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

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Last Words

My last words….

I saw a miracle born
from the womb of war,
desperate hands rescuing
a child from the dust of anger.

I heard a baby cry for peace.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 30

Real Toads ~ Bang, Whimper, Hiss
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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Teddy Bear

Teddy Bear cholla (Cylindropuntia bigelovii)

My name suggests
embraceable, but
arms that seek
to cuddle me will find
a prickly reception.

I am a lesson grown
in sun and sand that
a name can bear deception.

©Susie Clevenger 2015
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wooled Sky

Moody spring
turns from
to tantrum.

The wooled sky
hangs as pulled
gray threads
against an
angry chest.

April hastens to find shelter.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 28

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Jalapeno Zinger

A pinch of a jalapeno tongue
2 parts red temper
1 shot tequila boldness

Blend with constant barrage
of "news" media misinformation
to enhance spicy attitude

Pour over ice to dilute the burn

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 27

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Dear David

Dear David,
Every year when the peonies bloom I hear
your voice teasing two little girls cartwheeling
giggles along a broken sidewalk.

You invariably bring a brighter sun when
you stop by in spring. It hangs as a bright
balloon tied to the wrist of hope.

Yes, I choose the pinkest blossoms
to fill a vase to brighten my northern window.
They are a compass pointing toward our last goodbye.

I am much better now; the pain is still there,
but the tears don’t burn my heart as often. I finally
allowed myself to trust finding peace wouldn’t betray you.

You will always be nineteen, love baseball, think
Charlie holds the stars, and give Dawn and Carrie
piggy back rides across the front lawn.

I miss you.

With love,


NaPoWriMo ~ Day 26

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Beneath The Pink Sky

the pink mingling
of cherry blossoms and sky
wash spring in romance

~ P ~

pink azaleas
blush brick walls
with flirting spring

~ P ~

the lake mirrors
spring’s rouge
of pink azaleas

~ P ~

bouquets of blushing pink
hang from the limbs of spring
in a cherry blossom crush

~ P ~

the sun spills
pink lemonade
across the horizon
until awe satisfies
its thirst

~ P ~

placed between bookends
of yesterday and tomorrow
i claim the space of a moment
to breathe the scented wind
of pink cherry blossoms and sun

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ 2015

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Be Careful Of Wishes

Precious girls,
be careful of wishes.
Prince Charming
may own scissors
that clip wings.

Not every toad
can be changed
with a kiss or
glass slipper escape
broken glass.

Look deeper
than what
the eyes can see,
and let the spirit
speak its worth.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 24

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

Last Leg

He thought they
had reached
water under the bridge.

She was tired of
navigating emotions
without any sense of direction.

The last leg of too far
left footprints that
didn’t lead home.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ 2015

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Borrowed Dress Wedding

A borrowed dress wedding
turned an August night
into forty five years.

We beat the odds every time
life bet against gold bands.

Love might sound pretty
in a bed of roses, but dandelions
can grow when the path is full of stones.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 22

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Counted Longing

i’d buy yesterday
if I could own your secrets.
today feels empty

  ~ i ~

poetry arrives
when longing needs an outlet.
love clings to verses

~ i ~

love is a mad war
that leaves empty, lost places
tomorrow can’t fill

~ i ~

in the sullen realms
of broken hearts and lost dreams
life roots its rebirth

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 21

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Snare of Her Tongue

Born claw deep in curious
I prodded answers with
a question, but curiosity
was still hungry for why.

My daughter’s inquiry
of the reason for a name
produced the knowledge
I was named after a pestering child.

No matter how high the questions
climbed they never reached satisfaction.
The rationality behind my name
remained a mysterious link to aggravation.

What my mother failed to consider
in her propensity to express dark humor
was she might actually be stung
by the prophetic snare of her tongue.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 20

I am the little girl with the scraped knee sitting on my father's lap. 
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Sunday, April 19, 2015


Beneath the
satin brash
I was soft silk.

I divided myself
into winks and
plump lips to fool
fools who thought
I was without a brain.

Take away
the blond, the breasts
the give, the take,
and you would have seen
the lock, the key,
the when, the why
to the me few could see.

I once had Eden, but
The Big Apple bit me.
The Catholics didn’t
like my either/or.

Life was great.
Life was bad.
Fame took
what it wanted.
I gave it all I had.

