Saturday, April 30, 2016

Napowrimo 30

I think this is the first time I've ever successfully completed NAPOWRIMO! Woot woot!

The Goddess Washes Dishes

She washes them by hand – she wants to feel
This quintessential part of life, this scrubbing away
Of assemblages of coal, garlic, potato skin,
the peeling of of gossamers of grease,
this unraveling of everything
that baked inside the bottom of the pan,
refused to let go. She scrapes it all away,
she lets it soak, she hums along with the tintinnabulation
of water meeting water, pooling redolent, scented
with the dulcet smell of pomegranate soap.

She breathes it in, finds peace in this dance
Of hands and sponge and dinner plate,
And salad bowl. She sighs with satisfaction
As the flip on the garbage disposal
swallowing everything that ever ailed her

Down its hatch with a mellifluous groan.


I can't say I'm incredibly proud of any of my poems, but some do show promise. Let May be the month of picking up the pieces, of finding something beautiful in these shards. 

Napowrimo 29

Today's task, the day 30 prompt, was to translate a poem. I've always been afraid of translating, but I took a swing at it today.

The Rainy Day

At least that was the story, shit.
The headlights and fender were torn off –
Clean. The adjuster came, two hours
Later – the
Other,
Arrived. What shit, what money, these things of life create --
The deductible, the rain and the train,
when I would go to yoga with serene karma, a Tibetan monk

The rain, days of rain-soaked plumage,
What is it going to create? A café, three readings, receptions,
Concentrating on the money coming and going between buses that stops

Books, breath

Rain of grammatical indulgence,
Snug,
Breathing,
Words that fall closer
To the adjuster that faces the headlights

What a defense 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Napowrimo 28

This is in response to the backwards story. Whenever I'm at a loss for words, I write about Eve. She never fails to inspire me. Here's her story, backwards. It might be interesting to play with this further.

Returning to Eden

She never looked back.
She regretted nothing,
knew it had to end this way
as her bare feet stepped from carpet grass
to brambles. She felt pleasure blossom
in her heart as it fluttered.
Her lips stained with mauve,
She licked them clean.
Juice dribbled from mouth to chin,
Down her chest, marking her beautiful
To herself. She brought the fruit
To her lips, a plum, a pomegranate,
An apple, a pear, the details
Depend on who’s doing the telling,
But always it was juicy, always
It was sweet, always it was red
Red, the color of fire and flame,
Desire. She plucked it from the tree
In a single tug. It fit perfectly
In her palm, designed for her.
The color red flashed against the green,
So much green, so little of anything else.
She could smell the ripened flesh,
About to fester underneath
All that perfect sunshine.
She felt a slithering across her feet,
A whisper in her ear, a hiss
In her heart. She didn’t know
Her own face from his, her own name
From his, her own body from his.
She was the darkness to his light,
The silence to his noise,
The night to his day.
She was made to be small,
To obey, to nod her head,
Her lips made to be sealed
Like an envelope, addressed
To him. She was born into a world,
Forged from a rib of someone else,
Determined to define herself
In terms of her own body,
Her own flesh, her own mind.

At first, she was an afterthought. 

Napowrimo 27

Will I get caught up?! Maybe! My weekend looks pretty free :)

Today's prompt was to write a poem about something you remember.
I remember as a kid my dad always had cut fruit ready for snacking on the kitchen counters. Always. Without fail. I'm a fruitaholic, though I'm also a very lazy person. This typically results in me wanting fruit but not wanting to go through the work of washing, slicing, and storing. I know, how ridiculous, right? So I thought of that this afternoon while prepping a melon.

Slicing a Melon One Spring Afternoon

I remember eating melon as a child,
How miraculous the slices appeared
On the kitchen table, the color of sunset,
The color of meadow, the color of blush.

Always fruit on the table. How did it get there?
My father, standing at the kitchen counter,
Always chopping. How blissful to live
In this land of plenty. I remember this today,

As I stand at my kitchen counter,
Halving the world of a musk melon
Along its meridian.

There is a part of me that longs
For that simplicity, the savoring of sweetness
By itself, no separating flesh from rind,
No sharp edges, no blades, no counter top
To wipe clean, no chunks to pack away.
A part of me that wants to return
Back into the garden of plenty
Where everything was provided,
To cling back to the vine.

As I split the melon open, the seeds
Glisten in a slant of sunshine
Streaming in through my kitchen window
That could really use a wash.
I spoon them out with the membrane,
Gobs of ginger flesh, soft like the feathers
Of a baby bird about to leap into sky.

I wriggle the seeds free;
a few resist the loosening
as I spoon out the membrane,
cube the flesh into chunks
that will fit snugly inside

my watering mouth. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Napowrimo 25 and an update

Life. It's got me again.

I've had some health issues again this week that have got me sidetracked, more mentally than anything else.

