2012 April PAD Challenge: Day 1

And so it begins! Today is the first day of the 5th annual April PAD (Poem-A-Day) Challenge on Poetic Asides. I can’t believe we’re turning five!

For today’s prompt, write a communication poem. The communication could be dialogue between two (or more people); a postcard correspondence; a letter; a voicemail; a text message; a series of tweets; or whatever. Heck, I guess a poem is a form of communication–so there’s really no way to screw up today’s prompt (outside of writing nothing at all). Let’s get this party started!

Here’s my attempt:

“An Urgent Message”

Respond now or we’ll send murderous
marauders to your house at midnight
who will kill you–leaving your children
and parents with nothing. All will be
lost. Cunning cats will prowl alleyways
as your grieving (and groveling) leftovers
wander the earth wondering why you could
do so little to protect them. You, who
received urgent messages and important
notices and special offers, threw
every correspondence into the garbage
can as if all we tried to offer were junk.

*****

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654 thoughts on “2012 April PAD Challenge: Day 1

  1. creilley

    THE JESTER’S MASK

    Silk and brocade wrap a bursting heart.
    The language of truth both a weapon
    and a curse. The one soul at court
    allowed to speak his mind,
    he lives on the knife edge of
    regard and the head-man’s axe.

    Immune to courtly games or manner
    his voice cut through threads of feint,
    a plunging eagle through cobwebs.
    Yet malice shines in every eye
    and honeyed poison is on every tongue,
    each step more treacherous than the last.

    Wisdom and folly walk hand in hand
    through the gardens of policy.
    More genius is to be found
    in a cracked vessel, rather than whole,
    so capering and glib façade
    are the masks of foresight and honesty.

  2. dianemdavis

    GOODBYE (from Leaving for Lowell: a mill girl story)

    “Don’t cry,”
    I whisper in Alicia’s ear,
    hugging her so close
    she groans
    before I set her free.

    She chews her bottom lip,
    then reaches into
    her apron pocket
    and tucks a hard, smooth object
    into my hand–

    a horse chestnut
    shaped like a heart
    and polished so fine
    I can see my reflection.
    Tiny lines, scratched
    through the surface
    spell Alicia
    on one side, and Manny
    on the other.

    I press that nut
    close to my heart–
    more precious than
    all the coins
    I’ll make in Lowell,
    and smile through tears
    I’d vowed
    to leave behind.

  3. Ivan_Alcibar

    A Glass Full of Empty

    Hold me now
    Please don’t leave the room
    Another step and I might just break
    The panic consumes me
    Don’t turn off the lights
    Leave them on just for tonight

    I lack the reason to move on
    I’m terrified of what I’m not
    A life of regrets
    Is all I’ve ever known
    I’m so ashamed of who I am
    Up until now it’s all been a lie

    Tell me once
    It’s gonna be okay
    Wipe the doubt off my mind
    Promise me and I won’t ask
    Show me the good I’ve done
    Because I can’t find it alone

    I lack the reason to move on
    I’m terrified of what I’m not
    A life of regrets
    Is all I’ve ever known
    I’m so ashamed of who I am
    Up until now it’s all been a lie

    Hold me now
    Please don’t leave me
    I can’t face myself anymore
    No matter the reason
    I am drowning
    I’ll suffocate in the world
    Just once more
    If it gets rid of my despair
    I beg you
    Get rid of my despair

  4. Pat Carroll Marcantel

    TELEGRAM

    The message came on a yellow piece of paper,

    letters bold and black, piercing like a Samurai sword.

    He carried it in his hand, his face a mountain crag,

    Eyes gone blank, he looked at us but didn’t see

    our fear, for yellow was the color of death, we knew.

    We knew but didn’t want to know. We took the missive

    from his hand and learned an acronym–M I A .

