Friday, April 30, 2010

In My Last Month

There are poets I remember
This past month, though some have changed
And I’ve seen each week get better
Few have given up, most all remain
All these poets had their moments
With quatrains and prose
I still can recall
Some were rushed and some painstaking
In this month I've read them all

But of all these poems and poets
there is no one compares with you
And these memories lose their meaning
When I read with care what’s sent from you
Though I know I'll never lose affection
For poets now dead, I’ve known before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In this month I loved yours more

Though I know I'll never lose affection
For poets now dead, I’ve known before
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In this month I loved yours more
In this month I loved yours more

~ J.D. Mackenzie (sort of)

(Inspired by the poets of NaPoWriMo 2010 and the Beatles)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Across the Universe

Stephen Hawking warns us
against extra-terrestrial relations.
He thinks it would go badly for us
since aliens always want to be the top
and they never call
once they’ve trashed your world.

Our other searches for intelligent life
have left us wanting.
Maybe we’re looking in the wrong places
or we’re not patient enough.
Maybe we should search for
our own contentment here
sending out our most seductive music
and letting the right one find us.

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by D.S Apfelbaum’s NaPoWriMo Day 29 prompt, Front Page News)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


How is it we spend half of our lives
harming and neglecting the ones we love?

And much of the other half
trying to atone for it?

My intuition tells me I’ve been neglecting you
while counseling these dysfunctional families of words

Redemption is difficult, nasty work
but somebody’s got to do it

April is coming to a close
Have you lost weight?
Nice earrings

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Julie Jordan Scott's NaPoWriMo prompt for Day 28, Intuition)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mackenzie Rants Upon Day 27

Maybe I’d like Carolee even more if she’d
Arranged for us to have an easier prompt
Call me predictable, or call me
Katharine (I’ve been known to write under different names)
Even when the words are flowing like Guinness
Neither Nietzsche nor even
Zeus himself can begin to
Imagine my chagrin, knowing that
Every prompter has her day.

(inspired by the Day 27 NaPoWriMo prompt provided by Carolee Sherwood, in the form of an acrostic poem using my surname)

More Things I Know About Poets

Nobody is just a poet
even the really good poets
who are just poets.

Poets who favor the first person can be narcissistic.
Poets who write in the third person may have multiple personalities.
Sooner or later, everyone gets mental whether they write poems or not.

Poets who are parents of infants sound optimistic.
Poets with teenagers learn to stop making declarative statements.
Poets who get caught with teenagers are degenerate bastards.

Girl poets have better tattoos in better places.
Some guy poets have colorful tattoos
but only from a distance.

Never show someone your poems
on the first date.
Poets who proclaim their love
using only poetry are spineless.
Never tell your girlfriend’s parents
that you’re a poet, it sounds too much
like a shoe-maker or a barrel-maker.

Poets who break up with someone
using poems are pathetic.
Partners of poets who break up
because of their poems are literary critics.

Villanelles are beautiful but technically hard.
Assonance is illegal is some southern states,
but it’s fairly common in Europe and
readily available in Amsterdam.

Some rock lyrics are poetry, but
some rock lyrics are poetic crap.
Jazz and poetry are soulmates joined at the genitals.

Many poets used to drink Absynthe
but it got expensive and rare.
Now it’s making a comeback.
Some poets are blessedly sober
and for many, we like them better that way.

Anyone can be a poet.
Not everyone can be a poet.

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Jill Crammond Wickham's NaPoWriMo prompt for Day 25, Scraps)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A New Reason to Cry

With puffy eyes and tear streaked cheeks
she turns to me and says
Every time I watch that movie
it gives me a new reason to cry

It could have been Ghost or the Laramie Project
Old Yeller or Rent
Life is Beautiful
Love Story
Gone with the Wind

I love this side of her
a sentimental contrast
to the armor and the persona
our day jobs require

Tonight it was Mimi and Angel
there’s only us, there’s only now

She’s right
they’re right
there is no day like today

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Joseph Harker’s NaPoWriMo prompt #25, First Things First)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Red Wench in Mourning

As you'll cast vote, take heed.
This Blue commit Violence upon No-one
save former Candidates then vanquished,
and even then mostly through Laughter.

