Tuesday, February 26, 2019

While Supplies Last

When I was a child my father
Would beg us:
“Girls, turn off the tap,”
claiming supplies of clean water were limited.
“Think of future generations,” he’d tell us.
“Your children. Their children.”

“But all that rain. . . ” we’d protest. . .
“A world full of oceans. . . ”
We couldn’t possibly imagine this

I stare at dirty keys,
this blank screen,
my mind troubled,
my minor thoughts
bland and

I write nothing.
The dog woofs, bored, at the window.

What if words
like tap water, like
clean air
actually do


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Of trees and other trauma. . .

Me, a few years ago, with the tree. . . 
There's a healthy old sycamore in our backyard -- majestic and magnificent, thirty, forty, feet tall.
We're taking it down today.

*I* am taking it down today.

I have singlehandedly made the decision to
bring down a

What if trees have feelings?

What if the loss of this giant -- a stoic, constant member of our family -- symbolizes some greater loss,
some worse trauma,
some butterfly effect that starts

What evils did this beautiful old tree ever impose upon me?

In fairness,
it has some mold, some fungus, untreatable (I have tried for three summers),
unrelenting, that has,
for the past four years,
seen it dropping its leaves, fuzzy and brown, plentiful, as if it were fall.
From May through September.
Then, October comes, and it drops them for the season once and for all.

The tree is a constant, shedding, mess of dead leaves.
Sometimes, its bark peels off in strips to join in the action.

In my further defense. . .

My property is small -- 1/4 acre all told -- and the backyard, modest, encircled with gardens I work hard to maintain, and a small pool I take advantage of daily, though it is too small to even swim satisfying laps in these days. . .

The brown, moldy leaves cover everything.
Every day.
All. Summer. Long.

It is sweaty work, if you've never done it, raking a fall-like yard full of leaves in the middle of July.

The saucer-sized leaves get stuck in the lavender stems, the hydrangea branches,
drift on the surface of my
once pristine

Me, 2009, in front of the tree. 
They clog the lawnmower,
get dragged indoors.

Brown, moldy leaves in my living room. . .

But are these really
such unforgivable crimes for twenty years of beauty and
free shade?

There's an otherwise healthy old sycamore in our backyard, its seasonal show succumbed to the ravages of
climate change, and

Just as I have, and

I'm taking it down today. The trucks are here, felling limbs, loudly grinding its branches down to nothing.

I am murdering it, if you will.

If it's any consolation, it is not without remorse, without a price to pay.
I will dream about it;
I could water its hefty roots with my real tears.

The sycamore tree in my yard is all but gone.
blown to bits through a shredder,
its few remains
peppering my yard.

Dear tree,
I will miss you.

I'm very, very sorry to see you gone.

- gae

Friday, September 14, 2018

Legacy - quick poem

I had some thoughts pop into my head
the other day
outside a Starbucks in New Jersey,
and needed a place to
jot them all down.

Laptop-less, I found a stack of prepaid postcards in the door of my car,
leftovers from a summer of
political rantings.

Over a small “tall” iced coffee with almond milk
I wrote,
it occurring to me
disheartened, Now, I can put a value to
my words:

Thirty-five cents,
pen to paper.

Today, I spent the day with a firefighter who rushed the
burning buildings on 
the scars on his neck, nothing compared to
his buddies' who
Hasn’t slept a solid night in

What price, these things we carry 

(and, worse,
the things
we do 


What kind of legacy is an unread book
on some 
library shelf?

- gae 

Thursday, May 17, 2018

IN SIGHT OF HELP. . . It's out there -- REALLY -- and May is mental health awareness month

"In Sight of Stars deals with mental health, Vincent Van Gogh, family and recovery; all told in some of the most beautiful prose you will probably ever read. As far as I'm concerned, [this novel] is the equivalent to “Starry Night Over the Rhone,” making Gae Polisner the Vincent Van Gogh of young adult fiction." 
Teen Reads

May is -- has been -- Mental Health Awareness month, and I have a LOT to "say" about that, except that on the 4th of May -- very un "force" like -- or, maybe exactly force-like -- I fell and broke my hand very un-ninja style, and my typing is, shall we say, fucking limited. 

