30 May 2011

Thoughts of the Lady in Blue ~ A Magpie Tale

Banquet Scene with a Lute Player by Nicolas Tournier, 1625

Ghostly servant painted white,
fading into darkness,
what stories your thin lips must spill
what distasteful tales convey
for surely you have heard it all
in your insignificant way.

Utter them now , spin us the yarn
while this good lady looks at you
every one else at the table is bored
with my uncle’s incessant reflections.

Look at him there, that glass in his eye
as if seeing the maker creating
he oooooos and he ahhhhhhs
while he primps and he paws
one hand in the folds of my dressings.
He’s old and he’s cold and likely to mold
and the stench he sets off nauseates me.

Invisible one please come to me
tonight in the day’s lonely gloaming
the stories you hold must surely be told
with your peppermint breath
my throat in a catch,
we can wander until the moon rises.

A shout out to Tess Kincaid for her blog Magpie Tales.  Visit that link for more takes on the picture as prompt.

SuperShe's Ottava Rima for a Dream

A smile incriminates her sleeping curl,
as swallows dive around her just to play.
With arms outstretched she soars above her world.
She swirls beyond the life she leads by day.
Her dreams create this charming super girl
whose deeds expose her waking life’s decay.
She longs to sleep in perpetuity
evading waking’s incongruity.

From a prompt at One Stop Poetry, this piece is an ottava rima. I continued the theme from yesterday’s piece The Photographer’s Girlfriend, that I wrote from a One Stop prompt. This is the girlfriend’s dream.

Here’s a piece of the prompt:
The classic rhyme scheme in English of ottava rima is a stanza which consists of eight iambic lines, usually written in iambic pentameter. Each stanza consists of three alternate rhymes and one double rhyme, following the a-b-a-b-a-b-c-c pattern.

29 May 2011

The Forgetting

for Len

when the forgetting begins let me mumble my mumblings
when the wandering ensues lock me in our room and
love me

when my vitriolic dementia breeds quiet somber reflection
hold me

encompass me in your age spotted arms
lift me with the spirit of who we used to be
let me ride you like a stallion
when our fallow fields fade
before everything we ever were
gets covered in the grave

This is my first post at Poetry Jam, where the prompt for today is forgetting. 

The Photographer's Girlfriend

Photograph by Scott Wyden

She sighs, surrounding each
of his fingers with her own--
intertwining digits,
imagining his picture
with her
a spandex clad savior
mission complete, flying for fun.
Strength becomes her.

She spreads shock and awe
amongst dwellers behind reflected clouds.
Rising toward that crack of sky,
she leaves him behind, camera in hand,
puzzled and alone.

Surfing around this morning, I found One Stop Poetry. An interview with photographer Scott Wyden is posted. The recommendation for writers is to use his pictures to inspire a poem or a piece of flash fiction in 55 words. Without the title, my poem is 55 words, and fiction. I took the perspective of the photographer's girlfriend, wishing he paid more attention to her, than to his craft.

28 May 2011

mother me a meteor

She orbits, a planet
turning against her
striding self,
afraid of fallen angels
frolicking in yellow fields,
afraid of crying winds
whisking hair into tails—
wild things,
winding life with leaves
whipping in the gravity
of twilight’s last glow.

She envies each of the planets
and dreams herself a meteor
falling a fiery hole into Earth
free from fear forever.

She orbits like a planet
parched and pierced with
no intent and purpose.
Round and round and
she goes—
if she stops
she never knows.

This piece was inspired by words from a Wallace Stevens' poem pulled and posted at a wordling whirl of Sundays. Click on the wordle to visit other responses to the words. You'll be glad you did.

27 May 2011

to the floods

Inundate me.
Pull me into your flow
so swirling limbs become river
washing up on eternity’s shore.
Swirl me through the shelter
of underwater homes
and past the store front windows
with mannequins afloat.

Churning debris
congregates in eddies
as the river’s sisters
drop grey sky
onto Earth.
Taking me with it
to everything else.

Montana is flooding, school is ending.  The apocalypse is in the air.  Video footage of our state right now is amazing.  I've lived here over 40 years, and have never seen this much water.  It's crazy.  The amount of water coming out of the dam in my city is impressive.  One more week of school, way too much to accomplish.  I hope things dry up. 

