Poetry, Unbound

I am

the taste of vanilla
melting into a concoction
of pecans and bliss
on Thanksgiving
when the warmth
of family is rising
like homemade bread.

The laughter plumes into the air,
and I smell the stale cigarettes
on my Mother’s hands
as she kneads the dough  –
their strength molding my world.
A twinkle of teeth flash
through open mouths
as a symphony of guitars
crescendo in a sense of urgency.

These are the moments I remember
while I lie in bed wrapped
in the warm embrace
of my mother’s cashmere blanket.
Salty tears catch at the corner of my mouth
and the bitterness
of these life moments irrevocably lost
stings like the wooly worms
I stepped on as a child.

“Baby girl, you need to stop worrying.
Dry your tears.  It’ll sting like hell today,
but in the morning it’ll feel better.”
If I close my eyes tight enough,
I can still smell her hair, freshly washed,
as she bent down to kiss
my seven year old foot.

In this moment I can taste
the bittersweet mix of
3 Musketeers, Dr. Pepper, pain medication,
and the release of a final labored breath.
In this moment I remember
she is
and I am.

Featured Image: Pixabay – “Heart” by castleguard (CC0 Public Domain)
Poetry, Unbound

Star Stuff

This is a notion I’ve heard many times before but which didn’t fully realize until I shared the room with individuals from all over the world: Hungary, Croatia, the Netherlands, and Italy. The full gravity of it hit me when a Syrian refugee and educator shared stories of how she would play music for her students to drown out the sound of airplanes and bombs. Carl Sagan says we are all made of stars. Instead of trying to dim them because of their differences, I think it’s time we celebrate the things that make our fellow stars shine.

We all are made of
oxygen
hydrogen
nitrogen
calcium
and phosphorus.

We all feel
anger
fear
love
loss
and happiness.

There are a million things that we aren’t.
There are a million and one things that we are.
When we look at comparisons,
holding ourselves up to
a mirror
or someone we think should be our mirror,
we always look at the one thing that makes us different.

By doing so, we either
negate the other person
because we believe our difference is more important,
or we negate ourselves
because we believe our difference makes us somehow deficient.

In reality,
we should be looking
at the one thing that makes each of us unique
and celebrating the miracle of improbability
that created it.

It’s all in the connotation of things.
The way we see things in either:
lightness or darkness.
love or hate.
lament or celebration.

We all try to dim
our fellow stars,
but it doesn’t have to be this way.

This post initially appear on Miss Ross’s Blog via my school district.
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Stars” by skeeze (CC0 Public Domain)
Poetry, Teaching

A few lines composed during state standardized testing

Their heads are bowed
in suspended animation
or it could be silent prayer.
There’s a good chance
it’s a little of both.
Bodies hunch over,
shoulders thrust forward,
shielding their fragile flame
from the storm of data disaggregation.
An uncomfortable silence
stretches on into the abyss of
“Thou shalt not write outside the box”
and flecks of pink eraser.

All this a mockery
to the life of individuality,
the promise of self exploration,
that previously filled the halls.
My students –
knowing and yet not knowing.
A horrible amalgamation of
imposed requirement and Schrodinger.

These momentary glimpses
at the normalizing of standardization
and erasure of student identity
makes me want to rip down the sheets of paper
I used to blanket their work on the walls
and throw a ticker-tape parade
with the shredded test books
as we celebrate a return to creativity.

Featured Image: Pixabay – “Desks” by macco0514 (CC0 Public Domain)
Poetry, Teaching, Unbound

Nature Walk

I went on a nature walk with my creative writing students a few weeks ago.  A week of lazy afternoon suns had warmed up the little bit of winter we received here in Texas, and Spring was vividly pulsing through the air.  The Texas mountain laurel had just put on their blooms, and the smell of grape kool-aid made me light-headed as we walked the trail behind our school.

We had begun to study haikus, and it seemed the perfect day to experience the birth that nature gives to writing.  After our brief repose, we came back and wrote haikus about things we noticed the world was saying to us.  It has been almost a month since then, and our work with haikus has undoubtedly improved.  Here are a couple I wrote on that first day:

Mister Butterfly,
what are you doing here, sir?
Your flowers sleep still.

Breathing quiet life
like frozen pond lilies do –
Silence calls to me.

In response to Daily Prompt: Vivid
Feature Image: Pixabay – “Walking” by PublicDomainArchive (CC0 Public Domain)
Musings, Poetry, Unbound

Antiseptic

This new antiseptic aesthetic
has erased the trappings
of what it means to be human,
slandering the gamut
of emotions and experiences
which define our very existence.

I thought I knew what I wanted to write about when my fingers flew over the keys and the words above poured forth.  Sitting here, now 15 minutes later, there are no other words bubbling up.  Truthfully, it wouldn’t matter if the words that came next moved the mountainous foundations of the hardest hearts.  They would be empty because I am deflated.

This is how I feel – antiseptic.  Stripped bare of all the fierceness of my human frailty.  That in a society that spends its good names in service of some “money knows best” dais of superiority, there is no room left to feel anything else.  It just hurts too damn much.  The words, at least for today, are in short supply.

In response to Daily Prompt: Aesthetic
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Depression” by Unsplash (CC0 Public Domain)
Poetry, Unbound

Final Page

Someday,
when this final book is done,
I’ll slip it back on the shelf.
A light shifting of dust
will plume into the air
becoming suncatchers
as they settle,
and I,
knowing this arduous task is complete,
will settle back on the divan
like the soft shake
of memories from books past.
There is a contented understanding
this moment will come to pass,
and I welcome it
with the knowing smile
of an old friend.

In response to Daily Prompt: Someday
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Someday” by voltamax (CC0 Public Domain)
Poetry, Unbound

Fleeting Moments

Life is made up of fleeting moments
like the click, click, click
of a slide show switching
from one frame to the next.
Catch them and hold onto them.
But not too tightly!
Be more like a child –
peeking between thumbs
of their cupped hands
at the blink, blink, blink
of a lightning bug
before the light goes out forever.

Featured image: Pixabay – “Fireflies” by RondellMelling (CC0 Public Domain)
Poetry, Unbound

Lighthouse

There is a stillness
in the moment before
the ocean crashes
upon the rocky shore.
Here amongst this apex of peace –
the clichéd calm before the storm –
is where I see you the clearest.
Who you were.
Who you are.
Who you will be.
And I know,
looking into the depth’s embrace,
that there will be no return.
That the only safe harbor
is your lighthouse
beckoning me to you.

In response to Daily Prompt: Calm
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Lighthouse” by Unsplash (CC0 Public Domain)
Poetry, Unbound

Sapphire Dream

A willow slumbers,
snoring sweet notes of lavender and lilac
heralding the emerald dream
to leave star shaped cutouts.
In the sapphire blue coldness
of mirrored midnight waters,
a late night fish hurries along
streaking color into the   
rippling tremors of
reflection.

And I –  
I rest,
stretched beneath this warm blanket
of falling sky
dreaming of
when Dawn will awake
to sing her song to the robin
and the falling night
will crash to Earth
lighting the kiln of life.

In response to Daily Prompt: Relax 
Featured Image: Pixabay – “Blue” by BreaW (CC0 Public Domain)