The Poet’s Heart

The Poet's HeartHere’s a story for you:

A friend of mine once said to me, “I don’t know how you write about things from the heart and then show them to the world. I make art, but I don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t like a piece. You, though. You put your heart out there with every piece, ready for the slaughter.”

We were walking in the woods at the time, a group of us, walking two-by-two on a muddy path. I thought about his words, and said, “You met your wife when you were teenagers. You only have eyes for each other and everybody knows it. But in all that you do, working your career and giving speeches for your employer and creating art when you come home, your heart is very much out there and it can be rejected just the same. Your courage comes from knowing that your heart is safe, that she protects it. The only difference is that the safest place for the poet’s heart is out in the open. So that’s where I put it.”

In one way or another, we all put ourselves out there every day. Because of this, we’re all a lot braver than we realize.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see JodyBrown.com/writing.

Zombie Sonnet 7: Zombies on Halloween

The Zombie Sonnets: HalloweenBecause nobody ever said you had to write about flowers…

Zombie Sonnet 7: Zombies on Halloween

On Halloween, they dress in human clothes
With all the buttons and the seams intact
They shine their shoes and gather all their toes
And even gel what hair they have straight back
They imitate the human parts of speech
Enunciating groans and talking sports
They like to keep a coffee mug in reach
For coffee keeps the humans in the sorts
And though this sounds like envy on their part
As if the zombies want a run at life
The truth is zombies are just kids at heart
They like to dress the part without the strife
For zombies, Halloween can be a gem
They love to see the humans dressed as them

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing. 

The Zombie Sonnets: Grape Stompin’ Zombies

Because it’s harvest time.
And because nobody ever said you had to write about flowers…

The Zombie Sonnets
Zombie Sonnet 6: Grape Stompin’ Zombies
When Jimbo’s toe fell off into the mash,
They banned us all from drinking from the pail.
For zombie stompers harboring a gash,
The bucket stomping was an epic fail.
When stomping grapes, a good technique is key.
The zombies learned to spread the grapes around,
They then could drag a leg or limping knee,
Across the grapes they dumped upon the ground.
But zombies have been on the earth a while,
They know the vintage history they save,
By gathering to stomp the grapes with style.
(It’s true the zombies always loved a rave.)
Because the undead got into the act,
This age-old wine tradition is intact.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing. 

Goodbye, Old Friend

Globe poemGoodbye, Old Friend

Some of us own the world
Like a globe you can pick up at the mall—
And we can tuck it under our arm and carry it around
Until we tire of it

And we can be so nonchalant about the world
That we eventually give the globe to a friend to watch for us
while we meander
For a season, or two
Or we can set the globe in an old cedar chest
And forget where we put the key
Or we can put it on an attic shelf
And sell the house
Without a second thought
Such were our thoughts about the world

Young fools we were
Fools who never thought it would happen to us
Not again, at least,
Fools to think we could read the roadsigns
When now we see they’re in a language we don’t know

O Love!
We were drunk with your charm
In the summer of our youth
With all that green, the light dancing in the leaves,
The gentle touch of the breeze,
But these were never for us
We spun in a world for a time
That was always slipping away

And now that it’s gone, that old, dusty round globe,
We’ll never know how the lines have changed,
That the boundaries and divisions are ever shifting
Like the wrinkles in a beloved face
That you long to hold once more

Behind us is a memory that didn’t happen
The trees are now shrouded in mist
and we know their greens were not
as vivid as the final reds that will come

It’s not the same old, dusty world anymore
And acutely, we realize:
It was never ours in the first place
We reel from that and vow
Never to fall again
But we know,
that after a long, harsh winter,
the spring will lure us again
And the tricky globe
hiding in plain sight
will continue its spin

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

Crackalacka

Crackalacka

 

Crackalacka

You know just why I shed a tear,
Impassioned by the sight
When fireworks light up the sky
All red and blue and white?
And they say Boom Boom Crackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Crackalacka

I never meant to stay that long
Then something in me spoke
That day, the plane, the Pentagon
When sleeping giants woke
And they said Boom Boom Jackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Jackalacka

I buy a ticket for a plane
To meet all that I can
I walk up high and walk down low
So I can learn the plan
My feet go Boom Boom Shackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Shackalacka

Some laugh at me, others with me
I start to like the jest
Together we find trust again
I travel on my quest
Laughter goes Boom Boom Hackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Hackalacka

Now decades after WWII
The questions still remain
The Concentration Camp is near
I hop a Dachau train
The train goes Boom Boom Trackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Trackalacka

Jerusalem, I hold my ground
As gunshots break the night
Below the Kidron Valley looms
I see and smell this fight
And it goes Boom Boom Ackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Ackalacka

Yet something in the soil here
Does get the soul to stir
Like drumbeats in the ground itself
That cause the lines to blur
The drum goes Boom Boom Rackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Rackalacka

I understand now what I sought
How heart and war reside
The passion rages like a storm
When hot and cold collide
The storm goes Boom Boom Crackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Crackalacka

Plane touches down, I’m home at last
I stop then on a dime
The world is calling me again
The trumpet says it’s time
Trumpet goes Boom Boom Brackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Brackalacka

It’s more than seeing everything
Until the die is cast
When I’ve felt all I need to feel
My heart will pound its last
The heart goes Boom Boom Sprackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Sprackalacka

Boom Boom Sprackalacka Boom Boom
Boom Boom Sprackalacka

 

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

Marking the Miles, August

August recapI don’t know about you, but I’ve enjoyed August. This month has been full of lists, stories, conversations, and even a Zombie Sonnet.

