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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Another Match On The Bonfire

Painting by Gerda Wegener

Oh screw the brimstoners who
cry for coals to burn my ass!
I’ve been straddling hell
on a paintbrush for so long
another match is only
a marshmallow on the bonfire.

Delicate sensibilities clamor
about offenses because their
closets are crowded with “SinS”
that don’t play well with Leviticus.

How tiring it is to hide in plain sight
while unconditional love drowns
in a collection plate earmarked charitable.

Oil speaks louder than repression so
I fill each canvas with brushstrokes
to carry truth to hungry eyes.

Although the long arms of judgment
try to push me a little closer to the fire
I will be me without apology until
hearts tire of living in ice houses
and welcome the thaw of Spring.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Fireblossom over at Real Toads prompted us to write our poetry from the inspiration of artist Gerda Wegener whose story is currently being told by the movie, The Danish Girl. It is a fascinating story about living the life your soul speaks. Fireblossom Friday ~ The Art of Gerda Wegener
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Wednesday, December 30, 2015


Somewhere between
the light switch and nightmares
I cling to what I can’t forget.

The pulled threads of nothing
keeps knitting itself into a mountain
my eyelids can’t climb to reach sleep.

I tear the petals from reasons
thinking a dry stalk won’t
bring crows to ridicule me again.

My demons keep poking sleeping dogs,
and I add another link to their chains.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Real Toads ~ The Tuesday Platform
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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Burning Bright

Karin over at Real Toads challenged us to write a poem from two consecutive words in a Christmas song. I chose "burning bright" from "That's Christmas To Me" by Pentatonix. 

"That's Christmas To Me"

The fireplace is burning bright, shining all on me
I see the presents underneath the good old Christmas tree
And I wait all night 'til Santa comes to wake me from my dreams
Oh, why? 'Cause that's Christmas to me

You can find the rest of the lyrics to the song here.

Real Toads ~ Take Two and Sing

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Thursday, December 17, 2015

Closer To The Edge

I’m dreaming
a little closer
to the edge.

Daytime voices
are invading
my eyelids
until all I can
see is red.

I roam the desert
looking for compassion,
but for as far as I can see
mercy is tongue nailed
to abandoned souls.

Why steams its question
into dry eyes until the mirror
turns its truth to capture my reflection.

I look deeply into my inner self,
beyond surface outrage to reasons.
The words I have released fail
to reach my hands…I can't judge
bigotry if I don’t carry compassion
to those who need its touch.

A nightmare needs a guiding light
not more tyranny to block each
route of escape.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

New Wings of Amnesty

Tomorrow pins its eraser
on the sun and I gather
all my mistakes around me
like wounded birds
waiting for new wings.

Watching for sunrise
to tap dance across
the horizon I feel today
run its fingers along my spine
drumming never at the
speed of chains.

Forgiveness begins to stir
my gut with trust renewal
is as close as my voice.
The lock of my self induced
condemning begins to bend
at the touch of the daylight key.

Heart humbled at the throne of error
I feel the weight of my wrongs
scrape my throat as they spill into
the collection plate of morning’s amnesty.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2015

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The Cry From Broken Glass

We’re not one bullet
closer to safe.
It doesn’t matter
how much you polish
bigotry with apple pie,
hate always leaves
a blood stain.

Peace cries from the other
side of broken glass,
“Hope will die from your apathy.”

Love is
words and arms
that lift when spirits
struggle to rise
above desperation.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Real Toads Flash 55 Plus

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Dropping Ashes

They say you only live once,
so light me a cigarette and
let me swing without a net.

Lions and tigers and bare,
I’ll show enough leg and suggestion
to keep the boys in their seats.

I’m the queen of three rings
earning third billing,
but it’s a man’s world
in and outside of canvas.

I’m just dropping ashes.

©Susie Clevenger, 2015

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Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Dancing On A Wish

The back steps in a photograph
hold memories in each wooden plank.
I feel the vibrations of a hundred yesterdays
climb nearly forgotten to reach
a battered screen door where hands
opened and closed years of temporary
with the emphatic hope of escape.

Sitting in the future I listen
to ghosts roaming rooms
I can’t enter and sing
a survival song to the little girl
who still carries the pain of silence.

Quietly I speak,
“I made it to the end of dust.
You are free to go where
the wind doesn’t carry tears.”

Smiling, I look up at the stars
to let imagination watch
the child dancing on a wish.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Waiting Divide

now Now NOw NOW

Patience is a test
the eye on the
clock hand fails.

