August 27, 2009

Date Night Mad Lib

Hubby and I have been trying to make sure we have a date night each week, whether our little guy is home or staying overnight with his grandparents. Sometimes it's hard to agree on what to do and by the end of the day we're both so drained that the creative juices just aren't flowing. Wednesday night was no exception. Hubs asked what I wanted to do.

I sighed, "I want to lay down here," and proceeded to lay down on the living room floor. He laughed at me and eventually joined me. We talked for a while and kept trying to figure out something fun and special to do for date night. Out of desperation, I suggested mad-libs.

"What? We don't have any templates for mad libs," Hubby pointed out.

"No, not that kind. The kind where I say a word, then you say a word and we make up a story," I explained.

Hubby snickered and rolled his eyes, "That's stupid. Who have you played this with before?"

"Anyone and everyone!" I declared, defending myself. "OK, how about whoever speaks first?" This one he knew. I'd taught it to him before. He rolled his eyes again.

"OK, staring contest!" I demanded. When his eyes started going north again I blurted out, "It's either a staring contest or we're going to play that old joke where after everything I say you say 'pea soup!'" That did it. The staring contest was ON!

I lost, miserably.

After a few rounds of staring, I decided to take matters in my own hands. "Once," I started.

"What?" Hubby asked.

"Once..." I emphasized. After the third "ONCE," hubby caught on, and our mad lib began. Shortly after starting our story, amongst lots of giggles (and hubby starting to realize I'm really a genius and not stupid at all), I figured we should write this gem down. I didn't catch the beginning, but it really had nothing to do with the story. Something about a big balloon and a duck swimming in the sky.

So, without further ado, here is our lovely story:

The sky was blue that day, which made very much sense. There were a many ESL students flying in the lake which made very much sense. Some rocks were hovering over a meadow that had peculiar giant wasps. Today was a first for townsfolk. They usually eat onions, but today they had pee.

"Why do you insist on me serving you my urine every day?" Asked Maryanne.

The baker replied, "That seems like one more complaint. Didn't I tell everyone that these bunions must hurt?"

Off we rambled through a different list of previous complaints, which made the very little girl whine, "Don't complain anymore about anything!"

Next, a pink alligator wrangler wearing crocodile shorts shouted, "Come on you pansies! Let's forget about urine and think about something more palatable!"

So Mayor Rambunctious took the first drink he had within reach. "My goodness! I've never been as happy as clams and willing to talk about such smooth bubbly fizz. Who dares complain when urine tastes so amazingly rich?"

The old geezer to his south end glared threateningly. "You bastard! That wasn't your urine. I wanted my sisters to drink mixed urine, but you used the tail end of the cocktail.

The tail end is over.

~Mad Lib by E. M. Soos and J.D. Munns

Pooped from our mind boggling mad lib, hubby decided he needed a snack and asked me if I wanted anything.

"What are you going to have?" I asked.

"Chips, crackers, ice cream, yogurt," He began.

"You're going to eat ALL of those things?" I interrupted quizzically. "Chips, soda, crackers AND ice cream?"

"What? I thought you asked me what we have," He explained. "Besides, we don't have any soda."

"Or soda crackers," I pointed out wisely.

"But there might be baking soda in the crackers," Hubby guessed.

"I don't know, I've never made crackers before," I admitted, shrugging.

"Sure you have... Parker!" Hubby grinned.

"No, that's just ONE cracker." I laughed.

August 29, 2005

Roaming Mother

Cadbury eggs, chocolate with a creamy sugar
Her yolk opens and runs to
Each side, pouring over
And over and
This is how we cannot
Imagine our mother, a woman
Needing to break open that protective shell
Giving herself up to gravity, that primal pull.

We cannot notion her in the bathtub
rubbing her hands
Holistically, on that center of woman
Over and over she
Roams over to that desolate need,
Etches her foot in water.

by E. M. Soos

May 01, 2005


I watched as your thick fingers fumbled
with borrowed needle and thread. The button
was falling off your favorite DKNY shorts.
Determined to take care of it once and for all,
you sat on the bathroom floor with my sewing kit.
Unseasoned, you did not loop the thread; instead
you hand knotted the thread to the eye of the needle.
Brushing my teeth, I stopped myself from correcting,
watched from the mirrored reflection.
I almost laughed at your first couple of frustrated gasps
as needle met skin. The third one, however,
was enough to send those navy shorts flying.

