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

Thursday, January 31, 2013


You burnt me with your eraser.
My heart held your name
whispered in its beating,
but you stared at love
and said you didn’t want it.

You turned cold when
the pictures flashed on the screen.
You burnt me with your eraser.

Alone, you left me alone
in a sterile room prepared for endings.
Paper rattled among metal
under the light of a surgical moon.

Strapped to another’s decision
no broke the barrier of my silent tongue.
I grabbed a lie and ran telling you it was done.

You burnt me with your eraser.
Love turned ugly when you
pulled off your mask.
Tears flooded me,
now that river is dry.

The little girl tucked inside of me
will not be born into desperation.
I’ve gathered all the reasons
I loved you and erased them.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
 No, it isn't about me. A compilation of the voices of other women who have gone through this pain.

Shared with Real Toads ~ Open Link Monday
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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Eating Shadows

Monsters surround me swimming
with gap toothed punctuation.
“You can’t” dribbles from chins
sitting on stiff necks of dead imagination.

Their words strike my shield
and slide to the ground melting
into a pool of inconsequence.

It isn’t the first time doubters
sought to slay my dreams
by breathing their noxious
negativity into my air of faith.

I grew up being fed porridge
made of never sprinkled
with “Why can’t you be
like everyone else?”

I was seven years old when
I realized I had the ability
to eat other people’s shadows
who blocked originality’s sunlight.
They were merely dark fluff
attempting to build a wall
to keep me from being me.

Dressed in beaded whatever
I bypass the monsters’ diet
of contrary comments
and dine on sustenance
rich with “I can.”

©Susie Clevenger 2013

Today I was prompted on New World Creative Union's Wednesday Wake-Up Call to share some wisdom or life lesson I learned and at Real Toads Out of Standard ~ The Irony of Hamilton Cork we were prompted to use a quote verbatim by Hamilton Cork. I thought I would attempt to complete the mission of both in one poem, and this is the result.(This is the quote from Hamilton Cork I chose. "“I was seven years old when I realized I had the ability to eat other people’s shadows.”)

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Ribbon Tied Yesterday

I don’t know
why I keep
the ribbon
tied around

Faded ink
with random
lies in a box
of barely

First love
is as much
about endings
as it is about

among the
are pieces
of what
could have

If nothing else,
the yellowed
reminds me
saved me
from getting
what I wished.

©Susie Clevenger 2013

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Foolish Chipping at My Epitaph

I want to recall flight
without broken wings…
skin that was flushed pink…
memories when they
were first written…

Unbreak the mirror I fractured
with my petty longing.
Why try to live in a book’s ending
when there is more life to write?

How foolish to chip at my epitaph
by retelling past glory as if the sun
will no longer shine to add new
sentences to my story.

I am a much better performer
in life’s continuum of joy and sorrow
than the tearful novice who crumpled
in the first act when circumstance
rewrote her fledgling script.

For those who watch and toss opinion
I will consider what I deem as worthy
and erase nonsense without a thought.

I have more to do…
more to say….
and more to give…
in the unknown
number of days
left for me to celebrate.

Susie Clevenger 2013

Susan at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads challenged us to take the last line or lines of one of our previously written poems and use it as the first line/lines in a new poem. Here is the link to my previous poem Yesterday's Immortality and the link to what other's created for Real Toads, Sunday Mini-Challenge

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Where Are The Flowers

Where are the flowers?
Empty vases gather dust
in a broken love story.

It was once a dozen roses
presented with a smile;
wrapped around
 forever mine.

Dried petals
in the fast
entombed in
 what the hell for.

Where are
 the flowers?
Store bought 
 cutter romance
coloring up your
 lack of commitment.

Lies are always
 prettier when they
 hide in tissue with
 a prewritten note
you didn’t have
 to get ink 
stains to write.

Dried petals
in the fast forward.
Ribbon tied perjury,
sentenced to evening trash.

©Susie Clevenger 2013

At Real Toads Marian Kent provided the spoken word/music of
 Dessa as inspiration for us to create from. 
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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Carrie and the Ordinarians

The Ordinarians mumble,
Fantasy, it is another
fall into her imagination
where reality has been
hung from the knotted rope
of exaggeration.

