Friday, July 30, 2010

Martha Stewart's one night stand

Before she answers, she glances at my fingernails. They're clean and trimmed, so she says, "Yes, I would like to come home with you." And I'm glad, because I often take women back to my apartment, but never a lady.

Upstairs, the first thing I notice is her smell. Like clean, folded laundry. Like vanilla and cinnamon baking under her skin. Like a rose garden through muslin curtains. Like white weddings and country Christmases.

I unbutton her shirt, unzip her pants. Her matching underwear is lavender with one yellow rose embroidered on the base of a bra strap, one on the front of her panties. She said she did them herself. Beneath the panties, her hair is short and grows in a triangle like a sliver slice of pie.

She kneads me like dough. Her body bends in ribbon curls, but inside she's stiff as icing sugar. Cold like an undercooked roast.

"I'm sorry," she says, after a long while. "Sometimes when I try to make things perfect I just can't... let go."

I tell her imperfection is my specialty. What can we do to make this less perfect? Here, I know, where are our socks? Put them back on. No, no, you take mine and I'll take yours. Don't you think the little flower border at the top flatters my calves? Thank God you didn't wear pantyhose instead.

She laughs until tears shine on her cheek like tinsel, and then she can let go.

This poem was written in response to a Poetry Prompt on Big Tent Poetry.

Martha Stewart's Marble Cupcakes by CupCakeQueen

        Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? How do you know when to say This needs more work or Whatever, this is good enough?

Thursday, July 29, 2010


You swear you're no happier than me
but Seventeen, at least you have dreams.
Real dreams, good ones,
not just sensible two-year plans
watered down with more prudence.

Seventeen, has no one ever told you
about the finite number of dreams, like eggs,
about dream menopause?
That's why the sleep of the old
is thin as eyelid skin,
all their dreams bled out,
their minds pregnant with memories.

The Elephant Celebes by Max Ernst

        Would you rather have dreams or memories? Really think about it -- the concreteness of memories gives a certain kind of satisfaction, but the limitless possibility of dreams is pretty seductive.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


a subway car of newspapers
like a sidewalk of pigeons
their tattered pages folded like wings
their feathers smudged black with cheap ink

each bird lands in a hand
and sings a tale
so touching or scandalous or practical
the reader falls frozen in a stare
mouths pursed in pouts or kisses
eyes scanning back and forth
like searchlights

Photo by Alan D. Wilson (Creative Commons license)

        How do you feel about the desemination of news these days? Does the quickness and accessibility of information make up for the large amount of biased and lazy reporting that goes on?

Monday, July 26, 2010

a quiet weekend

soothing as a hot bath
mundane as folded laundry
calm as sunbeams on a cool bedsheet

productive, in a strange way
doing things you don't write on to-do lists
relationships are like garments
we need to wash, care for, be always waiting
with a threaded needle in hand
mindful of tiny tears that become        holes

sink scrubbed, cat cuddled
thoughts ordered and filed
body plugged into bed to charge
with my cell phone
and all my aching worries
filled in like cavities

on the Monday morning train
my mind is a pool so still
I can watch the fish below

Photo by Hardyplants

        What kind of weekend did you have? Was it the kind of weekend your wanted/needed?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to ruin a nice moment

Doubt is like a lying child:
you know you just can't trust it
but you have to, sometimes.
Back in high school we used to fight all the time
(forgotten phone calls, he said she saids)
Only years later did I realize it was just
my boredom manifested as an entity
like Santa Claus, a god
that shapes the little lives of mortals.
I'm not sweet stupid sixteen anymore, so
I carry a thermometre pressed to my heart,
red marks on my ring finger where I pinch
over and over to see if it's real.
I'll smile when sunlight coaxes me
and sigh and ask Why
can't it always be happy times?

though a wiser part of me knows
I need the sad times
to appreciate times like these.

This poem was written in response to the Poetry Prompt on Big Tent Poetry.

Photo by David R. Tribble
I didn't know what image to put with this, so enjoy some clouds and sunlight.

        Are you the kind of person who listens more to their heart or head? If you listen to both at different times, how do you decide when to listen to one or the other?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

knitting club

I chose my pattern quickly and wisely
my needle knitted two purled two while others
were still chewing lips      choosing colours
that's often how it is for me
learning that feels like remembering
smugness      my poisonous old friend

needles clicking in chants      meditative fingers
counting purls like rosary beads
comparison      a temptation

the fool who chose a pattern
complex and delicate as a spider web
dropped too many sticky stitches
her sweater like a beaten face
her fingers like wild dogs      learning
to pull a sled in team

the fool who laughed in the face of instruction
set to work like a chef sniffing steam
adding a pinch of this      dash of that
made a long scarf that begins in a muddled mess
and ends in a feast of inspiration

I have fewer dropped stitches
and fewer colours

Photo by Pål Berge

      Can you think of a time you felt sure you knew the "right" or "best" way to do something, only to wonder at the end if maybe you had it all wrong? Alternatively, can you think of a time you did something the "wrong" way and were glad of it in the end because of the experience or unexpected outcome?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Poetry is cheaper than therapy

took a two-week vacation
from processing emotions to study
textbook terms of a new job
names        procedures        circadian rhythms
life changes like magnets        mixing up
the signals to my heart's compass
times like these I know to keep
that needled stone in my pocket
and just walk straight awhile
head down

now everything's piled up
on my bed like unsorted mail
tangled like extension cords
tv shows caught in my sex
life snagged on my calendar
mixed with my family clogging
the pipe I pass through
into dreaming

my bloated brain has a stomach ache
my heart        hunger pains

I'm back. And I think I need to be.

Photo by Bashereyre
Published under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.

        How do you keep yourself "centered"? Or, to put it another way, what do you do to settle and feel more like yourself during a big change?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Farewell to Adelaide West

Hanging up the phone with a sigh,
she says: “It's terrible how I've stopped caring
now that I know I'm leaving.”
I can tell by her voice, like a singer
wavering breathlessly at the end of a long note,
by the layers of scars
on her tongue.

I thought I felt the same way, ready
to shed this job like a winter coat
when the first bud opened

and yet I find myself
marking all the pathways I've learned
so newcomers can navigate the modes,
clearing little spaces here in this cluttered soil
so the new roots will grow deep.

The timing is right;
this job was a rose I cut
before the petal's edges had time
to brown.

After almost two years, I'm finally leaving Adelaide West. No more reception work for me – as of tomorrow I'm starting a new job using many of the skills I enjoy and actually went (and am still going) to school to learn.

This blog was born out of a deep personal need to do something creative and constructive for every workday that felt otherwise unfulfilling. With the artistic work involved in my new job (and, I assume, less time to burn during the workday), I wonder if I'll have the same desire and creative energy to write daily poems. On the other hand, writing poetry has become a kind of ritual and lifestyle for me, and perhaps a change of scenery will provide greater inspiration.

I will try to maintain my personal commitment to writing daily poems here. Although I'm no longer literally a poet on Adelaide West, I think I'll always keep the name as a reminder of how even the grey cement of a dreary office building can be tilled into fertile creative ground with a little effort.

Photo by A. Barra under a Creative Commons license

        How important is self-expression to you? What is your primary method of self-expression (writing, blogging, participating in forums, talking to people, etc.)?