Behind the scenes, I took on a part time job to help cover expenses as I write. Grant funding would have made this process much, much smoother, but then, that’s the purpose behind grant funding in the first place. So, I make lemonade from lemons. On the one hand, mapping out deadlines has become a little hairy now that I have hours committed to being at a job site, but on the other hand, the writer brain never stops writing regardless of where it is. And these things have a way of working themselves out for the best: With the job, I’ve also had some fun experiences that feed the writing, from training that brought to mind Deer in Headlights and The Intern’s Job, to the frustration of training, which brought out some edgier stuff like the F Word and Righteous Indignation. I must apologize for the angst in Who Died and Made You King?, even though I thought it through for a few days before writing it and I’ve been getting positive feedback on it.

On a gorgeous day off, I penned The Language of the People. And from the comment conversation that took place around the Typo piece with fellow blogger ChiTrader, I wrote Traversing the Galaxy of Lost Ideas, another personal favorite of mine because I’d been noodling on it for a week before ChiTrader said something that unlocked the writing in my brain.

Thank you to all of you for following and for commenting. This daily blog project, #Project365, was a big bite to chew that has become an exciting “family” event thanks to all of you.

Here’s to a great August. I’ll meet you back here tomorrow.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

Zombie Sonnet 5: Zombies at the State Fair

Zombie Sonnets, because nobody ever said you had to write about flowers.

Zombie Sonnet 5: Zombies at the State Fair

The entrance workers try to stamp their hand
To grant them access through that steely gate,
But zombies lack the flesh enough to brand
So bracelets for the kids become their fate.The Zombie Sonnets
But once inside, the zombies get on par.
They win at goldfish, tossing plastic rings,
And try to keep their limbs inside the car,
While gazing at the view the Sky Ride brings.
In dodging llama spit they make a mess,
And overtake the funhouse playing tricks.
But vendors like the hungry zombies best,
For zombies love to eat their food on sticks.
They get a kick from pictures that they take,
Those cardboard human cutouts take the cake.

 

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

Barbie

Barbie postBarbie
Barbie is the new B word, says one of my Sunday School kids
Stupid doll
She gives us the wrong impression, another girl says.
Barbie is the new B word
Even the boys were getting into it
Because she’s not real, one boy says
Nobody likes Barbie

I raised my hand, even though I’m the teacher
I love Barbie, I declare
They all stop what they’re doing
And eight pairs of 2nd and 3rd grade eyes stare at me
I didn’t back down

My teachermate, Miss Jennifer, tried to pull me aside,
Saying something about social injustice,
but I was about to defend my childhood,
and nothing could stop me now.
I put down the 10 commandments I’d been working on, stood up, and I said:

My sister and I had tons of Barbies. The older Barbies were in a gang and they were always trying to corrupt the good, new Barbies. I’ll give you Skipper, though. She was useless. Her arms didn’t even bend.

One year, I got a Barbie play house for Christmas and my Dad didn’t want to put it together right away after all the presents, so I got the tools and I put it together. It was in three sections, two stories, and I built it myself. It was glorious!

The French doors never worked right, but the elevator did.

My sister had a cowgirl Barbie who would wink at you if you pressed a button on her back, so we called her Winker Barbie and she was the leader of the rabble gang. Winker had really nasty hair because my sister tried to use the curling iron on it. The rest of the gang was made up of Barbies who had experimental haircuts and whose heads we sometimes switched.

Winker and her gang were notorious for launching attacks on the Barbie Mansion, where the new and pretty sorority Barbies lived in harmony, ‘cause they hadn’t lost any limbs yet. The usual attack would come when the Mansion Barbies were throwing a party and security got lax. And sometimes, Winker would team up with the Transformers and it would be Winker and the airplanes against Optimus Prime and the Mansion Barbies, good vs. evil-style over the Barbie Mansion, the last ally stronghold.

Sometimes Winker won, and Ken would drive the Barbie Mobile into the Mansion and the pretty Barbies would be thrown out of the house. (Ken always changed sides, depending on who had the better chance of winning the Mansion.)

Winker and the gang would redecorate with alphabet blocks and tacky popsicle stick furniture instead of the posh couches and appliances the Mansion Barbies had.

After most battles, though, good would prevail and the Mansion Barbies would triumph with a tea party and the Bambi creatures from the McDonald’s Happy Meal would come over.

Over time, many, many battles were waged, there were arms and legs piled high in the Mansion yard, which was the orange carpet of my bedroom, and heads would have to be switched.

