Photo (Album) Synthesis

I think
you’re like spring umber--
just a glimpse of you
before all’s chartreuse.
One minute you’re here,
then away--
and in the next, I realize
you’ve always been gone.

Hey, it’s NaPoWriMo Day 30! What?! We did it!
This is for Bjorn’s prompt in the Imaginary Garden, having to do with particle waves and photoelectricity or somesuch.


Refection on a Stop for Death

As you believed
the egregious Miss D
should have stopped for death--
Reminded me that dashes
as punctuation
were used by you for your own
nefarious purposes--
I understood your meaning
and expected you to snort.
No cat’s pajamas! No sirree!
You simply could not see it.
Reflected that one never knows
who might be a worshipper--
You forgave me, but never her--

NaNoWriMo Day 29! A poem for Brendan’s prompt in the Imaginary Garden: VOYAGE'S END
Crafted from the penultimate text conversation between me and a dear poet friend prior to his death-- his own voyage's end-- musing on-- well, you know--


Rhythmic back-seat sway
& soft country music
lulls a small child
to drowsiness
while her parents talk up front.
Beams across the headliner
grow in intensity
awaking sleepy curiosity
so she shifts to look ahead
into the darkness.
White light eyes fly by
against the treeline
faster and faster until
in the distance a creature
with only one bright white eye
bears down on the family car.
Upon fearful questioning
Mama explains it’s a padiddle.
That sounds friendly enough,
but it looks really mean to her.

Late, but here is NaPoWriMo #28! For Rommy’s Boogeyman prompt in the Imaginary Garden. This is very much an incomplete draft. I got all wound up in this idea and couldn’t get my mind off it, but also I haven’t been able to satisfactorily express it in verse or come up with a conclusion. I need to put this aside for now and move on to the next prompt. Maybe after a bit I can come back and actualize what I was thinking about. Sigh!


Ernie Was Right to Wait Up for This

-able not knowing
    when but cer-
         tain (as can
         be)  the moment
will come
when          the other shoe
  -ally       drops

Photo by Marian Kent

NaPoWriMo Day 27! For the Real Toads: WRITING SHOES


Hard(l-)y Out(side)

         losing hope
         as with
mourning blue buries
mount until too heavy to hold
           & limbs start breaking

(c) Karin Gustafson (all rights reserved)

NaPoWriMo Day 26! For Karin’s prompt in the Imaginary Garden: OUTSIDER ART and featuring her whimsical but somehow weighty artwork.


Caught Up in the Glower

"All my poems are dark,"
I said, "But people insist
there’s a bright light
radiating from within them."
You said, "That’s the thing
with poems and housekeeping."

Challenge, Agnes Lawrence Pelton (1940)

NaPoWriMo Day 25! Linking up with Kerry on the Tuesday Platform in the Imaginary Garden.


Confined Beauty

There are birds of prey
caged in the park
where after train rides
kids sought a sojourn in the tiny zoo
to commune with with goats and deer

And all kinds of birds: peafowl,
a dozen chickens and roosters,
barn owls, red-tailed hawks,
even two haggard bald eagles
separately enclosed

Talking with little ones
about raptors and hunting and flight
and injury requiring rehabilitation
hence the tags
and chain link fences

Several times we saw a wild hawk
scoping chipmunks
high above the hawk cage
in a cruel display
of freedom

We walked with toddlers
who were learning
about their space in the world
while peacocks
strutted their opulent plumage
in confinement

NaPoWriMo Day 24! 
Responding to Margaret’s prompt in the Imaginary Garden: BEAUTY

Also, it is the birthday of the Runaway Sentence! This girl turns seven today! Thank you, friends, for all these years of scribbling and blogging and support and fun. Love!


Song for Sunday Afternoon

The magic
is in the way the sun streams
through muslin curtains
and the breeze
suggests I get up and find a sweater.

The song is laughter of children
combined with birdsong
as each day grows a little warmer,
clouds so high
they suggest soaring,
Sunday love-day, let me fly with you
and not forget tomorrow, and the next day
when I’ll jones
for your sweetness again

NaPoWriMo Day 23! Responding to “Ballad of the Morning Streets” by Amiri Baraka, for Gillena’s prompt in the Imaginary Garden: THE WAY YOU SEE IT


Just a Few Small Things I Like

I like the way
you open windows
in any kind of weather
as if to say hello morning air
thank you for visiting

I like the way
your fingers
navigate a messy ponytail
on weekday evenings
when you let your hair down

I like the way
you say you love me
even when you’re pissed off

NaPoWriMo Day 22! For Susie’s prompt in the Imaginary Garden featuring the artwork of Mi Young Lee


Gimme a P

Souvenir megaphone
tries hollering
from the belly of a whale
on an Anytown beach
Its environs no longer
conducive to the cheer squad
Its hurrah reduced
to a last plastic gasp
      Go School

Note: Today is the birthday of John Muir and tomorrow is Earth Day.

