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Tuesday, December 30, 2014


James Richardson, poet and aphorist, wrote as his 23rd entry in the book Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, "All stones are broken stones." To me this immediately said; 1) all stones are broken, not just the one you identify with; and 2) all stones came from something bigger, a bigger stone, a oneness, a wholeness, a whole stone, an earth, a planet.

2014 was the year I was going to end self-loathing. That was my resolution. I am not done yet (may never be done), but I have made significant strides, thanks in large part to the podcasts (available free on iTunes) of meditation teacher Tara Brach, who teaches that one inclusive response to the vagaries of the world and of the self is "This too".

Novelist Marianne Fredriksson said in her book Simon and the Oaks (translated by Joan Tate), "I find it difficult to be with people who don’t like themselves. They let other people pay such a high price for it." Not only is it unpleasant to be with people preoccupied with self-loathing, it's also true that such people (I know from experience) are busy ascribing ugly motivations to the people who do put up with them, for there must be a twisted reason anyone would choose to be with such a loathsome individual as the self. When you let go of self-loathing, you let go of blaming and disliking others as well; when you can forgive yourself, it becomes nothing to forgive others.  And you learn, as the comedian Marc Maron once said, "Feelings aren't facts. Yadda yadda yadda."

So 2015 will be the year I continue to let go of self-loathing. After all, as sung by the band Over the Rhine, "All my favorite people are broken." You could do worse than taking the time to listen to the whole gorgeous song (because whole is gorgeous, and so is broken) here.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Glorious Memorious

Thanks to Rebecca Morgan Frank at Memorious for publishing my poem "Fare" in Issue 23. I'm thrilled to be in illustrious company including Lauren Camp, Cathy Linh Che, Matthew Hittinger, David Rivard, Nomi Stone, and Cori A. Winrock.

Picasso's Ostrich

Honored and pleased to have my poem "Picasso's Ostrich" featured on the blog Painters & Poets today.

The earliest draft of this poem began as a part of a month-long project called the August Poetry Postcard Fest, which you can learn more about here and here.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

What's Your Favorite Number?

Today I got the final image for a poem I have been working on for a month, at least. But the words aren't right; I just got the image, not the wording. And so I can see there will be weeks till this poem is done. There must be other people who write more efficiently than I do. There must. In fact, today The Chronicle of Higher Education brings us 'The Habits of Highly Productive Writers.' (Hint: reading this blog is not on the list.)

On an unrelated topic, what is your favorite number? I have a strong preference for odd numbers; even numbers, after all, just keep repeating one another. Turns out there's a 'math guy' who's done a (non-scientific) study on favorite numbers, and he found the world's (most commonly cited) favorite number. Listen to Alex Bellos, author of The Grapes of Math and Here's Looking at Euclid, on the topic of favorite numbers at the podcast Story Collider.

(And, if you want to know what my favorite number is, I actually blogged about Alex Bellos earlier on in his investigation into the world's favorite number (back in 2011 actually), and in that post, I revealed my favorite numbers. Yes, I have several. So sue me.)

Friday, December 26, 2014

It's Elemental

Happy Holidays to All.

From our country/ies of abundance and assumed abundance, here is a chart of the relative abundance of the elements on the periodic table on the surface of the earth, by Prof. William F. Sheehan of the Univ. of Santa Clara, provided by It even shows relative electro-negativity!

The title poem in Mendeleev's Mandala is about the periodic table, so it's not surprising I love this! Hope you do too.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Geosi Reads

I'm honored to have been interviewed at the perceptive blog Geosi Reads. Writing from Ghana, Geosi is a poet with a curiosity about the creative processes and influences of other poets. He posts a brand new interview roughly every two to five days, and each interview is tailored for the interviewee, a nice break from the cookie-cutter interviews that abound on the internet. Geosi has interviewed famous poets from all over the world, as well as unknowns like me. Some of his other interviewees include  Kwame DawesDan Albergotti, Diane Seuss, Benjamin KwakyeLesley Wheeler, Jeannine Hall Gailey, William Trowbridge, and many more.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Mendeleev's Mandala Available for Pre-Order

My new book, Mendeleev's Mandala, is available for a special pre-order price of  $13.95 + S&H from Mayapple Press. There's one button for orders from the US, and another button for orders from Japan.

