My 12 Steps for Poetry Writing

Below is a stream of consciousness poem I wrote an hour ago. Lots of imagery potential here! Today I thought I’d share how I usually approach poem writing.

  1. Write rough cut in pen or marker
  2. Run away from it! It needs time to rest.
  3. Look at it with an unbiased mind
  4. Say “hey this isn’t so bad”
  5. Say “except this right here is awful”
  6. Subtract
  7. Run away again
  8. Read it aloud
  9. Fine tune
  10. Publish or
  11. Put it away until I run out of ideas
  12. Return when I’m a better writer and revise

Advice for Recent College Graduates

Congratulations, 2017 college graduates! [and high school graduates and all the other graduates but this post is specifically for college grads] It’s been a long journey for all of you, and I know you just want to rest, and you might already have a dozen people lined up to give you advice. But if you don’t, here’s mine:

  1. Take a f^cking break. You probably gained 15 pounds since you turned 18 because you’ve been sitting on your ass writing shitty papers and teaching yourself advanced math for the past 4+ years. Get outside and remember the smell of strawberries, Mr. Frodo.
  2. Get a student job. Not a career job, not a job that requires 3 years of experience (which you won’t have) and willingness to stay at the company for at least one year (you won’t have this either). NO. Get a college student job. Like a barista or a waitress or take a job with a temp agency. Anything temporary that you don’t have to make a lasting commitment to because…
  3. You need to TRAVEL. Where are you, the USA? Take a trip to Canada or Mexico, whichever’s closest. Never been to NYC? Go there. Never been to NOLA? Go there. Are you in Auckland, New Zealand but haven’t been to the south island? GO THERE! Go somewhere you’ve never been before. I suggest traveling solo because you’ll learn a lot more about yourself and the world this way. You’ll find everything you need to know about travel at
  4. Avoid career traps. You know how one of your parents, or an aunt or uncle is trapped in their cubicle job? That’s going to be you. If you’re in the USA, you’re supposed to get a career job right out of college with a big company whose CEO has never heard of you. Or, you can run the other way into the arms of a small company who will watch you grow and help you achieve your ultimate goals. This is starting to sound like advice for myself…
  5. READ A BOOK because now you have time! Were you supposed to read Lord of the Flies by William Golding in high school but used spark notes instead? Read it now. Have you read all the Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings books? No? The f*ck?!
  6. Learn more Spanish. Sorry, that one’s for me. But if you don’t know any Spanish and you live in the United States, you better hit up duolingo right now. I’m sure you already know 30 Spanish words, but learn 30 more. Take your new knowledge across the border. If you’re fluent in Spanish, learn Mandarin Chinese. If you’re fluent in Mandarin as well, you’re cooler than the rest of us so stop reading advice blogs.
  7. Finish that project. You know, THAT project.
  8. One more thing. Don’t spend all your free time seeking advice and taking dozens of personality quizzes online. You can’t know who you are by reading. You have to do something. Make something, go somewhere, put yourself in a position that requires decisions. You know enough about yourself In Theory. You need to know about yourself In Practice.
  9. That’s it. Leave me now, I must rest.

Star Wars Viewing Order for Newbs!

Today is a special day. May 4th. Star Wars Day! May the Fourth be with you! To celebrate, I wrote a Star Wars post. If you’ve never seen Star Wars, this post is for you. Surely there have been many people telling you which order they think is best to watch them in. Here’s the order I’d suggest to a newcomer.

Episode 4: A New Hope
Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
Episode 7: The Force Awakens
Rogue One

“Wait, you mean 456, then 123, then 7? Then a movie that isn’t an Episode? What?” Yes, that’s the order they were released in. If you’re going to get into Star Wars, the Release Order is the best way to go. This is the order that all original fans came to love that universe by, and it should be celebrated. Some people will tell you to watch them in the storyline order. DO NOT DO THIS! You get the least interesting 3 films first, and the true spirit of SW LAST. NO!

Now, for anyone who doesn’t want to watch all the movies and simply wants a gist for what the universe is, watch Episode 4: A New Hope. You get the original whiny Luke and his power converters, Leia and Han in their prime (plus Chewy, R2-D2, C-3PO and YODA) and the story that started a franchise.

For anyone who just wants to see a cool action movie, watch Episode 7: The Force Awakens. It’s new, the graphics and sound design are spot on, and it’s a lot more racially balanced than the previous films. We get to watch Oscar Isaac AND John Boyega. Plus, John Williams’ brilliant score.

