2011 April PAD Challenge: Day 1

I just returned from a 20-hour road trip. Since I need a little time to get sleepy after loading up on caffeine, I might as well get this month’s challenge started early. Click here for April Poem-A-Day Challenge guidelines.

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For today’s prompt, write a “what got you here” poem. For instance, write a poem about a mode of transportation like your car, bike, horse, etc. Or write a poem about what “got you here” as a human being or writer (like what got you started writing, perhaps). Or write a poem about what brought you to this blog. Or whatever other interpretation you might have.

Here’s my attempt:

“Raising Dough”

Early in the morning, the baker blames his irritability on his wife,
who snores through the night and faults her five grandchildren, who
run her ragged in the afternoons, though they observe that their
problems start at school with their teachers, who keep the children
confined to their desks and who blame a test-driven principal, who
acknowledges her stern manner is a result of her husband, who very
openly flirts with the town’s only doctor, who would reject his advances
if not for her own husband, who is constantly on the road attempting
to sell more units for his boss, who blames his money-focused approach
to life on his shabby upbringing by his father, who often lost jobs
(and even a finger once in a car factory) while daydreaming about
becoming a great writer like his favorite poet, who chose composing
stanzas over spreadsheets and as a result found himself often worried
late into the evenings about how he would manage to pay his rent
while realizing he had absolutely no one left to blame save himself.

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Follow me on Twitter @robertleebrewer

Also, if you want to report or share your April PAD Challenge progress on Twitter, use the #aprpad hashtag.

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Want to publish your poetry?
If you want to take the poetry you’ve written and get it published, I recommend checking out the 2011 Poet’s Market, edited by Robert Lee Brewer (yes, that’s me!). Poet’s Market is packed with hundreds of publishing opportunities and articles on how to place your poetry, connect with readers, give poetry readings, and more.

Click here to check it out.

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309 thoughts on “2011 April PAD Challenge: Day 1

  1. Lynne

    How Did I Get Here

    I wonder how I got to
    where I am today, ask
    myself if a simple key
    could unlock secrets,
    give me the veiled answer.
    I think there is no one source.
    I believe I arrived here from
    every spark that preceded
    this moment from infancy to
    mere micro-seconds ago.
    Most importantly, I am here,
    the rest is up to me.

  2. S.E.Ingraham

    Wow – there has to be something auspicious about being the 300th poet on day 1, even if I’m not posting until Day 13 …

    How I Got Here

    He hands me my gift
    The high-tech phone
    I’ve been lusting after

    “It has GPS,” he says,
    “Now, you’ll never
    Get lost …”

    A sadness steals
    Over me
    From where
    I know not

    My love, who reads me
    Better than he does
    the stars

    Takes the phone
    Touches the screen
    Hands it back

    My eyes fill
    My heart bursts
    He knows me so well

    On the screen
    An actual, functioning
    Compass

    “It has both true
    And magnetic north,”
    He tells me.

    I nod, knowing what’s next
    And I say it too,
    “But I’ll only ever need true.”

  3. Joseph Beckman

    2011 April PAD Challenge: Day 1
    what got you here
    .
    Here.
    .
    Roads travelled.
    Torrents growing
    rowing, tossing to
    and fro.
    .
    Hearts’ beginings,
    love’s leanings, pushing
    pulling groping singing.
    .
    Playgrounds playing,
    but ground’s undoing,
    shaking quaking, breaking
    young soul.
    .
    Torment starting,
    torment growing chasms
    widening and flowing
    to no end.
    .
    Time growing,
    Old clothing but
    New beginning,
    awakening, singing
    love’s leaning to and fro-ing.
    .
    Hope springing eternally
    singing,
    Eternally singing.
    .
    © April 1, 2011  Joseph Beckman

  4. Jolanta Laurinaitis

    What got me here

    What got me here?
    A dip in unconsciousness
    A tear in sanity
    A loop to go around
    A spring of hope

    What got me here?
    A reckoning to be reasoned with
    A blast from the past
    A string of unfortunate incidents
    A wing of a prayer

    What got me here?
    A gift to share with many
    A love so deep and perfunctory
    A reason to be
    Just me.

  5. Susan M. Bell

    First off, I have to say I am so glad to be doing this again. I love the daily challenge and the deadline aspect of it. Thanks Robert.

