Monday, December 16, 2019


Monday sun poured into my bedroom,
work drunk and lonely eyed.
It pushed me toward a cup of coffee
to wash the poems from my tongue.

There’s nothing new in repetition,
grand in same old thing, crows have murder,
humans a nest of spines.
One step forward leaves you ten steps behind.

I walk three blocks to meet the devil at the bus stop
spinning lies through fingerprinted screens.
I feel alone in shoulder to shoulder, body heat
that leaves me cold.

Another week to empty my wallet into the hand
of more is mine.

Silence has no honor. Anger has its price.
I feel a question touch my shoulder.
Are you going to stand or keep your seat?

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Friday, December 13, 2019

The Raven You No Longer Silence

Does it burn, my dear? Does it trouble you
I have become the ink breeding scars
in the starless hours you can’t escape?

You were the cat who owned my tongue,
forced me to live by fist and bruise,
prowl night for one sip of light.

It isn’t pretty when chains break into truth,
when daylight burns away the shroud of threat.

Today is the future you thought would never come.
I have found wings; feel the wind of blue sky.

The irony is the cage you thought would always hold me
is now yours to pace and defend with teeth that no longer have claws.  

©Susie Clevenger 2019

The first line of my poem " Does it burn my dear? Does it trouble you" is from Kerry O'Conner's poem Firefly  I had several conversations about abuse this week, and when I read that line all those conversations began to mold into a poem. 

Saturday, December 7, 2019

The Darkness in Light

Pharos ~ The Lighthouse
Kerry O'Connor
Used With Permission

Her gnarled light holds
the passage of dreams,
the last words of water
lullabies sung to souls
who trusted the sea
wouldn’t betray them.

In her catacomb of candles
ghosts climb stairs of wailing threads
searching for the key of gods
to free them from the breast of stones
that makes them hunt fog to deliver death.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Pilling (If only Risperidone was a Greek Goddess)

I woke this morning
with lemons on my tongue
and groans gurgling
in the pit of my brain.

How I wish I could remain
in sleep’s nightmare that
doesn’t require a pill
to keep me on the fringe
of normal.

My warden rests on its glass shelf
demanding I open the lid of my cage
and swallow the chain to hold
me to chemical sanity.

I argue the cinnamon elocution
of tempered mania robs me
of artistry, but the order of things
requires I swim with the tide.

Rebellion waits at Nyx-door
like the sheathed claws of a cat
waiting to shred perceptions
wild things can ever be tamed.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

A delicious list of words provided for poetic inspiration:
onyx,  groan, lemon, sticks, elocution, shelves, cinnamon, Twix, risperidone,
Nyx-door, warden, plunge, esthesis

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Woke Up Change

Photograph: Sarolta Ban

Oh, don’t play that song,
a bluesy never grow tune.

My roots are deep, earthy bold.
I’ve sung duets with eternity,
written music with stardust.

I can grow a family from a seed,
hold communion with wild things,
stitch a quilt with sun thread and dry leaves.

You thought I would die because you cut me,
surrender to dust because you burned me,
but all you did was wake up change.

I’ll be life when you are empty,
breath when you can’t breathe,
grow when you’re dying in your words.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Friday, November 1, 2019

Crisp Counsel

Jason Limberg
Used With Permission

Moon blood and urges
is the tea to create enemies.

In the cold season of heat
nothing matters but winning.

Be warned… Kinship won’t
keep me from bringing war.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Butterflies and Bullies

I sleep wide awake between
butterflies and bullies
counting sheep morphed into tribes.

With the new social of antisocial
agree is God and truth is the devil
when it survives the river of lies.

Mining hope from empty, finding
beauty in bare, I fly what could be
instead of a sky polluted with dead air.

In the If Not Now Then When,
The Gray of Blind, even a flicker of peace
can feed a spirit who faces another mountain to climb.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Friday, October 25, 2019

Nigrum Somnium Dicat

I use a spoonful of light to feed my darkness,
bits of glitter to bedazzle dread.

In the hollow of abandoned I place my ribs,
drink dust of tears, spin fantasies in my head.

Fear has a scent my nose can detect,
cloying ammonia, musty stench of deflect.

Like it or not I know what you fear.
I’m the whisper sting stalking your ear.

Lilies bloom in shallow breath,
graying skin, cackling death.

The candle wick will make shadows larger,
conjure secrets, burn lies through your armor.

I’m the nightmare ruling your dreams,
burning your peace, courting your screams.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

It is October so my mythical twist is pure Halloween.

Sunday, October 20, 2019


The Architect by Erik Johansson

I draw myself inside out,
the living me uncovered,
uncensored, rooms full of gems
and rotten fruit.

