Revel in the Rodeo

He climbs onto my shoulders like I’m his titan.
He steers me in the right direction
with constant detours toward the toy section.
Little hands break my faux-hawk style
and give me bed-head despite
not touching the mattress since he left his.
My racoon eyelids hide beneath the glow
I get whenever he speaks his five-year-old dialect.
Even though he strains my neck, my back
has never stood as firm
before I fought to protect him against pitbulls
and bullish parents who bite and poke
to try to shape him into a well-behaved,
medically tranquil, spiritually wrangled model citizen
like generations of men who knew discipline and respect
and still enslaved nations and murdered the rest.
I block their volleys. I won’t shock him off me
even when he’s running on walls
I remain beside him, guarding
his journey through the frontier.

One-Sided Conversation

Feels good to write again. My poem for day 3’s prompt of Writers Digest’s 2014 April Poem-a-Day Challenge: Write a message poem.

r u hungry? let’s go 2 panera!! :)
thats cool. im busy 2. :(
still need help w/math?? im a wiz! :)
no didnt take statistics :( maybe i can help anyway :)
how’s the essay coming along? need help with that? :)
no. i never read that book.
ready for a break? let’s hang out a bit. i’m just chillin’ in the library.
that’s a lot of homework. i have lots too. i should work on my essay.
No, I finished it, but I should probably look over it again. :) See you next week!
Oh. Well, have fun at Disneyland with your boyfriend. I’m so jealous.

Minimum Day

It’s about time I wrote again. My poem for day 2’s prompt of Writers Digest’s 2014 April Poem-a-Day Challenge: Write a voyage poem.

Home lay over the overpass,
but a yellow sign forbid two ten-year-olds from crossing.
I thought the trek around would be as straight,
but streets branched into industries
we never saw on drives back home.
The paths I hoped would lead us back
ended in walls we wouldn’t scale.
I understood street names as little
as graffiti on the sides of empty buildings
and company logos unseen at Toys’R’Us.
The few passersby that drove these streets
would neither stop nor slow for us—
we knew not to talk to strangers anyway.
A nudge and a prayer guided my way.

We crawled through the labyrinth
hungry for food and home and Sega games;
I wished I could reset now that we were stuck.
I would’ve listened to my brother when
he said we should walk to grandma’s two blocks from school
or even wait for mom to pick us up,
but I knew the way home, just not below
the overpass we had driven across before.
Halfway through, we couldn’t turn back.
Tall blocks of buildings hid east from west—
as if I could read a compass anyway—
but a hunch encouraged me forward.
I just had to find the right direction.
Home lay only a few blocks away.

Justin Bieber in the News

A tweet delivered the news to the world:
Bieber arrested, a DUI.
At only nineteen, Icarus
ascended the sky, danced with the stars.
Young wings melt fast; fame doesn’t last.
The world watches as he crashes
from YouTube to MTV to has-been,
but dozens of hits still inside him.

His mother gone, thugs usher him
into a cell. The cameras watch.
Men with batons wait for a mistake
to smash his pretty, heartthrob face.
His entourage abandoned ship;
new criminals surrounding him.
No money to give, bankrupt and broke,
no longer a hit, no longer at home.

Old men with blogs rejoice at the news.
It’s given them a voice to share,
another reason to exist.
Fanatics burn the effigies
the bloggers build from stepped-on straw
as if they won a victory.
Another star fell from the sky;
another hit for TMZ.

Rustic Mansion

Their home kept out the rain, but nothing else
waited at the door. Broken windows
invited typhoons in; furniture fell
off tables and nightstands and dressers
when breezes passed by. They could not escape
the winter’s chill or summer’s blaze in rooms
without insulation or electricity.
Only the roof remained intact. It hid
the sun that lit each day and stars
decorated stained off-white walls,
but at least it kept out the rain as well.

The door had no lock, but thieves paid no mind
to enter a shack that lacked such basic needs
as refrigeration and indoor plumbing.
Such a man would do better to dig through
the sands of the beach that lay footsteps away.
It tapers into waters extending
to horizons aglow with purple tinge.
Emerald islands in the distance tempt
swimmers into cool waters toward greener pastures
than could be found at insulated homes,
but no amount of money could own such a sight
unless one spent millions for the property.

