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

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Have decided to post the prompts and the poems I write for this challenge here also:

April 1/10 prompt - "lonely"

Missing Dad

You always wanted to
Go to the mountains
And I promised I’d take
You; I thought we had time ...

Afraid they might
Confiscate you
In your baggie
Inside my carry-on,

Against all my instincts
My so-called
Better judgement
I put you in my suitcase

And checked
You through,
Heaved you and
My luggage—
So undignified—
Wheels up
On the conveyer belt,

Watched you disappear
Through the
Rubber flaps;
Felt helpless and sick
And, for the first time
Truly alone.

April 2/10 - prompt "water"

God’s Spectrum

watering the winter
scorched lawn
she is being careful
to shoot the road grit
back out to the curb
and scoop the dog cigars
into a bucket
when she is suddenly
blinded by a rainbow
in the spray

transfixed, she can’t
seem to move
just stares
at the perfect miniature
mere inches beyond
the hose nozzle

she feels inexplicably
reverent as if she
should kneel down or
offer thanks

when it hits her;
it’s Good Friday
that holiest of days
and she all at once
feels like praying

April 3/10 - prompt "partly ___________"

Partly There

After every course of treatment
It takes a just little longer for her
To come back to the now, to being here

She grows used to the burnt-toast smell
Of fried synapses; oddly that stays a constant
As unvarying as the minute charge itself

At first the changes are subtle ones, so much so
They are discounted by her doctors and family;
Even she will not face up to the odd lapse—
The groping for the right word or being
Unaccustomedly stuck when trying to remember
The name for something

But, as her memory cells degrade and
She finds herself grasping weakly for thoughts,
Ideas, recollections—all of which were only
Yesterday an automatic offering up
To the most cursory of searches

She knows that all she had is now
Just partly there, and awash in fearful
Desperation she clings to the vaguest notion
Of ... of ... memories?


Partly Just Because

Mid-week I can be found there
In the cave of my familiars
On occasion—depending
On my mood and who’s
In attendance—I will be
Half-hidden near the back
Soaking up the atmosphere
Making notes, inhaling
Wafts of feta cheese, mousaka
And other Greek delicacies
That drift from upstairs
Every time someone enters
And the heavy door stands
Open momentarily

Other times I am more
Likely in the thick of things
Bathed in the bright lights
And foot-stomping music
Near the staging area
Rubbing shoulders with others
Hoping to read their work
Aloud that night

It is magical in this place
Where the light’s akin to that
Found in a Vermeer—
If you squint extra hard
And drink enough—
And the comradely feeling
Cannot be adequately described
Nor purchased for gold or diamonds

I do it partly for the thrill
And partly just because
Mid-week in the cave
Of my familiars

April 4/10 - prompt "history"

Taking Down My History

Over the course of my life I have heard the phrase
“Take down your history” more times than I can count

Depending on the space I’m in – I become resigned
To the lengthy recitation; angry because I know ‘they’ have it

Stored somewhere in the bowels of the very building we are in
on microfiche, or some other indestructible data storage system;

Stubbornly uncooperative, especially if I’ve provided
the information more than
Once in as many months—or, as of late, amused or
more correctly, bemused

For telling my sad story to a plethora of doctors, most of them specialists, has not
Seemed to make one damned bit of difference so why on earth,
do they keep asking

And why do I, fool on the hill, in the valley, in the court –
Anywhere you find fools – answer; it’s senseless

Why just the other day, or was it last month? It’s hard to say
Now that the memory is becoming as shot-through as a doily

An insurance agent posited this very question – no, not the agent
But an agent for the agent —that would be a nurse sent to evaluate

My mental health status, all in pursuit of my chance of being insured
For some miniscule amount – just enough to see me off, you understand

Because as the agent of the first part – that would be the actual insurance person, put it—
I don’t want to burden my loved ones with the costs associated with my death, right?

Still, when the perfectly nice unsuspecting young woman said to me,
“Now I’ll just take down your history ..."
I’m afraid I got giddy and she caught the brunt of years
of my having had to answer

This question, for I replied by asking her this:
“Will it be like taking down Christmas decorations?
Or storm windows in the Spring?” I could hear my husband, way off
in the den, groan

The poor girl just stared at me before making a note in her file; I could practically see my policy sprouting wings to take flight—
Then in a frankly curious tone, asked, “What are storm windows?”

Bless her, she could have made me feel so much more unwell,
had she so chosen;
I thought to tell her why I’d gone off the rails but instead explained the window thing and left it at that –

My husband and I saw her to her car, then came back inside our house;
for a few long moments
My love and I did not speak – then, holding our sides we started to howl;

We laughed so hard and so long, we had tears streaming down our face, and finally collapsed
On the couch where we allowed as to how we knew it was unlikely I would get insurance anyhow.

April 5/10 prompt "TMI" (too much information)

Cosmic Wonders

At the end of days
Tell them everything
Let them know
Who was on the list
Tell them who I held
A grudge against
And who I hated most
Let them know also
Who I loved best of all
And who I wanted least
At the end of days
When it matters not
Tell them all the details
Of a life lived in the dark
Let them know the joke
Was really on us all
When there’s nothing
Left to be done
At the end of days
You be sure to tell them


  1. Wow, Mom...beautiful work. I loved Missing Dad and Taking Down My History the best, but they are all brilliant.

  2. Thanks sweetie - it's kind of neat putting them all in one place ...


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