He Did (an erasure poem)

He Did (a redacted poem)

It is a Friday,
three days after I go straight–
and I don’t know who will
walk up the street to
see the poets these days.

I go on, and he
doesn’t even look up.
I get a little ink,
but I don’t go to sleep.

I just stroll into the lane
and ask where
I came from,
in the heat.

I am sweating
and thinking of
leaning on John,
while he whispered.

He stopped.

-Pen Connor 2015

—–

POETIC FORM: An Erasure Poem

—–

PROMPT:

Redacted

To earn the “Redacted” badge, visit http://www.erasures.org and follow the directions to drag the blackout icon to your tool bar. From there, navigate to a website or other source text. Click on the blackout icon to activate the tool, then use your mouse to highlight words on the screen. As you highlight sections and release your mouse, you will see a black bar appear over them, digitally blacking them out. Leave only the words that comprise your poem exposed. Take a screenshot(s) of your finished product and post it to the site. To learn how to take a screenshot based on your operating system, visithttp://www.take-a-screenshot.org/. Credit your source text at the bottom of your post.
—–

PoMoSco (Poetry Month Scouts)
Found Poetry Review’s 2015 National Poetry Month Project

– April 2015 – 213 poets joined together as a troop to earn digital merit badges for completing experimental and found poetry prompts.
– Prompts are divided into five categories – remixing, erasure, out and about, conceptual and chance operation.
– Each category offers six distinct badges to be earned.
– Poets choose their own source text.
– For more information, check out pomosco.com.

A dear friend and fabulous poet, Von Thompson, is a participant. When she told me about the challenge, I decided to play along at home.

—–

SOURCE TEXT:

The Poetry Foundation (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171368)
Frank O’Hara, “The Day Lady Died” from Lunch Poems. Copyright © 1964 by Frank O’Hara. Reprinted (on the Poetry Foundation site) with the permission of City Lights Books.
Source: The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara (1995)

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I Do Not Know (a remixing poem – cento)

manwomanmeet

As a kid, I would count backwards
from ten and imagine at one,
patience and love agreed
to meet at a set time and place,
beneath the questions you
had never asked.

His voice in this room,
her eyes a closed book—
“I barely know you,” she says,
voice heavy with sleep.
“I don’t know,
no one truly knows,
who they are,” he sighs.

The glass bottle does
anything and everything,
always seeking.
Dawn turns to day —
it happens like this:

One day you meet someone,
and for some the answer is
“Yes, always yes! I cannot
deny you anything!

You — do you remember
our first day? The fog lifted
and all around us,
I  saw a dream.
We said hello at half past one.

It was one of those nights
that you are not altogether
sure, really. I did not know —
perhaps I never loved enough.
As the earth began spinning
faster and faster, we floated.

“Be careful about giving your
heart too quickly,” I was told.
“Love a girl who writes.”

There is a tide that rolls away,
like time suspended —
the path from you extending.
For all the time I’ve known you,
in a sea of strangers,
you were the one —

A midnight scribble
stretching out from here to then,
You were faultless.
Do you see?
You may not know.
You are the moment before
the sun sinks into the horizon.

The timing is irrelevant when
two people are meant for each other.
It’s your love I once surrendered.
Do you remember
what you once said to me?

“When two souls fall in love,
there is nothing else
but the yearning—
sorrow tells stories.”
I wonder if there will be a morning
when you’ll wake up missing.

Do you know that feeling—
when it’s like you’ve lost something?
“I don’t know what to say,” he said.
“There are people I will never know—
I am somebody else’s story.”

—–

POETIC FORM: A Remixing Poem

—–
PROMPT:
FirstInLine
To earn the First in Line badge, choose a published collection of poems by a single poet. Copy down the first line of each poem in the collection. Craft a poem using select lines from your list — you must keep the wording of the original lines intact, but may make alterations to elements like line breaks, punctuation and capitalization. The challenge with this form (often called a cento) is to use another poet’s lines to create a piece that sounds like it’s from YOUR voice.
For an example of a poem created using the first lines of other texts, check out Alex MacDonald’s “Free Verse Cento”:http://campus.poetryschool.com/free-verse-cento/
Credit your source collection and specific poems excerpted at the bottom of your post.
—–
PoMoSco (Poetry Month Scouts)
Found Poetry Review’s 2015 National Poetry Month Project
– April 2015 – 213 poets joined together as a troop to earn digital merit badges for completing experimental and found poetry prompts.
– Prompts are divided into five categories – remixing, erasure, out and about, conceptual and chance operation.
– Each category offers six distinct badges to be earned.
– Poets choose their own source text.
– For more information, check out pomosco.com.
A dear friend and fabulous poet, Von Thompson,  is a participant. When she told me about the challenge, I decided to play along at home.
—–
SOURCE TEXT: Lullabies by Lang Leav

