Poetry Archives – 5 Minute Poetry

5 Minute Poetry Challenges are one of my favorite things. For those not acquainted with the challenge, a prompt or title is posted in a group forum, and whoever feels inspired picks it up and writes about it for no more than 5 minutes.

Sometimes my resulting work is not good. Sometimes it is. But it’s always worth doing.

10  Amusing Things

You left
(which was funny because
you always said
you never would)
and you took the dog
but funnily enough
she was in the shelter
two days later with
I swear you said you changed it)
my number still on file
and when I brought her home
it was funny how little
she seemed to mind
that you weren’t there
as we sat on the couch
and watched a comedy
about a kitten
who would always be a kitten
and her ears stood up
in the funniest way
every time that movie kitten meowed
and later
when I was walking a little funny
and slammed my elbow
against the doorframe
and pretended
that’s why I was crying
I couldn’t help but laugh a little
because it tickled
when she licked my face
and the look in her eyes
when she jumped up
onto the big bed
and I let her have your pillow
was about the funniest thing
you’ll never see
A  Scraped Knee’s Worth

What I have to show for
the ride down
windblown hair tangled
with things I should
have thought of first
ankles weakened by
the trip to the top
hindsight I cannot take
for fear of
colliding yet again with
what I know
is waiting at the bottom
a head full of what-if
a scraped knee’s worth of learning
a bandage peeling up from
rounded corners
and something tender beneath
that in time
will be so much less

I eat dry toast for breakfast
and I tell myself
it’s the convenience
of the thing
the ease of getting from
Point (I’m hungry) A
Point (I don’t want to be hungry
anymore) B
and has nothing to do
with it being
the breakfast
people eat when they’re sick
or when their gut
is unsettled
or when they’re hungover
or exhausted
or just don’t feel like
they’re worth
cooking a nice breakfast for
because nice things
take effort
and this morning
I was out of bread
but still hungry
and had no choice
but to be
a little nicer
to myself
Clarice was the kind of kid who picked out the soft insides of the bun

Clarice was the kind of kid
who picked the soft insides out of the bun
on hamburger day
when she only ate the meat and
wilted lettuce
at the same table
with the same group of kids
the teachers always watched closely
not because they were rowdy
noisy distracting troublesome
but because they were
the kind of kids
who might become
the kind of adults
you don’t want to live next door to

Clarice rolled the soft bun insides
into balls
put them in a jar
with the caterpillars she found
on the playground
while she wasn’t wasting time
talking to anyone

and when she did
she smiled
the sort of smile
you might cross the street
to avoid
The Flamingo Lady

You can tell
that she was beautiful once
beneath the shapeless robe
and scuffed slippers
as she walks from the door
of her doublewide
to the mailbox
past her collection
of pink flamingoes
and back again
and if you catch her eye
you know
that she was beautiful once
and that she isn’t anymore
not because
of the ravages of time
and the weight of the years
and the trials and the sorrows
and all the rest of that romance novel bullshit
but because
she simply doesn’t want to be
George’s Movie Plot

There was a murder
and some heroin
and some guys in a car
and I think
maybe a cat
or a falcon
of course
a blonde
things were stolen
and stabbed
and set on fire
but it was funny
and heartwarming
it had something
for everyone
and he couldn’t
why my eyes
were glazing over
and why no one
had yet
knocked on his door
with a check
and a handshake
and a plane ticket to L.A.
since it had everything
and I didn’t have
the heart
to tell George
is just a bit
The Lamp

It was blue
with an ivory shade
the sort of lamp
you associate with France
for reasons
you may not
be able to explain
the sort of lamp
you think
will make you want
to do things
like drink better coffee
wear better shoes
present better arguments
become somehow
more interesting
the sort of lamp
described in catalogs as
and you bring it home
for reasons
you may not
be able to explain
any more clearly
than you can explain
you feel
like everything is so dark
in the first place
The Most Beautiful Thing in This Room

The most beautiful thing
in this ugly room
is a dirty mirror
flanked by dusty neon
pushing terrible beer
reflecting cracked barstools
spotted glasses
none of me
and all of you
Passive/Aggressive Grocery Shopping

My vegan roommate and I
are perfectly civil
(the least one can be
when sharing a bathroom with
one’s co-worker’s brother’s
wife’s spin instructor)
and have tiptoed our way
to a harmonious plateau
where she pretends
to not take it personally
when I cook bacon
and I
return the favor
when she tacks her
peanut butter
almond milk
coconut oil
shopping lists
under the same fridge magnet
as the prescription
for my epi pen

There are elebentybillion
(give or take)
poetry prompts on the Internet
some of which
(write the color blue!)
are considerably less prompty
than others
(a convincing bruise)
and every time I say
“I’m going to write
A Poem A Day
(outside of a middle school romance
no month will ever be this long)
I search these prompts

And then I say
“fuck it”
and go into last-call mode
grab some nonsensical
three word inspiration
(honey snake freeway)
like a twenty-something
whose last single friend
just got engaged
throws back a shot of
something she can’t even name
and leaves with
someone she can’t even name

ever hopeful
of something she can look at
the next day
without cringing
Purple Things

