Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Jonathan David

In the wet wax of the womb,
I was called Jonathan David.
It's a beautiful name -
biblical and boy.
I turned out to be neither.

From the first flower and star
of my cells in that primeval place,
I was clad in the skin
of a first born son.
My father spoke my sex
to the span and swell of my mother's belly.
He caressed and coaxed the chromosomes.
He called me to crown and come -
a reflective surface
in which he could see himself
reborn.
But, I formed girl.

My mother gave me a name
inspired by some actress or another.
It's Irish, and I've heard
it means "warrior."
Appropriate enough, considering
the adventures I've had
and the trouble I've been.
I've grown up
and grown into it, I guess.

Still, I sometimes wonder if my father
would have been able to forget me
so easily if I was Jonathan.
And, does he ever regret not seeing
that a warrior can also be
a gift of God.

Note:  In Hebrew, Jonathan means "gift of God."

For Grapeling's Little Prince word list at Real Toads.  I was inspired by the descriptions of the  foolish, narrow-minded adults the Prince encountered.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Donald Sterling Talks To His Animals: A Found Poem

I support you, don't I?
I'm offering a lot of money for a poor black kid.
I give you food and clothes . . .
A southern plantation type structure.
cars and houses  . . .
They will take whatever conditions I give them.
Who gives it to you?  Who makes the game?
Look at those beautiful black bodies.
Do I make the game or do you make the game?

Donald Sterling is the owner of the L.A. Clippers.  He was recently caught on audiotape making extremely offensive racist remarks.  The non-italicized lines of my poem are quotes from the audiotape (I've altered the pronouns from "them / they" to "you.").  With the exception of the "southern plantation" line (that was former General Manager Elgin Baylor describing Sterling's vision for the Clippers organization), all of the italicized lines are older Sterling quotes.  Hey, NBA; What does it take for you to get rid of this guy?

As to who makes the game . . . well, I can't resist . . .

Clutch

Eighteen seconds and down.
Roll the shoulder
loose and liquid.
Muscle memory
at the arc.
Sure hands . . .
and one!




And, all of the above blathering is for Helen's prompt at Real Toads

Monday, April 28, 2014

Carnivores

The schoolhouse is full of crows
and carnivores and small, smokeless fires.
Lunch is a midday lynching.
Recess is a roughshod run,
harsh as gravel on bare knees,
and I'm in the principal's office
trying to remember that I'm an adult.

My daughter slipped her cage, I'm told,
and stretched her fine, strong legs.
Someone tried to steal her candy, I'm told,
and she unsheathed her claws,
still soft at the quick, but sharp
enough to scratch.
This is simply not the way a young lady acts.
She must learn to simper and whimper.
She must learn to swallow her growl.
She must learn to settle.

The principal settles back in her chair,
and I stare at her.  I stare at the shifting
camouflage she wears.  I stare at the get-along snare
just waiting there for well-trained girls.
I've felt its bite before on my own ankles,
and I'd rather teach my daughter how to chew off her own leg.

For Open Link Monday at Real Toads

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Unkissed Frog

Sketch by Chelsea Bednar

Today, you let me go
without a kiss.
Tonight, you'll shrug at monsters
beneath the bed.
Tomorrow, you'll pass dandelions
without a wish,
and I'll be wishing 
for you instead.

For Margaret's Play It Again Prompt at Real Toads

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Jester

I tend to joke when I'm drowning
and welcome the work of the water.
I'm the daughter
you never taught to swim.
I make comedy of salt sting,
and I grin -
moss in my teeth.

For Marian's prompt at Real Toads

Friday, April 25, 2014

Fire At The Asylum For The Violently Insane, 1918

Willard Grave Marker by Lisa Gordon

 
Forty pine coffins in the red dirt -
lined up like soldiers,
lined up like sutures;
lined up like teeth in the smile of a boy
with a sulphur head match
and fists full of boredom and last straws
dry as tinder.
 
The sparks embered quick in the south wind.
Quick as the steam whistle's scream split the night.
Quick as the bucket brigades
could wet the wood walls down.
 
