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NaPoWriMo

It’s time for NaPoWriMo!

It’s time! It’s time! (Name the movie …?) National Poetry Writing Month is here again! Throughout the  month of April, 2017 I will be publishing one poem per day here at ERE.com. Keep checking in throughout the month to enjoy more poetry.

 

April 1

First

Every morning, they’re born again.

The zen of breath in late darkness,

their sleep still long and wispy.

Limbs stirring underneath

soft, knitted cotton cocoons.

 

I cannot stop.

My fingers reaching out …

tender stroke of their hair,

a quiet press. Lips to temple.

 

I slit open the light.

Rest gently at the edge of their slumber.

Greedily, a little hand stumbles for mine,

draws me back towards his head.

Wanting a few more moments,

of infancy.

 

April 2

Giraffe Poem

I always have related to giraffes.

We’re not synonyms,

Not like trees and me,

But cousins, perhaps. A fellow tribe.

 

It’s the long limbs,

Lumbering

Yet graceful. (Until we stumble. That’s always a tantrum.)

Big eyes,

A twitch of the head. You can see a lot from up here.

 

And everyone else watching. Watching. Watching.

Such awe that such a beast exists,

Standing before them. Gliding, eating, batting lashes.

Silent and unaware.

 

April 3

A Poem About Eggs

Dear reader, you knew this was coming.

For every April, she writes about them.

And rain.

And sickness and blooms. And buds and feathers.

All of the themes of the season,

seen from her window,

which has been freshly cleaned.

 

But this year,

these eggs are different. They are transformed.

 

They are bathed as usual;

potted, heated, cooled. Consumed.

 

But this spring, they are requested. Revered.

This year she teaches. Just enough water so they are covered.

This year, they ask: Can I see? Can I help? Are the eggs ready?

Tap here. And here, she tells them, her voice a new color of delight.

 

They come early. They come without play.

They nourish.

 

April 4

I Exist

Seated. A simple chair.

The air is light …

temperate.

 

Sun filters through the blooming dogwood.

The breeze tickles the buds.

In the distance,

through the speakers of an old, blue pickup,

the familiar melody of a guitar.

A song bright enough to fit a sunny day.

 

The clouds skip merrily along,

like a child unloosed

into the back yard.

 

A gust—oddly silent though the leafless trees—

carries on,

shaking their limbs

awakening them

from winter’s slumber.

 

In my chair I am rooted.

Me and my pen,

creating my catalog of spring.

 

April 5

MORNING

Woman awoke

Before the sun.

(They say the sun was a man.)

 

She began

The ritual at the coffeepot,

The breakfast table,

A headline.

 

She climbed,

It was effort, before the caffeine kicked in.

She threw back covers.

Pulled socks from the wooden drawer.

Tripped over his pants on the floor—

 

She began to pray.

Thank you God, for this bed.

 

April 6

My Favorite Mug

It’s designed to awaken.

More tall

than wide.

Hand poured and sturdy.

Perfect shade of teal-ey blue and brown

that suggests it resides in the cupboard of a cabin.

The emblem on the front

gives ’er away.

The name.

The moose.

Really,

it reminds me of my last break.

Of the peace and quiet of a quaint New England town.

Of the ocean.

Of the wind that spoke to me

from the sea.

 

April 7

April Moon

The moon.

Jupiter.

Walking hand in hand (or 628.384 million kilometers in 628.344 million kilometers)

across a stretch

of Blue Ridge Mountains.

 

This portrait framed,

by a large, arcing window

on the second story

of an airy colonial.

 

It is 5:54 a.m.

and she is trying

to quietly feed the cat,

but it wakes the boy.

With a gasp he enters the room,

“Mommy, the moon!”

 

And so,

behind the smudgy panes,

he reaches for her hand and

they watch the morning begin.

 

April 8

Boys and Dirt

In five minutes, can you help me dry them?

Dry them? Where are they?

In the tub.

Did they really get that dirty?

 

At this point in the conversation I have three choices:

Pointed look.

Repeat his question.

Eye roll.

 

I go with pointed look.

 

I’m coming.

 

April 10

Cheesecake

A simple recipe,

handwritten in all caps,

centered on the page like a good typist.

No directions, really, just a list;

“beat until smooth” is your biggest hint.

I have to read between the careful print,

learn to melt the vegetable oil,

soften the cheese.

 

And when the fork goes through,

I hesitate. I taste.

Creamy and smooth. Sweet and not. The crunch of butter and graham.

It’s perfect.

And then, here it is. The memories of your dining room … the table with the plastic cover.

Running through the glass curtain to the porch. The endless rows of plants.

