Happy National Poetry Month

It’s National Poetry Month again, and I have no plans to write a poem a day (NaPoWriMo). However, this one slipped into my head yesterday and today. A gift? Or a curse? Not sure yet.

Skill Set—Poet

Sometimes I speak in verse—
iambic lines, or worse,
trochee. It’s like a curse
I cannot stop. Perverse,
the rhymes infect, transverse,
coerce my brain. “Disperse!”
I shout. “Be still,” my nurse
responds, his voice so terse
I know I’ve gone insane.
He binds my wrists. I strain
against the bed, my brain
awhirl with mad disdain
until the meds constrain
the meter gone profane
and bold: a hurricane
of poems I can’t explain.
“Spondee,” I moan.
“Sestina. Sonnet. Koan
Limerick. Xylophone…”
And then the heavy stone
of anesthetic thrown
from syringe to bone
descends. I wake alone.
No ode, no pain, no throne
composed of metered tones
and stately palindromes
contaminate my words.
I’m sane.
And sad.
My mouth a hearse—
dead letters disperse
against my teeth. The nurse
appears. His smile is vain.
He says, “We’ve fixed your brain.”
I scowl. He frowns. I feign
civility. “My purse?”
I ask. “The universe
awaits.” He shoves it close.
I ease the zipper wide
to show the poems I hide
for rainy days and snide
remarks. Unjustified
restraints cannot divide
my mind for long. I hide
my plans, re-versified
and calm. For now. They tried
to break my muse. I bide
my time until the worst
miasma fades, and Verse
slips back into a poem
or two, or more: a tome!
Oh, poetic loon,
how sweet it feels to croon
aloud the song of moon
and line. Iambic swoons
and dactyl foot balloons
unhinge my afternoon—
a perfect honeymoon
from sane pursuits too soon
applied with syringe or spoon,
a brutal, dulling dose
of anodyne. No verse.
No rhyme. Just prose. A curse
devoid of rhyme. “No pun
for that!” I say. The nurse
returns. I close my purse
and run.

Christine Klocek-Lim, 1 April 2017

First Crocus (2017)

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First Crocus

This morning, flowers cracked open
the earth’s brown shell. Spring
leaves spilled everywhere
though winter’s stern hand
could come down again at any moment
to break the delicate yolk
of a new bloom.

The crocus don’t see this as they chatter
beneath a cheerful petal of spring sky.
They ignore the air’s brisk arm
as they peer at their fresh stems, step
on the leftover fragments
of old leaves.

When the night wind twists them to pieces,
they will die like this: laughing,
tossing their brilliant heads
in the bitter air.

About.com: Poetry, Spring Poems Anthology, March 22, 2007.

My mother’s psalm

I first wrote this in 2005, and have been tinkering with it since then. Twelve years of contemplation yielded this final version last night (unpublished, since I rarely submit poems anymore).

My mother’s psalm

She told me despair filled the valley that night,
and so her sisters walked out, carrying anger
and anguish out of the barren land.
They packed vexation into hard dirt
with their bare feet. Secret recriminations
were brought forth and opened.
Claws were undressed.

They threw their silence to the ground
and buried it beneath the bodies
of forsaken loves: miscarriages,
abortions of justice.
Nothing hidden survived the night.

My sisters were crazed, she said.
They yelled and whipped their hair loose
and damned their bras and jobs.
No dinners were made, no houses swept.
The night was full of women and they sucked
the air right out of that hollow slit of darkness—
but there was plenty to drink.

And my mother said: yes, fill up my goblet, sister.
So they filled her mouth and mind
with passion and resolution.
They saturated the valley with righteousness.
For a full day and night, the women drank
and rinsed and spat
out the foul mess they’d been taught.
Because finally they understood.

And she told me they climbed out of that place naked,
and strode off into fertile ground together.

Fields and floods

I wrote this ten years ago. It’s always weird to go back over something you haven’t looked at in ten years. I never did get this one published, probably because it is so vague. There’s no central point to it, except that it uses words to express that feeling I have when I go out onto the trail in the winter. I’m fond of this poem.

Fields and floods

Winter should be peaceful, filled as it is
with dry grass and wind, a few clouds pieced
together with snowflakes. The sky pleases itself,
opens each dawn like a window once the sun
has sipped his tea. The frozen meadow knows
how easily bared dirt sifts into the wind. And then
there are the voices that murmur in the cold, groaning
over hardened ground. In so many places we have remade
the earth into what we think we want, the weight of us
creaking along the surface near the fallen leaves,
our footprints inevitable. So many changes—
we have forgotten how quietly the last few ponds sleep
in ice-stretched fields. How the land cradles the sunset’s
reflection in her flooded, frozen hollows.

Fog

It’s strange to read this poem again, now that my sons are grown up. I wrote this eight years ago! More of my weather sonnets are in my chapbook Cloud Studies.

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Fog

From here the tree looks like it’s hardly there,
half-formed and blurry in the shifting mist.
Like sleep, precipitation clouds the air
with fuzzy dreams and silence. I resist
the melancholy, choosing to believe
that clarity is understood, not seen.
Inside my son is playing games, one sleeve
pushed up, the other drooping in between
his fingers as I watch him laugh and frown.
The tv sprinkles light against his skin,
as indistinct as any fog while down
the hall his brother tunes his violin,
its notes as insubstantial as this day
when growing up still feels so far away.

12 Days of Catmas

12 days of Catmas

On the first day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the second day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the third day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the fourth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the fifth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the sixth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the seventh day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the eighth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
eight hissy fits,
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the ninth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
nine fishy farts,
eight hissy fits,
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the tenth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
ten tons of fur,
nine fishy farts,
eight hissy fits,
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the eleventh day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
eleven spitting kittens,
ten tons of fur,
nine fishy farts,
eight hissy fits,
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

On the twelfth day of Christmas
my two cats gave to me
twelve stolen salmon,
eleven spitting kittens,
ten tons of fur,
nine fishy farts,
eight hissy fits,
seven shredded sparrows,
six stinging scratches,
five piles of poo,
four pathetic howls,
three dead mice,
two hair balls,
and a dingleberry in a pine tree.

 

2011 Christine Klocek-Lim

Don’t drink on xmas eve

Busy beautiful winter

Don’t drink on xmas eve

It happened this past midnight clear:
three crazy elves and two drunk deer
crashed in the yard atop my sled
then slipped downhill against the shed.

The sky was dry, the sunset gone:
where in hell did they come from?
Their groans and moans kept me awake;
I knew there must be some mistake.

In the dark I clomped downhill
and yelled my ire into the chill:
“Don’t you know it’s xmas eve?
Be quiet or I will make you leave!”

The sudden hush, like blocks of ice,
fell on my ears (oh so nice!)
as elves and deer peered up at me
like I was Nick and they: debris.

“We lost our sleigh and drank the beer;
your backyard was so close and clear.
We just could not control our stumble—
here we fell in this great jumble!”

Then their chortles broke the calm.
I dragged them home to wait for dawn.
The barfing wasn’t too severe,
but have you heard of snoring deer?

Santa owes me big for this
I thought as one elf burped a kiss
but it wasn’t till I fell asleep
that Santa came for his lost sheep.

And beneath the tree? What was my take?
Three beers, two bells, and one fruitcake.

 

2007 Christine Klocek-Lim