Wednesday, April 30, 2014

(Belated) NPM: Lemons

The last post for National Poetry Month. I thought about posting something a little more exuberant, or peppy, but I am just exhausted! From life! So here's the last poem.

Lemons

Lemonade is the cover up story
they write over the sour moments.
They collect a basket of trouble;
they compress it, condense it,
and they sweeten it with sugar
but I swear, it still tastes like lemon.
And that bitter citrus still
burns on the way down
while the sugar no longer
knows its own flavor..
So when life drops lemons
into my open hands
I slice it up and put it in my tea.
I take a big gulp and say,
This is sour, or
This is sweet
and I won’t be bitter
because I at least
know the difference.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NPM: Foxes, Volume 2




In my search for fox poems I stumbled across two about a "fox wife." I didn't fall in love with either of them, and didn't feel they were appropriate to post here, so I didn't share them on this blog. I will, however, give you links to them for the sake of reference. This one is provides lovely imagery, and its story is engaging, but I was frustrated by the vaguely changing perspectives. The voice was also exasperatingly simple. This one (second poem/picture down) was written in response to a painting, which I find seriously awesome and would like to try myself. However, again, the voice and perspectives were frustrating.

But considering my real goal for National Poetry Month, which is to write a poem a day, I'm not too upset about being unsatisfied by the fox wife poems. I just get to write my own. I get to write one that won't frustrate me, or exasperate me. It will mean something. So, here it is. You can say you love it, or hate it. I don't care. This one's for me.


The Fox Wife

At my human heart's dusk
I was a nameless creature,
ravaged by regret and
shaken with shame.
A dismayed soul coiled,
heavily armored to deflect
with savage fangs and claws
all the world's darkest hunters.

I howled for the sun setting,
I could never stop fighting.
I would escape.
I always find a way.

Still they would call me a thief
for stealing time or light
and judge my wounded words
as a beast's deception.
I was like a burning brush
of sun before the twilight,
the last spirited sign of life
before night captures day.
I would outrun the hunter's arrows
and outshine the evening sky,
until overwhelmed by my
solitary struggle, I was caught
by the light of the moon.

I howled for the sun setting,
I could never stop fighting.
I would escape.
I always find a way.

But you would see the animal
and you would find me beautiful,
you would hold my sunset fur
to your skin and call me fox.
And you would see the fighter,
you would find a way with me,
you would hold my wildness
to your heart and call me wife.

Monday, April 28, 2014

NPM: Foxes, Volume 1



In my perpetual search for the perfect poems to share (and not just to write), I've found a depressing lack of poems about foxes. Because I just freaking love foxes. Now, before you roll your eyes and tell me that I'm just a dumb hipster obsessed with foxes, give me some credit. I've always loved foxes--okay, and cows and elephants and robins. Typically I like them for absolutely no reason, I just think they're visually inspiring, or just stinkin' adorable. I used to like foxes for no reason but now I like them for several reasons. (And none of them have anything to do with that unmentionable song.)

I'll give you just one reason: people think foxes are sneaky, clever, and sometimes "deceitful." The truth is that foxes are creative, and they always find a way to survive. As a Christian, I don't necessarily condone "deceit" to get your way, or value cleverness above compassion... but as a person who has had her share of suffering, and a person who thrives on creativity, I resonate with the idea of creative survival tactics.

So I like foxes for a reason, and I wanted to find some fox poems, and I just narrowly succeeded. Most of the fox poems I found were about hunting foxes, or weren't really about foxes at all. But I'm three days behind, so I'll share a few.

This first one (for 4/26/14) is by Ted Hughes, British poet laureate and husband of the late Sylvia Plath. I could let you figure it out for yourself, but I have to admit (and therefore give away) the wonderful and slightly eerie truth behind this poem. It's a poem about writing poems. I love it. If you click here you can actually listen to Ted Hughes reading it, and it is beautiful.

The Thought Fox

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow,
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.


This next poem (for 4/27/14) is by Jane Hirshfield. I don't know much about this poet, although I do particularly enjoy her poem 'For What Binds Us.' She also wrote this somewhat haunting poem about foxes.

Three Foxes by the Edge of the Field at Twilight

One ran,
her nose to the ground,
a rusty shadow
neither hunting nor playing.

One stood; sat; lay down; stood again.

One never moved,
except to turn her head a little as we walked.

Finally we drew too close,
and they vanished.
The woods took them back as if they had never been.

I wish I had thought to put my face to the grass.

But we kept walking,
speaking as strangers do when becoming friends.

