Waking, Now Armed with Butterfly Net

Photo by Simon Berger on Unsplash

Waking, Now Armed with Butterfly Net

remiss bliss
I bid you stay
with a kiss
you fall away

eyelids flick
bringing freely
sudden death

a dirty trick
filling me
with your breath

puncturing softly
with careless resourcefulness
only to leave me
aloft in forgetfulness

in shrouds
on the brink
skewing blue

the clouds
lip-gloss pink
reclaim you

when my bed
became the very ground
that we unsheathed blissfully

now my head
empties of every grounded
word you breathed into me

with you along this alluring path
boding replay
a wonderful blunder

and now it’s your reassuring laugh
floating away
leaving me to wonder

if I ever knew its sound
from our beginning
or if that beginning
ever truly began

though I felt you near, around
my heart was grinning
as if we were ginning-up
the tides that ran

in this pale dawn I stand
matter ceasing to exist
I reach for your hand
scattering it in pastel mist

along with your forearm
elbow, dress-sleeve
your promises and charm
lukewarm reprieve

less than I was anticipating
leaving only me
cotton-candy cloud dissipating
where your heart should be

I’ve searched and retraced
our dreamy sham
you saw and embraced
me as I am

as no other had
and had I not leaned
in for more of you
could our moment have transcended
this trick of light?

I find myself glad
and sad that fate careened
into our floral view
as my tongue was apprehended
in thick of night

the sun won’t even pretend
to keep a fair score
can’t recall or comprehend
your name anymore

or if you ever had one
a dream of a life in retreat
dew drops of you rise, undone
but for a hummingbird’s heartbeat

I feel that I wrote
countless poems
dedicated to your eyes
shining only for me

repealed to remote
soundless moans
desiccated in pink skies
a pining, lonely sea

we won’t grow
from what plans remain
succumbing to sea
as bright fields
yawning bliss

I don’t know
what you stand to gain
when coming for me
as night yields
to dawn’s kiss

I must beg you, play not
with sleep so breezily
for next time you may not
get off so easily
***

Coyote Azure

Photo by Hugo Kemmel on Unsplash

Coyote Azure

Trailing the golden hour
everyone craves and praises,
there’s another wondrous state;

a shade of blue found
only in nature,

in latitudes nearing the poles,
nearing summer solstice,

just beyond sunset,
just before night snaps shut,

just above shadowed tree line,
when the sky reflects only
what’s needed; apology,
forgiveness, promises vowed
and kept, secrets shared

with roosting songbird and stirring frog as
coyote announces dinner to her band;

other than sunlight’s brashness,
coyote azure is the only color
that is felt and heard
more than seen.

Today is cloudless and fair,
and I look forward to
hearing this evening’s colors.
***

Day 26: Sculpting You

Image by Nadine Doerlé from Pixabay 

Sculpting You

I run my hands across your marble,
molding you into a goddess to worship,
cupping your curves in a familiar pattern;

suddenly, through repetition,
derivation of muscle-memory
we both know the way your lines end,

so I blend charcoal
and the ashes of Nefertari
to color your purity,

but your smile tells me
that the sun has shined for both
the old and new goddesses;
divine birth and rebirth;
unblemished, and golden-kissed.

You whisper the mantra
already breathed into life countless times
before, by you and then I, folded,
and then refolded upon we
and suddenly, I am unfit to carry on.

Your familiarity reaches out
beyond the common monolithic
colorless slab as if to say,

“I know you know. We are
already well-acquainted. But
will you start again, anyway?”

I smile to myself,
molding your rounded flesh,
flexing densely-knotted muscle fibers
into a slightly different direction,
knowing that you already know
that I will.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 26: Today’s prompt:

And now for our prompt (optional, as always). This is one that we’ve used before, but one test of a  good prompt is that you can come back to it! For this prompt, you will need to fill out, in five minutes or less, the following “Almanac Questionnaire.” Then, use your responses as to basis for a poem.