    Pat Carroll Marcantel

  5. MsGenuineLady

    Hello, Randy is that you?
    Randy who?
    Randy, stop playing games!
    Excuse me Miss, Randy is not my name.
    So this is how it is?
    You forgot about me, now that you are married with kids
    Lady listen, there is no Randy that lives in this home
    So I suggest you hang up and leave me alone
    Now you listen to me, I dialed your number 780 745 7753
    So you see Randy, I know this is you!
    Please lady that just isn’t true, you see because you dialed 780 745 7733 actually
    And my name is TIM not Randy

  6. Marian O'Brien Paul

    Communicate!

    Communicate, he says
    and I want to scream
    but I just did! Didn’t
    he notice all those
    tweets
    blogs
    facebook and linkedin
    comments
    (not to mention
    my monitoring of
    and responses to
    all my email notes)?
    Enough said!

  7. cstewart

    Freedom’s Mark

    Her body spoke to her.
    It had been communicating specifically,
    With her lately, it’s noise and it’s unwieldy girth –
    In locations where it had been flat before –
    The sadness, anger, permutations of disbelief,
    Came along in ways she was not expecting.
    The hours, days of waiting to hear the next condition,
    Trepidations in her liver, pancreas, colon;
    Their lives having been taken up by a new visitor,
    Unintentionally invited by her life’s trials and denials,
    Intending to stay with her on her path towards freedom.

  8. Paoos69

    A Communication Twonnet (A Sonnet has 14 lines – so this Twin Sonnet – 28 lines – so called Twonnet)

    The swoosh of the toilet flush
    In the early morning hour
    Breaks the eerie night silence
    Who’s there? I ask
    Only to hear footsteps
    And creaking floorboards

    The house is not haunted
    I am assured
    Then maybe just my mind
    Playing nasty tricks
    But the toilet flushing
    Isn’t that too loud a noise?

    Or maybe just my imagination
    Going wild!

    There is a lingering lethargy
    A constant sapping of energy
    The Feng-shui has gone all wrong
    Perhaps, or just the mind-set
    Stuck in an arroyo
    Not able to let go

    They say there has to be a bond
    To be able to communicate
    But some are just sagas
    Endured, burnt and endured again
    Who am I? Who is she?
    None other than crafted souls

    Some questions are mere ponderings
    To dwell on and liberate

  9. tunesmiff

    WHAT ELSE CAN I SAY

    Did something happen in Houston,
    I need to know about?
    I’ve not heard a word from you since you came home;
    I know we’ve had our differences,
    And it’s not like you to pout,
    So for goodness sake, Girl,
    Just pick up the phone…

    And…
    (CH)
    Take a minute or two,
    To tell me what to do…
    Gimme a clue if you want me to stay…
    Is it still just me and you?
    Or is there somebody new?
    Should I pack up my heart and go away?
    Tell me… What else can I say?

    I didn’t see this comin’,
    If in fact it’s here at all;
    You know I tried to pay attention all along;
    But I won’t ever know for sure,
    Unless you just give me a call;
    You’ve got to let me know where things went wrong…

    So…
    (CH)
    Take a minute or two,
    To tell me what to do…
    Gimme a clue if you want me to stay…
    Is it still just me and you?
    Or is there somebody new?
    Should I pack up my heart and go away?
    Tell me… What else can I say?

    BR:
    If all we have are memories,
    Of what it was we used to be,
    Just say so…
    And I’ll go…
    But you’ll always go with me…

    First just…
    (CH)
    Take a minute or two,
    To tell me what to do…
    Gimme a clue if you want me to stay…
    Is it still just me and you?
    Or is there somebody new?
    Should I pack up my heart and go away?
    Tell me… What else can I say?

  10. Lauraajk

    140

    A whole message in one line,
    140 characters to say it all –
    Communication for the modern age,
    Poetry for the twenty-first century.

    Words pared down to the bones,
    So make them all count,
    Share your poems with the world –
    Post on-line and watch them fly.

  11. JRSimmang

    Our last communique
    tempestuous and writhing with the agony
    of a too short message.
    For within that spanse
    expectations hang nigh,
    floating and weaving,
    sputtering and spoiling;
    Words losing sight of themselves,
    drifting further and further into static.
    Dialogue, dear precious conversation,
    confined within that delicate prison.
    Pick up.
    My words would truer find your ears were
    your ears listening.
    Pick up.
    This unholy ringing in my ears leaves my breath
    baited.
    Pick up and speak to me.

