December 16, 2010

Listening (BTP prompt)

(freaky photo courtesy of Photobucket)

This piece is from an extremely interesting prompt over at Big Tent Poetry, which led me to the  fascinating "Dead Man" poetry of Marvin Bell.  There is no way I could ever do justice to his idea, but here is my lame attempt...

The dead girl waits and watches.
No hurry now, nowhere to be.
And in her final, numbing rest,
she listens to the screams of others.

The cries of pain, injustice, fear.
Sadness thick with held-back tears.
The panicked heart, the strangled throat,
it’s all but curiosity to the dead girl.

The dead girl hears each lament.
Even in silence the dark seeps through,
and in her repose, she only knows,
the futility of emotion.

December 10, 2010

Shattered (BTP prompt)

I really didn't follow prompt this week, but instead took some snippets from a few unfinished pieces on the same topic and wove them together into one.
Knowing someone with mental/emotional illness is a difficult thing to watch and attempt to deal with. I know someone with these issues; this poem attempts in it’s feeble way to describe her pain.

She holds herself through too long days
enforcing stillness with granite jaws,
Her nails tattooing crescent moons
While gripping demons
with sweat slicked palms.

Afraid of breathing much too deep,
best to keep each intake shallow,
or she might loosen up a scream,
expelling monsters
she cannot tame.

To see her face, at first you’d think
her mind was just preoccupied.
But then look deeper at her trance,
bright eyes unfocused,
blind to light.

Then some slight switch is somehow flipped
and nerves, emotions come unwound,
like prickly knotted sisal rope
of tangled threads
that won’t be bound.

With thoughts careening wildly
through eternities of mindless pain,
no one can ever talk her down
And backwards to
a life of sanity.

December 06, 2010

Pearl Harbor (December 7th, 1941)

(photo courtesy of
I wrote this piece in honor of Pearl Harbor Day; in thanks to my Father, Father-in-law and four of my uncles who were all decorated soldiers during this time; and also in honor of every person affected by the terrible tragedy of WWII.

The news brought them out of the woodwork.
Boys with patriotic attitudes,
dreamers with fabulous imaginations,
or ones with simple bloodlust in their hearts.
Those with delusions of grandeur
or the desire for adventure,
to swash-buckle through the Pacific.

Instead they found near annihilation-
of dreams-of innocence- of their very lives.
Battling something utterly alien,
completely incomprehensible.
Violence unheard of, unbelievable.
A vast Pacific of bloodshed,
primitive atolls of mindless atrocity.

Bataan, Saipan,
Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal.
Okinawa, Corregidor.
Funereal jungles, floating crematoriums.
Wild -eyed bonzai brandishing swords-
kamikaze clinging to samurai code.
Mere pawns in this game of death.

They mustered through, those boys.
Growing up rapidly, finding their way.
Gaining strength in numbers,
courage through necessity.
We can never repay their gift.
There are no words to give thanks
to that "Greatest Generation".

December 02, 2010

Gimmee, Gimmee (BTP Prompt)

The Prompt this week over at Big Tent Poetry was "ENOUGH".  Very thought-provoking, I wish I had the time to turn all my ideas for this into poetry...

Those screaming needs
and hard demands,
swarm around like angry bees,
and buzz within my addled brain,
as sharp, relentless stings enforce
their painful, bloody victories.

Meanwhile, my gentle wants,
my small attempts
to carve a piece,
a sliver of that precious self,
must fall away like dying leaves.

Crushed beneath commitment's boot,
as slowly I forget to dream,
and accede to others appetites,
while I grow smaller every day,
from losing self to selflessness.
Of strength, I'll never have enough.

November 18, 2010

Run Away (BTP Prompt)

 First of all, thanks to Barbara for this devil of a poetry prompt over at Big Tent Poetry . I have never written a “cascade” poem before, and boy did it give me trouble!  I was so busy figuring out how to do it, I think the content and flow suffered a bit…but, here goes... my take on Woman as victim, as symbolized by Dorothy.

Brushing straw from your tangled hair,
throwing your apron to the ground,
just put your best red high heels on,
be brave and make it on your own.

The scarecrow called you ignorant
to feed his fatuous conceit.
Set him ablaze and run away,
brushing straw from your tangled hair.

The tin man was one hard bastard,
with an inhuman, empty soul.
Just let him rust, to save yourself,
throwing your apron to the ground.

That scaredy cat you tangled with,
would browbeat, just to feel so brave.
Screw up your courage once again,
and put your best red high heels on.

The “Great One” gave you bad advice,
to keep you slave to his desires.
No wizard, he's a charlatan,
be brave and make it on your own.

November 11, 2010

At Home (BTP prompt)

 ( I just love the negative, yearning emotions pictured in the old advertisement above)
 I used the non-fiction best-seller “At Home” by Bill Bryson.  Just finished reading it and BOY do I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the history of how we came to live the way we do.  (I could not put it down…)

Relaxing at home
in your mortgaged "McMansion"
with a big screen TV,
espresso machine,
and monumental refrigerator,
under forced air conditioning
that keeps you quite comfortable
no matter the weather.
Nearby the dishwasher sloshes,
although it’s half empty.

You sprawl so contented
on your leather recliner,
while drinking yet one more cocktail
as you hear the ice drop in the
constantly cycling
stainless icemaker.
The pantry stands bulging
full of tasty but plastic
non-foods so convenient
to just pop in the microwave.

