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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Of Wishes And Flowers

“In the face of an overpowering mystery, you don’t dare disobey” 
 The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Please sir, don’t poison the stars
with your unfaith in wishes.

They are the lamp to light the way
to where the clever flower blooms
in ephemeral winks and forget me not smiles.

I am sorry to say it is a place
where most grown-ups aren’t welcome
because they bring a drought of non-imagination.

If you promise to not grumble, stumble or doubt,
I will take you to see the clever flower blossom
when the wind whispers it carries one of your wishes.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2014

On this final day of National Poetry Month Grapeling over at Real Toads supplied a list of words from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Life Beyond Glass

Life moves beyond the glass
and the distance sneers at
my inability to unlock my cage.

The memory of dirt, grass, and tree
vibrate in my paws frustrating instinct’s urge
to prowl and claim my piece of earth.

From my pampered world I raise a howl
of rebellion at the bonds of domestication
diminishing me to a creature ruled by human law.

I reach to scratch the light beyond curtains
where wings tease with their wind dance,
but I am a predator declawed by barriers.

Turning from the vexation of impossible I succumb
to the gentle seduction of outstretched arms
where contentment calms the feral urge to escape.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2014

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Brightest Day Of Insanity

I wish the shadows
chasing me would
forget my name.

I grow tired of secrets
pushing against the closet door
and dreams dressed in black quotes.

 F – a- m – i – l – y,
The nurse always spells things.
I recognize my face in those frowns.

Is this the brightest day
of my insanity to let truth
make its escape?

A cornered cat, I speak
through my claws the evil
I had been forced to protect.

Watching my words fill ears
until they puddle beneath me,
I wait to hear they understand.

My spine weeps from the effort
of standing tall while silence
stares at me with hollow eyes.

There are no words of comfort
for my open can of worms,
only anger I had scratched
them with truth while
peering inside my pain.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2014

The poem was inspired by Lisa Gordon's photos of the Willard Asylum.

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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Whitewashed Cup

The wind wanders
wherever it wishes,
but I can’t move beyond
waiting for your words
to wash the suspicion
from my thoughts.

Where, when, why
litter the distance
between us, but still
it isn’t enough to wrest
my heart from hands
that only crush it.

I sip from your whitewashed cup
of lies and wither a little more
each time you refill it.

©Susie Clevenger

Marian at Real Toads prompted us to use the letter W in our poetry. 

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Friday, April 25, 2014

Green Socks Buried In Leather

Where are those two little girls?
I saw them yesterday with their milk pail.
I wanted to tell them goodbye, but the words
were tar papered to my tongue.

Today knife verbs are cutting me
with questions while glass bottles
demand I take another pill.

I should be wearing my new pink dress,
but it isn’t in that enamel mouthed drawer
gaping at me from beside my bed.

I can hear you!!
Damn it!!
I can hear you!!
You are telling my husband he
should have given more thought
as to his choices when
packing my suitcase for insanity.

You say I don’t need
clothing for lightening,
but I am afraid of storms.
The last one broke my back.
My mama told me it wasn’t nice
to dance naked on a metal roof.

The sun must be going down.
The zoo bar pattern on the wall
is crawling into the corners.
I hate night.
The shadows speak too loud
and I can’t see my green socks
buried in leather straps.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

At Real Toads Margaret Bednar offered the moving photos of Willard Asylum taken by Lisa Gordon as inspiration for our creativity. As I began to write, I thought back to when I was a child growing up in rural Missouri. Our neighbor, Mrs. Wright, suffered from mental illness. When she was healthy she would chat with my youngest sister and I, take us out to see the chickens and give us home baked cookies almost every time we came to get a gallon of milk. Then depression would leave her catatonic and she would be taken to a mental hospital and given electric shock therapy. It was so unnerving to see that sweet woman sitting silent and vacant eyed in the kitchen after such episodes.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dark Hymns Of The Live Oak

The day was muted and muddy…
the kind of day when evil tastes the wind
to see if it has enough weight to carry omens.

Twila heard the dark hymns
singing from the live oak roots
and knew her knees couldn’t walk
through enough prayer to reach redemption.

Mama’s gift for reading the belly of the underworld
had slipped right through her womb into Twila.
No matter how many hallelujahs she coated
her tongue with, the devil could climb over them
to whisper in her ear.

Watching midnight clouds boil the sun
she knew hell was about to have church.
It wouldn’t do her any good to run,
because whichever direction she chose
would only lead to a front seat in the choir.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

At Real Toads Ella prompted us to grab three books, open them three times and see what popped out as inspiration. The following quotes and my recent trip to Louisiana to tour historical plantations inspired my poem.
“All night Rachel clings to the tree”

“ The color in each vial was muted and muddy"
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

“You do not have to walk on your knees / for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting”

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver ~ Good Poems ~ Garrison Kellor
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Silence Between Storms

Enjoy the small things of life,
Noise doesn’t make time more precious.
It is the silence between storms
where your heart collects photos
of tender words, a first kiss, a child’s smile
that strenghten you for the ride on bitter
swells of circumstances determined
to see you drown.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2014

Izy at Real Toads has us googling for inspiration.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

All About The Sell

I have plenty of everything
that doesn’t amount to anything.

