Monday, October 20, 2008

Jerry - Cassandra Kaul


His hair was always disheveled,
but it fit the flannel
shirt and jeans he wore
every day to the greenhouses
to tend to his petunias.

He tended to his guests
and with the art of a true
salesman. He won over
the crowds and sent everyone
home with a piece of himself
in the shape of a delicate petunia.

By the end of the day
when everyone wanted to leave,
he stayed. He wasn't done,
there was too much to be done.

With a look of Herculean determination,
he was ready to begin the task of counting
his income from the sales of his hardship.

With gentle pushing the nurse
Started the count.
"Jerry, what is ten plus thirteen?
It starts with a two."

"I'm not stupid,
I'm just retarded,"
was uttered in anger that
belied the gentle face.

"Jerry! Don't say that about yourself!"

His face showed an intelligence
Society wouldn't allow him.



Write a poem which satisfies the following criteria:

1. The poem is in the first person singular.
2. The poem's title provides information which the reader needs in order to know who is speaking and to understand the situation which the speaker is talking about.
3. The poem should not be end-rhymed, but
4. The language of the poem should sound like conversation (it should be in the dialect of the speaker), but it should be rich enough to qualify as poetry (i.e., actually a little richer than ordinary conversation.)
5. Most of the poem should be a reminiscence about past events.
6. Through the way in which the protagonist tells the story, he or she must inadvertently reveal something about him/herself. In other words, the poem should exhibit some dramatic irony.
7. The speaker should be convincing, sound authentic.
8. The poem's dramatic irony -- the speaker's blind spot -- should have significance beyond being merely a personal foible.

Señor Young - Hayley Darpel

Señor Young

To be hip, he let 7th hour spray his bald spot
blue for spirit week.
Poor Señor Young
never stood a chance;
with a class of terrorists sending text messages and throwing notebooks
full of answers
to the nearest amigo daily.

When he thought class couldn’t get more rambunctious,
finals day
proved to be the monster
of all days.
A food-binged student, who
shall remain nameless,
went full-bellied and empty-headed
up to Señor’s desk.
Acting as if he were going to report a deathly illness,
this malo estudiante
vomited chunks all over
Señor’s favorite
wool llama sweater.

After months of court dates
along with his CNN fame,
Señor Young returned
to crazy Spanish classes
and his Krispy Kreme coffee.

Rolando Gomez - Cynthia Gomez

Rolando Gomez

As casual and unknown to the mind
A movement
Such as a scratch of the nose or
The unconscious foot which steps before the other
He came out of his room
In his underwear.
His brothers, which gathered there on Sundays,
Paused their conversations to look over and greet him.
But all he did was raise his hands and argue with no one
Over lies and truths.
Not knowing the difference.
He imitated the very discourses of the man who made him this way.
Of course a boy of six years could not possibly comprehend.
He processed it the best he knew how.
As he spent his life this way
Not knowing another world but the one behind his eyes
Unable to change the blankness of his face
At his father’s embrace
His brothers wondered if their love was known
If he felt warmth as they did.
When the brothers’ father passed away
They mourned for days and then they knew.
They knew Rolando felt cold and warm
And weakness and fear
Because two weeks later
Rolando died, too.

The Warrior - Ben Hedges

The Warrior

His gloved hands grip the wheel.
Reins to a snarling beast,
Ready to tear down a quarter mile strip,
Into the horizon.
Clad in leather and fiberglass,
He sits caged within the creature.
The vibrations of the engine, violent.
A chaotic heartbeat from a ticker
Fueled by chemicals and fire.
Its master is aged,
Spending 60 plus years figuring out ways to blur reality.
His senses are in tune,
Knowing every facet of the monster he created.
He had taken this trip so many times before,
It was natural to him now, a routine.

The tree divides him,
From what will be his enemy for the next 10 seconds.
A red light holds him back,
Always giving him one last chance to see reason.
The light vanishes, streaming yellow lights tease,
Coaxing his chariot into an uncontrollable rage.
Yellow blends to green,
The Warrior breaks the chains,
He finds pleasure in speed,
and sees the mundane keeping pace with everything else.

Jason Wildasin - Mike Hemmer

Jason Wildasin

Wild Assassin walked up to the wind.
Outside Robert was holding the slightly
Modified flashlight in one hand and a lighter in the other.
“This is going to rape,” Wild Assassin stated. He was
About ready to explode with excitement
We all were
But he kept it hidden.

