Dear Poetry Book Inside Flap Writer (poem)

I forgive you for being a pompous
Windbag and using words like “nexus”
That make us, and you, feel smarter
Than we are. I forgive you because
You’ve got to sell windy books
Somehow to equally windy people
And breezily walk the edge of
Overblowing it without, oops, I
Overblew it! You had to prevent us
Muffy and Buffy poetry reader
Types from seeing too much of
Ourselves at that blustery
“Nexus” of blew and blow
And putting the book down
And closing our handbag flaps
And whistling as we walk away.

-M. Ashley

A Drink with Houdini (poem)

My wine glass is a coffee mug
with handsome Houdini painted on,
tied up, cuffed, dipped upside
down in cold water. He’s got a face
like he’s sure he’ll get free, like
if he doesn’t, he’s sure he’s at least
immortal enough to be reborn one day
on a mug in the next millennium.

Houdini’s wine mug is tricky.
You pour the cheap stuff in
behind the antique-colored, faux
posters, and the wiry escapist
slips his bonds without a twitch.

Or, to be more accurate,
the bonds slip him. The handcuffs
disappear, the straight jacket undoes,
the lung-crushing water drains
into the polished black scrim
that works the inside of the cup,
into the pulse-lulling red
that sloshes behind it.

The bonds dissipate, almost,
and slink their way down my esophagus—
a rain of deconstructive intoxicants
to ensnare the presto hands
and abracadabra body
of the guilt I carry, at the bottom

-M. Ashley

Bliss in the Butter Keeper (poem)

I’ve had almonds today and chocolate and
dried cranberries and French press coffee
and a bit of a ham sandwich and real butter
on real bread. All signs point to the blissful Elsewhere
being right here in my cabinet with the chocolate

and nuts. Swimming around in the French
press before being all smashed to bitter
oil and wakefulness. Shivering in the fridge in
an off-brand baggie. Baked in an industrial oven.
Treading lukewarm water in the blue
porcelain butter keeper.

-M. Ashley

NaPoWriMo: We Prostitutes

We don’t look down on
each other here. This one forced
this one willing, this one forced
by force, this one forced by
circumstances, this one forced

and not knowing it, thinking that she,
in her non-stripper shoes, in control of
the chess board, receiving presents
is above it.

We all cry into the same
sweaty pillows.

-M. Ashley

NaPoWriMo: I Am an Albino

Unrequited lover of the light
Longing for west and east facing
Curtain-less windows wide open

But built to be shy of the light
Take it all in unrestricted
Get sick from it

My skin cancers
I faint
My iris-less eyes
Twitch in pain

God comforted me once
He said, “Perhaps the light
Is maladapted—not you
Nor your love of it.”

-M. Ashley

Photo Poetry: I Must Burn

Arrogance reaching
back a hollow throat

tells Her the gifts
you gave me

good enough.

The path you
laid too

The dark you

made to lathe
my wounds in

too soft.

Give me
the sun.

I must blister.
I must burn.

Photo Prompt: Your Dark Side

I had fun with this one. I used a fish eye lens—my first successful experience with that. I played with the color a little in processing, but most of that is the natural light that comes in my office through the dark pink drapes.

I did a lot of selfies first, (the one below I like a lot), and I seemed to get a good bead on “depression” which is certainly a darker side of me, but I think the sad arrogance I got in the first photo is far more on point when it comes to personal darkness.

Sort of weird to start the year on the dark side, but I can say the bright side it exposes is knowing that even though I am low vision, I can find fun and creative expression in photography that is meaningful to me. May your 2021 be marvelous and full of opportunities to let your creative light shine.