There is so much
hurry in waiting.

A diagnosis
stands on the edge
of a cliff watching
tears erode tomorrow
while selfish flips
through a magazine
and grumbles about
minutes collecting
on a parking meter.

A stone wall divides
patients by hours

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Friday, November 27, 2015

Beyond Rattlebone Jumpy

Fear makes me
rattlebone jumpy
peeking at shadows
where questions huddle,
but dread pushes
me to face the music
when I hate the song.

Recently I spent hours collecting
sour notes to string with excuses
until I was devil decorated
and short breathed with half truths.

Some like to say they have
a slip of the tongue.
Not me…I walked a
word right across my lips
spouting “bitch” like I owned
the trademark on it.

Oh, the lady never heard it.
I made an eye judgment;
translated it into snarky
with just enough volume
to keep it close to my hip.

It didn’t take ten minutes
for her to prove me wrong.
She offered a smile and friendship
that left my conscience slapping
my brain around in my skull.

No, the woman didn’t hear it.
I spun “bitch” across the table
into the ears of my husband and friend.
Mean is mean no matter how short the dance,
so here I am with dread demanding payment.

Confession won’t erase I was an ass.
Sorry digs in the wound to see
if truth is ready to thread the needle.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Comb Over

You attract
more haters
with bull shit.

Lies and flies
enjoy a politician’s
picnic with the
same fervor.

A comb over tweets
from the bottom rung.
It doesn’t take much
height to reach bigotry.

There's not enough green
in a deep pocket to buy integrity.

©Susie Clevenger 2015


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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Carving Wishes

The stars are there, faithful, quiet, watching.
They hold the seeds of a thousand wishes
I've planted with fingertips reaching for dreams.

Tonight I carve another wish into midnight
at the fork of anger and forgiveness.

I am not ready to forgive the boot marks
left by a preacher high on drugs and lies
so direct my outrage into words of change.

This grief is cheap whiskey and I drink the swill
until drunk vocabulary batters my brain with
speech I won’t utter, but the belly burn of bile
is getting harder and harder to swallow.

I’m tossing up a wish for inner peace, a smile
not hiding pain, and an end to my hypocrite’s war
stoning forgiveness.

I’m weary of being judged because I no longer
pay my dues into the till of the righteous crock.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

I call writing poetry my pencil therapy. I have been dealing with something
painful for years. For the most part I have kept it in its cage, but lately the
banging at the cell bars is getting louder. I won't divulge details because
it is too personal and many fall within its net. I've forgiven a lot of things.
I'm afraid this has a lot more miles to go before I reach forgiveness.

Real Toads ~ The Heart's Desire

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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Beggar's Cup

Heart speak to me
not of romance, but love.

Two paths to Armageddon
converge at the bullet point
that promises the rose blush
of heaven lies in the ankle
depth of carnage.

I want to rise above
the thumbprint of inhumanity.

The wrinkled veins of ancient texts
tout God held the editor’s hand,
but if so why can’t God hold back
hands eager for war?

The protests of absolutes damns
kindness because it isn't enough
to unlock doctrine's gate.

Peace break down the stones
on my tongue I yearn to toss
into the river of dissension.

I approach the well of love
with a beggar’s cup.
Let me drink from the water
until hate is flushed from my truth.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Welcome to My Tilt-A-Whirl

Image ~ Karin Gustafson 

I don’t remember…It’s a plague
following me from room to room.

I have the attention span of a
four- year- old chocolate stuffed
and Kool-Aid drunk.

I have no grand excuses
of putting out fires,
burning floor space
to accomplish goals.

I see what needs to go there
while here is a mess.
I wander there finding here
is not the there I was supposed to be.

Sticky notes are my preferred wallpaper.
They are multi-colored ink smudges
penned with good intentions
only to end as funeral bouquets
for mental lapses.

I don’t remember.
I am fidgety,
easily distracted,
dive into hyper focus,
forget to eat,
lose time,
have outbursts
of giggles or anger.

Hello, my name is Susie, and I have A.D.D.
(Attention Deficit Disorder).
Welcome to my Tilt-A-Whirl. 

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Real Toads ~ Blocking Writer's Block

I couldn't write about the horrific events that have occurred over the past week in a world gone mad. I am too numb to even approach it at this time. 

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Starlight Eyes Are Blind

I am supposed
to carry a ring
that will shape-shift
me into a shadow.