21 May 2011


Yellow rolls down
steep green hills
where angels

They risk disappointing the Absolute
just to smell yellow in.

Rearranged angels
on the wane
lull themselves
through windows
into carnal beds

Beneath dreams
they utter words like Rapture
and dance among
the yellow.

Click on the wordle to see other people's responses to the wordle below at AWWS.

17 May 2011

Prompt for We Write Poems

The day I read this week's prompt at We Write Poems (to write your own prompt), a movie came into my mailbox from Netflix. It was a documentary called “Wounded Heart: Pine Ridge and the Souix.” A prompt arose.

Watch a documentary film. While you are viewing it pause it to explore any images that strike you as interesting to get a piece started after the movie is over. Keep your notebook/laptop open to jot down images, thoughts, single words. Include at least one quotation from the movie in your piece. In short, turn a documentary into poetry.

Background for the piece:
Russell Means
I started by watching and recording statements and images from the movie. Then Russell Means offended me, and I doubt that he cares one bit. Russell Means is one of the founding members of AIM, the American Indian Movement. They were involved in the takeover of Alcatraz, and the siege at Wounded Knee in the 70s (interesting story, that one). Means was hard for me to watch. It worries me that he can rally hatred amongst his people. I do think anger is justified, but the intensity of hatred I felt from him as an American citizen scared me, and made me think we couldn’t have a friendly conversation.

Paha Sapa, the Black Hills are sacred to the Lakota people. While this is not what the movie is about, it is where I went to escape Means’ hatred. Or possibly salve it (although I am certain Means does not welcome or respect a white woman’s salve). Having the United States’ Presidents sculpted into a sacred mountain at Mount Rushmore, was a slap in the face to the Sioux/Lakota people living nearby. Think about it. Sturgis, the biker rally runs through the belly of their sacred place. America has made the area a joke. Shame on us.


Pine Ridge South Dakota
Give them the Hills

The mountain slides
open between two cliff legs
as Jay Red Hawk’s
indigenous tongue creates trails
bracketed by sleek black braids
before camera segues to
black mold growing oxygen masks
on American Indian children
four and five years old
On reservations in South Dakota
North Dakota

23 July 1980

United States versus
Sioux Nation of Indians

Supreme Court rules
Black Hills illegally taken
Supreme Court orders
remuneration of initial offering price plus interest
— nearly $106 million — be paid

Lakota people refuse settlement,
in trust it grows to over 700 million
(Accept settlement and
validate US theft
of sacred Lakota land.)

National life expectancy rate
for Native Americans living on
the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation
in South Dakota
is 48 years for men
is 52 years for women

Indian Health Service created by century old treaty
promised quality health care exchanged for land

one dentist pulls healthy teeth
again and again
leaving rotted teeth in mouths
one big oops

lack of industry and 80% unemployment
drives bodies fueled by firewater
government surplus foods
contribute to obesity
diabetes eats lives
those diseased with alcohol
receive higher health benefits
consuming budgets
crushing lives
creating a system
where addiction pays

smoke wisps and curls
around old ideas

An angry Russell Means
pisses on the BIA
sure that I cannot understand where
he comes from he says

“Culture breathes life into us
I can’t make an American understand
because they have no culture.”
federal government
“Every American is a racist.
Be oppressed for a century or two—
Do you want to know how I felt when the twin towers went down?
Do you?”
Intensity underscores the anger in his voice.

Yes, Russell, I do want to know.
We drove you to your narrow mind.

America, honor and respect our treaties.
Stop breaking promises.

What kind of precedent
do we set for our citizens
when we offer to pay off a people?
Let us demonstrate true honor and
return to them what we stole from them.
Swallow pride and belch hope’s dazzling light.
Give the Black Hills back to the Lakota people—
that’s what they want. Not money.
Give them victory.
Reinvigorate a sense of place.

Jay Redhawk’s boys play with arrows
crafted from feathers and straight on sticks
family spirit fills a movie’s frames.

Russell Means will still erupt
it is his warrior way,
but children’s lives might improve
in the open air of Paha Sapa
where indigenous ancestors once
breathed free.

16 May 2011

Reflecting Tomes ~ A Magpie Tale

Reflecting tomes lined in rows
pages coerced together.
A collision of words lies
trapped in sequential narration.
Stories yearn for the feast of your eyes;
it is you that makes them alive.

