Poetry- "The Lightning"

The Lightning
by Jennifer Patino

The shimmering starts.
If I don’t turn my head
to try and look at it,
will it disappear?
If I don’t acknowledge
its existence is it even
really there?

Stimulation overload.
That was what we were
all chasing in our
younger days.
Now I navigate with caution.
Extra caution.
I duck my head to avoid
the flashing prisms.
Day time is dangerous for me.
The sun through the trees looks
so pretty,
yet my brain turns it into a
strobing possible death sentence.

And it isn’t my fault.
Really, it isn’t.

When the lightning comes
to take me,
it won’t care who’s around
or how much I’m fighting
against it.
It won’t care how careful
I was being.
It won’t care about all
the medicines designed
to stop it.

It will just strike
like an electric serpent
and take me down
in flames.

The fires smolder out eventually.
My skin holds the embers though.
Or at least the memory of them.
And I have to apologize always, you see,
to the bystanders
who are shaken.
They tremble.
It’s scary.

Someone once told me
a seizure looked like a
mini death.
I die multiple deaths daily.
I’m a super hero
always rising
from the ashes.
I’d trade in my cape to walk
down the city streets normally though.

Uncontrolled.
That’s what my epilepsy is.
And it always feels like it’s my fault,
ya know?
I should have been better at
not seizing today.
I shouldn’t have gone out
and put everyone through that.

It’s easier to hide.
The technology age
has made it easier
to pretend like I exist
in a different light
than I actually do.

“I’m so sorry.”
“No, I’m ok. Don’t call
an ambulance. I’m ok.”

The calm between fits is Heaven.
The seizure itself is hell.
And I rarely remember.
Thank God, I barely remember.

The aftermaths will forever
be etched in my mind though.
The cuts and bruises.
The worried faces.
The things that might
not really be there.
And the swirl of
unfamiliar places.

I’m still in here somewhere.
This quaking girl.
This sum of the worst thing
you’ve ever seen plus
the feeling of being so
helpless because you can’t
stop it.

Sometimes, I’m sort of aware
and I feel that way too.
I know I look ridiculous
and terrifying
and I can’t stop it either.

We’ll get through this.
We’ll both walk away.

The dark storm clouds
can’t hang around
every day.

I still have a pulse
when I’m pulsing.
I’m still breathing
even though I’m
convulsing.

That’s not rain on my face,
is it?
No, just
uncontrollable tears.

Poetry- "Limitless"





Limitless
by Jennifer Patino






When my thoughts 
start to stack up 
I can feel the pressure 
in my head increase 
I can see all these
overstuffed file folders
crammed together
and even picturing that means
I’m adding more weight
to the load

Then the words just start
tumbling out, 
flaring all over the pages

The contents
of my consciousness

colliding

                conspiring

collapsing

None of them are coherent 
They hold no answers for me
I call them poetry

And then I stuff them
back in again

I am limitless  




Poetry- "The Smoke From My Burning House"

Photo Courtesy of Lost River Review

The Smoke From My Burning House
by Jennifer Patino

The smoke from my burning house
Billowed like angels trying to reach
A Heaven I knew couldn’t possibly exist

Not now anyway

When all you have is nothing
It’s hard to focus on things like faith

They ask me if there’s anyone to call
But with what-
the phone was killed in the fire

My world was killed in that fire

All I could call was my sanity
And that hadn’t answered in awhile

So I shook my head no
And just stared as the house came tumbling down

Flash Fiction Friday- "Startled"

“Startled”
by Jennifer Patino

Deep in thought I was startled by my roommate today.

I was coming in from the back porch and realized I left my lighter out there and looking back I think that it was only a lighter and why was I so concerned with it anyway?

I saw her shirt first as green as well…that lighter and then the fact that she was waving at me in slow motion before the features of her face even came into view.

The eyes first, then the hair.

(And was it really slow motion?)