Your shoulders shook violently as you folded in sobs.
I knelt down to hold you. Your head seemed small
in my hands - boyish - unlikely to cause such stress.
I sifted my fingers through your black threads,
willing the soft ties to sew backward, delicately
stitch up your twisting cavern, close off both ends
and entrances, keep anything else from escaping.
Your crying stopped and you left my side.
All I could do was pick up your shorts and start from scratch.
All I could save was your DKNY button.

by E. M. Soos

April 01, 2005

Morning Decision

I crawl into
my underwear drawer

A sock astray
silky disarray

Tuesday night's
granny chonies

A collection of sadness
with a random thong

I slip into a favorite
flower thing

An everyday comfort

by E. M. Soos

Approaching Summer

It's not a year for barbecues
rain rusted grill
no one wants to clean.
We'll make our usual instead.

The setting sun stripes
our balcony rails.
Pine needles sleep soundly.

I reminisce of horseshoes,
sand-filled toes,
the play we've set to rest.

It's not the sun-filled days
I long for, sitting here with you;
it's the peaceful thought of knowing
you'll reach another spring.

by E. M. Soos

January 02, 2005

Beneath the Tangled Fir

Following your cornfield eyes, spins of yarn
gold and green, I sit on pine needles
a sharp sting to your warm touch of tongue.
My skin sears easily. Too cold out
for clothes, let's keep our shoes on.
Give the squirrels something to laugh about.

by E. M. Soos

January 01, 2005

Morning Blanket, Soft Peach

sweet sauna, foam heat
redwood shower, salt lick
underneath you, sweltering
pulse slam, head first
wet glow, porous breath
follow you, follow me
mountain taste, raven holes
fisted grab, honeysuckle
lemon twist, tequila swarm
slide rush, skipping knees
exiting, entering
finger tongue, masquerade
hammer grind, butter melt
belly up, belly down
somersault, rope tie
cellular, spinning
muscle tight, loose skin
fire rush, smooth spasm
rolling over, swallow deep
bitter grass, dark earth.

by E. M. Soos

November 04, 2004


I climb curtain lengths,
maroon velvet soft. Shades
light, no cracks here. Hiding
nakedness from passing flies.

Reaching (always reaching) for the top
as if that were far enough,
long enough, close enough
to bring a smile to your face.

Still, I climb. One foot always
dangerously perched on the edge,
willing my ankle to twist
so that I'll accidentally fall.

by E. M. Soos


I could point you out on the riverbed
The only rock that hasn't changed
Cold, wet, hard, gray, unmovable.
Unmovable. I drift past you
Reduced to granite, stuck, glued
Wedged. I'll drift as long as I can.

by E. M. Soos

November 01, 2004

On This Island

He handled it with gloves
Dribbled water down, down.
I could count those drops backwards.
Hesitating, I swallowed the gray pill.
Never did know my life amounted to this much
The size of a raisin. I pull, and pull, and pull.
You will get smaller, carved down
To a pumpkin seed. Dried out
From flesh scooped away.
The gray dissolves in me.
You suck on it greedily.
I am the widow that killed her husband
This black veil won't stay on long.
The gray escapes me slowly
So slowly, an old limping man in disguise.
When he turns the corner, out of sight
He'll have taken you with him
And your hold on me.

by E. M. Soos

October 31, 2004

We Never Speak of Such Things

He reaches for your frown, tries to kiss
those lips, lime and sauerkraut.
You tug your head away, disgusted
at your own taste. He's still here
gathering shoestring potatoes
all the things you hate to eat.
He presents them to you, golden fried
a masterpiece of oil browned.
You do not politely nibble at the ends
nod your head in false amiability.
You pick them up in handfuls
throw them across the room.
He cut off a piece of his nose
for you, made the bump disappear.
He screwed his marrow on straight
tried to lure you back with skin.
Perhaps every time you look at him
his child is scraped out of you

by E. M. Soos

September 14, 2004

The Next Morning

Every time I fly I think, this is it. Something's gonna happen and I'm gonna die. Today. And when I finally land, I'm sick of living.

