May 12, 2020 § 1 Comment
The weekly prompt is spring. While spring in Santa Fe is gorgeous, with chilly nights, I am grieving the loss of carefree days.
Pray for a Spring
How can it be spring when we breathe
masked by cotton and paper?
When the delicate fragrance of blooms is
overcome by sanitizer and bleach?
When sunning and sharing laughter is
confined to indoor lamps and laptops?
Have we had our final joyous spring and
were we blind to its delights?
Let us pray for a spring where we can
breathe freely and sun with bare breasts
in groups drinking wine.
April 30, 2020 § Leave a comment
The final prompt of the month is to write a praise poem. I love my land and am grateful to be here.
Land of Enchantment
it’s the lack of noise except the natural
the scent of piñon and smoke
the colors of clay with muted desert greens
the sharp-edged mesas against the sky
which is an endless pastel dappled with
cotton candy clouds, the deep blue
shadows as the sun fades, the landscape
shifting from ochre to gunmetal
the watermelon and nectarine sky
that turns adobe into molten gold before
the deep purple shade dampens all light
and becomes a curtain that
parts for the thousands of stars
and the Milky Way, and once a month
everything dark is bathed in
moon so bright that there is no dawn
April 29, 2020 § Leave a comment
Prompt: Fill in the blank after the word blank and write. I should have written about the blankness in my brain. I am poetry dead. One more day.
When she looks beyond you, be patient.
She is dreaming, she is stirring,
she is planning the words she will speak.
Her words must travel tunnels before
they surface. Be patient. Her blankness
is a mask that hides the garden within.
April 28, 2020 § Leave a comment
The prompt is looking back or not looking back. I spent the day looking forward and now am looking back at how I didn’t write a poem.
National Poetry Month
Aspirational and a slog, this process
of forcing words onto a page
no matter how you feel. They say this is how the great write:
sit and write every day, no matter the time
or weather or inclination.
For one month, I force reluctant thoughts
onto a page, hoping they will morph
into something I am proud of, or at least
not ashamed. Too often they are floppy,
fish gasping for breath, and all I can do
is look at them with pity.
April 27, 2020 § Leave a comment
Massive anything in any way reminded me of this past Thanksgiving when I was snowed in. It was massive snow!
The snow falls ceaselessly,
drifts rise against the car like surfer’s waves.
It is pure white, sparkly, and gentle;
I am in an Icelandic Disney movie.
The neighborhood is as quiet as midnight;
Thanksgiving and the snow have muffled
the usual sounds. I need to leave; I am going
to a friend’s dinner. In my down coat
and snow boots, quiche in hand, I move towards the car.
The Disney snow becomes an albino swamp, dense and
magnetic, warning me to retreat. The ice splinters off the door
handle, and I sink into the driver’s seat to start the engine.
The snow drifts seize the tires, they spin and roar, laughing
at my dream of travel. The smell of the quiche fills the car
and follows me back inside.
April 26, 2020 § Leave a comment
Change is a topic that is always on my mind, as you can read below. This prompt could have gone many ways; I chose a stream of consciousness form.
If you don’t know The Pattern, it can be eerily accurate.
I’m reading The Pattern and it says this is a transition
period that is readying me to become fully myself and
I am facing my deepest fears to get there and
I think what is new about that and why can’t there just be
a time of no change and then I remember how bored I get
when things don’t change and I wonder why I can’t be satisfied
and my inner voice says it’s because you are unbalanced and
I laugh and turn on the TV.
April 25, 2020 § 3 Comments
I decided to find antonyms to the words in my haiku and create another haiku. One about destruction, the opposite of beauty.
Pure thought and pure intentions
Soften icy hearts
Leaving pools of gratitude.
Gratitude in Opposition
Vulgar neglect and disdain
Harden fiery hearts
Leaving shallows of censure
April 24, 2020 § Leave a comment
Prompt: Any kind of nature, not nature as in trees. Human nature, the nature of things, etc. Or it could have been trees.