The shards that remain of our Founder’s Charter
require thou shalt return home
to mismanage the ice, or schlepp salmonoids.
Confer as thou will in strongholds
as Orlando and Scottsdale, only to suffer
searing signs that proclaimeth
Beauty Fades, Lies Endure.

I'll not quit gazing your way,
nor the way of your fairer self Tina Fey.

Vile and vain! Too late thou shalt repent
and study civics. The base injustice
thou hast done my Nation by dumbing down:
Yes, thou shalt feel the harm,
spite of thy past Disgrace.
And all those Falsehoods which
thou so long hast bleat’d;
Dispatched by fact checkers and Truth.

Heav'n has no Rage, like a GOP Candidate cast down
Nor Hell a Fury, like an Alaskan Woman scorn'd.

~ J. D. Mackenzie

Shamelessly nicked from The Mourning Bride (1697) by William Congreve and further inspired by Marie Gauthier’s NaPoWriMo prompt #24, Find a Phrase)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Implausible Couplings

Today was huge in the field of vital speeches by major public figures

His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed the United Nations with a plea to increase the use of land mines

Glen Beck taped a segment of his Fox program based upon verifiable research and facts

CEOs on Wall Street unveiled a new public relations campaign titled Doing What’s Best for America: A New Culture of Responsibility and Caring

Pope Benedict the 16th spoke at the weekly Vatican staff meeting on the importance of hiring and retaining priests who care deeply about the safety and welfare of children

Public policy wonk Sarah Palin held forth at the Hague on an exhaustive list of complex topics ranging from constitutional law and monetary policy to effective parenting

The not quite Reverend Fred Phelps announced that his ministry would now be based upon Christian principles

The Olsen Twins spoke separately and in complete sentences

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Sage Cohen’s Day 23 prompt, Unlikely Couples)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blue- Eyed Squall

You, crowing about
the fierceness of tomorrow

Your rantings about reverberations and rust
have no traction with me

Your heart has become an emporium
for intergenerational fears

A blue-eyed squall whose attempts
to make me dizzy only fail

Do not try to distract me
with your new saffron colored underwear
or tendrils of a new weave

I will remain up
I will not flinch

Hey, nice earrings

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Catherine's Day 22 NaPoWriMo prompt, Wordle)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tell Me A Story

Tell me an unforgettable story

Start it out when all seems lost
when the heroine is on the brink
crushed by her own conspicuous flaws
battered by external threats
then somehow she beats the odds
prevails by her own hand
and lands a happy ending

But not so fast
while you’re at it
your unforgettable story must be
filled with losers and rogues
Admit it, her antagonists need
torn clothes and rotten smells
so let us hear their sneering distain
for our dominant culture
If she can‘t attract villains
help her find them
Your story should hint
of a slim chance they’ll defeat her,
until she asserts her true self and
dispatches them with cunning and pluck

Imagine a sound track
for your unforgettable story
picture a bard with a lute
and green tights
one of those Ren Faire types
who are better suited for third person ballads
than living their own emotional truth

In this unforgettable story
show us her flawed parents
how they celebrate her triumph
and finally manage unconditional respect
to go with that unconditional love
they’ve affected for years
When she earns her redemption
let’s make them stop asking
are you seeing anyone special?

Tell me an unforgettable story
where the guy we want her to be with
starts out really flawed
we’ll want to like him anyway
but first we need him to change
like in those vapid Disney films
where she fixes him right on cue

Your story can’t be over
until our heroine has kicked some serious ass
and the happily-ever-after starts
It’s only then, when she gets her man
on her own terms without the help of others
the plot point being her personal triumph happens first
it’s only then we can relax

Remember, she doesn’t need him to be successful,
but once she’s tasted her own success
she wants him at some level
and most of us are okay with that

Can I make it easy for you?
Tell me an unforgettable story
where the boy gets the girl
or even better,
where the girl gets the boy
make it so he’s totally cool
with her power
and make the girl you

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Kristen McHenry's NaPoWriMo prompt #21 Perfectly Flawed)

The Curse of Heroes

We place them high on pedestals
tilt back our heads to watch
then gawk without pause

We craft a new mythology
borrowing from the best of the past
projecting our fondest trust

You think your job is stressful?

