31 December 2010

gleaming possibilities

Pieces from puzzles and frames holding faces
bathrooms with drawers full of ribbons and laces
brown cardboard boxes beginning to fill
with things from a life that never more will

Dogs run through hearts, and give out wet kisses
while snakes on the hillside share rattles and hisses
the river below will continue its spill
far cry from a life that never more will

Betrayal uncovered set moving in motion
the kids are quite certain you need a love potion
But what can you do when the lies overspill
and cover a life that never more will

When the dad lies
and the mom cries
and the dog says goodbye
Nothing is simple when everything ends,
but the birth of a new life gleams.


The Big Tent prompt this week was to construct a list poem. I used the song "My Favorite Things" as inspiration to get going on this one. I recently helped a friend pack up a life---this came from the experience. May the gleaming grow into a beautiful life.

29 December 2010

stitch me back together

Emanating from my abdomen,
hand blown zeroes whisper
infinity . . . infinity.
With soft sighs they dissipate
into ether’s emptiness
as drifting echoes tickle
the slits that let them slip.

Beneath Luna’s full light
spread gypsum on the edges of
the gashes in my flesh
to lure in her luster and
illuminate infinity.
Then stitch me back together
so I can swallow life whole.


The prompt at We Write Poems suggested we start with the last line of a recent poem and see where we go. I picked the last lines from two different pieces. “stitch me back together” is from Going to the Sun, and “hand blown zeroes whisper / infinity . . . infinity” from dispersal. I was hoping to write something a bit more upbeat today, but you get what you get.

21 December 2010

If Not for the Want of a Party

for Dave and Kate because I love you

In Italy, in a low-valleyed vineyard
Colleen Dewhurst’s laughter floats
on scents of bay laurel and candle wax.
I’m sitting at her table with Len, and Kate
who keeps vying for Thich Nhat Hanh’s time.
(She heard he likes Vienna Teng.)

My great grandmother smiles with
30 year old eyes full of stories
to waft through the air while my
children replenish her wine, and
fill her spirit with their own.

The Dalai Lama’s saffron robes contrast
the wild bougainvillea, where laughter
bubbles forth to evoke Montana mountain streams.
A seated circle of children surrounds him in the grass.
The group glows.

Holding hands and smiling David and Katie
tangle through the expansive vineyard’s maze.
Punctuating tales of grapes with frequent laughter,
love permeates each step taken.

John Kohler rides in on the gloaming.
He ruffles Kate’s hair, and they
play. Her fingers tickle ivory,
his caress a shining sax,
the fingers of others
dab at corners—at
tears that enter their eyes.

If not for the want of a party,
if not for the prompt of a want,
this party would be vapor.
Instead David’s piano appears
applying pressure to his fingertips
the keys descend, Kate’s voice rises
and moments turn into
wants that can only imagine
things that never will be.

The prompt at We Write Poems this week is to "say what you want." I want a party in Italy. Some of the guests have passed on to other places, and live now in hearts, memories, music, tears, and laughter. It felt good to gather them together for this party in Italy.

Dear Santa

I haven’t been very good this year.
Foul words fell from my mouth, and
my contact with family and friends
frittered to infrequency.
On the other hand, I reached
a couple of middle school
students who try their darndest to
resist reading and learning in the
classroom. Maybe that’s enough
to merit making my wish come true?


We were friends a long time ago.
Do you remember when Grandpa and I
saw your lights sail away in the sky?
We could hear your sleigh bells.
I was certain Donder looked our way.

My Christmas wish is not just for me,
Santa, it’s for the have-nots, the students
who pepper my classroom, who have-not
a love for good books. It is for them that I find
myself wishing.

I want a collection of
graphic novels with rich vocabulary
engaging story lines, and images
that carry readers to other worlds.
I want Lakota, Jordan, and Purple Dude
to want to read books. I want these boys
who never read, who never disappear
into text to forget that their eyes are
glued to pages as they become the
stories they read. Lured in by warriors
saving the day, and glimpses of history
shocking image and text, I want readers
wanting more. Have I been good enough
for that, Santa?
Have I?


This is my first post for Carry on Tuesday. Visit the link for more letters to dear Mr. Claus.

20 December 2010

Microfiction Monday #62

Mary held her head high. If Jonathon would not allow her to present the pig to the Olafsen’s, well then she hoped it soiled his waistcoat.

19 December 2010


Six months ago
the northern hemisphere
began its darkening.

There are some who say
it is darkest before dawn.

Last week, when somebody in her
6th period science class asked why
she didn’t just ask her parents
for an iPod, Josie Storm cried.
She later told her teacher,
“I hate Christmas. I have three sisters
and my dad died last year. We don’t have
any money.”