Vulnerable tastes like cheap wine,
the kind that gives indigestion,
a false bravado too drunk
to weigh consequences.

I am of wild dreams, foul words,
heart bleed, civil war between
night monsters and forgiveness,
and a mind that sleeps but never rests.

This blood letting of black ink collects
on white pages, spills around my feet
in an origami hell of crushing frustration.

I don’t know where I will stand after demolition,
when buzzards circle to pluck truth into rumor.
Freedom will leave scars, friends will try to rebirth me
to fit into their acceptance and enemies will gold eye glee.

I am done carrying weight, reorganizing my crazy,
dancing to the tune of suggestions I get over
what I am working through… I am doing all I can
to stand up while falling.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2019

Dedicated to those who struggle with depression.

Monday, September 30, 2019

Hope Rises From Coal

Black lung words
hung on daddy’s tongue
pulling me from coal
on the white wing hope
I’d see a better day.

He said the devil paints
rainbows with pills,
but lies stain your body blue
until brown dirt coffins your bones.

Son, I’ve been living gray shadows,
but tomorrow is bright yellow with sun.
Don’t be stuck where midnight owns
the valley… tie your shoelaces and run.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Friday, September 6, 2019

Mulier Tenaces


Born rebel with my own ribs I stitched
every truth I captured with my teeth
to my womb song of feminism.

Not every fang is poison or every scripture truth.
A serpent opened my eyes when words spoke blindness.
Scales weigh the lies on a tongue.

Spin me wild and wild I’ll be…Tenacity of Freedom…

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Real Toads ~ Art Flash/55

Monday, September 2, 2019

Flying Without Wings

Familiar hands press into my shoulders.
So many memories pulse through palms
warming my skin negating distance
with their intimacy…the calm before terror.

There’s euphoria in the free fall, the weightless
sense of air and sky mixing with adrenaline.
It’s where I’ll land that pulls screams from my throat.

Judgement, the patient bitch, steals the last rose
from my cheeks and pushes its thorns into my bones.
How many pieces of my shell can be glued into resurrection?

“Officer, I told him he shouldn’t sit on the ledge,
but he insisted. He wanted to recreate the photo
I took of him on our first date.”

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Melinoe's Carnival

Fragments of black and white
float through my dreams 
erasing color until my eyes
are an empty house of blue.

On a monochrome sea I beg
for moonlight, but the only
concession is flickers of gray.

In the distance I hear the insistent
notes of an alarm clock knife
the shroud I’m pillowed in. 

Paralyzed, I beg the sun to free me
from Melinoe’s shape-shifting
carnival of ghosts dancing my fears
closer to madness.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

This was inspired by two challenges, the photo from The Sunday Muse, and the prompt at Real Toads.
For Real Toads I chose Get Listed With Grapeling, May 7, 2015  Words I chose from the list for the poem are: fragment, empty, house, sea, and knife. ( Melonie is the Greek goddess of ghosts/nightmares.)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sin Washing

Water can be ugly when you sorrow.
Water can be cruel when you lie.
Water can save you, if you’re
honest with your cry.

Confessed my guilt to the river,
poured tears in muddy waves.

Mixed heartbreak with the flood,
begged mercy for bringing blood.
Sullen river took me under
only to pull me back up.

Water sat on my tongue…Water pooled in my eyes.
Water went deep in my spirit to tell me
it was my time to thrive.

I didn’t need a Bible…I didn’t need a priest.
Took my sins to the river and muddy water brought release.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Friday, August 16, 2019

American Predators

Time Lapse Photography of Road

The dark half of the narrows,
the space where fair game
is the sick definition of
the secrets men keep,
predators play dead.

In a black wind strike the brethren
of skin trade resurrect from shadows
to chain innocence to horror.

Along the edge of America true evil
shape-shifts through penthouse to city street
growing wealth from a graveyard of fallen angels.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

These are the book titles I chose from Margaret's list to create my poem:

True Evil 
The Dark Half
Fair Game
Play Dead
Skin Trade
The Secrets Men Keep
Black Wind
The Narrows
Fallen Angels
Along the Edge of America

Monday, August 12, 2019

Straddling the Divide

I sit astride
an emotional fence
trying to stay me
in a war of words
no one can win.

In red white and blue America
bruising is the new normal.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Real Toads ~ Just One Word: Halved

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Storm in My Muse ~ Four American Sentences

Thunder vibrates my window, I sort through poetry books
to respond.

The gravel in my throat tastes like fear regurgitated from the moon.

It’s hard to write about rainbows when all your ink is black fading to gray.

