Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We'll Be Right Back

I've been discussing the humor and/or hipness (and/or lack thereof) of various talk-show hosts, so when Poetic Asides offered the Wednesday prompt "look beneath the surface," this is what emerged.

Late Show

Before the garbage trucks break the dawn,
before the gangbangers’ boldest feints,
I face you. I have gathered for days, and all of it
is headed straight for your straight faces.
Sometimes I fling it and the worst bits
bounce back: the mud from the bootsoles,
the stink of the swollen bags. But I’m here,
I’m decorated, because most of the time
you eat it: jaws flapping, eyes pressed shut
by the muscles that force open your mouth
and throat. Choking with it. If it all goes down,
when I retreat, the captain, behind the blue drape,
will smack my shoulder and bellow proudly,
You killed.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


KHUM, which I listen to at work, is playing a bunch of songs about Van Gogh. Here's a quick little stanza that might go somewhere.

Van Gogh cut off his ear,
not his hand. He didn’t need it to hear
what he heard: the sussuration through
sunflowers, the thud of stale bread
on cracked wood, the faint but very real
whoosh of a spiral of stars.

May? May not.

OK, boy, I've gone way off track here. I've done some scribbles, but getting to this site has proved impossible for days and days.

Yesterday, Robert Lee Brewer's blog posted a prompt: Write a sentence beginning "Don't you...." and use it as the poem title. So I just tapped out this one in, like, seven minutes. Gotta do something.

Don’t You Dream About Me

Don’t you dream about me. You got your papers;
you’ve gone up the coast. There are seven tracts
of land between us, five of which are farms
the government doesn’t know about. There are seven
months of bitterness. Things you think are secret
will be read in the lines between
north- and southbound lanes, classifieds,
curtain calls, eyes. So when you close the covers
over those bony ribs with the tiny star
under your right breast, when you close your eyes,
let your subconscious stray no farther
than those seven farms and months,
some of them guarded by triggers
that could flick in a blink.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Memorial Day

An Early Holiday

The sandwich board of the guy in the middle
of Donnell Drive proclaims:

MAY 22
Your God

If I were a betting woman, I’d wager that the date
has been pasted over “To Meet.” Pity;
that’s the important part. I would like
to meet my God, though not on Memorial Day weekend.

The truck driver next to me believes
there’s a gun under the boards.
The woman tailgating me believes
she’ll get fired if she’s later than nine.
The minivan mom in the oncoming lane
doesn’t see the prophet, and won’t
until she’s jumped the median
and moved up his meeting time.

And then no one else will know to prepare
except for Delmonico steaks, graveside flowers,
and that first purchase of oils and lotions
to save our thin skins from the sun.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Running to Stand Still

So far behind....

Today's prompt from my Baggie: "poem inspired by a work of art (ekphrastic)."

I don't have time to write an ekphrastic poem on a Wednesday. Maybe late at night, after choir practice, if I'm somehow inspired by Haydn. And I haven't done the Beatles one yet.

And Robert Lee Brewer's Wednesday prompt is "a poem about spring." Ugh--sounds easy to write badly for that one.

I'm too busy at work right now to make time for this. I will try to get back before midnight.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ticket to Write

Today's prompt: "poem inspired by a Beatles title."

I really meant to add "...or line" to that prompt, so I'm allowing myself to do so.

Publish or perish or both

Having been advised that having poems up here may constitute "publication," I'm going to start taking them down. I would hate for a little-read post of a first draft of a poem to prevent my publishing a later draft of the same poem in a real publication, but I don't want to take any chances.

