maybe for orange juice

Hey, so folks, it's week two of the Indie Ink weekly writing challenge (in which participants are randomly challenged by our peers with a writing prompt). And I am officially way out of my element here. Luckily, my prompt was at least topical, as you can be certain I was watching the Oscars last night. And also, drinking too much.

Rolling over again tangled up in her duvet, sun streaming through the vertical blinds. What time is it?

Oh, man, it is past noon. Pulling the pillow over her head. I may never get out of this bed again. Except maybe for some orange juice.

What the hell, is that my phone ringing? Who would call me at this hour? Oh, man, why the hell is my blackberry under my pillow?


"Dude, what are you doing? What even happened to you last night? Where'd ya go?"

"Who is this?" Head out from under the pillow, eyes squeezed tight.

"Girl, what is wrong with you? It's me, Melodia. Jesus.”

"Oh, hey, I'm not up yet." And why are you calling me at any hour? I am so confused. 

"I had to call you right away. I mean, what was the Academy even thinking, those old tired bastards? Jesus christ on a fucking bike."

"Well... I don't know about that, I mean, Jasmine was breathtaking, she worked so hard, she deserves it..." If it couldn't be me, at least it was Jasmine and not this asshole, for crying out loud. 

"Yeah, yeah, I knew you would say that, you're her defender and her Bee Eff Eff and all." I am not gonna dignify this bullshit with a response. As if I could come up with a snappy comeback anyway.

"And anyway, I got what I wanted, in the end."

"Huh. You did?"

"You betcha, baby. I am not one to slink away with my tail between my legs, you know." No shit. Uh oh. What did she do?

"So, what do you mean, then?" Do I want to know? 

"Dude. Go friend James Franco on Facebook to find out. Oh, yes, go and do that." What!

"What? James Franco what?"

"There is a photo on there of me and Jasmine with James Franco. And after that? My secret." Oh man, I want nothing to do with this.

"Ah, good for you. Later."

Rising from her bed and stumbling to her excessively bright kitchen. What is it with all this sunlight? And why do I feel this way?

Oh my lord. Her reflection in the window. I am revolting.

Glasses half-full of wine in the sink. What a fucking mess. This has got to stop.

Pouring the unfinished bottles down the drain.

For today, at least. Today.

My prompt, from Mighty Hunter, was: "You've been nominated for Best Actress, along with your BFF AND frenemy. Your best friend wins; it's considered an upset. Describe, in between 250 and 400 words, your next phone conversation with your frenemy."


sestina & silly

Okay, I am all distracted trying to get some thoughts out that are resisting mightily. So I thought maybe I'd mine this stack of old poems and get it out of my system. They are kind of fun to read and it is only a little embarrassing to share; I guess the fun outweighs the discomfort. These are unedited and presented to you in all their nineteen-year-old glory!

The most interesting thing (to me) about the first two poems is that they both refer to "skin" in a way that I know I don't write about anymore. Any references to skin in these pages is in a very different context than this. 

I have edited this one, which was in a sprawling format that didn't work on the page here:

Your slow sigh
Whispers as skin
Caresses soft skin a sweet
Song like the song
Sung wide across the sky
Softly warmed by the sun

And the rising sun
Resting on the skyline like a sigh
Paints the sky
In pinks and scarlets your skin
Touches mine and the song
Of the dawn is a sweet

One so sweet
That in the early sun
We sing the only song
We know and end it with a sigh
We know skin
Together and the very sky

Seems to smile that sky
Has known our sweet
Scent the smell of skin
Touching skin in the soft morning sun
We collapse with a sigh
And sing again the song

Always the same soft song
We sing until the sky
Smiles down in a long pink sigh
You and I are sweet sweet
Lovers in the sun
As it slowly warms our skin

Our skin
Replies in song
The song is for the sun
The smiling sun in the morning sky
And we sweet
Lovers can only sigh.

And this one? All I can say is, I fucking loved Gertrude Stein back then. I still do, and I sure hope I'm not copping her anymore.
Smile! Silly willy in the shower.
      Silly, and the smell of pancakes
      prevails. Above the rain puddles.
            Above the roommates. Above unrequited love.
Rain rain rain, rain wet.
Silly willy, silly silly smile!
      On the mountain, smile above the city and smile
      about the dream. About the beach.
            About the rollerskates.
      Dream money raining, money wet.
Special smile smiling, dreaming, dream.
Silly special willy, touch.
      Touch sensitive skin, smiling at the laughter.
            At the levity. At the moment.
      Mandatory. This is not mandatory.
Ready, silly willy?
Ready, set, smile!
Raining, touching, smiling special silly willy
      ready, set, dream.

And this one? Ha! I was only nineteen, yet defeated! I am sure I wrote this again at 25, and 30, and 36, and oh even now at almost-45. 

how many 
times can
i storm out
of a room

how many times can
i say you're making a big mistake
you're taking a big risk

don't do it don't push me
don't make me

walk away



cradle my head in your hands
i am strong but you are stronger
use your power for good

cup my head in your hands
thank you for not throttling me
though you most surely could.

ray dream

In the dream, I was visiting my friend Molly's house. In real life, I've never been to Molly's house, but I'm guessing it doesn't sport an enormous indoor swimming pool.

