jillypoet: mom trying to write

Each day I wish I had invented waterproof sticky notes (for shower inspiration) or pen-friendly diapers to get down all my quirky thoughts that I am sure are relevant and publishable. And so God (actually another writer-mommy) sent me The Blog.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

NaPoWriMo #30 - Oh Yeah!

Spreading Like Wildfire: Notes From a Fireman’s Daughter

Fire is nature’s housekeeper. Smokey the Bear says so, and he is one of the most honest men in my life, so I believe him. I invite fire into my home. The whole family is in need of some serious keeping. Dear neighbor, Hello! We will be conducting a controlled burn here at our place. Mind the drapes. Mind the children. Mind your business or we’ll scorch you, too. Hot head. Hot spot. Is that any relation to the G-spot? What is it with all these children now-a-days (mind the children, I tell you), playing with matches, setting fires when they should be setting goals, setting the table, keeping house, gosh darn it. Fire is nature’s housekeeper. Maybe the children know something we don’t.


Not one of my strongest poems this month, but it has potential. And it's fitting that it's about fire, as my dad, having surgery tomorrow, is a 60-some year veteran fireman.

I have thoroughly enjoyed NaPoWriMo. I plan to try and keep it up, maybe for a year. We'll see. Who knows what tomorrow may bring.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

NaPoWriMo #29 - Almost there!

Truth or Dare

Truth. Each morning I buck
the mirror, try fixing
my Barbie face by (false) memory.

Truth lies like an antique
quilt, hanging by loosened stitches
lonely on a hand-made coat rack.
False wedding bands disintegrate
on yellowed cotton. Marriage bed.
False. False. I dare you to lie down.

Confess. Your legs bend only
at the knee. Where and when
you dare to bow
and scrape is a matter of taste,
a falsehood that wives make
their own casseroles, their own
decisions. We all hold recipes.

I dare you
to kiss
another man.
The truth is
I would love a kiss
from any man
if only I dared
turn the other cheek.

Truth or dare.
What is your weapon
of choice?
How do you live
your one warm and cozy life?

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Monday, April 28, 2008

NaPoWriMo #28 - And the prose poem makes a return...

I Took a Wild Walk in Nature, and This Is What I Found

The remains of the dead deer, the shrunken head, the mottled fur. Animals had picked it clean; its hooves were still attached. Like dying with your socks on and lying there until someone kicks your ankle to see if the socks stay up. The first time my father almost died he was tied by his wrists in the post-op room. They do that to patients who try to take their IVs out, even the strong silent types. Where are my shorts?, he bellowed. Get me my shorts. This big strapping man, vein blown out by a giant air bubble, three feet from meeting Jesus, and his first waking thoughts wander past boxer shorts. I like to recall this moment and say he grabbed my wrist. When I found the deer, I kicked a leg to see if it would crumble. To see what death felt like from the outside, see what it moved like. And when I heard on the news tonight that a man had kept his daughter hidden, a sex-slave for twenty-four years, I knew. This is the dead deer. This is why a greater aneurysm came to take the place of the first. A son came to take the place of a father. There is bad karma wafting into the air all around us. Daily toxins from bad men, bad medicine, bad blood. When I tripped over the white-washed bones of the dead deer, a piece of back bone sprung up, a final hand waving (not drowning). I walked with it, swinging it like a staff. I took a wild walk in nature, and this is what I found.


I didn't think I had a poem in me tonight. Actually, I started two or three today, and a few more the past few days, but none of the starts have moved me to finish. They are like half started paintings, languishing in my journal, poor things.

Tonight, I was going to enlist my husband's help. I was feeling that desperate. Help me write a poem. We can share lines. It ounded like fun. Then, I pulled a couple lines from a piece I've been working on for 10 years. Holy moly. 10 years. And I went with it. It helped that the first few lines grossed my tough, black-belt husband out. And he the hiker, nature guy. Ha! City kid. I told him I didn't need him and off I went.

Question--should this be divided into two parts? Maybe at "...my wrist./ When I found the dead deer..."

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

NaPoWriMo #27

You Can’t Have Everything, Where Would You Put It?

