Blue Tuesday Heart-String Blues [Poem]

My heart is overgrown with vines

that glow green-radiant
in unkempt spring breezes
and rustle
across the un-tuned strings
of my weary heart
in the most sweet-melancholic melody

Like the ghost of a memory,
that melody stirs something
somewhere in the deep recesses amid the vines,
the phantom limbs of the breeze
hugging my heart
in the wailing and whistling vocals
of my ancestors.

The vines wrap around my heart
tightly against the dusk
and the promise of cold,
their old and reborn roots anchoring me
as the blue-frost edges of sunset
take hold.

Blanketed by ghosts and memories,
my heart aches
as I recall
amid the piercing notes
of my Blue Tuesday heart-string blues
how many vines I tore up,
expecting to remain rooted.

Photo by Pete Walls on Unsplash

On DVerse, the prompt today is to write a poem about the word blue, whether the color, the feeling, or the musical style.

The Sphinx [Short Story]

She was sitting quietly at roadside with the body of a lion and the wings of an eagle when I chanced upon her.

So silent was her repose that I had no warning of her presence until it was too late to turn back.

Without even a hello she gazed through my eyes and said: “Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart which safely exists in the center of all things?”

I wondered what gods she believed in. I knew that no matter the answer I gave, I would be wrong.

My answer was silence. The space between us echoed with my answer’s absence.

“What a disappointing answer,” she muttered, almost to herself, grabbing and devouring me in one bite.

I never got the chance to gloat when a second later I realized that my answer had been correct.

Photo by Karen Khafagy on Unsplash

At DVerse, the prompt today is to write a piece of flash fiction or other prose up of up to or exactly 144 words, including the given line of poetry:

“Only mouths are we. Who sings the distant heart
which safely exists in the center of all things?

– Rainer Maria Rilke

A Plant Growing in Wintertime [Poem]

The small, jagged seed
lies silently in the dirt,
swept there by the soft caress
of a summer breeze
which welcomed it
into this unfamiliar home…
in a neighborhood
of ancient and calming trees.

No sooner is the warm seed sown
than he blossoms,
birthed by the bright light
of a brilliant summer sun
and cast forward into the palms
of an old world,
which held him with care
so he was not overrun.

He grows strong in the comfort
of those light dripped days,
limbs sprawling out
across the whole expanse of sky,
longing to breathe in every ray
through tender skin –
never imagining those days
would one day die.

As he grows stronger,
the days begin to shorten,
each imperceptible second
of daylight lost
adding on to a steady stream
of misplaced time,
the breeze hinting the coming
of a killing frost.

The wide-spread, high-stretched arms
of the reverent plant
are first to catch the harsh rays
of frigid sunlight
and he cannot help
but recoil uncertainly,
afraid of the creeping winter wind’s
vicious bite.

His ancient companions
arise dispassionate
at the dawning
of each shivering winter day,
old eyes watching him near death
in cold dirt below,
knowing that to save him
is naught but death delayed.

His outer skin grows strong
under freezing wind and rain,
callused by fierce elements
that cut to the root,
drawing him closer
to his elderly neighbors,
who despite shared time
held him in such low repute.

Rising from the dirt
in steady contradiction,
his soft heart and harsh skin
resonate with the land.
His roots mingle with thousand year roots
of the trees
and his swift bloomed mind
slowly starts to understand.

The summer sun returns
to find him different,
his seed born world shattered
and reformed at the seams
so that when his tempered skin
feels warmth once again,
his young heart will begin
to fathom ancient dreams.

Photo by pure julia on Unsplash

Blinding [Poem]

Her glasses sit lightly
across the bridge of her nose,
reflecting early autumn sunlight
so that to my unaccustomed eyes

< She is blinding >

even after the sunlight recedes
and I close my eyes to sunset hues,
sun-spots bleed deep blue across my vision
in the shape of her name.

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

On DVerse this Tuesday, the challenge is to write a poem about bridges OR write a Puente (Spanish for “bridge”), which is a poem that uses a line with a tilde (~) to connect two stanzas.

The Howl of a Wolf [Poem]

In late evening,
I sit on the porch
washed purple
and grey,
criss-crossed
with fireflies
and echoing
with silence.

