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Jan 2015 · 1.4k
New Year’s Celebration
New Year’s Celebration

Among mad men in drowning corridors,
built on rusty foundations,
tethered to rotting, sugar-coated
grins, and nestled in the trashcan
of our neighbor’s backyard –
a candle we cannot see burns
out over the mountains, the
ones draped in vacation photographs,
the same set your kitten is named after,
a geological setting, a historical
lesson, a discipline of chances
strewn into another’s handshake
sweat left on the public
bathroom door handle, a smudge
of lipstick left on the countertop,
next to powder – a scene
unimagined for nonexistent detectives.
In a drunken state, we decide to play
Gunshots or Fireworks?
And we laugh when we are wrong.
Published in The Quill on November 19, 2014:

http://www.amazon.com/Quill-Fall-2014-ebook/dp/B00PNVT6PG

...

On being overweight (whatever that means)

Even if you were the moon, they would complain about how much space you took up in the sky, how you were too bright, wanted too much from the stars, demanded more light than the others.

And when you shifted, from waning to full to waxing to waning, they would remind you of how instable you were, how much of a hassle it was to keep track of your instability, your need for attention. Have you tried to be a vegan yet? All the stars are doing it.

You have tried. In fact, last week was your third try – an attempt, they call it – not enough, they emphasize, try again, they say this as if it is encouragement.

That’s when you found them - the celestial crescent, the earthshine, the perilune, how the lacus are lakes without lakes, why the Gibbous is brighter either way, especially during conjunction – all strung together in pearls.  

You are a full the night you return.

As you reflect off the lake, you see Selene, Hecate, Mani, Tsukuyomi, Iah, and Thoth. You tell the stars to look, to breathe your reflection, to succumb to the glow and the beauty of it all, that you are not alone—

They laugh.

Say how historical that is, how out-of-touch you are, how myths aren’t mirrors, how you -  you are not a mystery at all.

But when you died – if you died – (we still do not know) - they do not wonder where you went. They spin, spin, spin the entire night home, only once confessing to how empty the sky is without your shine.

But every night they burn.
Published in The Quill on November 19, 2014:

http://www.amazon.com/Quill-Fall-2014-ebook/dp/B00PNVT6PG
...

To my Mother – 5643 days after your death

I still count the days, the amount of candles we burned, our unmade faces and her foamy latte – the kind with a drawn on design for no particular reason (other than to brag.)
I don’t worry about the perfume – the smell I do not remember – but I do open the windows, every. other. day.
The sunlight doesn’t burn anymore. My eyes still close. The moonlight blurs after hours of consciousness, and her dog’s birthday comes and comes and never stops but will. One day. Mine will never. Not at this rate. Although the calendar flips faster than I didn’t want it to, even though I did.
Nov 2014 · 1.5k
Glitter Rain
Glitter Rain shimmers outside my lightning window

            and winds a dream—weather of dreams and nightmares,

            a reign of indifference somewhere in between the windowpane,

            the widow pain, and the windy plain—to whisper possibilities

            into the nice night of nostalgic friends, wishing friendships hadn’t

            ended, knowing it had to end, glad it did end, ignoring the ending

            of all this time, ticking away in the timely thunderstorm of the



night.

...

Viktor Aurelius read four of my poems on Whispers in the Dark Radio, a horror poetry show.

...
Nov 2014 · 920
This Waiting Place
This Waiting Place



The can of still is entirely sick.

Windows shatter and trucks collide

Threatens the over, yet becomes the not

Of which, of one, can you speak for?

.............I’ve never felt this way before.

Because glass gives reflections until it

Breaks.

Give me the pieces, the shards, the dust.

Let me take what I can take and walk away

With the shame of fault, the guilt of unknowing.

since analyzing the bodies won’t bring them back.

Limbo of shock or grey of wanting.

Since the can of answers can be given to the dead.


...

Viktor Aurelius read four of my poems on Whispers in the Dark Radio, a horror poetry show.
Inn-Sum-Knee-Ah (“Insomnia”)



I throw words at the ceiling fan

to break them apart over

the bleeding sheep on the carpet.


