POEM: Plague of Dragons

picture of fire-breathing dragon on top of a building
Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com
Plague of Dragons

the world opens up as a new monster
looms on the horizon, belching fire,
slaughtering victims without thought
to gender, creed, or age: the smallest
of the small, resistant to her older
brother’s charms, no longer spared
infectious breath.

not content to massacre millions by breath alone,
she melts crematoriums whose iron frames soften,
run from the heat of so many bodies burned
in so few hours, days, weeks of death; chimneys
crack from overuse, appalling mockery that mimics
hospital beds buckling from the influx of live bodies
they strain to save and might despite their failures.
Parks no longer host festivals but burning pyres
that brighten twilight like bonfires left behind
by the wyrms’ warm feasting

or colossal candles lit in earth’s cathedral
for each of those extinguished lives, bright enough
to catch the eyes of the gods in their heavens
or the demons down below.

the beast that plagued last year seems tame
beside his younger sibling, the serpent virulent
exhaling flame who does not deign to spare
the lives of children.

Will she leap across the waters, span
the ocean, leave that far off land
to spread her curse upon
our slowly awakened shores?

Does she await our recovery
only to make her scourge more felt?




#
Thanks for stopping by my blog. If you’d like to read about the crafting of “Plague of Dragons,” check out my Patreon next week for a free technical breakdown of the poem.

I’m thrilled to announce I’ll be reading selections from my book, An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories, at Barberton Library on Saturday, September 11th at 2pm! I will also be selling and signing copies of the book for those who are interested.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay well, and read often!

*inspired by the Indian variant of the Covid-19 virus.

POEM: “last year’s revels”

Photo by Charles Parker on Pexels.com
last year’s revels”

the toddler rolls from bed, 
a ballerina princess excited 
for the special day ahead,
anticipates her long-awaited party.
strawberry-topped chocolate cake 
with a grape soda chaser,
she’s fueled for festivity:
rainbowed streamers wave 
above a table piled with gifts,
sunshine yellow ribbon
seals each shining gold wrapper, 
as storm clouds gather unheaded
outside her window’s thin glass.

she tears a first package apart, 
eager, greedy for its contents,
frowns at the dimestore damsel’s
impossible figure and painted smile,
tosses her aside for another 
bright box’s glinting temptation, 

enchanted to find inside
flint enough to fire her tinder home. 
caffeine-fueled and sugar-dosed, 
she blazes pirouette on tip-toes,
ecstatic homage to firenadoes 
swirling flame outside her door.
she watches in delight, 
her face crimson bright 
as a demon risen to scorch 
this mortal earth with hellfire.

hay-colored landscapes wither, 
flames kindle the world: fireworks 
enough to entertain her swollen 
all-too-childish brain. she collapses, 
in a fit of giggles watches murder hornets 
bloom across the blood red sky.
her joy indisputable on a face free 
from the thin cotton mask she refuses to wear.

she knows these days are hallowed,
these endless nights will last
for years to come.

exhausted from her revels, 
quietly 
     she tears the Barbie’s bloodless arms; 
     the doll’s blank eyes reflect nothing, 
     the hollow chest holds her silent scream, 
     her frozen face beaming 
     an eternally vacant grin.






#

Today’s poem was inspired by a prompt to write a poem personifying the last year. Many thanks to Diane Kendig and Cuyahoga County Library for their Read + Write Poetry daily postings, which included this prompt!

If you’d like to know more about the craft that went into this poem, next week I will be posting a poem dissection on my Patreon–which is free during the pandemic. Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, stay well, and read often!

POEM: “spark”

colorful lights in stormy sky over skyscrapers
"spark"

I hobble out of bed at daybreak
an Igor with dreams of being both doctor
and creation, waiting for just one spark,
juice enough to fuel that night's creation.

Excitement looms on this horizon
pregnant storm clouds heavy with rain,
whipped overhead by hurricane winds,
ready to strike, incite the dead to life.

Petrichor coats my tongue, fills my head,
lightning flashes, blue-white channels
blaze down these rods to these hands,
fire enough to burn, birthing this beating heart.

My blood boils, my eyes open.



#

*Thank you for visiting my writing blog. I hope you enjoyed the poem! If you’d like to read about its creation, I will be dissecting it next Friday on my Patreon.

If you would like to read more of my writing, I will be posting once a month (both here and on my Patreon) for the foreseeable future; I’m concentrating on my next poetry collection, as well as writing a novel.

In the meantime, Happy April--aka National Poetry Month!

