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Poem #26 and #27, PAD Challenge 2009

Prompt #26 is to write a poem about miscommunication or involving a miscommunication.

Miscommunicate

She holds up her index finger
of her left hand, while holding her cell in the right.
He places one box of Kleenex in the cart.
The round the corner, canned food
lines the shelves. Her husband taps
she waves three fingers, absently.
He places the canned sardines in the cart.
At the checkout, he places the items
on the conveyor, watching them flow into bags.

Prompt #27 is to write a poem of longing.

Coffeeshop

Bag slung over shoulder,
plopped onto wooden chair.
I drag the laptop out, place it on the table.
Flipped open, blank space,
blinking cursor waiting,
waving, staring at me.
My fingers tap the keys,
the table, my thigh.
Run up and down the side of my leg,
waiting for words to flow
free from my brain through nerves
into my fingertips tapped out on square keys.
When words fill the page
My mind is afire, passionate,
eager to type the next phrase and see the new world.
Creation dripping like espresso into my mug.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

*** Giveaway Reminders***

Don’t forget to enter the Keeper of Light and Dust giveaway, here and here. Deadline is April 28 at 11:59 PM EST.

There’s a giveaway for 5 copies of Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch, here; deadline is April 29, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.

A giveaway of The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady, here; Deadline is May 1 11:59 PM EST

5 Joanna Scott, author of Follow Me, books giveaway, here; Deadline May 4, 11:59 PM EST.

Poem #24 and #25, PAD Challenge 2009

Prompt #24 is to write a travel-related poem.

Scale

I pop on my ear buds,
grab the iPod and I’m out the door.
My head, up and down
with my heavy steps down the stairs.
I’m in Brooklyn
in a shuffle beat before heading south
to Mexico.
Drunk in the back of a truck
and my maxed out credit cards.
On the sideline, watching football
next to the brass blaring in my ear,
marching up and down.

Prompt #25 is to write about an event and make the event the title of the poem.

Conversations and Connections 2009

Metro into the city, turn corners,
enter academic ivory towers,
crowd into a small room, shoulder-
to-shoulder with aged wine
and amateur cheese.
Long tables and microphones
Discussions of first, third, omniscient,
and second persons in the room, in books,
in minds.
Back-and-forth interaction, questioning,
and enlightenment—a spotlight
shining down on my characters in the lead.
From the midnight sky, my character’s faces shine,
moonlit and starry eyes.
Paper and pen dance in an empty room
until other couplets dance on desks and chairs.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

*** Giveaway Reminder***

Don’t forget to enter the Keeper of Light and Dust giveaway, here and here. Deadline is April 28 at 11:59 PM EST.

There’s a giveaway for 5 copies of Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch, here; deadline is April 29, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.

A giveaway of The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady, here; Deadline is May 1 11:59 PM EST

Poetry: Neil Gaiman, Chris August and Chris Wilson

Happy National Poetry Month. Here’s Neil Gaiman:

How about a look at members of the Baltimore Slam Team:

Poem #22 and #23, PAD Challenge 2009

Prompt #22 is to write a work-related poem. If I had to count how many of my poems already deal with work, we’d be here for centuries…OK, that’s an exaggeration. But for this, I took a different perspective.

Summer Heat

My arm is burning.
The lactic acid builds in my muscles
as they contract and release
with the circular motion of my hand,
washing away the caked on blood.

Its dark red, dried, nearly brown.
Days have passed since you left,
wheeled out the door
on a makeshift gurney
into the back of an ambulance.

Scrubbing this floor
is the least of my worries.
There are still dishes
with crusted cheese and grime
blanketing the counters.

The dust bunnies and dirt flakes
are piled high in the corner
by the fridge, sweating
in this summer heat,
making mud pies on linoleum.

Prompt #23 is to write a poem about regret or in which regret occurs. I was losing steam when I wrote this one.

Abandonment

Regret fills my waking hours,
wondering why I left you.
The middle of night was calm.
I was not.
I snatched up my purse from the bedside chair,
crept into your room,
kissed your forehead.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

***Giveaway Reminder***

Don’t forget to enter the Keeper of Light and Dust giveaway, here and here. Deadline is April 28 at 11:59 PM EST.

