Come Home: A PantoumYou'll always come back to me
when the lights in the far hills
are done searching. For, new beds
entice adventurers. Too,
when the lights in the far hills
come home, the homespun dream they
entice adventurers too,
but they can't. (Dream we're neither.
Come home.) The homespun dream they
turn pioneers to homebodies,
but they can't dream we're neither,
our wanderlust fit to turn
pioneers to homebodies.
We've always made love free, so
our wanderlust fit. To
turn ourselves towards our home
we've always made love. Free. So
when the last adventurers
turn themselves toward their homes
in faraway lands, I know,
when the last adventurers
are done searching for new beds
in faraway lands, I know
you'll always come back to me.
Forgiveness EconomicsGenesisForgiveness Economics3 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
But for the small purple stain on its border, the banknote was non-descript.
It had a value but men value things in different ways and by different means. It had a value, but its value is not it's story.
It landed on the church plate face up, coming to rest softly on the flat silver base amongst the loose change like it was tossed to the cloth of a gambling table, soundless but with a small sense of resignation. A man paying for luck, a man asking his God for a favor.
It came from the wallet of a small sad man, who feared the Good Lord daily. The banknote was the weekly price of his penance, the bill of sale for those half-remembered crimes of a misspent youth and other things unmentionable.
The small sad man's hands were fat and white and callouses sat on his thumb and forefingers, the scars of a bank teller, a money counter, a man who knew about value. The hair on his head was grey and his eyes were blue below his wrinkled forehead and tonight would be the last time he
free agentwell shefree agent6 years ago in Songs & Lyrics More Like This
that she'd vanish
into the forest
for four years
come some secret dream
lent specter who'd
all conscious thought
wanted or not
in the solitude
this tiny light
who taught my
and so I
made her name
our time would hear
and I dis-
between my ears
yet the moon
often makes possible
lovers sometimes do
and we do
and we do
oh! and dreams
oh! what dreams
to who dreams
who dreams dreams
Apologies to LaoEach day is its own microstep--Apologies to Lao3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
since I woke from my mother's womb,
I longed to mimic new words, trammel
the sound until it blossomed
like a newborn, and oh how I birthed
stories--told them how I wanted
the author's sacrosanct title
once I've grown. But growing meant
learning the practice of citizens
and their due contribution: beast-slaying
nature of please, thank you,
an apology: sincere
or not. Then there is time--the first
breath of nine, exhalation
of five, the suffocating mandate
of overtime. You grow used to it:
the cyclical disappearance of parents,
pervasive need of sleep, a home-
cooked meal's gradual transmogrification
to a microwave's impatient beeps,
the drive-thru's static, monotoned voice
by a man who has already learned
what I am learning: to cherish
the alarm's morning hymn over my mother's--
now I'm rarely late for work--can navigate
those can-lined aisles, the cold-grey
of the warehouse with deep strides
until I lose track of every step within
my eight hours--my mind
fumesthe talkfumes3 years ago in Concrete Poetry More Like This
compareeins.compare3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
the smoke pouring out of her mouth,
(misty coils of a vague filth,
dancing to noir jazz, fading with each note)
smudged lipstick on the side of of her mouth,
and the little streak that crawled to her tooth
when she bit her lip in a supposed wonder,
and her eyes threw a faint film over themselves,
(like an elegant lady wraps a silk shawl around herself in a light breeze)
the light feet of a dancer
whose calluses were hidden under tight shoes,
whose toes would arch like Nut over her children,
(and she or you would spin with the earth, holding her frame as if-
as if earth was something of mass, as if it had a shape to hold onto)
whose leg would stretch over her head,
her arms, long, pretty, snakes, her fingers curled, and her wrists tense
(her eyelashes were grazing her cheekbones,
her ballet whisking her like a beaten egg, and the laces of her shoes
caught on a rusty nail, which sliced her ankle open, a wince danced on her lips,
for unseeing eyesladen with skyfor unseeing eyes4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and painted mockingbirds
on loveless branches
folding in our slender limbs
and ducking under our own
voices, fidgety and frail
against the wall of night.
