Wednesday, June 24, 2015


From my vantage on the street, I see him drive past in his SUV. And through his window, I spy his new woman with a smile on her face; in the street light her diamond earrings shine. He never bought me anything.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Bowler Hat

James wore that bowler hat every single day even through the hottest days of summer. All the people of Glensville suspected he wore it to bed as well; it was worn enough, with a couple of holes in the black wool. Each morning the residents would spot James on his morning walk, part of his strict daily routine. They could spy him counting his steps on his route on Main Street; his black hat bobbing along with his lanky stride.

He always started at Jones Pharmacy, where he lived alone above the shop, and would go about a mile east stopping exactly at the intersection of Blythe and Main just before the new grocery store and then he would circle back home.

James never walked past the store. He missed the field that it once was, with the cows dotting the small slopes and barbed wire fence, the grasses growing untended around the wooden posts. The field used to mark the end of town and the beginning of the dairy and soy bean farms lining the gravel and dirt roads.

Anyone with an iota of sense noticed that as the field was tilled and leveled and the concrete foundation lain, the less and less that James met Mr. Parker’s eyes when he passed him on the street.

Mr. Parker had sold the land to commercial interests who wanted to capitalize on the cars driving on the interstate. Everyone understood why he sold it; nevertheless, their opinions and misunderstandings spread around town. All the while, Mr. Parker’s eldest son went in for his treatments and his hair started to fall.

But to James, Mr. Parker was a bad man. Before she passed away a couple of months prior, James’s mother repeated many times in her calm way, “Folks gotta do what they gotta do.” Ms. Bishop always had wise words for her son, but this time he didn’t listen to her; instead he fell into his grief to the point that the townsfolk noticed.

He wasn’t as vigilant about his step counting and he lingered longer at the corner before the grocery store as if he blamed it for his mother’s death. He started staying in his apartment longer and some days didn’t even venture out. John and Carol Jenson came by, well-meaning, with pie and baked manicotti and tried to speak with him. He took the food in his kind, awkward way, but didn’t say a word during their whole visit; he took to hugging himself as the couple sat and tried to make conversation until they gave up and left.

With everyone, there was a growing tension after the grocery store opened up. The town riled with gossip, but rather than talk in person they rarely left their homes, preferring to gossip on their cells and landlines. And with all of the miscommunications and the slights and doubt that follow all phone interaction, everyone was on edge. Or maybe the agitation stemmed from the heat and the fear of draught that had struck in August and September five years in a row. It was already two weeks without a drop of rain and the fields were already losing their sharp youthful green. The Dram River was barely a trickle now and looked pitiful in its dried up slopes of its bank.

To make it worse, Lila Stiger, the biggest mouth in the whole county shimmied her way into everyone’s business more than usual. She now had more time on her hands than was healthy after selling her one hundred acres. She had found out that Bill Anders had been philandering with one of his former students while his wife was away at work. The gossip circulated throughout town like a hungry fire and soon he was living in the log motel along the interstate.

And then, Mr. Parker’s little five year old girl, Sarah, went missing. He said to the police that he saw her from his porch playing in the soy fields just before evening. When Mrs. Parker called her in for dinner, Sarah didn’t come. They looked and looked on every single acre and went from farm to farm, but couldn’t find her. She went missing for five days and on the fifth night, one janitor from the grocery store was taking the garbage out and found lying in the dumpster little Sarah; her naked body pale blue in the halogen street lights. Her whole face covered by a worn black bowler hat.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Poetry Half-Marathon

Over the weekend, from 9am Saturday until 9pm Saturday, I wrote 12 poems in 12 hours for the Poetry Half-Marathon. Today, I received my certificate of completion and couldn't be more happy! I can't wait to do it again next year. And if anyone is interested in what the Poetry Marathon is you can check out their website here.

Below I posted one of the poems that I wrote during the marathon. You can check out the rest of my poems on my Wordpress profile here.

Autobiography of A Face: Mount Hood

Your crags of shadow driven thicker by the morning light;
I never knew so many shades of white, until I saw you;
The glare of your western face in the 6 am orb of sun.
The wrinkles of century old glaciers ribbed with dirt,
And your nose’s highest peak, tallest above all others.
Still, in the summer heat, you contain a million diamonds
And shine more celestial than the brightest, rarest star.

