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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/item_id/2081410-constructing-poetry
by Rhyssa
Rated: 18+ · Book · Contest Entry · #2081410
my entries for the Construct Cup
It's that time again. Time when I lose all sense of proportion and sanity and agree to write a poem a day following prompts exactly as given by our fearless leaders (aka Ren the Klutz! and fyn . I may not survive. But I will do it anyway, mostly because I can't imagine anyone having this much agony fun without me.

Come join us! We have cookies. And possibly, straitjackets.

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December 21, 2018 at 11:32pm
December 21, 2018 at 11:32pm
I am born
as the world weeps—
warming snow laden
eaves—ice tears
formed and caught
a moment out of time.

from such a
sorrowful genesis,
it is strange to me,
sometimes, that they try
to remake me—

tinsel and lights
and polymers
with long names
and awful smells
that catch on
their hands and linger—
they try and fail
to shine like me.

I catch rainbows
in the sunlight
weeping for joy and fear—

each drop diminishes me.
each drop makes me grow.

line count: 24

original poem: "the wreath on the door

December 20, 2018 at 11:35pm
December 20, 2018 at 11:35pm
I’m calm,
so calm.
too calm, entering the room
not slamming the door
behind me,
deliberate movements.

only with the door closed
and locked,
with the soundproofing
guaranteed in place,
do I finally scream

all the things I didn’t say,
I wanted to say.
I shouldn’t say because
I really do love her
and I really want what’s best for her
but why does she have to
stamp on each and every
nerve—being around her
is like a hammer to the funny bone.

once, I dropped a ceramic
cookie off an apartment building.
it shattered beautifully.
I cleaned up after.

I like the sound of crashing.
plates against the wall,
cups. the good china that she
put on her wish list
because everyone wants china,
if only to throw it.

watch it shatter
watch it again in slow motion,
the place setting leaving my hands
to separate in the air into
component pieces—cup,
three plates, two bowls—
and then the explosion
against the wall. beautiful sound.

and I’m screaming until
my voice is broken
and I’ve said everything I didn’t say
because I didn’t want to hurt her.
didn’t want to hurt him.
didn’t want to hurt them,
and I rub my hands until
they stop shaking.

I turn and leave the room,
hearing the mess melt back
whole behind me,
and when I see her again,
I have a smile
a kind word,
and the calm memory of her precious things
exploding musically beneath
my shoes.

line count: 55

December 19, 2018 at 11:56pm
December 19, 2018 at 11:56pm
my dear Mattie,
in the back of my head,
you’re still the toddler
bouncing off the walls,
yellow curls flying,
sitting in the middle of a mess
with the sweetest,
(most devilish) grin on your face.

I know you’ve grown,
but nine years difference
is a difficult gap to master.
I was away, living my life
when you took your
first headlong rush into adulthood.

but I see you now, with children
of your own. your daughter is
nine—growing so fast,
so well. I am awed by you.
the way your mind works—
so fast, so well. the way you
hold your family safe. the way
you help them grow.

this year, your package
held a shawl in purples and greens.
with every knitted stitch, I thought
of you and marveled over you
and loved you. no matter
where our lives and loves
take up—and you are so far away—
I miss you and think of you daily.
keep well.
I love you, Rhyssa

line count: 32

December 18, 2018 at 11:17pm
December 18, 2018 at 11:17pm
on each Christmas midnight
when lists are all done
and the air fills with candy canes,
chocolate and plums,

and drooping white eyebrows
are ready for bed—
one last gift nestles deeply
in Santa’s red sled.

it’s small but it’s precious
and sealed with a kiss
by a helper who studied
her own special list,

yes, this last gift:
a poem, which I folded with care
is for You and from Me
with my love and my prayer.

I want you to know that
all joking aside,
you’re special to me
and you fill me with pride.

I know that I really
don’t say it enough,
when I try, I feel tears
choke my voice ‘til it’s gruff,

I love you. please listen.
I’ll say it again.
I love you. your joy
is my ultimate end.

and I’ll try to do better
to show that this year—
as Santa delivers
and poof, disappears.

line count: 32

slant rhymes:

December 18, 2018 at 1:07am
December 18, 2018 at 1:07am
my toy store is magic—
I fill it with joy
and laughter and fun stuff
for all girls and boys
who manage to find a small
sign: Rhyssa’s Toys.

I wrote it in purple
surrounded by gold
and parked in a dream
where it grew, uncontrolled—
to be a safe harbor
for hearts, never old.

you see, my business
is all about dreams—
and people who seek them,
eyes wide and agleam.
that’s why there’s no price
that you'll have to redeem.

