"I am hearing poetry when awake, dreaming poetry when asleep, breathing poetry with each breath, I am living in a poem."

Friday, October 13, 2017

Garland of Red

They’re only over exuberant children.
Boys will be boys...What breaks
didn’t have enough backbone.

Turning, dodging, my name turned foul
by a bully’s chorus edging the dance closer
to bruise my skin.

Don’t cry! Don’t cry! If the dirty words
bring a tear, my dreams will be infected.

The snow outside is writing a Christmas card
in the school yard…I’ll be a garland of red.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

Real Toads ~ Cruel
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Saturday, October 7, 2017

School of Innocents

They wanted legs, feet, sand between their toes,
lungs filled with harmless hide and seek.

Mermaids knew the sea, salt laced lips,
the whale song vibrating survival,
but nothing of the crusted path of humans.

Like a school of innocents they swallowed the hook
love came unmolested by greed, by betrayal,
by the glass world of exploitation.
Oxygen and heels came at the cost of freedom.

The sea will always sing of home,
solid ground a mournful hum of withering.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

                                   by Thomas Eakins (1910)
                                                 Fair Use

            Real Toads ~ Camera Flash

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Wednesday, October 4, 2017

There's Still Time for Ink

We can mold our fingers to a trigger.
We can hate with our words until we’re killing.
We can damn the dawn and fail the living.

But love still shines in a baby’s smile,
arms still lift when a soul cries,
and music still bridges the political divide.

If the pieces fall, we can mend.
If hope is dim, we can be a candle.
If the peace song is unwritten, there’s still time for ink.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

Real Toads ~ The Tuesday Platform
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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Digital Revelation

a blowhard’s tongue,
an eye of a hurricane,
both storm the human spirit

the callous rake of wind and words
feeds on the bile of aftermath

the humane seek to aide life
and pour hope into the broken

the world peers into the digital eye of revelation

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Friday, September 29, 2017

Eight Metal Letters

My father’s name
immortalized in aluminum,
once rested on top of his mailbox
as a marker for home,
mail delivery, and gravel dust,
now hangs nailed to my library wall.

It is an odd thing to connect so strongly
to its metal silence when I am stuck
in the white noise of wordless, but
it challenges me to escape the chained
introspect my father lived in.

He walked more in his mind than
he did with his voice. The world within
boiled like a teapot without steam.

When silence smothers, I rebel with
a keyboard, conjure words
from the taped tongued persistence
I have nothing to say…

Perhaps it is my totem, 
eight metal letters  urging me to speak.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Friday, September 22, 2017

The Senators Won't Swim

There aren’t enough dollar signs in care.
The blood’s in the pool, but the senators won’t swim.
Black hearts pad wallets with Koch
while charity drinks light from the bottom of the barrel.

Set a table with stars and stripes, strip a vote,
pat backs too spineless to walk near the raw edge of truth.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

FF 55 at Verse Escape
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My Eyes Are Green Plaster

My eyes are green plaster,
the scent of hell, a muffled cry
pulled from the roots of a last smile.

Tears gather shadows to parade
across the ceiling and soot secrets
into my eyelids where nightmares hide.

Normal plays hide and seek…I twist
my doll’s hands into prayers, but their
plastic God only cares about ruffled lace.

Giggles join hands…Pink cheeks chase the sun.
I am a ghost dressed in hand me downs,
two shoe laces away from their ring of rosie.

I chase crows…They sing of robins.
Eenie meanie...The Monster drinks daylight.
My eyes are green plaster and I can’t speak plastic God.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

Fireblossom Friday: "The Distorted Lens"
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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Rainbow Affirmations

I like to collect rainbow affirmations
to put color in my book of words
to counterbalance the dark day collection.

Even the most infinitesimal brush
with serendipity brings rapture
to a mind fed in soundbites of doom.

Branded heretic I prefer my butterfly faith
to a testament that digs channels so deep in rules
a soul can never be sure it can identify freedom.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Ardor of War

"We're goin' down
And you can see it too
We're goin' down
And you know that we're doomed
My dear
We're slow dancing in a burnin' room" -
John Mayer

What is this alliance,
hip joined battle plan
to defeat our hearts
before they are consumed?