Monday, June 8, 2015

His Moon of Silence

The half-wolf’s brethren howled at the moon’s bounty. He stretched his neck to the sky but stopped; his half-breed bark would shame the moon. He moaned under the shadow of his master’s home and looked into the dark forest wondering what if.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Going the Distance

It took science until 1969 to get humanity to the moon; to close the 238,900 mile gap with rockets and fire. But if you reach out with me, both of our hearts will travel the distance with three breaths. Mine, yours, ours.


Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Jess sets the glass on the new granite counter top. Her snake tattoo pokes out from her sleeve. “I don’t know why you took the plunge. Everyone complains it breaks every glass it touches.”

Amy points, “Not that one.”

Jess rolls her eyes. “I put it down nice. You’ll have to put everything down gentle. You’ll always have to think about it.” Jess leans her elbows on the counter.

Amy doesn’t move close, instead she crosses her arms; her pink cardigan bunches at her elbows as she concentrates on the polished counter. “So?”

Jess looks up, “So what?”

Amy opens her arm, palm up in question.

Jess watches Amy, her eyes narrow and she bites her bottom lip close to her steel lip ring.

Amy shakes her head. “You come all the way here to ask why I put something normal in my house. Normal people do this. What about you, huh? What about that?” Amy points her chin toward Jess’s mouth.

“You mean my ring or this—” Jess sticks out her tongue and shows a steel stud in the middle of her pink tongue.

Amy breathes out slow. “Does it matter. Both?” Amy shrugs and mumbles, “One addiction to the next.”

Jess stands up, “I’m a lot things, but I’m not deaf. And it’s none of your damn business.”

Amy rounds on Jess and closes the gap between them. “Exactly. It’s none of your business that I have granite in my kitchen or if every one of my glasses breaks because of it.”

Jess leans away, “Jesus—”

“Is it money you want for blow, juice, whatever? What do you want?” Amy gestures wildly.

Without a word, Jess snakes her arm into her back pocket of her jeans and takes out her phone.

Amy leans one hand on the counter and one on her hip, “What is this?”

“Can you shut up for one second? I’m trying to show you something.” She fiddles with her phone for a couple of moments. “Here.” She hands the phone to Amy. On the screen is a photo.

Amy raises her eyebrow but takes the phone.

Jess points, “You’ll find more if you swipe.”

Amy narrows her eyes as she flips through them. Jess cranes her neck a little closer to Amy and watches her steady inhale and exhale. She waits to see some kind of shock or recognition. Nothing.

Amy looks up from the phone and shrugs. “So?”

Jess’s jaw drops, “That’s all you have to say? Did you even look at them?”

Amy shrugs again.

Jess grabs the phone and flips through the photos. She finds the worse one and points the screen in Amy’s face. “This.”

Amy folds her arms and stares at some space beyond Jess’s shoulder. “It’s not him. You’re crazy.”

Jess’s disbelief turned into a mean smile. “Oh, I’m crazy? I saw it with my two eyes and I’ll have new photos next week, too. He does it every week in the back of his Mercedes in the back of O’Reilly’s parking lot. Every week.”

Amy blinked, “Get out.”

Jess laughs, “Now I see,” She shakes her head. “Shit. You already knew. What are you still doing here?” She gestures around the house, “For this, really?”

Amy stands as still as a reed. “And you’re so perfect.”

Jess shakes her head in surrender, “You know what? I’m out.” She grabs her keys and just as she turns for the door, she picks up the glass on the counter and looks at it. “I have my answers here.” She lets it go and it falls.

Amy inhales and rushes forward to catch it but it shatters and shards scatter everywhere. “Seriously?”

“Right back at ya,” Jess raises her fingers to her lips, “Oops.”

“Fuck you, Jess. You have no right.”

“Yeah, well,” Jess shrugs, playing cool, “At least I know I’m not the only fucked up one. There’s comfort in that.”

“Get out. Leave. Now. Getoutgetoutgetoutgetoutgetout.” Like an avalanche, Amy’s scream follows Jess out of the front door and into her beat up Volvo. She revs her engine, shifts into first and speeds away.

Jess twiddles her fingers on the wheel. She’d never let Amy know she was shaky from the whole thing. Never. She leans toward her glove box and flicks it open; sitting in a bed of hair ties, cigarette packs, and pens is a pistol. She slams the door closed and grips the wheel tight.

