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Searching for: serenevannoy ; 2018 Challenge

2018-04-01
Replies!

Secrets

Don't rush in and tell me
all the things that you usually keep
dark
hidden
in the back room,
a crawlspace,
a shed that should be torn down.
Don't rush to me with klaxons blaring
front-page news,
informing me of something
I wanted not to know.
Don't bring me this, your damp, useless knowledge,
never able to be lit on fire, or to keep anyone warm.
I do not welcome this
unfolding
and cannot hear that little bird singing
when we both know it died
yesterday
or
the day before.


(91 words)
2018-04-01

Ouch. Lovely.


(2 words)
2018-04-01

Very nice!


(2 words)
2018-04-02
Replies!

Making this happen,
this thing where I breathe and
you breathe
and we make a life together,
like the J. C. Penney Portrait Studio families
like the ones in a new wallet
who have never seen each other's flaws,
or no --
maybe they know all about the grunge of their loved ones'
mistakes
warts
dirty socks on the floor
maybe they are,
as I am in this moment,
happy to take each other
as is.


(76 words)
2018-04-03
Replies!

The woman in the floppy orange hat,
pushing the cart in front of her,
looks down at her child, the one riding in the cart seat,
and says, distinctly,
"Don't start."
The child looks weary, looks worn.
The child turns its gaze away.
Please, don't listen. Please start, child.
Begin your journey,
grow and flourish.
Be more.

I am melodramatic in my middle age.
I have imagined this one moment of squelching
has ruined this child's future.
Then I think back. I was this child.
I never allowed myself to be crushed
like an aluminum can underfoot.
I heard "don't start" and obeyed in the moment,
compliant girl that I was,
but you can't crush it all,
you can't make nothing out of something,
and now, I take my big, fat love,
and cry to the magnificent world,

"Don't stop."


(140 words)
2018-04-03

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this.


(8 words)
2018-04-04
Replies!

She says she could drink a case of you
She says she is your bad mamma jamma
She says, on a good day, all she needs is the air that she breathes
and to love you
She doesn't talk in song lyrics to anyone else
She doesn't move that way for anyone else's pleasure
She is your wandering jukebox,
your love repertoire,
the personal genius-dot-com,
the way you know,
like really know, that
Somewhere there's music,
It's where you are


(80 words)
2018-04-04
Replies!

So true. I feel like the last line goes a little too formal/stilted, but I really like this one.


(19 words)
2018-04-05
Replies!

It's not too smart, the way I love,
the way I jump in with both feet
the way I time my every move
to mean I'm being indiscreet.
I leap at love, I knock it down,
I make it come back home with me.
I paste up billboards in the town,
I tell the world, go on a spree.
Some brighter bulbs, those more sedate,
will keep their love close to their chest,
but me, I fling myself to fate,
and find exuberant love the best.


(86 words)
2018-04-06
Replies!

Thai fried rice

If you didn't know I would be having
leftover Thai fried rice for breakfast,
I said,
then you don't know me as well as I thought.
He laughs. "I knew,"
the way he knows my period is coming
when I put a lot of dairy in the shopping cart,
the way he knows when I say I should
do some gardening this weekend, what that means is
I will bemoan not doing any gardening come Monday,
the way he knows when I put my hand
on my breast,
my heart is doing that thing
where it palpitates until it scares me,
but not enough to say anything about it,
the way he knows he is inside me,
because he was invited there.


(125 words)
2018-04-07
Replies!

you hide behind the nectarines
in your yellow coat,
with the gray lining,
still in your galoshes,
even though it stopped raining
hours ago.
you are taller every day,
it seems,
but your head just barely
peeks above the fruit,
the deep black-purple of eggplants,
the tangelos so orange
they're almost fluorescent.
once, when you were
even smaller,
could still cling to my hip
as I wandered the store aisles,
you grasped at one of those
loud orange globes,
and before I could stop you,
you bit into it.
your face, once the rind was pierced
by your tiny baby teeth,
went from smug
to shocked
to angry
and your wail could be heard in the parking lot.
it is like that for me every day--
life so beautiful,
and so bitter,
and so surprising.


