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Apr 2017 · 688
Nocturne Draft
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
Picture a room with white walls, small-windowed.
Through the window, no moon shines like it should.
This view knows streetlights better than starlight,
in the tender dark of this April night,
but someone's still writing about their glow.
And I know her eyes are heavy with sleep.
Still she watches the silver twilight seep
toward the tall lamps-posts, like spilled earl gray.
She wishes like a dream that it would stay,
that she could stave twilight from its lilac fade.
National Poetry Month Day 14.
Apr 2017 · 650
Part of the Pitcher
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
Your friends' new place is by the Red River;
You notice the wood signs hung on their wall:
Stencils with the first letters of their names
comprised of corks from bottles they emptied
and another--"Pasta and wine, good times".
When they talk, it’s about
parties with beer, wine, and ***** spilling
out of cups, down dresses onto the floor;
recalls of day-drinking
and smoking cigars on the balcony
in college and oh, just last-night’s partying
yes, at Jason’s wedding
reception in the Ramada ballroom.
Don’t forget the leprechaun loop of bars
downtown on St. Patrick’s.
or the party buses that bring you there;
the first stop will have a schooner waiting  
with Long Island iced tea.
This talk of drinking makes you all hungry,
at Barbacoa you order tacos
and margaritas.
and think of ordering another round.
Another day, you drink pink lemonade
at Olive Garden and ask, How would it
taste in a cocktail?
At work, coworkers laugh off a hard day
and someone says, “I need a drink.”
And someone adds, “We all need drinks.”
At the bonfire on Saturday night,
someone laughs about the campus’s bikes
being thrown and found in the Elm Coulee
and another adds, “We like to drink here.”
Someone says, “That’s why I have a big cup.”
Who needs a bike anyway? They have cars.
Some of your friends drinking are driving home.
When the cup passes to you, you sip some.
The fire flickers and blows smoke that flies
into the wind over the rest of town,
over a river that can’t quench its thirst.
National Poetry Month Day 13.
Apr 2017 · 602
A Cape for Daylight
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
Starlight is just a crack in the night sky.
The night is just a cape for the daylight,
a shadow spanning the earth's blue surface.
The earth is just a blue marble spinning  
around the sun, catching a flash of light.
The sun is just a yellow bonfire
roaring in a space without sound or air,
like in your head when you read these lines.
This is just a poem trying to describe
the magic to be glimpsed in the night sky.
National Poetry Month Day 12.
Apr 2017 · 846
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
They say repeating your words loses meaning.
They say repeating words loses meaning.
Say repeating words loses meaning.
Repeating words loses meaning.
National Poetry Month Day 11
Apr 2017 · 610
Baby, Don't You See?
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
This is a cliché for you.
I would decorate you.  
in these rows of letters,
maybe paint it on your skin
because just saying it isn't enough.
I want to see it.
I want to hold a mirror to you and me,
and say, See baby, don't you see?

So, I write it and hold your hand and kiss your cheek,
my head on your shoulder.
If only I could give a touch
of the love
you give to me.
Day 10 of National Poetry Month.
Apr 2017 · 414
Down on South Washington
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
Out for a walk today, you're looking out a ***** window.
You squint against the overhead sun and see a sky,
ripped and faded light-blue like denim--
the clouds wispy and thread-bare
receding into the white horizon.
Here the sky meets golden-brown grass,
flattened and dry like a pancake.
On the road, the cars dusty and dull,
not even the clean ones shine that much,
but they still sound loud and rushing
like high wind or running water.
You wouldn't be able to tell it's spring here,
except for what it says on the calendar.
Well, the snow is gone and left last-year's trash;
plastic ******* and grocery bags
litter the ditch and empty lots.
It bothers you, so you focus on the patches that look green,
under the brittle stems of old grass.
This is what spring is to you:
dirt, dust, dead grass, and
Marlboro packs and canisters of chew on the sidewalk.
It's the planting of seed in an empty lot,
watering the dry soil,
and clearing out whatever winter buried.
Here, the first stirring of life clears the dust from the window.
Day 9 of National Poetry Month.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
 So well, honest people make poor poets,
since they want dockyard receipts from Sparta
for how many ships Helen’s face launched there.

Honest details make the best poetry.
Poets plant made-up gardens with real toads,
where clothing and china patterns are art.

Poets write because they have things to say.
They write because they have things they can’t say,
and so, start with the sobs they can’t swallow.