    Second, I am intimidated by all these great poems, as I always am. You guys rock.

    Third, all the poems I post are rough drafts. I consider them works in progress so welcome any comments or suggestions anyone would like to give.

    And here we go…

    How did I get here?
    Here where I am.
    I sometimes shake my head,
    not understanding,
    not seeing
    the path before me.
    Behind me
    the road is illuminated
    by heartache,
    sadness.
    It’s hard to see the joy
    among all that pain.

    How did I get here?
    It’s a question I ask
    every day.

  6. Salvatore Buttaci

    MOVING DAY

    Al is behind us
    driving the U-Haul
    in the teeming rain
    and I say to Sharon
    ten hours of this
    what if we lose him
    then when I look
    in my rear-view mirror
    he’s not there
    Sharon laughs
    look she says
    he’s three cars
    ahead of us
    and we never catch up
    till we reach Princeton
    and now big brother’s gone
    waiting up there
    for one more moving day
    when I haul myself
    down crystal streets
    into his good company

    #

  7. Elizabeth Oakley

    UNRECOGNIZABLE

    The mirror cast an image of distasteful reality
    that, due to her injuries,
    she became so lazy while
    medicating
    with
    food.
    This item, needed for survival,
    became her obsession,
    a dirty secret,
    indulged in late at night, but
    not satisfying the void
    that was her life.
    It only brought her to the reality
    that stared back at her today
    and made her hate, with disgusted passion,
    and made her want to thrash
    at her flesh and pinch and scrunch
    the rolls that had one day
    appeared, upon her waking
    from a three-year sleep.

  8. Lexi Flint

    Unable to express my feelings
    aloud
    as a child
    I turned to paper and pen
    for in my journal
    I was free to scream, fight and cry
    I could create new worlds
    or travel back to old ones
    where maidens were fair
    and knights rode in on white horses
    to save me from the reality of pain
    Silence was my safety net
    writing my refuge
    for in my mind
    my innermost dreams, schemes, and story themes
    play on the movie screen of my imagination.

  9. K Kerns

    PROMPT FOR APRIL 1 – What Got Me Here by K Kerns

    Well, it wasn’t my competitive Momma
    Or the envious and older siblings
    It wasn’t the divorce of my parents
    (in my tenth year)
    Or her hurried second marriage

    What got me here was not a stepdaddy nor his
    “Use yer head for somepin besides a hat rack” attitude
    It wasn’t the perv who married my Sister
    Or worrying about my Marine Brother
    During the Vietnam War

    What got me here wasn’t leaving home at 16
    It wasn’t my first boyfriend
    And it was not my first broken heart
    Or that rape, or my failed marriage
    … or my third child, a miscarriage

    What got me here was that single yellow rose
    Trellising itself up the fifty year old fence post
    It was blue skies and powder puff clouds
    It was the scent of a red rose and wild daisies
    Daffodils in the Spring and laughter

    What got me here were the smiles
    Of my newborn babies
    His pots and pans drum set
    And her playing in my makeup
    And the sheer innocence of Them

    What got me here was breathing deep
    And knowing that two wrongs
    Don’t make a right and that I get to
    Pay forward the Good that comes to me
    And I get to throw away the bad

    What got me here is the truth
    And the acceptance that
    What others do unto me is on them
    And what I do to others is on me
    And everyone stands on their own merit

    What got me here… was Me.

  10. Sheila Deeth

    We went from winter to summer, Oregon to Texas, and watched
    While flowers strained against the lack of rain. We mourned the fact
    That we’d not see that fabled blue; we’d come too soon
    Or else the rain too late. Rushed for the plane, delayed by boom
    Of Texas thunderstorms.

  11. Jared Q

    better late than never, i suppose.