On Sunday evening, I had the strangest experience. For about fifteen minutes, I lost my ability to speak in full sentences, my ability to see out of one eye, and then the feeling on the same side of my face and arm. It was incredibly scary. The feeling passed and I was ok (I'm still ok) but it scared the crap out of me.

If you know me, you know I hate going to the doctor, so I went home and hoped I'd feel normal in the morning. And I did, only, I was really worried and scared, and I couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong with me. I put off going to the doctor until Tuesday morning and went to my family doctor, who scared the bejeezus out of me by telling me I'd had a stroke. A mini-stroke. He didn't want to alarm me, he said, but it is very serious. He said if anything, anything like that ever happens again, it's immediate ER. That's not something you go home and go to sleep with, apparently (who knew?? ok I did...).

I got set up with a neurologist appointment, and MRI, and some blood work. Today, I had my neurologist appointment, and she actually was quite reassuring to me and took my freak-out mode from 9 to about a 2. She thinks it wasn't a mini-stroke and cleared me to return to normal activity. Her best guess is severe migraine headaches (my super power is a tolerance for pain, so this makes sense that I'd have ignored that), but I'm scheduled in for a bunch more tests and scans to check out my brain to rule out the TIA stroke and brain aneurysms, which run in my family. Fun. Guess what I'll be doing this summer?!?!

So, because of this brush with mortality, the idea of being vulnerable comes to my mind again. Today as I was at work, I thought to myself, what if I died? Would I be happy with how my life's played out? Would I have any regrets? What would I be most proud of? Most ashamed of? Time is precious, and this is a reminder to make time for what really matters. To write poetry that matters. To teach like it matters because damn it, it does.

I think Hell for me would be a life without words. I can't imagine that life. Words are how I find meaning, they're my resonant source of power, my strength. What if I didn't have that anymore? What a gift it is to have them, still, today.

I'm thinking about a lot of different things today, trying to make sense of this experience and put it into words. Words.



Stroke

As a child, I feared him –
The heavy clanking of his walker,
His heavy breathing, his heaving,
The way he carried himself across the living room,
A globe filled with frailty on his back,
The way his eyes narrowed on me,
Hinted that he saw me, really saw me,
his mouth, an open lacuna,
that only silence and spittle stumbled from,
no words, no, never any words.

This was my uncle, a man who once
Ran marathons, delivered babies
Into this great wide world, laughed
A vivacious laugh, played guitar, sang
With my father around a campfire,
Could make the most delicious s’mores
Before he’d had a stroke.

And today I fear him still
Even though he’s miles away,
Tucked safe in some nursing home.
He’s what I fear more than anything
Else in this great wide world.

I sit in the doctor’s office,
Cold and looking for something
To do with my fumbling hands
As the doctor’s worried eyes
Settle on my face, as he delivers
The news – a mini-stroke,
A warning stroke. Does it run
In your family? My body goes limp,
A heavy stone, the weight of mortality
Heavy on my back. I’m not even thirty
Fucking years old.  I run marathons.
I’m a vegetarian.  I laugh. I sing,
recite poems, create worlds
with words, but now I imagine them,
Piles and piles of words,
every one I’ve ever written or spoken,
One by one, dripping like honey
back into my mouth, an open lacuna 
swallowing everything past my lips, 
over my limp tongue, down my throat 
and into the fire of my belly in silence.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Napowrimo 24

I'm still a few days behind on the prompt thing, but I responded to the earth day one today and wrote about the prickly pear. 



Self Portrait as a Prickly Pear

Admire my beauty from afar –
Each spring, I’ll dawn the finest pastel hues,

Canary, blush and alabaster
Drape them from my body like accessories

And wear them proud against the Texas sky.
These bright colors are my favorite –

They compliment my avocado eyes,
The smoothness of my skin.

It’s the season, after all, when the sweaters
Come off, the arms go bare, the feet

Go naked. I’m not exception,
sitting pretty on the monte’s edge.

I like the way the hummingbirds take notice,
Whet their tongues visit for a spell.

I spritz myself with pollen,
Wear the scent of spring,

Of sweet seduction. I like the power
This beauty brings, the opening

Of petals at my will. I raise my pads
To the sky, an offering of myself,

Bask in the glory of my own beauty,
Digging my toes deep into the soil –

Yes, it’s miraculous I look this good
Even in drought, even in rain,

I’m that kind of tough, rugged.
But don’t misunderstand,

These blooms weren’t made for you,
To catch your eye, to tempt your fingers.

Come in for an agave kiss
With your tender hands,

Wrap your arms around me in embrace

And I’ll prove to you love hurts.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Napowrimo 23

Prompt: Write a sonnet!

Lady Sisyphus

What did I do to earn this nasty fate?
I’m working at the bookstore on the weekend,
Organizing magazines that hate
To stay put on the shelves. I’ll have to spend
The evening setting chaos into order,
Laboring like Sisyphus in vain –
There’s always one more porno in the corner
The boulder’s rolling down the hill again.