  12. HannaAnna

    Walking up to the checkout counter
    I see the man of my dreams
    My heart flutters and I have to catch my breath
    as I watch that perfect smile turn to face me
    My mouth opens to speak
    but nothing comes out
    My eyes dart all over him
    taking him in
    trying to find something to say
    But the rest of him is just as perfect as that smile
    Words continue to fail me

    Fear and attraction

    I pull my hair behind my ears
    I adjust my purse on my shoulder
    and scratch the back of one leg with the foot of the other
    I open my mouth to speak to him again
    but still nothing comes

    You know what I’m saying?

  13. eyeisawrightr

    Oh, Talking Stick! Sacred to
    my Native American friend

    Why? Have you withheld your
    power

    To teach respect and be
    tolerant of my point of view

    The Eagle Feather
    blinds

    The Owl Feather
    deceives

    The Deer Skin
    chafes

    Rabbit has
    tiny ears

    The Spirits of the Wind
    flee

    Please
    tell me.

  14. Miss R.

    Clearly I’m off to a late start, but I’ll give it a whirl anyway 🙂 Here goes nothing:

    Prayer

    I speak out hollowly
    Not considering that You hear.
    My mind fails to conceive the distance,
    Yet You birthed this infinite intimacy.
    You speak from eons past
    In this moment
    Of days to come
    Where Your presence already hovers.
    The communication lapses,
    My self-righteous words foolishly satisfied
    To echo in their own stony corridors.
    They die away, exhausted,
    And still Your words remain.

  15. po

    To Argue

    with a cat is pointless.
    They thump their tail

    with passion over stale
    politics. And have

    a religion all their own.
    They chirp and purrow

    and talk until you stalk
    off, give up, run out the door.

    To argue with a cat
    is pointless because they

    have a language all their own.
    Don’t tolerate the chirps

    and burps from their
    human subordinates.

  16. cajun75

    The Final Journey

    I’ve followed you around the world
    More times than I can count
    We’ve searched through ancient ruins
    And lazed on modern beaches
    We’ve scaled the highest mountains
    And dived to the ocean floor
    We’ve crossed burning desert sands together
    And even swum the English Channel

    Together we’ve experienced the world
    Never leaving the other behind
    But now you’ve taken your final journey
    You went ahead without me
    For an experience I cannot share
    You’ve left me here, alone
    So while I wait, prepare a place
    I’ll join you in a little while

  17. Suba

    04/01 – communication poem

    Hi Hello!

    Hi Hello!
    Who’s the fellow?
    It’s me, you know!

    Didn’t really know how
    To say it here and now
    Bent like a violin bow
    Flinch through my brow
    Holding on the bough
    Think I am gonna go
    Crazy to allow
    I’m the one that follow
    Him through, although
    I never know him, no!

    How did I happen to stow
    This silly phone though
    How would I know?
    When all look alike, for all I know
    It was just mine, you know

    Anyhow here we go
    Quid pro quo
    I’ve got to undergo
    This dumb show

    So, hi hello
    Its me, you don’t know!

  18. Jannelee

    THE LETTER

    I knew at once, the delicate pink space
    the thin spidery lines, like living black lace
    spreading across the thin parchment
    Even though it had been years
    I still knew the slant of her hand
    I could see the touch of her fingers
    I swear I could even smell her perfume
    Her throaty laughter rose from the paper
    And pierced my heart, like an arrow from hell
    I could see the sweep of her long black hair
    as it fell over her pale shoulder
    the look in her dark eyes, the amusement
    that fell from her full lips as she told me
    she didn’t love me, had never loved me
    I felt the pain anew as my trembling hands
    tore open the seal on the thin envelope
    she and my only brother whispered in my ear
    fool, such a fool, how could you not see
    what all others knew, what you knew
    but would not see, could not see
    Now the thin black letters rose up
    and choked my throat with unshed tears
    my heart shattered into a million pieces
    my brother, my betrayer was dead