I tinkered with this prompt for about thirty minutes after answering the questionnaire (My answers listed below) before completely abandoning the prompt. The prompt itself is fine, but I began to experience Deja-vu, as if I were just retreading old thoughts, writing the same themes, and feeling rather stagnant and unoriginal.

At that point, I stopped, and gave myself permission to start again, independent of the prompt. The result still feels like themes I’ve covered before, but it also gave me an unbound sense of expression, so I went with it.

Maybe I’ll return another day to tinker with my answers to the Almanac Questionnaire.

Almanac Questionnaire

Weather: overcast, calm
Flora: evergreen, fir, new green, apple blossoms
Architecture: twenty-first century modern residence
Customs: America first, hoard the most nuts
Mammals/reptiles/fish: deer, bunnies, coyotes
Childhood dream: play halfback for the Bears
Found on the Street: nothing substantial
Export: thoughts, prayers, comedy
Graffiti: none
Lover: strong, confident, vulnerable
Conspiracy: only a genius could fake such stupidity
Dress: aggressively casual
Hometown memory: Bulls winning the 91 NBA Championship
Notable person: Kendrick Lamar
Outside your window, you find: air and water
Today’s news headline: tedious and depressing, as usual
Scrap from a letter: “You will not have this day…” (Seriously, Who has written a letter recently? I went with Chancellor Gowron’s last words after Worf, son of Mogh killed him in one-on-one armed combat during the penultimate episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Yes, I’m a nerd.)
Animal from a myth: Pegasus
Story read to children at night: Go the Fuck to Sleep
You walk three minutes down an alley and you find: the scene of my mugging
You walk to the border and hear: slander, hearsay, and tribalism
What you fear: spiders, exotic insects, tribalism
Picture on your city’s postcard: A curtain being drawn beyond the Magnificent Mile, revealing the quiet suffering of its forgotten citizens. 

Day 24: Ripened

Image by cromaconceptovisual from Pixabay 

Ripened

Never been one like my first;

scent of a mad bloom
throwing syrupy hints
dying to be eaten

royal dark sheen,
slick like a first kiss,
pristine and unbruised

firm, yet yielding to the touch,
thin skin barely containing
ripened flesh for
my mouth only

gushing at my first nibble,
flowing down hand and face

sticky-sweet in a way
of forgetting decorum

noisily slurping and smacking,
moaning as taste buds are
perfectly triggered

as the natural sugars and dopamine
hit the brain simultaneously
in a way that can only be felt as

so good I didn’t care
who saw the mess it left behind
as I rung-out the last
pulp from the pit between
palette and tongue.

But your first plum
may have been different.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 24: Today’s prompt:

Today’s prompt is a fairly simple one: to write about a particular fruit – your choice. But I’d like you to describe this fruit as closely as possible. Perhaps your poem could attempt to tell the reader some (or all!) of the following about your chosen fruit: What does it look like, how does it feel, how does it smell, what does it taste like, where did you find it, do you need to thump it to know if it’s ripe, how do you get into it (peeling, a knife, your teeth), do you need to spit out the seeds, should you bake it, can you make jam with it, do you have to fight the birds for it, when is it available, do you need a ladder to pick it, what is your favorite memory of eating it, if you threw it at someone’s head would it splatter them or knock them out, is it expensive . . . As you may have realized from this list, there’s honestly an awful lot you can write about a fruit!

Day 14: The Fissure

Image by mac231 from Pixabay 

The Fissure

In the beginning, there was a woman.
There’s always a woman, or so it seems.
One gave me life, light, and all her knowledge.
Some other unlocked the madness within.

In the beginning, I had cracked the code.
Deconstruction, reassembly of phrase.
Dominion over syntax, noun, and verb.
Standard structure had yielded to my will.

Then some woman asked what it meant to me.
Encouraging thought towards deeper meaning.
I couldn’t find the right answer for her.
Smiling, she said there wasn’t such a thing.

