"I am hearing poetry when awake, dreaming poetry when asleep, breathing poetry with each breath, I am living in a poem."

Friday, September 28, 2012

Bone and Ash

Bone and ash,
Bone and ash,
the moon laughs
at night’s evil dance.

Terror sifts through chains
of image and noise
trying to divine ghost
from human.

Bravery screams its failure
in cries of help, but the wind’s
screeching muffles rescue.

The dead reach for living hands
to join them in a macabre waltz
of life and death and tomb.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Shay at Real Toads asked us to write something
Poe would be proud of....well, I went dark any way. :)
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cento ~ Hell Comes Unbidden

 Creative Commons ~ Rob Lee

I am very hungry. I am incomplete.
when you come to me unbidden,
I cry.

I hold my honey and I store my bread
in little cabinets of my will,

baubles of stolen kisses,
trinkets of borrowed loves,
trunks of secret words.

I label each latch and lid,
be firm till I return from hell.

I keep my eyes pointed in
where memories lie
hoping the devil days of my hurt
will not turn me insensitive.

I am hungry. I am incomplete.
None can give me any word but wait.
When memories of you come unbidden,
I cry.

A Cento is a poetic form composed of passages
 taken from one or more other authors, but arranged in a new structure or order.
This Cento was created from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem
And Maya Angelou’s poem “When You Come”

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Little Girls Dream in Rainbows ~ NWCU Wednesday Wake-Up Call 9/26/12

 New World Creative Union's Wednesday Wake-Up Call
set before us this challenge to get our creativity flowing.
Take the following items and create something from them:
 prose, a poem, a sketch, a watercolor, et cetera.
 All of the following items must be a part,
 and distinguishable, of whatever you create:

1. The colors yellow, blue, and green
2. A triangle.
3. Peace
4. Lilacs.
5. A child.

I know. I know. I twisted a few of them into poetic license. :)

 Little girls’ dreams
are made of lilac
scented moons
and dancing under
a yellow sunflower sun.

Imagination is
the pillow they
lay their head upon
letting angel wings
carry them to visions
of apple green stars
and blue candy striped skies.

Silver triangle wind chimes
play nursery rhyme tunes
as giggles escape from
bubblegum smiles.

Night sings its lullaby of peace
as it rocks their cradle dreams
until daylight brushes their eyelids
to awaken them from sleep.

©Susie Clevenger 2012

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Pointed Square Dance

In a pointed square dance
on weathered wood
a lone star brings visions
of cowboy boots, denim blue jeans,
and a cowboy riding the Texas wind.

Its tarnishing patina lassos the sun
pulling its rays across raisined skin
wiped dry by a red bandana.

It is comfort;
it is continuity;
it is strength;
it is pride;
to a Lone Star State
born from the dust of the Alamo.

This iconic symbol does
its dosey doe until sunset
and then retreats into the shadows
to let night brush against its steel
to polish its determination until
a new day rises in the east.

Susie Clevenger 2012
"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only.
 Fashion is in the sky, in the street,
 fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live,
 what is happening." Coco Chanel
 Written from the inspiration of Ella at Real Toads Ella's Edge

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Rewinding Annoyance

Creative Commons ~ Darwin Bell

Silence the thoughts
that beat against my temples.
Their rewinding annoyance
spills upon my vocal chords
to pour out unedited.

If my speech is to have
a warning label,
let me at least choose
my audience.

Those innocent of the
transgressions that irritate me
should not have their ears bitten
by my rabid tongue.

Susie Clevenger 2012
I came across this picture and it prompted the poem.
She does look irritated. :)

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Questions Silenced By Stones

©Margaret Bednar

Weathered, cracked, and broken,
they stand with marble etchings
facing the sunrise.

I wandered among the gravestones
reading epitaphs, birthdates, death.
The chiseled hyphens stirred so many questions.

The stones were silent.

©Susie Clevenger 2012

Kerry Challenged us to write a Sevenling poem

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Poet Who Sometimes Dreams in Photographs

Beth Winter and Roger Allen Baut challenged us at New World Creative Union to write a blog to express who we are as well as our creative gifts, talents and abilities. I find it hard to write about myself. I could set down with someone and share almost anything, but to write it I seem to get “tongue” tied. I am excited about learning about others so it is only right I share a bit of who Susie is.

