I’m writing a new poem every day for the month of April and posting it on this blog. Please support me by following my blog, liking and sharing, and offering constructive comments. The more people I feel accountable to, the more I’ll feel pressured to keep my resolution. It almost goes without saying, but please keep in mind that all of these poems are first drafts. In fact, I’m writing them mere minutes before posting them. It’s an experiment in bravery. Be gentle with them.

 

 
Language Barrier
Gloria C. Adams

Around here
the students use Spanish
like a volleyball net.
Really, you can only be on one side of it at a time.

Around here
the students use language
like a battering ram.
They lift it in groups and try to knock me back
bust me open, tear down my defenses.

In the back of the classroom,
Joy sits, machine gunning
French into a cell phone.
Last week, it was something else,
a language I did not recognize
that carried the lilt of her African origin.

On my first day,
I invited the students to ask me questions.
Every class had one who wanted to know
if I spoke Spanish
so they would know whether they could play
keep away with their intentions,
whether they could yell out in class
and pass off a lie about what they meant.

But Joy asked
how many languages I spoke,
not caring which ones precisely
but rather looking to respect me or to not respect me
based on how agile my tongue was.

When I responded that I spoke some German,
but that my education had focused on the perfection of my English,
Joy made a sound that in any language means
you have not done enough.

I’m writing a new poem every day for the month of April and posting it on this blog. Please support me by following my blog, liking and sharing, and offering constructive comments. The more people I feel accountable to, the more I’ll feel pressured to keep my resolution. It almost goes without saying, but please keep in mind that all of these poems are first drafts. In fact, I’m writing them mere minutes before posting them. It’s an experiment in bravery. Be gentle with them.

 

 

 

Exoskeleton
Gloria C. Adams

If I could discard a piece of myself–
cling hard to the trunk of a tree,
pull back and up
the way boys on bicycles
pull to balance on one wheel–

could I escape myself?

If you discovered my leavings–
an imprint of what I am now,
refuse to continue being–
would you know my pull?

Which self would you pin down
for your collection?

And which part would feel more discarded:
the sticky, breathing insides
or the husk, entirely devoid
but at least willing to remain?

I’m writing a new poem every day for the month of April and posting it on this blog. Please support me by following my blog, liking and sharing, and offering constructive comments. The more people I feel accountable to, the more I’ll feel pressured to keep my resolution. It almost goes without saying, but please keep in mind that all of these poems are first drafts. In fact, I’m writing them mere minutes before posting them. It’s an experiment in bravery. Be gentle with them.

 

 

 

Body
Gloria C. Adams

Who decides your body?

Do they strip you bare?
Do you scratch and bite
at their alterations?

I would dress your wounds.
Would you shy away
from my cold touch?

Would you lean forward,
as my cat might,
and press your face into my body?

If you could find your hands,
would you reach
for me?

How far would you go
before you stretched too thin
and snapped?

I’m writing a new poem every day for the month of April and posting it on this blog. Please support me by following my blog, liking and sharing, and offering constructive comments. The more people I feel accountable to, the more I’ll feel pressured to keep my resolution. It almost goes without saying, but please keep in mind that all of these poems are first drafts. In fact, I’m writing them mere minutes before posting them. It’s an experiment in bravery. Be gentle with them.

Old Testament Sense of Humor
Gloria C. Adams

If your wife is cheating on you
and you begin to be suspicious
take her to church and poison her.

Do this, even if you are just jealous
and there is no reason for suspicion.
Take her to church and poison her.

If it works, you are justified in doing so:
this is proof of infidelity.
If nothing happens to her,
you are still justified in doing so:
this is proof of fidelity.

When we are counting the Numbers,
we leave a few out.
It isn’t easy to profess the Word
of love,
or forgiveness,
or eternal life,
when we are faced with the word of God
from last season’s issue.

Like a fashion editor
who years ago printed a spread
featuring a zip-up, one-peice polyester jumper
and must now only sigh and laugh,
Well, it was the seventies- what do you expect?

God must sit over his words and wonder,
Was it what I said
or what they heard
that got so far off topic?

Of course,
it’s just as likely
that he looks at our churches now
and wonders why we don’t bother
poisoning our wives these days.

I’m writing a new poem every day for the month of April and posting it on this blog. Please support me by following my blog, liking and sharing, and offering constructive comments. The more people I feel accountable to, the more I’ll feel pressured to keep my resolution. It almost goes without saying, but please keep in mind that all of these poems are first drafts. In fact, I’m writing them mere minutes before posting them. It’s an experiment in bravery. Be gentle with them.

 

 

 

Apples and Apples
Gloria C. Adams

She refuses even a bite
of the apple slices I have presented
with her lunch.

When I tell her that these are just apples,
namesake of the juice and the sauce
that she so greedily inhales,
she only shakes her head
and tells me that they’re gross.

If I insist, they’re the same thing
she will only clench her lips
because she knows better than I do
that these things are not the same.

And I wonder, am I the hypocrite?
When have I been the one to shake my head
and insist that these things are not good
and are certainly not the same?

I’m writing a new poem every day for the month of April and posting it on this blog. Please support me by following my blog, liking and sharing, and offering constructive comments. The more people I feel accountable to, the more I’ll feel pressured to keep my resolution. It almost goes without saying, but please keep in mind that all of these poems are first drafts. In fact, I’m writing them mere minutes before posting them. It’s an experiment in bravery. Be gentle with them.

