Heart to Heart

Here’s another writing journal prompt:  Choose an organ from your body. Do not name the organ. Instead, allow the organ to describe how it feels living inside your body. -EJ Koh

Oh, well. I don’t always listen to instructions. And you’d figure out what body part to which I was alluding anyway. And then the damned thing decided to talk for itself. It’s a little headstrong. Ha!


Heart to Heart

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Nobody has ever measured, not even poets, how much the heart can hold. – Zelda Fitzgerald

Only do what your heart tells you. – Princess Diana


What does it take, I ask you.
I’ve tried everything. And yeah, I know how I sound.
Cranky and more than a little fed-up.

I figured I’d just throw a little something out there.
Make her slow down. That little brown out, I thought
would do the trick. I know she was pretty young
at the time. But come on, a BROWN OUT. You know,
can’t really see, everything sepia toned. You drop,
just a little. You SIT STILL. And no, it didn’t really work.
But I tried it a few times, just in case.

So, fast forward a few years. I throw a couple seizures
her way. I’m thinking that’ll do it. Eyes roll back, a little
flipflop. Maybe some spittle, a little pee. Just for some
equalizing. Damn young people. Took the damn things
in stride. In stride, I tell you. Oh, don’t get me wrong.
They scared her and everybody else but you can’t
keep young folks down. You really can’t. More’s the pity.

I backed off awhile. Gave her her head, you could say.
School, school, school. That’s all she focused on.
Too much. No sense of balance, that one. She’d run
long past all her tires ran flat, you know? Hit her
with a little lethargy. For years, people. YEARS.
What’d she do? Take up some stupid quasi
parkour crap. Running all over the place. Yoga,
Pilates. Aerobics. Couch to 5K. Everything, all the time.

Finally, I took the gloves off. No more brown outs. I went
for the black. Black outs, that is. The ultimate going dark.
But only for a second or two, here and there. I mean
I don’t want to kill her really. I just want her to notice me.
What happened, you ask. Did she notice? Oh boy, did she.
Got a little pissy is what. Started pushing again
and ignoring me after the initial shock. I hate it.

Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. Ignoring me. ME! I got it now.
I’m going for the jugular. Breathing. A poet’s
got to listen if you go for the breath. We’ll see
what’s she made of. She’s got to concede. Doesn’t she?


Other Spaces

I’ve always the idea of writing prompts. I guess it’s because sentences – individual sentences – and sentence fragments have the habit of sending my mind off into space. Spaces other than the one the author is constructing at the time.

I often start poems and flash fiction from prompts. I guess it takes away my bent toward perfectionism as well as the non-starting that comes with it and frees my mind and hands to begin. The poem begins with a prompt: They’ve never met outside of a dream, but they are in love.


They’ve never met outside of a dream. It started with her and a day
most awful. She dove into sleep as sanctuary and respite. She’d let Pepper
out to his business while she dressed for work. The usual but he didn’t return
scratching at the door to be let in. She ran up and down two square blocks
without seeing him before abandoning the search for work. All day she fretted,
only to return to no Pepper on the step. No evidence of him at all.

It fits that her dream opened in a bar. She perched on a stool under the Corona
sign and thought about leaving that place. She sipped her tequila and felt a body
settle against the bar beside her. You don’t belong here. He spoke pleasantly
without looking at her. You’ve no need to drown your sorrows. He’ll be back.
She wanted to snarl. Instead, she took another sip and another until she woke.

She shambled through her waking, dressing. No more time to tarry, she opened
the front door to a darkened blur moving into the house. Pepper sloppily drank
breathing asthmatically. Muzzle down and dripping, he moved to his kibble.
She stared unmoving, back to the open doorway. A small sound behind
had her whirling. There he stood smiling, the man of her dreams. Hello.


I started this thing, this poetry blog, and you have come. Giving over your time and attention to read my words. I thank you. And a special thanks to Kate Brunk for inspiration. In answer to her comment to my poem, Sway, I wrote the following on Facebook, which in turn led to tonight’s poem:
“Whenever I drive through neighborhoods like that, I wonder how it got to that state. I muse on the people, the events, how the houses must’ve looked when they were fresh and just built. What were the dreams people had. Graduations, births, deaths. I think about the first — moving day and all of the expectations of this new life — and the last — who walked out that door, leaving it ajar, abandoning the house to the elements and where they were going. I even wonder whether the houses, the cement, the lawns, the surrounding spaces, miss the humans or are they glad to be left to their own devices. To molder, to grow, to fall into pieces, to breathe in their own patterns in their own time.”


The last of them left, taking the stench of fear and sorrow with them.
The man left the door open. Wooden slats in the walls creaked
at the house’s first full beath. It was its own self for the first time,
its rooms unpopulated. It felt so free without master or mistress. Windows,
sashless, had heard the final bouts of weeping at odd darkened hours.
The halls had not felt heat of a fire in winter for years. Little by little,
the rooms had emptied of furniture and the weight of feet. Curls of wallpaper
lolled away from walls, happy to be free of its updo. No more worry
about stairs bowing or yellowing lintels. The time of man had passed.


