Poems

The Poet

The boy who lost his mother gnarled like a bear—
tough bear he

But away from the bestial
he had softness in his eyes—
they laughed even when he and his words were sharp
and sometimes ambiguous

He showed the plumpness of his belly to his closest friends
and grunted like a pig and poet
laughing behind his scars
with eagerness to taste color from afar

He took from the sunglow like an artist hunched at his easel
and painted everyone—
even the ones who had no power to imagine

He painted deaf-mutes with love that ran down his breast
ripping chords from the constellations
and opening creation’s ingenious blindness
to music that volleyed beyond his art that transcended ages
and volleys still
in us all

Photo Credit:
 John Lennon

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Fires In Ashbarrels, Writing

Walking The Dark Road

My blog is 4 months old and it already feels like a neglected child crying for attention. September has been a busy month here at the Dey residence with the transitioning of my children going back to school and getting them to pay attention to their new schedules. My oldest has been a champ at assisting his sister with morning chores, going with her to and from the school building and helping her with her papers and assignments at home. Now if I could only get him to keep his shoes tied and to put his dirty clothes in the laundry hamper.

Then, while hubby heads to his office, I have a small window of time to proofread and post any poetry I wrote the night before to my blog before I’m out the door towing the youngest child to day care, then getting to work by 9am. It’s all wild and crazy and a lot of fun—a rush that keeps the heart pumping and puts a smile on my face. I stay busy at my job with reports and files and dealing with accounts and clients until it’s time to pick up the youngest from day care and meet his brother and sister when the school bus drops them off at the house. Then it’s time for homework, chores, the evening meal, and family time before it’s off to bed and another day of doing the same again. Unless it’s the weekend. That’s when I unwind and pamper myself for a few hours each day, writing poetry or working on a drawing or painting. It’s a left brain/right brain, yin and yang thing that keeps me balanced.

The poetry I write on the weekends begins as incomplete sentences that I jot into a leather journal. I write using a stream of consciousness style—free-writing thoughts and feelings and ideas no matter if they flow together or not. Whatever comes to mind, I keep writing until I’ve exhausted the moment. Later, when I’m in bed and after hubby and I have tended to each other’s needs, I spend a half-hour bridging pieces together into cohesive text that isn’t stripped of its rhythmical arrangement of syllabic stresses or quantities. I often read aloud to my husband who comments whether any of the accents sound dull. He’s been helpful on rewording many of my poems. So much, in fact, that he’s the only thesaurus I go to bed with.

I have always been a stream of consciousness writer. My early poems lacked the rebuilding that I do now—they were written in one draft and kept that way when I posted them to my early blogs and websites. Following is a first draft poem I wrote when I was 14.

Your fingers are slipping
Your voice is fading
Your eyes are growing darker
but never dark
I’m holding on harder
than I’m trying to let go

You get caught in my chest
and somehow always
escape my lips

Still
I wake with you beside me
My stomach aches for you
My hands shake you awake

My cheeks flush
every time I remember
that I don’t want to forget

My tongue moves behind
clenched teeth

I catch your scent
and lose my breath

I close my eyes and
try

An artist friend calls this sketching. And she’s right: the words are sketches of something larger, whether the larger is to become a fleshed-out poem or scenes in a novel. Every wordsmith I know begins with sketches, then builds. The trick is to not destroy the sketch while you build—you want to keep the writing alive, keep it energetic with the lightning that moved you from the moment you began sketching.

The poem above is called Trying To Forget. It’s a poem of when I was at odds with my 14-year-old self about leaving a relationship and moving on. We get the sense from reading the poem that I was having sex with the person I’m writing about. The truth is I wasn’t sexually active yet, but waking to memories of a person that haunted me and kept me returning to the relationship that I wanted out of. It’s a poem packed with a lot of energy. So much, in fact, that I’ve never been able to rewrite this poem without weakening the power of its emotions.

Sometimes a sketch will always be a sketch, sparking new ideas and maybe cast some light on a road that all artists walk alone in the dark.

Fires In Ashbarrels, Poems

New World Slavery

A woman from a fishing village
slaves in a sweatshop,
making shirts for retail stores,
selling them at low prices
to help save shoppers money to spend at McDonalds
after the Little League game tonight.

She makes barely enough money
to pay the rent of her shared one-bedroom apartment in the city
where hucksters scramble
day and night
to sell away her corner of the world
to anyone wanting a piece of the New World Dream.

She doesn’t dream asleep tonight,
but works to make enough money
to buy one of her nine daughters
a new dress this month,
to wear at the new school
Christian missionaries built last year
down the road from her home.
They convinced her government
to make school education mandatory
for everyone’s future welfare.