    JANICE KUYKENDALL
    APRIL 1, 2012

  19. Arike

    Beep

    Please leave a message after the tone
    A message is rarely left
    I, as owner of this number
    Promise not to disregard it
    I will listen carefully
    To what you tell me in a stutter
    A long monologue
    I can’t call you back
    You’ll forget to leave a number
    Makes you nervous, a recording
    Or I’ll listen to your phone
    Going click-beep-beep-beep
    And delete the message, irritated
    Why did you bother to call, then?

  20. Tanjamaltija

    I tried to talk
    The words just would not come.
    I sent an e-mail
    But it bounced.
    I tried to call you
    But you had changed your number.
    I tried to write
    But the letter came back undelivered.
    So why did you turn up on my doorstep
    Five days before my wedding?

  21. Marjory MT

    COUMMICATION
    MY Dear Friend, you are…

    So many many miles away….
    Was it yesterday or a hundred days ago
    when I last felt your hand in mine,
    gazed into your eyes and heard
    whispered endearments?

    So many many miles away….
    While saturating my thoughts,
    would that you inundated my space,
    then the sun would shine brighter,
    the birds sing sweeter and the
    day be overall delicious.

    So many many miles away…
    Across deserts, mountains
    and deep chasms.
    Across missunderstandings,
    regrets and tears.
    Across oceans, across glacers.
    Across what might have been.

    So many many miles away…
    If I close my eyes
    and make believe,
    would the miles,
    could the miles,
    melt away?

    4/1/2012 MMT

  22. Caren

    Silence

    Silence is not golden, but black
    Black as a moonless night
    A cold and empty room
    Echoing a lonely heartbeat
    In the absence of comfort
    Understanding, compassion
    A disease that infects those
    Once open and alive
    Who broke the silence
    Once too many times
    And like a mirror, given
    Many years bad luck
    A self imposed affliction
    That guards the heart and soul
    When words do more to harm
    Than heal

    Caren E. Salas

  23. gtabasso

    Near Your Birthday, Grandpa, 36 Years After Your Death

    To you who are an angel if angels exist.
    To you whose colored pencils filled my coloring books,
    whose painting of cossacks remains unfinished,
    who taught me to read, who decorated my first cake
    and a cake in the shape of a lamb every Easter.
    You, the coconut and jelly bean eyes that weep
    every color, one for each thing I learned,
    one of each feeling I’ve known,
    one for the shield from straps, hands, board and words
    that would have undone if it weren’t for your watercolors,
    brushes, crayons and feathers, your letters
    and love poems, hard shells from a Philippine beach
    that protected you from the Japanese,
    brought you home for too short a time.

  24. Yolee

    Maria

    My curb, where the dirt-road ends and a smooth
    avenue begins, nature walk, where leaves hang by green
    and violet threads: your branches bloom with usefulness.
    You are the crackle of early life ignited by memory,

    the indoor voice of childhood, the scurry of time
    wiggling in the gym-shoe of adolescence, my
    scholarship to the school of dreams. We grew
    up, and for a while, out, like silk split from its web.

    But we moved back to each other’s in, and a feathery
    wind enabled a mission. The tapestry holds
    its darn. Sun-kiss on my window, steady rainfall,
    bonfire drawing those close at hand to listen and be

    heard, today the tree of life observes the birth
    of our calling as sisters, and your earthly debut.
    I hope you have more love than you can carry
    within the skirt of your heart.

  25. just Lynne

    I just found out about this challenge tonight, so I’m catching up. Lately my poems are sparse and simple, trying to capture a moment.

    April 2, 2012.

    she said she couldn’t understand me
    “an accent?”
    “no
    “I just talk too fast”

    “but your friends can understand you, right?”

    I smiled

  26. kingac

    Wow… time has flown by, and I almost missed out on another PAD sorry this one is late..

