Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. Leonard Cohen

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Sonnet of the Bells

The bells are ringing, not for me
I hear them in the high church tower
They sing a wordless melody
Counting out each passing hour

They fill the winter's frigid air
With peals of sound so true and warm
Sometimes I want to follow there
Intoxicated by their charm

And though I feel the coming squall
I will not seek shelter inside
The gentle sounds outside those walls
Much hatred and harsh words belie

For many truths I hold within
The Church believes to be a sin.

 Baptist Church Bell , Court Street, Keene NH

Friday, December 30, 2011

Eat This

Little girls like
little birds
open pink mouths
and peep
because we need to eat
We need
someone's hands to feed us
to keep us and
You have to believe
the ones who feed you
and so you believe
You believe
what they feed
and they feed
and they squeeze
and they tease
You remember all the names
They say you're fat
and stupid
and worthless
They criticize
and minimize
they feed you lies
and you swallow their words
even though they burn
even though they hurt
And is it any wonder
that girls are dying
from eating disorders
that we stick our fingers
down our pink throats
and vomit up
the poison
that makes our stomachs churn
that we clamp our mouths closed
and finally say no
This body belongs to me
and I'd rather see it starve
than swallow the shit
that you give me
I'm hungry
but I can't eat from your hands
My mouth is sore
from trying to lick an empty spoon
to find sustenance
and getting a hand slapped
across my face
Told you're too needy
Too greedy
When really all I wanted
was someone to
feed me.

This is how it should be: Corrine Bailey Rae-Put Your Records On

On Finding the Cat Deceased While Pet Sitting

Poor kitty lacked in vigor
Dead body stiff with rigor

Her mouth was open wide
The tongue hung out the side

Blank eyes in open stare
No life was seen in there

Her fur looked weatherbeaten
Cat food remained uneaten

Wrapped her in a towel
Tail stuck out like a dowel

Owners shed a tear
I'll find a new career!

submitted for dVerse Poets Pub, Form for All, Couplets for the New Year

Thursday, December 29, 2011

This Child

 Photograph: Getty Images

This child you love so much destroyed your life
One time you were a strong colt running free
but now you're broken and forever saddled
This child you hate so much has saved your life

More than enough of all you never needed
and grabbing for as much as you could get
A frenzied trip to everywhere and nowhere
Girl, will there be a next stop after here?

This child, this child, this child- it's all this child
Your life, your life, your life-where did it go?
The emptiness inside you isn't screaming
The hopelessness begins to settle in

This child you love so much destroyed your life
This child you hate so much has saved your life

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Musings on the Year's End

source: Google images
And so another year has slipped on past
We wonder what we've learned and what it means
and whether what we've done is meant to last
Replaying last year's memories and scenes
before our life demands and intervenes

How did the year live up to what we planned?
What do we see behind us where we stand?
We should not mourn the year that's come and gone
The cards were dealt and so we played the hand
New year, new hand and so the game goes on.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Gloves Off

image:  Bert Stern
Go ahead and have your blondes, Gentlemen
You don't know what you're missing 
I prefer my men with gloves off
I want to see the dirt under their nails
and feel their callused hands
rub against my neck to lift
my dark hair
when they kiss my neck

Blondes may sparkle like diamonds
but it's surface shine
tossed out like Mardi Gras beads to the masses
But brunettes
know the power of mystery
Deep dark earthen tresses
gate the passages
where only the most favored
gain entry.

submitted for Magpie Tales 97

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hanukkah Lights

Candle flame
Glows in darkness
To mark the first night
Come the second night, two
Twin flames dancing together
Shine even  brighter  as a pair
Each night the candles grow one by one
Eight lights remind us of miracles
Remind us of times long ago
Remind  us of  renewal
Remind us to have faith
One candle, one flame
Become more

submitted for Poetry Jam, Solitary
and for dVerse Poets Pub, dVerse Christmas

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rabbit Risen

I don't believe in miracles
but you've been resurrected
I watched as you died
and I prayed for the miraculous
and now
you rise
like a beautiful, crazy Jesus
screaming "Holy shit, y'all, I'm back!"