There is more and more I tell no one,
strangers nor loves.
This slips into the heart
without hurry, as if it had never been.

And yet, among the trees, something has changed.

Something looks back from the trees,
and knows me for who I am.


For today's poem.... one from me, about foxes. Well, just one fox. I have another one coming tomorrow, one longer and possibly more fantastic, but I'm tired.


Driving Alone Through Hawthorn

In solitary darkness
the stationary moon
sweeps silklike over
your fur, swinging light
over your swift, silent paws.
You see me, I see you
and your shining eyes.
All around you the world
shimmers and shivers
because you are a red
streak against silver
and then you are gone.

Friday, April 25, 2014

NPM: Sun Tea




Sun Tea

My jar is too big for my windowsill;
my heart is too big for my sleeve.
So I put on a dress that
shows off my shoulders,
put my tea in the sun
before the day grew colder
and I'm happier than you'd believe.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

NPM: NPM

Some snark today. I need a nap.

NPM

My soul speaks in volumes
because today I say it must.
My paintbrush fingers rust,
my notebooks turn to dust.
Don't judge me.

Sometimes I write after work
but today I'm tired before.
My literary muscle is sore,
I can't force myself to give more.
Don't ask me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NPM: Practice

A poem written in the moment, for my husband, this 23rd day of March  April. National Poetry Month is quickly ending. I feel like it was swept away from me, and it seems like it lasted so much longer last year. I also believe I'm challenging myself with a higher quantity of "rhyming" poems this year, which is something I can be a little proud of. Joey probably won't read this poem (because he hardly ever reads my blog) but if you read it and you think it's awesome, go pester him on Facebook and tell him to read it. :)

Practice.

From the open bedroom door,
hum my husband's hands at his guitar,
deep and a little low,
soft and a little high,
and the sound drifts into me 
not too shallow, not too far.

My fingers at the keys here,
hands hard at work but heart hearing,
breathing deep and low,
feeling soft and high,
and patience grows within me
where anxiety left a clearing.

We will live from wall to wall,
hearth to hearth and heart to heart,
loving deep and singing low,
speaking soft and laughing high,
and time will weave inside us
until we can't be told apart.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NPM: At home.

4/20/14
Carry Me Up

When the storm overcomes me,
when with the wind I bend,
when lightning strikes my heart
and thunder is my friend
carry me up,
carry me up to you.

When the stillness is too much,
when the silence is at hand,
when my patience won't persist
and I feel I cannot stand
carry me up,
carry me up to you.

When my soul is heavy,
when my spirit stops its sighs,
when my heart gives way
and that drumbeat dies
carry me up,
carry me up to you.


4/21/14
Teababy

Teababies drink tea
where they're wandering at
in the morning dew
with wide white hats.
Teababies drink tea
when the sun comes up
and they sip up their hours
from chippy coffee cups.
They drink with straws
from tiny paper glasses
and from shiny bottles
sittin in the tall grasses.
Teababies drink tea
when the moon hangs down
and they gulp from the sky
when stars come around.
They drink away trouble
and drink away care
because a teababy knows
all the world some tea can bear.


4/22/14
Big Paper

For an artist the blank page can seem
quite in surmountable, untouchable.
The empty white sheet is both
power and weakness.
It is the whole day looming ahead,
all work and responsibility and
convoluted obligations,
or the trouble to be made--
which could be daunting, or exhilarating
but I am dauntless, and always
in the middle of an exhilaration.
And you can cut it up into small pieces
or paint the entire sheet
with one color, if that pleases you,
and I suppose that's where
an artist gets satisfaction.
God gives out the big paper
but he also hands you the brush.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

NPM: Scattered, a Haiku, and some Easter poems

4/16/14
Scattered

The ocean wave is a coiled fist
which tosses its thoughts
across the abiding shore.
From its fingers they fly like
diamonds, sapphires and rubies,
all polished and glistening
among the seashells and sand.
The ocean abandons them
like common pebbles and rocks,
flings them away for
some fool to grasp tightly,
some soul to make their treasure,
some other who has no thoughts.


4/17/14
Untitled Haiku

Listen to the sun.
It is making us lazy.
Summer sleep is near.


4/18/14
Hero

You are not unsung
but what are you to me
with two thousand years
between your death and mine.
You are not outspoken
but passion seems to be
what binds us here
across space and time.
You are not invoked
but come for the great and small,
still you hold them within
your righteous embrace.
You are not illicit
but we hesitate at your call
to forsake other heroes
and follow you from this place.


4/19/14
The Second Day

A silence black
props us up
between the darkness
and tomorrow's glory.
When silence breaks
my heart will sing
and my mouth
will tell
your story.