It’s her turn to be the big sister.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Resting Places

One is by the bamboo, one by the fallen Douglas fir; the Russian Blue with the white diamond lies under a single iris. Under forest canopies through all their years they roamed; deep below the roots, they now rest their weary paws.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Animal Farm

This is kinder somehow.
A shotgun to the head,

Like a third eye and
Them taking their final bow;
An easier good-bye.

With burdened bodies
And broken hind legs,
Death is a simpler way.

Only real cages
Create a cage with in;
Death takes them from this hell.

Peeled like walnut husks,
Their blood skins and stiff fur
Bleached and washed down the drain;

A careless insult of
All that salt and iron
Bathing in copper stench.

The living dead are near
With marred mouths shrieking, but
No one who cares will hear

Their language of fear with
Final cacophonies
Eulogies everywhere.

They smell their kin dying.
They all know their doom
Their families screaming,

And though their awkward tongues
Do not move as our own,
All of them repeating,

“We’re not here for slaughter,
We are here for you.
If you treat us kind,
We would die for you.

But this murder of our heads,
This blasting of our brains,
Our knees buckling
To the butcher’s refrain;

Treat us gently,
Treat us good,

We would go willing
To your table’s brood.

But abuse us and
Take our pastures away
And place us in a cage,

And you will see the day
When our hooves turn to justice
And our tongues learn your ways;

One day, our backs will carry no longer
The hot brands of slaves.”

Meet the Parents

“We can say we met at our kayak club,” Kara says.

Jeff clutches his heart, “Your daughter paddled into my heart.”

“That's cheesy.”

He shrugs, “It's better than saying we met online.”

She snorts, “Yeah, my parents aren’t ready to hear that.”

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I Remember (1996)

I remember you
Piano and plastic Viking hat.
I remember you
Banjo and kidney pool.
I remember you
Replica home
And thumbnail shingles.
I remember you
Well-worn rugged chair
And ceramic coffee cup.
And I remember you
This and that,
But always forgotten
In the aftermath.
I remember you
Oxygen tank
And hospital gown.
I remember you
Daddy’s tears
And open casket.

I remember you
The white
And the blackness.
I try to imagine you
Funeral pyre,
In a boat asleep,
Fire arrows sweep
The heavens;
Heat and cinder
Wash you away
Into tidal waters.

But instead I remember you,
Beneath dandelions and stone
Buried deep down;

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Great Escape

I sit outside at the table; don't touch the check. Instead I wait for her to return from the bathroom. But then, I spy her legs poking out of the window and then her skirt flying up in the wind. “Not again!”

Friday, May 8, 2015

Friday Writing Inspirations and Links to Awesomeness!

On this fine Friday, I want to give everyone a nice bouquet of inspiration from some great links that I’ve recently uncovered.

Happy Mother’s Day!

First off, I want to give a shout out to Yeah Write. I just discovered their website through another fellow blogger. They have free weekly writing contests in nonfiction, fiction/poetry, and microstories. When you submit your work, the editors choose the best of the writing and if your writing doesn’t make it to the voting stage, then they will send you a letter with advice and suggestions. That’s free writing advice folks!

They also have a Writing Forum and a Writing Help section on their website useful for even the most advanced writer. Go check out their submissions guidelines here. I hope to see your work next to mine this coming Monday!

Next, I want to share with you a poet that I just stumbled across a couple of days ago, Melissa Barret. She won the 6th annual Narrative Magazine Poetry Contest last year, which the magazine will be taking submissions this year starting May 20th.

What I love about her poems is her random references and snippets of information you glean. I also love the many sexual innuendos that she drops in for comic and serious effect. You can check out a couple of her poems here and you can read her interview here.

