Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Thousand-Yen Christmas

With the pale light of morning, Christmas Day filtered into the chill of an Ogaki apartment. In a corner of the living room, lights twinkled on a small tree displaying a few ornaments that had eluded the reach of tiny, exploring hands. Beneath the tree lay a mound of Daiso gifts, purchased with an allowance of one thousand yen and wrapped with the truest of intentions. The family--a brother and sister reunited after months of separation along with their spouses and children--huddled around the kotatsu eating a Christmas dinner of ramen with chopsticks. After dinner, the brother pulled on a santa suit (unintentionally frightening the children) and passed out the gifts. Soon the festivities were punctuated with oohs and aahs at the treasures garnered from the Daiso. Once the gifts had been admired properly and the colorful wrapping papper cleared away, the family once again settled around the kotatsu. This time to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas. As the strains of "Christmastime Is Here" filled the chilly air, the sister felt a warm glow in her heart from being with family once again. The brother smiled and thought that this day had been worth traveling halfway around the world for.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pet Milk Project -- "The Stranglehold"

The long awaited release of the Pet Milk Project has finally arrived! Conceived by Kelli Burton, this collaboration of writers, artists, and musicians culminated in a literary magazine, art exhibit, and CD that was unveiled tonight at the Arts Place in downtown Lexington, Kentucky. The event was well-attended. In fact, all the copies of the magazine and accompanying CD sold out before the end of the show.

One of my poems--"The Stranglehold"--was included in the magazine and was the inspiration for artwork by Allison NeCamp (image above) and a song by Fanged Robot, track #3 on the CD. For those of you who were not able to attend the event or arrived too late to get a copy of the magazine and CD, here is the poem:

The Stranglehold

Callous hands around my throat
choking out my livelihood
I struggle and kick
but they squeeze tighter
only relenting long enough for
me to gasp noxious fumes

The people around do
nothing to stop them

Most rush past and
pretend not to see
shielding the bruises on
their own necks, convinced
there is no alternative

I'm just another poor soul
flailing in the dirty street

Others glide by unscathed
their pockets bulging with
profit from my distress
dollar signs in their eyes
blocking out my contorted face

I'm just another poor soul
gouged by selfish gain

I can't hold out much longer
the world is turning black
soon I will be finished
discarded on the road
Big oily handprints
left behind on my neck

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Non-ode to a Copier

Man created a monster,

A mechanical beast
intended to serve convenience
purpose-altered to frustrate
the hard-working masses
and thwart efficiency.

With feigned collation
the beast begins a task
and suddenly balks, pain
stapled on its face, task lost
within twisted entrails.

So thoroughly hidden
as to stymie even the
most skilled technician,
trained in the science of
mechanical manipulation.

The beast refuses to work
until every whim has been
met and once working,
produces pages crinkled and
streaked from effort.

Man created a monster.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Orange from Black

To Andi on Halloween

In the beginning
My world was orange with hope,
Full of clementine promise.

Thoughts sunny,
I delighted in dreams of blazing
The globe as an agent of change,
Bringing fare to the starving,
Strewing blossoms for the depressed.

But the crush of hours and
Minutes made my world vulnerable
To black numbers creeping in
Dispatched from those in whom good
Was long rotten from inactivity.

Their mounting instances of greed
Pounded and squeezed, churning my
Best intentions to marmalade--

Sweet, but sluggish.
I could not withstand the dark digits
That pierced my resolve and
Peeled back resistance to ravage
The sun-kissed fruit within.

A million onyx boots trod
My world to pulp, until the
Ground ran with the juice of dreams
And only a citrus tang in the air
Remained of what had been.

Or so I thought as I drifted
In black chaos of disillusionment
For months on end.

Then a light scored the gloom,
Illuminating a single slice of hope
Encasing a seed--small, but enough
To awaken the zest within to plant
Tangerine dreams once again.

