Rogue Homilies by Deidre Price

a study of life that smacks of the divine

Category: Poetry

“Jonathan’s Arms” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge

Jonathan’s Arms

I’ve had them longer than I haven’t had them,
my husband’s arms.

They found me first at seventeen
outside Ronald McKinney’s parents’ house after curfew,
our toes numbed by Florida grass at a February midnight.
In the cornflower Crown Victoria, he held one hand
as I twisted the elastic of the air freshener with my other hand
as tight as it would go then let go to watch it spin,
again and again and again to release my own tension,
a cardboard top suspended in air
as we must have been.

Those arms found me and loved me well:
white roses,
water crackers,
mononucleosis,
Fudpucker’s shifts,
fortune cookies
and boom
they found our daughter and loved her well.

His right arm shared a rest with mine
while Vegas-bound
where we’d promise to share armrests and center consoles
for better or for worse.

His left would find my right in restaurants
where we’d sit out of order and bump against one another
as children who could not keep our hands to ourselves
and hence the son and second daughter.

We are still children who cannot keep our hands to ourselves.
His arms find me nightly as though we are bunkmates telling scary stories
about cubicles and mortgages, taxes and our health insurance–
we laugh about monsters, idiots, Joel Osteen,
holding books and babies better than our tongues,
keeping one another at arm’s length always.

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“A Pro-Con List for a Scientist’s Honeymoon” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge

For April 5th’s prompt, I was tasked with thinking of a crisis, and of course, I can think of no greater crisis than an elementary school science project the day before it’s due. I was then tasked with choosing 5-10 words for things involved in that crisis.

I chose instructions, trifold board, pens, lima beans, zip-top bag in a windowsill, damp cotton balls, artificial light, beaker, hypothesis, lab reports.

The final step was to take those words and put them into a poem about an entirely different event, so I chose a honeymoon.

Clutch your pearls and enjoy.

 

A Pro-Con List for a Scientist’s Honeymoon

On the plus side, I’d get instructions, maybe even in two languages,
deconstruct his wardrobe easily enough in the artificial light.

We’d say, “Beakers up!” and sling carbonated celebration
to the loud sound of twin hypotheses backed by empirical evidence.

He’d see scatter plots made from petals on the bedspread,
then pull the comforter down in thirds like a display board.

We’d experiment.

But what of this experiment?
Would he calculate the velocity of my lips? The agility of my hips?

Would this be peer reviewed?

What if one night I found pens in the pillow?
A lab report beneath the mattress?

What if, in my eyes, he saw but lima beans,
sprouting under the promise of his damp cotton balls,
and thought of me as a specimen slide,
a zip-top bag for a windowsill,
just another plastic dish.

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“Der Zeitgeist” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge

April 4 NaPoMo Prompt: Write a narrative poem from the point of view of someone else. The less they are like you, the better. The entire poem should be in that person’s voice. Give your character a life and a story.

Der Zeitgeist

Here’s a trip:
All the humanities people they could pick for Interim Dean for however long–
and I told them if I had to take it I was going to keep my hair.
The hair would be a deal breaker for sure.

They said yes, but I had to start wearing pants,
and you know, I’ll never understand why what a man wears matters so much.
I’m basically a chest and a desk, you know,
one of those brains in a vat, and it’s like they want to pick what color goo I’m stuck in.

They know I like cargo shorts. They know.
They know I keep a box of chalk in one pocket and my morning cigarettes in the other.
They know I can’t carry that and carry my coffee. But it’s fine. It is.
I did buy these Italian shoes. I liked how they were pointy. They’re like ‘shoes, shoes, woah!’

Oh, and I got one of those nice briefcases with the netted pockets inside–
they’re just like the ones on my cargo shorts, you know–
so I’m carrying that around for my chalk and my cigarettes,
and it’s actually kind of cool because I can carry two packs of each at the same time.

And what kind of professor needs a briefcase to teach an intro philosophy course?
You know, that’s something that should cause alarm–
one of your PhDs headed into an intro lecture with a bunch of notes in a box.
I mean, what are they going to learn from a bunch of notes in a box?

I’ll spell the German and Greek words out sometimes,
but I’m basically just talking to them like they’re people–
because they are, you know, like people.
And I don’t know, maybe that’s why they want to pull me out to do their dirty paperwork.

I could see that. I could see them pulling me out to distract me, you know.
Wouldn’t that be a thing, if they got word that I was onto something–
or thought I was on something?
And then they just pulled me out and gave me a dean job because I’d, like, figured something out?

No, I give them too much credit. They’ve been gone too long.
They don’t see what I see–the ideas moving in the room as I crack open these kids’ heads
to try to get the brains moving again. And they do.
You can’t do that as Dean of anything. Everyone in the room is already too far gone.

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“Breakfast with Lorraine Hansberry” by Deidre Price

Breakfast with Lorraine Hansberry

 

Because you asked what the light looks like during my favorite meal,

lies clamber over one another to defend my domestic honor:

High pitched and head tilted, “She cooks,” they say.

It has been so long since I’ve prepared a meal for my family,

even my lies are lying these days.

 

I’ve even stopped scrambling eggs.

I hear Walter Younger echo in my kitchen: “Damn all the eggs that ever was.”

Am I Walter with his pocketful of dreams or Ruth, his tired wife?

This writing life turns me to Beneatha, “the one for whom bread is not enough,”

but I’m Mama, and there is God in my house some days, too.

 

I scroll through pictures of other people’s food,

first days of school with chalkboard reminders of who they were–

how tall, what grade, the teacher who will be another mother.

Meanwhile all these mamas keep looking onto other people’s papers

for answers these other mothers are maybe getting wrong, too.

 

I worry sometimes we’ll each find out we all had a different test

and feel regret so deep it chokes us out?

What if these manufactured clouds kill the one apartment houseplant our lives could afford

because we could not move it six inches to the right

because we were too busy making “all the eggs that ever was”?

Cappuccino, donut, eggs, and cheese grits for Atticus because these Legos aren't going to build themselves.

Cappuccino, donut, eggs, and cheese grits for Atticus because these Legos aren’t going to build themselves.

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“The Method to My Madness, or How to Write a Poem” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge

The Method to My Madness, or How to Write a Poem

 

For Billy Collins

 

When a poem starts, I start with I.

I follow I with a certain verb–

steady sureness like I know and I am,

abandon my perhapses,

leave breadcrumb maybes in my margins.

 

When a poem starts, the speaker finds me,

tries on my every word, losing lipstick to heavily starched syntax

cast off to the dressing room floor of my page.

She leans into the light until it flatters for me,

the best friend standing by, opinions clenched in fists.

 

I want to see what happens.

 

I quiet as the show begins and silence my phone.

Language takes the stage–adolescent, unruly

with packed pocketfuls of bribes for candy rhymes.

The I arrives and says this music has to die, then Tybalt

stabs the adverbs like Mark Twain told him to.

 

I keep my Descartes close because he tells me what I like:

People cannot tell the difference between the dream and the world,

so we can stop pretending in the distance between them–

and the distance between us.

 

A miniature Anne Sexton descends like Tinkerbell might.

I can see her wires but do not care.

I clap and amen because I believe.

 

A chorus boos my jokes as critics censor from too many front rows.

I hear them backed by half a dozen echoes of dying fathers.

These voices linger, ruthless, proud, like Lost Boys’.

 

Suddenly, I become everybody’s mother.

 

I threaten to turn the poem around so fast their heads spin.

The back seats quiet.

I remember I know all the lines.

 

Sylvia commiserates

then bakes us pies.

 

methodtomadness

April 2

An idiom is a phrase or a fixed expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. An idiom’s figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning. 

The meaning gets lost over time and what was once a new and interesting expression becomes “old hat.” 

You’ve heard them, “A penny for your thoughts, back to the drawing board, devil’s advocate, just to name a few.”

For today’s prompt, take a popular idiom ( or more than one if you can manage it), and recreate its meaning. Make it fresh again.

Share your idiom poem in the comments, and join us tomorrow for another! 

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“Beams” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge

Beams

 

My outdoorsy husband’s iPhone charts the stars.

He holds it to the sky, and an app plays

dot to dot with fire suspended in spaces

he’s never been.

 

He dreams of Nashville evenings,

classifies his days as though they are the fine woods

he turns into better things.

 

We want to turn into better things.

 

I dreamed of New York before the children crept

into me. Now every inch of my home is a crawl space

as colored plastic works on my sanity, diligently

as though it will be paid.

 

My days are floors and counters.

I identify stains and know not just that it is urine

but also whose.

 

We sing old songs to fill the air that fills

the rooms between other people’s dreams–

a violin among the dance shoes,

caped costumes and batarangs, 

tea at noon for twelve puppies and an octopus. 

 

The skies come to me these days.

 

As sure as my husband’s astrophysics,

my own sun and moon come bedside, gifts in tow at 6 a.m.–

Lego heroes in need of repair from their long night of sleep,

a sushi backpack full of marbles, missing jewelry, and silverware,

carried in with a blanket, blue as our Florida sky and covered

in white circles our smallest one calls “moons.”

 

We realize new dreams,

beaming at us, always whole.

evangelinecounter

April 1

Today’s prompt is “What kind of moonlight comes through your window, covers your lawn or glistens over the last of the snow?”

Share your moonlight poem in the comments, and join us tomorrow for another! 

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