Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Magniloquent Miscarriage

I am giving birth to poetry in the night now.
These babies born, not so much in words,
as in scent and intuition.
They suckle me in those night hours.
In the gloaming, I draw sustenance from them, too.
They snuggle to me and I curve them into my arms.
We are a happy family in the eventide.

As morning tide comes in,
I am swept into a verbal amniotic sea.
Weary, spent, the poems squall for me.
Casting indicting eyes my way.
I don’t love them in the wee small hours.
Last night the verses fed my amour propre.
As day breaks, I wish to drown them
in the same bloody flood that brought them forth.

Monday, October 16, 2006

What Old Melodies and New Media Bring From Me

So I watched Sting as he played a lute,
as he sang of golden fields
as they rustled in the wind.
In my mind I wrote a scene
where two would-be lovers lay side by side.
She says, “I love you, you know.”
“Yeah,” he breathes. “Yeah,” says he, as his eyes
roll slightly back behind his lowered lids,
seeing in his mind who knows what,
“and I love you too.”
“This is the worst best thing.”
And she will turn to him and smile,
And she will raise from him and cry.
And he will whisper into her neck from behind her back,
just before she leaves him,
“You. Oh, my God, yes, you.”

Friday, October 06, 2006

An Upside Down Poem (# 4)

They are sleeping together now.
I don’t know what I expected,
but this wasn’t it.

She settles down next to him,
kisses him,
fits into the space where he is not.
And he lets her.

What do they do
when I am not looking?
I really wonder.

Did they start this when
I was working long hours?
They never let on at night.
I was totally clueless.

Maybe they needed me to be here.
I am here a lot now.
Lord knows I love them both
and if they love each other now,
I am ok with that.

My Cat and My Dog Fall in Love?

This is a followup to another upside down poem here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Body of Work

I threw out my back.
It wasn’t much good anyway.

While I was at it,
I put my feet on notice.

What naughty part will be next?
That tongue has been a bit sharp lately.

My hands will do whatever I say.
They are very shaky.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Psalm 911

A Psalm for New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania

I cry out to you with a sound torn from my soul;
a sound of metal tearing;
a sound of innocence dying.
How terrible is this thing which has been thrust into the heart of the many.

Evil has risen up from its nursery and arrived full grown to destroy us;
those who pervert your very name;
who bow to false gods of hate;
who breed in the desperate a desire for destruction.

Their instrument of death is a cruel one;
they have used our own selves as a kind of cancer.
My body has been hurled against my body;
sister torn from the sky to rain destruction on brother.

And hell erupted in the sky;
And hell erupted in the sky;
And hell was thrown against the five sides of our strength;
And, yet, hell was cheated the fourth time.

Our words rained down on us like an evil snow;
like a parade held in honor of our enemy's victories.

Humans fell from the sky; Humanity fell from grace.

High places were made low;
crushed to dust that blows at our feet.
Our mighty have been struck a cleaving blow;
warriors defeated without a battle cry.

Images of horror enter my every waking moment;
burning into my eyes.
I sleep and dream, not in pictures, but in tears that do not wash,
tears that do not cool.
I awake and the sun is blocked by the smoke of a fire which burns my soul.

I have looked to the heavens and seen a terror.
I have cried to the hills and heard no relief.
I have called to the warrior and he is quiet.
I have screamed to my Lord.
I have screamed to my Lord.
I have screamed for relief.
I have screamed for vengeance.

Sing praises to the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what He has done. For He who avenges blood remembers;
He does not ignore the cry of the afflicted. Psalm 9:11-12 NIV

I cry out to you with a sound torn from my soul;
a whimper;
a sob;
a groan originating in the earth.

I cried out to the Lord
and I have seen him.

The Lord is with us in the rubble.
God has come to us in the body of the man who lifts a stone and clears a path.
The Lord is with us in the fires.
God has come to us in the hands of those who spray a healing, cooling stream.
The Lord is with us in the places of healing.
God has come to us in the mind of she who closes the wounds.
The Lord is with us in the streets.
God has come to us on the feet of the child who brings food to the grief-stricken.
The Lord is with us in the houses of worship.
God has come to us in the arms that gather us up.
The Lord is with us in our homes.
God has come to us in the lips of our loved ones who kiss us through our pain.
The Lord is with us in the places of power.
God has come to us in those whose hearts burn for justice
tempered with judgment.

