Poem-a-Day April 2019 Writer’s Digest Challenge #14. Theme: State #aprpad

New York

All I know about New York
I learned through “Law & Order,”
through the stories of those who left
(knew none who stayed),
& The Weather Channel,
confirming so much I already knew
but didn’t care to know firsthand.

2019 April PAD Challenge: Day 14

Poem-a-Day November 2018 Writer’s Digest Challenge #2. Theme: Darkest Hour

Red and Blue with Purple Fringe

One Tuesday morning
was colored night—
the city of 800 languages
lit up like
“The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Piles of rubble,
ashes of people,
were scattered–
the demolition and burial
practices of genocidal maniacs.
Remember Pearl Harbor
Remember 9/11.
When the smoke expanded
like the universe,
the sun penetrated
this environmental apocalypse

that went on a years-long
killing spree.
America did not go down gently;
American pride flourished
from every side.
The flag was put out–
not to be banned or burned,
but lauded and saluted.
The President was
everyone’s president.
Solidarity was only good
for ratings in the short term;
the red went one way,
the blue another,
whiting out the United
in United States.
The light was extinguished,
and America fought
this new civil war
influenced by the invaders.

2018 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 2

Urban Jungle

First world country,
always developing.

City lights banish the starlight,
trees are like strategically-placed tattoos—
spindly, webby, leafy dendrites.

Cars clog the veins of the city like axons—
strung together like oblong beads—
a bunch of rosaries tossed into a box.
School buses, like caterpillars, inch along,
taxis zig and zag between the autos like bees.
Below, the subways move like earthworms
through dirt,
like arteries throbbing with the rush of blood.

Grease spots resemble inkblots;
chalk drawings outline macabre crime scenes
in happy colors,
as crime filters in like weeds through cracks in sidewalks.
Graffiti is scrawled in bubble letters on brick walls,
where litter skitters across the blacktop.

Soulless, mirrored windows—
geometrically arranged in the bodies of skyscrapers—
are monuments to the ideals of Howard Roark.

Heavy exhaust cuts through the smells of fast food,
and the clamor of a jackhammer jars one out of daydreams.
There is honking and yelling and the jam
of street performers with their mandolins and tambourines.
Then there are those who, in the name of self-expression,
mime unspeakable acts.

Gaggles of people, thirsty for sunshine like lemonade,
gather up on rooftops with their colorful, striped towels,
the only water coming from bottles,
chilling in coolers.
One has to climb many more stairs to reach
a certain level of heaven,
in this urban setting.

Patio gardens provide a bit of flora,
like different little postage stamps on the same kind of envelope.
The sounds of two different languages strike a discordant note,
as do the smells of curry and oregano.

Over coffee, the urbanites open their newspapers,
but rarely, do they read of someone they know;
there are just so many of them.

Their closest neighbors are three seconds,
rather than three miles, away.
The anonymity of the city provides a disguise
for someone looking to be lost.

Creative Writing Prompt: Polar Bears in the Desert…

Or, in other words, write a story about someone who is at odds with their environment.  Some examples are a minister in a political race (okay, maybe not so much), a domestic goddess who switches places with a CEO (that one could really be fun), a Millennial hipster stuck in the sixties, to name a few. 

Living in the South, having to deal with Yankees who make a deal about my “yes sir” and “no ma’am-ing”, was the inspiration for this farcical piece.


When Melissa Met the South

Melissa Caldwell blotted her temple with a handkerchief. It was so undignified to sweat, or perspire, as her aunt Addie would say.  Her aunt Addie believed every word had a gender—men sweated, women perspired, men tailored, women sewed, men were chefs, women were cooks.  She even still used the terms male nurse and lady doctor.

It had been more than twenty years since she had seen her father’s aunt. Even though she’d been five the last time she had been in Pensacola, Florida, she hadn’t remembered it being this hot.  The humidity made her feel as if she were walking through a steam room.  She stopped at a café to get a cup of coffee—iced, that is—then realized she was a couple of eggs short of hangry.

