Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Poem: Morning Meeting



If I fits, I sits.
But I don’t fit, and
still I sit,
In the very back,
Capping the row,
An oversized bookend.

One side gasps for air.
The other
knows my colleague.
Our arms, our thighs
Kiss, make love.
Their mouth, their eyes
Frown, promise retribution
In seething blog posts
Or cruel laughter
Over afternoon cocktails.

My doughy bottom
Rolls across hard plastic,
Sighs, drips over sides.
I torque twist, fold:
Inward, always inward,
In posture if not in fact.

My fat, knotted body
An unvoiced apology
For daring to exist.

Thighs that normally
Clap and steam
Loll, cold and dead,
The only tingle
The electric shocks
Of restricted blood.

Tiny, hinging writing surface
Unfurls –
O Modern Technology!
It bounces on my belly,
Slanting our worldview.

I’ll take notes in my lap
If I can just… reach…
I’ll take notes in my head.

What happens when you
Stuff a peck
Of tender/tenderized poet
Into a tiny,
Industrial coffin?
A drippy, gooey mess
That flows
Across and over,
Coating hard plastic
And hands:
Folded, lumpy,
Wobbling
In pain.

Maybe mass-produced,
Standardized,
One size fits all…
Doesn’t?

Squirting
beyond the boundaries,
Steampressing the legs
Of a coworker
Whose name I don’t know,
Reshifting the messy
Bits that jiggle and shake,
I am a child again:
A naughty, punished,
Failed fat kid.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Singing the Literary Songs

A week ago, I completed a poetry half-marathon. A full marathon asked poor, abused poets to pen a poem an hour for twenty-four hours. Wimps like me who appreciate a comfy night’s sleep could opt for a half-marathon, which demanded one poem an hour for only twelve hours. So, by the end of my stint, I became the proud mama of twelve poem babies.

Since then, I have become a poetry fiend. I pen quick limericks in elevators, wax poetic in blog posts, jot down freestyle verse during lunch. Heck, during a series of endless meetings last week, I wrote pages of poetry bemoaning the uncomfortable, molded-plastic, stadium seating into which the administrators had shoved us poor instructors.

Here’s a haiku I wrote while shifting every five minutes in order to restore circulation to my legs.

Metal-toothed plastic 
Bites my ample derriere.
Classroom seating sucks.

In addition to actually writing more lately, I’ve also found myself pondering the musicality of poetry and, by extension, prose. How do I know when a line or sentence should end? What blend of long and short sounds feels best? How can words, lines, paragraphs and stanzas shape the structure, use, and rhythm of the message?

I’m sure technical words exist to explain the flow, beat, and meter of poetry and prose. I don’t have a lot of formal training in writing and lack access to that vocabulary. All I can say is that poems and scenes in novels have a tempo to them, and words are the written notes that beat it out. I feel the music of the piece, the longs and the shorts, the tense staccato or the flowing legato. In this way, poems are songs and novels symphonies.

Writing appeals to me because it so deftly straddles lines between structure and rules and sheer, off-the-cuff inspiration and artistry. Many rules exist about, for example, punctuation, capitalization, and object/subject use, but much of the beauty of writing lies in the spaces in between the rules where creativity, rhythm, tactility, and improvisation live.

Many of us who write, I’m sure, also draw, paint, bake, sing, craft, or play a musical instrument. As writers, we are technical geniuses (claim it, baby!), wielding our vocabularies, knowledge of sentence structure, and punctuation savvy. As a mere twelve hours of coffee-slurping and keyboard pounding reminded me, however, we are also magnificent artists that spin, paint, sing, and dance the music and imagery to life within those technical boundaries. 

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Poem: An Ode to Yellow

You varnish the skies.
Your incandescent arms
Embrace dark rooms,
Make them blush
In the slow burn of
Flickering kisses.

When summer’s green
grows tired and bored,
You crisp along its edges,
Crackling with something like laughter.
You pull the sun into bed at night
And tug it back into the morning sky.

As a child, my younger sister’s hair
Gleamed pale yellow,
A shiny brass coin rubbed matte.
I dressed her in yellow
And called her my daffodil.

Fat bumblebees, weighted by
Beauty and importance,
Bounce through the air.
They wear natural crowns
And make love to
Golden blossoms.

You coat the curves
Of trumpets, trombones,
And sultry saxophones.
They bleat round notes of rapture
And praise.

If you melted
And spread me about,
Smearing me to the edges,
I would flow like butter and
Taste like sunshine.


