Like in a classroom film, I see the mass
of blood cells scything through your membranes, parted
like curtains by an ingénue. They pass
onto the main stage; from there some black-hearted
director flicks them, spinning, at my brain.
I smash the cup, and lose my words again.

Every heart, they told me, has a hole—
mine, enlarged by pregnancy and birth,
just more permissive. Meanwhile, hormones stole
the water from my blood. For what it’s worth
this was coincidence: a mini-stroke,
neither God’s justice nor the Devil’s joke.

Still, I wanted you gone. I wouldn’t join
their long term studies, chose to have them worm
a plastic cap toward you from my groin,
key holed into place, and then closed firm.
By now it should be overgrown with tissue,
and don’t think for one moment that I miss you,

but you belonged to me, unlucky flaw.
I had a gorgeous heart, the surgeon said—
more beautiful, I think, for having your
asymmetry. Now plugged and pulsing red,
you’re blameless, while, although I’m going to live,
love still falls through me like a rusty sieve.

You typically write in the first person. Is that person “you”, and are your poems the literal truth?

That would be a very unwise assumption to make, although my poems are personal, which is to say they do touch on subjects other poets may choose to avoid, such as sex, and they do attempt to strike up an intimacy with the reader. A trendy young male poet told me recently that if I wrote about less personal subjects I would probably be more widely published. I think he was trying to be nice, but I was affronted—isn’t that like telling Georgia O’Keefe not to paint flowers, or Sylvia Plath to cheer up a little?


I notice you choose female artists for your examples. Would you call yourself a feminist?

I reference other female artists whenever possible in order to redress the imbalance that still exists in the publishing and art worlds, but I think I enjoy men too much to call myself a feminist. One of my friends called me out last year for buying a pink cell phone, and I told them that I was comfortable enough with my gender to embrace my girliness, or something like that. Although I do write chick poems, definitely.


Chick poems in meter and rhyme, usually. Aren’t you worried that is too small a niche to occupy?

Worried? That would imply that I might have something to gain from marketing myself to a larger niche—there ain’t no money in poetry, baby! So, I might as well write the poems I’m inspired to write. I do write free verse too though, occasionally.


What can you tell us about the form of “Patent Foramen Ovale”? (Oh, and tell us a bit about the subject matter too, while you’re at it.)

During my residency at the MacDowell Artists’ Colony this January, I started to write a series of epistolary poems, i.e. letter poems. Many of the poems are letters to individuals, living or dead, but I also decided to write to some places that have been meaningful to me, and also to some body parts. (So, yes, I genuinely did have a PFO, which caused me to have a mini-stroke in 2007.) All the letter poems are in four iambic pentameter sestets, rhyming ababcc, and I now have enough of them for a chapbook.


But you would like to publish a proper book of poetry, wouldn’t you, instead of just another chapbook?

It’s my dearest dream. But you know, most of my friends in the poetry world do have proper books, and it’s not like their lives miraculously changed, or anything. That’s what I keep telling myself, anyway.


Tell us a little about that life. Rumor has it you’re insanely busy. What in your life is conducive to poetry, and what gets in the way?

Yes, that’s me! I editThe Raintown Review, am a Contributing Editor of the Schuylkill Valley Journal, and a founder member of the Quick & Dirty Poets. I teach poetry classes at The West Windsor Art Center. I’m the Vice President of my husband’s international Sales & Marketing consultancy, Global Bridge. I have two daughters aged 13 and 11, and two golden retrievers. Oh and I’m learning how to ice dance. It’s all conducive to poetry, material-wise at least, and of course it all gets in the way.


Is that why you gave up editing the online journal, the Barefoot Muse.

It is. Plus there are a lot more online venues for formal poetry these days than there were six years ago when I started TBM, and many of these, such as The Nervous Breakdown, naturally, are way more sophisticated and expansive than TBM could ever be.


Could you name some of those venues, for our readers?

I was hoping you’d ask that. It’s fun interviewing yourself, isn’t it? Yes, of course: The Flea, The Chimaera, Lucid Rhythms, 14 By 14, The Shit Creek Review, Umbrella, Tilt-a-Whirl, Mezzo Cammin, Autumn Sky Poetry, and Soundzine. And that’s just a few of them, really. All are run by discerning editors and have fine designs and artwork.


What gets you irate about Pobiz?

Not having a book—we’ve covered that. Pretentiousness. Nepotism. The preponderance of white males. The usual stuff.


Moving swiftly on…you’re British? How does that affect things?

Technically no. I became an American citizen, along with my family, in January 2009. However, I do still sound British, and I reference England quite a lot in my poems, especially the series of epistolary poems I’m writing now to people, places and things from my past. Oh, and I drink a great deal of tea.


Tea?

PG Tips. Best tea in the world. In fact I think I’ll go make a cup now. It’s been real. Bye!