A Poet's Double Life

For poets working outside the literary world.


April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 30

I hope you’ve enjoyed these 30 days of poems!

Prompt (Two for Tuesday): Write a finished/never finished poem


sentenceI am an open parenthesis,
holding space for your run-on
stories and secrets as silent
as the e in hope.

I fall for your non sequiturs
time after time, hold my breath
with every comma, ride
the endless wave of ampersands.

Don’t leave me dangling
on the participle of our future.
End this complex sentence full stop
or with an exclamation of your love.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

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April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 29

Prompt: Take a line from one of your poems and make it the title of a new poem (from “I am the Sun” – Day 18)

And Yet, You Can’t Turn Away
You watch him move in slow
circles on the floor, watch the face
of the woman in his arms open wide
to his embrace. She’s no match
for him, you think, with her clunky
shoes and choppy steps, but she gives
herself freely. He will take it all
until the music stops. He turns and walks
your way—eyes inviting, arms promising
comfort. You slide into his elbow fold, inhaling
the scent of midnight visits and tangled sheets
and hollow words and ringless phones—holding on
to each moment as if this dance has no end.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

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April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 27

This poem was inspired by an exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Prompt: Write a mechanical poem

Mechanical Masterpiece

“Practically unsinkable,”
they said. Nearly perfect
as human brains could make
her—that delicate balance
between strength and beauty:
the gilded opulence of chandeliers
encased in a majestic mix of iron
and steel, girded by three million
rivets lodged in her hull. Red rockets
streamed through the sky as she slid
into the river, steamed down to the Irish Sea
with her massive engines rumbling
until the Atlantic opened up and let her in.
In a word, Titanic, destined to be the machine
that was no match for the moonless ocean—
calm and saltwater cold—and the maze
of ice mountains, floating free. We remember
the remnants of her wreckage: broken cargo
hauls, large iron wrenches, hundreds of intact
au gratin plates, watertight portholes
like hollow shells, five vials of perfume,
the melody of “Sugar Moon”, a lump of coal,
the warning bell.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

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April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 26

Prompt: Write a casting poem



into the shape
of women
who stew
in silent pain
others mistake
as strength.
I’ve been cast
for the role of
femme fatale
ball buster
all the same.
How do I break
the mold?

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

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April Poem-a-Day-Challenge, Day 25

Prompt: Everyone <blank>

Everyone is a Little Crazy

Take for instance, the tiny old Black man
dancing in the subway station.
He’s too dapper to be desperate—
dressed in a pinstripe suit and vest—
his plastic gold pocket watch
jingles from the chain
as he step hops step hops
between beams. He tips his fedora
to the little ones who point
and giggle as their mother
shushes and shoos them down
the platform. We catch each other’s
raised eyebrows, shake our hanging
heads in unison at the plight
of this poor old soul who shuffles
every night at 42nd Street to invisible music.
We rather just go home, wind our way
through the city’s bowels, push past
the after-five throng, sprint and miss
the bus, the short green light
on Eastern Parkway, the last chance
to pick up tomorrow’s dry cleaning.
We think it’s better to plop on the couch
or crawl into bed, stuff our emptiness
with Oreos and lose our minds
in the glare of the screen. We think it’s better
to wake up every day, turn down
our white, white collars, smooth
wrinkles out of worn pants, and pretend
like we’re not walking around with no clothes.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

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April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 24

Prompt: Write an auto poem.


It starts with the little jabs
I take at myself—always noticing

in photos how the left ear juts out
and is not folded back like right ear,

or how my too-long second toes flirt
with the edge of sandals and flip flops,

I deflect compliments about my smile
by volunteering stories about those painful

years of middle school braces and the money
spent on tooth-colored fillings and crowns.

I do not recognize the strength
and beauty others claim is within me,

have not mastered the art of accepting
kind words with a simple thank you. I want

to heal—surround myself with affirmation,
but only see what I could do better,

what I’m not doing now, the thousand
and one ways I am still not enough.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013


April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 23

Prompt (Two for Tuesday): Write a love/anti-love poem.

The Muse

I’ve been sitting at this desk,
day after day, scratching out
words in heavy black ink, waiting
for her to help me bring life
to the page. She breezes in the door,
plops down next to me in a huff.
I’ve begged her to show
up and now she has to squeeze
me in between the hot shot architect
and the close-to-a-comeback
rock star. For the umpteenth
time, she explains how her job
is so important—she alone
lights the flame of creativity
to set the world ablaze. She leaves
behind haikus and rhyming couplets
like trinkets to be traded
for islands or gold, then scoots
out the door to catch a future
Nobel scientist in his sleep.
I love her the way a neglected
child loves an absent parent—
with all my heart
with all my hate.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

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April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 22

Prompt: Write a complex poem.


Is he looking at me? I cannot tell
because he’s slow to meet my eye.
I saw him in the hall and in the stairwell
and think he’s been following me for some time.

He slows down and our eyes meet.
I force my fear into a wide smile.
He’s been following me for some time, I think,
but if asked, will he hide behind denial?

In my state of fear, I force a smile.
He smiles back and asks about my day.
But I can’t hide behind denial
or ask if he intends foul play.

When he smiles and asks about my day
an eerie chill runs through my veins.
I know his hands intend foul play
as they make my side bleed in pain.

The eerie chill that ran through my veins
when I saw him in the hall and the stairwell
was the last thought I had as I bled out in pain.
His final look said he knew the dead won’t tell.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013