I recently came across an interview where Maria Popova, manager of Brain Pickings, has a conversation with Alexandra Horowitz about her book On Looking: Eleven Walks With Expert Eyes. She explains how when people narrow their focus on a task, they block out much of what is going on around them. This gets work accomplished, but we end up also blocking out all of the stimuli that makes life memorable and worthwhile. Their conversation is an eye opener, no pun intended! Horowitz’s findings made me think about what I see and don’t see and how that affects my life and creativity.
You can listen to the interview here.
Have you hear of the wonderful spoken word poet, Sarah Kay? I think her best performance was at TED. I imbedded the video, but you can also find the video of her performance here.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Night Moments

Like hard candy disappearing
Between tooth and cheek
Melding into indents
And crevices of enamel
I glide into your mouth
Along with your cigarette
Smoke. The cylinder of white paper
And tobacco sucking
Your wet tongue
Dry with heat and cinder.
There are no peace pipes between us.
I want to cry the black night into stars,
Connect tears into our names,
The curves of our faces.
But no one will write us into the sky.
Our names and bodies
Masked and stifled by time.
No one will remember this moment,
Except you and I.
Only my tears and your smoke,
In the air,
Will signal the future
To come a little closer
And proceed.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Phoenix at Eagle Creek

"The great basalt columns rising to my right..."
It was the night after the hike at Eagle Creek when my sickness started; after I saw the Devil’s Punchbowl. It spun me in that snow melt water. I hiked calf deep in the river and waded up to my thighs to see the waterfall before me with the great basalt columns rising to my right; long strands of moss dripped off of the cliffs in the heat.

Then that night, a terrible suffocation gripped my throat. I awoke tangled in sheets with my heart beating fast. Anxiety and tremors followed me and a sense of doom and loss of control. Overnight, I had become a shadow of my former self. I felt encased in ice—frozen—but not preserved. The world continued to turn, and I continued to decay, but to me time itself had ceased to move forward.

It evolved mid-July with the sleepless humidity; the kind that turns everything into an orange glow and brings heavy dark clouds and the dusty smell before it rains. It started at Eagle Creek, but I cannot blame the heat or the devil, or the cold of the river. It was just where my sickness built momentum; where I started to recognize the beginning of my foundations eroding. It was that night everything came to a head and I lay in bed, eyes wide, unable to calm the fire building within me.

I couldn’t extinguish it even with the tears I cried. It was persistent like the flutter of my heart beat. All along, all of the faintings and symptoms, everything I never noticed before, finally surfaced into a cacophony that kept me awake. I didn’t find out until later that every pain had been pointing toward my throat. The kindling. The cigarette butt that started it all.

Grave’s disease, a form of hyperthyroidism, won’t send you to your grave, but it will send you to the floor, face first.
Flat, limp, and sweaty to the floor.

Most people never faint; many don’t know you can hear everything around you. You try to tell your body to move; to stand up, get up, sit up—anything—but you lay motionless and drained, completely aware of the sounds of your mother screaming “Wake up! Wake up!” But you don’t have the power to brush off the humiliation; you don’t even have the strength to lift your eye lids.
I felt bent and backward; my head spun. My joints ached and popped and paper and pen became a necessity at every moment; to remember to wash the dishes, or that my shift was 4 to 9, or that I needed to wash the dishes. I felt like a broken circle, a crooked wheel. I kept turning, but everything wobbled and dragged. All the while, through the end of summer, through autumn and winter, my fire burned, never satisfied.

In my dreams, I swam through an iodine sea, dark brown, and it snaked all around me like ink in clear water. I remember the white sanitized room with a window looking out to the hospital parking lot. The nurse with thick gloves ceremoniously brought the huge pill to me at an arm’s length away. As far away from herself as she could without dropping it or throwing it at me. This pill contained a new fire, a strange and dangerous one that moved like ink in my blood and through my thyroid. That sweet radioactive iodine. Iodine-123.

My doctor could have diagnosed me with anxiety and depression, prescribed me with Paxil or any other anti-depressant, and had me go on my way; another victim misdiagnosed.

I was lucky.
I was given three little pills a day. Chalky white. Uncoated, bitter. But they were slow, so frustratingly slow. For months, I still felt like I was being burned dry and left as ash to float off with the wind.

I loved when my doctor drew my blood. He would tie the rubber tourniquet tight around my right arm, tap his finger on the vein at the curve of my elbow, and swab it with alcohol. I would look away as he slipped the thick needle into my arm, and then I would look back as his three vials, one at a time, filled with my blood. Each blood test showed setbacks or progress, but most of all it showed the dwindling of my fire, the calming of flames, a reigning back of damage and the promise of unbroken sleep.

I counted days and months and years. Then I began counting down pills: three a day, two a day, then one, a half, a quarter, and then none. I watched and waited. I tested my footing.