Hail stones harass oak leaves until they surrender to the stone toss.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Wednesday Muse: American Sentence

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Incarceration of Glitter

Photographer: Cole Keister

He likes her wrapped
around his arm…
a glitter trinket to insure
he’s got the flash  to attract
a murder of paparazzi.

She smiles through
the snap storm praying
someone will hear the
scream in her eyes.

A cage is a cage...
Whether gold or steel,
it jails broken wings.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2019

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Born From Feathers

Chernobog and Belobog
Used With Permission

There was nothing before wings
but empty sky and solemn earth.

Unity grew from light and dark
until life feathered its way into being.

All was well until humans sprang
from dust to claim color.

In the senseless swagger tongue
of dominion the gift of Gods
became the battlefield of religions.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

The art is the work of Russian artist, Anarh1a. You can explore more of her art work on Instagram: @anarh1a

Monday, June 24, 2019

Sass Comes in Waves

Photo Artistry by Erik Johansson Master Photo-manipulation Artist

I’ll carry my bucket of tears
to the beach so I can bury his name
in the hottest part of August.

There’s always a blues song
splashing against the sky
where water dances in sighs.

Not everything’s ugly in the moan,
sass comes in waves to drop
a little hell in the spray so
the dead of night won’t be lonely.

Misery loves harmony, but
she won't like it when
I won’t let her sing the chorus.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Now Is Not the Time for Silence

I will not be a pawn
in a parade of penis’s,
or submit because
a book of men
arrowed me to an apple.

How bitter must a woman’s
heart become that she would
wound her gender to please
the dark eye of patriarchy?

I am a woman, mother of life,
and daughter of Mother Earth.
The man who walks with me
does not brag of ribs or dominance.
He values my strength and compassion,
and sits with me at the table of wisdom
so we may support one another
in love, life, and accord.

Now is not the time for silence.
If we don’t speak for ourselves,
who do you think will?
Women and men who love us
and support our equality know
when oppression is given free reign
it won’t stop at gender.

If freedom is given only to a few,
it isn’t freedom. Tomorrow
depends on today. May we rise
to build a world where our children
won’t suffer from our failure.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Saturday, June 8, 2019

When the Ladder Has No Rungs

The water is muddy
and prayers make no sound.
Dying feels easy when
the world is saying drown.

Oh, where is mercy?
Where are dreams
when blaming owns tongues?
Too little is too late
when the ladder has no rungs.

It’s hard treading muddy water
with a sin tag on your shoulder.
Dying feels easy when
the world is saying drown.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Today I had a conversation with a young woman on a Facebook comment. I didn't know her, but she responded to my comment about being a recovering Southern Baptist. Her words broke my heart. 

These are her words:  "I was on the wrong side of being Southern Baptist. They don't take too kindly to us gays, lol. But for real, growing up gay in a Southern Baptist church was traumatic.
I STILL consider suicide because I'm gay thanks to the shit my family says to me. Thanks to the shit "Christians" say to me. I LEGIT want to die because I'm gay. It's super lonely when you love people and a God that DON'T love you back." 

I told her I cared, because I do. You would have to be heartless to not feel the pain in her words. She will always have a place in my heart.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Mud and Blood

The calendar announced spring,
but the sky didn’t bring a bounty of green.

The heartland is mud and blood
loss and flood … amber waves unseeded.

In the valley of misery politics budgets war,
gives dimes to poor, and high fives the religion of division.

Even when the sky turns blue few notice the hue,
because they’re sorting through calamity fearing the next tragedy.

©Susie Clevenger 2019


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Denial Legislates

“A few of us are going out after work to pretend it’s not the end of the world,
if you want to join us.” Quote from New Yorker cartoon

There's a river in my kitchen,
swamp at my back door
(denial legislates - earth revolts).
If I can get government out of my uterus,
we can go out for a drink and ignore
our ice is straight outta Flint.

©Susie Clevenger 2019
For those who don't know, Flint, Michigan's water is dangerously polluted.

Real Toads ~ Poetic Irony

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Scarlet Gaslight

The Dystopian Tarot, The Lovers
Kerry O'Connor

Go ahead, tempt me.
I like to cross the scarlet line
apple stained with reasons
I shouldn’t dance with the devil.

Really? He was the snake
 who told me a tree was a gaslight
to fool me a book of ribs
wasn't already being planned
to write me into submission.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2019

Here is the link to Kerry O'Conner's Beautiful Art

Monday, April 29, 2019

Because You Scriptured Me

"I had a one-way ticket to a place where all the demons go
Where the wind don't change
And nothing in the ground can ever grow
No hope, just lies
And you're taught to cry into your pillow
But I survived"  Alive ~ Sia

When did the joy
of my heart become
your right to legislate?