This is my punishment for asking questions
When my lot in life is just to nod
My head, absorb another of life’s lessons,
Accept my place beneath the boss, my god
For these eight hours of my life. As long

as I am poor I’ll have to play along.

Napowrimo 22

Witness Report

We were only picking flowers,
Honest, near the schoolyard’s edge,
By the wall where the sunflowers
Grow tallest, where we could get lost
Together in the labyrinth of them,
Giggling, running, holding hands
Like we always did, like two best friends.

The flowers so tall no one could see us
By that chain link fence that separates
The schoolyard from the outside world.
She stood there, clutching the metal
With both hands, staring off into the abyss
Of a laurel tree’s perse blossoms.

Wouldn’t those look nice braided in your hair?
She asked, you’d be a princess,
Don’t you want to be a princess?
I’ve always wanted to be a princess of something,
Of some kingdom far far away.

And she leapt the fence with a single bound,
I swear I tried to stop her, called her name,
As she pulled the lowest limb down,
Her ponytail bouncing with her movements.
She grabbed fistful after fistful of blossoms
Giggling delirious at the sudden freedom,
And I watched from a safe distance,
Held the chain links in my hand and swallowed hard,
Half wishing I was as brave as her,
Half glad I wasn’t going to receive
The inevitable punishment for leaving school grounds.

Scaredy cat, scaredy cat, scaredy cat,
Well, you know how she is.

A car pulled up like a chariot, all black,
Roared, honked the horn, called out her name,
Persephone. She looked back at me and grinned.
The passenger door opened. She stood there
On the threshold. Don’t go! I called,
But part of me was curious, too,
Wanted to join her in that place of mystery.

And then she disappeared into the portal
Of the open car door, the tinted windows
Veiling her face, her wide blue eyes, her smile.

That’s all I know, I swear, I swear, I swear. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Napowrimo 21

I'm behind again -_- why do these days have to be so busy??

Today's task was to write a kenning poem. I kinda sorta did it and also broke the rules.

You are

You are
Large, the heat-creator,
My day swirls around your needs
Like planets swirl around the sun.
Globe-devourer,
hunger-creator,
earth-rumbler.
You always want more,
Need more,
Morning, noon, and night,
Swallowing pancakes like worlds,
Sandwiches like stars,
Salads like atoms,

Fusing them together,
Energy-begetter.

You are my catch-basin of all,
Of desire, where everything
Ends up, life-nourisher,
A pillow for the head.

You are the life-cradler,
Underneath this skin,
Miracle-generator,
a tiny place where cells
join and leap into being.

You are a truth-knower –
Rising in hope
And sinking in despair,
A gut-wrencher,
A pain-holder,
An everything-swallower,
Spit, food, hopes, sadness
Into your darkness
Into your light.

You are
Always expanding
With my breath,
Always contracting
With my breath.
I suck you in
Hold you in,
You jean-filler,
You button-buster,
You cheek-flusher,
Embarrassment,
Hide you from the world,
You skin-stretcher,
From the times I fed you,
Denied you everything
Because your wailing
Brought me comfort.

You are
The tickle-receiver
The giggle-generator,
Meadow of peach fuzz
And the softest of my skin --
The panza,
The road, the trodden trail,
Portal to another world

Before the world began.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Napowrimo 20

This prompt was to write a poem about how to do something.
I'm pretty good at eating healthy, I think. I have a strange diet and some strange dietary habits. I reimagined some of today's contemporary diet advice through the lens of Eve. I wonder what she'd have to say about some of the crazy diets out there. 

What to Eat, According to Eve

I’m tired of commandments – thou shalt not
eat carbs, no sugar. Saturated fat
is the snake in the grass, french fries,
the enemy of that gap between your thighs,
A concave stomach, a well-trained waist,
A butt that takes up no space.

To be an object of desire you must embrace emptiness–
nibble little meals throughout the day,
a timid doe munching baby carrots,
a lean cuisine, a slimfast shake
to keep your appetite for life at bay.
Practice portion control.
Go paleo. Go gluten free. Go vegan.
Twelve hundred calories a day and nothing more.
You must be always on the edge of hunger.

But ladies, let me tell you a secret --
I only eat what gives me pleasure,
Nothing more and nothing less.
Let's get back to basics, how food
was made for nourishing, for strength.

Eat what whets your tongue,
Your appetite, what fills your belly
With the warmth of love and satisfaction.
Eat what makes your toes curl back.
Eat what makes you moan and close your eyes
And dream of paradise, this place
Of ripened fruit waiting to be plucked.
I eat until I’m satisfied and not a swallow more.
The body knows exactly what it needs. 

Napowrimo 19

The sounds of home prompt:

The Sounds of Home

Growing up, home was a certain Eden --
A sound garden always in full bloom.