I fill it with pretty
and breakable things,
and soft dolls, and yo-yos,
trains, planes, silly string,
and teddys, and unicorns,
stuffed ghosts who sing,

child sized rocking chairs,
sequined crocodiles,
and alphabets made into
soft rubber tiles—
to cover the floor while
we play for a while.

in one giant corner
dwells ten million books—
and pillows and blankets
for our reading nook
to make sure we find comfort
as we have a look.

I have Aslan and Alice,
and Winnie the Pooh,
Howl’s Moving Castle
by Jones is there, too,
and more every minute—you see,
books do accrue.

so come in your dreams,
make a wish, count to 10,
hold your breath, close your eyes,
open once and again,
and you’ll find your way here.
where you’ll play in my den.

line count: 48

December 16, 2018 at 6:02pm
December 16, 2018 at 6:02pm
It is next week, and I wake before my alarm at what my phone tells me is way too early in the morning. But I can’t go back to bed because it is Christmas and my back aches with helping Santa until roughly four hours ago. In our house, Santa leaves the ribbons to be tied and curled under the tree so they don’t get crushed in his bag. The last part of Christmas Eve is sitting with my sisters under the tree, curling and tying as fast as we can go, and then arranging the gifts so that wrapping paper is evenly distributed.

We don’t have children with us this morning. Just four adults sleeping (or waking) in three rooms, waiting until it’s time to come downstairs and have breakfast. When we were children, impatience dictated Christmas morning, but there were rules. Only the youngest could wake up the house, and that child had to wake naturally. Which meant, as the oldest, I spent hours at a time, sitting on the floor of my sister’s room, trying to stare her awake. It almost never worked.

I check my phone again, but it still isn’t nearly time for a civilized breakfast. But lying in bed isn’t helping. I stand, gather clothes together—including Christmas socks and a shirt that’s both comfortable and photogenic—and head for the shower. Ten minutes later, the phone still hasn’t marked dawn. I head downstairs with my knitting to take my insulin and wait some more. We have only minimally decorated this year. No children to be disappointed. With a Christmas movie playing softly, I knit and wait for my phone to acknowledge it’s time for people to be awake.

I think of my brother and sisters. In Germany, the morning must be nearly over with gifts unwrapped and breakfast finished. In California, the children are probably waking their bleary eyed parents. In Alabama, with their daddy in the kitchen making cinnamon rolls, the children might be in the middle of the morning’s unveiling. Upstairs, my baby sister is still sleeping or maybe not asleep yet. And my parents won’t wake until they’re good and ready.

I sit and knit, trying to finish my advent scarf that I’ve worked on since the day after Thanksgiving. It’s nearly finished, a complicated creation of lace and twisted stitches and cables that evoke angels and bells and holly and other Christmas symbols. I knit while on the television, actors sing and pretend to fall in love and my phone blinks closer and closer to the time when they will stir upstairs and come down and meet me around the tree for our own unwrapping of presents.

word count: 448

timepiece: phone

outside, an imagined rooftop clatter
a jingle of bells
wakes me, with no hope
of return—Christmas morning
begins as midnight rolls
away and parents finish
their wrapping and ribbons
a few hours before
children scream “Santa came!”

no children here, but my
mind runs with memories
of Christmas past—
waiting for blue eyes to open
so mayhem can commence, and
although my phone tells me
that dawn has hours to come,
I can’t sleep.

all over the world, my
family is waking, children
entering the same
cycle of enthusiasm while
parents yawn—I can almost
see them, as I scroll
their pictures on my phone—
Germany. Alabama. California.
the dancers are different,
the dance is the same.

and me. waiting for adults
to wake, working one
last project as Christmas
links us. so close.
so far away.

line count: 32

timepiece: phone

December 16, 2018 at 1:54am
December 16, 2018 at 1:54am
I cried when they left me—
seven souls in a big blue van
heading east again
while I stayed behind.
I was eighteen. I wanted
college. I even wanted
to be so far away, but
watching them go
I remembered how much
I’d miss them—Mama and Daddy.
Joyce and Rachel,
Lorenzo and Madeline,
and Rose. she was only two,
learning new words and
living at a run. so sweet.
would she even remember me?

six months is an eternity
for a young woman who
never had been away from home
for more than a week. but our
family road trip was in July,
and coming home to fly away
in September? so we drove through
mountains and canyons,
visiting family and singing the
bickering away, and when we reached
my aunt, I stayed. they left.
and I would be gone until Christmas.