Meanwhile, your fingers tease
and twirl through filigreed swirls
recessed upon leather bound spines.
Up to the top, your fingers drop
levering a hardbound down.
Hands caress both front and back
opening pages
dancing a story free.

I am book
I mesmerize you
I take you away from you
I open windows to your soul
I smell inky, pungent, old and new.

paper print typeset font

Once nooks were cosy places
where books with pages lived,
now Nooks diminish the thrill for kids
that a leather bound classic tome gives.

Tess Kincaid at Magpie Tales provides a picture every Monday for writing inspiration. Thanks Tess!

14 May 2011

Jebediah's Fire

Brandishing hips holstered
in leather and rhinestones
her wide brimmed hat filters catcalls,
sunlight, and Jebediah’s rural stare.

She feels him like a chimney
eking smoke up her stack.

Distant bridges whisper stories
textured with his touch.
Lost in lustful reverie
salty infusions begin to erupt
evoking an image
of her gecko slurping
sweat from her brow.

Touching the brim of her hat
she tilts it up, stops and
stares Jebediah straight on.

Before substituting one sure thing for another
she pulls her hat back down
and draws both Colts lightning quick:
twelve shots, twelve bottles shattered.

Jebediah’s mile wide smile
sets her chimney on fire.

This wordle inspired piece came from a wordle I created from three poets' work.  Check out other poets uses of the wordle words, or join the party and submit your own poem.
Click for A Wordling Whirl of Sundays

13 May 2011


if everything is one big thing
as it could well be argued
being bound in these imperfect forms
people persistently muck up the whole

we are inferior manifestations
of the one
we kill
we maim
we eat our own babies
we proliferate evil

being bound in these imperfect forms
a sardonic dance ensues

I want a drink
I want a long line of coke
snorted through a rolled dollar bill
I want Earth’s crude blood energy
I want something to keep me going
I want that damned diamond ring
I want food and TV
I want narcotics
I want five million board feet of timber
I want anything and everything
and I want it

being bound in these imperfect forms
the whole contracts and blackens
into wanton singularity
obliterating now with desire

Sadly, this is the last prompt for Big Tent Poetry. I wish I could have ended on a note a bit less dark, but here you have it. I took the line "being bound in these imperfect forms" offered up by Mr. Walker at Sadly Waiting for Recess. Thanks for the line, Richard. Hopefully my dark take on it is okay with you. :)

10 May 2011

m. l. smoker cento

navigate imperfectly

these confused blood cells
need to ask you if you have ever regretted leaving
if forgiveness were molded in between my hands
dreaming to the rhythm of horses’ hooves
but I do not remember anymore
and the last road you know as well as I do

we are the kids outside the bingo hall
my cries combust into purple flames
swallowed by glaciers the size of ten thousand buffalo

should I roll on the ground
should I say no northern fields, no distance

we might be left to discover the sound
to forget in different ways. No one notices that the wild
gold stalks trapped in a moment of wind
curse and curse throughout the night

listen for meaning as teeth click quietly together
after that, arrival is what matters most

m. l. smoker
The prompt at We Write Poems this week asked that we write a cento. Here’s how they described a cento. First gather some poem lines from one other writer,then without changing any of the content select, rearrange and assemble a new poem from those poem lines.

Then, to add to the prompt, they ask that we pick a poet we turn to for inspiration, or when we are out of poetic sorts. I chose m. l. smoker. Smoker is an enrolled member of both the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes in Montana. The lines in my cento are taken from my autographed copy of Smoker’s book, Another Attempt at Rescue. In her professional life, Smoker is Mandy Smoker Broaddus, head of the Montana Office of Public Instruction’s Indian Education department. After seeing her present Native American educational statistics at a conference in 2009, I wrote a poem for her called overflowing. Check it out if you are interested.

09 May 2011

Max Von Sydow

stone saint
with Max’s young face
tell me his secrets

let me be a stone sparrow
chiseled into stories
of strawberries,
violins, and madness

let me knight you
and ride you through
death’s distant door
all in the palm
of your hand

Tell me
stories of Bergman
On Fårö Island
where the sea
thrashes through
 a glass darkly

and I can
believe in
God through your
so blue eyes


Thank you to Tess over at Magpie Tales for this photo prompt of Saint Francis of Assisi. 