I'm all caught up now. :)

NPM: A lost week.

I dropped the ball this week because I won the lottery and I've been gallivanting around the world in hot air balloons and private jets, and while I was off on many adventures I adopted three children and got my hair permed and my husband and I now own a lighthouse on the Atlantic coast of Canada.

But in reality, the only thing that matters is that if I got paid to make up glamorous stories about my mundane life, I would be horribly rich. Rich enough to do those glamorous things instead of just lie about them.

The truth is that I've been busy. Busy teaching, busy stressing, busy feeling things. I've had half-written poems in my head all week but not a spare minute to write. I owe this blog 5 poems, so we'll see what we can do tonight.


4/14/14
Secret-Stealer

The shuddering wind 
owns no windows or doors
but howls them all open, just the same.
It is a secret-stealer
and a whispering danger
occasionally stopped by strong walls.
You can bundle in coats,
seal your house up tight
to keep yourself safe from its grasp.
But the beggars and lawyers,
prayers and cheaters,
all have words they wish would blow away.


4/15/14
Demands

Cinnamon sunrise, reddish brown
cracks the edges of our morning.
Sharp and distinct, a rusted blade
that crumbles without warning.
It falls on feather pillows and
coffee black as an ache.
We should not let this be.
We cannot make this break.

Our wounds won't heal
but they still make demands.
If you drink my poison
I will bandage your hands.

The war is a dusty cradle
that holds us as we fight
against the heartbeats inside us
forcing us see the light.
How hard could it be
to admit we won't win,
unless we're too tired to fight
and decide to love again?

Our wounds won't heal
but they still make demands.
If you drink my poison
I will bandage your hands.



I think that's all I can manage for now. I am seriously exhausted. More tomorrow, I promise.





Sunday, April 13, 2014

NPM: Three.

4/11/14
Glass

You bend your knees,
you say a prayer,
but you can't say
what happened there
between the window pane
and the streaks of rain.
The glass never knows
if it's broken or wet
and if you become glass
you too will forget.


4/12/14
Holiday Special

In t.v. land jolly men walk
up around the streets of Christmas
carrying carols in their mittens
and swinging from one tradition
to another, taking for granted
that this will happen again next year,
next season, next boxed set,
next primetime holiday special.
But over the wall of wires and lights
it is an uncertain springtime
in which it seems always winter.
Nobody opens presents,
angels do not appear,
Santa never comes,
and somebody cries.

4/13/14
Sunday

Sunshine, cloudshine, moonshine.
Dewdrops, raindrops, nightdrops.
Wakefulness, achefulness, thankfulness.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

NPM: Lingering

I hold a quiet jealousy,
reticent and proud.
It lingers in my heart
like a fragile, browning leaf
from a brittle-branched tree.
Lingering,
but never falling.
It possesses no power,
sways neither direction.
It is a wish, and a curse.
It pines for a love
to last for all eternity,
but knows in my whispers
that there is no marriage
in heaven.
It wants beyond reason,
it abandons understanding,
hoping that by wanting
I will keep it alive.
And I must.
By letting go of this desire
I might let go completely.
So I will hold my quiet jealousy
in silence and compliance
and make for me and my love
a seasonal heaven on earth
which will one day wither
like the autumn leaf.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

NPM: Ride, ride, ride.

We met in the west
with capguns in hand,
took a wandering walk
from the edge of the land.
We had cream in our coffee,
dust on our shoes,
and on a midsummer morning
sang each other's blues.
I'm a person, you said.
I said I was one too.
We've been back and forth,
all up and down,
discarded and wanted,
then lost, then found,
all before
we could count
to me and you.
So we put the past in our pockets
with our sorrows and sighs,
saluted the sunrise
as a final goodbye.
You told me to be Bonnie,
I told you to be Clyde,
and like modern vagrants
we will ride, ride, ride.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

NPM: The Light on the Wall

I can tell this room is not a square
because the ceiling tiles don't match up
and the overhead fan isn't centered,
and the fluorescent light doesn't have
enough air around its dangling fixtures.
I can tell that the roof is not flat
because these pipes slant downward
toward this strange space
where windows used to be and
in the winter the snow slides off
into frozen barricades around the building.
And I can tell that the light on the wall
is much like the anxiety in my body,
or perhaps what I wish it was like,
in that despite its label--FIRE--
the thing itself is not fire,
the light itself is not fire,
but in fact a simple indication
of some other fire's proximity.