POEM: “untitled”

untitled

i remember when i thought twice,
thrice, a dozen times moreover
whether to call myself writer,
a title hallowed in my heart
throughout my childhood years,
the ones who wrote the books
i devoured with my every free hour,
my escapes into worlds of make-believe,
my gateway to learning beyond
what adults prescribed for me

i’ve known too many writers
to be intimidated by the title,
known their kindness and generosity,
heard of others’ lack
lucky enough not to experience it myself

i remember when i hesitated
to call myself poet, the title
seemed too pretentious, too artistic
to apply to just anyone, like lumping Van Gogh
in with the man who graffitis the roadside
in the dead of night. but why not?
why should a canvas command more respect
than the underside of an overpass?
why should the verse of authors long gone
hold more esteem than the coffee house clique
reciting their rhymes in the meeting place
of modern minds? the old and new both live

i’ve known too many poets
to be awed just by the word
when their humanity alone humbles me
my own attempts to grasp each
abiding image, each emotion collaged
upon these pages like flowing script,
rivers of ink and electrons
imprinted upon our collective minds

with or without title, i’ll write
these words, this verse, hope
someday they will be read, felt,
imbued with life

words change form throughout time as organic
as a climbing vine growing with each age
titles are more specific, rigid like concrete
i call myself the words
the titles themselves unknown

#

*image courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net via Creative Commons Licensing.

POEM: “She Who Was the Helmet Maker’s Once-Beautiful Wife”

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com
She Who Was the Helmet Maker's Once-Beautiful Wife"

you didn't know what awaited you
when you began the long trek to see your son
bare feet and fallen arches old bones aching
with miles of marching your final journey
all for one more glimpse of your boy
become a man

why bare yourself for the artist's art?
how much more could you have to give?
the tragedy of your worn form outlives your mortality,
the young girl you were forever trapped in iron gray.





*Rodin’s model for She Who Was the Helmet Maker’s Once-Beautiful Wife was the mother of one of his male models. The photo I used reminded me of a younger version of Rodin’s model, since I was unable to obtain permission for an image of the original sculpture. You can find an image of Rodin’s masterpiece here.

POEM: “masked”

masked


What mask!? Oh, I have so many… Invisible.
Disposable. I Replace each time
the least uncomfortable       Those eyes

I have more than I need given I rarely leave 
I have different masks. One for work. 
Another patriotic. I wear all at different times.

It depends on my mood          hopeful 
sometimes, painful             other times, 
but rarely removed

When customers, friends n family talk to me 
about politics             or the news   
my face is my mask      I put on when I'm depressed

I have playful ones     but for my job, 
disposable            Funny not funny. 
My private one         simple and lovely.

I have so many, but mostly wear 
my Edge of insanity
I have designed these masks

the ones I refuse to wear
hard to breathe
I have a lot of masks

but today it’s this one…
Standard but pretty     on the front.
A smile, nod, wink that says everything’s just fine.




*Found Poem based on tweets found in this thread based on the question, “What’s your mask like?”

POEM: “Feline Dreams”

"Feline Dreams"
--in memory of Winnie-cat

the Milky Way empties itself
of pure white light
into the moon's shining bowl

the cat stretches languid
her body liquid smooth
like moonbeams 
she reaches for
silent and thirsting

Her head dips into 
the cosmic saucer 
rough pink tongue
darting in and out
lapping up this lunar feast 

Luminosity fills her
beneath each fluttering eyelid





*Although this poem was inspired by a tweet, I’m posting and dedicating it to my sweet kitty, who died January 2nd. Rest in Peace, Winnie.

POEM: “Inauguration Day”

wilted daisies
Inauguration Day

on the eve of my mother’s birth
and the swearing in of a new leader

last night i dreamed:
i came upon a strip mall
and stumbled upon the store
my father had built from scratch
all those years ago

i did not dare believe my eyes
though it seemed too real
not to be believed i ran
inside hoping for a glimpse
of the man that ruled my childhood
my hero who taught me chess
gave me his own bike to ride

today i thought i saw another gone
silhouette perched upon the windowsill

he died so long and yet not so long
i longed so to see his familiar face
i could not help but catch a glimpse
his bald(ing) head and bright brown eyes

today my mother opens chocolates
“her president” as her present 
she says as each morsel melts washed 
down with a cup of steaming Lady Grey

i couldn’t quite catch a glimpse of another
dear departed, gold fur and eyes brown
as warm caramel, i couldn’t quite help 
but wonder what else dies and is born today

sometimes we need to coat our tongue with
warm sugar, sweeten our swallowed bitterness

is this a new beginning or another end?





