Sunday, May 17, 2015



They stand
Butterflies in a net
Off cotton white
And satin black

Hair tamed
Braces on teeth
Gangly limbs
In soldier formation

We sit
Cameras in hand
Grays splayed
Skin creased

They wait
On cusp of flight
While ours crumple.
Such short splendor.

- Theresa Milstein

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Family History

Family History

The trunk of this family is lost to history
Photo fragments remain as shadows
Among anecdotal remembrances

Grandmother asphyxiated from appearances
Eldest aunt expired of embarrassment
While the youngest aunt died of denial

Uncle wallows in what could’ve been
Father perches atop it’s not my place
Above their ancestors’ termite rot

Their children and their children’s children—
Twisted branches spread far and wide—
Brethren brittle breaking, sisters snatching sky—

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Collective Bullying

Andrew Smith

Know him? Know his books?

Until yesterday, all I knew was this that I’d seen his book, The Marbury Lens, in my local bookstore. But I hadn’t read it. We weren’t Facebook friends. I didn’t follow him on Twitter.

Last night, my writer friend Matthew Macnish posted a series of tweets by authors in favor of him on his Facebook page. Including a link to a post written by another writer who accused Andrew Smith of being sexist. I’m not going to link it, but I will pull the supposed proof of sexism pulled from an interview:

Q: On the flip side, it sometimes seems like there isn’t much of a way into your books for female readers. Where are all the women in your work?
A: I was raised in a family with four boys, and I absolutely did not know anything about girls at all. I have a daughter now; she’s 17. When she was born, that was the first girl I ever had in my life. I consider myself completely ignorant to all things woman and female. I’m trying to be better though.

From that presumptive question and Andrew Smith’s response, the writer concluded this:

The interpretation is that women are less than human, or at the very least, inherently different from men. That is one of the oldest sexist arguments in the entire world. 

and this:

Women are so different they defy his incredible imagination.

concluding this:

But shouldn’t it be harder for someone to willingly participate in a culture of sexism than it is for us to talk about it out loud, and publicly? 

1)   It’s okay to acknowledge that we can feel a little discomfort writing about someone who is a different gender, sexual orientation, and ethnicity from us. What’s important is that we try. From the outpouring of support for Andrew Smith and his characters, it seems that he actually does write varied characters.

2)   If we are looking for people to out people who have made sexist comments, surely we can find a more overtly sexist writer. I know of a famous author who has made homophobic comments. Where’s the public outcry? Instead, his book has been turned into a movie. What role model is he for LGBT children and teens?

3)   If something someone says makes you feel uncomfortable and you say you want dialogue, contact the person privately or make a personal comment on a post.

As a result of the post and the link to it on Twitter, a witch-hunt ensued.

It got so bad, the author deleted his Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The author of the original post said:

FTR: nobody I follow on twitter has been vilifying Andrew Smith. My corner of the internet is discussing, sarcastic, angry, but not mean.

Does that make it okay? In response, I said this in response:

You took a comment for a question that probably threw him and made him a poster child for something he is not. Shameful.

I posted my own tweet:

So #AndrewSmith has been the target of a modern witch hunt based on flimsy evidence. We can do better, writers. Have we become the trolls?

I do believe having an issue with the content in a book is okay. But…

When did it become okay for writers to personally attack each other on social media, especially without having much information?

When did it become okay to ruin people’s ratings on Goodreads and Amazon because we wanted to punish the writer?

It’s collective bullying.

But then outpouring of support came out from people who know Andrew Smith a little better than the writer who started the attacks. They painted a picture of a man who is funny and talented. They waxed poetic about how his books saved them and made them better writers. Check the #AndrewSmith Twitter feed to find out.

The ones who spoke about Andrew the person were the most impressive.

Michelle Zink wrote this on her Facebook page:

Don't have time to write? Take a look at this. Not only is Andrew Smith an amazing writer, he has a beast of a work ethic. Get up at 3am to write BEFORE going for run which he does BEFORE he goes to his full time job as a teacher? Holy wow. And I thought I worked hard. Also, high five to Smith's wife, who must certainly pick up any slack at home. Now THAT is a partnership.

But the best evidence of what kind of person Andrew Smith is comes from Andrew Smith himself before this happened:
Here's Andrew Smith defending a woman (Meghan Cox Gurdon from the YA is too dark piece)...