Well, I would put the bouncing squirrel
in my hallway where he has room to hop.
I will also bring in the fluorescent green moss
and November’s shriveled leaves
so he feels right at home.
I will put the standing dead wood
bent at odd angles like Degas’ dancers
in my living room.
I will have to cut a hole in my ceiling
so the pretty things can reach for Jesus
all day and night
joyous in their grotesque gyrations.
Of course I will have to wrap
their brittle trunks in tin foil
to keep the cats from climbing
up and out
into the free world.
The cats have been here forever.
I put them under my feet,
each step a fur-lined treat.
As for the sky
and the stars
the moon
and the sun
the fallen tulip petals,
the broken glass in the shape of a heart
the turtle half crushed
the man crying by the side of the road
because he almost killed a turtle,
these things will have to wait
until I break down the walls
of my house
so we can all live together.


Saturday, April 26, 2008

NaPoWriMo #26

Nose to the Ground

When she had a dog
he would lead her to the dead.
Now she tromps in search of rot alone.
She does not tell her husband.
She does not bring the children.
She goes alone in search
of what winter left behind.
Dried bones put a skip in her step,
walking trail
head on a swivel
lifting stones with boot toe
kicking rotten limbs with heel
both feet hoping
for a tuft of fur
and beneath that
bits of flesh.

When I was a child,
hikers found a dead body
in the woods near my summer home.
A sad man, killed by his lover, hauled
up from the city to the country.
I wanted to be the one
to find the next big news story.
My greatest wish,
to find a decaying body
missing hands,
feet and head.
Remnant of a homicide maybe.

Do not think less of us.
We do not wish for death,
do not wish for people to die.
But people die,
people kill,
and we have but to look
and remember.

I have not found
the woman. I have seen
her. She looks just like me.
You might remember us both.

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Friday, April 25, 2008

NaPoWriMo #25

On Reading the Poems of a Popular Asian-American Poet, the Northern New York Poet Laments Her Roots

I did not have an exotic
childhood. It was not spicy.
It was not saucy, raw,
or sensual. In many ways
it was a soft and white slice
of American bread,
the flour and water kind
sheet and blanketing bologna.
Holly Hobbie sheets were pulled
up and nylon threaded bed spreads flicked
mid-air every morning after cereal
white with skim milk, pale
canned pears sliced into moons.
Long yellow buses swallowed
wan cotton children whole,
belched them back
up the cement walkways
of lonesome schools named for ghosts.
What did I know
of foreign or domestic?
Spice was deadly salt,
sprinkled over ears of white kernel sweet corn.
Sauce was sallow gravy
poured over potatoes piled high as snow drifts.
It was not an exotic childhood
unless you were from Africa
or India, China or the equator.
Then all that virgin
white might frighten you.
You might choke
on the blinding blandness.
Wish you knew
at least one word for snow.


From the time I first read Ana Castillo and Sandra Cisneros, I have wanted to be anything but a German/Scottish/English/American girl from the semi-frozen northeast New York. I worried that I had no crazy Tias, no fortune-telling abuela, nothing exotic or even remotely spicy in my past. NOw that I'm older, I still lament my mostly boring family history, but I have learned to dig a little deeper, and to make up stuff.

Come to think of it, before all this, when I was about seven, I used to tell people I was really adopted and my real parents were gypsies. Hmmm....

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

NaPoWriMo #24

A (Spring) Prayer To Cover All My Bases, Against Impending Doom, Against Greed

Oh my God, the glory of these trees.
I have been obsessed with baby doll tees
their fine scent, their exquisite curving arms.
I would spend every green bill,
throwing leafy hallelujahs heaven's way,
if I did not have to feed my children.
Apple blossom, cherry blossom, I do not know their names.
If I wrap myself in cotton, I can not feel the thorns.
Anonymous ghosts, bless you for lighting my way.


I tried the flip-flop opposite method of writing a poem again. See read.write.poem. for more info.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

NaPoWriMo #23 - Thank you muse, for sticking with me

Did You Know

If you pick up one tiny ant
from his home hole
and drop the little black innocent
into a neighboring hole
the guard ants will take him down?
The oldest boy
at the bus stop
lets loose this bit of harsh
animal truth, sure and swift,
an elementary hand dangling
insect justice like sugar on a string.
The younger boys lap it up,
swallow it whole,
dive to their knees
in search of a (victim) subject.

In the name of science and investigation
the ruthless backpack gang
trowels the driveway
spades the lawn
scurrying to prove their leader’s genius
before the bus comes.

This is power
in motion.
High on proofs and theories,
tiny giants
hunger for crucifixion.
Help us, help us.
Give us the ant.

