Saturday, December 17, 2022

Sharp Edge of the Spoon


Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.
E. M. Forster

There was no spoon feeding life to me,
gentle nibbles from a mind set on
sugar coating there would be more
days of blackberry thorned hours than sweet pudding.

How does one speak of horror 
to a child who trusts fairytales
grow reality from glittered imaginations?

I learned so very young monsters 
don’t leave when a storybook presses
them between its pages…They stalk you
at dinner tables, in empty rooms,
within the sound of voices oblivious
to screams trapped in the cage of your throat.

In the oddity of breathing terror circumstances turned
me comedian, precocious child full of questions,
a crybaby at scratches while silent in the clutches
of a demon.

In the etiquette of spoons never judge
the one who doesn’t hold it correctly. 
She may be a survivor who’d rather
eat the soup than explain why she
doesn’t have an affinity for shallow silver.

©Susie Clevenger 2022

The Sunday Muse #240

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Chalk Lines in Lace


Her wedding feels like chalk lines
marking the demise of freedom.
Love is blind until all the pretty lace
expectations get torn into dreamer’s compost.
Conflated vanilla odes written about
‘til death do us part’ never mention
death can come with its coffin while
the heart still beats, or the spirit can starve
on the gruel of monotony.
Candor bites its tongue, worries words
into origami butterflies when it is the lone
voice of reason in the hymn notes of glitter.
Like an induced birth piano keys urge
her heels to walk an aisle she questions,
yet fears to deny because a day of assumptions
is so beautifully candlelit she doesn’t want to be its failure.
“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.”
― Oscar Wilde
 ©Susie Clevenger 2022



Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Angel of Sidon


She wears red, a match waiting
for the right kindling to turn
a cold room into a bonfire of heathens.

A wink, a blush, plump lips walking
the fine line between the blank spaces
of a hell fire sermon, she is the Jezebel
the pious curse, and the bold wanton
they never take to confession.

With splashes of jasmine holy water
she baptizes those strong enough
to relish their weakness, and teases
eyes to admit their obsession with curves.

While the choir sings blindly of light
they can’t feel, she collects the tarnished
notes of their hypocrisy, and rewrites
the blood song into Eve’s freedom from Eden.

©Susie Clevenger 2022

Thursday, November 10, 2022

A Fool’s Catalogue of Violets

Bitter violets rest in their purple sulking,
false blooms hoodwinking fools their pressed petals
will canonize lost lovers as priests of the heart.

Dead bookmarks lie in my journals in crumbled
graveyards of inane longing…a fool’s garden planted
amongst the inked witness to my instability. 

How does one become blind to devils yet dissect
the most tender by listing flaws as if beauty of the flesh
was the gold standard by which to judge a soul.

Were I a sin eater I would be fat on my own misjudgments.
Nonsense argues a kiss can turn a toad into a prince…
What dignity is there in bargaining with fairytales?

I am an assassin, a rusted knife cutting spirits
into black valentines because I cannot bend
the strong into my weakness.

Romance, I hunger more for the idea than the truth
a candle only gives light when there is a flame.
Fantasy has no power to reincarnate reality from ashes. 

©Susie Clevenger 2022

This poem was inspired by Shay's word list and the occassional junk food novels I consume. 

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Silk Tongue Order of Discord


She is queen bitch,
a dark storyteller who
plucks words from
a coffee-stained alphabet
that makes pretty sound
like it has fangs and crows are
lullaby saints of midnight cradles.

A poised midwife of birthing mordacity
she sings mockingbird hymns
to narcissists whose self-absorption
has no skill in the discernment of mockery.

Sister Eris, of the Silk Tongue Order of Discord,
has a pharmacy of ironic elixirs, drivel of headlines,
and bombastic bloat, to anethestize sheep
so they will remain oblivious their promised future
is being built from recycled failure of the past.

©Susie Clevenger 2022

Shay's Word Garden List ~ Susie Clevenger

Monday, October 24, 2022

Vanity Hounds Me


Photo by Brooke Shaden

“Vanity is becoming a nuisance, I can see why women give it up, eventually.
 But I'm not ready for that yet.” ― Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye

 A mirror doesn’t accuse. 
It is I who cuts myself
into a thousand miseries.

I am pottery painted
by every word I pull
through the glass.

An aged vessel, I search for flaws,
dividing myself by scars, and
yesterday’s photos…
a seeker of lost ignoring found.

Gratitude prods me to look
deeper than vanity’s gnawing hound,
but I’m too human to not wish
the calendar wasn’t turning me
into a dried apple. 

©Susie Clevenger 2022

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Dandelion Saviors for the Starry Eyed


They sit on Chicago
stairsteps like pretty
trinket jars waiting
to be stolen or broken
into a thousand sorrows.
Little girls of Edison Park,
glitter roses, who have
only read the book of innocence
where wolves are tame,
and costumes don’t have
pockets filled with dark riddles,
imagine castles and gardens,
not abandoned brownstones
painted with the shadows of weeds.
Life is a grizzly bitch who teases
with ribbons and shatterproof dreams,
but carries a loaded tongue to turn
bright eyes into empty light sockets
when stars don’t fall in answered wishes.
Yet where the blackened chewing gum
mars the concrete sparkle there are angels
who carry candles for the moonless youth
who’ve been torn from fairytales.
Mentors of the psyche who have lived
their own errors open their books
of misspent and share with the anxious,
life is a tattered shirt that will take patience to mend.
 ©Susie Clevenger 2022


Wednesday, October 12, 2022

The Stinging Inside Out of Newspaper Eyes

I didn’t think fear
had a rosary, but 
it pearls its dark prayers
across my skull leaving
grooves of cat scratch voices.