I live in solitude, trapped in my own community,
meeting past lovers, lost friends,
former family, those torn or tossed away
too fast or not fast enough or when the time was right.
They emerge in my solitude and force themselves upon me,
insisting I recreate our pasts. I do. I imagine who they were
and are and who they might be now. I imagine who I was and
what I did and what I might have done.
What is missing is the truth. What really happened.
What they did. What I did. Who we were and who we might
have been. What we might have done together.
What we might do now.
April 23, 2020 § Leave a comment
Today’s prompt threw me. Create the title and then write the poem. It did not work that way for me, but I got there.
They used to mean Halloween or lawn mowing
or cowboys at the rodeo. Or cancer or bank robberies
or swarms of locusts. Back off, they shouted, stay back!
Now we back off not from the masks but from
those who do not wear them. Stay away, we whisper,
April 22, 2020 § Leave a comment
The prompt is quirk. I’m not sure if this is prose or the shortest piece of flash fiction ever, but either way, I love using a word to mean something other than itself.
I’ve got a quirk in me pocket, he said with a lilt that made me straighten me shoulders and tuck in me belly, did ye want to see it? He slid his rusty hand inside his pocket and pulled it out. Shiny and bright as a robin’s eye, it sat uneasily in his palm. Can I have it mister please, I said, it’s fer me sis. He hooked his eyes at me and pondered. Take it, he said, and the quirk darted into me pocketbook. Mum, I whispered, ye’re home.
April 21, 2020 § Leave a comment
Continuing my pandemic theme and thinking about the prompt – love or anti-love — I thought about the unexpressed love and lack of closure that many families are experiencing.
What happens to the unmourned dead?
No washing by loving hands
No psalms to sooth the soul
No rituals at the gravesite
No wails to ease the path
What happens to the unmoored living?
No rest for unwashed hands
No masks to catch the tears
No eyes to witness grief
No shiva for the family
What happens to these walking ghosts?
Drifting, restless, no place to land
Toddling in shared grief and pain
Waiting for the gates
April 20, 2020 § Leave a comment
The prompt today is isolation. I came up with something that I think is the stepchild of a Buddhist monk and the New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs.
Koans for a Pandemic
If my dogs are sleeping in my bed, and one of them coughs, is he still sleeping?
If I wear a mask to pick up an Impossible Burger, and I eat it in my car, am I still sheltering at home?
If I walk 10,000 steps, but it’s all inside my house, does Fitbit still count it as daily exercise?
If I schedule ten Zoom conversations, and four of them have at least five participants but one has only three, do I still get exponential social credit?
If I am talking to voices in my head, and they are not talking back, are they still listening?
If I am enjoying every moment of enforced isolation, does the pandemic still exist?
April 19, 2020 § Leave a comment
Today’s prompt is to use these six words: bump, embrace, fixture, howl, lonely, and resolve.
We are living history bumping up against the hardships of our ancestors.
Did they embrace as we wish we could to drive the fear away?
Or howl at the moon to grasp our limited lives?
Their memory is the fixture in this lonely time that forces our resolve.
April 18, 2020 § Leave a comment
the small voice overridden by
shrieks and growls
burrows deep within us
until it reaches the inside
place that causes pain and
once there it finds its power
April 17, 2020 § Leave a comment
I’ve been resisting writing about our current situation, but today I lost. What is the opposite of (the prompt) exotic? A pandemic.
Some days it’s too much to pretend that
the world is ripe and brave
That gardens are filled with brilliant
peonies and all bees are erect
with pollen. Some days it’s only
possible to look at the sun and squint
April 16, 2020 § Leave a comment
Today’s prompt is The Last _______________. Fill in the blank.