Shadows brush our secrets
into a moon bin and we think
there will be no war in goodbye.

The heat of our bodies sear
us with memories, blush stained
scar bearers storing moans
our skin will never forget.

The dream slayer loves a standoff.
It rallies fools to the cliff edge
making bets who will fall.

Yes stalks us with its treachery
surrender holds no defeat.

We ignore the enemy ticking
on a shelf chasing stars toward the sun,
and continue our war in a burning room.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2017

I used Grapeling's word list from September 17, 2014.
art, war, attack, fire, capture, neglected, ardor, tactics, energy, alliance, treachery, scheme, tenderness

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Monday, September 4, 2017



I fear raindrops,
the communion
of water and hell.
Nothing grows in drowning….

How long will it take
to write away terror?

I will ask the Lily when
the river leaves it to bloom.

©Susie Clevenger 2017
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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Ankle High

I dance the drumline,
the steady beat of surviving
pulsing through legs
mud etched by a river scream.

There is hell in high water
fighting the Jesus strength
to see another tomorrow.

I breathe cries, the steady moan
of desperation, the death howl
raking hope I’ll ever reach solid ground.

Breaking through the horror
I hear a camouflaged Gabriel
crying, “Keep walking, your feet
can carry you beyond the water line.”

This mud sludge apocalypse
demonizing water has been eager
to write my obituary, but I’m crossing
into the ankle high salvation of an angel horizon
shining with the warmth of two reaching hands.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

As many of you may know I live in Houston. Hurricane Harvey (tropical storm for us) has caused, well, hell in Texas. My family and I are safe and didn't experience flooding. I wrote this poem for those who had to take the treacherous water walk to safety. The photo at the top is Dawn looking out Lake Houston where we live. The song is one my daughters, Dawn and Carrie, wrote around a year ago, but rerecorded it in my kitchen after the worst of the rain passed. 

It is hard to explain how we felt or how we feel now. Perhaps this will give you some insight. A friend of mine, Dr. Donna G Hughes, who is a psychologist states it this way.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Hold Me Tighter Than Memories

Dance me to the center of your heart
where I can see moonlight in crimson.

Hold me tighter than memories,
and together we’ll choreograph
joy into the shadows.

We are scars tied in a lover’s knot
growing starlight in our palms.

Yesterday can no longer chase us
when we’re breathing soul to soul.

©Susie Clevenger 2017
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Sunday, August 20, 2017


I watch dust dance in the sunlight,
uncaring, oblivious to where it will land.
It floats a notepad skim across my desk,
and like a child I write my name,
an impish autograph unintimidated by legacy.

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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hip Preach

Spike heels tap concrete
as I rhythm walk the street hum
until my body drinks enough song.

Palms raised to glass eyes
I hip preach to desk dwellers
to swivel to their feet.

There’s a revolution in the groove.
Angry can’t hold its ground
when lip sync fuels a smile.

Spirits ride rainbows to the streets
in color splashes of unique until
gray surrenders the dance floor.

The universal joy of feet freestyling
to their own drum hums through my body.
I deep breathe electric and side step another hallelujah.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Damning for Damning

"Picket lines and picket signs
Don't punish me with brutality
C'mon talk to me
So you can see
What's going on
Yeah, what's going on"

What's Goin On ~ Marving Gaye
Songwriters: Alfred W Cleveland / Marvin P Gaye / Renaldo Benson

Break the stones from our tongues.
We sin troll for every prejudice,
ignore the songs of peace,
and cry blood as if wounds
had more power than listening
eye to eye.

Your fault, his fault, her fault
never reaches the conclusion of my fault,
damning for damning leaves us
invisible in our own mirrors.

Feed the dragon…Expect the burn.
The bonfire will turn to cold ash
if we stop feeding it bitter words.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

Real Toads ~ The Tuesday Platform

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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Woman Up

A rusted padlock hangs
between my breast and ribs.
I lost the key a hundred
heartbreaks a go when
the tear swamp grew teeth
and tore a hole
in my starry eyes.

It wasn’t bitter that lost the key
or the clinging ribbons of lost love.
Reality stormed in like a bitch
who knows her truth and tore
the pink curtain from my daydreams.