Remember how you’d pick out the names of your future children or your future spouse when you were a kid? You’d construct an entire life around these names and the loved ones created from them.
I’ve picked out titles for the books I imagine writing. I’ve chosen titles for my poetry books, for my nonfiction and even ones for my sci-fi novels and my romances. In casting about for a topic for tonight’s poem, I stumbled across Poets & Writers’ most recent poetry prompt. It includes one of my earmarked poetry book titles.




wonders never cease
there’s a new story around every corner
and this is not a cliche lying
out in the open, stinking to high heaven
another layer of us has been found
just under this skin we adorn
with ink, metal or strips of cloth
a contiguous, fluid-filled space
betwixt skin and organs
our bodies now truly a castle
carrying our moat with us



I’m at it again. Dreaming that is. My poem, Epiphany, was based on a dream I had a couple of years ago.

Last night’s dream still holds sway over me, whispering its presence and not letting me turn from it. It wants to be heard. Will you listen?

Dream’s Tale 

The drive was a shortcut through a grand dame of a neighborhood
down on its luck. Yards weedy, filled with tumbled marble. Remnants
of better people, better days. Wanting to shave minutes from their journey,
they leaned forward, peering beyond the windshield, already turns ahead.
He threaded the car along the streets past house after house grand
but shabby. Later she could not say why the stop was necessary. A quick
stop, he said, easing the car to the right beside hedge-like greenery.
Just so, he was out, driver door wide in invitation. From somewhere, walkers
appeared. On a stroll? To where? A rift in a Steigerian plane? She saw
the wrongness only after a few moments. The gait unwavering, like its stare.
The lone figure heading toward them. Seconds she gave to look first
at keys still in the ignition, then to him searching the trunk’s contents
and back to keys, open door. The walker was closer, seeming to run while
not. A flicker and it was closer. Was she blinking? Reaching the keys, she
calls her companion to his purpose. Drive, she said. Drive. Drive. Drive.
Was the walker closer? Yes, enough so she could see its eyes or what
should have been eyes. Her mind told her this but she closed the door
on that knowledge. As did her companion in his scramble for his seat.
Close. Closer. Closed. Her mouth opens, calling for salvation. Voice rising,
rising in warning, in supplication, rising to the heavens above.

Half of the Story



Sixty-six poems in as many days. Wow. And I think a few of them might be good. I’m still not sure where it all is coming from. I just go with it. Like the poem below.


Half of the Story

Yeah, you.
Come here a minute.
Got something for ya.
Nah. It’s not like that. Really.
Hey, what do you take me for?
Nah. Nah. I ain’t for it.
Just trying to be nice. And this is what I get.
Oh, I see. You trying to be nice now?
Nah. I ain’t got time for it.
I’m out.



They are outside a train station, beige with dark green gingerbread trim.
Maybe they are in another country. In Europe. The where is not important.
The tickets matter here. Timetables, tickets and their cost. Yes, that is it.

The station booth sits there under roof, embraced by the train tracks. Open
to the air and all looking to shift body from home to somewhere not here.
They fret, tongues thick in their mouths. Minds lively with fear and random words.

The woman inside cannot decipher their jumbled asking of how much. She only
shakes her head in confusion at each word left in the air in offering. English first,
other tongues — Spanish, German, Italian — linger cryptic in an uncloud.

This is a necessity. This train, black ribbon against such verdant hills, coming
shortly.  Heads together — this man, this woman  — move a few steps away,
shoulders a droop inside their clothing. Another try in other tongues; failure.

His hands know the way. They swoop and rise, dart with fingers fluid and sure.
The attendant smiles and she answers, her own arms, hands, fingers bright
in response. A veil of unknowing flutters groundward at this epiphany.

Mesmerized, the woman watches. She stands beside him, this new knowing
blooming fierce in her. He has an answer but she can only stare. Now,
there is another necessity.  He is hers now — this dark horse of a man —
and the father of all she will bear. One last thing to ask and he does with her

standing  close behind, smiling. Again he speaks, hands like birds,
airy and supple, talking to the woman in the booth.

Koan for Poets

This world is a confusing place. We encounter much that makes us doubt what we see with our own eyes. I’m reading Radiance of Tomorrow by Ismael Beah. There is much in it that is beautiful but it seems that much much more is not beautiful. And as such it makes you doubt, makes you despair of finding out if anything is ever good. Ah, but maybe I’m too pessimistic. After all, I haven’t finished the book…or this life. It seems the best time for a koan.


Koan for Poets


All chairs are poems
so it must be that poets
are pieces of spaghetti
slants of owls in blank faces

All poems are oranges
angrily waiting for a response
chairs dancing wildly naked
there are dogs barking


“Each one of us who survives, she says, at least once in our lifetime, at some crucial and inescapable moment, has had to absolutely believe in the impossible.” from A Burst of Light and Other Essays by Audre Lorde.


I made eggs over easy
arranged grilled Campari tomatoes
just so down the yolk center
plated so gloriously red gold white

I revised my latest oeuvre
handling words with surgical focus
I Tweeted and Facebooked
as if someone’s life was at stake

I did not sit in a darkened room
lips clamped so no sound
escaped and almost no breath
I did not wail my grief to the heavens

Things Not Our Own

Humor is so subjective.

Things Not Our Own

We laughed and laughed so long and hard, our bellies ached.
Muscles pulled taut, spasms flattening the skin below
our waists. Stop. Just stop. We tried to say between gasps.
It was good to let go. Good to work out the tension of everyday.

Afterwards we sprawled, feeling boneless. The movie had been
absurd but funny. Mistaken identities, dead bodies, slips and falls.
Things found hilarious when on a screen. Things when not our own.