sarahmichigan: (Default)
OK, this is an EXTREMELY rough draft, but I thought I'd share because two really innocuous scenes seem almost sinister when pasted together (or at least that's how it struck me.)


The Cut-and-Shuffle Poem

Write out (in prose form, if you like) two completely unrelated and emotionally opposite six- to ten-line dramatic situations depicting

1. a physically inactive or quiet scene, and
2. a physically active or emotionally charged scene.

Then, as one might shuffle the playing cards in a deck, alternate the first line or two from scene 1 with the first line or two from scene 2, then the second line or so from scene 1 with the second line or so from scene 2, and so forth, until all the lines from the two scenes are roughly dovetailed into a single stanzaic unit.


My response to the assignment:

It's always easy to tell when you're dreaming
Your eyelids twitch and shudder
I know immediately I'm in trouble
I wonder how you can bare strands of hair
Tickling your neck and cheeks
Too much of what I don't need and not enough
Of what I do. My opponent's grin is game
I always have to tuck my hair in a loose bun on the pillow
Behind my neck before I can fall asleep.
But the flash in his eyes is feral. I know he has
Something, almost literally, up his sleeve.
You wake and almost always tell me the dream
He slaps the card down, and I rotate my die
That's fresh in your mind, and sometimes you even mutter
Nonsense to me before you're fully awake.
Sometimes I lie there and breathe in your scent,
Silently watching your eyes flutter open
To show the life force draining away.

the two original scenes that were cut & pasted )
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Dear Mr. Doom,

Your voice so quiet, so sweet, so sibilant, I thought for a long time it was my own. Your hideous suggestions of inadequacy, unloveableness, unworthiness, are wedged in my brain, like dirt under fingernails.

My twitching eye, my twisting gut, my galloping heart all belong to you, Mr. Doom. Insidious, treacherous— you're a poisonous lover. The more I tell you to get out of my life, the harder you cling to me.

But now, I know all about you, Mr. Doom, all the tricks you're up to, the games you play. You tell me there's something wrong when there isn't, until the paranoia wins and I create that which I dread.

I can sweat you out or breathe you out slowly, sometimes. But I've noticed that weed is your friend. When I'm high, every siren wail is you in a uniform with a gun coming to get me. Alcohol and sleep provide only a temporary respite. Sometimes you even invade my dreams, and I awake with heart pounding.

Maybe I can't get you to leave, Mr. Doom, but I can stop listening. Whisper all you like. Shout even. I'll stick my fingers in my ears and la la la, I'll sing my own tune, now.



(cross-posted to 13 Blackbirds)
sarahmichigan: (Default)
The first day of first grade, Danny went
To school with his arm encased in a cast.
His older sister Bonnie had
Ended an argument by shoving
His fist through the glass in the front door.
The Seatons, a loud Irish family,
Had bought the house on the corner
That summer, and their move-in fights
Made every other family dysfunction on the block
Look like eccentricity or whimsy.

Teenaged Judy and Terri were sexy neighborhood
Nymphs, but Bonnie was a terror.
How many tires did the red-haired lassie slash?
How many times did she run away?
The oldest, Miles, was often talked about, but
Rarely seen. Perhaps he'd seen and had enough before
He joined the Navy at 17 and a half.

My first French kiss was from
Danny, at the insistence of his sister. Bonnie smashed
Our faces together for her friends' amusement.
No wonder Danny's ideas about sex were warped—
His seven-year-old hard-on
Was the first I ever saw. Playing doctor
Was nothing out of the ordinary, but he
Sat on my back and probed my
Butt with his finger until I squealed in discomfort.
We had no more innocent sleepovers
After Terri discovered us playing
"New York Flasher" in the basement laundry room.
I still remember Danny trying to hide his
Scrawny nakedness in one of his sister's
Fuzzy robes, the yellow of Big Bird's feathers.