My skill is getting you
to think all my nothing
is something you must possess.

I have arms that are out of touch,

identical faces without identity,

and sacred that glitters, but isn’t gold.

Please take your time…
There isn’t any hurry..
Our doors open in,
but seldom open out.

Welcome to the Nightmare Emporium
where the contents of your wallet determine
how far you can stretch your dime.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

At Real Toads Lolamouse offered photographs that she and her daughter took on a trip to Portland as inspiration for our writings.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Wings Clutching Roots

She lay with
arms outstretched;
pinned by the sun
to blades of grass
like a butterfly specimen.

Wings clutching roots
she let home stain her fingers
and pondered the irony
of finding contentment
in a place she had spent
a lifetime trying to escape.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Needing A Cradle

 at the moon, she sits
declawed and  robbed of a
womb. Watching a family tree
hobble  into  eternity  without
her genetic twig brings grief, but
oddly enough, relief. There are
too many motherless children
needing the cradle
of her
t o
©Susie Clevenger 2014

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

color choice

he sugar coated his watch
but I could smell the vinegar
long before 10:00 p m

he’s too busy pleading a fifth
can’t be used against him
to notice the verdict came with the last straw

leaving my two cents with his baggage
makes my suitcase weigh less
i won’t need the house keys any more

black makes me look too pale
purple balloons are more festive
for a burning bridge

©susie clevenger 2014

Sam Edge over at Real Toads has provided e.e. cummings as inspiration for our writing.

avant-edge: e.e. cummings
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Friday, April 18, 2014

No Wounds

Words of peace leave no wounds.

Hate lost its voice
when we removed
the stones from
our tongues.

©Susie Clevenger 2014 

Marian over at Real Toads provided Donna The Buffalo's video Working On That as inspiration for our poetry.

Working On That
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Peace Collection

Susie Clevenger's Slidely by Slidely Slideshow

Peace signs…
a reminder war
is never an answer…

War came to me
in a small town.

Viet Nam was
miles away
and death didn’t
have a familiar face,

But from a store front
window I saw it march
down main street in a coffin
covered in stars and stripes.

With Bridge Over Troubled Water
playing in an unending loop in my head
I told a friend goodbye and pledged
from that day forward I would always
surround myself with symbols of peace.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

 Ella at Real Toads had us talking about creative walls, collections. My peace sign collection is on my walls, clothing, jewelry, etc. I take it with my at all times in the peace sign I have tattooed on my left arm. 

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Painting Without Sound

Trying to be…..

Paint yourself into
someone else.

Apply plenty of lie
to your smile to keep
clueless content.

Truth doesn’t sell
when the market
is flooded with
cleavage and curves.


Pain bleeds through
the grainy silence.

Hope unhinged
doesn’t need sound
to speak agony.

Heartbreak is
a universal language
too often spoken
from the dejection
written upon a face.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

          "True Heart Susie" (1919)

At Real Toads Kerry used silent movies as inspiration for our writing. In doing some research I came across the movie, "True Heart Susie" starring Lillian Gish. Of course it caught my attention since I share the name Susie, but I also felt the connection because it was released in the same year my father was born. 

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Muddy Water Veins

Muddy water runs in my veins
from Arkansas generations who knew
more dirt than gold, a belly full of hunger,
and moonshine bottled in glass.

The dustbowl didn’t bring their
Grapes of Wrath…It was revenuers
with their nostrils to the ground
sniffing out the family business.

With handcuff incentive they piled
possessions and children on trucks
and took a midnight flight to safer ground
across the border into Missouri.

Two families- one flight - kept them
living together in getting by until
circumstances grew a new limb
by joining my parents as husband and wife.

My name sits on a muddy water tree
where death came sooner than later,
poor did what it did to survive, and
moving on never escaped its roots.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

Kay over at Real Toads prompted us to write a ballad. 
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Button Push

Teeth grinding on
son of a bitch bones
I think surely my investment
in chapters will not see
my reason for bookmarks die.

Dear Author,

You knew which buttons to push.
I will thank you when the steam dissipates.


Couldn’t Put It Down

©Susie Clevenger

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

In The Nothing Of Everything

I rise from night owl sleep,
put feet to floor and walk
into yesterday’s repetition.

The eventful uneventful
greets on cat’s feet
complaining in a hungry meow.

Dodging tails and wails
I feed the starving, reach for coffee,
bite my tongue with no one to hear.

Somewhere in the nothing of everything
I stepped on the crack and broke wonder’s back
leaving me vulnerable to the bat bite of routine.

Wake me up. It’s not over.
I’m already wiser and I’m older.
I’ve wasted time not finding myself.
I know that I was lost.

Give me a song, a word, a dance….
Let me paint seen with unseen….
Walk through doors never opened.