One. Two. Three. Four.


Pepper it over the bodies

while the fur is still waving

to the wind of the artificial air.


Five Six Seven Eight


My back cracks more than the

tocking insanity of the creak-squeak-squawk

crocked blame of the spinning blades above me.

I still can’t breathe.


Nine ten eleven twelve


The purple spot on the wall wanders between the bitter

clouds and the rocking streetlamps that wink,

as if to welcome me with “We are not sleeping either.”

But we will watch.


Thirteenfourteen.


That might be a good thing if I didn’t have my eyes closed,

burning from the inside out.


Fifteen. Sixtheen. Seventh

Sleep.


...

Viktor Aurelius read four of my poems on Whispers in the Dark Radio, a horror poetry show.
Nov 2014 · 775
You
You
You

You are every bouquet left on graves.
You are the prayers of grievers. You are
the naïve spectators pretending, the tears
of those who haven’t lost. You are eyes
forcing yourself to look away. You’re the addiction
of a mother sitting on a trunk that hides medications.
You are the choice to overdose.
You’re the fear of two orphaned children,
wondering where they will be forced to go next. You
are the tragedy. You’re a simple combination of pills.
At the funeral they pray your death is like a novel, memorable yet learned from. You are like a novel. Events that end in a planned conclusion.
You are that second before the last pill, the medication,
an array of medication, a combination of medication, the last breath. You are the ***** of your husband’s soaking
into the carpet. You are a cry of a child
caused by the scare of a naïve nightmare.
The entire graveyard grieves with you.

...

I read at the University of Kansas during their Undergraduate Reading Series. Read more about this event here:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/02/11/my-undergraduate-reading/
I read at the University of Kansas during their Undergraduate Reading Series. Read more about this event here:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/02/11/my-undergraduate-reading/
Nov 2014 · 1.8k
Injuries
Injuries

My ankles are burned left and right, and my knees are probably scraped somewhere. I sit straight, not to be polite, but because my spine muscles were ripped—in a car wreck. Everyone was all right. But I still feel it when it rains.

And since I was eleven, my wrist snaps like this SNAP Every. Day.

And my cat has scratched me one too many times. Lovers see my skinned back, and the scars of my arm or the twitch behind my left eye. But no one notices my split *******, the one I broke in half. And I have no scar where my heart shattered in my late teens. Or on my lips from bile on that day, this day, yesterday, or tomorrow.

You cannot see the death of my loved ones from my skin, and my ears don’t bleed from broken promises. My eyes aren’t forever affected by the tears that felt like forever, and my voice doesn’t sound different because I screamed at her one too many times.

I’m not dead because someone else is dead, but sometimes my heart doesn’t feel like it’s there as my injuries reflect my body, they reflect nothing inside.

...

I read at the University of Kansas during their Undergraduate Reading Series. Read more about this event here:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/02/11/my-undergraduate-reading/
I read at the University of Kansas during their Undergraduate Reading Series. Read more about this event here:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/02/11/my-undergraduate-reading/
What I Wanted to Wear for Halloween

…is not what you wanted me to wear for Halloween.
I wanted to be one of those girls in the comic books,
spinning around in high-heeled boots, high-strung ponytails, and miniskirts.
You convinced me to be Mulan.
It was the 90’s, after all.
And she was pretty cool. I guess.
I loved it more when I realized she had a sword. I planned to cut my hair with it.
But when I asked for her sword, you handed me a fan, told me to have fun with my friends.
My best friend wore a real kimono that year – all thick and purple and bright –
her father brought it back from Japan.
We were both Mulan. I guess.
But she loved her fan and silk and uppy hair up-do.
Mine had already taken a tumble for the worse.
And that is exactly what I see, many years later, as I stare in the mirror – finally in my boots.
I keep them on when I sit at the keyboard and type in her name
M-U-L-A-N
The truth comes after H-U-A
After twelve years of fighting, and dying, and winning, and fighting by her side,
China didn’t even know she was a woman.
They couldn’t have cared less at all.
Oct 2014 · 535
Hom-ouses
Hom-ouses



1. Allentown, Pennsylvania. A cream-colored home with reddened shutters. Age 0 to 1. Only known from photographs, the street blew up one decade later during a gas leak. The neighborhood was evacuated. No one died, but you’ll never see your first home, except for your first eyes, ever again.