She taught me to woman up,
a few bruises on my spirit wouldn’t kill,
and building a wall around my heart
only makes me the prisoner.

The rusty open lock and I are friends.
When I struggle about letting
someone in, it reminds me
empty feeds too many ghosts.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2017

 "A rusted padlock hangs between my breast and ribs."  Is the first line in my poem Every Glass Slipper Fits A Fool.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Thumbtack Me

Go ahead, thumbtack me
to a bulletin board,
give me an bright ink moment
before I disappear beneath
the grocery list.

I am a rush of words,
a begging promise,
a handwritten beginning
scribbled on a coffee stained napkin.

Pressed into cork I face
a battle with time, errands,
and dirty laundry for attention.

I can’t reach…I can’t walk…I can’t talk.
I am a moment’s light burned into paper
hoping to become a poem.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Saturday, July 29, 2017

I Never Planned for Fading

Art by Karin Gustafson 

Perched on my toadstool throne
I contemplate my realm
of weeds and rodents.

I had petitioned the gods
for a crown, a purple robe and
to rule an ice cream summer kingdom.

Oh, the curse of dreams that
only see with water color eyes.
I never planned for fading.

I was told my golden road was a carrot
selfish could never reach…There’s
no magic in a tongue of sticks and stones.

Blame is hard grain to chew,
so I self medicate with tears
poured from my violin.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

The perfect accompaniment to self pity is Aase's Death from Peer Gynt Suite No. 1. I've had one or two pity parties lately. I think making myself the cry baby in my own poem is cathartic. Nothing goes well with whine except..perhaps..of course..humor.

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Thursday, July 27, 2017

First Tongue of Dying Words

First tongue
of dying words,
the journal erases
before the ink dries.

Eyes search for familiar
in a sea of dead names.

The quilt turns inside out
as I sing a lullaby in
my mother’s ear.

She falls asleep searching for her baby.
I’m wide awake wishing she could find me.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

Real Toads ~ Scribble It
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Sunday, July 23, 2017

Starlight Owns An Instagram Page

It holds a thousand dreams,
broken voices, midnight caffeine
drugging awake long enough
to keep the tap shoes talking.

Marquee lights wink names
until the day stalker robs bulbs,
but music poured into minds
will survive beyond red curtains and
bows soliciting applause.

Walls climb through traffic rumble,
homeless begging for another dime
to burn a vein, and couture clothed
plastic personalities whoring another fifteen
minutes from camera lenses to faux claim
starlight owns an Instagram page.

Left is right and right is left, backstage hustles,
onstage looks for a mark, and settings change
in electric movement and human push.

Reality takes a break in a seat nosebleed high
to watch miniature figures claim their original
can steal thunder from “There’s nothing
new under the sun.”

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Lobster Numb

The devil’s in the details
and we dance blind.

Bully bloat, science won't matter
 until denial gets bit, orange alliance,
great is downgraded to embarrassment.

Keep the fossil in the tank, air bleak,
and water selling higher than oil.

All that pulpit thump preaching hell
has a highway through Armageddon
forgot to consult Mother Earth.

She’s been saying for ages there’s
a burning coming, but humans are lobster numb,
denying they sulphured the match.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Friday, July 14, 2017


    The Death of Albine ~ 1898 ~ John Collier

You wreathed my body in flowers.
I didn’t know guilt could come so adorned.
You knifed my spirit until I could no longer breathe,
drained the roses from my lips and danced
with the devil until I sought angels.

I hate parades. This march of black sleeves
parading across my cheeks seeking notice
is a hundred clowns away from truth.

How many more rumors must ears taste
when they are already fat with lies?
I lay here sentenced to dust while
a covey of scarlet offenses claim piety.

Is revenge truly sweet or merely the stench of decay?
My body will be absolved from my spirit’s consequences.
I will not go quietly into my tomb of draped lilies.

I will be the roar in a pillowed head counting sheep,
a stalking wolf devouring rest, a wraith ushering
my tormentors into the open throat of their madness.

Here in this time before wings I gather names
in the hollow cave of my breast until I know
how many shadows it takes to coal dust clouds
in an unrepentant sky.
 ©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Morning peels us from bed
in onion layers until we stand
night drugged on two feet.

