would you have trusted me more if I’d known about fingertip sparks and fluttering hearts?
or if I’d really looked at tiny pencil drawings on matchboxes and folded paper napkins?
you’d pass notes I didn’t understand— messages scrawled on scraps of paper palm to palm
rainbows hung around your pretty neck; delicate lovely things refracting light into everything you did
you left without goodbyes—fleeing rejections spurred by fevered religious hate disguised as family love
you drew naked ladies in Paris seeing worldly wonders dreaming nightly with fingertips stained black
floating down stone steps in tailored suits you charmed everyone with your soft blue eyes
returning home sick, thick sketchbook under heavy arms we talked about everything but the truth
you left without me seeing you kiss your lovers, pink-skinned blushing on ornate bridges
or watching you dance under moonlit skies with flowers tucked into your fluffy blonde hair
driving nowhere we sing with windows down, wind blowing tangles into your fluffy red hair
I sense something brewing behind quiet lips, fingers fidget with your many bright silver rings
with a trembling voice, you say you like girls—scared of rejection bare legs shake
you’ve known since kindergarten, but it wasn’t something you wanted to explore or talk about
honored, I listen to your deeply held sacred truths; as you discover who you are
my old friend breathes words of comfort through me helping me ease your coming out
grabbing soft hands tightly, I squeeze three times letting you know my love remains unchanged
balancing stone words we build together walls to fight against those who would seek destruction
inked drawings, musical explorations, the Heartstopper you share everything with me, showing me the way
crying at pride, past present swirl promising to do better armed with free mom hugs
In honor of Pride Month, I dedicate this poem to a dear high school friend who died of AIDS and my beautiful daughter who trusts me with her truth. I reference the show “Heartstopper” on Netflix and can’t recommend it enough for its sweet portrayal of love. Happy Pride Month!
unable to move I gasp, turning tumbling down rabbit holes meant to not be remembered at dawn
Pulling up behind my darkened house in their shiny black El Camino, bass booming—a thunderous storm descends upon my unconscious fragile form. I don’t hear their footsteps as they scribble scramble through the muddy murky darkness toward sleeping me.
wondrous whispering willows lean in to reveal secret truths, sacred words hidden behind the cloudy half-lit moon
Steadfast friends, The Sand Man and The Grater share midnight missions of messy madness. Sneaking in at night’s exact middle, they come silently ruffling my soft, warm blankets. Unknowing, I am fully helpless to the whims of these nighttime lurkers.
when did missing sunshine turn my insides colors, making a mockery melody moment within my comfy covers
They simply divide and conquer, each moving around my room to deliver their own precise brands of nightly justice. The Sand Man sprinkling dream dust into closed eyes, invoking silky soft dreams of rest, while his counterpart sharpens his claws.
don’t be afraid little ones they say as monsters lurk under billowing bed sheets with cutting wits
I’ve never seen The Grater’s form, but I’ve felt his silver touch as he comes to dance with my worries. It seems rather unfair he’s allowed access when the doors and windows are so carefully locked with shiny brass deadbolts.
nothing blends into something, twist the knob, turn the handle, flip switch after switch without the keys
He presses his shiny sharp grates into whatever skin he can reach, slipping under the quilted comforter held tight by my sweaty fists. The words come with him—frightening little whispery repetitions singing songs of my insecurities/fears with feverish unrelenting cruelty.
he’s never coming back to you you’ll be left alone with dark silent shadows under creaking floorboards
The Tooth Fairy has seen his lumbering shape peeking out from the sheets—flashing silver eyes and sharpened talons. She folds her transparent wings tightly together, snatching at long ago lost baby teeth—forever forgetting her pouch of golden coins.
shivering, shaking, my body fights back but movements do nothing to protect openings—internal portals of pain
Heaviness, his tell-tale calling card, will linger around me when I finally fully wake from the night. Throwing off blankets, I yawn as the echoes of his work stick tight on red, raw skin. Failure feels immediate and imminent.
tomorrow always comes without command or permission, blasting hazy new thoughts refracted backward, inward, outward toward light
Breath deeply. Stretch. I mustn’t stay still for the poison will set and I’ll stay in bed. Fight to the shower to scrub the sticky words off with fragrant suds, washing his work down silver drains back to the darkness.
shake awake fingers, dance to life toes, and say farewell to nightmares until fractured, the moonlight returns
The Waldorf school my daughter graduated from last week names each class after a tree. That tree becomes the class name, a symbol to rally the class together and form them into a cohesive unit. I wrote this poem to honor her teacher and the Linden tree class. The image was drawn on the chalkboard by her lovely teacher on their very first day together. I hope you enjoy it.