There’s a giveaway for 5 copies of Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch, here; deadline is April 29, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.

Poem #21, PAD Challenge 2009

Today’s Prompt is to write a haiku or a poem in praise of haiku or a haiku poet’s manifesto or the anti-haiku.

Water droplets
plummet to dark pavement;
empty puddle.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

***Giveaway Reminder***

Don’t forget to enter The Traitor’s Wife giveaway, here and here. Deadline is April 22 at 5pm.

Don’t forget to enter the Keeper of Light and Dust giveaway, here and here. Deadline is April 28 at 11:59 PM EST.

Poem #17, #18, #19, #20, PAD Challenge 2009

I know; I got a bit behind on the PAD Challenge thanks to the fun 24-hour Read-a-Thon and a number of other activities. However, as promised I’ve caught up with the prompts. Check out these rough drafts.

Poem #17’s Prompt is to use this title and fill in the blank: “All I want is (blank)”

All I want is a Championship

I’m not an athlete
I used to get hit in the head
with soccer balls, baseballs, softballs.
You name it, there’s a bump on my head for it.
My coordination has never been great.
But in fantasy, I can pick the best
athletes who dunk,
players with the best jump shot,
offense with the best pick-and-roll.
I can lead the league in games won
Every week in those match ups,
but the championship slips
through my fingers. . . again.

Poem #18 Prompt is about interaction.

Welcome

Please select from the following options:
Press 1 for billing,
Press 2 to set up a new service,
Press 3 if you are having problems with your service,
Press 4 for more options.

I press 4.

Press 1 for billing,
Press 2 to set up a new service,
Press 3 if you are having problems with your service,
Press 4 for more options.

I press 4.

Press 1 for billing,
Press 2 to set up a new service,
Press 3 if you are having problems with your service
Press 4. . .

I slam the receiver down,
Pick it up, dial,
Listen to the automated choices
Hit 0, six times.
That should be sufficient.

“Hello, may I help you?”
“Finally,” I reply.
I stare at the receiver for a moment,
Wondering why I called.

Poem #19 Prompt is to write an angry poem.

Executive-Directed Benefits

More than eight hours in this office
behind fabric walls
with hiked up knees beneath my desk.
My fingers curled,
hammer keys at 60 wpm
prepping news for your executive minds.
Not your minds,
yours are empty.
Blinking eyes decide a benefits swipe.
It’s okay; your kids are grown
and have their own health insurance.
I don’t matter,
My family doesn’t matter.
Will you sit here in this emergency room,
waiting as they pull the knife from my back?

Poem #20 Prompt is to write a poem about rebirth.

Chemo

It courses through my veins
burning, searing me from inside.
I’m not sure this is medicine.
It kills the cancer in my body,
but it destroys my golden locks,
my appetite, and my complexion.

The doctor tells me I’m improving,
But I feel weak.
I slump down in my recliner,
struggle to get up
trudge between rooms.

My husband rubs my shoulders,
prepares my first solid foods.
Kelly green veggies, steamed.
Protestant carrots peppering my plate.
I can taste nothing,
But over the weeks, the fresh
ground emerges from the farmstand veggies.

My muscles charge slowly
like my cell phone in the wall.
Rose returns to my cheeks
And my eyes no longer droop.
The doctor smiles as hair stubs emerge.
I’m ready.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

***Giveaway Reminder***

Don’t forget to enter The Traitor’s Wife giveaway, here and here.

Poem #15 and #16, PAD Challenge 2009

Prompt #15 is to alter a favorite poem’s title and use that title to write a new poem.

I chose The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost and changed it to this:

The Onion Not Eaten

I strolled by the farm stand,
picking through the bins,
tossed aside unripened bananas,
tomatoes, and mangoes.

The wind was missing,
but the sun beat down heavily
my shoulders sweat and slump
beneath the weight of my basket.

It’s filled to the brim with great finds
from strawberries to spinach leaves.
The onions are missing,
The bin is empty.

The recipe calls for onion,
I cry, but only silence replies.
The sun has fallen behind,
and I’ve run out of patience.

