Poetry Post-A-Thon: Three Line Poetry

Originally published in Three line poetry 

earthquake shake book shelves
café patrons lock eyes
a brief sip paused

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Poetry Post-A-Thon: The Reflex

This one was originally published at Eskimo Pie

The Reflex

The lead guitarist’s butterfly collar
framed the half opened polyester shirt
exposing the sable chest hair that
matched his fuzzy head.
Shiny silver dress slit high
up the lead singer’s
thigh as she begins
her scorching rendition
of Gloria Gaynor.

I will survive
Oh, as long as I know …

It reminds of my mother’s obsession with

All oldies – all of the time

Songs that tormented my youth
with a quick rotation of the radio dial.

Love, love me do…

The lyrics of one Beatles song or another—
nothing but a good oldie would do for my mother.

As I sat watching the misfit 70’s band
leave the stage at the dive bar of my college existence
where I often drank after creative writing workshops—
sometimes more than others, sometimes harder than others—
the thoughts of the funky polyester pants dissipate
and memories of my mother’s radio fade
giving way to another time when I was young,
and Duran Duran’s “The Reflex”
made everything seem so much easier.

Poetry Post-A-Thon: The Drop Off

This poem was published by Eskimo Pie in February 2016.

 

The Drop Off

Maidenhood aside,

your sex trapped me.

My fresh curls could not

compete with you aged mounds

of flesh I did not desire.

 

The fruity bubble gum should

have told me all:

the sickly melon perfumed

my car, ate at my stomach,

eroding my alliance,

down to a sugary decay of

falsehood and cunning.

 

Thinking nothing of sticky fly traps,

I shared my soda and

youthful dimples.

 

Instead of cookies, you offered love

and, of course, your sex

as the sugar started to saturate,

entrapping me.

 

The friend you left behind —

not the one that offered you a ride,

the one you had in me–

dashed off her fears and turned the key.

 

Sweetly, I spurned your desires,

but with all the sugar everything

turned sour.

 

I dropped off your unfulfilled

desires at your doorstop.

You will come to me again,

but I will not be there.

 

I’ve thrown away all of my candy.

Poetry Post-A-Thon: Crossed Eyes

This one is a very old poem, probably written in 1998, that was published in February’s Eskimo Pie.  Now, if that is not a real Throwback Thursday, I don’t know what is, lol.  “Crossed Eyes” for your Throwback Thursday enjoyment!

Crossed Eyes

A glossy photograph with eyes

scraped clean with black ballpoint.

Anger and pressure,

strokes of lines—

straight and circular—

penetrate white paper,

bringing it to the fore,

dehumanizing its former owner of its

identity

warmth

power

control

over the smiling figure pictured next to it,

you.

Poetry Post-A-Thon: Joanna’s Child

This poem was published in Cirque‘s Winter 2015 issue.  It was written around 2001.  It remained dormant until 2015, when I decided to revise it and submit it for publication.  Despite some revision, little changed from old version to the final published version.

A side note: if you have never read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, do yourself a favor and check out this coming-of-age classic!

Enjoy!

Joanna’s Child

 

But what makes you get a baby often

                        starts with a kiss…Remember Joanna.

                                                –Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

 

At 14, I learned that I was Joanna’s baby.

The realization was somewhere

between sixth grade,

maxi pads

and sex education.

 

I was different—

not in the typical angst way,

for I stayed out of trouble,

in a small town

where no one divorced,

where everyone went to your church,

or some church,

where everyone wanted to know you,

or at least, your business—

I was an unwedded birth when good

girls did not keep their babies.

 

I’m your mother and father,

my mother would say,

and I believed her.

I told everyone I had no father,

 

until I became older and realized

the “oh” would be followed

by the awkward nod,

a shuffle of feet,

or rattle of ice in a drinking cup,

when I told them

my parents had not married,

nor had I had any contact

with him.

 

Eventually I caught on;

it was a signal—

we could no longer be friends.

 

Later, in my college years

the questions would be more demanding:

Do you know who he is?

Wouldn’t you like to know?

Aren’t you curious?

I would lie and say no.

 

Like all of the stones that were hurled at Joanna,

I knew my mother had her scars.

 

She would remind me often that

she was a good mother

(and to the best of her ability she was),

It was her attempt to negate those who thought otherwise

because she chose to break the rules.

 

So, what “lessons” did Joanna share

with her child?

I don’t fully know her pain

(or his name),

aside from the assurances of her mothering,

the glares and the asides.

She never shared her wounds,

and the wounds from the rocks that hit me

never healed either.

 

Poetry Post-A-Thon: High Tea and Fancy Things

This poem was published in Alaska Women Speak’s 2015 Winter Issue.  Written especially for their “talking over coffee or tea” issue, this one is “High Tea and Fancy Things.”

 

High Tea and Fancy Things

You choose Assam for your mother,

because you think it best resembles her tastes:

simple but brisk, a taste familiar

but bolder than her usual Lipton.

For yourself, you choose the Chinese Green Flowering Jasmine

because its fancy green leaves and rosy petals,

hand-sewn to resemble a closed flower that

open when steeped in hot water,

makes you feel sophisticated,

well-traveled and grown up in her presence.

 

She looks around in the unfamiliar Alaskan tea shop,

many miles from her small, Midwestern hometown,

its fine china teapots with matching blue and white willow

pattern tea cups and silver demitasse spoons.

You both act normal despite the delicate

three-tiered glass tower of French treats and food:

the tomato bisque, petit fours, and purple macaroons.

 

When her hand reaches for the scone.

she contemplates the small, silver knife,

the one with the curved handle

for spreading the clotted cream,

when the knife drops to the table,

a soft landing on the cloth napkin.

She looks to you and shrugs her shoulders,

grabbing the scone, dipping it into the clotted cream bowl.

 

Some things are just too fancy, she says.

And, some things need not be, you reply.

You both laugh as you shared in a moment

much prepared for, but made simple as can be.

Poetry Post-A-Thon: If I May Speak

This poem was also published in Alaska Women Speak’s winter issue 2015.  Enjoy!

If I May Speak

over my mother’s teaspoon as
it scrapes the teacup like a child
who discovers an annoying sound
it finds joyful only to do it again and again.
The words that spill over her tea,
the steam that comes off the cup,
have little meaning.
They are the same things we have talked about
each time we have tea:
the weather,
the people who have died
and the people who have not.
Each time we speak
we pretend that there is nothing
else to discuss or confess.

If I may speak,
if I could say what I wanted to say,
ask for the secrets she hides,
tell her the feelings I have inside,
would she hear me?
Would she listen?
Or would it all drown
in the liquid in her cup,
in a whirlpool of sugar
that distorts all voices,
including mine?