Let me begin…

I am sixty one years old, married to my best friend and verbal sparring partner, Charlie, and I have two beautiful, intelligent daughters, Dawn and Carrie.  Wait! That sounds so “normal.” I am anything but normal as my family loves to point out. A lot of the time I am like a hyperactive child who has been given too much candy. I bounce from thought to thought and place to place with the volume turned on high.

My steps into the world of writing began when I was a freshman in high school. My English teacher, Mrs. Kilgore, introduced me to the writings of Edgar Allan Poe and I was lost in his spell. My first poem was titled, Nightfall. I had accidently included it in an outline of the play Julius Cesar and Mrs. Kilgore discovered it. She asked me if she could have it to submit to a publication, Missouri Youth Writes. I was honored to have it included in their publication. Here is the first stanza. The rest of the poem can be found here. 

As the curtain falls
on the world's idiocy
you will find me sitting
in the audience not asking
for nor wanting an encore.

Throughout high school I wrote, but for most of my adult life my pen went silent. I am not sure why that happened. Perhaps it was my dream to become a journalist that quieted the poet. That dream lasted through a couple of part time semesters at a community college. I was a wife and mother at the time so my priorities were my family. Journalism went on the back burner.

Fast Forward

It seems my fingers have loosened and my tongue has become untied. “All about me” has become easier. I was lost in the past so I decided to not bore with my autobiography any more. So to speak in the now, I am a poet who has found her voice again. I have a new dream which will soon be in print. My first poetry book, Dirt Road Dreams, will be released this fall. I am excited about it. It is a collection first born in the dust of the farming community where I grew up. Through it I am barefoot on gravel, kicking up sand, and dancing in dust. I listened to life around me and wrote its conversations in verse. I am anxious to hold the book in my hands.

One day she would seek freedom from
an existence that held her in restraint,
but for now she sits in dust covered moonlight
immersed in her dirt road dreams


One of my passions I have decided to share publicly is photography. I have been a photo buff for years, but it has only been in the last year that I have turned from random picture postings on Facebook to my own photography blog, And There Is More

 Well, this is a little bit about who I am. Life is a magnificent gift that I cherish and live out loud. I am thankful for my family and friends and New World Creative Union for opening its creative arms to welcome my written and visual expressions into their community.  New World Creative Union

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The Fence That Separates

Creative Commons ~ Photograph: S A Hooper

The fence that separates us
is nothing more than
a clothes line for your bigotry.

You hang your dirty laundry
on the division you have erected
by your prejudice
 and expect me
to bow in submission.

I stand tall in who I am
and will fight hate with love.
The bitter seed you plant
will not grow its weeds
in my spirit.

Go ahead, keep building
your fences with barbed-wire.
My voice will climb its thorny protrusion.
Love cannot be contained by perimeters of hate.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
 Mary Kling at Real Toads challenged us to use "fences" as the inspiration
for our writings. Check out the fence work at Mary's Mixed Bag ~ Fences

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sisters Speak

Image:Creative Commons ~ Afghanistan Matters

I am hidden from the world but not silent.
My cry sifts with sand in a desert freedom song.

~ 0 ~ 

My heart beats within this blue shroud
reaffirming there is life beyond its oppression.

~ 0 ~ 

My verses are a dove that carries my reality
to sisters who live beyond the west wind.

History has tried to silence the voices of women
but adversity only strengthens their vocal chords.

The rights of women’s health should not be hung
on the cross of a political agenda.

Ask a woman pregnant by rape
if conception is impossible.

Would the same legislators who wish to deny women birth control
write legislation to deny males a pharmaceutical erection?

©Susie Clevenger 2012
 Kenia Cris introduced us to the landai poetry of the Afghanistan women. Because they are at risk of beating and possibly death for writing poetry they use pen names to create their work.
I decided to also include landai poems from the perspective of women in the United States.
Read more about the poetry form and the women who write it at Real Toads ~ Kenia's Wednesday Challenge
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Never Will Be My Renewal

I wrote it with my heart,
small drops of red
flooded with tears.

I grew tired of wishes
written on hope.

Your promises to change
shattered into lies
as soon as you spoke them.

Never, who made
up the silly phrase,
“Never say never?”

It must have been
an optimist that
 couldn’t see
the truth for stars
in her eyes.

Never will be my renewal.

