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A poem inspired by Yi-Fen Chou :

Call me Yi-Fen Chewbacca (Chewie for short)

This will be a poem in translation:
growl growl grumble howl
a collection of raw, wet throat sounds
that others might recognize as music,
and some might know as a soliloquy
saying, My name must be remembered.

I carry a crossbow firing red lasers,
you’ll find my brown lips curled
into a snarl of contempt. I’ve been called
a walking carpet, a thing, a companion
for scoundrels. I made my way
from the jungle planet Kashyyyk
to this star-smeared cockpit,
keeping my wits away from my temper.
Sure, a few arms were pulled from their sockets,
but you do what’s necessary to win.

You might be tempted to bite your own hands,
you might want to yodel through a Tarzan swing.
You might think skin a luxury instead of fur,
except when hunting probe droids
across the harsh iced surface of Hoth.
But you haven’t lived inside this animal,
this forest-scented flesh, cloaked in rage like musk.
You haven’t chased down bounty hunters
with nothing to gain except a criminal’s trust.
You haven’t watched entire planets explode.

So, let me grumble, growl, snort mumble howl,
let me punch up coordinates
for speeds you’ll never reach,
the stars are still bleeding
in those constellations of mortal shapes,
just more targets
for the arrows of your dreams.
I’m hoping maybe some day you’ll learn,
a name isn’t given, it’s not something you take,
a name is something you earn.

This is not an offensive poem

This is not an offensive poem

l o v ee v o l
s t o p ss p o t s
l o v ee v o l
h u r tt r u h
l o v ee v o l

d r a ww a r d
s p i tt i p s
l o v ee v o l
w e t ss t e w
g u m ssm u g

s t u c kk c u t s
f i t ss t i f
l o v ee v o l
b u tt u b
s t r a ww a r t s

g u n ss n u g
g n a ww a n g
l o v ee v o l
r a g ee g a r
s k i nn i k s

l o v ee v o l
s t o p ss p o t s
l o v ee v o l
h u r tt r u h
l o v ee v o l

This is not an offensive poem pt. 2

( a lifetime of breath )

Asleep on the shore

No life lived to flash before his eyes,
every experience still new to his senses.

No fear of the dark held beneath the sea,
just a boy, a buoy caught in the wake

of much larger vessels,
every destination still new and unknown.

The red shirt picked out by his father,
worn like the promise of freedom,

wet, it turned the color of blood,
tiny hands curled to cradle an empty sky.

The hard-packed sand a shimmering bed
of waves that whisper and then recede,

a beach absent of his footprints.

~JS

Help me support Tupelo Press!

This month I am participating in Tupelo Press’ 30/30 challenge. I, along with eight other poets, am committing to writing a poem a day for thirty days, in an effort to promote poetry and raise money for a respected press. This is a tough challenge for any writer, to write something worth sharing every day. I hope that you will follow along, and give me your support.

For the month, my concept is to take classic poems and rework them in my own voice. This is a daunting goal by itself. One never knows how people will react to taking classic literature and meddling with sacred texts. I hope people can appreciate my concept.

As an incentive, any person who donates $10 or more and mentions my name, I will send a specially made chapbook of poems to thank them for their support. Spread the word. Tupelo Press is an awesome pillar of the poetry community, and we should help them continue their good work of promoting good work and supporting poets who deserve recognition.

Brand new poem, shared here.

Not sleeping

The children are not sleeping.
It is not nap time.
No red pillows
between their heads and the ground.

The children are not dreaming.
Crying for mothers
or fathers, to flip on the closet light,
to pull hanging clothes aside.

The children are not playing.
The sticks are just sticks,
as their hands are just hands.
No one laughs.

The children are not breathing.
The last prayer
passed their lips
like smoke that refuses to rise.

Elegy for Terry Pratchett

When DEATH comes to claim a writer
~ for Terry Pratchett

In the leaves, someone plays a fugue,
the Writer asks them to stop, it’s distracting
from a scene in which a wizard
pulls an ocean out of his throat.