“Would you like grits with that?” the server, whose nametag read Mandy Claire, said.

“What are those?” Melissa asked, and this little pissant waitress had the nerve to look at her like she was stupid. Well, at least she wasn’t a waitress; she had gotten an education.

“Okay, never mind,” she said with a wave of her hand and a roll of her eyes. “Do you have anything gluten-free?”

“Gluten-free?” Again, the look.

Melissa blew up her imaginary bangs in exasperation. “You know what?  Just bring me an iced coffee to start.”  Mandy started to walk away, but Melissa called out.  “Oh, by the way, do you know where a good Jewish deli is around here?”

“Publix has a really good deli,” Mandy said, then scurried off before Melissa could ask what in the hell was a Publix.

Melissa took that as an opportunity to fish her cell phone out of her Prada bag and call her best friend, Marisol Fernandez.  Melissa spoke Spanish fluently, so she chose to be respectful of her friend’s culture by speaking in her language, garnering a few glares from nearby booths.  She loved the privacy of being able to speak in code, but she could’ve sworn had she been speaking English, she would’ve been ignored, so she transitioned.  Funny, how they were all about “speaking the language”, yet they couldn’t spell worth it a damn.  The funniest one she’d seen had been on a church sign that said, “Not haven Jesus in this life is hell on Earth.”

“So, how is Jennifer and Kathy’s wedding coming?” Melissa asked her friend.

The waitress gave her a funny look as she set down her coffee, topped with a copious amount of whipped cream. “Anything else, ma’am?” she asked, seeming reticent to disrupt the conversation.

“Ma’am?” Melissa said, mid-conversation. “Please, I’m not even thirty.”  Melissa dismissed her by resuming the discussion on hers and hers bath towels.

The girl looked confused, then went back to work.


A group of people were having some kind of Bible club behind her while she finished her coddled eggs (another thing Mandy had never heard of), and it was making her uncomfortable. She turned around, looking aggrieved.  “Would you guys try holding that praying jazz down?  It’s really offensive to those who don’t believe.  Thank you.”  That was how she always got what she wanted—assuming she would get it anyway.

“We’ll pray for you, Sister,” one of them called out, so she sucked down the rest of her coffee, leaving a ten dollar tip. As she looked back, she saw the waitress’s astonished expression.  The girl did need some dental work, after all, and Melissa’s inherited wealth was a bit embarrassing.  She was like the only one-percenter in this greasy spoon.

A young, Mormony-looking couple holding hands walked by her car, pointing and shaking their heads. “Coexist only works if the others don’t want to chop your head off or blow you up,” she heard the man say.

God, what the Christian hell is wrong with these people? They are so paranoid, Melissa thought. This part of the country bled red, so it was no wonder.  She couldn’t wait to get to Aunt Addie’s house.  She’d kept in touch with her lonely great-aunt for the past several years, and she’d always seemed like a fairly rational person, albeit old-fashioned.  She didn’t know how her aunt stood living in a place that was so damn American Gothic Horror.  It was like freaking Pleasantville.


When she reached her aunt’s beach house, she was in awe. The sand was as white as sugar, the gulf vacillating between emerald and sapphire.  A wrinkle in the sky divided land from sea, and the sea oats swayed like dancers in love at the end of the night.  She even though she saw a dolphin making a graceful arc.  There wasn’t anything like this in New York.  The Jersey Shore didn’t even compare.

“Melissa?” a sixtyish woman said, coming out in a tank, Bermuda shorts, and flip-flops. An ivory Virgin Mary blended in to the landscape, but the “Marriage is Between a Man and a Woman” bumper sticker did not.

Melissa had always been vocal about her beliefs and non-beliefs, but she had never quite pegged her aunt as a Christian conservative, and yet, here she was, welcoming her into the folds of her embrace like it didn’t matter. It was then that Melissa knew she was in very grave danger here—of losing her heart to this place where it was flip-flips and bikini tops all summer long, where it didn’t snow, but rained at Christmas, and where everything was fried (except peanuts, which were boiled); where there was a church on every corner, and a hobo or Bible-thumper on the other.