    Pretentious Slumber

    radiating heat
    skin barely touching
    the brush of a knee
    calves whispering
    neither of us moving

    trite affectations plus
    caustic libations
    equal pretentious slumber

    minutes multiply
    entropic silence
    becoming deafening
    defining the status
    of what wouldn’t be us

    – John Pupo

  27. Dear Dean

    There once was a lady from Milay,
    Who texted all night and all day.
    Her cell bill so intense, she couldn’t recompense.
    Now she cries all night and all day.

    (Just could not be serious today)
    Iris

  28. Marcia Gaye

    Thx Rosemary. Glad to give you a chuckle. I’m not recognizing your name, but then I have a terrible memory for names. This is my fourth year in the PAD neighborhood, and I’m never prepared! Happy to know you.

  29. Ann M

    I Mailed it in Mexico

    I mailed it in Mexico,
    a postcard about
    the dust dry valleys, winding
    mountain roads,
    and a sea too rough to swim.
    At sunset, we walked
    in the shallows while
    the surfers tossed and
    twisted on the breaking waves–
    you were almost sucked under
    while on the sand,
    women sold strings of beads
    and a horse galloped by.
    That wasn’t in the postcard,
    which I dropped in a red mailbox
    with little hope that
    it would find its way home.

  30. Arrvada

    End of Discussion
    By
    Arrvada
    Do it
    No
    Yes
    No
    A single syllable argument
    Me myself and I make
    Again and again
    I argue with myself
    Do I or don’t i
    Does it really matter
    How much is at stake?
    Perhaps nothing
    Perhaps everything
    At least my insanity
    If I don’t shut up!

  31. ratgirl

    And I wake myself, screaming.

    The night terrors are bulls running beneath a sagging balcony
    held together by paint chips and dead termites.
    I huddle, balled up against the chipping brick, squealing
    with the strained hinges at the throttle of hooves. But then you,
    delicious as summer raspberries, indolent as a sun drunk tiger,
    lean against the crumbling railing, all your bones
    adjusting effortlessly to the sway like a fox trot. Deadly nimble, you smoke cigarettes
    with strange and stale grandfather names like Winston, Chesterfield,
    and the confidence of a film star before cancer came along.
    Through the slats, cattle run in a braided rope of bodies,
    A tight and desperate line of muscle and sweat, hooves compacting the sand,
    grinding scattered syringes and bloodied cotton balls into shards
    and a frothy tan soup of scat. I’m too scared to grab onto your
    calm extended hand or your belief that my bulls are imaginary
    as candy petaled roses, and nothing I can say
    will draw you away from that edge, toward safety. So we stand
    unmoving, trapped frozen in the glass bubble of a protracted minute
    despite stampeding time. We share
    a cooperative paralysis, each wishing we could hold the other
    down, to protect them from their vaporous delusions

  32. Karen31

    “I Offer my Broken Heart to a New Love”

    Here, hold this –
    do you like it? I made it
    for you. I hope you like it.
    Does it fit in your hand?
    Funny, isn’t it, it fits
    in mine, too. Roll it around in your fingers.
    See the scars, the nicks? From testing, is all, no one else
    but you and I
    have ever even held it.
    For you, it will be smooth as a promise.
    I made it orange, like the sun;
    I made it flash to help you
    smile. Did it stop? Drop it, go ahead,
    and the stars will shine inside
    again. I hope you like it.
    The equator is just a starting point
    but if you lay your hand across that seam
    you can control the world.
    My heart is like a ball. Let me roll it to you.

  33. taylor graham

    RIVER GUITAR

    Stones we had leftover
    from the hike, boulder-hopping
    as far as we could upstream.
    Weary as a mummy –

    suddenly
    wide awake in the dark.
    Scraps of song from somewhere
    years and trails away,

    wind howling things gone-by.
    How many miles
    from roadhead, take me back
    country, forgotten fingers

    on the strings of a guitar. Fingertip
    voices of wind.
    The voice whispering
    almost human words was river,

    or wind, a friend dead
    in the moonlight. Midnight
    making sense of darkness
    translating a star.

