Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I want a poem

Wordle: poem

I wanna poem to tell me
it’ll be okay.

I want a poem to say
all the stray words
stuck in my throat.

I want to toke on it, roll
the bits into thin paper, light
the end, and inhale long.

Yeah, I want a strong antidote
of meter and rhyme, telling me
this time hopelessness is just
a long word for lost faith.

So gimme a poem.

Show me how the grey expanse
gives way to cerulean.

Give me words I can chew,
metaphors I can swallow,
images I can drink.

Cover me with a blanket
crocheted with rhyme.

I need the measure of poetry,
to rid me of this stilted, prose life.

I’m holding a blade to my neck,
and that’s not a metaphor.

So please, gimme a poem.

©Ami Mattison

Saturday, April 30, 2011



Some nights when I’m half-asleep,
I hear Mama’s voice say my name.

Other times, it’s Daddy, calling out.

I awake, half-expecting to find  
myself again in the back yard, hiding
behind the overgrown honeysuckle
intertwined and clinging to chain-link.

Mama holds open the kitchen door.
Or Daddy unlatches the fence gate.

And I, a half-wild child, emerge,
long dark hair tangled with burrs,
palms and knees stained red with clay.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm Hungry

The coffee maker
and microwave died.

The oven is treacherous.

I haven’t washed dishes
in four months.

I have one pot, one spoon, and one knife
I use over and over again.

I’m subsisting on peanut butter
sandwiches and cold canned food.

My stomach won’t stop growling.

Sometimes, I wake at night, eating
my bed sheets.

© Ami Mattison

For G-Man's Flash Friday 55

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

When We Are Onions

If you pull back
the layers, toss them
aside, you’ll find nothing
at the center.

It’s a joke.

And it makes you cry.

Some people need
the pieces to be
symmetrical, but me,
I just chop and chop
into sloppy bits.

It’s for the taste anyway.

Not that I would eat one raw.
But in Georgia during summer
sliced Vidalias and fresh tomatoes
appear on supper plates.

But both of those are side dishes,
and this is about the center
of it, which can’t be located.

What lies between us could be
a field or a river or just a dusty
country road.

But instead, it’s complicated and striated
and so abstract that I have no idea
what I’m talking about.

Still, I have to say, this not-knowing
a thing is what makes mothers weep
and lovers sigh.

It’s potent.

Kinda like those kitchen fumes
that make eyes tear up
even when there’s nothing
particularly sad.

At the center of us goes unnamed,
not really nothing or a thing,
but a no-thing.

But then, I have no idea
what I’m talking about.

© Ami Mattison

Photo courtesy of DRB62

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


The crux of our middle-
class lives folds into every day

items, puzzle blocks we buy when
some of the pieces are missing. So much

depends on the picture of necessity,
desire and the pieces

we accumulate: cars, furniture, appliances,
collections of what we need

and what we want, fitted into
wooden frames and bricks, mortared

into homes we own. How lovely
those drapes are and that landscape

hanging on the wall. The precise
measurements of how we live

depends upon what’s missing
from the painting. Cars, furniture,

appliances, the stuff of what
we pay for, counting our gains,

our losses, wanting
to balance the ledger

of who we are and what
we believe we deserve.

© Ami Mattison 

Monday, April 25, 2011


I cut my wrist with an Exacto blade,
made an incision to bilge the blue vein
so I might see my blood, reassure myself
it was pulsing.

When the wound bled wet and red,
I wrapped it tight with a kitchen cloth,
guarded my sleep throughout the night,
and swore never again to come so close
to killing.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Death is not a reality, but the absence of a reality. ~Thomas Merton

They say I’m not dead yet,
but surely this is hell.
Not the inferno they preach,
but a sterile hallway, narrow
and lengthening beyond
my poor eyesight.

They say at the end of it,
there is light, but I’ve  been there
and I can tell you, it’s a white wall
decorated with an oil-painted face
of God, hung to remind  me of his absence,
how even he’s abandoned this place.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Jesus Weeps

How many times I died
I lost count.  With every plea,
I gave a piece of me.

Water into wine, men’s madness 
cast upon swine—miracles
emerged from flesh,
blood, tooth, bone.

She was the only one
who loved me.

I died a thousand deaths,
was reborn when she kissed
my feet with her hair.

© Ami Mattison

For G-Man's Good Friday Flash 55

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stars on Alabama

We lived our little drama.
We kissed in a field of white.
And stars fell on Alabama last night.  ~Mitchell Paris

Oh, those stars over Alabama.
How they fell in tender light
upon the fields of soft,
white buds, plucked
by your dark, scarred fingers
to show me the stubborn
seeds nestled there.

How the moon creases
the ochre sky tonight,
how I can taste red clay
in the cracks of my lips
takes me back to you,

Ridin' the Blue Train

Better catch that steel-wheeled ride
‘fore it takes off and slides on down
those tracks ‘cuz it’s a one way ticket,
and there ain’t no goin’ back.

