Welcome friends and family!

"The colors of life shift

within a fixed parameter,

movable blocks of shadow

and light, interchangeable

or not."

"Chaos is a friend of mine." ~Bob Dylan

"Chaos is a friend of mine." ~Bob Dylan
Da Boys!

Front and Center!

These two creatures who have locked up my heart will be front and center in this little corner of blogosphere!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Past Not Taken

This is a quirky poem I wrote sometime ago and tinkered around with the past few days. So, for what it's worth (since National Poetry Month is winding down).......

I fall back
through past chapters
of my life, slip
into a sea of change.

Fabric along the shore
feels rough and knotty and so
I pluck a thread, here
and there
a thread
to smooth the way.

And as I pull and pluck
the past flies out of kilter
slips its bounds and
slides away.

I grasp for the familiar
as, like bright balloons
set adrift
in winds of time,
they drift off and out of rhyme and place.

I have loosed the fabric of my past,
unraveled time
and space
and place,
set sail on a course
unknown and out of bounds.

There is no traveling
to the place
before I fell
into the muck with my need
to pluck, retouch and refine

what was mine in all its rough-hewn glory.

My story, it belonged to me,

and only me, a journey writ
one page at a time, one blank page
at a time, where one can only edit
in present and future tense.

Like drifting balloons
treasured faces of the past
sail away from tomorrow.
Frantically, I reach
for what has slipped away,
to no avail.

A new course
before me.

I stumble
among the paths not taken,
unfamiliar vistas, unknown faces.
With a heavy heart,
like Lot’s wife spared,
I set out blindly
in a desert of regret.

~~Pam Patterson

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

My own poem I wrote about Sylvia Plath:

Is an art, like
Everything else.
I do it Exceptionally

~~Sylvia Plath ("lady Lazarus")


The Girl Who Wanted To Be God

The bald fist of English winter
pummeled your soul.
It would not, would not,
cease the pounding,
lift or pull away.

You vaulted
humdrum walls,
shrinking around you.
What ultimate God-stare
prompted you to seal the door,
to climb into the tomb?

O surreal enigma!
Spouting dark dirge-consonants
that goaded your final triumphant blaze-
a controlled head-trip of pure motion
hurtling you into the eye, that red-eye magnet
long drawing, burning

in your brain, your veins, until
it consumed your flesh.
A bitter triumph, they say,
a brainstorm from which you failed to return.

O ironic victory!
When the fat black heart ceased its beat,
the virgin queen rose, reborn in God's eye,
liberated from her bald wax-tomb.

~~~~~Pam Patterson

And, one I wrote about a bleak time in my own life....

Aborted Reason

Slice-and-dice sound bites
chew on the worm-germ
infesting my slippery skull.
The vapid hunger feeds on itself.
Like an aborted cancer clinging to life
it crawls back into the belly
hook-pricks along its raw umbilical.

O the sweet-meat of death dreams:
tempting vapors that swirl and curl
deep into the night nostril.
Mad-mother wakes to the wail of her fetid fetus.
Contractions contort the brief sanity-slivers
that pierce the counterfeit labor pangs.

I am a victimless rape victim.
The bloody seeds of sanity
spill out from my spread-eagled soul.
The crime is mine. I asked for it.
I nurture the beast that feeds
deep in my fertile skull-womb.
I whored my shaky psyche
for a willful dance on reason’s edge.

~~~~ Pam Patterson

Yellow and Red

Two poems from Sexton and Plath. As I have said before, the images are harsh in their beauty. Each stroke of their pens or typewriter keys are laced with vivid defiance. Having read their numerous biographies I'm always captivated by the beauty extracted from their pain. Where Sexton is untamed an unstable free spirit, Plath is tightly wound, ever coiled and chafing against her self-imposed constraints.


When they turn the sun
on again I'll plant children
under it, I'll light up my soul
with a match and let it sing, I'll
take my mother and soap her up, I'll
take my bones and polish them, I'll
vacuum up my stale hair, I'll
pay all my neighbors' bad debts, I'll
write a poem called Yellow and put
my lips down to drink it up, I'll
feed myself spoonfuls of heat and
everyone will be home playing with
their wings and the planet will
shudder with all those smiles and
there will be no poison anywhere, no plague
in the sky and there will be a mother-broth
for all of the people and we will
never die, not one of us, we'll go on
won't we?

~~~~~~~~~Anne Sexton


Little poppies, little hell flames,
Do you do no harm?

You flicker. I cannot touch you.
I put my hands among the flames. Nothing burns.

And it exhausts me to watch you
Flickering like that, wrinkly and clear red, like the skin of a mouth.

A mouth just bloodied.
Little bloody skirts!

There are fumes that I cannot touch.
Where are your opiates, your nauseous capsules?

If I could bleed, or sleep!--
If my mouth could marry a hurt like that!

Or your liquors seep to me, in this glass capsule,
Dulling and stilling.

But colourless. Colourless.

