National Poetry Month: Sighs from the Edda Over Iceland

Image by Tanja Schulte from Pixabay

This has been a splendid month. All artwork is used with permission. I’ve tried whenever possible not only to credit the artists whose work I’ve used, but also to donate to them for their work as requested. I thought I’d end by posting an old favorite of mine that I wrote on an international flight many years ago. It was first published in Dreams and Nightmares #67, January 2004, and republished a few times since.

Sighs from the Edda Over Iceland

God drags his knuckles
Over the vast drifts
Pressing his thumbs through
The pallid sheets
Until long splits run for miles.
Without warning,
The white hump of
A great snow whale
Breaks the clouds from below,
Shadowy ridges crisscrossing its back
Encrusted with below-zero barnacles.
And then I wonder…
What if these frost beasts truly
Swam beneath us in sluggish schools
Through milk and mist?
And what if the entire earth was
A puckered moonscape
Of powdered hills and craters?
Iceland conjures the palest sorcery,
A bleak, blissful nothingness
That threatens to turn everything
It touches ivory and alabaster.
So I place my chalky cheek
Against the window, close my eyes
And breathlessly envy the wing.

National Poetry Month: Souls

A very long time ago, when I was first playing with poetry, I wrote something that I posted for my friends on (Incidentally, don’t miss my husband’s The Gashlycrumb Endless poem, which Neil loved.) It was a wee poem that many there seemed to appreciate. Here it is. (Artwork by Lothar Dieterich.)


Souls do not have eyes
But rather consumption and digestion
Their diet of other souls
Blindly they eat
Blindly they know
Blindly they love.

National Poetry Month: Onna-musha Haiku

For several years, I studied Japanese swordsmanship. My practice of bushido and identification with the onna-musha (a female samurai warrior) was soul deep. But I wasn’t able to continue that journey. I have over the last two years been writing a modest collection of haiku inspired by some of the most beautiful katana made by modern Japanese sword makers. Along the way, I realized I was also writing about my feelings of being “ronin.” Here are just a few haiku from that potential collection.


Deep grief stains the sky
After a long lonely night
Sun kisses cold cheeks


The tsuba blossoms
Its heart pierced through by the blade
Flower and stamen


The wakizashi
Is shorter but delivers
The ultimate cut


When clay kisses steel
It leaves bite marks on the neck
The beloved blade

National Poetry Month: Pain is the Opposite of Thought

A while back, I participated in the Infernal Salon. Using prompts from CSE Cooney’s tarot deck, we wrote poetry live on Twitch for 20 minutes. The card I chose as a prompt read “Pain is the opposite of thought.” Here was the result.

Web of Splinters

The icy morning brightens
Between the blinds
Frost crackling on the bedroom window
A watery web of splinters
I crave a handful of snow to
Douse the heartache 
That smolders in my chest
As I remember how
Your words cut me open
Slice by slice
You then dabbed your fingers
In my blood
And painted the words on my skin
This is the last
You wrote that night
Our last time together
My tears could never wash away
Those stains
Yet you were right
And I returned the favor
Slice by slice
The Damascus steel stormy
Like our blended flesh.
Sometimes, I sleep with this souvenir
This morning
My hand aches more than my soul
So I let the blade roll from my grip

Later, I’ll visit your secret grave

(Screenshot of me writing on Twitch. Yes, that’s a kitty wearing a stuffed watermelon slice as a cone of shame.)

National Poetry Month: No Rhyme Goes Unpunished

A few years ago, I self-published a satire thriller called No Rhyme Goes Unpunished under the pen name Quentin Banks. It’s about how someone is killing the worst poets in L.A. and homicide detective Henry Cake is trying to stop them — even though nobody wants him to.

Here’s a quick outtake. Cake goes undercover as an emo poet to catch the killer at a poetry venue. Here he is delivering his first poem. Beside him is a goth girl he’s falling for.


It was dark that night

We found the dead woman

Lying on the street

With her eyes open

Staring…at…the stars

She had lines on her arms

And bruises on her legs

I wondered if she’d had

Any family

A home

What her name was

But we never knew

What the heck happened

Just that someone

Probably didn’t pay

The piper on time


The pipe person

You know

The guy who sells

Illegal stuff no one should

Be smoking

He gave them all a stern look, realized he’d just totally fallen out of character, and then slipped back into his fugue.


Except cool people of course

Don’t get me wrong

And this woman paid all right

Paid with her life

One less star in the sky

One less light at night

Fallen from above

Lying on the ground

Like litter.

He paused, wincing at the truth of what he was saying, then added:

I’ve seen too much trash.

He put the microphone back on the stand and strode off the stage as the coffee crowd went bananas. Loud “Yeeeeaahs!” soared through the cloud of noise. All Cake saw was the look on Fuchsia’s face as he approached the couch: sheer surprise widened her eyes, her mouth slightly agape. It was the look that perps sometimes had when they realized they’d been caught fair and square while they were being handcuffed. 

“How’d I do?” he asked quietly.

“Did you just make that up?”


“Wow!” She planted a kiss on his cheek.

He grinned. The pink-haired girl was still looking at him. Crap! Did she recognize him? This was not good. He averted his eyes and flattened his smile until her coffee house fervor was re-ignited and she turned her attention fully to the roster at hand. They heard one poet after another — mostly bad although occasionally someone crept up to the microphone and read something that made Cake’s skin tingle. His hand moved closer to Fuchsia’s until he clasped it. Her delicate fingers clapsed back. He felt foolish worrying about whether or not a woman who’d tied him up and had sex with him twice liked him but he’d never met anyone like her before. Most women he’d dated were a bit passive, wanting an alpha male, which Cake wasn’t. Fuchsia’s general forthrightness turned him on.