I saw her eyes widen and felt my mouth open in an expression of terror and wondered how I looked to her and vice versa.

And if we were almost reflections of each other.

If fear is that quick to catch on to.

If it’s the fact that others are scared that really makes us so scared.

If…if…

I was having a heart attack!

No!

My heart was stopped…I was going to die…

Exhale.

An exclamation of surprise found its way out of my throat and thank goodness because it’s a survival mechanism that served its purpose.

My roommate started explaining how she was trying not to frighten me.

At the same time I start babbling about how frightened I was.

“One of three things could have been a possibility…” I said catching my gasp.

“That it was me?”

“That I was going crazy…”

We talked over each other.

“Like seeing things?”

“That it was a ghost visiting…a full on apparition,” (Did I really just say that?)

“The landlord?” (Everything she came up with sounded so normal.)

I said no more.

“Wow…you’re pretty vivid,” she finally said blankly.

She didn’t say insane.

So I just took it as a compliment.

Poetry- "Boots"

Photo by Gary Wium 

“Boots”
by Jennifer Patino

And shall you attend my
beheading?

Watch all of my thoughts
as they pool at your feet?

Shall you step aside
so as not to
dinge your heavy boots
with the gore of my
intellect?

You’ve silenced me
enough by your
stature

The sound of your
footsteps on the stairs,
I can hear them now
even in death
I am frightened
I watch me drain away
into nothing

The last thing I see are
those boots
Those life crushing,
dream-ending,
thunderous & crashing,
damning & ragged
old boots

Poetry- "Back Again"

“Back Again”
by Jennifer Patino
Baggage unattended
steady blinks of blue to red
and back again
The heavy infants I carry
never to be born
but to grow and fester
Movement so slight
causing pain and burden;
the circumference of my being
A quiet child left alone
to wonder and ponder
nearly begging for an escape
A door unopened revealing
specks of light behind it
but not enough finances for cures
Medusa’s crown grows heavier
in the summer months
when cool air is sparse
The snowflake memories
too distant
Same with stars, too far
Birdsong replaced by traffic,
foreign banter,
and occasional sirens
(although this time not for me)
Aside from a novel and a cup of tea
I am alone
counting dust and popcorn on the ceiling
They look like landscapes
Hills and streams
Terrain and lakes
I saw these things before
from the airplane window
lights on the wing blink blue to red
and back again
I long for the day I am back again

Author Interview- David Bankson, Poet

David Bankson, Poet


David Bankson, like many poets of our generation, started out writing as an outlet. As time passes, poets grow and their work blossoms–sometimes into floral free verse and other times into morose melancholic monorhyme. Bankson’s poems seem to stick to a very centered theme. While reading his poetry, you discover a sense of self that you never experienced before. The question of which self you’re facing is going to lie within you. 

Bankson’s image of the self (whether it’s himself or “your”self, who but the poet really knows?) is presented to us in various forms and poetry styles that truly capture the inner essence of this budding writer and how hard he works at his craft. The following poem, “Alacrima”, seems to be a fine example of the poet’s inner struggles and musings on his own talent and writings. 

“Alacrima”
Every heartache is worth examining
with a heavy loaded gun;
but a calamitous event
flattens and dulls in a word or a tear. 
It secretes from lacrimal glands,
to protect and heal
the surface of heart and cornea —
a necessary distortion 
when experience has no replicant.
The question remains of how to unload
without withdrawing into artifice.
But isn’t that exactly what art is:
artificial for the sake
of unloading emotion?
Yet the desert crocodile has learned 
to approximate consistency
in terms of viscosity, 
tonicity,
tonality, 
totality.
No — that we understand, and all too well. 
That sort of artifice
is as informative as a textbook
bracing a table leg, 
an infirm prop for an ego,
and we won’t have any of that
if we are to be honest with ourselves.
I cannot find the words or facts
to express a devastating grief.
When tears alone are not enough
I remain a loaded gun.
I remain a heavy, loaded gun.