The boys
fought rescue.
 
Maybe, 
I would have, too.

Still editing and tweaking this one.
 
In April of 1918, there was a fire at the Asylum for the Violently Insane in Norman, Oklahoma.  Forty died in the fire; at least half were boys between the ages of ten and fifteen.  Two days later the victims were buried in a mass grave.  The location of the unmarked grave was recently rediscovered.
 
For Margaret's prompt at Real Toads.  I'm sorry, Margaret, if I failed to get as much first person as you had in mind.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Gwen

"What about Gwen?" I asked.
--- from Patrick Kelly's "Hill Country Greed"

Her lips are a coral curl
crypting well kept teeth.
Coral sheets for a slumbering tongue
dry dreaming.
Her eyes ember low and absent
in my absence, I think;
I don't speak the language.

Gwen blends in a way that I do not.
She is a peach flesh sun
orbiting my pocked pit Earth -
the universe in reverse just for me,
but if Gwen

lies awake at night worrying about worms turning
or the slow burn of blight,
it doesn't show,
and I'll never know.

Gwen is scenery scrubbed of inner life,
and coral curl lips are as far as she goes.

For Ella's random sentence prompt at Real Toads

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Love Culture

This is no place for falling out of love.
Love quotes hang like bunting in the rafters.
"We loved with a love that was more than love"
side by side with "happy ever after."
Pages of love poems paper the walls.
"I Loved You First," "The White Rose," "Flirtation."
Poets scream sonnets in every hall.
The moon murmurs slick, sweet meditations.
Throats are foot thick with love songs and lyrics.
"At Last," "Crazy," "I Will Always Love You."
Louder, louder to drown out the cynics -
"Just Like a Woman." With or Without You."
Here, you are either Venus or vulture,
lip locked deep in a phony love culture.

Today, we're working with Google search auto-fill.  When I typed in "lov," Google spit out: love, love quotes, love poems, love songs, love culture.  I used those words and phrases in my poem for Izy's prompt at Real Toads.  Sorry, Izy, I don't know how to do a screenshot!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

We Buy Junk


Image by Lolamouse or Babymouse, 2014


When I was empty and half-full
grown and couldn't stand myself
another minute, I used to walk
to this tacky little shop at the corner
of Broadway and Main Street.
Hanging in the window, just to the left
of the dusty, silver-belled door, was a sign
that still comes frequently to my mind
even after thirty long years:

WE BUY JUNK
AND SELL ANTIQUES!

Words to live by, don't you think?

For Lolamouse's prompt at Real Toads

If you're looking for Friday Flash 55, scroll down!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Flash Fiction 55 Time!

Club 55


Find the chemistry
between the hard consonants
and the lush, organic vowels.
Experiment with the explosive
"S" in a variety of positions.
Vary the swell and sway,
the pulse and pound of your rhythms.
Rhyme only when it rides just right
on the ridge of your tongue.
Alliterate,
and hold

each caesura till it melts.

Then, scrawl 55 words just like the G-Man taught ya!  If you've written a 55, let us know in the comments.  And, check out Open Link Monday at Real Toads while you're out and about!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I Come From God

I come
from God-fearing people.

From streets picket thick
with steeples.

Where prayers fill the blue sky
like eagles,

and the preacher
lives next door.

I got Southern Baptist in my bones.
Jesus loves me, this I know.

My Grannie -
when she prays God answers "yes, ma'am!"

So, how'd I turn out like I am?

Submitted to Poetry Pantry

Don't forget; I'm hosting Flash Fiction 55 tomorrow.  Doors open at 8 eastern, just like G-Man taught me.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Yellow Hair

Fingers scythe
the white-headed dandelions
and sprite the air with wishes
that seed the tongue.
A lock of yellow hair
long as summer sun -
is all I'm asking for
to braid and daisy chain the door.