The Last Cycle
It starts with diapers and burpee rags that fill the bin
Endless cycles of washing to remove the stains of
Childhood that morphs into the hormone-laden scents
of adolescence that no detergent can remove until
Young adulthood with its perfumes and wine leaves
stains that can’t be bleached regardless of the
Products of middle age begin to show their age
and no amount of scrubbing seems to wipe away
The relentless marks of time until everything we
own is in the wash and we are standing naked
April 15, 2020 § Leave a comment
Today’s prompt is dream. My first thought was that all the good dream lines are written: To dream the impossible dream; To sleep, perchance to dream; Beautiful dreamer, wake unto me. So I give you a run-on sentence.
I dreamed I was smoking
and I took a long inhale and
I remembered I hadn’t smoked
in years and I thought
this is a dream and
I tried to wake up by opening
my eyes and they wouldn’t open so
I told myself wake up wake up
and I finally got my eyes open and
I looked around my room
and it wasn’t my room and then
I knew I was still asleep and
I tried to open my eyes but
they were squeezed shut and
I couldn’t breathe and
I shouted at myself wake up wake up
and finally I could breathe
and my eyes were open
and I wasn’t home again so
I was still dreaming and now
I was panicking, thinking
I had lost my mind and
would never wake up
and I begged and pleaded with
myself to wake up, wake up and
I woke up drenched in sweat
April 14, 2020 § 1 Comment
Today’s prompt is to use a poetic form or write an anti-form poem. I enjoy using forms, but a good one takes a lot of time, so I chose a haiku. (It still took me over an hour!) The haiku has a 7-5-7 syllable cadence, and traditionally uses nature as its metaphor. Modern versions take all liberties.
I woke up today thinking about gratitude.
Pure thought and pure intentions
Soften icy hearts
Leaving pools of gratitude.
April 13, 2020 § 2 Comments
The prompt is purpose. Sometimes you have to have fun.
I dropped my Purpose on the road
The load too much to bear
My Purpose laughed and followed me
Its cunning soon to share
My load was light, I skipped along
I danced, my heart was free
When Purpose clapped and stamped its feet
See here, it said, it’s me!
As Purpose landed on my back
Its talons deep and strong
I sighed in resignation
Where did I go wrong?
April 12, 2020 § 2 Comments
Such a powerful day, today, with Easter and Passover falling together. There is a spring storm blowing in, which promises to drop the temperature from 60 to 34 with snow. And I am house hunting. Match those with the Writer’s Digest prompt “spirit” and we are off.
I am missing the comfort of a small space
A room that wraps around me like a fleece
and pets me like a cat until I purr.
Some small spaces are alive, filled with history and
hope, they breathe into you their essence;
As an occupant, there is no work:
inhale and trust and sleep.
Lacking those, small rooms can be born, midwifed by
dim lights and lava lamps and the crackle of a fire.
Once birthed, a small space becomes your ally.
Take me away from cavernous ceilings and walls I cannot touch;
my spirit leaves to walk the beams and hunt for spiders.
It laughs as I try to mute the light or fill the room
with scent. There is only air and space and cold
that I can’t warm. Large spaces cannot shrink their size,
no matter what we try. They are born for souls
who are earthbound and solid, for spirits
that do not float way. They are steadfast.
I am missing the comfort of a small space
One with whiffs of charcoal and a
milky mug of chocolate.
April 11, 2020 § Leave a comment
Today the blues visited (light blues) and I stepped outside to walk the pup and clear my thoughts. I found a new Cheryl Strayed podcast “Sugar’s Calling“. In it, she calls writers over 60 and askes them for their wisdom during this difficult time. I heard Margaret Atwood’s episode, titled Roll Up Your Sleeves, Girls, and this poem broke. Atwood’s matter-of-fact perspective, along with sun and space and fresh air, shifted mine.
The prompt is write a control poem.
When the Earth grabs you by the waist and tosses you
sky-high, know this: The landing will not be easy.
Don’t panic. Remember your dreams – you know how to fly.
Who is your hero? Find the words hidden inside your
pillow and shout them as you fall.
Yes, you are falling. You will be fine.