When we were in third grade, Danny's mother
Moved out to live with a lover, and the unthinkable
D word floated around the house. Visits to the
Lover's house were odd—full of cigarette smoke and
Offers of nickels and dimes if we would
Make ourselves scarce for an hour.
Danny's father, Pete, was a lost soul without
His Pat, though he tried for the children's sake.
He somehow didn't know that raisins don't go
In chili, and after two bites, he saw our sour faces
And told Danny if we didn't like it, we could flush
It down the toilet. So we did.

Later during grade school, Danny and I stopped
Being friends. Though we passed in the halls
In junior high and high school, he was part of the
Stoner crowd, and I was a Drama Fag, and we walked by
Without acknowledging the years we'd spent together
Playing kick-the-can, hide-and-seek, and Parcheesi.

Caroling with my family my sophomore year of college,
We visited Pete, alone in the enormous house
That'd been purchased with such high hopes for
That gaggle of red-headed children. He recognized me,
Beamed, saying he'd say hello to Danny for me.
Danny was in the Navy, now, and doing so well, Pete told us.

I wonder if he ever did pass along a hello. I wonder if Danny
Remembers showing me the sea monkeys
He'd ordered from the back of a comic book or
The hours we played with matchbox cars
And marbles. Does he remember dressing up as Jesus
For the Harvest party in my church's basement?
I try to imagine Danny as a father, what his children
Would be like. Are they strawberry blonde
Ghost children? Holy terrors? I try to imagine
What he tells them when they trace their little fingers
Over the fine white scars on his wrists.
Or have those faded by now?
sarahmichigan: (Default)
The assignment was: write a poem about your mother's kitchen. (It helps if you actually draw the kitchen first, with crayons!) Put the oven in it, and also something green, and something dead. You are not in this poem, but some female relation--aunt, sister, close friend--must walk into the kitchen during the course of the poem.

Thanksgiving, the headless
Bird on the counter
Apples, oranges, and
Ground by hand
For holiday relish

Aunts and uncles bustle in and out
But my cousin disappears
When it's time to do the dishes.

The curtains with
Cartoon citrus fruit, the warm
Orange walls and sunny
Linoleum, the Christmas Cactus
In the window.

The oven door never
Closed properly
The food took longer to cook
But the escaped heat
Kept the kitchen steamy
On cold northern nights

Mom went "country kitchen"
In the 90s, and all the fabulous
Golds, avocados and warm oranges
Of my childhood were replaced
By blue and white gingham
And marching geese,
And a white linoleum floor
That could never stand up to
The tracked-in dirt from
All those shoes.

comments: I bent or ignored some of the rules, especially not putting myself in the poem. I'm not crazy about the way it turned out. there was something there I was reaching for that I didn't quite get to. I think I'll need a couple more drafts to be happy with this.
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Without you, I cannot keep from scowling in terror.
Last night, under the sea, the fish were watching me.
The water, reflecting the leaves, crushed me, made me flat.
I started awake, my wrist over my eyes. My heart would not be still.

Without one last thought of the dream-water, I started to rise,
But the blankets kept me, the leaves of my book pinned down my wrists.
I scowled, remembering the fish, being crushed, glad the dream was over.
Terror faded, and I remembered watching you make breakfast, wanting you still.

These are the words I used:
Without keep scowl terror
Last Under fish watch
Water leaves crush make
Start wrist over still

Here is where [ profile] novapsyche explains how a matrix poem works:
sarahmichigan: (Default)
Has she got your tongue?
Yes, and my small gray heart
Batting it around, toying with it.

Is she raining down on you,
Dogging your every step,
Padding along in her pajamas?

Yes, and she’s got her
Little hands in everything,
She’s even rocking the baby to sleep.

She’s sparring with the puppy,
Rolling another marble toward the pot,
Whispering vicious gossip in neighbors’ ears

When she isn’t burgling their houses.
She’s straying all over town,
Getting mad when caught in a downpour.

She’ll only stop when she’s gutted,
Or napping, caught up in a feverish dream,
Or crossing your path with her black shadow.

Bad poetry

Mar. 7th, 2004 05:09 pm
sarahmichigan: (Default)
This is a poem I wrote several years ago. I don't think it's all that great as poetry, but I stand by the sentiment.

The Value of Communication has been Overstated )

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