**In my previous post I said I was going to resume regular scheduling in February, but since this poem is topical I decided to post it today. Normally I let poems sit between edits, but obviously that would not work for a timely posting, so (although edited) this poem is more raw than what I normally share. 


CURRENT EVENTS: Books Read in 2020

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Happy New Year! Hopefully, 2021 will be less problematic than 2020. 

In the meantime, I’ll share the books I’ve read in the past year. Due to the recent interesting times, many of them are books I’ve read before. When I want a comfort read, I’ll often reach for old favorites: Cyrano de Bergerac and The Walking Dead graphic novels are among my favorites. Since the list is pretty long (I’ll reach 100 one of these years!), I’m listing them by title. If you would like me to go into detail about any of these books, just leave a comment or contact me on social media. I love discussing books!

If you’d like to read one of these selections yourself, I’ve included links. Many of the reads were ebooks and audiobooks via various platforms, often through local libraries. I’ve always loved digital format, but in the past year it’s been more important than ever. Enjoy the list! Maybe you’ll find something you’ll like too.

BOOKS READ 2020:

1 Spoon River Anthology by Edgar Lee Masters (audiobook via Librivox.org)

So Marvelously Far (poetry collection) by Nick Gardner

3 The Ugly Side of the Lake (poetry collection) by Jason Baldinger and John Dorsey

4 Triple Threat (poetry collection) by John Dorsey

5 The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo (ebook via Overdrive)

6 Our House on the Sand by Elaine Schleiffer (chapbook)

7 The Answer Is Not Here by Lisa M. & Sean Thomas Dougherty (chapbook)

8 Jigsaw Con Life 3 via Beautiful Blasphemy (ebook/ mini chapbook)

9 Siron: a Kaiju Thriller by S.T. Hoover

10 Mothmaw by Faryl (Hoover) (ebook)

11 The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley (audiobook via Audible)

12 Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand (ebook via manybooks.net)

13 Resident Evil volume 1: The Umbrella Conspiracy by S.D. Perry (ebook)

14 Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (audiobook via Overdrive)

15 ODD LOTS, SCRAPS & SECOND-HAND, LIKE NEW Poems by Will Wells (trade paperback/poetry)

16 The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (ebook via Overdrive)

17 Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Audible audiobook)

18 Paradise Lost by Milton (NOOK ebook)

19 The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (HOOPLA Digital ebook)

20 Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan (ebook)