Time Travel
Gloria C. Adams

If you are anxiously awaiting
the invention of time travel
in hopes that it will make available
an “unsend” button
that retrieves regrettable messages
not only after an accidental send,
but also after the inevitable fallout
of saying something innocuous
that your recipient was not
inoculated against

you will never be satisfied.

You will find yourself in an infinite loop:
always trying to say the right thing,
always thinking it could go better,
never bothering to let it play out
never taking a deep breath
and working through the shame.

If I could go back and change anything,
I would not wake you before the fire caught.
You would have only kept it from catching.

Instead, I would give myself the time it took
to sneak around the house while you sleep,
gather your photo albums and love letters,
and watch you scramble from the flames,
all coughing and desperation,
finally ready for a reconstruction
that I would never deny you.

I’m writing a new poem every day for the month of April and posting it on this blog. Please support me by following my blog, liking and sharing, and offering constructive comments. The more people I feel accountable to, the more I’ll feel pressured to keep my resolution. It almost goes without saying, but please keep in mind that all of these poems are first drafts. In fact, I’m writing them mere minutes before posting them. It’s an experiment in bravery. Be gentle with them.

 

 

 

Specificity
Gloria C. Adams

There are words
no one else will ever understand
for what they mean to me,
words packed tightly with meaning
the way the suitcases piled in the back of the van
threatened to crush anyone who opened the hatch.

I have to remind myself sometimes
that there are things about me
you never knew.

You are like that game
that I can never stop losing-
even thinking of you
makes me feel like a loser,
and you have attached yourself
to the definitions of words
spread throughout my brain.
There is no putting you out of my head.

We call them inside jokes
because they are stuck inside me,
beating against my insides,
and I’ll never get them out of me.

I have to remind myself sometimes
that there are things about me
no one but you will ever know.

I’m writing a new poem every day for the month of April and posting it on this blog. Please support me by following my blog, liking and sharing, and offering constructive comments. The more people I feel accountable to, the more I’ll feel pressured to keep my resolution. It almost goes without saying, but please keep in mind that all of these poems are first drafts. In fact, I’m writing them mere minutes before posting them. It’s an experiment in bravery. Be gentle with them.

 

 
Five
Gloria C. Adams

When I returned from my weekly night out,
I found her in my bed
surrounded by evidence
of a hard fought battle against sleep:

a cloud of baby powder brightening my sheets,
a hand held game system still singing and blinking,
a scattered handful of plastic ponies.

I have found her like this a hundred times
and yet, something about the scene
feels different.

Perhaps it’s nothing more than the proximity
of a birthday,
but the way she stretches in her yawns
looks so much more five
than she ever could have
last week.

I’m writing a new poem every day for the month of April and posting it on this blog. Please support me by following my blog, liking and sharing, and offering constructive comments. The more people I feel accountable to, the more I’ll feel pressured to keep my resolution. It almost goes without saying, but please keep in mind that all of these poems are first drafts. In fact, I’m writing them mere minutes before posting them. It’s an experiment in bravery. Be gentle with them.

Names changed to protect confidentiality.

 

 

The First


for Hsa

Where is she now,
I wonder now and then,
when I see the glimmer of her face
in another student’s confusion,
or when a student buries their hands
under the desk
to eliminate the suspicion
that they were trying
to answer anyone’s questions.

Sometimes, I think about the day,
in a hint of summer air,
she mastered in minutes
a full deck of sight word flash cards,
and how, when we returned to the classroom
to retrieve a book to read together,
her classroom teacher clicked her tongue
in disbelief- how could this hopeless case
have worked her way through the cards
so quickly?

So the woman held up every card in the box,
and the girl whispered each word
with a circuitous gaze- eyes on the card, then me,
then the card again, uncertain, but always correct.
Was it the gentle coaxing we’d developed outside,
or the reassuring nods and smiles I was certain to give
that she was looking for with every word?

Sometimes, I think about the day
our annual Texas ice storm passed through
and we gathered in the library,
talking about Cinderella,
her favorite of the princesses.
I still wonder if Cinderella came with her
from her home country,
or if Cinderella was the one cultural icon
that this girl could get a grip on here,
the one tiny touchstone she and I
could both reach.

There is one of these for every student.

I have to remind myself of this
when Sam is half an hour late to class with no note,
when Ellen comes to school covered in tiny scrapes,
when Marcus resolutely denies himself
and tells me, “it just be like that sometimes,”

I have to remind myself
that I have done more with less;
that without even the slim thread
of common language
I have led a student to write a book
because it was about Cinderella.

I’m writing a new poem every day for the month of April and posting it on this blog. Please support me by following my blog, liking and sharing, and offering constructive comments. The more people I feel accountable to, the more I’ll feel pressured to keep my resolution. It almost goes without saying, but please keep in mind that all of these poems are first drafts. In fact, I’m writing them mere minutes before posting them. It’s an experiment in bravery. Be gentle with them.

 

 

Cinephilia
Gloria C. Adams

It wasn’t until I had spent the week
gnawing on the hands that fed me,
clawing instead of crying on the shoulders of friends,
spitting in my own food,
and rolling my eyes
on the ground until they were coated in gravel,

that I realized it had been a month since my last film.

I left a tense dinner with friends,
drove straight to the theater,
and handed over my card
for the last showing of the night.

The slope of the stadium seating,
the sugar high of a tiny ten dollar soda,
the familiar irritation of the advertisements
that precede the advertisements
that precede the film,
were a rough and flavored pig’s ear
on my howling canine teeth.

Like meditation,
the lights dimmed.
Like intimacy,
my senses piqued.

Leaving the theater,
I had something positive to say.
This seemed miracle enough
to get me through the night.

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