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

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Wine or Reality

I don’t know if you are real
or if the wine brought
you to me.

Tiny scratches across my skin
tickle me with memories
of a five o’clock shadow,
and whispers.

Can a phantom leave
my skin warm,
 my heart thumping,
kiss swollen lips?

 If this is fantasy,
 why do my fingers
long to touch broad shoulders,
cling to muscular arms,
 run my fingers
through dark hair?

Somewhere in the fog
I remember brown eyes
drawing me into their depth,
stripping me of inhibitions.

I bloomed under large hands
resuscitating emotions
I  thought would never
arise from the tomb
I had buried them in.

 If only the wine created you,
may I drown in dreams,
drink from unreality,
and feel my flesh reborn
from its sensual baptism.

©Susie Clevenger

Fireblossm at Real Toads challenged us
to write about bodies. This is my body offering.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Tin Horse Knight

A knight on a tin horse,
discount hopes
that didn’t have the change
to pay for anything
more elaborate.

She wanted love,
 the American dream
of a house with a mortgage,
car payments and
credit card debt.

Her soul had scars
from fairytales gone sour.
She didn’t want any more
rose painted disillusionment.

Her practical heart
wanted someone
who liked to watch sunsets
from a tailgate, dancing
to the Rolling Stones,
and spending five bucks
on Wednesday night lottery tickets.

She has dreams and some
might think they are more
clearance rack than upscale,
but she no longer cared
for the two cents others
were always ready to give her.

 Somewhere there
was a guy on a tin horse
waiting to ride in and
love her and believe in
her dime store dreams.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
For the challenge Ella asked we share
the poem sketching our written piece came from.
Here are my sketches:
Tin horse
A knight

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Got A Few Dollars

You’re starvin’
toes walked
out of your shoes,
and you already spent
the lint from your pockets.

I got a few dollars
to buy you a meal,
but you would rather
let your belly
eat through your shirt.

Hard times don’t recognize
 you have a degree.
It just slaps you to your knees
the same as the kid
flippin’ burgers down the street.

I hate seein’ you down,
eyes turned inside at
what you once had.
Yesterday packed its shit
leavin’ you with the price tag.
My sister stopped
by this corner yesterday
to give me a few bucks.
She always does it
the first of the month.

I got a few dollars
to buy you a meal,
but you would rather
let your belly
eat through your shirt.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Real Toads
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Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with Kellie Elmore ~ Magic in the Backyard

Today I want to share an interview with poet and writer Kellie Elmore about the upcoming release of her book Magic in the Backyard. I am honored to be part of Kellie's blog tour and to learn more about the author on the eve of seeing her first book in print.

Kellie, your book will be released on April 2nd, 2012
What prompted you to pursue publishing a book of your work?

To be honest, I never even considered publishing a book. I have always just written for the love of writing so publishing was the farthest thing from my mind. I just so happened to stumble across Winter Goose Publishing's website while "stalking" (lol) a poet who I adore and has a book of her own published with them. I ended up on the submissions page and found that they were currently accepting poetry manuscripts and I thought about it for a split second and then quickly pushed that thought out of my head for the fear of being rejected. I figured anyone can write and why would they ever want my stuff. It felt...arrogant of me to even allow myself to consider being good enough for publication. This was until I opened my mouth about that split second consideration I told you about. Once I let the cat out of the bag, everyone began encouraging me and telling me that I should just go for it and so, I did and here we are.

You grew up in a small town in Tennessee. Do you think this influenced your writing?

Oh my gosh yes! I was just talking with my mom about this the other day. This place just overflows with beauty and inspiration. I told my mom how while driving my son to school one morning, the mountains in the distance, the colors in the sky and the mist on the ground was so beautiful that I almost teared up with emotion just looking out on it and how I will never understand people wanting to live in the city. Cities are built by men, made of concrete and steel, and there is no sky out "yonder" in the distance. The mountains, this landscape here in east Tennessee, the country period...well, man could never create something so majestic in my opinion. 

