On the Road Again 3

This does not approximate my sadness; I am sure more will arrive but these three lines want no accompaniment:

give me back my shadow,
the wind so dark
I’m only pulse and starlight

How much I have missed being here!

PAD 21 and 22

For yesterday’s haiku, I eventually came up with:

Tufts of beige hair
drift by warm eggs,
bird scolding dog.

Today’s prompt was to write something work-related. I am in fact still at the office, having begun this after I clocked out at 8:27 p.m.:


I forget if it was a priest or a parishioner
who years ago declared, “God collars those
who He doesn’t want loose on the streets”
as we stood in the Christ Church lobby
discussing div school dropouts.

I am not among them, for all these years
I have known I am not a minister. My gifts
correspond to spreadsheets, manuals,
and casting commas upon wordy waters.
Nor can I ignore how my IQ drops fifty points
whenever I’m face to face with a phone —
instant disqualification for a pastor. It’s not

a source of grief or dismay, though now and then
I covet the parking spaces, the gowns and stoles,
the being needed, and the being deserving
of being so needed, just as I sometimes dream
of gold statuettes and thanking the Academy
even though I don’t write screenplays
and the last time I pretended to be someone else
was in an Ionesco play my last year of college.
I do pretend to be more patient and kind
and content than I actually am, to honor
how fortunate I’ve been: I can’t help my hangups
but ingratitude is not only a sin, it’s a bore
and if I am indeed a creature in His image —
well, I refuse to believe in a God who pouts
or whinges about the messes one could claim
are of His making, nor do I despise
those who cannot bear to believe
in any god, given the cruelties
exercised in His name. Yet, even so,
all that I fold and file in the name of order,
all that I devise for comfort, all that I do
to harvest praise or love — “work”
is what I call my obligations to the possible,
and what is “the possible” but another name for God?

– pld

(As it happens, I do have a sermon to deliver this Sunday, so that’s what I plan to work on when I get home. And the late shift here is admittedly partly due to me taking an extra-long lunch, the better to murder a major (and majorly stubborn) darling in the short story that’s been hijacking my head.)

On the Road Again 2

There’s a painting hanging on the hotel wall. I am struggling for inspiration. Hence:

What does this still life say
About my human body?
Too crass, too gross, inflexible,
Without the grace to yield
To gravity where once I grew
Against it’s guidance?
Neither delicate nor burgundy
Nor fixed in time.
I’m grateful to be quick.

catching up…

The PAD prompt for day 11 was to write about an object or objects. I’d seen a large man on Rue de Chartres that morning carrying a small pair of pale blue polyester bunny ears, and have been trying to make a poem out of that, but this is what I finally came up with instead:


Nostalgic for bouncier times, Flora builds
a trio of snow-women, each with jellybean nipples.
One she crowns with a shiny headband
with pale blue polyester bunny-ears.
On the one to its left, she drapes thirteen strands
of green, gold, and purple plastic beads.
And on the third, she shapes a tentacle,
plump and curving from hip to belly,
and as she pats and squeezes its tip
she could swear the precipitate on her fingers
smells like salt.

Yesterday’s prompt was to write about rebirth:


Once the hem of a petticoat,
now the wrapper of a waffle cone.
Tomorrow a postage stamp.

Today’s prompt is to write a haiku — and/or an anti-haiku. I’m going to think about it in the shower. In the meantime, there’s Things Japanese in Tennessee, which has a poetry section (for ages ten and up) with pieces by Joanne and me, as well as luminaries such as marlene mountain and Sydney Bougy…


This week’s painting-prompt at Fifty Two Pieces is Gregory Grenon’s Moth Girl. I couldn’t help but think of it in tandem with Lesley Dill’s Standing Man with Radiating Words:


It’s after midnight, the weekday just
a few hours ahead. The lamps should be off,
the piano lid closed, the curtains drawn,
the clothes in their hampers or on their hangers,
the laptop powered off. It is not the hour
for fingers on keyboards. But none of the manuals
have chapters on getting to sleep when wings
insist on emerging from our shoulderblades. When
we don’t know how to arrange the blankets
in ways that won’t crease our panache beyond repair
or ding the edges of the letters depending upon
both to give them weight and give them flight. There
is nothing to be done except to continue fumbling
through the almost-silence for whatever semblance
of almost-repose one can retrieve from the shadows:
Martha runs through “Greensleeves” first as a boogie
and then as the blues. Across the room,
Isaac holds a “g” too close, like an umbrella
he will refuse to unfurl even when the rain
showers down as a thousand tiny nails,
glittering to the sight but dull to the ear.
It’s not an hour for sunlight: Martha moves on
to a tune I don’t know, but it’s thick with smoke
and the one drink too many that spells the abyss
between a drunken nap and sleepless sorrow.
It’s a song that’s good company for the self-forlorn:
the letters on Isaac’s back droop into drowsy folds,
and I drift into slumber as Martha eases the song to its end.

