Snowflakes on My Tongue

Snowflakes on my tongue

Snowflakes on my tongue (Photo credit: giraffe_756)

I fear this winter may have ended
and I never consciously captured
on my tongue the essence of its fruit,
the falling snow. Oh, I caught several
windblown facefuls of snowblower mush,
but they taste of two-stroke engine exhaust
and anger. Pure snow, the glistening,
diaphonous jewels that have yet become
a ground-bound part of the landscape
such as I, taste like perfect nothing.

They’re as blank of flavor as they’re
empty of color, their nothingness melting
to shapeless memory in your mouth.
Maybe snow tastes like poetry, though.
Each poem a one-of-a-kind piece
of icy flotsam floating from cloudy thought;
each frozen notion full of facets and edges
only visible by our intimate inspection.
We catch them upon our tongues, they melt
and become part of us in that moment.

Bully Pulpit

Choir loft

Choir loft (Photo credit: TepeyacFarm)

Does it qualify as bullying
when the one miserying you around
beats from within? Was yours a story
of trying to measure up, trying to
accede to implied expectations,
ones never voiced or illustrated,
where you had to rely upon your own specs,
your own skewed set of measurements?
How many not-good-enoughs to your foot?

Did you get tangled in those hurdles
and those traps you set out to trip
and splat and learn your place?
This congregation of one usually listens
to the loudest one, the guy in the pulpit
pushing me to his way of thinking,
not to the cowed sinner whispering
in the confessional between this pew…
and this.

Up here in the loft I’ve crawled,
where blessed dissonance might
draw attention away from the fearsome
stem-winder in the front of this,
my sanctuary. Here, a new choirist
with familiar face, chants a simple
song of praise giving me more faith in me.
There’s room up here for you, if you
know how to sing your own hosannas, too.



FLUTTERING HEART. (Photo credit: Neal.)

It hangs behind that space between the breasts
where a woman might place her fingers and inhale,
maybe even close her eyes, when she feels
strong emotion. A touchstone of flesh, perhaps.
I touch that spot from time to time, when I feel
it flutter behind its shield of bone or when
it awakens me to the mortality-reminding sensation.

The medics pulled from their Latinate lists
the term ideopathic chest pain, even if it doesn’t hurt,
just like once they called it ideopathic pericarditis.
A hardening of the heart.
Unknown cause.
Outside and in.

You laid your hand on me there once, with emotion,
and I felt a different flutter, inside and out.
Now I realize why you might touch yourself that way.
I understand that contact with life while it lasts—
crazy, loving, strange, and yeah ideopathic life—
is mostly worth the pain and even not understanding
its why. This hard heart softened at that touch.

The Tracks We Leave


Footprints (Photo credit: Peter Nijenhuis)

There are times you look back
at the tracks you’ve made and wonder
whose feet fit in those prints.
They can’t be yours, they seem so neat,
so sure, long-strided, suitable
for framing, if you could frame
such sweetly blemished snow.

Other times you don’t wish
to risk even a glance, knowing
you’re trailing jumbled smudges
like some drunken dancer
with mismatched shoes,
no sense of rhythm, mumbling
a prayer for a sudden thaw.

Eventually spring comes
for us all,
rinsing away the perfection
that cannot be,
because nothing is flawless.
Not footprints in snow, or in mud,
or in the sand on a beach.

The tides of time leave very few
beyond today’s impressions others to read.
Oh, but to have left them captured
by even your own memory!
That might be what
even you might agree
is poetry!

Lincoln Slept Here

American Penny

American Penny (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Thin crescent moon shines so brightly,
casting wavering tree shadows
that pace my bedroom floor.
That long stretch of brilliance reveals
the penny resting before my pillow.
I turn down the pale green bedspread over it
as I climb within the bed’s embrace.
That penny and I will sleep in that hug tonight;
I’ll be on my back, Coppery Abe on his side.
Whether face-down, or tumbling within
or out of my pocket, he’s always on his side.

I don’t think he’s much of a snorer, though
I tend to sleep dreamlessly, snorting,
occasionally gasping or grasping
and kinda of thrashy. Thus, the great
splitter of rails will probably bail for the
Dust Bunny Soldiers Home by 2:00 AM.
I’m not sure of the meaning of all these
ghostly impressions of shadow and light,
but you can see what distractions beset
my restless mind, in total dark or lunar light,
once we’re all tucked away for the night.
They come even when I don’t have
a penny for my thoughts.

Ain’t a Hoss Can’t Be Rode

"A bad hoss" by Charles Marion Russe...

“A bad hoss” by Charles Marion Russell. Lithograph. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The rejection doesn’t slip through the mail slot
with a clanking brass slap on your cheek anymore.
It doesn’t get attached with white athletic tape
to the locker room door. You hope it isn’t delivered
with feminine giggles and the chih-chih-ing away
of saddle shoes on tile, once more leaving you standing
empty-hearted. The sting still explodes through you,
but digitized and sterile, without a human claim
of ownership found in a flourish of pen and ink.