New Life

The morning after brings new life
where little deaths once infested.
It tastes like copper, but appreciates
with time. The dormant egg has hatched;
the seed takes residence inside. It sprouts
new limbs as soft as gold, untouched
by airs possessed by smog, but clean inside
a room where only self exists.
New senses grow and swallow the world
in samples blended together
to make a stew of life to live
when stems sprout bones and flesh.
When walls no longer accommodate
the seed matured into new creation,
the child tears through the wrapping into light
and enters solid life.

Church Retreat

I abandoned the fellowship
mid-prayer to swing in the snow.
Amidst the worship, the flock noticed
nobody missing from the fold.
I belonged to Kathryn, not Jesus.
She enveloped the whole playground:
her white snow juxtaposed against my brown skin,
her evening breeze cooling my sweat, kissing my neck,
her whisper heard between their plays,
her sapphire stars watching me from above, lighting the way
where no streetlights or city fog came.

I feared no man, no bear. Raccoons
scavenged through dumpsters eating leftovers.
I ate the manna falling from the night.
Every soul asleep in bed but mine
as I swung on rusted chains into the sky
contemplating whether angels really died
or if they just flew to places beyond
my grasp to kingdoms I would never see
though I would try despite my meager reach.
I had no wings, but I could fly
closer to her on the icy metal swing.

Mirage

Their glances connect, turning sparks
into thunder. A blinding flash
of binding eyes ends with a flinch.
He doesn’t see her when he looks
again. Lightning never strikes twice,
but thunderstorms never subside.
Even as Skillet plays their set,
his basest desire swallows up
the bass and treble, wooing crowds,
too loud for rock concerts to snuff.
The trophy pawn he brought along
gets lost with other faces. Fair
attractions aren’t so attractive
when the manure air reminds him
what he has left after she’s gone:
a wisp of fragrance rubbed on him,
a scrapbook with precious moments.
She stands in the crowd. He knows it,
but after every song, the chance
to find her shrinks. The chance to be
with her gets lost in other dreams.

Roll Sheet

My entry for day 4 of the 2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: “take the phrase ‘(blank) Sheet,’ replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then write the poem.”

When teacher’s gone away, children untamed
assume different names. Desks rearranged
by chemistry rather than tyranny
sits friend beside friend; why wouldn’t they attend?
Near-sighted students no longer need glasses
when they can sit in the front. They see fine–
and listen too–when needing not to squint
to read the teacher’s chicken scratch,
when the substitute remains blind
to the antics that happen behind her back
and focuses instead on teaching math
and science and words beyond “No!”
or “Stop!” or idle threats that rein no beasts
but rather docile sheep who never bleat anyway.
No longer centered in the front, the brats
fall to the back and play with their phones
to the pleasure of the rest of the class
that finally learn something about math.
For once, the roll sheet has everyone
in attendance, ready to learn as desired.

On a Swing

My entry for day 3 of the 2013 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: “write a ‘the last time I was here’ poem.”

On the edge of the slide, she sat.
I lay my head in her lap, creeping
closer to the soft spot in her chest, telegraphing
desire drunk with the rush of a swing.
If I leapt from the chains, I may fall
right into her lap, face first, but
I kept swinging back, afraid to crack
my neck should she reject my advance.
I sold my soul for a safer dream
as a faithful pup for her to pet
and hug and share her every secret with.
She may not welcome me inside
if she knew I wanted much more
than Wednesday nights out in a park
with her and adopted friends on swings
that made me dizzy. I’d be in bliss
to spend each night inside her bed–
the warmth preferred to the winter chill–
instead of out with other boys
who fought me for scraps that fell off her
as she walked through life unbeknownst
how every boy wanted much more
than a walk in the park. Her room
promised greater prospects to he
who had the courage to leap first, but
though appetites suggested wolves,
we were nothing but pups.
without opposable thumbs
to open the door or even to knock.

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