A Thousand Times

(after Sting)


I close my eyes, and see you in my head —
eyes and lips, fingers, shoulders, hips.
My mind spins and stutters, beyond my control
with these insistent questions and their answers.

Today, the knowing and the journey that is you
are the breaths between the ticking of my clock
— “a thousand times the mysteries
unfold themselves like galaxies in my head.”

Gazing inward, I wonder — unsettled and unsure.
Which words are meant for telling you
the things I long to say? Which of these
vast silences are filled with unexplored truth?

I gaze outward — watching, memorizing you:
your tells, sudden shifts, fluid movements.
I find more mystery, than understanding,
more turbulent galaxies, folding and unfolding.

You are like a great window flung open on
the universe, I stand staring out, peering in.
Just as I discover something to grasp —
spinning in your dazzling light — you close.

I slide downward, sit beside your wall
wondering — what have I seen? What part
of you can I take from this close encounter?
Silent and over-thinking — with galaxies in my hands.



Poem inspired by A Thousand Years, written and performed by Gordon Sumner (Sting), on the album Brand New Day, released by A&M Records on 24 September 1999. (lyrics linked above)


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




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.



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)

Telling Myself the Truth


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.

Night Cycle


nothing can quiet the voices
in my head, in my heart, the
grief of hearing you explain
how you have no choice, but
to choose her and leave me

noises that mask themselves
in the silence of darkness
go ringing through my head
heedless of my weary state
torturing me with insomnia

no hope of sleep can reach me
i am a record stuck on repeat
grasping for shadows of silence
holding too tightly to the past
tomorrow i’ll forget you more

now i can only stare at darkness
imagine this life without you
gods know in time tears will dry
hey, i might nap in the morning
there’s hope for me after all

Prompt #6 of the April 2014 Writer’s Digest Poem-A-Day Challenge

“For today’s prompt, write a night poem. Vampires and werewolves? Cool. Clubbing and saloons? You got it. Lovers together alone? Right. Ex-lovers alone on their own? Sure thing. You figure out your night poem–and, yes, (k)night poems are fine too.”

The poem is a repeated acrostic of the word “night”.

Link to the prompt:


The Bird Girl


All day she sat on her fear.
In the evening, she saw a crack in the shell.
With hope, she went to sleep.
When she woke with first light,
She felt something stir.
There she moved — a bird.
There was no denying,
it was herself.
She was strong.

ABOUT: This poem was cut from a section of Andrew Lang’s The Ugly Duckling, in the Fairy Tales Blackout Games shown below:


And Then the Rain Came


It was a long night.

I won’t lie, I took a sleep aid.   I actually went out to the drugstore, specifically to buy something I don’t even keep in my house, because I needed sleep more than anything. I’m not as strong as I might like to be, and I couldn’t face the barrage of questions that have woken me for weeks,  at all hours of the night. Insomnia, on a night like this, is debilitating.

Still, I woke in the wee hours. Focusing on every breath, pushing out every thought. — In. — Out. — Praying for sleep. Eventually I dozed and found relief.

I woke to rain. He tossed himself against my window, reminding me that he and I are friends. He matched the tears on my face, trying to bring me some measure of peace. He invited me, as he always does, to come outside, lift my face to the sky, and be washed by the same refreshing that falls everywhere, on everyone I have ever loved, in an unending cycle of quenching thirst, and healing this broken earth.

I did not go out. I could not find the strength. But I listened.

I listened too, to the wisdom of a lover. He is new in my life, We first exchanged words at the beginning of Autumn.  He has been on this road, before, and his passion and life’s work are inextricably tied to the study and practice of loving more than one. His insight and love, along with the loving support of my husband, have been indescribable strength for me.  Early this morning, he said,

I would recommend you assess the core concerns that underpin the tortuous questions and fears. Face them with courage and determined perseverance. As you do this, you erode the basis of the crippling fears, and are able to choose a healthy response.

(I love his scientific mind. His voice of reason, and gentle tenderness. He is amazing.)

I suspect, in fact I know, that deep within me is a well of strength. I have stored up courage, and perseverance. Today, I feel very weak. I know fear as she lies beside me, sits at my elbow, follows silently in my footsteps. I accept that today, she is my companion. I am trembling and bleeding, but I am not crippled. Today, that rain provides a buffer of white noise against the torturous questions. I am resting, and drinking in strength, hope, love and peace.

I know that whatever tomorrow brings, I will survive. The sun will come; her warmth always follows the rain. I will greet her. I will face my fears, and choose a healthy response. I will let life show me what I cannot now see. I will grow, love, and keep walking.


Image Credit: http://services.flikie.com/view/v3/android/wallpapers/16785896



4:30 a.m. wakes me, he’s been drinking again
regret and helplessness bitter on his breath
he wants to whisper failures to me
recount the hopeless situation we’re in
together we stare at the window, watch the sun
as she rises, bright-faced and expectant
she does not want to see me shake my head
cannot bear to hear me say, “No change.”
I stoop and gather my tools — my tired smile,
my well-worn positive outlook, my dog-eared
affirmations slipped into a faded denim
shoulder bag, ready for another day
of waiting in limbo for your phone call
when the line rings like a distant echo,
I draw the smile over my face, positive outlook
ready – though limp in my fidgeting hands
I listen as you tell me so little, ask you
as I do every day, for a news report
on our crisis. You offer a weather forecast:
cold and foggy, mostly cloudy, unclear.
I smile, and then nod.
I wish I’d gotten more sleep.