Here are what some generous poets have had to say about it:

This book is a library whittled down to a message in a bottle. Here is a poet who has boldly refused to abide to the expectations of genre—but instead, pushes language and form as a means of asking the most urgent questions. The result is a courageous and kaleidoscopic, at times tender and vulnerable, exploration of motherhood and family—set against the backdrops of science, history, religion, myths, and mathematics. When a poet embarks on a book as myriad and borderless as this one, we are gifted the rare chance to stand at the threshold of a formidable human storm. And from here, it is clear that Goodfellow’s Mendeleev’s Mandala is an electric book. But its lines are not limited to lightning. They move more like thunder, startling, resonant, and suddenly everywhere in the mind at once. – Ocean Vuong, author of Night Sky With Exit Wounds
Jessica Goodfellow has a joyous intelligence and electric tongue. Reading this book a first time, my only regret was that I couldn’t read it a second first time. But then I read it a first second time and a first third. You see what I’m doing? I’m reading this book over and over, without ever completely taking it in. I think you will too. And like me, want only one thing from Jessica Goodfellow – more.  – Bob Hicok
From the origin of the number zero to immigration to map making, these poems leap dynamically between ideas and a blazing exploration of language. Folding and unfolding with searing brilliance, these poems reveal our human condition with a down-to-earth sense of humor and wonder. This must-read collection nourishes mind and body and opens up whole new ways of seeing the world around us. – Judy Halebsky, author of Tree Line

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Second Hour

In the past few months, I've changed my writing schedule. Instead of trying to write 45 minutes a day, I've been trying to write for two hours three or four times a week (and 45 minutes on the off days).

Until the holiday season I was doing this fairly consistently, and I noticed something. It's the second hour in which all the breakthroughs are made. All the twitching and losing concentration is done in the first hour, the sitting staring at a problem poem, then putting it away and staring at a blank page--that's all first hour stuff. In the second hour, I finally stop resisting, stop looking at the clock, stop noticing all the noises around me, and the ideas come to me. Two or three or four big problems that I've been struggling with in a poem or two are suddenly solved in the second hour when, as if by magic, the right words or forms or ideas come to me.

Really this should be no surprise to me; I've written before about how the subconscious mind does all the heavy lifting. It takes time for the subconscious mind to solve the problems (which happens before the sitting down, which happens in the days and nights and weeks in which I've been pondering problems), but it also takes a quiet conscious mind to receive them, and for me, that takes more than an hour to achieve. But when I get to that quiet settled-in state, there they are, the answers. And now I know that getting to the receptive state comes (for me) in the second hour, not the first. Good to know.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Free Poetry

If you're like me, and despite efforts to have a Christmas not hijacked by consumerism you are still squirming over holiday spending, free poetry is just the thing to cheer you up. H_ngm_n Books has a plethora of free chapbooks for PDF download, featuring poets such as Sarah Certa, Nick Sturm, Jenny Sadre-Orafai, Wendy Xu, Nate Slawson, and more. Thanks, H_ngm_n!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Valparaiso Rising

Very happy to have a new poem "Search Party, Called Off" in the Fall/Winter 2014-2015 issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review. Thanks to Edward Byrne and staff.

Glad to be in the company of my secret poetry crush Frannie Lindsay, and other luminaries such as Chana Bloch, Barbara Crooker, Adam Tavel, Stephen Massimilla, and Laura Foley, among others. Featured poet is Jeff Mock.

Hunt artwork
cover of Fall/Winter 2014-15 issue of Valparaiso Poetry Review

Monday, December 8, 2014

Voice III

The Cry Bone's Connected to the Why Bone                       Jenny Browne
Cold front blasts a train through
the bedroom, one long roar
above late talk of distant war.

Numbers and names I don't recognize
climb, drift, pile higher.
There are exactly twenty-seven

bones beneath the skin of a hand.
There are not as many words
for snow as I was once told.

It's almost morning.
If you're not with us, you're dew.
If you're dew, you disappear.

If you're me this week you see
a baby learn she has hands,
the bilateral little declaration

of a common axis, grip and find.
Put your hand in the air if you've heard
the one about the hokey pokey man.

He may die but you can't bury him.
And if the whole self was never in?
Keep moving        keep moving

towards a voice you still recognize.
If you're not with us, you're a fist
and if you're a fist, you can't reach

that collection of wishbones
rattling on
the quietest shelf in the room. 


