#NaPoWriMo – Day 19: “Kindred: A Sequence of Dreams”

kindredPhoto by Me



Kindred: A Sequence of Dreams // by Jennifer Patino




there is no end to this tunnel

I’m calling it a tunnel because that’s how I see here


when I last saw my grandmother I swore she was smaller than me

she’s a giant here

she towers over me


in her hand is a scepter made of bee stings

she tells me she tried to pass it off to my mother but she couldn’t hold it

my mother is allergic to bees


my mother is washing dishes in the kitchen in the Florida house

she is 35 years old

my youngest sister rests on her hip,

my other younger sister has surely run away again,

and 15-year-old me watches from the table


it’s littered with history homework and I’ll never understand

why people can’t learn from their horrid mistakes


I look around for my little brother and I know I’m losing him

I look around the kitchen again and I think that everything,

including the peeling wallpaper, is a horrid mistake




when I wake up I’m nearly 35


I start to worry about where the kids are but then I remember

that my mother and I are not the same

she bore and bears what I’m deemed unable to


my skin is covered in puncture wounds

queen bee venom courses through my tiny veins





father hoards all his memories in a tool shed in the backyard

we are not allowed in there and he scares us away from even trying to enter

by horror stories of the vermin that lurk in the tall grass leading to it,

and the creeping and crawling things that will surely fall on our heads

the moment we open the rusted door


he hides dreams in there too


behind the coffee cans filled with bolts, nuts, screws, nails that are near dust,
mason jars of milk teeth, filthy empty boxes of appliances from the early 80s
with faded pictures on the outside of what they once stored–


I only saw them in boxes during moves
and Christmases
so maybe they’re filled with something else no one but he can understand


–treasured within all that,
there’s a pile of shed snakeskin
he swears he’ll make a belt out of one day

there are so many mixed CDs he’s made to put in his future recording studio

there are odds and ends, car parts, wooden shutters, things that probably can’t be fixed anymore
but my father believes

he believes he’ll get to it all some day


someday someone will have to go through all of that
but no one wants to think about it





my mother and I have the same dreams sometimes

I wonder if we see each other in the same one but don’t remember


I also wonder if too much time has passed between the last time I saw my loved ones

and the next time I will see them so if I wave to them

on whatever celestial plane we end up together on

would they even recognize me?


I hear my mother and grandmother in the same voice telling me

that the soul always knows





my sister just got home from work and I’m laying on her couch

the room looks different

this house looks different


this is how I know this dream hasn’t happened yet


she’s telling me about a raffle

she says the prizes are lame


I’m nodding over paperwork


in dreams and in waking life

I am always drowning in paperwork

that I can’t read


a curly haired girl who I swear is my youngest sister

played by a famous Hollywood child

whose name I can’t place

toddles into the room

and wants to know what I’m doing


I call her by my youngest sister’s name and she responds


my other sister rolls her eyes in the background

while she rifles through junk mail


I can hear my mother calling offstage

that the macaroni is done


my father is ringing the old gold dinner bell

and my brother may or may not be in the emergency room


if shared dreams are to be trusted
then we’ll never need phone calls
to tell us what happens and we’ll
never need a book to tell us that
addiction is a kind of infection


my mother and my grandmother say in the same voice:

“we already know”





I stand in the middle of a room full of mirrors
grabbing fistfuls of ravens

somewhere a phone is ringing
like an angry hive

this isn’t a nightmare anymore
so I should definitely fear answering it


I have been anointed with a crown of honey–
the blood, sweat, and tears of my family

I am the last to hang up
and let go of the line

the last to be told
that I woke up a long time ago





#NaPoWriMo – Day 18: “You’re the Only One I’ve Told This To”




You’re the Only One I’ve Told This To // by Jennifer Patino


You told me my every day voice sounds different,
and it’s because it’s actually mine

For once, I took a shoulda and
made a “would you look at that”

I was heard this time, not just
background music,   or a surface scene track

So when you decided to write off my sophomoric soliloquies,
you crumbled the last best year of my life

to the dust and dirt,          where my Gram went
that summer when I returned barely speaking

I wrote barely skimming my grief,   and my
escape routes, my admitted defeat

I wrote constantly with you in mind,   I sang
all the songs you requested

I took all of your recommendations to heart,
so now is not the time to start aiming

suggestions scaled to fit you at me;
We live in a world where comments are over-encouraged,

sour honey sentiments
and poisonous passive aggressive barbs

No blockade can make you un-see,
and no dull blade will make you un-feel

No, you are not going to un-hear me
here in this pixelated Paradise,

in this high-speed Hell            You will
make sure I spill it all like rose oil,

You will sniff toxic LA air in so deeply
to try and cover up the sickly, sweet smell
of my decaying truth





#NaPoWriMo – Day 17: “Storm Signal”




Storm Signal // by Jennifer Patino


I am impaired
by a newcomer’s eyes, sunken emerald treasures.

I clutch a choked bubble
of fresh air, a pearl-lined pocket of life,

in the center of my throat.
Clarions blare in my heart,

but I choose not to run.
You are both angelic & terrifying.

Clouds circle overhead & I
think of the meaning of ‘uncanny’.


                                   They are lions,
these storm clouds.  I feel hunted.