The computer screen’s glowing,
The cell phone’s recharging,
as you snuggle down deeper
in your adjustable mattress,
thousand count sheets,
and fluffy down comforter.
While you lay there contented
do you ever much wonder
the cost so profound of
this gluttonous plenty?

Meanwhile the rest of the world,
(no matter what country),
confused by our excess,
shake their heads sadly,
(or beat their fists madly)
as they claw for their dinner.
Try as they might, they can’t
begin the consumption
that we take blindly for granted
as our right and our privilege.

 (I'm just as guilty as anyone...)

September 30, 2010

Freedom (BTP prompt)

After a two week hiatus from writing (everyone deserves a vacation now and then!) I am back with the wonderful prompt from Big Tent Poetry on childhood memories that really got my juices flowing.  I decided to write on a wonderful experience, the spring I was 10.  My father bought me a “mini-bike”, the smallest motorcycle there was.  I spent every free minute on it in glorious, wild freedom with my "gang"  and away from an oppressively difficult home situation.  

Each day became a fresh parole
of baking heat and brilliant sun,
escaping dark, oppressive rooms,
away from grasping, clawing arms.

Careening through the dusty streets,
my two speeds being fast and stop,
in rubber thongs and outgrown shorts,
not knowing what a helmet was.

Feeling like some fresh Columbus,
each exploration newly born,
outrunning my captivity,
until the evening's dimming light.

Returning burnt and gravel-rashed,
with long black hair a tangled mop,
so hungry for some nourishment,
but food and need was all I got.

That freedom was a soaring cloud,
through painful, childhood summer days,
in every year that’s hurried past,
I’ve never, ever, felt the same.

(My poor, confused mother, in an attempt to keep me as her “captive entertainment”, sold the bike the winter I was 11.)
Maybe I should buy a Vespa...?

September 09, 2010

Are You Listening? (BTP)

(Photo courtesy of Photobucket)

 At   Big Tent Poetry  this week the prompt was to "Think of something you've said, now write what you wish you had said."  This long ago scene immediately flashed through my mind...

Staring into your
empty, glistening, reptilian eyes
for some sign of shame,
(or perhaps contrition),
I see your self-absorption, 
 your thoughts containing only
basic, clawing want.
Your insectile ears just hear
(blah- blah, white noise).
 Human conversation is
  incomprehensible blather
you refuse to understand.
Then a slapping realization dawns 
that all I’ve said
(and dreamed of saying all these years)
has wasted too much energy
and can’t  matter to a soulless thing...
I should have only said 
A long time ago, in an act of self-preservation.  I had to cut myself away from someone who had spent years hurting me.  When I tried to finally let them know what they had done,  I realized I might as well have been speaking to a snail….

September 03, 2010

Day After Day (BTP)

This week's prompt idea at Big Tent Poetry, was to listen for interesting words or phrases to use in a poem.

Instead, I thought of those same words, sounds, and questions I hear every day, and find myself wishing for a respite from the endless clamor.

G' mornin'…
Have you seen my phone? today’s headline news…
Are you pouring more coffee?
...and now for sports…
I’m out of shaving cream.
Have any cash on you?

Despite the blaring television,
I hope for silence. 

The truck broke down, order's late.
Why are you out of the ONE thing I need!?!
Would you be interested in donating….?
Do you carry...?
I'll take the deposit.
What do you have for energy?
I need tomorrow off.

Between each endless numbing decision,
I listen for silence.

Ready to order?
You've got to see the new shoes I bought!
More tea?
This is NOT on my diet...
I just don't know why she acts that way.
There's this new exercise class...
Save room for dessert?

Amid the clatter of dishware and conversation,
I long for silence.

Welcome to...
Want a sales flyer?
Did you find everything you needed?
Would you like to donate your change to...?
Is that debit or credit?
Paper or plastic?
Can we take this out to the car for you?

Through the endless looping Musak,
I beg for silence., the stock market lost…
What’s for dinner?
I don’t see my shaving cream.
Your mom left a message, you better call her.
Where have you been, I've been calling...
...we’ll return in a minute, after this important message…
Did you make the coffee?

In midnight's final cocoon of silence,
I pray for strength.

August 26, 2010

The Seamstress (BTP prompt)

Over at Big Tent Poetry this week, Carolee gave us a very thought-provoking prompt (to pay attention to something you do with your hands, then using that as a jumping off point, write about one of several topics she chose).  I had a bit of trouble with it, but then I happened to replace a missing button...

With needle once again
in hand,
by early morning’s
feeble light,
she begins to
tenderly repair
her garments - old,
worn thin as
laddered gossamer.
 Rejoining seams,
 broken fastenings,
repairing every
rip and tear,
and covering up each
 threadbare hole with
mismatched patches
just as raw.
She sees her work as
smart and fine,
while others see but
 tattered rags.
Yet still she sews.


My poetry is usually as subtle as a grenade...this week I tried to do something different.
I used Carolee's suggestion to write about "physical pain", and this is what I came up with.

August 18, 2010


This week's prompt over at  Big Tent Poetry was a "Wordle".  I only used a few words from it, but those few had me remembering a wonderful time of teenage years with my best friend.

In a blue Chevy Malibu
hand-me-down car,
along a cracked blacktop
roller-coaster ride,
two girls race towards womanhood,
wild and fast.
Through the dry desert valley,
covered in sand and baby oil,
soaked in the smell of steaming wet dog
rising from the black backseat.