(135 words)
2018-04-08
Replies!

In mourning, contrast deepens,
or maybe I should say
some things get
easier to see,
like the sharp, black lines
of old-time calligraphy,
against an ecru background
of events that fade into unknowing.
You came to be when she,
your mother,
my sister,
had already started
her downward slide
toward oblivion.
You have outlived her,
and you can't look back
and call up anything good,
any time when you were glad
she was yours.

For me,
and for my mother even more,
it is more complicated.
We remember piano recitals
and gymnastics,
and the highs of mania,
not just the lows of drug-addled depression.
We saw someone in there,
someone with potential,
someone who could have had the world,
and left too soon.

There was the time
she and I sang The Sounds of Silence into our mom's answering machine,
in harmony,
because it gave her joy.

There was the time your mother,
my sister,
paid me a dollar a taco to keep 'em coming
when she was pregnant with you.
Tacos were all she could eat,
and she couldn't stand the smell of popcorn
or coffee.

We remember her fingers on piano keys,
her generosity with strangers,
some charm she never shared with you,
her glee in singing Top of the World,
but changing the lyrics:
"There is only one fish on my mind."

She wasn't all bad,
no one is,
and I can't decide if I wish you'd known
her good side,
or if you're lucky you don't know
what the world
has really
lost.


(257 words)
2018-04-08

YES.


(1 words)
2018-04-09
Replies!

Battle Over

Battle Over

Half a day's drive
from home to Seattle,
awake and alive,
expecting a battle,

I drove out of there
with no one behind me
the wind in my hair
a note to remind me

to stop up in Shasta
for bread from that store
I like; I drove faster,
my comfort the roar

of an engine I built--
or rebuilt--long ago.
It drowned out the guilt
for a while, even though

what waited in Washington
wouldn't be pleasant.
I had to drive on,
I had to be present.

In memory, that day
is the start of the end,
I wish I could say
that we parted as friends.

But things have a way
of deciding themselves.
The battle is over,
but you know, war was hell.


(130 words)
2018-04-09
Replies!

Wow, this is powerful. The first line made me laugh and cringe at the same time.


(16 words)
2018-04-10
Replies!

Deal or No Deal

They bought the car in sixty-eight,
shiny new, like the ones on Let's Make A Deal,
where the accountant from Van Nuys
has guessed the price within a hundred dollars

When they were new, he and Faith, like the car,
he drove her around Stockton with the top down,
her laughter mixing with the wind,
her hand on his thigh,
his heartbeat spreading out from under
her unpainted fingernails

Years later, his ride is more sedate,
solid,
stolid, appropriate for his place in life,
unsurprising,
no reason for the ladies at the senior center
to raise an eyebrow

Sometimes they wonder aloud,
the senior-center ladies,
why he's single,
and he avoids answering.
He doesn't like them,
the senior-center ladies,
doesn't like their big hair
and candy-apple nail varnish
and narrowed eyes,
following him.

Faith always found them charming,
the accountants from Van Nuys,
the payroll clerks from Fontana,
the stay-at-home moms from the Valley.
They were exactly what they were,
she always said,
not lacquered and fake,
willing to jump up and down in public,
in front of three cameras,
at the drop of a set of Samsonite,
or a living-room set,
or a brand
new
car.


(201 words)
2018-04-11
Replies!

Warning

It isn't a lack of love,
no hatred for you, no wish that you were not
I didn't wake up this morning sorry you exist,
didn't gaze on your sunlit face and wish you
into the cornfield

It isn't irritation, ire, no thought
of the slightest imperfection in your way,
in your voice, your hair, your gentle heart

It's not that I don't love you,
my dearest, sweetest darling,
the one I coil myself around at night,
the one I smile to encounter in the morning
it's none of those things
It's just

Go away. I'm reading.