I wrote often, but Rose—
too small to read. I drew pictures
of my life. my dorm room,
the mountain, the cafeteria
where I took my meals with a thousand
other freshmen who became
familiar—almost family.
but not quite.

midterms. Thanksgiving with
my aunt. finals.
then Christmas and home
on a plane with a layover
in Denver that lasted hours
longer than it should have
while the plane
experienced issues
and I couldn’t rest for aching—
their absence was like the hole
left by a pulled tooth.
wrong. painful.

in those days, they could
meet me at the gate—seven souls
standing in a group,
waiting for me to clear it
so they could descend on me
with hugs and conversations
started and overlapping, a familiar
music—and I was whole again,
but when I bent to Rose,
she shrank away.

I brushed it off as though
it didn’t hurt, and we headed home,
Rose staring at me
as though I were a stranger
through baggage claim
and into the car where someone
else took the seat that once was mine,
and the city was dark and cold
in the hour it took to get home,
and my room had been changed
because I didn’t live there anymore,
and home felt wrong—like trying on someone
else’s shoes,

until Rose reached up
and touched my face
and smiled,
and I was home for Christmas.

line count: 75

December 15, 2018 at 1:28am
December 15, 2018 at 1:28am
it appeared one rainy afternoon,
set down an alley
with antiques in the windows
and a sign, painted glossy red and gold:
“Ye Olde Christmas Magick,” and it
drew me in because randomly
misspelled words designed
to simulate archaic-isms
make me laugh and because my list
was still lacking checkmarks
beside very important names
(including yours).

the door rang in tune as it
opened for me, a relief
after the day’s discord.
the air was still and quiet. no carols
ringing in the year—instead,
my ears felt muffled—
as though I were walking through
a feather pillow.

it smelled of Christmas,
piquant with cinnamon and oranges and
evergreen and mint, so thick
I could taste it.

the proprietor
looked at me over silver, square
rimmed spectacles, his beard
long and white, his coat red.
“Do you need help, Rhyssa,”
he said, and I shook my head
and turned to view the merchandise.

three steps more
before I stopped, befuddled.
he shouldn’t have known my name,
I turned, but he was gone,
leaving a sparkle
of gold dusted cobwebs
behind the counter and
blank wall where the door had been.

but I wasn’t scared
although the exit was gone.
instead, I caught a glimpse of
a bound journal with a pen
just waiting for epistemological
adventures, a pair of dangly
earrings in the shape of snowflakes
and bells, and a book I’d been longing for
and reached out to almost

but my eye was drawn past
to a cat—white with blue eyes
and a grin, staring at me from her
shelf where she sat in ceramic glory,
and it was as though she shouted
Rhyssa, take me. I’m perfect for her!

and he was at my elbow,
reaching for the cat before I knew
I’d decided it was hers.
“Wise choice,” he said, and laughed
so that his belly shook, “it’s
better to give than receive,”
and it was wrapped and I found
myself walking out the door
before I even got my wallet out, the
floorboards creaking in tune
as I left.

enclosed is the cat. it swears
it belongs.
as for me,
when I opened the packages
from you, I found
everything that had caught
my eye.

line count: 75 (I think. I tried counting several times and got 75 twice)

December 14, 2018 at 1:14am
December 14, 2018 at 1:14am
say when
Christmas bells
ring midnight, the
animals break from
their feeding to stargaze
and see angels singing. at
the sound, their tongues are loosed, and if
you are still awake (waiting for the
sound of reindeer hooves or a distant laugh),
you can hear them speaking. animals are
wise on a Christmas midnight. they speak
great truths of futures and pasts and
loves and losses. the little
kitten chasing her tail,
the puppy jumping,
if you hear them
whisper, stop.
have a
message for
you. some forecast
to make your future
special. pretend to sleep—
etiquette demands that when
human ears are aware, they must
keep quiet, and this hour is their
only chance to catch up on the doings
of far off places and exotic friends.
their time lasts only an hour. when
the clock tolls one, the heavens close.
when angels cease their singing,
animal tongues are tied,
left to meander
to their mangers,
empty of

line count: 40

form: quadruple etheree:

December 13, 2018 at 12:32am
December 13, 2018 at 12:32am
eighteen years ago
I first saw Memphis
on top of the bluff, the mighty
Mississippi a dark shadow
below. the streets meandered
along forgotten cow paths and
I thought about the time—
eighteen months before—
when I left the wheel of DC
for England’s green hills
and ordered hedgerows.

Memphis gave me
my first salary and my first
flash flood and my first
time coming home to the news
that my house had been
burgled. I watched three sisters
marry here and met four
nieces and nephews for the first
time. and said goodbye to one.

