Saturday, April 30, 2011

#Poemaday 30: Be Careful

Wow, I am so excited that I have made it to the end of the month! It has been a delightful challenge and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

So here is today's offering in response to such a stirring photo.  Thanks to Bud Hunt for all of the inspiration this month.

Be Careful
Be careful, young man, of the footprints you make.
They leave a path for others to follow
and a map of where you have been.

Be careful, young man, of the shadows you cast.
They stretch and shrink with the sun
but they are always shaped by you.

Be careful, young man, of the water's edge you walk.
Some waves can inspire you toward the horizon;
others will tempt you, then tug you under.

Be careful, young man, of words like these.
They are the truth of a life foolishly, wonderfully lived,
and nothing could be better.

#Poemaday 29: Proximity

 Prompt #29's picture was beautiful, and it made me think about community.


We can put our hands through our neigbors' windows,
no glass or distance to keep us out.
So, when the words start,
they paper our walls, too.

Sometimes they fly in short hard bursts,
no crescendo only banging like cymbals.
We flinch, then look at each other,
embarrassed that we heard.

Sometimes the words are low and soft.
Those are harder to hear, but we crave them.
We stretch our necks a bit
to catch something of the heavy sweetness.

Always we hear,
but when we speak,
we forget
there are walls to paper in other homes, too.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

#Poemaday 28: Puppet Show

Puppet Show

I push the buttons, make the move,
but you are the puppeteer,
string around my heart.
Invisible lines make me move
in response to your twitch,
make me dance in response to your desire.

Others see only
my confident gestures, my stony face
and mistake these for control.
I let them be fooled; it's part of the show
we never planned
and do not discuss
for fear it will drop the curtain.

leaving us both
without a story to tell.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

#Poemaday 26: What Are You Waiting For?

for the phone to ring
for the diagnosis
to be grown-up
to be discovered
with bated breath
with little hope
in anticipation
in fear

we wait
in line
after line
after line

     grocery store
     the bank
     coffee bars
     amusement park rides

for permission
for direction
for forgiveness
for the light to change

for someone to say, "Its gonna be alright"
and for someone to believe it.

Give Melanie a Voice

As a teacher, one of the most wonderful experiences in seeing your students discover their passions and thrive in them.  My student Melanie is a tremendous person -- she is a thinker, a reader, a writer, and what she loves most, a debater!  We have been maintaining class blogs this year and I was so happy to see Melanie going beyond chapter summaries or vague reflection when she posted this.  If you can help, please do. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

#Poemaday 25: More Than Nothing

More Than Nothing 
(response to @budtheteacher's prompt #26 )

Yesterday's future holds
me back, holds me
in a weighty embrace
the spirit is love
but the truth is nothing
more than nothing.
Yesterday's future stares
back at me, holds me
in a fragile game of 
do not blink
because if you do 
the game is over
and the eyes close
under the pressure.
Yesterday's future speaks
such kind and hopeful words
like we can, yet we never do
more than nothing
and the truth is nothing
holds me back
but you and me
and yesterday
and the future.

Monday, April 25, 2011

#Poemaday 25: Dance

I can't believe April is already coming to an end!  What will I do without @budtheteacher's nudge each day? Sigh.

Here is my Poemaday #25:

Dance toward your fear
make it your partner
and feel it against you.
The scent of your neck
warm honeysuckle serenading
you both into peace.
Dance toward your fear
make beauty where there is
only a thread of light
Spin white circles
til heavy breathing and love's
the only conversation you hear.

#Poemaday 24: Parachutes

A day behind, but catching up!  Here is my response to @budtheteacher's prompt #24:


Dandelions freckle the grass,
hundreds of wishes waiting for flight.
Small hands grab, snap them from their roots,

Blow, sprinkling the fuzz with saliva.
Seed-bearing parachutes float to a place where hope lives.