Belief and doubt
do a tango in my head
til I'm too dizzy to think

God and I have a tenuous relationship
I want to believe all the promises
but what if they're lies?
What if faith is just gullibility?
What if doubt closes a window?
I believe what I see
and I see you here


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Aubade (Morning Song)

 I can't live up to the expectations of the morning
The day's beginning stares up at me
like an excited puppy waiting for his walk
No matter how much I try to do
it never seems enough and
I always disappoint
Much better
to sleep through this ever demanding time
and wake when it's less daunting
with the slackers
and unemployed
all those less promising folks
rising on the edges of the earth
It is here that I shine like a sun.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas Light

Christmas Lights by frostkisses
The tree fell down
and the lights shorted out
The in-laws are bickering
and the mice are stirring in the basement 
but we made love in the mess
and laughed
and picked pine needles off each other's bodies
Comfort and joy.

Friday, December 16, 2011


She was a scrap of a girl
an afterthought
a crumb
the kid you always forgot
when naming all the kids in your class
I think her name was Cathy
or maybe Cindy
She probably had a story
I wonder if anyone knew it

submitted for Friday Music Prompt, Strawberry Blonde, at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Advance of Middle Age

Her body is an occupied city
The fortress has been seized
The ruin and devastation a pity
Her body is an occupied city
It used to be so bright and pretty
The invading troops can not be appeased
Her body is an occupied city
The fortress has been seized

submitted for Poetry Jam, Occupy This!


Dear Phoebe

Dear Phoebe

Sorry I messed up
Too bad being a failure
isn't a real job
I think I have a knack for it

I know I said
I wouldn't go away
Sorry I missed your play
I bet you were a great
Benedict Arnold

I'm feeling much better
most of the time now
Maybe Mom and Dad will bring you
to see me soon
I guess I'll have to ask my doctor
if it would help my recovery
(God, that kills me)

The people here
are pretty nice
and not so phony
Some of them are pretty fucked messed up
but they're okay
I think you'd like them

I've been thinking
about Allie a lot

I want you to know
that next Fall I'm going to a new school
and I'm going to try
to apply myself
(like the psychoanalyst keeps asking me)
Maybe this time
it will be better
not so many phonies and mean guys
not such a stinking school

Don't forget
to brush your teeth
Lousy teeth shouldn't matter to people
but they do

Even though you're just a kid, Phoebe
I know you understand
I couldn't stay where I was
I had to leave

I'm sorry I made you cry
and that I took your Christmas money
and that the record I bought for you broke

Your brother

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Epistle, Letter from Holden Caulfield to his sister Phoebe from Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A True Christmas Tale

Twas two weeks before Christmas, when in Lola's house
We were having our coffee and starting to rouse.
The lights were all strung on the tree from last night
The ornaments also, with nary a fight!

The daughter was nearly all ready for school
And was counting the days til the coming of yule.
And I was quite pleased decorations were done
Now we could just settle back and have fun.

When out from the dining room there was a clatter
We sprang up like hares to see what was the matter.
Away to the tree we all flew like a flash
We looked in the room and saw what looked like trash!

The weight of the tree must have just been too much
The whole thing fell down, barely missing the hutch!
The base was still fastened real tight to the trunk
Spilling water all over the floor for a dunk!

The branches and needles were bent up and tattered
The fragile, glass ornaments - broken and shattered.
Slivers of broken glass lay on the floor
Cleaning this mess up would sure be a chore!

We looked at the scene and were very upset
The daughter said, "Family's not even here yet!"
Although this is not what I would have preferred
I just had to laugh; it was all so absurd.
At least no one got injured; the dogs are okay
Maybe this year, a fake tree is the way.
The neighbor might have a Wet Vac we can borrow
Or we can just leave it and fix it tomorrow!
not our tree but you get the idea! (source)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mermaid in Blue Jeans

Personal Challenge #2

The inimitable Fireblossom issued me the second Personal Challenge here at Toads (do I hear the collective sigh of relief from the rest of you Toads that you don't have to compose a poem to follow her 2 jewels of the previous week? I thought so!)  My challenge was to choose a song about which I felt strongly and write about my associations to it. 

