Tag Archives: dynamic duo challenge

and you thought i left the country

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Well, here I am. And here is a new poem! Shhh! It’s a poem-a-day for the rest of your life challenge with my partner in crime, Carolee. Don’t tell anyone about the madness!

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Cinderella After the Final Ball

It was the day after the wedding.
The dress was on the floor
mice making nests in its folds.
She rose from the bed,
sweet box of nothing,
foraged through silk and sequins
and slipped into her gown of horrors.

Infant rodents suckled
at her breast, their tiny teeth
sharp reminders of what she had done.

Somehwere she had heard
wearing an ugly pair of underwear
could ruin her entire day.
She reached for last night’s filthy lace,
dressed for her life.

Mother mouse lost interest
crawled up and down the bride’s torso–
miniature dressmaker inspecting her work.

It is the smallest steps that carry you
out the door and into the world,
the drag of your train that will catch you
on the threshold, hold you prisoner
until you finally bend, grab the head
release the tack that binds you.

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the parable of the anvil and garter

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Today’s assignment for Summer Poetry Boot Camp is to write a poem from an image. One of my favorite artists working today is Carrie Ann Baade. I visited her latest collection, Tales of  Passion and Woe, looking for inspiration and, naturally, was inspired by the very first painting I looked at! Even the painting’s title, The Parable of the Anvil and Garter, is inspiring, don’t you think?

The problem I’ve been having with poems lately is their tendancy to morph into stories, or narrative. But not just any narrative…they are all taking root in magical realism. Which is fine, actually one of my favorite forms, but I’m having trouble telling tales. I suppose I just have to take what comes.

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The Parable of the Anvil and Garter

After a painting by Carrie Ann Baade

I waited all night by the window for you,
hero, you and your white steed,
but you never arrived.
I would have mounted even a black horse
had you ridden up on purity’s dark seed–
any horse in a storm, brute muscle and sweat
saving me from lightning, hail, electricity gone wrong.

Meanwhile, the dishes piled up, dinner scorched
in the womb of the oven missing its controls
and the children straggled in with a rusty anvil
recovered from the neighbor’s garbage.

Without the steady hoof beat of rescue
to march by, flying seems the only option.

Outside, in an absurd reversal of strength,
a single raven flees a host of sparrows
giant predator diving and swerving
to avoid the sting of lesser beaks.

Leaving the house in blue garter and bustier
proves much easier than explaining why I am astride
a gleaming metal weight, why the very burden meant to drag
me down is allowing me to soar above the mossy rooftop.

Every parable has a moral. Draw conclusions at your own risk.

zombie love–it’s all the rage

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Gah! This is my new favorite word. It expresses everything from frustration to utter meltdown. This latest poem for Carolee and Jill’s Summer Boot Camp has given me trouble from the start. The start, this being Monday, was a line from another poem–a borrowed line. The borrowed line itself * wound up not making it into the poem, but still, the poem begged to be written. This poem is also a response to Carolee’s latest which is a response to mine, which is a response to hers. Gah!

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Even as I fiddled with it just now, I imagined tearing this poem apart at my writing group. My poet friends will help, I thought! And boy do I hope so. Still, I am in boot camp, and writing poems is what I do. So here it is…

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* The borrowed line was “It was a bright inviting, freely formed…” from Medbh McGuckian’s “Painting by Moonlight”

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Consider Your Daughters: A Zombie Fable
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I am considering them, silly woman! I would much rather their minds be engaged in the deadly arts than clouded with dreams of marriage and fortune, as your own so clearly is!”

p.– Mr. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith

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It was a bright evening, fully formed,
and the tip of the crescent moon snagged my sleeve.
When the moon, love-orb, reaches out for you
what can you do but surrender to its gold bidding.

I chained myself to the zombie on the lawn—
(the undead being all the rage in suburbia)
the best way, I imagined, to save what is almost extinct.
Time, I imagined, to harness a will of my own.

We strolled the neighborhood, a shocking trio:
zombie, refugee, lamp torn from the sky,
searching for love in suburbia’s illuminated windows.

On the maniacally manicured lawn next door, Zombie dropped
an ear, thinking the man sleeping with his weed trimmer
might like hearing what his pretty wife whispers each night.

From the home where hearts break like dishes, I slip
a little black dress from the clothesline. Relic from evenings
when the couple inside stepped out together, the A-line has hung
at half-mast since wife danced off husband’s floor for good.

Tangled in the trees, the moon slipped from my shoulder
disengaging slick as a hook from a fish’s mouth,
taking my shirt with it on its ascent. Ever the gentleman,
Zombie tore the skin from his chest, warmed me
with what used to be his heart. This could be love.

I wrap him in my black linen
pull the dress low to cover the chain binding our legs.
We are a secret team, the lives we save not our own.

who knew you could learn so much from an unmown lawn?

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It’s slip ‘n slide time here in suburbia.  While watching the kids make knee dents in the soggy grass (and have a blast doing it), I thought about Carolee’s recent series of poems about her home/house/road.  And I realized, as per usual, she and I live parallel, but different lives, because I, too, have sad clover.  The poem came and I wrote it.  And now the dynamic duo has a new project: call and response poems.  From Phillips Road to Delmar Place and back again.  Huzzah!

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You Think Your Clover Are Sad? …A response to Carolee’s poem about sad clover

I don’t mean to steal your idea
but the white clover here at 34 Delmar Place
is feeling neglected, too, multiplying
like white blood cells gone mad,
lumbering in from the edges
(where a picket fence ought to stand)
toward the front steps—small zombies.