Yet, I hold the one in my hand as if it is the last.
 I question each dream that rises to my lips.
What    harm    might    await?
And the real question is,

When did I become afraid to wish?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

#Poemaday 23: The Truth

Like #22, my response to prompt #23 is pretty short, but it lives up to the title.

The Truth

When it comes to writing rituals,
for me there are only two:

Revising each line too many times,
erasing all but a few;

Pretending to think of other things,
really just thinking of you.

#Poemaday 22: Newspaper and Stares

On Friday, @budtheteacher asked: Just a place to sit and something to read.  Just that.  That’s enough? My poem as response:

Newspaper and Stares

All I need is something to read
and somewhere to sit.

In other words,

all I need is a way to escape
and somewhere to return.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

#Poemaday 21: Spilled Honey

Spilled Honey
 (in response to Prompt 21)

There are days when it is my turn
not to show my face,
when it is my turn
to turn my toes toward each other,
to cover my ears with my arms,
to hide and protect
shame or fear or guilt or blame

or desire.

Head low, only empty chairs at my side
Maybe no one will know.
Maybe no one will care

and wouldn't that be the worst of it?

To carry a secret that gnaws
on your insides, leaving
the outside beautifully flawed 
and the whole world fooled?

Desire spreads like spilled honey --
indulgent liquid, slow sweet trap
drawing flies.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

#Poemaday 20: For the Young

@budtheteacher continues to keep me moving forward with his engaging prompts!

For the Young
I used to think indulgence
was for the young.

Food and drink consumed
from both fists,
lanky body
sprawled across hard linoleum,
refrigerated air
massaging shoulders
bared in tank top--
No worries about
electric bills or grocery shopping,

calories or loose skin.

Now I know
(after years of  holding back)
that losing one's self in something
is a feeding of the senses.

Even losing myself to you,
indulging in your presence
begins my resurrection.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

#Poemaday 18 and 19, Lesson Learned and Warning to Poets Who Write at Night

I sat at the computer last night to work on my poem, but sleep proved to be a stronger adversary than I had imagined.  Sadly, I had to go to bed before I could write.  So, the goal tonight -- double the poem fun!


Lesson Learned
what do we have against empty?
the glass half so, equals pessimism
undeveloped land, bare walls, prolonged silence
each begs for filling
 --condos, knick-knacks, an awkward joke --
sacrificing quality for company.

perhaps too quickly we let empty go
when instead we should revel in the room,
the unlabeled map, the peace of no words.
instead of filling up, maybe we should be clearing out
that's what you taught me
when you left me

(intentionally blank)

(but ironically not blank at all)

you taught me
empty promises are all I have to hold.

Warning for Poets Who Write at Night
Beware the words coming at you,
flinging themselves like lemmings from a cliff.
They seem too small to say anything worthy;
they dart like shooting stars burnt out before they touch the earth.
Your eyes begin to close,
even so, between eyelids and darkness
words find way to paper.
Netted fish, they squirm and jump,
trying to leap back into the night sky.
Nonsense and philosophy all at once, the words and lines are
mute planets finding their own revolution.

And just as your chin hits chest, your fingers
slide across the keyboard -- sleep seems the victor --
yet, these words proclaim:


and then the truth comes out --
what was hidden in the sunlight
glows on midnight's stage.

Put down your weapons, let the prisoner go.
Another poem is free.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

#Poemaday 17: Playthings or Poetry

Thanks to @budtheteacher for another prompt that took me in a very different direction than what I had imagined.

Playthings (or Poetry)
You are my companion on wild backyard adventures,
my solace on rainy indoor days
and in those troubled times,
my last goodnight before dreams take me into sleep.
I build with you, color with you,
pretend and pretend and pretend
with you until I am  not sure
where pretend ends and real begins.
I bounce you around
and make you tell stories,
toss you into the air
and leave you sprawled on the floor,
evidence that we are not idle,
evidence that we are working, thinking.

