Riddle Me This

The tea kettle whistles
A moth flutters and dies
Your mask shatters to pieces
A madman explodes the moon
A butterfly flaunts a human face
You dream of a lion’s rest
Birds in-choir in a priest’s robe
You fire a revolver on the run

The key to the riddle —
Masquerading as fun
To the gibbering wags
Deaf to the last gong’s sound —
Hides like a promise
In your broken heart


For image credit please click here on Carrie’s Sunday Muse #245; Shay’s Word Garden Word List using three of twenty words; and Sammi’s Weekend Writing Prompt #297 using “key” in prose or poem of 71 words.

I walked this life – lonely –

I walked this life – lonely –
Aware of shame – only –
Chiding Your apathy – to me –
I saw myself – painfully – alone.

In Your light I see – suddenly –
Always You are – with me –
Walking me home – lonely –
Never having left me – painfully – alone.


Psalm 35:4-9 (NIV): Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O LORD. How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.

image credit: yoksei @ unsplash

Continue reading “I walked this life – lonely –”

I had two grannies

I had two grannies
(Not everyone does, you know).
One tall and spindly like a soothsayer’s runes
And another short and dwarfish like a hoarder of rubies.

If they could have peeled the flesh off me
They would have when I was four
And grafted their skin on me with their
Surgery knives of fleshy steel called tongues.

I remember them: their eyes, and now I wish
— I wish I didn’t.
Except in those messy fairy tales where
Witches get pushed into ovens
And children find their own way home.

But they don’t.


Just as an addendum: I never saw my grandmothers again after the age of six when we moved and they died at a much later date. My dim memories of them are few.

For dVerse's "Grandmothers ..."

A Walk With You

When I walk down the street with you
it seems an avenue for the parvenu
who glitter and mime like bees round a cru
flush with cash, flush with dash, flush with boppity-boo.

I lean in, you lean out, you lean in, I lean out,
a flamenco we do, even a samba no doubt
while the white picket fences they shimmer and shout
“Oh look who! Oh look who!” like old aunties with gout.

And I’m so gorgeous and you’re larger than life
and if you’re honest, you’ll make me your wife;
but this world is so public and with catastrophes rife
its cerulean sky could change into a razor-sharp knife.

Would you stay with me, forever and a day
when the zinnias of summer turn a wintry gray?
When we walk beneath cottonwoods, will you turn and say,
“I’m glad you and I chose to go another way”?
Photo by Adam Bird

Continue reading “A Walk With You”

Dreams from a Pilgrimage

photo prompt © Fleur Lind

word count: 100
genre: poetry

Dreams from a Pilgrimage

It’s just this way, she agonized, and
I won’t end where I’ve begun.
It’s the dream I’m waking up to.

I wonder, he antagonized, what if
today becomes your cannibal past tomorrow,
feeding on today’s life, keeping itself alive,
demanding its pound of flesh?

She knew his aim.
It was to lead her in circles,
to origins, not beginnings.

But each cross-road meant progress,
a royal one, or common as a pilgrim
on a well-worn track, peculiar as a dream

singular as a vision, a glaring blaze
of glory, immense as a grain of sand
sparkling in the New Jerusalem.


A three-prompt medley is the tune I'm playing off with Rochelle's Friday Fictioneers photo prompt & 100-word challenge, dVerse's Poetics: Visionary Poetry, and GirlieOnEdge Six Sentence Story ("lead"). Join us!

The Sphinx and American Ivy

A little fun combining three prompts: from dverse where I chose to use all the podcast titles to compose a poem (Articles of Interest: American Ivy, I Was Never There, Legacy of Speed, Not Lost, Pivot, Reveal: After Ayotzinapa, Rumble Strip, Serial, This American Life, Ghost in the Burbs); Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers (100 words or less using the photo prompt below); and GirlieonEdge’s Six Sentence Story (prompt word: VISA). Does the story poem succeed? Well, you be the judge!

photo prompt © Roger Bultot

The Sphinx and American Ivy

It isn’t fair, it isn’t fair, it isn’t fair: just some
articles of interest, American Ivy shouts.

The Sphinx runs behind Reveal (after Ayotzinapa,
he was never the same), columnar legs
standing astride this American life with a VISA card.

Playing the ghost in the burbs? American Ivy
taunts, the riddle and its answer are one!