Your book is titled Magic in the Backyard.  What inspired you to choose it for a book title?

Actually, I have a poem of the same name and it is included in my collection. It's about a girl who takes her pen and paper out into her backyard and writes, creating stories and poetry from what she see's around her. It is in part about myself and part my niece who loves to write as well. The character described is a blend of the two of us. If I say so myself, it is one of my favorite pieces for one important reason...it rhymes. (lol) I envy poets who rhyme. It is a form that feels so restricted to me and I have never done it well until Magic in the Backyard (the poem) and I have never done so again. I figured I would quit while I was ahead.  

You state you desire your poetry to take the reader back to rekindle a memory or feeling.
Why is that important to you?

I have lost some incredibly important people in my life. Death, love-loss, circumstance, life direction- just plain fate. People who have held a special place in my heart have been removed for many different reasons and in writing, I learned to cope with all the different emotions that those forms of loss bring. Writing not only helped me heal but, it also taught me about spirit and keeping it alive. Everyone has a spirit and they live in memories, as long as we can look back on the memories and embrace the feelings that once lived there, then we can keep that person close to us and keep them or that time and place alive in some special way. So, to be able to rekindle a fond memory for someone of a time they shared with a grandma, a friend, a lover... and have them go back there with a smile, then I (hopefully) have helped them breathe life back into it's spirit so it may linger for a time, once more.

If you could sum it up in just a few short words, how would you describe your journey thus far as a writer? 

An enriching experience of healing and learning that I would not trade for any island. ...But I wouldn't mind practicing it on a island. ;)

Today, March 26th, 2012 begins a Twitter contest to win a free, signed copy of Magic in the Backyard. Go to Kellie's blog at this address  http://kellieelmore.com/blog  for all the details.

To catch up with Kellie you can find her at the following addresses:

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Last Picnic

Kat Mortensen©2012 

The last picnic,
initials carved
in a wooden table.

A summer
when childhood
said its goodbye.

Too young,
too innocent
yet life happened.

A girl too young
a mother.

A boy too young
a father.

A moment
when time
stood still

became years
of tears
and regret.

A picnic table
where forever
was only
i n i t i a l s
carved in wood.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
 The Sunday Challenge
at Real Toads is the
beautiful photography
of Kat Mortensen

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Friday, March 23, 2012

File Cabinet Contents

File Cabinet
drawers open
full of receipts,
reports, bills,
the important
and the nonsense.

It is a high rise
paper pack rat

Envelopes spill,
drawers stick,
magnets decorate
its sides.

Folders share
that make
no sense,
paint chips
and medical tests
in a folder
marked green.

The keeper
of the cabinet
finds order
in chaos,
a filing system
of should,
and oh
what the hell.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
On Mary's Mixed Bag Friday at Real Toads
we were asked to think about ordinary things,
tasks, items, aspects, annoyances, joys, etc. 
of our lives and write about one of them.
Real Toads
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Thursday, March 22, 2012


Kenia's Wednesday Challenge at Real Toads
was to write about the connection of men and nature
and how I connect with the pulsing life around me.
I chose a photograph I took 
at Tulsa, Oklahoma's Woodward Park
for my inspiration.

The azaleas wink
with ruffled eyes
flirting with my muse
to write of their grandeur.

Words form to be erased,
insignificant phrases
too dull to express
the blossoms perfection.

How can I describe their majesty
when even the water
ceases its bubbling to act
as their hand mirror?

Their reflection
of red petal blush
and wedding white
shines on its surface.

My winter spirit
rises from its frost
to be renewed
by azalea blossoms.

I cannot write with justice
the glory of your blooming.
I lay down my pen
and bow to your beauty.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Haiku in the Shade of Blue

the piano played
every blue note it had
still I asked for more


blue eyes stare at me
there is no recognition
i had been erased


way beyond the blue
that paints the summer morning
pisces swims in stars


©Susie Clevenger 2012
Haiku prompt: Blue
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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Left to Rust

He drove it there to rust,
to free it like it was a stallion
that could not be tamed.