Picking up the loose thread of any of a thousand tales,              
each day we see the world through my wise child eyes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

#Poemaday 16: Whatcha readin'?

Whatcha readin' ?

Drive by Daniel Pink
The Lacuna (pulling me into its dangerous deep pools)
by Kingsolver and Because of Winn-Dixie,
a chapter before each day's goodnight.
A few student essays.
Poisonwood Bible chapters -- already annotated, but I need to
see it again with eyes a year older
because the students are pushing through read #1.

And there's more.
Blog after blog after blog.
Comments, replies, requests.
Tweets that line themselves up twenty four hours a day.
Trends and hashtags.
More student essays (they haunt me) and,
I confess, a copy of People at the hair salon. linked articles
Status updates.
The space between the lines.

On my best days, your face,
the back of the cereal box
and something like this by me, but better.

#Poemaday 15: Rash

A photo of a ladybug from Bud the Teacher today had me thinking:


My skin is bothering me.

I am open to every touch.
Your fingertips scribble currents
up and down my arm, my spine.
Nothing comes between me and you.

I need an ectoskeleton,
hard crust protecting my insides,
instead of this thin layer
that tries to hide my veins from you now.

No itch, no burn, no caress.
No messages from nerve to brain
of potential pain or pleasure.
I would be safe from your finger's graze.

But then, nothing would come between me and you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

#Poemaday 14: Pinch Hit

@budtheteacher provided a prompt today that pushed me into extended metaphor.  Not sure it worked for me, but I liked the challenge!

Pinch Hit

History hits this second
like ball smacking bat,
or is it the other way around?
Either way, the crack of collision cannot be ignored.

No one is safe.
"Heads up!" we yell,
but most move to a fetal position,
arms protecting a hidden head.

The pitch: My parents were married today,
nearly four decades ago. A curve ball.

The swing: Pretend it was the game plan all along.
It took me thirty years to realize
I was the curve
that had them swinging.

The play: The ball drops into left center;

the runner goes from still to sprint.
A child changes everything,
until it doesn't and life returns to being
what we know.  Inning after inning.
Sunflower seed shells accumulate on the concrete.

Smack! In a second everything is in motion again.

Someone heads for home, someone prepares for the force of the slide.
The sound lets us know,
--the sound of then becoming now, becoming forever--
on the field, in the stands
no one is safe.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

#Poemaday 13: Cartography

Big questions from @budtheteacher.  Tonight I need to answer: How would you describe the universe?

It is in your eyes.
Close them and tattooed on the inside lid,
constellations will appear --

Shifting pictures of goddesses and cookware,
bears, balanced scales and a winged horse
beckon you to tell their stories.
Eyes closed; the universe swirls,
speaks in speeding comets
and hurtling metaphors.

Eyes open, I see the reflection
of a thousand moons, and they are pulling
my heart to shore.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

#Poemaday 12: Boundaries

@budtheteacher strikes with another prompt today: Are you going to cross this line?


It all depends.

Will I be in or out?
Spectator or player?
Alone or with a team?

Who put the line there?
Who's watching?
Who's on the other side?

No wheelbarrow, no chickens. 
Only an arbitrary line seeking
to tell me the rules,
in other words,
keep me where I am.

Monday, April 11, 2011

#Poemaday 11: Heavy and Dark

@budtheteacher's interesting picture and prompt -- apropos given today is the first day of testing in my district.

Heavy and Dark

If pencils grew from the earth,
would we realize our roots are words?
Would we know the curve of the vine
and the curl of the S are cousins?

If paper fell from the sky,
would we realize we rain art?
Would we hear the cumulus clouds
and blank canvas calling us?

Point down, my pencil sits in dirt,
drawing the days of my life.
Beneath the surface,
no stray marks.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

#Poemaday 10: Speed Limit

Today I was inspired not only by @budtheteacher's prompt, but by the poem Kelly wrote in response. One of the real delights of participating in #poemaday has been the opportunity and nudge to read and respond to the writing of others.