2. Tulsa, Oklahoma. Age 2-3. A one-floor home with a cement tornado shelter—something straight out of the Wizard of Oz or Twister—in the backyard, right beneath the clothesline, your great grandmother, Juanita, still used to break chickens’ necks rather than wash your toddler clothes.

3. Green Bay, Wisconsin. Age 4-6. A two-floor suburban home, built at the top of a hill which iced over frequently in the blizzards. Your brother jumped from the tears, and played with your husky dog, before picking flowers for the first and only bus driver you’d ever have.

4. Atlanta & Alpharetta, Georgia. Age 7-9. You were a minority, and you lived in a brick house, built atop a mound of red-brick clay. You made your first friends—a catholic, a reader, and two black girls. None of them were allowed to see one another, so you had to choose which. You hated girl scouts—but your dad had an addiction for discounted cookies and calendars.

5. Kansas. Age 10-21. You’ve lived in four different parts, but it’s close enough to return to the house your grandfather died in (by smacking his head on the toilet) or the house your mother died in one year later (by a drug overdose) or the house your husky dog died by (drowning in the lake) or any other house someone died in, even the most recent. At least you published a book and got a cat.

....


I read this at the University of Kansas during their Undergraduate Reading Series. Read more about this event here:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/02/11/my-undergraduate-reading/
I read at the University of Kansas during their Undergraduate Reading Series. Read more about this event here:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/02/11/my-undergraduate-reading/
Oct 2014 · 507
Precipio
Precipio


Beneath the cherubs of Basilica di

Santa Maria Maggiore, St. Frances of

Assisi inculcates the embroidered

    Il tuo sorriso è l’alba che ** perso questa mattina

word of God, threaded into centuries

of artwork extinction, rehabilitated

into the minds of a museum, where

we cannot touch, only to distinguish,

what is ours, what is there’s, why

we must perderò  understand the

implications of sunrises bringing

another day of God to teach.

Our loss of Nativity is

freestanding figures

brought on by time.

...

I was invited to read poems as a response to Ann Hamilton's exhibit at the Spencer Museum of Art. Read more about this event here: (This poem is actually shaped like a face, but I can't get the lines to stay, but you can see the actual shape at the link)

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/04/19/reading-event-ann-hamilton-at-the-spencer-museum-of-art/
I was invited to read poems as a response to Ann Hamilton's exhibit at the Spencer Museum of Art. Read more about this event here: (This poem is actually shaped like a face, but I can't get the lines to stay, but you can see the actual shape at the link)

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/04/19/reading-event-ann-hamilton-at-the-spencer-museum-of-art/
Oct 2014 · 549
I hear the Bechstein
I hear the Bechstein


a blushed blur of universal vibrancy, constructed

……….of covered caution, a colored dream—a

……….dance.

a pressed curl of waxen connections, torn

……….over a rumbled boast, teetered to time—a

……….transition.

……….Folded space, a future chase.

……….The movers and risers pull the views out of

place before anyone can                          see.

……………………………momentarily

...


I was invited to read poems as a response to Ann Hamilton's exhibit at the Spencer Museum of Art. Read more about this event here:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/04/19/reading-event-ann-hamilton-at-the-spencer-museum-of-art/
I was invited to read poems as a response to Ann Hamilton's exhibit at the Spencer Museum of Art. Read more about this event here:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/04/19/reading-event-ann-hamilton-at-the-spencer-museum-of-art/
In a world where traumas are written all over our bodies


He has a bipolar jaw line and a suicidal knee cap,

collapsing and shaking

and reverberating his thoughts through his PTSD lip.

It quivers, and she looks away with an autistic eyelid.