Insanity’s camera pours
its coffee-stained images
into my newspaper eyes
forcing me to read the
unseen as reality.

Pulled into the stinging inside out
I plead with the voices in my head
to not venture beyond my tongue,
to not build houses in my throat
of rotten words or toss baseballs
stitched with the foul thread of my delusions.

I’m a foreigner without a passport to normal,
a buzz kill’s humpty dumpty glued into broken,
workmen’s failed attempt to build on
rain puddle sand a chair that can hold
the weight of all the “me’s” that roam
the birdcage bus in my head
where everything enters, but nothing escapes. 

©Susie Clevenger 2022

It's that time of year when October pulls me through dark ink. 

Thank you Shay for your word list!

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Banging Cup of Helter Skelter


“Chess is the gymnasium of the mind.” – Blaise Pascal

 Insanity is a cell,
a blind man’s bars
where thoughts
play with freedom,
but a key doesn’t fit the lock.

Who am I if not, where’s beyond
if a cage holds what it won’t free?
Days wither on the throat of a scream.
I hear what can’t be seen…See what can’t be heard.

Climbing out in the center of falling in
I play a black chessboard dressed
as a blood thorn queen.

Helter skelter, neither here nor there,
what falls rarely finds up.
Riddles and swirls, answers that can’t find questions.
I’m there but not here…Gone but never leave.

I’m a ghost that breathes, skeleton without bones,
a mind that searches, a searcher who never finds.
I fish for reality without bait or hook. 

©Susie Clevenger 2022

Friday, September 9, 2022

Symbols and Such


In the bizarre ritual
of dividing self
between reality
and gingerbread expectations
of love, I walk the island 
of my watch trusting
a vase of ecstasies 
filled with lilacs and peonies
(symbols and such)
will woo romance
to my door before time
robs them of their blush.

With all the romanticizing of romantic
there must be a tall, handsome (malleable)
male roaming his soul to find words
to proclaim (feebly) of his heart’s loyalty
to all things me.

Surely the astigmatism of a besotted eye
would find me so irresistible my kitchen 
of herbs and bones would not offend.

There are islands of letters I’ve collected
from the fallible inklings of masculine absurd
who think their bodies are Eve’s wonderland,
a place where submission would be my blessing.

Of course, no man is an island. 
He prefers a skulk where he can
thump and bluster he has the 
prowess to own any vixen he desires.

Oh, who would believe I’m a fainting goat
lying prone in dreams of Prince Charming.
Springes line my sidewalk to trap egos
silly enough to think a wink and muscle flex
are enough to reduce me to shivers of surrender.

I am a black widow of various talents who knows
how to protect her web from the dissection 
of her spirit to accept less to parade a perception of more.

©Susie Clevenger 2022

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Fighting for Balance


Mother Earth clings
to the throat of a chinaberry
praying she has enough hope
to escape the malevolence of humans.
Forced into a dying cocoon
she summons lightening
to ignite the wings of a phoenix
to bring resurrection from
the wreckage of failed dominion.
Lessons never learned; trust never earned
leave acid fingerprints of war and greed
on Mother Earth’s womb while she begs for salvation.

©Susie Clevenger 2022

The chinaberry tree symbolizes the balance between good and evil. It inspires us to find the right balance in life.

Monday, August 22, 2022

Black and Blue


I am more than a dress,
a blues song you clothe me in
so your darkness won’t feel
as heavy as your tongue.
Where there’s bone there’s wings.
I can fly a sky of notes you can’t write
because freedom is a place in me
you can’t find.
Will and weather, cloud and feather,
what you think you hold isn’t even in your hands.
This black and blue bird is a sister of crows.
When the spirit says go, a murder will grow.
©Susie Clevenger 2022

Sunday, July 24, 2022

From My Throne of Abandoned


“She says she glories in being abandoned”

― J. M. Barrie

 I am the once was,

the seat of forgotten

where lost dreams

are mice infested memories.


In my bones questions

pierce the eyes of those

brazen enough to walk

the spine of my decay.


From my urban throne

of abandoned the voices

of my remains crawl faded

wallpaper into the ear of fear

or into imagination that thinks

it can speak my unknown tongue.


My days tick toward an eraser,

urban lust to claim what it can never own.

When  my heart is the carrion eaten

by steel jaws, my dust delivered to

a toxic grave, my spirit will remain

where it was first planted.

I’ll be the dandelion in rosy,

the chill no one can explain.


 ©Susie Clevenger 2022

The Sunday Muse #220

I was feeing gothic today.



Sunday, June 12, 2022

Black Crow of the Highest Disorder


Her eyes are ice water and hell.

a devil’s handmaid dressed in her

bleakest Sunday best to pass judgement

as if it was holy sacrament.


A black crow of the highest disorder.

she carry’s her book of gossip straight

to the altar and opens her tongue

to foul every prayer.


It is what it is, but never should be.

A thousand hymns can’t be unsung

or sermons lead when there’s no reason to follow.

Her tar feathers can’t teach anyone how to fly.


©Susie Clevenger 2022

The Sunday Muse #214

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Crawling Across Jell-O


Fear salts wounds

knifed by zealots

who march in factory

parades of cloned

tongued pushers

of caustic positivity.


There are times

the rosy picture

can’t and shouldn’t

remain framed

on a face that

only wants to fall

into the snotty

blabbering of broken.


Strong doesn’t mean

you can always stand,

never doubt, never question.

It is feeling your knees give out,

the taste of bile, weary raging curses

at the rain of agony storming

through your spirit…It is crawling

across Jell-o circumstances

trying to breathe your way

into the next hour.

©Susie Clevenger 2022

 Shay's Word Garden Word List #7

It has been a long three weeks of agony with my oldest daughter's new health emergency and it continues. Poetry is my journal, so this is a page from mine.