Tethered together
since first day, second grade,
and bonded tightly by
countless sleepovers
and Saturday double-features.
They compare sunburns
while laughing over how drunk they
got last week from screw top wine,
and the day they (not so bravely)
pierced each other's ears.

Stoked on caffeine, sun,
and Jolly Ranchers,
they rush back to stifling houses.
Their only future
a long cold shower before
the date tonight
with those rough-edged boys
they're crazy for,
and the pointless classes
of next semester.

Any other future
is in a smoky distance,
far removed from this perfect,
blistering, summer day.
A day of piss-warm lake water,
flirting with Bullhead boys,
and the dry, hot wind streaming
through the windows.
On every dip, they bottom out,
on every hill they fly…

This is dedicated to my dearest lifelong friend,  Cathy.  Childhood would have been empty without her.

August 12, 2010


This week's prompt over at is about possessions.  (My prompt idea-sorry if you found it tricky.)  I wrote one piece about something we all possess, our hands, and the love/hate relationship I used to have with them. 

(Below this piece is another one that takes the prompt more literally.)


I used to envy ladies hands.
Those long, lithe fingers
fluttering as butterflies.
The creamy smoothness of
narrow, elegant palms.
Their perfect french nails
encircling crystal wine stems,
and time for weekly manicures.

My thick, peasant hands could never compare.
Callused palms and barked raw knuckles,
rough, short nails, devoid of lacquer.
My hands had too much work to do.
They yanked out weeds,
and kneaded dough,
chopped firewood,
and intricately braided hair.
They earned a paycheck,
and paid the bills,
yet still made time for poetry
while scrubbing  floors.

Not perfect, though.
At times I lost control of them as
they spanked my children,
flung crockery in anger,
beat a table in frustration,
and grasped too tightly
the things I loved.
Yet they could delicately
remove a splinter,
gently bathe small peachy bottoms,
And hold my husband
through countless whispering nights.

From the wealth of years
I now look at those with ladylike hands.
Those of the the glossy talons,
and thick gold rings.
I see them now quite fetus-like,
brand new, unformed, no knowledge there.
But mine…

My hands have lived.
(As I look on the hands of my young granddaughters, I hope they grow to have ones like mine...)


Here is a more literal example of my prompt idea about possessions.  
The crock I wrote about (already well used) was given to my grandmother sometime around 1910, by someone who I like to think taught her the recipe.

The old stoneware bowl
is not very pretty,
but it’s lasted well over a century,
and served heavy duty.

It once belonged to my grandma
of the flowered bib apron,
covering her housedress,
rosary firm in her pocket.

It’s held countless batches
of dough left for rising,
made without any recipe,
just by feel they were perfect.

My mom gave it to me
when she taught me the secret
of that magic concoction
for feeding my family.

Now that chipped piece of crockery
sits low in the cupboard,
gathering years full of dust and
holding in memories.

It's waiting and hoping
for some new generation,
to honor the history,
and learn this tradition.

Then I will show them,
and pass on the knowledge,
along with the old heavy bowl,
to treasure as I have.

August 05, 2010


Lately, I have been experiencing some dulling of my thought processes and memories, (ah, the joys of menopause!)  and it started me thinking on the horrors of dementia.  

(Not written  to Prompt this week. What was it?...I can't remember.....) 

I know there’s a spider
that's living inside me.
He's buried in my cerebrum,
contented and busy.

He must have got in there
on some nocturnal mission,
climbed in through an orifice,
while I was dreaming.

I can feel him digesting
my most precious memories,
while his long, bristly legs
dig in ever deeper.

As his abdomen swells
with my past and my passions,
I can sense satisfaction,
his work is successful.

Why won’t you believe me?
Can’t you hear the faint scrabbling?
Or the moist, whispered chewing
of my lost imagination?

Please, just give me a poison,
some pesticide tincture,
or with a small screwing bit,
drill down, piercing his thorax.

Still you let him reside there.
You think I’m just crazy.
But I know there’s a spider
that's living inside me.

July 29, 2010

"HERO" (BTP #13)

(courtesy of Photobucket)

Over at : this week's prompt was to write on the subject of "Heroes".  Mine are few and far between, but there is one hidden hero that means the most to me...


While turning the pages
of this four-color comic,
(that’s not really funny),
all you see are the villains,
with their long, grasping tentacles,
petting their myriad minions
and filling their maws
with what they have plundered.

But where are the heroes
of this often-told story?
They have no bright costume,
or magical powers.
They’re painted in gray-scale,
with a bone-weary stance
and resolve on their faces
as they raise up their armaments.

A shovel, an apron, a chalkboard eraser,
stethoscope, helmet, or tin badge of courage.
They head back to the trenches,
where the struggle is endless,
where the fight’s never finished.
But they refuse to give up,
to lay down their weapons, 
to admit that they’re beaten.

Those villains make certain
to steal all they’re able.
To stuff full their coffers,
and placate their minions,
who increase exponentially
far louder and larger,
like fat, lazy maggots,
eyes stupid, yet cunning.

And our hero keeps going,
his jaw set for the long haul.
With a spine of titanium
to shoulder the burden,
the knowledge of right,
and the strength to still do it.
Appeasing those villains
and the multiple minions.

