February 26, 2023 Christi

Poetry Marathon – Will I Make It?

Home Stretch, Tough Run, Thirteen Words

When I applied to be a Tupelo Press 30/30 Poet for February and was accepted (for the second year, hurray!), I had no idea that my client and work schedule would be exploding—in a good way—making it rough to write a poem every day.  I’d made a commitment. I had to be okay with rough.

The writing process was distilled down to capturing impressions. It became a matter of: “just feel and go.”

It’s exciting to discover that no matter how blank my mental slate is, something will always arise. No matter how spent I feel, I can find one more drop of energy and reach for the pen once more.

Yesterday’s poem was born out of words within thirteen inches of where I was sitting. (I was too tired to go digging around any further.) I got curious, snapped photos of things – the label of my slippers, the tag on the heater, my mug, my lipstick. I created a poem from these random words, thirteen in all.

In the home stretch, I’m 88 percent to my fundraising goal for Tupelo Press. Will you consider supporting me? Three days to go, and I’ve burned so much mental and creative energy, and I feel joy of knowing I’m bringing good things into the world through the amalgamation of a literary nonprofit and the work of my heart.


Having formatting issues, so this is just a piece of today’s poem.

Being Thirteen

Thirteen Words to Hand Within a Thirteen-Inch Radius




How the camp

counselor de-


me in her letter.

Granna chewed

on the word.

“Why weren’t you

friendly?” Granna

wore reading

glasses steeped in

White Shoulders perfume.

Peered at me as if

the letter were a

report card, which

it wasn’t,

merely a concerned adult

noting a child

who was quiet—

too quiet.

Please pay attention.




How Mother began

every letter from the

hospital. Also a term

of endear-

ment I never heard from

anyone real but her.

June and Ward

Cleaver used

it for each other.




at the mouth. How you

know to stay

away from the bloodhound

loping behind

the chain link fence.




went out of my ‘69

Corona six years

later, but my friend

the mechanic poured

jug after jug of

fluid under the hood,

into a tinny, airy engine

so light you could see

the street underneath.











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