Tessa, Come What May

Do you mind telling me, I asked
congenially. Here I was egging her
on, a bit recklessly I admit.
To which she replied, err
it’s kind of rhetorical, even humbug.
Alright, reeking of animosity.

I’m not made of sugar and spice for
sure, isn’t the world not like that
at all, even if we all pretend to be?
Humbugs everywhere, even amiable ones,
who go to church. I’d speak out against
them, can’t help it, so best behave.

The stars are iridescent at night,
those glistening bodies breaking
on us, ready to gall us, put us
in our places, so we’d yield, armored
or not come to our senses and
a final date with sweet destiny.

Prompt: If you’ve lived long enough (like ahem, me), you’d have figured out that the world is actually a love story. That it is love that makes the world go round. So the purpose of creating art is to write a love story. But how does one do that, when the world is also very screwed up? Because human nature is. To err, is human, is it not? So take for instance, Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The characters have to overcome their pride, and prejudice, to be a better human being, to find true love. Corny but that’s how it works. Humans need to be chastened, to come to their senses.
And to come to their senses means to love. Love is the answer. But fight is the way. You’ve got to fight for it somehow. So write me that kind of love story. Appropos for the penultimate day of 2016, is it not?

Tessa, Truth Is Cumbersome Sometimes

Tricia was no dimwit,
she of the persuasive voice–
well we had a dalliance, didn’t we,
and along the way something
stirred up, envy maybe,
when the sea just seemed
bright as glass, and
the needlepoint we’ve sewn
grew shabbier.

What’s bright? Nothing any more,
just wool pulled over eyes,
so what she said was
not completely true,
and I couldn’t think of anything
more to say.


Here we are, in the last week of 2016, and frankly it couldn’t be sooner. I hope you’re feeling all uplifted by the season, or if not something within the season will stir the quiet waters within. George Michael died, adding to the list of luminaries who’s left this world this year. For me his two most memorable songs were “Last Christmas” and “Careless Whisper”. Well, whaddayu know, it’s Christmas time so I guess we’ll be hearing a lot of “Last Christmas”. For the rest of us who continue on in this world, let’s hope 2017 won’t be such a bitch. For your prompt, write about the bitches you knew in 2016 or that was 2016, or something like that. Then yea, move on. Here’s another from George Michael.

This one I like:

Tessa, I Made Up A Christmas Eve Poem

There’s some banana cake left,
thought Alicia. She slipped herself
into a panda onesie, rested chin
on the book she’s reading and
declined. Christmas eve.

She felt all primed up.
Even had a few beers. Yet some part of
her’s whimpering, adrift in
la la land, marooned in
a tower of her making.

She wanted not to sigh but
sing hymns, fill the mind
with merry and bright,
burning with love and
chiming in, oh yes!

A cold wind came in from the west.

Note: Word list from The Sunday Whirl – melt, bananas, slip, chin, burn, chime, tower, wrap, drift, decline, mind, sigh


Ya know, at some level, we’re all just surviving the holiday season. Is it a good enough reason for people to get together? I guess so. Christmas really got significant because of the kids. But they’re all kinda grown up now. So we decided to get rid of presents. Which was one big commercial trap, wasn’t it, and isn’t it still? It’s not really about presents, is it? Even if for a season it was, for the kids that is. I see them entering adulthood one by one now. That’s a good enough reason for celebrating Christmas, just to see how they’ve changed in a year. What a difference a year makes. It’s easy to be cynical about celebrating. But really the good enough reason is good enough for me. So I want you to write a Christmas story or a story with Christmas sentiments. It doesn’t have to be true. But it has to conjure up feelings that ring true.

Tessa, All In Good Time

He asked, how many days did God take
to make the world? Seven days, my son said.
So the ENT specialist said, everything takes
time, takes sacred rituals, or even
daily partakings in these things,
like putting on or taking off
your camo pants, so hold on
to those ripples of attention,
even those inexpressibly flattering
smiles, with cynicism.

I cannot exchange my breezy space now
with yours; am I changeable? Placing my trust
on what it’s meant to turn out to become;
meanwhile I’m clamoring to dance again,
even if I did feel standoffish, not
wanting to turn into some idiotic effect,
but once the moves became automatic
I’d wanted it all over again, and I’d memorized
all gray and insubstantial things in much
the same way, till time passes.