I walked through the forest of my body and all that was left was char and blackened branches, scorched leaves, the sharp pungent perfume of wood smoke. All I heard was a buzzing quiet in the aftermath of fire. I was scarred by fire. I had become defined by my sickness; it had become my every day, my new normal.
But one day—while I was lost in thought—I found a bud within me. I reached toward it and new leaves unfolded. As more days passed, a new self began to grow from the wreckage; someone that I began to get acquainted with; someone who was stronger and more capable; someone who had been burned and consumed by fire and then reborn. I was no longer defined by my disease or how I was before I got sick; instead I was new, without lines or boundaries. I was a blank slate with one choice: I could trace the old familiar lines of my former self and color within them, or I could be the survivor that I was, embrace the second life that was given to me, and rise as a phoenix.

I chose to rise.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Snow and Ice

The semi slid and ratcheted his brakes; he jackknifed and I ended. I don’t remember how, but I found myself floatin' above my once lucky station wagon that wasn’t lucky no more and my body that lay out in the snow, peaceful-like.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Poetry: Skim Milk

Today's the last day of National Poetry Month! Good-bye everyone until next year. I will continue to post poems, prompts, other interesting content, and yeah write submissions on my blog. I hope everyone will come and visit from time to time.

For today's prompt, I reversed a poem that I had already written and I liked how it turned out. It turned out a little creepier than before. What do you all think?

Skim Milk
By Brittany M.

No substance to me.
I skim milk, thin milk,
That blue tinged remaining,
And got left overs.
That old yellow butter cream
Threw away the old me.
But to separate me into two
Careful not to mix up.
Submerge myself
Bottled up milk jug new.
A self I always wanted
Pale blue, fat-free me.
To get that ambrosia
I threw bone and skin
To roiling high
I turned up the pot,
I boiled myself thin;
I skim milk, thin milk;
No substance to me.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Poetry: Review of 10 Year Old HP Laptop: 2 out of 5 Stars

10 Year Old HP Laptop: 2 out of 5 stars
By Brittany M.

When your screen goes black,
I know you’re being coy with me,
Trying to bring a semblance of
Mystery back into our relationship.

And when you won’t shut off
I know you just can’t stand
To part with my sexy face.
Am I right?

When your keyboard buttons
Stick just long enough for
Mmmm and llll to be typed,
I know you’re speaking to me,
Either in Morse code or cyphers,
But I always delete them before you
Can finish your message.

I’m sure you load my webpage
At a snail’s pace because you
Want some intimate time
Before I zone out on Facebook.

You complain I never spend time
With you anymore, you’re afraid
I’ll find someone new, but you don’t
Care that I feel suffocated by your
Inability to maintain three tabs
On the browser without crashing.

Honestly, I’m afraid of losing all
Of my data, losing all of the hard work
I’ve put into you. I know one day
You’ll crash and ruin everything
Between us just out of spite.

So I’ve decided to put control
Back into my own hands,
Take the reins of my destiny
And go with the new model,
The one down the street with
The Pentium i7 processor.

I give her 5 stars out of 5 stars
Because she works out religiously.
Like look at that svelte lightweight
Design. Plus,
I can show her off to my friends.

For you, I’ll give you a two.
One for nostalgia and
One out of pity.

Without You

Everything kept me awake that night: The clacking sound of the electric baseboards, the swish of traffic outside the curtained window, the ticking of the clock above the headboard, and your cold imprint next to me; your smell fading from the pillows.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Poetry: Our Bridges

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write about bridges, either literally or metaphorically…

Our Bridges
By Brittany M.
I bridge you to my heart.
We collect new rhythms;
Build bridges across rivers;
Burrow tunnels
Through the mountains
Between us.
No barrier exists that can
Withstand us.
Our two bodies connect,
Stitched and sewn.
Two strange lands
Bridged by arms and legs,
Through breath and sound,
Together we make a new land
With the rules of our choosing.
We become the sacred
And the ritual, the stone
And water, the tree and fern.
Our bodies grow together
Knitted deep in the body of our earth.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Poetry: Weeping Willows

Today's NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a hay(na)ku which is similar to a haiku with three lines, but it only has one word on the first line, two on the second, and three on the third. I decided to make a poem that comprises of multiple hay(na)ku poems and played around with the form on the page.

Weeping Willows
By Brittany M.

The woods,
Past the lake,
Drip heavy
With long mosses.