See her a deaf cheek?

Their blind foreheads fluctuate, and their arthritic fingers vibrate.

Reynard’s Disease. Or Disorder IV. Perhaps,

one we’ve never heard before consumes the heart that’s about to break.

....

This was read at the University of Kansas in May of 2013: Read more about this event here:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/05/10/contest-winners-and-poetry-from-my-ku-reading/
This was read at the University of Kansas in May of 2013: Read more about this event here:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/05/10/contest-winners-and-poetry-from-my-ku-reading/
Oct 2014 · 1.3k
Terror-rium
Terror-rium


We had an aquarium

A river, a lake, a sea.

On our desk—the ocean.

Our exotic fish, fished

from the very river, lake, or

sea which we have now.

On our desk—we provide forage,

food, plants, water, and fish.

The aquarium had us.



We had an insectarium

An arachnid, an insect, a butter

-fly. On our counter—the air.

Our countertop full of flourishing

flowers, fluttering wings of broken



butterflies, falling from feed, because

they drink—and we pluck their

wings, tape them to tapestries to

stare. Say, how pretty they are.

The insectarium had us



We had a terrarium.

A desert, a savannah, a floor of sand.

Our room is lit by a woodland, a

jungle, a place we’ve never been.

African violets decorate our reptiles,

all scales and shells and condensation.

It rains today—the lid which collected

our precipitation. Our pebbled floor,

formed over our marbled kitchen.

The terrarium had us



We had an arium,

and we destroyed it

to keep them on our desks,

nuzzled between family portraits and pens,

to remind ourselves of what

We used to have and

what we’ll never have

again, but at least they are

pretty, and no one needs

National Geographic to stare

anymore. We have our countertops.
...

This was read at the University of Kansas on May 10, 2013:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/05/10/contest-winners-and-poetry-from-my-ku-reading/
This was read at the University of Kansas on May 10, 2013:

http://shannonathompson.com/2013/05/10/contest-winners-and-poetry-from-my-ku-reading/
Oct 2014 · 1.0k
Regretful Memories
Regretful Memories

Unsurely, I can feel the certainty in your kiss. It lingers, like unrequited love. Hopeful, lustful, incomplete, lost.

What’s missing, your fingers play my hair as if they were piano cords.

Nothing, I breathe in. Everything, I exhale.

You taste like burnt cigarettes. And mint. I count how many stars I saw in your eyes, and I know the lightning in the sky doesn’t matter. Thunder, thunder, thunder. Bang. Bang. Bang. Rumbling thunder. You play them away. And my feet are off the ground. My skin is electrified and I realize that I am alive. Then dead. At the same time. Bliss. Is that what this is about?

Yes, you beg.



Yes and plead.

...

Published in LALUNA Magazine, Norway - April 5, 2014
Published in LALUNA Magazine, Norway - April 5, 2014:
YouTube Reading: Watch a reading on YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=In1Swk0H3uk&list;=UUcbYhVpVG2MY1siT38n9Nig
Oct 2014 · 13.0k
The Affair
The Affair

I fell in love with childhood,
he wore a red cape
made of polyester plaid,
tiny stitches of lines
circulated around his palm.
He never wore a mask,
his memories wore enough of one,
a fog remnant of a dream,
his home he’d never see again
all along the river, led up to a lake.
It didn’t matter anyway,
a wedge upon two brick walls
was a plaque – or a warning –
a memorial, perhaps, but
all succumbed to his pain,
every inch crumbled to dust.  
That’s when I took his childhood away.
I fell in love with memories.
Oct 2014 · 1.2k
Miscarriage
Miscarriage

If I hadn’t stepped outside, I would not
have seen the cloud buried deep in the approaching
storm I vaguely remembering hearing about. I would
not have seen the hole in the mist, the darkest
blue splot of our baby, blasted against the
lightning heavens. I would not have heard
the coyote howl or the neighborhood dogs
bark back, bark bark barking, as if you
would eventually return their perilous cries.
I would not have had to bite my tongue
from interrupting their noises with my own one—
a single scream—all out-stretched to you as
the windy sea blew a blue cloud into
you, crushing you into the embryo, the egg,
the moment before you did not exist. I
would not have stood there on the grass,
head tipped up to where you once bud – a
cutout memory in already drifting fog – and I
would not have let the rain fall into my
open mouth as I thought about how easy
it would be, how easy it could be to finally drown.
To the Anti-American Teacher…We Knew You Were Pro-World