Rogue One can be appreciated by anyone who hasn’t seen Star Wars before, but it’s best for fans. For example: blue milk. Anyway, Michael Giacchino’s score is not Classic SW but it’s still good. I mean, he also scored the TV series Lost, Pixar’s Up and Ratatouille among many many others. Still, the iconography isn’t the same. Watch another one first.

So you’ve seen all the films in order. Now what? When you finish Rogue One, go back and watch A New Hope. Rogue One is the story that happened JUST BEFORE A New Hope, and really ups the stakes of the 1977 film.

This whole Which To Watch First problem is going to be even more complicated when the Han Solo movie comes out. But for now, I’m very much looking forward to Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. December 15th!

Running into Old Friends

There’s nothing like running into an old friend to make you realize how behind you are. Today I saw an old friend [literally, last I checked he was 65 and that was a few years ago] who I hadn’t seen in a long time. He asked “so, did you finish your book?” And I wasn’t sure which book he was referring to, because there have been so many. But my answer was “no” because I haven’t finished a single book in my life.


That’s okay. I finished my application to the Poetry Foundation competition a few days ago and that gave me some much needed momentum. I mean, I finished something. I worked on that damn thing almost everyday for a month and a half and I finished! So, I’m getting back to work on Sort of Super. Maybe I’ll become addicted to finishing books and then I’ll be able to go through my collection of rough drafts and….

yeah I’m getting ahead of myself.

Don’t Look Inward Whatever You Do – quick write

Don’t Look Inward Whatever You Do
Doug said to look inward
but it’s winter there.
He doesn’t know I can swallow a whole snowman
and my belly stays fat until I go to the equator.

The doctor put a stethoscope on my chest and said
she heard a black hole purring.
I worry science doesn’t know whether
one comes back from that.

Who knew Dr. L was also a court stenographer?
She said Quiet Let Me Dictate
I said Sure and heard
“I know you in the black.
In the caves between pixelated dreams
I can steal you anytime”
I said Shit Doc What Do I Do
and she was like
“don’t call me Doc”
so I said, “just tell me how to fix this”
and she hypothesized
“if the core of your persona grows in a terrarium
you should drink 3 buckets of water a day for a week to drown any evil roots”
I don’t know where she got “terrarium” but long story short
NASA’s bringing me down to Huntsville, Alabama on Thursday
which is very far away from Doug.

Layout for Grant Application 

Today I’m arranging my poems for the grant I’m applying to. Since I need to take my eyes off of the computer screen anyway, I figured this would be the best way to go. This method is much easier than having to fuss with Word layouts and page breaks and I can see it all at once without having to zoom in or out. Everything is right here! Plus, it’s cool to have physical representations of your work. They’re so tiny when you print them out!



The buttons on my blender told me
Crush. Grind. Pulverize.
I stuck my mind in and pressed all three.

I left the lid off, can you imagine
the kitchen ceiling?
My clothes splattered with essays

Essays splattered with me
My roommates gave me the short straw
and told me to suck it up.

Remember in elementary when health teachers
stuck coffee straws in your lips and said
“that’s what it’s like to be a smoker”?

Then you went to recess for the black lungs
and mourned the loss of their monkey bar callouses.
You hoped they could make it up the stairs.

Then you went to college and wished you were still
the swinging champion of your grade school
but every time you test it, voltage shakes your ankles

When you die they’re gonna put you on a big ole sling shot
They’re gonna pull you back, aim
and shoot your body into quicksand

where you will sink and drown. It will be so shitty
that the lightning buildup in your legs will flip the switch to your brain
You’ll open your eyes (you dummy!) and kick your feet

like a perfect dolphin you’ll shoot straight up from the surface.
Summer air will suck the sand from your nostrils like sugar,
and a classmate will ask for an extra pencil.

Audio: Hip Violence – lofi demo

Hello everyone,
I recently recorded this song: Hip Violence. I started writing it about 4 years ago under the working title “Monster Monster”. I finally finished the lyrics, which changed the meaning of the song a bit. Thus, new title.

In this recording, I experiment with violin and melodica overlays. Because I recorded it with garageband and a simple microphone, it’s not top notch studio quality. There are times when you can hear me press the melodica keys, which drives me nuts. When I finally record this for my album, I will amend that. I’m thinking about adding bass and drums, like in my more popular song, Magic Trick, but I’m not hung up on the idea.

You can find my other demos on