Swiftly the sun steals the lover’s chat
from our lips as we snap and grumble
our way to the calculated time of caffeine.

Two souls entangled in memories
prepare to wander through daylight hours
searching for a break in the fence.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Saturday, July 8, 2017

In 1968

In 1968….

I was wild weed drifting
in flash notes when July burned
deliverance into blue eyes.
Naïve had long been plucked
from fragile leaves, but I blushed
the virgin pink of a first kiss.

Born female in a stone garden
I was feral glass, boot high,
waiting for the next shattering.
In the summer hum of guitars
you were a place of roots, sunshine,
a prince guiding my heart to my own rescue.

In 1968…

My world turned upside down
and I wasn’t hurt in the fall.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

My poem was inspired by these beautiful photos.
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Thursday, July 6, 2017

Carnival Bird Sky

The carnival bird sky
melts into gray wings
racing toward rest.

Pressed against the
brick wall I watch
the last hurrah of
an ice cream sunset
surrender to dusk.

I wonder how much
of myself I can leave
to summer tongues
to debate before
I reach empty.

I should feel remorse
or at least sorrow,
but there is an odd joy
in becoming a shadow.

It’s easier to run
when goodbye leaves
 no strings attached.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

I used bird, ice cream, and dusk from the list.

Real Toads ~ July Get Listed
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Friday, June 30, 2017

Bird in a Fish Tank

Art by Karin Gustafson

You need strong wings
to fly with my crazy.
So buckle up.. Say a prayer..
(or not if you prefer)

I am a bird in a fish tank
fighting waves to find sky.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Dull Light On My Sunny Side

Oh, Government, you are
a dull light on my sunny side.
You never fail to provide the stink
if I decide I want to skate
somewhere on the fault line.

I rather like roller skating on bullshit.
There is honesty in its odor
The surface muck has enough lie
to support figure eights and
side stepping double speak.

Not to be political but political,
government marble halls
are always fresh with mess.
My standard skate wear is I won’t
believe a thing preconceived
assumptions accessorized
with my follow the money glasses.
I don’t need to waste
a new outlook, because
Truth never gets past
the special interest detector.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Recipe of Me

If you want a recipe for
what makes me tick:

Blend tears with a quarter
angry, sift in full blown attitude,
and a strong shot of feminist.

Peel back a few layers of thick skin
until you reach the center where
love doesn’t make labels, compassion
keeps me centered, and you’ll find
a seeker whose mind isn’t so stony
it can’t be changed.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Less Broom and More Gracious

I will clean the wasp nest
of my thoughts by unplugging
from the electronic stream
of two cent opinionators.

I will be less broom and
more gracious and apply
my fingertips to the spotted glass
that smudges my view of the garden.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

My tarot card reading for the day:

The Empress:

Be ambitious today, in a subtle way, and meet with a lot of cooperation and good will. Your ambition does not have to be grandiose. Concentrate on small projects and sweep away a lot of loose ends and complete things that have been long lingering. Act and speak with authority, and be fully respected. Do as much as you can today, and don't look back. 

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Word Drunk And Image High

Word drunk and image high
brains walk digital slums
where too much is too little.

Petitions drop in e-mails
with “this must” confetti and
shame shock toward wallets.

Nothing new under the sun…
Rome gets too big for its boots
chasing oil through Cheeto tracks.

Dumming down has its own cable channel,
glassy eyes tablet read into cameras,
Literacy Died On A Twitter Feed.

In the apathy we’ve become seeds speak,
“Tomorrow can be brighter than blindness,
It will take flesh and bone working together in real time.”

©Susie Clevenger 2017

Real Toads ~ Weekend Challenge ~ The News

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Four O'Clock

Four o’clock paints its portrait
on my library walls in dancing leaf shadows
muting the turquoise of a flowerpot
feeding on shrinking sunlight.

It is that time of day when the unwinding
stalks my mountain of lists and chases
it closer to the corner of undone.

Incubated in the sound play
of jet engines and classical music
I let sundown into my breathing
and turn my eyes to contemplate
a white crane soaring in a picture framed sky.

Daydreaming with my fingers black keyed
to an alphabet I write the bird’s flight
across a verse seeking wings not destination.