In a black world
Sprouts an orange glow
Lighting up the darkness.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Last Day of Sunshine

Like an addict
I barter for a little more sleep
Missing the dawn

Finally awake
But trapped behind glass
I watch a cloudless landscape
roll by

Afternoon is
Locked in a curtained house
Listening to voices drone
Deprived the feel of breeze
And the smell of leaves

Freed at last
Sunset has long faded
Into Autumn night

Too few, too precious
These waning sunny days
To be squandered thus

This is the last day
The last day of sunshine
I will waste

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sweet Success

Poets Against Greed was a success! Several poets showed up to read their work and we had an awesome night of poetry. Battling stuttering and nervousness, I managed to get through my first reading with dignity and now I can't wait for the next one. Eric Sutherland's performance was inspiring. I say "performance" because his poetry reading is its own art form. I'm so glad he was able to come down from Lexington and join us.

One of the poems I read was just written today and is still in its rough draft stage. It is called "The False Savior."

Yours is the wickedest deed of all

Offering painted promises
you reach out to the
Hope-starved masses who
search for a savior

Your words inspire them
Your face frames their
dreams for the future
Kindling hope

Your smile is sodden
with the greed that drips
from your brow like sweat

If only they could peel back
the promise-paint and see
the empty husks beneath

If only they could see beyond
your mask to the pockets lined
with the bounty of vampires

Yours is the wickedest deed of all

You are a false savior
bartering their trust for your success

Monday, August 11, 2008

Excessive Dreaming

Lately I've been doing some research on excessive dreaming, something I have suffered from for years. So far I have found that it is probably a symptom of a sleep disorder and there's not much you can do about it. To some, dreaming excessively may not seem like such a bad thing. However, take it from me, a night full of dreams doesn't give you much rest. Here's what it is really like:

Plunging into the deep
from moment of pillow touch,
I am tossed in
the maelstrom of night,

Turning in a vortex of
images recent and forgotten.

Three times I wrench myself
from the Sandman's grasp
Only to be lulled back
by his sirens.

At last, day
finds me spluttering
and crawling up the shore.

I arise from my bed.
My waking hours
taste of salt.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Naming Convention

When going through the set-up yesterday, I had to choose a name for my blog. I sat there staring at the screen unable to think of one. So I decided to look at some of the poems I had posted on myspace for inspiration. In the archived poems, I found what I was looking for and "Versions of Chai" became the name of my blog.

"Versions of Chai" was born at Live Wire coffee shop (sadly no longer in existence) in downtown Richmond. I was there with my husband and sister to listen to a musician friend play that night. Each of us had ordered a different type of chai. As we sat sipping our drinks, my sister commented that we all had "different versions of chai." Right away I thought that sounded like a good topic for a poem. Here is the result:

Cup in hand
I contemplate the versions of chai
While the musician plays my request,
The one about the girl and the poem--
Her smooth facade.

My version is hot and steamy
Vanilla with espresso swirled inside
Like the dark layer concealed
Beneath my pale skin.

Her version is spiced and iced
So much flavor mixed with coolness.
You can have a taste
But she'll never let you in.

His version is blended like a milkshake
With whipped cream on top.
Forever young, everything
Is ice cream to him.

We each sip our own
Til the strains of acoustic guitar fade
And the versions of chai
Are replaced by applause.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Poets Against Greed

After over a year of being wrapped in layers of mental cellophane, one of my good intentions will finally see the light of day. Next Tuesday night, August 12th, I am hosting a poetry open mic at My Time Coffee & Tea, a Richmond coffee shop. To the bewilderment of many, I am calling it "Poets Against Greed." Why the unusual sobriquet? First of all, I thought that "poetry open mic" was a little too boring. Secondly, I believe greed to be the root cause of most of the problems in our society and have made lambasting it the theme of a few poems. Lastly, I'm hosting it so I can call it what I want. It looks good on the flyer anyway.