Yes, she was, indeed, afraid of falling in love with this lovely place.


Poem-a-Day Writer’s Digest Challenge #12. Theme: After (Blank)

In my fifth-grade yearbook, under what it said I wanted to be when I grew up, was eye doctor.  I was fascinated with eyes at that time, and it got me to thinking how many plans we make for ourselves in our youth that never come to pass, simply because life gets in the way.  It is funny now, when I think about what I wrote all those years ago, because the thought of touching my own eyeball (much less anyone else’s) freaks me out (which is why I could never do contacts.  My dad (who graduated in ’69) shared with me a country song (can’t remember the artist or title now) about a graduating class, and all that happened to them.  As one of his many little “projects”, he wrote a poem in the same format about his own graduating class.  All of this inspired today’s poem.

After Graduation

It was May of 1969,
that eight girls of the class of Middleton High
all made plans to follow their dreams far from home.
Elsewhere was that wonderful, but elusive place,
though so many had tried before them,
only to return like battered wives and wayward husbands.
The girls believed they had outgrown Here,
that they could make it Anywhere,
as long as it wasn’t Near.

Faith Goodwin was like her name—
faith-filled, full of good, always won at Everything,
Most Likely to Succeed at Something,
though her only success was ending up in the maternity ward
seven times by the same man.

Melanie Silts,
the girl with a book,
but never a boy under her arm.
She was the librarian’s muse
for years until he died,
him having written but one poem
of ten lines.

Marnie Owens, the cheerleader,
who married the football player—
the team that dictated the rules for faculty,
for they brought in all the money.
They were like little gods, in this way,
but not quite celestial dictators,
numbered as the stars.
Marnie cheers from a wheelchair now,
but no one cares,
for women still cheer for the men
who would leave them.

Judy Carnes, the chunky class clown,
who gave everyone a reason to laugh with her.
She fell in love with the boy who fell in love with Faith.
She watched their children,
this lady at The Chocolaterie,
who gave away big marshmallows in little cups.

Carol Hunt, the import from England,
who liked to say she ate spotted dick—
all with a runcible spoon.
Always with a British flag on her lapel,
she felt above all the hicks of Cheesegate,
(for Middleton was positively scandalous in is provinciality)
because she pronounced words a different way.
She fell in love with Jill Ellen,
who, from the day she came,
everything seemed to go awry.

Susan and Debbie Carter,
twins, it seemed, of a different mother,
who shared boys and nothing more.

Then there was Jill Ellen Roth,
who came to the town of Middleton
from the skyscraping landscape of Manhattan,
escaping the worms of the Big Apple,
seedy and rotten to its core,
only to die at the hands of four of these girls,
for reasons known only to them.

The Madcap Ginger

Lucinda Bahl catered and pandered to the one-percenters,

which was quite laughable,

as she thought they were greedy bastards

behind their majestic swagger.


She always greeted them quite obsequiously in disguise,

barefaced and blushing,

in a maid’s uniform concealing her tramp stamp—

a hint at her lower class from Flushing.

By dawn, she cleaned their houses;

by dusk, she cleaned their clocks.


In manic states of unrest and undress,

she was quite fashionable with body paint caked on as camouflage,

as she skulked through her employers’ McMansions,

replacing their Jackson Pollocks

with copies that mimicked the worthless works.


She was a zany, green-eyed bandit,

dauntless, equivocal and cold-blooded

a klepto with dual personalities,

who often hobnobbed with her alter ego.


She drugged (or roofied) her masters,

rolling the women for their jewels,

then noiselessly, in bare feet,

tipsy-toed to the other side of the bed

and reached under the bedroom blanket for the family jewels.


Dressed as Greg Brady,

her eyes would turn dark with excitement as she hurried,

finishing with a gust of breath.

