Saying Goodbye, by Debi Swim

Saying Goodbye
by Debi Swim

And someone will come and do my hair
one final time, make-up my face, clothe
my body in a favorite outfit and fold my
hands one over the other and I’ll repose
as though I’ve just closed my eyes for a
moment. I’ll even wear my glasses which
is ironic but I guess after all this time I
wouldn’t look natural without them.

That’s what the old people say as they
pass by the coffin trying to look like
they’ve just dropped by for a short visit,
Oh, doesn’t she look natural. No, I want
to shout, I look waxy and my smile is
a Mona Lisa smile of let’s get this over
with. A millimeter short of a smirk. Finally,
they close the lid.

I know there is music and the preacher will
say all the right things. You’ll say I was a good
wife and my sister and brother will tell the
funny stories of our childhood. I imagine the
children and grandchildren wiping their eyes
as tears spill but I am alone in this ornate box
smiling my tight little smile, immune to grief,
keeping a stiff upper lip.

Note: Written in response to Prompt 364.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

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Intertwined, by Debi Swim

Intertwined
by Debi Swim

There have been times…
when the mountains push against the sky
when milky mist crowns its proud head
when the sun shines forth to shrivel the fog
and the mountains gleam in golden liquid light…
(Oh, my soul soars in wondrous delight)
and I think I can never leave such a world.

There have been times…
when love seemed beyond repair
when fearful dread abducted my peace
when a casket sank into the ground
and I turned from that empty space
(Oh, my soul became a chill and lonesome place)
and I think I don’t want to live in such a world.

Death at times is a heavy weight
at times a great release
I have prayed for both
to live, to die
and yet there is a time for each.
(Oh, my soul these twin twigs you pleach)
and I think what a lovely arbor to walk beneath.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

Holy Night, by Debi Swim

Holy Night
by Debi Swim

Let your words
be few
fevered pitched
with awe
with woe
with hope
borne aloft
into the ether
scattered
across the vast
plains of the sea
swelled in a symphony
of swallow-tailed
butterfly wafts.
Oh, God, hear
these ignoble
squeaks
of piteous man
pleas of mercy
crush the clank
and clamor of
hubris
let the silence
of the downy
eve peal
like a Christmas
bell. Toll
for me.

“In the midst of a world of light and love, of song and feast and dance, Lucifer could find nothing to think of more interesting than his own prestige.”
–C.S. Lewis

Written in response to Red Wolf Prompt 354.


Debi Swim
writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

Burden Of Life, by Debi Swim

Burden Of Life
by Debi Swim

How much does it weigh
that uncertainty
as it settles around your shoulders
like a puma?
You carry it gingerly
trying to sooth the underlying growl
into a purr of contentment.
There is no way to know
when the claws will come out
(if there are any claws at all)
when the teeth honed on bone
(if they’re not worn to a nub)
will sink into the jugular.

Uncertainty has heft.
Everything is uncertain.
We live with it like gravity
balance it like scales
and keep on hoping
to tame the beast.

Note: “I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” Keats
Written in response to Red Wolf Prompt 353.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

Oh World, by Debi Swim

Oh World
by Debi Swim

Have I seen enough sunsets,
enough pale dawns, ample
waves rushing to shore?
Have I listened to sufficient
hoots, trills, sweet melodies
and followed the flight of
hawks and geese and stars?
Oh, world, tell me true will
I rue these days of visits with you
or will I more regret those times
I bent dutifully to my tasks not noting
the honeysuckled scent of summer breezes,
the way it teases butterflies and bees.

Then, at the day of reckoning
will I, sated, sigh that I
have lived to full balance
of work and rest, blessed
with memories for eternity
of all creation’s glories?
Will I, world? Will I?

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Prompt 343.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.