Poetry is like life, being one big question
that you live until the answers arrive,
And emotion finds thought and thought find words.
National Poetry Month Day 8. Writing prompt: Repetition poem
Apr 2017 · 636
An Open Letter to Poets
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
So, you want to write a poem.
Dear, dear writer, don't you know?
I come on my own time.
Prepare me a space
with white linen and
scarlet red roses.
Sweet talk me pretty,
or you'll be the one
up all night pacing,
pining for your poetry.
So love, you expect the best--
Well, I give when I’m ready.

                 Yours truly,

Day 7 of National Poetry Month. Prompt: Favorite thing on the Internet
Apr 2017 · 702
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
In first grade, I brought my music box and
baby frame from we lived in Italy to show-and-tell.
The frame showed me bald like an egg, half-smiling
with my length and weight written
with my full name across the middle.
It was something small to prove
something I couldn't remember.
Before I went home, I put the frame
with my music box on the floor by my locker--
Then I turned and found under my shoe
the shattered pieces of the frame.
A sense of loss twisted my insides,
like when you can't find your cell phone,
with all your photos and
messages you treasure
A piece of your life is stolen.
But a friend lends you a phone,
you break up with the boy
who sent you those messages and meet someone else.
That was how I learned to do it,
by gathering up the broken pieces
and bringing them home in a paper grocery bag.
When my mom said it couldn't be fixed, I believed her.
When she said not to worry, I still did.
She said everything was going to be OK and it was.
She lifted the lid of the music box,
and we heard mandolins playing once more.
Day 6 of National Poetry Month. Prompts: Fortutious poem and NPM changes
Apr 2017 · 470
The Lengthening of Day
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
In early morning, see your shadow now
borne from gold light from the window and here
it looks something silver on the desk and
bends over the chair, an arc of bird flight.
The morning light lingers like a halo.

Look further now, the richness at your feet.
For a moment, even your darkness shines.

Next morning, it will be here as usual
with the familiarity of a friend.
Not too long ago, life was all shadows
and not once did daylight shine on your own.

That time will come again, of course, but recall
that today stands alone and beautiful.
Day 5 of National Poetry Month. Prompt: "Write a poem like Mary Oliver."
Apr 2017 · 631
At the horizon
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
the ocean holds and kisses
the sky so softly.
Day 4 of National Poetry Month. Unconventional love prompt.
Apr 2017 · 653
In church Grandma prayed
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
and made faces at the priest
while he broke bread.
Surprised, he laughed like a king
for the jester in the pew.
Day 3 of National Poetry Month. Elegy prompt.
Apr 2017 · 904
Northern Spring
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
On the first day of spring, I see bare earth
and feel the cold in my fingers and toes.
So, I ask again when winter will end.
But the birds sing early in the morning
and remind me with the promise of the sun.
Wait, they tell me, for all good things take time.
So, I wait for sun shining on the rain
and for the rain falling in the sunshine.
Here, melted snow mixes with dust and dirt.
But remember, this is where flowers grow.
Day 2 of National Poetry Month
Apr 2017 · 964
Like many great things
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
the Mississippi starts small,
at the headwaters.

A child can cross
stone to stone, almost slipping
into cold water.

Sometimes they do fall,
but stumbling and soaking wet,
they finish crossing.