From the Ashes

image

I followed you, then
into the woods
trusting our love to shelter

running headlong
down tangled paths
chasing the sparks with you

we knew the dangers
truths we did not tell hearts
trusting our love to bend

lightning eventually struck
change we did not seek
ravaged our forest in flames

we stumbled from the inferno
singed, smelling of smoke
burned and barely able to breathe

blindly we reached, clasping hands
prayed for healing rain
trusting our love to survive

and so the rains did come
tears and ink have flowed
washed away the worst of hurts

now we stand dripping
gaze into each other’s eyes
trusting our love to stretch

testing our wings and voices
we declare our committment
we are transformed, stronger

on new winds of passion
we spread our healing wings
trusting our love to fly

we will rise from these ashes
as the forest begins to green
like a phoenix, together we’ll soar

Telling Myself the Truth

cold

Some days when I think about writing poetry, the right words hide behind clouds, and the phrases sound like children’s songs… very sad, awkward, nursery rhymes… and so, I pick up my pen and write a letter, or pick up my paintbrush and dabble in color, or I cover my head with a blanket, and read a fairy-tale that sounds like …a thousand, awkward, sad nursery rhymes.

Some days, when I want to write memoir, I worry that my life is too boring. I can’t think of anything good to say, and I can’t complain, because life is okay. I think about the past year, and the road ahead, and today looks so much like a hundred before, that I am bored. Thankful, but not really living a life I’d want to read about.

Some days I just focus on Facebook, and catching up on the shows that fill my DVR, and folding laundry, or washing the same dozen dishes, again… and again… and again.  Sometimes the real poem, the real story is going on under the surface, behind the scenes. Sometimes it looks blurry, and I can’t find my glasses, and I don’t really know how to tell it anyway. Even now, as I type those words, Emily Dickinson’s “Tell all the truth but tell it slant —” slides across the backs of my eyes like a ticker-tape.

The truth is, I’ve been stacking writer’s blocks.

The ink in my veins is sitting patiently, while I stare out of the window, and wonder where the muse went. She is here, too. Waiting for me, to pick up my pen and “keep your hand moving”  like Natalie Goldberg taught me. I know the answer is in this simple movement… this reflex gesture that has become my auto-response to life… until it isn’t.

They say it takes two and a half years to get over the death of a five-year relationship. I’m thirteen months in, and I just want to take off this heaviness, like a winter coat, toss it onto the floor, and stand in the sun.

But baby, it’s still cold outside.

I’ve been afraid to break open my heart, and spill its contents onto the page, because I’m tired of finding the same, dry, tired grief inside. So I’ve been stealing masking tape, and twine, sealing wax and chewing gum, I’ve been sealing up the edges and binding up the seams so that nothing can escape.  Still I’ve been smart enough to pour in good poetry, great fiction, hopes and dreams and watercolor paintings. I know how my heart works.

While the ink waits, I feed it, with these things. So when my courage finds the right crack, The language will be there to push the ink out.

Today, I’ll just go through the motions, and hope.

When Love Walks Away – An “Ask Pen” Article

askpen

The latest “Ask Pen” post is up over at OKPolyNetwork.com. This one was not an easy one to write but it seems the time was right to dive in. To all my friends who are dealing with changes and break-ups in poly relationships, don’t give up. There’s hope.

I’d love some feedback, if you’re up for reading:

When Love Walks Away…

 

with ink and affection,

PenSig50

Collateral Damage

Relationships have peaks and valleys. To make a relationship last…people must be committed to the climbs, just as much as they are to admiring the grand views.

~Kaliana Dietrich

 

Sometimes an argument saves a relationship, whereas silence breaks it. Speak up for your heart so that you won’t have regrets. Life is not about making others happy. Life is about being honest and sharing your happiness with others.

