don't look it in the mouth

If you
huddle at night
scribbling it all down, ink
to blood to paper, you daren’t



Morphine makes me weightless,
giggling to myself
because I always wanted to fly,
and the saxophone soundtrack
is sweetly apt
as otherwise it sounds like my brain
might squeeze through my ears
and pool like warm jello
on crisp hospital sheets.
I should hit that switch again,
let it pump in 4/4 time,
especially if my vitality
is on its way out
along with my sense of rhythm
and excellent taste in music.
See you in the next life--
Looks like I’m gonna fly with Sandman.
Last week's line (I'm posting this just under the wire!) for Master Class at Sinistral Scribblings this week: "Morphine makes me weightless, airborne." It's from I Wore The Ocean In The Shape Of A Girl by Kelle Groom.



Words I always
wanted to hear
like arrows
glancing off
trusted armor;
It’s loud
in this firestorm
but nothing sticks.

Susan's weekend challenge to the Real Toads is to write a new poem starting with the last line of a recently written poem. The first two lines here are from the last line of this poem I wrote a few days ago; I like how this new one is short and sweet, while the other is wildly rambling.



If anything could turn me
into a praying woman,
it’s the fear
that you
could become so separate
from me
that I don’t know you
but don’t realize
I don’t know,
your secrets locked,
combination protected,
too obtuse
to be decoded
even after
it’s too
here is the church
here is the steeple
open the doors
and see all the people
My love, I will learn
how to kneel
by your bed and pray,
seek absolution,
give penance,
whatever it takes
for you to live
a singular
My love, my love
Be careful,
be well,
here are my hands
here are my arms
my heart resides
inside your words

My occasional music prompt to the Real Toads is up today. Join us! We are being inspired by the music of Minneapolis-based rapper and singer Dessa.


au naturel

I dreamed you were driving my car
like nothing doing.
You got in, shrugged and drove,
no big shakes.
As we tooled around, I got to wondering
what else you haven’t told me,
what other skills you might possess
and have withheld.
Maybe you’re an incurable epicure,
enjoyer and preparer
of sensuous food and libation,
wandering delightedly
silent on your moccasins
through vast rooted woods,
picnic basket swinging,
searching for the perfect spot
to wine and dine your perfect dish
before fervent lovemaking
au naturel
under an impassioned cinnamon elm.
Maybe you’d like nothing better
than to hike those woods
all the damn day long,
so long as the path ended
on a stretch of unobstructed beach
prime for stripping and skinny-dipping,
lolling on the sand
conversing with pipers and plovers,
thinking about how this perfect beach
could only be made more perfect
by the appearance of a shower
at the end of this rambling boardwalk.
Maybe there really is an open-air shower
at the end of the boardwalk,
and as you duck under,
allowing the cold water to rinse
down your body
in directed rivulets
like a ritual,
you realize that there’s something
you never told me
so you pull your perfect dish closer
wrap around me in this rain,
whispering in my ear
words I always wanted to hear.

Kerry asked the Real Toads to try Worldbuilding, or opening a small window on an imaginary world of our own original design, through words. I am so firmly entrenched in Middle Earth these days that I have no idea what I was doing here. But still, this was fun to write.


blue twain

I am all gentle
softness and whispers;
you are all forgiveness.

We are standing
at the edge of contrary
cumulus and sapphire,

waiting for a pronouncement,
holding our breath
till we are cleared for takeoff,

like two robins
standing sentry
as the morning worm rises.

I stage-whisper, “It’s time.”
You tuck straw around our eggs.
We make quite a pair.

painting/photo copyright Kim Nelson
This is the first poem in my book Responsive Pleading, which seems so well-paired with this gorgeous painting by my friend Kim Nelson that I sought Kim's permission to link them together here. Please visit Kim's art and poetry blog, and get ready to be inspired: 
Kim Nelson Creates
And if you don't already have your copy of Responsive Pleading, what are you waiting for? Nudge.


today i'm five

Today I’m five. Too young for sentimentality,
but old enough to appreciate that I’m riding
in a Volkswagen microbus sitting on a cardboard
straight chair between my folks in the front seats

singing along with "Afternoon Delight" when my dad
says She knows all the words to all the songs,
just like her Aunt and I beam with something like
five-year-old pride and never forget it ever.

And then we arrive at our new house, new house!
which by the way is a big tall two-story new house
with a railing on the front steps that’s made
for swinging, so I swing, attracting the notice

of some neighborhood girls, girls! and we girls
go running down the sidewalk across the backyards
through the lumberyard to the railroad tracks
and lob iron ore pellets just for good measure.

Then we’re all in Linda’s screened-in front porch
pumping the porch swing singing in four-part harmony
(altogether now) ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE da da da da da. 
And you know, that’s still true, all you need is love.

