Poetry Prompts: January 7 - 13

Continuing with the daily poems I receive in an email from poetry.org as prompts for shooting during this trip to San Miguel de Allende. 

January 7: "Dear Mama (4)"
by Wanda Coleman

when did we become friends?
it happened so gradual i didn’t notice
maybe i had to get my run out first
take a big bite of the honky world and choke on it
maybe that’s what has to happen with some uppity youngsters
if it happens at all

and now
the thought stark and irrevocable
of being here without you
shakes me

beyond love, fear, regret or anger
into that realm children go
who want to care for/protect their parents
as if they could
and sometimes the lucky ones do

into the realm of making every moment
laughing as though laughter wards off death
each word given
received like spanish eight

treasure to bury within
against that shadow day
when it will be the only coin i possess
with which to buy peace of mind



January 8: "Evergreen"
by Oliver Baez Bendorf

What still grows in winter?
Fingernails of witches and femmes,
green moss on river rocks,
lit with secrets... I let myself
go near the river but not
the railroad: this is my bargain.
Water boils in a kettle in the woods
and I can hear the train grow louder
but I also can’t, you know?
Then I’m shaving in front of an
unbreakable mirror while a nurse
watches over my shoulder.
Damn. What still grows in winter?
Lynda brought me basil I crushed
with my finger and thumb just to
smell the inside of a thing. So
I go to the river but not the rail-
road, think I’ll live another year.
The river rock dig into my shoulders
like a lover who knows I don’t want
power. I release every muscle against
the rock and I give it all my warmth.
                                    Snow shakes
onto my chest quick as table salt.
Branches above me full of pine needle
whips: when the river rock is done
with me, I could belong to the evergreen.
Safety is a rock I throw into the river.
My body, ready. Don’t even think
a train run through this town anymore.



January 9: "Corpse Flower"
by Vanessa Angelica Villareal

Yesterday, the final petal curled its soft lure into bone.

The flowerhead shed clean, I gathered up your spine

and built you on a dark day. You are still missing

some parts. Each morning, I curl red psalms into the shells

in your chest. I have buried each slow light: cardinal’s yolk, live seawater,

my trenza, a piece of my son’s umbilical cord, and still you don’t return.

A failure fragrant as magic. Ascend the spirit into the design.

My particular chiron: the record that your perfect feet ever graced

this earth. Homing signal adrift among stars, our tender impossible longing.

What have I made of your sacrifice. This bone: it is myself.



January 10: "Four Slateku"
by John Lee Clark

What is the point of travel
For a DeafBlind person
Other than the food the people the shops
And all that


Part one young
Question mother father
Know right name
Work some day


The mutant four-fingered carrot
Is in the pot and growing
Sweeter as it relaxes
Its grip


When we say good morning
In Japanese Sign Language
We pull down a string
To greet each other in a new light



January 11: "Urning"
by Layli Long Soldier

* bring us to dark knots the black
eyes along white aspen skin to scrape
with a rock on surface where I press
I carve the initials of all and  **
***  bring us to a returning    no
an urning a vessel of corpse
ash in the active state of being
held by two hands positioned
gripping the sides to tip
and scatter my night dream
of an acquaintance who
presented me a ledger opened
to a page handwritten in pencil
dates names and meetings  ****
*****  I said I don’t want to
see it I don’t want to know
if my father betrayed me
as the words left
my dream mouth I woke I shook
to the bone a hot line notched
from heart to elbow throbbing
vein-ache in my body how
I’d replaced another man’s name
-a man I once loved I mean to say-
with the word father in a flash
the sleeping eye ripped me
from denial I’m not so complex
see my mind unclothed
is a crying newborn
aspen leaves in untimed
wind-filled rhythm my mother
turned eighty what at that age is left
to surprise though     

the tone here shifts to listen
she said I don’t know if I ever said
when I was pregnant with you
I found out he’d cheated
I threw  ******  into the yard
I locked him out
pregnant with you I cried
and I cried so long and hard
I thought I was going to
die yes she said it a heavy bass line
beneath aspen music and timbre
I sit on the patio to smoke I think
at night always at night maybe
’cause I was born / at night or
my name means night God bless
my mother she believed
my name meant pure
spirit so it may be the darkest
hours are when I’m purest
when I am I                   I am fluid
a clear stream over rock or
as poetry goes   ********
I think about a baby in utero I can’t help
but wonder what the baby knows
a study says babies and toddlers
through impression not specifics
I rummage the syllables and stress
of each line in  *********
impression is a mark
on the surface
caused by pressure or
a quick undetailed sketch or
the imitation
of someone / I
carried her nine months
beneath my own skin her small toes
relaxed her eyes shut
within me her fingertips
pressed into palms she made  
                                                                  a fist
                                                                  or was it
a symbol
for the Sun what rising
what of battle my child knows
scares me to the pure
the one I      I burn in question

*                          may all the grief
**                        may all
***                      the loss
****                    all your misdeeds
*****                  love of my soul
******                all his things
*******              spit in a cup
********            night is a womb
*********          the definition



January 12: "King of Kreations"
by Angel Nafis

Onliest man who lay hands on me. Pointer finger pad between my eyes.
Pinky knuckle cool on cheekbone. God of precision, blade at my throat,

for a half hour, you love me this way. Together we discover what I got
from my folks—widows peak, dandruff, hair growing fast in concentric O’s.

