Tag Archives: this is not a love poem

30/30 Project Day 12: And Now a Word From the Pope


It would be awfully cool if the voices in my head would put on heavy black robes and red beanies, then disappear into a locked room, only to send up white smoke when my latest poem is completed.  Alas, it is all me–the girl who doesn’t own a little black dress (or heavy black robe), a red beanie, or a room that one of my children doesn’t know how to unlock with a butter knife.

pope and maryIt is with this admission that I present my latest in the Mary series, and my 12th poem as part of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project.  Have you donated yet?  It is truly a worthy cause, and every $5, $10 or $50 will help keep a wonderful indie press in business.  And did you know about their $99 subscription deal?  9 books for $99.  You can’t beat it.  Check it out!  (And if you subscribe, tell them you heard it here!)

So, the poem.  My dear friend Dan Wilcox donated to Tupelo in my name and requested a poem about the Pope.  Funny thing, Dan, I have been vaguely following this whole papal process and have found it very poetic.  Problem is, I’m not sure what I make of it.  I love the idea of waiting for white smoke to send us a message.  (I think I’d like to invent a cell phone that emits a puff of white smoke each time I have a new message.)  I also love the solemnity, the tradition, and the secrecy.   And I am fascinated by the maleness of it all.

I am not convinced the Pope has said enough to Mary.  Mary might need to reply.  Jill might need to learn a little more about popes and priests and nuns and such.  Until then…

The Pope Writes a Letter to Mary

Was it the ghosts in long lines
outside our lonely bedroom,
the fingers in your hair,
the hands at your gorgeous throat?

I made of you a painting,
my empty canvas,
my virgin easel,
my uterus tipped with gold.

The other women said stallion,
said knight, bishop, king,
said your man, your man, your man.

My sweet Pinocchio
you lied to the puppet maker
told him you loved his hammer,
his chisel, his hand woven strings.

Your voice a broken doorbell,
the knocking I couldn’t hear.
Who’s there?
Who’s there?

Remember me in a curl of white smoke,
a signature disguised in a tattoo,
a red feather dropped as a cardinal passes.


30/30 Project Day 5: Dear Garbage Truck Driver…


forgive me for cutting you off, and to the nice man driving a tan pickup, sorry for veering into your lane.  You see, Mary was dictating a poem to me this morning on my way to work.  I had to type it into my phone.  Or you know what would happen…poof!  No more poem!

Since I began writing a poem a day, and yes, it has only been five days, but since I began, the ideas have been coming fast & furious.  Having a theme from a friend (thanks, Diana!) was a whole new level of inspiring.   Taking notes from an insistent muse on the way to teach a Composition class, then being unable to find quiet time until 8:00 pm at night, well, that has been another kind of inspiring. However, I did it.  So, I guess I showed me.

* Note (mostly to self): The ending I have posted here is different from the one I sent to Tupelo for their 30/30 Project Blog. I am having a hard time leaving them as drafts.


Mary Writes a Prayer

Because love of my life has a nice ring to it.
Because love of my lie had already been written.
Because want without song

is ugly need,
unwashed hair,
worm dried to twine on the pavement.

Prayer of the second date.
of the unwashed window,
of the sheets frozen on a clothes line.

Prayer to ward off Good Time Charlie.
Prayer for a sailor, a port, a sturdy vessel.
Crush your compass under foot,

rip the needle from its center
thread holes in stones
thread holes in bones

the click
the clack
beads on veins like wire.

Oh Lady of Leaving.
Oh Lady of Left.
Oh Lady Already Gone.

Mary, Mary write a prayer,
lead us through the final verse.

NaPoWriMo #1


The A to Zs of Marriage

As the bride took wing and ascended the altar, the congregation licked
amens from astonished lips–
……….(bride being a relative term for bored with the way things became).

Crows gathered on the court house steps, the males spreading
charcoal wings to their full length.
……….(Dearly beloved).

Ease into the gown one wing at a time.
Fire of pine boughs in a crumbling fireplace: your honeymoon.
……….(Gather dirt and needles to douse the flames on your own time).

However the fire burns hottest, mark your time, then jump into the blues.
Inflorescence being the one trick your magician never taught you,
……….June bugs are sure to invade your dark body.

Kitchen utensils on a rope around your neck: (check).
Lost, leftover, you wander from tree to tree, looking for a way past the trunk.
……….Maybe you might to read it in the crotch of branches, the spider web of your fate.

Not fond of mowing, one wife grew her grass in cursive love notes (never sent).
Only the postman knows the address
……….(pretend you are wearing clothes when you open the door
……….politely tell him he has the wrong house, wrong woman, wrong package).

Queen for a day and not a crown in sight.
Ringmaster, Ringmaster, lend me your top hat
……….(send the clowns after the curtains are closed).

To discover why you want what you want, walk the aisles of the supermarket until
truth (or your lover’s name) floats off soup cans like skywriting.
……….(Understanding the how-to of why you is not as easy as you might think).

Visions of skin-tight vines wrapping his throat will help you sleep.
Why the bald eagle mates for life is a mystery to scientists, a secret the wife will never reveal.
……….Xylophones are the only wedding present a bride really needs. At least three.

Yellow forsythia on the door knob is a sign: blooming in progress. Do not enter.
Zinnias tangled in your hair are a whole other matter
……….(and when you choose to begin again, remember to ask your flesh how the

bones of the dress dug into your sides).
blood and bone, the flesh support structures–that’s what is missing.
……….Corsets, in the end, only fit comfortably on women of leisure. You move, wife, you lose.



These are the 30 lines from my FaBoStaMe 30-status updates in 30 minutes exercise.  I edited a bit and played with form. 

Urban Legend


Eggshells patter on the window
yolk nails itself to the skillet
begs for your forgiveness.

This is the hour of your decay
slick yellow sunshine like a miscarriage
crowning a morning already hot

with what might have been
were it not for last night’s hacksaw moon
the man with the chipped nails

and whiskey tongue. He always finds you
when you run. Take off your shoes
leap with frog-grace, nails not making a sound

on the cracked sidewalk. That path is its
own cement, parading past clapboard and gardens
tripping all the girls trying to find the keys to home.

Was it you who muttered in a frosted panic
spit slipping from your young tongue (no whiskey
for you) This is all fiction. My house is made of candy.

There is a pair of red stockings in the footlocker
at the back of the garage. If you knew how to drive
you could pull the car out, slip your legs into the fire.



This poem was written using the wordle prompt at Read Write Poem this week.  It was one of those poems that practically wrote itself.

Patchwork Poem #3 ala Anne Sexton


In This Fashion I Have Become a Tree


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.


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,


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.


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



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


You Are the Answer


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.””

At the Onset of Hibernation, the Bees Begin to Speak


She holds the honeycomb in her hands
weeps for the bees
their (mis)fortune pours
like watered honey from all her hollows.

……………To have your home torn from its moorings (joy)
……………talons at the foundation–
……………evolution’s sweet buzz
……………………..to begin again.


She sews papery wings to her shoulder blades
hovers beneath the eaves
awkward angel

………………….bleeding on the gardener’s bald head.
………..Who will rule the family now?

………………………..What value in a stinger dulled
………………………..by smoke–cobweb of ache sticky, invisible
………………………..the thin air it swings by ……….stinking of burn.

As the second hand sweeps
its apex—again, again—she rips
hives from rafters
gray ghosts…………..nursemaids bloated bellies
whole kingdoms without their queens.

She holds nothing in her hands
weeps for the beauty.


After having written nothing for many days, I was inspired by this painting by Carrie Ann Baade. Let’s hope this is a trend in the right direction.