NaPoWriMo Day 21! For Magaly’s prompt to the Real Toads: "I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream"


Take It or Leave It

It’s the nature of ultimatums.
If this, then that
or if not this, then another thing
determined by the issuer,
nothing else after.
Pondering this, I notice
now there is a crow
on the rosebush outside my kitchen window
that ordinarily hosts a circus of sparrows.
The sparrows have been gone all year.
I wonder
if the crow issued an ultimatum.
My way or the highway, stupid sparrows.
Maybe I am meant to take this occupation
as a sign. The crow prophesizes--
this will not end well.

NaPoWriMo Day 20! 
For Fireblossom’s prompt in the Imaginary Garden: CORVID AND SIT A WHILE


Broken Things

The washing machine broke,
wet towels piled in garbage bags
to be taken to the laundromat.
The cat is suspicious of this pile

and the rest of us are weary
of the entire situation.
Broke my tooth this week, too
so it’s next in line to be fixed.

New washing machine coming Friday.
You can only fix a washing machine
so many times before it’s just junk,
or maybe we gave up on it too soon.
The dentist will crown my tooth
and it will be better than it ever was.
Remember when our girl broke her arm
and then her leg, then her other arm?
Now she’s fine. Not broken at all.
How many times can stitches bust
and heal again, fuller than before,
threatening to tear newly sewn seams?

Because love’s like that. It snaps
and heals. Breaks, then all better again.
Don’t give up on this love too soon,
this fragile thing, this human condition.

NaPoWriMo Day 19! For Sanaa’s prompt in the Imaginary Garden, taking inspiration from wonderful poet CAROL ANN DUFFY


Why I Should Never Go to the Mall

What are you trying to hide?
is the million-dollar question
posed by the Dead Sea Salts Guy

in the middle-of-the-mall kiosk
as he has emollient cream to fix
every clumsily concealed shame.

He notes my pink-ruddy cheeks,
dry patches on my eyelids,
dark circles, lines around my eyes,

laugh lines, blemishes, crepey skin,
everything aging with the promise
of youthful vibrancy and tightness

following 6 to 8 weeks of daily use.
He even notes my chewed fingernails
You must stop biting. As if I didn’t

know. As if over years and with less
jowl elasticity one becomes saggier
of mind and social understanding.

I can’t help but wonder if Dead Sea
Salts Guy would sell more creams with
Look at you, absolutely perfect. Gorgeous!

NaPoWriMo Day 18! Sharing on the Tuesday Platform in the Imaginary Garden.


Infinite Trend

In a perfect world, David Foster Wallace is trending every day.

NaPoWriMo Day 17! 
It’s National Haiku Writing Day and DFW is trending on Twitter, so here ya go


American Sentences

Reflections on Easter Sunday morning:
The house is full of Easter chocolate, but I earnestly eat Grape Nuts.

Wind lifts the scent of backyard hyacinths wafting through muslin curtains.

Your hands feel so large on the small of my waist--please lift me to the sky--

NaPoWriMo Day 16! Trying on Ginsberg’s American Sentence as suggested by Kerry in the Imaginary Garden. This article is so fantastic, check it out: What Are American Sentences?

This is the kind of form that sneaks into my brain and can easily turn into a big-time bender. I’ll try to restrain myself but don’t be surprised if you see more of these from me!


All I Wanted Was the Recipe

Everything I did
was for love
of my catfishing
computer wife

Love is treachery
creates identity
and justifies

NaPoWriMo Day 15! For Rommy’s prompt in the Imaginary Garden: THE VILLAIN SPEAKS

For the uninitiated, this is Plankton and his computer wife Karen from SpongeBob SquarePants. 


Driving the Bus

window reflection
does not include me
but I am here
behind glass
squinting into the sun
It contains street signs
building facades
sidewalk walkers
a grandiose steeple
spire poking the clouds
and me
listening to snippets
of private conversations
for later poem-making
I am here
noticing all of you
not noticing me

NaPoWriMo Day 14! For INVISIBLE in the Imaginary Garden.


Short Sale

are born every
day. Hustlers scurry like
roaches at night-time, nurturing
their marks.

Lucky 13! Short & sour for Grapeling’s GET LISTED word list prompt including sucker, hustler, and mark.


Signs of the Time

We listened
to Nikki Giovanni
read poems
of love and resistance
at Chicago Public library
Outside queens and dykes
danced in streets
illuminated with rainbows
We joined and kissed
in front of a yelling man
with a sign
reading God Hates Fags
In memory of my dear friend Tracey, with love.

NaPoWriMo Day 12! For Izy’s prompt to the Real Toads SIGNS OF THE TIME. I am not posting a photo of the sign referenced in this photo. We all know what it looks like.