eyes closed – I write to “Long Night”

Eyes closed and in my mind’s eye there appears a slash, a Rothko, or perhaps a Motherwell, it is really an echo of the laptop screen but we shall focus on something inside not the external environment that often overtakes words meaning, it is Gann’s piano streaming through these layers of metal that captures the image of life’s rhythm and for some reason the flat air sounds like a rushing ocean until a bird caws from a spruce tree ten feet away- why do we pretend to be someplace else when there is no place but here
I try to focus as she says but I am more intrigued by the sounds intermingling with this lazy key stroke and the avant approach, no it is not really avant, what he is doing, but instead a weaving  a cacophony that reminds me of playing when I was a little girl in that peach colored room on an old plastic organ wishing it were a baby grand
these fingers feel like sausages, they are not the graceful ballerina hands that  often interlude in winter, it is the heat of the day and the buildup of hours of use for there is no luxury of being one who just sits and thinks or contemplates tomorrow’s tomorrow
yes, I’ve lost that free-flow , though it is how I write so often, I sit here with my eyes closed still, but still don’t focus until now – there should be no surprise as the keys suddenly click to the tinkle of his playing, that the breath has strayed as it is held and the body holds rigid
when writing, I am no different than I am any other minute of the day
waiting, holding a position just hoping that the shoe stays of the foot and that the hand continues to follow the command of this wayward mind

(this was a true practice of freewrite – eyes remained closed while typing  this directly to forum after taking a few moments of cleansing breaths – I often have practiced freeflow writing inspired by music or outside noises – I tried to incorporate observation as instructed– thank you in advance if you have taken the time here… PS Gann is in reference to Kyle Gann’s Long Night – a piano piece that can be found on Spotify)  A MOOC exercise from poetry course at U of Iowa. 

old maid

We pledged our allegiance to a kind of girl power
but we never sported pink
our strength came in packs of Marlboros and 90s grunge

Years gone past and distance becomes metaphor
we drive the same roads
yet our paths never converge

Fourth of July’s call made rethink this independence
as the blackbird mocked with its incessant cackle
creating uncomfortable spaces in my mind

Twenty years and we remain sisters without blood
high school days seal our history forever
but this pact has finally been lost to maturity

You will be beautiful in ivory and diamonds
and my lips shall smile the curve of champagne
as I sit at the square table reserved with a lone card

that odd queen, how she remains the same


I read the blues ~

bell ringing
Holiday singing
Will you smile inside that plastic capsule?
even the birds seem still, someone is screaming
but it is good
I wish to dine with you at the automat - you’ll have tuna, no mayo
and I will be Doris in mink -
wine brings out silent longings
don’t forget me, baby, when that last firework
even cowgirls get the blues
when their last saddle finally breaks down ~


**assignment 2 for the online MOOC – this was a bit more my speed – repurpose old lines or just write an ‘epic’ and let the world (words) flow from around you.

a sketch

Hidden rot
in heavy rains
buries this house’s secret -
the foundation darkens.

This was a forced sketch– well, let us say, not forced but not my usual approach to writing poetry. However, my usual way seems to not be working as I’ve not heard a whisper of THAT voice for a while…well, okay, I’ve a few written randomly that I’ve just failed to post, but the premise remains the same. I’m working on changing this, but I think the creative road block is more about my mind telling me I’ve sold out, depleting my creative energies for a solid paycheck, so it has gone on strike until it feels loved again….

While trying to find a solution, here is a link to what inspired this sketch ~  This is an open MOOC from the University of Iowa International writing program. It is free, just started this week and will last six weeks. The first video is a 20 minute lecture about sketching from poet, Robert Haas. I’ve not formed much of an opinion beyond the enjoyment of seeing a lot of peeps still like to write poetry.

On that note ~ write on… ~ a

she dances

upon a violin string inside this brain
and I dare not say anything
just observe, each movement a feathering of earth
hers is a dance of resistance
witnessing artistic freedom thrown into a deep ravine
how she despises the dirty shackles worn daily
judging everything while sitting at the right hand of a powerful nonexistence
they sigh, together, as I pray:
deliver me from these binding chains,
it is the beast of this human race
this inability to escape
a tinderbox of dreams
if someone else is allowed to douse the flame

stolen children


Photograph by Susan Schied 2014.

Photograph by Susan Scheid, 2014

here i swing
and my breath
does not catch
as i reach
for the next ring

for there is no question
for there is no doubt
within me
for nobody has said yet
you cannot be that thing

and as beautiful as a bloom of spring
filling this air around me
blunting out the decay of this city
i float within the breeze
knees bent
wrist ready

a butterfly set free
into the world after

oh beauty, this sun
that shines upon me
please shine on them instead
for they are not free

here i swing
for the next ring
pretending it is I
who is King
who could free all those butterflies
waiting, in his captivity


Firstly, thank you to Susan Scheid for use of her wonderfully inspiring photo. I had asked a while back if I could use a photo from her blog for NPM…it is no longer April, but that matters not for poems can be written any time of year.

