till the very last

I can no longer firmly fix your face
after so much time without,
but diving deeper into memory,
I can still breathe in your singular scent,
feel the exact measure of your arms,
the precise pressure and shape
of your embrace, and rest
against the muffled thunder
of your heartbeat…

…you are here
and I draw deep of your generous strength.

If memory must erode with time,
then let my sight go first.
This…I would keep till the very last.

~

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self-inflicted silence

Time and again, I catch myself in a pattern of forced silence. Oh, I speak to people, but the deeper things are squashed down to the point of making myself ill.

Why? I can’t figure it out myself. It almost seems a sort of passive-aggressive self-flagellation, a punishment that leaves no marks except for an occasional glimpse in my eyes of the frantic buzzing in my head.

We are all a little weird in some way. This is mine. Judge not, etc.

That deep need (and I have finally accepted that it is, in fact, a real need) to write, to engage with another mind on things that matter to me, to wrestle with questions, or just to express an emotion and know that some other soul understands – this need gets in the way of what I should be doing in the real world. I push it down when responsibilities demand more of me. But this burning IS part of my reality. It is me. Finding and keeping balance is not always easy, though.

offering

I hold

the weight

of this day’s

silence

one more

heavy

offering

to place

upon the

altar

of stones

stacked

high

each still

throbbing

with living

heat

of all that

would be

spoken

if not for the

crushing

severity

of this

sacrifice

I have

required

of me

and I struggle

to remember

the why of it.

origin_3002914861

 
 photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/7989285@N07/3002914861/">Demion</a> 
via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a><a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/">cc</a>

 

 

 

 

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Ekphrasis and Picasso’s light

This past weekend at the Red Clay Writer’s Workshop, I took part in a session led by Amy Pence on ekphrasis in poetry. (Don’t feel bad. I didn’t know what it meant either!) Essentially, as far as its use in poetry is concerned, this term refers to writing as a response to a visual work of art. From the Greek “ek” which means “out” and “phrasis” which means “to speak,” ekphrastic poetry can be an illuminating description of the art, or it can treat the visual work more as a jumping-off point as it takes the reader in a new direction. It can also be some combination of these approaches or anything in between.

Here’s to trying new things! Here’s to using brain cells that have been napping for years! Here’s my first attempt along with the image that inspired it:

picassolight12

 

 

daemon

birthed upon air

   in incandescent glow

this beast of aether

   and light 

      shimmers

before its wide-eyed 

   crouched creator

tethered still

   to his gleaming

         brand

anchored faces stand

   behind

      in mute witness

in temporal counter-point

   to this fiery visitation

do they wonder

   as it fades

      from whence it came?

do they wonder

      as I

      where it goes?

 

For more on Picasso’s fascinating light drawings, follow this link: http://life.time.com/culture/picasso-draws-with-light-1949/#1

 

 

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one small life

That face haunts me still. The absolute terror in its little black eyes. Tiny teeth bared in a screaming hiss that I never heard over the music blaring through my car speakers. Years later, I still feel sick and shaken from this memory.

Some car ahead of me in the night must have hit the possum first. My headlights revealed a sight all too common in the deep south, and seeing no need to slow down, I manuevered the wheels of my little Honda to straddle the lump of gray fur in the road. As I came within a few yards, though, the front of its broken body reared to face me, its little arms waving frantically in the glaring light. Time bent and slowed, every nanosecond stretched into minutes. I could feel its horror and desperation as if they were my own. I saw the unnatural stillness of the creature’s hind legs and shared in its helplessness as I struggled to find the brake. My own cry of panic did not spare me from the loud thwump of my front bumper hitting the possum squarely in the face.possum

Too late, my foot found the brake. I stopped in the middle of the road and looked back in my mirror. The little pile of fur lay still, only belly up now and few feet farther along the roadway. Cursing my confused and slow response time, I began to drive slowly forward and struggled to breathe and calm my racing heart.

Of course, it would have died anyway. I know this. My car might well have been a mercy to it, saving it from agonizing hours of suffering. And animal lover that I am, I really don’t care so much for possums. They tend to hiss and fight too easily, and they had proven to be a great nuisance to some of our pets over the years. Plus, they stink. Terribly. You can tell a possum has been on the porch during the night just by the lingering odor at dawn. I kept telling myself, “It was just a possum.”

Why, then, could I not stop the tears? What did this smelly, oversized rodent really matter in the greater scheme of things anyway? What was the actual value of this single possum’s life?

These questions led to more questions. What is the worth of any one life? What makes a life well-lived according to eternal standards? Had this little animal fulfilled its purpose? Had it learned what a possum needs to learn, which cannot be that much, relatively speaking? Did it have friends and family? Had it raised a litter or two of offspring? Was it content as much as a possum can be content?

