Against the Grain

Posted October 21, 2014 by ManicDdaily
Categories: poetry, Uncategorized

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Against the Grain

A grain first measured
rain, soil, sun,
toil spent
till day was done–
the weight of growth,
a beat in the food canon.

But in the long wait
for growth,
in the way that men
turn earth,
a grain became
the measure of gunpowder,
the weight of what
makes cannon fodder,
the mass
of bullets,
and itself sows men, sows women,
their days done,
for they don’t grow–
these sons, these daughters–
no matter the toil, the soil,
the rain.


Another poem inspired by Kerry O’ Connor’s prompt  “In Other Words” on With Real Toads and also Mary’s prompt on dVerse Poets Pub about news. (I’m thinking here of all the mass graves found in rural areas of beautiful Guerrero, Mexico in a search for missing student protesters; the graves do not appear to belong to the students who are still missing.) (Though I have another poem in mind for Mary’s prompt, if I can just get it written! So may not link this one. )

A grain is in fact a measure of gunpowder and bullets.   It’s also a weight sometimes used to measure gold and diamonds, which certainly opens a bunch of poetic possibilities (!)  But I wanted to keep this poem short for a change–just couldn’t stand to go there.

Finally, hate to be such a promoter, but if you have a moment,  do check out my new novel, Nice.PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover

A Grain of Sky

Posted October 19, 2014 by ManicDdaily
Categories: poetry, Uncategorized

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A Grain Of Sky

It was grey and hard as a pebble
in the back, but when they let her sit up front,
the grey turned blue and shone like everything
up there, even her father’s head as he turned
from the steering wheel–”you feeling better now?”
face moist with being human too long
in a car–

she pushed the kernal about her mouth, but gently,
like she’d prodded her first loose tooth–amazed then too
to find that the malleability of life so specifically
included her, excited somehow,
even when nudging the sore spots–

And she did feel better, perhaps because the front seat
did not in fact swerve so much,
and because a need had been noticed, noticed by
her folks–

She kept the kernal in her mouth then
for years–it had lodged there
even before she’d gotten into that car, to tell the truth–
a stupid place to carry it, she sometimes thought,
but girls’ clothes did not
have very good pockets–

and became so used to its wedge
at the side of a molar, lodged between
gum and cheek, that she could breathe, chew, swallow,
without even tasting
it,  without feeling the weight
of its expanse, except maybe upon a glance
out city glass,
when she felt a call of like-to-like
from the space above the cornices,
or on a sudden look up, walking.

Why couldn’t she just swallow it–
let the cerulean pump through her arteries,
lighten the whole dark lot?

Maybe because she only ever felt that blue groat hers
when she could run a tongue over its hull–

Or because she wanted to keep the grain whole
for further study, or, after a quick boil,
to pass it on–

Of course, more were always available–
should, at least, be available–if she could only
breathe them in–
the way you need to breath in sky
to reap its seed, lungs scything.

But she found herself able only
to take small sips,
not understanding
that you could not choke on sky,
overdose on sky, even shake loose
that grain you had already
been granted–


Here’s a prosish poem of sorts for Kerry O’Connor’s very cool prompt “In Other Words” on With Real Toads.

Computer problems all day, but fixed now!  If you have a chance, check out my new novel, Nice, which also describes kids on car trips and maybe even the search for grains of sky.  PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover

“Greek Slave” by Hiram Powers

Posted October 17, 2014 by ManicDdaily
Categories: poetry, Uncategorized

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“Greek Slave”, 1873, by Hiram Powers

About fig leaves they were never wrong–
slap one on and whee ding dong–
you had a grand old statue that
even tots could gander at.
So, with the he==
but the she, the she–
choices there were not smooth–
a fig just (didn’t) fit her groove.
(It seems a sculpted ribbed curled leaf
was deemed an insufficient sheathe.)
The female whether marble, bronze,
if she were to have nothing on
needed to stand exactly so
with one thigh crossed and on tiptoe,
one hand, drape fold, just chanced to rest
over that place where babies nest
(you know, when dropped by friendly stork
‘twixt legs you’d n’er describe as forked.)