We get distracted by hero wannabes
mavericks drawn to costumes and perks
but not sacrifices and deeds

That we still have any heroes left
provides hope

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Jessica's NaPoWriMo Day 20 prompt, Heroes)

Monday, April 19, 2010

Shock and Awww

My friend, back from Afghanistan
went on the town in style
he’d earned a night of R and R
for it had been a while

He chanced to meet a comely lass
who charmed this lonely vet
her model looks and floral smell
would soon cause him regret

For once the two had settled in
and started to caress
her frock revealed the secrets of
a prince, not a princess

Soldiers train for everything
from IEDs to fragging
but nothing he had ever learned
foretold this kind of shagging

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Rallentanda's NaPoWriMo prompt #19, light bulb moments)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NaPoWriMo Limerick

After hours crafting poems on my deck
my tired body felt like a wreck
Doctor Jen pushed and poked
then said, there’s no joke
you’ve got a NaPoWriMo neck

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(bonus poem, no prompt, just waiting for a limerick that never came)

Sweet William, Meet Marlene

Of the two cats in my life
thankfully neither are in my home.

My neighbor’s cat, Sweet William
embodies all that is wrong about cats.
No friend of personal hygiene or organic gardening
he willfully despoils my finest handiwork.
Were this not enough
he’s learnt to flip me off when finished.
And he leaves his Car and Driver magazines
strewn everywhere.

The other cat I’ve named Marlene
an enormous cougar (Felis concolor)
who haunts the foothills near my home.
She’s lean, muscular and tawny
like this poet I know in Portland who does triathlons.
I see her from a distance when I go hiking
usually around dusk.
She’s beautiful and harmless to me
but likes an occasional rack of lamb.
Or the odd poodle who just will not shut up.
I adore her physique, her authenticity.
We don’t talk much but I understand
she’s torqued that we humans have co-opted
the term cougar for more pejorative things.

In a perfect world
Marlene would make the acquaintance
of Sweet William.

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Irene's NaPoWriMo promt #18 Cats)

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Like that
she erupts
out of the blue

Like what?
I ask

We’re walking
on the 4th of July
holding hands
fireworks light up the sky

Like that
she lifts her gaze
up there, that one
way up high
with the pink part halfway down

I love the explosions
lots of cracking and popping
all the colors run together
nothing else matters

I don’t always listen
and I’m missing a clue
I could use a little help
what’s she talking about?

Her look of frustration
melts into affection
then she gently reminds
You asked what it’s like

So now I recall
when I asked her about
how it feels for her
what the French call
the little death

What’s it like?
She points to the sky
at the rockets’ red glare
takes a deep breath
and smiles again

It's like that

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Neil Reid's NaPoWriMo promt #17 from among the elements of fire, earth, water and wind)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Primal Memories

It started with the scent of jasmine
and before I even knew the source
just like that I was seduced
then once I turned and saw her
sight and smell forever linked
together they made me bold

Time strengthened our memory-smell bond
half-empty glasses of Cab on the nightstand
her own unique scent blended with my own
the comforting whiffs of daybreak
Golden Retriever breath alarm clock
first sharp hiss of French roast

Our lives connected at every turn
through the sensory richness
of travel and changing seasons
hot cider and fall leaves burning
popcorn at our favorite indie movie house
cherry blossoms in Kyoto in April

Today I can’t recall small things
like her favorite colors or the names of her crazy friends
but even months later
still scattered about my life and my home
her lingering scent controls my attention
I can’t get it off of me

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by NaPoWriMo prompt for Day #16 from Julie Jordan Scott, the art of writing from the sense of smell)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Channeling Dylan Thomas

