Still Part of this Loud, Hurting World

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Beasts, bigots, build the wall:

the sound of lives

beating like a drum

in our face, a chant,

a cheer we hear

thousands of miles away.

Yet, you sing me a song louder

than the thunder of hate,

breath of bird and caress,

snow sound, breaking of twig,

and I must confess

I need to feel as fresh

as the five inches of snow

we nearly left the world to last night

when the light turned green,

but she couldn’t stop her car

from sliding. The beauty of brake lights

glowing off an infinity of snowflakes

all seen through a fogged up window.

And the sound of twisted metal,

sirens, the spark in my soul

when I realized

I’m still alive,

and still part of this loud,

hurting world.

The dead don’t know anything.

But I know

I walked away from the dead

to the sound of your poems,

songs written from the cries

of your heart,

siren calls begging us all

to look the other way,

for a moment,

look, look, look the other way.

Pinterest Perfect

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Pretty sure
I’ve seen this Reveal Party before,
and yes, it’s perfect, as if
Oh shit, how did this happen
gave way to a better,
more sparkly generation
of men and women
men made pregnant.
Confession.
My living room is now Pinterest Perfect,
and it scares me:
faux-stone fireplace,
barn wood shelves and floors,
leather recliners,
ebay artifacts,
an eerie similarity summed up in pins
and blasted out for our consumption–
imitation is the highest form of flattery–
perfect little imperfect reflections
of some other person’s lie.
(I meant life.)

WMD, and Other Pretend Enemies and Friends

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Digging up some of my oldies about war. My thoughts and feelings have not changed.

O, Beautiful,
January 13, 2007

Does the sand, there,
pile up like snow, here
Do grains of it rise like sun
floating crystals in a fickle breeze
Is its heat as unbearable
as our winter freeze
which makes a trickle stream,
thickens the water in the trough
I ask you, is the desert there
as beautiful as our plains,
as beautiful as winter wheat
snow covered, before amber waves,
as wide-open to life, as willing
when we lay down and die


These poems were based on news clippings from the time.

Sela-hammahlekoth (gorge of divisions)

We stand at the sela-hammahlekoth,
great gorge of division,
and we will not be sacrificed;
It will grow wider and deeper,
we’ll each back from the precipice,
further and further from one another
until, finally, we cannot see,
reach out to, or remember
we loved. My Lord, My Lord:
why have we have forsaken
each other, our sisters, our brothers?

WMD

This morning, over coffee, we argued about the war,
All this after the bed and what happened there,
When he loved me and said so.
Yesterday we worked together
Cleaned ovens, sprayed the deck,
Installed lights and tore down the bedroom wall.
We laughed over a movie and popcorn,
Surveyed our lives together and said,
This is good.
But this morning,
over coffee,
we argued—
We argued about the war and WMD
And now I’m here at my computer
And he’s off
on his own,
Fixing the furnace.

Woman, Uncaged

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A good witch, I think, as her voice rises

in story: their affair, his testosterone levels,

her childhood, and its want of love,

the gratitude for her lover’s love.

She seems about six foot two,

jaw etched of marble,

arms of steel, hands of iron,

and she fills the air around us

with tremor, something ominous,

yet vulnerable, as if she is saying,

I’ll tell you my secrets, like this gift of oil.

I take it, of course, I take it,

unscrew the top of the repurposed

wine bottle, smell deeply the lavender

and the garlic, her special brew.

I will tell you how I made it, she says,

because she holds no detail back.

She is the woman you’ve heard about,

or seen in movies, the one

who doesn’t give two shits,

the one who walks into a room

and steals it, and fills it

with laughter, and warning.

The woman whose tremor speaks

and says two things: come closer,

and I will tell you of love, of loss,

of picking oneself back up,

while at the same time you hear,

if you betray me, I will kill you.

And it all seems perfectly normal,

like the moment you always knew,

now unfolding. How what’s inside of you

was already unloosed in this goddess

of olive oil brewery, truth-teller,

all eyes on her, a wild, dangerous

animal uncaged, everyone nervous,

and eager to see what she will do.

Tambourine Man

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Anointed: his one raised arm, in a throng

of arms, desperate to catch a tambourine

hucked into the body-universe by Ian Astbury,

before singing Big Neon Glitter,

Peace Dog, and Wild-Hearted Son,

and like some freak of fate

carnival game he played as a kid,

it landed like a ring on a bottle’s neck,

and throttled his arm down to his bare,

hairy, super-sweat-soaked pit.

