Has it been five years, or even six,
since we went on that final ride?
I think of it whenever I see that photo
of you and me sleeping, my head
on your shoulder and your patience
on full display. You were my muse.
And even though I’ve stopped
high-stepping over that place
in the carpet where you used to lay,
(I even found myself hurdling shadows
after the carpet was removed)
you have your way of coming back
to inspire some poem I didn’t know
I had within me. Like this morning,
when I found a golden Golden hair
shining in the back of a drawer
while I searched for something
I can’t recall now. It must have been
this poem. You knew I needed you.
You’ll always be my muse, just as I
will always be the man you led
toward art at the end of a leash.
Day 3 of my NaPoWriMo Poem-a-Day April Challenge. Today’s prompt: An animal poem. I’ve been inspired to poetry by plenty of the natural world’s its denizens. But none hold have led me to more of my art than my old dog Mollie. Yeah, it’s not every artist can say he had a high-class blonde inspire his greatest work…and mean it.
I’m trying to write something happier
something outside of the same old dark stuff.
Problem: I don’t wish to sound sappier,
but convey more than a dog barking “Ruff.”
I said, “Joe, what would make you feel better?”
But the answer didn’t make itself clear.
I knew maybe when my whistle’s wetter…
So I went to the kitchen for a beer.
Sustained, I sat to make happy happen,
but just beer alone can bring on a yawn.
The next thing you know this poet’s nappin’,
rhyming “yawn” with the sound of wood sawin’.
So my hope to write you a poem of joy
lies delayed beneath your sleeping old boy.
I’m trying’ to fake it ’til I make it. Make it out of this long running depressed state. So in a stab at my own form of cognitive behavioral therapy, I figured maybe if I could express some joy in a poem, I might catch that wave out of this eddy of woe. Let’s just say I feel a little more near its perimeter. Hope I made you grin a little. THAT makes me feel better.
I hope to smile as I sit up
in bed from another night of sleep.
Real sleep, not the toss and turn,
the clusters of one-eyed
the bedclothes-shifting kick-flips
of the nocturnal 5000-meter
medley swimmer in the sheets.
I won’t be sad when
I sink to the bottom five minutes
after I dove under the covers,
as long as I don’t awaken
with a gasp and snort of a man
who really DID sink to the bottom
of a pool on his way to swimming out of
That guy doesn’t smile when dawn
slaps him like a walrus flipper
with that long arousal called
But that smile’s just a dream,
and we who don’t sleep
the good sleep tend not to dream.
And dreaming would be a dream come true.
Then dawn would break open
with a smile for me..and you…
I can’t tell you what to do with your days.
Even I, myself, no longer listen
to my own words, philosophical ways.
I see now something’s always been missin’.
So feel free to ignore what I say now,
though you have never listened to me much,
but here’s what I’ve learned, and don’t ask me how,
it’s where I earned these scars…here, have a touch.
That warmth made me happy but it won’t last,
because true joys are but such fleeting things.
Cherish while you can, ‘cause life’s smiles go fast,
those too-brief moments that give your heart wings.
Warren Zevon advised before he died,
“Enjoy ev’ry sandwich.” Boy, wish I tried.
Today my friend wondered
the last time he saw your smile.
That’s a real smile, not one
of those practiced, pleasant lip curls
with a peep at pearly teeth.
He’s sure you’ve smiled plenty
since then, he just wasn’t around
to see it. And then he ordered
He can’t remember his last
real smile, relying instead
on grip-and-grin hearsay from
As far as he’s concerned,
their affirmation of his full-toothed
happy face is akin to receiving
a trophy for sitting at the end
of a CYO basketball team’s bench.
Graphic confirmation remains
as dubious as a half-moon,
full-color, “Say cheese” moment
from Sasquatch or Nessie.
Rather, most photos depict him
sporting a smirk, wearing a wince
or hanging a lopsided half-rictus
upon his face that frightens even he
who shaves its haggard crags daily.
He believes, perhaps the last time
he actually, spontaneously,
perhaps even laughingly smiled
was in honest reply to yours.
He added that chances of repeating
that would be like discovering
George Washington’s dental X-rays.
But he told me he’s willing
to start digging around
Mount Vernon whenever…you know.
And then he kinda smiled.
Do you ever consider once again being
what their world would think is happy?
I’m not sure you and I can grasp their joy;
it’s like a hummingbird made of smoke and dreams.
Perhaps something like contentment might someday
slip within our reach, if we slide back
the bolts and leave our hearts ajar again.
Sometimes I think I hear it knocking,
then realize it’s more than likely
echoes of smiles we once shared when
we wore knockoffs of their happiness
like hand-me-down school uniforms we’d shuck
while walking together for the pleasure
we shared in being ourselves.
A first-draft hundred-word poem inspired by that quote from the actor John Barrymore that Sharyl Fuller offered as a prompt for her Writing Outside the Lines Challenge this week.
Each day Pain ruled more over his mornings than coffee and the meds meant to ease it. Today, a final dose. A smile. The great sigh. Relief.
Catching up today with a request for a Twitter-length story of 140 characters or less. I hit 139 after more revision and editing than I normally do for my full-length stories. Maybe more than even my 100-word poems. Probably a lesson in that somewhere. Nevertheless, here’s Story #1 for today. I hope to have another for you later. Maybe even a poem.
She slides into her high chair
all shiny and sweet, a perfect model
for a Gerber baby or a Christmas card.
I ask what I can feed her
and her mom grins and says,
“Try the mixed veggies. She loves ’em.
Oh, and let her have her own spoon.”
I reach into the cupboard and pull out
the little plastic tub with
the dull orangish sludge inside,
a color I don’t believe exists
on its own in Earth’s nature,
tear off its foil roof, wince
as I splash a drop of the goo
on my shoe, and ladle it into a bowl
on the tray in front her.
“We’re letting her try
to feed herself more,” mom calls
from the other room.
“I can see that,” I reply,
recoiling from the horror movie splatter
of icky carrots, peas and something elses.
“Looks like you’re learning
to dress yourself at the same time,”
I whisper to the orangey alien
with the million-dollar squeal and
billion-dollar smile wearing her lunch.
See, she loves her veggies.
Poem #5 in Poem-a-Day NaPoWriMo, based on Writers Digest’s call for a Vegetable poem.