I got sick here,
which isn’t Memphis’ fault.
here, in a little room overlooking
a construction site
where apartment buildings
were turning into the Panera
where we go every Tuesday
to knit, I learned to check
my blood, to draw medicine
to inject. I learned to live here.

I grew here. I found writing
again and wrote and shared and
revised and edited and wrote again
until my fingers ached and
I could explain why
I wrote what I did. I’ve
studied here for so long
that it feels strange to admit
that my time is over
and I’m done studying.
I should be doing.

I’ve never lived anywhere longer.
eighteen whole years—it feels
so long and I keep expecting
the place to ensnare me
with roots—emerging from
the ground like some
alien being. but I tread this world
lightly, and the winds are calling
and I want to fly away
somewhere new. there are
adventures still, elsewhere.

line count: 52

December 12, 2018 at 12:34am
December 12, 2018 at 12:34am
today I got a Christmas card
with magic Christmas power—
you see, I peeled the envelope
and slipped back many hours

and days, and years until I found
myself inside the card,
riding on a one horse sleigh
into a church courtyard.

the horse’s harness rang with bells,
the sleigh was robin red,
to keep me warm I had a fur
confection on my head,

the church’s windows gave a glow—
‘twas clearly candle light,
and all the air was filled with snow.
a perfect Christmas night.

and snow lay even on the ground
and roofs and trees—so sweetly.
(that’s how I knew the scene was staged,
snow never lies so neatly)

near the church to welcome me,
and Merry Christmas bringing,
was a group of carolers,
and all of them were singing.

that’s when my eyes began to blur
because they were my dead—
my grandparents, my nephew, yes.
I tumbled from the sled,

and raced to greet them tenderly
and sang with them all night—
the magic of that Christmas card
held us, ‘til dawn’s light.

and then I blinked and in my hands
the card was small again,
the ink was faint—I couldn’t tell
just who had sent it, then.

and as I watched, it faded fast
to leave an empty card.
no picture of an open sleigh
in a snowy yard.

no candle sticks through windowpanes,
no painted snow capped roof.
nothing remained of this sweet gift
that I could count as proof,

but in my heart, the memory stands
and yes, I still believe
in magic, and in my dead who
are loved eternally.

line count: 48

December 10, 2018 at 11:53pm
December 10, 2018 at 11:53pm
our tree is replete
with starlight,

golds, silvers, reds—
chiming bells,

whispering tinsel,
candy canes,

garlands—beads, greenery,
ornaments— glass, brass,

cinnamon sticks, embroidery, yarn
Mama’s nativities—Mary, Joseph, baby.

everything palpably symbolic:
Christ is center.

line count: 12

Prompt 18
December 10, 2018 at 12:14am
December 10, 2018 at 12:14am
you’ve said goodbye,
but I got this feeling inside my bones
that you love me now and
I feel the same way. I need more hours
with you—that’s why I lurk
outside your window, showing up
at your workplace, calling those idiots
you try to replace me with. but if you
really want me, you’re running
out of time.

I’m not a stalker.
baby I still see you.
everywhere I go, I see your face
all made up and
looking like a princess—
it haunts me, like the scent
of peaches and the taste
of blue raspberry gummies
shaped like baby sharks,
and I start leaking like Niagara.

this is perfect—proof of my love
to carry with you—but if you play me . . .
close to that edge. I’m not made
out of steel. if you’re gonna break my heart,
just break it and scatter the pieces
city wide. start with downtown, and
we’ll have only 27 blocks to go
and I’ll be out of your life. just another
ex-love you don’t wanna see,
gone and forgotten.

line count: 30

lines included: all of them.

if you're gonna break my heart just break it
play me close
27 blocks to go
I'm not made out of steel
everywhere I go I see your face
this is perfect
baby, I still see you
you're running out of time
just another ex-love you don't wanna see
looking like a princess
I need more hours with you
you love me now and I feel the same way
I got this feeling inside my bones
baby shark

Prompt 17
December 8, 2018 at 11:26pm
December 8, 2018 at 11:26pm
they gave us five whole days
to say goodbye,
long hours standing
by his cradle,
long minutes trying
to find words.
sometimes there are no words.
we spent eternities
singing lullabies to ears
that should have heard us.
less than a week
should not last
eons—it should be
so much more than the instants we had.
and when it was finished
and the measured beat of his heart
stilled, that moment
had the potential of a lifetime.
six years later,
I’ve lost the shape of his face,
and I never knew
the sound of his voice
or the music of his laugh—
but within me, the time
we had together
will linger, forever.