I walk back to my car with full
basket, tossing it in the trunk.
At home, the recipe suffers
Not.

Prompt #16 is to pick a color, write a poem inspired by that color, and use the color as your title.

Yellow

Streaks across the windowpane
bolts of lightning
shifted right and left,
pursued.
The canary escaped from its cage.
Free.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

***Giveaway Reminder***

Don’t forget to enter The Traitor’s Wife giveaway, here and here.

Poem #14, PAD Challenge 2009

Poetry Prompt #14 is another two-for-Tuesday, so we were asked to either write a love poem or an anti-love poem.

Cosmetic Surgery Love

Your face is putty in my hands
I can nip and tuck it,
mold it to meet my needs.
Is this love?
No, it’s plastic surgery.
Love is how I feel about the feel of skin
between my latex fingers
as I shape it, pull it, trim it.

I used to play with Barbie dolls,
with their perfect breasts and thighs.
They always had almond eyes, high cheekbones,
and narrow chins—the perfect woman.
I studied anatomy in college,
learned the best techniques,
and now I turn out the best molds.

They stare in the mirrors,
and in spite of the gauze strings
that cling to their bright pink skin,
smile wider than stitches allow.
Shaking my hand, spilling out praise,
they love me.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

C.O.R.A. Diversity Roll Call–Poets

I recently discovered this week’s C.O.R.A. Diversity Roll Call is about poetry and poets, so naturally I’m participating. While I’m supposed to talk only about a female African American poet, I’m going to broaden this to include my two favorite African-American Poets, Yusef Komunyakaa and Rita Dove, who is a more recent find thanks to The Writer’s Center and Kyle Semmel from where I won a book of poetry.

First, let’s talk about Rita Dove and share one of her poems. Rita is not only a poet, but also a script writer and story writer. She served as Poet Laureate of the United States and Consultant to the Library of Congress from 1993 to 1995 and as Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006. She now works at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville as an English professor. Check out her Webpage for more biography information.

This is one of my favorite poems, which can be found here with several others:

My Mother Enters the Work Force

The path to ABC Business School
was paid for by a lucky sign:
Alterations, Qualified Seamstress Inquire Within.
Tested on Sleeves, hers
never puckered — puffed or sleek,
Leg o’ or Raglan —
they barely needed the damp cloth
to steam them perfect.

Those were the afternoons. Evenings
she took in piecework, the treadle machine
with its locomotive whir
traveling the lit path of the needle
through quicksand taffeta
or velvet deep as a forest.
And now and now sang the treadle,
I know, I know….

And then it was day again, all morning
at the office machines, their clack and chatter
another journey — rougher,
that would go on forever
until she could break a hundred words
with no errors — ah, and then

no more postponed groceries,
and that blue pair of shoes!

I adore the detailed images in this poem and how each one is selected for its powerful message about the life and times of this mother entering the workforce. This is a very poignant social commentary about this one woman’s struggle as befitting to all others at the time.

I may have talked about Yusef Komunyakaa on this blog before during the last Book Bloggers Appreciation Week, but here he is again. I first learned of Komunyakaa’s work in a college seminar on Vietnam War literature and I’ve returned to his work ever since. Yusef was raised during the Civil Rights movement and served in the U.S. Army between 1969 and 1970 as a correspondent and editor of the Southern Cross during the Vietnam War.

Here’s one of my favorite poems from him, found here:

Camouflaging the Chimera

We tied branches to our helmets.
We painted our faces & rifles
with mud from a riverbank,

blades of grass hung from the pockets
of our tiger suits. We wove
ourselves into the terrain,
content to be a hummingbird’s target.

We hugged bamboo & leaned
against a breeze off the river,
slow-dragging with ghosts

from Saigon to Bangkok,
with women left in doorways
reaching in from America.
We aimed at dark-hearted songbirds.

In our way station of shadows
rock apes tried to blow our cover
throwing stones at the sunset. Chameleons

crawled our spines, changing from day
to night: green to gold,
gold to black. But we waited
till the moon touched metal,

till something almost broke
inside us. VC struggled
with the hillside, like black silk

wrestling iron through grass.
We weren’t there. The river ran
through our bones. Small animals took refuge
against our bodies; we held our breath,

ready to spring the L-shaped
ambush, as a world revolved
under each man’s eyelid.