A swimming pool that is home for her pet manta ray.

The ray was friendly, but it constantly jumped out of the pool to grab things. It grabbed my bag from a pretty mosaic side table, and was dragging it into the water.

Including my wallet. And my notebook. And my blackberry.

I managed to catch the blackberry before it was submerged, but the ray latched onto my elbow. It didn't hurt too much, as it had no teeth to pierce my skin. But it had a locked grip on my arm.

Then I saw a small flash drive flying through the air, about to land in the pool. It contained the backup for my website, all of my poems and photos and writing. Somehow I caught it in my free hand and the ray released my arm.

This whole time, Molly was unfazed. As I climbed out and hauled my belongings into the next room, she said, "Oh, I promised to buy my kids new bags after the ray ate theirs. Maybe I should put that on the list."


we could be trees

Friends, I have found a stack of random papers, photos, and letters from many years ago, including some very old poems. I am having a laugh over here, because they are terrible and also because I appear to not have evolved at all since I was nineteen. For example, here is a poem I must have written for a college class. (What the heck is a ghazal?) Its theme is laughingly consistent with what I write about now, ha! I am not editing this thing at all, here it is in all its original glory.


We could be trees, leaning
with the wind, slowly breezing

in summer sun; in autumn
leaves fading, changing, conceiving

burnt colors--yellows, oranges,
browns, reds--finally screaming

to the ground; in winter,
branches bare, a snowing gleaming

clinging, cold and icy everywhere;
and in springtime, birds preening,

singing on a limb--flower songs,
rain songs--and light rain streaming,

in little rivers, down bark crevices.
We could be trees. I am dreaming

of one who studies trees, marrying
earth and sky in seasonal meaning.


here, doggie

oh to be
a baby on a beach, free
withoutwardly gleeful
wayward sand, haphazard sun
where in hell did that dog come from?

(This poem was inspired by this week's Monday Photo Prompt at my friend Eric Alder's photography blog, Bifocal Univision. I'm surprised I was able to write something about this; dog person I am really not!)


not my best night

i am fried
i tried to keep it inside
but bitch mama comes out
when pushed i can't reel her in
so kiss my kids and start again.


you're the one
our stolen hour just begun
dark comfy reverie
outta my head never leave
your insolent heart on my sleeve.

(My first try with yummy frosting.)


prisoner's dilemma

Folks, I am participating in a cool challenge thrown down by Indie Ink. It's a weekly writing challenge in which participants are randomly challenged by our peers with a writing prompt. Here is what I came up with this week, my first time!

prisoner's dilemma
she says i don't trust you
with all of me. he says
here are my secrets. but she knows
he has more
filed away on shelves
or in pockets.
categorized, she imagines
by year or relative beauty
like maple syrup
grade A or B
dark or light,
which was most perfect
who had the longest hair
or the tightest ass
who loved the best and fucked the hardest?
she stops
speaks again. i will tell you
if you come clean with me.
clean, he replies, is not
in my repertoire.

My prompt, from Michael Webb, was: "Write a scene involving two people. Both people have a secret that they are concealing from the other, but the secret is never revealed to the other person, or to the reader."


grateful haiku

how do you, after
all these years, turn me upside
down and inside out?


not so fast

staying here softly
focused on my green belly
unable to move.


environmental controls

one hectic morning, they slept late
  having been kept up late last night
  by Him all drunk all yelling and leering
and now He's barking and they are jumping
  get that dog his fucking food!
  no time for breakfast gotta get to school

when they moved in with Him, he had said
  what a cute dog that was

  and He responded "good, then he's yours" 

he sought refuge in his bedroom
  water dripping from the ceiling panel
  breathing in the black mold walls
he couldn't feed the dog before the bus
  so no food for him all day today
  stomach pining he writes his poems
that dog bounded in from the backyard
  jumped up and drooled on his bed
  he lies on a gritty comforter
mother came to him late at night
  one slice of wrapped american cheese
  she offered to his hunger

grit and dirt and hair and mold
  and yells and smacks and hunger and worse
  a boy's childhood

last night like every other night
  this morning like every other morning
  out of his control.

sugar daddy

my sweet impatience,
friendly kiss in your cheek, your
letter i await.


i keep on choosing you
i chose you yet again
they say i'll get over it
but it feels big this time
i hope you've chosen me, too.


another era's valentine

A valentine written by my grandmother, perfect for this week! And that's her note at the end. Enjoy!

Your Valentine
Just any man could send me candy--yes,
But not the kind you sent--in pale blue case
To look like softest summer sky, I guess,
With silken flowers set on creamy lace.
The whole shaped like a heart that on its face
At first a bow of golden ribbon bore
Until I snapped the cord that held its place,
Disclosed the contents, chocolate creams galore,
Your little card--how could I ask for more?