Even the little sister denies
the mother three times.
No, mommy.
The ant will not
ask for a play date.
He can not live.
He can not live.
He can not live.
Let us show you.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

NaPoWriMo #22 - just yukky

Ugly Things That Might, If Smoothed, Ironed, or Flattened, Fit Well In a Frame

Your first failing grade.

Your first failed romance,
complete with sticky tears,
sticky notes,
sticky thighs.

Your first image, burned
into adolescent memory
of an enormous tom cat
conquering a slight kitten.

The shine of the wax
make-up on your grandfather’s
funeral face.

Labored breath.

A barking dog alone
outside in the middle of the neighborhood
in the middle of the night.
His two short barks,
his one shrill whine.
The slamming door.

The mother who walks so fast,
hand-to-hand with her children,
their feet seem to fly
beside her varicose legs.

The mother who snarls.

The mother who draws
the water too hot.

The iron after-taste on your tongue
because you drank the scalding water.
Because you did not want to be burned.


I really likd the title of this poem. I like the concept. I'm not crazy about the content. Here is a fine example of writing even whe you don't feel like it, when you think you have nothing in you, when your muse all but says, screw you.

Who knows? Maybe I'll come back to this one day and do something good with it.

To add to my foul mood, I got a rejection from Big Ugly Review today. Bah. Humbug. Hey! That's ironic! I had the idea for this poem, the title, at least, in my mind but decided to check my e-mail before I wrote (naughty, naughty...such a time waster!). So my ugly poem was not inspired by my rejection from the ugly review, but it is another ugly thing to add to my list.

So tired. So cranky. Must spare readers...

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Monday, April 21, 2008

NaPoWriMo #21 - for read write poem

One For the Record Books

A record-breaking eighty degrees in April.
Seventy-nine years of anger have turned on you.
Sun and shine have children swimming in icy mountain streams.
Four months shy of eighty and your veins are bulging time bombs.
The fish are deep asleep.
To operate could end your life.
The young boy casts his worm into an empty lake.
To rise up and wait could end your life.
He does not know the life is deep below.
Daily, you wrap your age speckled arms in fury’s barbed wool.
Hot flat rocks bask naked in the sun.
Even as the sun shines, a miracle of eighty in April,
you sleep in your rotting chair, inside, alone.
Even the water snakes have forgotten,
how to slither into the warmth of spring’s first soiree.
You are an old bear, trapped in your handmade cave.


What an amazing prompt. Write five (or more) lines about a happy time. Write five (or more) lines of a sad time. Then, weave them together. Thank you, read write poem!

Below are my original lines. As I crafted the final poem, I kept coming back to the two separate originals, adding lines. I still think this could be even better. The irony of eighty degrees and the question of reaching eighty years old bears examining. As does the metaphor of hibernating, even as joyous life goes on around you. Maybe a freewrite is in order...

Eighty degrees in April.
Sun and shine for the record books.
The fish are deep asleep.
The young boy casts his hook into an empty lake.
He does not know the life is deep below.
Hot rocks bask naked in the sun.
Even the water snakes have forgetten
to come to the early-spring soiree.

Seventy-nine years of anger have turned on you,
blown your veins into bulging time bombs.
To operate could end your life,
to rise up and wait could end your life.
Daily, you wrap your gray-haired arms in fury’s scratchy wool.
Even as the sun shines, a miracle of eighty in April,
you sleep in your chair, inside, alone.
You are an old bear trapped in your handmade cave.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

NaPoWriMo #20 - Just Can't Get Enough of Those Prose Poems!

The Greatest Show in the World, or: The Wife Shares Her Deepest Fears

The truth is, I know you are the ringmaster. When the children and I pack up the wagon and head north for vacation, I know you pull the other family out of your hat. Dark-haired magician, you swing your red cape around that swarthy neck, doff your top hat, pull a rainbow bouquet of carnations out of thin air and take your rightful place under their big top. Step right up. You wouldn’t want to miss it. See the other woman’s bedroom set. Feel the real silk of her negligee. Mysterious. Surprising. I’m glad you’re all here. Let’s hear it for the amazing and talented mistress and her truly spectacular children. I know it’s hard to believe. Difficult, but not impossible. You’ve all heard of the man with another family. Difficult, but not impossible. Not as tricky as sawing the pretty assistant in half. Give me that saw. Is that a hand saw or a hack? Never mind the incredible disappearing family. They will return soon enough. Pay no attention to those 2.5 children behind the curtain. Keep your eyes on the other woman. Feast your eyes on the severed arms, waving hello. Waving hello, not dying. Step right up. You wouldn’t want to miss it.


