Since it is National Poetry Month, here are some poems I wrote myself, since I don’t normally post my own work here. (I figured I’ll want to officially publish them some day or enter them into contests, but do you know how many contests I have entered in the last three years? Zero. So I figure maybe posting my work here will motivate me to write more. And, as much as I love my work and would like to publish it, if I actually sit down and start writing again, then I can guarantee that I will write something better. Not write away, but eventually, I will.)
I make my home in fire.
I sleep where others cannot tread.
I swallow flames,
red tongue licking lips,
and spit out the bones,
Your blazing breath does not burn me.
I’ve been to Hell to bathe in the gift of the gods,
but the flames did not consume me
the way you do.
This poem I wrote in my…second? year of college and it was published in our literary journal The Manastash.
“To That Narrow Bed”
I really want to go to sleep.
I close my eyes but try to keep
from drifting off while I’m in class.
Once work is done, I’ll sleep at last.
I wrote this brief poem as an exercise in class. Iambic tetrameter, I believe was the assignment. This one actually caused a bit of argument because my professor believed that “but try” is a trochee, not an iamb, with “but” taking rhetorical stress. I argued that no, it is an iamb because, while “but” is usually a pretty important word and often would take rhetorical stress, the important word is actually “try” which would take not only rhetorical stress, but also metrical stress. Of course, this led to a conversation about “Once the writer releases the work, it becomes subject to the interpretation of the readers, and writer intent means nothing.” Morals of the story: Don’t argue with your professor; he probably knows more than you do. And readers will always interpret your work in different ways, not all of them the way you intended. Don’t get too worked up about it. Just keep learning and keep writing.
It’s late October,
and as I follow my parents
up the steps and through
the Great Doors of the chapel,
perspiration builds between my breasts,
and I know I’ve entered
and the devil behind the pulpit,
in a voice that wobbles
like my knees after a night of
vodka and coke and Premarital Fucking,
tries to seduce the congregation.
and though I know this will all be
on the final exam for Salvation,
I lay my head down on the pew in front of me
and dream of Graduation.
Guys…guys…I was so burnt out in college. The only thing I could compare college to was being in Hell. And the only thing I could compare Hell to was being in church. Also, some guy in my class thought I missed a “prime opportunity” to say “sweating like a whore in church.” I thought the point was to be original?
based on Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”
Gonna get you, baby, says the stranger in the golden jalopy, wagging a crooked finger at Connie and grinning, his white lower lip drooping like he’d pinched it with a clothespin and it had gotten stuck that way. Gonna get you, baby. It’s 1966, and Connie is fifteen. Her sister June is the perfect daughter. She cooks, she cleans, she doesn’t fill her mind with trashy daydreams or buy burgers with boys she barely knows. Gonna get you get you get you, baby. Connie repeats the words in her head over and over, again and again until they sting, a sore in her mouth that she can’t stop running her tongue over, praying she could make it go away. Gonna get you, baby. Left alone at home by her family, Connie blasts Bob Dylan and paints her nails–fingers and toes, electric blue. As she dances around her bedroom, shaking the paint dry, a car pulls up. Gonna get you, baby. The devil steps from his golden Pontiac, calls Connie to the door. Flirts and flatters and smooth talks. But Connie’s smart, knows not to get into cars with creeps in dirty white tees and tight jeans. Gonna get you, baby. The lecher lurches toward her, wobbles in his boots. He promises in his honey voice not to come inside; he’ll wait for her out here. But if she tries to calls the cops, all promises are off. Gonna get you, baby. Her daddy, her mommy, and June, all at Aunt Tillie’s barbeque, are all gonna get it, he tells Connie, unless she runs to his arms like she knew he was her lover. She locks the screen door and grabs for the phone, but her fingers grow too weak to dial three numbers. When the wailing that fills her ears dies and her stabbing breaths begin to calm, Connie watches herself walk out to the old fiend and join him in his car. I told you I’d get you, my sweet, little blue-eyed girl, he says, and kisses her hand like a gentleman, a gentleman who doesn’t know his lover’s eyes are brown.
I don’t think you guys understand just how much I love Joyce Carol Oates’s “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” I love it, you guys. LOVE it. Anyway, the prompt was to write a prose poem. I tried to emulate Oates’s style. She uses a lot of complex sentences.
When Dorothy was just nine years old and
Timmy was only seven,
he told her he was scared of pumpkins.
He was sure, in October,
when the fog rolls in and the sky dims—
pumpkin bins in every store—
the pumpkins would rise and steal his head,
and replace it with a gourd.
Then with tiny carving knives and spoons,
the pumpkins would scoop out his
seeds for brains and cut holes for his eyes,
and though he’d try to get free,
they’d slice him a grin of jagged teeth,
and that’s why he hates All Hallows’ Eve.
I just love Halloween and wanted to try telling a story in poem form.
Do not ride the llamas. Do not even try.
They have not yet been trained.
They’ll step on your feet and spit cud in your eye.
We, the professionals, must always be nearby.
Should the llamas attack when you pet them, they’ll have to be restrained.
Don’t EVER ride the llamas. Do NOT even try.
Sometimes it calms them if you sing lully-bies.
but beware their hooves. Though they’re detained,
they’ll step on your feet and spit cud in your eyes.
The special saddle we’d need costs WAY too much to buy.
Even gently used ones often come bloodstained.
So do not ride the llamas. PleeEEEEeeease don’t EV-en try.
If you try to ride the llamas, you’ll most assuredly DIE,
and llamas, you know, are really hard to sue, even rightly blamed.
And they’ll step on your feet and spit cud in your eye.
Llamas are e-vil-er than parking-spot stealers and people who cut in line.
For everyone’s safety keep all of them chained.
And absolutely never ever ever ride the llamas. Don’t even try.
They’ll step on your feet and spit cud in your eye.
Villanelle. I used to own llamas. Someone in the class tried to argue that “eviler” in not a word and so I shouldn’t use it. As though this poem is 100% serious and people don’t make up words all the time.
This next poem is actually more of a parody. It is to the tune of “I’m Through with Love.”
I’m through with class
I’ll never go again
Bid adieu to class
I cannot stand it when
I am forced to write six papers
All at the same damn time.
My brain’s shut down
It really hurts to think
My stomach aches
I must be on the brink
Of complete psychotic breakdown
And so I’m through with class.
Why did you lead me
To think I’d be fine?
“This class is easy”
“You’ve got the time
To spend your evenings
Cramming and crying
For hours on end for English class.”
Goodbye to life and all it meant to me.
It will never be the thing it used to be.
For I spent my whole life studying
Now life has passed me by.
I was so burnt out, you guys.
Anyway, those are some of the poems I have written. Maybe next post, I’ll post some of my favorite poems that I didn’t write. Hell, maybe eventually I’ll post some prose. I’ve got one piece I think you’ll like.
Until next time.