    Day 1: What got me here

    small, indecisive nibbles
    whittle down my
    nettle

    quick, like match heads flaring
    they consume, then
    settle

    stunned you bit so quick into the
    weakness in this
    vessel

    faulted with river cracks,
    overlapped like
    pretzels

    I always knew my mapping:
    blue was mortar, green was
    pestle

    constant grinding on myself
    I’d find patterns as we’d
    wrestle

    so I could be prepared
    for any test of mind or
    mettle

    but what got me here was your eraser
    seems you etch in
    pencil

  12. Bernadette McComish

    Travel

    A wave brought me
    to your heart of sand
    and like a mirage the ocean
    vanished. I wanted to crumble
    the castle, its mote dug deep,
    but I could not move. I was rooted
    in the desert, cursed to stare
    at windows that don’t let light
    through. You were no longer
    the man with the tail of a fish.
    And I was stuck, a lone flower
    under the sun, waiting for the sea
    to give me back my legs.

  13. Jane Shlensky

    A postcard poem

    Lift and Swell

    The salty water buoys me up, even half a mile from the shore, where I swim through pockets of warm and cool and then float and rest, watching the sun rise on schools of little painted fishes flickering below me and groups of tiny people collecting on the beach under red and blue umbrellas. Each day is warm and clear, blue and green, light and new, thinking of you.

  14. Jane Shlensky

    The Horse I Rode In On

    Silver has two speeds, being a plow horse.

    Labor is mind-numbingly slow, with lots of snorts, tail flicks,
    plods and stops, and turns
    to look between blinders for what the hold-up can be as we prime tobacco,
    carrying leaf upon sticky leaf to the sled
    or set the rows parallel and somewhat straight for corn and beans,
    plow bit cutting into warm earth. Silver’s patience is curbed and strapped to a burden.

    Fun is done at a gallop and bare-backed,
    brooking no alterations to the ride across the farm, between two fields,
    down a path through the woods, past the ancient uncle-carved oak,
    to a clearing beside a highway, non-stop across the highway to the picnic tables,
    a sharp turn around the tables going full tilt hanging onto the bridle and coarse mane hearts pounding breathing gasping, huffing back across the highway and again through the woods and fields to a short stop where we began,
    now breathless, flushed, exhilarated, traumatized, and limb-whipped,
    willing to do it all again.

    I hunch over stacks of student papers, snorting and flicking
    at run-ons, fragments, misspellings, comment on sticky comment
    crowding the margins,
    counting those papers remaining again and again,
    calculating a time of completion.
    My knees and feet kick involuntarily, my pen taps,
    I whinny and I eat tiny carrots,
    chomping at my bit,
    longing to run full tilt and feel the wind,
    always imagining myself a pretty filly
    catching silver glints of sunlight,
    head up and tail lifted,
    racing across a green pasture.

    Jane Shlensky
    Sorry, all, this is my first post and I’m still getting the hang of it.

  15. Doug

    My cross

    there were shapes and colours
    unformed, ill
    defined

    bubbles of emotion, fluid
    that never quite
    reached my lips

    not in any cogent expression

    i thought wrongly
    that words failed me,
    so i carved them on scraps
    with ink

    hoped the indelible balance,
    between blotches and scratched
    corrections

    would make sense in moments
    once i had shaped them

    but failing words, threaded on time
    i think i evolved
    became coloured shapes,
    became
    an expression

    realised that i am
    ill defined, am human

    but now i can at least tell you that,
    can tell myself
    to listen
    to the scratching, the corrections

    and my holy triumvirate is
    write, rite and right

    then there is only myself left

    ©DP April 2011

  16. Earl Parsons

    I’m late. I’ve been so busy looking for another job that I forgot it was April. Hope I can catch up.

    The Journey

    This place
    So strange yet so familiar
    Slightly different each day
    Yet the same in many ways
    This place
    Where I now exist
    Are things as they appear
    And how did I get here
    To this place

    The journey
    That got me to this place
    Started on a hot August day
    In a place so very far away
    The journey
    Took me ‘round the world
    To places far and near
    And landed me right here
    In this place

  17. Kimberly Brock

    CUT IT

    It was just a thought
    Cut it
    Ringing then clanging
    Cut it
    Surely it wouldn’t be right
    It would look awful
    Cut it
    Fear of what others will think
    Cut it
    Creep in
    Cut it
    Then suddenly fear leaves
    When determination leaps in
    Cut it
    And to the bathroom I go
    Scissors in hand
    And cut my hair
    Not bad!

  18. Patti Williams

    I think I arrived on a cloud of happy
    Yet was filled with a wave of tears.