Next, she introduced me to Robert Frost.
Suddenly, English and I were strangers.
The path not taken cracked a small fissure.
Slowly, over time that sliver split me.

I filled it with poet after poet.
Each time the fracture eagerly widened.
Langston Hughes led to a Gwendolyn Brooks.
The woman grinned as I re-learned to speak.

I gobbled up the greats, never filling.
Plath. Poe. Epics. Death poems. Always Hip-Hop.
The more I consumed, the greater my thirst.
“Now find your voice,” she said, always smiling.

I can see beyond sight; touch with feeling;
Taste, smell, and hear in all four dimensions.
In the beginning, there was a woman.
There’s always a woman, or so it seems.

My wholeness was splintered by a woman.
I was birthed by one and broken by one.
Poetry; born to me poetically;
Filling my mind with how little I knew.

It flashes from unfiltered nothingness.
It throbs when clawed at from outside the lines.
An entrenched urge to impress a woman.
A cliché-riddled love note to woo one.

Heartbroken angsty teardrop journaling.
Overzealous declarations of love.
Bleak brooding over unrequited love.
Self-flagellation over star-crossed love.

All of it ignited over women.
The ones who brought chaos to my order.
And then one day when I least expected,
It transcended, ending the beginning.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 14: Today’s prompt:

Today’s optional prompt asks you, like Alice Notley, to think about your own inspirations and forebears (whether literary or otherwise). Specifically, I challenge you today to write a poem that deals with the poems, poets, and other people who inspired you to write poems. These could be poems/poets/poepl that you strive to be like, or even poems, poets, and people that you strive not to be like. There are as many ways to go with this prompt as there are ways to be inspired.

When I was in Junior High, my normal English teacher had to take a leave of absence near the end of the school year. The substitute English teacher was much younger, and – stop me if you’ve heard this from me before – yeah, I had a HUGE crush on her.

But initially, her curriculum baffled me. I was all set to flex my mastery of breaking down and diagraming sentences for her, but she never asked for any of that. Instead, she had us read “The Road Not Taken”, by Robert Frost, asking us to interpret it and find our own meaning within it.

I scoffed at first, but eventually, very subtly, something shifted within me. Prior to that, I had already weaponized the written word via love notes to girls I liked, but her classes encouraged me to try poetry in earnest, for better or worse.

I’m still pretty much a one-trick pony, but I’m at peace with it.  

Day 13: Surface Tensions

Photo by Afrah on Unsplash

Surface Tensions

Look, we could spin ourselves in circles
falsely claiming that you or I
drew first blood. I mean,

not one to quibble
 – it was clearly you,
though you may indeed
erroneously disagree – but
it don’t matter no more.

Sure, you had the prettiest grey eyes
I’d ever seen, and yeah,
I meant that shit, and yeah
it was corny as fuck, but well,

have you ever heard an empty cup
speak-up, looking for something
or someone to fill them
with purpose?

I didn’t think it would lead to nothing,
and was stunned when it did.

We had fun though, didn’t we?
Playing hooky some Thursdays,
laughing at shitty movies,
disappearing off the grid

into our own private world at
a different random Econo Lodge
each time looking to not form
any traceable patterns.

You had your men on the side,
and I had my whole thing going on,
but I wasn’t tripping about
what this was or where we were.

You said it first, remember?
And maybe you thought you meant it,
but at the time, I repeated it
only because I was naked and
afraid of the repercussions
of silence.

After allowing time to reflect
and to see the whole elephant,
I realized that I do care. I care.

But that’s no longer enough, is it?

And I swear to God I never knew
I’d meet someone like her
after meeting you.

She and I are just synched in ways
your sense of surface tensions
can’t possibly imagine.

What you and I had was fun, wasn’t it?

And I don’t understand a thing
about soulmates, but my mind,
heart, soul, whatever gut or
animal-instinct you can conjure;

all of them unanimously tell me
that I’d be a fool to ever let her
walk out of my life,

so… you know…

I didn’t mean to steal your joy,
but I’m dropping all pretense for her
and only her.

