Saturday, April 30, 2011

Five Minute Breakfast Poems (5)

(Just write. For 5 minutes. Each Friday in April.)

*A little loose on the "breakfast" and "Friday" parts, since it's almost suppertime on Saturday. Also, I tried a haiku for the first time since, maybe, second grade. Bear with me.

tadpoles in the creek

we grew up but not apart

you are my person

(Happy Birthday shout out to the best friend a girl could ever ask for. From catching tadpoles and falling in creeks, to nights we’re still piecing together, I wouldn’t want anyone else by my side. You are the best. Love you, Tawana!)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A game of spin the bottle.

My first boyfriend,

even though I didn’t call him that at the time,

kissed me behind a shed

during a game of spin the bottle.

He almost missed,

barely catching my bottom lip,

completely catching my heart.

I still get butterflies when I think about it.

We drifted apart,

but later, we would collide

from time to time,

to do more grown up things than kissing,

and to reminisce about the kissing,

and to wonder why we didn’t do those grown up things sooner.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Unedited / Stop sucking in and laugh.

she sucks in turns sideways uh no and that grimace doesn’t help and she faces forward again those boobs aren’t they supposed to be perkier at twenty two she wonders as she lifts them and what girl has this many stretch marks already she could cover them but then that leaves no hands to hold up the girls and even if she could do both at the same time she still wouldn’t have a free hand to hide those sun spots that appeared after too many minutes in the tanning bed thank god they aren’t cancer but speaking of a tan she could use one girl that pale skin only brings out the scars and the fact that not even concealer can do its job covering up those dark circles under her eyes with lashes that aren’t quite long enough those teeth could be straighter and whiter but even if they were that smile just makes her cheeks puff out and her face looks even fatter and speaking of fat those arms she thinks they should be more toned after lifting text books at school and small children at work but damn they are huge it wouldn’t matter if they weren’t though because tiny arms would just make that stomach look bigger if that’s even possible and she wonders if sucking in harder might help she turns sideways again. fuck.

she sucks in turns sideways and that pretty butterfly tattoo with the pink ribbon makes her smile as she thinks of jami and how cancer might take down a body but never a sweet soul she turns to the other side and that birdcage ink reminds her that heaven does exist she just knows it she faces forward those boobs they might sag but he seemed to like them just fine and they got the good times rolling and plus they hold more than a purse can some nights those stretch marks are gross but they aren’t as noticeable when she lays flat and if stretch marks are the worst thing she faces then she’s doing all right and thank god those sun spots aren’t cancer no more tanning beds though bronzer can do the job but sometimes she doesn’t even notice the paleness when she’s too busy being happy and when that happens those dark circles seem to just go away or maybe the concealer just got better at its job like the mascara which really brings out those blue eyes like crystal and they make her smile because she got them from her daddy speaking of smiling that one tooth is longer than the other and it makes her laugh and she feels prettier when she laughs plus the kids at work have a better time when she laughs along with them and she doesn’t even notice arm flab when she picks them up and spins them around and they’re all laughing together a big ol’ belly laugh.

sometimes it is harder to be the girl who laughs because it’s so simple to look and hate and say fuck than it is to say i am beautiful and really believe it.

but here is what she knows.

she has pretty eyes and contagious laughter.

she is good at her job.

she is loved by so many.

she is healthy sometimes and working towards all the time.

she is brave and let him kiss her belly once.

she is smart.

she is talented.

she is a great kisser.

she is tough and has made it through more deaths and sadness than she cares to admit sometimes.

she has walls and is worthy of someone who will break through them.

she has overcome so much and has the scars to prove it.

she has people looking up to her.

she doesn’t need to be told she is beautiful to know it. even when her mind tricks her sometimes and makes her think she isn’t, she is strong and she will remember and she will stop sucking in and laugh instead.

it was hard to post this. but i wanted to challenge myself. to say things that are scary to share or maybe things that reveal a little too much of who i am. to say out loud (kind of?) that i am beautiful (because good girls don't compliment themselves! right?). i am beautiful. not just despite my flaws, but because of them. i don't always believe it, but i'm trying.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Five Minute Breakfast Poems (4)

(Just write. For 5 minutes. Each Friday in April.)

They came rolling in.

Gusts of wind pulling hundred year old trees down and roots up.

Rain drops flying sideways against windows which went grey.

Hail stones shattering glass and denting steel.

Noises that drowned out the weatherman who was turned all the way up.

Silences that followed.

They came rolling in.

Report after report.

Thirteen furious funnels. Then twenty six. Twenty eight.