The birdsong of my brother’s laughter
My father hooting at the football game
clapping his hands like rolling thunder
at each touchdown, roaring at each loss.
A rustling of papers from my mom’s art room
like the branches of an oak rustle
as a cat leaps in. The thumping of feet
Stampeding down the hallway.
My baby brother babbling like a brook.
Somehow, this life harmonized
Into the soundtrack of a childhood.

And me, in the kitchen, standing at the stove,
Humming a sweet tune, always off key,
Chopping garlic to the rhythm of raindrops,

The hot pan sizzling like the rattle of a snake. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Napowrimo 18

I'm a few days behind in terms of the prompts, but this one's instructions was to write a poem using a specialized glossary. Lately, I've been reading up on oil terms, so...

Boom Town Lover

I was your wildcat well, a risk to take
And you went for it, spud-in, eyes closed,
Arms open wide like a fool. In love,
There is no need for coring when you know
Just what you like. Roustabout, roughneck,
tool-pusher, you, toiling without reward,
You stumbled here upon the right place,
This body a landscape of curves, the sweet
Scent of sulfur on the surface of skin.

Come with your drills and bits, come ready
To fish in this vast sea of sediment and earth.
Come without abandon, stay awhile in this place --

The moonpool was open, ready for you
To drip your toes, to submerge yourself in love,
To find that sweet payzone that gives and gives
Until there’s nothing left, a dry hole, a ghost town

Filled with memories, potholes, the dust of us. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Napowrimo 17

Will I ever get caught up? :-/

At a McDonalds in the Middle of Nowhere, Texas

Welcome to the crossroads of the world –
This place of respite for all travelers
and migrants seeking refuge from the brushland
and the endless, open roads of Texas.

I stumble in with stomach empty, bladder
Overflowing, order some familiar food to eat.
The girl who takes my order’s nails sparkle
Underneath the sheen of the florescent lights.

In the background, country music drones
A worn-out song that makes me want to sleep.  
The manager sashes from register
To register with ease. He calls my number.

I take my food and fade into the backdrop
As I watch the scene of everyman unfold –
A tale as old oak, a rugged man
Walks in and drags the dust of work across

The clean tiled floors. A smile like a firewheel
Blooms on his face. The manager slicks back
His hair and leans into the counter, whispers
To him with a wink. Their giggles boom

Like welcomed thunder just before the rain.
I’ve come to pressure wash your driveway, Carlos.
Aye, go pressure wash tus nalgas, Ed,
Carlos shouts and waves his index finger

in the air as if he’s dancing to a beat
that no one else can hear. Ed shakes his head,
laughs too, then orders a Big Mac, a coke.
Carlos packs the order like a gift

Hands it to him with a tenderness.
An older man walks in. He’s wearing sandals
with a pair of clean white socks. The cashier
asks him, Can I help you, sir? He stares,

then shakes his head. No, darling I’m beyond
any help that you can hope to give.
I’ll have a fish filet. Outside, a roar
Crescendos and then stops. The sound of footsteps

Jingling metal, grunting, then the door
Swings open. I can’t help but stop and stare –
A woman dressed in leather chaps and boots,
A faded pair of blue jeans, a bandana.

Her presence makes the restaurant go silent.
Queen of the brushland and the open road,
She lumbers in, her arms across her chest,
Orders just a diet coke to go.

She takes her giant drink with lots of ice,
Heads back outside and mounts her metal steed
As it roars and then she disappears
into the swirling dust. I finish lunch

and rise, refreshed and satisfied, prepared
to finish the long journey through the state
towards home – the southern tip of this great land

where life and love are always in full bloom.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Napowrimo 16

Just trying not to get further behind! Today, I'm writing about palm trees.

The Valley of Palms

The palm trees along highway 281
Begin popping up just south of Encino,
Their fronds waving hello,
Welcome me home. I sigh with relief –

A regal sabal stands against a slate sky,
A bit of paradise in the brushland,
Just a taste of the magic to come,
As I return to the valley, this place

I’ve learned to call home, like the palm,
Who, as I race south, multiply,
Dig their shallow roots into this soil
And claim it their own, the great-grandchildren

Of palms from the Greece
or Florida or California
Who grow tall and proud,
tower over the nopales,

The mesquite, the huisache.
The palms, like me, are immigrants
To this landscape. Honeybees drink
From the queen palms nectar.

Kisskadees have learned to feast
On dates. The valley welcomes
Us with open arms, a gulf breeze,
A tight hug, a kiss on the cheek.


Like the palms, I’ve found my home.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Napowrimo 15

I'm behind. Bleh. Trying to get caught up, one feverish poem at a time. Yesterday's prompt was to write about doubles, pairs.

