05 March 2010

Top Five Poem

This poem was selected as one of the top five for last April's Writer's Digest Poem-a-Day Challenge for Day 18.


I remember my mouth moving,
words spilling out upon the hospital blanket.
I remember him answering
in between labored breaths.
I wanted to lean in closer
so I could hear what he said
but I was still afraid
to get too close to him.
I remember that everything in the room
seemed larger than he did
and that I kept clenching and
unclinching my fists
like they were jellyfish,
like if I opened and closed them enough
I could propel myself right out the window.
I remember looking at
the potted orchid
beside the soap dispenser
and how the labellum
looked like a polka-dot pocket
full of words left unsaid.

04 February 2010

Wednesday's "Promptly" Writing Prompt

The Blue Guitar

I've seen the angel of Death. He wears a killer pair of thigh-high boots. Imagine Bowie with a broadsword.

It was one of those nights where every time I'm about to fall asleep I have a hypnic jerk. Except this time I jerk myself right off the bed.

On my bedroom floor, in the dark, everything looks different. The green light of the power strip gives the notebooks and paperbacks an absinthian glow. Dust bunnies merge together in the no man's land beneath my bed preparing their ambush. The acoustic guitar propped up in the corner, the one I never did learn how to play, looks like a tired old man, one solemn chord away from serenading the undertaker. And then I see my face reflected in black latex that goes on forever. Almost. This guy looks like he knows what he's doing and, frankly, I'm curious. So I say, “You aren't going to get no fight from me, Death. To tell the truth, I've been ready for a while. Life is boring.”

“We agree in principle. That's clear.”

“Yes, well, I'm glad someone finally understands where I'm coming from.” I still lay there on the bedroom floor looking stupid. And Death's still standing there looking amazing, his left hand on the glittering pommel of his sword. And I'm wondering when it's going to happen. You know, when he's going to close my eyes with a slow wave, hand me that one-way ticket, do the reaping. He doesn't seem in any hurry. “You want a sandwich? I think I've got some roast beef in the kitchen.”

Death looks over at the corner of my bedroom. “Things as they are are changed upon the blue guitar.”

“Ah, yeah, well, I never learned to play.”

“I play. But this is what I think. We shall forget by day, except the moments when we choose to play.” Death bent his head down and I could see now his hair was white as his sword.

I shrugged my shoulders. “I guess it's too late for me to learn now. I've already got one foot in the grave. I'm, like, half the man I was this morning.”

Death shook his head. “Am I not, myself, only half a figure of a sort, a figure half seen, or seen for a moment, a man of the mind, an apparition appareled in apparels of such lightest look that a turn of my shoulder and quickly, too quickly, I am gone?”

And he was. Gone, that is. And I wish I could say I learned to play that guitar, but I forgot about until this morning when it fell over with a dissonant thud.

01 December 2009

Final Day of the Poem-a-Day Challenge


When I fell asleep the nurse was still
laughing. I don't remember the
joke. And while I was sleeping they
drew the knife and cut it out. Out! And
in the dark of anesthesia I couldn't
yell, Stop! I've changed my mind.

They said to me, Don't be afraid. Then they
tore me open and harvested a pink plump pear of
an organ. And while they offered a sacrifice to
the god of bloody things I was crawling through
a sea of sage. Crawling. But my wrists were
tied. And my mouth was tied. The other
women walked past me with their baskets of
fruit. They pretended not to see me twitching at
their heels.

There were no telephones where
I went and kisses were hard to
come by. And no one explained that
feeling of being taken from one world and
placed in another. That feeling. It was the
opposite of waking up on a hospital bed with
an ache where you're missing something.

30 November 2009

Day Twenty-Nine of the Poem-a-Day Challenge


If there was a way to give him all without
giving him anything, I guess I've done it.
I guess. The bedspread was scratchy. The
blue Jesus on the wall quietly prayed. I watched the
second hand on the clock move around and
around, stopping to kiss each tick once quickly on
the way to tock. In retrospect, I could have been more
original. It's not like I thought I was the
one. Not really. That's probably what we all
say. In retrospect. But beneath the
sidewalk and the water pipes and the dirt was
someone a little uncertain who happened to
hold a lever in her hand.

29 November 2009

day 28 p.a.d.

Through this Moment

A cardboard boat, its mainsail a
torn-up t-shirt blowing in the
wind so a pattern of reddish
light twinkles on the water, crawls bit by
bit over the inky flat rocks of the
riverbed. It must have been built while
I was sitting here trying to mend another
hole in the sofa's upholstery. He is so far away
from me right at this moment. But there are
others, moments so close, moments of
fusion. Ice melting into water. This
tempestuous soul who only months ago
was blood and bones and water.

28 November 2009

p.a.d. --day twenty-seven


Arranging and rearranging the hem of
her red satin dress, she pauses to
look at the camera. I do not expect

a smile or an offering, perhaps a
scream, a silent scream for
melodrama's sake. All angles are

her angles. At any rate, the
ghosts hide in the dark until
she's away. I knew her before

she had to put gold in her hair, when
her curves were round and soft. If
you believe miracles occur then

you've never been strapped to
the bed when she administers the
dose. Degree by degree.

27 November 2009

p.a.d. -- day twenty-six

Of the Waves
for Kenneth

A little boy
stands on a box
in too-big blue jeans,

munching on
carrot sticks and
singing Dylan.

We rush through
dinners, school days,

barely stopping to
bend and breathe in
the sweet and salty.

He stands on a
cardboard box bare-
foot and plucks a

guitar, his ten fingers and
toes are gulls that
say good luck

slowing us down. The
boy who swells and
breaks like every

breath is every-
thing. The boy who
knows a clock different

from the one hanging
on the kitchen wall. The

boy whose laughter draws
honey from the
roaring sea.