Monday, September 29, 2008

Southern Zen Master

He laughs easily at naysayers
plodding in his cornfield of life

is never concerned with
small-town gossip

brilliantly focuses on

eats collards on Sunday
sees green as green
and red as red

knows his grand-children's
favorite ice cream and
biggest wishes
for Christmas and birthdays

finds pleasure in a green bean
a five-and-dime harmonica
and in helping his wife

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I look at my tummy in the mirror
push it out - suck it in

it's not concave like
the corners of
that thin like wings
fragile girl

my belly is convex but


full of possibility
ripe watermelon
outie belly button
I want to be
heavy with child
knocked up Nelly
fertile Myrtle

I feel empty
and I cry
I'm only full
of pizza

A 27

a twenty-seven: a syllabic count poem invented by a friend in Chicago (see the website below): 5 syllables,4,5,4,4,5 per 6 lines


kinda's one I wrote:

In the heart of my
a century of
butterflies curl.
My pants ripping,
the wings unfold there.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

American Sentence for the day

The most southern thing I like to say is "dadgummit!" (and I mean it)

Monday, September 22, 2008

the nature of the mind and body

the majesty of a forest floor hovers
in the brain, thick with vines and fever
bursting from

poison ivy, curling leaves emerge
from the dark breast of loam, while

hallucinations of squirrels and sparrows
push through the unconscious,

scampering, flitting, floating
in the wind of uncertainty

pantomime the words of nature
in an unending song of flailing arms
finger-puppet plays, and toe-sock dances

thrust the body into the motion of a river
splashing foolishly for meaning

moist limbs move slowly
forgetting that they ever fought
for air

This is from the readwritepoem (link to the right) "word fishing" prompt.
It turned out kinda weird, but fun!
Thanks guys!

Sunday, September 21, 2008


My body becomes heavier and heavier
after the 6th nap of the weekend.

My organs push into one another
eyeballs into skull
tongue dead in my mouth.

My intestines heavy rope
sink into the ground of my
mercurial stomach.

I have dirty dishes and unfolded
laundry making my head so
my weak neck won't hold it up.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

someone new already leaving

I woke up in darkness
same as when we went to sleep
looked at you, realized how much
you looked like David Byrne in his
Talking Heads days.

I felt your callused hands,
said in my sleepy voice,
"That must be from plumbing."

Between discussions of Brat Pack
movies and "being in our 30's" stories
we slept, but I kept waking.

I heard your teeth grinding,
something you said you didn't know you did.
Had no one ever slept
that close to your mouth?

When light came, I giggled
told you how you smelled of beer
reminded you, "We were trying to remember
Anthony Michael Hall's name last night."

You said, "It's easy now isn't it?"

I looked at your paintings, stacked
against the bedroom wall, waiting to be packed
in the U-Haul in the front yard,
said,"the depth, the color...I want to
climb inside that one."

A plumber and a painter, I suggested you do
pipe art. You said,
"I was never good at 3-D."


The wind cracks a smile.

Friday, September 19, 2008


Grace eludes us, often hiding
behind the chair of resentment
or under the bed of frets.

She's plain as day, fluttering
wings of light, but plain as day
sometimes seems too bright.

And by the time we realize
we're just ignoring her
she has already given us
her wings.

Thank you, as always, Easystreet, for the inspiration.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

American Sentence for the day

I had a poetic thought, but it went away-hellfire, shit, fuck, damn.

Cento from the good ole poetry collaborative

I talk about them like I've always contributed to their site, :) which is here:

This is a cento, based off of some American Sentences from the above site. They have some wonderful, fabulous, amazing contributors to their site! CK it out, yo.

