Tracy Plath

  • Thanks so much for the commentary, it’s like a gift in my inbox. I’m a Nordic transplant to the desert southwest, a Viking in the desert, so it seemed natural to blend the two backgrounds’ trickster mythologies. You’re absolutely right–the desert has a nighttime magic all its own.

  • Thanks very much! This prompt was difficult for me, so I ended up converting a short story idea I had into a poem.

  • Thank you! The things we come up with when severely lacking sleep . . . 😉

  • Dear Caitlin and Jacob,
    The two of you have done so much to sustain this global writing community and to further poetry as a viable and much needed genre, and not just a writing form of the past as so many think of it. I sincerely hope that whatever life-changing circumstances have happened this past year improve for you, and would support any…[Read more]

  • Thank you, my friend! I feel more threadbare than seamless these days, lol, but your words mean the world to me.

  • Thanks so much, Ramona, that’s exactly what I needed to hear. I’ve often wondered the same, if what I write is just too much, but lately I’ve gotten to a point in life where I figure that the truth should be put out there just the same. Not only does it release some of the pain for me and allow me to move on, but there are also so many people that…[Read more]

  • Thank you, love, that means so much to me. It’s probably not the best written version of this story of mine, as I was really tired at this point, but hopefully I can improve it in revisions.

  • Elyssa, this is part of the story of the death of one of my twin daughters inside me, after which I carried both of them, one alive and one dead, for another ten weeks. Forgive me if the ending “leaves something to be desired.” Perhaps this poem is a bit better:
    Stilled
    Gel was smeared on my swollen
    belly and paddles were placed
    over the…[Read more]

  • Thank you, this was not easy to write, but if we don’t risk when we write, then why do this at all? You know courage in your writing as well, my friend. Thank you for the thoughtful commentary.

  • Yes, very true, and it was really the expression on her face that got me, an air of smug superiority while looking as though she was watching out of the corner of her eye whoever was looking at her, the painter in this case, as though she knew very well that those attributes were her only valued qualities and she celebrated them. I would have…[Read more]

  • She certainly was nowhere to be seen at this point, lol.

  • Thank you for all of the responses–it really meant a lot to me to wake up and see this.

  • Thank you, especially for a haiku reply! I was actually exhausted; it took me the whole hour to scratch this out of my head.

  • Awakenings

    The rising sun in El Paso
    cannot be seen because
    of the mountains, an
    exercise in anticipation,
    the morning light blocked
    from view except as a
    lightening border along
    the peaks’ edges, a […]

    • This description of the physical sunrise is poignantly contrasted with the debris of human life revealed by the dawn. Another fine effort in this series of descriptions of your physical location.

  • Divided

    I never knew you personally,
    just as a small, quiet echo
    that had briefly moved within me
    and just as quickly was gone,
    here just long enough
    for a recorded heartbeat,
    a video in tandem with your […]

    • Made me cry–again.

    • Thank you for all of the responses–it really meant a lot to me to wake up and see this.

    • Starts in a way that is both quiet and powerful. Ending leaves something to be desired, but a great beginning

      • Elyssa, this is part of the story of the death of one of my twin daughters inside me, after which I carried both of them, one alive and one dead, for another ten weeks. Forgive me if the ending “leaves something to be desired.” Perhaps this poem is a bit better:
        Stilled
        Gel was smeared on my swollen
        belly and paddles were placed
        over the bodies of my babies.
        One girl squirmed and wriggled,
        warm and vibrant in her world.

        The technician’s face fell, then
        froze as she pushed the paddles
        firmly into my belly and searched
        for two heartbeats, confirmation
        of continuing life and growth within.

        She found just one beating heart
        below my own. Saying nothing,
        she left the room and found the doctor,
        as I stared at the image of two babies,
        one silent on the screen by her sister.

        She swayed to the racing rhythm
        of my own aching heart, a semblance
        of life bumping her tiny body listlessly
        against my inner belly, while I vaguely
        registered the doctor’s bedside voice.

        His practiced demeanor conveyed 
        suspected truth, droned on in a background
        mutter, until strangled words finally
        emerged from the frozen hole that
        was now my heart: “Please, just take me home.”

