Sunday, November 30, 2014


Past TENSE -
the language of our stories.
Present TENSE -
our anxious little lives.
Future TENSE -
words we give our worries.
Simple tense -
frightened all the time.

For the mini-challenge at Real Toads

Friday, November 28, 2014

I Don't Feel Right

I don't know if I was born ambivalent
or became that way when my brain
broke in the street or my daddy
beat feet or, or, or . . .

but, I don't feel right anymore.

Joy might be a boy
dark haired and dumb
who doesn't call.
Grief tastes
like the novels
I haven't read.
I have all these signs,
sounds, and symbols
in my head;
but what are they for?

I don't feel right anymore.

My take on Corey's prompt at Real Toads

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving In Flyover

The menu skews southern,
as does the company,

gathering like clouds
in a November sky.

Football on the living room tv,
NASCAR in the kitchen -

tight, small circles
and swapping paint.

We gossip sinners from saints
while we're waiting for the crescent rolls.

We plan futures and funerals
while the ice tea brews.

Finally, it's time for blessing the food.
Grannie gives us pure, born again Baptist,

but Mama always slips
a little Native in there.

I share a grin with my little sister
and mutter my own prayer.

Oh, Great Spirit, 
work the wishbone in my favor.
I cheat like a white man, 
but my sister cheats better!


For Grapeling's prompt at Real Toads.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014


Peering at her dinner plate
my only child intones
"You have died of dysentery."

If Emily were here and me
I wonder, would she know
how to make poetry
from the beautiful misery

of a snot smeared sleeve.

For Open Link Monday at Real Toads

Friday, November 21, 2014


"Still Life with Fruit," Severin Roesen, 1852.  iPhone image by M. Bednar.

When none of the fruit was forbidden,
I tasted as I pleased,
but none of it pleased me.

It was too easy.

And when some of the fruit was forbidden,
I got tangled in my choice
for the choicest piece

and couldn't eat.

But when all of the fruit was forbidden,
I fell fast to the feast.
More left me hungry.
Less left me replete
and choking to chew and swallow
another sickly sweet
seed and slice

of rich, ripe vice.

I'm no wiser than Eve.

For Margaret's Artistic Interpretations prompt at Real Toads

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Use Your Words

A four-year-old Baby Puppy pretending to be me

"Use your words," I tell her.
God knows I use mine.
Long, stretched out sentences
with places I can hide
and syllables to squeeze between till I
get lost inside my mess/age.

"Use your words," she tells me.
"The small ones are the best.
Yes, no, stop, go,
love you more, and bless.
If you keep the truest ones,
you won't need all the rest

to dress up your MESSage.

Mama, talk like me.

For Kerry's prompt at Real Toads.  Hope it fits!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Driving teaches the shit and skin of it.

Road rage guy blows past.
By the next red light you're sitting side by side.
I get it.

But getting it doesn't grow the lotus.

For The Mag

Monday, November 17, 2014


I choked on the bones of a blackbird
you'd baked into a pie.
You pried my locked jaws open,
held me in your vise-like thighs,
and slinked your fingers down my throat
till they willowed; now they won't
unring the bell.

Star scorned ribs
Sugar skin.
Hammer heart
with the nail half in
the hickory tree dressed in a noose
swinging -

I turned that blackbird loose.

For Open Link Monday at Real Toads

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The World According To

The world according to a fly
is the picnic you insisted I
join you on
spread upon
the shores of Getsome Lake.

The world according to a worm
is churn and turn,
turn and squirm
through my eyes
buried in the berm
between the lake and the interstate.

For Kerry's mini-challenge at Real Toads

Friday, November 14, 2014

Going To Water

For every moon,
there is a dance.
For every dream,
there is a sickness.
Words are a witch's womb and water.

To fill your eyes with fire and sunrise,
face the east.
To get clean,
get naked.
To walk the wet depths,
release your father's fear of drowning.

Go under.
Go under.
Go under.

There is more than one way to breathe.