~unknown

Sometimes, just writing the hard stuff, without drawing conclusions, without sharing lessons learned, is what is most needed. Today, I need to write this experience, just as I do others, so I can continue my journey. I hope it offers some backstory and perspective on what break-ups — monogamous or polyamorous — can be like.

sad-alone-girl-black-and-white-water

I knew, when we met, in June 2010, that he was different. When he spoke about polyamory, and how people should be treated, he gave words to the conclusions I’d been drawing, as I sorted out my own philosophy, building poly relationships that were honorable, ethical, and designed to last a lifetime. The more he talked, the more I knew he was someone I could fall in love with, my heart would be safe. He had a primary relationship; he lived in Dallas and she in Houston. I knew and accepted that — even when his primary didn’t treat me with respect. I worked hard to find and live within the boundaries that made up his life, hoping he’d defend my heart, if his primary decided to use it for target practice. He, in turn, respected my marriage from the start.

I fell in love, trusting him completely.

In April, 2011, he began dating someone new. She too lived in Dallas, while I lived 251 miles away. Things between us began to shift. Time once spent on the phone with me was now filled with date nights, and weekend trips with her. It was NRE (new relationship energy). I was glad for him, but scared. We scheduled our weekends, talked through the changes, and he affirmed his commitment to me. I affirmed mine to him. I met new girl in May 2011, and she was beautiful, inside and out, genuine, caring, and head over heels with him. Together they glowed. I was very glad to see him smile, after so much hurt and upheaval in his primary relationship. She was a bright light in a room of shadows.

I liked her, and she scared me.

I was insecure, fearing he’d only been poly because he hadn’t found the right one yet. Maybe she was the right one, and I’d get squeezed out, as their relationship grew. I let those fears beat me up, especially when a few months later, his primary partner decided the new girl and I were both, indeed, disposable — and I should be the first to go.

New girl did something amazing. She stood up for me, fought for his love for me, and encouraged him to do the same. She spoke up and didn’t back down when it got ugly and difficult, supporting him while he broken-heartedly went into battle for me, and the polyamorous life he’d planned. I supported him too — from afar — but she was there in the trenches. I was thankful she’d come into our lives and loved her for being brave.

His primary relationship did not survive.

It died in December 2011 and like a wall of love we came together, surrounding him and sharing his grief. We loved him, and respected each other, and it was good.  I learned over the next several weeks how tenuous my place in his life had really been as his primary partner had attacked. I heard of new girl’s support, and how she’d been heart-broken by his pain. I was grateful, and yet, insecure. It might not make sense now, but then I was rattled by the depth of their connection, and the fact that I was so in the dark about the battle they’d been fighting for me. He’d not told me any of it. Communication was not his strength.

Turns out, communication wasn’t a strength for any of us.

In February 2012, he and I had plans to celebrate a late Valentine’s weekend, here at a local B&B — at the last minute told me new girl was coming along, and staying in our suite. I didn’t flex well. I panicked, and the resulting conversations only made things worse. He finally insisted she come, when she felt unwanted.  He insisted I trust him, as he wanted to talk to both of us. We were both physically ill, scared, and flying blind, But we trusted him, and when we came together for a heart to heart, we trusted each other.

That night in our suite, he declared his decision to make us both the core of his world… dual primary partners, each with different relationships, but neither with more importance or value than the other. He announced his intention to hold public commitment ceremonies with each of us, and to build a better life. Throughout that beautiful weekend, we talked and talked, vulnerability and fear giving way to trust. The walls between us crumbled, and we cried with relief in a three-part embrace.

Then it happened. It had been happening, but I’d been scared to trust… and on that day, seeing her vulnerability and beauty, and knowing my own, I took a risk… and I kissed her. We dropped our defenses, and began to fall in love. I was terrified, and I’m not sure that she wasn’t, too.  But buoyed by his love, and the trust we were experiencing, I let myself leap into an unknown place, opening my heart for the first time ever, to be loved by and to love a woman… her.

It was probably the best weekend we ever had.

The next year and eight months were filled with ups and downs. We argued a lot, and didn’t communicate enough. There were discrepancies, misunderstandings, and occasionally wonderful times in a huge king-sized bed. We shared trips, came out to some family, attended poly events and funerals… there was some good. But, communication about basics, like the structure of our triad, the individual relationships, the future, commitment ceremonies, designations like “fiancee'” and “girlfriend”, living arrangements, and expectations was not clear.