        Or maybe this one has a better ending:

        The List Maker

        In the chaotic cacophony of
        every day, a list used to calm
        me, bring order to
        one small event–a concise,
        dense packet of
        information, focused layers
        crossed off step by step, my
        world in ten lines or less.

        Twenty years gone, and
        still I’m haunted by
        lists that encompass the
        birth of my girls, thoughts
        logically ordered, progress
        to the goal:
        two healthy babes,
        brought home.

        Two lines on a test
        led to two beating hearts
        in my rounding belly, and a
        joyful list:
        2 cribs
        2 infant car seats
        2 high chairs
        2 albums, and one
        tandem stroller.

        Twenty weeks along,
        forty centimeters
        circumference,
        contractions controlled
        day by day by
        2 small pills, and one
        easy chair to hold
        day and night
        one frightened me.

        Counting contractions
        hour by hour
        in a list of
        day after day,
        2 liters of amniotic
        fluid drawn away by
        one large needle
        through my belly 
        close by my girls
        to keep contractions
        at bay.

        Until one day the
        contraction count stops
        no more days to account
        on that list. The 
        ultrasound showed
        one beating heart,
        and another one stilled,
        one girl there,
        one girl gone away.

        I returned home to
        my joyful list, to
        savagely scratch
        out 2’s and s’s, no
        need for plurality now:
        crib
        infant car seat
        high chair
        album
        stroller

        No longer believing
        my lists
        can ever
        control my world,
        one lovely girl
        where there used to be
        two,
        one gone,
        baby
        gone.

        Please consider in your commentary that many of the poems posted have intense personal meaning for the poet.

    • Emotional!

    • This must have been very challenging to write. I know this story and the heart break from which it comes and I feel all of the pain of it all the way through…especially in the ending – especially in the ending.

      • Thank you, love, that means so much to me. It’s probably not the best written version of this story of mine, as I was really tired at this point, but hopefully I can improve it in revisions.

    • You always take on the hard things to write about. In this one, your motherly instincts and affection for both daughters is moving and persuasive. Those who underestimate this bonding between mother and unborn child are ,well, unimaginative or uninformed. The writing is good because it is clear and direct as to your feelings without being clinical in details the way the explanation is. We can figure it out. You will certainly want to write about this at greater length in both prose and poetry and see how they go together and complement each other, as they do in the discussion here.

  • Circumlocution

    Round and round we go
    I see you watching me while
    watching you watch me

    • That was worded well–
      And worded well, all around.
      Sounds like you weren’t tired!

    • Thank you, especially for a haiku reply! I was actually exhausted; it took me the whole hour to scratch this out of my head.

    • Yes. She is reduced to face and shoulders and a wasp waist so she can be admired. That is her most important role in life. Creepy.

    • Yes, very true, and it was really the expression on her face that got me, an air of smug superiority while looking as though she was watching out of the corner of her eye whoever was looking at her, the painter in this case, as though she knew very well that those attributes were her only valued qualities and she celebrated them. I would have hated being a woman in those times.

    • Tracy, nice byplay of words :).

    • Thank you! The things we come up with when severely lacking sleep . . . 😉

  • Tall True Tale

    My Creek Native American ancestor
    was seven feet tall
    and a blacksmith
    that married a white woman
    and drove his cattle and sheep
    eight hundred miles to market
    one way
    on foot
    and returned […]

  • Misplaced

    African gazelles live and thrive in the desert
    scrub surrounding El Paso, and New Mexico’s
    White Sands Missile Range.

    A graceful and gorgeous animal, the oryx
    was endangered in its ancestral […]

    • … and there we have the dangers of meddling with the balance of nature in one small example, very well and clearly described.
      I think this would be enriched by expanding on what one of the animals looks and acts like, how you feel about them as individuals and not just as a group. The reader would be more involved also, and needs to be.

    • Do the animals get injured and killed in the weapons testing?

    • What’s happening in AFrica? Can any be sent back? You arouse the curiosity in me of the part of me that enjoys listening to NPR.

    • Well penned, I enjoyed the poem

  • Man in the Moon

    He:

    They left me behind,
    the mining and exploration crew,
    assuming my death in a cave-in
    and taking their projected
    window of opportunity
    to get home again.
    I found my way […]

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