You start to speak,
& there is no thunder in your voice.

My knees feel the ground give way.
My stomach turns to raindrops,

but I am shocked to be so soothed.
I cave in.  My head wraps

around your words
that you spill with such ease.

Yes, I’d like shelter.
Yes, I’m alright with taking your hand.

You make me feel human.
I can taste the puddles

cooling on the pave in the sunlight
already.  If there is a rainbow

spanning the fickle sky after
this spastic storm, then I will be sure

that this is the moment I fell in love.
If not, we will drift apart, & this day will be buried.

I hear a pearl drop.  A bubble
pops, & pride retreats as you lead me safely away.





#NaPoWriMo – Day 16: “Ennui”



Ennui // by Jennifer Patino


The fierce energy of the wind has left me

In its mighty wake,
I am in a state of hypnagagia

My flesh is wood that cannot be bent
yet my mind is workable clay
being shaped by disconsolation


I appear to be involved

It is stoic engagement,
an automatic arrangement

I exist within a sphere
of massive physicality
yet I feel superfluous


I am the sun at its peak

It seems so stagnant
as it projects its luster

My lackadaisical passions
are scalded away in a cleansing blaze
while I wither in tedium





#NaPoWriMo – Day 15: “When It’s All No Longer Recognizable”




When It’s All No Longer Recognizable // by Jennifer Patino


I’d miss love poetry,
the powwow singers
making their voices
sound like echoes
reaching out
to the beginning
of every beginning

The love poetry
of arms around me
when I got separated
from my family
& almost ended up
on a ferry to Canada,
but I was steered back home

All the young love poetry
I treated like
an intangible topic,
refusing to write about it,
even though I felt it
in every favorite childhood memory
that boy on the pier shared with me

The kind of love poetry that comes from
a sparkle in a father’s eyes
when he’s looking at his daughter
for the first time;         I’m
now a woman, & he’s missed
so much, but neither of us notices

The romantic love poetry in
every wedding anniversary,
every good night kiss,
every rainfall on a hot day,
everything I was courageous enough to say
before it was too late,

That love poetry,
that’s what I’d miss the most




Yay! Half way there! How is everyone doing? I feel like some days I’m losing steam, but if I just sit & think for a bit with a pen in my hand, something will eventually come for me. Or I’ll be reading an old piece & be inspired to make it better. 15 more poems to go for NaPoWriMo this year! 



#NaPoWriMo – Day 14: “The Plummet”




The Plummet // by Jennifer Patino


I’m trapped inside a vicious nightmare,
my own body a prison

How does one fight
something that exists
so deep inside?

To remove it
would mean to die
with lack of grace
like the rebel angels
when they fell

When they plummeted down to Earth
only to find
a new version
of a cyclic hell

Over and over,
and over again
choices echo
like whirlwinds

The only sound
answering back
is the howling
and the occasional
knock on the window
from a frightened
tree branch
that tried fruitlessly
to escape its master

The oak trunk
just outside
my battered window
stands tall,
stands proud,
stands strong,
stands its tilled ground

Its strength won’t let me go
no matter how
wicked the winds blow

Barely lucid & paled
are my eyes as they stare,

They find nothing there
but silence
as my innards sear and burn

Look closely and
you’ll see reflecting
off the orange lights, the turn
of my hallucinatory haze

A glimpse,
a shudder,
one gasp,
one tear

One minute turns in
to so many days

If this ship
is emptied,
with no one on board,
my ears will still hear
my own screams,
and the air
will still be
thick with suffering
you can cut through
with a sword

Pierce me now,
end it quick,
for the clocks tick
with every fluttering blink

The spectators choose
to stay blind,
they turn their heads
and count to ten

They pray for forgiveness
as I descend,

I am welcomed
by demons
disguised as men,
but a part of me remains,
surrounded by friends

Time stops,
it restarts,

and it will forever
begin again




* Author’s Note: Another revision today. This one was originally written in 2009 under a different title I wasn’t very happy with. This makes more sense & I have changed a lot of it. The added stanzas to the original give the poem more depth & I included more rhymes because it was losing its flow near the end. I remember exactly where I was when I wrote it along with the scene & the emotions I was trying to portray, & I believe I’ve done a better job articulating it now that I’m so far removed. I don’t even want to share the original here because it’s pretty awful! 😀 



#NaPoWriMo – Day 13:”Modus Operandi”




Modus Operandi // by Jennifer Patino


Graphomanic tendencies keep me away from the TV
where crime dramas blast incessantly

If you watch the same things long enough
they start to affect your dreams

Clues, alibis, and motives start to
infect everything

Not the gruesome details, or the
horrible descriptions, or the mild gore

None of that is bothersome, for
these blood-rimmed eyes have seen far more

It’s the paranoia, and the overactive imaginations,
the blatant omissions, the emotion-based accusations

These are what burrow into my pores,
these are what suck deep at my brain matter

Every murmur of voices I encounter
starts to sound like cop chatter

Still I can’t help but drift, I tune
into the ending, the unmasking

I intrude on a story at the
pivotal moment without asking

I write down every fictional
criminal’s name just in case
I run into them somewhere

I continue with my scribing,
the whole room is gasping and

sighing, the victim’s family on the screen
is wailing and crying

I was right about the outcome,
but I don’t care