Music of a Fallen Year

Rain on the roof.
Water strumming down eaves,
ants strutting single-file,
snap of nitrile gloves,
steam rising from black coffee.
Skyward maples,
shadows pattering on glass,
entering and embracing.
Not a small amount of terror,
over-loud laughter rising.
Come to bed.

Grapeling’s final Get Listed for 2014 included these words: music, fall, water, glove, steam, shadow, embrace, rise, bed


They Say Love Won't Pay the Rent

It’s a quarter till dawn
and the sky above the nativity
glows iridescent black-blue
like the backdrop
of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
Here they are, the first family
Baby Chastity
played by a studded tire
(because the baby Jesus was stolen)
Here they come a-caroling
I Got You, Babe.


Heroes We Have Heard on High

Snorting their astral
saxophones, exhorting us
to bend in supplication
like solemn boughs laden
with adoration, bowed
but not breaking, we sing
their glorious refrain
in starry harmony, cowed
and waiting for the coda.

Late entry for Kerry’s word substitution challenge, Christmas Special Edition!


Another Cavalcade of Seasons and Songs

Fold the year’s pain
into renzuru--
everything you lost locked
in the heart,
head full of yearning,
like showy tailfeathers,
all your melodies memorized
in the wings.
Keep your crane of ghosts
and minor chords
creased in your notebook,
carry it with you,
stashed in your pillow for dreaming.

For my Real Toads, inspired by Kevn Kinney’s Broken Hearts and Auto Parts


The Storied Rose Glasses

like onion skin
stings like hell
before inevitable

But in dreams
washed in pink
& it’s your waves
lapping at my calves

Inspired by Hannah’s prompt to the Real Toads: LAKE HILLIER


Shut Down Due to Ice

Forgot coffee
on counter apples
in drainer feverishly
navigating roads slick
with worry concerning
apples of your cheeks
flushed fever-red
never noticing red light
rode late night only
your argument perfectly
too late to respond
having forgotten black ice
just how slick you can be.

For Mama Zen’s prompt to the Real Toads: HOMOPHONES


This Writer's Process

Write every day for a month,
then stop. Don’t write for one day,
two days, then a week. Take a break,
all the while admonishing yourself
for lacking productivity. Curse,
but colorfully: Jesus Christ
on a bike, I am lazy as shit,
and even less talented. I give up.
Then start writing all over again.

True confessions for Flash Fiction 55 at Real Toads!


This Week in Poetry

On Wednesday, all the Cool Cats will be hanging out at the Thirsty Mind in South Hadley, MA. If you are local or in need of a sanity-saving between-holidays road trip, see you there! It will be wonderful fun.

Having actually pulled off writing a poem every single day in November, a task about which I had much doubt at the start, I am feeling pretty good. Mama might just have her groove back!

It’s never too late to make a contribution to Center for New Americans to acknowledge this feat, if you are so inclined. A gift of any size will be very much appreciated by yours truly, as well as by this great organization and the people it serves--the newest members of our community. Click here:

Thank you, Gentle Readers, for being here and for all your love and support. Carry on creating!
Marian's 30 Poems in November fundraising page


Rules for Living

You had rules for life.
One was: In every new town,
try the Chinese restaurant.
I disagreed, preferring salad
or grilled cheese on rye,
but I went along.
Now, at every opportunity,
I eat broccoli with garlic sauce
and think of you. Still
resisting your rules,
but I’m losing interest
in strong opinions about food.
In a couple years all rules
for life will be irrelevant anyway.
Then I can forget you.

For Bjorn’s prompt to the Real Toads: TIME TRAVEL
And... it’s #29 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans!


Family Tree

Comes a moment
when a child’s empathy is tested.
Like heavy snow on the slenderest branch
you hope for deep bend, no cracking.
You should have known
there’s nothing brittle about her.
You watch her choose the right
but painful thing,
swelling with tears to near-burst
but she does not break.
She is pliable; she is green.
And mama, you too must bend.
What do you choose in the face of her tears?
You are the oak.
Describe your pride, your weathering,
your wonder at her strength, then
join her in sorrow.

Dear Corey asked the Real Toads to write about a time when we did not know how to feel about what was happening. It’s #28 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.


Fellowship (To Scale)

Turns out shadows
can’t be wiped off, dirt
resists extraction
even with sharp objects.
Just digs in deeper.
There is no relief
here; race defines you--
strangers, sisters
irrespective. Shit’s deep
and love is skewed.