A clause in your contract slated your signature for patriotism.
You never signed, they never checked, but you took down your flag
after that.
They  didn’t check that either.
So, you stripped and tacked and taped and striped all the flags
from all the world to the walls.

On the east, sat Uraguay, and Paraguay, and Peru.
On the west, we went to Austria, and Hungary, and Bangladesh
for good measure.
But the north wall was your northern star – the shining one
among the rest.
The Chinese stars of social class contrasted against the five-pointed red one, the
one next to the ending of a Tsar in a February Revolution, a marking point found – not in our textbooks – but in all the places you have been.

Oh, the places you’ll go, you began.

In Israel, you had gone in your college years, and you learned of bamboo
tattoos in Thailand, but Korean was a class you completed in
France of all places, and I never had the chance to see the locations of
the south wall.

You were fired.

Over night, they tore you from the walls, lone of which, they left the
tape tacked up in four corners, a collection in each place of a flag
we once saw before us. In my desk, you slipped a map inside.

Oh, the places you’ll go, you wrote.

Such a sorrowful tune.
Oct 2014 · 1.3k
The Autumn Railroad
The Autumn Railroad

it was a place of great indifference, the type
of indifference that only happens in limbo, in the
final brush of breeze that tears a red leaf from a
stem, from a freeze-frame photograph,
that – somehow – lingers in a memory,
even though the paper was torn in half
long ago.

It was a place of great sorrow, the sultry
kind but also the kind that made kindness a
mirage or a fantasy or a dream that was beyond
all horrors due to the horror that happened there.
And when it happened – where the two tracks came
together over the bridge – where the two
boys used to bike on Sundays, where they decided
to go on Saturday instead – that’s where Autumn
never came again, that’s where the leaves never fell,
that’s where they fell to the leaves, where the leaves
don’t seem so red anymore, where anymore became
always mourn, and where morning met
the end of the road.

It was a place only for snow.
Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYWr080ufHU
Oct 2014 · 1.4k
Peeling Oranges
Peeling Oranges

We sat on the floor as you began, and
you told me how she showed you the way
to skin the sun in one single swoop.
But the burn you learned by yourself.

It happened when you were finished,
at the moment you pressed the peels to bitten lips,
during the time you smelt the layers stuck to your
skin.

The sticky sweetness was enough.

You explained why before speaking of Shiva,
and Ganesha and someone else I cannot remember, but
I do recall how you didn’t like it when I stepped over
your legs.

Once you asked, I would step back over, so
you could grow tall and lean, but – now –
I don’t know what you look like, whether
you grew or peeled or warned others of the burn.

I’m only left with my steps, and my inability to peel has not changed.
But I do know – now – how you shouldn’t have had to ask me to step back over,
because I never had to ask you.

You always peeled two oranges at the same time,
just so I didn’t have to burn. For that reason, I know
how you grew far above me, even back then,
tall and lean.
The grave of my teenage daughter
is a restaurant she was born at 16.
I was told she began smoking long reds for long breaks – they lasted 15 minutes at most – and she had her first sip of alcohol there. Coffee liqueur from a straw in booth 14 from a customer who later became her lover.

The next lover was the second to slap her, and following that was the first kiss she ever received from someone she admired – even though he didn’t admire her back.
It was near the gumball machine, right between the hanging claw and the golfing game. Neither had worked in years. But the lights still flickered, and she always used to talk about how the neon chants radiated across his grimace when he asked her for a kiss.

Even he knew it was only for her.
Even she knew it was never for him.
But she agreed anyway.