(My first attempt at a Spenserian stanza. Never again!)


pretty kitty

who knew
i would count you
amongst the cats i lost
in winter? ashamed, regretful
(in no
small part
resentful), i will miss your fluff
and your scratchy love. cold
hearted and heart
(This poem was inspired by my cat Rocket and by this week's Monday Photo Prompt at my friend Eric Alder's photography blog, Bifocal Univision.)


lap dance

pull on
my best ass pants
a little dance for you
shake it like a polaroid in

wild conceit

always captive.
venerated Lion
King patrols his pride, forever

can't look

watching you urging
their fighting over you makes me
want to run away.



let me
sit on your lap
breathe you like a new day
love begat the heat inside me
your prize.


summer of '93

my best summer was my worst summer.

i'd ride from garfield to uptown
   stop at wendy's for scalding coffee
   carry it on my bike
   to duquesne and that bar class

sit through lectures, estates and trusts,
   corporations, contracts and torts
looking at the back of your head
   smelling your ponytail
   (but you never turned around)

pedal downtown to the arts festival
   soak it in, summer art and people
lunch with ani difranco on that tiny stage
   burnt-out car sculpture
   shouting all that violence

then up up up the long long hill
   l o n g   h i l l
   past churches, gas stations, bars
studying people on the cathedral lawn
   reading in a carrel at hillman library
   perched with coffee at the beehive

freedom in unstructured summer hours

i went with her a few times
what did she like? the park with the lake
   melissa etheridge (i didn't)
   weird hair and rings on toes
   most interesting, her artist father

and the other, who loved me
and the other, who followed me
   drunk kissing

and you. always you.

we took our test and i ran away.

when you called me out from exile
   i thought i'd lose my mind
   you, calling me, in my solitude?
but you had to tell me about the dean
   trying to keep us from the bar
   "bad moral character"
   we had to find lawyers and respond

your next call shocking me out of seclusion
   you had crashed
   your car skidding on slippery pavement
   into that group of children on bikes
a child died. a child died.
your photo in the newspaper
   the bandage condemning you
   the child's mother damned

a child died.

how much could you take?

i came home to your solitude
   in your sweltering apartment
   unable to be witnessed
that summer evening on your rooftop
   sitting quietly with the weight
   nothing to say
all i knew to do to care for you
   right there on your rooftop
   binding me to you again

in that best of worst of summers.


alone in my wormhole

how to
piss a girl off
you surely know but when
you faltered, laser beam into
my heart.

not flattering

i hate
how my shirt rides
my belly, exposing
my back to the cold and your eyes.
don't look.



my scars
healed or broken
open and scarred again
like tree bark grown over line hooks
or barbed wire fence, splitting healing scarring
scratching scabbing over again
and again, pain inside
kills it, leaving

just scars.

(This poem was inspired by this week's Monday Photo Prompt at my friend Eric Alder's photography blog, Bifocal Univision.)


love my little girl
blowing kisses in her sleep
my face in her hair.


no protection

you were
little, yelling
like a child when she came
after you, long white hair unfurled,
a witch whipped between our twin beds, pressing

down on you, scarier than your
closet E, leaving me
with no way to
save you.


what's in it for me

my goal is to write
words bringing you back to read
again and again.

dear reader, will you
come and share my words and world?
i crave your liking.

(This poem was written for Jingle Poetry's Poetry Potluck, week 21: Aims, Goals, and Ambitions.)


girl in the city

my fly boots stomping
city streets snapping photos
for my girl back home.


too late now

squinting in the sun
all this time was i to be
wearing sunglasses?

freeing the fish

In real life, I am headed to New York this morning for a quick work trip. 

In my dream, I took along a goldfish. Caring for it in its lovely glass bowl. In my car to New Haven, on the train to Grand Central, through the streets of Manhattan.

I left the goldfish behind in my hotel room when I checked out. On purpose. And I made the trek home alone.


various myths

grand is a state of mind, you said.

as is age, i replied
and other large things.

bliss? follow yours?

frumpy? i am?

what? spoken by a lummox.

rather, i'd say mercurial

grand. yes, grand.

why do you have to hate so hard?

At The Upstage

The pretty people
sway with plastic beer cups: Rock
Me, Amadeus.


jim's love interest

Another interesting character sketch by my grandmother:
Jim decided that her mouth was too wide. It was sweet, though--no, it must be too wide to be sweet. And those eyes of hers were green--Lord! How he hated green eyes. They didn't look sad, after all, close up--they were rather shining. And the color wasn't really so bad. No other color would have suited her hair, a reddish-gold that wasn't curly and certainly wasn't straight, but stood out around her head, like--like the haze around the moon on a misty night. She'd lost her hat somewhere, but the rest of her was dressed in light green--a plain sports dress that fit her well--not that Jim knew anything about the way women's clothes ought to fit.