    Bellying up to the bar, all smiles
    And laughter, while quenching the
    Thirst of a desperate survivor.

    My skin thick and weathered
    From the storms only
    Covers a bit of the brokenness.

    Heart still hopeful this time
    When I leave, it will be to go home.

  19. Megan

    Commute 101

    In the lull of humidity
    in the lag of slow
    commute the
    turquoise house
    catches the eye yanks
    the mind away from
    undone ideas and
    the shared sweat
    of too many
    sardines pickled on
    another commute home.
    On a sweltering grey day
    the splash of color
    lasts for only
    an idle line
    scrawled in the
    emptiness of an over
    hot musless day.

  20. Amanda G.

    Getting a bit of a late start, but a friend’s awesome work inspired me to join the April PAD. Here’s my first attempt.

    M

    I came here on a prefix
    the first syllable of Superman’s city
    another way to be sexual
    a sans-serif statement
    of brutalist architecture
    shooting through the sub-terrain

  21. Daniel Ari

    Attempt 2:

    “What Got Me Here”

    I found art for a step ladder, a pocket knife.
    I put on poems to be my magic pants.
    Choreography became my scuba suit. I took art
    for a calendar, a torch, a compass, provisions,
    no tool I ever knew for a place I never saw,
    the thing needed for meeting the surprise ahead.

    DA

  22. Daniel Ari

    April 1 Prompt = What got you here

    “Why I’m not ready”

    April catches me between crises
    creatively questioning
    the efficacy of word pursuit
    that I can’t bill to a client

    while my best old friend
    goes under the knife—
    his heart—and time dries up
    in a rush to get outside
    into this fickle spring sunshine.
    I want my pulse to race.

    Why bother
    is the world question.
    No time
    is my best excuse

    But without sense,
    with only this plastic passion,
    I grasp the pencil,
    writing this even
    as I give up on it

    April Fools!
    Here I am.

    DA

  23. Lynn Burton

    Lost and Found

    I didn’t like what I saw
    beneath the quiet
    whispering conscience
    silenced by boredom
    and reckless searching

    Until I found my place
    right here where I belong
    and my heart
    opened up
    giving way to a richer
    fuller
    content
    life

  24. Lori Desrosiers

    How I got here

    Dad reciting Shakespeare and Keats
    A Child’s Garden of Verses, over and over
    My Mother writing, reading, singing.
    Nursery rhymes, clapping, jump rope songs.
    Deciding at six I wanted to be a writer.
    Listening to Phil Oakes, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger,
    Judi Collins, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, The Doors,
    The Who, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin.
    Learning guitar at camp, practicing for months.
    Mom giving me a diary with a lock
    My first poem published in the camp journal
    My first story kept by the teacher.
    Singing stories with the guitar while babysitting.
    Finding my voice again, years later.

  25. Mariya Koleva

    OMG, I’m so terribly late! Here it is.

    ****

    What got you here?
    I wish I knew.
    It was just walking,
    which turned to climbing
    and then it was a sheer fall,
    that may have been a flight
    into this wintry cottage
    of blooming peaches all around
    where gold was falling to the ground
    and turning into autumn leaves.

    What got me here?
    I wish I knew.

    © 2011 Mariya Koleva
    and on my blog, open for comments:
    http://phoenix-em.com/mariyakoleva/2011/04/what-got-you-here-apr-pad-2011-day-1/

  26. Dennis Wright

    A Weekend Journey
    (The Too Late Blues)

    Taking a trip to the book fair,
    then writing poem in pentameter.
    Taking a stab at doing my taxes,
    then listened to my team lose.

    Driving north to Sam’s Club.
    Driving south to my home.
    An hour or so paying bills,
    Some work of last week grew.

    Then up in the morning early,
    thinking about sleeping in.
    Then off to shop some more:
    I wonder about someone I knew.

    Walking my dog around the block.
    Thinking the weather is warmer.
    Back home he gets Front Line.
    Gotta buy some for the cat too.

    And then that work from Friday,
    an hour or so and I am done.
    I put it off ’til late ’cause,
    I watch what Lucy and Desi do.

    I sit down at my desk to write.
    I sit down at my desk to write.
    I should be sleeping in my bed.
    I got the too late poetry blues.