I have crossed to the other side--the prose poem side. It just feels right. I'm not sure if I'm doing it right, or if the form suits the subject, but it just feels right. This poem started to come in "regular" poem form, but then it seemed to morph into a prose poem. I welcome thoughts/comments/critique.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

NaPoWriMo #19 - Keep the Prose Poems Coming!

Thirteen Frames, and We’re Not Bowling

There is a wall of me in the house I grew up in. Thirteen frames from birth to death. Well, from three to high school, but what, really, is the difference? There’s the day I posed for the slick young photographer who got his jollies arranging the leotarded legs of preschool tap-dancers. There’s the smart-ass not-quite-teenager who just had sex last summer. There’s the white jade frog my half-brother gave me for Christmas. He bought it from a traveling Catholic school kid selling trinkets out of a cardboard suitcase. Lucky we have that one on film. The middle school girl-bully threatened my cat and my mother if I didn’t let her wear that for her seventh grade school picture. Wait. That’s her necklace. I never owned a frog in my life. I did, however, lie still on the twin bed at the lake one summer, counting frog croaks and mourning the passing of my twelve-year-old youth. The summer before the fall I turned teenager. Thank god for family photographs. Everyone should have a wall of me.


This was inspired by Christine at This Is All Your Fault. She has a great prose poem with framed things. Go. Read it. You'll be glad you did.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

NaPoWriMo #18

Back In the Day, You Could Learn a Thing or Two from Your Spread

Everything’s better with Blue Bonnet on it.
Or, so they say. Maybe that’s the problem.

My children have run amok
from birth to now without their bonnets.
Hatless. Exposed. Bare and naked,
little boy head and girl head uncovered

in rain, in snow, day and night
without their bonnets. Stranded
like hapless cartoon animals
in a leaky raft, cursed to live out their
days never quite reaching the island
where the pirates have hidden the gold.

There’s another problem. Cartoons.
Not the traditional violence,
but the nouveau brutality. In the old days
the mouse beat the cat,
and that was that.
Today, the mouse in slicked back hair,
Sean John couture would have a witty
retort for the slung back cat in phat
nylon and gold chains. This is how it is,
or as they say today, it is
what it is. Is it, now? Is it.

And what if, I, a poet, just repeated
these lines? It is. What it is.
It is.
It is.
It is.
We still wouldn’t be caught dead
wearing bonnets,
blue, indigo, or down
in the dumps.
And whose fault is that?

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

NaPoWriMo #17 - oh so rough!

Beloved Mother (an exhausted title, written by a mother on vacation with two young children who never tire)

Is there a name for a mother
who takes her children cemetary

hopping on vacation?

maybe? She is a family woman
earthed in tradition and roots.

This is a family reunion
no-one need bring a casserole.

Mother-born-old? Brought up
herself among the stones,

spending holidays delivering
flowers to the dearly departed,

listening quietly to old stories
of older people, strangers, really.

Her people, his people, born, married
died. Where is their plot?

Is there a plot to this tale?
I know this much, my place

will rest with my mother
who rests with her mother.

We will be the-mothers-who
rest together. Come visit.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NaPoWriMo #16 - Another Prose Poem

Following the LaChute

The water is louder than our words, more powerful than a pillow on a face. We can not hear ourselves breathe, can not feel the steady rhythm of our footsteps on the nature trail. Our eyes roam, light up when we find an unscuffed sneaker bottom side up in a tide pool. My son rushes to the other side of the foot bridge, spies the equally white mate, and the mother load—black pants and a wet pair of wool socks. I wonder if this is a phase, this obsession with death. Guns fashioned from Legos, sticks, digits, limbs. Constant talk of bad guys, blood, jail, death and dying. A phase, I wonder, or a premonition. Does he know when we are all going to die? Does he know we are all going to die? Has he, in his six years on earth, been granted vision? I drive him to the cemetery. If we cannot find a dead body in the river, we will certainly have more luck among the stones. We find long-lost uncles, three of them. He adds their dates. Figures before I can that his great-grandmother was just seventeen when she gave birth. Just seventeen when she had a funeral for her first child. Just what is it, again, we can learn from children?


