Category Archives: judy dykstra-brown poetry

Appetite

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Appetite

It is the appetite we wrap our skin around like clothes—
that we push down but that squeezes out around us
in spite of our best efforts—
that appetite we run from and run to.

It lies waiting for us
behind the cold glass windows of stores,
coils in our cooking pots
and curls out in their steam.

Appetite sits under the Christmas tree
wrapped up in red paper and green ribbon.
It is the appetite of the Barbie Doll and the erector set,
the jigsaw puzzle and the bouncing ball of the jacks game.

It is the appetite
that lies dormant in our gonads,
jumps in our semen,
sleeps in an egg.

It vibrates in a vocal cord,
trembles on the fingers of a lover,
swims on the tongue of a nursing infant,
catapults off the slingshot of a seven-year-old boy.

Appetite kinks out from the curling iron,
chews itself from the tips of our fingernails
and spins itself from our feet
during a jungle rhythm or a southern reel.

Appetite pipes from the end of a flute
and shakes off the edges of a tambourine.
It is sealed in a tube of paint,
carried by a brush to the canvas where it dances its own dance.

It is appetite that hides in our computer keys
and in the tips of the fingers that tap them,
appetites lined up on our paper
where we have assembled them in unaccustomed order.

They are what bring us here,
these appetites that can never be catalogued or collected in their entirety—
our appetites better presented in a brown paper bag,
jumbled like penny candies, tumbled over each other like in a junk drawer.

Appetites that can never fully be defined
or neatly wrapped up in a moral or a surprise ending.
Appetites that can never be satisfied,
because our appetites want everything,

and gaining everything, reach out for more.

 

The prompt today is dormant. The prompt word today brought something up in me that has lain dormant for many years.  That is, this poem which was actually written in a MUCH longer form twenty-five years ago. “. . .that lies dormant in our gonads” kept running through my mind, and although I knew I had written it, I couldn’t remember where.  Finally, I did a search in my poetry file and found this poem. The original I submitted to a national poetry competition and won first prize for.  The judge said it was for my pure audacity in submitting a poem that took 12 minutes to read!  I published it in a shorter form two years ago in my blog, but even that tightened poem was probably too long for most viewers to read. At any rate, here it is in its newest and shortest form–a poem from within a poem, where it has lain dormant for twenty-five years.

Prattle Practice

DSC09337Whenever my older sister’s friend Karen came over to spend the night with her, she’d bring her Bonnie Braids doll to sleep with me.  It kept me out of their hair and gave me someone to talk to.  Perhaps it established a precedent? When I went to visit her in Minneapolis 60 years later, she still had Bonnie.  Here, we reminisce. She still lets me do all the talking.

Prattle Practice

I don’t have any roommates since I lost my spouse,
so I chew the fat with animals and objects in my house.
“How did you get way over there?” I mumble to a spoon.
I converse with my potted plants, complete with off-key tune.
Sometimes I jolt myself awake, talking in my dreams.
What I have to say at least I want to hear, it seems.
I’ve had a conversation with the sidewalk, face-to-face.
I’ll have another talk with it once they remove this brace.

I hold my kittens in a trance by talking in their ears,
and though they do not answer in the manner of my peers,
they have their personal language of meows and purrs and squeaks.
While I speak back in high-pitched tones like baby talk for freaks!
I hope the neighbors have not heard as I advise the trees
 to only shed their debris on their own lawns, if they please. 
I sometimes gripe to flowers that they are too soon dying
and to potatoes in the pan that are too slowly frying.

I grumble to my router and cold water from the tap.
Soundly, I upbraid them in my own domestic rap.
I talk to nestlings from below as they cheep from their nest,
but, dive-bombed by the mother bird, I give our chat a rest.
When I prattle to the furniture, the cook pots and the cactus
in lieu of human company, in fact it is just practice.
All my other blatherings just keep me there on track
for when I meet with human folks who no doubt will talk back!

 

Don’t know where else this photo of the Bonnie/Judy reunion would ever fit in so here it goes into fun photos, along with the poem I wrote to go with it.

Overworked or Labor Shirked?


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Overworked or Labor Shirked?

