Week 52: This is Rough Terrain

This is rough terrain
many feet have stumbled over roots,
over rocks—gotten caught in the weeds
and tall grasses. Ankles twist
and shatter in the uneven places. Bodies
have tumbled with boulders and stones
in avalanche down these slopes.
Harmonies of windsong and birdsong
mesmerize many wandering here,
sending happy lovers blindly over edges.

I know the dangers and so do you,
but here we stand, elbow to elbow,
and I can not help but reach over
to take your hand to squeeze,
and nervously,
in a moment that keeps on beating,
the geographies of our palms combine.

Author’s Notes:

52/52. I was thinking of doing a poem about endings, but I wrote a poem about beginnings instead and it feels a lot better.

I’m not entirely sure what I’ve accomplished with this project, but 52 poems is a lot. There are certainly some poems that I like more than others, and I really had to grind to get some published, but there are none that I can recall that I consider total failures. Reading through them, a few even feel like they’re beyond me—there’s something unrepeatable about them.

I’ll do a more definitive retrospective on the project after I’ve let it set for a couple weeks, but for now I’m proud to have a) actually have complete the project, b) to have produced work that I like, and c) to have developed a type of style that is somewhat my own.

I’m relieved to be able to take a break.

Favorite Line:
“in a moment that keeps on beating”

The Phrase that Sticks most Stubbornly in my Head:
“Ankles twist and shatter in the uneven places.”

Week 51: Charred

She walked in, a punk rock killer
in doc martens and a hard-bitch jacket
and she sat down and stared at the wall
scowling through blood red lipstick
and I asked the devil to introduce me
but then she looked up at me for one second
and immediately I turned into something charred
and smoldering, dead forever.

Author’s Notes:

This is a little funny because I wrote this poem in 5 minutes while I was in a coffee shop trying to write a different, more lovely poem that I was going to use for this week. The other poem didn’t work out.

I’m kind of uncomfortable using the term “hard-bitch” because that’s not really the way I talk, but in my mind that’s how this character would proudly describe herself, and after playing around with a bunch of less profane alternatives I decided there was no other way to put it that had the same effect. Anyway, the whole point of the project was to take creative risks and feel a bit uncomfortable, so that’s that.

Favorite line(s):
“and immediately I turned into something charred
and smoldering, dead forever.”

Line that is surprisingly hard to say aloud:
“scowling through blood red lipstick”

Week 50: Vinegar

Vinegar smile—black eyebrows, high fences
Icicles glitter reluctantly in the dying sun
The owl in the tall pine has begun to wake

We are lost—yesterday is tomorrow
Our days are short and nights are long
It’s time to go, but I don’t because
When I leave, I will be gone

You have your secrets
And the owl has her song

Author’s Notes:

The thing that I’ve been thinking about with this poem is the line “our days are short and nights are long”. It’s the type of line that has probably been written dozens or hundreds or thousands of times. Usually that would make me want to avoid it, but it struck me that it’s lovely that there are lines of english that just naturally seem to write themselves over and over again.

Favorite Line:
“Icicles glitter reluctantly in the dying sun”

Most Worn Line:

“Our days are short and nights are long”

Week 49: Asteroid

The asteroid has already struck
its fury is unleashed—fires burn
storms rage, islands disappear

pillars of smoke scar the horizon
as profligate humanity lays on its back
wistful for the days when evil wore swastikas
and wars could be fought—young men sent to god
to forestall the end of the world.

Author’s Notes:

I think this captures the frustration of our time very concisely, and I’m both pleased and disturbed by it.

Favorite Line:
“and wars could be fought—young men sent to god”

Fanciest Word:

Week 48: Nagging Question

A fascination, a faucet that drips
you are a nagging question
a distraction—the very best kind
just far enough away to be dangerous
a voice from around the corner—a mystery
a package waiting to be unwrapped
a thought that keeps popping into my head
a place to go when I don’t want to be anywhere at all

there will be no resolution or satisfaction
there will be no ending, because nothing ends
things just disappear—they are forgotten
and maybe one day I will forget you, maybe soon
but today I am on my toes, peeking over the fence
trying to figure you out, just because I am curious
just because I want to know you better
just because I am the way I am.

Author’s Notes:

Once my mind latches onto something, it can be very hard for me to shake it off. If I’m interested in something, it finds a way to leak out of its container and consume all of my idle brain power. This is one of those things where it’s both good and bad, because it’s very useful in certain contexts—particularly when I’m learning new skills, or working on a big project—but it’d be better to be able to switch it on and off with more control.

Anyway, this poem is about that.

Interesting note (well, to me): I use the word ‘just’ a lot in this poem. What an odd little word.

Favorite Line:
“A fascination, a faucet that drips”

Number of Times I use the Word Just:

Week 47: Puffy Eyed

Puffy eyed, but I’m alive
sitting on the side of my bed
cataloging dreams before they fade
and trying to decide how best
to punish my alarm clock
for doing its job with so much
unrepentant joy.

Author’s Notes:

Just a short one this week, but I wrote it three times. The first attempt was fun, but bad, the second rhymed way too much in a cheesy way that I didn’t like, and this is the third version.

Also, the whole alarm clock thing is a lie. I don’t use an alarm clock. I use my phone.

Favorite Line:
“cataloging dreams before they fade”

Most Rhyme-y Line that I Didn’t Cut:
“Puffy eyed, but I’m alive”