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Archive for the ‘My Poems’ Category

Cafeteria Poems

Cafeteria

Girls with wide smiles meet

for jugs of mojitos

their laughter vibrates

 

Martini remains resemble a subtle sip of water

garnish come and gone

trembling above the shake of the table

as the waiters pass

 

There’s a hint of pepper in the salt shaker

 

Earlier today I went to the New York Library

and saw an exhibit on where people have eaten in the city

Where writers wrote and what they ate while writing

A few pages from Jack Kerouac’s manuscript

Maybe he listed the ingredients in the classic burger meal

Or maybe that burger wrote the story – indirectly, of course

 

I’m sitting with my laptop

wondering if I should note where I am right now

As though people might one day read this poem and wonder

 

Then wishing I had a notebook to write by hand

Because no one’s going to put this word document in a museum

After all, you could so easily make copies.

 

Wasting food

That’s two couples so far

who have left half their meals on their plates

and walked off

 

I wonder if the waiters cry when they see that

Not right away, as they’re clearing up the remains

But in the storeroom, later

 

Wondering,

why the salad and potatos always take the hit.

 

999

Before the title of this poem

my word count was 999

 

Not anymore.

 

Tap Water

In North America

I don’t need to ask for tap water

I just ask for water

and they know what I’m talking about

 

So there, England.

 

Dating poets

At lunch today I told my friend

- now a sophisticated New Yorker -

about dating a poet we both know

 

Her reaction was an

ewwwwwwwwww

That lasted about a minute

 

Well, I could say the same thing about –

actually, the dish she ordered looked pretty good.

 

Being stood up

I don’t have an iPhone

Which means people can make excuses for standing me up

 

I couldn’t reach you by email

they say

Even though I had told them by email earlier that day

that I would only be reachable by phone, and here’s my number

 

I don’t have a clever ending for this one.

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European poems

Berlin

Kinder parks darkened

Imaginations enlightened

There, a sharp stool

There, a dull red bench

Slide straight and narrow

Empty, for lack of light

Echoes of children passed: we were here

we were here once

Kinder ghosts

A new type of chocolate

Wrapper left in the sand box

We were here

 

Paris

Blunt pencil shades

Rodin inspired ebony tits

Stone nipples rise

With the garden breeze

Fleshed heavy and heaving

Leaves no room for breathing

 

Barcelona

Spoiled bulldog whines

Fills the balcony with excrement

‘Bueno’ spits his owner

And throws him into the ocean

(True story)

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Lady, I know where you’re coming from

Treat us right, you say

Treat us with respect

We’re worth so much more than that, you say

But what did you expect

 

This body, it’s here for the taking

Because it’s been taken before

It’s been there before, you see, my dear

So we’re not queens anymore

 

If we’re generous enough to offer

And lonely enough to endure

And foolish enough to stay for seconds

We can’t call ourselves queens anymore, anymore

We can’t call ourselves queens anymore

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You say

You are pretty, which means

You never have to prove yourself

Not like us

You are a corpse merely

Of perfect hair and high cheek bones

Void of stretch marks

Void of alternate endings

People need not imagine beauty in you

It is already there

You could be a salesperson

Simply by modeling the merchandise

Knowing how to package your product

You

You are pretty, which means

You don’t need to try like us

No one needs to fall in love with your personality

You are enough to fill the spaces

Your personality may have missed

Your intelligence is redundant

Your witticisms are superfluous

You are all you ever need to be

You, your body

Yourself

You

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One Haiku

It’s been almost two years. Let’s try this again: One Haiku

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This is a day to celebrate being alive. Kick your legs up and grass stain your knees. Roll down a hill into your lover’s arms and eat crab apples from trees made for picking.

Somewhere between the mall and the bus station, there is a patch of green, and this is where I sit. Flower baskets wrapped like birds’ nests around street lamps. People scattered like toadstools amidst planted trees. Phone conversations as common as shrill bird calls. Couples strolling along the pathway, hands held sealed with sunshine. Clear blue endless. You appear on your orange bicycle. Perfect.