The fuse dangled helplessly out of the flashlight
As Robert lowered the lighter to it.
If it all went wrong and the hours were wasted
On this then it would have been all Jason’s fault,
We rarely took anything the “satchel” carrying,
Sister’s tight jean wearing kid did very seriously.

Robert ran back into the house with only the lighter in hand,
The fuse shortened, and shorted
And shortened,
Until the flashlight detonated, casting
An emerald green blaze on the surrounding house,
A booming thunder that echoed for what sounded like miles,
And sent metal flying through the night.
All of us hit the floor,
Except Jason.

BWJ - Claire Jackson


He sits at a kitchen table surrounded by
his two life-long best friends, his sister, and
the counselor, holding the letters from his
little girls begging for their daddy back.

A shell of a man with tears flowing from
his already-glazed eyes is trying to cope with
this reality: the bottle or life.
All the scotch and water in the world won’t
take away the pain he knows he’s caused or
shut out the past that turned him to the bottle.

He opens his eyes looking back into those of the
ones who love him the most. He sees the years of
hurt and desperation for sobriety. He knows
a life that is poured from a bottle isn’t what should be.
He used to be in control, he used to hide it all, but there’s
no hiding anymore. He looks up asking God for
Hope and says,
“I’ll go.”

Haley Hawthorne - Cassandra Kaul

Haley Hawthorne

She was a high school dropout
and a student
with too much to learn

She let go of everything
as she inhaled her final thrill,
and took a descent
no one could control.

As she opened her eyes
to lights and sirens,
she heard, “Hawthorne, like the tree?”
“No, like The Scarlet Letter.”

Peter DelNero - Kaela McWherter

Peter DelNero

After four years of
Being buried by books
And all that accompanied
Being a high school student,
His day had finally come.
He was someone that everyone in the school knew of
Regardless of if they had actually met him or not.
He began his ten-second walk to receive
His much-earned diploma;
His entire face twinkling,
As his graduation cap was equipped
With small Christmas lights glowing brightly
As he bouncily crossed the stage
(Which overlooked more than four hundred graduates
And an arena full of people watching)
And proceeded to hug everyone on that platform:
Despite whether or not he knew them
Or vice versa.
The weight was lifted for a moment,
As he walked down the stairs and returned to his seat,
As he completed one goal
And is immediately surrounded by many more
As college and the future moved closer to his present.

Scott's father - Ruth Patrick

Scott’s father

When we raced sailboats on Sunday
I never won.
The wind was wild that day.

Youngest, and most afraid
I came in 4th of 4
and felt a failure.

Scott’s father
talked to me
He never had before.

“It doesn’t matter
that you came in last
or by how far.
You finished;
others quit.

I’m just tickled pink
you raced.”

Scott became a race car driver.
No surprise.

Years later
I heard Scott had
and died.

His father’s words
echoed in my mind
“I’m just tickled pink
you raced.”

Homer Linebaugh - Alyssa Reeves

Homer Linebaugh

He wore overalls and a brown fishing hat
Though we never saw him leave to go fishing.
Mostly he spent his time being retired and
Working in his shop, building doorstops
That looked like kittens and wooden flowers to paint
And stake in the yard.

On warm afternoons he stood at the fence and watched
Us toddle around in the backyard,
Saying little but multiplying his wrinkles
As the sun baked his smile.
Occasionally, we slipped through the gate and joined
Him and his wife Mildred.

He painted his past for my dad in hour-long conversations
And proudly showed him the silver dollar
He swore his great-grandfather had carried
During the Civil War.
“It saved his life,” his voice was eager like a child.
“A bullet hit this coin and it should have hit his heart.”
My dad (I’m not sure why) didn’t let him
Savor the sweet piece of luck.
“Look at the date, Homer”
From my spot on the floor, I thought the old man stopped breathing.
“That bastard!” he muttered.
“Homer, not in front of the kids.”

Bob Ross - Emily Ross

Bob Ross

Here is the old house
and the rotting sycamore
whose sawn limb he pulled down
to make a place to hang a swing.
When it fell, the branch came straight down
on top of him.
His daughter screamed
when the leaves brushed her face.

Three times
he forgot the children at school
and one of them had to haul the other home in a wagon.
The sidewalk was pasted slick with wet leaves
in the freezing dusk.

He planted tomatoes again every year –
watched the sun, whistled,
and tucked the baby plants in,
sometimes next to the shrubs.
They never grew.

