If You Dream About Ballet Slippers

Day 14
Poem 14

I picked “ballet slippers” from the list of possible dream topics in today’s prompt.

If You Dream About Ballet Slippers

Are they soft slippers, flat, elastic bridging
the top? Are they small? They are open doors.
Note the direction they point. Take the path
and you will find your future but
carefully. The way is lined with ribbons
fraying and twisting and tripping.

Are they hard slippers, are they tall?
They often point down, urging you to stay.
They are pain, the beauty of broken things,
the inevitable blood of women.
There are ribbons here, but also blades
and flame and resin. They tell
of soft fingers over a bruise you’ve long
forgotten, the joy in the ache.

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Sleeping In

Day 13
Poem 13

Another take on today’s prompt, this one a more literal reversing of some proverbial phrases: “The early bird gets the worm” and “you made your bed; now you have to lie in it.”

Sleeping In

Untuck the covers and find
a strange new place to rest your mind.
The wriggling worm who stays in bed
is the one most likely to keep his head.
He may not watch when the sun does rise
but tomorrow will still meet his eyes.

Break My Bones

Day 13
Poem 12

Today’s prompt was about flipping a well-known saying on its head, so I chose one that has always seemed untrue to me: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.

Break My Bones

If pen bests sword and paper,
rock, Excalibur does not await a king
but a poet. The right phrase
will oil the locks, make blade
and stone give way.

What can it do to the human body?

I’ve known children who used words
to force cracks into bone, to erode
the very thing that holds me steady.
Adults with a taste for subtlety
drop truths and lies into the crowd
and wait for an explosion.

Branches mean no harm. Stones
slumber in the mud, keeping to
their own. Yet my own voice
can bleed me from within,
little blades.

Ballston

Day 12
Poem 11

My attempt at today’s haibun prompt. I’m not sure if this actually is a haibun or not, but it is at least haibun-inspired.

Ballston

They wrapped the trees in conservation fencing and built scaffolds
to block out the sky. There is constant changing. Clanging.
And when the wind blows too strong, it stings the eyes, whipping up bits
of Demolition in Progress. Caution. Each day, more ways are blocked.

Over blackened windows and half-erected towers:
Coming Soon.

To the Frog

Day 11
Poem 10

I decided to explore a problematic fairytale I rarely think about.

To the Frog

But did you consider the why?
Why I cursed you? You call it spite, but spite
takes care and I care little for you. I care for
the girls I’ve watched you cajole, wear down
with small favors tied up in your need.
The girls who feel uneasy when you demand
repayment in kind. There is nothing truly kind
in you. I changed you to teach you, if I could,
that this world owes you nothing, to spare
girlkind from your charming demeanor. Spare me
the excuses about how this princess is spoiled
and shallow. This story is not about her.
It is you, offering a moment of kindness
knowing it might land her in your debt forever,
buying you the right to lay claim to her bed.
Know this: no matter how many kisses you beg
from how many beautiful women, not one
will save you from yourself.

Barbie Shoes

Day 10
Poem 9

Yesterday’s prompt was about small things.

Barbie Shoes

When I bought her for two dollars at a yard sale from a girl
who’d outgrown dolls, Raven Queen was missing a shoe. What
child’s doll isn’t? I was once a loser of Barbie shoes but now
I’m good at them, I keep them on the proper feet or tucked
into carefully labeled bags for travel. I have learned
the art of finding lost things, catching sight
of the tiny plastic necklace nearly forgotten on the carpet,
craning to look over the bookshelf, under the couch.
But there’s still that magic in little shoes, that force
that draws them away, something unseen that feeds on them
or lines them up on the shelves of its hideaway.
My grownupness doesn’t scare it. The pair with the little pink
hearts at the ankle- something got to the left shoe first.
Now we each have one, me and you.

Magpie

Day 10
Poem 8

Got sick and fell a little bit behind!

Magpie

I left myself behind so you could find me later.
Usually once something is mine I keep it
but we let go of each other. The magpie in me
wanted to loop your apartment, gather every
grain of dust and strand of hair, all my things
and all of yours, too, but no. My ring
in the back of your drawer, a hairband
in the corner of your shower, bits
from my hoard to lure that most important treasure.
I wrote my name on a scrap of paper,
tucked it in your pillowcase. My passport
in the junk drawer, an invitation –
maybe it will open the door, bring you home
to me.