There is a sense of familiarity that comes with some people.  Some are even famous.  I’ve always felt that familiarity with Max Von Sydow.  He is a Swedish actor who got his start in Ingmar Bergman films.  Born in 1929, Von Sydow continues to act.  Early in his career he acted in Ingmar Bergman’s 1961 film “Through a Glass Darkly.” It is the story of one family’s confrontation with schizophrenia.  In the film, Von Sydow’s wife is released from an asylum, and is far from cured.   The phrase comes from 1 Corinthians 13.  It refers to the idea that people will only clearly know God when they die, until that time they see God through a glass darkly. Bergman lived most of his life on the island of Fårö in Sweden.  He filmed Through a Glass Darkly there.  It is breathtaking. 

08 May 2011

The River

She breathes as its current embroiders seaweed
through tiny holes in spirit.
Water slides beneath her.
Branches tug at her hair, snap
and become part of the flow.
The river supersedes her.

In the morning
mist rises and evaporates.
Released from darkness
she eddies,
a silver white glisten
floating on the Mighty Mo.

On Wednesday this week, the body of a missing young woman was found in the Missouri River in my community near where we walk our dogs.  Every year somebody drowns.  Foul play is suspected in this instance, but no one knows what happened.  This piece was inspired by that event, and by a wordle made up of the words of poets many of you visit every day. Look for a new wordle every week, and visit the work of other inventive poets at A Wordling Whirl of Sundays.  We'd love to have you join the group and write with us.  A new wordle is posted every Sunday night at 12:01 a.m. Mountain Standard Time.

07 May 2011

Spring Rain

Pelting droplets interact
with earth’s surface molecules
and release perfumed fecundity
while morning strides its song.

Chickadees’ staccato punctuates
distant dog woofs and
mourning doves coo
a lovely leitmotif.

Rain loosens her and
Earth becomes ecbolic
forcing bulbs to
green her flesh.

The prompt at Writer's Island was "season." Also, Elizabeth started a Wordplay. Ecbolic is word #5. ec-bol-ic > promoting labor by increasing uterine contractions.

06 May 2011

urban chickens

Cheryl’s constant attack on the others
made wringing her neck easy.
That left sweet Sheila, Gita,
funny little Francis, and Mabel.
Yadi did not have the heart for more slaughter.
Gita’s eyes held reproach,
Francis ran circles round his feet, and
Sheila shuddered on the passenger seat.

Screeching, Mabel charged Yadi.
She was the next to go.
Grabbing Mabel’s neck,
Yadi stepped from the bus
and wrung it.
Two down, three to go.

Five years earlier Randy, Jim and Pryor
converted Phil’s old VW bus
into a coop for chickens-
one named for each roomate's mother.

Since that day, Randy and Yadi
turned cooking eggs into art.
Every day the men devoured eggs.
Strata, soufflés, quiche, and frittatas
scrambled, over easy, and baked.

When the city condemned their house,
they chose to make a meal of their momma hens.

Randy, Jim, and Phil held the three remaining girls.
Yadi and Pryor sang a whacked out version
of the Ozark Mountain Daredevil’s Chicken Train
while three necks twisted then
simultaneously snapped.
The men settled in to plucking the birds
and telling tales
about these five feathered friends.

Too much wine with dinner
led to turn-taking
with sledge hammers
to bash the bus in.

Randy squawked
a fine imitation of Francis,
flapping his arms
and dancing circles
through their yard.

Yadi chanted and started a fire in the pit.

The five of them sat
facing flame, feeding it,
filling it with wood and stories,
watching one another
drum the earth
until dawn
colored the edges
of the sky.

Ten days later,
right before dusk,
the fire department
burned their house
to the ground.

From across the street,
the men watched it disappear.
Yadi said,
“If I was God,
I would be fire.
Fire keeps people humble.
Fire leaves only ash.
Fire annihilates with no remorse.”

Then his voice broke.
Yadi grabbed his head in both hands and said,
“I cannot tell my mother I ate Gita for dinner.”

This is a (mostly) true story. When the Big Tent asked us to revise a piece, I went straight to Urban Chickens. It didn't require a huge revision. I played with line breaks, changed the phrasing a bit, and did some general polishing.

Head over to Big Tent Poetry and take a gander at some more poems that were revisited this week by their constructors.

05 May 2011

Wordplay 4 ~ daedal

Dae-dal 1. intricate: complex 2. ingenious: skillful,
may imply cunning, or cleverness 3. decorated with
many things: especially natural wonders.

