Rogue Homilies by Deidre Price

a study of life that smacks of the divine

Tag: poet (page 1 of 2)

Do I Bother You Like Plexus? – #NPM15

I try not to talk about my weight
in the same way I try not to talk
about my children at work.

But I’ve become the elephant in the room,
conspicuous as a Cheerio stuck to my sleeve,
the constant yogurt on my shoulder.

Weight is easier to carry than pictures of my children.
I lose one and keep the other.
I bore easily at “my, they’ve grown.”
“My, you’ve grown” lives only in texts and whispers.

But online…

Online the potion peddlers find me,
give themselves away in Drink Pink! hashtaggery
hidden in sentences that wind
like country roads.

Online they tell me to Think!
But would you believe I work better with a little clutter?
And I’ve been thin before, so it’s nothing novel.

Online they meme away,
testify revival-tent-style,
selling something that will save us all.

But we all preach a little Plexus
with our causes and elbows we serve at the dinner table,
from Namaste to Obama,
War Eagle to Who Dat?
All cheers and jeers form alphabet soup
that stoops lower than the Tide sometimes.

I post poems like written saviors.
I say, “You can start today!
Everyone starts somewhere!
Ask me how!”

I share stories that aren’t mine
so you can see yourself in them,
at first before, then one day after
and you, the literary paper doll,
a living Mad Lib.

Take this sole solace:
At least there’s only one of me.

This poem was written as part of a poem-a-day challenge for National Poetry Month! Write your own and tag #npm15. And leave comments in response! I’d love to hear from you.

Remember that the poems that appear as part of this challenge are dirty drafts; they may change with each visit to the site.

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Dirty Apples and the Friends Who Eat Them – #NPM15

She wasn’t scared when I inquired about the state of her apples,

red and suspicious instead of delicious,

looking as though they’d been painted to look like mimes,

then wiped clean by a lazy person who may have mumbled,

“oil based” and “impossible,”

my go-to words for laundry and for art.

 

She said, “I soaked them in vinegar,

heard ten minutes does the trick.

So I soaked them all night.”

 

The wax gave up and fell,

dried back in new formations.

I swore I could see Dali’s clock on one,

sheet music on another,

a coffee mermaid,

Nietzsche’s moustache,

Doc McStuffins,

math and eggs,

little apples on the apples.

 

“Peel them!” I said and then waxed on

about big cancer counts in Washington,

how the peel’s the worst part.

I talked dirty dozens and pesticide hauntings,

whispering Monsanto.

 

“But the fiber!”

“Get organic!”

 

Another friend made a shoe shine motion on her thigh,

said she doesn’t wash them, just brushes them off knowingly—

like a Disney stepmother who’s already put poison inside.

 

“We just grab them off the counter.”

 

My mind limped back through all their kitchens,

IKEA bowls and see-through drawers.

 

Fear drove my worry to Washington and back,

mulling over seeds and stems, cores and flesh—

so many stovetop ciders—

 

the cold kind of fear that’ll find me faster than

any apple cancer can.

 

This poem was written as part of a poem-a-day challenge for National Poetry Month! Write your own and tag #npm15. And leave comments in response! I’d love to hear from you.

The poems that appear as part of this challenge are dirty drafts; they may change with each visit to the site. See you tomorrow!

xoxo,

Deidre, poet in progress

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April 4: Dorothy Parker

Dorothy Parker Fridays
 
I wear worry lines most days.
They trace the edges of my eyes
like war paint. 
On days when motherhood will not be enough,
I think of dark, short hair with waves
as unpredictable as mountain roads.
Twin backseat screams make short rides long,
force me back to long-lost days of boys and shows,
driving the wrong way down a one-way Pensacola street.
The ever-seventeen year old in me
cannot behave. She needs
a Dorothy Parker Friday
sometimes.
I dress my eyes in dark,
put the color of blood on my lips.
I vamp a little.
I polish up the skin of a self
pushed aside by another.
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April 3: Amy Riddell

Like a Butterfly
for Amy Riddell
With a mouthful of bean dip,
I told you across the table covered
in my sprawling prose pretending to be poetry,
“How do you do it? You’re like a boxer.
You keep your eyes open, your arms in—
always a jab waiting in the wings.
I don’t do that.
I flail.”
My poems are tired toddlers
or drunken protestors in the rain
with blistered feet and signs too wet to be read
so they just start swearing.
You see where to hit
and how hard.
You study soft spots on repeat,
recall how fast the other falls.
You know divots in the record,
hearing skips before they happen.
You’re in the ring until the ding,
the last one standing.
I want those wings
that make you
light enough

to float.
———-
Read selections from Amy Riddell’s Bullets in the Jewelry Box here. Then buy it. Lord have mercy, the things this poet does with words.