The spur, the itch, the want
is becoming louder than
the insistence of typical.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2014

Verse 5 is a play on Avicii's lyrics from "Wake Me Up"

So wake me up when it's all over
When I'm wiser and I'm older
All this time I was finding myself
And I didn't know I was lost

Grace at Real Toads prompted us with "Routine". 

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Calico Tea

Teddy bear and me
drink calico tea.

It’s full of giggles
with sprinkles of wiggles.

Sit down and we’ll share.
There’s plenty to spare.

On our blanket of sun
we always have fun.

So come and be friends
where the smiles never end.

It’s as easy you see
as drinking calico tea.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

Margaret Bednar at Real Toads offered the delightful artwork of children as inspiration for our poetry.  A Child's Verse
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Friday, April 11, 2014

Wisteria Roots

We kissed beneath
the wisteria where
ghosts hung from boughs.

In the scented rustle
of decades we tied
our future to the past.

Standing in the shade
of generations our vows
echoed those spoken before.

Our love vined itself to roots
that knew how to thrive even when
 drought brought the choking dust of division.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

At Real Toads Hannah has us talking wisteria. 

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Becoming One

Mystery, by Odilon Redon

In the
veil of
float in
colored air
one with

they wait
for trust
to lift its
and make
its destination

to the lips
of prayer
they ride
waves of faith
carrying answers
to the center
of the soul.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2014

 At Real Toads Hedgewitch provided the art o Odilon Redon as inspiration.
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April's Muddy Shoes

Don’t judge April
by her muddy shoes.
Earth requests her tears
to urge buds to blossom
for May’s Glory.

In her dappled
of servitude 
she weeps color
over winter’s corpse,
and takes joy in knowing
that although she is not
the queen of bouquets,
poets search each of her hours
for words to capture her voice.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

At Real Toads Mama Zen asked us to write the best and worst of April in 66 words or less.   Words Count With Mama Zen
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014


He is home....
strong arms that hold me
when I can't fly against the wind.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring's Pillow

Moss Maiden ~ constructed by Sue and Pete Hill

She rests her head
on spring’s pillow
and dreams of

©Susie Clevenger 2014

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Between I Must And Perhaps

Sunday snuggles into the space
between I must and perhaps
to whisper, “Do as you wish.”

My hands release their
clutch on routine to reach
for sunlight with open palms.

I listen to rest sing its hymn
and with head bowed I lift
a candle prayer of thanksgiving

to wind, earth, and sky
for their brush strokes of life
painted on the walls of my serenity.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

 At Real Toads Kenia Cris has us writing about Sunday. The photos were taken at Woodward Park in Tulsa, OK. Every year when I lived in the Tulsa area I would go to the park when the Azalea's were in bloom. Artists would be there with paint and brushes to capture the beauty...The artist here isn't me. I haven't the talent. :)

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Smile Lines

Smile lines
reflected in silver
grew from
joy’s seedlings
planted in
the stony soil
of dark roots.

Beneath the
weathered ivory
an inner child
was once chased
by a nightmare
sunlight could
not escape.

Now my face,
washed by
survivor’s strength,
no longer bears
the teeth of ghosts.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2014

Grace at Real Toads has us writing about mirrors. Many know my story of childhood  abuse. For those who don't you can read about it here.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Come Home


Your letter came today.

War dripped from the ink
into my tears until I could
no longer tread my river of fear.

Distance is the enemy I battle
Today I don’t give a damn
about flags and honor

Come home to me
Let me hold you when hell
pulls the bandages from
all you can’t forget.

I am here..
I will always be here.

Oh God! Just please come home!


At Real Toads Fireblossom gave us these instructions: Write me a poem that includes a letter, or stamps, or a mailbox, or a mail person. 

Fireblossom Friday ~ Postmark Poetry!
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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Scaly imaginings

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run
there's still time to change the road you're on.”
Led Zepplin ~ Stairway to Heaven

His words are wild
and untamed…

They storm the citadel
of night peeling the skin
from shadows to expose
his devils drinking fear.

Drunk on the draft
of scaly imaginings
he speaks of humid darkness
where mountains are grown
from grains of sand.

Knife wounds of what
should have been scar
the dreams he let slip
through the needle’s eye.

Taking a deep breath of sanity
he expels the choice of failure
and climbs his pedestal
of open wounds to implore
bright eyed youth to never
walk a mile in his shoes.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

Over at Real Toads Sam Edge has us digging into our archives of self and writing from the well of who or what inspired us to write poetry. I have been inspired by many poets, writers, and musicians. This time I pulled from Led Zeppelin.

Avant-Edge ~ Innocence And Experience

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Swimming In No

All the no’s you wish
to drown me in
will only teach me to swim.

©Susie Clevenger 2014

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Summer Embroidery

Summer embroidered
sunflowers in the grass,
heat stitched in yellow and green.

Their bowed heads brought
thoughts of prayer-----

I wonder if God remembers
the sound of my voice?

©Susie Clevenger 2014

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