For years, he mashed to the rhythm,

the beat, the swelling under-swell of song,

self-employed, stoned, and fully devoted,

as in, everything for the voice

that prophesized from the burning bush

of heavy metal, Shake it! Shake it!

What else could he do

except shake the damn thing

for twenty years, the entire downtown,

as kids made out, drank beer, and danced,

and someone in the crowd shouted,

Hey, everyone, the Tambourine Man is here!–

Sometimes, You Just Need a Happy Ending

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Forgive me for wishing

life was more like a fairytale,

a place where once upon a time

we all struggled, our hearts

torn apart, put together again,

as we desperately journeyed

toward our happiest moments.

When we finally reached them,

and got a taste of what we knew

was out there for a few rare lucky souls,

some benevolent hand would write:

they lived happily ever after:

On my son’s twenty-ninth birthday,

He spun the big wheel at Fast Eddies,

it tink-tink-tinked past the free beer,

five dollars, and hamburgers,

to stop at the fifty dollar jackpot.

He danced with his hands in the air,

he smiled, that rare smile,

his lover kissed his cheek.

Nurture the Muse: Thoughts On Success

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I was the best flutist in my elementary school for two and a half years–4th grade through 6th. Sadly, in the 7th grade, my reign came to an end; I was challenged, and lost, and sent packing to second chair.

At first, I thought it was because the girl who beat me was more talented–gifted–and I was deficient. But in truth, it was because I never, ever practiced–and she did.

It took me many years to understand that simple truth about those who excel and those who are left behind. Those who keep going, who keep writing, who keep practicing their instruments, who keep making foul shots or whatever it is they love doing–they’re the ones who succeed. Those who stop, don’t.

I started Bits of Poetry in 2014 to write to the poem.

Bad poem. Good poem. It didn’t matter.

I didn’t enjoy playing the flute, even though I continued playing to the 12th grade, but it wasn’t a total loss. Through it, the opening of a musical door, I learned enough to find my real love, the piano. And then, the guitar. Playing either one of them isn’t a chore, like the flute was. Playing them is a gift, and the real gift is the love of them. I knew I loved music, started an imperfect journey toward music, and found my musical soulmates.

And it’s not about playing perfectly. Far, far from it. Rather, it’s the enjoyment I get from one note, two notes, one chord, one measure. The same goes for writing. I love the written word and, eventually found my way to the poem. I love the poem. Every imperfect part of it.

If I can write towards a poem and find one good line, it feels so good. Just one line, like one solid measure of a song. Eventually, maybe two lines, and so on.

All of this is to say, in 2019 I’m re-dedicating myself to the original idea: write, write, write. It’s not about perfection, it’s about continuing on with what I love. Resist the temptation to be discouraged, but more importantly resist the temptation to be a helicopter mom to my baby poems. They will survive and grow up as long as I keep nurturing them with an open floodgate of words, honesty, observation, respect, and love.

I hope you all continue to do the same.

Here is the original poem that started this blogging journey, in all its imperfect glory!

Keeping the Mother Alive

I admit, all my mothers have died.

Oh, I had high hopes for them,

especially the one my mother gave me.

I said, (to all who would hear)

I’m going to pass this mother down for generations!

(Someone told me someone had done that.)

But the damn thing required real work.

Every day, feed it! feed it!

And, skim the scum.

There were no short cuts.

No, baby!

No shortcuts for that mama.

I gave it a go for a few weeks,

as if keeping that hungry lump of sourdough alive

proved I was an ideal mother myself,

and not the flawed one

my children were telling me about;

the one I knew as saint, whore, and more,

from the lines of my poem written

when they were still too young to read.

The woman who traded ashes for burning,

Who unraveled woman strand by strand,

rather than choking on the limits.

The one who loved tulips, and daisies, and roses,

and wanted to test her words:

the generations will not unravel.

In the end, the mothers died;

no amount of flour or warm water

could save them.

Like this poem;

I’m done feeding it.

It’s done.

Bye-bye, mama.

Mama, bye-bye.