There’s nothing here to keep me
No reason left to stay
I am running from a nightmare
I have longed to move away

There’s an island I am drawn to
I feel the pull from here
It’s time I got to Cambria
And set aside my fear

I am moving over water
I am feeling all alone
Now I’m channeling Dylan Thomas
I’m five thousand miles from home

Like an Armada survivor
Knocked by nature to my knees
I am washed up here defeated
Sprouted from the rolling seas

I’m walking round a village
Where my Granddad spent the night
Now I’m channeling Dylan Thomas
And there’s not a pub in sight

Beware the man who understands
There’s nothing left in store
Where death has no dominion
We’re vulnerable no more

I am pacing through a castle
Where my ancestors would fight
Now I’m channeling Dylan Thomas
Say a prayer for me tonight

So long as I have passions
And this worn hand still can write
I’ll be channeling Dylan Thomas
Say a prayer for me tonight

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Dale's NaPoWriMo prompt #15 Carrying a Tune. Credit is given to original clauses borrowed from Dylan Thomas without his permission, shown here in italics)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Graveyard of Pitiful Prompts

I should avoid this dismal place
seen in the mirror
with tangled weeds and overgrowth
choosing a form of water
musty smell of failure and fatigue
something changed today
guarded by the screeching gate
creating a new mythological beast

Is it morbid curiosity
alternate histories
or a misplaced sense of co-dependence
break-up checklist
that keeps me coming back
my recurring X dream
to this graveyard of pitiful prompts?

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by Nicole Nicholson's Day 14 prompt, the cleaved poem)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Poem Starting with a Line From Norman Dubie: The Czar's Last Christmas Letter

Now that I am no longer Czar
I can take pleasure
knowing that ours
was the finest hour

Our horses ran the fastest
our armies were the bravest
our women moaned soprano
the world knew none like us

But now these striking peasants
cannot tell clams from caviar
they rape and burn like devils
and cause a wrath of hell

Wishing you and yours a Happy 1918,


~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by NaPoWriMo Day #13 prompt Poem Starting with a Line From Norman Dubie)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Remembering Our Code

We had a deal, you and I
as kids we took an oath
The enemy of my friend is my enemy
always there for each other

We survived the sixties
raised by distracted mothers and TV
Walter and Nixon and Bradys
the clothes we’d sooner forget

When we got older and you got boobs
somehow I didn’t but learned
to like boobs other than yours
and still we remembered our promise

The occasional glance across the room
reminded us we’d look out for each other
through your clumsy boyfriends and my coarse girlfriends
we had a deal

I wondered what happened when you heard the code
the dark hamster soars on the turbulent wind
wondered where you were when I needed you
didn’t we have a deal?

Then I learned too late
you were going through your own private hell
a hell you thought too big to sound the code
to call on your old friend for help

Though now
everyone wishes you would have
sister friend

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by NaPoWriMo prompt #12 Secret Codes)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Dear Career as a Memorable Poet

I hope all is well with you.
I saw you on PBS tonight and you looked fabulous.
I’d read everything you’ve written
heard about the ashram and the awards.
You didn’t mention a lover
but you looked happy
so I’m guessing you’ve another one now.
You’ve earned what so many dream of.
It's nice to know you’re doing well.

Things are fine with me.
I have a more or less happy family
and a nice career at the college.
The obligatory house in the suburbs
and a cute dog from central casting.
Every once in a while I scratch out a poem
and share it with a few people who seem to like it.
I can’t complain.

Do you ever wonder why I didn’t choose you?
Sometimes I wonder that myself.
I recall a younger me wracked by fear.
Back then I thought nothing about
skiing off cliffs or jumping out of planes.
But the idea of not writing well
or needing years to learn a craft
when everything else came fast and easy
or writing well yet being ignored
I was not strong enough for any of these possibilities.

I was not strong enough for you.

By now it should be clear that I miss you.
How stupid is that since I gave up on you
and not the other way around?