Sneaking ham to the little puppy in the corner. Stealing the 8 ball from the basement.

The eggs you dyed just for us, even though

we would have preferred doing it ourselves.

This was where we scuffed our white shoes,

learned to say “please” and “thank you.”

 

Each day after we enjoy this little treat,

a way to honor you. Bite by bite.

 

April 11

Finding the Pen

It’s here,

Like the feeling you fear deep in the dark.

One cartoonish button away from eradication—

 

I try to hide the fuel,

Tucked away on an old pine shelf.

My eyes focus on the walls,

The smooth, oak floors.

Stay off the internet.

Do not engage,

just a few flybys to keep me satisfied.

I cannot help but hear them in the street,

their banners fresh with paint.

 

Your silence will not keep you safe.

 

A chalkboard sign I try to ignore like I am ignoring the rest of the world.

But it keeps popping up in my mind. I don’t want to speak to it.

What does it mean?

Are the bombs coming?

Can I protect them? I think about building a shelter,

picture myself going hand-to-hand. I’m no good with knives. Forget bullets.

 

Your silence will not keep you safe.

 

Well, fuck you, it’s working so far. I unfriended those women down the street that proudly announced they were voting for a change and laughed in my face the day after, mocked my tears like teenagers in a lunchroom. I don’t post anymore, because scrolling through past the panic and the links and the salacious headlines does nothing but trigger that deep, darkness …

 

Are the bombs coming?

 

Your silence will not keep you safe.

 

This is ridiculous. Keep calm and all that.

I dream I am on the sidewalk, and there is the easel. Written by a barista with a green polo shirt and a tattered beard. He sees me and holds out the piece of chalk.

 

I go out and buy a chalkboard eraser.

 

Your silence will not keep you safe.

 

Fine. I hope it fails. I long for failure, for the smug satisfaction of I told you so. I will shout it from the rooftops of the building while it burns. I will stand. I will stand with Her. I will hold the hands of those who need it. I will say, “This is not right.” I will continue to be the light. I will shine. I will teach my children tolerance and love and when it’s time to be unmoving, strong, stoic and brave. To reserve your energy. To not feed the bad behavior. To say, “NO. I WILL NOT ACCEPT THIS.”

 

April 12

Mood Change

rain and clouds are here

a candle in the corner

red paint on my lips

 

April 13

Abuse

… pressed into the ground,

into the crack of the cement.

Stay there.                   Open one eye,

and the shadow presses down …

 

Hiding in the kitchen,

carefully filling cupboards.

Wiping each glass dry.

Why should I ask you?

Because I live here!

[[Enter a speech of great importance,

a flag waving overhead and honor of such question.

The words do a little dance, but the center]]: I am. The one. Who is important.

The delicate, blue tiles underneath begin to blur …

[[Under her breath]]: Fuck you, fuck you, fuck you.

She concentrates on arranging a bouquet of spoons …

 

Sitting silent

at the empty expanse of table. Gazing

out the lovely, French doors.

The space filled with a faint touch of green.

Longing, to be in the center

of the cool, damp breeze.

It will be okay. I can endure. For them, those little, floppy heads ….

This is the meaning of sacrifice.

 

Occasionally,

there is a glimpse on the screen: fingers upon fingers, lips upon lips.

It is love. And kindness.

She turns toward the corner, a dark and silent cloud.

She thinks, “Maybe all relationships end up like this.”

He stops making pancakes and speaking after dinner.

But then, back to the screen;

what it would be like to be cared for. Sure, hon. I got it.

What it would be like to be raised up like a limousine. To wear a crown, and keep it steady.

 

… wet. In the shower. The best place to let it go.

The sound of water on cold tiles,

Like guilt and shame undergoing baptism.

I have to go.

But there is no place to go, no further stops in this labyrinth than the grubby, ceramic beneath her hands …

 

April 14

Missed

This was your day.

Knowing your brothers’ penchant for lateness,

you may have left the dock before the sun,

arrived quietly and early.

A smooth sail.

 

I can only guess

everything else about you,

for your time never came.

But I held you still

for a few days.

 

Early mornings they ask,

“Where is my sister?”

I choke the words back,

Pet their heads. The boyhood innocence.

Thankful they don’t know

These ways of the feminine.

 

April 15

Picking a Fight

Here we are again.

The sounds of such shouts

Echo in my brain.

 

April 16

Early Morning

Still is the air,

And quiet is the house.

Not yet a floorboard creak.

In their dreams,

A fat, yellow cat

Is singing a song.

Raindrops stand in

As piano keys.