The Secret Song of the Dead

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Looking back, I see you

looking back, smiling,

I say your name,

as if to summon

the dead to life,

and it works,

for a moment.

It’s winter,

and the earth feels

like your absence,

the once living things,

here, but not here.

How many times

did you sit

next to me looking

out at the aspen?

And now, here it is

bare again, waving

its naked branches again.

Today, it looks like

it’s doing The Twist,

and, I think, it hears

a song I don’t, no,

a song I can’t, hear.

Looking back, I see you

looking back, smiling,

your secrets, a dance,

a song that plays

while the world listens,

and twists to a secret melody,

it cannot hear.

Are You On Twitter?

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Are you on Twitter, if so, comment with your Twitter handle, and thoughts, below.

I’ve found Twitter to be a great resource for writers. Hashtags like #AmWriting #WritersCommunity #PoetryCommunity, and many others, help you find people like yourself.

You can also link your WordPress account to Twitter in your settings, and it will automatically publish your posts.

You can find me at @LindaDavisPoet on Twitter.

Word to the wise–don’t get sucked into the negative stuff. There’s plenty of that. But there’s also great writing, supportive people, and various journals.

The Plan of the Unplanned

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“It isn’t the experience of today that drives men mad. It is the remorse for something that happened yesterday.” Bob Burdette

The tape that plays

is not always a good tape,

or an accurate replay

of what happened.

What you said,

what I said,

over thirteen years,

a million things.

No, an infinity

of words and actions

that speak louder

than words, truer

than our memories

of one another.

I told you,

when I finally leave,

it will be forever,

and I think you believed me.

If I could do over

I would do the same,

and wish you would.

No part changed.

No person gone.

No person, gone,

brought back.

Remorse? I want to say,

No. I want to say

this unplanned chaos

is part of a plan.

I want to look back,

someday, and say,

This is what I wanted,

where I wanted to be.

Carpe Diem to Infinity, Asshole

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Half a day is lost every year,

and today I miss them.

Twenty six days, gone

where dim memory resides.

Was that me on my father’s lap,

or, as my sister said, my brother?

I only know what they tell me,

and how seeing it makes me feel.

As I age, I grow desperate

for the days, and the memories

of the days, do you?

Carpe diem raised to infinity,

as in,

Give me my damn days back,

asshole.

And now I feel I should apologize,

for using asshole in a poem,

and admit, too, I’m not sure

who the asshole is that stole them:

me, you, God, or anyone

who says the baby in a pink sleeper,

whose father’s arms are wrapped ‘round

her twice, as if to confirm,

she was, after all, wanted,

is not me, but my brother,

who longs to feel wanted, too.

Self, Be Kind, Self, Be Strong

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He said, Tell yourself who you are,

or others will make you a minor character

in a play where they are the stars.

So, I gave myself permission to be

a poet, a musician,

a good all-of-the-above:

wife, mother, sister, friend—

the many roles I inhabited,

but always felt deficient.

I have rarely known love

in the way I need love,

yet, I am surrounded with love.

Tell me, self, where have you been?

Why haven’t you defended me

against the dark thoughts?

Why haven’t you picked me up

and protected me,

held me in your arms,

and told me I am worthy

of these simple things?

The Day I Knew the Way

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it was a dream, and hard to tell

where borders and countries began,

but there was a dirt path,

and only I knew the way.

The dirt was soft, and the day

beautiful, I was barefoot

and running freer than ever I have

in wakened-life. It felt good

running in a warm sunshine,

ducking under the Velvet Mesquite,

with their canopies, their shade,

their branches, like open doors

to some better, magical place.

I liked the dream very much,

and could have kept running,

but I came to a lone house,

stark in the barren desert.

A blonde girl stood outside a fence,

scared and holding a gun,

and just like that,

I was shot in the arm.

I said it was a dream, didn’t I?

So, you won’t be surprised

I was impressed with her aim,

rather than the pain of being shot,

and I had to go pee.

I looked for a bathroom,

but had to wake to find one.

What is memory, I asked

later over coffee,

a little box in our brain,

a string of pictures?

How do we get there?

Memory is what we tell ourselves,

he said, about what we see

and what we feel.

You see, when Maggie died,

she passed into a prairie falcon,

she banged against windows,

day after day after day,

then left a last gift of quail,

and traveled the road of her happiness

to some place better than here.

