Day Nine Poem: Whoops… by guest poet Stephanie L. Harper

Forklift

Whoops…

by Stephanie L. Harper

Dear Autocorrect: Thank you
for your patience & support
in my kite. I rely on your
spelling sand predictive text
features many things easy day.
If I couldn’t trust you to etch
my typing, I would be a little
more honest about the times
I’m in the bathroom. I beam,
really, the last thing I need is
for people to judge me because of
where I might be dotting if all I’m
frying to do is confirm the time
of our nesting. A few fats ago,
my husband texted me from
the hardest store to ask if I could
use any more bridges for fainting
in the bedroom. Nob makes almond
anything come acrylic as romantic,
so things started jesting up a bit.
Lettuce nut say, it was with all
your extra kelp, that I was doom
scrolling his puzzle, so he had to
duck behind a dorkloft parked by
the election law tools. It was the mist
excrement wither of us remembered
having since I went shipping last
Christmas for a new wonton hacker…
Anyway, I thought I’d pet you now
how much your rusty cervix beams
to me. Your fiend, Stephanie.

 

 

* * *

 

Many thanks to Stephanie L. Harper, poet extraordinaire, for writing this piece, and Jazz Jaeschke, who sponsored the poem and provided the title and these three words: trust, judge, puzzle. If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details. Give me a title, provide some words. Or think of another challenge! It’s all for a good cause: Brick Street Poetry, Inc. 

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “I’ll Have the Body Sandwich, and Hold the “Me,” Please,” thanks to my favorite artist, Ron Throop. Was it something I said, Ron, or do you just like to make me squirm? Ha!

 

Day Eight Poem: Another Sunrise, Another Moon

whale tail

Another Sunrise, Another Moon

 1.
I have no more lies to tell. Everyone
laughs when I say this, but I saw
the whale breach that day
and though nothing changed,
in that instant the world
stopped spinning and I rose
above that battle gray deck
to join the low clouds,
molecules fluttering,
cells dispersing, but only
for a flash,
before I came to,
standing,
gape-jawed,
22-years old
and finally, aware.

2.
Texas lives in my rear-view mirror.
Could I have stayed on my land,
harvesting those sour persimmons
for jam, watching vultures soar,
napping in the heat of day
in hopes of observing cliff frogs
at night? Would that have been
a life? Would that have been enough?

3.
I didn’t come here to die
but the possibility remains.
Will my ashes soil the streets
of Indianapolis? Soon the grass
will turn brown. Trees will bare
their branches to the wind’s icy
fingers. Snow will blanket
the cornfields, and I
will bake bread and pies.
Make pizza and rich stews.
Touch. Talk. Dream.
Sing. Read.
Love.

4.
Another sunrise           another moon           which follows which?

 

 

* * *

 

Many thanks to Tara of Sacred Land Sage, who sponsored the poem and provided these three words: persimmon, nap, flutter. If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details. Give me a title, provide some words. Or think of another challenge! It’s all for a good cause: Brick Street Poetry, Inc. 

Tomorrow’s poem is written, with the sponsor’s approval, by special guest poet and budding superstar, Stephanie L. Harper, and is titled “Whoops!” Thank you, Jazz Jaeschke, for providing the title and these three words: trust, judge, puzzle.

 

Day Two Poem: Poetry in the Dark: A Speed Reading Nightmare

razor

Poetry in the Dark: A Speed Reading Nightmare

In this dream you have fallen in love
but have never met the object of your affection,
who, as it turns out, is a fake-blonde with a tongue
like a straight razor and an attitude so negative
even shadows freeze at her feet. Life is good,
you say, but might I have a moment to dispel
this notion of poetry in the dark? Every word
blossoms bright flares, each syllable unfolds
the night, peppers the air with lightdrops
and the aroma of shed falsities. And then
your love steps in and desiccates the atmosphere.
Drops a few F-bombs, slices nerve endings,
stomps out expectation. What do you see in her,
I ask. It’s not about vision, you reply, but what I
hope to find. Think of purgatory, of broken
door knobs and the party next door. Think about
time capsules and nested dolls and what might
live around the corner, if only you believe.
Then an auctioneer starts reading your poems,
and no matter how you struggle, you can’t
describe the lure, the power, the beauty,
the insurmountable, undeniable, ineffable darkness.

 

* * *

Many thanks to Ken Gierke for sponsoring this poem and providing the title!

If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details. Give me a title, provide some words. Or think of another challenge! It’s all for a good cause: Brick Street Poetry, Inc. 

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “We Do What We Must,” and is sponsored by Plain Jane, who, six years ago, forced me to write “Your Armpits Smell Like Heaven.” 

