Poem: I Never Finished The Green Hills of Africa

Many years ago I got into writing different types of formed poetry. I have always been a free verse sort of girl, but have appreciated what it takes to write in meter or form. This poem is a Sestina. I cannot validate how well crafted it is, but it was fun to write.

The joy of writing for me is the challenge to push myself past the comfort zone. I learn so much about myself when I do this. I gain perspective and open up my mind to being more accepting of different types of writing that I might not be familiar with. This is one of five or six Sestina that I wrote. My process is putting out a call for words and then taking some of them to create the poem. This makes it adventurous. Enjoy.

Photo credit to Ike Jakson

He moved slowly and purposefully through splintered
feelings.  His heart pumping around the protruding tusk
impaled in his chest.  It sang deeply of moon.
It pulsated and vibrated more intensely than the alabaster
skin of her thighs.  How he wanted to blanket
his body with her; how he wanted to shovel

his way to her voice again.  He knelt down, hands forming a shovel
and began digging earth, his mind splintered
into left brain and right with no meninges blanket
to force them to work together.  He felt the tusk
burrow deeper with each movement, its girth of stained alabaster
shining like an iridescent beacon screaming at the moon.

“Burn, burn, burn!!” shouted the wicked moon.
Her rays laser beaming the flesh built shovel.
“I will not let you spoil her alabaster
soul again.  I will not,” said the high, tight voice.  His ears splintered
into a million fragments of universe on the ruined tusk,
laying dimensions of sound over the dirt like a sonic blanket.

It was all so invisible, her hatred, this blanket.
He pawed at it on the sparkled ground moon
forming in the lake of blood dripping from the tusk.
He never meant to lay his hands on that shovel,
never meant to enjoy the wood as it splintered
beneath his palms, as it cracked her alabaster

skull with resonance.  She breathed untouched alabaster
no more; she was damaged.  He had done it and now this blanket
of silence suffocated him as the night cursed him in splintered
tongues.  He stood a devil redeemed under the moon.
The spade lay there detached,  a broken tool, a shovel
no more.  His head hung there now noticing the tusk.

She had closed in on him like lust, arms behind her, gripping the tusk
her daddy had killed for in Africa, its gypsum alabaster
shine his recollection to her beauty that could shovel
away a mountain as easy as folding a blanket.
She had kissed his lips in front of the testament of the moon
and punctured his faith with the ivory.  He was splintered

morbidly by the pointed tusk.  Her lies, an evil blanket
all along—alabaster lies forged deep in hatred by the moon!
He lay his broken hand/shovel down, now numb and splintered.

Poem: Thomas Jones, A Wall in Naples, 1782

Painting by Thomas Jones, A Wall in Naples, 1782.

Thomas Jones
A Wall in Naples, 1782

One long white stocking
hangs from the balcony
swinging its toes, brushing
the tree tops, brushing against
the murderous beige wall.

Bricks birth through the stucco,
holes left from weather
and persistent birds
each perforating the sanctuary
of the stocking’s owner.

I wait for her to push through the door.
I wait for the window to throw its sash.
I wait for the sun to cease its brutal pummeling.

I wait for the stars
to give me a taste
of silk in my mouth,
silk tearing
against my teeth.

Poem: Easy Medicine

Recently, I have been reading poems at night and recording them. My friend and I send them back and forth. This is a helpful tool to understanding where changes need to be made in the flow of a poem. This particular poem is an old one and was previously published. Most of the poems you read here are published except for the occasional recent work.

My life as a nurse has afforded me the opportunity to see people in every shade of their personality and to imagine myself in their heads. This poem will someday be part of a manuscript I’m putting together called “Little Graveyards” which chronicles small and large deaths I’ve seen in the ER or just in vulnerable people in general.

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

Easy Medicine

Skin heals inside out.
We watch the wounds close,
pushing up new cells daily.

It’s her own small miracle
self-created again and again
and again and again
with the razor slowly biting
into microcosmic layers.

Each thickness its own
dimension in time. She stands
witness to blood rising
from skin folds, valleys made
of her innate need for destruction.

A river is nourished
with every ripple it pushes
up over the banks, spilling
into the empty valley
of her heart.

It’s easy medicine for her.