His youth had been lived
in four wheel drive
and whiskey shots.

The old truck had seen it all,
first kisses, lost virginity,
tears from losing a brother in Iraq.

It was his mobile confession booth
where only he, God, and the upholstery
knew the sins of a Saturday night.

He couldn’t let it end up in a junk yard.
to be picked apart by wrenched vultures
with no respect for its history.

This field on his grandfather’s farm
with tall grass and east Texas sun
would be his truck’s final resting place.

He knew he couldn’t, wouldn’t come back.
to see it decay into tin metal bones.
It was time to let go and move on.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Today's Challenge at Real Toads was to use
one of Shanyn Silinski's photographs
for inspiration to create a written work for the Sunday Challenge.
You can find more of Shanyn's  beautiful photography at 
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Friday, March 16, 2012

Kaleidoscopic Spiral

It is there at the bottom
pulling me toward its center.
It climbs each spiral
luring with its subtle hypnosis.

My mind turns in kaleidoscopic thoughts.
of purple surrender and yellow denial.
Black and white reality swirls into gray
where my determination is lost in the fog.

My hands clutch with resistance,
the nails tattooing their edges in my skin.
Moments pile in sand dunes
waiting for my breath to escape.

My hesitancy builds its case,
writes it summation in my brain.
I step further from the edge
and shake free from its attraction.
Freedom exhales in victory,
but knows there are more battles to come.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Photograph: The Golden Spiral   ~  W. Brian Duncan
A Word with Laurie: Perspective
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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Tanka Trio

Grace at Real Toads challenged us to write three Tanka poems which consists of five lines in a 5-7-5-7-7 syllable count. I am not sure I aced the challenge, but I gave it a shot.

Stone angels greet her
as she walks among the graves
seeking ancestors,
the rose of her sun burned cheeks
the bloom of life among death.


The sound of music
plays with a scratched melody
in the memory
of an elderly woman
who could no longer dance.


I close my eyelids
wishing for rest, but find you
lurking in my dreams
reading Edgar Allan Poe
while dressed as the Cheshire Cat.

©Susie Clevenger 2012

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Cardboard Puzzle

Her life a cardboard puzzle,
pieces cut by moments,
memories, mistakes.
It all fit together
until it all fell apart.

She was living behind a picket fence
on a cookie cutter cloned street
where smiles were painted on
and perfect neighbors lived in perfect houses.

Secrets were kept behind hinged doors
and truth was anesthetized by lies.
But bruises could not be silent
when bones began to break.

Lights turned the picket fences red
as siren’s shattered suburbia’s quiet.
This time her husband’s blows to her body
had given her a voice.

As she was carried across
the puzzle pieces that had been her life
a policeman asked her,
Mam, do you wish to press charges?”

She looked into her husband’s eyes
to make certain he would know;
then she turned to the officer
and spoke an emphatic, “Hell yes!”

©Susie Clevenger 2012
This was written for Kellie Elmore's Free Write Friday in which she challenged us to create a written piece from this photograph.
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The Moon Wonders

Today at Real Toads Sunday Mini Challenge Ella challenged us to create a poem from a collection of Instagram Photos. I have an Android phone and I thought it would be fun to create my own image.

a fairy’s passing left no prints
on green blades of grass,
her toes curled into whispers.

the guardian moon watches
as she collects dew from pink roses
her sleepy eyes twinkling in its beams.

a final rose needs her attention
before she can seek her rest,
the nightingale already singing its lullaby.

the moon smiles and wonders
what the tiny fairy dreams
when night finally cradles her in sleep.

©Susie Clevenger 2012

This is one of Ella's images. I have given it the title, The Land of Fairies. I hope she won't mind. :)

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The Haiku Challenge 2012

I was honored to be part of the Haiku Challenge 2012 with some amazing poets.