How beautiful, though, the breasts that rise
so perkily ‘neath downcast eyes,
the lids so modest, groomed, demure,
every hair (upon her head) so pure–
At manacled wrist, a rosary,
so surely we’re allowed to see
those breasts again, look long and hard,
their nudity no fault of art,
nor of the girl–a slave was she,
say the spellbound somewhat breathlessly.


A ditty for Margaret Bednar’s prompt “Artistic Interpretations” on With Real Toads.  Margaret poses as the prompt a series of  (mainly) 19th century marble sculptures from the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. (My hometown!)  It is my understanding that fig leaves were used, especially by Victorians, for male sculptures, and not for female sculptures, who were typically placed in a “pudica pose.”  (Margaret says this sculpture one of the first publicly accepted nude sculptures in the prurient nineteenth century U.S.A., accepted in part because the girl was a slave, whose nudity was imposed against her will.)

I have some intermediate alternate lines, but they felt a bit too raunchy too use.  I don’t mind raunchy, but unfortunately, so much raunchy speech has echoes that could be deemed as demeaning to woman. I try to be rather careful of those things, so chose the more Victorian route.

Thanks, Margaret, for the beautiful photo.  Rights reserved to her for that, poem mine. 

And please if you have a minute check out my little-bit raunchy, but in a most not demeaning to women, book, Nice.   (Pic and cover design below mine.) 

PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover


Zombie (?) Poems (Not Pics)

Posted October 16, 2014 by ManicDdaily
Categories: poetry, Uncategorized

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The Zombies That Come After Me

The zombies that come after me
shoot my errors from their eyes;
they aim them with their tautest bows,
my head their bestest prize.

I stoop below each window sill
flatten to the floor,
but these errors once unloosed
aren’t blocked by any door.

The zombies ride upon their shafts
feeling up the fletching–
those feathers lofted by my faults
that carry darts so wretched.

The zombies laugh to see me hurt–
how I, wounded, ache and squirm,
for those errors once they hit their mark,
will not stop their harm. 


Here’s another poem for Izzy Gruye’s out of standard prompt on With Real Toads about zombies coming back.  (And here’s another rather silly, i.e. more humorous, one below.)  The pics (mine) are from Recoleta – a cemetery in Buenos Aires.   


Taking Issue With Those Down on the Dead

Some think the dead are self-centered.  Try,
they point out, getting one to return your call.
You give them a nudge, they turn a blind eye.
Gone to ground, and yet they cast a pall

on your merriment without even
bothering to rain on your parade.
But then come those hours with no reprieve, when
every self-reflection serves as spade

digging at you, a dull, sharp-edged, mirror
in which you see yourself as grey and clodded.
Then, I tell the doubters, when life abhors
you, the loving dead will sometimes come unplotted–

“Courage,” they say, in the French way–strange because
they never affected the Gallic
in their lives, but now they’re all accent grave,
(and because you see that there’s no malice

in their moues, you forgive them this artifice–)
for the truth is they are truly on your side,
and they prise from your open-mouthed surprise
much that you can’t swallow–the hurt, the pride,

your defects both general and particulate.
Yes, their misting about your neck brings fear,
but even that gripped alarm’s a benefit–
as you whisper back–not now, not here.


Agh-just looked back at this and my computer had automatically changed clodded to clouded and then to clotted!  

Thanks, thanks for reading–if you get a chance–please check out my book, Nice, and other books.   