Each groove alleviates pain quicker
than any pill, or couch session.
Making her remember,
that despite it all, she’s still alive.

Published: Issue 19 Big Windows Review

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer, Chicago, IL.

I know I previously posted to the home page and maybe another post about being published at the Big Windows Review, but here is another. I have two poems in Issue 19, Spring 2020

This literary magazine is part of the Writing Center at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, MI which is run by Tom Zimmerman and Katherine Snow. Thanks so much to them both for including my work in their spring issue.

Poem: Any of It

I’ve come to realize that at 46, I have spent a lifetime chasing the idea of love. It’s an abstract concept that most have a hard time holding in their hand long enough to understand. The feeling, when it’s true, might have you huddled in the corner whispering “my precious.”

Love is something we want to keep, but can’t name or map or diagram out to know when it is true. Like many people, I have spent the aforementioned lifetime with a conglomerate definition of love that comes from society, movies, books, and learned environment.

The concept is often too heavy for a person to consider individually. This would mean each of us would have to stand before the mirror and not be ashamed of what looks back at us. What happens when all those areas I have gleaned a definition of love from are broken?

The last three years have been a journey to love myself. I have started this late in life, but with a good set of tools: experience, knowledge, friendship. The journey will continue as my years tack on, but right now, in the strangest of times, I have found my definition of love.

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

Any of It

Sometimes I want to write
a poem where our breath
meets as it dances over
our lips and tongue.

I’d forgotten
what it felt like
to be loved

to know the weight
of an arm across
my chest, 

the wet warmth
of velvet kisses, 
unexpected.

The way laughter pulls 
two souls together,
or the surprise of existence
the morning sun brings,

Or how a hand slides
into another, grounding
the world into reality,

the quiet closeness in awe
of a sunset, fingers tangled
in the soft waves of my hair.

These were all dreams I once had,
the sweet rambles of sleep
and rearranged heartbeats, 
soft delirium easily trapped 
in the dark minutes before midnight.

Poem: Mitigation

I wrote the bones of this poem last night and then cleaned it up this morning. Most of the time I share work that has already been published, but today, you get a freshie. Enjoy.

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer, Corning, NY.

Mitigation

I pulled into the grocery store parking lot, 
leaping from the car to race headlong
to the concrete wall separating the river
from the city it likes to drown
when too many tears fill its banks.

The sun set so fast
throwing amber rays into the sky
like a confident painter perfectly
placing a thick brush stroke,
its reflection on the water, a liquid fire.

These months in isolation
pull all the silver linings
from the bottom of my pockets,
remind me of what hard life used to be
and the pain of loneliness

and how this is an inconvenience,
a sheltered reduction of years and thoughts,
a gratitude building up for something as simple
as the evening star over our heads
always pointing us in the right direction.

Aleathia Drehmer 2020

Collaboration: Poem: Generation of Guns (with Brad Burjan/2010)

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

It’s strange, but as a child I was not into collaboration. I feel like this is when we would be at our most viable to handle it. Our egos don’t get in the way. But as I have gotten older, the more I love to collaborate in some way. It pulls the mind open. It gets uncomfortable and this is where your craft grows. In 2010, I did a fair bit of poetry crafting with my friend Brad Burjan. Many of the poems we created together were published.

I would later go on to work on short fiction in a collaborative setting with people I had never met before and learning to trust where they were taking the story. It is an exercise that allows you to play and take chances you otherwise may not have taken. I started using conversations with other people to create characters for stories. Things began to have lives of their own.

Collaboration has so many levels of sharing. It can be in your face construction of a piece of writing or art. It can be subtle in the sense that another person’s presence in the room or the sound of their voice lends to creation. Often we take collaboration to be this big undertaking but it is truly about interaction with another person who has their own unique picture of the world. Never be afraid to try something that makes you feel on the edge of your comfort zone. You’ll come back happier than when you started.

Please enjoy this poem from 2010 by Brad Burjan and myself:

Generation of Guns

Sometimes these bones
are strangers, touching
each other in the night
like blind/deaf lovers.
They call each other
by name, their words 
Morse code vibrating 
into fresh cells.

