Poetry: Am I Still Doing This?

Last week, I heard Neil Gaiman and Michael Gallowglass read poetry in person. Both experiences were vastly different and I learned quite a bit about why I’m so drawn to this form of writing. It’s like a powerful treasure hunt of meaning, and when it’s done well, it lingers with you and leaves its mark.

My poetry class ended, but I think I’ll continue to share poems each Wednesday. Most likely it will be something related to my weekly short story, but I’m not going to limit myself. I hope to experiment with different poetic forms and find my own voice.

This week I’m sharing six poems. The first two are ekphrastic poems written as class assignments, the second two are free-verse poems written to accompany my short story The Red-Haired Beauty, and the final two are a nonet and triolet written as an afterthought for my latest short story Playing Games.

Thank you to everyone who continues to read my blog and give me feedback. It means the world to me.

The Blue Woods

Ancient woody arms
with hunched-back shadows,
press through darkness
to where children
walk alone.

Harsh hallowed wind 
rips, tears flowing
nightclothes, while feverish
famished bears slowly
grumble nearby.

Follow the moon
with cold bare-toes
pressed firm. Ignore 
whipping sounds clawing
at innocence.

Into blinking dark
night’s warm bosom,
shaking-unsteady, my
dearests—for nightmares 
aren’t real.

*This was based on looking at the cover art of “The Ocean at the End of the Lane”

To Be Them

Mother says keep moving,
the waters can 
rise up again
in an instant,
but I want
to see twisting
wires, and climb
to the top
like kids without
parents do.

Mother says don’t question
our lot, our
struggling, fumbling life
but the faded
colors of towers
built for them,
mock me—joy
not meant for
those who look
like me.

Mother says be kind,
but they come
to hallowed ground,
our sacred birthplace.
Blood mixed soil
infused with ancient
seawater—ancestral fragments
of us, but
they do not
see us.

Mother says don’t hate,
like brother does
when we find
pictures of smiling
pink cheeks, white
hats on colorful
cars. They eat
fluffed candy without
thinking of who
lives here.

Mother says don’t wonder
what cream smothered
on white skin
smells like. Or
how they keep
clothes sparkling while
screaming through steep
dips. We know
the real danger
is us.

Mother says find things
to sell them
on return, but
the waters might
never stop coming.
She still believes
we need them
to survive. She
doesn’t see hope
in me.

Mother makes more jewelry
for thin necks
and tiny wrists,
but if they
don’t return maybe
they can drape
my thick dark
ones, and she’ll
call little me
beautiful too.

Mother cries for lost
toys crushed by
the sea. Not
me. I hope
they stay away,
in their honey-
colored love boats.
So we don’t
disappear back into
shadows again.

*This was based on an art image of carnival-type rides fallen into disrepair

Bubbles I

Saliva pools inside puffed pink cheeks as the 
squishy bubble bursts between molars, exploding 
juices down my scratchy throat. Burning it fizzles
inside; soda pop madness, sweet as jars of candy 
swiped from dark corner shops while peers sit
behind rows of school desks. Her face, the one
swallowed by the slinky shadow creature while I walked 
unknowing into the wrong silent place, comes 
now with painful throbbing to sing words I’d heard
long ago but forgotten, and to brush the stray hairs off 
my sticky cheek with soft fingertips. The thoughts of love 
once mine, unasked for but given anyway, are pinpricks
of pain, nerves awakening after pinched off so long, messages
to tell my body to really feel. I stuff more into my mouth, craving
sensations of the forgotten, much too much, but oh
how my true name echoes and changes everything.

Bubbles II

Plucked from our icy home deep within 
the salty brine of life’s starting place, we 
slumber in grains of sand tinier than eyes can 
perceive. Minute flecks of light, rays of sun
mixed with moonlight, we live far below 
scuttling claws and slippery flippers. You called us 
forth in an instant, brought by proximity
to the shadow of The Shadow’s mark upon
your soft imperfect body. We saw you weeping 
into our waters and felt compelled to stir 
and rise. We exist, persist, to seek balance 
between all things. Shifting, we move matter within 
moments with forces older than time, faster than 
light and sound. You can’t see until we let you 
the realness of your truth. The faces and moments 
feasted upon and stolen from you within the sacred 
silence it lurks behind. Teasing, we form 
into physical shapes, tempting you to taste of your 
life, plopped into waiting warm mouths, sliding
into the depths of bone and muscle, wiggling
and writhing—alive. We unleash captured memories
to dance on the surface of your consciousness, tangos 
of truth you knew but which it hid within the folds of time.

*Read The Red-Haired Beauty

After School | A Triolet

she’s waiting for me when the bell rings
faded yellow sweater smelling of home
unknown to me except in dreams, no wings
she’s waiting for me when the bell rings
my name upon her lips she does sing
with bluest eyes framed by glasses of chrome
she’s waiting for me when the bell rings
faded yellow sweater smelling of home

Mother’s Love | A Nonet

my mother knows every inch of me
her child from any time or place
we fold into each other
her arms a warm blanket
of protection from
the bad dreams of
my mother heals every inch of me

*Read Playing Games

More Poems

80 thoughts on “Poetry: Am I Still Doing This?

  1. I especially enjoyed the poem with Mother talking to the narrator. While reading, I was reminded of Synge and “Riders to the Sea,” though I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe it is the association of water with loss. Your work is sonorous, for sure.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Oh gosh. So beautiful, I love these. ‘We fold into each other’s arms.’ There is something so safe about this lovely description. ☀️

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Brilliant poems from a master poet. Beautifully crafted.

    Master my poems are boring and lame teach me how to improve. Street knowledge isn’t enough. Guide me through your process.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Bridgette,
    I found To Be Them very powerful.
    The theme of being different is constantly struggling inside me, and you highlight the feelings accurately and beautifully.
    Thank you for following Sound Bite Fiction.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh Bridgette, you have presented your poetry with some great themes that invite you into them so sincerely. What an amazing presentation about why you are still writing poetry. Bravo my friend. 🙏🏼👏🏼🥳🙏🏼👏🏼

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve read The Ocean at the End of the Lane twice. What an amazing book. And now I’ve read Bridgette’s wonderful poetry. Your imagery is remarkable. I can’t imagine your needing classes.

    Liked by 1 person

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