Mar 26, 2019

Battling Crows in My Throat

The Twila Series



There’s not much peace in the swamp tonight, at least not for me. I can’t hear the voices in my head because the bullfrogs swallow all the air as soon as night creeps through the mist. Mrs. Jackson is always harping at me to take my problems to the river bank where there aren’t any tongues to carry tales, but those frogs are so drunk on spring I’m not sure there’s a pencil’s width of moon able to see or hear me. I suppose that’s why ghosts decided to walk along my worry nerve.

Spring air thick as lust
snakes along my skin
searching for secrets
trying to escape my tongue.

The calendar is preaching
revival, but ghosts don’t
like wildflowers breaking chains.

Give worry a twig and it will build a nest.
I’m battling the crows in my throat.

©Susie Clevenger 2019



The Twila Series:

Devil's In the Moonlight

Mar 17, 2019

Feathers Wild as Dandelion Seeds


I always dream of wings. There is within me the desire to fly, to feel the wind’s breath guiding me to where dreams roam wild, where feathers are ink and pen. I believe it is because I carry the weight of my mother’s lost dreams. I saw them in her eyes as she searched every face to see if she could find the soul who could read the stars she couldn’t translate into words. I’m not sure why she left them with me, but I feel them whenever poetry floats just beyond my reach, in the urgency to find my voice in silence.

Where are my wings,
green feathers wild
as dandelion seeds?

Let me climb the tallest oak
so I can hear the sky speak
of the sun’s love of the moon,
and feel the wind teach me
how to fly the grass I walk.

Take me where poetry nests
in the hungry heart of my muse.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Mar 9, 2019

Conjuring Color




I am so done with winter. I feel like one of my dead roses, lifeless and thorny. There has been just enough cold weather in Southeast Texas to make me feel every day of my sixty eight years. My bones are stiff, my joints ache, and although complaining doesn’t help, I’ve invested a lot of vocabulary in it.

I’m looking forward to humid, sweaty, ice tea summer days.  I wish July would arrive with a truck load of colored daises spilling over the tailgate into the honey buzz of bees pollen drunk in the flower garden outside my library window.


Winter gray and brown seclusion
monotone the calendar forcing eyes
to conjure color in daydreams.

Spell jars spill floral scents
into the incense swirl of incantations
summoning tulips to break winter’s curse.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

The Sunday Muse #46

Mar 3, 2019

Devil's In the Moonlight

The Twila Series


“Twila, you’re too damned curious!”

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard my mama rattle that across her tongue. According to her I was born spine curled into a question mark. She pushes me toward the “traditions’ with her right arm and pulls me back with the “hell no” thumb on her left.

The swamp on my family tree goes deeper than these cypress trees squatted down on their knees listening to the dark tongues of the Atchafalaya. My whole life I’ve watched mama and her family boil reasons in the bath water why that gator birthmark on my hip marks me as the next mambo. I believe that should come with questions.

I’ve never been to a church because there wasn’t an open aisle pew run in the county that would welcome our cackle throng to share communion. Mama said her family’s Hounfò has always been right here on the mud breast of the Atchafalaya. I figure with all of this asking I have stomping on my teeth this is the place to spill them in the mist.

Alone isn’t feeling like it does when I’m walking in sunlight. There must be a thousand eyes staring at me from every tree and root crowding the waterline. Even the moon looks like it’s a skyclops one eyeing my back to measure the length of shiver from neck to tailbone. With all those eyes looking I wonder how many can see the ancestors chanting in my head. I hope the rose water juju in my pocket will keep dark spirits from finding a door in my skin. Mama tells me to never show fear. My wind chime bones keep rebelling.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Magaly Guerrero over at Poets United prompted us to write prose based on one of our poems either on our blogs or in one of our printed books. I chose to write from my Twila series poems. This particular writing is written as an introduction to my poem, Beneath the Atchafalaya Moon.


The other poems in my Twila Series:

Notes: (No, I don't do voodoo.) Mambo: High priestess 
Hounfò: a voodoo temple and its precincts
Skyclops: My made up version of Cyclops

Poets United ~ Telling Tales With Magaly Guerrero