Sick

wolfmirror

There’s something in
the look you give.
There’s a taste
of fear — something’s
just about to break.

I’m the girl you’ve been
thinking about, I am
still here and you’re still
there; baby can you feel me?

I will take your breath away
as I look into your eyes.
I know just what that means
— now the dark begins.

To rise, arms wide open,
I will shut the world away,
save your breath –it’s far
from over. I’m never
gonna leave you,

So, how can this be —
you’re praying to me?
No mercy from the edge
of the blade, you’re beautiful!

As you tear me to pieces,
it feels better, biting down.
Is it sick of me to feed
the animal in you?
It’s dark in my imagination.

Now that you’re hooked,
it’s all becoming clear.
Don’t make a sound.
Are you sick, like me?

———-

POETIC FORM: ADAPTED GOLDEN SHOVEL

golden shovel – Take a line (or lines) from a poem you like. Use each word as an end word in your poem. Keep the end words in order. Credit the original poet, ie. “-after (poet)”.

This poem was compiled from a playlist, shared with me by my Wolf before our first impact play session. I did not follow the strict rules for a golden shovel poem as described above, but each line is culled from the lyrics of the songs in the playlist, with nothing extra added.

The playlist is as follows:

1 – Hail to the King – Avenged Sevenfold
2 – I Will Not Bow – Breaking Benjamin
3 – The Diary of Jane – Breaking Benjamin
4 – Dark in My Imagination – of Verona
5 – Wrong Side of Heaven – Five Finger Death Punch
6 – Ropes That Way – Dirty Ghosts
7 – Biting Down – Lorde
8 – Whore – In This Moment
9 – Sick Like Me – In This Moment
10 – Feel Me – Mecca Kalani

Burned Upon Her Skin

writing

I wrote a poem a few weeks ago, about my girlfriend, and her love of the woods. She and I have been enjoying this brief Autumn season, and escaping to the nearby hiking trails as often as the weather and our schedules allow — sometimes together, sometimes separately, chasing light and shadows, solitude and mental health. I posted more recently about how that is affecting my personal journey, in a post titled “The Way of Beauty”.

I’ve been sharing poetry with this amazing woman since we started dating, two months ago. I’ve introduced her to my favorites, like Tyler Knott GregsonBilly Collins, and Rives. She seems to love my addiction to language, and to not mind that I write poetry about my love for her.

In fact, a little over a week ago, she was planning a trip home to visit family (and her tattoo artist) and asked me how I felt about her incorporating some of my poetry into a tattoo. My immediate response was, “Of course! Once I share my poems, they belong to whoever reads them!”  She didn’t tell me which poem; she wanted to keep that a surprise, so no photos or hints until I picked her up from the airport on Sunday.

She’d been gone for four days, and when I met her in the waiting area just outside the terminal, I was breathless, struck by how amazing she looked in my favorite black shirt and some new plaid suspenders. I couldn’t stop  hugging and kissing her — and more than once I caught random strangers smiling at us.

I didn’t see the tattoo on her arm until she was loading her suitcase into my car, and though I expected to love it, I didn’t anticipate the feelings that washed over me. My throat constricted on the word, “Oh!” and my eyes welled up with tears. My words, spilled for her from my own pen, were etched into her beautiful skin, so she could see them for the rest of her life. I couldn’t stop touching them, tracing the letters with my fingers. I’ve been lucky enough to have my work published before, but I don’t think I will ever feel the way I felt standing there, reading her arm.

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The fantastic thing, is that the words are hers. They belong to her — belong on her body. They fit, and always will. That’s what happens when we send our words out into the world. Those who read them make them their own, bring them to life. They are made richer, deeper, and more breathtaking. It’s a thing that always amazes me about writing poetry. What a wild, wonderful privilege it is to witness!

 

The poem in its entirety, is posted below. I hope you find something in it, gentle reader, that speaks to you, and as always, I thank you for doing your part, reading my words, and making them live.

———-

wolvesrunning

THE WOODS ARE WHERE YOU’VE BEEN

The scent of wind is burned upon your skin —
You’ve run with wolves, while howling at the night,
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.

I know the weight of life has worn you thin —
Within your eyes a hunger burns so bright,
The scent of wind is burned upon your skin.

