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My mom was in her hospital bed, smiling with rare warmth. The whiteness of the room was intense under the fluorescent lights. Maybe she was glad because I was the only one in our family to go to see her.



This semester I am teaching a course called Poets of Color at Mills College in Oakland, California. ‘Tis that time of the semester again when I start compiling writing prompts based upon the work we have read and discussed for my...

Obsessed with the magic of words—their essence and their sound—I fell in love with the word de cid u ous when it fortuitously crossed my path. I embedded it like a seed. I imagined it as a poem. Its very sound parallels its meaning: a falling off, a shedding that also implies a continuing, a renewal - dying yet deathless.

I love the thought of deciduous parts of trees, of shrubs, of insects. I live in the Eastern United States where we have full seasons (or did before climate...

strange collage

My favorite poetic technique of the moment is collage, specifically collage by quotation. I love how collage is so disruptive, so...

focus_ethanbifano (1)

To write an honest, reflective poem can call a risky visitation upon the poet.

In healthier manifestations, our human fascination with self can be endearing. From carefully...

I am a psychologist. The process of writing poetry for me is similar to the creative process of conducting psychotherapy. As a psychologist I hover, in space and time, over the therapy sessions. I listen to you while I also switch channels to monitor several realities or groups of observations at once. I hear your words, I watch your expressions and body language, I hear the emotions in your voice, and I intuit the experiences you feel in your body. I notice the impact of things I say and...

After explaining there should be just enough tension between our thumbs to hold a piece of paper, the monk paused to ask if we would like to repeat any steps before we practiced zazen posture. Nervous student that I am, I wanted to review everything. What if I stepped into the zendo with my right foot? Worse yet, what if while sitting zazen I had to sneeze or an itch surfaced? I’d traveled to Tassajara, a Zen Buddhist Center, to say a personal goodbye to our California life before we moved...


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