David & Victoria


David was kind enough to answer some questions about his writings and on being a wordsmith. Here, have a look:


Pretty Kool Dame: Hi David. Thanks for taking time away from writing to talk with me. When did you first discover your love of poetry? When did you start writing your own?

David Bankson: How I got into poetry is a blurry memory. I was attempting to write books from ten years old, and at some point that bled over into poetry. I exclusively read fantasy books then–around 12, when the poetry began–so my first two poems were about the majesty and ferocity of dragons. That quickly turned into an outlet for my teenage angst, and by 16 I was in trouble at school for my dark poetry. For a long time it was a personal pursuit by necessity.

PKD: Do you have any favorite poets or any who have influenced your work?


DB: Oh, so many! John Ashbery, Emily Dickinson, John Cage, Sylvia Plath, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Lorine Niedecker, John Berryman, and Kenneth Goldsmith…to name a few.

PKD: On average, how often a week do you write?


DB: I write every day. I don’t really have a time I force myself to sit down and write. I do the majority of my early writing and notes on my phone in a document called “The Epic.” It’s filled with snippets I hear throughout the day: ads, conversations, television, you name it. When I add to it, if I have time, I look through it and mix the phrases around. If something sparks in some way, I stick them together in the document. During one of these junctures it will turn into a fully-formed idea and I really “get in the zone” of writing. That’s when a real poem is created for me, but it’s difficult to quantify. Perhaps 2-5 times per week on average I complete a poem this way. 

PKD: Where does most of your inspiration come from?


DB: Most of it comes from other poetry and philosophy. I read and study poems and poetry every day, and most of my inspiration comes just from that. Imitating the poets I consider the best is a great jumping-off point.
The Poet & his pet

PKD: Tells us about some of your published work.


DB: I am an unsharpened pencil in this bag. I have ten poems published online, nothing in print. But I have only begun to focus on this recently; most of these publications are from the previous three months. 

PKD: Do you feel that the advancement of the internet has made it harder or easier for poets’ voices to be heard? Has the internet helped you to grow in exposure? 


DB: I see this going both ways. I have seen people in other countries that had no way to get their voice out before the internet. Many of them are hungriest poets to learn, in my experience. Beyond social media, though, submitting to many literary journals has become beautifully streamlined. For me, the greatest boon to my writing has been the free online courses and videos. Free online courses such as Penn State’s “ModPo” course are treasure troves. Like anything else, the internet is as useful as the user makes it.

PKD: What is your favorite poem of yours and why?


DB: I’m so self-deprecating about my work that I’m not sure I could really pick one. “Manifesto of Exposure” was intensely personal for me, but I wrote it more for myself than for anyone’s understanding. “The Drive” is my longest, most philosophical, and probably easiest to understand poem.

PKD: Do you have any upcoming releases or current projects that you are working on?


DB: I am currently awaiting online publication of three poems in Indiana Voice Journal’s May issue. My first print publication will soon be in Five 2 One Magazine. “The Drive,” which I mentioned before, has been published online by Walking Is Still Honest Press on April 29th.

PKD: Lastly, do you have any words of advice or wisdom for new poets? 


DB: You will hear the best advice over and over: Read a lot, and write a lot. Do them both every day, whether you have time or not. Otherwise, train yourself to always be “on” for inspiration. If William Carlos Williams can write about a broken piece of glass and Gertrude Stein can write about a carafe, then you can write about anything. Creativity resides within solving a problem. Set limits on what you allow yourself to do in poem, and you’ll be surprised how creative that restraint makes you. Flip the old clichés on their heads. Everyone has used a rose to describe love…what has nobody used to describe it? What has nobody done before? Push the rules until they almost break. Don’t be afraid to make people question what poetry is and what it can do. And pay attention to every detail of your poetry. It is more important in poetry to have a reason for every detail and decision than in any other art form.
You can check out more of David’s work on his Facebook page: