World Poetry Day and First #MaximeClarity Blog Post

Today is #WorldPoetryDay, and while I can’t say I’ve been writing as much poetry as I once did, I will say it remains a critical lens through which I “feel” the world. Metaphor, imagery, and “sensing” are all integrated into the work I do now… and writing about various parts of me I can learn to discover, explore, appreciate, and perhaps even understand, was a journey really begun in 2004 when I started writing poems in Binghamton, New York, with Maria Mazziotti Gillan. A lot has happened since then, for me and for all of us. And as I’ve begun to appreciate orienting more towards process than to outcome, cultivating an ability to “surf” my life as opposed to resist the weather that comes, has been both helpful — and healing. Some of those along the way who’ve buoyed me up include my poetry editor and mentor Laura Boss. This is a poem she selected as a Pushcart Prize nomination and which was published in the literary magazine, Lips. Enjoy and welcome to #MaximeClarity.


We need a new word for you, safety pin

Once strong and infallible, now you’re flimsy and weak

You bend like a reed in the wind when you once stood firm like the mighty Oak

You’re an invertebrate when we need a giraffe, a rhinoceros

You were a fearless protector, a lioness to her cub

Look at what’s happened to you

Look at what’s happened to us

Your materials have changed, once stainless, now alloys

of what I don’t know, and while you look the same

in shape and even size

your weight in hand is feathery, not heavy

and God forbid I should try to use you to keep a blouse pinned

or a skirt “buttoned”

You used to be able to take the pressure; the pull

You knew you were in for a fight every time a large lady used you

or one with an especially buxom breast

I’m sure even the seamstresses now aren’t thrilled with your composition

because even though they may only use you for draping

they too, I’m sure, lament the change

Growing up, safety pins were always just around the house:

in a sewing kit, in the corner of a coin jar, 

in a pen mug, or vying for space in the cluttered kitchen “garbage drawer”

But if you did go out to buy them at the local drugstore

you’d typically see a stamp that said “made in America; 100% steel”

They’re made in China now, of different metals, maybe even aluminum,

and don’t hold tight when you try to lock something in

The baby diaper ones are slightly better because of the extra latch on top

but even those “tops” have been replaced by hard plastic, 

which of course breaks if stepped on, which a new mother

is likely wont to inadvertently - at some point - do 

You've become a needle in the haystack: 

if one searches with vigor, you can still be found:

100% steel; 19mm or maybe 27

and you’ll still perform as you once did:

as you once did: strong and tight and fearless 

as the whale boning in Elizabethan corsets

strong and fierce enough to hold me in and protect me

from spilling out in all the wrong places,

from showing all the parts of myself

I still need to cover up