National Poetry Month: The Stocking of Hate

I don’t know if the Vogon Poetry Generator is still around, but it once produced this bit of hilarity. Share and enjoy!

The Stocking of Hate

I’ll entice you till the fuse
Is grappled and perpetuated so as to hope
And the cold rocks go liking
Like the walnuts and the conspiracy.

The toes shall fly like sonnets,
For in my prongs I surrender to
The “STOCKING of hate”,
And the beautiful idiom of the solid.

Could but I do, within me
my lust and body;
To such a mammalian delight ’twould jostle me.

And because I am hard, and die and MIX snow,
You express, you see me so there can be no coffee,
And it is too hot to LOVE a singer: my rust and opportunity —
That does groan and leads the reason of thy sock.

And all who dreamed bedding should embarrass them there,
And all should fail, ahoy! Ugh!
His delightful liquids, his intoxicating a river!

Generated using the iPhone Vogon Poetry Constructor –

National Poetry Month: The Beast

He has carved a relief
in the fragrant balsa of my heart
with nothing more
than his physical beauty
and sexual intensity.
Despite his scales, claws, and brimstone,
the behemoth who hardly knows
I’ve been pierced by his flagging tail
captures my imagination
and seizes my sensitivity.
Unlovable and unthinkable,
he slips like eels
under the boat hull
and jams my rudder.
I should give him his sweet bread
to lick from his palms
and with my Hindi basket
turn to the pleading hands
of other wedding guests.
Ignore the insatiable flame
that consumes the blood
between my thighs.
Die every night
to the memory of his bare skin
gorging that flame like kerosene.
Dionysus closes his palm
over my Venus mound
as eyes like pale sapphires
flare into mine
from behind sandy strands.
Swear on my milky body.
Count me dead.
I need his skin like mine own.
If I stole it,
the Beast of Revelation
would turn a sickly amber eye
towards me and crush my skull
with a splintered hoof
stained with saintly blood.

And I not even remembered
in the jeweled windows of his temple…

I will wander
the dark tunnels of forgetfulness
until my feet are numb from
the icy puddles
scattered as mirror shards
under the moonlight.

National Poetry Month: Zeu Pater: Invocation

This is one of my favorites, and not just because I’m Greek. I can’t recall where it was first published, but it eventually made its way into one of my collections.

Zeu Pater: Invocation

In my Homeric hymn
I called to your feats of power,
For I could compose no pleasing song
As you caused my arms and lids
To hang heavy with worship.
Yet still you appeared to me:
Halcyon in scintillating sheets
Draped in the skins of beasts
Silent in the deep shade of night.
As your white-armed wife slept
I drank you amongst the deathless ones
And you sewed me in your belly
To keep me from all others.
I abhorred the darkness
Yet against you I wore no aegis.
I mourned
When the dreams of the world
Forgot the mad brilliance
Of your cerulean eyes
And the clouds no longer carried
Your spears.
But I still have the stories of you
This mythology
And I will sing the hymns
Until the constellations lose the shapes
You carelessly cast
In my black empyrean.

National Poetry Month: Blood Dragon

If you’re thinking, “She’s had a lot of great sex with really shitty men” you are not wrong. Here’s another one from At Louche Ends that I really like, although I think I might like tomorrow’s poem a little better…

Blood Dragon

Last night,
I dreamed I was
his blood dragon.
My long white tongue
flickering over his wounds,
I slithered ravenous
over his chest.
My filthy komodo talons
gouged his delicate skin
to raise grisly droplets.
Paralyzed he would lie
as my belly scraped his,
the sanguine concourses
knotting in his veins
as my contagion
soaked his lips.
Soon his eyes wandered
to a crack in the wall,
no doubt where his warmth fled.
And I rested on
his splintered carcass,
engorged on his anguish
and tacit regret.

National Poetry Month: The Little One (Petite)

This poem was originally published in the Middlebury College French Gazette. I wrote it while I was auditing their 7-week total immersion language program. It was exhausting, but by Week 3, I was writing poetry in French. I’ll provide the English translation first, and then the original French. It was inspired by a common phrase in French “Quand j’etais petite” which means “When I was little.” (Photo by Albrecht Fietz.)

The Little One

When I was little
I hid myself
In the armoire
Where the cobwebs
Lilac and livid
From the fabrics.

When I was little
I danced
With the strange children
Where the trees
Dark and wild
Their secrets.

When I was little
I played
Between the mausoleums
Where the flowers
Bitter and bent
The angels.

When I was little
Sometimes the dead
When you are little  
You don’t have a choice
You don’t have a choice.

I listened.


Quand j’étais petite
Je me cachais
Dans l’armoire
Où les toiles
Lilas et livides
Des tissus.

Quand j’étais petite
Je dansais
Avec des enfants étranges
Où les arbres
Sombres et sauvages
Ses secrets.

Quand j’étais petite
Je jouais
Entre les mausolées
Où les fleurs
Pénibles et pliés
Les anges.

Quand j’étais petite
Parfois les morts
Quand tu es petite
Tu n’as pas de choix
Tu n’as pas de choix.