A Poet's Double Life

For poets working outside the literary world.


November PAD Challenge, Day 30

Sometimes You Must Return


Go back to that moment where you first fell

in love with those words you read or heard

that made the grief, doubt, and loneliness

make sense in your head as if you had tapped

into the maple tree of yourself and now

everything oozed out thick, dark and sweet.

Go back to that first note that broke skin

and to the lyrics that soaked into your blood

stream, and to the music that moved through

you like a silent tsunami. Go back to the first

time you witnessed the chorus of stars, vast

against the night sky, surrounding you

with the brilliance of your birthright, filling

all your emptiness with their shine.

~Pamela Taylor © 2013

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November PAD Challenge, Day 29

The End of Night 

~Inspired by the 2008 National Geographic article on light pollution

Milky Way


Artificial beams shine upward, flooding

our evenings with the vacant

glow of urban life. We’ve forgotten

the river of stars and planets flowing

into the rest of our universe just beyond

the reach of the shallow night

sky. Astronomers claim we need the dark

to balance our circadian rhythms

of wake and sleep, to keep us steady

like gravity. But what does science know

about darkness or time or how dreams devoid

of hope wither and die when they’ve lived

as long as I have without light?


~Pamela Taylor © 2013

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November PAD Challenge, Day 28


Collision Course

I’m trying to get on your radar screen, be more
than a blip you can explain away by low-flying geese
or a malfunction in your instrumentation.

You always retreat to the air of safety because you can depend
on the rise and fall of the sun, have memorized the way clouds thicken
and thunder then wring themselves clear. You think only the sky
can be trusted, but I’ve been flying solo too and have seen
the sky bend the wind to get closer to a flame.

One day you will look up and see me heading right
for you and have no other choice but to jump.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

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November PAD Challenge, Day 27

I’ll Be Glad When the Present Catches Up


In the future, I see you sitting across from me pouring the wine that I will buy for the meal you will cook, nothing special, just a salad and roasted chicken on what will be an ordinary Wednesday and we will not talk about my feeling stuck in this job or your struggle to find your true purpose or the where and how of everything between us because there will be no where and how, there will only be this moment when you cover my hand with your hand without thinking and kiss it out of habit when you get up from the table and ask if you can offer me more and I will say everything you have and you will know I mean I’ve fallen in love with you because you will have already read this poem.


~Pamela Taylor © 2013

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November PAD Challenge, Day 26


foggy city

I should be used to this by now:
the way the clouds creep in low, blurry
my vision, force me to feel
my way through parking lots and down
slick asphalt streets. Flooding the path
with light only thickens the confusion.
But I’m impatient and burn my head beams
anyway, as if nature were a cable channel
and I held the remote control. I want to push
past these moments when the world pulls
the curtain around itself, settles
into an easy chair and waits for all to clear.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

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November PAD Challenge, Day 25


Great-Grandma Maggie Ballard

You are the one she still talks about
with grandchild awe, quotes your wisdom
chapter and verse about the size of John Brown’s
barn and the kitty that got no milk.

But this is all she will say.

She doesn’t tell me about great-granddad
Harris who gave you his name or the family
you entered and held together with spit
and polish and the force of your kindness.

These things I learned from older
cousins twice removed.

They recall your tack-sharp mind
and how you never met a hurdle or wall
you couldn’t jump or scale without losing
your steady breath or frowning your smile.

They tell me I am you incarnate, have told her this
for years and years, but this she keeps to herself.

Once she gave me a pillow with a photo
of your daughter’s distant face,
and I wondered if it was like yours, if
it would have tendered in its old age.

I know less about grandmother than I do about you.

All of her pictures you are gone, says my father
threw them out in one of his basement-cleaning binges,
but he’s dead now and she won’t tell me why
she kept them down there in the first place.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

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November PAD Challenge, Day 24


Night and Day

I’ll tell you something: nighttime
is different than the day.

The snow flurries in haphazard
patterns like gnats drunk
on honeysuckle. I have to squint

to see these frozen dots–small
and bleak–against the concrete

sky. Oh but yesterday, as I crossed
the street at eventide, I could have sworn
a million stars were falling.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013


November PAD Challenge, Day 23


We Are Never Alone
~Inspired by Inuit art at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Two spirit faces live
In each stone

Caribou stand on hind legs
To meet at the lips

The large man with the large heart stands
With his brother wrapped around his back

The hunter trudges home hunched
Over with meat from the winter kill
His dogs pant from the weight of their loads

A man flies to the moon
On the wings of eight black birds

An old woman embraces the cold
Away from her grandson

One woman carved in steatite
Carries her child next to another
With a bundled infant pasted to her left
Hip and a toddler clinging below

The littlest bear carries
The littlest one on its back

Even the tail of the whalebone goes
Nowhere without its soul

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013


November PAD Challenge, Day 22

Flash of Red

His stubble brushes my cheek
like sandpaper, the friction sparking a slow
burn from hip sway to toe reach.
There’s something different
about our dance, in the way he changes
direction to make this pleated skirt
unfurl in a flash of red, something
that pushes beyond the wall
of friendship we’ve built to keep
our hearts apart. I feel it every time
we lean in together like two
sides of a triangle, trusting
that the other won’t give way.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013



November PAD Challenge, Day 21

The Other Side of Vanity


On the other side of vanity is pride

but not the deadly sin of unearned

grandiosity or haughty laurels some may

wish to place on my head as if I sprinted,

twisted, or punched my way to Olympic gold.

I have seen this pride beam in the face

of brown girls who see my license plate

and in the voice of black men who stop me

in parking lots to shake my hand and call

me sister and the tiny hand of  a little boy

who has touched the coarse hair of the president

and now knows it feels like his own.

This pride comes from knowing that one

can play by their rules and win.

~Pamela Taylor © 2013