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April 2: William Carlos Williams

The Good Doctor
for William Carlos Williams
“You now officially have more information about me
than any other person on the planet,” I said,
handing over five small-print pages
where I checked family history
boxes beside disorders and cancers,
X-ing them hard,
layering death-black ink like superstitions
while tallying loves and losses,
counting on confessions to keep me safe.
In the waiting room, my mind wanders
as I wonder whether a sinning priest
can confess to himself.
Here, I think of you, William Carlos Williams,
the good doctor,
a wound in one hand,
a salve in the other,
never waiting in this room
to hear the sound of your own name.
You, the diagnostician,
must have known always what you had,
but in this waiting room
a woman who cannot heal herself
cries.
I finger-trace cures into idle hands,
stand by for white-coat wonders.
I want to write her well like you,
to save all the plums for her,
push her in red wheelbarrows home
where she can dance naked in front of a mirror,
afraid only of waking the baby,
her sweet Kathleen.
I am no cure.

I can only put her in a poem.
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April 1: Walt Whitman

To mark National Poetry Month, I will be penning and posting a poem a day to celebrate a poet I love. I admire regimens. I also admire forgiveness when I fail at them. Let’s be a team and give both a try!
One of my deepest high school crushes was Walt Whitman. He was my introduction to the kind of poetry that could take the top of my head off (borrowing here from Plath’s all-to-precise phrasing). Leaves of Grass changed the way I think about writing and life. It unshackled me. 
And so we begin with him, one of my very first loves.
Napping Lazarus
For Walt Whitman
Like a boy putting lemon juice between the lines,
you invisible inked me love letters
while I waited in the sleeping nothing
to be born.
You worked on me with whispers—
wake up, wake up, wake up—
turning into yawps,
pulling me out from beneath years of covers
onto Boston rooftops.
“All the good ones are dead!” I said,
wishing I’d been born Jesus,
you, my napping Lazarus.
Agrarian burial clothes might house
your hollow body,
empty even of that Massachusetts air.
I’d bring you back without question.
“Arise, Walt Whitman!
Come out!”
__________
Read Walt Whitman’s work at Poets.org

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Open Mouths and Open Mics

All that business about April being the cruelest month is true. (Eliot was right. Go figure.) I will add, however, that October and November can be incredibly hard on writers, too. Fall brings promises I cannot keep: a poem a day in October and a whole novel in November (visit NaNoWriMo.org for information about other crazies like me). If my day-to-day world didn’t look like it does, I might manage meeting an occasional high bar. Under the year’s circumstances, however, it looks like any influx of writing or reading is cause to celebrate.

I’m reminded this month of my brother and how I must have been an absolutely horrible big sister. I don’t recall ever losing a board game to him. It wasn’t because I was better at the games than he was. It was simply because I could read, and that made him believe I was telling the truth when I’d consult the instructions and “read” a new part we’d overlooked the first time, always an addendum to shift the game in my favor. Again, I was a horrible big sister. 
Elements of this sisterdom, no doubt, influence each semester’s syllabus redux, as I find it impossible to believe every grade issued is fair (whether high enough or low enough) and end up trying to rethink my methods so that students get exactly the grades they deserve, nothing more, nothing less. 
More elements of this sisterdom have also translated into my being exceedingly kind with my own deadlines and writing goals. Although NaNoWriMo has been a complete bust for me this year (only 4k so far), I have, in the process of procrastinating on this novel, ended up writing the starts of proposals for several CFPs, a few thank you cards to check off the never-ending list of people who feed and water me daily, a grocery list (which is hugely unlike me), and several buried emails and comments on late papers. Most days I’m lucky if I can get to a Facebook post–and even then, they’re usually the post equivalents of found poems, just words I hear in my house with my quarter-dozen children and Wayne Szalinski husband. Yes, that’s a hula hoop behind him. 
So, I keep moving the mark. Mothers, certainly, and writerly mothers, especially, must move that mark sometimes to keep from giving up entirely. Far more important than perfection is persistence. 
My twelve year old and I have recently parted reading ways. She has fallen in love with Dr. Who, Jericho, Heroes, and Supernatural; her shelves are filled with John Green, Veronica Roth, Rick Riordan, Christopher Paolini, and Suzanne Collins. I can’t keep up and, in some ways, don’t want to. She has reading worlds that are worlds apart from my own, worlds of apocalypses and made-up creatures, worlds of unlikely flirtations I don’t need anymore. 
I still crave the conversation, though. I still look for silent spaces so that I can peek into her world for a little while. Even if my own familiar narratives are not the same as her own, the love of a story translates, and I recognize the glow that happens upon her face when she emerges from the first chapter of a new book and has fallen in love, again. 
Until we meet back up on other aisles, I stay busy fueling her addiction by bringing home extra books, ordering surprise Amazon deliveries on Fridays, and taking the long way home from ballet to make impromptu stops at the bookstore when the babies are at home. When I see articles online, like one a friend posted about the Native American response to the celebration of Thanksgiving, I toss Daina an iPad and ask her opinion. Every day she is alive, she opens her eyes wider than she did the day before. But I want her to open her mouth, too–not only to relate, but to connect, to communicate, to do something with what she sees and what she knows. 
Tonight we went to an open mic night. I served as a judge, and she came to watch. Several of the pieces performed were poems, and so that gave us a chance to talk literature after the event. I asked her about the performance where the poet used two voices, yelling at himself to create tension through the dialogue. She said, “It was good but kind of scary. I told him I liked his hat last time I met him.” She moved right into telling me about an interaction with another writer in the crowd: “She asked me for a tampon one time, which means she must have been desperate. And it made me think she wasn’t afraid of anything.” 
I would have said something, but she kept talking: “That poem about the brother who died? That was a good poem, but I wouldn’t like it as much if it weren’t true. Do you think it was true? I’ll have to ask her sometime.” And then she said she wished another poet had been there, the one who writes about packing up things in her mother’s house. “She’s one of my favorites, and her daughter’s really nice,” she said. 
When I asked who her favorite tonight was, and her answer was “the flute player” who filled the gap when we were tallying up scores during intermission, I laughed and immediately realized that she gets it in ways I don’t. Far too often I worry about what she’s getting or not getting from the world. Is she reading the right things? Is she being challenged? Is she gleaning goodness from the people who surround us? When I told her the flute player wasn’t in the competition, she told me it didn’t matter: “I’ve never seen anyone play a flute that close to me before. It was great.” 
And so art finds her–music, beauty, books, the whole shebang. The conversations about hats and tampons and daughters are all creating the poem that she’s becoming. 
Life is happening whether I’m there during intermission or not. 
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Three Three-sentence Conversations (October 4-6)