The Woman in the Mirror

Her watching eyes are always on me. They police
Every move I make. I see her face

At the most inopportune times.
This morning, while strolling down the street

Past a line of coffee and gelato shops,
The sweet smells of espresso wafting out,

She reminds me to suck in my stomach,
To take up less space. While at the museum

This afternoon, my palms on a cool glass case,
my eyes fixated on some old newspaper article

about Ma Ferguson, her scowling face,
and then there’s mine, my eyes wide,

my mouth agape, my hair a wilderness
my fingers immediately work to tame,

a smile unfolds to soften my face.
I see her while I’m waiting in line,

And I glance down at my phone,
The black screen, my chin almost double.

She reminds me to stand up straight,
Extend the neck like a lamb, sacrificed,

waiting for a set of teeth to sink in.
As I dress for the evening, I stand

In front of the full length mirror
Face her scrutinizing eyes as she reminds me

What colors and cuts make me look
Most like a fragile flower waiting to be plucked,

Blending in with the landscape, quiet, lovely.
When I awake in the middle of the night,

half-drunk with sleep and dream, and I begin
to wander off into the depths of my own wishes

and desires, when I’m just about ready to believe
My sole purpose in life is something other

Than being seen, a moving object of beauty,
Her face reminds me as I stumble in the bathroom,

Flip on the light switch, gaze into her eyes.
This is how the world sees me.


I can’t escape it. No woman can. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Napowrimo 14

I really hate these form prompts. Today's was to write a san-san. A what? Ugh.

Nothing special happened yesterday –
I sloughed the cocoon of blankets from my body,
Made my way through the labyrinth of traffic
To order nothing special at the café
To slough the sleepiness away, a cup of coffee.
Somehow, I’d make it through; I always do.

This living thing, this special journey, it isn’t magic.

I’m just a monarch in maze continents, passing through.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Napowrimo 13

Today's prompt was to write a poem based off of a fortune cookie.



Your smile will tell you what makes you feel good


You can’t force a flower to open
Into all of its glory, you can’t stick
Your fingers inside a tight bud
And pull out the soft golden petals
In the same way I won’t smile
While, walking down the street,
When a stranger tells me to smile,
My face to beautiful for a frown
A frown that causes wrinkles
a resting bitch face
Because in this world, a smile
Is only for pleasure, mine,
Not yours, like a flower
Opens on its own time,
When the sun’s angle is right,
When the bees are humming,
When the gentle breeze tickles 
her stem and she bursts into laughter

Like a dandelion turning to snow.

Napowrimo 12

Yesterday's prompt was interesting -- write an index poem. I looked at my bookshelf and pulled out Stealing the Language by Alicia Ostriker for some good old fashioned feminist theory.

Index Poem

Male
an image of divinity

always shining from above. 
I look up at him, taller, broader, bigger 
Mistaken for stronger, smarter.

Heroism

knight in shining armor, prince charming,
the one who saves me from myself, 
opens the jar of pickles,

Rationalism

What you are, 
everything I lack. 
I see myself as night, 
wild and howling at the moon, 
woman in the attic, 
hair like midnight in her face.

Father figure

Father, Father Father 
in heaven looking down at me. 
Another man to disappoint. 
Another man who wants my flesh 
scrubbed clean of my own scent.

Sexuality

you are desire, 
I, 
the sunflower waiting 
to be plucked, 
washed in sunrays, 
petals unfolding, 
quivering, always ready.

Violence


 when flesh meets flesh meets bone. 
Within this index, that’s all we’ll be, 
a tearing apart, a loosening of self. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Napowrimo 11

Running in the Texas Hill Country

I reached the top of the hill, breathless,
Feeling like a god who flies forever,
My legs the immortal trunks of oaks,
my heart a burning sun inside my chest.

Over my head hung cloud of slate,
About to burst into a gentle drizzle.
Down below, green is everywhere –
The wild rye in full bloom, rolling
With pastels against farmland,
The neat rows, the pasture
Where a herd of goats grazes
as if the world were standing still.

To my right, a tractor rusts, returning to the earth
In a field of sunlight between two cypresses.
As I begin my dissent, a field of bluebonnets
Come into view, so beautiful they take my breath.

How perfect to be here in this moment,
With the smell of rain on my skin,
The taste of sun on my lips,
The skydancer’s song in my ear,

And I realize how short this season is,
How life is far too short
To take everything in,
How one day I, too, will dry up

Like a blue bonnet in May.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Napo 10

Napo 10 was super easy. It's basically a poem that writes itself -- look at your bookshelf and write down the titles in the spines of the books. Use those titles to write your own poem. I'm pretty proud of my bookshelf, so here's what I found:

Ruin

Each and her,
the other fugitives and strangers,
everyone who doesn't fit,
who lives in the maverick room
with a view of the middle way,
who know the feeling of duende,
when bent to the earth,
the boundlessness of form,
the making of the poem and love,
all the facts about the moon.

They are invisible (wo)men, who,
were, too, fearfully and wonderfully made,
love the color purple in excess,
read Lolita in Tehran.

When will you join these rogue apostles
from the outer bands,
where good ideas come from?