Prompt: This year’s Christmas feels different for me, maybe because of the change in rituals. I’ve not even put up a Christmas tree. But I love the season still. 2016 turned out to be kinda crappy. It’s disappointing on so many levels. Anyway it’s taught me to discern. No, did not have that gift and so had to learn the hard way. I’ve always mistaken rust for gold, is what I’m saying. But I’ve always measured things by a gold standard, and guess I always will. And one of the things I’ve learned is it’s ok to be on your own, to not look to others for validation. You are writing your own story. No one else’s opinion should matter. It’s between you and your God. So the prompt is to write a review in your poem, but it doesn’t have to be a long, hard review, just some wisdom you’ve gotten at the end of the year.

Tessa, O My Angel!

I dislike having to read poems
as if on a couch, or being on
machine mode, or having to wave
an access card, in order to have
what–mutual approval?

Nothing’s ordained. Nothing
that isn’t, is. Maybe that’s what
it took but that time–to collide,
to grind, to cushion, to volume up,
to be lounge cats–is over.

We all groove in our grave,
alone except for God, and an angel
in white bent over with ardor, my
lover now and forever, a symbol
soldered in our hearts.

Word list from Wordle 278


O guys, we live in a time of doom and gloom, doesn’t it feel like that to you? It’s Christmas time for Christ’s sake! Blame it all on Trump! His assemblage of a cast as preposterous and unfit as he is has put us all in a perilous, unstable spiral. China’s watching. Russia’s watching. The whole world is and no one has any idea what’s gonna happen next except that he’s going to manhandle it all. To not speak up now is to give up on the protection of humanity or something. You betcha, “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”–Patti Smith’s choice of song for Dylan’s inauguration as Nobel Laureate is so apt for our time. So do something–write a poem about how perilous it all feels right now, or about giving over to silent despair. Just do not shut the fuck up.

Tessa, There She Laid In Stone

Perhaps his instincts were spot on.
He sported a beard, as always,
would only half answer. Still
I wouldn’t say, all boarded up.
He’d spin all those stories, kept up
a momentum as long as he could.

He wouldn’t walk her to church.
That’d invite innuendos from the
local newspaper. Tight-knit community
this was. You’re noble, winning,
comely, never disrespectful, as if
the grays endowed you with honor.

When she got hit by fever, had turned
yellow, and high, she’d think of all
the muddy trails they’d left behind.
No, they had not run foul in game,
had stayed within rules. I’d scraped
stone clear. There engraved: her name.


The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 277

Wow so Dylan didn’t show up to receive his Nobel Prize but he wrote a speech. A humbling one. And Patti Smith sang her heart out, nervous and calm all at once. All the more moving it was that she had stumbled midway, don’t you think? So what’s literature? Something that speaks to the complexities of the wounded human heart I think. It shows the fair and foul in humanity. Its truths never easy. Usually cryptic. That which is untranslatable. That’s kind of like poetry. So yea, attempt to say something like that in your poem.

Tessa, Everything’s A Mood

Alyssa looked at everything
and then went to stand beside
Olie, good-humoredly, like a pillar.
They’re wearing something soft and loose
–a kaftan dress probably–bare-armed,
wafting fabric.

There’s a swamp beneath, said Olie.
That’s the sort of territory she’d imagined,
thought Alyssa. All the insolence, silences,
being part of the underground system,
a salt mine of feelings. Maybe all of life
is dark, cellular, and damp.

So everything really would be made out in
moods, a territory blind with pitfalls. Oh
do we go tut tut, then go on, or lag, then
go on, or fall into disregard, then trailing
our pride, wanting each other again, just
to see how much we’d understood.


Has it been a while? Are you feeling Christmassy or still dark? Whatever it is, I wanna know the mood. We’re all moody creatures. Also swampy creatures. I actually googled to find out the hashtag, #draintheswamp. So here’s what it means. Ok, the mood you wanna summon is that of a swamp. Question: How do you drain the swamp when you ARE the swamp? As usual, truth is murkier than fiction. It could be fiction. So yea, maybe our job in life is to discern. What say you? Am I right or am I right?