My daughter wanted to see three fall subjects this time around: wolves, costumes, and leaves. She actually listed a fourth—pie—but I told her we’d already covered pie. She loves a good pie poem. And, yes, I’ve written others before.


one: WOLVES and the Dinner Date Cut Short
“I don’t believe in wolves,” he said.
Werewolves, you mean?” she said.
“What’s the difference?” he said.


two: COSTUMES and Sounds of Words
“You have to say it PE-can!” June said. Hand held out to the side her brother wasn’t on, fist clenched, she was done bargaining. “Say it right or starve, Andy. I ain’t messin’ around.”


three: LEAVES and Pages that Fall
            “What is it about fall that makes you get all nerdy about this reading stuff?”
“Something about the connection between leaves and pages, I think. They both turn, you know.”




She says tomorrow’s topic is skeletons. Until then…

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“Pumpkins and Patches” (October 3)

When Daina texted me my autumnal poem topic for the day, I was reminded about how twelve year olds live unimpressed. 


I hope you enjoy this poem. It caught me by surprise on my first reading. It could be a little moving if you’re feeling it. And here I was, thinking you might get a light, rhyming pumpkin poem out of me. It turns out pumpkins are deep. Who knew? 


Pumpkins and Patches 

Each October
middle schools hang in hallways
the false symmetry and even complexions
of orange orbs presented as pumpkins.

Topped with a stump of a stem,
a natural lattice for its pigtail vine,
a 45-degree angled leaf leans toward heaven,
its teleological nod.

Not one knows every pumpkin
has its ugly side

where it sat without sun
so that the rest of it
could grow.

Pumpkins aren’t so far from people.

Some of us sit among the pigs.

We wear patched pants,
our ugly sides to the earth.


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“The Caterpillar and the Horse” (October 2)

My darling Daina has assigned me the subject of pie for today’s autumnal post. Not having much to say about pie, I asked whether she was sure. Her response was, “It’s done, Mom. It’s pie.” So, here is a pie poem.

10.2 The Caterpillar and the Horse

“Are you content now?” said the Caterpillar.
“Well, I should like to be a little larger, sir if you wouldn’t mind,” said Alice: “three inches is such a wretched height to be.”
                                                      –Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

When a woman erects a zebra tent
on the first real day of “Florida fall,”
when the weather plays nicer
than her children often do—
when she showers then sweats,
feels her work heels drive
through soggy grass clippings
into a crack in the concrete
where only weeds live,

she expects

someone

to play

in it.

With one daughter too tall,
the other too small,
she looks for Alice desserts,
a Caterpillar mushroom in the shape of a pie
on dirty countertops and stained tablecloths,
near dusty bookshelves by fingerprint windows

to the sound of the perfect-sized son
screaming

because he cannot ride
the horse.

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