I hear the echoes of your howls again —
I hope that you’ve been strengthened by your flight.
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.

You look at me, and my head starts to spin —
I find my thoughts are rude and impolite!
The scent of wind is burned upon your skin.

I can’t control this flood I’m holding in —
I ache to break for you, to scream and fight,
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.

The smell of you turns all my flesh to sin —
till every touch becomes a sacred rite,
The scent of wind is burned upon your skin,
and I can tell the woods are where you’ve been.

———-

POETIC FORM:

The villanelle is a French form, consisting of five tercets and a quatrain with line lengths of 8-10 syllables. The first and third lines of the first stanza become refrains that repeat throughout the poem.

FORM DIAGRAM:

A(1)
b
A(2)
a
b
A(1)
a
b
A(2)
a
b
A(1)
a
b
A(2)
a
b
A(1)
A(2)

 

 

Risky Business

keep-calm-and-fall-in-love-with-a-poet

So you want to love a poet? I can tell. I see the light in your eyes when I mention it, see how your skin ripples with that frisson of life as you nod enthusiastic assent. I know well this thrill you feel! I can assure you. There is a sort of romance in the idea, an excitement — I know you see, for I have loved a few poets in my life. They are a magical breed, an odd lot who see the world through a slightly different lens. I have loved them, yes — and lived to tell the tale — though perhaps, the reason is that I too am a poet. It is ink that runs through my veins, and I know what it is like to be loved by one who may not truly know what a messy, wonderful, risky thing this loving a poet can be.

I am here to tell you a truth — there is a risk to giving your love to a poet. I admonish you, do not enter her world blindly, seeking to know her heart, drawn by the magic you see like fireflies to tall grass in a summertime back yard. We are a lot of scrappers. We are able spies. We are thieves. We will do whatever it takes to ply our lyrical trade, to work our spells and create our poetic art. You — especially if we are in love with you, too — are not safe from our trickster ways! Consider this fair warning, we are good at what we do. There is no other way, it is in our genes, in our blood, and it is what you risk, when we choose to share our hearts with you.

A clever poet will a rifle through your pockets, scrabble through your text messages, raid your innocent (and not so innocent) conversations —  for language, for phrases that either please our ears or prick our skin. We’ll even steal from those odd and funny things you mumble when you’re talking in your sleep. We’ll carry pocket notebooks, and stubby pencils, licking the lead once or thrice before we jot them down on scraps of paper, fill our own pockets, steal napkins and matchbooks, text ourselves  to catch thousands of letters and words, just so we can stash them away, sift them through our fingers, like a king counting gold coins in the depths of his castle, as the magpies look greedily on.

We will watch you hawkishly, like spies, alert for the slightest change in your facial expressions. We’ll make note of the way your body moves when you shift in your chair, or stroll toward us up the driveway. We’ll watch the way your mouth moves when you smile, and the way your breath catches in your throat when you say our name. We will record every hungry, probing kiss, every blazing touch that sets our skin on fire, we will make ebony ink from the ashes and and we will spill that ink, in copious amounts, attempting to capture the essence of these moments with you. We are bound by our very nature to repeat this exercise a hundred thousand times or more, for as long as you allow us to, chasing your light, your darkness, your essence, with our ink stained fingers gripping worn out pens.

We will steal from you, the notes you scratch on the edges of the pages in your favorite books, your late night love song dedications, your starry-eyed gazes at the full moon in the midnight sky, your rumbling growls of desire and your steamy sighs of satisfied release. We will listen in, as you sing in the shower, or tell jokes to your friends, we will draw from your your childhood stories, like pirates stealing jewels and gold doubloons. We will take whatever we can — your beating heart, your faltering breath, your ability to think, to form sentences, to express yourself clearly — so intoxicated will you be on the air we breathe. Are you prepared to surrender these things, to love us? For this is the risk of loving a poet, I can tell you there’s nothing more true. The costs should be carefully weighed, before you choose.