A roman numeral interjects itself into my reverie
as my gray cats stretch themselves toward dinner.
Walking the path of paws I leave late afternoon
to paint all my undone with the ebony touch of evening.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017


I was born into silence.
The noise of its anger
was the lullaby before nightmares.

Insomnia was my comforter.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Pushing Wasabi

Photo: Isadora Gruye

It was a little trippy
selling self care wasabi peas
to a county raised on chicken fried,
but once I pitched everyone could use
a little fire in their biscuits they started
planting the mouth burners on every road
not timeshared by weeds.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Some Bright Morning

Peggy Vierra Link (1923-2004) Wash Day, 2009, Oil

If soap could wash
their sins away,
I would never use it.

This line isn’t free
or the pins that
hold us to it.

I’m waiting for some
bright morning,
but I won’t fly.

I will put on my second hand best,
leave my footprints in their cotton,
and walk straight backed into glory.

It doesn’t matter how hard
you scrub a stain, dirt has memory.
Truth will always return to the blood.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Soulless Dance Of Glitter

We trample Mother Nature’s heart
with oilfield boots and drill
our death sentence into her breast.

Greedy vision turns a blind eye
to poisoned mountains gasping
for breath in a colorless sky.

There is no sorrow for trespasses.
The soulless dance of glitter
denies it conjures an earthquake
or strikes another match to melt ice.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

I chose to revisit Kerry's Flash 55 Plus On August 1, 2015

Real Toads ~ Play It Again Toads
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Saturday, May 6, 2017


There are no stones
honeycombed into
an abusive tongue
strong enough
to clip my wings.

I am not made
from a caustic image
of another’s definition
or a mirror’s distorted reflection.

The dark wings assigned me
allow me to fly where
malignant assumptions
carry no weight.

©Susie Clevenger 2017

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Jasmine Moment

Jasmine claimed the garden wall
in tiny spirals clutching brick and mortar.
The scent of the cloud of pearl white clusters
was heady, intoxicating, commanding.

On a street corner vibrating “don’t linger”
a single Jasmine blossom caught my eye.
From a spring storm of a thousand perfume vials
I was enraptured by the arrogance of one
 tiny flower's demand I pause and inhale its aroma.

In a sanctuary of seconds it was my Shaman
teaching me a moment of stillness has more value
than the foot chase to attain replaceable.

©Susie Clevenger 2017


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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Through Pen and Paper

As a child, a teen
I swam in tears of trauma
until my spirit rebelled
at the drowning line.

Chasing last place
in a swamp filled
with tossed stones
Poe taught me to breathe
with pen and paper.

Through a pinhole in a nightmare
words bled into light and
I began to feel fledgling freedom.

In April’s month of words I hear
the child, the adolescent sing of roots
and crows and know even if the ink is bleak
it lights another candle to dispel my darkness.

©Susie Clevenger 2017


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Friday, April 28, 2017

The Nightman

I was belly button high to hell
when the Nightman began
to collect blue eyes and white skin.

The monster didn’t have
a season for hunting.
If you came chill skinned
close enough to his paws
he dragged you into his den.

He baited his hook with blame,
hooked it into your dreams,
and stained your fear with his name.

When I became too tall, too loud,
too strong, I became invisible.
Nightmare didn’t like his prey
to grow taller than his threat.

There was no freedom in free.
Cobwebbed into secrets every bump,
every shadow, every creak
stirred my imagination the monster
would return to see if I still
had blue eyes and white skin.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2017


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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Do You Have Anything For Leaving?

Do you have anything for leaving?
I want heels, devil red,
sharp toes, and expensive.

You know the type.
Those that walk over excuses,
leave a mark, put an exclamation
point on goodbye.

Hell, I’ve been living a country song
without giving a shit about the music.
He kept singing the same tune
until I couldn’t take another sour note.

He had a love affair with the bottle,
the smell of cheap cologne, and
saying it wasn’t his fault.

That pair! Yes, those are the ones.
It doesn’t matter about the cost.
I’ve been living it, now he can pay.
Oh, and I don’t need the box.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2017


Real Toads ~ Writing Shoes

(No, this isn't about me, but I know plenty of women who have needed these shoes.)

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