Know this: if I had to do it over again
things might have been different.
I might have chosen you.
And right now I am wondering about
yet another possibility.
You have your life and I have mine.
But tell me, lover of my past life
if I said yes to you now
what would you do?



(inspired by napowrimo Day 11 prompt: the things you didn't choose)

Friday, April 9, 2010


I came here to think
but in the frigid foam and blue
my first thought was
this ocean is cold as hell

icy waves massage the shore
their painless slaps and
rhythmic retreats
remind me of time passing

sometimes all it takes
is a fleeting glance
imagining a mop of sandy hair
probably green eyes

sad, relentless memories
hand fed by
voyeured soccer matches
and piano recitals

any given month
it’s always you
moving as I’m watching

I stare and imagine
what if
until it’s too excruciating
to wonder any more

then wonder again
was it foolish
to have chosen
your name?

to visualize
eighteen candles
that never were?

so happy un-birthday
my interrupted angel
always right there
watching over me

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by napowrimo prompt #10 celebrate any of these: a birthday, wedding, baptism — any kind of celebration)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

We Deserve Better

Winter is barely over
yet we still bear the marks of that season of death
like scars made by talons sunk into our backs

We've lived on the fringe of a real life
for far too long and now it's time
to get that taste out of our mouths

We need to rest our yellowing bruises
and limp away toward something better

We will not be anyone's marionette
in this boring, soul crushing life any longer

We deserve better

It's time to stow away to somewhere rustic and real
I want to light torches of pitched pine and hike
down to the hot springs on the Wind River

We'll carry a jug of that stuff your cousin makes
when she's not making disturbing art
We'll lie in the swirling mineral waters
and pumice each other in the glow of a crackling campfire
Hike back through the late snows
massage the chi back into our needy flesh

I need to strum my double-O eighteen Martin
and I need to strum you, beloved
until your strings twang
and the alphas howl along

I'm missing the sweetest sound in the world
you know the one
let's make it together
again and again and again

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by napowrimo prompt #9 choosing your mission from among twelve)

Cherry Blossoms

Our little blue car
parked outside our favorite hang-out
slaps me back to the past

buying that car was torture
the pretentious purchase dance
teaching you to drive a stick

road trips kept us young and sane
the tent, the cooler
each other

I cherished our torrid love
shared on the road
nothing mattered more, until

the brutal passage of time
careers and obligations
sent us staggering apart

nice to see your little blue car
draped in a pink canopy
of wind blown cherry blossoms

it can only mean
your life must be better now

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by nanowrimo prompt #8 from among favorite love metaphors)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Another Try

Love has never seemed
funny to me, perhaps that’s
why Tankas seem sad
I’m willing to try again
both with this form and with you

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by napowrimo prompt #7 finding humor in love )

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Lord Leighton's Solitude

Our dream big list
included travel to exotic places
like most of the continents
and art collections
we couldn’t pronounce

When it came time to leave
we had the wrong luggage
not only did it not match
we’d packed all wrong

Hers was filled
with inter-generational curses
and needless clutter
making it difficult to lug
around temples in Thailand
or white beaches in Greece

Mine was lightweight
with blank journals craving ink
and room to bring things home

When our ferries went separate ways
I started to make her a scrapbook
it would be a sad reminder
of all that we missed

Seeing Lord Leighton’s Solitude
jolted me back
there were similarities
Sienna shades of brown
relaxed Victorian breasts
but this figure had
what my beloved lacked
an elusive solitude
her soul would not permit

That enduring image
seared in my mind forever
it was so unlike her
I never sent it on

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by napowrimo prompt #6 writing poetry from favourite images)

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Sometimes she’s so innocent
I can’t believe we’re in the same bed.
When she opens her mouth
out comes this sweet kid from the fifties
all virginal and optimism.
The soundtrack is swell
and the crickets are chirping.
I wonder wonder wonder:
how did I ever find her
and what is she doing with me?

Other times she’s a demanding dominatrix
forcing me to do degrading things
I never learned in Sunday School.
I’m her bottom and she’s my top.
She makes me beg for it.
It's shameful.
None of the safe words work.