I cried out to the Lord and the Lord joined me in my cry.

c 2001 Cynthia E. Huddleston 15 Sep 01

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Miss Martha

Miss Martha’s blue water jug is no Samaritan Well
she is Ghanain and a woman of fine repute
bringing drinks of hope to other women
leaving each face happier than she found it

moving about on a blue motorbike
spreading drops of joy to water each life
farming for a crop of female success stories
to rival her own accomplishments

Miss Martha is headed to University
an upgrade from her wish for Polytechnic
miracle at the hand of “Grandma”
who daily lifts up those who need elevation

I have a tiny conduit to the life of Miss Martha
in the person of one Nancy Schaefer
a miracle worker in her own right
Mother and Grandmother and in His service

I wanted you to have a peek at an angel
on her blue motorbike, with her blue water jug
I have seen her dance in my mind
look closely, her feet barely touch the ground

Thursday, July 13, 2006

In Pink Ink

When the music is faster and violins repeat the same phrase and melancholia slips around my body pinning my arms to my side and my psyche to the ceiling of my skull. It clinging there like a frightened cat that thinks, "Oh, shit. Now look what I've done. Won't someone get me out of this thing I have gotten into...I'm slipping...nails slipping!" When the very cells of my body scream, "We know this feeling, have felt it, loathe it. Save us!" When the smell of coffee and pumpkin bread doesn't comfort, but instead taunts that I will never feel that feeling again. When the pen in my hand, pink ink, doesn't brighten the words I wrote --
I wrote
It's all I ever knew and
what I ever do and
I will never stop
because just like that cat
I'm clinging and the words are my claws
and the page is my ceiling
and sometimes I don't really know
how I got there,
but I know the words hold me there.
And eventually, someone will come along
with a telescoping ladder
and rescue me
or, more likely,
I will take a deep, whiskered, meowing breath
and just let go.
So far --
I always land on my feet.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Life Story

I write with water on the tip of my finger
On wall board which will make the walls of my home
The story is old
The home is new

I write with scotch on the tip of my thumb
On my mouth which burns with unsaid words
The lament is deep
The kiss is light

I write with juice of strawberries on the tip of my tongue
On the side of your cheek which stains with each stroke
The meaning is tart
The taste is sweet

I write with tears on a lock of my hair
On the back of my hand which holds no hope
The traces are faint
The impression is strong

I write with ink on the tip of my pen
On the paper that makes it so which binds my word
The lines are short
The intent is long

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The Fabric of My Life

As a child, there were wrinkles in my dresses.
Laundry was starched, kept damp, ironed.
Made for a much tidier presentation.

As soon as the heat from the iron dissipated,
The wrinkles were on their way back.
It was pretty obvious that I was unkempt.

You can never really keep a dress neat.
If it is cotton, and mine were, it will crease.
Creases don’t come out easily.

Starch it, sprinkle it, iron it.
No matter what, not crisp.
I was a rumpled child.

I remember when perma-press came along.
Amazing substance. No starching needed.
Dry it, wear it. It seemed like a cheat to me.

My mom loved perma-press.
She was overworked and under-helped.
Perma-press smoothed over a lot of things.

I like cotton. I like it just the way it comes.
Doesn’t need dye to be pretty.
If it wrinkles, I am plain ok with that.

My wrinkles are not only on dresses.
I show them on my face.
They highlight my eyes and my mouth

My husband loves my mouth
And I love my eyes.
There is truth to be seen in both.

I often wear a rumpled white shirt.
I love the feel of the cotton close to me.
The wrinkles just feel familiar and comfy.

I Once Knew Something

At the beginning of me, I was a clean sheet.
No words, no doodles, no marks.
I knew things then that I have lost.
They went the way of my illiteracy.
Tidied up and swept away.
I created poems and canvases and a child.
I took on a man and a vocation and a life.
Now clean sheets are where I wrap my babe,
where I make love to my man,
the place where I dream of my tomorrow and tomorrow.
Nothing showed on me back then,
not like now.
Scars and worry lines and smoker's wrinkles around my mouth.
I haven't smoked in 20 years, but there they are.
I wish I could remember what I came here knowing.
I feel it, like the piece of food between my teeth.
Tease at it, tease at it, suck on it.
But it just won't come.
And I can never leave a clean sheet lie.
I must fill it with doodles and words and my man and my life.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Breakfast Buffet Bananas

I had banana pancakes off the menu
luscious little nuggets of warm banana smoosh
    in a whole wheat pancake.

While two Jersey guys in power suits
analyzed the abilities of that fuckin’ Johnson
    to keep his end up.

While two Queens gals in knock-off Prada
went back to the buffet to stuff their purses
with boxed cereal and apples
and bananas still stitched up
    in their skins.