Her right hand knew not what her left one did,

and her arms were like those of Olympians.


Every year, she would have a baby bump,

which always aroused a kerfuffle.

DNA was a woman’s best friend,

and a compromise would be reached without a scuffle.


Mr. and Mrs. would negotiate for the baby,

in exchange for the boodle,

and none was the wiser,

for they didn’t use their noodle.

It was a safe bet for Lucinda Bahl–

this belle of the balls.


Being a millionaire heiress herself,

her father being the inventor of the Spice Racketeer,

and collapsible luggage,

she was still lonely.

Prone she was to metamorphize into a generous, frugal soul,

donating plasma for free juice and cookies,

which became a strange attention addiction.


Nevertheless, she was remorseless

when she was in her right mind (or left brain),

for she blamed the haves for the have nots,

that littered her lawn like gnomes with their deafening cries,

making her gloomy and disheartened.


Then it became apparent there was an outbreak

of some disease which caused lots of bloodstained puking,

gnarled knees,

an epileptic elbow,

and an eyeball so lazy it wouldn’t bother to open.

The only cure was a glass of skim milk,

which would ease the discontent.

It was quite the source of gossip.


The men (all friends) began to realize they’d been had,

and when Lucinda came to work wearing an eyepatch,

they decided to fix her unwelcome wagon once and for all.

They had suffered character assassination from the media,

the academe,

and from countless anonymous online critics;

they had suffered savagery from their children,

torture from their wives,

who took delight in besmirching them to their mothers,

taking them to court and ruining their lives.


They wanted to charge Lucinda with unlawful seduction,

though they realized it was all circumstantial evidence,

for Yonkers was going bonkers with it.


Lucinda’s hair was no longer lustrous like sunshine,

her face radiant like moonbeams,

but lackluster and flawed.

She looked like the low-rent kind of broad

who lived rent-free in her head.


Lucinda the Accused,

became Lucinda the new star of TLC,

with lots of advertising from social media,

and with the backing of varied sponsors such as

Eastborough Baptist Church of the Quiverfulls.


“The Real Housemaid of NYC”, her label,

was obscene, but marketable,

and the gnomes had their hero.

Many assumed it had been a premeditated publicity stunt.

It was unreal, monumental,

this champion of the “working class”,

who was just a rehash of white trash.


She became a fixture on the cover of Starr–

a courtship that would last for 15 minutes.


However, it was never enough exposure,

and she got a show on MSNBC.

Hardly impartial,

but an open platform to rant about the dangers of breathing

and anything Bush,

pandering to their audience of 1000,

impeding her stardom.

She missed the ratings,

and so she filmed herself submerging in a bathtub of iced tea,

complete with a Dalmatian,

uploading it to YouTube,

becoming a cult sensation.


However, her girls, once fans, had become jaded,

even though she got an interview with the President,

who was quite a pedant,

much to Fox News’ amazement.


Her daughters remained with their sperm donors,

in their birthplaces in the five boroughs of New York,

becoming Olympians in pole-vaulting.


Lucinda’s ill-gotten gains dwindled,

and she retired from her life of psychosis and crime,

feeling more secure in a place she belonged–

the last star of “Stars Behind Bars”.


She’d reached her summit,

like a great mountaineer,

but at the end,

had groveled for a sex change while on the mend.


The buzzer went off,

and Lucinda, now beached

and pumped full of meds,

awoke from her little trip back in time,

feeling tranquil without a dime.


Tis the end of my ode to those who dream of a life of reality stardom,

and to those who watch it.

For today’s prompt, take a word or two (I took it a step farther and used ALL of these:  http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/wordsinvented.htmlinvented by William Shakespeare, make it the title of your poem, and write your poem. 

What you are about to read is truly absurd (which is one of my favorite words, as it can be used to describe many things).  It’s sort of a riches-to-rags story involving a dizzy redhead and is a satire/spoof of reality TV.