Category Archives: Poetry

Southern Exposure

For weeks I’d been getting away with pants or at least longer shorts. Up in the mountains of Ramona it wasn’t too hot. But that day we were off to Calico ghost town in Death Valley—the whole family was going and there was no getting out of it. Besides, I loved the desert. Still, it was likely to be 100 degrees or more and there was no way to get away with pants. So I pulled on my pink shorts and tank top, hoping mom wouldn’t notice.

Of course she did. “What’s that bruise on the inside of your thigh?”

I suspect she already knew. Mary Lou’s mom had probably called her the day it happened. (Your daughter’s friend doesn’t get stepped on by your horse without you calling her mom, after all.) I had convinced myself she didn’t know I’d gone over there that morning; that I’d gotten away with the forbidden main-road crossing before school. I was sure she didn’t know about that fateful bareback horse ride and me falling off. But the jig was up. The heat had exposed my secret.

Southern exposure
Reveals what we’d like hidden
In the desert heat

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Had to write another Southwestern-inspired poem, a haibun this time, for dVerse Poets Pub.

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Living Water

I’m a prickly pear cactus
living in this hot Mojave Desert

They call my home
Death Valley for good reason

Life-giving water is scarce
but I know how to survive

When the rains come
I store up this treasure
deep in my veins

It sustains me when
the inevitable dry days come

I’m a Christian
living in this spiritually dry land

They call my home
earth, a fool’s paradise

Life-giving water is scarce
but I know how to survive

When I hear God’s Word
I store up this treasure
deep in my soul

It sustains me when
the inevitable dry days come

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For the Poetics prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today, Mish wants us to write poetry inspired by the Southwest, by the desert. I love the desert—the warmth and dryness appeal to me in a way the green and rain of the Pacific Northwest (where I live now) never could.

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Sifting Beans

I’m sifting through dry beans
picking out rocks
tossing damaged beans
skipping the limas
keeping the good ones
planning a steaming hot
pot of bean soup with bacon
carrots, celery, and onion
a few of my favorite herbs

Or maybe I’m writing a memoir

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It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and Toni offers the word “skip” for inclusion in our 44-word poems today. I’m thinking about what to leave in and what to leave out of the memoir I’m writing.

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April’s Almost Gone

Iris are blooming
New flowers are in their pots
The rain comes and goes
April has flown by so fast
May flowers and sun at last

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Remembering Dad

My dad was the best.

I remember when I was a kid how with gloved hand he would take each bullhead off the hook so I wouldn’t get cut by their spiky fins.

I remember how he taught me to shoot a BB gun in our backyard.

I remember how he let me play in the stacks of tires in his shop and then give me money to go get a Mister Misty at Dairy Queen down the street.

I remember how he would drive me to church and Missionettes and youth group meetings every week in middle school.

I remember when he took me shopping to buy my first pinstriped suit for speech and debate class.

I remember him saying he was going to buy me that Dodge Charger for sale on Main Street then bringing home a Ford Maverick instead because he got it for the price of the tow bill and a new engine that he put in.

I remember opening my mailbox at college and finding a card from him with the note “Here’s a little mad money for you. Don’t tell your mom.” and 20 bucks inside.

I remember that he came to my college graduation but not my wedding 4 months later because my mom was too sick.

I remember the huge smile on his face when he came to my baptism when I was 23.

I remember his last call, when he said “Come see me,” but I didn’t hear the urgency in his voice so I bought a plane ticket to Palm Springs for 2 weeks later.

I don’t remember who called to tell me he’d died a week later but I do remember the darkness that followed.

I remember the turbulence on the puddle-jumper from Portland to Palm Springs and wishing it would just crash.

I remember listening to “Indifference” by Pearl Jam and wondering if the pain of losing him would ever go away.

I remember many more things about my dad, but most of all I remember that he loved me and he died far too young.

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The prompt at NaPoWriMo today is to write an “I remember” poem.