Bless my clusters of undead,
scattered across the ragged grass.
I rest among them, press my ear to the ground
to hear what they are trying to tell me
until I remember—zombies only moan

and moaning, no matter the tenor or tremble
is not an answer, but a prelude. This haphazard formation
(unmown lawn) is an alphabet, suburban hieroglyphics.
To decipher their morbid message
read my future like tea leaves
I need a boost, a way to climb high in the maple tree.

It would help to have someone, Amelia Earhart, maybe
to lift me up above this wild landscape
fly across the unknown for a clearer view.

with thanks to barbie, ken & g.i. joe…

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for helping me get a jump-start on NaPoWriMo!

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National Poetry Month is just a few days away, and that’s when the madness begins.  NaPoWriMo.  A poem-a-day for 30 days.  If you haven’t taken the pledge at Read Write Poem yet, now’s the time.  You know you want to!  And once you start writing a poem every day, it will turn into an addiction.  You will HAVE to write. Every day.  Or you’ll burst.  Trust me.  It happens just like that.

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In that spirit, Carolee and I have been talking about starting a little early getting our poem on.  And since we’re the mini-challenge divas, well, you know we have to do it.  This is my pre-NaPo poem #1.  I’m sure my partner-in-crime will have one up on her poetry blog soon.  Like today.  Right? 

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What the Dolls Do While We Sleep

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From somewhere near a pulsing
point of darkness (far from her heart)

Barbie reveals that most of her life
(the part we can not see

beneath skin stiff as bone)
has been lived behind the bushes.

Not a door, or a curtain, or even behind
Ken’s broad shoulders. You see, don’t you,

how letting truth slip from the split
of hard plastic lips is an act of bravery—

truth like a tree fallen over a chasm
your character drawn by the way you cross

balancing step by step on slick bark (courting danger)
or dodging below, stepping lightly over simple stones.

Minus the tree, the wide cavern (gaping hole) in her path
Barbie makes her first decision, slipping

out the window, snagging rubbery toes on the sill
landing hard on adventure’s packed dirt.

The bush is a cliché, rain soaked leaves
a moist haven glistening in the moon’s light

(all good love affairs begin with a cliché and hard rain).
This is where G.I. Joe waits, camouflage pants unbuttoned

gun hidden in a bunch of roots reaching up like hands.
Here in the bushes, Barbie lives another life.

Her dream house is a cardboard box
(so much easier to clean)

her lover, the hero whose shaved head
fits so much better on her belly than Ken’s sculpted crown.

In the music video version, our brave soldier gets carried away
rips Barbie’s left leg from its perfect socket.

No matter how they are molded at the factory
these are breakable times.

Returns are not easy to make
without a receipt, and even then

chances are slim the new doll you carry home
won’t believe the old ones really talk when you leave the room.

Patchwork Poem #3 ala Anne Sexton

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In This Fashion I Have Become a Tree

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I said, “The devil is down that festering hole.”
Fifty-two reds and blacks and only myself to blame.
Fire woman, you of the ancient flame, you
as old as a dog, as quiet as a skeleton,
Mother of fire, let me stand at your devouring gate.

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Angel of clean sheets, do you know bedbugs?
Let me pick those sweet kisses. Thief that I was
I have become a vase you can pick up or drop at will.
Once I was a couple. I was my own king and queen
of wire. Your voice is out there. Your voice is strange,
stay near. But give me the totem. Give me the shut eye,

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that hole where the fire woman is tied to her chair.
Take me back to that red mouth, that July 21st place.
Let me pick those sweet kisses. Thief that I was
my blood buzzes like a hornet’s nest. I sit in a kitchen chair—
a little solo act—that lady with the brain that broke.

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Inanimate at last. What unusual luck! My body–
gull that grows out of my back in the dreams I prefer.

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Probably my least favorite of my three Anne Sexton centos.  Has to be the mood I am in.  Though it could be my method.  This time I used one poem, “Angels of the Love Affair,” which is broken into 6 sections.  Instead of choosing lines, writing them on a separate piece of paper, then constructing the poem, I typed lines directly onto the computer, composing as I went.  This method didn’t give me as much time to sit with the lines or play with them.  Still…I blame it on the mood.

Patchwork Poem #2 ala Anne Sexton

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You Are the Answer

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Listen! Listen!
We are not lovers.
We are like pigeons
after the small death.
They have teeth and knees
because they share the same dirt.
…………..Even their song is not a sure thing
……………….it is a kind of breathing—
…………………….we gasp in unison beside our window pane.

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Listen! Listen!
The girl full of talk of coffins and keyholes
with her large gun-metal blue eyes
with the thin vein at the bend of her neck
………………then your hand in her hand
………………………with an old red hook in her mouth.

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We are not lovers.
Now there is green rain for everyone,
their red claws wound like bracelets,
…………tired of my mouth and my breasts,
………………..each one like a poem obeying itself.

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Listen! Listen!
The king has brought me into his chamber.
I’ve been opened and undressed.
Then the chains were fastened around me
……………..(even their song is not a sure thing).
After the small death
……………..it is a kind of breathing.

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I chose these three Sexton poems: “Man and Wife”; “Love Song”; and “Consorting With Angels”, because they seemed to speak from the same place of melancholy and longing.  I tried to find pieces that resonated with a similar tone/voice.  They are all from her collection, Live or Die.   After choosing them, I discovered an author’s note which confirmed that I was on the right track.

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Sexton wrote, “To begin with, I have placed these poems (1962-1966) in the order in which they were written with all due apologies for the fact that they read like a fever chart for a bad case of melancholy.  But I thought the order of their creation might be of interest to some readers, and, as Andre Gide wrote in his journal, “Despite every resolution of optimism, melancholy occasionally wins out: man has decidedly botched up the planet.””