My Pink Ribbon


After my shower I stand

after scrubbing, buffing,
massaging lotion,
dusting powder,
plucking out hairs I don’t want seen,
creating finer lines, a smoother chin

after doing what I could to polish and make fine —
despite the shock of the word obese
spied in my medical record,
despite knowing how the fierce though misguided protection
of the starvation lie my brain sends to mouth
threatens my plans
from health to size eight —
I linger at the mirror after courting precarious beauty,
rueing the false security of sugar, butter and flour,
wearying of all my hungers
while pop culture’s firm admonitions circle me and taunt.

I stand, not wanting to look at my misaligned breasts, but needing to,
knowing I can live with less
and flourish

but wanting more

wanting Angelina Jolie’s means
and self-assurance — or just
a man who wants me the way Angelina’s wants her:
seeing my best first,
loving me through my worst and all my pain.

I stand by myself, calling courage,
angry that I need so much
to simply bend at the waist and look again.

When I’ve bared these breasts to the doctor and his intern’s young eyes
trained on my case to learn as I learn my lessons too,
I speak, but they don’t understand that the subterfuge of the padded bra cup
doesn’t address my fear.
It’s easy to be naked before doctors now —
not easy to say I like to be on top.
Subterfuge only postpones the moment I’m unsure of.
I don’t want to hear them say that if a new lover sees my misshapen breast and recoils,
he isn’t worth my time.
How could they not know how I dread that happening
when that moment is more tender than these …

bending from the waist in my bathroom, naked
hoping magic has occurred,
knowing that if magic was possible
it would have taken away the cancer before surgery mismatched my breasts
leaving the sculpted one to hang shorter,
it’s dimpled scar winking like a more twisted siren’s call
mocking my desire for breasts that look pretty
or at least nondescript,
while I live.

I lived.

Remember that
I tell myself,
spit it at any man who recoils,
spit it at him despite the pain of dismissal.
Attraction and the feel of me in his arms should be enough.

I live

calling up courage
to let the weight of life wash through me and bear me up
as I fumble through it for strength I’ve found and lost before.

I live,
wanting to sing it to myself now
a personal hymn I can hold tight
or choose to share
like the sight of me now
— sculpted for future’s sake, not art’s —
without courage or comfort,
but inching my way to those far planes.


storm on the horizon

Photo by Tom Gill (lapstrake)

fists raised, demanding
that our plans be sidestepped
as if they matter

we are railed against now

offense taken from our heedless routine,
weather falls today
without considering us

scorched farm, bitter wind, violent drops reply


I wrote this for the Show Us Your Weather! Blog Carnival, co-hosted by Bluebird Blvd. and Buried Words and Bushwa. Click either of the links for more info. It’s open to all bloggers until August 7, 2012.



English: View of different photographic lenses...

Photo via Wikipedia

No symmetry here
in steel-hewn alabaster
inlaid with falling shadow,

nothing intrinsic in this invasion,
immense and aloof,
the cunning greens of apples and jade
worn too tight


To write a piece of your own from today’s prompt or to read other Freewrite Friday posts, you can check out Kellie Elmore’s site here.


Barefoot, Faster, Wiser

Lady Wisdom (2) Photo via Wikipedia

I’m not like girls in pretty shoes.
Sky high yellows, oranges, pinks
written down quick ’cause somebody smiled
and wanted so bad to remember.

Always feels right, lifting youth and verve,
’cause light makes right and pretty is light
calling from the altar in your pocket every time
you want to be heard.

Somebodies believe they’ve taken my lagging pulse,
“poor, poor girl,” but unh uh. They measured mine
against theirs boomping fast as high heels crossed the floor
under ‘easy’ dresses with metal supports.

(Pause while they fall to their knees now, hands pressed together.
Blessed Structure. Good bones. Silicone. Pray.)
God speaks to them in a vocal fried “creaky voice”
dotted with question marks. Always.

I don’t talk like those girls, and won’t be taught.
I’m messy but aware when riled or coaxed by the real dark.
I shimmy around corners, warm like nectar, razor showing.
Yes. I said warm. I do cool when I want, but one can always ask.

Sweethearts in sherbet shoes
only scare me when they get attention and I don’t.
Then I loose and ease into stride, barefoot and faster. Wiser.
I say, “Go ahead, don’t look. You’ll miss me.”

I say what I want in my corner because real beauties will,
prickling nerves or smearing an edge just found
with the real properties of light.
I do because I can and I will. And I won’t.

This poem isn’t about “vocal fry” or “creaky voice”  but if you haven’t heard of these two ways to refer to a certain kind of vocal pattern, click here and a New York Times article can tell you all about it.


Pure fragments,
tipped with gray,
break off my page
like icebergs
cutting through murky water.

The words I need
wither in expanses
hidden by hollowed smirking faces
and jabs of laughter folded in curses as they travel past,
ice blades scraping,
drawing blood
that holds me transfixed in wobbling space —
lacking saw, nail, hammer, pen —
studying plans
that ought not fail, but do here,
stained with me.


Iceberg (Photo credit: graceinhim)

Drunken Poem — Free Drink Event, Vodka

The jalapeno one is too hot —
too hot for me.

My friend forgot, her week was bad.

Alone hoping for snacks,
watching airbrush tattoo artist, determined not
to leave before the sun sinks,
hoping if my picture is captured in the photographer’s camera,
that I look much better than usual, not so scared.
As I am.