Do you get it?

Try to understand; remember the way
you say you felt when you fell for me?

You loved me, even as you were still
loving on those other dudes, right?
Even as you will be tomorrow, right?

Well, I met her, and everything I am
has led me to the moment where
nothing else matters except for
my pulse synching with hers.

I loved you. I did. I still do.
But I can never let her go.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 13: Today’s prompt:

There’s a pithy phrase attributed to T.S. Eliot: “Good poets borrow; great poets steal.” (He actually said something a bit different, and phrased it a bit more pompously – after all, this is T.S. Eliot we’re talking about). Nonetheless, our optional prompt for today (developed by Rachel McKibbens, who is well-known for her imaginative and inspiring prompts) plays on the idea of stealing. Today, I challenge you to write a non-apology for the things you’ve stolen. Maybe it’s something as small as your sister’s hairbrush (or maybe it was your sister’s boyfriend!) Regardless, I hope this sly prompt generates some provocative verse for you.

Oh, thank God! I was afraid that this might be one of those Erasure – found poetry prompts that I suck at find so frustrating. Thank goodness it’s just a prompt about good-old stealing! Yay for stealing!

Day 11: Fate of the Lilies

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay 

Fate of the Lilies

it was an Easter Sunday
she wanted the white lilies
or maybe they were tiger
or stargazers; who can say

I’m no botanist for sure
but I gifted them to her
roots in-tact for repotting

she squealed with impish delight
showering me in kisses
I fought her back, kiss for kiss

she said she loved me, then gasped
asking if that was ok

I assured her that it was
and that I loved her as well

when can I see you again
she asked between prolonged hugs
her sparkle drawing me in

as soon as we are able
I said, strengthening my grip

she blinked back tears with a wink
cramming with delicacy
her potted plant and body
into her car to depart

I’ll text you when I make it
she said with one more blown kiss
she was true to her word, but

I never saw her again

looking back, it hurts to breathe
but still, it was for the best
as we were from different worlds

I don’t know what lilies mean
but the ones I got for her
are probably long dead now.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 11: Today’s challenge – Language of Flowers:

Our optional prompt for the day is based on the concept of the language of flowers. Have you ever heard, for example, that yellow roses stand for friendship, white roses for innocence, and red roses for love? Well, there are as many potential meanings for flowers as there are flowers. The Victorians were particularly ga-ga for giving each other bouquets that were essentially decoder-rings of meaning. For today, I challenge you to write a poem in which one or more flowers take on specific meanings. And if you’re having trouble getting started, why not take a gander at this glossary of flower meanings? (You can find a plain-text version here). Feel free to make use of these existing meanings, or make up your own.

I found out retroactively that the white lily is associated with purity and is often used as a funeral flower. Also, in Buddhism, tiger lilies represent the virtues of mercy and compassion. Make of that what you will.

Stargazers symbolize lots of stuff. Google it for yourself. This blog poem about flowers is over!

Day 8: A Poem Beginning with a Line by Sylvia Plath

Photo by Warner on Unsplash

A Poem Beginning with a Line by Sylvia Plath

Musky as a lovebed the morning after.
As blue a sky vintage toxins could allow.
Remnants of when playing it cool was disrobed.
Careful not to drop breadcrumbs, out slipped the tongue,
afraid of what could be left unexplored, lost.
What was said, now muddled; tangled, dangled sheets.
Secrets spilled upon linen, taunts veiled in smiles.
Favors returned in earth-suckles and shudders.
Reflections! How urgent! Come through! Come, midnight!
Fat and black, moonless regrets are swallowed whole.
At sunrise, only faint aroma lingers,
pushed aside by a faint whiff of breakfast as
only briefly, hunger displaces hunger.
It all makes sense when thinking of that first kiss.
Still don’t know of the why, but glad of the how.
***

NaPoWriMo Day 8: “…peruse the work of one or more of these twitter bots, and use a line or two, or a phrase or even a word that stands out to you, as the seed for your own poem. Need an example? Well, there’s actually quite a respectable lineage of poems that start with a line by another poet, such as this poem by Robert Duncan, or this one by Lisa Robertson.”