Poem: Sky Eater: A Haibun

I drank the sky,
opened my mouth
wide,
my teeth flashing, cameralike,
in the sun.
I meant to stutter an excuse,
offer an apology,
sing the praises of someone
not me,
but something fuzzy and cool,
like gossamer
or lavender cotton candy,
spun inside.

Well, what was I to do?
Eyes wide and guilty,
I swallowed.

It was delicious,
I don’t mind saying:
Soft and spiky,
bitter and so sweet
my lips puckered
and my tongue perspired.
My empty tummy,
heretofore wrapped
like an undelivered present,
unfurled, stretched,
gurgled a message
to my fretful brain:
“More.”

I didn’t know what else to do,
so I kept my lips unsealed.
The heavens poured inside,
bulging my cheeks,
kissing my throat,
rounding my belly.
I’m pretty sure
a satellite, thundercloud,
perhaps a star or two
tumbled in.
They tasted hot and bright,
like metal against my teeth.

My face shifted upward,
eyes shining, mouth open
in a hungry song.
Words spun, colliding,
forming sentences and heat.
I’m confident I glowed.

So you see,
the fat orange sun
and its nursemaid clouds
live in me now,
rounding out my body,
filling me with thunder
and starlight.
I tell you only because you wondered
What happened to the sky.

Stars snagged in my teeth,
Clouds distended my belly
As I sipped the sky.

Penning the Poems

What's that clickety-clack sound and the smell of toxic amounts of cinnamon coffee permeating someone's pores? Oh, nothing. Just me doing a poetry half-marathon today from 7 am to 7 pm.

I just finished my fourth poem. And by the way, did you know morning happens before 10 am? No, for real.

I shall post a poem or two throughout the day. So far, my poems, covering topics from childbirth to sexual assault, have been a bit too personal or dark to share with the universe, but I have eight to go, and my next prompt arrives in seventeen short minutes. 

Onward ho, poets and lovers of poetry!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Updating the Masses

The family crest I made for my furkids-
and-fairy-tale-themed wedding.
Faithful readers (which pretty much means my best friend and my ex, but still), I have missed you. Like, a lot. Life has been pretty ridiculous lately, though, what with the wedding thingy, teaching a summer class, and then prepping for the new semester. Also, in the last few months, I, the inveterate hater of travel, have gallivanted to Seattle, L.A., Denver (two or three times), and Fort Collins. And Spearfish, South Dakota, but that doesn’t seem quite as impressive. It does have nice scenery, though.

To keep our relationship fresh and updated and to explain my unseemly absence, here’s what’s happened in my world in the last couple of months:

  1. I DIYed a good chunk of my wedding. I am the invitation-penningest, program-designingest, escort-card-makingest, centerpiece-strategizingest, travel-organizingest, vendor-liaisingest, sign-creatingest, DJ-song-list-compilingest bride evuh!
  2. I added zero words to my stagnating, paranormal romance novel. Zero. Words.
  3. I taught a rousing Social Psychology class. While prepping for, doing, and recovering from my wedding.
  4. I got married and stuff. That was, well, stressful. Beautiful, touching, and expensive. But also enormously stressful. In fact, on the day of my wedding, I had almost zero sleep, forgot to eat, had no time to myself, experienced a bout of low blood sugar before the ceremony, and ended up leaving the reception after 90 minutes to spend the rest of the night getting sick in my hotel room. Ah, memories. In spite of all that, though, I cried throughout my own ceremony and am convinced nothing in the world could be more beautiful and moving. Besides cats, of course.
  5. Some unhappy and yucky stuff happened, but let’s keep that in the rearview mirror.
  6. To distract myself from wedding and class stressors, I probably consumed two dozen novels. If I read one more word about a six-foot shero who weighs 120 pounds or a shero-who-thinks-she’s-so-unattractive-but-who-has-a-passel-of-men-who-want-to-have-monkey-sex-with-her-and/or-immediately-marry-her©, I’m gonna go all wedding night again. And I mean my wedding night, not
    A candid shot my sister took on the
    day of my wedding.
    This pretty much sums it up.
    the traditional, arguably less messy, one.
  7. My lungs were grumpy little traitors, and I suffered through a chest cold that lasted through two weeks and three bottles of cough syrup.
  8. I signed up for a poetry half-marathon, which begins tomorrow. More on that later.
  9. I tried lavender scones and Fruity Pebbles Rice Krispy treats. Oh. Mah. God. 

As you can see, I’ve not neglected you all because I wanted to. Even my novel reading served an essential, sanity-saving function. I’m back now, though, and feel ready to start penning twelve delicious poems.

Oh and btw, I have some sage advice for any engaged folks out there: Elope.