I fear having nothing to say.
M loneliness has eased into an urge
to connect, to understand someone
and be understood in return.
But what is there to talk about?

Fragments drift through my mind.
I try sifting through them to find words –
and not just any words will do.
I want to find the right ones.

But every time I fish something out,
it turns out to be
just another soda ring in the ocean,
and I am left on the shore again,
fingers dripping,
trying to grasp something meaningful.

Copyright 2014 by Shannon Dennis


The Butterfly

As Elias lay in his hammock of flames
between the charred and dying trees,
he felt something soft graze his cheek –
a yellow butterfly’s wing,
tipped in black.
He turned his face,
and squinting through the smoke,
he could just barely see
the trace of its fragile form
before it fluttered away.

Copyright 2014 by Shannon Dennis

Poem of the Week: This is Just to Say, by William Carlos Williams

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

This is an imagist poem where what you see is what you get: a passive aggressive plum pilferer, probably scrawling this as a note while licking the plum juice off his fingers. The plural, “plums,” bugs me because he could have left her at least one, and still indulged his temptation in a halfway decent way. Some people say that this poem implies a level of intimacy between the narrator and his wife since he could predict what his wife would do with the plums. I personally think it implies the opposite. He may know her motivations and desires, but I think the intimacy from that is canceled out by the fact that he would sabotage a simple pleasure at the start of her day and then offer this smarmy, mocking apology. If this was written in the age of Twitter, he probably would have added a “Sorry Not Sorry” hashtag at the bottom. As annoying as it is, I still felt compelled to highlight this poem because it makes me smile at the same time. I have a thing for poems that can cause that kind of tension.

Source: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/245576
Photo: Plums, by Andy Price via Flickr Creative Commons

Poem of the week: The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognised as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.


I found some solace in this poem because I’m trying to do exactly what the narrator is doing – saving the only life I can save. I feel that the wind has been prying at the foundations of my own life as I have begun to question what I hadn’t questioned before, what I had just taken for granted as the path set before me. For years, I had assumed that my life would follow a certain pattern, including going to college, marrying a man, and having children. But I have come to realize that college may not be the right environment for me right now, I’m also attracted to people of other genders, and I’m not sure anymore if I want to get married or have children. Just like in this poem, people shout their bad advice: “Oh, so you want to work minimum wage the rest of your life?” “You’re not bi, it’s just a phase.” “You’ll change your mind.”

I’ve been charting unexplored territory here. It’s been invigorating, and I try to focus on that instead of letting other peoples’ reactions make me feel small. This poem challenges us to break away from society’s expectations and take care of ourselves. It’s heartbreaking to read about the narrator having to turn away from people who are also suffering, but I think that by making our own self care a priority, we will become wiser and stronger and ultimately more equipped to help others.

Source: http://maryoliver.beacon.org/2009/11/new-and-selected-one/

The Dissolution of Umi

Umi is dangerous.

She is clothed in shimmering water,

which she pulls back to reveal

the suppleness of her skin.

She pulls me in closer

for a kiss that takes me

into the black void of the ocean,

where twilight fish

carry lamps inside them

and giant isopods

scavenge the floor.

She lets me hold

the mist of her being

in my embrace.

I vowed never to let her go,

but I’m afraid it’s too late –

she is already slipping

through my fingers.

When our lips finally part,

mine are stained with the kind of blood

that will never wash away.

I want to call out to her,

but the icy water would crush

my lungs in seconds…

All I can do is watch, helplessly,

as her eyes roll back,

and the tendrils of her hair

float up like strands of seaweed,

until the rest of her dissolves

into a creamy foam.

I want nothing more

than to stay down here, with what is left of her,

but my body moves up,

as if someone is pulling a string

through my spine;

there is no way to fight it.

I break through the surface,

and up here, the water

is green and warm, with streaks

of sunlight.

I would much rather be

in the dark water with Umi,

even if I never saw the sun again.

With her hollow laugh

and the ripples of her skin

and undulating breasts,

and the enticing flow between her thighs,

I would not have needed the warmth.

But now she is gone –

and all I have left of her

is the metallic taste in my mouth.


Copyright 2014 by Shannon Dennis