Michelle Bitting


Michelle Bitting has work published in The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Narrative, diode, the L.A. Weekly, Manor House Quarterly and others. Poems have appeared on Poetry Daily and as the Weekly Feature on Verse Daily. Essays are forthcoming in The Enchanting Literary Verses. Her book Good Friday Kiss won the DeNovo First Book Award and Notes to the Beloved, won the Sacramento Poetry Center Award and received a starred Kirkus Review. Michelle has taught poetry in the U.C.L.A. Extension Writer’s Program, at Twin Towers prison with a grant from Poets & Writers Magazine and is an active California Poet in the Schools. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University, Oregon and is pursuing a PhD in Mythological Studies at Pacifica Graduate Institute.


Gold Ring

The one with big and small diamonds
on my left ring finger
belonged to grandma
everybody comments on it
it is quite stunning
and kind of ugly too
the way a grandma ring can be,
a bit chunky and overwrought
the gems have a story
the grubby tiny ones
from their original engagement
he gave her on the California coast
north of Malibu
that place where two giant rocks
come to a head
and the surf tumbles around
the gods inside
at war with each other
he said, “I love you, Doll”
he said that
and how could she not answer?
all they had
this thing they were making up
other stones come
from a wedding band
one for each anniversary
(their 25th, their 50th)
the large “bling” jewels
you could say
and all of it
deconstructed, reconstructed
like marriage goes
bound up
in one crazy sculpture
when she died
he gave it to me
we stood in the blue bedroom
where she took the last terrible gasps
and sailed off
on a sea of silent dreams
he opened the drawer and said
“Seventy five years, seventy-five years
I don’t know what I’ll do
without her”
and pressed the ring
into my palm
all that preciousness
my grandpa never talked much
until she got sick
and then I visited regularly
though she hardly knew me anymore
he was glad for the company
and the words tumbled out
now I come all the time
we sit in his backyard
talking about birds
about his roses
he tends with such care
and the bright feeder
swinging over our heads
glitters in the sun
its perfect geometry
sugar and water mixed
for the hummingbirds
the moments they sip so sweet
they can’t help but keep
coming back for more


Rolling Ball Writer

This pitch plastic wand
scratches the page
tapered streamlined
to say
what I tell it
Do you want to hear something sweet?
Is it going to go up in flames?
Have you longed to taste
that place called
the past we keep running through
sage hills soaked
with birds
shaping a dark hat
Tippi Hedren style
I know her
smacking of mints
and bitter fennel
Why don’t you
rustle the leaves
we can recall
jack-rabbit signs
flurries of dust
kicked up behind
tender anise castles
the weird looking spindles
and that queen
in the left-wing window
her hair a red flag
signaling baby fish
below diadems
bobbing on the surface
a moat on fire
You’re doing it again
making black licorice
spank your tongue
pretending a pen
could crack those squawking sounds
like magic candy stings
wings and claws
scratching wet ink
leaking strange
news all over
your messy mouth



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