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Laura Slaathaug Apr 2018
It was cold when I died--
The ground hard where I was lain
The garments wrapping
my head and body  
were meant to be my last--
the night silent
and there was nothing
and nothing else.

The dead do not have hope.
The dead have nothing
but a tomb.
And this tomb was meant
for me.

The living have stories.
The dead have endings.
But even endings have endings,
and the biggest trick I fell for
was that mine was done.

Because there was
not nothing.
The heavy air became light.
And the ground thudded with
heavy movement;
then it was still.
And there was nothing once more.

And then my eyes opened.
The wrappings were pulled
from my face,
and light hit my eyes.

And I rose again
on my 2 feet,
and walked toward
the open stone door
that You had
rolled open
for me.
Happy Easter!
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2018

1. After last night's dinner you poured mint tea into a porcelain cup for your dad, and he laughed, saying, "Daughter, the last time we did this you were four." You replied seriously, "I'm living my dreams, Dad."

2. You go to counseling once a month and have been doing so intermittently for the last 10 years.

3. But when you were four years old, you had conversations with imagined dinner guests and poured water from a plastic tea *** like scripture from a pastor's mouth. You'd never had real tea, so you imagined it with lumps of sugar. From ear to ear your smile was real.

4. Five years ago if someone told you that your family would be sitting at your table eating your food on Easter, you would have laughed because you didn't have an oven or a table.

5. Five years ago was when you chose life, and everyday you keep choosing it--like painting over a crimson stain in white.

6. You like church because you feel like it's one of the few places you can cry, and everyone else seems to understand.

7. When you were little, you would say, "I want to go home" even if you were already there. You knew more then than you know now--that home is not a place, but a feeling.

8. Every Easter you wonder how the Son felt coming home to His Father. Sometimes you forget how heavy the stone was when it rolled away.

9. Your dad is the strongest man you know. He has bushy eyebrows; when he ruffles them he looks like a horned owl about to take flight. Your mom tuts and tells him he looks like he's going to fly away. And he has, several times around the world.

10.  Sometimes you want to fly away too, just to see what your hometown looks like to a bird, to fit your piece of prairie to the rest of the puzzle. To see what your dad saw when he flew through the sky. To see what keeps bringing him home.
(2/30) Prompt: 10 Secrets
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2018
I am not tired,
I say as you turn on a film
and I fall asleep.
Prompt-2 Truths and a Lie
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.
Laura Slaathaug Jul 2017
Alexander, I can say things about you
they say nothing about you.
I can say you have green eyes
you have green eyes often cloaked in shadow and the dark dilation of your pupils.
I can say you have white fur  
you have white fur, gray at crown and chin, pale fur fuzz clinging to my fingers.
I can say you purr
you hum softly in your throat,
down your back to your tail.
I can say you like to be pet
you stiffen under my touch
and relax and roll like a wave
and paw my hand for more.
I can say you like to sleep
you sleep upright on the floor one eye open,
curled up in a ball on the bed, 
walloped on me and wedged in my side.
I can say you sleep now
you wait--your green eyes
hidden behind your lids
and  your purr slipping into snores.
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
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
See morning rolls around,
and brings another April snow day

This sleepy town stirs
on white streets under a white sky
And the only lights that shine
are the ones in traffic--
red and yellow watercolor
on the windshield.
We get home, the lights are down.
We lie in bed under the blankets
and dream of spring...
In barrooms across town
others gather ballads and sing.

Drive these roads
See for yourself the sky
flat, where meets it the earth
and the stars glimmering cold
And Polaris promises to bring you home
Even if they let you down,
you'll rise up off the ground
when you hear morning sound,
maybe it’ll bring one more day of sun.
National Poetry Month Day 22. Heavily inspired by "Another Day of Sun" from LaLa Land.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
the ocean holds and kisses
the sky so softly.
Day 4 of National Poetry Month. Unconventional love prompt.
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.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
The artist paints yellow, pink, and red
roses on her canvas,
glints of blue at the edges
dripping and spilling.
Something for spring, she says.
She gently smiles,
her hand rubbing
the swelling curve
of her belly,
just a black shirt and ragged blue jeans
covering another kind of canvas.
something else entirely
waits to bloom.
National Poetry Month Day 25
Laura Slaathaug Jan 2018
Why is the color of death black?
The color of night
of inside a cave
of your mother’s womb
of behind your eyelids.
The color of no color.
For some, it’s white–
of crumbling columns of ash
of salted soil where nothing grows
of days when the sun shines
too bright to see
when you look out your window and
can’t see your mailbox
when you leave home and
drive through clouds of snow
blowing across the highway
of snow dusting the air from
the backs of semis
of ice buried under snow
and you see the fields and trees,
the world shrouded in white
and wonder if
you’ll be buried here too.
Laura Slaathaug May 2017
Like a doctor

you want to cure others'

ailments and injuries.