While the bald maitre d’ I will call Raoul
catered to me
and smiled at me
and the Czech waiter brought me
    extra bacon.

I loved the warm maple syrup,
the chewy whole wheatness
the warm smoosh,
but I couldn’t finish all the pancakes.


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Special Sauce

the airport snack bar table bore coffee rings.
it rocked and bobbled like a dog’s head in the back window
of a Chevy.

she clung to it with her knees
lost her grip
kept losing her grip.

blink blink

hamburger no fries

automat movements
lift the burger
lower the burger

blink blink

no napkin
no straw
on her own

tears sliding down her cheeks
past her nose

blink blink

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Going Back

There was no time to gather up clothes or toys
There were never many of either anyway

when we left

Many times there was a pistol
Usually there were bruises
Often it was night
Once in a storm

It was chaos when we left
from the outside looking in
but we knew our cues

time to go

Right after the fists
just before the gunshots
during the screaming

then we left

Mostly to Tommie’s house
Sometimes to Sherry’s house
Once to Doris Sartain’s house
in a storm

after we left

Morning would come
Breakfast was had
Coffee was poured
Nothing was said
The ground would dry up
Daddy would show up

we'd go back

Cross my fingers
pray to God
plead to stay
come the day
we’d go back

There was no time to gather up joy or hope
There was never much of either anyway.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Why I Nap Now

I’ve begun talking to you when you are not there.
In fact, this is just a continuation of the conversation we had
last night in my dreams.

You are so compassionate and careful with me.
You know my heart and value my soul.
I can’t tell you how much that means, how it makes me feel.

We ate some kind of fruit last night, you and I.
Sticky sweet fingers licked by one and then the other.

It was bright and sunny, but not hot. I like that.
Breezes blowing and my hair getting caught in my mouth
as I tried to eat.

We laughed and shook our heads at those who would not
see what you and I see.
How could they stand it? Don’t they feel the empty spots.

I do. I wake and you slip from my mind past my lashes.
There is too much room inside of me when you go.

I’ve finally started napping. I miss you so.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


    drought dry land
morning clouds tease the sky
    never share a drop

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Upside-down Poem #3 (No peeking!)

I am cheating on him.

He loves me without end,
and I am being unfaithful.

It happened Christmas Eve.
Ironically, I was shopping for a present for him.
        The perfect thing;
        something to show him how much I care for him;
        how much I appreciate what he feels for me, does for me.

He is faithful.

I feel terrible, but I feel wonderful.

She was there in the store,
where I was absolutely not looking for her.
But, her eyes
          her eyes
          my favorite shade of green.
Softest hair, scented like herbs.

Zelda. Her name is Zelda.
One look, I knew I was gone.

I brought her home.
I couldn’t do anything else.

My friends sniff at her.

He looks so hurt when she is close to him.

I’m am sorry, but have no regret.

How It Went When My Dog Got a Cat for Christmas



Tuesday, May 09, 2006

In the Presence of Greatness

Sigmund Freud is on my wall.
I lie here on the couch in fading light and see him,
dark suit, watch chain,
head tilted slightly to his right,
head resting on his hand,
fingers splayed,
arm at ninety degree bend.

There is nothing unusual about a picture of Sigmund Freud,
except, if I turn on the light,
the picture will be Hydrangeas in a Vase.

So, with a man of such renown,
not wanting to waste opportunity,
I tell him things,
a one-sided therapy--
he never speaks,
just nods a little,
flexes his fingers,
raises an eyebrow,
or two.

Perfect analyst.
No disturbing questions.
No probing.
Just quiet listening,
allowing me my own breakthroughs.

Tomorrow, I hope to get the light just right,
because, if I squint, he looks like Ulysses S. Grant,
and I want to talk War and Politics.

Saturday, May 06, 2006












Broken Bones Black Eyes


Rape Enchiridion

Never let me know you are looking.
Don’t ask too much.
Be around, not too close.
If you see the inside of me, don’t mention it.
Don’t take notes.
If something appalling should fall out of my head,
don't pick it up.
Ignore the inconsistencies.
Speak clearly.
Don’t speak.
Look for the mist of breath between my words.
If I hold my breath, hold my breath.
Don’t trace the scars.
Sometimes I like to take off my clothes and look at my naked skin,
just checking.
The hairs on the back of my neck are kept clipped short, never shaved.
My dog stands guard over me as I sleep.
I will not talk about it.
I won’t shut up.
I have a foul mouth.
When I lick my lips, I am not tasting victory.

