothing.


My Wish

March 29th, 2013

Warm breeze tickles my cheek,

soft sand caresses my hands.

I smell a salty tang

of the beach on a spring day.

Mommy I want,

the ice-cream truck signaled this

Ok sweetie

The ice cream drips

down her small hands.

I wish for her different.

I wish for her better.

I wish for her what

I never had.

I wish her happiness.

I will achieve my wishes.

For now we have the beach

and dripping ice-cream.

The Awekening

March 27th, 2013

The Awakening


Beep Beep Beep.

My hand calms the monster,

soothing it with a simple press.

The dreaded hour has come

like a storm on a summer day.


Creek creek creek.

I toss and turn

warding off the inevitable.

Fighting a losing battle.

Your bed is most comfy

when you have to leave it.


Pitter patter pitter patter pitter patter.

My feet are bitten by

the icy sting of cold floor.

My grogginess pulls on me

like heavy shadow

tempting me back to rest.


The day begins.

Until We’re Together Again

February 25th, 2013

As I entered the cool hospital room I noticed it smells sanitized and impersonal. Not at all like what my friend smells like. Alex my best friend lay in the bed and looked so helpless. Tubes were projected out of his bodies everywhere you could think of and more. His face was obscured by an oxygen mask and was littered with tiny cuts from when the glass shattered. He seemed so calm in his sleep.

            The doctors had contacted his family but they lived five hours away and would not make it in time. The car accident had nearly killed him but the life support he was on would only keep him alive for two hours maximum because his internal injuries were so severe. I of course was also on his emergency contact list so I was able to make it to see him and be with him. The doctors told me that there was nothing more they could do and it was time to say goodbye. I gazed down at his body I realized I would do anything to save him. The time had come to say the hardest thing you can to someone you love.

            “Hey Alex, I’m really sorry your Mom and brothers couldn’t come so I guess you’re stuck with just me,” I chuckled out bitterly.

            “You are my best friend and I promise I’ll find the asshole who wrecked your car, ‘The Tardis’ and I’ll sick Dr. Who on them,” I laughed again. Dr. Who was his favorite show but I didn’t really understand it.

            “I remember when we first met in chorus in 6th grade and we thought we were so cool for making All County. I remember how much we would laugh at Family Guy and all those dumb movies we would watch in your basement. We were such freaks in middle school. I still don’t really understand how people put up with us, probably because we are so fun. Hey, I hope you meet God and I’ll be all like ‘I told you so’,” I said and am no longer to hold back and begin weeping.

            “I’m sorry I can’t be stronger to do this, you were always the tough one. You’re leaving though, I don’t understand why I can’t be there with you. This isn’t fair you can’t go,” I said as I angrily sat down trying to control myself.

            You don’t want to say goodbye like this, I thought. I take a deep breath and stand back up and walk closer to his bed.

            “Alex I love you. Not in a boyfriend/girlfriend way. I love you as someone I can’t be without. Alex, you understand me more than anyone I know. I’ll just say something completely not related to anything we were talking about but you get my train of thought. You have the most beautiful soul I think I’ll ever know. I remember when me and Leo broke up and you did the one thing no one else could, you made me laugh. I just was so sad and I never felt like I’d smile again but you made it happen. Remember that one night when I was home alone and I heard a noise in the house and I was so scared I locked myself in my room and called you and you came over to help me investigate. That was so nice of you to drive over and really spoke to our level of friendship. You made me laugh, you made me cry but most importantly you were my friend and I’m really going to miss you. Wait for me wherever it is you are and we will see each other again, OK I promise,” I said still crying and I gently gave him a hug without disturbing the lines and machines attached to him.

            I called his mom and held the phone to Alex’s ear to say she loves him and she’ll be there soon. Alex passed on quietly without waking an hour later. I stayed at his side until his mother came and I left her to grieve. I gave his hand a quick squeeze and said quietly, “Until we’re together again.”