Woo hoo, I got to pick the line for Master Class at Sinistral Scribblings this week: "Today I'm five." It's from Room by Emma Donoghue.


thinking inside the box

It’s when these spreadsheets
make my eyes cross
that my thoughts start journeying
and I wonder
what am I doing anyway
and what other thing would I do
if I weren’t doing this
and then the screen
seems to bloom and undulate
until the sides peel off
and wrap around my head
like a turban made of columns
squeezing ever tighter
cutting off circulation to my words
and then, presto! Back to status quo ante.

Exactly 75 words for Mama Zen's Words Count over at Real Toads, on the subject of the stuff that makes writing poetry difficult.

Epilogue/Famous Last Words.

Me: Hey, you’re losing me, for tonight. *yawn*

Him: It’s late, fellow camper. We can pick it up again anytime.

photo copyright Isadora Gruye Photography

Third in a series of pieces written collaboratively between Izy Gruye and me. Please click over to read Izy's: 
Document of Discussion (10) and (11)


izy & marian sittin' in a tree

Gentle readers, today I'm over at Real Toads with Izy Gruye. Our collaborative poem is up today! Please click and enjoy:
Forever a Sapling/Etoposide for Beginners


Things Not To Do Before Dying.

  1. Hide behind your computer keyboard.
  2. Keep your skeletons in your closet. Be ashamed of them. All of them.
  3. Make your friends responsible for keeping your secrets, even after your death.
  4. Don’t say anything when you witness injustice. Be a bystander.
  5. Don’t finish your book.
  6. Don’t tell your spouse the truth about anything.
  7. Model living untruthfully for your children. Show them what a marriage without love or respect looks like.
  8. Don’t allow yourself any freedom. Don’t make any plans.
  9. When you find the great love of your life, do nothing.
 10. Whatever you do, don’t love yourself.

photo copyright Isadora Gruye Photography
Izy Gruye and I have been working together to write a collaborative poem that will be posted at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads on Tuesday as part of the In Tandem series. We came up with more material than we expected--because we're fantastic that way--including two top-ten lists. Or lists of ten, anyway. Mine is a response to Izy's, and hers is a response to mine. That great photo is by Izy, too. Please visit Izy at the Real Cage Blog to read her companion list, here:
Things That Can Get You In Trouble In The Chemo Ward


got me by the guts

Accident left you
with 3 point 5 digits
but no incapacity
for intentionally
reaching inside,
extracting my heart,
and penetrating my brain.

Painting by Kim Nelson

Today's Real Toads weekend challenge features the artwork of my friend and occasional co-conspirator, Kim Nelson. Please visit Kim Nelson Creates to experience Kim's incredible artwork and poetry.


off the line

Some days she feels exposed:
inside out, for the taking,
like undergarments hung to dry,
queued up to be inspected.

And who stands in judgment
of her frocks? Who amongst
us readies attack, spin cycle
heady and out of control?

Our times are of violence;
she wants to savor something.
Unfastening the wash, she folds,
tucks it away for safekeeping,

But it’s impossible to unclench
the fist gripping milled fabric,
its texture like her tongue:
Some days she feels, exposed. 

Fireblossom asked the Real Toads to write a poem in which the first and last lines are the same but their meanings are different.



Gingerly grasping
crinkly red cellophane
round cheese wrapping,
raising it to chapped lips,
hushed WOW Look at THIS, mama!
Can I KEEP this?
Yes, WOW baby--
You can keep it.

Ella asked the Real Toads to write a poem about wow!


a nest is a nest

I write this
in the kitchen sink
pigeons on the fence,
sparrows in the rosebush,
what would happen
if I flew out this window,
headed for that distant
ancient maple,
my seat in this nest
of crusted dishes, 
it all down.

Author Eric Storch (of Sinistral Scribblings) is offering a writing Master Class in which pupils are presented with the first line from a famous book and are expected to write a story in response, starting with that same first line.



All I want
is to lie with my Man,
to take him Inside & bloom--

but how can I open
when upon my Eyes closing,
I see eviscerating

instead of Lovemaking--
a Girl disemboweled,
smote & dumped for dead--

I’m just a Girl,
lying with my Man, quaking--
All I want is for Her to Fly--



Sometimes you're empty,
vacant of everything, like
the space in between.



Grey-iced vernal pools:
slow amphibians hunker,
greenly awaiting.


broke down

When the Machine
stops working,
you don’t know
any Earthly way
to fix it
and you think
it must have been
created by Aliens
or something,
you’re left
with your Mending
in your lap,
for the repair guy,
and a slow Unspooling
your fraying Heart.

Fireblossom gave the Real Toads a fun word list to work with today in the new feature, Get Listed!, including the words unspooling and fraying.


the gist of the year

Driving under
chalkboard Sky,
Belly roiling,

to contain Fear--

Finding Solace
in almond Eyes
and small Hands.

The Gist of the Year.