Yet our hero's still able
to keep the plates spinning,
food on the table,
and live by his code.
While teaching his children
a mantra spoke through the ages,
Of never give up-
Of never give in.

July 22, 2010

From the Persian (BTP #12)

 Over at  this week's prompt was to take a favorite poem and use it to help write one of our own.  The one I chose is just 4 simple lines, but when I first read them at about age 17, I felt something shift inside me.  For my piece, I took the basic message of my favorite and expanded upon it.

If some great hollow emptiness resides
Within a chasm filled with crass desires,

It’s not a hunger for the shallow most,
But in leaving go of gentle, simple gifts.

Here is the link to the original...if you haven't already guessed by my words, the title, or the photo... 

July 15, 2010

Evensong (BTP#11)

Over at this week's prompt was a "hidden message".  Although this piece's message isn't hidden, the italicized words I used are a sort of road map to a place.

Under a starlit prairie sky,
cradled by ebony spires,
The ghost of a buckboard goes creaking past,
While the cactus wren whispers his cry.

Skirting the crackled and fissured plain,
lies a red lake long since dry.
As the buck and doe stand silent watch
for thunderheads of a monsoon rain.

Silvery shadowed  moonlight beams
En-robe each corner of this land,
and cast a magical glow on the valley below,
left shimmering as a dream.

At the end of some blistering summer day,
as I wander the canyon trails,
in this desolate vista I love to call home,
the night can take my breath away.

The relentless heat and sunshine makes me appreciate the lovely cool nights where I live.  Although this is no amazing work of poetry, (I was not able to spend much time on it), I hope it conveys how I feel while out on an evening journey.
 (All the italicized words in this piece are roads and streets in my little corner of the world- the magical and varied land of the Northern Arizona desert.)

July 05, 2010

Robert Frost (Writer's Island Prompt)

One of my favorite poems has always been "The Road Less Traveled" by Robert Frost.
If you are not familiar with this piece, I hope you will find it and enjoy it as much as I always have.

"The Road Less Traveled" spoke to me.
How I ached to choose the life
of carefree girls in cut-off jeans
hiking through exotic lands.
Or long-haired co-eds in argyle sweaters
roaming Ivy League halls.
I was offered a different road
by an inherited progeria of the spirit.
Barely escaping a train wreck by running
headlong into a burning building.
Spending years fighting that fire,
protecting all others,
my bare hands beating back flames.

Incarcerated by responsibilities,
no chance to run, no place to hide.
Trying not to be what I was taught, but
what is right - what is right
my mantra.
Reading that same poem over and over;
still not finding an answer, an escape.
then over time a subtle loosening,
a dawning realization.
A consciousness of deeper truth.
Frost's words had changed, made sense to me.
My unexceptional life, my life of rules
had turned me slowly into rarity.

July 01, 2010

For Vincent (BTP #9)

 (Wheat Field and Cypresses - Vincent Van Gogh)

Over at , the prompt this week was to have a "conversation" with or about something important to you.  I have always wished that I could just sit with Vincent Van Gogh and watch him work, letting him know that what he was accomplishing was more powerful and revolutionary than he realized.  I would never presume that a genius of his caliber would answer my questions, so I did the piece in a slightly different way.

As I look upon your world
of twirling, swirling, dancing skies
created by such magic sight,
a land that only you could see.

I want to come inside that place
of saintly faces plowing earth,
as cypresses reach heavenward
with beseeching limbs unfurled.

Where did you find a palette pure,
That no one else had ever seen,
of greens and blues to make us weep
and golds to take our breath away?

Where sunflowers within a vase
scream of their captivity,
and crows escape to fairer lands,
outrunning their mortality.

How did it feel to be so trapped,
within this solitary life?
Dismissed by lesser, duller men,
convinced the world was only gray.

You had a voice they could not hear,
a language foreign to their ears.
A prophet no one hearkened to,
their hooded eyes could never see.

How I wish you could be born again
into this time of instant praise,
where here we celebrate the new,
And worship to your painted face.
(Van Gogh's work has always seemed like like the most beautiful melodic poetry to me, but where the lines are moved around and the rhymes disjointed and haphazard - I tried to convey a bit of that while writing this piece.)

June 24, 2010

Please Don't Be Angry (BTP#8)

Instead of using the exact idea of the prompt at , (not knowing how to write about a topic) I took it to a slightly different to find the right words to TELL someone something negative when it's absolutely necessary without causing a bigger problem...(Isn't this something we all struggle with from time to time?)

How do I tell you
without invoking a stoning-
or acrimonious torrent
of off topic vitriol?

I don't think you're stupid
(maybe slap-dash or lazy)
but that's something I'm used to
like traffic or television.

If it wasn't so blinding,
like a huge neon billboard
forcing my focus
and ruining the view.

Or if this had happened
on your own desert island
and not thrust hard upon me
like some prison tattoo.

I would not have to tell you
that the chaos you created
while refusing assistance
must now be demolished....

along with our relationship.

June 17, 2010

Broken (BTP#7)

This week's prompt over at was a "Wordle" or list of words to incorporate into a work of poetry.  I managed to use most, but not quite all...