I will rise from the ashes
of my wasted faith in you
to never return to this pain.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Disclaimer: It isn't about me. Just in a mood
to write a broken heart poem inspired by Adele. :)

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Bound by Venus

Venus and The Sailor, 1925, by Salvador Dali

I pulled you
from the sea
only to drown
in your seduction.

Who is this Venus
that has bound
me by her flesh?

I have drunk
from Eros cup
that rests
upon your lips
and still I thirst.

Freedom, my mind
screams to know it,
but my body clings
to your silken chains.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Behold a Firefly Jar

© Kerry O’Connor 

Kerry O'Conner at Real Toads told us about her firefly jar where  she saves bits and pieces of prose and poems that struck her as having the power to shine in the dark. She challenged us to write our own poetic fragments and share them. 

I gathered up some of my journals I have stashed all over the house to show how I am never without pen and paper to jot down whatever inspiration my muse sends my way.

My laptop is where I transfer my scribbles into readable print. 

Firefly Fragments

Speak grace
with your lips
so karma
will return with joy.


Your past
is what you were.
Let go of it
and point your heart
toward what you can


We cry over spilt milk
when it was our hands
that overfilled the glass.


I see a sunrise
and never think
of the science
that brought it…
to me it is glory
and welcome,
a gift to breathe
in another day.

©Susie Clevenger
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Metal Chord Voodoo

Conjuring up juke joint ghosts
in a metal chord voodoo
of fingers using a slide on strings
the guitar player hypnotizes souls
to give their bodies to rhythm.

Blues mingles with the smoke
of cigarettes, liquor, and voices
to spread its gospel to ears
that want to hear the bayou
preached on a Saturday night.

Amen’s of “Play it boy” pour
from the faithful who have
spent their week jumping
through hoops for the man
and just want to forget about
what it takes to make a dollar.

A broken Lone Star beer clock
hangs above the head
of the guitarist and his silver slide
evoking a faux hallo glow
as his music invites his tipsy following
to have another drink and give
a generous offering to their waitress.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
 The music video is of my friend Mike Zito. When Laurie at Real Toads used "bottleneck" as a prompt I immediately thought of Mike. The original slide used on the guitar was an actual bottle neck to create the sound. Hop on over to Real Toads and see how others were inspired to use the word "bottleneck.' A Word With Laurie: Bottleneck

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

I Imagined You a Book

Dear Margaret,
you are lace
and words.

Your delicate tatting
graces your sleeves
while your poetry
stirs my heart.

I imagine you a book
with turned down pages,
a soul breathing through
an alphabet into my spirit.

The last time I saw you
I held your face to memorize
its perfection with my fingertips.

Margaret, I pray you will soon return.
Your verses bleed across my skin
leaving my flesh a written tablet.

Today is not soon enough
and tomorrow is an eternity.
I will stand guard at my mailbox
waiting for your post to tell me
you will return once again.

With love,

©Susie Clevenger 2012

At today's Poet's United's Thursday Think Tank the prompt was timeworn featuring the beautiful  vintage art of  Vicki Sheehan. Because of its antiquity it had me thinking of another era and my poem was written with that voice in mind. Please stop by and read Ella's interview with Vicki and visit her blog page to see more of her lovely work.

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Hell With Flaming Hair

When Izy at Real Toads challenged us to write about our favorite female icon I didn't know which direction to go, but I decided upon the warrior queen Boadicea. She was a mother beaten by Roman soldiers who then in turn was forced to witness the brutal rape of her two daughters. With a lioness's heart she led the Iceni into battle against the Romans who had pillaged her kingdom and children.

Boadicea Haranguing the Britons by John Opie

Hell came with flaming hair
to demand its pound of Roman Flesh.

Boadicea raised her sword
from the tears of her daughters
whose bodies lay pillaged by soldiers’ rape.

Boots pounding avengement’s
cadence into the soil,
she led the Iceni into battle.

Camulodeunm and Londinium felt
the wrath of the warrior queen
in rivers of blood and burning torch.

History questions the site
of her final battle, but does
not question a mother’s heart.

Boadicea was a mother turned warrior
when the Romans made her children
their human spoils of war.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Written for Real Toads Out of Standard with Izy

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Orange Cotton Flames

 Clouds explode
into orange cotton flames
burning the evening sky
into a science fiction poster.