  27. Juanita Lewison-Snyder

    long lost sister
    by juanita lewison-snyder

    oh
    another sister,
    how quaint
    and i see you’ve even brought your own violins.
    right, you say that now
    but what about next month when rent’s due
    and you suddenly remember why you pursued this in the first place?
    what happens when the realization sets in,
    there are no gains here
    only broken people, damaged goods
    in place of any inheritance, social standing, or good old-fashion family genes.
    this den of lions has disappointed me greatly over the years
    as i’m sure you will too, so why should i even bother with you?
    do us all a favor and crawl back to the termite infestation you came from
    or else grow some wings and move on to start your own new colony
    of backwater cons, this particular nest is full.
    trust me, even if Dad were still among the living
    he wouldn’t care one iota more for you than he ever did the rest of us.
    the road to Dad is fraught with peril and darkness you can’t even imagine.
    the only legacy here is survival of the fittest
    and who gets to drink from the trough first.
    lion or antelope, you decide
    but understand, this family has a voracious appetite
    and will chase you down like raptors at blood’s first sight
    so guard well ‘gainst any sudden razor nicks
    or better yet, opt out now while your limbs are still intact.
    you’ve been warned, dear sister
    so consider this my gift.
    you might wanna rethink what got you here.

    © 2011 by Juanita Lewison-Snyder

  28. vanessa mayes

    woke up blind.
    with my toes i followed the the frosted cracks in the concrete,
    sharpened edges tearing at my feet as i refused to give up
    the curiosity of what could be.
    what could i become?
    numbness dancing on my toes–taking over my sanity; survival
    was the on the tip of my mind, with it’s hand i
    pressed my face against a wall,
    letting my hands analyze every inch,
    and taking every ancient picture, every cryptic word for all that it was worth.
    it became me.
    with a young mind i let it define me, wrap it’s stone around my heart and my exterior until i could feel the warmth amongst the frosted concrete,
    immune against the cracks that caused me to bleed.
    opened my eyes.
    since, i’ve found an exit.
    i’ve become more than i was told i’d ever be.

    Vanessa Mayes

  29. tara

    SUBWAY FOOD

    There is a coffee cup
    Perfectly balanced
    On the track of what got me here.

    There is an apple
    Stuck in my teeth
    While waiting, waiting, waiting for you.

    There is the gum I chew
    To keep the hours cool
    For the train that got stuck.

  30. Cresta McGowan

    DWM’s – Dead White Men

    They read the story,
    noting only the glory
    of the DWM’s – the dead white men
    they read every year.

    Where, in the tears
    of their boredom galore
    was a story of something
    post 1924?

    And I thought
    as I listened
    to them drone on and on
    that maybe something was missing
    from their selection of song.

    That classics are classics
    powerful, strong
    but the weight of the world
    doesn’t carry them long.

    Their generation is different
    even though I disagree,
    they have no connection
    to The Old Man and the Sea.

    And they don’t want to see
    no matter how hard I push
    They just aren’t ready,
    for that kind of book.

    Something must matter
    more than what’s in their text
    so why not try more,
    give the white men a rest.

    And I sat at my Mac,
    thinking that night,
    when my first story hit me…
    Maybe I’ll write.

  31. M.A. Dobson

    FEET
    As an exercise once
    I sketched them in charcoal
    The result was pedestrian
    So I added a rosebud
    To the right toe
    Its stem extending to the ankle
    This effort too was unsuccessful
    So I put on my shoes
    And took a walk
    M.A. DOBSON

  32. Mike Bayles

    This Light

    The light spread over the horizon
    calling, is calling me.
    I’ve got to see this light
    and foresee the new day.
    The many colors of dawn
    appear as one,
    white after dark night,
    as day has begun.
    A clarity I seek
    after illumination
    sublimates my dreams.
    A gentle breeze whispers
    a song of spring’s refrain
    while I answer its beckon call,
    on a silent sojourn
    while I drive toward the sun.

    (For "What Got You Here")

  33. Nancy Posey

    Son

    How can she help him piece together
    his broken heart? He’s still her son,
    a boy, too young to be a father,
    but now she holds him when he cries
    over the lost life, not his choice,
    but half his. She knows he knows
    she too had the choice, back then
    when common sense might have led
    to some other path, traveling lighter,
    alone. He knows, maybe now more
    than before that she gave him life,
    not an easy one for either of them,
    sure, but a life full of possibilities,
    even some that leave a little ghost
    living only inside of his heart.