So, suffice that I want to say this:


We do.

Some greatly.
Some less so.

I believe it's only a matter of degree and circumstance that separates us.

And if you suffer, there is help out there. Even if you don't suffer acutely, the help is useful. The help can be life-changing. (In this regard, I have witnessed Dialectical Behavior Therapy be life changing, though, as always, it matters that you find a good and skilled therapist/center that fits for you). 

If there is one thing I hope readers might take from IN SIGHT OF STARS**, it is this:

Open yourself. Know you are worthy. Let people in. 

And, if you want to know more specifics, reach out to me. 

xox gae

** now out in AUDIOBOOK narrated by the awesome Michael Crouch 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

New Year's Resolutions: I'm giving them an A: Avert, Act, Affirm.

I know I'm not here as much anymore.

I miss it, the blogging. I do.

It's been a year. So much has changed about our world -- our country -- been painfully unearthed, laid bare and oozing, all jagged teeth and slime, like some alien thing from the deep.

I know for many the evil has been visible for a long time, like some movie clown in the sewers, red eyes glaring, calling for others to climb in. And climb in, they did, and now they've all climbed out again, with the worst of the oozing, pus-filled aliens at the helm.

For most of us, it feels like a waking nightmare, one many of us never thought we'd see in our country. For our kids' sake, I hope we survive it. . .

But I digress. 2018 is on the horizon and there is much to do for as long as this oozing sore of a country is still dragging its sorry ass awake each morning with the sunrise, and to bed after dark. So here are my resolutions. I'm giving them an A. Or three. AVERT. AFFIRM. And, ACT.  

AVERT: When THE PULL OF GRAVITY came out years ago, though my editor adored the book, it had very little in-house support. Having taken nearly 10 years to get a book deal, I wasn't about to let the book, which garnered pretty stellar reviews and a Bank Street Best designation, disappear quietly into the ether. So I did what I knew how to do: I put my marketing hat on (yes, my undergrad degree is in marketing) and began to scour the internet for mentions of the book and/or mentions of OF MICE AND MEN being taught, so that I could try to make connections and get the book in readers hands around the country. Checking on my book morning and night, finding ways to promote it, became what I did. I'd often spend three or four hours a day reaching out to schools and trying to get the book seen. It's a habit that has continued through THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO and THE MEMORY OF THINGS. The problem is, it's both a time suck and an easy distraction (at least compared to writing something new), not to mention a rather narcissistic sort of endeavor that often only leads to comparison and disappointment. So, for starters in 2018, I am resolving to avert my eyes from all that, and to only to spend a minimal allotted time looking under the guise of marketing or otherwise, assuming anything I need to know will come to my attention. Maybe fifteen minutes on Fridays. The rest will be a battle not to search and click.

There's a second way I'm needing to avert my eyes. There is a lot of divisiveness and angry discourse taking place in Children's Publishing right now. If you want to see one small example of the nature of it, you can read THIS PIECE and then THE COMMENTS to it. The business has grown frustrating and upsetting to me in that way: that, while all of us seem to agree on underlying issues and values, the callout culture and dragging has become ugly for those of us who may not agree with the methodology, who might prefer a more mindful, nonjudgmental conversation. I, for one, try to affirm and hold up, but never tear down on the basis that there is little we can know about a person from a single tweet, or even a single snapshot of their life during a period of time. But we are living through a callout, dragging, tear down culture:

I don't know Eric Smith but have redacted the photo and name of an author I do know
and otherwise respect who is here describing another author's public excitement
about "dragging" Joyce Carol Oates as "levity."
This breaks my heart and I certainly don't feel it elevates the conversation.

Yes, I've saved many screenshots that speak to my concerns, though I won't share more than this single one here, now, because I don't want to have an online faux or half discussion. I am saving them in case I ever have an opportunity to have these conversations in person or on panels if anyone really wants to mindfully dig deep into the complexities of the issues rather than merely championing one side in an angry echo chamber.

