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.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Peel Your Label

My son exhibits
symptoms, tell-tale

............of attention.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

When to Call a House a Home

A Letter Poem, Responding to Nathan's Security

By day it poses as a subtle ranch
shuttered, mellow, a perfect child

tucked in a church pew.

You should read Nathan's poem. It's language is sparse, concise, not a word out of place. You will not want to move in, however.

I don't know what it is with "the house" as extended metpahor, but it has been making its wretched way into my poetry lately. And I love my little house. Good rule of thumb in poetry: always follow where the muse takes you. Don't ask questions.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When Arriving For Battle, Straighten Your Spine, Bring Reinforcements

If the rain made itself visible
as the bold white snow
would we mourn the arrival
of black clouds, the pause of the sun?

Chin up.
Spine straight
Advice for a tall girl
from her father, a tall man.
Walk with your eyes on the tops
of telephone poles

Gold leaves fall in clusters
storm frosted grass
quiet as a regiment on maneuvers.

Such a wild move,
dropping out of school,
lying about his age, joining
the Merchant Marine at sixteen
to fight alongside the older boys.

Even the least avengers yield purpose.
When we stop, listen to the rain
give snow and leaves our full attention
will we be surprised by their stories?


This is definitely a first draft. Some poems arrive pretty much finished. This poem needs stuff: detail, information... It is like a sandwich with thick bread, partially made. There's pleasing thinck fluff on the outside, but nothing in the middle.

Carolee and I saw a poet/memoirist last night who read an interesting piece about her father. We discussed the fact later that neither of us have written much about the men in our lives. It must have stuck with me, because when I sat down to write today, I had no intention of writing about my dad. Writing with out intention--sounds lazy, rule breaking. That's free-writing for you.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Santa's Secret Sale

It wasn’t supposed to go beyond the first iceberg.
It was a secret whispered in a snowball,
tossed around the workshop
until it melted in the wrong hands.

Refusing to be used—the doormat
principle. Who among us hasn’t balked
at being the heavy, the shark, the bad guy.
Distill it down like vein-warming whiskey:

the key to life is kindness. Kindness
is Santa’s bag. Dolls in frilly dresses,
princess vanities (all is vanity—the giver, the taker).
gleaming bicycles, footballs fat from the calf.

In ancient times, kind was the word
used to describe food. Dear, your meat
is most kind this evening—a compliment
to the sacrificial lamb and it's butcher.

Porcupines, prickly beasts, are not loveable.
Give up your prickly ways, we tell our children
as daylight fades a little more each day,
until we are in darkness, dumb to their deeds.

Santa can not take it one day more. Good
is not an option. The North Pole is up
for sale. Parents, prepare your naughty
chairs, hang your stockings over your eyes.

The bidding starts at midnight.


Many thanks to the subject of a toysale email for this poem. Does it make sense? I played with words, with the notion of kindness. Probably not one I would share with my kids.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Since I Never Finishd Sewing the Alligator in Home Ec

There was really no point in getting married.
I should have left my pricked
fingers at the altar, tying knots

Carolee and I had gong withdrawal. I pestered her until we came up with the 12 Days of Poetry, a modified gong. Then, I fell asleep after kids' movie night last night. My gong will last until Thanksgiving. Carolee's until the night before. We're both on a quest.

Note to self, or any interested critics: should this poem be in stanzas?

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Color Theory, Poetry Goals, Gong Replaced by Castanet

When Mixing Colors, Take Care Not to Let Compliments Mingle

Orange mixed with light blue day,
dark early November air thickened
like the steak some neighbor is cooking
outside, probably wearing a parka--


I have been teaching about comlimentary colors a lot lately. There's just something about orange and blue next to each other in a painting. I have one student who prefers to mix them always. Somedays, to a startling, surprising effect.

Since the gong is done, at least for now, I have promised to write 5 poems a week: a mini-gong, a tiny gong, a cymbal, let's say. Or a castanet.

Submitting to four journals in November. Writing 5 poems a week. Editing 2. Reading a poem a day, three times. Once to read, once to listen, once to pick apart with a poet's aplumb. Is that a word?

I need sleep.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Poetry Pals Are The Best!

My amazing poet friends at The Poetry Collaborative wrote a poem for my birthday! They rock! The poem is below, but it's not finished. I am so lucky!

Birds calculate seasons wending to soft palates
savoring intricate dust shadows that swerve
apologetically away from northern evergreens.
How divided flocks move in spite of hunger,
how restricted airways steer without meaning
toward vast and truant winds, near ponds.

Other birds look up, look up from frosting ponds,
cluck their dry, bony tongues against hard palates.
The sounds seem like signals, mimicking meaning,
code amplified through their hollow bodies. They swerve
then dive. Alighting on the ground they mock hunger
like food stored eternally in the veins of evergreens.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Poetry Gong - Poem 30

After Hosing the Last of the Dead Rabbit From the End of Her Driveway, June Cleaver Writes God a Letter

Here’s what I think—
you created reflection
for your own amusement.

This should be a happy occassion: the last poem of poetry gong. 30 poems in 30 days! But, it is with sadness that I post this last poem. I have really enjoyed the discipline of the gong. And the surprises of what poems may arise when I force myself to sit down and write--no matter what.

My plan is to continue a 5 day gong. Or maybe...60? Nah! Hmmm................

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Poetry Gong - Poem 29

Without My Glasses

The supermodel fallen to the floor
on the All Things Glamorous
sampler card looks like Jesus.
I wonder whose funeral
I have been to recently.