For Sam's prompt at Real Toads

Friday, April 18, 2014

We Gathered Our Horrors

We gathered our horrors
and fed them to the fire.
Our skins became smoke; our arrows ashes.
Skies spilled from our open hands,
and moons rolled ripe at our feet.
Our teeth dulled down and rooted deep
into the common skull.
Finally, our bellies were full.
Peace grows wild
in fields of forgetting.

Some thoughts on peace (working on that!) for Marian's prompt at Real Toads

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spidey Sense

My meditation Spidey and a glimpse of the rest of the collection.

"Meditate
on the eight-spoke web,"
Spidey said.

"Sticky or silk is a state of mind

and grace
the mate of an empty head,"
Spidey said.

But what if I'm the fly?

For Ella's prompt at Real Toads

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Magician's Assistant



The smoke cleared quick,
and the truth of the trick was revealed;
the rabbit in your hand

sawed in half
with a blade and bath
much like me.

For Kerry's prompt at Real Toads

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Madonna In Oil

Raffaello Madonna Cowper.jpg
Small Cowper Madonna by Raphael, 1505

I am merely the bones you build on;
the canvas of complexion
where you buff and bleach this desert stone
to a paler, more pious perfection.

Where is my sun sueded skin?
My dark, oasis eyes?
The raven hair I passed to him
when I passed him between brown thighs?

For Kay's prompt at Real Toads.  

Monday, April 14, 2014

If I Were To Meet You

I'm charm
decaying to strange.
Got a smoking French accent
and a seven string guitar.

You're a darkling.
A whirligig with sheathed wings.
If I were to meet you,
I'd meet you where you are.

For Open Link Monday at Real Toads

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Two Seasons

In Oklahoma, there are two seasons:
football season and tornado season.
Spring is tornado season.

Have you ever seen a tornado?
Imagine a big, beautiful beast
with two hundred mile per hour teeth
chewing up ground, houses, towns
and tossing ten ton trucks like toys.
Is that pride you hear in my voice when I tell you
that a twister can drive a piece of straw through a telephone pole?
Maybe a little.

See, I love these toil and trouble skies.
I love the green saturated stillness before a storm.
I love the warm/cold/warm crashing devil spin of air.
I love peering hard into a rain wrapped night
and knowing God is out there
walking and leaving prints on the prairie.
It doesn't scare me
much.

When I travel out of state,
people invariably ask me,
"How can you live there?
Why do you stay?"

"Well," I always say
(to the hurricane survivor,
the smog soaked Angeleno,
the sardine stacked New Yorker)
"it's amazing what you can get used to
and come to see as just routine."

Know what I mean?

For Grace's prompt at Real Toads.  Also submitted to Poetry Pantry.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hatching Spring



I'm going to take a birdbath
and nest in the mulberry tree.
where I'll sing to every snowflake
until it's hatching spring!

For Margaret's prompt at Real Toads

Friday, April 11, 2014

Little Flowers

Little flowers
winding round
and climbing 
up the cross -

did your best
to stop your blooming.
To stay small and unassuming.
Less substantial than a prayer.
Just bones and barely there.

The Little Flowers'
Book of Hours
taught you
that your God

had cursed your weaker flesh -
made the forgetting of your sex
the fruit and vine.
So you spilled yourselves
like wine.

Long, tedious note:  Little Flower was the nickname given to St. Theresa of Lisieux.  Like many of the holy women of her time, St. Theresa practiced mortification of the flesh.  Mortification was common among both nuns and monks from medieval times through the Renaissance, but women were particularly hardcore.  Genital mutilation, anorexia, amputation of the breasts, facial disfigurement . . . the mortification practiced by women seemed directed at their femininity.  To become holy (and to attain what little power was available to women in the church) was to control and negate sexuality.  It's an idea that has taken hold and wound its way down through the generations . . . like a wisteria vine.

For Hannah's prompt at Real Toads

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Future's Gardener

Head on a Stem, 'noir' by Odilon Redon

Bring me your beautiful, empty head -
the flower from your stem.
I'll crack it like a seed egg
so you can bloom again.