One hundred thirty homes destroyed. Almost a thousand damaged.

Twenty two souls flying home.

Twenty three, a grandmother.

Twenty four, a child.

They came rolling in.


Of angst and thanks.

From the mourning and the blessed.

For me and for you and for ours.

They came rolling in.

Trucks and tractors and trailers.

Chainsaws and work gloves and words of hope and bottles of water.

They brought what they had to offer,

Because, down here, what’s mine is yours when yours is lost.

And a little tar on the heel can wash off but home is where the heart is and that sticks forever.

*So blessed, me and mine. Tornadoes tore through homes right up the road, but not even the flowers in our yard were destroyed. Many in my community were not so lucky. If you can, please help. (Scroll down to find several donation websites, or visit the Red Cross for volunteer opportunities.)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Twenty Memories.

Four years seems so short and so long, all at the same time. It’s becoming harder to recall his face without having to think hard about it. Sometimes, I recall something he said or did, and then I’m not sure if I’m mixing memories. That hurts, and there are some things I want to always remember for sure. I want to write them down, so if I ever forget in the future, I’ll have proof. I remember these things.

1. He had a one-of-a-kind laugh. He wasn’t embarrassed by it, and he never held it back. It was a loud, eyes-closed, mouth-opened-wide, body-shaking laugh. I have the girl version of it. It probably embarrasses people around me, but I’m not ashamed because I know it’s straight from him.

2. He had a very distinct cough. Anytime we went shopping, if I couldn’t find him, I would just wait until I heard his cough or laugh and I would know exactly which aisle he was on.

3. When I was a kid, he used to lay down on the floor to watch TV. He would lay on his side and prop his head up with his hand. His arm, head, and neck would form a triangle and his legs would be stretched out on top of one another. I really thought he was the only person in the world who watched TV like that, and it looked very important and complicated to me. I would try tirelessly to copy it.

4. He really loved music, and would explain to me over and over who bands were and how they came to be and why they broke up. I wish I remembered all the stories he told me. I do know Lynyrd Skynyrd was named after their gym coach and ‘Free Bird’ has the greatest guitar solo of all southern rock songs.

5. He once pulled over on the side of the road when he saw a car engulfed in flames and a couple people standing away from it watching frantically. He told us to stay in the truck, and asked the first man he saw if anyone was still in the car. The man said he didn’t know but not to get too close because it could explode. My dad ran straight to the burning car and checked to make sure everyone was out safe. He had to use his favorite leather jacket to fan away the flames so he could get close enough to the car.

6. On a another occasion, we were flagged down late one night by a very upset woman next to a graveyard. The truck driving in front of her had flipped over. My dad parked on the side of a steep ditch and ran to help while we watched. I was terrified because we were next to a cemetery and because I thought our truck would flip over into the ditch. The woman who flagged us down left the scene, but my dad stayed and pulled one of the men out of the truck. He performed CPR on him until medical help arrived and told us to head on home.

7. He was a hero.

8. He once rescued my grandparents’ (his ex-in-laws) cat from a tree. Our ladder, even after it was extended completely, wasn’t tall enough to reach the cat, so my dad had to climb the tree the rest of the way, and then climb back down holding the cat. My dad was not a fan of his ex in-laws, and was allergic to cats.

9. He wore Aspen cologne. Yankee Candle Company makes a scent that smells just like it. Once, I was shopping with my sister and her kids, and we were smelling some of the candles in the store. I picked one up and it smelled like my dad. I put it down without saying anything. My niece picked it up and gasped. She whispered to me, “It smells like Grandaddy did.”

10. He drew giant, detailed castles for my sister and I to color on industrial-sized cardboard he got from his work. He had a natural gift for drawing. His castles were much more elaborate and fun than any coloring book.

11. He was the best cook in the world. No one else so far in my life has been able to top his teriyaki chicken, mashed potatoes, or pancakes.

12. He loved his motorcycle. I did not.

13. He saved a mouse’s life because of me. Field mice sometimes got into our house through a tiny opening in the bottom of our screen door during the summer. Once, we saw one come in and run into the kitchen. My dad wanted to set traps, but I begged him not to kill it. He told me if we didn’t catch it within fifteen minutes, he would set out the traps. After at least an hour, our refrigerator was pulled out from the wall, our table and chairs were pushed up against the door, and our trashcan was inside our pantry. My dad cussed up a storm as he finally caught the mouse under a soup pot and put it back outside.