Those who aren't afraid to dance
with Lucifer at the Starlight,
those ordinary geniuses
who pity the beautiful
as they dance backwards in Texas,
tear every seam apart?

Without them, this will never be
a beautiful country. You'll never
become another standing at the window.

Napowrimo 9

So...

I didn't post yesterday. Let me explain why.

I frickin' ran a half marathon, that's why!

I wanted to blog a bit about the experience, since it kind of relates to my poem below, and also, well, it was a beautifully emotional day for me. If you've been following this blog, you know that my running is my rebellion -- it's me saying FU to my health issues, it's about living life to the fullest because you really don't know what tomorrow's going to bring. Running makes me feel alive. 

Anyway, this was my second half marathon, and it was an amazing experience. I ran with my dad and also, B joined us and ran the 5k. The event took place in Luckenbach, a tiny nothing of a town made famous by a country song. It's adorable. I figured this race would be a good second half to run for a few reasons. 1. It was an excuse to visit the Texas hill country in spring (wildflowers much?) 2. It's one of my dad's favorite places since he's a musician, 3. It's one of B's favorite places because he's a... beer drinker? and 4. Oh, unlimited free beer for runners. Yeah, maybe 4 is the main reason :D 5. Because why the hell not? Dad and I had been training for about three months together. It's been great.

So yesterday, race day, we head over to the race location at an insane hour. The gun goes off and the race begins. About a minute into the run, I'm holding back tears of joy as I make my way out of the tiny town and into a grove of wildflowers. It's breathtakingly beautiful, and I was just overflowing with joy and gratefulness at being able to do this crazy running thing. The entire run was this rural country road, through mostly farm and untouched brush land. 

My euphoric joy lasted about three miles. That's when blisters kicked in. Ugh.

I was able to shake it off, though, to concentrate on the run ahead of me, and to enjoy most of it (except the hills, those damn hills). At round mile 10, I started losing focus again and concentrated on the idea of free beer at the finish line. 

I ended up finishing at 1 hour, 58 minutes and 59 seconds. I'm immensely proud! I crossed the finish line sprinting, my hands in the air, a victorious smile on my face. My goal for the race was to finish in under 2 hours, and I did just that. Victory! My dad finished before me! He's so amazing. 

The after party was just as wonderful as the run itself. I was greeted by B and my dad, and we proceeded to drink and be merry for the entire morning and into the afternoon. There was nonstop live music, BBQ, and free beer until noon. It was so euphoric -- a fitting end to a beautiful race. 

As I sat there at the picnic table, gathering my thoughts and drinking my second beer, I felt strangely at peace, at home. As the afternoon came, the runners began to filter out and the typical Luckenbach crowd of country music fans, bikers, and locals began pouring in to replace them. Everyone was so friendly -- an elderly couple sat next to me and we ended up having a wonderful conversation in the lull of the music. Why do I feel so at home, so at peace, I wondered. I looked around and saw a sea of faces that looked like me -- all whiteness all around. I'm not used to that living in the valley, and part of me felt a little bit ashamed for relishing that feeling of sameness. I also noticed that, well, all the singers were men, spinning narratives about men's lives from men's perspectives. The world seemed "right" ... but in reality, it was just "centered." 

I tried articulating my thoughts, had a little conversation about them with B about the lack of diversity, with my dad about the gendered nature of the space. I joked that an inter-sectional feminist needed to take the mic and read some poetry to bring Luckenbach back down to earth.

Anyway, when I got back to the hotel, I couldn't shake my thoughts about the experience -- well, that and also the euphoric/torturous experience of the run itself (did I mention blisters? because wow). Then, this morning, I remembered my task of poeming and thought, well darn, I should write about the run. I checked out the Napowrimo website and the prompt was pretty much perfect. Write about something you're ashamed to admit. I'm ashamed to admit that the whole country music culture thing was, well, appealing, even as a woman, even as a feminist, a white feminist who's trying to educate herself and be the best feminist she can be, though of course falling short at times. So here's me trying to play around with that idea.

At the Country Music Concert

As I sat there at the picnic table,
Sipping beer and tapping my foot
To the beat of a Merle Haggard song,
For a moment, I felt like I was home
And the world felt right again.

There were four young bucks on the stage --
One man twanged at the steel guitar,
Another thumped the drums to the beat
Of my heart, the guitarist nodded his head,
his body moving to the music, the singer crooned
A tired story in a low drawl
that made it almost sound romantic
as he held the microphone up to his lips.

A little girl danced with her mother
In front of the stage, her dress
The colors of the hill country in spring.
She wore a tiny pair of lavender boots.

I fantasized about her life
Unfolding like a country song
In verses – falling in love
With a man in a cowboy hat
Tight, rugged jeans, a sweat-stained shirt.

She could ride a rusted pick-up
Into the country, make babies,
master the art of making pecan pie.

Our world could be simple –
I want to follow her into a place where
Neighbors know us,
Think like us
Talk like us
Look like us
Believe like us.