Time measured / Distance weathered / Feelings tethered / Passions pleasured

Late night verses feel like early morning kisses. Sun shattered and vibrant. New places retain familiarity with photographs and messages a mere click away. As long as this feeling holds, I’ll imagine you in my arms every restless night.

Don’t take this the wrong way, but I kinda love you. And thanks to you, I’ve started thinking in poetry again.

This is where Virginia Woolf used to live, she said

Really?? I replied

And that’s where she used to write poetry, she said, pointing to the nearby park

I’m in heaven, I sighed

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It also reminded me that no matter where I go, poetry is one of my homes – Megan Ann Ward

Bang Said the Gun was my saving grace last time I was in London, a consistent source of entertainment, inspiration and camaraderie with my fellow bangers. And yes, the innuendos are endless.

Affectionately referred to as the series for people “who don’t necessarily like poetry”, the event draws in stand-up poets (spoken word poets, performance poets, musical poets…) from across the country; I heard that people had traveled in from Oxford and Surrey, just for the evening. I had them beat because I came all the way from Canada, dontcha know.

Hosted by a waistcoated wood sprite named Daniel Cockrill, the evening is four-fold: it kicks off with recurring feature performances from co-organizers Martin Galton – known for his infamous books of ‘love’ and ‘hate’ - and Rob Auton – reputed for his impeccable comic timing -, followed by a 10-minute set from the winner of the previous week’s ‘Raw Meat Stew’ (more about that later), then an invited feature or two (usually someone who has made it ‘big’ on the UK scene), and finishes off with a raucously rushed open-mic that is called, you guessed it, the ‘Raw Meat Stew’.

With a set soundtrack and familiar jokes, the evenings progresses like a well-timed, well-loved radio show: the host gets his own introductory music and he riles up the crowd by holding up a handmade sign saying “Shake”. Quite happy to play along, everyone in the audience picks up their noise makers and hoots and hollers as loudly as they can. As the host notes, “it’s not a real poetry show until the neighbours come to complain!”

You’re welcome to a front-row seat on one of the sleek red couches for the perfect view, and if you enjoy being picked on. Daniel always chooses one person to wear a silly (I mean, supremely dignified) hat and lead the cheering. He always checks in first: “Do you have a lot of responsibility in your life? Married? Job? Kids? No…? Then this is the job for you!” Another person close to the front will be chosen to judge the ‘Raw Meat Stew’ poets later in the show.

This past Thursday the Bang audience was treated to a number of stellar features. The first was the series’ writer-in-residence (at least, that’s how she was introduced) Mel Jones, who had recently published a book of poetry called Fuck Me (If You Think You’re Hard Enough). And no, I’m not kidding.

You can see headliner Will Stopha’s performance in the video above: it was awfully sweet of him to do a ‘Welcome to London’ poem just for me!

And then there was headlining duo Richard Marsh and Katie Bonna. Wow wow wow. I had seen these two the last time I was in London (in fact, I was in the audience when Katie first performed at Bang back in August), and I knew they were great — but their performance was something truly original. Essentially, it was a narrative piece about a guy and a girl who become disillusioned by their friends’ respective stag and hen parties; they lock eyes at a club, and the night progresses from there. Simple enough story, but the poetry of the piece is gripping: the rhythm is suspenseful and playful, engaging and intelligent. You become acquainted with these complex characters very quickly and empathize with their growing frustration regarding the drunken company: “Oh, I love it,” repeats one particularly obnoxious hen. The duo told me afterward that they are hoping to expand this piece into a full-length performance. Theatre as poetry; poetry as theatre. This is a new trend (at least to my eyes and ears) that I’m sure will only increase in popularity, especially when the quality is this high.