 

The coffee groans and yawns,

And I sit

To scratch out a poem.

The cat at my side

Now a purr of breakfast, and applause.

 

April 17

Apology

I neglect you, dear poems.

You sit tattered and bare in my head.

My journal lay silent on tables throughout the house,

I carry it closed with me everywhere.

Chance is hope.

I sneak a few lines in here and there like a piece of chocolate.

 

Sun rises. It sets. The day fills with things …

Dishes and noses and car rides.

Crumbs not fit for verse.

At night my brain

Cuts apart sentences like a knife.

And the words take off running.

 

I think if I find my pillow,

All will be well.

The dawn will restore my poetic license.

So each night, I clear the table, I pack lunches, I undress.

The promise of tomorrow as famous as they come,

Though a damsel, I am not.

 

April 18

Words

“Mommy can you …?”

find the milk.

the car left in the yard.

the shoes lost in the boot well.

 

Begin.

 

Cat.

Shush. Feed.

Coffee.

Wake. Dress.

Cereal.

Milk.

Apple.

Shoes.

Bus. Bus!

 

Yoga.

Shower.

Coat.

Car.

School.

Door. Bye!

Post office.

Home.

Coffee. Mascara.

Phone. Skip.

Manuscript. Type.

E-mail.

More e-mail.

Call.

More coffee.

Dishwasher.

Lunch?

Eat.

Drink.

Sweep.

Dishwasher.

Email.

Write.

Coffee.

Door.

Bus.

Day. Good.

Bikes.

Trucks.

Dig. No! Dirt!

In.

Shoes.

Potty.

Dinner.

Dinner!

Play?Yes.

Bath.

Books.

Sing? Sing!

Bed.

 

Begin again.

Dinner. (Adults.)

Dishes.

Lunches.

Forms. Backpack.

Sweep.

Write. Email.

TV.

Face. Wash.

Game. Video.

Sheets.

 

April 19

Wake Up Time

The morning smells of eggs.

Groggy conversations

Over mugs.

I teach you

The secret of cats.

You give me your speech

About the tip of his tail. And the motor in his belly.

 

The trucks outside groan and whir,

Your speech amps up, “hydraulic pistons!”

You end by mowing the carpet

With a plastic frog puppet.

 

You announce your desire for doughnuts,

Brother “Boo!” around the corner. It’s the start of a race.

I reach out my butterfly net,

Catch and dress them one by one.

Brother insists on high socks and high pants. Pushing up his sleeves.

Always pushing.

Bus comes and you cry.

Used to be because,

You wanted to go too.

Now you simply say,

I miss my Michael.

 

April 20

They

They

A pronoun.

A plurality.

 

Now being claimed

By the singular singularity.

Whiskers and kittens taking on a whole new meaning.

Both.

Neither.

 

I wonder then, why not choose something new? Har? Hyr?Shyr?

Or sho, sha, ple, pla?

There are hundreds of other actual words: asexual, non-binary, gender queer, gender fluid, transitioning …

But they. THEY.

(It’s the editor in me. I cannot. There are rules, and you insist on breaking so many of them. But not this one. Why do I care? I care. We are losing language. We are losing the rhyme and the meter of things.)

 

Claiming they, seems such youthful rebellion. Such arrogance. They is much older than you or me. They wants to be left alone.

 

I know a thing or two about un-acceptance. About being judged, and not being able to do a damn thing about it.

 

I y’am who I y’am.

 

(Oooh, y’am? No. Too foodie.)

 

But you, aren’t who you are. You are something else, and tomorrow, something else beyond that, and now you are painting with new colors every day; slipping into identities like a new social media profile …

 

There are rules.

 

I had to obey.

I had to stay in the Key, or I had to walk the walk.

I had to wear the brass around my knuckles.

I had to be loud. Sometimes,

I had to duck.

 

I didn’t choose. But I carry it with me. Like a scar I cannot erase.

They. They. They are the ones that cannot help their pointed fingers.

 

They also taught me forgiveness.

It’s the thing you lack,

Like a good pair of shoes

Or a proper coat.

You, of the generation that stands up and shouts.

In my day, we kept things to ourselves. Hid the message in the lyrics.

Tucked bruises under sleeves,

Used two forks at a time.

 

April 21

 

© 2017, Lisa Ann Schleipfer. All rights reserved.

 

Leave a Reply

 

 
  1. Betsy

    April 16, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Wow Lisa!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what a great job. I will be reading the rest. Very proud to be an acquaintance.

     
  2. Jenny

    April 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    One more week! I’ve really enjoyed popping in and reading your poems. Hope you keep it up. : )