Carrie, there are
no singing scissors
or dancing kittens.
You were dreaming again.

Yes there is! I saw them
just as the nether moon
rose in the western sky.

Zig Zag had eyes of charcoal
and sang the yellow star song
to Teezer, Sneezer and Tweezer
as they danced around
the winnowseed bush.

Does she have a fever?
Trince County is seeing
an epidemic of tinsel flu.

I don’t have a fever!
They were right there
where the circle is cut
 in the fickleberry leaves.

Give Carrie a dose
 of Practicarium.
It is said to rid the body
of useless imagination.
Once swallowed she will
be as boring as the rest of us.

Holding a spoon of the gray goo
the elder statesman of the Ordinarians
approached her to administer
fantasy’s antidote.

With a snap of her fingers
and a shouted, I won’t,
Carrie disappeared into
the purple mist of
imagination’s cloak.

©Susie Clevenger 2013

Kerry at Real Toads challenged us
to create our own imaginary world.
In my world I used a photo of my
daughter Carrie and wrote a world
around her. :)

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Barbed-Wire Butterflies by Jessica Kristie

The much anticipated release of Jessica Kristie's book Barbed-Wire Butterflies has arrived. Readers can now purchase this moving book about human trafficking online at Barnes & Noble  and Amazon.

Elani Benjamin had never imagined the level of fear and uncertainty that was now a demoralizing part of her everyday life. With freedom ripped from her world, Elani must stand alongside the hundreds of other women forced into slave labor by the mysterious organization that runs The Hub. At only thirteen years of age, she must decide if she will give in to the daily atrocities surrounding her or keep fighting her courageous, emotional battle for freedom. Malnutrition, intimidation, and abuse force them all into an isolated depression that guarantees compliance. On the edge of surrender, Elani finds an ally in Eddie, a repentant long-term employee of The Hub who gives her the resolution to find a way out of her imprisonment and the hope of reclaiming her stolen freedom.

“Barbed-Wire Butterflies” , Jessica Kristie's first novel, comes to life through Winter Goose Publishing, This fictional account of a young girl faced with the atrocities of human trafficking and her struggle for freedom will leave no heart unturned. Researching the project, Jessica was compelled to add activist to her already impressive list of accolades.  

100% of all print royalties and a percentage of digital copies go to CourageWorldwide, an international non-profit organization that is building homes around the world for children rescued out of sex trafficking.

Early Praise and Reviews

Barbed-Wire Butterflies is a gritty tale of a most unlikely heroine and her struggle against greed, corruption and indifference.” - John Malik, Huffington Post 

“Jessica Kristie has done an excellent job of balancing the horror of trafficking with the hope of survival and restoration.”- Genny Heikka, Author and Courage Worldwide Director of Communications
Barbed-Wire Butterflies is a powerful book about a sobering subject. Jessica Kristie helps you wrap your head around the horrors of human trafficking while drawing you into her characters and causing you to feel their pain, confusion and hopelessness. The humanity in all of us should be outraged by this subject. Just as Elani fights back and will not accept her fate within the confines of her barbed wire world, we should not give up on the war against trafficking. Each of us should feel personally responsible to help end this worldwide atrocity.” – Kathryn Mattingly, President of Editorial Management for Possibility Publishing

You can show support for the effort to end human trafficking by claiming this badge to add to your blog,

Jessica Kristie

and by purchasing this beautifully handcrafted barbed-wire butterfly.

Jessica Kristie is a published poet, author and advocate.

Published works include “Dreaming in Darkness”, winner of the 2011 Sharp Writ award and 2011 Pushcart prize nominee.  “Threads of Life”, her most recent collection of poetry and prose.  “Weekly Inspiration for Writers and Creators” a yearly companion in ebook, and “Inspiration Speaks, Volume One” a creative collaboration fostered through her advocacy for the arts, in partnership with ArtPlatform.  She has appeared in countless periodicals and has recently brought to life “Kristie & Cloverfield” a collaboration with Tom Cloverfield featuring a wonderful fusion of poetry and music, released through Ultrasonic Music Germany and available everywhere

You can connect with Jessica and keep up with her work on:

Twitter:    twitter.com/jesskristie  


This is my own review of Barbed-Wire Butterflies:

This is a tough read based on the horror of human trafficking. Jessica Kristie has taken a brave young girl, Elani Benjamin, and told her story from terror to triumph. Drugged and stuffed in a trunk she makes the journey from her home in California to hell along the Texas/Mexico border. What she experiences inside the Hub she is delivered to is harsh, horrible, inhumane; but Elani has the lion's heart of a survivor. Once I started reading I didn't want to put it down. Although it is labeled a novel the reality of its content cannot be ignored.