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Set Free

She drove away from the pizza place
joyful in the knowledge that she had been set free.

No dark cloud appeared.

She realized she was humming along,
tapping her foot to the beat.

As she waited for her pizza to go,
Bad Company played on the radio.

One day, she stopped to get a pizza
on her way home from work.

She felt a weight lifted and joy return.

When she awoke, she knelt and prayed
for the strength to forgive.

One night she dreamed of forgiveness
and knew it was a message from God.

She pondered taking her own life
because she thought she was forever broken.

She spent years in darkness and anger.

She was never the same; whenever she heard Bad Company
a dark cloud would descend upon her.

Afterwards, he drove her home
and left her broken upon her doorstep.

Bad Company played on the radio.

He assaulted her in the front seat of his Lincoln.

He asked if she wanted to go to a party
and she said yes because he seemed nice.

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The NaPoWriMo prompt today is to write a story in reverse. I couldn’t help but turn each line of this semi-autobiographical story into a verse.

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My Word Wall

If all you knew of me was my poetry then what would you see?

If we had never met would my words alone let you understand my regret?

And would that be all you’d see, would I seem to you sad and small behind my word wall?

Do I reveal my joy in the verse that I employ or do you find my words simply annoy?

If you knew me in the flesh and personally would you be surprised by my poetry?

My word wall and pen keep you out or let you in depending on the mood I’m in.

Yet always there’s my God, intertwined, some think it odd, without Him I’m a fraud.

But there’s so much more to me that I’ll never let you see despite your solemn plea.

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Decided to write a second poem for today, perhaps because I’m a little sad that NaPoWriMo2016 is coming to an end soon. This is my take on long-line poetry.

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More Fun Than a Slinky

Wittiness is his forte
Always a surprise ending
And what he had meant to say
Not always what he’s thinking

Of the sonnet he is king
I wish I could write as he
Does with poetry that rings
One liners that sting like a bee

Spying his link in Mr. Linky
I must go see what he’s shared
So much more fun than a slinky
What serious subject he’s dared

To joke about today
In a most unexpected way

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Yesterday’s prompt at dVerse Poets Pub was to pick a favorite dVerse community poet (or other poet, but I stuck with dVerse folks) and write a poem about them or as a tribute to how you appreciate their writing. The only rule is not to mention the poet, so I haven’t.

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Heaven

All things new, peace abounds
Singing is an awesome sound
The glory of our God is great
Every need of mine He’ll sate

River of life eternal flows
Tree of life beside it grows
No more sorrow, no more pain
Calf beside the lion has lain

Seraphim and cherubim fly
Nevermore will anyone die
Heaven is a most wonderful place
Promised to all by Jesus’s grace
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Last night with my BSF class of 4th & 5th graders, we drew or wrote our visions of heaven. Since my drawing skills don’t go much beyond stick figures I decided to write this poem.

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Birth of a Poem

How, pray tell, does a poet decide
Which words to lay side-by-side

How did Milton measure the cost
When he penned Paradise Lost

Could Dickinson take a single breath
Without thoughts of poetry on death

When describing Ben Adhem’s vision
By what motive was Hunt driven

Did Poe write poetry as a child
Or his odd thoughts drive him wild

How did the Brownings, poet pair
Pen sonnets of love with such flair

Did Frost truly encounter a road
From which his famous poetry flowed

How did Rosetti write love verse
Allowing the reader her faith to traverse

Did David find a sense of calm
With every line of every Psalm

Do other poets lie awake at night
Scribbling verse without the light

I desire sleep before break of day
But words come and won’t go away

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The first stanza of this poem was written in the dark in the notebook I keep on my nightstand. I wasn’t sure where it was going to go, but by light of day this is what I came up with. I could have added many more stanzas with references to many more poets, but decided I needed to stop somewhere. This is for day #25 of NaPoWriMo.

 

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