Challenge: For this last poem, end on a note of hope.
The cedar dances again
waking the maple
whose leaves give off
an invisible hiss
from winter’s bare skin in
red tufts that unfurl
at the speed of light
while pregnant clouds
and the grass
beautiful uncut hair
lies lush and waiting
for mounds of tight
daffodil to add yellow glee
to the scene
now a rabbit leaps in
to nibble the stumps
of stubborn bushes
and I tap this out
in the same spirit
of natural joy
capturing a taste
feeling myself melt
just a bit
into the earth’s yearning
its delicious hope
First, I feel like a snot sandwich.
It’s possible that I’m allergic
to everything, but especially to
this house. (“A booger box,” Dad
would have said.)
Second, I hate cleaning it.
What a waste of time and
energy (which is in short supply.)
It just gets dirty again, because
we insist on living in it.
Third, my back hurts,
as it always does.
My back and, of course,
my butt. Yes, I am an eternal
pain in the ass.
Fourth, it’s Friday and
I don’t want to go to work.
Don’t get me wrong — I love
the classroom, I love students and
the curiosity bubbling just under the surface
of their fake disdain, I love the crackle
they create around writing and literature —
but today I just want to disappear
into a show hole and knit another
Fifth, the dog just unleashed
an epic fart
right under my feet
and now I’m a bit dizzy (but hey
at least it’s cutting through my
hay fever daze).
Finally, I have no idea how
to end this poem,
which seems to be a metaphor
for something deeper and
that I am too tired, lazy and itchy
You can drive all night, through
black country roads, blaring Boston,
more than a feeling, or Kansas —
dust in the wind, baby! all we are is —
blank fields flanking you,
daring suicidal deer to leap
into your lonely light,
pedal to the metal, bat out of
hell, grim jawed, grip fisted,
aimed like an arrow
at the western edge of
everything you already know —
but when the sun rises
you’ll find yourself back
where you started, trapped
in the same old funky container.
Challenge: Include a fictional character, a plum, some cheese, and one of your ancestors.
Elizabeth Bennet walks into a bar —
No, that’s ridiculous. She’s in the park,
the one with the swings, idly munching
half squashed plums and brie on Triscuits,
reading Sue Grafton and trying to find
a way to sit on the old Mexican blanket
she borrowed from my trunk that doesn’t
fry her back. Good luck with that, Lizzie.
She’s waiting for Darcy, who, at last check in,
was just finishing 3 holes at Hilly Haven
with a guy he met at the driving range
last Saturday. Not too long from now,
they’ll walk into a bar and order a round of
brandy Old Fashioneds, muddled, forgetting
poor Lizzie in typical bad boy married style,
so that she, like my favorite grandmother,
will roll up the blanket, pack the cheese,
bury the plum pits, clap a hat on her head,
and march off to the river to watch pelicans
dive and swoop in formation, delighting
in their freedom and precision, and plan
her next solo trip to Italy, or maybe Japan.
First, start planning your escape routes.
If you want your freedom, you’ll have to stay
clever, secret, and silent.
Stash your resources somewhere safe
and don’t tell anyone, not even your mother,
that you plan to pull up roots.
Decide what’s absolutely necessary, and
steel yourself to lose the rest.
Say: things can be replaced.
Choose an ordinary day, like an April
Tuesday. Like today.
Put on your coat.
Forget the note —
words are meaningless —
and step over the threshold for
the last time.
Leave this place the way
a soul takes its last leap
out of the body.
Challenge: Use a random word generator to come up with 10 words to use in your poem. (The words that popped up for me today are: rhetoric, payment, root, scenario, spider, magazine, walk, shiver, contempt, copy.)
I would like, at last, to
acknowledge the debt I
created with all of this
relentless rhetoric. Rooted
in my childhood as a girl,
I’ve explored every scenario
of impotence assigned me,
and my words (black
widow spiders) have
webbed the delicate cuts
men’s magazines etch
into our female bodies.
But even so, by ten I
couldn’t walk. I shivered in
my bed, aching. Then,
fifteen, my girlfriends
expressed contempt for every
thing intellectual until I
became this mere copy
of woman: plastic, smiling,
with blue eyes that close
when you put me down.
Gray Sunday but
the shaggy cedar rides
bowing and flaring,
bending against our
just rubbing into
the budding maple.
It’s a dance,
how the two trees
sway and tremble,
singing over grass
grown, in a night,
a magical green.
Challenge: Make 2 lists — 10 things you hate and 10 things you crave. Then mix them all up in a poem.
Declaration of Independence
Like cigarette butts tossed out of car windows, laughter’s release
will set us free, free to wave our confederate flags over summer’s
bright territory, signaling to all those patriarchal gits we love so
much to dress in their very best, to invest in funky new hair cuts --
because, my friends, WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED, no, it’s our time
to blaze, to say you can’t look away from our brilliance as we
quaff ambrosiadillas by the shining river, roll naked in the grass, mad,
baring our chicken livers to a holy sun, massaging the piriformis pain
from our collective asses with its golden fingers, melting us into
glorious show holes and happy endings, knitting us together
into sanctified sand and gentle breeze and waves of love that rise up
to drown April’s bone eating cold in daffodils and lilies -- I tell you
we will surf capitalism’s fickle internet as long as it takes to spend
all our time with sacred children; we will play phone games
in “democracy”’s wall to wall construction traffic; we will lick ice
cream in the endless burgermeister meetings our enemies have
designed to suck our very souls from our tired asses -- we will devour
this their corporate shit and call it chocolate!
to all your rage, to let it
plump your veins, and be swept
high by ecstatic panic —
to let that hot drug prickle
your dull skull alive —
than to stay inside, to allow
the clouds to soak
your old brain,
to carry your dark water
in mud muscles,
and smile like a
distracted angel through
that ordinary pain.
The woman who cuts my hair is moving
The weather app tells me that today
will be mostly cloudy. Again.
My writing hand is gnarling up
with arthritis and I dreamed last night
I was once again reading books
about T. S. Eliot.
This house needs a vigorous cleaning.
The dog is losing track of time.
When I scan my brain for ideas
I don’t find anything and
if given the choice between going
to a party or
I will choose home most of the time.
The flowers are up in Chicago
but here it seems they’ll never
break through, that the ground will stay
frozen forever, the world
here smote with another ice age, and
we’re going to be stuck
waiting for warmth that never comes,
that our promised rebirth
has been rescinded, reconnection
It’s not even 5:30 AM, my windows
glazed frigid with darkness, and
the damn dog insists I
take her out.