But take heart my friend, for the rewards of loving a poet are many, and may well outweigh the price you’d pay. The treasure lies in the music of our verses, the passion in our lovemaking, the soft sounds that spill from the backs of our throats, the ecstasy of meeting our eyes across a crowded room. These things will be worth the risk, if you truly love one of us.   We will help you see the world with new eyes, show you how the trees sing to the night sky, and the way the shadows march across the hill in a fiery sunset. We will point out the way the sunlight creates the shadow, defining the beautiful curve of a face, and how a dotted yellow line unfurls like ribbon down an endless highway — we’ll make you want to chase it like a playful cat. You’ll find our inky fingerprints on your tingling skin, and note how our spoken rhymes match the rhythm of your beating pulse. We will be the drums that move your hips and feet, and remind you how wonderful it is just to be alive.

So come with us, if you dare. Fall in love with a poet, and dance along the edge of the sea. Empty your pockets, your heart, and your mouth of the words we need, and we will repay you a million times over, with music and beauty and love. We will write you into our lives with indelible ink, and you will be the poem we create. Keep calm, and fall in love!

With You (a quatern)

peace

With you I find a concrete peace,
though life may tilt and earth may slide.
We chase the light, we find release.
I fly when you are by my side.
We find the woods; we breathe fresh air.
(With you I find a concrete peace.)
We make a path we two can share —
feet in the earth, heads in the trees.
My worries quiet, my fears decrease.
I’ll follow you to any length.
With you I find a concrete peace,
and in your eyes I see my strength.
Though it may be the darkest night,
I feel my confidence increase.
Your hand in mine, my world’s set right —
with you I find a concrete peace.
—–
POETIC FORM: QUATERN
A sixteen line French form composed of four quatrains similar to the Kyrielle and the Retourne. The 1st line of stanza one is the refrain, which becomes the 2nd line of stanza two, 3rd line of stanza three, and 4th line of stanza four. A quatern has eight syllables per line. There are no requirements regarding meter or rhyme scheme.
FORM DIAGRAM:
line 1
line 2
line 3
line 4
line 5
line 6 (line 1)
line 7
line 8
line 9
line 10
line 11 (line 1)
line 12
line 13
line 14
line 15
line 16 (line 1)

The Way of Beauty

“You can put yourself in the way of beauty.”

“This has the power to fill you up again, if you’ll let it.”

“My life -like all lives- mysterious, irrevocable and sacred, so very close, so very present, so very belonging to me. How wild it was, to let it be.”

Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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The Creek – Mohawk Park, Tulsa, OK – taken with Galaxy Note 4

I am fortunate to be in a new, long-term, romantic relationship with a fearless, beautiful, loving, polyamorous woman, who calls me her Mond (the German word for Moon.) I call her my Wolf. On one of our first dates, my she-Wolf and I watched the movie, Wild, with Reese Witherspoon in the lead role. Throughout her excellent performance, I was struck by the courage of Cheryl Strayed, who set out to conquer the Pacific Crest Trail, and succeeded, then wrote her memoirs about the life-changing experience of finding herself, and the woman her mother knew she could be.

I was also touched by the several literary references, the quotes of poetry, and the quotable passages from Cheryl’s book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail. It has now found it’s home on my ‘books to-be-read’ list. Watching the movie planted a seed in me. It made me ache to push and challenge myself in a new way. By the time it was finished, I was determined to find opportunities to ‘put myself in the way of beauty’.

I have, for too many years, been the girl who let her physical limitations get the best of her. I’ve been out of shape for a long time, and haven’t chosen to do much about it. I have been convinced that I couldn’t, and shouldn’t risk it, when it came to intense physical activity, and though I know that intensity is relative, what I previously considered too risky, and a bad idea, really isn’t. I’m learning I was wrong.

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My Favorite Bridge – Mohawk Park, Tulsa, OK – taken with Galaxy Note 4

The past several weeks have been both wonderful, and deeply stressful, and that is nothing new. I’ve chosen a complex, crowded, polyamorous life, with a house full of my three adult children, a son-in-law, two grandsons, my husband, three pets, multiple polyamorous lovers and metamours, and often more people than beds or chairs in which to sit– and with it comes all the agony and ecstasy one person can hold.

I wouldn’t trade my life for the entire world.