What Those Who Believed in Purgatory Maybe Knew

Posted October 15, 2014 by ManicDdaily
Categories: poetry, Uncategorized

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What Those Who Believed in Purgatory Maybe Knew

That there were dry spaces, in-between places,
where one must step through slews of shriveled souls
like so many fallen leaves–the faces,
crimped at the curves as old potatoes,

yet, still eyed–  where one would mute one’s gait
to cause no crackling, slide to not break a spine
(nor crush the dun spine once had backed). No, the game
was to walk as one walked through clover, thyme,

to schuss the crinkling wince, as if they were bees
that buzzed beneath, bees that didn’t truly
wish to sting, but needed warning of lithe feet;
to walk the freeze as one might walk July–

except with mourning pace, with low-bowed head–
just in case they traced your gaze, these waiting dead–


Here’s a poem that’s gone through many iterations, in part because this is one of those I read to someone else (my husband) when still in draft, and he kept telling me he liked some earlier no-longer-quite-intact version better.  This is not one of the earlier, allegedly better, versions.  The only claim I can make is that it’s a sonnet–and it’s unintentionally Halloweeny–I am posting it belatedly for With Real Toads, hosted by Magaly Guerrero.  I am also going to hazard posting this for Izy Gruye’s “out of standard” prompt re zombies, since this may be the closest to zombies, I can get today (without looking into a mirror.)

Yes, it gets a little rhyme-y there at the end.  And the pic (mine) should really be browner leaves, which in fact is the case in upstate New York where I live–but I am in Manhattan just now, where the leaves are still pretty green!  



A Round of Cloud

Posted October 12, 2014 by ManicDdaily
Categories: poetry, Uncategorized

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A Round of Cloud

The moon’s a round of cloud this morning,
the milkweed cloud strands–
what’s rock is wisp; what’s fine immense;
everything becomes its other–frost sparking
the fields–everything being
what it truly is, sometimes.

It tells me
that what I think is big is small; that what I discount, counts,
and I can’t help but notice, that even on this calmest of days,
stalks shift, spores waft, the clouds traverse
with footless continuity the blue,
and there, at the farthest edge
of my hearing, a stream
runs on.

It tells me, I tell myself,
that I must change my life.

But immediately after this telling,
I despair–
knowing that the moon, the grass, the milkweed,
don’t really care what I will or not–
they won’t pat some special spot
upon my head, send me particular caresses
of even breezy encouragement,
and change–the idea
that I can–feels
like my own cloud puff.

I sit down, slightly slumped,
when  a crow caws, raucous,
and me, being thoroughly human,
find commentary, a taunt–
but also something to hold to–
as if nature, in its kindness,
were sending me a sign,
knowing that I speak squawk
so much better than
moon, cloud, milkweed,
knowing that I may need
dark wings.


Here’s a second poem written thinking about Eugenio Montale after Grace’s prompt on With Real Toads.  I don’t know if I can post two for the prompt, so may link it up to Real Toads Open Link Night. 

I’ve actually been writing a lot this weekend!  (And may end up posting more than I should.)   Trying to avoid all the things I am supposed to be doing!  Thanks as always for your support and encouragement.  Also, please, if you have time, consider checking out my new book Nice or any of my old books.  



Posted October 11, 2014 by ManicDdaily
Categories: poetry, Uncategorized

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There are small children
in my brain tasked
as whipping boys.
They take it and take it
and take it,
while I stand by, increasingly

We have, you see, been educated together
from birth, which has created
a strong emotional attachment
between us–these small children
and all of me,
or rather, the rest of me,
or rather, Queen Me.

A part of that part of me cries
when they are punished,
as if, in my stead,
but educated from birth,
I’ve learned to keep it
in my head.

But these, my whipping boys,
grow into smaller and smaller children
as I age,
and now, unable to keep to one place, pained,
leap from brain to limb
from chest to face,
and my feet trip
and my hands mistake–
all because they refuse
to just sit still, take it.


Here’s a very draft poem for Grace’s prompt on With Real Toads to write a poem inspired by Eugenio Montale.  I love Montale;  I’ve not read enough, and I can’t say how this poem was inspired by him–only that I read Grace’s prompt and struck by his poem about a well and this was what I wrote shortly after.  Whipping boys were used in the English court, when young princes were basically unpunishable by their tutors–the whipping boy was punished in place of the prince; the idea to teach a lesson  to the prince through the punishment of what was sometimes an only friend.  

I’ve not had much time for drawing lately so using photos I have!  I like this one though (taken in the beautiful Catskill Mountains.) 


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