Now she sews and goes without eating
so her daughters are not left behind
when the corporate and political tsunami
crushes her world,
her life,
her heart.

Fires In Ashbarrels, Poems

Tales And Secrets (Before The Tales Begin Revisited)

The old woman hovers near the woodstove
and drags a calloused hand across her crinkled forehead
as if wiping away smoke and sweat.
She pauses, looking;
her eyes flash between her fingers
and strike my soul.

I feel her in my mind,
looking,
searching,
all the while reading the history there.

Where have I gone on the avenues in my life?

Her hand falls from her face;
her gaze floats above the stove
and absorbs the glow of coals inside
before it reaches through the door.
Her fingers curl and seize an ember
like a vise to etch a jagged pattern in the air.
Her fingers part and the small red star falls to the black oak table
and knocks a fear in the depths of my stomach.

I wander through the city streets of my past,
lost,
smelling smoky incense that once meant something:
a sweet perfume that led me to intelligent light
that flung away my darkness
and sparked new life inside my soul.

A violent motion—
her fingers stab the black oak floor,
then snatch a pile of bones lying white:
old knuckles, toes and vertebrae—
some with fur and flesh intact.

I feel the devil of my fears
step through the darkness
to anoint me with his hideous prophecies
my mother spoke of when I was a child.

The old woman holds the bones in her palm;
they float before her eyes that sparkle
the way the night stars flare
on a cloudless night.

I float above the wires of my nerves
trembling like a lake spilling over.

“Suojata,” she barks;
a wave of gnarled arm
and the bones fly like shooting daggers to my heart.
I clutch my breast
while her cavernous mouth cracks a laugh before the tales begin.

Fires In Ashbarrels, Photos

Pretty Postcards?

Here are more photographs. Today’s theme is water. I have a deep love and respect for water. I grew up around it, lived on it, and traveled to some of its depths. If ever I were a fictional character, I would be a mermaid with the ability to have legs to walk the shore. Best of both worlds, you know.

Fires In Ashbarrels, Writing

Between The Lines

LolaCandi, Stories

People … Who Needs Them

She’s a bit introverted. She’s happiest when she’s by herself, holed-up from the rest of her coworkers and customers at the department store she works at. But sometimes she volunteers to come out of her office cubby and assist her coworkers on the sales floor. Like yesterday.

Things began okay. She helped stock shelves with new toys, kitchen appliances, and fragrant candles. Then she assisted the photo department whose worker went to lunch. The photo department ha machines that print photos from other photos, digital media, tablets and phones, as long as the customer agrees not to copy photos taken by professional photographers. Those photos are copyrighted, so anyone wanting them reproduced needs to have a release form signed by the photographer, saying it’s okay. Otherwise, it’s against the law. And that’s where the trouble began.

A portly man in need of a bath and a change of soiled undershirt and blue jeans came to the counter and wanted her to show him how to scan his Olan Mills photos of a dead relative so he could have copies for a funeral board. He had no release with him and had never bothered to obtain one. “Why should I?” he asked. “They’re my fucking photos.”

The woman apologized for the inconvenience and he stormed away. She returned to packaging and pricing photos that the busy high-tech printer spat out from the 8 kiosks outside the photo department that were in use. The kiosks were several yards away and partially hidden by an excessive bloating of electronic merchandise, so the woman who packaged and priced photos didn’t see the man return and use the next kiosk that became available. Nor did she see the kind, white-haired woman next to him show him how to use the kiosk’s scanner.

When the high-tech printer printed the man’s photos, the woman recognized them immediately. And when the man came to her counter, she took the photos to him and explained again how she couldn’t sell to him the copies of the professionally made pictures without a signed release from the photographer.

Well, the man whined and swore at her and actually stomped his feet. The woman wondered if he had Asperger Syndrome. When he fired off a litany of profanities at her, she figured it was Tourette Syndrome. After all, the man certainly had to have been schooled in proper public behavior. If so, he didn’t show it. He did show, however, a red, angry face, a waving of arms and fists, and some name-calling she hadn’t heard since elementary school. And then he snatched the photos from her hands and ran.

As she came out of her shock of disbelief, a woman next in line said, “If he can leave without paying for his pictures, I can too. And there’s nothing you can do to stop me, bitch.” And to prove it, she shoved her packaged and priced photos into her big-ass pigskin purse when the woman handed them to her. Then she pivoted and walked away with her nose in the air.

The woman called her manager from the photo department’s phone, of course, who immediately called security who quickly called the police who rushed over and arrested the two shoplifters in the parking lot.

Later that day, after she returned to her office cubby and found solace behind her closed door, the woman vowed never to help in the photo department again. Life was nicer and safer to her when she was holed-up from the rest of the world, just the way she liked it.

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