Mementos Of Love, by Debi Swim

Mementos Of Love
by Debi Swim

Two short bits of rough wood
nailed together and presented
to me with love and pride, works
of art on my fridge in crayon or
finger paints, thank you cards
printed in huge letters that
course in downward slants,
nose and fingerprints on windows,
hazard lights flashing, wipers flapping,
radio blaring, heater cranked to the
highest speed when I start the car
after you have pretended to drive.
These things speak to me of the past
and of the future. They bring a smile
even when I pack them away or wash
them off or reset things to normal.
Oh, my disheveled grandmotherly life
I love each slobbery, messy, riotous
moment between the passages of
sedate and pristine clean.
Relief when you leave and
exhilaration at your coming.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Prompt 342.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and presistent WV poet.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers, by Debi Swim

Blessed Are the Peacemakers
by Debi Swim

Praise to the mild mannered ones
who don’t succumb to fits of ire
who plod through the fray of
rainy days, delays, missteps, upsets
and suffer the fools of the world
with lips upcurled. Praise to the ones
who are slow to wrath, pick a path
of peace, throw a fleece of agreeability
over the shoulders of the rabble-rouser
and be a douser of incivility. Praise,
oh, praise the mild mannered ones.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Prompt 341.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and happy WV poet.

Flat Line, by Debi Swim

Flat Line
by Debi Swim

       The cursor blinks
              patiently
     steadily
          impartially
between words, between thoughts
waiting. for words. to appear.
waiting.
Sometimes, I get up. Walk around.
hoping for inspiration, direction,
not even considering that it blinks.
like a heart, like a pulse, keeping
me alive. I take it for granted, like
my heart. How many beats left
before the end? How many blinks
till it is over? No more poems?
     No more inspiration?
That will be a kind of death.
     Breathless. Wordless.
        Straight line.
               Scream.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Prompt 338.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

Count Down, by Debi Swim

Count Down
by Debi Swim

Grandpa got it at the green stamp store.
He built a small shelf on the wall
in the living room and placed upon it
the black and faux gold clock. I would
watch the pendulum swing back and forth
unaware of time ticking away, unaware
that this moment wouldn’t last,
nor Grandpa, nor my youth.

A clock sits on the bookshelf
in my reading room.
I listen to its steady beat,
faint, droning under the din of life.
Its rhythm keeps me grounded
with its steady tic-tic- tic
setting the pace, reminding me
with every second-hand lurch
I live one second at a time,
until the last …
tic-tic toc.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 320.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

The Ash Borer, by Debi Swim

The Ash Borer
by Debi Swim

Insidiously, silently, they worked in darkness
Burrowing, eating, until there was no hope
Still it took a long time until the damage
revealed itself in bare limbs and stripped bark
twigs and branches scattered on the ground
at the whim of every passing breath of wind.

The tree was felled, cut into logs, loaded into
the back of a pick-up for fire wood this winter
and so in the dying it fed and in death warmed.
So life goes on. And should I curse the ash-borer
for doing what comes naturally? I pretend that
before the first bite a prayer was offered asking
the gods’ forgiveness for taking the tree’s life.
And I thank the tree for its sacrifice of warmth
a provision of God’s forethought.

Is this maybe just to curb the queasiness
at our survival at another’s expense? And yet
it seems right in the end to be aware that
life is life and never take it for granted.

There is a hole, a void where the ash tree stood
and generations of birds, squirrels, will never
know the safety of its arms. I’ll never feel again
the comfort of its shade or the pleasure of
watching its swaying leaves in the breeze.
And its roots remain embedded in the soil
and the stump rises like a headstone. Here
stood a living thing. Be thankful.

Process notes: Our Ash tree was cut down this past weekend. It stood close to the road and could have been a danger to passing cars. It was here before we build our house 36 years ago and so its death is like that of an old friend. How can an inanimate thing seem alive, have a personality and induce feelings of wonder and emotion in me? I don’t know, but it did.

Note: Written in response to Red Wolf Poems, Prompt 312.

Debi Swim is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.