Here's the thing. I'm not crazy about this first draft, but as first drafts go, I;m pretty pleased. Does that make sense? I considered, again, posting a poem written in late March. But, I really feel like if I miss a day of writing a new poem, I will miss something valuable. So, while this may not be the best poem I've ever written, it is a start. And I can go from here. And I will always remember this day.

Here's a question...what to do with all these drafts? Is anyone interested in starting a blog post-April to work on drafts? We can come up with a clever title and post the poems we liked from NaPo, the ones we would like more help shaping, forming, editing. Hmmm....? Anyone?

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

NaPoWriMo #15 - A Prose Poem

Mourning Glory Days

They say you can't go home again. Someone tell my brain, fledgling memory, all wet wings and flutter. Flashback. Each time I sail down the highway, winging curves like a fortune teller tracing love lines with a crooked finger, here come the boyfriends, flying back. Seasonal flightline. A whole flock roosting, making nests. Delivering writhing worms and stiff beetles to feed my starving memory. Once, I covered pine cones in peanut butter, rolled them in seed. Hung them by thick red strands of yarn from an overgrown lilac tree. Lover's string. Lovesick breakfast. The birds never came. It is never like that with the boys from home.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

NaPoWriMo #14

The Woman Who Rolled Back the Boulder to Discover the Empty Tomb Must Have Been Surprised

For an instant I am convinced
a squirrel is attacking a blue jay,
tussling for life
or hidden nuts
behind the old canoe
in the back of the backyard.
Gray head bobbing
furred tail fluttering
blue wings waving
(not drowning)
for help.
Then flies in a second bird.
For a longer instant
I am convinced
the pair,
matched or mixed,
I can’t be sure,
are having sex in front
of the old canoe.
Tangling in the brittle branches
of last year’s Christmas tree.
How fresh.
I open my back door.
Invite them to get a room.
A single shriveled leaf flutters
just past the door frame.
Thin dead branches dance
over the old canoe.
The door blows shut.
I am convinced.

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

NaPoWriMo #13

Mangy Looking Fake Fur Boa

It’s not as funny as I thought it would be
strutting through town
in a mangy-looking fake fur boa.
Jesus had better luck
walking the palm carpet.
It’s not as if we weren’t both scouting
for a miracle, holding our breath
praying for an award-winning
lease on a new life, fully carpeted.
In whose house can you bow
and scrape the feathers off your eggs?
On whose cross can you bear
to wake up dead each morning,
start all over again?
This particular dawn I rose
alone, determined to win your love.
Love making, the slogging of ingredients
my day’s dogma.
I vowed to be the son
jerking his hook to the right
so his father can hoist the prize
perch, mount it on his mantle.
I pledged to be the girl less pretty
the blond with roots
letting the handsome man
take her mother’s hand.
But you were just a lover.
Feather boas, even skinned
from a holy goose
have no power over your bleeding
heart. Your bleeding heart
a metaphor for a mangy-looking
fake fur boa. The kind I just threw off.
I can’t function in a messy world.


Lucky number thirteen. A truly bizarre poem, begun with the phrase "a mangy feather boa," overheard while litening to my mother read Captain Underpants (I am so ashamed) to my son. I had the intention of a sort of love poem to my husband who just left on the train, who I was kind of grumpy to all day. We are on vacation visiting my parents and he had to go back to work. How would you feel if someone wrote you this sort-of love poem? I'm not sure it would be all wine and roses...

In other news, somehow my posting has gone awry. Friday I went to the coffee shop and posted the patchwork poem (NaPo #11). Yesterday, I posted the white sweater poem (NaPo #12). Somehow it's not showing up correctly. I have not missed a day. Nope. Not one!

Clayton Harrington has read the bible three times. Another snippet of conversation from my mother's house. That's a poem, eh?

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

NaPoWriMo #12

Excuse Me, When Will My White Sweater Be Clean?

The white haired woman asks little
of the white haired man. Nothing more
than dry cleaning,
first name,
drink temperature.
I know they are together.
They ambled in together
the dapper man in the pinstripe shirt and loafers
chose their seats,
delivered her latte.
They are seated in adjoining chairs
a newspaper,
a library novel
between them.

Like a red cardinal and his bland mate,
they are feeding together.
Here together,
leaving me to believe
she is faraway
even as she is here.
(I have heard of this place
a city where you are all alone
even as the crowds gather.)

