Sunday, January 6, 2013


She wrote the most horrible poetry.
It lurched and jolted across the offended, blameless white page--
a disturbing circus of malapropisms and non sequiturs,
all set down in her charming, flowing, feminine hand.

"Do you like it?" she would ask,
offering from her perfect tapered fingers a page--
a floppy, oversized, extra-holy communion wafer.

Can the mind recoil even as the heart yearns?
Does the Pope shit in the woods?
Are bears Catholic?

Dumpsters and notebooks can be the same--
their compromised converts diving in,
bawling their pleasure,
making asses of themselves.

"I love it," I would tell her,
but I must be pardoned for this crime against literature.
The saints must intercede for me;
celestial judges must consider my intentions.

Reading, fighting down bile or guffaws,
I could, all the while, feel her vulnerable sweet heart beating,
just beneath the jade pendant that she wore--
the one with the antique silver setting.

What could I do?
What kind of monster, faced with her guileless, saucer-sized eyes,
as hopeful as a resurrection of doves,
could twist their tongue enough to tell her the truth?

"It's brilliant!" I enthused, no longer even looking at it,
setting it blindly aside,
admiring her pendant,
moving it blindly aside,
and pressing my lying lips to her blameless white skin
in kindness,
as encouragement,
in nothing but forbearance and
Christian charity.

for Real Toads mini-challenge, thunk up by my BFF Hedgewitch!

artwork: "Birds" by M C Escher. 


Kerry O'Connor said...

Quite the romantic conundrum: Should one prevaricate to save the feelings of a loved one? Hmmm...

I loved the way you brought in your reference to the painting in the line: as hopeful as a resurrection of doves.

hedgewitch said...

I have a very dark poem about a bird I was wanting to use for this prompt, and I was searching Escher for a good embodiment when I saw this, and I knew I couldn't go there. This bird is so indescribably happy-looking, and you tie it in to the real feelings that bring happiness--love, charity, forbearance, the grace to suppress one's own ego-driven judgement of another--and make it truly fly 'like a resurrection of doves.' The jade pendant seems to echo the decorative curlicues that make up the compassion-bird's feathers, bringing the innocent inept writer's appeal to the fore and making it tangible, as well. A very cool and unexpected ekphrasis Shay.

Thanks for the shout-out too, but the lion's share of the credit for this prompt goes to Kerry, who formulated it so adroitly and chose such an interesting subject.

Helen said...

Ah, yes .. the charity of Christians, ulterior motives aside. Loved this, Shay.

TexWisGirl said...

oh, you scamp! :)

Sioux said...

The whole poem--as always--sang, but I chuckled over the 4th stanza, imagining the converts "diving in." Unfortunately, I know a few "writers" who bring with them their portable dumpster everywhere they go (AKA their writing journal).

Anonymous said...

"Non sequitur" is spelled with a "u," not an "e."

Susan said...

This is brilliant, and not only as Ekphrasis, opening the picture to me in a new way. It stands alone, artfully telling the story of a great great dilemma which has been a fear of my own (when especially self-negating) and also a situation I have been in as a teacher to students--not in passionate love, but in birthing seeds which may someday bloom. My favorite lines:
"Dumpsters and notebooks can be the same--"
"celestial judges must consider my intentions."
the wonderful surprise joke at the end, reasoning the kiss after laying aside both poem and pendent!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

I love the Pope and the bears lines so much!!!! and oh those innocent eyes.......good stuff, Shay!

Kim Nelson said...

Dumpsters and notebooks can be the same... SO TRUE! Both end up containing much that was once considered valuable, precious, real.

Hannah said...

This was one of the first Escher images that stood out to me but the bird, as Hedge has mentioned, was so stinkin' happy...I got tangled up in its smile and had to flee! ;)

I love what you've done with this...Such a tricky predicament so creatively and alluringly presented here.

I, too, enjoy the line about her hopeful eyes...the doves...awesome, Shay. As usual! :)

Mama Zen said...

This doesn't make anyone else squirm for fear of (metaphorically speaking) having been that poor, poetically challenged girl? No? Well, I'll just slink off then . . .

HermanTurnip said...

"Can the mind recoil even as the heart yearns?"

This line really hit home for me. Funny how certain things you read can affect you so much. Nice!!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure she would rather you write her a poem like this to creatively tell her what you really think. If she at all cares about writing good poetry, she will appreciate your honesty and still let you kiss her.

Susie Clevenger said...

What a creative manner of critique..I think she would like the honesty if she is an honest pursuer of the art of writing. :)

Peggy said...

This one was a fun read for me--sad, true, but fun presentation of the problem of the one asked for approval. Quite and interesting take from the Escher work.

Anonymous said...

i can empathize with her... it's really not fair to place someone who loves us in that position, but i do it anyway. and my love would, i am sure, never willingly hurt me with the truth.

beautifully written, but the only time your poems are not beautifully written is when they are powerfully written or perfectly written or heroically written {what's the female of 'heroic' or is that the female?}

LOVE this!

btw ~ it'd reallllly be great if Coal would make an appearance or two or three during your vacation. just sayin'.

Anonymous said...

Very funny - know the spot - but this is vividly realized and has a lot of charity. k.

Lynn said...

Sometimes forbearance and Christian charity are the way to go. :)

Daryl E said...

definitely a good choice and a way to stem further conversation ..

Lolamouse said...

I'm with MZ. Reading this made me start thinking of all the crappy poems I've written and feeling like this deluded girl! Oh, lie to me just a little bit longer...

Kay L. Davies said...

Ah, Shay, such a dilemma.
Well, take it from me, the present-day although not the original Mrs. Malaprop, you could say "it's beautiful" and "I love the way it flows" and be speaking of her handwriting, not her poem.
There. Lets you off the hook, right?
Glad to be of service.

Fireblossom said...

Well, my gosh. I had meant this poem to be funny, and to be funny at the expense of the puffed-up speaker in the piece. It's completely made up. But it seems to have made some of my favorite people and most beloved bloggy poets question themselves. I'm sad about that.

Anonymous said...

we know you would NEVER say, write or do ANYthing to hurt us, FB! we're just all insecure sometimes {or, in my case, all the time.} you love us and we love you, and i know for a fact you won't say anything you don't mean about someone's writing. you just wouldn't say anything at all.



Fireblossom said...

^^^Aw! :-)