It’s hard for me to find the middle
between hard labor and the fiddle.
Work? I either overdo it
or endeavor to eschew it.
Work all day and then all night,
being very erudite—
putting words down on the page,
imprisoned in my muse’s cage.

Perhaps I fear my distant past
when good work habits didn’t last
and days were spent in dreaming or
novels read behind closed door—
midnight radio a chance
for fantasies to spin romance.
Whole days stretched as though to catch
an errant dream of true love’s match.

I feared such days were sloth, and yet
perhaps they were just roads to get
to the place where I would tell
the stories that I knew so well
because I’d lived them first in dreams
or days just bursting at the seams
with doing nothing but living life—
its pleasures, problems, romance, strife.

First the doing at my leisure,
then the writing, and the seizure
of all the details of the past
that, once down on paper, are made to last.
Overworked or over-lived,
life first collected, then finely sieved.
Panned like gold to find the treasure—
leisure and work in even measure.

Overworked” is the prompt word today.

Check List for a Budding Poet

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Check List for a Budding Poet

If you want to be prolific,
better that you be specific,
and when you choose to state each fact,
try to make each word exact.
Don’t use time-worn words or wilted.
Avoid pretentious words or stilted.

Never try to force a rhyme.
Do not fail to take the time
to make your lines scan smoothly for,
uneven meter is a bore.
Words written for effect are hollow,
but where heart is, the head will follow.

So write your poetry from the heart.
Put your horse before the cart
and let it pull you up the hill.
Let your words express their will—
you following blindly, just to see
what the next line wants to be.

Let words of different shapes and sizes
furnish pleasure and surprises.
Make your poems resemble zoos
of striped okapis and kangaroos.
Delight yourself and then your reader.
Follow words, then be their leader

by whipping them in line and order,
shaping them within your border.
It never is too late to change
an errant line that’s out of range,
but editing is not what you
initially should seek to do.

Words give hearts tongues to share their pleasure
and their pain in equal measure.
Essayists and authors strive
to make their writings come alive.
They show us where their minds have been,
but poets put the music in.

The prompt today was “specific.”

Float Trip

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Etching, p/a by Isidro Xilonzóchitl, jdbphoto 

Float Trip

When I feel life’s wear and tear
and wilt before rude gossip’s stare,
feeling vulnerable and bare,
as though I cannot get my share
of fresh, unviolated air,
I rise above the jarring glare
in search of space that is more rare,
willing to pay whatever the fare
to rise above the world’s nightmare
and hang suspended, without care.

There I soar, I risk, I dare.
It does not matter what I wear.
I don’t regret my thinning hair,
my widening waist or derriere.
I do not fear that speeding mare
that cuts the night to bring despair.
Rue not that life has been unfair.
Need neither mask nor nom de guerre,
for when things get too much to bear,
I float myself right out of there

to revel in my inner lair.

 

img_1903painting by Salvador, jdbphoto

The prompt word today was “float.”

 

Flat

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Flat

Like a phony love letter not influenced by Cupid,
flattery will get you somewhere only with the stupid.

For if praise is unwarranted, it leaves us feeling flat.
When so falsely offered, it falls down with a splat.

While flattery may be offered by those without a clue,
praise and adulation are not flattery if they’re true.

Praise is a beloved pet, but flattery’s a zoo.
While you’re  curious to view it, you don’t take it home with you.

 

The prompt word today is “Flattery.”

Daring-do

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Daring-do

Once from our comfort we are torn—
from the first moment we are born—
we’re put into this world to do,
to suckle, gurgle, bill and coo,
then to stand and tie a shoe.
To participate, and not just view.

From a broomstick with horse’s head,
we go on to bust a bronc instead.
Playing drums or clarinets,
clicking heels or castinets,
from paper airplanes to flying jets,
doing’s as good as living gets.

We start out small and then get bigger.
Vine pod boats grow sails and rigger
to sail the world and tell the tales
of seas like glass, whirlpools and gales.
Each time you try out something new,
it brings more world inside of you.

Some things work out, others we rue,
but still it’s better to try and do
than put ourselves up on our shelves
and simply analyze ourselves.
Daring-do beats daring-don’t,
for life consists of “will,” not “won’t.”

 

The prompt word today was “Daring.”