I let the world
see satin brash
when beneath
I was soft silk.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Process note:

Mae West was famous for her double entendre. In a radio sketch titled The Garden of Eden on NBC Mae was cast as Eve and the actor, Don Ameche, as Adam. At one point in the dialogue she told Ameche to "get me a big one...I feel like doin' a big apple!" The reference was to a then-current dance craze. The day after the broadcast, the studio received letters calling the show "immoral" and "obscene." Women's clubs and Catholic groups admonished the show's sponsor, Chase & Sanborn Company, for "prostituting" their services and allowing "impurity" to invade the air. Wikipedia

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 19
Real Toads ~ Going Halvsies! 
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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Rage Against Hours

“I don't think about the end game. I've got lots to occupy my mind.
  It's the rage that keeps me going.”  ~  Sir Terry Pratchett

I like to roll impossible on my tongue,
taste all the reasons bullying me with
“I can’t”, chew on attitudes damning me
before words spill from my right hand.

Death is the torn ribbon of last breath.
I have no desire to live as a corpse
surrendering my lungs to an exhaled
list of all of my ailments.

There is a world inside my mind
yet to be explored, beautiful noise
to translate, silence to record,
rivers of vocabulary to map.

I am not in a race for pages or accolades.
Finished will come at its own pace.
I will embrace detours, rage against hours
that spill satire in wrinkled flesh, and brittle bones.

I will surround myself with empty journals
waiting for verse, rhyme, poetry, secrets.
Today will not be my boundary or tomorrow my fear.
I will taunt the devil with the boldness of living.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 18

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Where Ink and Eye Join

There are so many faces
on the tip of my pen.
where ink and eye join.

With hand on the unknown
I bleed images on canvas,
speaking hello with color.

Drunk on muse’s wine
I spiral her imagination into flesh
only observation can define.

When vision loosens its grip I stare
into souls whose destiny is a wall
where hammered nail hangs appreciation.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 16

The painting that inspired this piece is Untitled "Doodle" by Ted Gordon and can be seen here: AVAM  (American Visionary Art Museum)

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Better View

Crushed flower petals
bore the scent or nirvana,
but the other side of the fence
was a stair climb to open air
so blind eyes could have
a better view of heaven.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ 2015

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Buttoned With Tears

The gray day hangs
its wet sweater
on me and I
button it with tears.

Why does optimism
beg me to drink
from a cup it never fills?

Goodbye chases me
into a corner where
I plead to hear hello.

Another day of grief…
Another river to cross…
Where is the rainbow?

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 14

I recently lost a cousin.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

A Universe of Spines

When I am near the end of a book
I have to sleep in the same room with it.

All the hours I have spent tucked
inside its rib cage have formed
a bond I am not ready to release.

It has been manna for my imagination,
peace in waves of irrational,
my nightlight in insomnia.

Once the last word is read it will
find its place on a bookshelf,
a separate planet in a universe of spines.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 13

"When I am near the end of a book
I have to sleep in the same room with it."
                                  Joan Didion

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Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Price of Poetry


Bare feet wait
for a poem.
She prays stones
won’t silence
the telephone.


Protest uses a pen name
when death plans a wedding.
She doesn’t know her age
because there are no calendar
dates for tulips.


Torn poems brought a flame
when blood asked for a number.
I am the new Rahila, record my voice
so death won’t come without a memento.


There are no pennies for a tape recorder.
She relies on ink to capture sound.
Brave journals have feminine pages
torn from lips questioning God.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 12

My poetry comes from the inspiration of Wallace Stevens and the Afghan women who risk death to write poetry. 

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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Spirit Leaf

Within the chaos
where war breeds
my broken psyche
grows wings.

Cocooned in all
I’m not my mind
responds to divinity’s
voice to become
the peace I seek.

Hanging from the spirit leaf
my tongue learns the language
of harmony; the ancient song
earth sings to seeds birthing change.

When purpose tears my hiding place
I feel my wings unfold. Discord no longer
owns my speech. I speak the words of peace.

©Susie Clevenger 2015 

 NaPoWriMo ~ Day 11

This is my prayer, my hope for my metamorphosis 
to speak peace and not anger.

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Dear Progeny

I thought we would
leave a better garden,
but greed bottled water
until the dust bowl
wouldn’t bear fruit.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 10

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Three Days of Breath

Fate ~ Alphonse Mucha 

Star eyes see tomorrow
through threads spun
into length of days.

A question rocks
three days of breath
before what will be is sealed.

Fed from the moon’s breast
infant dreams spill from cradle
into first dust of dawn.

With thread and knife fate
arrives to cut life into hours
that can never be changed.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

Process Notes:
The Moirai or Fates were three sister deities, incarnations of destiny and life. Their names were Clotho, the one who spins the thread of life; Lachesis, she who draws the lots and determines how long one lives, by measuring the thread of life; and Atropos, the inevitable, she who chose how someone dies by cutting the thread of life with her shears. They were often described as being ugly and old women, stern and severe. Three days after a child was born, it was thought that the Moirai would visit the house to determine the child's fate and life.

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 9
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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Without Punctuation

I loved you…
Well, as deeply
as sixteen can reach.