The mosses
Toward the ground;

Long           a     e
Strands w     v             

A new breed of

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Poetry: To be Nameless

Today's NaPoWriMo prompt was to write about someone famous with the poetic form of a Clerihew. Here goes...

To be Nameless
By Brittany M.

She shares my name, Britney Spears.
She took the Canada train in tears;
Ventured out beyond her fame
And met a goat herder without a name.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Poetry: To Dickinson

So today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to rewrite an existing poem or reply in a sarcastic or biting manner to a poem. I wrote this yesterday in response to Emily Dickinson’s poem “She Rose to His Requirement.”

In a way, my poem is both an apology and a rub in the face, specifically the last line. I posted her poem below mine so you can see the subject matter. If you notice, Dickinson is being snide and patronizing to a friend or someone she knows who ‘sold out’ and got married…

Also, has an excellent podcast called "Amplitude and awe" that looks at this poem in depth.
To Dickinson
By Brittany M.
I once was an Emily—
Just like you.
I once swore it all off
And never left home.
I loved instead obscurity
And relished dusty tomes.
But one day—
Everything changed.
I searched—
Desperate to be loved.
I sold out—
Yes, it’s true.
Time caught up with me,
My clock never stopped—
I couldn’t slow my second hand.
But in my writing—
Nothing’s changed.

I’m the lucky one.
I was born in a day and age
Where marriage is not an end.
Instead, I get to play with word—
Dally with phrase—
Even with a ring on my hand.


She Rose to His Requirement
By Emily Dickinson

She rose to His Requirement — dropt
The Playthings of Her Life
To take the honorable Work
Of Woman, and of Wife —

If ought She missed in Her new Day,
Of Amplitude, or Awe —
Or first Prospective — Or the Gold
In using, wear away,

It lay unmentioned — as the Sea
Develop Pearl, and Weed,
But only to Himself — be known
The Fathoms they abide —

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Poetry: Queen of Diamonds

We're getting close to the end of April! Soon it won't be National Poetry Month, what am I going to do with my time???


Write poetry of course!

So today's NaPoWriMo prompt was to choose a random card from a deck and free write about it and then convert the free write into a poem. Some how I ended up with the Queen of Diamonds...So I decided to write a sonnet in honor of her awesomeness. Here you go...

Queen of Diamonds
By Brittany M.
Contained within me the reddest mirrors,
Concave with four sharp points, a weapon thus
Summons images of my foes clearer
And lures and persuades them without fuss.
My judgment as beautiful and as cold
As carbon found in the grayest of caves
And any who dare look upon me too bold
Will grieve the shadows of an early grave.
My sire more divine than any before,
King of diamonds hard and unyielding,
And written in our history’s lore
I am by his side, never conceding.
We greet our gods as equals in the stars
Our bodies diamonds eternal in the dark.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Poetry: Sonnet of West to East

For today's prompt NaPoWriMo asked us to write a pastoral or nature poem in honor Earth Day. I decided to write a Shakespearean sonnet about how I moved from the west coast to the east coast.

Sonnet of West to East
By Brittany M.
I said my farewells to redwoods and coons,
Wandered Pacific beaches one last time,
Flew like a bird over snowcapped Mount Hood,
And trekked cliffs spotted with bright lichen lime.
Disappeared into wet Siskiyou caves,
Ventured through rainforests covered in mists,
Laid in thick loam and observed how clouds crave
For Spring’s yearly entrance and fragrant kiss.
Traveled west to east, a reverse unseen,
Went from nature back to cultivation,
Left pastoral and passed unmarked in between
Boarders and miles of populous nations.
Through my tear stained face, I said my goodbyes
And pointed my toes east with head held high.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Poetry: Found Poem General Bongo Has an Opinion

Alright, today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to do a “found” poem. I got my source from the New York Times article “A Grizzlies Fan Finds Fame asthe Bongo Lady” by Scott Cacciola. I cut the first part of the article off to save some space. At the end of the poem, I showed the whole article blacked out.

General Bongo Has an Opinion
By Brittany M.
About 25 miles south,
General Bongo said
hands drift away,
playing authenticity.
Bongo was mortified
By his God.
“He catches us
In that moment
As soon as you
Can’t control yourself.”
Bongo worked varying
Degrees of glory.
He throws inventive
On Sunday to
Experience clearly
Minutes stretched to
Savor insanity.
Some people enjoy it.