I wasn’t there, Sphinx replies
(she’s a serial liar).

American Ivy laughs: Life isn’t fair, but here’s
the rumble strip to your legacy of speed:

neither’s love, the riddle YOU can’t solve.
Sphinx pivots: All’s not lost? and

Ivy laughs, says, Love conquers all.


For and By: Christina on New Year’s Eve

“It was a stark surprise of loss,”
she wrote, and then she stopped,
her hand stilled on the backlit keys
her eyes glued to the screen

where suddenly the lines misted,
metamorphosed in rain,
the world becoming watery,
a deluge full of pain.

She wiped her cheeks, she rose, she paced,
she spun about the room,
though memories of a dream-like shore
outran her pleas for peace.

Into her words she’d poured her heart,
into the poems she wrote
but from them she no longer found
the comfort that she sought.

None came but one, a fiery flare
that lit the distant sky
as if it came in search of her,
a foundling lost to claim.

“What joy is this, what Guest on high
has chosen this black night,
to show His love, to set alight
my dark and stormy heart?”

She cried, and in her joy she found
a new theme to set down
by psalm-borne winds she softly sang
of things divine, unseen.

Christina Rossetti, painting by John Brett, 1857 (Oil on canvas
Private Collection)

Old and New Year Ditties by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

1.

New Year met me somewhat sad:
Old Year leaves me tired,
Stripped of favourite things I had,
Baulked of much desired:
Yet farther on my road today
God willing, farther on my way.

New Year coming on apace
What have you to give me?
Bring you scathe, or bring you grace,
Face me with an honest face;
You shall not deceive me:
Be it good or ill, be it what you will,
It needs shall help me on my road,
My rugged way to heaven, please God.

2.

Watch with me, men, women, and children dear,
You whom I love, for whom I hope and fear,
Watch with me this last vigil of the year.
Some hug their business, some their pleasure scheme;
Some seize the vacant hour to sleep or dream;
Heart locked in heart some kneel and watch apart.

Watch with me, blessed spirits, who delight
All thro’ the holy night to walk in white,
Or take your ease after the long-drawn fight.
I know not if they watch with me: I know
They count this eve of resurrection slow,
And cry, “How long?” with urgent utterance strong.

Watch with me, Jesus, in my loneliness:
Tho’ others say me nay, yet say Thou yes;
Tho’ others pass me by, stop Thou to bless.
Yea, Thou dost stop with me this vigil night;
Tonight of pain, tomorrow of delight:
I, Love, am Thine; Thou, Lord my God, art mine.

3.

Passing away, saith the World, passing away:
Chances, beauty and youth sapped day by day:
Thy life never continueth in one stay.
Is the eye waxen dim, is the dark hair changing to grey
That hath won neither laurel nor bay?
I shall clothe myself in Spring and bud in May:
Thou, root-stricken, shalt not rebuild thy decay
On my bosom for aye.
Then I answered: Yea.

Passing away, saith my Soul, passing away:
With its burden of fear and hope, of labour and play;
Hearken what the past doth witness and say:
Rust in thy gold, a moth is in thine array,
A canker is in thy bud, thy leaf must decay.
At midnight, at cockcrow, at morning, one certain day
Lo the bridegroom shall come and shall not delay:
Watch thou and pray.
Then I answered: Yea.

Passing away, saith my God, passing away:
Winter passeth after the long delay:
New grapes on the vine, new figs on the tender spray,
Turtle calleth turtle in Heaven’s May.
Tho’ I tarry, wait for Me, trust Me, watch and pray.
Arise, come away, night is past and lo it is day,
My love, My sister, My spouse, thou shalt hear Me say.
Then I answered: Yea.

This poem was originally published in Goblin Market and Other Poems (Macmillan, 1862) and appears in The Complete Poems by Christina Rossetti (Penguin, 2001). It is in the public domain.

I wrote the top poem in honor of Christina Rossetti whose poetry stirs readers and poets alike with their psalm-like appeal, as “Old and New Year Ditties,” on the cusp of a new year. Join us at Denise’s Six Sentence Story (using prompt word “surprise”). To my blog visitors, have a Happy New Year, one full of love and peace.

Advent Cry (based on Psalm 18)

I wept and You heard me
I cried out and You helped me
I knew no rest, only loss; to You
O LORD, I stretched my hands:

“I have no words
No pleas to offer
The wind is strong
My breath is gone

There is the desert
Where there’s no succor
Here is the sea
Where I will drown

Unless You come
To deliver
The world will take
The life you own.”