( After reading this book it makes me more aware that the clothing and other goods I purchase may very well be produced at the price of slave labor. Nothing I own is worth the price of a life.)

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Breaking News

Another bullet rattles in bone
dividing life by death.
Tuesday’s economics’ lesson
spiraled into terror speaking prayers.

Bright lights hum as buzzing microphones
give another killer their fifteen minutes of fame.
Mayhem explodes the ratings where kindness
puts a network in last place.

How many tears does it take
to change the status quo?
Talk of gun control causes
law abiding to stockpile ammunition.

For every opinion there is a differing one.
It appears the argument is better received
than the peace of working together in common ground.

And while the arguments ferment
another finger reaches to pull the trigger.

Breaking News: There has been a school shooting.

The lesson for today: What to do when faced with a gun.

©Susie Clevenger 2013
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Monday, January 21, 2013

A Stolen King

(Photo via Wiki under CC  Lion lying down in Namibia |photographer=yaaaay)

We stole a king
from his kingdom
to house him
in concrete
and iron bars.

His pride now
roams planted grass
and stalking paparazzi.

We humans like
our wild kingdom
less fierce and caged
to view at our demand.

©Susie Clevenger 2013

 Written for Hannah's Transforming Friday at Real Toads
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Friday, January 18, 2013

Butterfly Strength

A butterfly
is our cliché
on wings.
We burden
its flight with
words of

If only we
had its
The fragile
can weather
a thunderstorm
to reach
the rose
at rainbow’s end.

©Susie Clevenger 2013
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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Handcuffed to Your Repression

You put links
in your chain
of bigotry,
skin color,

A rattling
rant of
hate And
spills from
brutal lips;
polluting ,

In your
armor of
you wage
war with
one arm
while the
other is
to your

Hate spares
no one.
It will
the hated
as well as
the hater.

©Susie Clevenger 2013

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dirt Road Secrets ~ #WWUC @NWCreativeUnion

 Photograph ~ © Natasha Head

Dirt roads
keep their secrets
hidden within the miles
of country paths uncharted on
maps that reveal nothing beyond pavement.
Clues in the dust are unreadable
to those who have never learned
the language of
dirt roads.

© Susie Clevenger 2013

This poetic form is a rictameter 
a rictameter.

two syllables (same as line nine)
four syllables
six syllables
eight syllables
ten syllables
eight syllables
six syllables
four syllables
two syllables

Mama Zen at Real Toads challenged us to write in a poetic form we find challenging. One of our fellow toads wrote a poem in this form and I thought I would attempt it. Believe me I was challenged. (I can't remember who the dear toad was that introduced this form. I hope she will leave a comment if she reads this and let me know who it was. I truly appreciate the introduction to the form.
Also at New World Creative Union we were to write from the inspiration of dirt roads so I combined both challenges into one. :)

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Consumer Greed

I hear your cries
in the stitches
of my garments.
Yet I silence them
with my vanity.

I would rather
spare my wallet
than spare your life.

I am a greedy consumer
bemoaning my meager salary
while you face a death sentence
earning yours.

©Susie Clevenger 2013
 Inspired after reading Jessica Kristie's
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Caffeine Crystal Ball @tspoetry #TSCoffeeCup

Photograph: Jima

I peer into my cracked
caffeine crystal ball
to watch my sleepless night
drown in creamed swirls.

In the coffee depths
I see the same reruns
that greeted me yesterday,
procrastination and excuses.

With a gulp I swallow my future
wondering if a lit candle
and a prayer would cleanse me
of my self-induced misfortune.

©Susie Clevenger 2013
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Monday, January 14, 2013

Butterfly Infestation

Image provide by The Mag 151

I had the wool
pulled over my eyes.

