Tarantula

Cyanotype print, toned with black bean soaking liquid (print by author)

Long-legged hairy creepy crawly minding its own business on the dry ground. Long-legged hairy creepy crawly held up on a stick to be examined closely. Long-legged hairy creepy crawly interrupted! Long-legged hair creepy crawly put back down, gently, over there. Long-legged hair creepy crawly recovers dignity and returns to its own business, trying not to mind the interruption.

A photograph of long-legged hairy creepy crawly, enlarged in the night on a bedsheet that flaps in the wind. The gust gives all the long hairy legs watching the slide show the creepy crawlies on the back of the neck, then scuttles off to gently blow aside a few dry leaves to give long-legged hairy creepy crawly an easier path, without further interruptions, back to its place out of sight.


Another prose poem toward my Camp NaNo project – thank you for reading!

Monarch

iPhone photo of some plastic butterflies sent by a friend

This summer we planted a butterfly garden, lining the patio with bright signal fires to attract soft, shy visitors. Verbena and turk’s cap, lantana and sage, zinnias, marigold, and the king of them all: milkweed, to nourish monarch babies at its leafy breast. Orange flowers like tiny crowns proclaim its position, sprawling spindly arms reaching out to embrace passers by. An egg haven, a quiet nursery next to the rose bush and citronella, a place for gossamer mothers and fathers to rest and refuel on their relentless journey. Every year we join them, summer road warriors drunk on the milk of exploration and adventure, perching here and there in forests, deserts, along the shores of lakes and rivers, in the bosom of canyons, wearily drawn like moths to motel lights when the chrysalis of our tent becomes too much. We break free and fly on incubated propulsion, following the internal compass that always ticks off just the right amount of time, always tells us just when is the right moment to wing our way back home.


Another prose poem from my July Camp NaNoWriMo endeavor. Thank you for reading!

Mountain Lion

This is my cat: she’s not in the dryer, I used a fisheye lens on a Diana F+ camera, and made a double exposure (with Kodak film)

My cat doesn’t set an alarm, or worry about deadlines. She never checks her bank account (not that she has one), nor does she give much thought to tomorrow; she blissfully sleeps through news and politics, and manages to ignore even bees and mosquitos. None of these are feline concerns. In the drier places beyond her domain, her larger sisters spend their days in much the same way: alternatively languishing in sun or shade, giant gorgeous paws in a pile of slumber, yawns revealing rough pink tongues and ferocious teeth, a cave of kitty breath that tamps itself bank down into another lazy dream.

Her mountain cousin’s clock is hunger, driving her to hunt and pounce, stretch and climb. Fear of deer and hikers, she waits in high places for her moment. She spies from low choked up places, patient. Her gaze pierces dense brush. No fancy feast for her: she is wild and raw as desert sunlight, stealthy as the creep of death, calculating movement with the same keen sharp eyes that back home will sometimes track a bird or noisy squirrel. Her castle is a canyon; her feather bed is a rocky crevice, sweet and hidden as the truth she keeps in feet that pad upon the earth, ears that know the smallest sounds, life that accumulates beneath the nails of her lethal, inscrutable claws.


Last minute, I decided to participate in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, writing a series of prose poems on animals, specifically ones that live near me and in the areas of the Southwest I often visit. This is one of them! This is the link to my NaNo page.

Thank you for reading!

Wonderspaces

iPhone photo | Wonderspaces Austin

Wandering through eighty six hundred lights
strung from the ceiling, floating in the room
like the reaching fronds of a kelp forest,
we swim through the undulating display,
holding our breath as the long tendrils sway,
blinking in bioluminescent code,
illuminating the neural highway,
sparking a new language of wonder that
resonates in the cold of concrete space.
In the next room, a galaxy strung up
becomes an immigrant face at distance,
but only at a certain distance, seen
from a specific vantage point, well marked.
Stand here if you would behold my visage;
from every other point of view, I am
a mess.

Far beyond the realm of mylar’s crinkled
breath, a bladder filled with air bulges up:
an immobile golden snail, unshelled and
gazing at a rainbow begging to be
strummed.

In a long movie, men push trash around
with precision brooms, designed to tell time,
while kids hop around, provoking color
that pumps through a projector to the wall.
Beside a room of singing faces, still
the eyes of the immigrant keep staring.
Common doo-wop chords keyed out note by note
fill the space with a wonder of music.
Volunteers line up for a single tone
while upstairs lights flash, and a video
of illusions prepares to have the last
word.


This blank verse poem is part of my June challenge, writing in poetic forms. Thank you for reading! (PS Wonderspaces is a great experience!)

Prologue – Dominic

A new site by a budding young writer! Check it out . . . .

The Hermit Crab Tank

Three people stood under the weak light of a streetlamp. The first was a tall young man who stood in a shabby black overcoat with a back straight as a rod. His short, dark hair was combed across his forehead, and each of the features on his long face were angular and very pronounced. He held a battered suitcase in one hand.

The second figure was a woman, not quite so tall and certainly not as thin as the man, wearing a slender dress with high shoulders that hugged her frame. Her hair was braided around her head, so blonde it was nearly white. Her face was round, with small features and a mocking smile.

