(Verb) Thinking of too many things at once.

Winning Hearts and Minds Cake


Winning Hearts and Minds Cake - By Erin Carlson 

It is the first day of school, 

and I am at home making chocolate cake. 

Instead of notebooks and pens, 

I have 7 ounces of chocolate 

melted with far too much butter.

Instead of filling my backpack

with freshly sharpened pencils

and a planner I will faithfully ignore, 

I am adding a cup of sugar, 

and and stirring until the batter is smooth. 

Instead of scanning syllabi for death trap projects

and ranting about the unfortunate textbook design,

I am cracking six eggs into my chocolate, 

and mixing them until their golden centers 

have faded into the chocolate brown batter.

Instead of surviving a string of ice breakers

and ineffective name games,

I am adding a tablespoon of flour

to my molten chocolate mix, 

and pouring it in a spring form pan. 

I bake it until the edges swell like a souffle, 

and the center has a slight jiggle.

I let my chocolate cake cool 

until as the surfaces cracks

and looks like a brownie. 

My chocolate cake is not pretty, 

but its molten chocolate center

might just convince me 

that I am not missing school. 

Journalism aims at accuracy, but fiction’s aim is truth. The fiction writer distorts reality in the interest of a larger truth.

John L’Heureux

A wonderful quote I got at a writing class at my local library. In other words, well written fiction tells the truth by curating reality. What you don’t say is just as important as what you do say. 

The birds are in their trees,
the toast is in the toaster,
and the poets are at their windows.

They are at their windows
in every section of the tangerine of earth-
the Chinese poets looking up at the moon,
the American poets gazing out
at the pink and blue ribbons of sunrise.

The clerks are at their desks,
the miners are down in their mines,
and the poets are looking out their windows
maybe with a cigarette, a cup of tea,
and maybe a flannel shirt or bathrobe is involved.

The proofreaders are playing the ping-pong
game of proofreading,
glancing back and forth from page to page,
the chefs are dicing celery and potatoes,
and the poets are at their windows
because it is their job for which
they are paid nothing every Friday afternoon.

Which window it hardly seems to matter
though many have a favorite,
for there is always something to see-
a bird grasping a thin branch,
the headlight of a taxi rounding a corner,
those two boys in wool caps angling across the street.

The fishermen bob in their boats,
the linemen climb their round poles,
the barbers wait by their mirrors and chairs,
and the poets continue to stare
at the cracked birdbath or a limb knocked down by the wind.

By now, it should go without saying
that what the oven is to the baker
and the berry-stained blouse to the dry cleaner,
so the window is to the poet.

Just think-
before the invention of the window,
the poets would have had to put on a jacket
and a winter hat to go outside
or remain indoors with only a wall to stare at.

And when I say a wall,
I do not mean a wall with striped wallpaper
and a sketch of a cow in a frame.

I mean a cold wall of fieldstones,
the wall of the medieval sonnet,
the original woman’s heart of stone,
the stone caught in the throat of her poet-lover.

Billy Collins, The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems, Random House, 2005

No. 2 

There are too many things to write about, 

too many things to bleed out onto a page

so they don’t sit in my veins like too much caffeine

making my fingers twitch and my mind race. 

There are too many things to think about 

most of them are you

and the way you feel like the first hot day in spring

when all I can do is put on a sun dress and bask 

because it’s so nice not to be cold. 

There are too many things to love about you, 

like how you make me feel like sound of train horns on summer nights, 

and falling asleep under a sky filled with the milky way

while the pine trees whisper and sway. 

"Adventures at the Library" - A Photoessay by Erin Carlson 

"Smack", "Surprise Parties", and "It’s Hard to See Around Corners" written by Erin Carlson 

No. 1

I’d like to take you to Sevilla.

   in the springtime during semana santa

when the orange trees blossom

      and shower petals like snow

         on the crooked cobbled streets.

 We’ll go out at night,

    hands clasped as we blend

into the crowd-lined street processions,

  both of us unnerved by the penitentes

    in all white that look like the klan,

but marveled by the near silent crowds

    made up of the whole city

          and the legions of trumpets.

Then, as the night deepens,

      we’ll slip away from the whole city

 to wander down crooked streets

        in a shower of orange blossoms and moon glow.

I will forget to document anything with my camera

       or the pen I carry to snare stray poems.

Instead I will brush the flowers from your hair

    and inhale our combined scent of honeysuckle and safety,

all the while thinking of how good adventure looks

        coating the soles of our shoes,

and that home resides inside our interlocked fingers. 

Erin Carlson 

NaPoWriMo Reflection

For a reflection on NaPoWriMo written by myself and my fantastic writing partner sister friend follow the link! Thanks to everyone who read my poems! 

4 months ago -

Summer Break

The deadline is looming, 

slumped over my future like it’s always been there, 

ready to devour my time.

I can’t find it in me to care,

not when there is so little left to be done.

Just two weeks, 

two measly weeks, 

and I will no longer have a reason 

to buy school supplies come August. 

There will be no more midterms or projects, 

no need for sharp No. 2 pencils and blue books. 

But I don’t let it bother me.

Instead, I make a school supply list, 

and imagine up my own syllabus.

Come September I may not have any school to attend, 

but my desk will be fully stocked, 

and my mind once again cleared out

to make room for new things. 

By Erin Carlson 


When I came over on Tuesday

I brought avocados.

Three to be exact,

because taco salad

is just no good without it.

By the time we got to making lunch,

one had mysteriously vanished,

and the other two were not actually ripe.

We ate one any way,

left the second one to ripen,

and mourned the loss of the third.

When I crashed at your place on Friday,

you couldn’t stick around for long,

but I found the lost avocado.

It had rolled out of its bag

and slipped in between

my passenger seat and its door,

snuggled in tightly with the recliner lever.

It, of course, was perfectly ripe.

Just this side of mushy,

and easy to pit.

I mashed it into guacamole for breakfast,

adding cumin and garlic salt and lime juice.

It was delicious, so I left half behind for you.

Then I flitted about the kitchen,

chopping veggies and washing dishes,

imagining you there with me,

telling me all about your camping trip

and the new recipe you’d tried with the second avocado.

By Erin Carlson 


I ate my farewell cheeseburger

in the parking lot of the neighborhood

fair-trade-locally-sourced coffee shop.

I had planned to leave town

with a mouth tasting  like

a magic 75 cent day old turn over.

Something funky and locally grown

like basil and strawberry,

or peanut butter and apple.

But I was thwarted by an early afternoon closing time,

and missed my chance.

Not yet prepared to leave town,

(because it still feels a bit like home

even now that I’ve left for good)

I fell victim to the siren call of a fast food curly #7,

the memories of late night cheeseburgers,

and your loving introduction to Hardee’s.

I couldn’t bare to eat in the restaurant,

every booth reminding me of some conversation or an other

about your crazy coworkers, or my fledgling newspaper articles.

So I got my cheeseburger to go and ate it in my car,

where it was easy to imagine you next to me

eating a cheeseburger and people watching through the windshield.

(I tried not to think about the other things,

like how neither of us will live here again,

or how unprepared I was

to visit my once-and-future college home

now that it has become once-and-former,

or how in just a few weeks

graduation will scatter most of the

college home we had to come back to. )

I ate my curly fries one at a time,

dipping each one in ketchup

and chewing it slowly.

When they were all gone,

I crumpled up the to go bag and left town,

the wind howling past my doors.