Starving for praise,
for empathy,
for tenderness,
craved as mother's milk,
yet unfulfilled.
Resentment grows
thick tendrils,
until blotted dull
through time
and hopelessness,
 these frozen stars-
once beacons of belief,
 now unforgiving,
dark and
can receive no comfort,
and impart 
no warmth.
Sorry to be so very dark, but that is where the "wordle" words took me; I thought of a child not having their emotional needs met, and what the result so often is. (ps: the above photo reminded me of a cocoon being unwound)

June 10, 2010

Eminent Domain (BTP#6)

(Desert Destruction by Cynthia Short)

Great prompt over at Big Tent Poetry! Writing a Pantoum on something that angers you.  I had a hard time choosing a topic, I am pissed off about so many things...but here is something that hit very close to home with me.  (It could be a metaphor on all environmental issues, or surival of the strongest and least compassionate.)
It's my very first attempt at a bear with me!

The American Dream is alive and well,
deep in the desert, where no one will care.
To carve out a piece, to make it your own,
no matter what else will get lost on the way.

Deep in the desert, where no one will care,
mule deer stand watch for the dozers to cease.
No matter what else will get lost on the way,
only Man's great dominion is important here.

Mule deer stand watch for the dozers to cease,
coyotes flee, quail exiled once more.
Only Man's great dominion is important here,
nature ground down by Humanity's boot.

Coyotes flee, quail exiled once more,
to fight for survival, sanctuary destroyed.
Nature ground down by Humanity's boot,
The American Dream is alive and well.
Directly behind our home (which my husband and I have turned into a wild animal sanctuary with many places to build dens and nests, plenty of plantlife to graze on and a constant fresh water supply) some new "neighbors" bought 12 acres of native mountainside and then proceeded to completely rip off every bit of vegetation in a failed attempt to cut the mountain completely down.  They hit solid rock, so eventually gave up once every bit of soil was taken off the hillsides.  Now, nothing will ever grow there but the most determined tumbleweeds, and all the animals who called that mountain their home will have to attempt to live somewhere else.  Our hummingbird "nursery" has been totally destroyed...this breaks my heart. 

June 03, 2010

Calgon (BTP#5)

(Photo courtesy 

The title refers to an old commercial for a woman's bath product who's catch phrase was, "Calgon, take me away!"  The rigid 8 syllable lines and rhymes within the piece are there to give it a traditional, forced, and dated feeling; a subliminal way of showing how trapped we can be by expectations in our lives, and how hard it is to break out of a rut into something new...

One day I’m going to run away,
and shed my skin of must and should,
throw off  layers of who I am,
and stop this circumscribed cliche.

There’s no importance where I land,
it doesn't matter what I find.
To just exist in some new way,
where nothing's ever been pre-planned.

Where I can be some other me,
and only dream of my desires,
while re-inventing future days,
into some unique way to be.

I won't do anything the same,
but break each habit that's ingrained,
to just revise myself into,
an empty slate without a name.
As someone who has spent her entire life in the same small town, under the watchful gaze of those around me, this has always been a fantasy...


May 27, 2010

The Strong, Silent Type (BTP #4)

The week's prompt was to write about an aphrodisiac...YIKES! 
This piece is quite personal...but luckily, the only aphrodisiac I need (as of yet) is written about below. 

It starts with just a simple glance,
a sideways tilt; his cheshire grin.
One eyebrow raised in beckoning,
his rumbling laugh
from deep within.

Then I may glimpse within his stare,
a magic mirror where I can
now see myself as he still does,
young, taut, un-scarred
by all the years.

That starts this old and tired heart,
to fire once again like new,
and feel a warm, soft moistening,
like custard melts
in summer’s sun.

His quietude in which I’ve lived,
through decades past and still to come,
now broken by one simple line,
a finger crooked,
and rasped, “come on”.
.(We've been together since 1972...)

May 21, 2010

War Within (BTP #3)

(fish scales courtesy of Photobucket)
There were some really interesting words in the prompt this week.  At first I used a majority of them, but they didn't make it through my "slash and burn" editing!  They did remind me of a theme, one which is a recurrent one with me...

Resistance is futile.

I doff my scales with my convictions-

all lay crumpled,

shed like armor,

-my caparison-

that once guarded me from

every hurtful word,

or fondled loving touch.

As finally I capitulate,

remove each barrier to closeness,

 I still retain

one small and tender bit,

-my protection-

folded gently,

and hid within some sacred purse

at rest within my silent heart.
This theme of protecting oneself from hurt and suffering by not letting go and being full open to others is something I struggle with daily.  It is a learned response.  (Writing poetry has really helped me with this...)

May 13, 2010

Where Did He Come From? (BTP # 2)

(photo of volvox algae courtesy of Martin B. Short PhD)

Although I found the words below almost immediately, I gave up trying to use them in a poem after about ten tries. Instead, began to remember who I got them from. It is by no means a great work of poetry...but it's written with love.
aqueous flagella amorphous polynomials
advection velocimetry quadratically
peclet volvox

When contemplating this word spaghetti
I find myself in awed amazement
on some small snip of boy I birthed.
Who’s nose I wiped,
and forced to bathe,
and eat broccoli without Cheez Whiz.
Who hated sports,
was scared to death of aliens,
and the theme from "Unsolved Mysteries".
Who collected leaves and rocks and
shells and bits of interesting nothing,
and shot out all our windows
with his b.b. gun
while pretending to kill aliens.
To think this stubborn, odd, and funny child,
with all his quirks and wild imagination,
could grow into a man that would
use these words quite casually
in daily conversation.

