The first time I saw my parents
holding hands, I was twenty-three.
Twenty-three years of bare bone arms
wishing for flesh to be buried in,
of fleeing from hugs from giggling pinafored schoolmates,
of family photos where we stand so far apart
you could line up all the bones and organs
in the human body and still not cover
the spaces between us,
to nights spent tussling and biting
between twisted sheets, always
blaming that childhood lack so I never
knew how to be gentle and then
to suddenly see well-worn fingers twining
like lovers, as tender as newborn skin
my breath left itself in my throat and forgot
how to make its way out.

I liked the prompt so much I did it again.  Still needs a title.
Write a poem about an unexpected desire, yours or witnessed.
#EndOfDaysBonus – Relate it to 2017.
#ANewHopeBonus – Relate it to 2018.

For All The Boys Who Could Only Want Me

When you lie on your back, eyes closed and I snake my fingers and tongue into your flesh, I always think of you calling me by the wrong name. It never happens, but my own name remains a small shaking animal in your mouth, afraid of those who might hear it squeak. Alone, I sit in the dark and look at your photos on a screen. Imagine what it must have been like to run fingers through long hair and soft skin. Something inside of me clenches, then blooms as I imagine sighs in another voice, one softer, sweeter. When I think of love I can only see you holding her in your arms.

Write a poem about an unexpected desire, yours or witnessed.
#EndOfDaysBonus – Relate it to 2017.
#ANewHopeBonus – Relate it to 2018.
For All The Boys Who Could Only Want Me

my daughter fell in love with her gingerbread boy.
black gumdrop eyed sugary smiling gingerbread boy.
giggled as she lifted him from his plastic wrapping.
whispered secrets to him. stole wet kisses
and licks of sweet flesh. left her toys unwrapped
under the tree and snuggled up to him in her sheets.
woke up the next morning screaming.
he was missing a limb. with a mouth full of crumbs
she cried. baked a new leg (paler brown
and lumpy) that she glued on with icing.
swore to him that she would never hurt him again.
i told her to play with her dolls. that gingerbread boys
were only meant to be eaten but she told me
that was how she knew she loved him
– that she wanted him to kiss and cuddle
more than she did in her stomach.
one night i walked into her room to find her
cramming her tear-streaked mouth with sticky brown flesh,
promising that the next time she would love harder.

Write a poem about a Christmas past in which you (or someone you know) had your/their heart broken. Make it up if you have to.
#stealthbonus – don’t refer to any of the usual trappings associated with X’mas, but evoke the season anyway.


That Everything You Chose Was A Mistake

Fear is ending up as you:
potato chips crusting your fingers
as you regale us with tales of the time
you spent flying with gryphons,
of your twenty-three inch waist,
twenty-three also at your own wedding
where you carried lilies, auguring your own
future. For years your body grew bulbous,
fruiting. After a while, it just grew.
When I find myself spinning my yarns,
I shudder, snip the threads. It is so easy to slip
into you. Fear is that there is such a thing
as fate, as red threads, as karmic parallels.
Needles and knives sliding under skin,
choking down the hundred and thirteenth pill,
I gasp awake at the little nightmares,
watch other women with their husbands
slung over their arms like handbags.
At least they knew how to stop at two.

Prompt: Write a poem expressing something you’ve always wanted to say to someone, but couldn’t to their face.

That Everything You Chose Was A Mistake

The Filial Tiger’s Wife

The first thing you need to know is this: he loved his mother, and not in the way you think.

I married him because he was tall and strong, and had clean white teeth that shone in his mouth like pearls when he smiled. He courted me in the evenings when he passed by my home from the fields; first with bouquets of wildflowers, then new clothes, exquisitely embroidered. The final gift was a blue dress the colour of the sky. He told me I could wear it at our wedding. He promised he would care for me for all my life, so long as I cared for his mother while he was out in the fields.

That should have been my first warning.  Continue reading “The Filial Tiger’s Wife”

The Filial Tiger’s Wife

Even Heaven Needs Colour

The cowherd prepares a picnic of the weaver girl’s favourite foods and takes them up the magpie bridge. As always, he gives her a crown of aster flowers he has woven himself, the violently coloured petals a shock against her dark head and pastel clothing. Her delight in receiving them are always the the same as the first time, on a summer evening by a lake. In heaven there are only peonies and lotus flowers, profusions of pale heads nodding obediently in gentle breezes, while the lady and gentlemen deities stroll, feasting on peaches. He can hear their genteel laughter trickle down to the Milky Way, and imagine all-too-easily their white hands and soft skin. His own has toughened into leather. Every one of his nails is cracked, and the dirt under them will not go no matter how hard he scrubs. This morning, he found a strand of white hair on his head. He wonders for how much longer they will be able to keep up these meetings, and can almost see the Queen Mother’s satisfied smirk. As though she can hear his thoughts, the weaver girl tilts his face down toward her, takes his hand and squeezes hard. He can feel the callouses on her palms. When he kisses her, he tastes the peach juice dripping from her lips, and feels the weight of the years lift.

Prompt: Write a pastoral poem that is also a poem of protest.

#EisnerBonus: Do not use language that potentially undermines the authority and legitimacy of a government and its public institutions.
Even Heaven Needs Colour