In a place like that, my own daughter
Could have more answers than questions,
she could know her place in this world,
a girl in a country song who falls in love
With the star of the football team
And disappears into a silent whorl of dust.

Life could taste like stale beer
Dust, feel like a fist to the eye.

Simpler days – it’s what everyone dreams of.

I tapped my foot, fell into the crooner’s voice
Like a trance. I took another sip of Shiner,
It was getting warm, I’d been there all afternoon.
I breathed in deep the smell of smoke, of BBQ,
And for a moment, I’m ashamed to admit,

This hardcore feminist felt like she was home.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Napowrimo 8

Today's prompt is to write a poem about a flower. I love writing about flowers, so this wasn't too tough.

My Husband Never Buys Me Flowers

I see them every Saturday, those men
Cradling a bouquet of grocery store flowers –
Usually dyed daisies, sometimes carnations,
Hydrangeas, a single rose in rouge.

It’s enough to make a gal feel jipped
Out of romance, if it’s supposed to look
Like this – a nervous man in a suit,
Standing in line, tapping his foot,
As I empty my shopping cart
Behind him in line, as he pays
For the flowers, disappears into the night.

This is the image of what love is supposed to be –
Men on white horses
Men charming
Men buying flowers
Men in clean pressed suits
Men coming in to save the day

My husband, at home, slumbers on the couch
After a long day of work in the garden,
Trimming back the chaos of the oak
Whose shade was suffocating my marigolds.

His hands bloom with blisters
Like the rouge petals of a rose.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Napowrimo 6 and 7

The going is getting tough. I'm chugging along.

Yesterday I got so tied up with grading essays that my brain went numb. Then I went for a run, seven miles. And by the time I got home it was eleven in the evening and I collapsed into the wonder of slumber.

Needless to say, I didn't get any writing done.

Today was tough, too, but I found bits and pieces of time to put together two shitty poems. Ugh. One I wrote in the brief moment I had before class. The other I wrote after my night class, lying on the sofa, my brain only halfway turned on. I'm beat. Tomorrow I'm traveling. I'm thinking that, on the road, I'll have some time to scribble something if B does the majority of the driving as he oft does. We shall see.

An Ode to Carbohydrates

I’m told you’re bad for me –
That you’ll linger on the stomach,
Go straight for the thighs.

Diabetes. Obesity. Stress
All come from you.
You’re the enemy, white bread
Today’s forbidden fruit
That I pluck from the garden
Of the bread aisle, shamefully
Toss into my cart, hide it beneath
The tubs of kale.

I crave you --
That shot of sugar to the blood,
That spring in my step,
That energy only you can give.
How can this be bad?

Aren’t there worse sins
A woman can commit
Than filling her stomach up,
Than satisfying that hunger
Than giving in to the temptation
Of finally being satisfied?



The End of Love

He says we’ll meet one of three ends --
will our universe of connections be ripped apart
Like atoms, will we simply freeze

And drift away from one another, the end
A pool of darkness like a pupil, a part
Of your body that makes me freeze

Still when you look into my eyes, the end
An infinity away. Or will we part
Ways the way the winter freezes,

Freezes and thaws, a cycle that never ends?

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Napo 5

This evening, the prompt was to write about an heirloom seed. I chose the Sleeping Beauty Cantaloupe. 

Sleeping Beauty

These globes of sweetness
Nestle together as they ripen
in neat rows in West Texas.

Imagine spending all season,
A lifetime, hanging on the vine,
Cheek to cheek, rind to rind,
Basking in the glory of the sun.

How can such sweetness grow
Against this landscape of ruggedness,
Against the jagged mountains,
The unforgiving heat, this land
Of thorns, ticks, and snakes?

It’s her tough skin, her rind
That keeps the moisture
The sugar, the ginger flesh
Tucked away as she slumbers.

Do you imagine she’s dreaming
of the moment she’ll be plucked,
the kiss of the knife, the slicing open
at the meridian, the sweet sucking
of juices, the roll of a tongue
across the honeyed fruit, the teeth,
the slow slide down the throat,
the devouring, the moan.

Don’t be fooled. As she slumbers
There in her naked glory, pregnant
With seeds, she dreams of sweet rain,
The moist earth around her roots,
The kisskadees beak carrying pieces
of her into the blushing, burning sky,

the next generation of sugar and plenty for all. 

Napowrimo #4 (a day late)

Bleh.
I spent all day yesterday grading research papers and got behind. My goal is to sneak in two writing sessions today. I'll be back in the evening, but for now, here's NAPO 4:

Napowrimo #4

Why September is the Cruelest Month

Every September, I feel that loss again –
As the leaves loosen from the trees
I remember his loosening grip,
as the ground cools I remember
his body growing cold. As the first front
rips the summer into oblivion,
I can’t help but feel it again,
That end of bliss, of innocence,
When days of the week bleed
Into each other, a seamless mixing
Of time only ignorance can bring –
A time when death was an abstraction,
Something that happened to parakeets,
Gold fish, mosquitos, but not human beings like me.