(98 words)
2018-04-11

Lovely!


(1 words)
2018-04-12

Ex-lover's Lament

After eight years in Missoula,
being away from rats racing, from
car chasing, from
you

I take stock of where I am,
of what I've done with what was our life,
with how things stand,
and I won't say I regret nothing:
there are surely things I would take back

The time I said I didn't care, when I didn't,
but could have said No thank you

The day I locked us out of the house
and made you walk in the cold to find a payphone
to call a locksmith
who never came

The anger that overtook me,
sometimes,
when you would wake me, gently,
but far too early

I can catalog these things,
the time I was bad to you,
create an ex-lover's lament,
shred regret like confetti
and toss it into the air
onto your head

Or I can sit here in Missoula,
with fog on the windowpane,
cold glass against my cheek,
and be glad we parted
so I never wake up angry
anymore


(170 words)
2018-04-12

I hear you.


(3 words)
2018-04-13

Cicadas

My first day in Tokyo,
in the height of August heat,
my lungs filled with sticky mist.

The hotel was air conditioned,
but I was on the balcony anyway,
getting my first look at this city
so many thousands of miles from home.

The sound, intense and droning,
I thought was electricity,
a buzzing like a thousand neglected telephones,
so loud it drowned out my thoughts.

The young woman, Ai,
whose name is Japanese for Love,
did her best to explain to me
where the sound was coming from,
but the best I could figure,
from her gestures
and English much better than my Japanese,
these were the loudest birds
I'd ever heard.

Not loud birds, it turns out,
but cicadas,
actually smaller than a hummingbird,
the Japanese cicada
vibrates its timbals,
repelling birds,
attracting mates,
causing human and dog ears
a little pain.

I had heard of these bugs before,
seventeen-year locusts,
but they had never gotten into my head,
pushed all thought away,
vibrated in the space between my ears,
invaded my eardrums,
made me forget for a few minutes,
the suffocating heat,
the five thousand miles between us,
my hotel bed,
empty and silent,
without you.


(200 words)
2018-04-13

Fun wordplay!


(2 words)
2018-04-14

Eek, this is the first one I've missed. I got so busy yesterday that I forgot to do this. Here's my poem for yesterday, and I'll head over to today's next.

My report

Ladies, gentlemen, non-binary folks, others,
I have come to you today to report
on the state of the union

between love and grief
once separate, miles across glistening waters,
erstwhile strangers to each other

I am sad to convey
the dissolution of the ties
that no longer bind

Note here, in my PowerPoint slide,
the slide from wealth to poverty
of feeling, the downturn in productivity

of promises. And here, this dip in the chart,
this is where we believe things took a dive,
where tomorrows pulled away,

and the options for
future productivity
tanked


(128 words)
2018-04-15

The Storm

The storm comes through,
unannounced, as always.
Your sister is raging through the house,
uprooting any calm,
upending the end tables
like mobile homes in her path.
She is a low-pressure system,
a cyclone,
tossing everything out of her way,
textbooks, teapots, a witch on a bicycle.
You are in the eye, and you suck yourself down,
smaller,
hoping your silence
can be your shelter, your basement,
your Kansas after Oz.


(73 words)
2018-04-16
Replies!

Favorite

The question comes, inevitable,
like rain in January,
and I have my stock answers:
red for color,
Beloved for book,
a few other false thoughts kept in reserve,
so I can keep conversations short,
but now, here, in this dim light,
I can tell you the truth:
I have no favorites.
No favorite food, no favorite author,
no very best fabric smooth against my skin,
no best friend,
no single, perfect partner --
I am greedy, and have two --
no ice cream whose taste crowds out all others,
no country whose borders I want never to leave,
no language whose beauty is home to me,
no single thing whose excellence rises
above the others.
This is not distressing to me,
not a pathology, or even an eccentric quirk,
but I have my stock answers:
red for color,
Beloved for book,
so you will not know that naming favorites
is really not my favorite thing.