Tessa, I’m Listening

I listened to too much chatter
and depending on who,
it’s either adorable, bearable,
or even likeable, it allows me to be
dead to myself,
this door to you, lightly patterned
impressions, allows me to reload,
heaved into your sun,
tracing your anatomy,
chancing upon your files, so don’t ever come
to a screeching stop, coz I know that you
love me back, you’re no hack,
coz I’d not suffer no fools gladly.


Day 7…the one I missed out on.

“Write an activity poem. Of course, the first activity that springs to my mind is writing poetry, but there are many other possible activities from which to choose: running, driving, folding clothes, tying knots, casting lines, dancing, sleeping, and so much more. Pick an activity and write it out.”

Word list from The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 276.

Hi guys, this world is made up of relationships so ask yourself, who do you hang out with? That probably defines your world. And yes, it’s plural, worlds, as it really refers to different circles of friends doesn’t it? And do you realize that the people you hang out with change, and that these changes would mean that you’re changed if for some reason, a person drops off from your circle, whatever precipitates that. If you believe in God then you’d believe that God brings new people into your life and removes others, so in that way the people you used to hang out with becomes a phase, know what I mean? Imagine saying, oh she’s just a passing phase. Sometimes this passing brings with it hard lessons in relationships. One of these lessons could be, for instance, that a person you thought of as a friend is actually an attention-seeker, that she was nice to you as long as you behaved as her squad, that she actually has no intention of appreciating you on your own terms, so your epiphany causes you to move away from her. That’s how it changes you. Get it?

I know that people go through these all the time, and that keeps things in check. So we’d all grow up, know what I mean?

So for the prompt, write a relationship poem.

Tessa, The Last Poem

We’re still lollopping in the dark
holding a gas lamp. Maybe we’d gone
too far? So is it cowardly to then
turn back?

Too late you said. But I had whiffed
something unworldly, in this world of
poetry. It all depends, you said,
not wanting to be offensive.

God never meant poetry to be this
loopy thing, I said. But you had
cozied up to this task so well,
so you might as well.

I gave a little whimper. Not like
Mary Oliver, not like praise for
all things wise and good, yet
following nature’s counsel.

Wild nature, you said. Primitive
as knives you’d use for cutting
grass or pruning a Japanese bonsai
in a made-made paradise.

When’ll our last poem be, I’d asked.
When there’re no birds left, you’d said,
walking the way of Wallace through
forest to see birds of paradise.


Day 30

“Write a last chance poem. The poem could be about having a final chance at something, whether it’s writing a poem, saying goodbye, or singing a song. Or it could be about a famous last chance that’s already occurred. Whatever strikes your fancy, this truly is our last chance for November 2016.”

It’s December, folks! I had just completed the PAD Chapbook Challenge. Just short of one poem, which I’ll get to soon enough I guess. When I do such daily poem challenges, the last poem always feels like a hurrah. I’ve done this kind of challenge often enough to feel almost like breezing through the experience. I’m just reporting how it feels like for me now. I’ve also thought often enough about when my last poem will be. When I’ve run out of things to say? But there’re always things enough to say, or to say the same thing in myriad ways. It’s like reinventing yourself almost. If you’ve done this kind of thing, you perhaps share the same feeling as me. If you don’t do this kind of thing then what I’m saying would probably mean not much.

You probably have another kind of schtick. Like dance, for instance. Dance isn’t my schtick since my hamstrings are too tight for doing it well, and my body’s too heavy. But I do it still anyway, for the fun of it. I get joy out of it. The line divides one who does an activity as an amateur and one who does it to practice a kind of professional competence. On this kind of scale then you may think you’re a failure. I don’t think of it as failure. I don’t think of anything as a failure if it’s something you do that makes you happy.

At the end of the day, we’re all in a quest for something. Like Alfred Wallace. He’s a British naturalist who founded the Wallace Line. It’s the line which separates the Indonesian archipelago into two distinct parts: a western portion in which the animals are largely of Asian origin, and an eastern portion where the fauna reflect Australasia. So hopefully your exploratory quest will lead you to create a thing of value, or even things of value. Wallace also came up with the idea of evolution but Darwin kind of robbed him of the glory of his epiphany. Shit happens. So if you’re a practicing poet with no financial reward for your work, think of Wallace who was poor and struggling with no regular income for much of his life.

Onward! 2017, here we come. The prompt? What’s your quest?