NaPoWriMo nailed it with this one. They even provided me with a Sylvia Plath Twitter Bot, and anyone who reads me probably had an inkling that it was either going to be Plath or Poe.

Day 5: Short Spring

Photo by Devin Avery on Unsplash

Short Spring

over time, trauma is a thief of joy
two fingers of bourbon mug the mugger
spring oozed into her room nonchalantly
embracing us with equanimity
her voice cooing we shouldn’t do this now
her lips tasting of why haven’t we yet
the fire in her almond eyes read mine
we chose the same musk-knotted adventure
music was jealous of our harmony
you introduced me to Martin Gore and
I didn’t get him, but through you, I did
I’m jealous I missed your London punk scene
and all the parts that broke you apart
we were both trauma and broken things
we been runnin’, done ran, till we bumped heads
finding joy in tending each other’s shards
I lived to cut myself open on you
seducing you into seducing me
say I won’t rise to meet your velvet taunt
your tongue had already run us through
I marked you as mine when your teeth pierced me
by the thinnest skin of goddess sinew
we loved, clear-eyed in the blackest of night
as the box-springs sang je t’aime, je t’aime
you took my life each time I surrendered
only to find your dear Eeyore renewed
I’ll re-steal this joy, returning to us
delightful, bottled beautiful struggle
thus was the elixir of our short spring
***

NaPoWriMo Day 5: “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” developed by Jim Simmerman. The challenge is to use/do all of the list below in the same poem, or as many as possible. This was extremely challenging, but also super engaging. I kicked off my shoes, threw out the punctuation, meditated on a topic that frequents my thoughts, (I was born a dirty old man. Sorry/not sorry) and started tinkering. I fudged some of the criteria, but I honored the spirit of all twenty requirements.

Here they are:

  1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
  2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
  3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
  4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
  5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
  6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
  7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
  8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
  9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
  10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
  11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
  12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
  13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
  14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
  15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
  16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
  17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
  18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
  19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
  20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

greeting card

dawid-zawila-zb2vBaHYB2I-unsplash

Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

greeting card

“thinking of you”
written neatly, carefully
in black ink followed by ellipsis…

enclosed in insert
on sensible stock
of reasonable price

the card cover
gilded, framed, centered

a woman in repose
lounging in secret garden
drunk from moon beams
arm draped dramatically
over forehead,

informing of intimacy
concealed within her fold
open to my eyes

arriving, postmarked for
a random Tuesday, observing
of no one’s birthday

nor season’s greetings
not even candied-red hearts
with “be mine” carved
in sugar and bone meal

only an internal reveal
on a random day
after a weekend filled
with intimate truths

homemade mac-n-cheese
unremarkable, but meticulously
made to impress her

and gentle breath
on porcelain skin

contrasting in moonlight
with the rise and fall
of my mahogany drawn taut

gripping the night with her
with vigorous release

our spiritual surface long pierced,
our raw matter, now entwined
arriving at urgent merge

followed by teardrops

falling, pouring, mingling with grins
our brim overflowing with
graceless embraces

knowing how long we waited
pleading with fated winds

to stir currents leading
to this moment no longer obscured
by shadow of what should be

for one fleeting cherry bloom
we breathed our flesh into dream

birthing a brief reality
every bit as pure as gold
our priceless loot

the gilded frame, folded paper
and measured ink of sensible fee,

a remnant of a time
when we unfolded ourselves
opening to new gilded treasures

remembered, commemorated by her
in a postage-stamped envelope
addressed to this lonely man, piercing
my blue veneer yet again, knowing,

intuitively, without a doubt
I was thinking of her too…
***