I must also thank Sue for linking me to the music that was played while writing this poem. You may find the link here – it is the first performance, ff to around 10 minutes. One may think that the orchestra is tuning, but if you continue, it is very much as Sue described it to me – a wave in the ocean – terribly meditative this work by John Luther Adams.

Finally, a friend text me wondering if I was no longer a writer (I’m assuming it is because the blog has been silent. My answer – am I really a writer? Writing could be my whole being, but it instead fights with my real life. The creative self often loses energy after the day has end. Since I still survive, can breathe, without writing (creating) then perhaps I cannot claim to be… 


turn of the screw

My mind fingers it’s red wooden edge
wondering if the ridge is sharp-
wondering if it’s white perfection turns -
could it all change with a turn of the screw

Perhaps yesterday’s newspaper
devoid of color, glaring of white crimes
and black hate, contains a secret code to enter
turning each notch in a pattern until a door
opens allowing us to disappear

What of this heaven when hell is near
do screaming children get welcomed
even when Jesus was just a man according
to their holy book on Allah

Will I burn slowly or do I simply stay
in that decorative box chosen by a crying Mary
who turned away when they finally closed
the mahogany lid, not waiting for the final
turn of the screw for she knew this fate

in case you are a regular reader with an email option, my apologies for it seems I’ve a lot to say today… this post was actually composed a while inspired by a piece of art by Mark Kersetter – it is a wonderful wooden sculpture of screws- sadly I cannot find it on his Flickr site so you will just have to imagine with these words and wherever they take you….

Ps- cannot promise this will be the last today)


It feels so goddamn good to write, but I shouldn’t say goddamn because God and I recently agreed that I would let him(her) drive – that is to say to help me not screw up again. Ignoring pulsing in ones veins is to play mortal combat with one’s brain and this brain could twist with pain that may require a Jungian to unravel.

A poem, you say, should contain short lines, couplets or stanzas but this long line is akin to something one may encounter at the border of Somalia-Kenya refuge camp where a woman begs for her dying children. Do we ever understand this hunger as we suffer our first world problems of “will it be Mickey Ds or BK for lunch?” when all she hopes is that a taste of Plumpy’Nut will revive the dying body of her seven month baby who looks three months to us, her tiny head bobbing, its mass weight more than bones and flesh combined.

How can we hold up our own heads when so many sing these blues?

So as said – God and I made a pack despite this writer’s agnostic tendencies. Writing this, I realize that sounds of voodoo (making deals) so perhaps it was not God’s words but a snake playing saint. He should know better – this is about here, not for the days that have gone dying.

I could sing Delta blues about those days, but would rather write a gospel choir
not for ourselves, but for those starving babes silently waiting for our tears to materialize.

Van Gogh

Why cannot I draw upon this flesh
a vision in which to paint to you
in words this agony of silence
bound within a mute world
I stare into Spring’s horizon
imaging Van Gogh’s brush
how he must have felt, each stroke
an utterance of his eternal wound
dipping each breath beneath clouds
he created with swirls of grey

Dear Theo, he would write
explaining his suffering voice
not from inaction but misunderstanding
Dear Gaughan, he would write
explaining his creating, desire for his muse
to fill this void left in cloud filled fields
describing chair, bed, paintings hung
above this bed in the Yellow House
as if to convince there was no other place

Would Van Gogh had left his brush
caked with paint, died to a blank
canvas if Gaughan had never visited
or would the blood that coursed
bled ochre, Prussian blue tipped with black
continued to light his eternal flame
for he needed no muse beyond the breath
that built beauty inside his human house.


They found it next to her, floating upon the surface, half entwined within her fragile hair. The pond had swallowed them both, becoming a shallow grave of beauty. It was the technician who recorded each article, who felt that there was something special, something within the fabric’s electric swirls, that must tell her story. The turquoise, briefly slashed within magenta, yellow and black, mimicked the shade within her emptied eyes. Those eyes left us all unsettled that day. We shall never know why her body was there alone beyond the facts known – an art teacher, age 25, with no known family, fighting a battle of cancer. An autopsie eventually revealed that the poison had become too much, succumbing her with pneumonia. A neighbor, whom wept when he was questioned, spoke of her daily walks despite the damp, April nights. He wanted to walk with her, but she said it was her time with God.
The ceremony was held on an unusually bright day. I stood behind those that knew her, listening to their words. A student painted the final screen of her story: “She was like the wind of Spring – she would ruffle our thoughts so that we could consider a new beginning, find a new opening within our art.” I would learn that the scarf we found with her that day was her own art, her way of creating a new opening while too weak to create anew.
Years later, the fabric remains strong and true – the turquoise, a gentle reminder of a gaze of grace from a soul that knew what it was to live, to die.


(This is the second reworking of this prose poem – the first one was written while waiting for a very moving lecture this evening. I was too lazy to get up and find my little notebook, so recreated the story into this – the premise is pretty much the same. I apologize for the somber nature – it certainly is not to say that Roberto Alborghetti’s art is somber – it is not, it is quite lively and lovely. I thank him for offering up this picture at my bequest of help for poetic inspiration. ~ a)

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