Jump that rail and don’t tell Mama
cuz she don’t ‘bide by rattlin’ rooms
and shakin’ hips, but baby that song makes
you move in all the right ways of wrong.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easy as her silence is

No one knows that she talks
to me, spills her days in lovely
chatter-songs that wake me
every morning and bed me at night.

With others, silence marks her
as aloof or elusive or even enigmatic,
but she’s not really a question.

Monday, April 18, 2011

After Her

I am underground where the roots
of trimmed conifers strangle water from clay
and daylight filters through half-drawn window blinds,
still dusty with the lives of strangers. My grey face
reflected in that window becomes gaunt and ghosted.

Outside the cinderblock walls, ambulances
and fire trucks streak towards the hospital
or away. Red flashes light up the night and whining
sirens wrench my dreams into deafening wails.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

When we are gods

the terrible eye turned into
a vertical slit, squinting
at the straight, neat lines of who
we believe we are.

hard dark crossbars above us and below us.

I, I , I, we chant.

Ami Mattison

Friday, April 15, 2011

If They Knew

The wide-eyed moon lights
winter’s midnight sky.  

One word changes the season,
the hour, the shape of the moon.

You cannot say, it’s cold.

You must let the cardinal, clinging
to a bare branch outside a frost-
kissed window tell them the freeze
is almost over.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Domestic Disturbance

Upstairs neighbors are at it again.

Stomping, thrown objects, and loud
thuds shake my ceiling.

Get out! Get out of here! She screams.
But he won’t leave, not until he’s taken
a piece of the wall and her with him.

Later the ceiling will shake again
headboard thumping, bed springs
creaking so many terrible moans.

© Ami Mattison

For G-Man's Flash Friday 55

Photo Courtesy of Grand Velas Riviera Maya

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

If you want it to burn

Gather the thin, fragile lies, slipping
from her lips, like dry twigs fallen
beneath low-lying branches.

Strike flint against the bone
of your bitterness. Set aflame
the recanted kindling and blow
hot breath across the splintered
wood, seasoned with mistrust.

Stoke it with your anger and watch the fire
burn steadily down to cold and dying embers.

Place the ashes on your head, smear
them across your lips, so you might
remember her kiss.

© Ami Mattison

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


My blackened shroud
Burns to ash, wind-blown
Across deserts
And oceans
It summons a plague of rats
Gnawing on marrow and grief

Ami Mattison

A Shadorma for One Stop Poetry's Monday Form

Monday, April 11, 2011

Of Miracles

Commuting cars along 13 Mile Road
sound like the rush of the ocean waves,
tumbling at low tide, and I am taken
to the seashore where you combed
for shelled treasures and washed them
in wet salt. Your bare feet awash
in the surf, you bowed your head
to the sun.

Time never curls back, and I will never
again stand on the edge of the world
between earth and ocean nor burn
beneath your radiance, your smile,
curving and lifted when you look at me.

I am land-locked now, living in a crummy
basement, bereft of sun and sky and you,
wrapping daylight around my dank nights.

My grief wanders there into early morning,
stands in the middle of the road and looks up
towards blackness.

I do not believe in miracles or accidents,*
only the star, perhaps a planet, peeking
through a sudden parting of clouds

and the swerving car, horn sounding long,
wheels braking hard, but too hurried to stop.
I watch the tail lights fade into the distance,
return to my basement where I sleep hard
and do not dream of seashores.

Ami Mattison

* Excerpt by Sylvia Plath

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Touchdown Jesus

Lightning struck Jesus, a stone bust
ascending from a fountain of faith
along I-75 in Ohio.  His arms, six stories
high and stretching towards heaven,
he was a joke among locals. He suffered
eighteen-wheeler exhaust and finger-pointing.

His pleading expression was immoveable
until God’s jagged fire set him aflame
and burned him to the ground.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Moon's Eyelid

They have been speaking
for years, telling her who
she is and what she should do.

Mostly, she ignores them.

The new doctor asks
if she has a superpower
the doctor should be aware of.

She tells the doctor: The moon’s eyelid
is wide open tonight. I can see that much.

The doctor nods, makes a note in the chart.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Mother's Lament

Light bulbs blew in room after room
while the houseplants withered and
died. I closed the window blinds
against the summer sun.

But I couldn’t block out the sounds
of the neighbors’ children. Their squealing
laughter interrupted my mid-day sleep,
and the high-pitched peals shattered
my glass dreams of holding tight
your small, live body.