** ** **
Intricate doodles covered the margins
of Marissah’s mind, off to the side
where she kept her daedal ideas.

04 May 2011

WordPlay 1-3

A big thank you to Elizabeth at 1sojournal for inviting readers to journey through a word a day with her. I visited today, and found the first three words. The first piece is dark, but then, so is the word. You should go take a look at Elizabeth's word play, too.

A defensive obstacle made by laying felled trees on top of each other with branches, sometimes sharpened, facing the enemy.

abatis punctures
Ceasar’s heart, lungs, and stomach
orchestrated rabbit chase
leads to beagle bleed out

evil neighborhood boy
brewed from bestial beginnings
carves tally three in old oak tree

B horizon
layer of soil: an intermediate layer of soil beneath
the A horizon, containing some organic matter and clay

round hard shelled bugs
curl in the B horizon
protesting my work in dirt

to laugh hard: to laugh convulsively and loudly (literary)

Her incessant cachinnation raised eyebrows.
She watched her spirit fly from her mouth,
and wondered why they looked at her that way.
Could they see it, too?

03 May 2011

limits ~ we write poems

on being myself

A brick-by-brick disguise
distorts who I am
as rippling renditions
radiate centrifugally forced
fractions of me.

Limited because,
the real me
might cleft your fictions
and flash opposing
through your eyes.

Trembling, I venture out
only when the roots of trust
begin to inch their way through
those heavy red bricks.

It’s always a gamble.

Inviting eyes pull me in
or cold eyes adjudicate
and dismiss me.
Weeding out their tenuous roots,
I fill the holes they leave
with an invasion of thyme
that releases its scent
as my heart gently bruises
against bricks in my wall.

Here is the prompt as provided at We Write Poems:
What are the limits, fences, boundaries you choose to stay behind? How do they affect your choices? Do you occasionally step over, across, or slide beneath them? Is there one place in your life experience where you push beyond those limits? What happens when you do? And what do you feel when you do that? Do you make limits in your poetry writing? Are there personal taboos of words or experiences that you steer clear of? Write about limits you have set, or ignored for next week.

02 May 2011

The Beast ~ A Magpie Tale

Smoldering Fires
Clarence Holbrook Carter (1904-2000)

Columbus Museum of Art
everything I’ve ever
known is changing

smoke and flame
vent a roiling dance
out the sides of
the beast
and my baby coos

he coos
he is a soother
this one
yellow against the
two fingered fist
that holds our ending

pills we’ll ingest
before we become

merging with
the searing red flow
the beast could heave

there is no time
to leave

Visit Magpie Tales for more takes on the picture prompt.

01 May 2011

The Train Whistle: A Sestina

Whispers of revolution fall from hillsides
as Ezekiel quiets his riotous visions
straining to hear the aching message
the night train scribbles.
Praying for his people’s resilience,
praying for oppression’s end, he screams.

On this night, the train whistle screams
and Ezekiel guides his horse through hillsides.
Trembling himself, he blesses his mount’s resilience.
The stallion first appeared to him in convoluted visions
animated with hieroglyphic scribbles
that carry a fierce and formidable message

of revenge. Spreading the message
from a train whistle’s screams
Ezekiel’s black steed scribbles
him through dark evening hillsides
to disseminate his visions—
revolving, revolting, resilient:

Truth. Truth that builds his people’s resilience
through the strength in his message.
Prophecy emanates from his visions
as the deserving oppressors scream
their blood creates rivers down hillsides
and bodies lie scattered like scribbles.

He copies the form of the scribbles
pressing down charcoal resilience.
For the illiterate folk on the hillsides
a frame heiroglyphs that night’s message.
Ezekiel cannot reconstruct the night’s screams
but they live in the people’s visions.

His own people relish Ezekiel’s visions
they decipher the hieroglyphic scribbles
and thirst for the train whistle’s thrumming scream
They named his stallion Resilience
and celebrate his strong saving message
singing ballads on festival’d hillsides.

In the dark, Ezekiel’s visions ride high on the back of Resilience.
Famed and framed scribbles induce reminders of that night’s message,
and that low whistle screams, beneath every new moon on the hillside.


I've posted this at A Wordling Whirl of Sundays. Head over there to take a look at other responses to the wordle this week.