Go ahead and laugh. Roll your eyes. I get that. Really. I laugh at myself!

But I believe each of us - mankind, animals, every kind of life – was created with certain purpose, for things that we are meant to do, to learn, to give, to create. If this possum had lived a full and fruitful life, according to heavenly expectations for possums, could this smelly little life have a greater value than we might suspect?

It was just a possum.

And I am just a girl surprised to find herself in a middle-aged body with too many dreams wrapped up in fear, with too many regrets for roads not taken, with too many parts of my true self tucked away.

 

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You’re writing a poem?

My ten year old son asked this over my shoulder today.

“Well, I already wrote it. I’m just saving it now on the computer.” It unsettled me a little to catch the surprise in his question. “Did you know I write poetry all the time? That I’ve been writing poems for years?”

He answered with a quiet no, then stepped in for a closer look.

“Here,” I pulled up my poetry folder and opened the list of stored poems. “This one is a favorite.” Then he asked me to read it aloud to him.

  on a good day

 

I like to walk out

barefoot

to the ragged edge

of my sanity

and hang my toes over

the crumbling lip of reason

Hair whipping wild

about my head

in the sweet-sour updraft

from the deep beyond

 

I raise my arms

and shout 

daring the wind

to show some muscle

After just a beat or two, he gave a soft snort and a grin.

I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath.

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Published in Deep South Magazine

So excited that a favorite piece is featured today in Deep South Magazine’s Southern Voice, appropriately timed in Black History Month! Follow this link to Comin’ Into Town. Feel free to share or comment there, if you like.

While you are on their site, take a look around. This is a terrific publication of all things southern!

deepsouthlogo

 

 

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a pencil-thin line

I am not much of a worrier.

That might not be accurate. I should rather say I am not generally anxious about the future. Yes, I analyze all possibilities and all combinations of possibilities into the ground. I do trust the future to the Only One Who Can See It, but I also like to be prepared for anything that it might hold. We can talk about the success of my attempts at preparation another time, okay?

Alright, so I worry. I know that it is a futile endeavor. A waste of energy. Wanting so much to NOT worry, I pray. I choose to trust. I choose to live in faith.

But I am not always firm. I am not always as steadfast as I think I am.

 

I did well today.
my finger lightly traces
the ridge
above my eye
perfectly, pleasingly
absolutely
smooth
as I reflect…
I did not cry today.
I did not
yell.
I did not panic under pressure.
Yes, it was a good day
altogether.
my finger lightly traces
the ridge above
my eye
still warm with the lingering sting
of far
too much attention
as I wonder…
Will I do as well
tomorrow?
And how much time
might be required
for
an eyebrow
to re-grow?

Linked to Open Link Night #79 at dVerse Poets Pub.

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a letter

Yesterday, I enjoyed the rarest of treats. A letter came for me in the mail.

How many years has it been since I opened an envelope to find simple, lined paper covered front and back with a voice I miss hearing? And make no mistake, the voice is perfectly clear in my mind as I decipher the hand.

Such an incredibly simple thing, yet all through the afternoon, I found myself reaching once more for the letter, reading through again, my heart aching with joy that seemed completely out of proportion with the single sheet of paper in my hand.

How have I forgotten the power of this?

I think of letters tucked away in boxes that I’ve saved for year upon year, now and then pulling out to pore over every line, to revisit friends, grandparents, people I will never see again. The color of the ink, the shape of each loop and curve as distinctive as the unique and much-loved author.

Such treasures these are to me! I want my children and my grandchildren to know this, to have this lasting and altogether different thing than any email or a text message.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a few letters to write.

 

 

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meteor shower

alone on my back

between midnight and morning

I wait and shiver

against the freezing wind

 

my eyes fixed on the deep above

through frame of roof and treetop

 

it begins

 

first one…

then three…

seven…

I lose count

they come so quickly

 

tiny bits of cosmic (more than ancient)

dust on a journey too vast

for a time too great

to be grasped by the humbled creature

I have suddenly become

 

so beautiful the flaring streaks of light

so elegant their arc and curve

each blaze a brief and brilliant

death

 

not a molecule

left intact

 

what was

is no more

 

and I watch in wonder

in growing terror

that such a thing should be

 

so silent

 

~jws

 

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september

there is an urgency
today
in the green
of the trees
behind my house

leaves so seriously
intent
on coloring
the cooling light
as it falls to the ground

they must know
the nearness
of winter’s
silver
silence

 

photo credit: visualpanic via photo pin cc
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