14. He let us be kids. At any given time during my childhood, you could come onto our porch and find jars, tubs, shoeboxes, or other containers housing “pets” my sister and I caught. These critters included caterpillars, roly polys, lightning bugs, June bugs, grasshoppers, turtles, lizards, slugs, snails, praying mantises, and anything else we needed to “study” before we released it back into the yard. I now know from working in childcare that not all parents are okay with this. My dad encouraged it.

15. He was always willing to play with us. I remember dancing in the living room with him, playing hide and seek when he would help us hide in the most ridiculous places (like on top of the pantry shelves), him pitching our kickball and softball games, riding the go-cart with him, and going to the park often.

16. He loved to fish. He taught us how to thread bait, which I hated, how to cast a regular rod and a cane pole, how to wait patiently and quietly for the right time to reel in, and how to unhook our catch, which I also hated. He also let me play with the night crawlers, which I enjoyed much more than pushing a hook through them. (This makes me realize I might not have had a typical “girly” childhood.)

17. He was our biggest defender, and he was always proud of us. I got the “Most Improved” award in 5th grade and my dad was terribly upset because, as he saw it, I “didn’t need improving”.

18. He made the best birthday cakes in the world - from the way they tasted to the detailed decor of the icing. They were perfect.

19. He was hard-headed and stubborn, to the extreme. I get that from him, too.

20. He wasn’t the perfect dad but he was absolutely the perfect dad for me. He raised four daughters to be strong, able women. I am proud of us, and I am proud of him.

I hope he knows I love him and I miss him and I think about him so, so often. In memory of you, Dad. I promise to never forget.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Five Minute Breakfast Poems (3)

(Just write. For 5 minutes. Each Friday in April.)

the woman in front of me

at the gas station line

was rude as could be

she cursed at the man who

tried to explain her card wasn’t working

in his broken english, the best he could do

as she stalked off, he was obviously upset

i told him to shrug it off and chalk it up to crazy

no need to sweat

i told him i knew her from work

i keep her kids

she’s always acting like a jerk

we laughed and i walked to my car

and thought how going through life so angry

can’t get you very far

and one more...

tomorrow is four years

i will be so sad.

even more sad than i am

three hundred sixty four other days a year.

but i am learning to find blessings

in the sad, so.

my intense emotion during basketball games

comes from him.

my finger-drumming during good songs

comes from him.

my don't-hold-back laughter

comes from him.

and my sadness tomorrow

just means

i miss you, dad. so much.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

True love.

My grandaddy was raised on a farm, but he wasn’t the rough and tough type. He was always worrying about this or that. He didn’t fight or raise his voice much that I ever heard, and he always seemed a little bit shy and timid. In fact, the only way my grandmaw knew he loved her in the beginning was because they went out trail riding with some friends one day and she asked him straight out.

Bart, you never say you love me. How am I gonna know for sure? she asked.

Woman, he said, I’m sitting on a damn horse for you. That says it all, doesn’t it?

And it did.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Five Minute Breakfast Poems (2)

(Just write. For 5 minutes. Each Friday in April.)

she bit me once

so i threw a wooden spoon at her

and i bit her once, too

after she punched me in the stomach

and it took my breath away

(not the punch, but the moment when i realized she was a fighter like me)

we’ve had our share and yours probably

of arguments over



the bathroom

but when she cries

(and lets me see her)

she eventually tells me why

and i don’t say much

(but i don’t leave)

and when i cry

she might sigh

(she might walk away)

but she understands

and she knows there is nothing to say

that hasn’t been said or thought already

and when we laugh

it can shake the world

and others may not join in

they may not see what lies under the surface

nineteen years of




(nineteen beautiful hectic beautiful painful beautiful years)

no, they won’t be able to see underneath it all

but they will know that something is there

something strong enough to never be destroyed

bruised, sometimes

dented, maybe

but we know each other too well

we push each other away

so we can make our own place

be our own selves

but we bond when it becomes necessary

because when the world is against us

it doesn’t stand a chance

like the laughter, it may shake us

but we will never break

we are sisters

the world doesn’t stand a chance.

Sidenote: check out these other amazing five minute breakfast poems... DELICIOUS reads.

Amy Turn Sharp at Doobleh-Vay (she started it all!)

Sizzle Says

Secret Agent Mama



Amy K Blum

Tara R.

Helen Jane

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wiser than the rest.

What do you want to do when you grow up? he asked her.

How could she explain? How could his five-year-old mind grasp what she really wanted to do? Not just write. That sounds so easy. She wants so much more.