Two little girls
who vowed nothing
could separate them
are now two women
divided by a veil.

Her soon to be husband
smiles with liar’s teeth,
and drips honey from
a wolf’s tongue.

I spoke truth to her,
but starlight eyes are blind.
The choice is a stone
with the weight of gold.

How can I watch her leap
when it will be my heart
that can’t bear the fall?

 ©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Skull Song

My last days were melted wax lips and roses.
Eyes swam in water pools around my head
until goodbyes drowned at my feet.

I always dreamed of pretty boxes
where secrets slept on satin whispers,
but in this wooden box the only sound
I hear is the skull song of flies.

Life is moments written on
the hyphen between birth and death.
The ink wasn’t even dry when
my ending was chiseled in granite.

If I could reach through six feet of clay,
I would dance with the bright colors
November places upon my breast.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

This poem appeared in Yellow Chair Review's  Horror Issue, October 2015.

Real Toads ~ The Tuesday Platform
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Monday, November 9, 2015


One day… Just one day
of pouring ourselves
into a coffee cup
and tasting the grounds
was more than enough
to show me your toothbrush
didn’t match the shower curtain
or my first impression.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Bonfire of Mirrors

We borrowed light
from a candle and
stole awe from the moon
to illuminate humility
on the night vanity died.

Self images tossed
on a bonfire of mirrors
burned misconception
from the blind spots of truth.

We raked the ash
of narcissism’s woe
until yes smothered
every regret.

Imperfect rose
on phoenix wings
as we sang in the
newborn tongue
of flaws.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Disciple of Autumn

When death demands its due
let me die as the death of autumn.
She doesn’t go quietly or dimly.
The north wind tears at her limbs,
but she bends without breaking.

With glory stolen from the sun
she drops leaves of red and gold
on shorter days gathered on her doorstep.

She is harvest, thanksgiving, the comforter
to spirits walking the valley of mortality.

I want to be a disciple of autumn,
spread her gospel of riotous dying.
My flesh one day will succumb
to the reaper, but my spirit will join
the soil of another soul’s evolution.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Monday, October 26, 2015

Wings Against the Bell Jar

I am trapped inside a bell jar,
a specimen displayed for
the entertainment
of vicious tongues.

Cruelty sees a butterfly trying
to take wings through glass…
I see pupils gorging on terror.

Oh candle, I wish a match
had never found your wick.

I prefer night where
dreams wear a gray mask
to soften revelation,
not nightmares so brazen
they welcome recognition.  

©Susie Clevenger 2015

I seem to be in a Sylvia Plath mood.
I chose Grapelings challenge, Masks

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Friday, October 23, 2015

Dance Until the Wind Stops

“How can we know the dancer from the dance?” ~ William Butler Yeats

I fingerpaint cracked plaster
with yesterdays’ broken hearts
thinking one more drop of blood
won’t splinter my tears.

dance until the wind stops
dance until the clock spins unwound
dance until lonely doesn’t wear heels

The dry ink of lists wallpapers hours.
Tomorrow is a thief stealing starlight
from Tuesday while I plant worry.

dance while the butterfly still enchants
dance while dreams still have names
dance while your lungs still remember to breathe

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Real Toads ~ Chandelier
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Sunday, October 18, 2015

Stone Bruises

There wasn’t any
toe room on the pulpit
and none of her ribs
were named Adam.

It took talent to fall
from the gravel
of not worthy,
but questioning
snakes and apples
pushed her a little
closer to the fire.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Saturday, October 17, 2015

A Chord's (Cord's) Reach

I remember a tether
that held me to a dial
which spun numbers
into connection.

There were no faces
to slip in my pocket
or voices to silence
with abbreviations.

I could roam as far
as a chord’s (cord's) reach,
see the world through
a conversation….

Oh no!

I’ve become
one of those people…
nostalgia bemoaning
the “good old days.”

From the bored stares I receive
I’ve reached the presumptive
age of irrelevance.

I speak a foreign tongue
requiring a google translation.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Fireblossom Friday: BEechwood-4-5789

I used the word chord because I was thinking of the sound of a dial..Thanks Susan for pointing out "cord" should also be used. :)
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Monday, October 5, 2015

Brown Paper Leaves

Drought has robbed
the orange from autumn.
Brown paper leaves
cough their dry rattle
into a dusty wind.
Life waits for the
silver lining of winter.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Poets United ~ Poetry Pantry #272

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Saturday, October 3, 2015


I damn the prison song of fate,
a hateful melody spinning
me into a clock whose face
sees a tomorrow I can’t edit.