Each to their own branch.
He is her caretaker.
First the boy next door
then her lover
(because they are of a certain generation),
after all
then her husband.
Perhaps her lucky enemy
for a time,
and now her nursemaid.
He has brought her out for coffee,
keeping her part of the real world.
(There is little chance the white haired man
will drink it down, spit it up
for his addled bird).

Of course this could be the fairytale.
Maybe he has been keeping her holed up
in their attic,
rolling around in mothballs
strung out on moldy cheese
and homemade wine.

Maybe the pair have been coupling
like mad rabbits
fiery agile sex
the next generation would kill for.

We just never know where our neighbors have been,
where our neighbors are going,
what part of their body has been kissed last.


A very rough draft. Rougher than I've ever posted. That's what you get on a short break between art classes. But, I sort of enjoy the rushed writing, trying to get it all down without too much reflection.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

NaPoWriMo #11 - A Patchwork Poem

She Had Fended Off Their Suasion

How do I outrun
ancient urges to procreate?
When you are eighteen, you think like this.
Surprisingly, you are a goat.
Crowds smother the sidewalks,
tearing through barbed wire.
Is there a difference
as I walk the streets,
flesh sold for a pittance
of cola cans, candy wrappers, plastic garbage?
You never knew it,
a single, freckled sylph
covering the hemisphere.
I cursed both God and man,
in every pore and every nerve.
And why do I bathe
the bellowing beasts?
When you are eighteen, you think like this.
Is there a difference?


The lines for this piece came from poems by paisley, mariacristina, Lirone, writerwoman, Lissa & Gautami. Stop by Patchwork Poetry for more cool poems!


NaPoWriMo #10

Pre-Planning My Funeral

Have the party in my backyard
on a day with a slight breeze,
no, make that a stiff breeze,
the grass not green but crisp, yellow,
with just a hint of renewal.
I would like my daughter to troll the crowd
with her pink plastic microphone, shouting
three minutes to bedtime!
A little alarm is good for a funeral,
lighten the mood. I will want a good band.
A trio of high-stepping, fiddle playing girls,
wailing melodious about the man they should have married,
the cowboy who dropped his Stetson to earth
on his way to heaven. Be sure to send Jesus an invitation.
He doesn’t have to show up in costume.
Maybe He could stand in the crowd,
dressed as my only long-haired boyfriend,
the one with a motorcycle and a passion
for kittens, Chinese take-out and sightless women.
There will be food.
I’d like the dinners-in-a-dish served
by a cluster of June Cleavers,
decked out in pearls and plaid aprons.
At the end,
as the chanteuse reaches her high note
a murder of crows can carry the amens
to the clouds,
along with plaster casts of my arms and hands,
silver rings and bangle bracelets blinding the mourners below.

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Wednesday, April 09, 2008

NaPoWriMo #9: A Companion Piece to NaPo #8 (see below)

This Morning

All the fish I have flushed
came burbling up the drain.
Fancy goldfish, feeder fish,
tetras, mollies, a rainbow of betas.
The bathroom is awash in toilet water
and resurrected fish. I called
out to Jesus, asked if this was a sign.
Something told me to turn on the shower.
I duck out of my pajamas
slip on my fins
spend the day chasing errant scales,
swallowing transparent bubbles.
If this is my death
I am ready to swim.


Pretty sure these two poems are connected. Do you see it?

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

NaPoWriMo #8

On a Recent Visit to Church, A Hot Young Preacher Tells Me Something I Didn’t Know

Jesus had three angels to cover him.
One for his holy feet (two wings),
one for his holy middle (two wings),
and one to cover his blessed face (two wings).
Jesus did not need a robe,
he did not need a wife.
Jesus did not need conversation
or a pet
or sunglasses.
Jesus had angels.
Jesus had wings.
Jesus never wore a suit
or a fireman’s coat.
Jesus couldn’t pick up his daughter
if he had one
because those darn wings were in the way.
Jesus never ate
without feathers
clogging his mouth,
never spoke
without a mouthful of down.
Never trust a man in a wrinkled white shirt.
He has no room for wings.


Not meant in the least to be blasphemous. Saw a man in a rumpled white shirt today. As my grandmother used to say, "I didn't like his looks." Just a vibe. St down hours later to write a poem beginning with, "I have never trusted men in wrinkled white dress shirts..." See where I ended up.

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Monday, April 07, 2008

NaPoWriMo #7

Beautiful Objects, Out of Reach

The chandelier you can not draw without erasing
a hole in the center of lightbulb number two.

