Cathexis Northwest Press

© 2018 

Parting; Every Shade of Blue; Moon Mouth


Give me the wood with the bark on it.

Some of that real, raw Truth-Speak.

I won’t be trapped in amber,

suspended in fossils of what we mean

to one another.


I won’t wear our memories

like costumes for dress-up forever,

happy to reimagine I am the woman

you or all men want—Helen of Troy, or

Miss Baker, our high school History teacher.


Grasp me now 

before we repel each other in a mild, quiet 



water sliding off the lotus leaf.

Every Shade of Blue


The electric blue of the six o’clock summer sky

over the back deck bar is thick and mixed 

with heavy white whorls—oil wind

through Van Gogh’s cypress trees.


I spill drops of wheat blonde beer on our papers;

you say the stains seem to run right through us.


Unfettered, swallows circle

back to their nests, while we follow

our work across a country.


We look for small flying fish over indigo ocean water

as a sign of something greater nearing.


In a letter, in gently slanting cursive, you close

unfinished as always,

so we will always be fulfilled.

Moon Mouth




her mouth makes and takes 

the shape of love 


every time she wonders. 



What else would come from her mouth

than many moons?


Black obsidian

disks when new, then glowing

white and haloed, until the time when she is harvest red, 

or mostly blue. 



she is illuminating 

the world when her heart is full.

Bonnie lives nestled in the hills of Southwestern PA with her dog. Her love for wilderness and quiet feel inseparable from her identity as a person and a writer. The rivers and landscapes from traveling and her time as a whitewater rafting guide shape her perspective. She holds an MA in English from West Virginia University. Previous publications can be found in River River, Still, Gyroscope Review, Third Wednesday, and Absence. She currently develops STEM education programs for an engineering nonprofit organization, though her passion is for creative expression through language and photography.

Interview with the Poet:

Cathexis Northwest Press:

How long have you been writing poetry?


Bonnie Thibodeau:

I wrote my first poems (about a leaping dolphin and a howling wolf) for a fourth grade assignment. The content and style have been constantly evolving, but the genre’s space for layered imagination has still feels like home when I write.



Can you remember the first poem you read that made you fall in love with poetry?



There were a lot of poems that led me to fall in love with poetry. Robert Frost’s “The Silken Tent” is the one I recall most clearly. I was captivated by how a single page of simple language could form an open door. It was the first time I understood poetry as both an invitation and a pathway for us to access--as writers and readers--every frightening, beautiful idea or emotion we might experience..



Who are your favorite poets? Any specific poems?



A few poets I’ve been enjoying most recently include Mary Oliver, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rumi, David Whyte, Ursula K LeGuin, Shara McCallum, Layli Long Soldier, Rebecca Doverspike, and Melissa Atkinson Mercer

“Everything Good between Men and Women” by C.D. Wright is one of my favorites that comes to mind often. I enjoy a poem in which the strange threads of a central story matter less than the undercurrent: full of fascination with the list of little objects, questions rising to the surface, and well-gathered words that play when spoken aloud. Pam Houston wrote that “water is the most abundant metaphor on earth”; Wright’s line “the river coursing through us is dirty and deep” has been, for me, one of the most exact metaphors for the human condition. 



Can you share for us a little bit about your writing process? Any specific rituals that get you in the zone?



I used to think I wasn’t writing when I got too busy with daily life. I enjoyed more momentum once I started regarding each activity or errand as part of the process instead. As long as I’m observing little details; paying attention during conversations; finding inspiration in reading; perceiving poetry in any moment happening; and as long as I’m taking diligent notes along the way (whether on sticky notes, napkins, or in my cell phone) all finds its way into my writing and the zone becomes more open to enter.  

I walk or trail run to find my favorite lines and titles. The rest of a poem may take shape right away, others take years until I gather all the pieces. Place is the other part of my ritual. When I’m ready to type drafts, I find somewhere comfortable to sit and choose a cup or mug that feels good to hold. The right seat keeps me still and focused longer. The right weight in my hands provides tangible grounding when my mind is stalled or wandering. 



How do you decide the form for your poems? Do you start writing with a form in mind, or do you let the poem tell you what it will look like as you go?



The words usually precede form for me. The pace, prevailing emotion, and complexity I hope the poem will carry are what guide my decisions about running lines long or staccato, which words to break and linger on, how bursting or concise a stanza should be to come to the point.  



Any advice for poets who have yet to find their voice?



Stay open to inspiration with every sense. Record every idea with immediacy. Write every draft with abandon. Save agony and discernment for revision. 



What is your editing process like?



I never type a first draft. Most of my editing happens when I transcribe from page to cloud because it naturally forces me to consider each word choice, each line break with fresh eyes. I read the next draft the person I trust for balanced support and suggestions. I circle, highlight, and annotate any dullness, doubts, and critical alternatives when all that’s left is the final polish. 


When do you know that a poem is finished?



I’m satisfied a poem is finished when I think three things hold true...when the poem tells a story with beauty and honesty...when not a word is missing and every word is necessary to reveal the beating heart of the matter...when a reader is left without distracting or dead-end questions and continues with generative wondering.