Who are your favorites? Have you discovered any new African American poets?

Poem #11, 12, and 13, PAD Challenge 2009

Ok, I got really behind in the poem-a-day challenge, so I’m going to combine three days worth of poems into one post.

Prompt #11 is to write about an object or objects, much like William Carlos Williams’ The Red Wheelbarrow. Here’s my version:

Keyboard

a-s-d-f-j-k-l-;
perfect squares lined up
ready
for pounding fingertips
to drop.

Much more
than the sum of their parts
to become
“Laf” on a cell.

Gleaming silver
under fluorescent light
in dim living rooms
with wide displays.

Those keys drop and rise
string letters into words
phrases, sentences, paragraphs
connected into novels.

Prompt #12 is to fill in the blank and use this phrase–“So We Decided to BLANK”–as the title of the poem.

So We Decided to Have a Go

We stared into the abyss.
It was dark below our feet,
but our shoes were black and deceptive.
We decided to have a go,
take the plunge.
I yanked on the rope once more,
made sure it was secured to the tree.
I shouted aloud, “Yahooo!”
The wind whipped past my ears,
whistling You-who high-pitched.
He was still behind me
on the ledge, teetering.
He swaggered back and forth,
walking into the abyss
silently.
The cool water rose up into my pants,
dousing the heat between my legs.
The blush on my cheeks white
like porcelain.
My hair slicked back
as I burst through the water surface,
spitting moisture into an arc.
No sooner had I emerged,
he was there plunging below
displacing me.

Prompt #13 is to write about a hobby, whether its scrapbooking or fishing.

Photography

I hold my eye up to the circular glass
peering as far as I can,
the couple stands in my crosshairs.
My finger poised,
hovers just above gleaming silver.
A swift drop–
the finger depresses the shutter,
the shot is fired.
Her hand on her hip,
his on her cheek, slightly tipped upward.
He smiles down at her,
though she frowns, looking askew.

A few miles away,
my sights are set on you.
Your unclean clothes, bushy beard,
dirty skin, and white smile.
You’re there in a wheelchair
ready to bolt and do.
Your eyes vacant
Amid the pastel tulips in the park.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

Poem #10, PAD Challenge 2009

Prompt # 10 is to write a poem about Fridays. Hmm, what on Earth! I haven’t got a clue. OK, really, this is going to be a bad one.

TGIF

Today is the end of the week
Great day to sit and relax
Immersed in words, intoxicated
Fiddling with lines and verse.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

***GIVEAWAY REMINDER***

I have 1 copy of Jill Mansell’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse; get two entries, comment on my review and my interview. Deadline is April 11 at Midnight.

Poem #9, PAD Challenge 2009

Prompt #9 was to write about a memory. I had a good time with this one.

First Glance

Memory is a funny thing
It can be clear as a clean windowpane,
or as murky as Briny waters.

I remember your dark hair, how that one strand curled
just above your forehead above your deep blue eyes.
You t-shirt clung to those new muscles,
firm biceps and washboard stomach.
Jeans clinging to thin legs
that walked tentatively.

You remember walking around with bed-head,
“sleepies” clinging to the corner of your eyes.
A wrinkled, Swiss cheese shirt too small for your new body
and arms that felt like prosthetics.
Jeans too tight in the crotch,
making your stride stiff.

My hand disappeared in yours that first night
but it was comfortable even when your hand started to sweat
as we sat in the back of your friend’s mustang,
drove around downtown listening to rock and shouting to talk.
I leaned back to feel the wind in my hair
trying to keep it from striking you.

I slid closer to you on that leather seat,
the mustang cornering on two wheels just missing the curb.
Your arm curled around my shoulders to hold me close
When a seat belt wasn’t enough. You smelled of musk
and wood. At least that’s how I remember it.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

***GIVEAWAY REMINDER***

I have 1 copy of Jill Mansell’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse; get two entries, comment on my review and my interview. Deadline is April 11 at Midnight.