In the Crawl Spaces, Bush and Shrub


In the Crawl Spaces, Bush and Shrub

The house that built her had no bricks to spare;
a bit of mortar all that could be rubbed
into use; a sore task with hands bare,
but doable with even just a stub
of spoon–the type of thing a prisoner might
secrete who’s not allowed sharp edges, prongs,
whose meat must be cut for her.  So, in the night,
when scrapes could pass as branches’ throaty songs
or the rusty wheeling of extincted stars
whose shining hasn’t caught up to their deaths,
she whittled grit and lime from the brick-lined bars
that fixed the grid; belly pressed to ground, her breasts,
hiding, to collect her daily ration
of crumble–there, by the roots, the foundation. 


Here’s my second poem (draft!) for April, 2015 National Poetry Month.  I’m pleased to say this is also the second poem I wrote this morning–the first one being one of those long narrative childhoody poems I seem to write all the time and that I’m worried you may be getting sick of!  (Despite that, I will probably use it one of the days this month.)

But I really did want to go further away from myself, so tried a sonnet.  Form, for me, is always a great way to get out of memoir.   Note that in my sonnets, a break should only be taken where actually punctuated–by a comma or dash or colon–line breaks are not intended as pauses.  (Yes, it’s a way of cheating with the form.) 

This one for Mama Zen’s cool prompt on with Real Toads to write about the house that built you.  

The picture above is Diana Barco, from our book “Going on Somewhere.”  The houses should have bushes in front! 



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13 Comments on “In the Crawl Spaces, Bush and Shrub”

  1. Sherry Marr Says:

    This is brilliant, especially “the rusty wheeling of extincted stars
    whose shining hasn’t caught up to their deaths,” I love narratives about childhood, fire away any time! LOL. I know, right? I have written more yesterday and today than I have in a week lately. I already have tomorrow’s done. I hope I dont burn out by Saturday.

  2. Ella Says:

    “As branches’ of throaty songs”-got me. The first night we moved into the house I lived the longest-the branches were scratching the windows-you took me there. I was five year old~ So, many great lines-well done

  3. “whose shining hadn’t caught up with their deaths” love that line. I remember the limb scratches against the wall where I slept. on a couch in the living room from five years old until I got married at 19. Even now it is hard for me to wrap my head around it.

  4. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    A wonderful sonnet! Not cheating with the form so much as varying it, surely?

  5. M Says:

    My son and I watched Shawshank the other night, and that immediately sprang to mind. I think the pen (metaphorically) is your freedom, is that nub and stub… ~

  6. Marian Says:

    Gosh, I was so engaged with this as I read but did not recognize it as a sonnet until you told me. Which I think is a really good thing. I am not getting sick of any of your writing, bring it all on! This reminds me of the milieu of my own neighborhood growing up, the sounds, the heavy feeling. Nice!

  7. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    I get the sense of a very real story jammed between the cracks of brick. This is gritty writing which revisits places we don’t always want to go.

  8. Mama Zen Says:

    This is gorgeous! One of your best, I think.

  9. hedgewitch Says:

    This seems so effortless, k–the sonnet is such a difficult form to learn, but once mastered, seems to flow words like no other, and it certainly does so here. I especially like the end lines, which for me made a very vivid picture of that scramble for crumbs that eventually produces freedom. Two down, 28 to go! ;_)

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Thanks. I’m glad you like the end lines as I worried they didn’t have much punch, but sometimes they get a little too pat with a sonnet. I don’t know that I have mastered that form, but it is one I also like in part because the form almost makes it write itself–finds its own directions as it were, which when you have decision-fatigue–is super handy! Yes, two down! k .

  10. zongrik Says:

    i love the rusty wheeling of extinct stars.

    The Befuddled Flatulent Blogger

  11. This has a definite mood to it…you captured the scene well.

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