Button eyes, sewn smiles;
Under the seams runs the pain.
Each stitch, a heartache.
Fabric scraps and time
(Endless and empty hours)
Are her legacy;
Proud to handcraft well-loved toys
For their own children.
But her kids don’t come.
They’ve grown, have kids of their own
Who don’t know her name,
Of her arthritic fingers,
Or her depth of love
(Her depth of sorrow,
Should be left, she thinks, unknown).
She threads her needle.
From every corner,
Button eyes watch in silence
As she starts to stitch.
Prompt Day Eight: I followed the prompt, visiting @carsonbot and choosing a line to become the basis of my poem. My line was, “under the seams runs the pain.”
The trash can crashes;
My son throws back the curtain.
A band of vagrant thieves
Flee like masked bandits;
The teeth-chattering echo
Of their claws follow.
Prompt Day Seven: Went off-prompt. Today was so busy, I didn’t attempt until 10 pm when I asked my husband what I should write about for a quick poem, and he said, “raccoons.”
Near dusk, the sunset
Glints ochre off white headstones
A warm, earthy glow
Like the self-same clay
From which God molded Adam,
Or the tawny glint
Of broken halos, rusting
As God shook his head
Prompt Day Six: Went off prompt. I miss sunset drives.
March seemed eternal, yet
How far removed I feel today
From the ice-capped mornings,
Watching the snow melt out
In an ever widening radius
From the hot-spot epicenters
Above the rabbit burrows.
But today, buds like tight-clenched fists
Shake beneath the weight of birds
Hopping anxiously on the boughs
Of trees, worrying small stones
They take for bread, wondering
Where we’ve all gone, when
The shuffling, kerchiefed women
Will again open their doors,
to toss out seed for them.
Prompt Day Five: Went off-prompt today. I’ve been having a rough weekend, emotionally, in fits and patches. I’ve also been overthinking all my poems, as I tend to do, but I’m proud of this one. For once I turned my brain off, and this happened in about ten minutes. It’s not ground-breaking, but I’m happy with it. I’ll take it.
Grandma had always been eccentric.
The straw men in each room, recumbent
Sitting in dusty rockers whose runner
Had worn grooves in the spongy linoleum,
Or propped in corners like penitent drunks
Seemed emblematic of her quirks.
It was easy to ignore the creeping unease,
The way their lifeless eyes seemed to track
Your movements through the rooms,
How their sun-bleached linen shirts always felt
Just a shade too warm for their dark corners.
That night, packing away the remnants of her life,
A sound, the push-broom scratch of sweeping,
Woosh, woosh, the dragging sigh of bristles on the floor.
I thought of straw-footed men, the shuffling dances
My grandfather would perform after too much wine.
The sheets still smell like her, laying, as I do,
Cradling a pillow to my chest; the sweet-grass smell
Of dry Bermuda hay and earthy alfalfa. I close my eyes.
Once, stirred half from sleep, I thought I sensed a shadow
Cross my face, the soft-bristled whisper of straw sweeping,
Sweeping, sweeping across the floor.
Day Four Prompt: A poem based on an image from a dream, this feels incomplete (especially when you know the full context; see below), but try as I might, I couldn’t get a satisfying ending given the time constraints. Also, since I don’t generally remember my dreams, this was taken from a dream my sister recounted to me a while ago via Facebook Messenger:
Monarchs in April
Each spring, the milkweed
Warm, honey-spiced, and piquant
Tempts the butterflies;
Umbels bobbing in the breeze
Monarchs stop to perch
Sunning cathedral glass wings
Luminous and frail
Leaving behind eggs
Dotting leaves like fine brocade
Or fragile beading
Day Three Prompt: Involved making a list of words and finding other rhyming words via an online rhyming dictionary. The only thing I wound up keeping (despite having done the initial exercise!) was one of the original words I came up with (piquant, courtesy a random word generator). Nothing else from the exercise appeared in this haiku sequence, ha ha.
Those April mornings
As dew clung to my nightgown
And grass prickled my feet,
The earth tempted my tongue:
The tender taste of clover,
And yellow woodsorrel,
With its soft citrus;
Dandelion’s earthy bite,
And the nutty tang of violets.
I explored the world
Through taste, savoring flavor,
I’ve since discovered,
Your tongue moving against mine,
That I haven’t changed.
Day Two Prompt: “Write a poem about a specific place — a particular house or store or school or office.” This started out as an attempt at that, reminiscing about how my friends and I, at age nine or ten, would wander out into gardens and seek out clovers to chew on. Things sort of went awry from there.
the scent of argan oil, of pungent earth
Warmed between glistening palms
Ease through dampened curls —
Pull taut the strands with practiced ease and lace,
Over and under, warp and weft,
A perfect, shining plait.
Lethargy creeps; arthritic and insidious
To claw and snag and snap dead-ends;
My hair a static cloud, a white-noise halo,
A hornet’s nest alive and angry,
A vengeful snare of knots and tangles
Laying waste to fragile fingers.
I touch, with reverent fingers, tangles
Like wild bramble growing unrestrained
Beneath cool-shade canopies;
The green-earth smell of argan remembers
Tender hands taming unruly tendrils, promises
Roses once again among the thorns.
Day 1 Prompt: “I’d like to challenge you to write a self-portrait poem in which you make a specific action a metaphor for your life – one that typically isn’t done all that often, or only in specific circumstances. For example, bowling, or shopping for socks, or shoveling snow, or teaching a child to tie its shoes.”