Under the Linden Tree
I. Branches and Leaves
Swept forth into the strong branches of the Linden tree, you call out “look at me” and “it’s not fair” straining to be heard among the others. Within your fellow heart-shaped leaves you found symmetry, serrated edges—your pointed tips sharpened by your proximity to magic.
Noisy bees circled, drawn by your sweetness, your softness transformed by storms into hardened beauty carved into any form you like. Tilia, basswood, lime— your names ring out like justice and peace dancing around the base of graceful towering magic.
Seasons danced happily through your green leaves, braced together and held firm by the juggling trunk’s deep roots far deeper than any tempest could shake. Tiny creamy yellow flowers burst forth in bundles, hanging tight to the tree with ambrosial scented, delicate magic.
Youth green fullness, brash and vividly bold, gave way to golden autumn’s crisp firmness curled tight together clinging on for one more precious moment. Yet, breezes come to transform one into many, flying on fitted spiraling wings from your fertile orchard, singing the forever song of Linden magic.
Blown into an orchard, banded cord thick with butterflies, steady roots plant deep in slippery soil ripe with crawling, noisy seekers crying out with “whys” and “how comes.” Beneath the Linden branches the red-winged cardinal’s two-part whistle sings of beginnings, suns, moons—ancient woody magic.
Gathered together under loosely woven branches communing and feasting wildness transforms into dancing movement. Light streaks through limbs to cover crowns as Jack Frost frolics with snowflakes as hands, melting hardness into puddles of kindred kindness. Leafy bunches become conical, balanced magic.
Ridged, furrowed scaly bark grows and smooths until shining with etched runes it reaches across fast-moving water to capture sacred geometric truths within bright colored folds. Bears prowl near, scratching fears, stretching up toward cascading waters, ravens, dragons, stones–Earth magic.
Winds blow birds nests nestled into grooves worn smooth by patient hands. Across distances the song remains strong, drawing the Linden into itself, singing melodies deeply woven through delicate leafy veins forever connected, forever entwined, forever part of sunlight’s loving embrace, warmth wrapped in bonded magic.
This week I had a clear poetry dream. I woke with the words floating around me and I managed to capture a few of them in my journal. The entire concept of the poem, however, isn’t complete. I’m hoping when the school year is over and we get through graduations and parties, I’ll have time to sit and fully complete my strange little cheese grater poem. Stay tuned.
I want to thank the WordPress poetry community. You have created such a positive and safe space. I’m honored and humbled so many have read and commented on my poems. Thank you. You sure do know how to make a gal feel welcome and encouraged. I haven’t had as much time to read and comment lately, but this summer I’ll be deep-diving into all your wonderful words. There is an abundance of talent and inspiration here. Thank you for making me feel so welcome.
My offerings this week:
Free-verse poem processing my feelings after dropping my daughter off in the woods (pictured above) for her 8th-grade trip. She’ll be fine. I mean, right? Right??
Erasure poem created from a page of “A Court of Wings and Ruin” by Sarah J. Maas
Erasure poem created from page one of “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” by V.E. Schwab
Both of the Erasure poems were a gift for a dear friend’s birthday. I didn’t get a great photo before handing them off, but still wanted to include the process and the words.