  34. Becka

    The story of me stands unheard
    Under layer upon
    Layer upon
    Layer
    of
    Hurt and Pain
    The traumas adding up
    Molding
    Shrinking
    Compressing
    Making strong the shell of my
    Self
    Like so many strata of rock
    Each layer has a tale to tell.

    Becka

  35. MB

    Not so long ago, I dreamed of houses with picket fences
    and children laughing and being in love.

    I put my foot into the waters and with all my senses,
    swam across to the land I had dreamed of.

    But its face was not obvious and its form frightened me
    Instead of beautiful landscapes, I found the deep pit of despair.

    Everyone I trusted, had traveled a different sea
    And upon this land, for me they did not care.

    My hope did not dim for too long, when my own will
    pushed me to reach for his hand and replace my gloom.

    And so my love did find me, yet I somehow still
    feel like I’m at sea, drifting to an early tomb.

    For what I had lost can never be again
    And what I gained feels more like a burden too heavy to bear.

    So I sink into the the land of pain
    and rest my head upon the bed of grief no one wants to share.

    (The way this lines up here is not how it lines up on my blog…but the words are the same)

  36. Erinne Magee

    it was on a friday
    id heard those words
    one last time
    threw open my suitcase
    and sold my stuff
    one last time
    felt my insides collapse
    told myself just
    one last time
    questioned every moment
    said let’s try it
    one last time
    there were things he didnt
    want to do just
    one last time
    he didnt look at us
    not once not even
    one last time
    at times i still wonder
    how we got here
    one last time
    when you’re bound by blood, is
    there such thing as
    one last time?

  37. JSP

    The Journey

    We never had much
    And loading up the old wagon
    Only served to prove the point

    We were heading west
    Leaving gloom and debt
    Traveling to the land of opportunity

    We were part of the last wagon train
    Going that way
    Indians and weather were against us

    We were jostled and bumped
    Bruised and battered
    Our insides turned to mush

    We rode and we walked
    We unloaded and threw out
    Our meager possessions to lighten the load

    We reached the end of the line
    Dispirited, downcast miners clogged the streets
    Vision and luck lost along the way

    We never had much
    Unloading the almost bare wagon
    Only served to prove the point

  38. Marcelle

    You are Me

    You
    Understand me
    You would take my thought
    My words
    And hold them in confidence.
    You were my confidante.
    And as I grew
    to trust in this
    my thoughts and words
    being locked away
    safe,
    I understood that THIS
    was good for me.
    You were my release.
    My way of letting go,
    moving on.
    But ith a greater understanding
    of me and the experience.
    Thank you for being with me
    throughout my journey.
    A young girls best friend,
    a womans companion.
    I called you Diary then,
    Today I call you my Journal.

    Marcelle

  39. Kathy Albers

    Has it been a long time from there to here?
    In years? Yes. In life experiences? Oh hell yes
    In tears? Certainly. In smiles? Too many to count.
    I came to this place overcoming health issues and with a whole lot of luck.
    It hasn’t been a snail’s journey, more like in the blinking of an eye.
    And here I am.
    While I care what others think of me, I am not bound by that.
    Finally I like who I am,
    and for that sing reason
    the journey has been worth it.

  40. B

    What Got Me Here

    Effie and Leroy in Alabama
    had a litter of six –
    Gwen, Bill, Lorraine,
    Helen, Robert, and last –
    Betty. (Leroy also had a
    whole other family on the
    side but that’s a different
    story.)

    Annie and Hugh in Louisiana
    only had two –
    a girl Annie Marie and
    a boy Lonnie Lee. (Hugh
    later got caught in a wreck
    on the Red River Bridge with
    a young pregnant girl in his
    truck but that, too, is a
    different story.)

    So, Effie packed her babes just
    after Betty was born in 1936
    and ran away from Leroy,
    the scoundrel, on a bus to
    her brother in Louisiana,
    working the rest of her
    days at the Sears & Robuck –
    manless and poor.