I am counted among
those you’ve assigned
damnation because
a book of men scriptured
me vile.

Does ink and interpretation
mean more than life?

Does an attempt to break me
into your identity elevate
you in the eyes of God
or is it the throne of men
you cherish?

Will you deny mine
so your pulpit can
espouse yours?

©Susie Clevenger 2019


This poem is my response to Texas Senate Bill 17 recently approved by the Texas senate. This is personal for me. It effects family and friends. I understand if you have a different opinion, but I will not debate it. 

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Devil's Comedy

The forest floor sprouts angel wings:
the devil's attempt at comedy.

©Susie Clevenger 2019


Supposedly edible/recent years deadly

Friday, April 26, 2019

When Text Meets Metal

My left leg looks
like bloated carrion,
a buzzard’s feast.

Healing from
another’s inattention
takes all my attention.

This morning begins
with standing on agony
and sweet talking my groans
into believing today
will turn a corner to less pain.

Twice my leg has escaped
the knife, limped away
from sever to hold me
upright in my screams.

How far is a shoe?
How impossible is
a shoe lace?

Today my cane and I
have one goal…to reach
my front door.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

It is written in present tense, but it comes from my experience of rehabilitating from a car accident in 2006.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

A Headline East of Denver

We were a headline
east of Denver when
April joined us at the hip.

She was selling rain
by the bucket, and
bragging May
wouldn’t bloom
without her.

Two briefcases
closer to embracing
random we took
April’s hint and
curled into the
want ads to see
if Cupid had a condo
available next month.

©Susie Clevenger 2019

Friday, April 19, 2019

Maybe a Poet ~ More Likely Insane

I am a stargazer,
dreamer, word gatherer
who lives in ink and
the rustle of paper.

Pictures speak, grass sings,
and I feel the color blue
in a hand full of sky.

I spend hours on nothing
and minutes on everything.

You never know where I am
when I’m sitting next to you.
I could be in a chair or walking
on the moon.

©Susie Clevenger 2019


Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Flesh and Mind

She’s heavy breasted,
brash suggestion,
a silk war with his flesh...
a liar’s tongue preaching
salvation is sin.

Poems shape shift on her lips,
erotic stanzas burning resist
from roped muscles on his thighs.

There’s no escape in the blind
mirror of closed eyes…Her fingertips
paint tremors that erase every
image his mind holds that’s not her.

She’s ice skating him through hell
to see how long it will take
for his conscience to melt.

©Susie Clevenger 2019


Monday, April 15, 2019

Poetry As a Reality Check

(Not every April poem rains petals.)

Copy and paste,
share and not care,
spin a lie because
you choose to believe it.
Truth isn’t even on life support.

It doesn’t matter until you’re not free.
Twitter can’t save you when
your stomach’s empty, when
your child’s tummy swells
while limbs shrink.

Bitter widens the divide,
fingers point, tongues bait.
Anger’s the new religion,
humane’s no longer a word.

Wake up or die sleeping.
Kindness is shrinking
while rancor loosens its belt.

©Susie Clevenger 2019


Sunday, April 14, 2019

Any Weekend I Could Escape Gravel

Image result for cowtown ballroom kansas city mo

Joint high and music driven
Kansas City lights guided me
to the rock vibrations
of Cowtown Palace.

Thirty first and Gillham
was the hum lane of engines
seeking the golden calf
of guitar jubilation.

Wood and concrete supported
hip to hip drug angels absorbing
tunes through every pore of flesh
and brain wave that worshiped rhythm.

Any weekend I could escape gravel
I traveled asphalt to a Kansas City Ballroom
where in the crush of dancing bodies
I felt forever twenty-one.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2019


Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The Brave Side of The Pillow

The black heart of secrets
pressed into my young chest
and even a single breath of trust
had to travel miles of agony
to reach enough light to thrive.

When light left my windowsill
nightmares argued at the end
of my bed about which terror
would walk across my dreams.

I remember when the night voices
came to the brave side of my pillow,
and led me where shadows
had pretty colors and kind words.

Imagination tended my wounds
until it grew a name on my tongue
to address the tiny saviors who
lived in the valley of invisible.

Pillowkins, I called them Pillowkins,
dream warriors who giggled me
out of the jaws of a demon.

When nightmares clawed
my eyes into hollow,
my tiny army would
lead me to a place of peace
where the moon didn’t bleed
nor the fox stalk my throat
to see if truth was growing
strong enough to expose lies.

 ©Susie Clevenger 2019