Taking a Step Back

18 Apr

I am going to take a step back from writing for a while. I am going to try being a student of poetry instead.

I started this poetry blog two years ago, in April 2013. Since then, 262 people have liked my poems enough to follow my blog! It has been a wonderful thing. I want to take a moment and thank you all for following and liking my poems. I have been very encouraged by your participation in my blog, at a time when I needed it very much.

Of the 200+ poems I wrote during the past two years, I chose to keep about 40 that come straight from my heart. Of the poems that I decided to keep online, most of them were written about people I love, places, and experiences that have moved me. They are all linked on the right hand side of the screen. I hope you enjoy them.

Full Tilt

6 May

Like spring
you came on strong
arousing me from a dream
with birds in my ear, mornings
awakening into a cacophony
of call and response, let me tell you
I know how the flowers feel
as they wait for the bees

noon was rising
a sudden, full burn
like summer
that left my head spinning
hazy visions of a future, elusive
the way heat dances above
a stretch of highway
which sems to go on forever

all senses full tilt
I was aware, every nuance
of you, each part of me affecting
you became a harvest
a gorged Indian Summer
and spinning, spinning,
you made the leaves leap
off my branches
like fall.

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Down with the Sails

5 Apr

Wild nights Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Down would come the sails
Naked in the moonbeams we
As our Wild nights should be
Our secret luxury!

Futile the calling winds
My Heart seduced in your port
Done with the Compass
Done with the Chart!
My Q flag a flying
My wheel lashed up short.

Rowing in a blissful Eden
Ah rocking in time with the Sea!
My heart tugs at the anchor
Open your arms to harbor me
Might I but moor tonight
Dear sir, In thee!

image

It’s a poetic arts & crafts project for day five of NaPoWriMo. Today’s prompt is to choose a poem by Emily Dickinson, then deconstruct and reconstruct it. I chose Wild Nights – Wild Nights! (no surprise there). I incorporated a little bit more of the ‘sailboat in port’ metaphors. I was never fully satisfied with her original poem to begin with, so this was a nice chance to doctor it up a bit.

What it is Not

1 Apr

What is it not?
No one ever asks but
it is not five times seven times three
it is not forty degrees north
seventy four degrees west

it is not found
like a penny on the sidewalk
or passed over, or let go altogether
because budget cuts
because the market these days

it isn’t able to be deleted
like a voice mail we didn’t listen to
or muted
like a conversation that bores us
it is not fruitful to ignore

it isn’t about giving leftovers to a stranger
on the corner, with no teeth
it isn’t about saying yes
and meaning no, not really
and it is not your very favorite song

it won’t bite you
nor whine in your ear all night
and you can’t hold it, so
you didn’t expect it
to purr in your hand

and despite your best intentions
to appear nonchalant
it won’t ask you to stay
nor will it give you a choice
either way.

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National Poetry Month is here! The challenge of NaPoWriMo is to write a poem every day for 30 days. There are prompts all over the web to help you accomplish this. I chose to use today’s prompt from NaPoWriMo.net, which was to write a poem of negation. Sounded fun and interesting to me, so I gave it a shot. Hope you like it, and join us this month in writing poems every day.

Click on the button to hear me read this poem out loud:

Con Mucho Tacto / Tactfully

18 Mar

Me tocastes.
Aqui. Y aca.
Me has tocado
por todas partes
en lugares secretos
que nadie mas ha visto
en tiempos pasados
que no quiero borrar
profundamente me tocaste
aunque sin verte, ni oírte
y aveces sin entender
tu silencio.

Pero, yo no soy niña
y para que lo sepas
caigo bien en cuenta
que no eres tu el
que intenta tocarme
sino mas bien soy yo
la que se abre
y se deja tocar
como una flor que vive
fugaz, sin miedo
de marchitarse.

Tactfully

You touched me.
Here. And over here.
You have touched me
everywhere
in secret places
that no one else has seen
in times past
that I don’t wish to erase
you touched me deeply
despite not seeing, or hearing you
and sometimes without understanding
your silence.

But, I am not a young girl
and so that you know
I am well aware that
it is not you who
tries to touch me
instead rather it is I
that opens up
and lets myself be touched
like a flower that lives
fleetingly, without fear
of withering.

Gardenia by Lupe Eyde-Tucker

Look around, there is evidence everywhere.

A shower poem.

Big Picture

2 Dec

I don’t need anything
from your trip across town
though I always rack my brain
thinking of that elusive thing
that might complete the task,
the day, and perhaps my life.

I don’t need anything
from the store, at least nothing
that can be bought or sold
and definitely not another thing
to add to the tower of things
I have filling up my closets now.

I don’t need anything, really
except a moment of your time
to look at this picture of a duck.
It’s not a great picture of a duck,
I admit, but that’s not the point,
because I am the duck, you see.

If you’ll indulge me a moment longer
to look at the duck in a different way
you will see something new in the picture.
It’s actually also a picture of a rabbit.
I am the rabbit; yes, I can be a rabbit, too.
And you know what they say about rabbits.

I don’t need anything, truly nothing
that can be bought or sold, but thanks
for taking time to look at my picture
which is really what I want the most.
But please, don’t get stuck on the rabbit
I am still, and also always will be, the duck.

rabbit and duck

“Kaninchen und Ente” (“Rabbit and Duck”) from the 23 October 1892 issue of Fliegende Blätter. Public Domain.

This is a riff off of Billy Collins’ poem “Duck/Rabbit,” but only because when I heard him read it I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea that once you see the rabbit, you can no longer see the duck. And here’s the thing, to see the big picture you need to will yourself to see both. Once the rabbit is revealed, you have to choose to still see the duck. Please.