Watching the light display
he thought about Sunday school color book
pages of fire and brimstone.

Was it faith or fear that kept
him glued to the pew when he was ten?

He looked at his watch and wondered
if God had Armageddon penciled in on the calendar.

With one last gulp of coffee dinner was over.
Crumbling the questions into his napkin
he tossed them in the trash and went back to work.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Real Toads Open Link Monday
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Tiny Copper Praise

We scribble our minds
upon white paper
selling our thoughts
for tiny copper praise.

It is a rare poet who can live by her pen.

Freely we surrender
our verses to be dissected,
appreciated or spurned.

The answer to why we write so often is “we must.”

It is the poet’s ear
that listens to the universe
to record its musings.

We may have pockets empty of change, but our wealth is in our words.

©Susie Clevenger 2012

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Knitted Sunshine

She is sunshine
knitted into the
bleakness of poverty.

Her yarn brings
a rainbow to dispel
the dusty color of drought.

With a smile and a blessing
she sits under a slatted roof
spinning despair into hope.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Photograph: Margaret Bednar
Margaret Bednar has graciously
offered her beautiful photography 
as inspiration for our poetry.
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Saturday, September 8, 2012

One Hundred Degree Memories

Summer played
in the scratches
of an old record
singing through
the screen wire
covering my
neighbor’s window.

One hundred degree
memories flushed
my cheeks with flashes
of a first kiss and
my body’s response.

Love was yet unspoiled,
star dusted with trust,
and a world where
only he and I existed.

I clung to sixteen
for a breath
to feel once again
what it felt like
to believe my heart
would never be broken.

Just as quickly as the
sun rose across my memory
it faded into silence
when the music ended.

Too many years
and broken dreams
wrapped themselves
around me suffocating sixteen.
I looked up at the sky wondering
if he ever looks at the moon and feels regret.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Marian at Real Toads used the beautiful music
of Barbara Lynn as inspiration for our poems. It's Better To Have It
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Baptize Me in Peace

Let me leap into tranquility
to wash discord’s darkness
from my spirit.

I wish to swim in joy,
dive into its depths
and rise reborn.

My heart is broken
by the pain spawned
with dogma’s damnation.

Love comes pure
and then the
self righteous
debase it.

I pray the book of
Thou Shalt Not
will cease its stoning.

Baptize me in the river of peace
that I may walk in love
and be an instrument of unity.

©Susie Clevenger 2012

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Sir, You Must Speak

Why has the universe
decided I needed to be
an audience to her whining?

I sought peace to calm
my fear of flying before
I entered a bus with wings
and thought this corner
would be my sanctuary.

My walls of seclusion
were torn when both
of you invaded my calm
with your baggage.

Sir, look into your
wife’s eyes and tell
her you hear her
so she will stop
her nasal harangue
you never listen.

I do not wish to know
how many corns
she has on her toes
or her displeasure
that you noticed her sister’s dress
without once commenting
on the pink dress she wore.

Please sir, tell her you will
fix that leaky faucet to stop
the drone of her insistence.
Surely the drip of her badgering
is enough incentive to get it done!

Where is that plane?
I would rather face turbulence
at 30, 000 feet than sit here
having my nerves frayed
by her complaints and
your continued silence.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Valley of Doors

Though I sit
in a valley of doors
I will not fear
the mirrors
hidden behind them.

My eyes will not
look for every flaw
nor cry at every unrealistic

No longer will I see myself
through the broken mirror
of another’s judgmental expression.

I am me…unique and beautiful.
Words that have hurt me
are now replaced by those
that celebrate who I am.

©Susie Clevenger 2012

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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Poetry & Prose Magazine

I was honored to have my poem "Gin Blues Minus the Bottle"
 in Poetry & Prose Magazine's September issue.

Gin Blues Minus the Bottle

A guitar is strummed
writing its music
on traffic lights, pedestrians
and engine vibrations.

He is there each day
with his guitar case open
to catch appreciation
in silver and green.

Far from record deals,
paparazzi, and egos
he sings the blues
of the homeless, the hooker,
and the lonely.

In his street corner music hall
he performs for an audience
as transient as his dream of fame.

This isn’t the rock star life
he had hoped for but it wasn’t
the death he’d been drinking
from a bottle of gin.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Real Toads Open Link Monday

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