There’s beauty, though, in change.
When summer breaks apart,
That’s when I realize, each year,
That a season stands before me,
That it’s time to get back to the hard work
Of making the most of the time we have left,
The hard work of the living.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Napo 3

Today's prompt was to write a fan letter. I love Betty White, so here's my freewrite about her!

Dear Betty White,
A fan letter.

Dear Betty,

Can I call you Betty? Or maybe
Mrs. White? Or how about Rose?
That’s always how I’ll think of you –
The goody-two shoes woman
Who lived life to the fullest
Every episode, who found joy
In joyless situations, who reframed
What it meant to grow old
With a smile. Rose, thank you
For being a friend, to me,
As a teen, watching the re-runs
On lifetime, I learned about friendship,
The power that comes from women
Sitting around a kitchen table,
Solving all the problems of the world,
From sex to men to cheesecakes running out,
To AIDs, to healthcare, to aging, to loneliness.

I learned that life wasn’t going to end
After “I do,” after children, after menopause,
You wore pastels like a schoolgirl
as if to tell the world fuck you with a sweet smile.

You refused to go quietly –
To sit back in your rocking chair
And knit your own oblivion in silence.

You roared, Betty, in the face of age,
Your body still so full of life
As you tap danced in tight pants.

You are a blooming rose in winter,
a lone rubicund flash in a field of snow. 

And now, Betty, you make the world laugh
With you at your antics at 90 –
To prove that life goes on
If you have a sense of humor,
that a face full of wrinkles
is only a sign of the beginning.

Betty, one day I hope to have
Smile lines like you.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Napowrimo #2



Today's prompt was to write about a family portrait. My dad and I take selfies together after our training runs most Sundays, so I thought it would be a good subject for a poem today.


Selfies with Dad

It’s hard to be his daughter,
Though we’re one and the same.
I run in his footsteps,
Always trying to keep up
With a man who doesn’t realize
He’s the stuff of legend,
A man who keeps me reaching
For the sky. I imagine this is how
Athena felt, a father so fierce,
So strong, so full of life –
Who can live up to that?

On Sundays, we worship our bloodline,
Our good health, the miracles
That keep the strands of us together
With a run. It’s what he’s taught me to do,
At first, as a toddler, as he’d open his arms
And I’d run into his embrace.

Now, we run together towards the finish line,
Sweat together, guzzle water, laugh at the pain
And beauty of life, the long road ahead,
The sunburn, the blisters, the sore muscles,
And always afterwards, an ice cold beer.

On this day, we’ve run twelve miles,
celebrate with a selfie, unabashed,
wearing matching shirts
our last name proudly displayed
across our chests, declaring
The wonder of our friendship
At this stage in life, our sameness.

In this picture, we’re standing in the sun
Of early spring, in front of my childhood home,
And together, we grin with accomplishment.

I’m looking up at his hand, his IPhone,
With one hand on my hip, posing.
My hair is sweat-washed, wind-brushed.
My face blushes red as I catch my breath.

My father, a little less experienced
In the art of the selfie,
Gazes off a little in the distance.
His sunglasses rest on his bald head.

I know one day he’ll run in my dust,
when his bad knee finally gives up
from past marathons and osteoporosis.

I know one day I’ll run these trails alone,
or if I’m lucky, maybe with a daughter
Of my own, who challenges me to be my best,
Gives it her all, huffs and puffs
Across the finish line two steps behind.

But for now, Dad and I train,
Celebrate life, our friendship,
Our mutual love for running,

Beer, and each other’s company.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Napowrimo #1

My oh my is it April already? Why yes, yes it is!

It's National Poetry Month!

This month, I'll be writing a poem a day, following along with the NaPoWriMo prompts. It's always a wild ride. I love this practice because it primes me for the coming summer and gives me material to work with. Like spring, it's generative. It's a time for creation. I'll work on honing these poems later. I'll post my freewrites here, free writes that for now are seedlings, freewrites that will hopefully blossom in to full blooming poems over the summer.

Today's prompt was to write a lune or a series of lunes. My latest obsession is the ghost town of Desdemona, Texas. I'm working on a series of love poems to the ghost town, comparing the boom and bust of the town to a white-hot marriage that, well, booms and busts. I'm hoping it will eventually incorporate elements of eco-feminism, but we shall see. My guess is that this will be my focus for the month, but who knows, right? I'm just excited to get some words down on the page.

Anyway, without further ado, Napowrimo #1

Prelude, in Lunes

Desdemona you were beautiful once –
A rolling prairie,
A sea of bluestems, openness

Nothing but sky, sun, sumac
Until they found
The blackness underneath the loam.

A blessing, a curse, beauty
Always causes chaos.
This love story’s no exception.