You were letters,
kisses, and diary entries.

You were never a poem.

You were too shallow
for the depth of verse.

If I were to steal from
the archive of my memories,
you would only be months spent
without punctuation.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 8

At Real Toads Marian gave us these instructions:
Dear Toads, your challenge today is to write about the experience of falling out of love with something you have written, even when others like it and want to hear or read it. 

For me this piece is more about falling out of love with the thought this first love held any poetry.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015


She cups her story
in the palm of her hand
feeding it courage.

She had lured it
from beneath her ribs
with crumbs of anger.

"It is the scar that speaks
a wound is healed, not tears
that nurse its bleeding.”

Darkness is a wordless page.
be brave enough to write
your way to freedom.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 7

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Beneath The Bubble Cap

Stars salt the moon
as midnight drinks
ink stains from a dipper.

Beneath the bubble cap
I toss questions into Sandman’s wink
hoping answers will glitter shadows.

Loss steals hours from sleep.
I pay remorse with tears,
but I fear it won’t be enough.
“If only” is too big a debt.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 6

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Fertile Fur

Fertile fur white hops
eggs to sticky palms
begging chocolate Easter.

It doesn’t matter how
tall plastic grass grows
as long as baskets
are deep enough for hidden.

Lesson lines cackleberry nests
that quicker bunnies win the prize,
but tears will grow longer legs
to chase discovery next year.

Determination’s the fuel of empty hands.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

It seems Gertrude Stein is again my muse. :)
I wish I had invented the word, cackleberry,
but a Thesaurus search revealed it to me. 

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Blind Schedule

Laundry drumming inside a machine
belligerent, clinging to dirt deep in threads,
endures cycles of soapy, dizzy, spin prodding,
until timer kills the switch on the carnival ride.

Automatic necessity sorts, color codes,
regulates wash and dry without contemplating
tea stained reunions, chocolate ice cream
on white, sugar coated “this old thing”,
earthy cologne scents, or a lover's lipstick. 

Time does what it does, past and future
share same digital blinks, a conundrum unnoticed,
blind schedule only hears frenzy.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 4

Izy at Real Toads challenged us with Gertrude Stein. Here is my laundry/Ms. Stein inspired effort.

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Friday, April 3, 2015

Your Mouth's On The Trigger

Bang, bang, your mouth’s on the trigger
Bang, bang, the war’s getting bigger
Bang, bang, he said, she said, they said
Bang, bang, we all will bleed red

Tongues spouting how everybody should live
Love being shamed by words that won’t give
Any space for difference, any space for deliverance
From anger growing bullies shouting ignorance

Bang, bang, your mouth’s on the trigger
Bang, bang, the war’s getting bigger
Bang, bang, he said, she said, they said
Bang, bang, we all will bleed red

Everybody’s shouting about rights
Baiting tongues for a fight
That everybody will lose if peace can’t win
A truce for compromise to begin

Bang, bang your mouth’s on the trigger
Bang, bang, the war’s getting bigger
Bang, bang, he said, she said, they said
Bang, bang, we all will bleed red

 ©Susie Clevenger 2015

 At Real Toads Fireblossom prompted us to write a song, but since there (in most cases?) isn't any music for our lyrics she wanted us to share the song or genre that inspired it. I was listening to the Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter and a slight change in the lyrics kept playing in my head. 

War, children, it's just a shot away
It's just a shot away
War, children, it's just a shot away

I sang it this way:

War, children, it's just a shout away
It's just a shout away
War, children, it's just a shout away

The first bullet in any war shoots first from the lip. You can't sing what I wrote to the music of Gimme Shelter. My pen wasn't able to make that leap. :)

Fireblossom Friday ~ Sing it, Toads
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Thursday, April 2, 2015

Book Roots

Planted in the middle of quiet and quarrel
I grew up through the roots of books
dividing life into dreams I could believe.

Pages raced through wide eyed blinks
leaving footprints of I can and I will
on my imagination hungry for rainbows.

Surrounded by friends with alphabet spines
I drew closer to words that didn’t sting
from the cat scratch of an angry tongue.

©Susie Clevenger 2015

NaPoWriMo ~ Day 2
Real Toads ~ The House That Built You
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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Poe's Invocation

In a cage of silence I fought
invisible bars until a poem
unlocked my voice.
A black beak of woe
spoke to the agony
of midnight’s claw
tearing my tongue
into secrets.

Perched on Poe’s invocation
a raven pierced the starless whispers
hidden in an ebony curtain of “never tell.”

A little girl tucked into my fifteen years
learned the language of pen and ink
and grew fledgling wings of verse.

©Susie Clevenger 2015 

NaPoWriMo 2015 Day 1

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