    Annie and Hugh (a deacon by
    the way at Sardis First Baptist
    Church) ran a gas station and
    restaurant in their small one
    red-light town. Each spoiled
    their favorite – Hugh, the girl
    and Annie, the boy. Lonnie,
    foolish, dropped out of school
    at 16, found his way to the
    army and spent a little time
    on a tiny island in the Pacific
    repairing radios. Betty, always
    responsible, got her diploma.

    So some mutual friend introduced
    them – Betty and Lonnie –
    and with a somewhat drunken
    call from a telephone booth
    one rainy evening, Lonnie
    asked Betty to marry him.
    57 turbulent years and three
    kids later, surprised, they still
    find themselves married,
    playing Scrabble every day,
    feeding the goats,
    and weeding the garden.

    Effie and Leroy begat Betty,
    Annie and Hugh begat Lonnie,
    Betty and Lonnie begat three –
    Lonnie, Buriece, and me.

    That’s how I got here.

  41. Tanja Cilia

    What got you here?

    Trains and boats and planes
    Not transports of delight because
    I sat in them till the cows came home.
    And so did I, feeling antsy.
    I had a reason; ‘tis the season
    For sun, sand, and clean sea…
    I had an excuse; I had nothing to lose
    Except rain, concrete, and murky river.
    But the home where I lived
    Is now someone else’s house.

  42. Lorna Wheeler

    What Got Me Here

    Named after a fling not a silly romantic novel like he once told me.
    Mama, how did you do it?
    How did you keep from torching the place?
    From kicking him to the curb?
    I met two more brothers just last spring
    Seems dear old dad dipped his pen
    in every old thing.

  43. Catherine Lee

    What Got Me Here

    Tepid milk tested on mother’s wrist,
    I finally learned to make my own.
    Don’t smother me with fences
    Linked in pink paper chains.

    I am more than this body
    Odd that feeds the future generation
    I am less than the bleeding
    Women who came before me.

    ~Catherine Lee

  44. Candace Martinez

    Complacency Kept Me Here

    Huddled and tense, here at my desk I write
    On this cold and soggy Midwestern night
    About circumstances that brought me here
    During the fourth month of another year

    Stuck in Michigan and wanting to leave
    Out of work, needing a reprieve
    My brain searches for opportunity
    To live in a better community

    Caffeine-induced sense of urgency
    Sun and heat deprived emergency
    Here I am, where I don’t want to be
    Who will come along and rescue me?

    This very moment, to myself I vow
    Not one more winter here, some how
    An escape route I will find
    And leave this awful place behind

    Complacency has held me far too long
    Lulling to sleep with its soothing song
    I’ll burst the cage open at its seams
    And be true to once forgotten dreams

  45. April Wright

    Love in the Projects

    Is free love
    It’s playing basketball until dark and staying out
    Past curfew just to be with her.
    It’s watching Ms. Jasmine’s five screaming kids
    Just so you can buy a new dress for him to see you in.
    It’s holding hands in silence dreaming the same dream
    Of leaving the projects together, making a better life
    Fit for the child that you will have together one day.
    It’s like Marvin Gaye singing to a Miles Davis song
    It all seems possible.

    It’s when being with her was like eating Moon Pies
    All day. Sweet.
    It’s like when you laid down with him
    On a cold December night
    And decided to give him your most personal self
    And you didn’t care about anything but each other
    You didn’t care until
    Baby girl was born
    Holding that unbreakable love in her spirit
    Anxious to tell the world of her mother and fathers story
    Of loving each other in the projects.

  46. Maxie Steer

    MISERY NEEDS COMPANY

    The swaying palm tree reminds me
    his tweet is a melody of longing,
    that sharp trill he barks at me
    when I walk by his cage
    a jealous squak matching the patter
    of my bare feet over squeaky rented floors.

    His seeds and water sure, newspaper changed,
    wings clipped.

    His envious green feathers slick and tropical
    against his fast moving head nodding,
    always nodding with vacant eyes at each day’s passing.
    Often he implores, racing from (fake) branch to (fake) branch
    the reason for his being here,
    grasping with beak and both feet,
    demanding to be released
    till my eye levels with his and in defiance,
    he shrieks, turning away.

    Then together we view the swaying palm tree
    beyond our reach, distorted by cage bars
    and slanted venetian blinds.

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