After several days of mouse-like concentration, I finally decided upon "Silent All These Years" by Tori Amos. This song speaks to me about a part of myself that somehow got lost during my years of focusing on my career and early motherhood.

Stolen Voice by Saturated Insanity

I heard the song
of the crimson haired mermaid
I heard her voice
and mine echoed back

Once upon a time
I, too, traded my voice
to an evil witch
She had many names and
many faces
but they all looked like me
only without my flaws
without my scars

Mermaid in blue jeans
I cut off my tongue
to walk among mortals
I found love but
lost my muse
to the sea foam
I rent my blouse
where no one would see

I should have known
tattered garments leave the marrow
years of silence are
and the most evil witches
are those in the glass

 In my head
I kept hearing her song
I whispered a note
and the mermaids answered
I sang
and the glass shattered
I screamed
and heard my own voice
no longer silent

I sing
I sing
I sing of love
of sex
of death
of blood
and it's not always beautiful
and it's not perfect
but it's true.

submitted by lolamouse for Personal Challenge #2 at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads

Be Prepared!

Preparation is the answer
Don't be caught off guard
Do your work a little early
It's not all that hard.

Hang your Christmas lights up 'fore the
leaves have all gone brown
Next year you'll be ready if you
never take them down!

Buy your Christmas presents at the
sales on New Years Day
Keep them in the closet safely
wrapped and tucked away.

Come the holidays and they sit
underneath the tree
You find you don't remember what on
Earth those gifts could be!

A tie for Uncle Edward who just
died the month before
Tap shoes for little Susie who's not
dancing anymore.

A His and Hers bath towel set for your
cousins Nan and Nate
who decided this past summer they were
going to separate.

With just a little planning it's not
difficult to do
Preparation is a gift
that you give to you!

submitted for Poetic Bloomings, Prompt 33, Be Prepared
and Smiley Sociology, Study 11, Gifts

Seize the Day

image by Mostafa Habibi

I waited for the perfect day
to set out on the seas
for winds that blew just hard enough
to make a gentle breeze
The sun, the clouds, they had to be
up in the Heavens so
as to create the setting for
my dream seaside tableau
My boat, she waited in the sea
for that auspicious time
and I was buried in the sand
for I could not leave home.

submitted for Magpie Tales 95

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nick's Eyes

(I think I must have channeled a country music writer for this one. I have no other explanation!)

Blue As the Sky by PinkLemonDesigns
She has eyes like her Daddy's
of cornflower blue
the brightest you've seen in your life
She's been on this earth
for only ten years
and already seen too much strife
Her brother left home
at the age of sixteen
he's hustlin' somewhere on the street
Her mother is bitter
a widow too young
but her girl's brought her nothin' but sweet
So why won't you see her?
Why won't you call?
It's gettin' tough telling her lies
I know that you miss him
I know that it's hard
to look at her and see
Nick's eyes.

Those crazy bright blue eyes
your son gave to her
You always knew that they were kin
She was your favorite
though you'd never tell
but the day Nicky passed on was when
You covered her pictures
won't utter her name
turn your back to her although she cries
It hurts you too much
to look at her face
because what you see are
Nick's eyes.

Nick was your son
seems a crime against God
You always thought that you'd go first
Losing somebody 
leaves a hole in your soul
and losing your child is the worst
But you're not the only one
crying at night
There's a little girl praying she dies
Her Daddy's in heaven
and her Grandpa won't call
she can't understand though she tries
So please go and see her
Give her a call
She don't need to say more goodbyes
Her blue eyes are glassy
so hug her real tight
and look for the smile in
Nick's eyes.


vision opens 
grey monsters towering
torn tenements
evil intents
tense movements
quick quick quick
can't stop 
can't look at map
tourist trap
don't get trapped
don't smile
don't make eye contact
don't get conned
don't get
beat beat beat
Pulse of the city beats
faster and faster
feel the blood throb
flash mob
flash flesh
fresh flesh
walking the street
looking to score
looking to scare
looking scared
City don't care.

submitted for Thursday Think Tank 77, the City, at Poets United

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Swing, Redux

When I was too young to read them myself
my mother would read them to me
out of a book that I kept on my shelf
a Garden of Verse--poetry!

