Like I said before, the overwhelming majority of my poems rhyme. But there are a few exceptions.
Four Seasons of Childhood
It’s eighty degrees,
The sun beats down on the basketball court,
And my head top feels as hot as the blacktop
Sweet cherry Popsicle juice
Stains my teeth, drips down my chin, sticks to my skin
Wet, dribbling sweat
Pools in my armpits, soaks my shirt, mixes with dirt:
The mark of a day well spent.
Not to mention the chalk dust on my pants,
Monkey-bar calluses on my hands,
And the change I earned from the lemonade stand
Jingling happily in my pocket
I feel the crisp crunch of leaves as I walk – no, skip
On my way to the bus stop
The wind whips my hair and blows brisk kisses,
Makes my eyes water and reddens the tips of my ears
Filling me with a fierce determination
And eager anticipation.
The first day of school:
New binders, new notebooks, new pencils, new folders—
And I am one year older.
And bolder: ready to take on the world!
In my cupcake-patterned turtleneck,
Jeans with the sparkly pink belt,
And light-up tennis shoes
It is ten o’clock at night
Snow swirls, wind whirls, and powdery flakes carpet the world in white
I am sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of milk and a computer,
Constantly refreshing weather.com
Until I am told to go to bed.
At six in the morning the phone rings,
Confirming that yes, school is canceled!
And my heart leaps at the prospect
Of stomping through fresh new snow wherever I go
Building a snowman with a scarf and hat and carrot nose
Lying on my back and catching snowflakes on my tongue—
The sensation of icy wet cold slipping down my collar, making me shiver
And coming inside at last to a steaming mug of hot chocolate
I’m wearing brand new shiny red rain boots,
And my heart fills with the thrill
Of splashing through every puddle in my path
And singing “Robin in the Rain”
Picking up lovely slimy worms off the concrete
And slipping them back into the grass
I pause at the front porch, to see if the hyacinths and crocuses
Have poked their dainty little heads out of the soil
I inhale the rich, earthy smell that lingers after rain
And let it linger, too, in my brain:
Store it in my memory
For a time may come
When I long to feel what I felt this day
January 15, 2017
I sit here gathering a basket of sun,
the light touch of a warm breeze,
and the soft whisper of the wind to the trees,
gracing each leaf with a kind word;
I am collecting the rough bark against my back
and each crumbling speck of dirt
that kisses my hands, my legs,
and the underside of my thighs;
I snatch up every drop in the pool of sky –
the expanse of blue and the frothy white foam –
and I store the vast framework above me:
the maze of gentle branches,
each long limb offering a hand to a furry friend;
I take every slender green finger that tickles my skin,
every sip of fresh air that fills my lungs,
and every leaf napping on a comfortable bed of grass,
So that when the days come
of powdered sugar and cold peppermint breaths,
of frosted windowpanes and silvery mornings,
I can open my collection
And reach for my basket of sun.
September 4, 2014
*Inspired by the book “Frederick” by Leo Lionni
For the most part, I travel light.
But every so often
I pack something away,
Lock up my precious cargo,
And carry it with me
Wherever I go.
Some of my cargo will never feel heavy,
No matter how much I pack.
Like the warmth that fills me with every hug,
The love in my parents’ eyes,
And the laughs I share with my friends each day.
The joy overflows; it spills out of my bags –
Yet the more I pack, the lighter I feel!
But some of my cargo weighs me down
It gets too heavy; my shoulders get sore
And I have to stop,
Catch my breath,
I might take something out
And leave it behind
Like the frustration that seizes me with its blackened fingers
Shakes me, digs those fingers under my skin
Or the annoyance that builds up
Faster than I can break it down
Or the disappointment that fills me
With naught but emptiness,
Leaving a gaping hole heavier than the leaden anger that
Forces its way inside
For the most part, I travel light.
But every so often
I open my bags
And adjust the contents.
A little more love,
A little less hate.
Then I pack it all up
And keep moving on.
October 7, 2013
I love adventuring before I sleep
I love adventuring before I sleep.
It’s just the way I am.
I visit far-off lands and battle dragons and sail with pirates,
Plot with thieves, dine with fairies, and ride on horseback to ancient castles
Whose kings and queens welcome me and implore me to save their kingdoms.
I soar through painted worlds on the backs of great, winged creatures
The colors swirling in a river around me
And all of this I do
For at least an hour before I sleep.
Though I must admit, I have noticed of late how quickly
The hour turns to minutes, the minutes turn to nothing.
Before long I cannot seem to depart for my journey.
So I tell the fairies to wait another day,
Which I regret soon turns into another,
And another, and another.
The ship is leaving without me now; I see it in the distance
But there is much work to be done, and no time to battle dragons
I am sorry that your kingdoms must go unsaved.
Till at last one fine night,
When I can steal some time for myself
Fifteen minutes, or an hour if I’m lucky
When my obligations are either taken care of
When I am warm in my bed
By the light of the lamp on my bedside table
(Though the flickering light of a candle would be much more romantic)
I pick up my book, ready to adventure once more.
January 5, 2013
Thoughts on annotating poetry
I find it highly amusing when
Deep within the folds of exploration,
Of searching passionately for some hidden meaning,
Absorbed by the printed words that seem to be brimming with a vital truth meant only for us,
Concentrating with a furious excitement,
We discover something that isn’t there.
When the poet puts pen to paper
And writes down a few words
Just because they sound pretty together,
Just because she likes the sound of “silver chariots in the night sky”
And somehow these words
Become a metaphor for life.
When she uses “thunder”
Simply because it rhymes so well with “wonder,”
Not because it is a symbol of the deep anguish we feel when a loved one has passed away,
The suffocating, inescapable loneliness that envelops us,
Or the raging fury
That refuses to loosen its iron grasp.
When we pore over a piece for hours
Racking our brains over what the poet could possibly have meant by that dash in line three
When, if we were to ask the poet herself,
She’d tell us she didn’t know
Or that she didn’t remember putting it there,
And maybe it was just a mistake.
I cannot tell you if it is beauty,
A vast misunderstanding,
Or a mixed-up world in which everything is more complicated than it needs to be.
I cannot explain myself in the clarity of glass,
And I certainly cannot promise you
That I understand exactly what I am saying.
There are no puzzling mysteries here,
Nothing to lose sleep over,
And certainly no deep dark secrets that will change your life.
All I know is the ship may not reach the right port,
Or even know which port it is supposed to reach,
And I find that highly amusing.
September 9, 2012
Must I sit here at this awful desk?
Although I suppose it would make no difference
If I were on the floor, or in bed,
Or even in some faraway fantastical land.
I would still be the tortured writer
The beads of sweat would still drip from my forehead
And the furious Block would still refuse to leave.
It would seem that it has taken up permanent residence.
How I long to wield a hammer and smash that Block!
Smash it to pieces,
To bits so small
No one would even know it had been there.
I would free writers all over the world
Of the sickening chains that bind them
And the Block would not simply lurk in its lair, as it has done for so long
It would be gone!
January 5, 2013
Out of my hand
Towards the mailbox
Around the corner
Between two cars
In front of my house
Along the sidewalk
Across the street
Into the gutter
My penny rolled.
June 10, 2009
In the water
Beneath the sky
Above the seaweed
With a permanent smile and gentle eyes
Around the coral
Among the fish
Without a care
Inside a niche
Swims the beluga whale.
June 10, 2009
*Yes, this is another poem from my beluga whale phase. I still think they’re adorable.