Happy National Poetry Month

It’s National Poetry Month again, and I have no plans to write a poem a day (NaPoWriMo). However, this one slipped into my head yesterday and today. A gift? Or a curse? Not sure yet.

Skill Set—Poet

Sometimes I speak in verse—
iambic lines, or worse,
trochee. It’s like a curse
I cannot stop. Perverse,
the rhymes infect, transverse,
coerce my brain. “Disperse!”
I shout. “Be still,” my nurse
responds, his voice so terse
I know I’ve gone insane.
He binds my wrists. I strain
against the bed, my brain
awhirl with mad disdain
until the meds constrain
the meter gone profane
and bold: a hurricane
of poems I can’t explain.
“Spondee,” I moan.
“Sestina. Sonnet. Koan
Limerick. Xylophone…”
And then the heavy stone
of anesthetic thrown
from syringe to bone
descends. I wake alone.
No ode, no pain, no throne
composed of metered tones
and stately palindromes
contaminate my words.
I’m sane.
And sad.
My mouth a hearse—
dead letters disperse
against my teeth. The nurse
appears. His smile is vain.
He says, “We’ve fixed your brain.”
I scowl. He frowns. I feign
civility. “My purse?”
I ask. “The universe
awaits.” He shoves it close.
I ease the zipper wide
to show the poems I hide
for rainy days and snide
remarks. Unjustified
restraints cannot divide
my mind for long. I hide
my plans, re-versified
and calm. For now. They tried
to break my muse. I bide
my time until the worst
miasma fades, and Verse
slips back into a poem
or two, or more: a tome!
Oh, poetic loon,
how sweet it feels to croon
aloud the song of moon
and line. Iambic swoons
and dactyl foot balloons
unhinge my afternoon—
a perfect honeymoon
from sane pursuits too soon
applied with syringe or spoon,
a brutal, dulling dose
of anodyne. No verse.
No rhyme. Just prose. A curse
devoid of rhyme. “No pun
for that!” I say. The nurse
returns. I close my purse
and run.

Christine Klocek-Lim, 1 April 2017

First Crocus (2017)


First Crocus

This morning, flowers cracked open
the earth’s brown shell. Spring
leaves spilled everywhere
though winter’s stern hand
could come down again at any moment
to break the delicate yolk
of a new bloom.

The crocus don’t see this as they chatter
beneath a cheerful petal of spring sky.
They ignore the air’s brisk arm
as they peer at their fresh stems, step
on the leftover fragments
of old leaves.

When the night wind twists them to pieces,
they will die like this: laughing,
tossing their brilliant heads
in the bitter air.

About.com: Poetry, Spring Poems Anthology, March 22, 2007.

New poem featured at Nautilus — Cosmos

A new poem of mine, The Hunt for Dark Matter Minihalos, is up at Nautilus — Cosmos, along with a a selection of poems from my book, Dark Matter.

The Hunt for Dark Matter Minihalos

They say absence
makes the heart grow
as when downed red leaves show
a tree’s true size.
And when a cliff collapses,
its megatsunami can expand
across oceans, because the absence
of one thing can only be measured
by something else.

–>read the rest of the poem at Nautilus

front cover

September 2015 – Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books

buy link: Amazon


An earlier version of Dark Matter won the following prizes: 

2009 Ellen La Forge Poetry Prize (formerly the Grolier Prize) for poems: “Star explodes halfway across universe,” “Saturn’s moon may have hidden seas,” “Smallest black hole found,” “How to search for aliens,” “Mysterious white rock fingers on Mars,” and “Three galaxies and a comet.”

2009 semi-finalist in the Philip Levine Prize in Poetry.

2009 semi-finalist in the University of Wisconsin Press Poetry Series, Brittingham and Pollak Poetry Prizes.

2009 semi-finalist for the Sawtooth Poetry Prize, Ahsahta Press, Boise State University.

2010 semi-finalist for the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Competition.



My mother’s psalm

I first wrote this in 2005, and have been tinkering with it since then. Twelve years of contemplation yielded this final version last night (unpublished, since I rarely submit poems anymore).

My mother’s psalm

She told me despair filled the valley that night,
and so her sisters walked out, carrying anger
and anguish out of the barren land.
They packed vexation into hard dirt
with their bare feet. Secret recriminations
were brought forth and opened.
Claws were undressed.

They threw their silence to the ground
and buried it beneath the bodies
of forsaken loves: miscarriages,
abortions of justice.
Nothing hidden survived the night.

My sisters were crazed, she said.
They yelled and whipped their hair loose
and damned their bras and jobs.
No dinners were made, no houses swept.
The night was full of women and they sucked
the air right out of that hollow slit of darkness—
but there was plenty to drink.

And my mother said: yes, fill up my goblet, sister.
So they filled her mouth and mind
with passion and resolution.
They saturated the valley with righteousness.
For a full day and night, the women drank
and rinsed and spat
out the foul mess they’d been taught.
Because finally they understood.

And she told me they climbed out of that place naked,
and strode off into fertile ground together.

Fields and floods

I wrote this ten years ago. It’s always weird to go back over something you haven’t looked at in ten years. I never did get this one published, probably because it is so vague. There’s no central point to it, except that it uses words to express that feeling I have when I go out onto the trail in the winter. I’m fond of this poem.

Fields and floods

Winter should be peaceful, filled as it is
with dry grass and wind, a few clouds pieced
together with snowflakes. The sky pleases itself,
opens each dawn like a window once the sun
has sipped his tea. The frozen meadow knows
how easily bared dirt sifts into the wind. And then
there are the voices that murmur in the cold, groaning
over hardened ground. In so many places we have remade
the earth into what we think we want, the weight of us
creaking along the surface near the fallen leaves,
our footprints inevitable. So many changes—
we have forgotten how quietly the last few ponds sleep
in ice-stretched fields. How the land cradles the sunset’s
reflection in her flooded, frozen hollows.


It’s strange to read this poem again, now that my sons are grown up. I wrote this eight years ago! More of my weather sonnets are in my chapbook Cloud Studies.



From here the tree looks like it’s hardly there,
half-formed and blurry in the shifting mist.
Like sleep, precipitation clouds the air
with fuzzy dreams and silence. I resist
the melancholy, choosing to believe
that clarity is understood, not seen.
Inside my son is playing games, one sleeve
pushed up, the other drooping in between
his fingers as I watch him laugh and frown.
The tv sprinkles light against his skin,
as indistinct as any fog while down
the hall his brother tunes his violin,
its notes as insubstantial as this day
when growing up still feels so far away.