21 ETERNALS by Neil Gaiman (graphic novel via HOOPLA)

22 The Abortion by Richard Brautigan (Audible audiobook)

23 The Walking Dead vol 1: Days Gone Bye by various

24 The Walking Dead vol 2: Miles Behind Us by various

25 The Walking Dead vol 3: Safety Behind Bars by various

26 The Walking Dead, Vol. 4: The Heart’s Desire

27 The Walking Dead vol 5: The Best Defense by various

28 Quintessence by William F. Devault (ebook)

29 Meat and Bone by Sandra Feen (paperback)

30 The Walking Dead, Vol. 6: This Sorrowful Life

31 The Walking Dead, Vol. 7:  The Calm Before

32 The Walking Dead, Vol. 8: Made to Suffer

33 The Walking Dead, Vol. 9: Here We Remain

34 The Walking Dead, Vol. 10: What We Become

35 A Bullet for Cinderella by John D. Macdonald (ebook read on NOOK app)

36 The Walking Dead, Vol. 11: Fear The Hunters

37 The Walking Dead, Vol. 12: Life Among Them 

38 The Walking Dead, Vol. 13: Too Far Gone

39 The Walking Dead, Vol. 14: No Way Out

40 The Walking Dead, Vol. 15: We Find Ourselves

41 The Walking Dead, Vol. 16: A Larger World

42 The Walking Dead, Vol. 17: Something to Fear

43 The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After

44 The Walking Dead, Vol. 19: March to War

45 The Walking Dead, Vol. 20: All Out War, Part 1

46 The Walking Dead, Vol. 21: All Out War, Part 2

47 The Walking Dead, Vol. 22: A New Beginning 

48 The Walking Dead, Vol. 24: Life and Death

49 The Walking Dead, Vol. 25: No Turning Back 

50 The Walking Dead, Vol. 26: Call to Arms

51 Appalachian Frankenstein Vol 2 by John Dorsey (paperback poetry collection)

52 The Poems of Sappho: An Interpretive Rendition into English (ebook via Manybooks.net)

53 The Walking Dead, Vol. 27: The Whisperer War

54 F**K: An Irreverent History of the F-Word by Rufus Lodge (Kindle ebook)

55 The Walking Dead, Vol. 28: A Certain Doom

56 The Walking Dead, Vol. 29: Lines We Cross 

57 Ariel by Sylvia Plath (NOOK ebook)

58 A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca (ebook via Overdrive)

59 The Walking Dead, Vol. 30: New World Order

60 The Walking Dead, Vol. 31: The Rotton Core

61 The Walking Dead, Vol. 32: Rest In Peace

62 The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (ebook via Overdrive)

63 Wonder Woman volume 4: War (graphic novel via HOOPLA DIGITAL)

64 Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Search ~ Issue 1 (graphic novel via HOOPLA DIGITAL)

65 Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Search ~ Issue 2 (graphic novel via HOOPLA DIGITAL)

66 Avatar, The Last Airbender: The Search ~ Issue 3 (graphic novel via HOOPLA DIGITAL)

67 Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (ebook via Overdrive)

68 The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura (ebook via Overdrive)

69 The Short Stories Volume One by Philip K Dick (ebook via Overdrive)

70 Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said by Philip K Dick (ebook via Overdrive)

71 Writing on the Wall: Social Media – The First 2,000 Years by Tom Standage (Audible audiobook) 

72 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight / retold in modern prose, with prefaces and notes, by Jessie L. Weston. (NOOK ebook)

73 The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (NOOK ebook)

74 The Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed (audiobook via Audible)

75 Drop Jaw by Rikki Santer (Trade paperback)

76 Old Man’s War by John Scalzi (NOOK ebook)

77 Libriomancer (Magic Ex Libris) by Jim C. Hines (ebook via Overdrive)

78 Unbound (Magic Ex Libris) by Jim C. Hines (ebook via Libby)

79 The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi (ebook via Libby)

80 Revisionary (Magic Ex Libris) by Jim C. Hines (ebook via Libby)

81 Orpheus and Eurydice: A Lyric Sequence by Gregory Orr (poetry collection ebook via Hoopla Digital)

82 Fort Pitt Tunnel Blues by John Dorsey (free ebook)

83 Wonder Woman: The Circle (graphic novel via Hoopla)

84 A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen by Kari Gunter-Seymour (Trade paperback)

85 Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (ebook via Overdrive app)

86 Dearly: New Poems by Margaret Atwood (ebook via Overdrive app)

87 i saw god cooking children/ paint their bones by john compton (handcrafted chapbook via Blood Pudding Press with Sandra Feen modeling on the cover art)

88 Trekonomics by Manu Saadia by (audiobook)

89 The Circus of His Bones: Poems by Steve Brightman (Trade paperback)

90 13 Ways of Looking at Lou Reed by Steve Brightman

91 The Divine Comedy by Dante: translated by Clive James (Audible audiobook)

*Currently reading/listening to:

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

Lord Byron’s Don Juan (ebook via Manybooks.net)

An Introduction to Haiku with translations and commentary by Harold G. Henderson

If you’d like to hear about my favorites from this list, a free complementary post appears on my Patreon. Until next time, stay safe and well and read often!

POEM: “Intoxication”

image of fallen drunk showered by gold

Intoxication

My broken brain

lets memory fall through

the cracks, the fissures

of forgetfulness, crowded out

by newly made imaginings

.

Drunk on ink

I love to lose control

all sense of time 

and composure

to the images, 

the voices calling out to me

the words I’ve yet 

to press into each page

.

#

Since today is Black Friday, traditionally the beginning of the holiday season, I thought I’d post something a little more lighthearted. Please, if you need to go out this weekend, be careful. Stay safe and well!

*

In the interest of Black Friday, I’m also offering 

(while supplies last) 

BLACK FRIDAY/CYBER SATURDAY ONLINE SPECIAL: 

DIRECT FROM AUTHOR ONLY

https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/authorcatrussell

my poetry collection, Soul Picked Clean

$12 $10 with free shipping within the Continental USA

my short story collection, 

An Optimist’s Journal of the End of Days and Other Stories

$29.95 $25 with free shipping within the Continental USA

OR 

BOTH BOOKS for $30 

with free shipping within the Continental USA

autographed upon request

*Don’t forget to include your mailing address in the PayPal note section, as well as any special instructions if you would like an autographed copy.

**Offer good only Friday, November 27-Saturday November 28th, 2020.

My books are also available through Amazon, although this special deal does not apply to Amazon purchases.