Sunburnt bliss

a swift fall from the center of the
tallest sunflower
how many ways can my body go wrong
—extract my bones to find out

light is different today, eyes
squint at a sun split
and spilt like fruit

a single noose of unopened morning
glories calls to the mother
behind the dying daisies a survivor
of childbirth picks weeds

cruel fall steals light
from the sunflower, goads hungry birds
to peck its face

midges cloud my head like
thoughts, my hand swats,
sending them spinning away

When I wake up, I will either be myself or someone different.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


papers shuffle themselves

typed words fumble their fingers
leave strange phrases

pens bow their tips to the page
reverent vessels leaking ink

edges tear from notebooks
right along the dotted line
(neatly neatly)

staples remove themselves
freed from the fold

typewriters click jokes into the air
laughing at themselves

word processors choose their own font
something stylish, they say

Sunday, September 14, 2008

for Misty

she finds spiders and birds
in the folds of her heart
waiting for her to pluck them
give them life

she looks into the mirror
sees the eyes of her ancestors
in each pupil, each iris
each flower in her eye

she puts her name in a teapot
letting it steam until
just right for steeping

she finds butterflies behind her
ears, moths in her hair
they wait for her to discover them

in the mason jar of her mind
(holes in the top for air)
where creatures live a happy
never waiting for anything

on a full moon

i can see your face more clearly

the parts i don't want to see

that make this hole, the size of the

full moon

even more obvious

in my yellow room, paper lanterns

on the floor

my chest toward the full moon

i open my ribs to let my heart


i was hoping my heart would


merge with the full moon

make it


Thursday, September 11, 2008

awkward angel

she walks on her too long dress
that pristine white turned brown
by her dirty bare heels

she reads paperbacks alone in her room
tears out the parts she likes
doesn't need to dog-ear

she plays her flute out of tune
peeks from the balcony to watch
the choir and gasps in fear of the
height (though she has wings)

she flies, only half-aware of where she is
or where she is going, stumbles through
clouds, gets soaking wet in them

shaking her drenched head
when she comes out again water
up her nose, rubbing her eyes

she watches me from her rickety bicycle
in the sky, turning the wrong way
at the light at the end of the tunnel
going down a one-way street

and simply smiles

the belly

when we find a piece of our belly
left out in the rain
(the core of a crooked tree
cut through to count the rings)

we look for signs of luck in it
(clovers) and scrub it
with cleaning fluid so it won't

seem as dirty as when we found
it on the sidewalk or
caught that stomach flu from the

laundromat (the place for watching
the tumbling-what it feels like
when we eat our crow)

good acid and good bacteria
churn there
but we want the proper mixture

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

American Sentences, try #2

I am smoldering in your coals, but I don't aim to be re-lit.

He is the vulture, standing over my corpse, picking me with his beak.

The heroine, not dressed in heels, or ready for her role, gnashes them.

Revolution takes wings, balls, hands- climb up the flagpole, rip custom down.

Scotch on his breath, he remembers, laughs at his ugly workday.

This cubicle reeks of burned popcorn, lunch not supposed to be blackened.

Baby blue dress, pantyline showing, I stand in front of the class, aware.

Monday, September 8, 2008

this train

sixty kilometers/hour
I ride this iron, these
silvery tracks that span a continent

electric wires, a swift noise,
whir, click, relax
I hover low in a sleeper car
tucked on the bottom bunk

places I have never been
places with red roofs,
broken castles
and pointed-arch cathedrals

mountains jut into the stars
the canals stink of waste
and I watch you out the

this tiny glassed-in room
in a high-backed,
padded seat, waiting for the trainman
to open the door
and stamp my passport

I watch you in your room,
snorting coke like you used to do
I see us in your bed
I keep riding, through every country, every moment

The trainman turns to leave,
and I have to shut the
curtains just to see my way back into the hour.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


don't act like you don't like that nickname
Helter Skelter and Carl Jung, you understand

there's something about the way you say "Helllo!"
a high-pitched first syllable, low on the "o"

watching the sunset next to your apartment
you give a goat some of your "Granny's"
chocolate chip cookies through the fence

a chef, but you thrive on mac and cheese
Beanie Weenies and milk, always milk
milk with spaghetti, milk with Wendy's food

your lungs grow tight
but the river, gallons of fresh water
flowing through you

makes polished glass and smooth stones
out of your jagged organs,
and no matter how much we joke
you are not emotionally butterfingered

Saturday, September 6, 2008


and you are beginning to forget things.
You call Mom at work, "Where are you?"
She says you always had selective memory, and hearing.
I think this is different.

The financial cement of our family, you still hold us up.
I got a check in the mail with a note: "Doll, we love you."

Light catches the bridge of your porous nose
long gray hairs growing from the outside, the inside.