We know it’s time for the ‘Raw Meat Stew’ when a hilarious, somewhat graphic cartoon appears on the projection screen. And this is how it works: there are 8 spots on the open-mic sign-up sheet; each performer gets 2 minutes to share a poem, a song, or some other type of performance. Influenced by round of applause, the randomly selected judge (and maybe some nearby friends) get to decide whose performance was the best and who wins the ‘golden gun’ award and a feature set the following week. This week’s winner was a striking-looking woman who shared an anecdotal poem about the violent things she would like to do to her former landlord; I’m sure many of us can relate.

And I performed the following short poem:

You stuck your tongue down my throat on Clarence Street

And I think it was the most beautiful thing that has ever happened

Tourists choked on their ice cream

Servers at the Hard Rock Cafe smashed their plates and cried ‘Opa!’

And motorcyclists revved their engines in approval

And after gorging ourselves on slabs of chocolate cake shaped like mud pies

We drove home in a pick-up truck made for two

Bang Said the Gun takes place every Thursday at The Roebuck, 50 Great Dover Street near Borough Station on the Northern Line. Start time: 8pm. Show up very early if you want to score a place on the open mic list.

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Where are the poets?

Hiding between the pages of books

Mumbling loose phrases on street corners

Or wringing their hands behind the red curtain

I find it funny that a poem has to ‘hold up’ on the page in order to be considered successful. Would you say the same thing for a musical composition or a choreographed dance?

I watched her take off her shoes, her socks, her jewelry

Before approaching the microphone

Her words strung together like the Spanish guitar

Her hands flowed like a Flamenco dancer, vibrant

Music can be a literary art when it involves lyrics; poetry can be a musical art when it involves rhythm.

Speak the speech I pray you

Let not the instruments muffle the sound of your voice

Nor the awkward rhythm of language make music coarse

We are for each other

We are for each other

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You told me once “Don’t pout. It’s unbecoming”

And I cried for a week

You told me I should develop a thicker skin

And I wondered why you felt the need to teach me that lesson

When it was you who seemed to value my skin for its softness

And my lips for their sweetness

And my body for its tendency

To let you in

 

In this sometimes harsh world, is it any surprise

That kind words are desperately sought after

Even if they’re not always sincere

Even if it’s just a ploy to get ahead

To get me into bed

Because then, hey,

At least I’m getting laid

 

I will soak up your sweethearts and lovers’ talk

Like syrup on pancakes

I will sacrifice my working hours

For some quality time and late-morning showers

Even if, in the end, my efforts are not matched

And the result is frustration, disappointment, distress…

 

When my mother finds me grieving over yet another seething injustice

She says to me, fondly

“You’ve been this intense since you were five years old”

And while I’m not entirely sold on the idea

That our personalities are determined at such a young age

It gratifies me to realize that I haven’t yet passed that stage

Because the truth is

I don’t want to develop a thicker skin

I don’t want to win arguments based in unfair fashion

Or use my passion to formulate malicious attacks

Or pack my slate full of anger and hate

Because while I’ve been hurt

I’ve not yet been broken

And while I’ve spoken my mind about the kind of lovers I’ve known

The kind who’ve shown themselves unworthy of the title

Lover

My tone, I believe, has always been mischievous, playful, without regret

And I begin each new love affair full of unabashed optimism

Yes, it’s a constant struggle

But each new person is different

And each new person has the potential

Has the essential elements that make it possible to feel something

 

And with a thicker skin, I’m afraid I might not be able to sense your soft eyelashes brush my face

Or your careful fingertips along the sides of my neck

Or your gentle lips pause against the backs of my knees

I never want to close myself off or shut myself up or turn my face away

To protect myself from what you might say

Because what you might say might be beautiful

You see

Sometimes I can feel my heart beat

And I never want to lose that feeling

Written by Jessica Ruano

September 2010

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Women are strong

Women are strong

Women can twist hurtful words into a playful turn of phrase

Even when those words still sting in her ears

It’s nothing more than a survival technique

To listen attentively to every harsh sound that escapes their lips

And yet choose to hear soft music only

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