Monday, April 7, 2014

NPM: The Work and the Worker, Delays, & The Art of Barking

I noticed, after my last post, that I wrote four poems for three days, and then skipped a day. And then I was tired so I skipped a few more, because, let's face it: poetry is hard work. When I spend so much of my time wrapping my brain around something that is not my niche, or my "go to" activity, it's hard to really delve into the emotional depths required for such writing.

I'm still tired. But I'll try. Because I owe the world three poems.


The Work and the Worker

Pilfering paper piles,
placidly placed,
perhaps people prefer
platitudes.
Half-hired honesty:
happy here,
happy however.
Happy his, happy hers,
happy hell.
What went wrong?
Which welling world
waywardly walked,
wistfully wandered,
wilted without
work?
Who was willful?
What worker?
What work?


Delays

If the sun shines
but the earth never turns.
Do we still
If the skies shake
but the rain stays aloft.
Do we stay?
And if it does rain
and the ground fills up
but the grass stays brown
and the flowers never grow.
Do we ever?


The Art of Barking

I've been bewildered by spring,
the innocence it does not spare,
allowing upward blossoms
to be trampled or twisted.
The birds' wings act as fists
against the smaller flying beasts
and the cruel rains drown
the newest of blooms.
It seems winter was not enough
of tragedy or agony
for the flowers or the foxes or me.
But even baby trees bend
and soon they grow a thick skin
and they get ready
for the next time around.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

National Poetry Month: The return journey

April, it seems, crept up on me once again this year. March arrived, dumped several buckets of ice and cold onto my head, then swiftly left the way it came. But now it is April, and National Poetry Month, and I fully intend on writing a million more poems this year. Feel about that however you wish. I'm forcing myself to do it whether you like it or not.

Statistically speaking... I have probably written close to 2500 poems during my life. It's likely I started writing poetry at about the age of 5, but I don't remember those poems. I do remember a few that I wrote at the age of 8. It was around the same time I started writing books. If that makes me sound like some crazy literary prodigy--I promise you, I was not. Am not. I was just a loner with a huge imagination. Sometimes that makes people famous, doesn't it? I'll let you know how it all works out.

In the meantime, I have a whole year behind me with poetry material, not to mention all the things that might happen this month. There is a sort of torturous beauty in seeing how we change as people in just one year, especially now that social media can potentially keep track of every milestone, every wound. I appreciate it enough for now, but I hope someday when I'm old that I don't regret it all. I hope I might be able to appreciate it more, that we will all realize our memories are worth the effort of cataloging them in various forms. I believe, at least, that the poetry will be worth it. 

For starters, I can't sleep tonight, and I had a weird dream last night that it still causing me trouble. So we'll begin with that. And since it's already April 4th I'll pull a few poems from my other blog, which is mostly a secret. The first two are both about dreams. The third (Dear Universe) is probably my current favorite.

And yes, in case you were actually wondering, all of these poems are my property and were written by me and if you steal them and make money on them or use them as toilet paper or feed them to the birds I will do everything in my power to come after you and make you suffer like a poetry-thief should suffer. Amen.


The Ride to the Airport. (4/4/14)

When Harry met Sally
their mouths were full of snark
--as were ours,
when we were young,
and the dream was new,
still in the dark.
When I needed saving
you called me from the south.
I was to meet you
but you were on your way.
The secret was already out.
When even I am sleeping
and the pull cannot be real
I believe I'll be flying
until my waking eyes
break the deal.


Cinderella Says. (3/28/14)

A dream is a wish your heart makes
without stipulations or magic lamps.
It just does what it’s told.
It’s a place where
dead women console their living friends
and former lovers let you see their faces,
just before they turn their back to you
one final time.
And that woman made me a cup of tea;
she tsked when I didn’t say thank-you;
she asked me, “Did you love him?”
as if he was already gone. I said
“I did, I did,” but couldn’t remember his name
and in my sleep I wept
in all the ways my waking self wouldn't.


Dear Universe. (3/17/14)

Dear universe,
I forgot how big you were.
I forgot the expense
of living.
I abandoned the wayward thought
which dragged me
toward understanding
my former self was invincible
and would follow me forever.

But you kill those persons 
we have been
because they are lesser minds
with inconsequential hearts,
which gently leads me
to believe
truthfully some souls 
are not worth saving
because they no longer
are.


Do you ever keep your promise. (2/8/14)

Do you ever keep your promise
to trust someone who can keep promises?
Do you let it slide
until it avalanches
and words lose all meaning?
Do you know what I mean?
I cannot trust
you
if there are no trustworthy people
you are entrusted to.