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Childhood in Haiku

takes steps without any fear
it is called childhood

- 0 -

when it rains daisies
she carries her umbrella
the petals tickle

- 0-

fairies have their wings
to fly wherever they dream
a flight of wonder

©Susie Clevenger 2012
All images: Favim
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Let The Rain Wash Away Questions

Today at Real Toads Marian's writing challenge was Love & Affection. For inspiration she had a video by Joan Armatrading aptly named Love & Affection. The song inspired what I wrote, but after I completed it another song started playing in my head.

The rain washes
away questions
for a few moments.

It doesn’t matter
if it is right or wrong
to be wrapped in your arms.

We don’t have
to answer to anyone
while our music plays.

There are strumming
guitar strings playing
along my body.

I am the instrument
and your fingers
know the chords.

Our lips meet
to sing our lust
with a kiss.

I am not sure
if we are writing
a love song

Or if we are
writing the music
of our goodbye.

I am lost in feeling
and I don’t
even care to ask.

©Susie Clevenger

This is the song that played in my head when I finished the poem.

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Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Blog from my youngest, Carrie

This has been a scary week. My oldest daughter, Dawn, went in for her cancer check up and there was a problem. Her kidney function had dropped significantly. So thankful that the problem could be corrected by a stent. My youngest daughter, Carrie, wrote a moving blog about her love for Dawn. I wanted to share it and hope you will take the opportunity to read it.

Dear, Sweet Sister of Mine
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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Drink Up Ladies

Drink up ladies
debating our health
and they don’t give
a damn about our voice.

A woman wanting
birth control is a whore
while a man wanting
an erection is a good old boy.

Drink up ladies
the right has taken
out a patent on morality
so they can sell it
back to churches.

Politicians are posing
for election pictures.
Grab a baby, a dog,
and an American flag.
Nothing spins better
than red, white
and blue apple pie.

Drink up ladies
we’re going
back to the future.
They’re refitting us
with aprons
and taking away choices.

Susie Clevenger 2012
Open Link Night ~ Week 34
dVerse ~ Poets Pub
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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Eyes Ignore Me

Your eyes,
they ignore me.
Oiled strokes
look beyond
the wishes
colored blue
in mine.

Why couldn’t
it have been I
that dipped
a brush into
paint to bring
you to life?

I would not
have hung you
in a gallery
to be looked upon
by those who
count your worth
in stacks of green paper.

There is not enough
plastic in my wallet
or change in my pocket
to rescue you from
dollared stares.

I count each glance
I take at your beauty,
memorize your eyes,
your hair, your skin.
It is the only wealth
that will remain with me
on the day I return to find
you are no longer here.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Image: Sarolta Ban
Magpie Tales

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I Wish I Could Fly

I wish I could fly
right off this train,
The coal, steam
and rails are making
noise, but going
at a snail’s pace.

I wish I could fly
beyond the hills
that seem to be
in the same spot
they were a
hundred miles a go.

I wish I could fly
past the noise
of crying babies,
snoring men
and mama’s complaints
of a corset too tight.

I wish I could fly
where there
was green grass
to wiggle my toes in,
trees to climb,
and penny candy to eat.

I wish I could fly
just where I
need to be
so I wouldn’t
have to ask
one more time,
“Are we there yet?”

©Susie Clevenger 2012
The challenge was to choose
one of the lovely photos 
by Kenia Kris
and write a poem.
You can check out her poetry at:
Poesia Torta

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Between Here and There

I should burn
this bridge
here and there.

It has me
wanting to
go back
when I
should be
moving on.

I walk
my toes
over planks
of what could
have been
instead of
stepping on
what is gone.

Yes, I need
a match
to burn
this bridge
that has me
wanting to
go back
when I should
be moving on.

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Poetics ~ Awareness of the Experience
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Fate in Red

she waited in red
a breathing valentine heart
summoned there by fate

- 0 -

temptation or fate
life played like a game of chess
seeking upper hand

- 0 -

fate dealt alice hearts
it was no sweet sentiment
just an evil queen

©Susie Clevenger 2012
Haiku Heights #109 ~ Fate
1st Photograph: duitang.com
2nd Photograph: myspace.com
3rd Photograph: favim
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