Our class activity today  in my Contemporary Poetry class was to create a blackout poem. I used Howard Nemerov’s poem “On Being Asked for a Peace Poem” (1973) from The 20th Century in Poetry. Happy National Poetry Month.

blackout poem

National Poetry Month

April is the month long celebration of poetry. Join me and other poets at these events:

Sunday, April 10, 1 p.m. at the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery, 7 Canal Street, Westerly, Rhode Island

Friday, April 15, 7 p.m. at Byrd’s Books, 126 Greenwood Avenue, Bethel, Connecticut

Saturday, April 23, 2 p.m. at the Minor Memorial Library, 23 South Street, Roxbury, Connecticut

Support the arts and poetry in your community. Participate in other events and activities.


Poem in your pocket

For the last day of National Poetry Month, pick up a poem and put it in your pocket, then share it. It’s not a bad idea to do this every day. A poem a day keeps the doctor away.

poem in your pocket

Here are two poems I kept in my pocket for years.

since feeling is first

By e.e. cummings

since feeling is first
who pays any attention
to the syntax of things
will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool
while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,
and kisses are better fate
than wisdom
lady i swear by all flowers. Don’t cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life’s not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

Dream Song 14

By John Berryman

Life, friends, is boring. We must not say so.
After all, the sky flashes, the great sea yearns,
we ourselves flash and yearn,
and moreover my mother told me as a boy
(repeatingly) ‘Ever to confess you’re bored
means you have no
Inner Resources.’ I conclude now I have no
inner resources, because I am heavy bored.
Peoples bore me,
literature bores me, especially great literature,
Henry bores me, with his plights & gripes
as bad as achilles,
who loves people and valiant art, which bores me.
And the tranquil hills, & gin, look like a drag
and somehow a dog
has taken itself & its tail considerably away
into mountains or sea or sky, leaving
behind: me, wag.

What Jodie Taught Me about Tattoos

My poem, “What Jodie Taught Me about Tattoos” is featured on Homebound Publication’s website, promoting the release of Reconnaissance and celebrating National Poetry Month.

Jodie had a beautiful spirit, and though she had gone through a lot in her life, she made laugh and smile, and made an otherwise uncomfortable freshman year of college tolerable. Her family continues her memory and honors her with the Jodie S. Lane Public Safety Foundation. Please read about their work and the mission to improve public safety and and education about stray power lines.

What Jodie Taught Me about Tattoos

—for Jodie Lane

She could not be buried,
her father told her,
with ink scalpelled into skin,
defacement of the body
prohibited by Jewish law.
With spider legs painted
around skull’s demon visage,
she wore hers without apology
under stringy tank tops
and the ripped sarcasm
of baggy sweats around
a petite frame. She confided
obsessions over cigarettes
blurred into the falling leaves
of freshman year laughing,
never telling stories
of spiders or skulls, not minding
the sunflower I chose
for my own mark. We wanted
to ink into the eternal, forge
the intransient specter
of adulthood with scars
of our own making.

The last time I saw her
we sat for coffee between
darkened booths at the local
diner. A postcard sent
from Texas came a few years
later and then abbreviated
obituary lines stapled
between the alumni magazine,
electrocution, freak
accident walking dogs,
voltage engraving her body
with ungrounded shrieks
through a Manhattan sidewalk.

East 11th street is pocketed
with sewer drains and manholes,
and a street sign marks
the site where she fell.
I stare up into the permanence
of the story, one I kept hidden
in the flower on my shoulder,
the rumor of loss now etched
in visible lettering across
an overcast sky, persisting
beyond a combustible
and porous layer of skin.

National Poetry Month

Head over to Homebound Publications for all you need for National Poetry Month, and get ready for Poem in Your Pocket Day. Here’s a selection from Reconnaissance and my little son, Django, who inspired the poem:IMG_4082


Look for Reconnaissance in paperback and ebook, on Amazon, Kindle, and Nook or ask for it in your local indie bookstore.

Justifying the Ways of Animals to God

Having little or no knowledge
about the fall of man,
the boy approaches the ringneck
with the zeal of a crusader
without pausing, as there is
nothing eternal to consider.

The confession had been shed already:
flaky, transparent skin hidden
beneath a rug in the unheated summer room—
the yellow necklace collaring
a brand-new black form.

The saga unfolds quietly
unaided by the dramatic pauses
of scripture nor capped off
with sermons on forgiveness.
The bite is swift, but not final:
there must be suffering.

Rebellion, pride, seduction—
these do not enter the minds of snakes
and a cat cannot tell a fallen angel
from a demon dancing
in the living room’s haloed light.

Preview–Lord Byron

To get a jump start on National Poetry Month in April, and to celebrate the upcoming release of Reconnaissance, check out

After Making Love to Lord Byron
on the Morning of My Thirty-seventh Birthday

He left me once the broken blue
of dawn came through the window, . . .

* * *

Click here for the full poem. Order the full collection today and get it shipped two weeks early.

The poem was first published in issue 2 of Garbanzo Literary Journal

Press release from the University of Bridgeport.

Guided Tour: Featured Preview from Homebound Publications

Guided Tour | A Poem from Reconnasissance

We’re gearing up for April—National Poetry Month—here is a preview from Reconnaissance by Amy Nawrocki. In her latest collection, Amy plays voyeur and thief, surveying canvases and investigating bookshelves, searching for creativity’s origins and exploring the nature of inspiration. The poems in Reconnaissance uncover muses between the frayed pages of Byron and Shelley, in Chagall’s stained glass, at Oscar Wilde’s grave, past the deep bogs of Glencoe, and in the far away snow caps of Mount Fuji. In these insightful and elegant poems, Nawrocki invites us to believe in “the authenticity of first sight.” Open the paint box and learn how to stare.

Look for the collection April 7, 2015! Learn More or pre-order»

Enjoy a selection from the book, Guided Tour.

Guided Tour

Memorize a few loose-leaf pages,
note important dates with precision. Mention
the children by name and explain the heritage
of the highboy in the parlor—cherry, late 18th century,
brass fixtures, replacements, not original.
Demonstrate the peculiar habits
of instruments placed with emphasis
around the house: pretend to fill
the tin-top foot warmers with hot coals,
mimic the dipping of candle wicks
in and out of their molds, smile coyly
as you tighten the rope mattress
with the antique bed key the way
someone would have two hundred years ago.

At times you recognize a twinge
of inaccuracy in the script, something
tinkering toward futility escaping
in your voice. And for a few minutes
as you watch visitors wave back
on their way to the car you wonder
if a pleasant tone and a few lucky cobwebs
are enough to recapture the history of a farmhouse
or of inhabitants who never seem to leave
enough behind. The past seems repetitive

until a blind man who need help placing
his feet up stone steps, bends into a prayer pose
and touches the floor’s pine planks
with both hands. Through the kitchen
and side bedrooms, past looms and the old
rocking horse, he feels his way and measures
distances with small steps. He knows
without being told that we’ve returned
to the front entrance, “where we started.”


Poems by Amy Nawrocki
ISBN: 978-1-938846-69-4 | 6×9 | 100pgs
Pre-Order Now | List Price: $14.95
This book will be released on April 7, 2015. Pre-order exclusively in our store and we will ship your order a full two weeks in advance!