Sunday, June 29, 2014

I Will Dance On Your Silence


Pour salt in my wounds
and I will best you by healing.

My life is too short to carry
a gallon of tears on my chest.

If you swallow your tongue
from the bloat of your words,
I will dance on your silence.

I am no longer petals begging for light,
but a blossomed flower in full sun.


©Susie Clevenger 2014



At Real Toads Kerry prompted us with Avant-Garde or writing without a prompt.

Avant-Edge ~ A Sunday Challenge


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ghosts In The Mandolin

I strummed the ghosts
in the mandolin strings
until I felt them dancing
through my fingers.

You were there in the song
forgiving me for goodbye
and that was enough to wash
the tear stains from a July night.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

Marian at Real Toads had us dancing with Paul McCartney

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Letter To Albee


Virginia Woolf
















“the eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages”  Virginia Woolf                                                                                   

Dear Edward,

You poured bitter across the page
and I drank the words until they
were the honey I flavored my dreams with.

I have alcohol stains on my spirit
that speak with a bitch’s tongue
not unlike Martha’s when I am
ogled by males who can’t see
the color of my eyes for staring
at the size of my breasts.

War comes on tongues determined
to inflict the harshest wound, to
shred esteem into false opinions.

I am more than curves male hands
wish to bring under submission.
They want me to speak yes, become
a notch on their belt, a forgotten
name to be assigned the tag of whore.

Edward, Martha is an unlikely heroine,
yet it is her voice I applaud. Call me
insane to hold bitter in such esteem,
but I channel her when the mouse
in me would stay silent at abuse.

Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Sincerely,

Martha’s student

©Susie Clevenger 2014



This is purely fiction although there are a few facts tossed in. I am not really sure why my muse took me in this direction, but I accepted it and wrote the piece.

My youngest daughter, Carrie, played Edward Albee's Martha in "Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?" when she was only twenty. When she auditioned there was doubt at her being able to take on a character so much older and frankly one of the meanest characters ever written. Carrie told me how difficult it was to shake Martha after the play was finished. The Broken Arrow Community Playhouse in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma put on the production and Carrie received rave reviews from The Tulsa World.

Real Toads Open Link Monday

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Least Of These


Iron gates protect
little more than
crumbling stones
and the sleepless
who tuck themselves
into poverty as if
it was a choice.

The city sings
in lighted streets,
but the alley moans
a faceless tune
the blessed choose
to not hear.

The tired, the poor,
the broken gather
like pigeons to roost
in the shadow of a
church guarded
by a marble Jesus.

©Susie Clevenger 2014


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Art Of A Rebel

Maya Deren

I will mix all your opinions
with the tobacco in this cigarette
and taste the smoke as I watch them burn.

I am a woman whose gender
knows the patience of birthing,
yet you ask….no, you demand
I create according to your
formula of immediacy.

Art is not a crying infant taught
to walk in a single day...It is
an open wound carved by devotion
until it speaks its completion.


Creativity whored to profit
sacrifices its vision to explanation.
I prefer the wind, the human body,
a rose to fill the silence with the
poetry of movement.

I choose independence over the
collar Hollywood would place
around my neck…Cinema should
be a medium for fine-art not
the regurgitation of mediocrity.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

Maya Deren was one of the most important American experimental filmmakers and entrepreneurial promoters of the avant-garde in the 1940s and 1950s. She was critical of Hollywood's monopoly over cinema and was quite verbal about it. She chose the freedom of independent film over the moneyed machine of traditional cinema. 

Written for Real Toads Bits of Inspiration ~ Maya Deren

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Garden Of Me

My body is now assigned
to live in winter where
muscle and bone freeze.

Each morning I break
through the ice determined
to dress my spirit in spring.

Clothed in bright colors against
the gray of shorter days I plant
joy where bitter tries to take root.

The garden of me is not a place
of withering, but fertile ground
where life blooms in spite of frost.


©Susie Clevenger 2014

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Waterloo

Grandpa,

I miss the songs
you sang to me
on lonely Sundays.

They weren’t gentle
lullaby’s or children’s
songs full of giggles.

They were hard luck life
sung with the authenticity
of someone honed with survival.

While little girls were singing
Itsy Bitsy Spider I mimicked you
and belted, “now he swings
where the little birdie sings.”

Grandpa, you spoiled me
when the world lined
up bullies to break my will
into a thousand tears.

You were an island
in a sea I couldn’t swim,
a place in my heart
that kept me from
breaking against the rocks.

I miss you, but when I hear Waterloo
I am taken back to your knee and
comforted by a song my childhood
teachers proclaimed inappropriate.

©Susie Clevenger 2014



Real Toads Lost Art

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Swamp Jesus

There’s a bad moon shining
through my kitchen window.
It even has the animals spooked.
I haven’t heard an owl or even
a dog bark for three hours now.

Ms. Jackson says her voodoo lily
is about to bloom and she’s been
out there watching that plant in the garden
since way before sunset.

She said, “Twila, that flower is gonna
stink like the dead just been pulled
from the grave, but it’ll smell better
than all those secrets fermentin’ inside you.”

I don’t know how that crazy old woman does it.
If you make the mistake and look her in the eyes,
she’ll crawl into your pupils to dig through lies
until she finds what you don’t want the world to know.

I’m not getting near Ms. Jackson tonight.
She can stay out there alone on bended knees
waiting for that plant to deliver its swamp Jesus.

I’ve got a name tucked deep in my ribs where
nobody can cut it from the bone unless I surrender the knife.


©Susie Clevenger 2014

This is the third poem in my Twila series. 

amorphophallus-voodoo-lily Voodoo Lily plants are grown for the gigantic size of the flowers and for the unusual foliage. The flowers produce a strong, offensive odor similar to that or rotting meat. The smell attracts the flies that pollinate the flowers. You can find out more about the plant here.