Desert Equinox: Pantoum by Serena Rodriguez

Desert Equinox

The red dirt falling through fingers
Reflecting rainbows of the orange sun
And spirits in the sand
Spreading their wings on the desert beach

Reflecting rainbows of the orange sun
The blue and pink clouds shelter
Spreading their wings on the desert beach
Sinking driftwood of cholla skeleton

The blue and pink clouds shelter
The boulders lay sleeping below
Sinking driftwood of cholla skeleton
Ravens dressed in obsidian, gliding along silhouettes

The boulders lay sleeping below
Children of the pitched Ortiz mountain
Ravens dressed in obsidian, gliding along silhouettes
Through the shadows, between the desert’s sacred moments

Children of the pitched Ortiz mountain
Cradle the coyote’s call
Through the shadows, between the desert’s sacred moments
And the moon’s eminent light

Cradle the coyote’s call
Spirits in the sand
And the moon’s eminent light
Red dirt, falling through fingers.

Serena Rodriguez has lived in Santa Fe NM for 14 years. She has been married for ten years and has a wonderfully feisty three-year-old girl. She is now pursuing her dream of writing through the SFCC Creative Writing program.

Bad BAD Poem by Devon Miller-Duggan

Earlier this year, I wrote about reading slush, and set up a list of reasons I’d reject a poem.

1. A dull underutilized title, often one word, like “Love.”
2. An opening that over sets context: I was in the kitchen, it was snowing, on Tuesday I went shopping.
3. A simplistic metaphor carried all the way to the end.
4. An unambiguous emotion—I’m depressed, suicidal, happy I won the lottery.
5. An ending that reiterates context and wraps up already wrapped emotion.
6. No form, structure, or technique except for some predictable rhyme.
7. A self-satisfied, melodramatic, or cutesy tone.

Looking at it later, though, I realized it might actually be a weird kind of writing prompt—a challenge. This idea had already occurred to Devon Miller-Duggan, contributing writer at “Miriam’s Well.” Below is the hilarious outcome.

by Devon Miller-Duggan

For M.S.

There was blood soaking the feathers
In the bottom of the cage of my heart.
The cage followed me everywhere.
It tried to climb into the La-Z-Boy with me
When I tried to settle my soul down with a sandwich and a glass of tepid milk.
All the feelings of this ilk
Wrap around me like silk
Ropes, you know, the ones you saw once in the tattoo parlor book
With pictures of ladies, naked or in flapping kimonos,
Tied way more elaborately than
Trussed fowl and looking pleased about it. Even
More elaborately than that chicken recipe of Julia Child’s
I made once
Back when I had
Energy for that sort of thing,
Anyway, you could just tell those ropes were silk.
I’m so sad all the time now.
I always see the feather in that
Poem about hope,
Which I have none of,
Always see them as black and shiny.
Now I even see them bloody
In the bottom of a dog cage
That follows me around
Getting blood everywhere.
Bad poem! Sit! Stay!
Stop rolling in the bloody feathers of my hope!
No treats for you!

Monday Feature: Michaela Kahn Writes A Villanelle

–A Writing Exercise …

I was coming up with some writing exercises for a workshop this week and thought I would challenge myself to a few. For this exercise I used 2 things as a starting point. First the quote was an inspiration for the theme. And second I used a villanelle for my form (though without the rhyming). Five stanzas: four tercets and one quatrain at the end. The 1st and 3rd line of the 1st stanza are used alternately as ending lines of the next 4 stanzas, with those lines then used as the last two lines of the whole poem in the ending quatrain.

It comes at the strangest times …

“Perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave.” –Rainer Maria Rilke

It comes at the strangest times:
a shock, a scent, a dream that won’t
let go. There is nothing in your hands.

Last night the dogs chased you through
endless forest until at last you reached the sea.
It comes at the strangest times —

The knowing that what was hidden so carefully
is yourself. Tiny now, a seed, thistledown, the part
let go. There is nothing in your hands

to save you from the dog’s teeth and the sea
up to your knees. No escape but waking.
It comes at the strangest times.

In the car, a song reminds you of childhood.
Smell of lunchbox bologna, the day you sat alone and
let go. There is nothing in your hands

but a book, some dandelion petals.
Waking is harder than dying –
It comes as the strangest times.
Let go. There is nothing in your hands.