The last figure was another man, shorter than the first but taller than the woman, whose frock coat, hat, and two suitcases were obviously very expensive. He was a brunette, slightly overweight, with an egg-shaped…

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June Challenge

It’s a new month! In celebration of this, I have set myself a challenge of writing in 15 different poetic forms, spending 2 days on each one. Last month’s challenge was flowers, and I really enjoyed it, especially since I learned a great deal about the flowers themselves in the process.

Here is a list of the poetic forms that I will be writing to:

  • Limerick
  • Blank Verse
  • Haiku
  • Pastoral
  • Villanelle
  • Ode
  • Tanka
  • Ballad
  • Sonnet
  • Rondelet
  • Rhyming Couplets
  • Shape Poem
  • Sestina
  • Elegy
  • Acrostic

Most of these I have played with before, but some are new to me. Elegy in particular I suspect will push me far outside my comfort zone.

June 1’s offering is up on the Instagram, if you’d like to read it. If you are inspired and choose to join me in this journey, please tag me! #thepoetrypatio on Instagram or in some other clever way here on WordPress.

Thank you for reading! Here’s to an inspiring summer!

Waking Dream

Large format photograph | Ilford HP5 film

At dawn my family rose again to cluster at tables where
I rushed to serve them: goblets and plates, verdant
with half frozen leaves, little cups of rich sauce.

My fever to please and nourish burned in confused footsteps
ankle-weighed, nearly drowned in my own inexperience
I sought their dear faces and found complaint.

Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents, reunited in dingy chairs
I did them more disservice than waiting aid

The old life dredged before my eyelids, subconscious
passion play at the edge of slumber
reminded of what thoughts plagued
my heart when I laid me down,
lips silent but entreating for some answer

So they arrived with their wise liquid eyes
to pierce my soul in all their wisdom
to illuminate the folly of my days all strung together,
the beads on which I pray

Was it sleep,
when these ancestors braved to part the veil,
delivering an almighty reply
past and present uniting future,
as it is now and ever shall be

Was it a dream
or was I at last
without knowing it
fully awake,
in their presence,
did they bring me the elixir
finally
to be fully alive?


I wrote this poem for another competition, again with the Poetry Society, (and again unsuccessful), in conjunction with their celebration of Keats. I read The Eve of St Agnes aloud to my daughter, had a significant dream, and wrote this. Thank you for reading!

After

Check out the Poetry Society!

Beguiled by an ad in the back of a magazine (I *think* it was Poetry Magazine) I decided to enter The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition. I didn’t win, of course; supposedly they read every single entry (unlike some other competitions, I have noticed), and just having a stranger read a poem of mine was enough of a win for me. I knew I didn’t have any chance of even getting a nod – well, maybe about as much chance as having a polite knock at the door answered when there’s already a raging party going on inside – but I still wanted to enter, because why not? Also the fringe benefit is that I now receive their excellent quarterly magazine, which so far has been packed with stunning writing.

I was pleasantly surprised to receive the above little anthology book of all the winners and “commended” with the latest issue! I never expected to be able to read a print copy; I figured it would just be online. High 5 for keeping print alive, y’all!

Since my entry was thus, officially, deader than a doornail most definitely not successful in the competition, I figure I am now free to share the poems that I entered. One I will keep back, because it’s part of a larger project that I am holding close to my chest.

The other poem is even closer than a secret held close in a pocket next to my heart, because it’s about my Dad, who suffered a very serious stroke in May 2020. It’s officially been a year, now. I present it to you now with a photograph of him I made in September 2020, when he was at my house for / on my birthday.

Kodak Tri-X film; I forget the camera I used

After

He has seen things
he wants to tell us but
the words won’t come
they get hung up on the way out
snagged on the bits of wire
holding his thinker together
He’s seen everything
in a way: birth, death
the rolling waves of time
life from above and below
some of it we were even there for
He lives again, now,
in snatches of memory
in the garbled mess
that the stroke left behind
I see him, seeing me.
His fear leaps out
through the windows to his soul.


Thank you for reading!

Have you entered any poetry competitions? If the answer is yes: YAY for you, for doing it! How did it go? If you didn’t “succeed” (aka win, because honestly just entering is success in my book), will you try, try again?

Coyote, 1

Cyano-coyote | Cyanotype print by Amy Jasek

From the silence of the desert night
someone shook coyote awake
with all his yips and yowls
his eye glinted in the moonlight

Someone shook coyote awake
so she gathered her sisters and came for me
their eyes glinted, seeking moonlight
they roused me with their song

The gathered sisters came for me
beaconing beneath the scattered stars
they roused me with their song
that bore up through me, awake and alive

Beaconing beneath the scattered stars
they welcomed me to join their dance
They bore me along with them, alive
with the scent of the night and musky limbs

They welcomed me to join the dance
that shook coyote wide awake
with the scent of night and musky limbs
our eyes glinted together in the moonlight


Susan Wooldridge, in her amazing book Poemcrazy, has a section on “Awakening Coyote.” That, along with our many camping trips to the deserts of the American Southwest, was the genesis for this pantoum poem. I had a blast writing to that section of the book! I wrote several, which I will share in bits and pieces. . . . .