between the dipping blades
and drawn shoulders
we learned to craft our words
a drumming rain
that carved canyons
in open hearts and
drew the sunshine to
our supping lips.
keen-eyed, we watched
remembering the weight
of unseeing eyes
and scalding remarks
and we learned to slip
the noose-knots and slide
through the soul-cracks
build kingdoms under
with lyrical uncertainty
and tender determination
we built a pyre of peace
in the shadows
and watched it blaze
the truth across our
as new leaves still curled
and stretching hands
unfurled in suppliance
we lifted our heads
in broken laughter,
for this light is our burden,
and even a whisper
can shatter silence
and bring the blind
Harvest MoonThree a.m. moonlightHarvest Moon3 years ago in Haiku & Eastern More Like This
across lazy dust motes; a
tree scrapes the window.
Your arm weighs on my hip like
whispered promises of love.
Loss and the Five Stages of GriefLoss and the Five Stages of Grief2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
The five of us bought two pipes on University of Houston dime in likely the only hookah bar in St. Louis, Missouri on a Sunday afternoon. Something we do as a team to calm our nerves after a long weekend of competition in a cold, damp city. They were real fancy pipes too – tall, glassy and gold. Two flavors for each pipe - watermelon-mint and strawberry-mint. David says mint keeps the smoke cool and flavor level. He was a red headed Syrian who had his own pipe at home and has been our debate captain for three weeks. Only a little while ago he had mustered enough courage to admit to everyone he “was conservative, but only a little.” Smoking hookah is very popular in Syria, embedded in the culture. We figured he knew what he was talking about. The bar was empty except for the owner who was happy to have customers but not desperate enough to forget carding us for use of his pipes and liquor. He showed us a room off to the side full of lar
Ottumwa ShamanIn Iowa, weeping willows dream ofOttumwa Shaman4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Tigers, born in pagan fog, their
Coat of stripes singing shaman
Songs; shrill symphonies of grief.
Heaven tilts, crashes, and we race
The dirt to get away. We drink the
Earth with bullets of air and grow
Dizzy, light-headed from breathing
Some far off flame. Perhaps a poet
Who braved the fog of Ottumwa, and
Caught fire. Every cowboy has his
Six chances before high noon, before
The fog forms wispy jackals to take
Them home again. Every son inherits
An empty gun, six voids to fill with
Answers, skimmed and guessed from the
Covers of books their fathers used
To read. There is no other way.
In sleeping, I have been to Iowa,
And I learned where wiccans go
To make their bed. I do not know now
If I had dreamed the weeping willow,
Or if it had bent low to dream of me.
In Iowa, there is no such truth, only
Depth, and the shaman's song of grief.
Mollie's Ribbons I grew up in a small town just a few dozen miles from the closest water sourcea slowly shrinking aquifer that squatted underneath the seat of Thompson County, our neighborly border. Fortunately, we hadn't yet been quite as devastated by our annual droughts as those in Oklahoma and Texas. Rumors would occasionally drift in with a tumbleweed traveler about how bad the deep South had dried up into nothing but an old dusty lake bed, but these flashes of news were too few and too far between to be counted on as up to date or even true.Mollie's Ribbons5 years ago in Short Stories More Like This
Once, I heard one of my distant cousins, a boy by the name of Harold, was said to have been caught up in a barn somewhere in Oklahoma during a storm where only the dirt blowsthe dust and dirt block out the sun and the air until you get blown away with it. Apparently, poor old Harold had been caught up in that barn for so long (five days according to old Miss Harris) he eventually just smo
Moving: A YaduWe keep a homeMoving: A Yadu3 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
Of unknown hums
And lonely cats.
The sky cracks but
He lacks a raincoat.
Fueled by smoke and
Words he lands on
A branded street,
Knows the sweet rage
Of meeting too soon and late.