Give me your petal fingers.
Lend me your pollened palm.
Give me spit and sinew;
I'll glue the future on

to the natal roots you've grafted
to an heirloom's skin.
Let me dig down to your weedy pulse
and splice my sunlight in.

For Hedge's extremely cool prompt at Real Toads

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April

She warm breezes your toes
before the grass grows green

enough to soften the winter's
scritch scratch on your feet.

She's not really cruel.
She's just sap drunk and thoughtless;

sun on her shoulders,
frost in her pocket.

For Words Count at Real Toads

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Porch Light

I fled like smoke from a fire -
rising black and curling white
into the first available stretch of sky.
I put my faith in fixed foundations.

But the earth quakes against closed eyes;
steam spindrels of dream/spite
escape and frame most of my nights
into that old farmhouse

with the porch light left on.

For Helen's "home" prompt (I wrote about a past home) at Real Toads.  AND it's 55 words for the Flash Fiction 55 party going on over at Word Garden.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Her Scars

When kick
me
sign girl
goes feral,
I

will feed her stars.

When kick
me
sign girl
goes feral,
I

will lick her scars.

Lick
her scars.
Lick
her scars.
Lick
her scars.

For Open Link Monday at Real Toads

Sunday, April 6, 2014

All Skate

Saint Ludwina, patron saint of skaters

Saint Lidwina, hear my prayer.
It's Sunday night, and Monday's there
just the other side of sleep -
the starting line of another week.

I spent the day in preparation
and making lists of veneration.
I've oiled the wheels and mapped the race.
Don't let me fall flat on my face!

And, Lidwina, keep my laces tight.
Give me balance, give me right
of way as I pick up speed;
I've never learned to stop, you see.

Lidwina is the patron saint of ice skaters and roller skaters.

For Kenia's prompt at Real Toads.  Also submitted to Poetry Pantry.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Discovered

Discovered God in the mirror.
Discovered I liked it.

Discovered the world in my pores.
Discovered fault lines in my face.

Discovered the beast is a blade.
Discovered the beauty of bone.

Discovered the beginning is silence.
Discovered the end is a scream out of reach.

For Grace's mirror prompt at Real Toads

Friday, April 4, 2014

Tramp Stamp

Send me a letter with a tramp stamp.
Unzip coded and still damp
from the wicked wet of your ca-lick-graphy.
Address it to your favorite part of me.
Scratch me a salutation.
Put your nails in my coffin of temptation.
Shroud me in stationery sheets.
Bury me beneath your scarlet ink.
Then, sign it with the shape of your lips
and seal it with a candle wax kiss.
Rain, snow, sleet, or hail,
I'll be checking twice a day for the mail.

Some Postmark Poetry for Fireblossom's prompt at Real Toads

Thursday, April 3, 2014

On Becoming A Nightingale

                The
           lonely flesh  I
  hide in   -  cast it aside
           and my spirit flies.  Tiny
              thoughts and blind fears so far away
                 the world is mine as I resurrect the wonders of 
                   ancient days that were never lost.
                      Drifting through the
                       thunder, storms I
                          create, and I'm
                             not afraid.
                                   I
                                a
                              m
                        not afraid .             

"A poet is a nightingale who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why."
- - - Percy  Shelley 

For Sam's prompt at Real Toads.  Forgive me, Sam; I cheated a little.  I reworked a very old piece. This is actually a snippet of some song lyrics written 20 years ago.  I haven't written a better description of how poetry makes me feel since.  

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Trust Me




Today at Real Toads, Susie has us writing street poetry.  "The challenge is to write a street poem.  What would you like to leave on the concrete, the wall, a light post, a picnic table, in a cafe, a grocery store, etc. for someone to find?  I had a little fun with it.  This is actual street art from Richmond, Virginia.  I just added the text.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cream

My coffee pot
is a burning bush;
when I wake up,
I fill my cup
with a Red Sea rush
of sacramental caffeine.

Then, I part it with cream.

Amen.

For the kick-off of a Poem A Day in April at Real Toads.