So I cried and in love You answered
You came down from Heaven’s splendor
Down, down, down as it was written,
Born of virgin, clothed in flesh.

From cords of death You unbound me
Shedding Your blood to release me
Nailed to a cross my guilt You bore for me
From the grave rising my life You saved.

Now I stand on solid ground
Upon the Rock You set me on
All the darkness flees before me
As with Your light I abound.

Like a deer upon Your holy mountain
New heights of glory I can see
Though rising waters still pursue me
Lord, my eyes are set on Thee.

Come, then, Jesus, as once before
You came Your children to deliver
Now return and never leave us
On that Day when all floods cease.


image credit: Gersom Clark

An Experiment in Poetry (A Cut-up)

What can be made of a poem which solely uses the last lines of other poems? Today’s dVerse challenge prompts us to construct just such a poem (or hodge podge or call it what you will) and I was curious what would follow. So I used the last lines of the first twelve poems in Margaret Atwood’s latest book of poetry, Dearly, (without alteration, only enjambment and lower-case) and this is what I got. Make of it what you will, but it goes to show that there is a resonance in words that builds on the generosity of a poem’s ambiguity and particularly the reader’s generosity as well. And such a cut-up technique plays on that to more or less affect.

Dear Reader, you decide.


An Experiment in Poetry (with apologies to Margaret Atwood)

hearts
hurt

not quite
cursed if she smiles or cries

the candle guttering down
I’ll give dry light

turn the key. Bar the window
let there be plot

why can’t I let her go?
isn’t it pretty, back there?

as Heaven always is,
if you read the texts closely

remember me
sing: On

A Cynic’s Prayer

Image credit; Pavel Danilyuk@ Pexels

I don’t believe in you, don’t freak out,
god(s), or demi-gods, or goddess,
lol, you’re just words to me, like
psy
cho
lo
gy, (read it, it’s in a book)
of wanting things I can’t have,
help when I need it
a step up, a step down
a shout out, a call down,
but I’m too smart for you
I’ve
got
all
I
need
in
me, don’t fool yourself
that I’m praying when I’m posing
and rit-
ual-
izing,

Continue reading “A Cynic’s Prayer”

Entering the Poetry Portal

It’s about the size of a hand cupping a snow-
flake, the first of the season, this heart
beating back the fires around her

the frozen lake, the sweep of wind rising
to quell the fear, the voices drowning
then driving, jealously guarding

the ground snow pure in its pristine skyfall
a secret bower where the moon shone
and the woods sang to her and she knew

one day she would sing back to the Voice
that sang delight from the dark unknown
lovely to the child cupping a handful of snow


Continue reading “Entering the Poetry Portal”

Autumn Revelry

images © dorahak

So I took a trip down Jack O’Lantern Lane
Where skeletons and ghosts were raising Cain
The crows they cawed
The mockingbirds squawked
And the treetops flared like a fire engine.

So I ran back home to ink an angry complaint
Against shuffling monsters that make one faint
But I tripped over boxes
Left by masquerade foxes
And I cursed like the dickens cuz a saint I ain’t.

So then I opened my eyes, took in the wide blue skies
And I laughed at the beauty that around me lies
The anthem of the trees
As they sang in the breeze
And I thanked the Lord with my heartfelt sighs.

As if by magic my anger disappeared and the doorbell rang
And I rose from my chair with a clatter and a bang
See, I had my nutty nurse costume on
A green glowing needle and a wig of blonde
I was going trick or treatin’ with my neighborhood gang.


Continue reading “Autumn Revelry”

Dante’s “Roundabout” to Beatrice

Per dVerse’s MTB, The Roundabout:

  • Four quintains (five-line stanzas) for a total of twenty lines
  • Iambic meter throughout
  • Lines have 4;3;2;2;3 feet respectively
  • Line 5 repeats line 2
  • Rhyme scheme is aBccB bCddC cDaaD dAbbA

Naturally, given my current reading, my first thoughts flew to Dante’s unrequited love for Beatrice.

Dante and Beatrice, Henry Holiday (1883), oil on canvas

My mind rehearses all the lines
I’d say if you were mine;
Though you are not
My heart you’ve got
I’d say if you were mine.