  34. Golden Rule

    As I sit and reflect
    I decided to write this letter to you
    who I use to reject.
    I can admit
    Its not that I doubted you
    but to be honest
    I didnt know much about you.
    The more I searched for your meaning
    The more I realized
    I may be searching in vain.
    Now I realize that the very window to my heart was stained
    But now I have a different view
    because what I have experienced the past 5 years
    feels so brand new
    So its to you, love, that I write this letter
    and my hope is this
    that I continue to experience you forever.

  35. Catslen1

    You look at me sadly from across the table
    And tell me that you love me
    Yet you ask me to change as if I were easily able
    Why is it so hard to love me, for just me.

    You are saying our communication needs to be better
    yet here we are, talking, why can’t you see?
    I listen as you share on how I could be stellar
    Why is it so hard to love me, for just me.

    You continue to talk and express all your concerns
    Sharing the changes you need so you can be happy with me.
    I nod and agree to try as my nervous stomach churns,
    And sadly give up hope of ever being loved just for me.

  36. lionmother

    If it’s April, it must be April PAD Challenge. Of course, I’m here late as always, but I have been looking at the array of poetry here and so happy to see so many familiar names. I’ve been devoting a lot of my time to prose this year, but I couldn’t resist doing this too.:) Here is my attempt:

    Bills

    They lay in their glassine envelopes
    taunting me with their placid outsides
    When I gather them from the tiny metal
    box where they are placed I have hope
    that some of those envelopes will be
    a chance for happiness and not the
    numbing sameness of monotonous
    figures depleting my small store of
    cash for the glory of corporations

  37. hohlwein

    Cryptic

    You talk to me by throwing a bicycle down in my path
    Or showing me that what I think is a shooting star
    is a plane falling out of the sky.
    And so I know my fear.
    Past and Future.

    You tell me something
    by placing a harlequin jester
    there in my living room.
    He takes me by his velvet-gloved hand
    And pulls me, gently.

    I don’t know what you mean
    by that
    but I think
    it has to do
    with now.

  38. Sheryl

    At first I was disappointed at the format, but then I realized it is easier to read with double spacing. Maybe I can read poems without as much white space, since it is provided. Hooray! I will do what I can, but must not be careless with my “tempus”, or it will “fugit” for sure. I especially enjoyed Chorespeak. I think that was its name. Acts of service must be your love language.

  39. black_mamba

    When you do without, you look within

    What is this life I’m picturing?

    What is this life I’m living?

    As I continue to fight in this losing battle

    I remain faceless

    I used to lose myself in your eyes

    Now more and more I start to lose my soul

    We used to be in love

    I remember when we were happy

    When you and me equaled us

    Now all of a sudden you’ve changed into a man I hardly recognize

    I used to adore you

    Now I’ve come to fear you

    My heart no longer beats

    And I just happen to be eight months pregnant

    As I stand in the mirror

    Covering up another bruise

    I wonder if Cover girl can conceal my frayed pride

    Or my emotional scars

    I wonder how many blows to the head will it take for you to kill me

    I’m not afraid of dying

    If anything, I’m afraid of living

    Afraid of existing

    Afraid of leaving

    Afraid of starting over

    Afraid for my son

    Maybe I can be reincarnated

    Maybe I can come back as a bird

    And learn how to fly

  40. dextrousdigits

    Mirror Mirror

    The mirror grabs my eyes
    I see a flaw on my face,
    acne at my age, “oh noooooo”.

    As I look in the mirror,
    I see my 14 year-old face staring back at me
    acne in the same spot and a couple others.
    As I stare at the mirror,
    my mother’s face can be seen as she
    looks into the room as she is going down the hall.
    She puts down the items in her arms
    and looks at me, What wrong she says?
    “Mom how can I go to school looking like this?”
    “We can fix this up so it is hardly noticeable”
    She came back with her hands full of makeup
    and brushed a little of one then another on my
    face and sure enough it was hard to see.