Jack Jameson - Peter Seiler

Jack Jameson

Jack was a hard dairy man at 76
Though soft before tragedy
When his first wife died in her sleep

Mary, his second and recent wife
Was truly a beauty he loved
Though she did not treat him right

“I’m leaving you,” she said at dinner,
“For you are not the man I need
Being too grumpy, stubborn, and clean.”

Jack does not respond
He grabs the familiar leash
Lights a pipe to walk the dog.

Out for nearly an hour
He spots his friendly neighbor
Shouts, “I’m walking the dog,
Don’t care no how!”

Wet Willy - Jason Stricker

Wet Willy

Willy Ward, who slept for a whole week,
Finally awoke in the nothing but glamorous town
Of Coffeyville, Kansas, where he and some of his great friends
Went to school.
The day was a cold, rainy
Post-winter afternoon. The smell of poison mud could
Burn the nose of anyone who never lived there.

Surprisingly jovial on such an ominous day,
Noon was approaching. He was sick of all
Of his roommates griping about how there was nothing
To do on a day like this.
He yelled, “Let’s get off our asses, and have fun
Like you know we can!”

With that, Holly, Mike, and I went into our rooms
And changed into our bathing suits. Soon after,
Mike and I grabbed all the soap we could find, and
Poured it into a large trashcan full of water.
Next we kidnapped Willy,
Staked him to the ground gently,
Dumped the trashcan all over him,
Threw mud pies all over him,
And encouraged people to join in.
They did.

And after all that fun,
That would seem like torture to any other,
We slid into him, aiming for the surface of his head,
Trying to make it explode!
Willy took it so kindly,
And was so honored that he could
Be the resource for unforgettable fun!

Aaron Pile - Robert Tippin

Aaron Pile

We loved his music,
The years we knew him best.
We thought we knew him
But none,
None could guess.

A witch he met in college.
She took him far away.
From all he cared
And stood for,
Till late one winter day he vanished.
He fled
He went away
She took him away!
And it was snowing outside.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Story Telling

Write a poem which satisfies the following criteria:

1. The poem is in the past tense.
2. The poem is no more than thirty lines in length.
3. The poem is in the third person, about somebody (a protagonist) other than yourself, somebody colorful and vivid enough to make for interesting reading. The protagonist should be nonfictional (You might select one of the more eccentric people you remember from high school) unless you can, as Louis Simpson does in the poem "Caviar At the Funeral," create a convincing fictional character.
4. The poem should not be end-rhymed.
5. The title of the poem should be the name of the protagonist.
6. The main body of the poem should present a scene (as in a movie) dramatizing a telling incident in the life of the protagonist. The scene might well center around some kind of initiation experience, certainly around some experience from which the protagonist learned something important about himself/herself, about the people around him/her, or about both. (Experiences which resulted in disillusionment are often particularly suitable for such ultra-short stories.)
7. The background of the main character or characters should be sketched in my means of digressions.
8. The scene should show the protagonist faced with a situation in which he/she must make a decision.
9. From the decision which the protagonist makes, the reader should gain some insight into the protagonist.
10. From the way in which the author presents the scene, the reader should get a sense of the author's judgment of the character.
11. This judgment should be very tactfully suggested, by innuendo, through hints and through the author's tone of voice., not blatantly stated.
12. Though told with great economy, the story should contain enough physical details and images to enable the reader to vividly picture the story's central theme.

Collision - Hayley Darpel


Peel away the layers of me
My innocence sheds first.
Then comes the courage.
No longer is bravery an option.
Vulnerability seeps from
open wounds.

Your mind is a divided highway.
One day stuck in blind traffic.
The next, the road is clear.
Crosswalks don’t exist.

Falling deep into the
hole of your third failure.
These random situations
no one else sees. You are the
common denominator.

Putting everyone through another domestic
drama. Saying you’ll land on your two feet.
How do you not break and
fall when your shoulder bear
broken hearts?

Learning - Kara Engelken


She lies upon her bed
I wonder what she’s thinking
I know her heart still beats.
But I wonder if she knows why.

Outside the window plays the world
And eyes are always searching,
The mind swallows the world whole
While no one is watching.

To free a soul the body must die
So there is freedom in death,
To trap a soul is to give birth
So imprisonment comes from life.

The mind clenches at the sign of learning
From years of abuse and lies
Knowledge is the key;
Trust is the door;
Open it and walk inside.