tiny increments of sand tiny toes and hands barely perceptible yet unbreakable changes everything changes nothing
wind, water, waves
latched together we begin as not two but one plus one merging all moments hearts beating, meeting together in time
wind, water, waves
tempest tantrums force skinned feelings as two become two linked by still fused hearts beating, meeting together in time
wind, water, waves
finger by finger hands pry free, move toward monkey bars and swings pushing, pulling as still hearts beat, meeting together in time
wind, water, waves
warring words rage as torrential tears fall between two who don’t see how to keep hearts beating, meeting together in time
wind, water, waves
standing taller than mother, biting hard at tethers outgrown, words sting eyes, burn places where hearts beat, meeting together in time
wind, water, waves
spring becomes winter winter becomes spring old-growth gives way to loves eternal connection hearts beat, meeting together in time
wind, water, waves
acres and acres of sand brushes between same-sized hands barely perceptible yet unbreakable changes everything changes nothing
*Thank you Chris for inspiring me to record myself reading my poetry
Painting a lie bright pale, blooms fat sunshine, idle rose lurking, open thorns, satiny hills distance—unrelenting.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 shadowy death my mother heals every inch of me
Poetry has wriggled itself inside me, leaving me pondering words and feelings for hours. I wish I’d not stopped writing so I’d be further along and far more skilled at expressing myself and seeing metaphors and abstractions. My poetry class has been a rough back and forth. Sometimes I feel excited and joyful, and other times I’m filled with crippling self-doubt.
I have a lot of work to do.
This week we did our own version of two poems, which play off of each other.
The first is “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks. We were to write a version of this poem as a writer at Comic-Con. I’m fairly certain I’m the only person in my class who has never been, but I imagined myself there. The first thing that came to mind was feeling like I don’t belong—a sense I’m not creative or real enough. I followed the exact format of the poem and found when others shared their interpretations they were far less rigid in their thinking—something for me to ponder moving forward.
For our second poem, we looked at “The Golden Shovel” by Terrance Hayes. He uses all the words of “We Real Cool” to create two more poems with different meanings. I found this exercise the most fun I’ve had so far. I loved breaking the words up and playing with how they sounded reading them out loud. This was also the most personal for me, exploring my feelings of being not worthy of being part of the creative world.
I hope you enjoy this third week of poetry. As always, any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.
Wordy Ones Lost at Comic-Con
Too much I see This bunch. See
The fake. See Me take. See
Words real. See Me feel. See
It all. See Me fall.
Lost in Wordy World
Audaciously ungraciously stumbling too drunk with unresolved dreams much too much to be with, play with, cool kids. I pretend, extend, and reach with all to see
if real me is enough. Naive and candied, honeyed this world of wordy geniuses, the authentic bunch eludes timeworn plain-Jane me, blinking un see
n. Hidden within shadows, turning, twisting off the path traveled, into deep waters where fabulous fake ery lives within the pulsing, pushing. Arms paddle to see/
sea creatures within writhing, writing to unearth a me. Screeching too late, too late, haunted—take deeper voyage under, over, pen on paper to see
k truths with excavated shoveled sand. Words uncover wily words writhing words, piled upward and upright toward some real ness. Will I, won’t I, the dance of solitary solidarity see
ing where words take, two pigeon-toed left feet, lead/lean on me. Bounded, tethered by urgent hoping, desperation—finally feel and reel and real, to uncover the sea and seethe and see.
Kindness, ambition married with martyr me, it wars, bloodied knives out, within my curving all-rounded frame. It’s mothering outward me versus internal me see
ing vast emptiness hidden in wordy distant worlds. The me to be, to stumble, slipping on words with care, for I may fatally fall.
Writers write words too big inside to ignore, much ruckus, boisterous blabbering. But I hear the calling whippoorwills, see
the creaking willows in this hollow by the sea. I fond a bunch of cryptic messages, bottles see
n bobbing up and down the waves to me, for me. Not fake pain, no, far too real. See
the version, vision of me you see, isn’t to take, no, it isn’t for you to see
at all. With my words/ weapons I become more real ly me. Each breath, see
words flow, float from me —pen on paper, the feel of all or nothing, see
me give and give, it feels like not enough. All I am and all I see—
collections of words in me. Don’t look away or I’ll fall.
I’ve fallen in love with poetry and have been reading a lot more of it. I’m inspired by the variety, depth, and beauty of the distinct voices poets bring to their works. While I’m still quite clumsy, I’m enjoying exploring different types of poetry and playing with line breaks, punctuation, and repetition.