Eventually he moved in with new girl, and prepared to sell his condo. She proposed; he accepted. She expressed a need to be primary, insisting he declare her publicly as such.  I asked him for clarity, guidelines regarding what he needed from our relationship. He insisted I was still primary, too. No one came before me, no one came before her. I asked her for clarity, and it became clear that her views were not the same as his. I asked for triad conversations, which erupted into arguments without actually addressing the questions. When put on the spot in those triad discussions, he clammed up, afraid of hurting her, or hurting me.

The chasm widened; the pain continued.

I failed at communicating. Instead of pressing for clarity, I tried not to rock the boat. I believed him, when he said his feelings and plans with me hadn’t changed. I went on planning, hoping that things would get better. He failed at communicating, hoping the storms would blow over. For over a year, my fears and hers made it impossible for the two of us to explore the love we’d hoped to grow. She failed at communicating her needs and fears to him, and she stopped communicating with me. We were all hurting, wounded, and avoiding pain.

In October of 2013, she declared to him that she was done. She insisted he dump me, declared me toxic to their marriage plans and future happiness. She insisted I never wanted her, and wanted him all to myself. He gave me the news over the phone, that she was unwilling to continue, asked me for time to sort out his life, as his plans and dreams for our triad had just blown up.

So, I waited, mourning the loss of her love, alone.

In theweeks to follow, he gave me hope that he could make the transition from a triad to a V relationship. I waited in near silence for six months, until in April, 2014, he told me, he couldn’t continue. She was forcing him to choose. Though he still loved me, he had to end our relationship to save theirs. He swore he would fight to build a future with room for me. She — after six months of silence toward me — emailed him, my husband, and me, to make it clear she’d never permit him to have a relationship with me.

Two days later, they married and flew off to a European honeymoon.

I mourned the loss of my relationship with him, alone.

Today, he’s still trying to change the future. Today, she still wants me to disappear. Today, I am his friend. For ten months, I’ve been collateral damage, fallout from a polyamorous triad explosion. But, the road ahead keeps going. I know I am a good friend, a good poly partner, a good lover…

…and I will find my own way. 

 

girl walking__ (2)

The Morning After

Sunrise-1105725567

“Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.” ~Leo Tolstoy

“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”  ~Anne Lamott

“Grief does not change you, Hazel. It reveals you.”  ~John Green, The Fault in Our Stars
I didn’t write in May. Not a poem, not a blog post, not a journal entry.  I was too exhausted, too empty. Some days I didn’t even make it out of bed. I’m not too sure I wrote anyone a decent email, save the ones I wrote to “him”. We spent much of the month of May, and part of June conversing in emails and text messages, and sorting through the rubble of our life together. This might seem an alien sort of undertaking. You may think me a glutton for pain, or too kindhearted in my efforts to honor my heart, and my love for a man who after five years made the choice to end our relationship because his other lover insisted he choose or lose her. The truth is, I’ve wondered whether it might be easier to just hold my anger tightly, and walk away. In fact, I tried to do just that. In April, while they were on their honeymoon in Ireland, I spent two weeks fortifying my decision to stop allowing myself to be hurt by these two people I’d once promised to love forever. I was spent, and could not bear any more. I was relieved at the silence after six months of turmoil and grief. But I did not stay there.

 

For me, there is a rightness in finding understanding and healing after such a traumatic, painful breakup. The truth is, the work is hard. I finally had the chance in recent weeks to share some of my deepest hurts from this experience. I also heard some of his deepest hurts, and accepted my responsibility for some of his pain. I can tell you, it sucks. I’ve spent days, crying, sobbing out that pain and frustration. I’ve talked about what we’ve learned, what we would change, and what we will do differently going forward. I’ve heard things that made it very difficult to hold onto my own self-righteous anger, and things that pushed me to acknowledge humanity and a need for forgiveness and understanding in those who hurt me.

 

I have learned how to ask for help, and I’ve enlisted some help in healing my own life. I am living again, being productive, creative and active. My heart is stronger, and “he” is my friend. I’m learning to be  good friend to him. Maybe, somewhere in the future, there will be a friendship with “her”. I don’t know. I just know that I feel good about the work I’ve been doing, and I can see light at the end of this dark night. The sun is coming and I can’t wait to feel her warmth on my shoulders. Life is good, even when it hurts. I’m glad to be here, in the light.

Prayer Before Bed (a pantoum)

sleeping woman in bed of leaves stone

While I settle to the ground,
close my eyes and try to breathe,
while the forest fills with sound–
silence whispers, underneath.