    The whole time she was fixing up my face
    she talked to me. “This is exactly what models,
    singers and actors do to make them look like stars.
    See you are like them, they have skin problems too,
    almost all teenagers do, but you will out grow this soon.
    There you look fine. You have no idea how beautiful you are.
    Someday soon, the guys are going to be wanting touch
    and caress this face of yours.”

    She gives me a hug and light kiss on my forehead.
    She starts to take her make up and leave
    I see her back in the mirror.
    “Mom, don’t go yet, I miss you so much.
    So often I wish you were here to see the kids,
    share in our lives and to just talk to when I
    feel overwhelmed.”

    She turns and looks right at me
    “When you need me just look in the mirror
    and if there is no mirror handy,
    look inside there are many nooks and crannies
    where I reside.

  41. Beth Rodgers

    Hi all! Good to be back this year! Sorry I’m a day late with this one, but I thought about it yesterday and then got busy with spring cleaning and such. Looking forward to this month! Here’s my poem for April 1st:

    PERSISTENCE

    Rather than struggle
    Have faith
    As there is always a way to push past
    The obstacles
    And weather the distance that you
    Feel lies between you and
    Finality.

  42. Jane Beal - sanctuarypoet.net

    READING POETRY IN IOWA

    Iowa is green with summer.
    There was a thunderstorm yesterday.
    When dusk comes, the fireflies will all come out.

    Now it is supper-time.
    The farm-wife stands on the back-porch.
    She rings a little, silver bell.

    In a far-off field, her young son lies on his back.
    He is drowsy and half-dreaming.
    An open book has fallen from his hands to the earth.

    II.

    The poet said she was young and beautiful,
    in a green field, when she wandered far away from her mother
    to pick purple flowers, fragrant with springtime.

    She pulled a beautiful one up by its roots
    and a horse’s head emerged after it, then a chariot,
    as she stumbled back from the pit opening before her feet.

    A dark king stood in the chariot—
    he seized her by the hair and dragged her away,
    underground, where she could barely breathe.

    The flower-girl wandered aimlessly for years, listening
    to her mother weeping in her dreams,
    sitting by dark rivers, always thirsty.

    If ever she escaped the darkness, it seemed
    she was always dragged back again in winter,
    and she forgot again the sunlit upper-world.

    One day, a white woman crossed the Acheron—
    she’d been bitten by a snake on the heel,
    and she’d died on her wedding day.

    Her memories of light were faint,
    but in her dreams she heard the singing
    and the harp of her distant husband.

    The flower-girl and the white woman held hands in the dark
    and told one another not to be afraid. They fed one another
    the pomegranate seeds of forgotten joy.

    III.

    The poet rests his face in his hands.
    (This was a long time ago.)
    The book is finished, but who will read it?

    He is tired and does not think
    he can pray. If he prays, his prayer
    has no words.

    His heart beats in rhythm to the memory
    of a psalm he read in translation:
    all my fountains are in you.

    Jane Beal

  43. Katrin

    Sorry I’m late.
    I hit all the red lights.
    There was construction on every other thought.
    And I got a flat idea.
    However, I’ve now abandoned my vehicle
    and am ready to catch up to
    the rest of the party, as I flop along
    in my sparkly diphthongs

  44. rachelhyde

    Dear Muse,

    I write to nothing and on nothing:
    a memory of unattainable smile,
    of the bulls I bled at the feet
    of your novel conversation.

    Muse, I miss your introductions.
    There is nothing new, now,
    everyone here reads the same words,
    thinks the same thoughts.

    Muse, I miss your confusion.
    I am left to confuse myself,
    blindly follow my own line
    in and out of labyrinthine wants.

    Once I thought to thank you,
    send you my opus, scrawled
    in your name and full
    of allusions meant for us alone,

    but then I realized how odd
    that would seem,
    out of context, perhaps
    even inappropriate.

    Besides, there is no opus—
    but if, Muse, you write
    just a shadow in return, I will
    follow into the open.

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