© Ami Mattison

For G-Man's Friday Flash 55

Photo courtesy of cheishichiyo

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


I cleave to winter, unready
for the rains, washing away
all traces of the seasons we witnessed
together. My unclean palms pressed

in prayer, I am penitent, mumbling
offerings to the gods for second chances,
redemption from the ghost-bones of grief.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Late Winter, Detroit

Robins return
before spring

wraps warmth
around the city

the cold core
of abandoned fealty

thaws to mud
softens with songs

Friday, April 1, 2011


she’s high
on too much
too many
and no sleep

hands hard-wired
to the steering
wheel, she
the mountain

what if
she took
the metal barrier
with her

Monday, March 28, 2011


The women who love me
tread upon my sleep
and I am awakened
by their coming

one by one, visiting my living
room, arranging themselves
upon furniture, dropping their luggage
and backpacks meant for staying.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

How It Happens

A part is not the whole,
but apart from it and merely
a part. The glass filament
is not glass though it reflects
light just the same.

When under a microscope,
the thin thread is a Great Lake shore
in winter when the waves want
for warmth and yet do not freeze,
reflecting the sun upon glassy surfaces
but not sun itself.

Friday, March 25, 2011


An exhaled pause that could
stretch into a week or even years,
a jittery finger on the trigger,
or uneasy as a flag, flapping a single wing,
the color of clouds painted upon a blue canvas. 

We might talk or we might
It all depends
upon the lungs, its inhale
and what is expelled.

© Ami Mattison

For G-Man's Friday Flash 55

Photo courtesy of portobeseno

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Autobiography of Deconstructed Me

Me, circa 1965


was is
was is born
was is born colored
was is born colored named white
was is born colored named white born adopted
was is born colored named white born adopted born girl
was is born colored named white born adopted born girl became am

Wednesday, March 23, 2011






War is the sword we love to live and die for.
War is the lord we pray to kill and fight for.
War is the why we don’t wanna know now.
War is the bind of proud vengeance, its bloody vow.

Want me some war.
Gotta have me some war.
Come on, let’s war.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

November's Child


When you spilled out of me,
the trees were shedding reds and gold,
baring their heads before the gods.

They took you from my naked
arms, bending down as autumn limbs
towards dropped, round fruit.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Purple Dusk

She tended to her African violets, a jeweled 
setting of amethyst among emerald leaves.

Clay pots placed just so in the living room, one
in the kitchen window. When the sun brightened

in summer, she moved them to darker spaces,
pinched the dying petals, and they bloomed

with wild abandon as if sprung from the rich, black soil  
of the mother continent, still undiscovered by white hands.

Friday, March 11, 2011

How to Make a Trophy

Take a child. Call it
a girl. Show her the confines
of your expectations. Expect
the world from her.

Next, color her to perfection.
Paint her lips, dress her in pink.

Now, rend her body
to the fragments
of your desire.

Finally, pour her
into a golden mold.
Every once in awhile,
dust her off.

© Ami Mattison

Sunday, March 6, 2011

It Ain't Over

*My "narrative prose poem" for today's prompt morphed into flash fiction. Thanks to all the one-stoppers who indulge me and take the time to read!

Officially, it was the wiring. But really it was that black, bitter, backstage boil we call coffee, and I never would have spilled it on the frazzled light cord, its spliced rubber casing revealing live wires, if it weren't for Giselle who makes me nervous even when I look at her from the scaffolding above. When she dances, removes one shimmering cloth to reveal a dark thigh and then another to uncover her breasts overflowing from a robin’s egg blue bra adorned with sequins, I come undone, shaking and shimmering like one of her veils—the silvery orange one, flame-colored, heated as my face. And this time I spilled over like my coffee which first just sizzled on the wiring some and tricked out the spotlight, as it winked on and then off and then dimmed and finally dramatically cut just as Gisele cast off her last veil and the audience clapped an unknowing irony.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I clocked my days

I clocked my days with long
pulls from the bottle, each swallow

another second spent on bleary-eyed
yesterdays. I recounted sad,

sad stories, fondling them
as prayer beads, and mumbled lines

of poetry I’d never live
to write. I liked the drunken measure.

Reveled in despair because
the one art I could master
was anguish.

© Ami Mattison

Flickr photo courtesy of simpologist

For G-Man's Friday Flash 55


The sun will not be with us
much longer. The earth turns
our faces towards the suspended
moon—its distance, proof
of how bound we are to molten core.

The sun stays and we move,
a planetary revolution, and yet
the sun seems to betray our longing
for light and warmth.

We believe ourselves abandoned.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011



What separates us are painted
lines, drawn across thick asphalt.

You, standing on a street corner,
your hunger held between both hands
and scrawled across cardboard.

Me, sitting in a car I can’t afford,
listening to NPR, waiting for
the traffic light to change.

Moving coordinates on the map,
we sometimes collide like this—
our paths intersecting along the roadway.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Eating Eden

Use your thumbnail to splice
the dimpled skin. Peel away
canary-colored pieces, the soft
white feathered bitterness beneath.

Bite the sour fruit.

Let the juices drip down your chin.
Smack your greedy lips. Spit
the seeds. Eat until it burns
the open cuts of your cuticles.

Feign innocence, and never
admit your forked desire
for blood and lust,
that first bite,

how you do not regret knowing now.

© Ami Mattison

Photo by Tess Kincaid