Speed Limit
Add ninety (on the highway)
to noble He and get U --
in '92 it was all I needed to know
about how the world worked.

I thought chemistry was magic,
had no idea it was numbers --
a problem to solve,
equations to balance.

But, I found out the hard way
that two plus one leads to Lie

and even if the atomic number of I
is 53, we all know it is a lonesome one

and the chart might make us think
we know what's solid
and where we can stand,
but heartache turns the world to liquid.

Your foot on the gas,
my heart in your hand.
In '92 it was all I wanted to know
about how the world worked.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

#Poemaday 9: Hang Your Hopes

@budtheteacher's prompt is here -- both the photo and the quote pushed me into new thinking.

Hang Your Hopes

Like sugar spilled on a tablecloth of sky,
the stars remind me of sweet what-might-have-beens.

Like us, spread across what we thought was love,
but turned out to be just what was there,
falling into the arms of others before we knew us was real.

Like me, basking in the softness of your old light,
believing it is a wish that might come true,
but knowing it is only what somewhere was me and you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

#Poemaday 8: Where Have I Been?

Not only did I have the prompt from @budtheteacher, but my department chair asked each of us to write some poetic lines during our meeting this morning.  Inspiration and opportunity make writing easier, for sure.

Where Have I Been?
All the signs make me
blink and stop,
question and--Quick!
Decide what to do:

Stay in my lane
behind the white line;
Back up, you turn to
the wrong way on a one way --
windshields frame oncoming
panicked eyes and frantic arms --
Or, ignore those signs altogether,
            Light my own way.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

#Poemaday 7: To the Sky, We Are the Same

@budtheteacher's picture prompt inspired this poem about perspective.

To the Sky, We Are the Same
We envy the bird
crafted with hollow bones and wings,
a way to fly to

anywhere, freedom
to leave earth and branches
behind and below.

We dream of soaring,
our bodies unburdened and light,
spirit untethered.

But the bird wants, too.
Satisfaction eludes. You see, 
he dreams of the moon.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

#Poemaday 6: My Pieces

Today, @budtheteacher offered this: We are all making quilts.  What are the pieces of yours?

My Pieces Are Making
morning shower where i plan my day
ask my questions
imagine my someday
when i'm ready
it is socks and pants and t-shirts
in several boy sizes
lunches sacked and named
kisses and locking the door behind me
then, hallways confettied with the young
men and women of tomorrow
but more of today
of right now text messages and
ringtones and the hope
that the world will still be here when it's theirs
and it will have a place for them
words and words and words
from pencil tips, our lips,
laptops, iPhones, headphones
three ring circus of words and the stories they tell
we tell stories
pieces of us, fabric scraps of us
then back through the front door
to dinner prep and kisses from daddy and
just for a minute sitting down
bathtime, prayers and too many whispers
until we are tucked in
safely wrapped in the tales of the day,
wrapped in pieces of us, fabric of us,
stories we tell

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Five Days In -- Poetry Month

I am five days in to writing a poem a day for the entire month of April, and today, five days in, I finally felt like a poet again.  When I sat down to write my poem tonight, it seemed to river out of me, a strong current from heart to hand.  I am writing in response to the poetry prompts offered at Bud the Teacher and each one has been great, but today's took me to another place.  When I saw the photograph of the empty park bench, my mind's eye immediately began to sketch my grandma on to the park bench with me sitting beside her.  I have been thinking about my grandma so much lately.  I haven't figured out why.  But tonight, I made a little bit of headway by working through a moment I had with her when I was about eight years old.

I am not saying it was the best poem in the world, but the act of writing it took me into my artist's mind. I want to return to that place again and again.

#Poemaday 5: Web

 @budtheteacher provided a prompt today that I immediately knew would cause me to write about my grandma.  I just didn't know it would come out like this.  Honestly :)


Let me tell you a secret.

I lied.