This town belongs
To a song man
And wrongful ghost.
He is most sure
The coast will fade their remnants.
WanderlustI've been sleeping with my jeans onWanderlust4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
and seatbelt unbuckled,
So I can leave early
before my regret wakes.
In the check-in, on the road,
I distract myself
Walk, go, leave
go further, leave again
I like my life
I never meant to break your
(steady and warm)
But truer ways of joy I found
on the road,
in long railways and stranger tongues
And I'm sorry that we never
Quite catch up with each other.
I never loved goodbyes,
but I love leaving all behind
In the movement I found tranquility,
easing for this burn.
Don't think I'll be able
To ever forget you, no
You're like Venus in the nightly sky,
guiding with your sulphur burn -
you left a mark in me,
in the air I breathe
Though we never quite catch up,
we never quite meet.
And it breaks my heart either way;
I don't want to leave,
but I cannot stay.
Automatici.Automatic3 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
"So where are you from?" The boy leans toward me, questions swimming in his eyes. I smile.
"Oh, I'm from Boston."
"No, I mean, where are you from?" My smile falters as I realize where this is going. It's an all-too familiar conversation, one I've been having since I was old enough to reply.
"Do you mean where was I born?"
"I was born in China."
"Do you speak Chinese?"
"Does your family speak Chinese?"
He looks befuddled. I sigh.
"Oh!" I see the light bulb over his head go off in a shower of sparks. "Do you know who your real parents are? Like, your real parents?" My temper flares. I stifle the urge to throw something.
"You mean my biological parents?"
"Oh." There's an awkward pause. I have learned to wait it out, to prepare my next automated response.
"When were you adopted?"
"When I was a year old."
"Did you live in an orphanage?"
"Like in Annie?"
Rolling my eyes seems appropriate.
"No, not l
Under DreadThe winter, the whole winterUnder Dread3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
is sitting on my head, nesting its fingers
in the little hairs over my ears.
Its friend, the great and unnamed doubt,
is leaning against my collarbone
in a most familiar fashion,
and I fall in and out of balance
I have a beauty waiting, warm, willing
on speed dial, but the phone--
where did I leave the phone again?
Beauty is as elusive as
the car keys, which, I swear,
were just in that pocket. I
had my hand on them. The whole winter
keeps coursing its little nails
up and down my neck and taking
all my breath away.
There was a dream I had that
I almost remember, almost remember better
than living yesterday, a dream
of gooey loss, a taffy sorrow that loomed,
loomed, loomed, you see? It was so real,
I just had it.
I Took To Howling With YouI was shy at first, timid in my dealings,I Took To Howling With You3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I laced the trap against my throat,
sang sparing, tip-toed
around your poems.
The tone, the slow vibrating
from the shoots of my shoulders
to the gleam of polished talons,
it purred around inside me.
Oh the song, Coyote,
the same resigned call, it
paled before you, swallowed down its insides,
I took your little hand in my big hand,
flew out towards Crow, and for a while
My Love, there were poems
and the world was enough.
I took to howling with you,
down from the branches, safe
womb of the tree, I spread
dirt between my toes, sang happy,
sang the song of free,
your wild howl, your musk,
I lost the language for
the pain of bird calling.
Do you remember when we realized
Crow would no longer sing
her crooning songs beside us, trill
through a night among us?
She had gone, no longer writing
poems for coyotes or exlovers,
no longer touching out for a girl
beyond the mountain,
and we were suddenly alone, Love,
you and I, alone to sing, to warble,
What Soft DreamsWhat soft dreams we lay -What Soft Dreams3 years ago in Traditional Fixed Forms More Like This
What soft dreams, like infants put to rest -
Frightfully bare, and compromised,
Our kisses on their breasts.
We close our eyes and trust them safe,
Kept 'til break of dawn -
Forgetting that the night is fickle,
And dutifully, as long -
It safeguards some,
Moved by neither coin nor threat
Nor anguished mother's cry.