The tiniest frog in the bay.
Small is not always easy.

The glossy black water snake
slipping between thick strands of milfoil.


The memory of your first fish,
the simple quick tug. Then nothing.

The top of the mountain. There is always further
to go. The top of the last pine, for instance.

Even the gate.

The glorious heft of your father's shoulder
when you were three and he, half of now.

If you are lost, the key. If found,
the map with a red line leading away from home.

I hear it is beautiful.


Today was a tough day, poetry-wise. I had many starts in my head, all tossed aside. Even a couple starts in the journal. Also tossed. Thought about posting something I wrote a coulpe weeks ago, still rough, but decided against it. Went for new. Glad I did. My mental muscles thank me.

Tomorrow my dad goes to the dr. to discuss possibilty of surgery for aneuryism. Talking to my mother last night, I had a brief moment of clarity--this is serious. The man has to decide his fate. I know our fate is ultimately in God's hands. I know. But they will be asking him to make a decision. It was all so clear for a moment, as if my mother was sending me a message. Then, just as quickly as the fog lifted, it settled back in. My make-it-all-better cloud settled in and I resumed thinking, well, he will just say no thanks. Don't cut me open and I will go on living. As if the time-bomb couldn't go off at any moment. And it could. But I csn't think of it.

Why mention all this? Well, for one thing, it's my blog! Ha. And for another, I think this is why I am having trouble writing today. I have never been one to write during times of crisis or unrest. I write for the beauty of words and the images and to create a word picture. For all that I write, not for catharsis or for meaning or for answers. So when I have this "thing" looming that is heavy and awful and demands answers, my muse says, sorry, dude. Not my problem. Thus, the list poem.

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

NaPoWriMo #6: Moving Right Along!

After the Race: Every Superhero Runs Fast

The boy will run like Flash Gordon.
He has been told to visualize
the long hall
he races up and down every morning.
He has been told to imagine chasing droids.
Be the Death Star.
Be the Millennium Falcon.
Don’t chew on your shoes.
Pull your tongues out.
Yank your Velcro tighter.
The boy has lined up,
stood with the fleet-footed herd.
He has waited,
watched the grown men
chase their rabbits.
He has jogged in place,
done the hockey player stretch,
the soccer switchback,
the marathoner lunges.
The boy has been told stories
of star runners
spitting over their shoulders
chasing off the competition.
The boy has been told
not to spit, even as a big boy
barrels by dripping white foam.
Does Superman lean into a running leap
before he takes flight?
Does Spiderman shake it out
before he slings a web?
The boy has been told
to do his best,
run for his life,
pretend he is racing to save someone.
At the finish line he breaks
through the rainbow ribbons,
chest ripped open,
pulsing red muscle held in front of him.
The boy has run his heart out.


Since this is NaPoWriMo, and these are supposed to be drafts, let me ask a question... should the first line read:

The boy has run like Flash Gordon
The boy can run like Flash Gordon
The boy will run like Flash Gordon
The boy runs like Flash Gordon
The boy runs and he is Flash Gordon

I just can't decide. I had "has run" but then I thought it didn't flow. The last line reads "The boy has run his heart out," so maybe "The boy has run like Flash Gordon" works.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

NaPoWriMo #5: A Terzanelle, of Sorts

Skeptics Say Mother Bird Who Gave Her Life For Chicks Is Nothing But Urban Legend

When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings.
- from widely circulated inspirational e-mail

There are things a woman can not do.
Walk naked from house to house
asking for a cup of flour, a teaspoon


Another positive day for poetry. I hope my muse stays in good form for the next three weeks (plus)! I did not stay completely true to the terzanelle form, as my end words do not all rhyme. I could change a few words to establish the rhyme, but it loses something, in my opinion. That is how I feel about revision...I don't like it, I don't like it, I don't like it. But I know I need to do it. I am so attached to my first words.