(156 words)
2018-04-16

Lovely.


(1 words)
2018-04-16

This is wonderful.


(3 words)
2018-04-17
Replies!

On the path to town,
we are almost holding hands,
fingertips touching,
but barely,
our thoughts in separate heads,
our destinies
separate,
touching,
but barely


(25 words)
2018-04-18
Replies!

i live my life like oscar wilde
no straining at my fingertips
as I resist reaching for
what they think I shouldnt be reaching for

i can resist everything else
the guilt of my upbringing
chocolate cake
the unwanted invitation
to an event i will never enjoy

i resist other things too
things that would do me good
the smoky death smell of the dentists drill
the morning workout
properly punctuated poems

but come to me in the morning
almost awake,
your breath warm and fluttering on my skin
your hand across my bare hip
and it doesnt matter that its time to go to work

i can resist anything
except temptation


(112 words)
2018-04-19
Replies!

Loose Thread

She came unraveled,
sometimes,
after days or weeks
wound so tightly,
coiled,
the tension in her fibers
foretelling something.

After, she would always recognize the signs:
how she'd frayed too easily for a few days before,
how bits of her were stretched taut until they hurt.
After, she would always wish she'd realized it sooner,
loosened the tension a bit, kept things gathered neatly.

But in the snapping moment,
the instant of breakage,
it never seemed a thing
a person could prevent.
It always seemed

inevitable.


(88 words)
2018-04-19

This is really good. I love the picture you paint.


(10 words)
2018-04-20

I am melodramatic in my middle age,
but quietly, not revealed by my pacifistic
outer shell.
Those who see me, day to day,
like to tell me I match my name,
and keep them calm,
and am a good person to come to
in a crisis.

Life lends itself to my particular kind
of quiet waiting,
because crisis, when it passes, is past,
and everything that is hard will someday fade
into ease and memory, liquid or fogged over,
malleable,
until you can't recall
what you were upset about.

So I wait and I don't get my blood pressure up
and I find a band-aid, a splint, a priest.
I do what needs doing.

Inside my head, though,
things don't resolve.
Inside my head,
there are crashes (cars and markets),
aneurysms, and the solid knowledge
that everything is not okay,
and never will be again.


(145 words)
2018-04-21
Replies!

The beat

the danger pounds with my pulse,
a message that tells my hindbrain
to run from sabre teeth,
to climb a tree, to find someplace
to hide
in the savanna I have never seen

my heart knows its job,
it must,
because I am here,
still,
after fifty-one years.
here, still,
after being inside-out
on too many operating tables.
still here,
after a madman's knife,
here.
still.

when I told the doctor
my heart skips a beat,
she corrected me.
no beats are skipping.
one beat comes early,
is extra,
is too eager, filled with
errant electricity,
says to my body,
something is wrong,
something is missing,
but I am here,
still.


(113 words)
2018-04-22
Replies!

Bougainvillea

It's been more than twenty years
since we left Verlane,
after the day Barbara and I
came to blows.
I don't remember what about,
exactly, just recall fending off her fists
as I stood with my arms in the sink
full of warm bubbles.
I told you that day
that I would be gone by September,
that I wouldn't spend another birthday
in a house with her and her rages.
I was sorry to see the little house go,
but especially the papery bougainvillea,
the one you hated, that arched over the whole house,
and whose leaves, bright fuchsia,
made me think we could find joy there.

There were children: two, toddlers,
and your every garment is beaded with guilt,
so instead of splitting us all up, you bought this house,
the one we're in now,
with the separate apartment for me,
connected to the main house
by a low door that did not lead
to Wonderland.

Barbara's dead now, for nearly a year,
and the kids are graduating college.
Today, I opened an old box of photos
and writing journals,
and on top, I found two brittle leaves
of bougainvillea,
reminders of that time
that I wish I had found a way
not to miss.


(207 words)
2018-04-22

This is really lovely, and I can see people I know/love in it.