Now, these blue-gray stones
and clear rippling currents still
sound like their laughter.
Day 1 of National Poetry Month.
Mar 2017 · 1.2k
Spring Art Exhibit
Laura Slaathaug Mar 2017
In the library,
the woman walks,
cane in hand,
bundled in a red coat,
green scarf over her shoulders,
her husband beside her,
in his slate coat and cap,
a checkered scarf
tied at his neck.
She pushes her white hair off
her forehead and peers up
at the paintings on the wall,
splotched and messy and bright,
the work of elementary students.
Paused at the paintings
they think of times when
they were that young too,
under the open sky--
her leaving clothes on the line
him chasing his dog back home.
They didn’t know each other then,
or maybe they did.
The details slip away
like summer into fall.
It doesn’t matter now,
but there was a time when she
held his hand on their walks
instead of a cane.
Oh, the watercolors
look like
ones Dan and Janie made,
Oh Dan,
he’d said he’d call,
or did Janie?
They can’t remember and think
of disintegrating paper
and blue drips on the table.
Instead, they finish their stroll
and both agree--
Lovely, wasn’t it?
Mar 2017 · 667
It's just a bed.
Laura Slaathaug Mar 2017
A piece of furniture–
wooden-framed or not
with a mattress
or mat long enough for a human of any size
with cloth coverings and a pillow.
Small or big, puffed or flat.
Quiet, empty, unmade, made
Yet this is where we are born,
where we pray,  
where we lie,  
where we love,
and where we die.
Where we begin our day and end it.
We may spend a third of our life here
or more
in sleep, in tears, in joy.
Like with a lover, we hesitate to leave--
or like with a mother that promises cover from the world,
we cling to her skirts and breathe in linen
while she pads our ***** heads.
But like children, hesitant and weak we go
stumbling over our foal feet
and blink at the newborn light through the blinds.
Day is dawning.
The world continues to spin, and with it
day grows longer.
Spring promises to knock on my window
and wash me clean in the first rain.
Winter is gone and took her shadows.
The world alive outside calls me
But still I come running back,
to the feeling of softness, closeness, my mother’s hand
on my shoulder as she tucks me in
or you beside me, your arm around my waist
and voice in my ear.
So tell me, what is it
that brings us back
to here,
you to me,
me to home
to this piece of furniture?
To this bed.
Laura Slaathaug Mar 2017
Mom doesn’t like poetry
since it’s not clear like how things should be.
Until you write her one,
and beaming she’ll put it on the fridge with a magnet.
Mom likes things sorted and clean, papers off
the table or in the bin, dishes in the sink or the cupboard.
What is this? Why is this here?
If it’s clutter, it’s just stuff. Don’t save it.
In her room she has 37 years of photos
and sometimes tears up when she thinks of her parents
but she would never admit it.
So, she laughs and means it
when her grandchildren dump the box of toys across the living room
and the dogs slide down the hall past the family photos
and bang open doors after a bouncing ball.
Most of the lines on her face come from laughing, crows’ feet dotting her crinkling eyes.
Her birdcall laugh hangs high above any room
like a day-warbler or a hooting night-owl over the treetops.
So much of her is rocks and earth and order,
but every bit of her speaks of beating wings and blue skies.
Mom’s favorite color is blue, deep like the ocean, bright like the sky.
Don’t tell her blue’s a sad color;
she dressed her baby boy in the ocean and then his sister
when she could fit his hand-me-downs,
and then laughed when the disapproving daycare lady sent her daughter home in pink.
She lives with her husband of 36 years in a light blue house
and relished painting skies on her kitchen and living room walls
after 10 years of white and little time
and laughed again when her children protested at the blue walls, rugs, and curtains.
Time may pass,
and the blue curtains, rugs, and walls may have disappeared
and her children may have had children,
but blue is still her favorite color and her children are still her children,
and she still doesn’t like poetry.
Laura Slaathaug Jan 2017
Sometimes I think of long lace hemlines, following a trail of white petals

and tree branches arching to form a dome,

sunlight dappling the green leaves like stained glass in a cathedral

But that’s not what I dream of.

Instead, I dream of black nights that turn into dim mornings

where we crowd the couch

And you play your guitar while we sing, voices cracking

and when we look at each other with blood-shot eyes,

we can’t help but laugh.

I dream of rain slapping our skin when we run, arm in arm, for cover,

my jeans are soaked, I shake from the cold, but your hands are warm

I dream of alarms ringing in the apartment, smoke billowing from the pan,

Because I burned the eggs again, the steam and smell of soap and grease

when I scrub the pan and make toast instead–

and you insist you don’t care—

but I make up for it with coffee later.

I dream of long trips, arms out the window and arguing over who’s going to drive

or who gets the radio station this time

because I’m tired of your folksy rock and you really,

really don’t want to listen to Beyonce

but we both do it anyway.

If I dream of a white dress, it has stains from the coffee we shared.

If I dream of petals, they’ve been drenched by rain and torn and trampled by our dancing.

Don’t tell me what I dream of isn’t beautiful because it’s messy and flawed.

For a thing of joy is a thing of beauty forever.
Dec 2016 · 336
Laura Slaathaug Dec 2016
When you woke up today,

did you take your mask off?

Did you inhale the oxygen

of uncrowded air

and drink water for a free mouth?

Did you eat and taste foods

that you haven’t tasted properly in a long time?

Did you mark the blue veins in your wrist

and remember you are alive?

Did you breathe out the monsters

that stirred your dreams?

After all, they were the reason

why you wore the mask.

Maybe you can’t help

but put it on again,

Or maybe take it off just a second,

and remember who

you are

without it.

— The End —