 

Day Seven Poem: The Kohlrabi Polka

 

eggplant

The Kohlrabi Polka

But turnips tango, and carrots two-step
across the lawn, their leafy headdresses
waggling in time. Habaneros, of course,
salsa, the hotter the better, while white
asparagus gavotte, and everyone knows
that yams jam and break, and zucchini
synchronize in lines. Always in lines, but
never straight ones. Parsley twists, and okra
shimmies. And eggplants, well! Just imagine
a sultry lambada, purple bellies touching,
parting only to twirl. Contrarian cabbages
dance in squares. Broad beans boogaloo
under the moon’s discerning gaze, and
Brussels sprouts waltz, no matter the tune,
while apples and other fruit glare from their
branches, bobbing helplessly, captivated,
jealous, plotting their escapes, their revenge.

 

 

 

 

* * *

 

Many thanks to Pleasant Street for sponsoring this poem and providing the title. If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details. Give me a title, provide some words. Or think of another challenge! It’s all for a good cause: Brick Street Poetry, Inc. 

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “Another Sunrise, Another Moon,” and is sponsored by Tara of Sacred Land Sage, who provided these three words: persimmon, nap, flutter.

 

Day One Poem: When Madeleine Said No

Empty Glass

When Madeleine Said No

The spotted orb spider withdrew
to a dark corner under the eaves.

Last night’s empty glass remained
empty. Books continued sleeping

on shelves, comfortable in their covers.
What do I do now, she asked.

Nothing has changed,
but the sunlight streaming in

bores through my skin,
fingers all the little crevices,

records my cellular secrets
and folds them into tiny squares,

perhaps to be exposed later.
I am alone but not alone.

All one. Like rain and a river.
Like a train’s whistle knifing

through dreams. Like the night sky
above storm clouds, and smoky

laughter wafting from a bar. A symphony,
a bible. One syllable reclaiming a life.

* * *

Many thanks to Lynne Burnett for sponsoring this poem and providing the title!

If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details.

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “Poetry in the Dark: A Speed Reading Nightmare,” and is sponsored by Ken Gierke, who may or may not be out to get me…

Day Six Poem: Scarecrow’s Wealth

 

scarecrow and crow

Scarecrow’s Wealth

Who needs words when you own the wind?
When your wingtips flash and you know the subtleties
of reflection and shrugs and the next moment’s
glee. My friends bring me bits of each day.
Today, the bright cap lifted from a cava bottle’s
cork. Three days ago, an aluminum heart
stamped with “best.” The rodent-nibbled straw hat
perched jauntily atop my head bears a pearl
earring, and yesterday a skeleton
key materialized in my left coat pocket,
in which a mouse skull and foil wrappers
also rest. My wealth abounds, and despite
protests, I am rewarded daily. Look, they say,
accept this offering for what it is: a participation
in joy. So I point to choice grains, contribute advice
and song, screech warnings and recite poetry,
though my straw tongue often wavers.
What else may I tender to those who travel
so freely? Last week a polished hinge
came to me, and before that, a chipped glass
eye, which might someday replace my missing
ocular button, should needle and thread appear.
Each day is a gift to be shared. Every gift,
a celebration of days, a commitment to living.
I am grateful, and in my gratitude, give.

 

 

* * *

Many thanks to Charles of Words and Feathers for sponsoring this poem. If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details. Give me a title, provide some words. Or think of another challenge! It’s all for a good cause: Brick Street Poetry, Inc. 

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “The Kohlrabi Polka,” and is sponsored by Pleasant Street, who provided the, uh, interesting title.

Day Five Poem: What Were the Members of the Donner Party Hungry For Before They Set Out on the Trail?

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What Were the Members of the Donner Party Hungry For Before They Set Out on the Trail?

And why are pizzas round, and do trees dream?
These questions keep me awake at night, as do
thoughts of decades decanted and refined in memory,
their solids discarded with no consideration of retention.
Last evening we dined at an Indianapolis restaurant
for the first time in eighteen months. My steak
was pink and juicy. Tender. The Russian River pinot
bore flavors of cherry and dried herbs, with perhaps
hints of moss-crusted sonnets and mislaid intent
underscored by regret. But tasty, reminding me
that first impressions are truly lasting, and that
I should have bailed five years into that marriage.
Would I eat human flesh? Lord knows I gnawed
on that wolf-trapped foot for years. Lately
I’ve been making rectangular pizzas, in the Detroit
style, with peppered salami, crushed San Marzano
tomatoes and Wisconsin brick cheese, but if I
were to cook myself, toughness (due to age) would be
an issue, and I’d recommend a slow braise in wine
or sake, with parsnips, carrots and minced serrano
peppers. Served over sticky rice, of course. I wonder
if the oak misses me. Though we lived together
for thirty-five years, my roots never dug deep,
but instead spread out just enough to hold on
and stay in place. Until it was time to let go.
So I ask: what does the oak think of me? Do I exist
beyond that first impression of the awkward 25-year
old, or does it recall the older one who tended
its wounds and broken limbs, who watered and fed it
poetry? My hungers have changed with age,
but I still want the same things.

* * *

Many thanks to Jilanne Hoffman for sponsoring this poem and providing the title.

If you’d like to join in on the fun, see my September 5 post for sponsorship details. Give me a title, provide some words. Or think of another challenge! It’s all for a good cause: Brick Street Poetry, Inc. 