April 10, 2020 § Leave a comment
Today’s prompt was a tough one for me — “take the phrase “The (blank) Who (blank),” replace the blanks with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem” — and led to an unexpected place. Here’s info about La Llorona in case you are not from the Southwest.
The Women Who Weep
Unspoken, unspeakable, the desire to escape children’s relentless cries.
Whose punishment are children, really?
Partners flee or dance and pat their tiny heads with patronizing absence.
The weight of children is dense and inescapable.
La Llorona is all of us.
April 9, 2020 § Leave a comment
“Ekphrastic refers to a form of writing, mostly poetry, wherein the author describes another work of art, usually visual. It is used to convey the deeper symbolism of the corporeal art form by means of a separate medium.”
It s a good thing I didn’t read the definition well — I thought it was a response to a piece of art — because I like this one. The art was of an hourglass.
The Voices Know
It’s been a long time coming, chide The Voices in my head.
If you dig a hole deep enough, eventually you’ll drown.
Or suffocate, I said.
Most deaths are slow, meandering; they are marked
By wrong turns, speculation, turning back, and hesitation. Fear.
The more lost we are, the louder The Voices shout.
They don’t drown or suffocate. They are eternal,
Undamned, all-knowing, patient. Do not fear what you have asked for,
Once the corpse is buried, the question still remains. Should we resurrect
The dead and begin again? Forgive ourselves and them?
Dig another grave?
The burials are daily.
April 8, 2020 § Leave a comment
Here is a follow-up.
In Futureworld II
In futureworld, the air is soft, an azure hue,
its scent floats atop the other wafts of grace
with dung and dust
In this new world, light is dim and rose, flattering,
for the beautiful and strong
and within the shadows
In this world, there is no fear, we strut
like warriors claiming victory
scabs and pus
In this land, we are gods, with
April 7, 2020 § Leave a comment
The prompt is luck. Good luck, bad luck, luck. You decide. In the absence of a descent title, this prose shall remain Luck.
I have just what you need, she smiled, and dropped into my hand a luminescent sphere as pink and tiny as a newborn’s nail. It floated just above my skin. Dream, she said, and waved her mermaid’s hands across my eyes. My sailor’s shirt (my hat long gone) began to stitch into my chest; the rocks that were my home dissolved. I gulped, the pure sea salt like sugar in my belly. She tugged me down. It’s time, she smiled, it’s time.
April 6, 2020 § Leave a comment
Today’s prompt is trap.
the arid New Mexico air bleaches
the dream of space and freedom
from humid Austin, the City Weird
a treasury of memories
too heavy to carry
forward into the future
I march, breathing dust
punctured by cactus spines
dreams blow away like tumbleweeds
April 5, 2020 § Leave a comment
Can you guess the prompt? Yes, that’s it! Moment. I found myself using few words with repetition and alliteration. For me, they reflect the repetitive and calming experiences of the early morning.
Mourning doves murmur
Crisp, bright air
Radio patter, pots clanging
Parallel patterns of pounding rush up the stairs
The pups are awake
Raga is playing
Reading is waiting
April 4, 2020 § 2 Comments
Today’s prompt is to write a wish poem. After three other attempts, this arrived.
Instructions for Wishing
At 11:11, pause and take a breath.
Face the window, raise your arms, and
whisper your prayer to the fairies until 11:12.
Each morning, before you rise,
remember your dreams. Capture
the moments of pleasure and bottle them to drink at dusk.
When you walk your dog, daydream.
Don’t forget the doggie bag.
Lose ten pounds and buy new jeans.
April 3, 2020 § Leave a comment
From Writer’s Digest Poetic Asides, today’s prompt is Follow _______. Fill in the blank and write to the title. I been discussing how to find, activate, awaken “the muse” with a friend, so this was the perfect opportunity to advise myself.
Follow Your Muse
Tiptoe softly, tread lightly, pretend you are in the Quiet Place –
This is not how to live.