I found these words in one small section of my son's doctoral dissertation, entitled "Fluids, Form and Function: The Role of Fluid Dynamics in the Evolution of Stalactities, Icicles, and Aquatic Microorganisms." His dad and I continue to marvel at how a boy from a very small town, born to very average parents, could end up with the mind he has. (We believe he was abducted by aliens!)

May 06, 2010

The Show Must Go On (BTP Prompt #1)

This poem is for anyone who ever felt they didn't "fit in", hated pretending that they do, - or thought themselves trapped by others expectations.

While preparing my entrance-

(a nightly performance)

with stones in my gut-

(and dispair in my soul)

in a ridiculous costume-

(so no one can see "me")

and a greasepainted smile-

(to pretend false emotion)

then under the klieglights-

(for blinding interrogation)

and cacophonous music-

(that mocks me so cruelly)

I scamper, cavorting-

(though I'd rather run screaming)

while invisible strings-

(like some marionette)

tug me this way and that-

(in a fool Punch & Judy)

to wild applause-

(from the rubes who surround me)

who I've fooled once again-

(into believing I'm human.)
This first prompt from "Big Tent Poetry" asks us to write in the persona of someone in the circus. To me, this was quite easy, as I feel my life can be quite circus-like at times! Mostly I enjoy it, but underneath is always some very conflicted emotions. I tried to touch on that here.

April 22, 2010

The Hell of Spring

They’re at it again. As the first light warms over the mountains, (about 5 am), the cacophony begins. No one sleeps through this, as it commences right outside out bedroom windows. Our own personal marching band we like to call the “Peeps”. This is the name we have given the small, nondescript brown birds that have claimed our back porch for their own. We named them “Peeps” for several reasons. First being, we cannot find a picture of their species in our “Great Big Bird Watching Book for Old People”. John says they are “house martins”, although as far as I know, that species only exist in his mind. I personally think they are some type of noisy flying rat. But the main reason for the name is that this is the constant noise they make, louder and more mournful by the second. It really isn’t “peep”, but more like a “peeeeeeeeep”, the saddest (and most irritating at 5am) sound you will ever hear.
They found a perfect spot to raise their offspring; a corner porch pillar with a nice, large top (aka/design flaw) that will accommodate a big, roomy nest for a passel of babies. We know it’s coming early in the spring, when Mom and Dad Peep start bringing in twigs, dried grass, and various other pieces of nature that they hold together with mud. Yes, it is interesting and the wonders of nature and all that stuff, BUT, they really don’t like for anyone to be around while they complete their task. John and I, being the tenderhearted fools we are, leave them to it.

This is difficult, as it is by far the nicest place to sit and enjoy our Arizona weather. Shielded from the sun and wind at all times, (something I am sure the peeps took into account when shown the property by their real estate agent), it’s also right beside our pond, so it is a perfect fish watching spot.
Once their home is complete to their satisfaction, usually after some tear down and re-model, comes the laying of the eggs. Mom and Dad take turns sitting on them and this is a relatively nice but short respite between the angry building phase (I sympathize, as I have had many angry building phases myself) and the “screaming mee mee” phase. Once the eggs hatch the nightmare truly begins. Those chicks are insatiable eaters! Mom and Dad are on the go nearly around the clock, hunting, gathering, and bringing back copious quantities of food, for those gaping little yellow mouths. If we humans DARE to actually sit on the porch, or even walk by casually, the parents sit, with food in beak, and begin their wail. “PEEEEEEP, PEEEEEP, PEEEEEP,” they cry, over and over, never giving up until you go far away, promising never to return, and leave them to their important task. Sometimes they become so angry with us, you can almost hear them gritting their little birdie teeth. If you can manage to hide and watch, when they alight at the nest, the new little screamers begin their high pitched chirping, which makes you hold your ears and run to safety.
We then delude ourselves into thinking that it’s almost over. But that is not the case. It just goes from bad to worse. After all, the darling little babies have to learn to fly, don’t they? Here is where the
Peep parents first demonstrate the concept of flight to their moronic children and then coax (with many peeps) or basically toss their babies from the nest. Down they come, onto anything in the vicinity, perching like a drowning man clinging to a broken board. THEN the peeping begins in earnest. The parents peep at the babies, to try to cajole them into leaving the safety of their perch.
The babies, now teenagers I guess, do what all teenagers do, which is argue by massive quantities of peeps that “I do NOT want to fly away and YOU can’t make me!” Unfortunately, this goes on for several days. The teenage peeps flit from one piece of porch furniture to the next, all the while wailing pitifully, and leaving copious deposits of peep droppings.
Suddenly, due to the magic of nature and the juvenile delinquent peeps empty stomachs, (as the parents have finally had their fill and quit supporting their lazy good for nothing offspring), they finally take off. HURRAY! We have our porch back! Much dancing around and popping of champagne corks. But we celebrate too early, because just as soon as this little batch of hell on wings fly away for good, Mom and Dad Peep (who must be Mormon) get empty next syndrome, and the whole nightmare begins again!
(I wrote this short essay last spring after our yearly miserable "peep" episode. Since then, a dear old friend was able to tell me the species of our precious little parasites - Says Phoebes If only she could tell me how to introduce birth control into their systems!)

April 05, 2010

Sea Breeze

(photo courtesy of Photobucket)

On a VERY few days a year, in this land-locked desert where I live, suddenly the winds change and bring up the wonderful feel and smell of the Gulf of California, over 300 miles away. On those occasions I am transported…

Within this arid desert home,
of sagebrush, dust
and creosote,
on days so rare they might be dreams,
the wind delivers some wild gift.