That night when you asked me what was wrong.
I was in a strange bed in a strange state.
It was dark downstairs
because you had closed the door at the bottom.

Still awake? you asked.
Nightmares, I lied.

Dad was on the road,
headed back to L.A. for Mom and the rest of our things.
Now I wonder how we could have had enough
in those thin times for more than one trip.

Then TV won't be good for you.
And you closed the door again.

I wasn't having bad dreams,
just wanted to be close to someone who sort of
felt like my mom
and loved me like only grandmas do.

I lied and lost my moment.
Don't think I ever got it back.

If I had a park bench that let me have you back,

I would sit for days and listen,
even if you didn't speak,
I would listen to you.

For days on that park bench,
I would tell the truth.

Let me tell you a secret.
I lied.

Monday, April 4, 2011

#Poemaday 4: (Pre)tending

Check out the picture for the prompt at Bud the Teacher where he asks the question, "Are you the rocks, or the river?"
I am not the person I used to be
river around your rock
pretending to chart my own course
while running in circles.

I am not the person I used to be
satisfied by your thin edge
pretending to be my own width
but defined by your circumference.

I am not the person I used to be
blue reflection of a sky you touch
pretending to be my own hue
yet exposed in my transparency.
I am not water; I am not stone.
I am art created by my own eye,
pretending to let go
but still drowning in your shallow earth.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

#Poemaday 3: Above the Rain, I Hear It

Today's Bud the Teacher prompt was a picture only.  I found that more difficult than the others.  Or maybe it was that I was trying to write while my boys wrestled, played video games, argued, laughed and screamed (concurrently).

Above the Rain, I Hear It
I live my life to the song of boys
a song whose lilts and twirls are balanced by the blue notes
a song of short sleeves, baseball caps, faded jeans
a song that stills my heart and moves my feet forward.

No matter the road
the baggage
the weather
I will always be serenaded and sunshined
by the boys’ song.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

#Poemaday 2

With one done, it is easier to continue.  I guess that is true with good things as much as with the bad ones.  Hopefully, this is a good thing.

Bud the Teacher's Prompt for Today


Baby fingers hide eyes always wide
open with the call,
But my mother tongue wants
to keep you
from the truth.

We keep on, you know,
with this baby game,
even when our hands wear the years on their skin.
We cover our eyes convinced 
that when hands move,
the world will be new.
We smile in the face
of no surprise at all,
     pretending the hiding is temporary,
only a peek
at the truth.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Again, But With Poetry

Last month I participated in the Slice of Life blogging challenge at Two Writing Teachers and am proud to say I posted a Slice of Life for 30 of the 31 days!  It was the perfect thing to get me writing with more consistency and even a sense of determination.  And it was such a wonderful blessing to be in a writing community, responding to the work of others and hearing feedback on my own pieces. 

As National Poetry Month loomed, though, I was wary of jumping in to another daily challenge.  Poetry takes a certain something from me that I was worried might not be there anymore (if it ever truly was).  But then I decided, that's just fear talking.  Then my husband said, "Hey, just because your Slice challenge ended doesn't mean you should stop writing!" And he was right (I love it when he is!).

On Twitter, I saw that Bud Hunt would be providing a daily prompt inspired by/connected to a photograph.  Other Tweeters began tweeting about #poemaday, and I admit, part of me wanted to write just so I could be a part of the same stream as these, what I call, Rock Star Teachers.

So, whatever my motivation and regardless of my fears, I am committing to a poem a day throughout the month of April.

Today's prompt from Mr. Hunt is: What's waking you up lately?

What Is Waking Me Up Lately?
All green lights on my way home,
Suns rising, snows falling,
The nest building in the eaves,
Wedding invitations
      (delicious, embossed cardstock),
Baby showers,
Umbrellas and the rubbing palm on belly
Eulogies, happy endings, 
A son wanting to be near me,
Wordswirl before I open my eyes

The thing with feathers