bus. stop.

Mostly I don’t enter poetry contests because I think that contests encourage you to waste your creative energy thinking about what judges might want to read instead of what you actually want and need to write [she said in a lofty, insufferable tone]. Or maybe it’s just me they encourage to do that and everyone else is way too well-balanced and sensible to be influenced by the opinions of imaginary judges that way. Anyway. I do make exceptions for contests that have exceptionally cool prizes. And by “exceptionally cool prizes” I don’t mean “a pile of cash” or “a trip to Hawaii” or “a new convertible” though there aren’t any haiku contests that have prizes like that anyway. I mean prizes like getting your haiku plastered on the back of a bus in your home town.

bus stop / I sync my iPod / to the rain

And then having your son find himself one afternoon riding his bike behind the bus down the main drag of your home town, and having him quickly haul out his phone so he can take a picture of it for you. (I’m pretty sure that’s his photo-taking shadow in the bottom left corner.)

That’s what I mean by a good prize.

A lot of people on Facebook (thanks, Facebook people!) pointed out that the other things that are written on the bus can be read as links from my poem, or the next verses in a sequence after mine. Also, there are many other graphic features in this photo that are fascinating to me, especially the many circles, from the ones in the awesome graphic design that students at a local college created to go with the poem, to the brake lights on the bus, to the roundish patches of late-afternoon light that’s probably sifting through the branches of trees planted along the street. The whole thing is amazingly organic. As poems and life should be.


P.S.: This poem, in a slightly different form, originally sprang from an extremely organic lengthy email conversation between me, Aubrie Cox, and Lucas Stensland that took place back in 2012. The condensed version of the conversation that’s linked above is fun to read, but not as much fun as it was to write.


P.P.S. I have another cool contest prize to tell you about but I think I’ll wait until I have pictures of it to show you, which will be another few weeks.

poetic service announcement

For the information of anyone within shouting distance of Madison, WI this weekend, check out the announcement below the line. Tl;dr: On Sunday afternoon (5/17), I, and several other excellent haiku poets, and a whole bunch of other poet-type people will be reading our work at one of my favorite places in Madison: Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The haiku will be going on from 2:15 to 2:45.

I’ll also be reading (very) briefly at some point between 12:30 and 1 because, and I cannot emphasize this enough, being shallow and easily thrilled, they are going to put one of my poems on a city bus, and all of us bus poets are going to peddle our wares together. Don’t worry, if I ever actually see the bus in question I’ll take a picture so you can all share the thrill. 

I’d love to see some of you there, but I realize the vast majority of you will probably be busy being in other states and on other continents and stuff. Enjoy whatever you’re doing!


The 23rd Madison Poetry Annual at Olbrich Gardens Poetry Reading will take place Sunday, May 17th, Noon-4 p.m. Organized by Madison poets laureate Sarah Busse and Wendy Vardaman, the gathering features winners ages 7 – adult of the Metro Bus Lines 2015 contest, as well as spoken word, haiku, and poetry arranged by this year’s guest curators. Breaks between sets to socialize & trade books. Bring your chaps, full-length collections, broadsides, journals and other ephemera! Readers include Melissa Allen, Gayle Bull, David Mckee, Aubrie Cox, and Brent Goodman (haiku); Anna Vitale, Megan Milks, and Oliver Bendorf performing embodied experiments in queer-ish writing across multiple genres; Wisconsin Poet Laureate Kimberly Blaeser reading with Toby Wray and Soham Patel; and Dasha Kelly with Wisconsin winners of the Brave New Voices contest. Free Admission. For more info, contact wendyvardaman@gmail.com.