Words from Grapeling’s travel list: scale, shadows, dirt, relief, race, skew

Poem #26 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.



It’s impossible to think
in the spin cycle. You can only feel.
Maybe you’ll notice how
you always hang the same color towels.
Never blue and white, only white
or blue.
As you spin,
you’ll feel the battering,
the bruises forming, the purple-yellowing
of them. You’ll wonder
what kind of cycle you spin in
when one man
testifies under oath
about another man’s face: It looks like a demon.
Spinning, reddening--
You’ll blink, then go back to hanging,
segregating by color.

Poem #25 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.


Death Day

Fog pushes down
on your death day,
then the rain moves in.
Plowable snow is forecast
for the holiday.
The radio reports
that today is the birthday
of Margaret Anderson,
who first published Ulysses,
burned as obscene.
Weirdly warm today, weirdly
windy too. No day
for fire.
In 1991, we burned you
on our collective retinas,
beautiful in life,
obscene in your youthful

Dedicated to the immortal spirit of Freddie Mercury, #24 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.


Chip, Block, Apple, Tree

Are you sure
you like those boots?
mother asks, repeats
after the answer
Yes, sure I do
fails to convince.
I mean, I just want
to make sure you aren’t
wearing them
because you haven’t
something else
to wear. You like them?
Of course I like them.
If I didn’t,
I’d be whining about them.

Poem #22 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans!


Still Life with Fruit

This overripe melon
came from a cornucopia
of unseasonable offerings
at the market,
where all is available
every month.

What’s seasonal in December
around here anyway?

All I know is,
December’s dark freeze
easily destroys
the leggy new growth of May,
penetrating until she’s crushed,
seeds strewn across ice.

detail from Still Life with Fruit, Severin Roesen, 1852

For Margaret’s prompt to the Real Toads featuring this painting by Severin Roesen. Number 21 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.


A Poem About Aging, Chock-Full of Stereotypes, or at Least Crusty Adages

Time went completely wobbly
a long time ago
or was it only last week?
I’m older than my mother was
when I went off to college,
but just turned young enough
to snort-laugh a hallway chase
with an eight-year-old,
who says she might die laughing.
Seems we just chatted yesterday.
Has it really been years?
Years ago, I forgot my age
but now, cycling my half-century
is perpetually apparent.
Still too young for ladyfingers
with the bitter woman’s bridge
& sherry club, though.
They don’t serve vegans, plus
members are required
to wear underwear. At least
I’m old enough to know better
than to believe older means wiser.

For Kerry’s prompt to the Real Toads: YOUTH & AGE 
Plus, this is #20 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans. Whoosh!


The Cabinet Requests

C’mon baby,
Spray some oil
on my hinges--
I promise
to keep quiet.

Home sick today, so just this teensy ditty for #19 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans. Who knows, maybe a head cold will produce some delirious poetry. Or, maybe I will just sleep it off.


Something to Chew On

If death implies life then get started living
you intone, or at least I think that was you
chanting sagely, though in the pale of morning
I’ve forgotten my dream. Heavy from the mood
of the thing not recalled, I heave from black
to the brittle green-grey of before-dawn, leave
the room of regret for a spell best utilized
wisely because penitence piles up like frail leaves
this month, whirling around thirsty heads, dizzying,
decomposing as it spins. Was it really you whispering
across the bends, reeling an incantation, expecting
me to receive and comprehend? Yeah? Join me, then,
in a cup of black coffee and folding the towels,
ruminating, ruminating what’s already been swallowed.

#18 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans!



Part of me
shines our boldest angel,
his pavonine glory eighty-sixed
in his preening prime--
Having anticipated
as much, steadfastly denied
   & orchestrated
last verse so sublimely beautiful
as to greet the sky where
the wind blows.

More inspired by Freddie Mercury. And #15 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans!


Emulating Freddie

He predicted
there would come a day
for changing strategies,
when to carry on as usual
gets to being ridiculous.

Until that day, let’s keep on
playing Queen in tight jeans,
bottle-brass hair let down
and I-don’t-give-a-fuck
emblazoned across our bosoms.

In the end, he never
had to figure out how to age
while twirling half a mic stand.
Let’s you and I not bother
figuring that out, either.

Real Toads are inspired by FREDDIE MERCURY. I think I could write a dozen poems inspired by Freddie; this is just something, just one thing I've been thinking about in connection with his life and music. And, this #14 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.