line count: 26

Prompt 16
December 8, 2018 at 12:11am
December 8, 2018 at 12:11am
I wasn’t hungry
until the phone rang,
and the mean, smug voice
at the end of the line
told me she was
at the patisserie, smelling them,
buying one, putting one
into her mouth,
and my mouth watered with
anticipation, and I wanted one

but England is so far away,
and in the Southern United States,
other foods rule (although
I’ve never really understood
the appeal of slime
well, frying saves anything),
and I sat back and wished
for a pocketful of heaven
to warm my hands,
to feed me—

but I could just
listen to her chewing
at the other end of the line
and dream.

line count: 25

Prompt 15
December 6, 2018 at 11:57pm
December 6, 2018 at 11:57pm
she asked me:
what is love?
and I paused,
trying to describe

chocolate brown
hugs, and harmonic silvers
singing together,
and dragon green words
flowing together,
and sharing peals
of sunrise gold and pink

finally, I explained:
when it has just rained
over a desert
and breaking through clouds
comes our sun’s ginger yellow heat,
baking it dry again,
that’s when our world smells
blue like love:

it’s a blue of clear skies.
wedding breakfast blue.
a blue of babies,
freshly bathed and powdered.

line count: 24

hearing silver
feeling/tasting yellow
smelling blue

1. harmonic silvers
2. dragon green
3. sunrise gold and pink
4. ginger yellow
5. wedding breakfast blue

Prompt 14
December 6, 2018 at 12:19am
December 6, 2018 at 12:19am
I brought him home just yesterday—
and mayhem did ensue.
but he goes on the naughty list
for chewing on my shoe.

last night he left his cozy bed—
to curl himself in mine,
I woke to those colossal snores
and that endearing whine.

I left him be so I could shower—
he met me at the door,
with puppy great big eyes imploring me
to ignore the floor.

and so I pet his wagging tail
and lectured him on why
my flamingo wasn’t his.
he listened with a sigh.

that’s why his stocking’s full of coal
and why I’ve mismatched shoes,
and why pink feathers fill my house—
and why I need a snooze.

line count: 20

Prompt 13
December 5, 2018 at 12:46am
December 5, 2018 at 12:46am
ten months old.
she spent the season
exploring the house—
discovering paper and ribbons,
toys hidden in the corners
where Mama had stowed them
for Santa’s approval.
she could climb
and adored the new game
called unwrapping, tearing
with little fingers
and draping herself in
glittering remnants, while Mama
sighed and wrapped again,
trying to find some new
hiding place.

Christmas dawned. all
the packages gathered together
under the tree, but she
wailed, not exploring,
growing heavier and hotter.
the only package opened
was a plush ghost
with a musical center,
that she held, cuddling close
to Mama, fevered and miserable,
while Mama sighed, disappointed,
and saved the presents
for tomorrow, when she
was well again.

line count: 30

Prompt 12
December 3, 2018 at 11:45pm
December 3, 2018 at 11:45pm
winter landscape—
snow, icicles.
wind bites. cold chafes.
red cheeks, brittle lashes.

suddenly—miracle appears.
reindeer stomp, snort.
Yule log burns.
charcoal bags await
naughty children.
elves dream
impossible toys.

Father Christmas welcomes—
hot chocolate ambrosia,
iced cookies, milk,
random carrots.

everyone working.
pick up tools—
knit blond doll wig,
sew princess dress.
q-tip blue paint eyes.

peppermint cane guards.
cinnamon essence perfumes.
tinsel. fairy lights. bells.
singing, laughing, joy.

line count: 24

Prompt 11
December 2, 2018 at 9:40pm
December 2, 2018 at 9:40pm
I hear that the blizzard
will linger for days—
but we shouldn’t care—
we are on holiday!

we’re all done with shopping.
our cupboards are full.
we’ve plenty of water
and needles and wool.

our medicine’s stocked
and our blankets are many
and I’ve been to the library—
books, we have plenty.

I hear that they’re planning
to measure in feet,
but why should we care?
we both here, off the street.

we’ve plenty of wood
and the fire is bright—
even though the electric might
fail in the night.

the candles are stocked
and the matches are found
and our solar powered backup
is perfectly sound.

best of all, you’re here with me.
we’ll cuddle up tight—
our love will secure us
throughout this cold night.

we’re all ready now
and we’ve nowhere to go—
we’ll snuggle in close
though the blizzard may blow.

we won’t care a bit—
let it snow, let it snow.
what the heck, let it snow,
let it snow, let it snow.

line count: 36

Prompt 10

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