Upon each waft, each drift of breeze,
floats thoughts of waves
and tropic spray.
Faint taste of salt to kiss your tongue,
and kelp’s long arms caress your face.

Breathe deep and you can smell the sea,
with sun drenched sand
and rustling palms.
As dolphins call to beg you “come”
Then in your mind you fly away.

March 31, 2010

Homage to Edgar (RWP # 120)

(Gathering by Alice Popkorn)

Upon first glance, this prompt photo brought to mind all things Poe (and strangely enough, "The Addams Family"). So I took the dark theme developing in my mind and ran with it. It needs more work, but I am very tired of all the gloom. (I think I'm ready for some butterfly, flower, and sunshine prompts!)

The ravens watch,
the ravens wait,
in inked repose,
with shrugging wings
and beckoning beaks,
patiently, patiently.
Through wailing winds
and bagpipe's dirge,
as violets paper
frost rimed ground
with cloying melt.

The ravens watch,
the ravens wait,
guarding against
the carrion birds,
throughout a battle
hard fought, yet lost.
The soul finally
it’s morbid home,
to be escorted
to parts unknown.

March 24, 2010

The Big Bang (RWP #119)

"Consider the fact that, before people can meet people, other people need to meet people just to create the people who will one day meet, fall down and sometimes make other people who will one day meet people. Follow the trail into the future and the line never ends. Head in reverse, you eventually arrive at the first meeting of seed and soil." Dave Jarecki - (Read Write Poem prompt #119)

This part of the prompt struck a cord with me, as I just had a recent conversation about existence, procreation, and all things in between. This piece may not follow the prompt idea to the letter, but it sure got my mind working...(below the poem you will find a more detailed description of the conversation I had.)

From those brimstone prophets,
concrete in their message,
entrusted to them and
their fathers before,
to smug-lipped scientists,
with reams of equations,
pumped full of their knowledge,
and insistence to share.
While banging their fists,
they duel over theories,
but each is just worthy
of a bare, passing glance.
For no one that sure
should be quite believed in.
Have only they been anointed
with miraculous answers?
We each possess our own gift,
to be sure as those sages,
or happily spend our lives
and exist for the questions.
For beneath each small slice
of a star-shot night,
lies every wondrous,
astonishing truth.
Just empty your mind of
your crammed in convictions,
embracing amazement
within your heart.
Be free to fly, to imagine,
and open childlike eyes,
Then quite simply,


Last week my 8 year old granddaughter started asking me the "BIG" questions...what came first, the chicken or the egg? The seed or the flower? Were there other people on other planets out there somewhere? Did I think God made the world or was it just some lucky accident? I told her no one really knows or ever truly can and the best thing she could do is think these things out for herself, (which is what her grandma is STILL doing), and that sometimes the quest for knowledge is the greatest gift.

March 10, 2010

Siren Song

(photo courtesy of Photobucket)

I had a devil of a time trying to figure out this prompt idea with it's "hinge" (having a sharp, divisive change within a poem). Here is my feeble attempt I left out most punctuation on purpose, hopefully giving it a seductive, whispering quality. Tell me if you think it works.

On a soft, warm evening
with dew-slicked grasses
and heat lightning flashes
adventure’s afoot
for anyone willing
to see with night eyes
and hear crickets fiddling
buzzing and teasing
“come on, come on.”

Through dark passageways
of tall tasseled cornstalks
their leathery leaves
slap small tanned legs
while toads trill tales
to speed the way
and fireflies wink
their magical code of
"follow us, follow us.”

To a stream-side black
with a thick sludgy mudbank
and tangled-web willows
full of night owls cajoling
while the moon slyly beckons
upon irresistible waters
so quietly lapping
as the bullfrogs beg
"join us, join us.”

On a fog-shrouded morning
through torn, trampled cropland
with barking hounds leading
the morbid parade
of stoic-faced searchers
near a dank, filthy ditch
with it’s unwanted knowledge
and a mother that whispers,
“please no, please no.”

When very small, I was told the precautionary tale of another child who wandered away from her family one summer evening to be found drowned in the small ditch behind the cornrows. That story did it's job, as I never strayed from where my mother could see me. I've often wondered what the "Siren Song" was that lured that other unfortunate child. That is the inspiration for this piece.

March 03, 2010

The Movie in Your Head (RWP #116)

(Charon by H. Koppdelaney)
I was quite taken by this painting. It had such a dreamlike (nightmarish) quality to it. As I have been plagued throughout my life by extremely vivid dreams, I went with that scenario.
In dreamtime

muddling thoughts
carouse and dance
drowsy minds
as childlike
chimera of
gentle, swirling magic
float upon softly
lapping waters.

soon to melt and
into a manic carnival of
throat-choked panic,
blood-drained fear
as demons guide
your empty screams

In dreamtime.


February 23, 2010

Branches (RWP #115)

(photo courtesy of Photobucket)
This prompt suggestion to compile lists of what we do believe or not believe was quite interesting and soul searching. Upon examining both my lists it gave me an idea to take one of the things I believe in (commitment in a relationship) and turn it into a negative. Here is what I came up with.

Like young green willow
you’ve woven in-

twining amongst and
piercing through,

each organ, breath
and thought, until


I’ve mastered ways
to navigate

within these bonds
and carve

small freedoms
within my cage.