What I do know is that it feels very much like a microcosm of the macrocosm that has been unfolding for the past years in the democratic party, where very little true listening and hearing goes on, only angry barked agendas. And, it frightens me because I believe long-term it will hurt us more than it will help. I believe we need to proceed non-judgmentally, without anger, and that, instead, we not only conflate issues (which undermines their seriousness), but also that there is a large amount of hypocrisy taking place within the movement (people doing the very thing they righteously tell others not to do, by coming up with excuses why it's okay for them, how their behavior is differentiated). In my very humble opinion, twitter has never been the right place to have REAL CONVERSATIONS. TO LISTEN AND BE HEARD. Yet, watching the twitter community is like rubbernecking -- hard to turn away from though it upsets me to no end. So, in that regard, too, unless I have a way to add healthily to the conversation, I'm going to stop reading -- Avert -- and stop wasting time, and stick to what I've always done which is do my best to hold up and share those pushing positive messages (Affirming) and  do a better job of averting my eyes from the rest. It's a waste of time which I can otherwise spend taking Action.


With amazing assemblywoman Christine Pelligrino (who won a special election in a deeply red district),
and with my personal superhero, NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman at a recent fundraiser for
progressive causes.

Campaigning for a local candidate for Town Supervisor 
At the women's march with my mom and sisters. <3 td="">

So, I am hoping step one, Avert, will give me more time to Act. Whether that action is writing, protesting, swimming, doing yoga, teaching writing, or playing with the dog, it's all good. I just need to DO all the things I want to do, and NOT DO all the things that rile me up but ultimately waste time because they don't get done what needs to get done.

As far as the resistance goes, I know we're all exhausted, but we're just getting started. We need to turn the country blue in 2018, and that means there is no tiring of marching, of speaking out, of making phone calls, of trying to help in whatever way we are each able.

Which leads to me to this: AFFIRM.

It's this simple: There are many ways to help in this world (and, likely, an equal many ways to do harm). I am resolving to help in the best way I know how, which is to always be as mindful as possible, to leave judgment (and righteousness) behind, and only to lift up and amplify where reasonable, right, and possible, while NEVER tearing down.

These are my resolutions for 2018. I will also renew two longstanding resolutions: to be a good confidante, and to take the stairs.  Oh yeah, and to stop sleeping so late, even in the face of the endless cycle of depressing news to wake up to.

These are my resolutions for 2018. What are yours?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

This is a writer's brain. . . it's exhausting.

I want to write a book. Like actually complete a book. I doubt I can, but I want to try.

*writes book that takes years. quickly discounts accomplishment*

I just want to get an agent. If I could only get an agent . . .

*after years of rejection gets agent*

I just want to sell this manuscript.

*after years of revision and rejection sells manuscript*

I just want decent critical reviews and a handful of readers.

*gets those. quickly discounts same.*

I just want more readers and to sell another book.

*does so. quickly discounts same. lather, rinse, repeat. Often multiple times.*

I just want a starred review.

(*fuck off. still waiting*)

I just want to win an award.

*gets a few. quickly discounts same.*

I just want to win a "real" award. The kind that comes with a sticker on the book.

(*again, fuck off. Who asked you? And see what I mean about discounting same. . . ?*)

I just want to write a book that matters.

*What does that even mean? And anyway, hard to tell. But let's just, for argument's sake, say that a handful of readers' notes could make one believe that maybe possibly they have done so. quickly discounts same.*

I just want to write the kind of book that's unique, that's different, that's never been done, that takes someone's breath away. . .

* . . . *

(I just needed to write that out so I could actually plow forward and write what I'm working on now. . . )

- gae

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Recurrrent dream

Last night, you appeared again
like you do
every so often
your eyes, always lifted slightly to mine
in that
pleading way
begging for return.

I resisted
           -- knowing --
(goddamn it, knowing)

but succumbed anyway,
fell back, back, back,
into that hopeless, desperate rhythm,
into promise,
into aching

Last night, you appeared again,
guilted me,
wilted me,
gutted me,
opened me up and
swallowed me whole again.

I thought i could
stay away

be better


Last night,

our waking encounters -- so constant these days --
                           (polite enough, yes,
a familiar hug shared between old barely-friends)

took hold,
shook me like a dog with a ragged, shredded

Broke my neck,
left me limp,


Loosed my desire,

like so many spilled, rolling marbles,