Purple veins, age spots are on the tops of your hands.
Deep wrinkles are in your loose flesh, but
your eyes are still the same, bright and brown,

and as long as you've lived,
you are still the worrier
the provider, the man of the house

caught between fixing the TV and
sleeping in the LaZBoy

still telling the same jokes,
that still make me giggle:
"Does my hair look pretty?"

I put sunscreen on your bald head,
rub your sore gout-puffy feet.

You get lost, driving in circles,
not remembering where you were 5 minutes ago,
drunken-walk (but you don't drink).


I can't help but think of the bedpan,
you losing lots of weight, like Uncle Brer,
how you might not remember me (the caregiver).

Now, you argue when you forget things
get angry when you can't stand up as quickly,
knees locking:
"Damn, I can't even get up off the floor anymore."

These are the consequences of aging.
You are still here at 70, despite 3 heart attacks.

I'm not ready to trade places.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

American Sentences-my first try...

A praying mantis crooks his arms, a tiny rosary in his claws.

The fan keeps time with the fridge, and I can't help but snooze.

I watch the lamps, myself, the dog, reflections in my broken TV.

Poofs of dog hair blow on the wooden floor, but I don't feel like sweeping.

A basket labeled "Misc." holds paper pictures...almost obsolete.

Whistle a little ditty while you drive me to the airport.

Hoschton, GA made the Guinness Record for the most scarecrows this year.

A boy ten years my junior tells me Footloose is "gay"--arrgh!

When I hang upside down, the world seems right side up.

strength is a cloud

she holds thousands of gallons of water,
rain ready to

she allows weather to emerge
(only when she is ready)

she changes
from wispy and light, transparent
(sometimes we can see inside her)

to opaque, buxom,
ample, heavy,
thick with life

to impenetrable, dark,
(she can hide the stars)

she is daring, bold, even
in the sky

she is gliding, sexy in her
her trans ~ for / ma ) tions `'

and still, she often goes

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


she shells peas every morning after breakfast
they fall in buckets and blue and white bowls
that are cracking from age but the sweet bright peas

yellow-green as those frogs in the south pond
don't care if she drops one or misses her pill
or if she rolls her stockings down around her ankles
or takes them off altogether

because the sound they make as they roll around the bowl
is as old and comforting as she feels at that moment
the same moment every morning
simply shelling peas


This does not seem to let me indent. Anyone know how to do that on blogger?
I'd like to know how for my poems too.
This is for my 1101 students:

Althea is my alter ego. She doesn't come out very often, but when she does, she rages. I have always been sort of afraid of anger (even my own), and usually just cry when I'm mad. I never liked violence, and curled my lip in disgust at the kids in high school who got in fights in the hallway, and the guy at a bar, when I was in college, who pulled out a knife on us because we were rooting for a different football team than he was. They were "lame, petty, stupid." Funny, sometimes judgments come back like our own feet kicking us in our own butts.
As a 35-year-old, I feel I've gotten past a lot of the "immature stuff," but that evening, I was humbled at my lack of maturity when I became angry. At around nine p.m. on a Friday night, I had gone with my friend Anna to see a band we knew. This was the first time I'd been back to North Carolina since I'd moved. We were hanging out on the sidewalk (my friend Anna smoking) near a bench, waiting for the band to play. We petted my dog, Ophelia, who was tied to the bench. I had brought her along on the trip. (Ophelia goes everywhere with me.) As we enjoyed visiting with old friends (Anna too was visiting), we joked about how we were glad we didn't live in that small town anymore.
Anna muttered under her breath,"Wow, these people are drunk. Do they need to be this drunk to have a good time?"
"Shit," I said, "They see the same people every night."
We giggled stealthily, and I looked around. I noticed a young guy, skinny with dark brown hair, standing on the sidewalk holding a can of PBR. I thought, that's not from the bar. He had that "I'm a cute boy and I know it" kind of look--arrogant dark eyes, smurky grin, well-groomed, and on top of that with two model-pretty blonds, one on each arm, literally. He was certainly young, no more than maybe 21, if that. They were, all three, blisteringly drunk, one of the blonds swaying on her 3-inch stilettos and standing directly in front of my dog.
These three were in their own world; that's all I knew. The stiletto blond kept teetering and stepping back, closer and closer to Ophelia. I kept watching, hoping she would take notice, trying to be polite and not interrupt whatever very important conversation they must have been having. Then the blond, laughing loudly, stepped on Ophelia, and she yelped. The blond kept swaying, teetering, laughing. I tapped her on the shoulder, still quite myself at this point, and said, "Hey, would you mind being careful? My dog is behind you. You stepped on her." Well, all hell broke loose after that.
"I didn't step on your fucking dog! She shouldn't be out here anyway!" This language along with a lot of head slinging and arm flailing went on for at least two or three minutes, and even when she sat down on a step to smoke a cigarette, she kept going. I was in awe. I didn't know what to do. There were a lot of people crowded on this sidewalk waiting for the band. They just watched. I could feel myself becoming angry, and all the heat in my body rising to my face. I watched her as she kept going. Finally, I broke.
"All you had to say was, I'm sorry, and leave it at that. I don't know what all this other shit is about." Well, I'm sure she didn't like me speaking to her that way, so she started in again. There were so many expletives, I can't begin to quote them all. Then, to my chagrin, her young guy friend joined in the fun.
He kept saying, "Your fucking dog shouldn't be out here,"and said very ugly things about my dog, as if she had any fault in it at all. He began moving closer and closer to my face. I could see his yellowed teeth from smoking, his hand gripping ever tighter to this aluminum PBR can. He rose at least a foot over me (I'm only 5'1"), and kept moving closer and yelling louder.
I tried to reason with, "My dog has just as much right to be here as you do, and you shouldn't have that beer can out here. I could call the police." Reasoning is not something one should try to do with an inebriated belligerent. A friend stepped in who happened to know this guy. He said, "Mark (or it could have been Ron or Bill, or John...I don't remember to this day), you're being an asshole, man. Chill out."
At this, Mark (or whatever his name was), pushed my friend onto the sidewalk, saying, "What did you call me?" Here is where Althea entered.
She began to curse this guy up and down Main Street, even push him, as he still inched closer. Her face became distorted, unrecognizable to her friends (or so they told her later). Althea kept pushing, and what's-his-name kept insulting her, and her dog.
His last statement was, "and you need to go to Weight-Watchers." Althea, or rather I, have been through a lot when it comes to weight: bulimia, terrible self-esteem, depression. That was it. That was it. There was nothing of me after that, or maybe it was the real me. Sometimes I still wonder.
Althea punched old what's-his-name square in the jaw, a whole foot above her. It wasn't a pretty punch, as forceful or as perfect as she wanted it to be, but it was a punch. The people around her (mostly all friends) stared in disbelief, and one random guy pushed them (us) apart.
Then Althea said through her teeth, "If you say anything else, I'm gonna kick you in the balls." She realized at this point (in a millisecond's worth of time) that she did not have on ball-kicking shoes, but little soft ballet slippers. He said something else. She went for the alternative...grabbing and twisting.
More yelling commenced, but he would not shut up, and she (actually I went back to myself after a few minutes) had to walk away. In the end, I was crying, not proud or feeling bold, but feeling actually, quite weak. My friend Anna comforted me as we walked to the car.
Althea taught me something that day. Friends who have judged me in one way or another for doing what I did that night have their right to do so, absolutely. I was the eldest; I was the mature one; I was the college professor, for God's sake, but even I (someone who is oh-so peace loving) have my limits. When it came right down to it, when I was pushed to a certain point, I lost all sense of good judgment. It happens.

Monday, September 1, 2008

again, below

a poem in progress below under "see in the dark":
memories like dreams

"door number three, open"

crisis center
a girl pukes after a meal
"bathroom number three, closed"

"door number two, open"
we rinse hands in dirty

I dream a green tornado tries to eat my

"door number five, closed"

same dream- I fall off a cliff over
and over, surprised at the huge hand
catching me

anti-tornado tablet
anti-falling pill

"door number four, open"

we paint water
colors on pads of thick paper,
can only watch PG movies (we laugh)

"door number eight, closed"
watch people go through dt's-
paranoia locked in a bathroom
with him (and those sounds)

pace the hallway, green
carpet, locked doors

"bathroom number six, open"
announced loudly
every time we leave a room,
enter one,
take a piss, a shower

meds twice daily

unfortunately, fluorescents just aren't the same kind of light