– pld

PAD 18 and 19

My weekend went off its rails in a spectacular but mostly enjoyable way, and I blame movies: Friday night’s excursion to see Sita Sings the Blues was followed by a nice dinner, during which one of my companions confessed she had never tasted a sazerac before, which then resulted in cocktails, port, and whisky back at our house (and her eventually staying the night).

Then, on Saturday, I saw My Neighbor Totoro, and spent the rest of the day resisting the urge write futurefic about its characters and to splurge on plushie slippers.

I resorted to concentrating on a difficult section in one of my existing fics-in-progress to help get my brain back into gear, but then I got engrossed in what the characters weren’t managing to say to each other, and what was supposed to have been a 500-word write-it-out-and-fix-it-later pre-supper indulgence turned into most of my weekend wrangling with multiple variations of three lines of dialogue (because the second line turned out to be a darling that needed killin’, only I didn’t get around to admitting that until after supper tonight). For a fic in a rare fandom that maybe five people will read. I have the stupidest compulsions this side of the Cumberland.

All that said, the 541 words I came up with delight me: a major reason I write fanfic is because it pushes me to engage more deeply with canon, and I end up surprising myself with dialogue and plot twists that weren’t anywhere in my consciousness when I started the story in question. That’s true of poetry as well: my piece for yesterday’s Poetic Asides prompt, “interactions,” was originally going to be something about William Shakespeare and Michael Jordan — I’d parked in space #23 in the Belcourt lot when I went to see Totoro, so that got me thinking about soaring and mastery and how neither Renaissance dramas nor NBA games are solo efforts (Shakespeare’s birthday/deathday is April 23, and Jordan’s jersey number in Chicago was #23).

But is that what I ended up with? No….

Practicing Jump Shots With William Shakespeare

Considering that I’m near-sighted, with
next-to-zero hand-eye coordination,
we’re definitely not in heaven, but
considering how many commandments I’ve trashed
and how he probably didn’t love his wife enough,
we’re in awfully good shape for the damned, and it helps
that we don’t actually get to talk, what with chasing
the eight out of ten balls we don’t quite manage
to catch from the shadows on the sidelines, and
then more chasing after the nine out of ten
that miss the hoop. The bounce and clunk of the balls
supply a rhythm — DAH-dah, DAH-dah-dah,
dah, dah-DAH, dah-DAH-dah-dah-DAH —
I ought to turn into a song, and on
the other side of the paint, I can tell
Mr. Shakespeare’s shooting to miss
different parts of the backboard, so he can see
for himself which parts actually shake
and which remain mute and unmoved.
If this were a different playground, I’d ride
his ass about his rot about “ever-fixed marks”
but no one’s keeping score, and when he lobs
a beautiful iamb my way — dah-DAH —
I fling it straight through the hoop, all net.

# # #

As for Sunday’s prompt, “anger,” I was originally stumped — not for lack of things to say on the topic, but “things to say” isn’t the same as “things I’m ready to say,” never mind “things sayable in lyric form.” There’s a page in my planner across which I scrawled a couple dozen ideas during lunchtime. When I finally sat down to do more with the tulips, my working title was “Remains” — but halfway through my original second stanza, I changed the title to “Aftermath,” and then I went back to the top of the poem and rewrote every line I’d typed in so far. (Today’s word for the writing process is definitely Sisyphean.)


This morning, the tulips were fresh
in a florist’s vase: four were candy pink,
four were butter yellow,
four were milk white,
and one was licorice purple-black.

Now they are confetti on the driveway.
The glass has been swept up, but I cannot
repair how the water blurred the “3”
on your daughter’s hopscotch trail.

I have been making a point
of preparing meals
that will keep for several days.

Even so, after you both
left the table before dessert,
I had to count to ten
while I rinsed the dishes.

– pld

[N.b. Not an autobiographical poem, but with friends whose marriages are breaking up, the topic has not been far from my mind.]

Shark Eye

One of the halau at Merrie Monarch did a dance in the name of Keku`iapowa, who was the mother of Kamehameha the Great, and her craving to eat a shark’s eye. And it ran out into a good draft so I’m only going to put a few lines here:

It is the gods put a taste in my mouth, a destiny
I will transform by teeth and tongue and gut and bring forth
into the world as dance and song and shit
and a son…

This one I definitely want to come back to next month, as it is one of two successful poem-things about Hawai`ian women.


Inspiration from Silent Thunder didn’t come out entirely like I intended but I may come back to the first few lines for another take:

The world is smells before sound,
sound before crashing light,
light—at the last—fading into savannah.
To pay attention is to move
your trunk into and out-of everything
lit up in infrasound. Your hide, your song
part of the dripping, steamy, rumbling mess.