One sparkled
on my hand
the other bloomed
where yours
where you tried
to convince me
was as much what I was born into
the other

I got thirty bucks
on eBay
for the first

The second
has been
much harder to unload
September 28, 2016

My 38-year-old brother
weighs over 300 pounds
has a crewcut
and heavy dark eyebrows
walks a bit slow and slouched
his pants tend to sag
well below his waist
and very often
he looks like he’s scowling
at everything
and if armed men in uniform
ever surrounded him
shouted at him to “comply”
his three-year-old mind
would get upset and not understand
and he would do the thing he does
when he’s upset and doesn’t understand
where he squints his eyes
and waves his hands erratically
and starts yelling “noooooo”
but he’s white
so he’d probably be okay

My 5-year-old rescue dog
does not like strangers
and will not hesitate
to bark and growl
bare her teeth and snap at them
she’s never bitten anyone
but if she ever does
her head is distinctly not square
and she only weighs 12 pounds
so she’d probably be okay

So my only question right now
how can it matter
if my stuff will probably be okay
if the rest of the world
She Was Telling the Truth

if he does it again
I’ll kill him

but she wouldn’t
of course
because she hadn’t
and she didn’t
the night the thing
that keeps things
from happening
snapped clean
and sharp
and forever
the arm’s length thing
between what is
and what you wish
could be
lost its distance
its strength
all the power
that held her there
to let her go
and go she went
with the little cash
I had on me
barely out
of earshot as I told
the man with the badge
I hadn’t seen her
since Thursday
Smell of things that don’t smell much

Dust has a smell
that is nothing
like dust
like particles
like specks
like bunnies
but very much
like failure
like disappointment
like fear
that your mother
will stop by unannounced
and be overwhelmed
by its stenchless
The Squid, the Lampshade, and the Smell of Burning Tortillas

Something with squid
you insisted
or at least ink
I gulped another mouthful
of my (second) house margarita
and agreed
more for the sake
of avoiding an argument
than any particular like of squid
or need to be adventurous
I was just there
for the tortillas and alcohol
but it was your wallet
and our last date
(even if you didn’t know that part)
and as I breathed in the smell
of scorched corn
(and remembered some article
claiming they intentionally
burned a batch of tortillas
every hour
to prove they made them from scratch)
I couldn’t help but notice
the way the red lampshade
cast a warm light
across your face
which was appealing for a moment
until the shadows
made you look
more than a bit like
a comic book villain
and I changed my mind
about changing my mind
about this being our last date
Still Life

He asked
(I couldn’t believe
he asked
people actually ask
what’s your sign?

and I could only reply

You Are Here

and he could only stare

and I had no response to that

I never have
Suitcase from the Attic

When at last
two broken fingernails later
the clasps finally relented
at first all I saw
was sand
and a darkened place
on the lining
where something
had been spilled

I made the mistake
of poking around
and found
a pink thong that I knew
wasn’t mine
and a memory
that I wish weren’t
Taste of the color blue

Your mouth has gone cold
cottony cloudlike
a formation
without substance

I hear words
in gusts

and taste only things
that may storm
but will never rain
Taxidermy for Beginners

She lost her heart to
a pair of big brown eyes
and he to
the thought of
long walks
a meal at the same time
every day
discovering a bit late
as he missed
the unfamiliar scents
only found outside
that she preferred him
and not yapping quite so much
first thing in the morning
Things I took from you

I took what you called love
and gave you what I thought it was
(it had a lot to do
with the pretty parts of me
and that was my first mistake)

I took your forgiveness
for things I never did wrong
then from behind the locked door
I took the last tissue
from the box on your bathroom counter
wanting to believe
at least you owed me that
(even though somehow I never really believed
you owed me that)

I took your advice
on how I could be a better person
(which is all I ever really wanted)

I took and took and took
until beneath my greed
I couldn’t hold any more or less
(and somehow still didn’t feel like a better person)

Until I took your right to make me cry
(and someday I’ll take your power)
Tina Tries to Help

Tina tries, she really does,
with her umbrellas in August
and tales of when
that exact same thing
(plus or minus)
happened to her
(or was it her cousin)
her bedside clock is always
12 minutes fast
(or is it slow)
and the sewing kit in her purse
is missing all the needles

But Tina is the one
who will run out of gas
on her way to where
you are and no one else
is willing to go
at that hour
and when she finally arrives
she will always have
a safety pin and a tissue
What Every Poem Needs

What every poem needs
is simply to admit
it’s piss
nothing more or less
the inevitable outcome
of taking too much in
and letting it make you dizzy
trip you up
admit you love
and after you’ve
punched a stranger
lost a shoe
and forgotten what time it is
the best you can hope for
is a bit of privacy
and a clean surface
where you can
Your Front Door

What would you do
if I were

with no warning
(other than all the small warnings
you probably chose to ignore)
on your doorstep
overnight bag and heart in hand
asking the question
I’ve never asked
(other than a dozen times
in a hundred other words)

if I just up and flew
that few thousand miles
to get to you
what would you do?
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