Do you expect patients,

when you have no patience

for your own pain?
Laura Slaathaug May 2017
Doesn't it hurt biting your tongue
and squeezing your mouth shut?
And you keep trying to change--
to be softer, less loud, less of
what the world made you to be.
So, don't keep trying to stay silent;
the wind never does; her songs
echo in the branches overhead.
The river laps and splashes
against the bank.
Someone always hears it;
someone always listens.
If birds call out to each other,
and they always answer,
surely if you speak
someone will understand.
National Poetry Month Day 29
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2018
They say, Poets always take the weather personally. They’re always sticking their emotions in things that have no emotions.

I say, We’re all poets here, the coldest spring on record since Laura lived in her Little House on the Prairie. The long winter, she called it then.

Yes, winter, you’ve been here long. The door was opened for you long ago, but you never got up from your seat–even after the plates were washed and put away and everyone else had left.

And I kissed a man who told me, Heaven is fresh snow powdered like sugar and me on my board sliding down the *****, the wind in my hair, so cold my teeth ache. But it doesn’t matter because I’m smiling ear to ear.

And I want to agree, but I can’t.

With a lump in my throat I say, Isolation is a snowstorm: a white horizon, a scene of a single color, and the wail of the wind.
But it’s the set-up. The blank page for what is to come after.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
Tell nature that she can’t fit
all seasons into one week.
She’ll laugh so hard that
she’ll make the sun shine on Monday
that she’ll rain tears on Tuesday
that turns into snow on Wednesday
and she’ll start all over again on Thursday
while kids sled on melting snow on green grass
down the hill on Lincoln Drive--
an act of joyous surrender
and you unzip yourself like
the parka you wore for one day
but keep for all seasons.
National Poetry Month Day 21. Nature recycles herself here. Seriously. Don't get too comfortable with the weather.
Laura Slaathaug May 2017
You can’t forget;
that there is another way to fight
with an open palm
instead of a closed fist
and with a stubborn refusal
to hurt those who have hurt you
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 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
Find the river
where you find the trees,
past the flatland
past the sleepy town
beyond the gold wall
a trail of silver leaves will  
lead you
down the bank
Find the faint smell of mud
and the stirring of naked branches
prickly dead grass and trees
littering the *****—
Some cracked and white and crooked
most brown and brittle
and all of it wild
and weaving and spinning
a web of shadows
A crow may caw and fly into the blue
A red squirrel may scavenge in the dirt and skirt up the tree and pause in the crook
and watch you watching it
A tall cottonwood may creak as you
trespass under it’s hooked branches
and you’ll find it
its tarnished silver rippling
curving and swelling
like a snake
biding its time
National Poetry Month Day 24.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
Somewhere it's green
and  dandelions and soft grass
grow on hills
Somewhere it's blue
and the sky and stones meet
the river
Somewhere it's red
and squirrels and bridges
climb higher
Somewhere it's more
than white skies and white streets and
snow falling.
Somewhere you and
I walk in the sun and never
dream of spring.
National Poetry Month Day 23.
Laura Slaathaug May 2017
Even on the bottom branch
sometimes, you must be the first
and only
leaf to bud.
National Poetry Month Day 28.....(I can still post these in May, right?)
When you have candles on your cake, light them.
When you have confetti in your pockets, throw them.
When the clouds in your painted blue skies turn to storms,
reframe the canvas.
When you can't take another step, take one more
because soon you'll be able to rest.
And don't forget--to breathe.
Your hands will ache, and your bones will tire.
You will walk away, but you must always
turn back and try again.
This is how you see another sunrise.
This is how your steps become dancing
and your silence humming.
This is how you keep going.
Laura Slaathaug May 2017
Write it down, You fear people forget you.
You’re a garden, where children pluck roses
at daylight, singing about the beauty.
When night falls, they trip on roots they can’t see.
With the cold wind at their backs, they leave.
When day comes again, no beauty remains--
Petals and stripped stems crushed by tennis shoes.
Would you want a garden stripped of beauty?
Maybe, if flowers grew again in sunlight,
maybe children would return, laugh, and say,
“See how beautiful. See the beautiful!”
Was it not beautiful yesterday?
       Lying dormant in the earth or sprouting,
       know your roses will always endure here.