Mrs. Estes down the hall
is kicking her husband out
when he returns from the hospital
because he’s lied to her for
15 years about everything
(you don’t want to know).

At age 23, Miss Penny Porter’s
30 something fiancée is happiest
when receiving her constant
adoration. Demanding her time,
his controlling cascades into
suffocating suckiness. He becomes
tyrannical. Counseled to kick him
the fuck away, she doesn’t know
what she will do. She cries until
no tears remain.

It is darkest before dawn.
Punctuating bitter cold,
occasional chinook winds
dissolve snow in sloppy slush
that freezes again into lumps of ice
in the road. Slippery lines of
bouldered mountains manipulate
car’s unresponsive tires.
For brief moments
drivers experience the panic
of falling through life— that place
where Penny Porter, Mrs. Estes,
and Josie Storm are stuck.

In December coyote is howling
palpable pain through the air.
A trail of blood marks the path
where his foot sits in steel clamped jaws.
It is darkest before dawn.
Cold seals raw wound as his mother
tilts toward Daystar, beginning
to light coyote’s way home through
winter’s cold canyons. He learns
to navigate life on three legs
one awkward step at a time.

Check out Sunday Scribblings for creative explorations of "December."

18 December 2010

'Tis the Season

Otto experienced triumph when words
pittered past his stilted tongue.
Each “thank you” exalted effort’s completion
propelling Otto’s lank form into twisted celebration.

As they toured the sheltered workshop,
one of those high school girls cringed
when Otto stretched out his gnarled hand
to greedily shake hers, and the
smiles faded in his eager blue eyes.

Otto experienced triumph when another girl
further back in line, shot smiles to his eyes
then firmly shook his hand.
Tobacco-peppered spittle dribbled
from his wide brown-toothed smile.
His other hand grabbed hers,
her other hand grabbed his,
engendering joy, Otto’s eyes shined.

The prompt at Writer's Island today is "triumph." From age 18-22 I worked with people like Otto. Their joy is palpable. The small act of shaking hands makes a difference for many people. Acknowledgement brings triumph.

16 December 2010

The Dead Woman and the Mad Hatter

Live as if you were already dead. –Zen Admonition
Oh yeah, you are. –Me

The dead woman smoked Top rolled
tobacco with the Mad Hatter as they walked
through oceans of tassel teased grain.
The dead woman and the Mad Hatter
roosted on a railroad trestle’s black iron
undercarriage as their words ebbed and flowed.
She closed her eyes and she laughed
as a train rode the rails over head,
blowing over the Mad Hatter’s rant
about nuclear endings.
The dead woman’s cattle marker
in bright red spread

from wonder into wonder existence opens

The Mad Hatter called her a hippy,
and placed her in his heart.

The dead woman watched as the Mad Hatter
danced a disk sander over his old brown Sirocco.
“I named him Rusty,” said the Mad Hatter.
She relished his whacky cackling
beneath a screeching shower of sparks
sailing stars over Rusty’s silver-swirled hide.
Later, the Mad Hatter drove
Rusty and the dead woman
screaming over Montana gravel,
gallivanting, galvanizing, gathering
baby’s breath, rosebuds and skulls.

The dead woman piled bones like the Mad Hatter piled pianos.
She roller-skated circles
around the Mad Hatter’s Chickering Grand.
Hardwood gymnasium floors facilitated her flow
as the Mad Hatter’s limber fingers
set the piano’s strings resounding
between the spaces of places
that grew through their lives.
But that was a long time ago.


More about the Dead Woman and the Mad Hatter
The dead woman soaks in some story
of car trouble, the highway, a truck.
Her husband explains the Mad Hatter’s mistake
from a medical point of view.
The dead woman ascertains that he
sustained injuries beyond return.
She hears on the news that the Mad Hatter jumped.
Deep coma sets in and she waits.
She silently wishes for one more walk
with the Mad Hatter’s rants running by.
But the Mad Hatter loses the battle, and
they harvest his heart and his eyes.
The dead woman swallows sorrow’s dark weight.
She rants, she writes, and she cries.

She rides her bike to the ranch supply store
then heads to the Interstate bridge.
She crawls underneath on the iron supports
scrawls the missing Mad Hatter a message
and places him in her heart.

The dead woman wishes him serious peace, and hopes
Death takes the Mad Hatter dancing.

A shout out to all the poets at Big Tent Poetry! I've missed you. This piece is my take on a prompt offered under the Big Tent. Pieces of the story are true, but in keeping with my history with the "Mad Hatter," there is plenty of embellishment.

In my take on the prompt, I am the dead woman. Enjambment is a new idea for me, and while Dead Person poems true to form include it, mine does not. I wrote part one in the past tense, and part two in the present tense.

My friend is gone, he passed last week surrounded by his family. Forever he'll live in my heart.