Like frightened armies
cut off at the river,
they move together 
in the trenches, faces
smeared with mud,
limbs articulated
with their sentences
hovering
in the open mouth
of the air…searching.

Legions of men rise
and fall in this mist,
this place of stopped
time and stolen history,
exhaling the exposed
wounds we’d rather
not carry.

All that dried blood
of reality pools
and hardens in 
cold chambers—
in a generation of guns
now frozen in the memory’s 
trigger and I’d rather shoot 
the teeth out of love 
than admit defeat or truth.

So
I’ll just sit here
choking on every syllable
that weighs down
my throat, and cease
to resist destiny.

Aleathia Drehmer/Brad Burjan

What This Pandemic Has Taught Me About Life and Writing

Photo by Aleathia Drehmer

This new website was created to be less about personal life and more about a writer’s life. But yesterday I realized that these cannot be separated. Not if you are doing it right. Yesterday I was able to participate in a workshop put on by Shuffle Collective during their Weekend of Words. This has been a free event of poetry and writing. It is something to connect us in this time when we all feel physically and mentally disconnected from our surroundings. Allie Rigby spoke about writing from a sense of place, from the environment that you belong in, and it started me thinking (more than I had already been).

This pandemic has affected me in more positive ways than negative, and I consider myself lucky. It has taken out all the busyness of my life and pared it down to what matters the most. There has been time to start a new job, to complete projects, and to finish my novel. I have had the opportunity to get closer to my child in a meaningful, more adult way. This mother’s day I was treated to an insightful letter from my eighteen year old. I’m amazed at how far they have come in the world.

In this time, I have become closer with my two good girlfriends. This has always been a challenge for me. Women have continually stabbed me in the back my whole life. But these women have given me pause. They accept me with my array of faults and eccentric behaviors. They don’t mind that I’m a forgetful hummingbird most of the time. They lift me up when I can’t see myself in the mirror and let me know that the warped image I might see is not real.

For poetry month, I did something different. I jumped on an acquaintance’s prompt train because I was determined not to write a month of death poems for my mother. Not this year. Not ever again. He has always been a poet that I admired and one that I published when I was in that capacity years ago. Every night for a month, we wrote poems as a call and response. I had never done this before. I had always gotten a prompt and had to dig up, sometimes painfully, a poem that I only 40% liked.

This was different. Everyday, I collected random lines from the world. Things from nature or memories that floated into my head. The worries about pandemic and fragile loved ones. The grief of losing a way of life I didn’t realize I had established. At the end of the night, I would take his prompt and construct a poem from what I collected. It was an organic feeling. It was beautiful. What a gift to be able to see something new about yourself and your craft. I’m forever grateful to him for this. Along the way, we found a friendship too that is more deep and centered than I might have expected. 

I’m not sure I have ever felt more whole in my entire life. All the years of grief and death. All the losses and terrible endings. All that suffering feels washed away with spring rain. This pandemic will change us all. Some in good ways and others not so much, but I think perspective means everything. This is a time when nature and universe has given every living being the opportunity to look inside themselves and see what they are made of. You owe it to yourself to do this instead of grasping at what was or what should have been.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful women I know who are loving their kids, other people’s kids, fur babies, and lifting other mothers with their compassion. It’s a great day to be alive.

POETiCA REViEW: One Poem

I am happy to announce that I have a poem published in Issue 5 Spring of POETiCA REViEW called “Jackson Pollock/The Deep, 1953.” I am thrilled that there are folks out there willing to take a chance on ekphrastic poetry as it combines my love of poetry and art together.

There are some names of poets I recognize in there such as Jack Henry, Dan Provost, Mitchell Grabois, and Brian Rihlmann. I’m excited to read work by those that are new to me as well. Pop over and have a read.

The Big Windows Review: 2 Poems

There are those moments when you Google yourself that it pays off. In all of this pandemic time slip, I had forgotten the date when my poems “Kai” and “Frank Stella/Moultonboro II, 1974” were to be published. My deepest apologies to The Big Windows Review for dropping the ball on this one. I’m over a month late.

These poems appeared in their online magazine and will also be included in Issue 19, Spring 2020. Head over there and read some of the wonderful selections they have in Issue 18 which is currently available. Thanks for reading.