Months later, the sun smiled,

and I ran on dirt, soft as baby powder,

passed through door after door,

on long, liquid legs, more of wing

than bone, and only I knew—

only I knew the way.

Even the Seahorse

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An amicable divorce is the scariest kind,

because we prefer our American ones

be macabre—on the edge of killing

without actually killing—

like, she tried to run him over,

but she also tried to miss

and it all worked out, because

he married his lover,

she married hers,

and each say they’re happy.

Brian told me—

Sometimes, divorce is a mercy

and just like that

the church granted his annulment.

Gibbons, wolves, french angelfish,

shingleback skinks:

monogamous for life.

Even the seahorse,

whose males carry the young,

and sandhill cranes

with their unison calls,

commit to each other

and never look back.

Yet, tell me what the seahorse

was asked to forgive:

a lie, an indiscretion,

a we don’t love each other anymore?

I literally woke and found you gone;

twenty years later,

I still don’t miss you.

The American Flag: What We Ache For

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2009: A flag at half-mast, waving

proudly over a little hill

to the east of our house.

My husband and I pass it

on our daily walk,

and wonder who has died.

Imagine: a dirt road, fences

that demarcate ten acre plots,

meat cows, meaning dairy cows,

unfortunate to be born boys,

and given the names T-bone,

Ribeye, and Sirloin Steak.

All three, sold for forty-five dollars

to the man who waves the flag,

everyday, at half-mast.

He’s a good man,

which some would say

is a man in his seventies, a navy vet, a Christian.

All three boxes, checked off.

He also cares for his wife,

who suffered a stroke

brought on by a brain tumor.

She’s in a wheel chair,

she has difficulty remembering words,

she’s a bit judgmental–

musters enough words to let me know

she doesn’t care for my cooking.

I try to be empathetic—

Neighbors, what a strange thing,

thrown together by proximity, land,

houses, maybe a view.

What brought you there,

the only thing you have in common.

But there you are with all your need.

That year, we had the snowiest season ever,

ninety three point six inches,

but no tractor. That meant two feet of snow

in our driveway and kids needing

to get to school, us to work.

Would you believe me if I told you

that same man, that man

flying his flag, everyday at half-mast,

was out in our driveway at six am,

clearing a path to the barn,

clearing a path to the road?

We didn’t even ask it of him,

wouldn’t have thought to ask it.

I imagine you’re wondering,

why I keep saying– he flew the flag at half mast,

but maybe you already guessed

it was because he disapproved the president,

felt the choice would ruin the country.

Thus, a nation in mourning–

when really, it was only him mourning.

It was him saying, I hurt

because of your choice. I ache,

because you voted for a man I opposed.

(Maybe he was saying he was pissed off, too.)

It’s just a flag,

but at half-mast, in my mind,

it became a division:

the day I walked our pony down the road,

and she escaped me and ran

to the base of his flagpole,

the nights the great horned owl

perched on his flagpole

hunting our cats,

the snow days from school,

ten of them that year,

where our kids, and his grandkids,

rode sleds and snowboards down the hill,

while one would stand and look for cars

under his hurting flag.

The flag wouldn’t come back up,

not until his wife died and the house sold,

and his meat cows were replaced

with more meat cows and a horse operation–

and, because it was 2016, a new president

the half-mast man would approve,

but would make others hurt, ache,

kneel, and fly their own flags,

on their own flagpoles, at half-mast.

A Goodbye to the Crippling Desk

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The crippling desk, for six years,

granite topped, and bright

with the computer’s glare,

the tapping of keys,

the winding path of a mouse,

the click, click, clicking,

a sickening tick-tock of life.

Today, I say goodbye,

trade you in for a beautiful chaos,

throw myself to the world,

the raven, the falcon who tried to enter

through the upstairs window,

the horses and wolfhounds,

with their joyful lope and pounding

of the ground, the music, the words,

the gray, but wide-open sky.

The Love I’m Talking About

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We all deserve to be loved—

and when I say loved,

I mean desperately—

the kind of love that clings to you,

that winds you together with the sheets,

that says, when we die

we want to be placed together

intertwined, like this

that knocks on the locked door

because your lover

can’t sleep without you—

twenty years is a long time

and look what you survived

to be here—

his arms wrapped round your chest,

hands, cupping your breasts