My mother keeps mass cards
in her bible. Tiny prayers bearing
dead people's names, dates on earth.
Even though she is a Methodist,
the Catholic cards fall to the floor--
death will speak to anyone--
each time she opens the book.

The blond bombshell has no name
scrawled on her four-by-six,
just her label, Mary Kay, wound
through her wind-blown hair.
When she dies, some near-sighted
everywoman will remember her elegance,
say a prayer for her gold sequined gloss,
losing its luster in the papery folds.


Here's Something You Might Not Know About The King

Elvis loves Santana. That Latin guitar. That soul sacrifice, each time the Spanish man lays hands on his Brazilian rosewood. Like glass. Timbalas. Congas. Words to roll on the floor with, to roll in your mouth and tremble with. Two sides to each of us. In each of us, a king. Steel drum, sex between the bass beats king. Knitting wool underwear with Jesus king. It doesn’t matter what side of the bed. Just that you sleep. Just that you wake.

(a prose poem I am not sure of...)

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We Love Our Veterans!

Happy Veterans Day!
Thank you...
Papa (WWII)
Uncle Sid (WWII)
Cousin Eric (Iraq)
Uncle Bill (Vietnam)
Fireman Steve (Iraq)
Karate Dad Steve (Iraq)
Fireman Smokie (Vietnam)
Robert Smith (Vietnam)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Poetry Gong - Poem 28

What Are You Afraid Of?

Socks with no mates
Belts that uncoil like snakes
Hats with strands of hair hanging inside
Underwear on the sidewalk
Wet sidewalks on otherwise dry days
Days that end before the sun goes down
Going down dark stairs
Staring for too long--
making a deal with your eyes for them to move
Moving too fast
Moving too slow
Never moving
Treading water in a bed of milfoil
Losing your socks in bed
Socks with no mates, rising up
walking down the aisle

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Poetry Gong - Poem 27

Miss Manners Cannot Think of a More Succinct Definition of a Lady Than “Someone Who Wants To Punch Another Person in the Nose, But Doesn’t,” or: Taking Your Clothes Off While Hanging Laundry Will Not Get You Invited to the Neighborhood Party - A Found Poem From Miss Manners' Guide to Rearing Perfect Children

Consider instead, the likely results
of your acting like a lady.
You see her in the neighborhood
you give her a friendly wave.
See how easy it is.
You have made her feel terrible
and remorseful—and all by behaving
like a perfect lady.

Now Miss Manners asks you
to listen to a small lecture on the rights
and obligations of friendship.
Even the closest of married couples
have social engagements
in which they see people separately—
one cannot always have the same guest list,
and your friend cannot be expected
to hire another house
to spare your feelings. A lady finds
as she sails through life,
that she can spare herself
a great deal of anguish by not taking
notice of unpleasant occurrences
that were not
intended for her notice.


I know it's a terribly long title. I kind of like it.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Poetry Gong - Poem 26

Sometimes, Nothing At All Happens

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” Isaiah 55.1-2.

Jesus delivered the milk today.
I was expecting the mailman,
tromping through the fallen


Alternative title:

June Cleaver Considers an Affair, Decides, Instead, to Whip Up a Devil's Food Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

Alternative endings: Must be written...

A question: The first three lines each have a "the" I could take out the fallen, and leave it as "fallen leaves" but I like the idea of "the fallen" as in us, the people Jesus is supposed to save. What to do?

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Poetry Gong - Poem 25

Origin of the Marriage (The Origin of Marriage) *Someone help me pick a title!

(After Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s Origin of the Mango)

Of course my parents have never agreed.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Poetry Gong - Poem 24

Let’s Be Blood Sisters

No sweeter words
will ever pour
from the porcelain cup
of third grades’ most popular girl.
In her perfectly pleated plaid pants
and J.C. Penney sweater vest
she is a tea party with tiny cakes,
the slight hole in the piñata,
the first lick
up the cold side
of an Eskimo pie.

You have no fear
of knives,
..........(Friends for life.)
..........(Just you and me.)
or pins.
..........(Our secret club.)
You do not cry
..........(Do you want to?)
when you scrape your knee,
when the bike skids
out from under you,
when the swing kicks
you flat on your back.
..........(Yes or no?)

You’d never be caught
dead in a plaid skirt.
Your sweaters wrap
round you like a blanket,
hang past your knobby wrists.
You can’t remember today
if she spoke your name yesterday.
Has she ever breathed
your whole name through
lips thin as spun sugar?

You love the pouch of her cheeks
the gaze of her too-wide eyes
more than the sting of hot lunch
alone at the empty lunch table,
more than the weight of
a whisper on your flaming ears.

There is blood enough for everyone,
pour yours in a tea cup,
toast your good fortune.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Poetry Gong - Poem 23

What Will You Be Wearing While the World Around You Grows Old
- After Winter Trees Cough Like Old Men by Eugenio Montejo

Birch trees in late fall are naked
like pale old women in bathing suits
sunning on a canvas covered dock.


I know I was supposed to type up my pantoum from yesterday, but the purpose of this particular gong is to write a NEW poem every day, so I had to write something new!

I turned to Poetry Daily, read the daily poem, and this poem came to me!

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Poetry Gong - Poem 22

My Son Considers a Fallen Tree

I wrote this poem today. With my Poetry Gong partner, Carolee, on our weekly/semi-weekly writing date. Stay tuned for the next (read without a magnifying glass) version!

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