I'll always remember my favorite one
It seemed to me that it could sing
the way that the rhythm and rhyme had been done
The name of the verse was "The Swing"

After a long day of playing outside
I loved to come back home and then
listen to Mom read that poem to me
and feel myself swinging again!

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, The Gift of Poetry

image source

Monday, December 5, 2011

All the Lonely People

Lunch, George Tooker, 1964, Columbus Museum of Art
Lunch hour again
The people eat so much food
and they leave hungry

submitted for Magpie Tales 94

Forever Young

Her face
preserved perfection
expression frozen in amber
lines erased
with all evidence of living
the Fountain of Youth through a

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Soul's Whisper

photo by Ella Wilson
The more you scream
the less I hear
The more you insist
the more I resist
The more you demand
the less I comply
Your protestations, judgments
make me more accepting
Your damnation
makes me embrace the damned
Your profligate piety
leaves me revolted
Your smug certitude
makes me question all
No one knows
least of all, you
is a whisper from the soul
Shut your mouth
Perhaps you will hear.


Neil Gaiman's The Sandman
picture source
When night's black hand chokes out the light
You pray like hell to fall asleep
And there find madness or delight
You're in the Dreaming, dark and deep

Within this realm, King Dream does rule
This is the land he calls his home
The dreams he conjures may be cruel
Beware the time after the gloam

What you expect is what you see
Sand in your eyes, you sleep and then
When dreams become reality
You may not ever wake again.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lighthouses and Cigarettes

When I said I was leavin'
I didn't expect you to beg me to stay
but when you said
I understand, baby
that just about killed me cuz
I ain't understood nothin' since 
we been together
You can keep the Stevie Ray albums
but I'm taking the Muddy Waters
it kinda grew on me
and I'm leaving you my Bonnie
cuz you need a good woman
The winds have died down
and my car's all packed
Shit, baby, you look so sweet
sittin' there on the porch
in your Levis and that old T shirt
with your hair all wet and
hangin' in your eyes
just like a little boy
but you always are the calmest
after a storm
I better go 
and now I know
why people say they can't look back
cuz if I do, I might just see 
the ashes on your cigarette
like a beacon on a lighthouse
calling me home.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Under the Rug

Hey you!
Look under the rug
just lift up a corner and peek
So many of us hidden here
brusquely swept away
prodded with broom handles or
gently coaxed
It's dark and dank
Even the dust bunnies
avoid us
Well, fuck 'em!
We'll party on our own
 dance like there's no tomorrow
cuz for some of us
there's not
Our own little purgatory
where we won't make nice folk
It's cramped and crowded
but there's always room for more
Give us your dirty
your infected
your ugly
your violated
Walk on our heads
like we're not here
You can't even hear us
gnawing on your floorboards.

World AIDS Day

image source
My friend has AIDS and I'm angry. I'm angry that everywhere I go, I don't see mugs, cereal boxes, T-shirts, pins, hats, and even cookies with red ribbons on them like I did in October with the pink breast cancer ribbons. I'm angry that corporate America is too afraid of tarnishing their precious images to put big bucks into HIV/AIDS research and prevention. I'm angry that millions of people still don't have adequate healthcare, still don't know their HIV status, and can't afford their medications when they need them. I'm angry that although we know that condoms can help prevent the spread of HIV infection, there are still people who vote down sex education in the schools. I'm angry that there are people who call themselves Christians who believe that AIDS is a punishment sent by God for immoral behavior and who sully the name of true Christians. I'm angry that so many people think that since they don't hear about AIDS deaths on the news every day, there isn't a problem any longer.

AIDS is still here. There is still no cure. Treatment has advanced, but medications are very expensive and have devastating side-effects. They are not effective for everyone. It's World AIDS Day Today. Remember those who are still living with this disease. Viruses don't discriminate.