How To Write A New York School Poem
Thom Donovan
1. at least one addressee (to which you may or may not wish to dedicate your poem)
2. use of specific place names and dates (time, day, month, year)–especially the names of places in and around New York City
3. prolific use of proper names
4. at least one reminiscence, aside, digression, or anecdote
5. one or more quotations, especially from things people have said in conversation or through the media
6. a moment where you call into question at least one thing you have said or proposed throughout your poem so far
7. something that sounds amazing even if it doesn’t make any sense to you
8. pop cultural references
9. consumer goods/services
10. mention of natural phenomena (in which natural phenomena do not appear ‘natural’)
11. slang/colloquialism/vernacular/the word “fuck”
12. at least one celebrity
13. at least one question directed at the addressee/imagined reader
14. reference to sex or use of sexual innuendo
15. the words “life” and “death”
16. at least one exclamation/declaration of love
17. references to fine art, theater, music, or film
18. mention of genitals and body parts
19. food items
20. drug references (legal or illegal)
21. gossip
22. mention of sleep or dreaming
23. use of ironic overtones

I Did Not Go To School in New York To Write This Poem

I was born on the edge of Spanish Harlem, Mt. Sinai Hospital
on the border between many things:
black people and white people, winter and summer, east side and west side,
daylight and the womb
just after the shifts change at 3:35 pm
under the sign of Taurus–that much was fixed.

I grew up dreaming of a Manhattan I would not return to
of getting lost in the woods by the hippie commune
and coming upon the directional street signs of upper Broadway
on the border between many things
Caribbean islands and cold borough winters, my mother and father, my first and
my middle names.

Little sisters, sitting with you at the Nutcracker
while the music of Jew killing Russia
trickled through the air above the stage
like the confetti snow falling and
falling on the Snowflake Queen
I can’t say if I was happy or sad
just that my velveteen dress over the crinoline itched.

Fuck me! That’s what I learned to say
all those years in Bergen County, New Jersey
an exclamation of surprise or even of affection
as in “fuck me, it’s raining”
but not, as my second husband once hoped,
the imperative, a demand.

Are you paying attention at all to what I’m saying?
On the border here between wanting something
and getting it, between labor and delivery and lying to those in hospice care
between pretending to like Mozart
and actually liking it.

I love you, city of my birth, of hot chestnuts from the chestnut man’s burnt worn
fingers, of deli patrons with concentration camp tattoos on their flabby arms
hanging out of summer blouses, on the border
between survival and a syringe and an all night rave
between standing on the subway platform
in a mini dress that resembles a Frito’s bag
going to a Mothers of Invention concert
convinced nothing will ever happen to me.

On the border between sex and annihilation, a girl coming out of a cocoon, went
in a caterpillar and came out needing tampax
delighted to discover the word Psyche
means butterfly in Greek
delighted to realize
I don’t have to apply to the job
of being a caryatid
that unlike the statue of Atlas carrying the world
at Rockefeller Center
I can walk away, walk away
and no one will care or even notice.

Year In Review

It has long been the custom of me and my friend Ana that we do a year’s review each fall. Since we don’t live in the same city any more we don’t do a monthly coaching session, but we manage the review. This year is a bit earlier than autumn, but we’ve got a lovely weekend at the beach so we’re doing it slowly.
I think anyone or pair of friends could benefit from these questions, courtesy Ana:
The number one lesson I learned last year was…
Aspects of personal relationships that worked well for me last year were…
Aspects of personal relationships that didn’t work well for me last year were…
Things I would like to chage this year related to personal relationships are…
We ask the same set of questions for:
Prosperity and finances
Living Environment
Career and work related aspects
Creative Expression
Aspects of care of my soul
It is always a rich process–hope you can use some of it.

What Are the 10 Most Important Things In Your Life?

What are the ten most important things in your life?

I thought up this writing/thinking prompt because I sometimes found myself in confusing conversations where other people assumed I didn’t care about things like home decorating, money, or beauty treatments. As in a family member saying something like “you’re such a hippie, you don’t care about money.” I started listing things in order of importance and found out I did care, just that these items weren’t that high up (well, not beauty treatments, I obviously never care).
When I was young, writing was number one–the top of the list. It has dropped as the years have passed, less important than other people. Interestingly, though, after a recent lecture someone said “well, you’re selfish” in response to a statement about prioritizing writing. My feeling has always been more accepting of the ebb and flow of priorities. Who wants to appear unselfish enough to give up creating art? But I was never one to feel I’d save a poem from a burning house instead of a baby!
So–what are the ten most important things in your life?
The next ten?
The next?