Note: Going to Water is the name of a Cherokee purification ritual.

Inspired by Freddie Mercury, Marian offers up some thought -provoking prompt / questions at Real Toads.  I chose to work with "how you think about your stage and how and why you have put yourself on one."

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bad Day

Because I'm feeling generous,
I'm going to assume
that the school counselor was having a bad day.
I'll give her the benefit of the doubt
that dragging middle-schoolers out
in the blazing August sun sounded fun.
But telling them to scream and throw stress balls at each other?
"It was supposed to be a metaphor," explained my daughter.

Lady, leave that
to the poets.


Just ran across this in my drafts.  It really happened!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Day Before Veteran's Day Observed

On the day before
our veteran's day
of free haircuts
and Main Street parades
Captain America called the cops

to negotiate.

He had taken a gun
and a hostage to
a locked corner office
with a downtown view,
but if everyone did
what he told them to do,

there was no need to be afraid.

I just want you to put me away
in a quiet place
for the rest of my days.
I'm not the man I was before,
and I can't live with me anymore.

As a grateful nation
held its breath
and the Captain's handlers
quickly left,
the SWAT team stoned
a hero to death.
Hey, all give some -

some give all.


Process Note:  I know this is really rough, but I wanted to work with it while my feelings and impressions were still fresh.  On the day before Veteran's Day, a veteran in my community stormed a random building and took hostages.  Details are still pretty sketchy, but his only "demand" was to be taken to jail so that he could spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement.  We claim to hold our soldiers up as heroes (our real life Captain Americas), but we do a damn poor job of giving them what they need when their hero work is done.

No one was injured in Monday's incident. 

"All gave some; some gave all."  --- Howard William Osterkamp, Korean War veteran

Written for (and highly influenced by) Kerry's prompt at Real Toads.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Curly Haired Boy

I caught a curly haired boy in a dream and called him mine.
Taught him history and tear gas;
dressed him down in prison stripes.
Churched him never look the devil
straight in the black and white.
Now, he strides

soft and sober as a deacon,
but I

still don't sleep at night.

For Open Link Monday at Real Toads

Saturday, November 8, 2014

If All The Stars

If all the stars
of a constellation fall

but one,

will that single star wrestle back
the black of night


Will it fire its fragment of heaven?
Will it shine in the remade sky?

Or without its constellation,
will it die?

For Grace's prompt at Real Toads

Friday, November 7, 2014

Id Witch

image by Mark Byzewski

My id witch rubs against the rocks
and leaves them smooth and wet with longing.
She works at night -
eroding me sure as sunrise

till some small thing that I've buried
in a hurried cat scratch hole
has a cathedral to call home.
I grow

more hollow all the time. 

A rough draft for Hannah's Antelope Canyon prompt at Real Toads.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Charming Man

Such a charming man
singing, swaying with his sword
lily in his hand.

Lily in his hand -
sharp enough to pierce a heart -
doesn't give a damn.

Doesn't give a damn.
He's a jumped up pantry boy.
Never knew his place.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Circus LIfe

I juggle stars and deal cons-
tellations from the soft side
of the deck.
Where there are elephants,
there is elephant shit;
watch where you step.

I once had the knees for the flying trapeze,
but I fell
and couldn't forget.
Now I order the world
of the come-after girl -
needle and thread for her net.

For Words Count at Real Toads

Monday, November 3, 2014


I tried to pass through the looking glass
and busted my nose.

I think I'm stuck here.
Don't think I belong here.

The clouds are cramping down
too heavy, too close.

There's no sky at all.
Nowhere to fall.

I'm flat on the ground.

For Open Link Monday at Real Toads

Saturday, November 1, 2014


I am in control.
You're a shadow hanging back
and recording your observations
of the sugar in my sap.
Measuring the heat
held deep in my ceramic bones.
Watching clouds creep clockwise
to make my stormy mouth their home.

You are just a variable.
You're an ex in search of why.
Record your observations.

A Flash Fiction 55 for Real Toads