~~~~~~~~~~Sylvia Plath

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Exercise in Futility

This is a poem I've had in the works for a few years, actually. I get a thought or a phrase or the germ of a poem and I put them into a file. Periodically, I revisit these dormant seeds. Sometimes I discard one or even an entire file. Other times I nurture one of the seeds and see how it grows. This is a fledgling bloom that I feel sure I will revisit and rework from time to time.

I study the smiling photos of
a five-year-old Spiderman grinning,
web slinging into the camera.
I look for shadows
that surely lurked,
like the villain he pretends to slay,
in the corners of his mind or
the curve of his smile.

When did the shadows
creep into his burgeoning psyche
and how did I miss it? One day
the laughter was too shrill, too
over the top, for too long before
the trip down--fast, furious
and frightening. He was tethered to an
out-of-control bungee cord,
furies unleashed.

Searching the photos for clues
I catch a glimpse of five,
white sunshine frozen in time.
I close Pandora’s box knowing
it’s too late to go back.

~~~~~~~Pam Patterson

Olds and Sexton

I have every book of poems that Sharon Olds has published. As I've said, she's my mentor when it comes to amazing poetry. I'll share one of my favorites (one of my MANY favorites) from her book THE FATHER.


Always, now, I feel it, a steady
even pressure, all over my body,
as if I were held in a flower-press.
I am waiting for the phone to ring,
they will say it and I will not be ready,
I do not have a place prepared,
I do not know what will happen to him
or where he will go. I always thought
I had a salvation for him, hidden,
even from myself, in my chest. But when the phone rings,
I don't know who he will be, then,
or where, I have nothing for him, no net,
no heaven to catch him-he taught me only
the earth, night, sleep, the male
body in its beauty and fearsomeness,
he set up that landscape for me
to go to him in, and I will go to him
and give to him, what he gave me I will give him,
the earth, night, sleep, beauty, fear.

~~~~Sharon Olds

And...from one of my two favorite, most intense, possibly, most unstable confessional poets, THE RISK by Anne Sexton. Both Sexton and Plath, my other favorite, were, in spite of being unstable, suicidal and immensely self-centered, were incredible talents. Often harsh and rarely subtle, their images seem to bleed into the pages.