Oh, how I long to have a sign
That you like me have fought
The love I yearn
For which I burn
That you like me have fought.

There is no wealth, no treasure sought
That would all reason spurn;
To cross the lines
And God’s designs
That would all reason spurn.

Farewell, my muse, to God I’ll turn
For Love like starlight shines;
My mind refine
My heart confine
For Love like starlight shines.

Balaam To the Kindly Moon

“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” — Plato
“They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.” — 2 Peter 2:15 (NIV)

You set me a riddle of romance,
Kindly Moon, a beguiling trap
by the waters of Babylon
where Cartier trinkets line
red-bowed caskets made in China
riding on Charon’s ferry

by the waters of Babylon
where I hung up my Guccis
like spangled semaphores
testifying to the Sinai fire
on a holy mountain while
sipping Florentine wine in D.C.

You sent me a Utopian dream
of Jerusalem under kindly eyes
before my breakdown,
where I dwelt perennial
in the tongues of state
-craft, sightless as a stone
gargoyle with carbonized

hate, when home after home,
city after city I visited, inflaming tribal
sigils, leavening in unguarded hearts
dystopias in abandoned strollers,
palaces of discontent, malodorous
diffusion, contentious, disfiguring.

So now I frame you, with Pyrrhic ruins,
dead-to-rights from my watery
bier with the very crimes
you silver-framed me
in Chicago (Kabul or Kiev)
where all roads meet
with a gunshot and a cry.


*The October full moon is known in China as the Kindly Moon.

Continue reading “Balaam To the Kindly Moon”

Something’s Broken

A babe sat in the green grass bright
Fast held in a predator’s sight.
Is it that of a man or that of a beast?
One’s intent is murder, the other’s a feast.

In what universe would a mother bereft
Of her bonnie babe by its sudden theft
Feel her piercing grief constrained the less
Were it a man for its death to so confess?

Something’s broken, someone’s dead
Something’s taken, innocence fled.

Then is there no evil, no good to pursue
Just the surreal, “to thine own self be true”?
Don’t lose the story, oh, don’t lose the plot
It’s death that’s the enemy, one thing we’ve all got.

Nature or nurture, priest, pagan, or not
Don’t you see we all share the same rot?
In a cave or in a palace, the calling card’s the same
One way or another, we’ve lost the grand game.

Something’s broken, someone’s gone
Something’s twisted, death has won

Death robs us of meaning, or would were it the end
Since deep within we sense something round the bend;
Death is still the crucible, our evil we can’t mend
Till upside down is right side up and earth made new again.


Continue reading “Something’s Broken”

That’s So Random

He said I like to jazz the sky
Sometimes, you know
See me some hardcore Detroit
Drummer overdosing it
Like intensely
On proximal melodies
Ghosting me some romantic moonlight
Jigging up this wasteland
Taking an axe to all the quotidian brainiac
Entanglements of pigeon-freaking
Sh**—

She said Brick it up, man,
I’m not one of your ratty here-today-
Gone-tomorrow charm-school
Friends on anesthesia for the last stages
Of their latest art-appreciation-activism
Veering destitute of anything but ego-
Maniacal mimetic devolution into hedonistic
He**—

He said I want—
She said I want—

They said —you

And the woman on the bench said That’s a wrap.


You can blame this beat offering on the “absurdist” mood I’m in right now. But don’t leave out Shay’s Word Garden and her celebratory list of randomly chosen words from the first issue of the recently returned CREEM magazine, known for its irreverent presence on the music scene. The word list from which we are to pick at least three for use, is as follows:
anesthesia, axe, brainiac. brick, charm, Detroit, drummer, ghost, hardcore, intensely, jazz, overdose, pigeons, proximal, ratty, romantic, stages, transmissions, veering, wasteland. For more or less random poetry, check out dVerse’s OLN hosted by Björn.

When I Am Most Sick

When I am most sick, she confesses,
My mother’s face swims close
Like a dimly discerned form
On tree bark on which

I trace the tenderness I craved
Drawn by sickness to my window
Witnessing penance in unremitting pain
As in a cloister where whispers seek

Absolution that will never be given
By roots winding, coiling, her fingers
As leaves brushing bark into memory
Locked in a brace of trees.

“Embrace”
(painting by Lee Madgwick used by permission
for dVerse’s Poetics ekphrastic prompt)