The Wounded Angel, 1903                   Amanda Auchter
     after Hugo Simberg

                             Walk the treeline, higher
than before, where the frost covers each rootbed. Dig
         for the rotten fruit, lay it in your hand. Touch
         the red berried hips of the branch's cradle. Dusk,
and the sky irons. Listen: a bird-stir and the build
of God in your breath. In the garden,
         the wind knocks you into blind
slumber. Each torn wing folds into
                             the arms that rescue it. Two children
wait for the earth to grow
         back into you, bring your sorrows
                                                    to the shore. There,
they reed-wash your halo, tie onion blooms
to your wrist. There is nothing they miss—
how the current moves through you,
                      sweeps mud into your throat, brightens
each bruised eye. Look away from this, your river-

         locked voice, the threat of the far bank.

 The criticism, no matter how virulent, has long since ceased to bother me, but the price of this is that the praise is equally meaningless. The positive and the negative are not so much self-cancelling as drowned out by that carping, hectoring internal voice that goads me on and slaps me down all day every day.  ~Will Self


The Shout                               Simon Armitage

We went out
into the school yard together, me and the boy
whose name and face

I don't remember. We were testing the range
of the human voice:
he had to shout for all he was worth,

I had to raise an arm
from across the divide to signal back
that the sound had carried.

He called from over the park — I lifted an arm.
Out of bounds,
he yelled from the end of the road,

from the foot of the hill,
from beyond the look-out post of Fretwell's Farm —
I lifted an arm.

He left town, went on to be twenty years dead
with a gunshot hole
in the roof of his mouth, in Western Australia.

Boy with the name and face I don't remember,
you can stop shouting now, I can still hear you.


Already the Heart                        A. V. Christie

The spinal cord blossoms
like bright, bruised magnolia
into the brainstem.
         And already the heart
in its depth — who could assail it?
Bathed in my voice, all branching
and dreaming. The flowering
and fading — said the poet —
come to us both at once.
Here is your best self,
and the least, two sparrows
alight in the one tree
of your body.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Voice II

The Dead                                         Jason Schneiderman

do not speak.
That is what

makes them
dead. They

have left us
words, notes,

letters, but
you can only

read them
in your voice,

from your
place in this

world. You
may try

to speak for
the dead, but

listen. That’s
your voice.


On Angels                             Czeslaw Milosz

All was taken away from you: white dresses,
wings, even existence.
Yet I believe you,

There, where the world is turned inside out,
a heavy fabric embroidered with stars and beasts,
you stroll, inspecting the trustworthy seems.

Shorts is your stay here:
now and then at a matinal hour, if the sky is clear,
in a melody repeated by a bird,
or in the smell of apples at close of day
when the light makes the orchards magic.

They say somebody has invented you
but to me this does not sound convincing
for the humans invented themselves as well.

The voice -- no doubt it is a valid proof,
as it can belong only to radiant creatures,
weightless and winged (after all, why not?),
girdled with the lightening.

I have heard that voice many a time when asleep
and, what is strange, I understood more or less
an order or an appeal in an unearthly tongue:

day draw near
another one

do what you can.


Voice, Distant, Still Assembling                  Mark Irwin

Walking farther there, I am glad we
              age slowly, discovering now in memory
      similar frontiers of a physical world, visiting
as though for the first time
              ruins of a once great city, yet novel               

in the crumbling light. We trip 
and stumble, unaware, youthful in the obscurity
      of shadow, a kind of spring
in itself. Itself, where I touch places, gone, often
              confused to find a new home
not torn and built of green, but of a crumbling

orange, and there, there, as though walking
              through fire, taking pleasure in the fleeting
walls and lingering agoras, I glimpse
      ghost bodies and caress the flesh
              boats of their past as I walk toward
      what could be mountains or oceans, till finally
I am swimming through the lit window of a name. 


White Apples                           Donald Hall
when my father had been dead a week
I woke
with his voice in my ear
                                     I sat up in bed
and held my breath
and stared at the pale closed door

white apples and the taste of stone

if he called again

I would put on my coat and galoshes.


Trapeze                                                                           Larissa Szporluk

To float you must float from within.
You must not feel attached

as you brush past the body you loved,
an arm past an arm, an almost weightless vapor.

Don't ask questions anymore. Don't hear
his seismic voice. Fractures thread the floor;

time will energize their creep
until you're craving through his ceiling.

It's all a matter of containment,
held-in breath, the hidden table. Keep in mind

that dreaming up means waking down,
so keep your swing in limbo. Don't aim high:

Where air turns thin, the ear tears open
with a secret's restless heat,

surrending its recess — the details of explosion
fizzling in a tree, remembered now and then,

but not so well, by something on and off,
like fireflies—when pressure mounts behind it.