I close my eyes, struggle to breathe.
I cannot face the stars or moon.
Silence taunts me underneath.
I turn to face the earth, here strewn

with broken shards of stars and moon.
I lie beside them, near to where
the pieces of my heart, are strewn.
In time my tears become a prayer.

I lie here, lonely, near to where
discarded stars and leaves have blown.
Tears oft repeated, become a prayer:
Let me just lie here, turn to stone.

Discarded stars and leaves have blown,
and gathered, rest around this tree.
Let me just lie here, turn to stone,
release my pain and be set free.

Come gather near, around this tree,
and see the work that grief has done.
Woman of stone, I’ve been set free.
Washed by the rain, warmed by the sun.

ABOUT:
For today’s prompt, write a settled poem. Settled can be a good, relaxing thing; settled can be an accepting something that wasn’t your first choice thing; settled can be coming to a stop; settled can be pioneers in a strange land; and so on. With only three days left, don’t settle for less than your best.

POETIC FORM: PANTOUM
The pantoum is a poetic form originating in Malay where poets write quatrains (4-line stanzas) with an abab rhyme scheme and repeat lines 2 and 4 in the previous stanza as lines 1 and 3 in the next stanza. Poets differ on how to treat the final quatrain: Some poets repeat lines 1 and 3 of the original quatrain as lines 2 and 4 in the final quatrain; other poets invert lines 1 and 3 so that the beginning line of the poem is also the final line of the poem.

FOR MORE ON THE FORM:
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/advice/pantoum-long-distance-runners-and-poetry

LINK TO PROMPT:
http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2014-april-pad-challenge-day-28

The Fiend (a gwawdodyn)

crying-in-the-shower-kopie

Grief comes, and it chooses the hour
it torments as I’m in the shower;
There’s really no trick for not getting sick,
on my swallowed tears turning sour.

ABOUT:
For today’s prompt, write a monster poem. There are the usual suspects: zombies, vampires, werewolves, and mummies. But monsters can take any form and terrorize a variety of victims. So have fun playing around with this one, because we’ve only got a few days of April left.

POETIC FORM: GWAWDODYN

The gwawdodyn is a Welsh poetic form with a couple variations. However, both versions are comprised of quatrains (4-line stanzas) that have a 9/9/10/9 syllable pattern and matching end rhymes on lines 1, 2, and 4. The variations are made in that third line:
One version has an internal rhyme within the third line. So there’s a rhyme somewhere within the third line with the end rhyme on the third line.
The other version has an internal rhyme within the third line that rhymes with an internal rhyme in the fourth line.

In both cases, the rhyme starts somewhere in the middle of the third line and it is a unique rhyme to the end rhyme in lines 1, 2, and 4.

Here’s a possible diagram for the first version (with the x’s symbolizing syllables):

1-xxxxxxxxa
2-xxxxxxxxa
3-xxxxbxxxxb
4-xxxxxxxxa

Note: The “b” rhyme in the middle of line 3 could slide to the left or right as needed by the poet.

Here’s a possible diagram for the second version:

1-xxxxxxxxa
2-xxxxxxxxa
3-xxxxbxxxxx
4-xxxbxxxxa

Note: In this version, both “b” rhymes can slide around in their respective lines, which affords the poet a little extra freedom.

FOR MORE INFO ON THIS FORM: http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/gwawdodyn-poetic-forms

LINK TO PROMPT:

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2014-april-pad-challenge-day-27

Blown Away (a triolet)

dandelion

Hope just blew away on the wind;
I couldn’t hold onto its string.
There’s no love left here to defend.
Hope just blew away on the wind.
It’s finally too broken to mend,
and time to stop wearing the ring.
Hope just blew away on the wind;
I couldn’t hold onto its string.

ABOUT:
For today’s prompt, write a “last straw” poem. Everyone encounters situations in which they decide they’re not going to take it anymore (whatever “it” happens to be). It could be a loud noise, an abusive partner, someone taking the Pop Tart but not throwing the box away, or whatever. Write about the moment, the aftermath, or take an unexpected path to your poem.

POETIC FORM: TRIOLET
A diagram of the triolet would look like this:

A (first line)
B (second line)
a (rhymes with first line)
A (repeat first line)
a (rhymes with first line)
b (rhymes with second line)
A (repeat first line)
B (repeat second line)

FOR MORE INFO: http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/poetic-asides/personal-updates/triolet-an-easy-way-to-write-8-lines-of-poetry

LINK TO PROMPT:
http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2014-april-pad-challenge-day-25