But one day, the My Little Ponies attacked, and Winker and her band of merry thugs formed an alliance with the Mansion Barbies, and it was only through Winker’s fast moves in the Daisy Duke jeep, luring the Ponies into firing range of GI Joe’s missiles, that the Mansion Barbies ever had a chance. Winker’s quick thinking was the only thing that saved the Mansion Barbies. That and her friendship with GI Joe.

The alliance held. After that epic battle, which was the final battle, Winker and the thugs got to live in the house together with the Mansion Barbies.

The Mansion Barbies fixed Winker’s rat nest hair, and Winker taught them all self-defense.

Launch yourself into better imaginings, I told the kids.

The problem is not Barbie’s waist-to-boob ratio. It never was.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

The Language of the People

language of the people, songWhen you get a song stuck in your head, does your day revolve around it, as if it’s your own person theme song? On Friday, are you singing this power song to launch yourself into the weekend, with decisions as bold as the drums in your head?

On Sunday, is your theme song still there? Or are you powering down, humming a song from the morning church service or beginning your dreaded mantra of must-get-ready-for-the-workweek-laundry’s-still-not-done songs?

I love the way music calls to people. I watch the way it beckons little kids to dance, or gives some of us nostalgia to the point of tears, or the way it dares us to buy that expensive glass of wine or decadent piece of chocolate that’s not on the diet because we deserve to savor. Music’s effect is not lost even on people like me who have so many words in our heads at all times that music has a hard time fitting in.

I see the way music moves. I see it influence, inspire, incite, and even sooth. Musicians urge with sound the way writers move with printed words. It’s not as glamorous for the writers, of course, because everyone uses words, whereas not everyone feels they can create with music. Since Dante, writers have been writing in the language of the people, the common tongue. And I happen to agree that Dante was right in making that bold change from Latin to Italian with his Inferno. Poetry should be accessible to the people, without an intermediary. Words should speak, and they should make waves.

So I watch the music, the newest language of the people. I watch the Friday people with their music, and I watch the Sunday people with theirs, and on Monday, like I do every day, I sit down to make the words line up on the page in the hopes that they will inspire, like a mantra or a song.

~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing

The F-Word, In Glowing Terms

F-word postI was witness to an argument on Facebook this week between people who prefaced the whole shooting match by saying they “normally keep private things private” or something like that, which was immediately laughable because the world has never seen so much airing of dirty laundry, and because Facebook has that darn Message button if you really want to be private about it. But, I’m a lover of irony, so I read through some of the posts. The most interesting thing, to me, was the use of the F-word. Not interesting=clever, but interesting=misspelled. When you add an –ing to the end, then shorten it to just in’, you don’t need to change the “i” to an “e.” And that goes for all -ing to in’ shortenings. Just sayin’. (See?)

Most English majors will point out that there are so many gorgeous words you can use in place of the F-word that you’re really doing yourself a disservice to condense your vocab down to just that one. While I agree with this thinking, I can’t help but point out that if it’s done well, the F-word can be sheer poetry. In my lifetime, through high school, college, jumping into the bar scene, being friends with athletes and military personnel, and working in kitchens and boardrooms, I’ve known one person who really had a handle on it: My friend Josh.

One particular night working at a restaurant, my coworker Darrell and I made up a game (server games are the best) where we both tried to talk like Josh for the night. This came about because Darrell had told a story with entirely too many F-bombs in it–which I pointed out–and he made fun of me for my “inability to swear without sounding like an uppity professor.” Thus, the game of trying to talk like Josh was born.

Josh talks fast and hard, and can throw in the F-bomb left, right, and sideways and not miss a beat. Darrell and I tried our best to emulate this, in the kitchen, the server station, and even quietly near the bar, tossing out F-bombs all over the place and for no reason–which is where we went wrong, because it’s not a haphazard skill.

By the end of the shift we’d both had some impressive runs, but as we locked up and rounded the corner we ran smack into Josh, of all people, who was outside a pub having a cigarette. We chatted him up for a second, during which he launched into an effing rant that, in one sentence, not only used the F-word as multiple parts of speech but he also tossed in two effings followed by an actual noun where the effings were not redundant. No kidding, each one meant something different and we understood him perfectly.

I’ve studied nine languages over the years, and I’m telling you, Josh’s skills are nothing short of art. Yes, art. Educated, purposeful, quick-thinking art. It’s one thing to toss in an F-bomb in place of a word because you can’t think of the word you’re trying to say. That’s what Darrell and I were doing with the game. It’s another thing entirely, though, to use it as diction to convey heartache, love, angst, appreciation, and to describe a scene with precision and clarity, and even beauty.

Game over. Darrell and I looked at each other and shook our heads, defeated. “The master!” we congratulated Josh, first shaking his hand, then hugging him and telling him we how much we loved him. And when we left him there outside the Irish pub to finish his cigarette in the cold, night air, poor Josh had no effing idea what was going on.

Jody Brown.com~
Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler who has waited tables in five U.S. states. Her current writing projects, including her daily blog endeavor, #Project365, can be found at JodyBrown.com/writing