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Author Archives: Puff Of Smoke Poems

house sign

the number 9 in the house number
lost a nail
now dangles at an angle, drips rust
onto the yellow vinyl siding
snow piles into the laps
of wicker porch chairs
green plastic wreath,
with its shiny red ribbon,
flaps in the end of January breeze
Overwhelmed
is the label you’d place
on a photo of this place
Overwhelmed already so don’t
ask, don’t even knock
with that smile on your face

poems at five below

five below zero
all the candles lit
for the glow

A poem revved
its cold engine next to me
I waved it off

Sorry, I said—
Today, I’d rather
breathe and stare
at nothing for a while

another gift of long practice—
not every time
do I have to grab those words
and pull hard

not all hungers darken
if unfed. Some, with
years of steady love,
will shrug, curl into
themselves for a nap
and say—maybe, later

because this is where we lived

Our overarching theme:
The unlived lives of women.
It hung above us, stolid and
weighty as a museum exhibit.
We searched for a spot to
set down such an unwieldy package
its plain brown paper creased
and crackling in our hands,
tied with twine.
More than one of us
settled on the kitchen
because this is where they lived
or served their time
or sang in if it was a haven
kitchen as hidden heart at the center
beneath all the wrapping

small town

another definition:
there’s a neighbor plowing our driveway
after work, in the January dark.
He stops when the the fire siren blares
and our town is small enough
that I know why
and worry he won’t get his dinner
until very late

after epiphany

after Epiphany, there are changes
to the roadside light-up display
Whoever it is, the mystery curator
in charge of this once-empty field
removed the nativity scene.
Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, gone.
Santa and his sleigh left last week
all that’s left among the corn stubble
and snow sparkle—three snowmen,
a couple of reindeer and one lone donkey
stayed behind to flash and shine this January gloom away.

an ode to my furnace on the anniversary of insurrection

only one thing
will be in the news today,
and for once it won’t be
this virus.
But at five a.m., it’s still
peaceful and dark and I
am quiet enough to hear
the furnace kick on.
How many times each winter?
And we were all asleep
or gone or all making
too much noise to notice.
So today I say thank you
sweet hidden furnace,
wonderful pipes,
beloved old-fashioned steam radiators
for warming us through childhood
and adulthood and so many news cycles
winter after winter
whether we heard you or not.

January 4th

year after year, I put away the holiday
as do the neighbors who line our street
with Christmas trees at the curb
I sweep the floors, begin picking up words—
small words, short moments,
haiku with their gorgeous spareness,
one lit candle on a clear desk,
how the smallest joys
hold the day aloft—tiny poem,
unlikely purple bloom in the garden,
or looking out the bedroom window
last night, smiling because
one neighbor’s tree
is still lit

indigo

deep blue sky over
rooftops before dawn—
Indigo
color that rolls off the tongue
in the same shade that swept
across the almost morning sky
of a new year

still, here

nights? full of crackling awake static-starred hours
mornings? no new words twirl through the cinnamon-scented coffee
It is so still,
here
where there is no right thing to say
reminder that words
can do many things but not
every
thing
puppy yawns himself awake
with a voice like a creaky uncoiled hinge.
When nothing else remains,
there is routine—he sniffs the back yard air
Barks at the morning runners
Every day, they do their thing and he does his
run and bark, bark and run
they all have their daily practice,
I have mine. Words no matter what
morning words amid the noise and feet
nothing new but we are still
here

after the fire

she says things:
I was sure he was
right behind me.
And:
in two weeks, I lost
my dog my house my son my cat.

I listen.
We all do. Listen
to the sound of fresh grief
as it clears its throat
settles in for a long stay
the way some visitors,
long-winded or lonely,
stretch their legs and
nestle into the couch cushions.

What Kind Of Mother,
she says,
escapes a burning house
while her child
is inside?

The question forms itself from
smoke to solid.
I study it.
This gray, wrong,
unanswerable twist
of lies.
It has heft,
is heavy for a new born.

This is it.
All of us who love her
measure it from every angle
And we each take a deep breath
of the sooty air.
This is our opponent
our foe, forever
or
at least
as long as we both shall live.

A Hundred Falling Veils

there's a poem in every day

The Novel Bunch

aka: The Happy Bookers

Red Wolf Prompts

I came to where you were living, up a stair. There was no one there.--John Ashberry, "The New Higher"

typewriter rodeo

custom poems on vintage typewriters

A Poet in Time

One Poet's Writing Practice

Writing the Day

A Ronka Poetry Practice Since 2014

Invisible Horse

Living in the moment