FullSizeRender (7)Anaphora poem. “An Anaphora is “the repetition of a word or expression several times within a clause or within a paragraph”. In poetry the repetition of the phrase can be just at the beginning of each line, setting the tone as a meditation or a mantra, or it can be utilized more subtlety within the poem. The poem can be free verse or prose style.”

“The term “anaphora” comes from the Greek for ‘a carrying up or back,’ and refers to a type of parallelism created when successive phrases or lines begin with the same words, often resembling a litany.”

When I was a little girl, I had a litany. I had two. The first was, “It’s ok, Seena.” (I called myself Seena.) I would say it whenever I got a shot at the doctor’s office, or whenever I fell down a scraped a knee. It’s okay. It’ll be okay. The other was “Sí se puede.” It’s something my grandfather use to tell me in letters whenever I would write to him to tell him my improbable dreams. It means yes you can.

I’ve been looking up prompts for Saturday’s QWW: Ridgewood Edition. I’ve actually been kind of nervous about it — it’s a little difficult to find good prompts on the internet. There are a lot of silly prompts, a lot of prompts geared toward classrooms. And silliness is great! I’m frequently a silly person. But I don’t want QWW at Topos to feel like a classroom.

One of the prompts I found was to write an anaphora poem. I don’t consider myself a poet. I leave that for the true poet-souls, like my chica Crystal. You can’t help but be a poet if you’re around Crystal.

But I like the word anaphora.

So there’s a prompt for you. Anaphora. Repetition of a word. Give me free verse, or prose, or whatever your heart desires. Sí se puede. Just write it.

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I like picnics. Here’s a picnic basket full of prompts. Some of them I stole from the Internet. Some of them are somewhat silly. Things that teenagers would take and run with — what does the kitchen look like in the creepiest coffee shop in the world? What kind of superpowers would your grandmother have? What would her costume look like? I’m not asking too many big questions. Instead I want you to run with it. Crystal wants you to write on your nerve, and I do too.

I went on a date tonight. I talked to her about that peculiar combination of qualities teenagers tend to have: self-involvement and self-consciousness. I thought about my diaries from when I was a kid, a girl-woman, a being on the threshold between two worlds. I remembered the sheer amount of writing I did. Nothing was off limits. I had a dream journal, a journal for teaching myself Tarot, a journal almost entirely devoted to the sincere belief that I would one day marry Orlando Bloom. It sounds silly. I was aware, at the time, of how incredibly silly it all seemed. I did it anyway.

At some point, I stopped giving myself permission to be silly.

I recently started journaling again. I was surprised at how hard things hit me as I wrote. Things I felt, things I’d dreamed: Finally taking the time to get them out onto paper, to give them weight, to let them be real. A friend of mine said I was doing it backwards — that you should feel the things first, and then get them out there. But I think we give things power when we write them down. We make them real in a way they weren’t real before. Another friend of mine told me she’d given up on writing, “except for journaling.” I told her, girl, that’s not giving up. That’s the realest writing a writer can do.

I’m not asking you to journal. I don’t think I could sit in a coffee shop full of people and journal in a way that feels real and right to me. I just started writing in a new journal, and I’ve promised myself that it’ll never leave my room. I won’t even take it into the kitchen, which is where I do most of my work during the day, and kitchens are frequently the places I am most myself, and most comfortable. But for the Ridgewood section of Queens Writes Weekend, I am asking you to be silly. Give yourself that permission. The thing I love about flash fiction is that it doesn’t give you enough time to second guess yourself. You just go.

FullSizeRender (6)So I’ve filled my picnic basket full of prompts that remind me of that point in my life when I had done the most writing. I dreamed of pirates and elves, of witches and goddesses, of superhero chicks who save the world a lot.

In my picnic basket on Saturday you’ll find Tarot cards, and a deck of unfortunately named playing cards; you’ll find a feather, and pearls, and storytelling dice. We’ll break up the two hours into sections — two minutes, five minutes, ten minutes, etc., and you’ll pick a prompt and just go. Anne Lamott calls them shitty first drafts, and I like that, but we don’t even have to get that far. Just pick a prompt and go.

Sí se puede. #QUEENSWRITES


Spent last night dreaming
that I was someone’s mistress,
their dirty little

secret. That other
woman, perpetually
wanting what’s not mine.

I dream this often.
It’s lonely there, completely,
and naively, wrong.

It’s not like I haven’t
been that girl before. I have.
But I’ve forgotten

just how lonely
she is.


I remember how
each morning in the school yard
Viv C. made me cry.

She saw my pale legs
covered in dark thick hair, while
her legs were hairless.

That “Girls don’t have hair
like that,” distressed me each day,
’til I called her fat.

Then we became friends.
She helped me with algebra
all through middle school.

We liked Pokemon.
We drew invented maps;
we waged imagined wars.

How strange, to befriend
a bully this way: over
our shared discomfort,

in our bodies: the
aching changes, relentless;
the eager growth-pain.

In sixth grade I shaved
my legs with my mom’s razor.
I wore dresses, I learned
to perform.

spell for an old love

I want to hold something in my hands and say
— Here, this is how I love you.

Palms up, I would offer you a blue bird,
hopping, head cocked to one side,
before flying to nest high on
your windowsill;
or, pale green and white, a flower shaped like a bell
for you to press between the pages of your favorite book
until the petals turn gray;
or a smooth shell the color of sand and roses,
sea-scented and thirsty.

I think if I stood still, still
I would move toward you,
the way I stand at the shore in summertime
ocean-bound and brown.
I loved you when my bones were feathers
and my hair was long,
when my hips were slender and I didn’t know
what they were for.

I will love you when my bones are feathers again,
and when I forget how to dance.