Then she does this Oprah thing
putting me in a chair
and asking great questions.
She’s really good
at getting me to open up.
Before long we’re like this.
When we’re done taping
I’ve just told the world my whole life.

There are times
when she’s a high octane cocktail
one part each of Janis Joplin
River Phoenix and Heath Ledger.
There is no high like the high
when I unwrap her.
The first one was free but
all of it since then has cost me a lot.

Did I mention the priest thing?
I know only men are priests but
she hears my confessions.
At first they were tame
then I grew to like the penance
and had to go for more.
Afterwards, she forces me to serve her
and she knows she won’t get caught.

I’m her bitch now.

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(Inspired by napowrimo prompt #5 making poetry really personal by giving it a name)
Greetings, all ~
I'm shattered but not by the napowrimo writing. I spent a very long day on Saturday hosting a conference for writers in our small Oregon town. Being around creative people who generously share their magic, this energizes me and makes me happy. It's nice to complete the day with a notebook filled with ideas and several months worth of material to work with. Tired, gratified, inspired.

You'll Know

You wonder
if you’ll know?

When the hidden
is revealed
will you hear the crash
or the beat of wings?

At the consult
after an MRI
when your specialist
starts by saying
now this looks interesting

Or a meeting with your boss
and that term you can’t forget
through no fault of yours

Or maybe that forever relationship
gets complicated
when the inside out clothes
on the stairs
next to hers
aren’t yours

When the universe flips
and everything goes opposite
you’ll know

~ J. D. Mackenzie

(inspired by napowrimo #4 outside in or inside out)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Public Notices

On the last page of our local paper
in the classifieds
just below junked cars
I first saw them about a year ago
in big blocks of tiny, scrunched text
under the heading
Public Notices

Infrequent at first
they were easy to overlook
until there were two or three each week
then today
when it’s really hitting the fan
there were nine

Nine addresses and nine family names
a stark public outing
of neighbors, co-workers, real people
each of them
one step closer
to homelessness

I’m struck that these tragic words
Public Notices
are only a fa├žade
that filters scant light
onto the invisible tragedies
of the newly dispossessed

What’s left to own
when you’ve lost where you live?
Only days filled with dread
the degradation of official-looking mail
its impact like an incoming sledgehammer
to the ribcages of those already down

Here now is the unsettling fear
that the blessed can’t ignore ~
more real than a Grimm Brothers wolf
or the vexing fear of a lethal trap
we could easily step into, causing
the sound of clicking steel
and the crunch of our own bones;
far worse is the loss of faith
in our own native gifts
and the cold uncertainty that this
somehow, someday
this could happen to us

~ J. D. Mackenzie

inspired by napowrimo prompt #3: scared yet?
Right Wing Porn

Naughty little right wingers
out on the town
spending other people’s money
making churchmen frown

Some of their adventures
made it to the news
going into sex clubs
for prostitutes and booze

Knowing of these escapades
makes us stop and think
if their poorest donors know
they’re buying whores and drinks

Less kinky members wonder
where the buck will stop
Michael Steele confirms the problem
goes straight to the top

These naughty little right wingers
love their right wing porn
a love cloaked by repression
and a hypocrite’s scorn

~ J. D. Mackenzie

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Weaving Threads of Shuffle

These days
I’m fixated on life
and how to live it

It’s not just about
having all the right friends
or a bountiful love life
a thousand kisses deep

What really matters
is what I’ve discarded
things like persistent kid fears
or the carnival rides
of sadness and euphoria.

~ J. D. Mackenzie

Tribute to MLK

Homage to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ~ Letter from the Birmingham Jail

Every day
I stand in the middle of two opposing forces
turbulent forces that crush when they meet

Justice and oppression
subjugation and liberty
chaos and order
darkness and light

How easy it would be to face my limitations
and accept what I can’t change except…

You and I
we’re in this together
and I know when I stand here
I won’t stand alone

~ J. D. Mackenzie