February 10, 2010

circa 1972 (RWP #113)

(Interior of 1968 Ford Bronco courtesy of Photobucket)
This prompt took me WAY out of my comfort zone! Not only is it written in a style I don't usually attempt, this is my first real sexual poetry (as to me that topic seems beaten to death). So...I decided to throw off my shackles and be glaringly honest in the spirit of this "cleansing" prompt.
PS this is dedicated to the one I STILL love...

Ready for anything
in a dust plastered Bronco,
two of the "uncool"
play grown-up
on a star-soaked
desert night.
Steamed up windows from
sweat-slick fumbling
as "Tupelo Honey" plays
for a brown-eyed girl.
Apple wine tongues
teasing - searching,
as blue jeans
twist and bind.
Damn gear shift
and concrete armrest.
Awkward giggles as
Toes curl
into cold naugahyde.
It’s all too perfect-
shame can wait.
(Tupelo Honey & Brown-Eyed Girl were our two favorite "make-out" songs...thanks, Van Morrison...)

February 03, 2010

Traveling (RWP #112)

This week's poetry prompt was to use a "narrative wallpaper". The thought of walls took me to lights from cars shining on them and it was a good jumping off point...

Headlights scan dark bedroom walls,
as tires roll
and engines growl.
Those wheels will take them far away
and leave me trapped- I cannot flee.

To make escape, to run away,
I fantasize, and float above
into each cold and blinding beam.
I am absorbed and trail along
to better worlds with kinder things.

There is no fighting in these dreams,
just calm, soft smiles
and gentle arms.
A caring place of quiet warmth,
all "Happy Families" in those cars.

Returning from my reverie,
to the never-ending nightly brawl
of ignorance and selfishness,
I build a tent of my resolve,
and grow a shell around my heart.

January 28, 2010

The Throne (RWP#111)

December 21st, 2007 #25 by Sepulture (Mood Disorder)

Upon first seeing this picture, I had the immediate thought that it's central figure saw something much more than a broken chair. There seemed to be something darkly reverent about the entire composition… this is where it took me.
(thanks to singer/songwriter Mark Chestnut for the words, "broken promise land"...they have haunted me for years.)

A far expanse of nothingness,
baked bare earth, no comfort here.
Miles ahead toward dreams of sustenance,
in this, a broken promise land.

As weary travelers wander past,
each lost within their troubled minds.
Few notice else but their own road,
blinders focus each ahead.

A few may turn with questioned thoughts,
upon one straggler kneeling there,
long throughout the heat of day,
and into dusk and still of night.

They cannot see his focused gaze,
or understand his rapturous face.
His knowledge and blinding clarity,
to commune in silence and in prayer.

With deep resolve and steely spine,
locked in a struggle none can win.
To argue help and reasoning,
with One impervious to pleas.

This warrior with unbending soul,
determined never to concede,
but bestow his life to beg release,
for all the cattle who cannot see.

(Yes, it's a bit melodramatic...I think the news of Haiti was in my subconscious.)

January 20, 2010

The Gift (RWP #110)

(photo courtesy of Photobucket)

This week’s prompt left me with lumps on my forehead (from banging it on my desk!)
Here is what I came up with...

She wore her heart as a new spring blossom
Held gently in an open palm, ready,
Childlike, with all the best intentions.
Her gift, some small thing, yet significant.

Like all blooms, ultimately withering.
Colors fade, pollens dry and blow away.
Still she waited, now tentative; her eyes
Wavering, showing fewer tomorrows.

At last a taker. Not as first prayed for,
But a callused grasp; rougher, unequal.
No handsome prince; an honest offer still.

The contract sealed, a future now entwined.
Made to forget her dreams so innocent,
To live a life she truly never chose.

I had my “fluent in French” daughter-in-law choose a poem, (A Une Femme by Paul Verlaine), which I could not make heads or tails of! None of the words sounded even remotely like English (except one line I transliterated into, "My pendant contains egg salad"). So instead I chose to use the poem's structure, and as the French (to me at least) seem to be all about “amour” and yet seem so jaded about it, that thought gave me the idea for this piece.

January 14, 2010

Lost (RWP #109)

Something BAD happened with my blog and my original post of this poem was it is again in all it's bleak and morose glory.

To wait deep in silence
toward such things unseen-
pining for some minute
manna of hope and praise.

To pray for salvation
through sorrowful depths-
slope shouldered, now broken
flesh sundered from spirit.

To surrender, finished
to that slithering beast-
with syrupy poison
your soul now becomes stone.

January 06, 2010

Tick Tock (RWP #108)

(photo courtesy Photobucket)
No longer owning an actual dictionary, I instead used a few novels to randomly pick out words that interested me in a reverse alphabetical order. Then, since I am not one to follow directions very well, I scrambled them to MY liking!

Fickle Time.
ruthless, relentless.
electing when
to raise its
omnipotent head
and demand true

All but forgotten,
its sluggish trudge
becomes a
speeding train,
-wild and brakeless-
whistles blaring,
stopping for no one.

Anxious wait;
beloved loss;
unrealized dreams.
The ticking tyrant
chuckles, smile affixed,
quietly whispering,
“Pay attention”.

(the words I used were: whistle, trudge, servitude, ruthless, quiet, omnipotent, fickle, beloved)