What is in a Name?

24 Nov

Exactly one month ago I attended the Dodge Poetry Festival, held biannually in Newark, NJ. I really didn’t know what to expect when I bought my festival tickets, but my hope was that I would learn more about the mystery of becoming a published poet. I also hoped to be inspired, not just by hearing excellent poets read their work, but also by traveling alone, being in New Jersey, and most of all, seeing the beauty of autumn in the Northeast.

During the festival, several of the sessions were with panels of poets who both read their own poems and discussed poetry with each other in front of the audience. Afterwards they opened the floor to questions from the audience. I attended one such panel, which consisted of four poets: Billy Collins, US poet laureate, Steven Kuusisto, A. Van Jones, and Natalie Diaz. It was a great conversation, as they are poets from all different walks of life, and I enjoyed some of the poems they read, namely “Ode to the Beloved’s Hips” by Natalie Diaz“from” by A. Van Jordan, and one of my new favorites, “Suggestion Box” by Billy Collins.

When they opened the discussion up for questions from the audience, I bounded (literally) down the theater steps to the mic. I had missed asking my question the day before, so I was ready. This is what I asked:

I write poetry, and have been doing so for many years. It is a very necessary part of my life. However, I hesitate to call myself a poet. So, my question is, at what point in your careers as poets did you feel justified to call yourself a poet, and more generally, when do you think it is appropriate to do so?

Billy Collins was the first to respond. He said that he felt that he could really call himself a poet when he received the phone call from the librarian of Congress, informing him that he had been selected as poet laureate. He got a chuckle from the audience. Later on, when I had a minute to chat with him by myself, he added that he never calls himself a poet to random strangers. He said that one time he sat next to someone on an airplane, who asked him what he did, and he said he was a poet. “Oh, my 13 year old daughter writes poetry,” the person responded. After that, he said, he never tells people he’s a poet, and just tells them that he’s a teacher instead.

The second response was from A. Van Jordan, who said that he didn’t feel justified in calling himself a poet until he received monetary compensation for his work. That, in his eyes, made him legitimate in front of family and friends.

The third, and final, response was from Natalie Diaz. She said that if poetry is important to me, and such an important part of my life, then I should own the title “poet.” That way, she said, I will make time for it in my life, and give it the importance it deserves. In order to be a poet, we have to make time to actively write, and take time to do so. So, she said, I think you should call yourself a poet now.

Steven Kuusisto said he liked Natalie’s answer, and so do I. I felt very encouraged by what she said, and I know she is right in saying so. I make time for things that are important to me in my life, such as staying in shape and being outdoors. I religiously make time for important naps on Saturdays.

As a wife and work-at-home mother of five children, my life can be very hectic. Solitary moments are what I crave the most, followed closely by meaningful adult interaction, especially conversation. But, silence and solace are the most valuable to me, because that is when I can actually think deep thoughts. It’s from my deepest thoughts that some of my best poems have sprung, so I try to do what I can to get to that place. It’s a struggle, as those opportunities are elusive, so this is possibly why many poems germinate in my mind while I am driving or trying to fall asleep (apparently composing words in my mind is how my brain defragments itself). I try to carve out time for writing, or even just thinking, but it has always been difficult to justify, given my circumstances.

So, guess what?

I am a Poet.

Dancing, @Cheers, Orange Park.

Dancing, @Cheers, Orange Park.

Long Branch

12 Nov

Robert Pinsky, US poet laureate
said that all of his poems
in one form, or another
are about Long Branch.

The same is true for me.
All of my poems, well
most, are about you,
in varying percentages
and, maybe not the you
you think you are
but, the you I see you as
which is a kind you
a noble you, playfully erudite, and fun
the you I have carried with me
all these years
and, if you know me
well enough, you can
read any of my poems
and place your finger
right where x marks the spot
every single time
and possibly see yourself
as the hidden treasure
that I have always thought you are.

I am not sure I need to apologize
since I didn’t intend it to be this way
there are no secret messages
or hidden agendas
and it often surprises me
as much as it must surprise
and perplex you; I can only say that
something about you stayed with me:
it peeks out from between the sheets
of poems I have written, it has
mixed into my palette of colors,
it has woven itself into
this blanket of words
I sleep with.

I looked up.

I looked up.

Every poet needs a muse, but we don’t necessarily get to choose our muses. I am grateful to have one, though. To be able to draw consistent inspiration from a source removed from my current state and circumstance has enabled me to use my imagination to create instead of wallow. I have several muses, actually, not just one, but the common thread they share is that they help me write boldly, from the heart. That is not an easy thing for me because I am naturally shy, which in the past has inhibited me from doing or saying things that I later wish I had done, or said. The result is very liberating, and it leads me in an upward spiral; it helps me keep a positive outlook on life.

Long Branch, NJ is my hometown.

All I Have

28 Oct

Words paint what my eyes perceive
Words sculpt what my heart conceives
Words open doors that have no latch
Words light a fire where there is no match.
Words caress where my hands can’t touch
Words make me rich, while I don’t have much.
Words convey my greatest fears,
Which have to do with keeping friendships dear,
Don’t use them against me, or forget what I say,
And please, don’t take my words away.

image

Fall

12 Oct

Poems happen
because words
come flowing, like wine
crushed from my fingers,
your smile, a sunset, promising
tomorrow, a fragrance, phrasing
like music, unplayed
but, a tune I can name
in 5 notes, or less.
Today, like yesterday,
only better.

An invitation, or a command?

An invitation, or a command?

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