readwritepoem prompt

Coffee Drinking Muse

Shirley's been hanging around a lot lately.

I wake up in the morning and she's in the kitchen

drinking her coffee black with one sugar.

Mid-afternoon she's out on the smoking porch

drinking coffee cut with bourbon.

I told her to use the rotgut, with coffee that strong and bitter

no one could tell the difference, but she

insists on the good stuff, won't touch anything but Bulleit.

In the evening, she's back watching the eleven o'clock news and

Jay Leno, feet up on the coffee table, with cup after

My Heart's on My Sleeve

Not a raglan sleeve, a Juliette sleeve,

and certainly not a poet sleeve with

lacy ruffle on the cuff; it's more of a

cap sleeve close to the left shoulder joint

that still aches when rains clog Portland gutters.


Needled black, red, blue ink reveal raven's

tale - how he tricked the magician who

stole the sun. Raven transformed into a

feather, floated down the river, captured

in a basket, drunk by magician's daughter,

deep in daughter's belly, the feather

became a baby, magician's grandson.


Fear of Heights

It starts as a tingle where thigh meets groin,

climbs red and pulsing until it reaches my belly,

and is quickly subsumed in waves of nausea.


I fight it,

walking across St. John's, Brooklyn, the Golden Gate.

Heart pounding on the Empire state's observation deck,

conversing with snails on the bell tower of Sagrada Familia,

climbing eight hundred ninety-eight steps to the

top of the Washington Monument.

Why, just today, I scuttled after two grandsons

up and down five decks of the USS Kidd.


Random Weird Person

Near river's edge outside the Cafe du Monde,

John Brown sets up his telescope.

It's taller than he is by a foot, and it

probably outweighs him, too.


I sip cafe au lait, wipe powered sugar

from off cheeks and nose,

staring into the darkness of

Jackson Square when a stranger steps

out of the past and into the light of a streetlamp.


Is it the hat, the hair, the long leather coat

the thinness of legs or chest that conjure up

miasmas of floating saloons on the

languid Mississippi?


Five Songs

 I am an American woman, but here,

here in this city that gave us jazz and

gumbo and Tennessee Williams, I do not

fly a free bird. Memory can clip angel wings.


Willy does the hand jive on every corner,

hucksters and buskers hustle for quarters, and

women with chains heavier than mine offer a

taste of paradise in the house of the rising sun.


You think you can be a visitor in my life

but you don't know how difficult that may be.

The chains I wear, made of seaweed, will tighten

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