It was bright pink nonsense
of I was your only love.

I ignored the signs of untruth
to dance in the starlight of denial.

Funny what the mind will edit
when butterflies infest common sense.

©Susie Clevenger 2013

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Sunday, January 13, 2013


©  Kim Nelson

She grows in the infertile ground of dysfunction,
a caged canary singing of freedom she doesn’t possess.

Her beauty blossoms among thorns of jealousy
scratching their bitter poison into listening ears.

Wisteria’s spirit is not pruned by discord.
It spirals upward from a kind heart in expressions of joy.

She is an optimist seeing beyond the bleak walls
of her environment into the blue skies of her escape.

©Susie Clevenger 2013
 At Real Toads Kim Nelson has generously offered
her beautiful paintings as inspiration for our writing.
If you would like to see more of her work, you can 
find it at her etsy shop, Kim Nelson Creations

The Sunday Challenge ~ Featuring Kim Nelson

Also shared with dVerse Poets Pub's theme, "growing up."

Poetics ~ 'Growing Up'
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I was honored to receive New World Creative Union's Silver Phoenix Award along with Joanne Young Elliot and Beth Winter

Susie, a coordinator of the NWCU, has been selected as a 2013 recipient for the Silver Phoenix Award by founders Natasha Lynn Head and Roger Allen Baut for her meritorious service to the NWCU. She has exemplified the standards of the NWCU in:

1. Demonstrating a high level of 'sharing,' and 'promoting' of the NWCU.
2. Admin for the facebook NWCU community page.
3. Assistant house moderator of the 'chatroom' for the Creative Nexus and Nexus Café.
4. Provided commendable assistance/service to the NWCU, in general.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Time Wasted

Time wasted won’t return.
It is erased by a giant cosmic eraser
that removes days but leaves regrets.
My tongue twists around
I should have—I shouldn’t have
choking my voice with remorse.

I surrendered my heart to his smile
with no thoughts of lies glossing full lips.
Eyes only stay blind as long as
one wears rose colored glasses.
Vision restored I lift up thanks
Time wasted won’t return.

©Susie Clevenger 2013
Fireblossom over at Real Toads
wanted us to write doubletalk.
I am not sure I met the challenge
because my brain has been challenged
with family doubletalk.
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Blue Water Christmas Tree

I could see it,
a bright island
in the January sun.

My feet had barely
trod a handful
of states in my
own country.

Yet on the horizon
Cozumel was
just a few minutes
across blue waves.

Inside I was a child
seeing a Christmas tree
for the first time.

How fitting the ship
that carried me beyond
my narrow experience
bore the name of Ecstasy.

©Susie Clevenger 2013
At Real Toads Ella asked us to write a poem about wow. It is hard to explain or communicate the wow in me when I first lay eyes upon Cozumel, Mexico. I felt like the little girl who grew up in a tiny house in the country had just been offered the moon. Ella's Edge
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Invisible Words

I pushed the pen
around the paper
flowers formed,
pointed stars,
ink hearts----
But words
remained invisible.

©Susie Clevenger 2013

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Monday, January 7, 2013

Window Dressing

Image ~ Daniel Murtagh

She is to flirt, entice,
separate a man from
the money in his wallet.

Window dressing for lust,
she hates it, but lies keep
her chained to satin sheets.

She prefers her violin
with Mozart playing
across its strings.

No one recognizes hell
dresses in lace to burn
its damnation on unmarked skin.

Smile, your customer doesn’t
wish to know your grief…
He only wants you to be his escape.

©Susie Clevenger
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Unopened Book

Photograph: Zitona

She taught from
an unopened book.
There was no need
to study words
that could not feel.

Her lessons were
expressions of life
memorized by experience.

I looked at her marbled skin
and wondered if I would
pass the test written in years.

©Susie Clevenger 2013
Real Toads Open Link Monday

I took Mark Windham's advice
and rewrote it in the present tense.
I thank him for his input. :)

Unopened Book  2

She teaches from
an unopened book.
There is no need
to study words
that cannot feel.

Her lessons are
expressions of life
memorized by experience.

I look at her marbled skin
and wonder if I will
pass the test written in years.

©Susie Clevenger 2013

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