The ElementsI.The Elements3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
Wine as red as stained glass
is lifted up & tilted back
touch wood like thunder
having given up grace
thread across wrists & palms
spent vessels returning to the heart
Fingertips suffused with pulse
lift to lightning's loveliness
sunrise, yulethis was the year of traditions begun. the world still dark, the morning still early, i climbed into my uncle's car. we drove out to the ocean, where the rippling sea fuses with the sky. white-headed eagles were perched still in trees. they cocked back their heads, opened their hooked mouths and screamed.sunrise, yule4 years ago in Flash Fiction & Vignettes More Like This
across an empty parking lot where once a cat had followed us. over driftwood pale with frost and sand hardened by the cold, we walked. our breath came out of us in thin plumes. it rose above us and hung there like smoke signals to the gods.
there were gulls on the water, gulls sifting through sand, gulls with their grey backs and faces, their opportunism. i have a tarot deck whose theme is birds. the gull encourages us to communicate.
there was a small group of us gathered there, my uncle and i, and some other pagans. some of them i'd never met before, but they wer
Do you know the taste of the universe?One day, when you’re five years old and made out of fractured sunlight and mirror shards, you sit down on the bench of the MAX train. You’re dressed in your winter coat and boots that are too big and one of your parents has pulled your hat too close over your ears.Do you know the taste of the universe?2 years ago in Stories & Vignettes More Like This
You’re sitting next to your mother, and on the other side is a man that smells like loneliness, something that you’ll later know as cigarettes and alcohol and homelessness. He’s crying quietly into the top of his jacket and you’re scared to look because you’ve never seen an adult cry.
The train ride goes on for five minutes, which is a long time to you, and eventually you sneak a look at the crying man who smells like Portland and loneliness, and he sees you. He leans down until you can see the red lines in his eyes and he whispers to you.
“Do you know the taste of the universe?”
And you look up at him with your little-girl eyes and shake your head because you can’t
earth circuitAnd when the sun sinks, the earth's skin crawls:earth circuit3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
I wonder if this awkward creature would notice me the way I notice him.
He's so tragic at his throne
I stare after him longingly.
He never realizes that I'm the one
Who forever basks in his brilliant beams.
If only he knew how much brighter he could burn
He'd light up the universe.
I heard him speak of thirst, once.
The quenching lust of the stars had run dry.
So that night, I brought along a jar of acid.
(And how it gleamed in his glow).
I handed it to him, wrapped in taffeta ribbons,
I wish curdling joy
On my gurgling boy
I love his eyes, now
Clouded white like milk from a poisoned tree
And his throat,
Swollen and clotted
And his lips blue as the
I try to get him to laugh but
His body is stuck and
Empty GardensIt was a wine-petaled pansyEmpty Gardens3 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
that my mother pruned from the garden box;
it reminded me
that I had blossomed late and wilted.
At fourteen I created pansy petals of my own,
waking up with hot-fisted cramps
and the proof I was a woman.
I was not a rose, perennial,
as I went from blooming monthly
to not at all.
I would rather spend a day
curled up like the fetus I may never carry
than flat on my back wondering
why God allowed worse women than me
to bear children.
PlowIt's finally snowing again,Plow4 years ago in Free Verse More Like This
blankets of peace falling
with a freshness that lacks innocence.
Nearly forgotten, they're here as expected,
clearing the streets,
trying to push aside all the worry
that makes things unsafe, but
the steel mouth askew grates against my heart;
its thick bass scrape pushing more than piles of white aside,
it pushes my blood aside too,
piling it up in the corner of this pumping vessel that falters,
ice-caked and bitten, stiffened,
and keeps faltering,
until the air is silent
and the street no longer shivers in torture.
The only evidence is the blanket of white
that keeps falling,
like fluffy stuffing that's been yanked out.
All is silent,
except the fond memories that peel away
from my heart in little shreds,
and the plows, scraping fresh wounds again.
Copyright © 2012 Jen Fowler
All Rights Reserved