But the music continues to swell,
drowning out his thoughts
until the ocean goes slipshod,
spilling off the page,

and Death appears saying, “SEE,
I TOLD YOU THIS DAY WOULD COME.”
The Writer laughs, “Look at this water,
it’s ruining my notebooks,

the memoirs of my life reduced
to soggy wafers of smeared ink!
How funny, I’m drowning in words.”
The ocean spews forth in waves,

his home now a gulf
riddled with furniture and floating books,
swollen like fish in the sun. He smiles
and grabs a couch cushion.

“WORRY NOT, YOUR WORDS
WILL LIVE ON WITHOUT YOU,
YOUR NAME WILL BE SPOKEN
FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.”

“I’ve done it then, I’ve found the secret
to eternal life. But why does it feel
like the opposite? And where is my hat?”
Water pours from the windows

like faucets or exploding eyes,
the lights get wet and flicker and fade,
soon the waters grow still, still rising,
pushing the Writer and Death

within inches of the ceiling,
pulled by an unnameable tide.
The Writer says, “I just thought,
I would have more time.”

“THE THING ABOUT TIME
IS IT DOESN’T EXIST,
TAKE MY HAND AND I’LL SHOW YOU.”
But he hesitates, arms floundering

in the deep darkness, splashing.
Until his hand happens across
something familiar and folded,
drifting in the current like a forgotten wish.

The characters that have gathered
let go of the breath they were holding.
He pulls the dripping hat onto his head
and says, “Okay, I’m ready.”

 

 

Terry-Pratchett-in-Salisb-009

A poem for Michael Moore:

Cowards

It takes bravery to badmouth the dead,
the ghosts are not reloading their weapons.

It takes bravery to hoist that mic high,
clearing the frame of the shot.

The camera lens cannot tell a lie
like a video editor, splicing together a script.

It’s a sniper scope. Aimed, it focuses,
on targets unaware of the crosshairs.

When the trigger is pulled he’s far away,
in a darkened room that smells of sex.

The filmmaker sleeps, a food-drunk bear
with no blood on his giant paws,

for underdogs, his bravery is popcorn butter
wiped onto a wrinkled tuxedo shirt.

Jay Sizemore

New poem I didn’t submit about Jose Canseco

An Ode to Jose Canseco’s Missing Finger

When your body is a lunar eclipse
appendages may start jumping ship,
wishing to dissipate into molecules
associated with necrotic stench or dust
or maybe having learned the secret
of the afterlife, they can’t bear the fallacy
of wearing skin. Your chips are always
all-in. You’re always leaving bits of yourself
on the table. These are the lessons
self-amputating limbs teach.
Don’t clean the gun when it’s loaded.
Don’t treat life like a sitcom
in which you are the star.
Admit it when you get too old
to hit the homerun.

Poem for Malala Yousafzai

Who is Malala?

Who is this child with the voice of a storm,
sent to face death and turn it into a hurricane,
changing the fist of the desert into an open palm?

Who is this child placing books like shields
in the hands of women, eclipsing the silence
of black gun barrels like mouths stuffed with fire?

She smiles. She makes herself a target.
She shows the oppressed that knowledge
is the atom bomb in a war of water pistols.

She speaks and the warlords shutter their windows,
cower in the halls with their hands over their ears,
these terrorists afraid of shadows and thunder.

Who is this woman so brave, she stands alone
in the path of a Jihad, a holy battle waged
against human rights like an assault on daylight.

Who is this woman, turning herself into a sun?
This woman, her words like comets,
shooting stars for the abandoned to wish upon,

she is the song in the throat of the wingless.
She is the prayer on the lips of the faithless.
She is mother to the orphaned.

Malala is bravery waving hello,
a raised hand faced palm out
to show that even a desert has a lifeline.

 

ghosts of silence