I want to inspire children. I want a story I write to be a child’s favorite. I want them to request it at bedtime. And after it’s been read, I want them to beg for it to be read again. I want them to hide under the covers and read it with a flashlight. I want them to bring it to school. I want them to check it out of the library. I want teachers to read it to their students. I want children to act out the parts they like best. I want them to fold down the corners of their favorite pages. I want them to choose it when they are sad or hurt or scared and need to feel better. I want it to bring comfort. I want them to take it with them on road trips and vacations. I want them to read it to their children years after their own parents read it to them. I want them to read it so much it becomes tattered. I want them to give it as a gift to someone they love because it means something to them. I want them to remember it forever.

I want children to read something I write and feel things. I want them to dream. To hope. To laugh. To love. To move. To dance. To sing. To create masterpieces. To help others. To be excited about learning. To feel important. To feel empowered. To feel beautiful in their bodies. To learn about the past and remember it - the good and the bad. To learn about big issues. To come up with ways to make our world better.

He was waiting for her answer. She sighed.

I want to write, she told him. And then.

But what do you want to write? A spark.

Stories for children, she said.

Can you tell me one? he asked.

And in her heart, she knew he understood. At that moment, he understood her dreams more than anyone else she ever told about them. Five years old, yes, but wiser than the rest. He crawled into her lap and played with the corner of a blanket as she began.

Once upon a time...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thunder shake.

I’m laying in bed, and the window is open. The blinds shudder and a strong breeze is telling me a storm’s heading my way. No sleep for me tonight, so I’ll just remember...

I am seven years old, curled up in his chair, and the windows are open. Deja vu. The humidity is so thick, my nightgown sticks to my legs and my hair curls at the ends. The curtains my momma bought, the yellow ones that lasted years longer than my parents’ marriage, they’re waving, and my dad is telling me a storm’s blowing in. He props open the screen door and heads out to the porch. It’s gonna be a bad one, he tells me, as he leans out from the safety of the awning and stares up at a dark sky.

I know he won’t listen, even if I beg. He loves these storms. I try anyway, pleading with him to come back in. Daddy, please, I shout.

I beg because I know. I know God will strike him dead with lightning or throw a tree down and crush him or send a tornado to sweep him away from me forever. He will stand there, admiring this storm and it will kill him and I will be a half-orphan. I am seven and I know this and I will die, too, if he does. I am sure.

The wind picks up and the lightning arrives. He tells me to come look. You’re crazy, I shout back, and I am terrified to go outside, but I am more terrified to sit inside listening while God kills my dad.

So I run bare-footed out onto the porch and together we sit on the top step. We watch until, finally, I see it.

The white flash that comes out of nowhere from above and turns the sky purple. The world around me lights up, and then we count, my dad and I. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, crash. The thunder drowns out my scream and shakes my world.

And then it’s over and my dad starts to laugh. There are tears in my eyes, but I'm smiling and in my head, I thank God because the storm is still eight counts away and for the moment, my dad is alive and laughing and he hugs me and I know I am safe.

A few more flashes of lightning, a few more thunder shakes, and the rain comes. Let’s get on inside, he says. And as the rain pelts the window screens, I listen to my dad tell stories of his childhood, stories I’ve heard countless times, stories that always ease my nerves a little, especially during a storm.

I wake up and the world is already dry and sunny, and my dad is frying bacon and he hollers to come get it while it's hot. He is very much alive and I thank God again.

Fifteen years later, the yellow curtains are long gone and so is he.

I’m laying in bed, and the window is open. The storm is moving in, and I’m still not used to a thunder shake.

But there’s that moment, just before the thunder comes, when the breeze is blowing and the humidity is thick enough to curl my hair. The lightning flashes and I count. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, and I remember him laughing. Deja vu.

And I thank God. The storm is still eight counts away, and for a moment, my dad is still here and laughing. As long as I can remember him, I know he will be here.

I am sure.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Five Minute Breakfast Poems (1)

(Just write. For 5 minutes. Each Friday in April.)

it’s a day off

and we’ll go to our favorite restaurant

and splurge on calories

we won’t talk about how we miss him

we are three strong southern women

and we cry watching sappy movies

but i only cry for him in my sleep

and she only cries for him in her closet

and she only cries for him when we do

we won’t talk about how we miss him

it’s a day off

and she gets her hair done

and she goes to class

and i study until i can’t see straight

but we won’t let ourselves think about

how it’s fifteen days

until four years

and how does four years fly by so fast when it feels like

he was just here

because if we think about him

and if we talk about him

and if we remember him

we are sure

we will cry forever

a river that will never dry

wasn't he was just here?