Monday, May 4, 2009


I did an exercise I'll write more about later. Then I let it simmer in my head for a few minutes before unleashing this little stream of consciously metered, somewhat slant-rhymed...stuff.

the pilgrim tends his paper boat
in robes once saffron, then once white
he cocks his craft into a hat
and bends his head for waterflight
among the lilies and the weeds
he blunders, sodden as a cloud,
until he must engage his mind
and ribbony streams shake from his head
and what is paper when it’s wet
and what’s a boat upon the heath
and what’s a pilgrim when he’s still
and robes that can’t hide what’s beneath
and what is saffron when it’s white
or white when colors blur, suffuse
an accidental rainbow raise
to strike its wonder until night

and thus he has become the rain
folding his dreams into a cloud
and shaking the page onto the land
and washing wild violets onto the road

A Half-Aced Attempt

On a Photocopy of the Ace of Pentacles

The Hand of God is bowling
with a Godhandful of coin:
one coin, in a currency
that doesn’t seem

The coin is gold. The sky is blue.
What color is the Hand
of God? I’ve forgotten,
so I can’t fill it in

Down below is this random shrubbery,
a tangle of green, the most enticing image,
upheld by one half-hearted arch.
Beyond the arch are two mountains.
They look like the ones in Boulder:
sharp-edged, Protestant,
not to be trifled with.

If this great colorless hand
emerging from this colorless
cumulonimbus sleeve
dropped that big cent in an Eastern valley,
it would have nowhere to roll.

Out west
it would take out the shrubs and
the arch and maybe even
that colorless mountain.

I guess this particular God,
with his perfectly manicured nails,
is a flying Ace.


My prompt on Saturday was "justice." It stumped me. My husband suggested that I write about David Souter. That's a possibility.

Here's another, so I can maybe fill out a couple days' worth of poems (we'll consider Flannery "unprompted"):

"poem based on a playing card, tarot card, or other iconic image."

OK, that one sounds like fun.


Yes, I've fallen behind. I pulled a prompt on Saturday but never got around to writing about it. Yesterday and (so far) today I haven't even looked at my prompts.

But I've had this Flannery O'Connor poem knocking around in my head for a few days, ever since I saw someone who looked like her on the Metro.

I've been reading Brad Gooch's biography and enjoying it very much, though the busyness of my life has kept me from reading it very quickly, just as it's kept me from my poems for a few days.

My wild-minded friend over at Capitol Cougar had a thought-provoking post about this book a few days back.


"If you want to say that the wooden leg is a symbol, you can say that. But it is a wooden leg first..."
--Flannery O'Connor

I saw Mary Flannery on the escalator
at Dupont Circle. It was not symbolic
that she was going up. If she held herself
on a single crutch, under her right arm,
it was not political, but merely evidence
of the trail of the wolf through her blood.
(She might have easily supported herself
on the left, or both sides, or none at all.)
And when the long-haired messenger
on the step above suddenly flung out his arms
in a T and fell back, and she caught him with
the quick upswing of the crutch-arm,
and when neither one lost balance but
were secure at the top of the one-hundred-and-
eighty-eight-foot moving stair, it was not
an allegory--just Southern efficiency.
Now when the pigeons parted to let her pass,
wobbling, centuries older than thirty-nine--

well, that part was providence.

Friday, May 1, 2009

"Bad Fortune."

Cold Pastoral

It was a misty pool, like a primeval lake,
atop the bar, below his honey-stung lips. His skin
was dull, the last leaf of winter, under
the white sky of his hair.

He crooked himself around the heavy glass
as if to save it, a jewel of great price. Around him
moved the barkeep, placid as a doctor,
the ladies young and old whose many colors danced,
the suave silverbacks of his father’s peers,
young shining hotshots, all caught
in mirror after mirror at cool remove, not a soul
within reach of his flaking hand.

A shimmer of muscle upended the glass, and
liquid amber swirled with saliva over cherry wood,
blurring the edges of a paper fortune:
You see beauty in all things.

Don't Dream It's Over

So I sat down this afternoon and, with the aid of Robert Lee Brewer's previous prompts, some from my once and future workshopmate Joan Mazza, and some from other sources, came up with a whole Baggie of prompts for May and possibly beyond.

I just pulled out a little folded/crumpled piece of paper. Let's see what it says....

There's a movie in which a character says she got a fortune cookie fortune reading "You will never amount to anything." Come up with a "bad fortune" (whatever that means) and write about it.

OK, see you later.