(13 words)
2018-04-23

she will run.
gather up her things,
make for the hills,
leave the house as empty
as she found it.
she is not fond of inertia,
not immune to it, either,
and she knows its pull.
but tonight, when her father rails,
throwing things at the wall,
baring his veins,
daring her to watch him open them,
she will have enough.
she, twenty-one last Tuesday,
will say to her father,
"I'm doing this because I love you,"
and call the police
and leave for good.

she will try to get her mother to come, too,
but meet only tears
and questions they both know the answers to.

She will tell her mother, through snot and heartbreak,
"I do love you, Mami, but I can't do this anymore."

Right now, she is on the precipice, at the cliche crossroads,
but tonight,
this very night,
she will act.


(146 words)
2018-04-24
Replies!

Wow, this one was some work. I'll play with this form again!

Roundelay

I take my mother's thoughts, and melt them down,
build edifices of the recast steel
I group the buildings in a little town
fix walkways like the spokes within a wheel.
Please, take this vital fact and write it down:
my mother's words are true, but they're not real.

I group the buildings in a little town
fix walkways like the spokes within a wheel,
construct some beams and bridges all around.
decide now what to hide or to reveal.
Please, take this vital fact and write it down:
my mother's words are true, but they're not real.

Construct some beams and bridges all around,
decide now what to hide or to reveal,
place pierblocks so my meaning doesn't drown,
but warning bells fade out before they peal.
Please, take this vital fact and write it down:
my mother's words are true, but they're not real.

Place pierblocks so my meaning doesn't drown,
and warning bells fade out before they peal.
This city that I've blessed as sacred ground
was never meant to tell me how to feel.
Please, take this vital fact and write it down:
my mother's words are true, but they're not real.


(209 words)
2018-04-24

Oh, excellent work!


(3 words)
2018-04-24
Replies!

Please forgive me if this is a repeat. I posted, it disappeared, I'm reposting, and it will probably reappear!

I take my mother's thoughts, and melt them down,
build edifices of the recast steel
I group the buildings in a little town
fix walkways like the spokes within a wheel.
Please, take this vital fact and write it down:
my mother's words are true, but they're not real.

I group the buildings in a little town
fix walkways like the spokes within a wheel,
construct some beams and bridges all around.
decide now what to hide or to reveal.
Please, take this vital fact and write it down:
my mother's words are true, but they're not real.

Construct some beams and bridges all around,
decide now what to hide or to reveal,
place pierblocks so my meaning doesn't drown,
but warning bells fade out before they peal.
Please, take this vital fact and write it down:
my mother's words are true, but they're not real.

Place pierblocks so my meaning doesn't drown,
and warning bells fade out before they peal.
This city that I've blessed as sacred ground
was never meant to tell me how to feel.
Please, take this vital fact and write it down:
my mother's words are true, but they're not real.


(215 words)
2018-04-24

This is wonderful!


(3 words)
2018-04-25
Replies!

Hiraeth

It's Welsh, you said,
not exactly homesickness --
more like longing for a home
you never had,
that quiet corner in a sunny window,
cupboards full of food,
toys in boxes at the foot of the bunk bed,
parents who smiled and didn't hit.
You looked down at her,
our child,
our piece of the immortal,
the one thing we would bring into this world,
a jewel of newness,
and said Yes,
she will be Hiraeth
because we are going to break the cycle
and do this right.


(89 words)
2018-04-26
Replies!

I had to bleep the s-word, but here's my relationship poem for today:

When I dream, I dream of real life, but sideways.
In my dreams, I am at business meetings
with people who live far away,
or I am walking to my car,
but it's not my car, it's my mom's,
but it's not my mom, it's Raquel Welch,
or Bea Arthur,

and when I dream love and s*x,
or love
or s*x
I dream you.
Always you,
the one I lie down with at night,
the one I spend every day with.
Some things are off, like we're in a barn
somewhere,
or doing things these fifty-something bodies
just won't do,
but I dream you,
always you,
real,
but sideways.