Growing, regrowing, roses bloom without thorns.
If you can’t see it, know you are lovely.  
For the effortless way you let them leave–
your petals perfume the feet trampling you.  
        Alone, you wait out the night.
        Even then, you are lovely.
National Poetry Month Day 30. (More like 40 days but......FINALLY.)
Laura Slaathaug May 2017
If scabs rip off
your skin like buttons
off your collar
and expose flowing blood,
wipe them clean and
retrieve sterile bandages.
Change them each day.
Repeat, watch your sores close.
You'll heal; take care.
And don’t mind if your skin scars.
Instead, take hope.
All you needed was time.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
my head in your lap
my thumb on your cheek
and you look down at me
and say, What?
Nothing, I say
and glance away,
redrawing your face in my mind--
the curve of your nose and cheek,
the steadiness of your eyes,
how your hair just grazes your forehead--
wondering what you're thinking.
I ask you what you're thinking.
And you answer, It's like you expect me to say something.
No, I say. I'm just looking at you.
And I remember
head on the pillow,
thumb on the keys
when I miss you.
National Poetry Month Day 18
Laura Slaathaug May 2018
she’s reminiscing,
a young woman,
who already feels old.
The weight of her heart
hunches her shoulders
and adds girth to her frame.
She wonders if life would be easier
if she was skinnier
because she looks at photos and
recalls a waif with big eyes
and bigger hair
nineteen and lovestruck,
his hand in hers
sneaking into abandoned houses,
and lying in golden fields,
the cool summer nights of
bicycle rides in the dark.
How much easier it was fall in
and out of love when you felt
invincible and didn’t know it–
when you’re more than the
woman cloaked in black,
like the heart she’s always
joked about
and drenched in
wine and smoke–
if she could be but the night
and swallow the sun, moon,
the stars, and all
that ever was–
but no, she’s a whisper
one word slipping into silence.
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.
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 Oct 2017
you’ve met the love of your life
in college
before age 25
and you both want to marry in the church on campus
where you met—
flower crowns for the bride and her maids
suspenders and rolled-up sleeves for the
groom and his men.
You want to settle
near both of your parents
(they’re close enough that you won't have to compromise too much)
and work 9 to 5 Monday through Friday in the city  
and spend your weekends on the lake
and boat, jet-skii, watch the sun pass
through the sky and over the water,
where you learned how to swim
(your father threw you in)
and thus, you’ll teach your children.
They will call your mom Grandma
as she makes walleye and hotdish for supper
and they will call your dad Grandpa
as he stokes the campfire for roasting s’mores.
It’s nice to know
no water is bluer and no sky is clearer
even when moon and stars flicker
like lanterns in the wind as the clouds pass over.
It’s nice to never wonder
because you never asked for more.
Laura Slaathaug Jun 2017

1. It never cuts itself down.

2. After six months, it never gives up hope of budding again and rests in the silence of winter.

3.  When its limbs are severed, something green shoots up where nothing should.

4. When the high wind comes, it stays upright.

5. It grows, never stopping, and rooted, reaches hands first toward the sky.

6. Its only weapons are arms raised high in praise.  

7. Without thinking, sighing branches give shelter; green leaves screen the sunlight and grant dappled shade in high summer.

8. And when it falls, as all things will, the only way to erase its imprint from this world is to rip roots from the earth. Even then, when you look up into the sky, you will still feel its absence.
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.
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.
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
Laura Slaathaug Feb 2018
I always think of you.
I think of the color green:
the tint of old photos,
the lively dancing of your eyes,
your turtleneck in your
official schoolteacher portrait--
of summer--
the grass under my feet
as I run around the yard
so big to little me
and your wrinkled hand keeping me from running too far--
your curtains hanging in your dining room
when the sunlight peeked through them--
the cushions of the dining room chair
where you sat and talked and ate and
made funny faces
sometimes with curlers still in your hair--
the stems and leaves of wildflowers
that Grandpa picked for you
sitting in a coffee tin on the microwave--
the clover planted in empty ice cream pails
in the living room
and you telling me I was lucky
because I'd found one with four leaves--
the grassy **** blanket on the fold-out
bed in the living room where you
sometimes napped--
the bitter tea you drank
for your weak heart--
and the markings on the cannula tube
snaking up
to the oxygen mask
covering your smiles---
your laughing green eyes
on your last day.
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.
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
Yesterday, you saw a dandelion
and you could have cried.
You remember rolling down green
dandelion-covered hills.
When did you stop racing up
and rolling down hills?
When did you stop flying kites in the high wind
or picking dandelions for your mom
just to see her smile?
Darling, who says you have to
grow old
and accept the creeping stifling cold of
Who says you have to stop
National Poetry Month Day 27
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.
Laura Slaathaug May 2017
Try to write when you are happy.

