Adulting at the Dawn of Coulrophobia

I hadn’t dealt with coulrophobia.
Certainly arachnophobia and the curse of itchy tags
were among the chief commanding concerns.
This is different.

They are half Latinx from my side
and go to temple with their father.
They’ve been surrounded by the hygge
of a small diverse town. They slept well.

What do I say now that they’re woke
by klaxons in a post-truth world?

You are worth fighting for.   

This poem was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Word Count With Mama Zen

Untitled (175)

One hundred and seventy-five
pounds nibbled away.
Like a pulp fiction horror story,
except this one was real.

The artist chose candy.
What would I chose,
to represent you?

Two hundred pilfered chocolate bars.
Three thousand shelled mussels.
Four hundred thousand juggling balls.
A million errant dice.

Or would I need just forty-three candles
that would never be blown out?
The dice landed on forty-two.

And just like that
one hundred seventy-five pounds
(it may have been more)
disintegrated to little more than bone.

You’d be the first to joke
you aren’t a number but a free man.
Old friend, I hope you are free,
now that the pain is over. 

This poem was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Skyflower Saturday - Untitled We were to select one of the works of artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres for our inspiration. I chose "Untitled" (Portrait of Ross in L.A.). The piece was intended as "an allegorical representation of the artist’s partner, Ross Laycock, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991." The description reminded me very much of an old friend who had passed away due to Lou Gherig's Disease (ALS) and today happens to be his birthday. He would have been forty six this year.

Camouflaged Colors Don't Please My Heart

I wanted to paint with bubbles,
slap new colors over thorns and roses.
But my palette wasn't right.

Artificial bright washing
drains an already weary heart
that needs to make its aching known,
despite attempts to force my mouth
into saying, "This is fine."

Things hide in false light. And they bite
leaving marks bleached away by lack of contrast,
so that we don't know we've been poisoned.

No. I need to reach for the right colors
to tell the truth waiting patiently amid the grays.

Perhaps the mood for brighter hues will return again.
But, when they do, they will be real,
not camouflage for what I don't want to see.

Linked to the Tuesday Platform for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads and Poetry Pantry 342 at Poet's United

Process Notes:  Recently it was my turn to create a prompt for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads. I came up with one I thought I was happy with, but when the day arrived, I found there was no way I could honestly get into the child-like spirit I had envisioned. The final product was more cynical teen than wide-eyed kid.

The truth is that after November 8th, it's not going to be easy for me to be upbeat on demand, even if I'm the one doing the demanding. As a wise friend and I later discussed, putting up a false self makes for lousy art. The only way I'm going to grow as a poet and a writer, is to be willing to work with the truth of who I am and write that.

Song Choice: Paint It Black covered by Ciara

Cryptic Diversion

To hear the whispers
of ferns as they unroll
is nothing short of a lalamity,

causing me to hum
the hymn of unrolling,
heedless if it clashes
with the rambangle monotone
of cogs busy at grinding

everything deaf
to sylvan movement
into a snarfdiffanous powder
that settles into
indifferent drifts.

This poem was created from a prompt at Imaginary Gardens For Real Toads: Stuff and Nonsense. It's also linked to Poet's United, Poet's Pantry 333

Pixilated Kingdom

Kevin didn’t breathe easy until he saw the snow sticking to the ground. Nothing can find me here, he thought. The road leading to the cabin wound though the hilliest, most remote parts of the state. He turned from the window to sit on the grungy bed, looking at the primitive excuse of a kitchen and rickety table that took up the remainder of the one room cabin’s interior.

This armpit of a room, in this dung hole of a town, looked like paradise to him. A two light fixture, two outlet, wi-fi free paradise.  He felt the corners of his mouth pull up into the first genuine smile he had for a week, and lay down, enjoying the sound of nothing but wind.

There was no crunch of foot falls on snow to prepare him for the hammering of fists on the doors. Kevin dove under the bed, hoping nothing had seen him through the window. His hand touched something furry and he suppressed a yelp as he scuttled away from the mummified mouse, its head dislocated in the trap that killed it.

From outside the cabin, the sound of the wind was joined by raspy voices. Low at first, they built up until they competed in volume with the banging of the door. “King. King!”

Kevin couldn’t stand it for more than a few minutes before he started screaming. “Leave me alone! I told you, I’m not your king!”

“Lead us! Lead us!” came the roars from outside the cabin.

“I’m not one of you. I’m human not an actual troll. It’s just what some people call themselves on the ‘net,” Kevin sobbed. “I swear I’ll never touch a computer or cell phone again.”

The lights in the cabin flickered and Kevin shrieked. When the lights came on again, the dead mouse was the cabin’s only occupant.

This short story was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Snow Birthed Tales, using the following picture as inspiration:

Snow Birthed Tales by Leslie Jenny

Between the Structure

There is no comfort
in this partitioned place
you’ve allowed me to inhabit.

I breathe through clay
trying to find
a caricature of humanity that pleases

Laughter tastes like ash,
but it’s the only freedom
allowed here.

I laugh until my throat is raw,
convulsing, finally wheezing,
in the space I’ve partitioned for me. 

This poem was inspired by the prompt given over at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads: Flash 55. In addition to the 55 word limit, Kerry asked us to consider part of the film Samsara, The Angst of Sagazan, for our work. 

Refining Silence

My breath floats around me like a veil
and the world is silent,
save for the sighs in the snow’s descent.

The waning sun still has enough strength
to bring out the glitter in winter’s icy jewels.
Winter’s court is a dark beauty,
hiding nothing.

All the extraneous has been shed,
leaving the trees’ bones to sway
in a danse macabre
orchestrated by frigid winds.

There is strength as well as elegance
to this starkest of seasons,

inspiring us to remember the peace
in the quiet cores of our souls,
to rest, and cherish them
for the blooming season to come.