Is it your nature to caw and clap and flap your wings?
To disturb the demons?
Shine a mirror, shake the rattle, sing out loud
She will find you.
April 2, 2020 § Leave a comment
It’s quite odd reentering this world of quickly written words. I edit as I type, moving from Word to WordPress and back and forth again.
The photo is from the last outing I took before COVID-19 shut us down.
I give you back the gift of Santa Fe, he said.
The gift of love and light and space that he has always wanted.
Santa Fe is his muse, he said. It powers him. It is his spirit.
Through his gift of self-deception, he took what was not his —
Native rituals and prayers, trance and visions, portraits of the land.
White man entitlement; shaman by design.
In justice, the lands rebuff him, toss him out; they shout they are not his.
I accept their pain and apologize for him, for us, for presuming what was false.
In solidarity, they cling to me; they speak my name and hold me hard.
A blessing, a gift appears: In his absence, I can breathe; in his loss, I can hope.
The lands allow me to remain.
April 1, 2020 § 2 Comments
Almost ten years later, I’m engaging my poetry muscles. Don’t expect much — not much muscle memory left. Hopefully it will return as the month progresses.
I’m using prompts from Writer’s Digest. Join me?
Brave New World
Whoever knew that leaving a life
leads to leaving another
leads to leading another and
When one lives a life of illusion, all
futures seem bright. As the
sun bares down, shadows appear.
Dust mites follow.
Poets might say, “Embrace the mites!”
Philosophers say, “Tis life.”
Astrologers, “This planet will pass.”
I say I wish I had foreseen
the ribbon unwinding
before it began.
April 1, 2020 § Leave a comment
This energetic work is by Santa Fe painter Norma Alonzo. She described her work to me as viewing landscapes from above, with boundaries delineated. She is also an incredibly optimistic person, as you can perhaps tell.
For the past seven years, Vivo Contemporary artists have been paired with a local poet who writes about their art. I joined the cadre last year. This eighth year, the poetry readings are cancelled, but the image and poem I wrote exists.
The vivid greens reminded me of my childhood years, some spent in South America’s tropical heat; I paired that with my emotional experiences.
I don’t remember the airline flight or drive home or the state of the house that no longer housed my father. I was ten.
I remember the bowl brimming with nectarines. The biting down, the sugary juices running down my chin. My sticky fingers and heart wanting more.
I remember our burnt orange tabby who fell from the penthouse patio and survived for months on the rooftop below. We retrieved him in a basket filled with raw meat that we lowered by rope.
I remember how he crackled like Rice Krispies when we stroked him. He had a punctured lung.
I remember the stupefying Ecuadorian heat and the relief of the overhead fans. The white beaches and gentle waves, the fresh caught morning shrimp, the dime-sized blisters on my razor-red skin.
I remember the smell of Noxzema.
I remember the words and walls that shaped me: the constant moving, the volts of criticism and disdain, the alcoholic pratfalls.
I remember the scarring of my heart.
Now, I remember what may not be: found children my father may have fathered, my daughter’s happiness, an aging hand in mine.
January 27, 2019 § Leave a comment
I’m thrilled to share that I am a poet in the upcoming VIVO Contemporary’s Giving Voice to Image. This annual exhibit asks poets to be inspired by a local artist’s work.
This work is a pantoum: a poem of any length, composed of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. The last line of a pantoum is often the same as the first.
The Things We Will Never Really Know
You say we pass beyond ourselves to find ourselves again
I suspect veiled hollow spaces
Where it’s difficult to breathe
My lungs are tight
You discern wide hallowed spaces
Dense with fluffy dandelions
You breathe pure air
As you break and float away
If I take your proffered hand
With weighted limbs both numb and pale
Stretched between the then and now
Will I soar or will I fall
Let’s stretch until we reach the stars
Cough until our lungs are clear
We will soar or we will fall
We pass beyond ourselves to find ourselves again
In response to Opening Door by William Sayler