How do you write windshields with blue skies on                              

long car rides, window rolled down, wind in hands;

your bedroom ceiling at golden hour,

light from your window bent into a striped                                        

rainbow of sea-green, yellow, and coral;

your niece cackling, lobbing a blue balloon                                          

to your sister, who holds baby Sawyer;

your cat purring, folding into your side                                                  

a thousand times like a origami crane;

the trees bursting with red-pink and white blooms                          

that quickly appeared in the last few weeks;

if that, like the peace you have now, you          

don’t notice them til the petals

have left the branches

piece by piece?
Posting my final edit again because the website seems to be working. Sorry!
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
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2017
See how the farmer waits
for his  crop to sprout,
for spring rain to fall,
and for autumn harvest.
So you must too,
Your seeds are being planted.
Know your happiness,
because darling,
you need nothing
but patience.
Or better yet, call it hope.
Natizonal Poetry Month Day 17.
Laura Slaathaug Nov 2017
All of your life, you told them,
you had to learn softness;
how do you make scars smooth again?
Some wounds won’t heal,
because you can’t stop touching them.
The blood on your hands is your own.  
But you wash them now
and let the wounds close like a book
that should have ended long ago.
see?  you tell them,
Palms open and flat like paper.
So, here  
the story starts once more.
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
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?
Laura Slaathaug Nov 2017
Don’t give up.
Planting the seed
is always the hardest.
Without beginnings,
there would be no harvest.
The only time the streets are paved
with gold is when the sun rises--
poor Dennis feels rich
old Marlys feels young
everything slow seems worth waiting for.
The birds fly north and greet the sky.
Over the streets the sun pours
like honey from the jar.
It's another day, and you doubted
you'd make it this far.
When the darkness feels too heavy,
your hands too empty,
don't forget that joy
comes in the morning.
Laura Slaathaug Jul 2017
The potted plants on the deck are all dead,
and you are not sure which slip-up to blame:
Ignorance of botany or neglect. 
One *** contained a plant you did not know.
You were not surprised when the orchid died; 
but how did the pine tree drop to dust? 
Now there, you have three pots of dead plant dirt:
crumpled leaves, wilted stems, and dried debris–
of living things conceived, grown, and scattered.
You failed
but you can dare 
this dirt 
to start again.
How I feel when I write poems lately.
Laura Slaathaug Mar 2018
Try to write when you are happy.

Ask yourself, How do you write

windshields with blues skies on

long car rides, window rolled down, wind in hands;

your bedroom ceiling at golden hour,

light from your window bent into a striped

rainbow of sea-green, yellow and coral;

your niece cackling, lobbing a blue balloon

to your sister, who holds baby Sawyer;

your white cat purring, folding into your side

a thousand times like an origami crane;

the trees bursting with red-pink and white blooms

that quickly appeared in the last few weeks.

What if

(like the peace you have now)

you didn’t notice these things

til the car was parked,

the sun had set,

your niece and nephew had grown,

you had found yourself alone,

and the petals

had left the branches

piece by piece?
1.  Your cornflower blue eyes crinkled and laughing, sometimes flashing like the storms you love to chase

2. Your strawberry blond mop that smelled nothing like fruit but instead of sweat and grime, clinging to your brow when you removed that Pepsi baseball cap

3. Easter egg hunts on your birthday, like plastic flowers in melted snow and you up trees and on the roof of grandma's garage

4. Rare compromises that built tree forts or wound up the tire swing until it bounced and whirled its passenger like a spinning top

5. When everything you did, I wanted to do too--whether it was rescuing the princess or flying an X-wing

6. Diddy and Dixie Kong headlocked and tangled in armpits, wrestling for the Super Nintendo controller or for the remote for the VCR until Donkey had enough and made them both watch Barney

7. The laughter of you and your friends from the basement or slipping around the corner, back when I said “Me too” and meant “include me”

8. Games of war crouched behind the couches when the only war you dreamt about was the one in Narnia

9. The cliff in Hawaii over the smoking volcanic ocean water and Mom screaming for you to come down

10. When you push me, like the dominoes you used to line up and watch devotedly as they toppled over, one after the other because sometimes general incivility is the very essence of love.
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."
Laura Slaathaug Apr 2018
the cars on the road
and descends past naked trees
into the field still
dry despite snowmelt water
where she alights and
closes her wings, ruffles her
feathers, and dunks her
head. She drinks. The
wind stirs ripples on the pond.
Then she comes up, bobs,
floats, and dunks her head again
and again with wild
thirst that will not be sated.
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