Friday, May 05, 2006

How to Impress Chicks

He wanted to be called Jazz,
because he thought it sounded cool.
Hell, he knew it did.

But everyone just called him Leonard,
not Lenny or Len or Leo.
The cool guys at school didn’t even call him ‘Nard,
although they did amongst themselves.
The cool guys didn’t speak to him at all.

He played Jazz at Granmother’s house.
On the old turntable
listening to Parker and Mingus and Powell.
On the radio
tuning in a distant NPR program
when he could pick it up.

Hunting through dusty junk stores
to find a Doc Cheatham recording.

He wanted to blow horn or play piano,
but he was no good.
But Jazz had rhythm.
But yes. He did.

He banged out the rhythms.

Since he was little, beat was in his head.
Chickens…peck…peck peck peck…peck.
Leaky faucets…drip drip…drip.
The old lawnmover…rooom, chugga, pop pop pop, chugga pop.
Mixing bowl…whap whap whap, sliiiiip, whap whap whap.

He never played his rhythms for anyone,
just the chickens,
‘cause they called him Jazz.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


The tales he tells are not his,
but a rehashing of old stories from a hundred lifetimes ago.
He plucks them up and sucks them up and chews them well and
leaves them to digest, nourishing his creativity,
hoping to bring from them a fresh telling.

He smacks lines against the stone walls in a kind of verbal practice drill and
        sometimes they bounce back true and
    sometimes they flop on the floor and
        sometimes they zing around the space
    bouncing off stone and beams
        threatening the glass with their very clarity and diamond sharpness.

He mulls ideas and sleeps on them and
        jumps up excited and sits down dejected.
He chooses his words, picks them over,
        and he polishes them, always polishes them 'til they are shiny bright –
        or comfy worn –
                sometimes both.

And he weaves quite a tale
        and he delivers -
                eyes riveted on him,
                        words flicking from his tongue
                and snapping in the air
                        and landing a sometimes stinging

Or maybe soft phrases curling from his mouth to pad across the floor and circle 'round and 'round your ankles and beg to be let on your lap.

And there are the times when the tale is so true
it has a kind of aching sweetness,
                like the soft puffs of air from your just-born sleeping baby.
                They beg to be kept and saved for another day and cannot.
The life of them is of the moment and for the moment and in the moment and later we will wonder if we heard what we heard or just dreamed the words,
                or wished the words
                or they were whispered to us
by a Spirit that stood among us for a time.

Written for Gordon in celebration of 10 years of good storytelling.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Another Upside-down Poem

Somewhere you are.
Making love to some auslander mouth, probably.
Cruising, making port of call with every sailor in the Mediterranean.
Puta! coming for everyone but me.

My tongue probing for just the right French kiss.
Yearning for that certain something.
Wait, pretending not to.

I know things, lots of things,
But not the thing.
What does it take to get to you?

Making me feel less.
Size must matter.
I just can’t get it up for you.

When “Je ne sais quoi” Is the Term You Are Searching For

Sunday, April 30, 2006

An upside-down poem

World spinning, feet frantic, I must get to you.
The need frightens me.
I am nearly undone.

Oh, you are that.
Lovely, lovely to me and awful.
Touch you, hold you.

What I will do for you, the smell of you,
The blood racing through my veins for you,
Carrying bits of you to bits of me…

Some laugh, some shake heads and pity.

It makes me not one bit less enamored of you.

Thanks to you I am getting nowhere.
I am getting there fast.

Man on Bicycle in the Cold Lighting a Cigarette

Saturday, April 29, 2006


Prodigal - Rashly or wastefully extravagant; a prodigal life.
Aspersions - An unfavorable or damaging remark; slander.

Everything is a matter of perspective. A ten-year-old’s summer in the cotton country of West Tennessee was ninety repetitions of the same day. Days stretched the length of the hot blacktop highway from Keeling to Brownsville where all of my friends lived. Friends I talked to on the phone and tried to conjure up like the shimmering mirages that danced on the same hot asphalt. Ninety days is a long time when you have lived 3650.

I have lived 16,940 days now. Ninety is small, oh, so very tiny. Why, I’ve probably spent the equivalent of ninety days plucking my eyebrows. One day, I put my daughter’s new first grade picture in a frame with twelve spaces. That afternoon it was filled and she was off to Austin to college. In about ninety days she will graduate and begin grad school soon after to make a good life from her own perspective.

Prodigal - Giving or given in abundance; lavish or profuse.
Aspersions - A sprinkling, especially with holy water.

Sometimes time brings a different perspective, a second look, an alternate meaning.

Lavish blessings on you and yours.