While other sports teams across the country run their own versions of Bongo Cam during games — it tends to be a crowd pleaser — it is uniquely popular in Memphis, and that is largely because of Meacham, who lives in Hernando, Miss., about 25 miles south.

“She’s been terrific,” General Manager Chris Wallace said.

People are generally surprised to learn that Meacham practices domestic law and works as a part-time judge. Yes, Bongo Lady is a judge. In the process, she has forfeited some of her anonymity. On Beale Street, fellow fans stop her and ask for photographs. Then again, she does wear a Grizzlies jersey that reads “Bongo Lady” across the back.

It should be noted that Meacham has no formal musical training. Her bongo wizardry is self-taught. The key, she said, is to stay on the bongos. Too many fans let their hands drift away, which makes their playing look inexact. Meacham strives for authenticity.

“And I don’t even know when Bongo Cam is coming on,” she said, “so I can’t warm up for it.”

As is the case in most great showbiz acts, Meacham has a sidekick: her 18-year-old son, Hayden, who often accompanies her to home games. He did not choose the role. He said he was genuinely mortified by his mother’s behavior.

“I guess I’ve gotten used to it,” he said. “She lets out this shriek when she does it. It actually scares me sometimes.”

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Hayden was with her the first time the Grizzlies broke out Bongo Cam, during the 2012-13 season. Malenda Meacham heard the music and felt the rhythm, and something compelled her to rise from her seat and start thrashing away. It was unscripted theater.

“Hayden starts going, ‘Dear God, please don’t let them see her,’ ” Meacham said. “He’s next to me, shrinking over, and then the camera catches us.”

In that moment, Bongo Lady was born. By his mother’s third appearance on Bongo Cam that season, Hayden had decided to come prepared. As soon as he heard those familiar lyrics pump through the arena’s speaker system — “Come on, shake your body, baby, do the conga / I know you can’t control yourself any longer” — he put a paper bag over his head.

“Oh,” his mother said, “it’s just awful for him.”

Meacham, whose team jersey reads, “Bongo Lady,” is often accompanied to games by her son, Hayden. Credit Brad J. Vest for The New York Times

By then, Meacham was the clear star of Bongo Cam. The Grizzlies have even worked Allen, the team’s defense-minded wing, into the production. As the camera trains on other fans who try their hands at the (pseudo) bongos, with varying degrees of success, Allen appears on the video board in a recorded bit.

“Where you at, Bongo Lady?” Allen says as he shades his eyes with his hand and swivels his head from side to side, scanning the crowd.

Then, boom: Bongo Lady appears, in all her hyperactive glory. It can be a distraction for players, who are supposed to be paying attention to their coaches during timeouts.

“I’ll take a peek up there,” Jon Leuer said.

“People go nuts for it,” Jeff Green said.

Meacham has a particularly special bond with Allen, who presented her with an autographed bongo at an event for season-ticket holders. Allen, who recently signed on as a spokesman for Memphis International Airport, said it was unusual for one fan to become something of a symbol for the team. But Bongo Lady has managed to pull it off.

“Shout-out to the Bongo Lady,” said Allen, who likes to give his closest friends a hand gesture that he calls the deuces. “Even when she’s not dancing, I always wave at her, give her the deuces and say hello. She throws the deuces right back. It’s all love.”

The Grizzlies are known for being inventive with their in-game productions. On Sunday, during the Grizzlies’ Game 1 victory, Super Grizz — the alter ego of the team’s highly popular mascot, Grizz — jumped off a ladder near midcourt to body-slam a bear wearing a Trail Blazers uniform through a table.

Jason Potter, the team’s director of promotions and event marketing, said Bongo Cam was only one element of a larger experience for fans, but clearly a valued one.

“You never know what can’t-miss moment you could see at a Grizzlies game,” Potter said.

Meacham acknowledged that her 15 minutes of fame had stretched to 45. But she plans to savor it while it lasts.

“It’s insanity,” she said. “I’m sure it annoys some people, but most seem to enjoy it.

Hayden will be off to college in the fall. His mother suggested that it would make her incredibly happy if he would join her on the bongos — just once — before he goes.

“Whatever,” he said.

If nothing else, Meacham said her time as Bongo Lady had taught her an important lesson.

“If you play air instruments,” she said, “you can go places.”