Tomorrow’s poem is titled “Scarecrow’s Wealth,” and is sponsored by Charles of Words and Feathers

Letter to Geis from This Side of the Glass

 

Letter to Geis from This Side of the Glass

Dear Greg: I can’t help but think about windows, their
function, their meanings, intended and otherwise, how
they block some entities but allow others entrance. A
black vulture feather lies just on the other side of this
pane, but the laws of material and physics prevent me
from reaching through and claiming it. Maybe I’d
sharpen the end, dip it into squid ink and write letters.
Or not. Cephalopods are scarce in the hill country,
unlike carrion birds, wild hogs and scorpions, and frankly,
ballpoint pens require less maintenance. Lately, the
opaque has redirected my attention — no matter which
government agency speaks, I feel surrounded by their
pseudomorphs, those little indistinct clouds of mucus and
dark pigment released to confuse and numb me. A common
occurrence, I hear, and all the more frightening for it. I
think of where we’re headed, collectively and individually,
and even knowing that our destination remains unchanged
offers small comfort. One foot at a time, the steps matter,
and though it appears we won’t share those planned brews
in Bandera, I’ll chuckle over our last meeting there and
dream up a conversation about futility and compromise,
and yes, success. I’ve just spent twenty minutes trying to
help a yellow jacket escape. It wouldn’t leave the glass even
after I left the door ajar, allowing a fly to enter. Instead,
it gazed out at the hazy morning, seeking a way through
refraction’s oblique path. Finally, shepherded with my bare
hand, it reluctantly skittered to the jamb, and I coaxed it
the final few inches by pushing it with the door. Such
are my days. A little faith, some hope, luck and a great
unknowing. This window seems cloudy, or is it just
my eyes? I miss you, buddy, as do the hills and the sky
and everything nestled and bustling between.  Bob

 

 

 

This first appeared in May 2020 in the Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art. D.G. Geis was a friend, a larger than life  poet, and a fellow Texan. We were both finalists for the Slippery Elm poetry prize in 2017, and after learning that we didn’t win, decided to have a “losers’ lunch” in Bandera, Texas, the closest town to our respective rural properties. Much laughter ensued, and we made plans to get together for a beer in the coming months. Alas, that was not to be.

 

 

Letter from Austin

perfection

 

Letter from Austin

Michael, when you say moons do you see
cold stone floating in the firmament
or phrases frayed in the mouth and spat on paper?
And does the Spanish moon simmer at a similar
pace to mine or yours? Which embers blush brighter?
But let’s turn to estuaries, to salt and clamor and gun-
running poets and interrupted words sold in stalls
between parenthetical gates, to incomparable cavas
and the deterioration of envy and intervening years.
Or perhaps mislaid passion – a friend claims love
is merely a bad rash, that we scratch and scratch
and inflame but never truly cure what ails us. Sounds like
politics to me. Or sports. And business. Or neighborhoods.
On my street people should cook and play music together,
laugh, raise chickens and read good books. They should
brew beer, swap tomatoes, recite each other’s poetry and sing
in tune. But we’re different here, preferring instead electronics
glowing in dimly lighted rooms. I reject this failure, as I also
reject the theory of centrifugal force spinning off the moon’s
body from the earth’s crust, preferring to imagine a giant
impact blasting matter into orbit around what morphed into the
earth, and somehow accreting the stuff into this orb we
sometimes worship. This, to me, is how good relationships
form: explosions of thought and emotion followed by periods
of accretion. But what I mean is I hope this finds you well
by the river of holy sacrament. Remember: brackish water
bisects our worlds. Turn. Filter. Embrace. Gotta run. Bob.

 

Originally published in Heron Clan 3, this first appeared on the blog in July 2015.

My friend Michael occasionally sends hand-written notes or letters to me, and I respond with poems. This is one. You might read some of his writing at Underfoot Poetry.

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The Resonance of No (with recording)

dishes

 

 

 The Resonance of No

Yes, yes, we’ve heard. The dishwasher wastes less
and cleans better. But Kenk­ō believed in the beauty
of leisure, and how better to make nothing
while standing with hands in soapy water, thoughts
skipping from Miles Davis’s languid notes to the spider
ascending to safe shelter under the sill (after I blow
on her to amuse myself), washing my favorite knife
and wondering if I should hone it, not to mention
my skills on the six-string or the potato peeler.
And if I linger at the plates, even the chipped one,
admiring their gleam after hot water rinses away
the soap residue, who could question the quick gulp
of ale or the shuffle of an almost-but-not-quite
dance step-or-stumble while arranging them on the
ribbed rack, back-to-back, in time to Coltrane’s
solo. Then the forgotten food processor’s blade
bites my palm, and I remember that I’ve outgrown
the dark suit, the cut branches still need bundling
and none of the words I’ve conjured and shaped
over decades and miles will extend their comfort
when I stand at my father’s grave this week or next.

 

“The Resonance of No,” was published in December 2016 in Gravel, and is included in my chapbook, From Every Moment a Second.

Daniel Schnee wrote about this poem here.

Music Credit: Cool Vibes Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/