30 Words Are Not All
Poetry is not everything. It’s neither vacation
from reality nor vocation to keep a roof
overhead. It will not patch that roof’s leaks
or repair broken relations or teach a teen
to make his bed. Not everyone considers
it useful to hear or worthwhile to write.
Most, actually, do not. Perhaps some day
when I am colder than ever and hungriest
for something tangible to digest, I will then
renounce poetry for a hot sandwich and a
soft, cozy blanket. I do not think this is so.
29 “Rolling Stones Steal Show!”
They were the headliners who stole my glory,
which is especially rude since family rumor
has it that I wasn’t supposed to make it.
Too tiny, too weak? More like, already bored.
Then I saw it, out of the corner of my left eye:
snow. Oh, what a lovely world to be part of.
I wondered what it felt like, how it tasted, and
the smell. What does cold white smell like?
Then again, I could just disappear, and know
the world as a perfect blank slate. But, wait!
What was that? Not another newborn whining,
not whirring incubators, not even the lovely hum
of my father’s heart as he held me close, got me
to drink from the bottle. It was music. Sweet!
Not just any sound blew the world’s mind, stealing
my tragic little deathbed scene. It was Jagger.
It was Rock ‘n’ Roll! It’s really why I’m here.
[Prompt: Write about the day you were born, from your perspective.]
28 What This Poem Will Do
27 “Don’t Tread on Me!”
We were just oddgirls trying to be
normal, but it was so exhausting.
Yet, I kept it up, up to 25-ish.
All my best college friend’s pals
thought I was weird, didn’t get
why she hung out with me at all,
hated that I hated arguing, didn’t
need to make a point all the time.
I ignored them when I couldn’t
smile or change the subject, mostly
sat in the livingroom at parties,
watching TV with the guys. Then
we were on Mass Ave, going to see
Mapplethorpe at the ICA. That
tedious girl who always said mean,
mean things laughed, “I can’t wait
to stomp on that damned flag!!”
I stopped mid-step: What flag?
“Old Glory!” She laughed, with
a chorus of hee haws. You’re
kidding, right? They were
serious, and I wouldn’t budge,
didn’t care about being yelled at,
insulted, told about freedom
of speech. I exercised mine:
Go straight to hell! stomping
away. I never went back, and
nobody ever, ever mentioned
that day again.
[Prompt: Write about the day you first knew who you are.]
26 Usually, It’s Buy One Get One Free
It works with laundry detergent,
maybe go with the original scent
knowing you can break loose
with lavendar spring some day.
And two kielbasas is almost
unimaginable decadence: turkey
for your health on Wednesday,
but Saturday is full, fatty beef
with sauerkraut and noodles
wafting through the hallways.
Yet, the perfect One, that sweet,
sensible man you deserve will
make you cry out loud for more
over a sunny Saturday clothesline.
[Prompt: Write down the next thing you hear and build a poem around it]
25 Removed for submission
24 At the End of the Day
After the ghosts have gone, we must pick up
chairs with broken rungs, whiskey glass shattered
on the bar. Then there’s the half-hinged door
to mend, slat by slat. One cheats at cards
and digs his spurs into the floor, always gouging
the newest planks of wood. How do they manage
to tear the curtains? We’d tell them to keep out,
run them out of town, but they draw a crowd
that more than pays for the mess, and the girls
just love them. That’s singing cowboys for you.
23 Hapless Evil
I could have been that muse that causes men
to tear their hair out, pound upon their chests.
I could have been a vampish heroine
who haunts ex-loves with my round, silky breasts.
Or, what about a gypsy, tramp, and thief
they’ll miss when I am led away for good?
I’d steal the gold out of their very teeth
but make them feel that I’m misunderstood.
Fair Circe would have built a shrine to me.
Mae West would say, “Now that’s my kinda broad.”
Black widows would find other industry,
while strippers slid off poles just to applaud.
Yet all this time the world was not spellbound…
Oh, silly me, this charm book’s upside down!
[Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday!!]
I thank you, tree, for
tossing pink petals on me.
They smell mighty sweet.
How I agonize
that someone might chop you down
to make a journal.
Yet without your help,
no one would know what I mean.
I must write things down.
[I lost the prompt, something like write three haiku(s) that are connected to the same title/concept]
21 Possible Confusion
Am I “sad, feeling guilty, maybe anxious?”
The women in the drug ad look thrilled
to feed the dog and take out the trash
wearing mint-green blouses and pearl earrings.
Are they immune, I wonder, to spiders
in the garbage pail, ringworm in fur?
Usually they don’t have paid work,
so somehow manage to keep perfect house.
I’m mad, feel boredom, perhaps rage.
If I had a job, I’d fire me.
[Prompt: Use the five bolded words, in fewer than 20 lines.]
20 Quoth the Author?
They call me paranoid, then talk about my low birth, drinking, penchant for young girls in white death gowns. Yet every word I write gets snapped up, no matter how gorey, sadistic, self-loathing. The cursed, hypocritical snobs! I’d like walls, ceilings, chandeliers to fall on their foolish, mulish heads. Being walled up to smother is too good for them. Fiends, I say. Fiends! A pox on them all. I would gladly die at 40 just to mock them forever as they try to equal my talent. Envy! Envy! But I grow weary. It’s midnight, and quite dreary.
[Prompt: Pick a historical figure and write a diary entry from his/her perspective…]