The howl of a wolf
splits my silence
in an instant,
rending open the sky
to let all
of the passions
of the world
pour across my head.

That lonely wailing
is jazz
to my ears,
played to an audience of one
long after last call,
when the low lights
still glow
faint-mysterious.

I feel
almost sacrilegious
bearing witness
to the world’s heart
poured forth,
but I cannot help
listening to
that heartbreaking solo
drip from
the wolf’s throat
somewhere out
in the darkness.

My heart
knows all of the notes
of this haunted ode
but as it begins
to synchronize
to that arrhythmic howling,
the howl of a second wolf
join the first
with piano key-soft tones
and a third add drums.

A spark of warmth
appears
and the wolves howls
harmonize
across an otherwise
lonely night.
I feel my howling heart steady,
comforted in knowing
I have a pack
to run with
when the night
grows long.

.

Photo by Miti on Unsplash

On DVerse this Tuesday, the challenge is to write a poem in the first person that compares some trait of ours with something animal. It should not be a whale, but another creature (mammal, fish, bird, insect, etc.) with which we have something in common. The title should be the animal thing, in the same way Marjorie Saiser chose ‘The Print the Whales Make’.

The Sweetest Wine [Poem]

You are
the sweetest wine
to parched,
sun-dried lips

the bluest oasis
in deserts
no one
could survive alone

the last drop
of rain
in a flood

a sudden rush
of blood
to my heart

a rhyme
without reason
I repeat through
wine-stained lips

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

I wrote this poem from a prompt in dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. The prompt calls for the writer to write a poem of exactly 44 words, not including the title, and including the word “wine” in some form.

Ripples [Poem]

I trap the sun in a thousand dots under my skin,
crafting them into maps wrapped around tired shoulders,
so I can guide myself by the braille of my body
when darkness shivers over me and night grows colder.

Wind scatters the mapped seeds of my dandelion dreams,
casting my traces across oceans and continents.
My second hand shoes plod through places I will never see,
leaving footprints to sprout second hand monuments.
My roots grow like thick, tangled vines through all my places,
re-drawing my map with a thousand small traces.

The night sky I thought to be unnavigable
is washed bright with the light of innumerable stars
which cast sharp reliefs against my uncertain shadow
and write me into small footnotes in the sky’s memoirs.

I find nourishment in streams whose quiet waters have 
washed clean the tarnished faces of kings and tyrants,
cleaned sacred altars of unholy sacrifices
and witnessed the rise and fall of civilizations.
The water flows its history through my tired veins,
and when the water is gone from me, pieces remain.

I am older than history, younger than time,
formed full from the beginning of the universe
and doomed to remain thus until my final days
when I drink from the river, will you question my ways?

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash


First published online on Pen to Paper.

Dreams & Nightmares [Poem]

My eyes flicker open
as sunlight peaks its head
through the blinds
and I turn to find
that under covers
and cover of moon
our dreams
filled the room
until it burst
at the seams
And our bodies
were flung apart
by the force
of our dreams.

The pull of shared gravity
draws us slowly
back together
Repairing our fraying edges
in early light
as we cuddle
under sheets,
Our eyes watching
the ceiling
tremble under
the weight of clouds
And the heavy shrouds
of dreams
we don’t remember.

Our gravity has
slowly turned
to something
like necessity
And the breeze
of an impending winter
is becoming our reason.
We squeeze
each other tight
against a backdrop
of falling leaves,
our entwined arms
not comprehending
the season’s brevity.

Our quiet home
could barely contain
the force of
our shared nightmares
And though we rebuilt
these old walls together
to keep us safe,
Plastering narrow hallways
and staining floorboards,
we misjudged the wear
and how soon
we would fall back
into disrepair.

We built
shaky foundations
to hold
our temporary home
and lingered there
until they had
long since
started to crumble.
The nightmares that
shook our walls
and strove
to tear us apart were
far too much
to bear together
and impossible alone.

Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

What One Remembers [Prose Poem]

As on any other day, the sunset is yawning between the buildings, its edges stretching past my feet as they carry me home. The light does not bother my road-worn heels, shielded as they are by the reflective surfaces of shined leather shoes. It does bother my eyes, as reflections off those sole shields shine too bright through my irises, which are unprotected from the evening sunlight. I squint my eyes, placing my left hand between them and the ground as a makeshift shield. The light shining through my hand turns my fingers an eerie red hue.

Though by my best designs shielded, my eyes still ache. There is some pressure building behind them, as if my brain is swelling through my eyes, hoping to photosynthesize every last ounce of sunlight. I ignore the aching sensation, which seems to have a mind of its own, as it travels along the bridge of my nose up to my forehead. I squint a bit, hoping it will help. It does not, though I could not have been blamed for trying.

As if sensing I will not find my way home absent some “medical intervention”, my feet untold lead me to the door of our small corner drug store. The store owner, as he looks at everyone, looks up at me with a mixture of suspicion and distrust as I open the door. His eyes follow me along the aisles, his hand almost subconsciously reaching over to the phone, dialing three numbers, and putting the receiver to his ear. I feel the weight of his eyes on my shoulders as I snag a bottle of ibuprofen from the pharmacy aisle and a blue Gatorade with a red label from the fridges. I have never particularly liked this store owner – he was always looking at my wife a moment too long when we would slip into the store for snacks. Now he is looking at me with a similar too-long glance. I shiver as I hand him my items to checkout. He scans them without touching them, his eyes never leaving my face. The phone is still to his ear as I walk away and his gaze following me to the door quickens my pace, as if my feet can sense the uneasiness of my mind.

I no sooner leave the store than I forget the whole scene that has just transpired. So focused am I on home that all else washes away. I tap two pills from the small red bottle and pop them into my mouth. They taste like iron in the back of my throat and I wash them down quickly with Gatorade. So disorienting is the taste of iron that for a second I must pause, finding steadiness in the form of a col metal fence post, one of many bracketing the small gardens along our street. The cold – conducted from the fence post – traces the fingertips of my left hand, shivering their dimly-lit edges. I scratch my head with that fence post chilled left hand as I take in the mundane familiarity of our street, taking in the uneven pulsing that echoes my temples, distorting my mental picture of that oft seen scene. I tap two pills from the small red bottle and pop them into my mouth. They taste like iron in the back of my throat and I wash them down quickly with Gatorade.

Maybe in dim light my eyes deceive me, for I have some difficulty in making out the number next to our door. Is this my home? Suddenly all the houses on the street look the same, their distinct features melting into a grey monotony as the sun by degrees hides its weary head behind our cookie cutter homes. Twice I blink, trying to clear the fog rolling from under my eyelids. It takes a few seconds, but finally I recognize our tall wooden door, hidden amid the lengthening shadows. Through the front gate I walk, my frozen fingertips fumbled among spare change and crumpled notes, seeking my keys amid the chaos of my front coat pocket. Our doormat interrupts my search to say: “I hope you like dogs”. Did we have a dog? In that moment I was so tired I could not even remember our dog, go figure.

From within the house I hear the rustling sounds of comfort, the scrambled footsteps of a lively home. I give up on my search for my keys, so eager am I to see my family, my wife, my daughters. The door handle is strangely slippery as I turn it with my left hand and push it open.

A man I do not know is the first thing that greets my tired eyes. My wife is the second. I look at her with red eyes full of disappointment and pain. She looks at me with the eyes of a stranger, one of my long ago nicknames hanging from the corner of her trembling lips. I spill into the hallway, my bare hands forming fists, fueled by an unthinking fury. The man steps forward, looking at me with eyes full of concern and fear. He holds up his hands, soft and gentle hands, my name also on his lips.

A glint from his ring finger catches my foggy mind in its gravity, my own hands paused in halfway formed fists. I glance down at my own left hand and find that the sunset red tinge is dripping down my wrist and over my bare ring finger. I pitch forward in the hallway, my limp body almost colliding with my wife’s husband as he approaches me with tender hands raised. The last thing I remember is my daughter’s face peeking out from behind the man’s legs where she had hidden from me. The last thing I see through reddening eyes is fast drying red-brown blood caked to my naked ring finger.

What do you think has happened to the narrator in this prose poem? Let’s discuss in the comments below!