When a daughter tries suicide
and the chimney falls down like a drunk
and the dog chews her tail off
and the kitchen blows up its shiny kettle
and the vacuum cleaner swallows its bag
and the toilet washes itself in tears
and the bathroom scales weigh in the ghost
of the grandmother and the windows,
those sky pieces , ride out like boats
and the grass rolls down the driveway
and the mother lies down on her marriage bed
and eats up her heart like two eggs.

~~~~~~ Anne Sexton

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Unfinished Business

In response to my Sister's recent post on her blog about survival in the face of loss, this is a poem I wrote while trying to come to grips with Mama's death and her reaction to my father's death 6 years before. After Daddy died, as Kelly said, her mantra became her wish to only live long enough to see Kelly grow up. The power of negative thinking? Perhaps. I just know that, before all was said and done, I had a lot of anger to deal with in my grieving process after Mama died. How sad that Mama had begun to enjoy life again when she found out she had Cancer.....

Unfinished Business
(For my mother)

I don’t think you realized
the force of your words,
the power of negative thinking
that carried you through
until fate granted your wish.

The day the call came
saying you’d slipped away
I’d been watching sparrows
dive into the reflected world
of my windows,
stunned by the force of reality.
After Daddy died
you curled up inside him,
left us, except for your youngest,
her graduation your expiration date.

What of my son, first grandchild,
the one you clutched as your own,
who crept under the wing you spread?
He curled up in silence
when I told him you were gone.

What of the grandchildren who will know you
by photos and secondhand memories?
Three months ago I stood in for you,
held your youngest’s first child
through her first night at home,
the warmth of new life against my cheek.
Feeling the tiny wings of her heartbeat
I thought of the sparrows
on the day of your death.

When the phone rang
I knew you were gone,
my sister’s graduation
only days in the past.
How many times had your wish sliced our hearts?
The Cancer that severed Daddy
so suddenly from our lives
chewed up your body,
organ by organ,
spit you out of our world
right on schedule.

In that moment before flight
did you turn to confront the love
that couldn’t hold you here?
When you severed the ties,
slipped out of your pain,
did you briefly pass through ours?

~ Pam Patterson

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Too Close to the Bones of Your Death

A special friend has been on my mind lately. He died of Cancer a few years ago. As I flipped the TV channels earlier today I glimpsed a golfer at the Masters. It reminded me how much he loved the game. In honor of my friend's memory I thought I'd share, again, a poem I wrote after learning of his death.

Too close to the bones of your death,
I think, to excavate the burial site.
How does one objectively pick apart
memories while dusting off raw emotions?

They say the cancerous beast fed quickly,
sucked dry any marrow of respite. Reality, it seems,
pulled the plug on a negotiable checkout time.
You, who ate life like candy, would not waste away
on a sugar-free half-life of hope.

I see you spinning in a kaleidoscope of moments,
captured grains at the bottom of an hourglass.
The dust will settle, in time, I know.
A slow-motion slide show is best viewed
when the bones are catalogued and safely under glass.

© 2003 Pam Patterson

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Hope Anita Smith

I have discovered a wonderful new poet! Well, new to me, anyway. Hope Anita Smith. The book of poetry I just bought (sent a copy to my sister) is called MOTHER POEMS. I thought I'd share one that spoke to me. It's amazing!


Everybody talks about
The thief who takes away people you love.
Kidnaps them.
Grabs them from their beds as they sleep.

Sometimes he waves wildly,
yells a big hello.
As if you know he’s coming.
As if you sent him an invitation.

And sometimes he seems to
hurl himself through space and
(like Dorothy’s house in The Wizard of Oz)
lands with a thud on some
unsuspecting someone.
And then they are gone.

But occasionally,
he sneaks up on you,
taps you on your right shoulder,
and when you turn to look,
he reaches over your left
and takes your mother.

It was the oldest trick in the book.
I can’t believe I fell for it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


This is in response to my sister's wonderful post about our parents, siblings and extended family. This is the title poem of the poetry chapbook (by the same name) I had published a few years ago. As we get older, the family connections get more precious and more fragile. At some point, many of the more endearing are but tendrils of memory.

As we lose the pieces of our past,
Person by person,
As we cut the cords,
One by one,
Of our invulnerability,
We are left to wobble
In the vast realization of our own mortality.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

In Honor of National Poetry Month

A poem by one of my favorite poets, Sharon Olds:

The Talk

In the sunless wooden room at noon
the mother had a talk with her daughter.
The rudeness could not go on, the meanness
to her little brother, her selfishness.
The eight-year-old sat on the bed
in the corner of the room, her irises distilled as
the last drops of something, her firm
face melting, reddening,
silver flashes in her eyes like distant
bodies of water glimpsed through woods.
She took it and took it and broke, crying out
I hate being a person! diving
into the mother
as if
a deep pond--and she cannot swim,
the child cannot swim.

~~Sharon Olds (from Strike Sparks)

And, one of my own in the same vein.....

Stale words
in stagnant pools
sink into a lifeless sea of drivel.

I’ve said it all before.
You turn a deaf, defiant ear;

Ruffled feathers
beat me back--
a safe distance.

You dance around
the sting of my words.

You’ve yet to really hear.

~Pam Patterson

Behind His Eyes

One of my own, one of my favorites in honor of National Poetry Month.

(For Connor)

Behind his eyes,
blue as the sky on a summer day
turmoil churns like
a wall cloud before the
tornado drops.
To decipher the emotional landscape
is to probe the depths of uncharted territory.

I’m no cartographer.

I tread gently, blindly.
I fumble as I try to read the Braille of his psyche;
but, I can’t see past the shadows.
His highs and lows rise and dip
like an unstable weather pattern
where sunshine belies the coming storm.
A bright smile and clear eyes can spin off
into ominous gales.

I reach for the shards of light. Perhaps
a clue, perhaps…

Too quickly the shadows appear, again.
Just when I think I can forecast the triggers,
pinpoint the offending cloud, the light shifts
and I’m caught blinking helplessly in the clarity
of my ignorance.

Pam Patterson © 2006