The “rub some dirt on it” ol’ boy within you
cups his hands like a stirrup and nods for you
to step back up on that hoss what throw’d ya.
The chubby kid whose name didn’t show up
on that Varsity list suggests you join him
in pouting and spouting crack-voiced woes and “whys.”
The collector of broken dreams wants to build a wall
with them, hiding safe from more disappointment
tossed across the ether by electronic trebuchet.

But you’re now the gray-haired guy with pencil
behind his ear and notebook in his lap
who just catalogs those feelings, the images
and imaginings of the unseen senders, and
the fantasy failure that you’re not. You’ll use them
in some future foray, when you’ll pull the trigger
on one more chance to last eight seconds,
to make the cut, to kiss that girl and she kisses back.
Because you’re funny that way, writer dude.

This week, my friend Kellie Elmore had another interesting Free Write Friday prompt. She called it Writing Wrongs, where we’re supposed to vent about when we’ve felt wronged or treated unfairly, either by way of a situation or another person. I sat down and this happened.

#FWF logo

Cinquains II


Mourning Dove_5786

Mourning Dove_5786 (Photo credit: Bobolink)

The dove
mourning, lonely,
sings plaintive song to one
in tones gray as his feathered hope
Who? You.

Can’t Sleep

I still can't sleep (3 tones of sepia)

sleepless again
tossing for no reason
except for the look you gave me
all night

Headache Tablets

Tablets and phones

Tablets and phones (Photo credit: tribehut)

beloved tablet
you hold me as I you
my love and devotion never…

And this oldie…


heart of stone
                                      heart of stone (Photo credit: jasleen_kaur)

are sculpted words
hammered out of feelings
on the soft workbench in my heart
of stone.

I wrote these in response to a prompt from my dVerse colleague Tony Maude’s Form for All challenge of writing American Cinquains.

We March


dregs (Photo credit: Caobhin)

Desultory dregs of last week’s
half-hearted snowbanks, now turned
overturned bowls of cinder and road salt,
dot the roadside field, while black top
in tablet form lines the shoulder
like black blossoms signifying
the threat of another season.
Robins alight on the dry grass,
picking at salt-pickled something,
blithely chirping like ladies at tea,
while in the maples and oaks,
woodpeckers, cardinals and finches
announce their primacy over all.

This is the end of my March,
a month named for a war-god,
a verb meaning to tread
with measured beat,
a noun about distance covered.
It was once a boundary; maybe still is.
We’ve somehow survived all its iterations,
just as the red bud tree and chickadee,
with similar design and intent.
We just do. We battle, hearts thumping,
managing the forward momentum
whether we want to or not.
We March and don’t know why.

Gray Becomes Me

morning lights

morning lights (Photo credit: glenn~)

The alarm cracks the curtains of my eyes
to a darkened room scattered with shadows
of a misspent yesterday, like a tangle
of dirty clothes left on the floor
to snarl my feet as I get out of bed.
The dark and I have been lovers for so long,
I now eschew most light until it’s necessary.
Why would I wish to leave her calm embrace
for that brassy glare of sun? I know my way,
not needing to count my steps anymore.

I can shower and shave like a blind man,
knowing the craze of hair on the mirror
and the whiskers at the bottom of the sink,
if I bothered turning on the light,
would show gray as the clouds hiding dawn outside.
The dark ones slide across the lighter ones
faster than I can walk. But, standing where I am,
they make me feel like I’m the one
doing the moving. Somewhere over there,
or maybe there, mourning dove calls
and no bright bird answers.

Darkness and the shroud of morning mist
can do that to you, steal context and scale
from your life. I break their spell
by heading out on the highway,
where all the cars’ colors still are muted
in shades of charcoal, steel and dirty snow.
And just about the only hue outside the gray scale
are the sightless red eyes of commuting cavefish,
strung out, halting, feeling their ways before me.


Crooked picture?

Crooked picture? (Photo credit: L. Marie)

Through the doorway, across the room,
look out the window, focussing behind
these glasses, I see so much of existence
bound within frames, a life waged
within four corners or, at best,
an odd oval of confinement. Of course,
that could just be Monday talking,
that second small frame from the left
in this third long cluster down
from where it says March,
hanging here on the green wall.

Maybe we all exist within some grand
cosmic gallery, each in our own painting,
our own Rembrandt, Gauguin, Von Gogh,
Caravaggio, Dali, or Bosch. We provide
some kind of aesthetic entertainment
for ethereal patrons of the art of being.
I’m not sure I wish to just be, though.
So today I’m rocking back and forth
on my wall to become unplumb, off-center,
just to piss off those posh Olympian suits.
If you grab hold, we can slip these hooks altogether.