It is…It isn’t…
It will…It won’t…
It can…It can’t…

I dance in toe shoes
that can’t feel my heartbeat
or know the danger of tears.

Destiny is the handmaiden of hell.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Real Toads Flash 55 Plus!
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Thursday, October 1, 2015

Wind Drop of Crows

Roraima ~ Carlos Garcia/Reuters

A voice travels as far as
the clutter it leaves
in the womb of pristine.

Conquest is a spiked brag
scarring the mountain face
while ancient spirits grieve.

Sacred has no value in silver coins
so greed steals the wind to drop
crows into the gods’ eyes.

In the cavern between earth
and where stars die prayers climb
incense curls to plead for solitude’s return.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Process Notes: Hannah over at Real Toads introduced us to the beautiful Mount Roraima, Venezuela/Brazil/Guyana. I did a little research and found where tourists are damaging the ecosystem of the mountain

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Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pencil Shavings

I gather words from infinity
into a moment where a heightened
sense of failure plays its metronome allegro.
I feel as if the William Tell Overture
is galloping through my brain
and I am standing still among vocabulary
shaving lead from a pencil
too weary to reach the finish line.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Two Poems Go Back To School

The View from Granite

I felt the sting of love
when death took your
light from my eyes.

Denial became my altar,
the kneeling place where
I held your voice against my heart.

Slowly, painfully I climbed
a mountain of days dragging
the chains of your absence.

Life cannot see through granite
or love grow where the daisies wilt.
Spring melted my winter with memories.

You are there in the tulips we planted,
the torn screen you promised to fix,
your favorite cup that holds my coffee.

Tears still come, but they don’t consume.
I laugh more; dance to our favorite song;
see tomorrow as another step beyond your grave.

©Susie Clevenger 2015


My Dreams Are Pulled Threads

I will never write myself
with another’s words.
or thumbtack my destiny
to a starless night.

My dreams are the pulled threads
of being me when voices scratch
at the reflection greeting me in the mirror.

There is no great challenge in being different.
It simply takes breath and trust you can
follow your own direction. 

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Inspired by the students at Ladysmith High School 

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Vodka Rain

You burn your dreams
on the tip of your tongue.
and swallow vodka until
you swim in excuses.

I grow weary of trying
to be your sunlight.

When the next storm arrives
I won’t be your umbrella.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Real Toads The Tuesday Platform
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Monday, September 14, 2015

Chewed Ice of Your Skin

I chewed through the ice
of your skin only to find
I can never be warm
in your delusions.

You sing of fate as if
random was the lying
stepchild of inevitable.

We are not “meant to be.”

The scent of sex is our
only connection... lonely,
breast feeding on available
until our spines can support
the weight of leaving.

Drink more wine to sweeten goodbye.

We are two ships crashed
upon concrete who will
never find enough moonlight
to fill our sails.

Let the exit door be your epiphany.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Friday, September 11, 2015

Two Faced Words

Two faced words chew my palm
damning my do, goading my don’t.

Naked verse climbs the shadows
of the devil’s temptation and I spin
in the lusting until hell kicks
me to the other side of my mind.

My keyhole pupils reflect star field hallucinations
where a pen whores itself for adoration
while a raven plucks midnight from my vocal chords.

Heartbreak falls in marble dust across my pillow
and I breathe nightmares through tar lungs
scorched from burning a candle at both ends.

“Sweet dreams are made of this.
Who am I to disagree?”

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Ending quote is from Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics

Sorry Mama Zen I went over 80 words.
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Thursday, September 3, 2015


The Thames bows my back
with echoes breeding from mist.

Forlorn and love sick do their
dance of bones among the silt
stretched across the river’s belly.

I strain between tear and smile
wishing no offense, but the pungent
smell of despair offends my nostrils.

Why did joy bring me to the river’s edge
to dip my toes in death?

I hear night wrapped wheels whir above my head.
Life presses a gas pedal to reach the speed of escape.

I am alone, an empath shredded by all they left behind.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Sylvia and Wings

“Is there no way out of the mind?” ― Sylvia Plath

I cup the quiet in my palm;
feed it imperfect thoughts,
and wait for dreams
to grow from incapable.

Where is the good witch,
red sequined shoes,
a thrice repeated wish
to take me out of my mind?

