A Poet's Double Life

For poets working outside the literary world.

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November PAD Challenge, Day 20

Absent, Always

helping hand

Are tears from professional spaces

though frustration is ever-present

in the manufactured air


And so too are hugs and hands

of comfort to rub shoulders, to cross

boundaries, to tear down walls


Only laughter remains to fill the awkward

silence, to diminish what makes us

human, to deny what keeps us sane


~Pamela Taylor © 2013

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November PAD Challenge, Day 19

After the Funeral

~for Doris


The church doors open to embrace the midday

light, shimmering off the farmer’s pond.

The meadow grass—browned over and stiff—softens

a little in the November sun. This is all

that stands between me and the old country road.

As a child, I burst through these doors, holding

my little brother’s hand, eager to escape the confines

of patent leather shoes, squirm out of our Sunday

best and dip each claustrophobic toe into the cool

water. I can almost hear our mama’s voice

carried on the thin breeze of this last warm

autumn day, calling us home. And just like back then,

my dear brother, you were always the one

to listen, always the first one to cross over.

~Pamela Taylor © 2013

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November PAD Challenge, Day 18


The Sensitive State of Security

The pace of trouble has nearly doubled.

The end could be complicated,

changing, struggling, hampered

by problems. Unable

to hear, the vast majority lost

faith, are already moving on.

To scare, to break their trust happens

on an ongoing basis. The battle

began with attacks, shifted the sensitive

state of security end to end.

Last week, all was compromised.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013

Erasure poem from the New York Times article “Health Website Enrollment Far Exceeds October Pace

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November PAD Challenge, Day 17

Broken red and blue hearts with ECG

Heart Sick


This time it was a mild case:

fluctuating chills and fever,

swollen eyes, nose spouting mucus

into tissue balls. What it wants:

another warm body under chin-tucked

covers. What it gets: citrus and rest.

But I’ve seen it worse: this heart of mine—

unrecognizable—attacking itself like Lupus.

It comes home after every relapse, crumples

into the childhood bed strung out

on the last high. How can I forgive it again,

after I’ve scrubbed the stench of its vomit

from the bathroom floor, after I’ve slept

beside the hospital bed listening to the hiss

of machines breathing all night, after it’s exposed

in the harsh truth of daylight—bruised and black,

almost broken, never to be undamaged again?


~Pamela Taylor © 2013


November PAD Challenge, Day 16

Only Onenumber-1

I used to think one was magic,

all that remained when you divided

anything by itself. One turned

the tips and pads of fingers

into adding machines, helped

kindergarten hands solve the world’s

biggest problem: the number

of apples if Sally gave me three

when I already had five.

I’ll tell you this: I reveled in oneness

when it meant first and best,

something rare like moon rocks

or a ’49 Jackie Robinson baseball

card. But that was before I walked

into boardrooms and ballrooms

and failed to count any higher.

~Pamela Taylor © 2013

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November PAD Challenge, Day 15

An Anagram on Vanity



Displayed on a six by twelve metal plate

Raised red letters scribe my name in block text—

PAM—trailing the d, r and period. Perhaps it is

A holdover from my Hollywood days, this type of vanity.

Most folks ’round here are down home, ain’t

Trying to be fancy or flashy or wave

Advanced degrees like Old Glory, mutter those damn

Yankees think they better, but always curious,

Look to see who’s at the wheel, roar their F150

Oversized engines and saddle alongside my car to peer

Right into this brown girl’s smile.


~Pamela Taylor © 2013

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November PAD Challenge, Day 14

The Secret of Saturninset-saturn-rings-large


What is it about you

that drives men mad

building spacecraft

to traverse the impossible

space of this universe

just to be close enough

to read your wavelengths,

to reach through magnetic

fields and swirling dust

that shroud you in mystery,

to glimpse the heat rising

from pole to pole—the source

of your power, your storms—

and hope your light bursts forth?

~Pamela Taylor © 2013

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November PAD Challenge, Day 13

Lessons in VirtueWoman pyjamas

~for Liana

Today you learned courage

as you slid down the 10th grade

hall to geometry class and back

to the principal’s office to retrieve

your forgotten shoes, the cold

plastic floor burning a hole

through patterned socks.

Today you learned restraint,

to show the sullen, pale face

of teenage nonchalance, to bury

shame behind a care-less shrug

as the bite of that told-you-a-million-

times scolding bore into you.

You have yet to learn about prudence

or planning ahead or rows of shoes

on racks by the front door or why

adults make you feel wrong

when they are right.

But this will teach you

the emptiness of justice,

the absence of your mother’s

charity, faith, and love.

~Pamela L. Taylor © 2013


November PAD Challenge, Day 10

Ladybugs in November

Closeup of ladybird on green grass

They shelter indoors, break in through

uncaulked cracks in windows, searching

of a warm place for their last days.

At first, these tiny prowlers crawl along crown

molding or buzz against the rim

of the pendant light in the dining room.

Sometimes I glimpse them in mid-flight,

spotted domes spread, thin brown wings

soaring on the last heated air of the season.

Soon they’ll appear at eye level, teetering

along bathroom walls and mirrors in haphazard

circles like the town drunk you can’t send home.

When the nights dip toward freezing, I pretend

not to see them clinging to the back splash

or creeping below on vanity doors, bright

against the stark white of cabinets.

Why must I gather upturned bodies,

return their abandoned shells to dust?


~ Pamela Taylor © 2013