Coward - Cynthia Gomez


Carried in on a
Lover’s daze
Waiting frantically
Thinking of
What can happen

Seeping in
Getting away here and there
Now loving but
Looking over its shoulder
Still vulnerable

And it catches
It holds
It’s true.
It holds
Sanity together.

Before and After - Ben Hedges

Before and After

The doors open, folding in on themselves,
a yellow carriage carrying the weary and worn
returning from a mandated eternity.
They’ve seen hell with breath still in their lungs
now they come back for hopes of heaven.
They stand in uniform, move in uniform,
across the charter threshold,
The driver extends gratitude,
not enough to cover their actions.

A man exits, his black boots taste the surface of home.
A good Christian.
His body always untouched by toxins.
Striking a match, he lights a Camel,
trying to trade a physical poison,
for poisonous memories.

A man follows, his eyes take in the sights of what feels right.
A hard-edged behemoth.
Emotion a distant relative in his life.
His wife embraces, he crumbles,
his fatigues now a permanent home,
for tears from a stone face.

Another man follows, he takes in the air of a place nearly lost.
A young scout
So much yet to see and already a witness to so much.
His foundation approaches, armed with a smile and salute,
he returns the advance. A cub paying respect,
for a father’s guidance.

Life Too Short - Mike Hodge

Life Too Short

Laying there helpless on life support
As time ticks away like a time bomb
Not concerned about anything or anyone
Relishing the depths of life as it comes
Soon we will mourn the death of a man
Who strengthens us on a daily basis
Wishing we could replace our life for his
Realizing that it won’t happen, we still
Continue to pray.

Driving on a rainy, dark road of South Carolina
Looking like an endless tunnel
With white stripes rapidly passing
One by one.
At the same time wanting and urging the feeling to be home
We talk about life experiences we faced so far
And within seconds the vehicle is upended
With the sound of a blast, hitting the car
brings flashbacks from what sins I have done in the past
A wake-up call from my reality nightmare.

With two kids and a cheating, divorced wife
He is financially low, and jobless
With the economy is in a state of emergency
It’s harder than ever to obtain success
He receives no family support to help him during this rough part in life
When faced with adversity, he decides to make a decision
He robs.
Thinking that life is lavish and with doubts in his mind
It comes to an abrupt end.

Resentment - Claire Jackson


Through 18 years you were there for
every dance recital, ball game, and school
assembly. I knew your love was genuine
and the grandparents’ day card messages came
from my heart. But when the key holding our
family together turned over, his black gold turned
your eyes green, and your back towards me.

Thousands of square feet in the north end
of town. A big yard, swimming pool, and
five bedrooms – a dream come true. A purchase
to the good life. But square footage and yard-of-
the-week can’t keep a family together.

Middle school was already hell, and you—
you made it worse. Words, the Internet, and
the two friends I had were your weapons in
blasting a hole inside of me. Noting to comfort
the hurt but half-assed prayers to Jesus and
little white pills.

Looking into the mirror, I see a heavy black
cloak of memories weighing on my shoulders.
I know the need of letting go, but I don’t want
to start the process. Anger intrudes into my
daily routine because I have yet to reconcile with
the past, and remove the weight.

The Shuttle - Cassandra Kaul

The Shuttle

The doors open and I step
up into the vessel
that will take me to my
next destination.
A journey.

The sun is a quiet
caress, gently guiding me
through the sea of blackness
as the glass amplifies the blinding truth
of distance.

Bodies glide across
the river styx as I stop
for a fraction and see
their bliss.
I rush on.

Game Day(s) - Kaela McWherter

Game Day(s)

Everyone wants and needs the chance
To act like a kid now and again;
Going back to the good old days
Of playing Monopoly and
Bending the rules, so you always win.
Enjoying the escape from reality
And entering the realm of fake money
Being handed to you and having the ability
To buy houses and hotels in a matter of seconds.

The crowd piles into the stadium and
Instantly the atmosphere heightens
As it gets so loud that you struggle to hear yourself breathe.
You lose yourself in the excitement of the game
As everything moves quickly
From one play to the next.
Then The Play happens as the crowd chants
Touchdown! And if possible
They erupt even louder as time
Expires and the elation of 50,000
is overwhelming.

As humans on this planet
We are expected to
Move from day to day
Like pawns accomplishing one goal and
Quickly moving to the next
In the never-ending task
Of successfully surviving
Life’s little game.