The thing you should know about my she-Wolf is that she is strong, and fierce, and physical! She’s a master welder, a hiker, a runner, a primal, dominant woman who is most at home in the woods. Our very first date, we spent sitting on a huge bolder overlooking a ravine, and we talked about everything under the sun, as it set behind the trees. Even that evening, she challenged me to face my fear of heights, and trust her to keep me safe.

Her quiet strength has been something I needed before I ever knew I would. She came along and made a place in my heart and life, just in time to offer me a very different kind of strength from any other I know, which is remarkable, because I have several amazing, rewarding, romantic relationships with incredibly strong, smart people. I spent some time on the phone this morning with my she-Wolf’s wife — an equally beautiful, strong, intelligent woman, and we both agree — we are stronger, empowered beside her. She brings out belief in ourselves, and that is an incredible thing to discover next to someone so very generous and strong.

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Mirrored Trees – Mohawk Park, Tulsa, OK – taken with Galaxy Note 4

My she-Wolf pulls strength from me; she challenges me to be better, to try harder, and to attempt new things I wouldn’t have tried six months ago. In the past few weeks, because of her, I’ve found my feet climbing over stones and boulders, stepping around sleeping snakes and poison ivy, standing on remote, rocky paths through thick underbrush and magnificent trees — chasing sunlight, chasing shadows, chasing peace.

I’ve often sat listening in the woods — where the nearest human being was well out of sight and earshot. No doubt there were birds, snakes, beavers, mice, deer, badgers and a host of other animals much nearer than any person who might be able to hear my voice. I have found, as I stood or sat in this wilderness, I am mostly listening to myself. I have been pushing myself farther down the trail, deeper into the forest, stretching my sore muscles, and I’ve kept going when before, I might have given up and turned back.

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My Feet on the Path – Mohawk Park, Tulsa, OK – taken with Galaxy Note 4

It’s an amazing feeling to step off of the well-traveled road, and onto the rocky path through the trees like Robert Frost. It feeds my spirit to see such beauty — the sinking sun setting the the trees on fire, the stillness of a creek so placid that it mirrors the sky, the rocks that look like the back of some great dragon beneath the earth, and even the leaf-strewn dirt beneath my feet. It feels incredibly satisfying to challenge and push myself this way — and it is partly inspired by the way she looks at me, the way with all her strength and beauty, she believes in me.  She makes me want to be a better version of myself, to be the stronger, brighter light she sees in me. I am different, because of who she is when she’s with me, who she is with everyone I’ve had the privilege to see and know, and that is the most incredible gift.

I am changing. As I mentioned, the days of my life are filled lately with turmoil. My family is fighting for one of our own, as she battles against insidious mental illness. There are days when I feel powerful and determined. There are also days when I am not sure how much more I can take. But I usually find strength I didn’t know I had. I love fiercely, and am well aware that the love I’m given strengthens me for the days ahead. I purposely step into the woods, once or twice a week, just to replenish the well of reserve that we, as a family, so desperately need.

I put myself in the way of beauty, and I find it… in the trees, and on the path, in the eyes of my She-Wolf, and in other lovers who are amazing in my world. I count my blessings, and I draw from the gifts I hold in my open hands. My life is changed, and I hope every day that the people I love, find beauty and strength in me — as I do in them.

Billye Lane

highwaychild

She’s a red-head, gypsy
a highway child —
with earth stains on her feet.
She’ll woo you with whimsy,
and drive you wild —
then leave you in the street.

—–

Alchemical flames
from the moment you touch her
Abandon your hope
Let go of your goal
The picture you take is all that you’ll
keep of her —
Except for the brand that she
leaves on your soul.

 

—–

 

POET NOTES:

I wrote the preceding poem for the August Postcard Poetry Festival, and mailed it off to fellow festival participant, Lucia Sanford.  She replied a few weeks later, with a response poem, indicated above with italics.

Spilled Milky Way (a golden shovel poem)

inkspill

This summer night is overflowing
with glittering ink from the heavens
from an upturned bottle of
ebony, running thickly, squandered
against a pin-pricked page of stars

—–

POETIC FORM – Golden Shovel

-Take a line (or lines) from a poem you admire.
-Use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem.
-Keep the end words in order.
-Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
-The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.
-If you pull a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. If you pull a stanza with 24 words, your poem would be 24 lines long. And so on.