(Rabbit-You are an inspiration to me in every respect. Keep kickin' virus butt, love!)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Buried Deep

image source
Winter's whispers gather in the oaks
Summer's secrets buried now in snow
Trees that once blazed with the fires of fall
Ash-like grey pierced with the black of crow

Limbs that sported pumpkin colored suns
Colorless as water's own reflection
Can not hearts have seasons of their own?
Love withstands the chill of disaffection

Though I try to speak of this to you
Snow lays its cold blanket over voice
Membrane between me and what I want
Hope you understand I have no choice.

submitted for Poetry Jam, Deep

Monday, November 28, 2011

Love In Vermilion

photo: Christine Donnier-Valentin
You loved me once
I held you in my arms
You lay your head against me 
and dreamt
Now I'm trash
fit for the alley rats and junkies
an embarrassment
You used to revel in my riot of red
We danced so hard, boy
the springs broke
and you laughed
Does she let you do those things
to her?
When did your life turn beige?
Look out your window
Can you hear me singing?
It's raining
and my vermilion is washing into the street
Please bring me back inside.

submitted for Magpie Tales, 93

When We Were Wild

Memories of Youth by AlGrega
When we were wild
we owned the world
 we laughed too loud
we knew it all
hung with our crowd
When we were wild
we smoked some pot
we drank too much
and all we saw
was ours to touch
When we were wild
we broke the rules
we could not bend
we vowed our love
betrayed our friends
When we were wild
we grew apart
then we grew mild
so long ago
when we were wild.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Another Day

image source
White roses symbolize those who have passed
Five hundred stems prepared and wait amassed
Each mourner enters and receives a bloom
The ache within the air is more than vast

Her rose caressed as if it were her groom
and she the bride, perchance life to resume
Her eyes blink wide, awakened by a thorn
Returning to her lot in this sad room

Unwanted children, burning tears are born
She chides herself and shakes her head with scorn
Another year, another rose to press
Another day, another day to mourn.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Sunday Mini Challenge, Rubaiyat

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Where The Wild Things Are Not

image source
I went for a walk in the woods the other day
and found a large, white paper band across the trees
"Sanitized for your protection" it read
The trails had been swept free of mud and leaves
and were paved with astroturf
Insects had been eliminated and replaced
with cute googly eyed clay replicas
The trees were all trimmed and
the animals had been bathed and deodorized
Apparently too many lawsuits
over poison ivy rashes, animal bites, and twisted ankles
had nearly bankrupted the National Park Service
This way was much safer for everyone
I started to cry
and an animatronic chipmunk offered me a Kleenex
then pointed its tail toward a green trashcan
and hand sanitizer
Laughing, I tossed the Kleenex on the astroturf and left.

submitted for dVerse Poets Pub, dVerse Poetics, Wild

Friday, November 25, 2011

Once Upon a Time

Lost Paradise by Judith
Evie was a lackluster student at Magnolia High
worked part time at the Garden of Eden Flower Shop
then babysat her little brother
while her mother worked the night shift
at the Fairhaven Peach canning factory
She was an average but bored girl
a dangerous combination

Evie found him a bit beastly
but thought his snakeskin boots were really cool
and wanted to feel the leather seats
in his red Dodge Viper
so she asked him for a ride
home from school
Of course, he smiled
and answered "Yesss"

Her mother became fretful
and somewhat envious
Evie sported that look that girls get
when they're in love
supreme happiness mixed with supreme stupidity
Mama knew her baby was headed for a fall
but she couldn't stop it
any more than she could stop
her starry eyed fool of a husband
from buying roses for Valentine's Day
when carnations were cheaper
and lasted twice as long

And so the night came
when he whispered "Let's go
your Mama's at work-she'll never know."
She had never broken her mother's rules before
but he was so tempting
and his lips tasted so good
so she went with him
and spent the night in the Paradise Motel
which it was not

He dropped her off at school next morning
she never saw him again
but did notice
birds stopped coming to her yard
and a black snake appeared in her apple tree
and would not leave.

submitted for Poetry Jam, Paradise Lost