Claude, so damn beautiful, I can count on one hand the times I’ve looked
directly in your face, for fear I might never come back. You knower of me.

To get right I come to you. When I’m finna interview. When I’m finna banquet
or party. When I must stunt, I come to you—

It is mostly you, but, not always. After all you gotta eat too.
So sometimes it’s Percival, face like stones, except when he’s smiling.
Sometimes it’s Junior who sings the whole time he lines up the crown.

No matter how soft my body       or how many eyes find it and peel
               when I walk in the shop              in the chair, I am of them.
                              Not brother. Not sister.           When he wields the                 razor and takes me

                                             low it’s like when a woman gets close to the

     mirror to slide the lipstick
                                                           on slow. Draws a line so perfect she

     cuts her own self from the clay.


January 13: "Corinna Confesses"
by Laura Redden Searing

To think that my eyes once could draw your eyes down for a moment,
    From their lifting and straining up toward the opulent heights—
To think that my face was the face you liked best once to look on,
    When fairer ones softened to pleading ’neath shimmering lights!

Regret you? Not I! I am glad that your proud heart disowned me,
    The while it was lying so sullenly under my feet;
Since Love was to you but a snare and a pain, and you knew not
    Its height and its depth, all unsounded, and soundless, and sweet.

Too dark was the shadow that fell from your face bending over me—
    Too hot was the pant of your breath on the spring of my cheek!
I but dimly divined, yet I shrank from the warring of passions
    So strong that they circled and shook me while leaving you weak.

Acknowledge! You knew not aright if you loved me or hated;
    But you pushed me aside, since I hindered your seeing the heights.
They were but the cold, barren peaks up which selfish souls clamber,
    And for which they surrender the gardens of scented delights.

From where I am sitting I watch your lone steps going upward,
    And to-night I am back in those nights that we knew at the start.
I think of your eyes dark with pain, full of thwarted caressings,
    And suddenly, after these years, from my hold slips my heart!

But no matter! There’s too much between us—we cannot go back now
    I’m glad of it!—yes, I will say it right on to the end!—
I’m glad that my once sore-reluctant, tempestuous lover
    Hasn’t leisure nor heart now to be my most leisurely friend!

My lover! Why how you would fling me the word back in fury!
    Remembering you loved me at arms’ length, in spite of denial;
That the protests were double: each went from the struggle unconquered:
    The hour of soft, silken compliance was not on our dial.

You were angry for loving me, all in spite of your reasoning—
    I was angry because you were able to hold your love down;
And jealous—because in the scales of your logic you weighed me,
    And slighted me for the dry bread of a sordid renown.

So I laughed at your loving—I laughed in the teeth of your passion;
    And I made myself fair, but to stand in you light from sheer malice;
Delighting to hold up the brim to the lips that were thirsting,
    While I scorned to let fall on their dryness one drop from the chalice!

Alas, for the lips that are strange to the sweetness of kisses—
    The kisses we dream of, and cry for, and think on in dying!
Alas, for unspoken endearments that stifle the breathing;
    Since such in the depths of two hearts, never wedded, are lying!

You say, “It is best!” but I know that you catch your breath fiercely.
    I say, “It is best!” but a sob struggles up from my bosom;
For out of a million of flowers that our fingers are free of,
    The one that we care for the most is the never-plucked blossom.

Yet, O, my Unbroken, my strong one—too strong for my breaking!—
    I am glad of the hours when we warred with each other and Love:
Though you never drew nearer than once when your hair swept my fingers
    And their touch flushed your cheek as you bent at my side for my glove.

Never mind! I felt kisses that broke through the bitterest sayings.
    Never mind! since caresses were hid under looks that were proud.
Shall we say there’s no moon when she leaves her dear earth in the shadow
    And hides all her light in the breast of some opportune cloud?

Yet this germ of a love—could it ever have bourgeoned to fullness?—
    For us could there ever have been a sereneness of bliss,
With the thorns overtopping our flowers, turning fondness to soreness?
    Ah, no! ’twas a thousand times better it ended like this!

And yet, if I went to you now in the stress of your toiling—
    If we stood but one moment alone while I looked in your eyes—
What a melting of ice there would be! What a quickening of currents!
    What thrills of despairing delight betwixt claspings and cries!