Thursday, January 29, 2009

Too Casual


[I believe I'll share this with the Monday Poetry Train Revisited. You should check them out.]

Too Casual

She said we were too casual, we Americans,
nearly always in jeans and t-shirts.
Her closet was full of silky saris
and soft salwar kameez, the cotton printed
with delightful patterns.
She stood graceful and polished
against our denim.

We were freshly-minted college students, bright
and confident that only an introduction
was needed to turn a stranger into a friend.
She said we were too forward, leaping
to given-name familiarity at the first meeting,
yet she was a friend by then, herself,
or she wouldn't have told us.

I looked at us through her eyes and saw
she was right. We were casual and forward.
We were racing toward degrees or away
from our pasts, testing the outlines of adulthood
as we tried the patience of our parents.

She was right. And yet, I was delighted
to be surrounded by intelligent women,
most of whom were also too casual,
too forward, and just an introduction away
from being my friends.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Oil-and-Rock Roads


[I haven't been writing for the prompts at Weekend Wordsmith for a while, but I do look at them nearly every week. This week, the prompt "road" struck a chord.]

Oil-and-Rock Roads

My bike followed the oil-and-rock roads all over town,
smelly and sticky from the new coating,
leaving black spots on the frame,
and on my white socks.

My feet walked black-top main roads,
baked hot and soft in the humid summer heat.

My mom's car thumped along the concrete
of St. Louis Avenue, cracked and patched
from the never-ending freeze/thaw/bake cycle.

My grandad's hands laid the brick underneath
Gallatin Street, hidden below asphalt, except
for an occasional worn spot where the red
peeked through from the past.

My back turned to all those roads,
I sped east to the land of granite curbstones
where no one had heard of
oil-and-rock roads.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Wanted: Contralto Solos


[Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect has asked us (more than once) to write an ottava rima poem and although I am past the "deadline" for last week's Monday Poetry Stretch, I was thinking about that.

And this month's project at Cafe Writing included a prompt to think about this quote:
I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,

To pray for peace, to plant a tree,

And sing more joyful songs.

~William Arthur Ward
then write a poem about one of those things. Enjoy!]

Wanted: Contralto Solos

I search, and hunt, and strive to find,
achieving only grievous hitches,
the alto solos which I've pined
for – gorgeous pieces – honest riches,
yet nothing shines, I'm like as blind
and suff'ring from a jokester's switches.
I dimly peer into the murk
and seek again contralto work.

The opera brings three kinds of roles:
the first are hags that seek to irk;
and next are evil women – trolls
who seek a sheath for poisoned dirk;
and finally lads off tending foals
or scheming how their jobs to shirk.
They feature itches, molls, or ditches,
playing witches, bitches, or britches.

Perhaps I should give up this grind,
and all the heartache that it brings.
Yet on the shelf must be the kind
of piece that I so want to sing,
that binds a heart and intertwines
all noble and uplifting things.
The poignant search continues long
for blissful, joyous alto songs.

The Return


[Sunday Scribblings prompts us this week with "pilgrimage." My dictionary defines the word as "a pilgrimage is a journey to a place that has religious or emotional significance."]

The Return

She hates going back there,
to the place of her birth,
but she can't help returning,
like the tongue to a sore tooth.

She packs her dwindling collection
of bright memories, then sees
them dim and tarnish with news
of each dead friend and closed store.

At the lunch with friends, hoping
to share news of children and
grandchildren and vacations,
she endures a recitation of obituaries.

She can't wait to drive away again,
vowing not to return
to the place filling up
with tombstones of her past.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

The New Kitchen


[For the first Monday Poetry Stretch this year, Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect set us to write about our mother's kitchen. She'll round up everyone's (check them out) but here is mine. There were some details to the challenge and the hardest was to leave myself out of the poem!]

The New Kitchen

Was it just ten years ago
that the kitchen was new?
A new marriage, new house,
and the first dinner party
when she pulled the roast from one
of the pair of new turquoise wall-ovens.

She couldn't have imagined then
that she'd want more space and
a modern harvest-gold stove instead.
The demolition starts next week
but it seems like only yesterday...

The new dining table was set
at the end of the new living room.
Betty and Jake were already
having a drink with her new husband.
The new doorbell rang and while
Charlie joined the party at the bar,
Mary Lou brought her green bean salad
into the kitchen where the new countertops
sparkled with built-in glitter.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Word Painting for Read Write Poem


[This summer I had a conversation with someone about the definition of poetry. After thinking about it overnight I decided I liked the description "painting with words."

With that in mind, what follows is a word painting using the poem titles left for us in the collaborative prompt at Read Write Poem. Don't forget to see what others came up with here.

To make this, I took all the donated poetry titles, removed punctuation and fed them into a wordle. I then used the words in the wordle to inspire this word painting.]

Say This Isn't

Say this isn't this what America is:
the next sterling silver skyline,
warm splash of colours softly made;
Dorothy loving Sylvia in a poem,
and a dinosaur musical made of paper money.

Miss Ted moves against a blueberry door.
Next to the bones of a haggard afternoon,
hot and dirty in degrees at last,
she breaks the double-bass flute.

Gone are scraps meant for you in
an insoluble separation
of that marriage made of essential letters

A clay castle isn't rare.
The map meant somewhere else.
Haggard Minneapolis crows are gentle –
my biscuit minerals remain.

Shoeshine Assumptions


[Read Write Poem recently had the following photo up for inspiration.]

Photo: Routine by Tres (displayed according to Creative Commons license)

Shoeshine Assumptions

I bet he's fast.


Because no one

would stay put on that bench for long.