Last week, I was blown away by the thoughtful comments of encouragement and support. My anxiety tells me those poems were a fluke and everyone will hate this week’s offerings, but I know that’s resistance taking the lead. Creativity takes a lot of courage, and I’m summoning all I got to keep moving forward. One word at a time.
This week’s classwork was to write poems inspired by our favorite books. I’m sharing three poems:
Erasure poem from the first page of “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss
Erasure poem from a random page “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” by Patrick Rothfuss
Acrostic poem using “The Name of the Wind”
I hope you enjoy these latest attempts. As always, any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.
While I’ve always admired and enjoyed poetry, the skills it takes to craft such beautiful imagery within the framework of a poem have eluded me. In an attempt to improve my writing all around, I enrolled in a poetry class specifically designed for fiction writers. We meet once a week and have assignments that I find both challenging and enjoyable.
I’ve decided to be transparent about my journey, as a way to chronicle my exploration and perhaps inspire others. Here’s the culmination of my first week’s work. There are three free-verse poems.
A poem critiquing something we dislike in genre fiction
A combination of the two poems
I hope you enjoy my first, clumsy attempts. As always, any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.
Part I: My gimble love
we were to meet near the Tumtum grove sweetest Mimsy and I in the wabe of the bright callay moon
vorpal drunk on too much gyre and honey-wine myriad dreams rollicking, frolicking singing multitudes, manxomes, moments
yet snicker-snack, quicker-quack and outgrabe you caught me instead slithy and slimy-the ultimate uffish trickster
tying my hands with rough tulgey strands behind my burbled back whispering wicked words under frumious breath
wound and wound, like ugly bandersnatches to silence whiffling cries hands and heart knotted, cold as beamish bears
you couldn’t let violet joy breathe between sweetest Mimsy and me no, not with such a frabjous, frivolous hallow heart
oh, what will become of me, dearest mome without my gimble love stuck within the fettered borgogoves for all eternity
Part II: Too sweet for me
Super sweet taffy names sticky, pointless, giant cones of toothaches you feed them to me relentless as if more is more is more confused I throw you down and you smile and tell yourself it’s me who doesn’t get you
wheels of definitions, connections turn in place while story gets lost under sideways leanings cleverness loses characters messes mess with me wondering where did the story go
where is the truth behind the many, many words names, places, movement half-light and half-truth half right don’t tell me a lot of nothing tell me all of one thing I can believe is real
where is the soul of the sweet the ingredients of the truth the messy darkness cloudy with connections and conversations the door within the door the dream within the dream truth I can truly feel
don’t just tell of deeds done action, reaction, repeat but the why and the why and the way curiouser and curiouser deeper and deeper secret journals in watery caves monsters within who fight with gospelly fingers
give me contradictions wrapped in truth make me feel something I know make me know it again with the kind of unexpected gasp I won’t, can’t forget so when I close the book your words live inside me forever
Part III: Lover, tell me more
in the wabe of the bright callay moon you feed them to me relentless as if more is more is more confused I throw down singing multitudes, manxome, moments you smile and tell yourself it’s me who doesn’t get you
slithy and slimy—the ultimate uffish trickster turning wheels of definitions, connections sideways leanings behind burbled backs messes mess with me whispering wicked words under frumious breath to silence whiffling cries while I’m left wondering where did you go
untruths hidden behind many, many words wound and wound, like an ugly bandersnatch messy darkness stuck in action, reaction, repeat half-light and half-truth—half right vorpal drunk on too much gyre and honey-wine don’t tell me a lot of messy nothing tell me the thing I seek
unwonted discovery, hidden verity knotted, cold as beamish bears door within a door—dream within a dream secret journals in watery caves frabjous, frivolous hallow hearts monsters who fight with gospelly fingers everyone, anyone stripped naked real
let violet joy breathe between contradictions wrapped in truth lost and found within the pulsing borogoves make me feel something I know but make me know it again with unexpected gasps I won’t, can’t forget your words alive inside me