Writing seems strange with so many people around, so social,
What else can a determined girl/woman do?
Decades old on the outside,
inside twelve remembering thirty-five
as if it was yesterday’s prepubescent dream.
Happy birthdays to me,
all of them past, and
even tomorrow’s
when I may not care —
today may be their only party.
Drink it up now as if it’s on sale
ninety per cent off,
as good as stolen.
Does this mean I’m free tonight,


This was written last night after the swiftness of vodka, which I’m not used to. In the light of day, I did minimal editing (so I wouldn’t erase the drunkenness), then added formatting and punctuation so it could be read the way I heard it in my head as I scribbled it down. There’s only one poem because I did find a few people to make small talk with before the sun went down in the rooftop space we were in.

Below, my temporary tattoos. Once I was drunk, I went ahead and got in line to be painted. The advertising was mandatory or you couldn’t get a cool one. I chose Thrillist, one of the sponsors, instead of Stoli Sticki (honey-flavored, good in the citrus drinks and the one with ginger beer) or Stoli Hot (!hot!) I chose the bird because it was pretty. At least, I think it’s a bird. There’s no glitter even though it may seem so. I don’t do glitter. Something about my skin’s angle to the light created that effect, kinda nice. I actually like how glitter looks sometimes. I just prefer not to touch it. But that’s a story for another time.

Like Glass (Rewrite)

Heated to glowing liquid,
you form yourself
with proximate air —
sometimes artisan breath, loosed —
considering character and function
through moments damaged
by your errant filter.

Erring. Errant. You loved
the shiny things you didn’t see
but dreamed of out of their clothes
as you burned their skin
with white-hot, focused affection
and dirges masquerading as
hymns to her soul,
then hers,
then mine.

I loved your truest art before noticing the burn,
your blinded psyche on my tortured soul,
burn magnified by sunlight you praised but could not see.

You composed hymns that rang true in self images
aching from their own afflictions.
They were convinced though you are a separate world turning,
living here
with haphazard awareness
of skin seared by your deed or anyone’s,
or the creeping cold following as you love
through painful filter.
What you don’t know shatters you.

As your pieces scattered,
glittering in intermittent light,
your shiny things struggled, each in their own time,
in varying states,
each one burned before she knew
and living to tell,
each left holding a brittle, cooled shard
we can never expunge,
whether we want it or not,
none of us left with a whole to understand
or fortify a future on bare feet.

Perhaps you are barest among us,
vacillating, again molten.
Pained reflection and splintered facts
alter your shape, though it still favors the old,
as a shiny thing passes and pauses to hear
you beckon her trust with a new hymn,
composed in fresh markings and exhalations,
your expectant prayers, for art’s sake
and a life lived in the one fluid piece that you dream.

May this one continue to shine, unfiltered.
I want to hate her, and you,
as I am here bleeding from
life’s cruel reason, shown to me.
She watched as I tried, saw my tears, listening close enough to touch —
but instead, I’ll pretend to save myself,
and pray that her belief in secret magic be rewarded,
despite the advantage only she has had, which she ignores,
her knowledge of me burnt, shard in hand.

Like Glass

I’ve had a couple hours of sleep since I posted this poem, and now I have problems with it. It’s been rewritten in the post that will follow this one shortly, but since none of the commenters on this one hated it, I’ll make it public again, perhaps as contrast to the new version which I feel closer to and think communicates better.

Heated to glowing liquid,
he forms himself
with proximate air —
sometimes artisan breath, loosed —
considering character and function
through moments damaged
by his errant filter.

He composes hymns that ring true in self images
aching from their own afflictions,
turning white-hot focused affection
toward the shiny things,
with haphazard awareness
of their seared skin and his creeping cold.
Then he shatters —

his pieces scattering,
glittering in intermittent light
as his objects struggle, each in our own time,
in varying states,
each one burned before we know
and living to tell,
each left holding a brittle, cooled shard,
none with a whole to understand
or fortify a future on bare feet.

Perhaps he is barest among us,
vacillating, again molten.
Pained reflection and splintered facts
alter his shape,
though it still favors the old,
beckoning her trust with a new hymn
in the markings and exhalations,
expectant prayers, for art’s sake
and a life lived in one piece.

May she continue to shine,
with rewarded belief in secret magic
despite the advantage of viewing her predecessor
burnt, shard in hand.

I’m not sure how I feel about this, even though I think it’s finished. As always, please don’t hesitate to be honest about your impressions. That sort of discussion might distract me from the subject, which was probably too fresh to explore this way. But I needed to write something about it (in public I guess since I’ve shared it here) and this is what came.

I Never Wanted You to Know

You cooed as I held you. You didn’t know
how twisted hearts would bemoan your presence,
rueing that your baby smile, sweet, did glow,
that we hovered and breathed in your fragrance.
You played as you grew, toddling past strangers,
open, curious to see their faces
not seeing that some scowled at the dangers
of brown-skinned children, other-skinned races.
This nonsense rose in twisted minds, cruel.
And discourse raised their voices to explain
what came not from reason, but from fuel
poured over them to perpetuate pain.
Absorbing hate, ignited with belief,
they disregarded your beauty, my grief.

This was written for the 100 word Challenge for Grown Ups – Week #38. This week we were told to write a sonnet that had to have fourteen lines with a limit somewhere around 100 words, and some allowances because of the form. I didn’t feel comfortable with it and should have chosen another of the forms, but I do think that I challenged myself. Please feel free to be honest if you don’t think this reads well.

As for the subject, I wrote this about the strangeness I noticed when my daughter was a baby. I was always shocked when someone scowled at her.