Dreams - Ruth Patrick


Play pretend, imagingin
futures unlivable,
dragons and magic
sisters friends and memories
reaching for the stars
time passes gradually
too much

Give me a voice;
I will be a rock star.
The world will take notice;
give me existence
or give me death.
Love is a bitter cliché.
Will I never win?

rises to meet me.
Vision and prophesy give way
to the chaos of my home of unrighteous
Let Zion rise.
Redeem me, let me
keep my peace.

Build me a castle of dreams.
Sometimes illusions are all we need
to fight the fears of born false hopes
and face the pain
of having been deceived.

I’ll wear a gauzy dress with veils and pearls;
a gypsy child posing as the queen.
You, the enchanter, shall play the king;
magically transforming into what I need.
Time is a temple of dreams.

You are me and I am you and we
create each other
Words are all I ever had and it was
and never enough
I will turn the tide
I will return
I will ride this wave crashing down on me
into my destiny of dreams.
For when I left I vowed I would return
but then I learned the place
only existed
in dream.
I will be there.


Gluttony from the Get-Go

Gluttony from the Get-Go

They brought us home after four weeks:
4 pounds, 4 ounces – a three-package deal.
The heart monitors screamed occasionally,
Panic to the untrained hear.
Gently shake us when we forget to breathe.
The warm bottle is too good to let go.

My favorite was root beer,
And my sister liked Sprite.
I’d get all excited so it swam down the front of my shirt
And pooled in my lap.
My dad handed me a paper towel and said,
“Kid, you’ve got a drinking problem.”

We started up at 17, 18, 20.
The law’s a loaded obstacle;
Slip beneath it like a hole in the fence.
When everyone’s doing it, you welcome the shots
Because we’re young and invincible
And we believe even real bullets
Are made of rubber.

In Anger - Peter Seiler

In Anger

There was a fly buzzing
Around my head.
I struck out so ferociously,
But missed.
How I wanted it dead.

Down, empty, the flask drained
Into her throat.
She didn’t want to hear anymore,
Or see.
He’d had sex with somebody else.

Sixth hour, chilly waking, the house
Was a wreck.
It was not to be cleaned,
By me,
Not this time.

Big Move - Peter Seiler

Big Move

Black coat asked the grocer
“may I have paper?”
“only plastic,” was replied
The main in the coat
Was new to the area.

Skinny dog slinked in the alley
Worried to be caught or seen
Bruised, he had run away
The back restaurant door opened
With meat scraps a man called.

Kindergarten student tugged mother’s skirt
“Mom, I want to go to the creek.”
His mother sighed and shook her head
“There is no creek here.” He did not understand anything
yet but the old home.

Young woman stared from a cubicle
The building loomed like despotism
“will you take that date tonight?”
Young man asked again
She looked at him, this move was hard.

Old lady was petting her cat
Watching people walk by
Her husband had made her live on a farm
She moved to the city when Jim passed
She thought she would love it.

Calm Before the Last - Jason Stricker

Calm Before the Last

Before any storm,
Strikes a calmness that causes anxiety.
Everyone who experiences it
Sits or stands impatiently for the arrival
of the first big blast or the sudden downpour
to follow.

This storm seems to be no different,
Except for the feeling. Everyone is awaiting the calm.
The quiet and gloominess are hints that this storm is vast.
After days of quiet gloominess are hints that this storm is vast.
After days of not being awaken by sun, but by fear,
The weather hasn’t changed. But there’s a storm coming soon,
In the distance.

The storm seems to be a no show. All of the sudden,
The loudest thunder cracks the sky in pieces. And clouds hang
So low, that the sky actually seems like it’s falling. Treacherous rain
Makes everyone sprint for higher ground. After experiencing those ten minutes
That feel like forever, another calm hangs for three seconds.
Then, right in the middle of Kansas,
Waves are coming from every direction,
Peaking at hundreds of feet,
Curl over like the perfect tube,
And race to destroy all that’s left
Of a country that stood higher
Than the rest of the world.

Watching a Man I Know Age - Robert Tippin

Watching a Man I Know Age

Picture the man, only black and white,
And gray
Picture his youth.
Feel how he smiles,
And carries his weight
With Grace.

See his face grow grim.
Watch his features harden.
Noting is as sleek.
Nothing’s as smooth.

Tell me what you see.
Tell me it’s not him.
Then again,
It is him
But it doesn’t seem like him
Tell me again
That it’s him
Because I can hardly believe.