The waiter told me that she smoked an entire pack of Menthols after, as if to brush her teeth, but it didn’t cleanse a mint memory. It only burned it away, etched it into the cement curb where we last saw her – drinking one last time as the yellowing sky stretched over the horizon and left her smoke as ash against the morning mist.
Oct 2014 · 566
How She Loved Me
How She Loved Me

After she broke her neck, the diagnosis advised her to
avoid all moving when she could.
Once she agreed, three vertebrae were fused together,
and a cushion braced her instead of us.
We were not allowed.

Days passed. Weeks passed. Maybe three.

She sat in her chair and rocked and rocked
and rocked – until the hinges snapped, too.
The repairman repeated those two words:
Don’t. Move.

I avoided her after that – ran right past her when I could –
let my legs leap and fly and bend and breathe.
But even my knees knew how she watched,
how she waited for me to look.

I only did once.

On the day the sky became a lake,
she walked onto the deck like a dock,
threaded the wind with her fingers,
rose her chest when she breathed,
and bounced onto the trampoline.

She stretched and sprung and skipped into a flip
only stopping to giggle about her favorite rollercoasters.

And I stood still to listen.
I stood still and watched.
Oct 2014 · 1.2k
The French (History) Teacher
The French (History) Teacher

You’re not actually French. You just brought in a French textbook,
told us you wanted to bring in a World War I pistol instead, but this will have to do.
They say we didn’t help them during the war, that Paris was never taken, that we may, in fact, have lost our minds between the trenches, the gas, and the bombs.
N’est ce pas?
I only touch my face to remind myself that it is still there, and – beneath it – is a mind that may not be my own. When I say this to the class, you handed me the gas mask, right in time for a smile.
It was old paper in my hands, and it was easier to ask when I put it on,
but harder to hear when you responded, au fait.
My French grandmother never believed in that.
But I finally understand Bogart in Casablanca when he says his German is rusty.
Oh, mon ami.
If I kissed you for the last time, I knew it wouldn’t be written down.
Oct 2014 · 1.9k
Fukushima Daiichi
Fukushima Daiichi

You told us about the samurai ***** that day,
why the child-emperor drowned, how folklore affected the shore.
The thinnest male I’d ever seen pulled out a blunt and smoked.
Everyone else focused on you, Kasa Professor,
but I trailed over the class with his breath, kept
my eyes on the clipboard you passed around, “For
relief efforts.” You never spoke. Only explained.
As an English major, I knew you would be an exclamation mark.
As an English major in the History of the Samurai, I didn’t know you would be studying the I.R.S.
The swords were scarier than the men, yet their ghosts were on a crab’s back.
I imagine my ghost as cigarette smoke flogging over an enamored classroom until I leave – only glancing back when the clipboard is returned.
We both knew it would be empty.
We both admitted it when we smelt the smoke.
The sinking ship already burned, and your dying wave is the confusion behind betrayal of a tradition to quench approaching starvation.
That final bite – the moment we are full – is where all history is lost. In the future, they will wonder where the ***** came from. But I won’t wonder about you.
You are not an exclamation mark. You were a question mark all along. But a mark, nonetheless.
To the thunderstorm I used to love,

you pounded me, beat the windows with your fists,
brought the rain down with your thunderous roar.
rarely, it would hail, and the melting ice would
gleam down the streets, still soiled from the
summer day before you came and took over all daylight.

A severe thunderstorm warning went into effect around
2 a.m. - estimating to begin at 4 and
end at 9.

You came at 5, and it never ended.

While the rain once glistened, it now stings my skin,
crushes my thighs, squeezes my hip, compressing
pressing presser tightening twisting the calf, stabbing
the spine.

I am not in control.

The purple crush of your swirling eyes is
a rush of wind - a cold front in the summer
mist - the shattering of a two-hundred-year-old tree.

I saved butterflies from you only for them to suffocate in their cages. The rags indoors, the frames, they never stopped you - only the rain
prevented your fire.

You are right when you are gone.

The road is a blurry mirror, aging eyesight in the wet darkness.
Watch a reading on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nR4jcdzhas

— The End —