(122 words)
2018-04-27
Replies!

She ducks behind the railing,
which she knows is really called a railing,
not a bannister,
as her stepfather calls it.
She didn't correct him a second time.
They are down there,
in the disused living room,
spitting whispered curses,
wishing each other into oblivion,
her mother's face mottled with vitriol,
her stepfather's fists potential energy.
She wants to go back upstairs,
go to sleep,
stop being a spectator of disaster.
She wonders if it is true
that every unhappy family
is unhappy in its own way.

She has always been
bookish, precocious,
a threat to him. Her mother
apologizes for her,
tells him the little girl
doesn't mean to be smart,
doesn't mean to show him up,
doesn't mean to be.

From her perch on the stairs,
she strains to hear her name,
fails,
is certain they are fighting about her.

Years later, after the escape,
she will tell her mother about this time,
and her mother will be aghast --
that she was watching, that she knew,
and that she thought it was about her.
In that moment, she will know it was never about her,
that her mother was never about her,
that she is and was,
always,

alone.


(202 words)
2018-04-28
Replies!

Oops, let me try this again and bleep the s*x

Third Wave

"Let this dismissal of a woman's experience move you to anger. Turn that outrage into political power. Do not vote for them unless they work for us. Do not have s*x with them, do not break bread with them, do not nurture them if they don't prioritize our freedom to control our bodies and our lives. I am not a post-feminism feminist. I am the Third Wave." -- Rebecca Walker

I am the water.
I am the wall of cold, hard liquid
coming down on your head
if you won't swim with it.

I am the light.
I am the blinding sun,
the candle flame
that will singe your arm hair,
and make you sorry you stayed
in darkness.

I am a force
you have taken for granted.
I am the energy of the universe,
and you don't miss me

yet.


(153 words)
2018-04-28

Third Wave

"Let this dismissal of a woman's experience move you to anger. Turn that outrage into political power. Do not vote for them unless they work for us. Do not have sex with them, do not break bread with them, do not nurture them if they don't prioritize our freedom to control our bodies and our lives. I am not a post-feminism feminist. I am the Third Wave." -- Rebecca Walker

I am the water.
I am the wall of cold, hard liquid
coming down on your head
if you won't swim with it.

I am the light.
I am the blinding sun,
the candle flame
that will singe your arm hair,
and make you sorry you stayed
in darkness.

I am a force
you have taken for granted.
I am the energy of the universe,
and you don't miss me

yet.


(143 words)
2018-04-29

Response to my Day 1 poem, "Secrets."

You don't want to hear my secrets,
the deepest inside litany,
the things I don't say,
you want them left unsaid.

I can do that.

I can hide myself,
curate what you see of me,
make your time with me
an abridged version,
a Reader's Digest Condensed Book,
just the melody line
without the essential bass notes.

And now is the time in the poem
when I tell you that's a bad idea,
that you can have all of me
or none,
that I will die on the hill of truth,
of revelation,
and to mine own self
insist on being true.

But I won't.

If someone tells you
they are giving you it all,
that they don't choose
from moment to moment
what they will give
reveal
unfurl in your presence
they are lying.
And I won't lie to you,
not now,

not until I'm ready,
to decide
what to hide.


(159 words)
2018-04-30
Replies!

Thank you, everyone! I'm off to work now, but I've appreciated you all so much, and I look forward to coming home and reading all your contributions. Here's my closing-time poem in haikus.

dim all the lights
the patrons have gone home now
my bed awaits me

once every night
I spill a glass of red wine
intentionally

tonight, when I did
I felt the pull of newness
instead of the grief

I spilled your wine, yes
not in grief for you, for once,
but in red-grape hope

This ritual of mine
pouring out sour grapes at ten
recalls you to me

but now, after years
I may be able to start
taking a small sip


(116 words)
2018-04-30

Wow, I really like this.


(5 words)
2018-04-30

You're amazing. Well done.


(4 words)
2018-04-30

Amen!


(1 words)