A Poet's Double Life

For poets working outside the literary world.

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April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 20

Prompt: Write a beyond poem

What a Dog Sees
~for Brody

You. Not your persona
or degrees, not the way
you looked at 10 years old
with your owl-shaped
glasses and buck teeth
unfashionably dressed
in hand-me-down plaid.
A black Lab will beat
his tail on the coffee table
for your attention, walk
to a box of chew toys, sink
his nose and mouth into the flimsy
cardboard, and one-by-one
drop Beanie Babies at your feet
as if offering a sacrifice
to a goddess. Because to him,
that is what you are.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013


April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 18

Prompt: I am <blank>

I am the Sun

Your clock ticks to my rise
and tocks as I set. Seeds
planted in the garden
of your mind grow
with my warm attention.
In winter when you turn
cold, I bring myself
closer, give you all
the light I can for as long
as I can. Every night
you sleep with no doubt
that I’ll be waiting for you
to wake. My brilliance
outshines everything else
in your sky—clouds, shooting
stars, and Jupiter. You worship
my beauty like a distant
deity, bask and bathe
in my glory, let me kiss
your face, touch your bare
skin—sometimes just a little,
sometimes too much. To hold
my gaze causes you pain,
and yet, you can’t turn away.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013


April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 17

Prompt: Write an express poem.



The old green sedan sits at the side
of the highway exit, hood propped high.
It must be bad because his feet
are off the ground. He’s climbed
onto the frame on bent knee, head
hovering over the engine block
as if surrendering in child’s pose
or yielding to the third call
for prayer. I can see his shoulder
move, but his arm is lost in the tangle
of hoses, wires, and metal.
She sits in the front seat in the green
polo shirt of her fast-food
uniform with her elbow propped
in the space of the rolled-down
window and her head cradled
in her right hand. Her eyes are empty
and fixed on a distant point, or perhaps,
the near future where she has to explain
her lateness again. But her face shows
no sign of angst or anger, no activity
except for the autonomic open and close
of eyelids—just an expression
that screams, “I am done.”

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

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April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 16

Prompt (Two for Tuesday): Write a possible poem. Write an impossible poem.



the bird in my hand
does not sing.
he cranes his neck
to preen iridescent
blue feathers, puffs
his chest and coos
when I brush his soft
yellow breast, nibbles
fingertips during feedings,
but he does not sing
for me. the bird in the bush
delights my path
in song, though I cannot
see his feathers, touch
his chest, or feel the quick
snip of his beak. Do I reach
into the bush, capture
his melody with both hands?
Do I let my adequate
companion fly away
for the possibility of
perfection unseen?

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013


April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 15

Prompt: Write an infested poem

During the Legislative Session

This place is crawling with lobbyists
and their plastered smiles and practiced
sleight of handouts hidden in fixed
handshakes. They smell power and swarm,
corner you in bathrooms, on slow elevators,
blind you with the golden flash of name
plaques pinned to left lapels. They roam
the halls seeking a warm and willing
host to hatch their agendas. If you let
them get too close, they will burrow
into your office, feed off your kindness,
take tiny bites of your soul.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013


April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 14

Prompt: Write a sonnet (14-line poem that rhymes)



It takes the strength of many to be first,
the prayers of others to be the only.
With each. you witness humanity’s worst
while self-doubt plagues your nights long and lonely.

Your rage and failure is what they expect
in response to their spit and ridicule.
You will never get praise, awe, or respect,
especially when you win by their rules.

You crisscross disparate worlds seamlessly
charging ahead though the path is unclear.
Why does a man choose this dichotomy—
star on the field, but exiled to the rear?

Black and white united each time you’d swing,
but blind to the depths of your suffering.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013


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April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 13

This poem was inspired by a photograph of the same name taken by Phil Freelon, whose exhibition, “Structure“, is at the Craven Arts Gallery in Durham until June 15th.


All the wooden boats are docked
to start the day. Men and boys work
their fingers through the fine green netting
so fast the camera catches only lime blur.
The women watch—babies crooked
in hip creases—studying the way these men,
their men will provide. This is happy hour
in Accra, where no one makes a three-minute
pitch or pushes cardboard in your hand.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013


April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 12

Prompt: Write a broke poem

How I Know I’m Not Broken

Last week, a glass slipped from my soapy
hands and shattered across the kitchen floor.

I swept up fragments and chunks from each corner
and even used the vacuum hose to swallow

the last of the invisible bits. But yesterday,
bare feet found a forgotten shard

near the electric stove. I felt the sting,
but the slice of pain didn’t break the skin.

Just like today, when I said your name
without wincing as the letters left my lips.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

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April Poem-a-Day Challenge, Day 11

Prompt: In case of <blank>

In Case of a Wild Hair

No. Not that wayward cowlick
strand refusing to be held down.
More sudden than when Bahamians
turn left as soon as traffic lights go
green, before oncoming cars switch
from brakes to gas. This move
starts in your blind spot, overtakes
your senses like the drone of cicadas
or the stench of diesel mixed with garbage
during summers in Kiev. To react,
you must throw your body into the power
of its sharp bend—like the way
I had to match his sudden, urgent kiss
and touch—heat for heat, flesh for flesh.