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Friday, April 04, 2008

NaPoWriMo #4

A Stranger Walks Up To A Mother Playing In the Park

Hey, do you mind if I play in the mud?
And who is she to deny him,
original mother of mud players, pie makers
trackers of wet earth across her floor.
It has been her job from the dawn of time
to allow mud.
To cover the hut in mud,
cover the wounds with mud,
drag herself up out of the mud.
It is mud she spends her days with,
mud she cleans nightly from their shoes
from their carpets,
washes in wide arcing circles
before sending it cleaned and gleaming
down her drain.
Even as she feeds her children
she repeats the old adage under her earthen breath,
One peck of dirt per child, per childhood.
One peck, one peck, one peck.
We’re all good.
We’ve got the pyramid covered.
Even as she tosses the clean stitched ball to her son
and he drops it in a puddle,
slides through an endless brown pond
to slick the mucky ball back at her.
Even in that dirty instant she knows
she will not drag her children through
the mud back to their car.
She is not afraid of this man
spreading his blanket next to a puddle,
preparing, perhaps, for a picnic
were it not for the mud
he has settled next to,
were it not for the mud
he is wringing through his hands--
a potter working his clay.
It is the stuff of life.
We are born from the earth.
We go back to the earth.
Stranger! Stranger!
The strange man digging his strange
hands into the mud,
letting wet mud fall from hand to hand
from hand to hand,
a brown, cloudy metronome.
Who among us has not wanted permission
to play in the mud?
Who would dare deny it?


I was going to post a poem I wrote last week, not in April. Then I went on a date with my husband. He told me a story. I came home, wrote this poem. Thanks, Dude!

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Things of Note, Beyond the Casual Glance: NaPo #3

Squirrels smart enough to turn around.
A cat with three legs,
teaching you how to climb a massive silver maple.
A lone blond child, spinning in wet leaves to a song
sung with words only she knows.
Making up your own language.
The poem whispered to a gray squirrel,
an old robin
and a fresh nuthatch
from the other side of a window.
Invitations to a party
written in crayon, two pennies taped inside.
How the seamless glide of new scissors on old fabric
renders a hand weightless, without muscle.
A morning spent counting dust motes in a sunbeam.
Gathering dust motes like fireflies in a jar.
Lighting a room with a canning jar full of nothing.
Leaving your front door wide open while you shop for groceries.
Feeding strangers bananas straight from a brown paper grocery sack.
Slipping through a crowd of familiars
without saying a word.
A simple sigh of relief on the other side.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Breakfast with Moriah: NaPoWriMo #2

Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you
acceptance of what is, to surrender to the Now. Let it teach
you being…how to live and how to die.
- Eckhart Tolle

I stop watering the plants to watch
what the wind has blown in.
A chipping sparrow breakfasts
at our battered green feeder,
one seed at a time. So many shakes
of his feathered hat to shiver the kernels down.
Because old men eating alone make my heart hurt,
I put my coat and feathers on,
bare my toes to grip a branch
when I notice he is not alone.
They call the wind Moriah.
Gusty waitress, she has pushed
another customer in the wings,
a fine red cardinal. Expecting a bluster
of twittering from the showy diner
I am surprised to find him mildly riding
the waves of the day’s brash weather,
waiting to eat. I shrink to the level
of my cat. Watch the sparrow settle in,
rest in the lip of the feeder.
The cardinal waits.
The sparrow rests.
I watch.
I watch.
I do not know whose heart sinks lower
the wind’s,
the cat’s,
or mine, when the birds fly off.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Overheard at the coffee shop: NaPoWriMo #1

Did You Make a Date To Go To the Circus?

The barista (I’ve always wanted a title like that) asks me a simple question, tilting her head, her hair, her eyes. I wonder how she does not fall over from the weight of her question. I am sure I hear her whistle the first few bars of Send in the Clowns. Between the air hissing out of the espresso machine and the mocha java mist spraying from her tuneless lips, I am sure, I know, I heard her say, Did you make a date to join the circus? How did she know? I thought this was Professor Java’s, not Madame Olga’s. I stopped riding bare backs of horses long ago. Stopped bowing to high-hatted men bearing whips way before my hips gave in to child bearing. With my tattoos lasered off, my slightly arched, solidly respectable suburban eyebrows lasered on, I was sure I passed for wifely. At the very least, with my sequins hidden beneath nubby fleece, I could be assumed mother. It has to be the tightrope. I have hauled myself up onto that thin slice of wild so many times there are wires thin as spider webs rooted in my soles. Tomorrow I will leave the net at home.


A prose poem for Read. Write. Poem. Based on something I overheard, incorrectly. I'm not sure if I have mastered the prose poem form, but it's a start. The poem cam eout not as I had planned, but more stream-of-consciousness style. Comment/critique welcome! I'd like to do more with this one...whatever that may be!

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