Did what Andrew Smith say in that interview deserve what followed? No, it did not.

And so, today, I will support him the best way I know how.

I’m going to buy one of his books.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

not exactly wonderland

not exactly wonderland

second apartment, a
rocky, rebound relationship—
left the beat of the city
to the middle-of-nowhere-special.

our eat-me sized furniture
loomed over drink-me sized spaces.
narrow strip of carpeted
kitchen invited takeout delivery.

shackled to the second
bedroom—my  office prison
for scholarly pursuits—
with ample room for self-doubt.

three children and a baby
below served as regular alarm clock.
yard bug zapper droned
throughout suburban summer nights.

the only reprieves from
steady silence of study and stress.
long island isolation—
living three disparate identities.

with husband often working,
the drink-me sized second-floor apartment
seemed super-size-me large
that first, endless year of grad school.

at least there was cable.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

One-Year Contract

In keeping with the apartment theme from last week: 

One-Year Contract

Two armoires,
A fireplace,
A stucco kitchen floor,
And an English garden—

What extravagance
In a suburban apartment,

Especially in comparison
To our last cramped place.

We’d have the first floor—
The owner, a lovely
British woman, lived
On the second level.

The downside:
One heating system for both spaces.

The upside:
She left town each weekend.

We signed the one-year contract
In summer, and placed clothing
In the armoires and my desk in the
Corner to write grad class papers.

The first weekend on the patio
Squirrels dropped apples on our heads,

But the dahlias, in every size and hue,
And butterflies brightened our spirits.

The humidity was incessant—
No matter how many times we
Scrubbed, the mushrooms
Returned in bathroom crooks.

Come fall, the wasps marched
Into the living room to die.

Come winter, the fireplace
Released plumes of tar smoke.

We did not control the heat—
She complained it was too hot.
I washed dishes in my winter coat,
Typed papers wearing fingerless gloves.

My breath came out in cloudbursts
In the bedroom ‘til we bought a space heater.

She complained about the electric bill.
We broke our lease two months early.

With a baby on the way,
There was No Way we could stay.
The lovely landlady was in her garden,
Which was  returning to its former glory.

She sighed and said
She didn’t know why tenants stayed only one year….

Monday, January 19, 2015

Our First Apartment

Our First Apartment

700-square feet of bliss
and cockroaches.
We saw two in the tub
The size of guinea pigs.
I marveled and cowered.
You fed them to the turtles,
Until we released our pets at the Bronx Zoo.

The heat cranked
Incessantly in winter,
So we opened the windows
But in summer we snapped them
To shut out noisy drunks,
reeking garbage, filth, 
And potential burglars heard on the news.

We bought that hefty lock
For added protection.
The doorman buzzer
Buzzed just outside our entrance.
The garbage chute
Whooshed outside our kitchen.
And the TV buzzed from another apartment.

We rode our mountain bikes.
And bladed in Central Park,
Just 20 minutes away on the subway.
We found our favorite Chinese takeout,
Favorite Indian joint, best Kosher
Deli, and best-deal fruit stand.
We learned to cook well in our white kitchen.

The day we prepared our
Most ambitious dinner,
You saw the roach scurrying.
While trying to shield if from me,
You cut your thumb.
Blood splattered on our
White walls, and our now ruined gourmet meal.

I brought you to the ER to get stitches.

Those were the days.

This poem is for my husband, Stu. 
Happy Birthday! xo

Thursday, January 1, 2015



Rim my eyes
Red lips
Break up the
Like Siouxsie
And the Banshees.

Tromp in my
Combat boots
Square Park—
Grit and
Weed wafting in the air.

Pass by CBGB.
Once met
Whose nose was
There, moshing.
I wear virgin Dr. Martens.

I’m a suburban-
Punk girl

Sniffing incense
In Time Square,
Buying Bauhaus
In The Village.
Combing clothes at
Second hand shops.

Score cheap food—
Pizza or food truck? 
Skip the
To conserve
Dwindles to coins.

The homeless
In Penn Station.
I stand on the
Stare at the billboard.
Molly Ringwald’s newest.

Isn’t she
Pretty in Pink?

Pictures of Manhattan in the 1970s and 80s:

Happy New Year!