Tomorrow is the butterfly I chase.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Sunday, August 30, 2015

the smaller i become

Artist in his Studio by Rembrandt

as dull as ochre splattered walls
hissing create…

images paint splatter my thoughts,
but refuse to reach my brush…

the longer I stare at the canvas
the smaller I become…

art is the heroin(e) pumping
through my brain…

but empty white space
mocks my addiction…

©susie clevenger 2015

Real Toads Weekend Mini-Challenge ~ Ekphrasis
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Sunday, August 23, 2015


The moon wallows
in dust bin clouds.
August is a dragon
burning color from
the roses outside
my window.
I hate the scent
of brittle.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

I chose Mama Zen's power image. Mine is the moon.
Play It Again Toads!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Trees Fat Bellied With Light

Photo - Douglas Salisbury

"Look, the trees are turning their
 own bodies into pillars  of light"
In Blackwater Woods - Mary Oliver

  I can’t see the trees for the forest.
Limbs eclipse light bulb definition
in my wilderness of lost dreams.
Foggy memories hang from paperclip
eyelashes rusted by swampy tears.

Knees weak from chasing horizons
I sit on the bones of subtraction
wondering who penned “less is more.”

Suddenly, well as fast as sudden
can arrive on turtle feet, trees
fat bellied with light break through
my self-pity tearing it into fireflies.

Splinter roots no longer burn
or brew bitter tea on my lips.
Home is (was) walls papered
in few expectations, but I am
a broken limb grafted on the sky.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Few Chiseled Stones

I love you without
a list of reasons.
It is the days I hate you
the number of whys swell.

Arguments have us
setting up tents,
arming tongues,
forgetting the sun
climbs the horizon
brighter when we kiss.

Does the subtle
taking for granted
grow such deep roots
we become enemies?
Neglect has us seated
in the same room
plundering division
as if it were gold.

I love you, the unpolished gem,
the inappropriate laughter,
the patient saint waiting
as I fuss in front of the mirror.

It’s 4:00 a.m., I’ve chiseled
a few stones from the wall.
Hold me…I want to feel the sun.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

This poem appears in Poetry & Prose Magazine's Summer 2015 issue
as well as my poem Borrowed Dress Wedding.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Stained With Blackbird Wings

Morning stains the sky
with blackbird wings
carrying secrets pulled
from the summer moon.

Beneath feathered
oak limbs Trust sits
patient,  still…
waiting for answers
to interpret questions.

What was, is, can be
gathers notes from
caged throats to place on
tongues bold enough
to sing of freedom.

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Saturday, August 15, 2015

Poetry & Prose Magazine Summer 2015 Edition

So blessed to be included with such talented poets
in Poetry & Prose Magazine's Summer 2015 Edition

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Friday, August 14, 2015

Hint, Rattle, and Suggest

The strut, tail feather swag,
same wingspan different cage,
testosterone ego believes
a worn exhibition is
Romeo’s secret weapon.

Truth is when a hen
has needs she knows
which clueless lock to pick.

Drop a few hints,
rattle the bars,
pigeon superstition
will take the bait
with full flexed chest
bowing to suggestion.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Real Toads ~ Pigeon Superstition
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Monday, August 10, 2015

The Hem of Stars and Stripes

I cut my teeth on the stones
piled upon your chest.
War had made you a corpse
before I learned to speak.

Two towers fell on knife wings
and you raced to defend freedom
while I was yet cradled in the womb.

Fourteen feels ancient…I was born
in the hem of stars and stripes,
the chill of goodbye void of hello.

Father, you are photographs,
a uniform, mother’s tears.
Smiles I will never feel against my cheek.

Courage hangs on the living room wall
where medals salute morning sun.
A monument for a loved soldier
I’ll only know through scars.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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Sunday, August 9, 2015

Absolution's Thimble

The Danaides~ by John William Waterhouse

The pool of sin is too
shallow for forgiveness.

I cannot carry the sea
in a thimble or swim
in broken clay.

Error clings to
my flesh no matter
how fast my feet
race toward absolution. 

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Poem inspired by The Daughters of Danaus 

Italy, Glass Pitcher 19th century
Image : Courtesy of Margaret Bednar
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Sunday, August 2, 2015


Gossip has a choir
eager for a new song
and scratches at my
throat to find the melody.

You pry, demand,
attempt to peel layers
from secrets etched on
my ribcage…

Trust is a coin earned in
the belly of intuition.
It’s evident you’ll never
earn a wage behind razor wire
marked No Trespassing.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

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