This time is no different. I'm flying towards death. A black flight attendant squeezes my shoulder. Her warm smell of clean vanilla sugar envelopes me, licks my sadness closed. When I smile into her eyes she knows. I don't know how she could, but she must sense it through those perfect red nails.

The moment ended sooner than a moment should. A red-haired man keeps glancing behind his seat, his eyes toward me. I pretend he's eyeing me. His right arm bracing the aisle seat is covered in a beautiful tattoo of reds and greens. I can't make out a shape, but I know it's for me and me alone, like his whole life he was searching for me, searching for the person for whom he'd endured such pain.

I'll never see him again, I know. It's better that way. I don't want to find out he kept looking for his friend behind me. Didn't even know I was there. Two more hours and I'll be there. If the plane starts hurtling down I think I'll run up the aisle and tell the red-haired boy that I'm his red and greens and can he please hold me in his arms forever?

by E. M. Soos

August 06, 2004


Friday afternoon, quiet in the office. Enough time to think, to write. My mind drifts in and out of poetry, stops to take my daily pill. Keeps me as sane as the world expects me to be. They say your thyroid is shaped like a butterfly. Funny, mine has wrapped itself in larvae. I ask myself once more, Why do I have this disease? How will my body end?

I stare at the clock on my desk, the secondhand climbs between 30 and 45 and slips back down to 30, still ticking. Up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up then down again, perpetually stuck in those fifteen seconds, while the other hands stay true to man's time. I wonder if I can fix it, wobble the battery. Nothing changes. I decide to leave it alone in its imperfection, not ask why or how.

by E. M. Soos

June 26, 2004

On the Bad Days

On the bad days
I paint my toenails red.
I enjoy the fantasy
(putting on)
My black party dress
On white tables.
My feet won't leave home.

On the bad days
I go to work crying.
Bury my scars in pink paper.
My high-heeled shoes
Sturdiest part about me.

On the bad days
I lay still.
Surround myself with green.
Afraid to stand, feel
Play dough muscles.

On the bad days
My body feasts.
My heart gives a toast
To my dying bladder.
I grin blue sequins
Dip my eyes in gray.

by E. M. Soos

May 05, 2004

The End

I feel death's
orange sweet breath
on my face, when
I breath out its
wish, I hope I fall
like a leaf, wither
to the ground, be stirred
up by the passing
cars, flutter back down
to rest, gracefully.

by E. M. Soos

March 01, 2004

A Blue Window

My those are long fingernails, he said
Plopping my hand on top of his head.
I kinda agree, I laughed with a wink
Dragging his old ass out to the sink.

He closed his eyes as I turned on the water
Amazing how much he looked like his father.
I ran the slimy shampoo into his hair
Grabbed onto a lane that wasn't there.

I rinsed and repeat, dared not to condition
My only rebellion in a world of tradition.
He sighed with a smile and clasped his hands
His legs swung limp, unused rubber bands.

I massaged his scalp for a minute or two
Traced his ear as a lover would do.
Before the moment passed, I memorized his face.
The next time I'd see it, it'd be covered in lace.

by E. M. Soos

February 01, 2004

Every Morning

My dreams are filled with a face
A man I've laughed with before.
His eyes stuck to his feet.
He won't go down like a rabid dog.

I long to touch his lips like water
Relieve his thirst for something
Anything. Me, maybe.
I watch his hands instead.

I want those fingers, cracked and bleeding
To soak in my lotion heart
Absorb my baby smile
Follow the turns of my trail.

I awake to a moving room.
Nothing slows even as I lay there
A rock in a desert. And I hope
he's cocooned himself in my torrid stomach.

by E. M. Soos

December 29, 2003


In a field of flowers
Saulo chooses a single carnation
White with red tips.
He bends down, cuts it off
From its roots, turns
With a gentle smile, places
It behind Camela's ear.
What a way to live
To die in a woman's hair.

by E. M. Soos

December 15, 2003

Christmas in Southern California

A red shopping cart narrowly misses my toes,
I stumble an excuse me, navigating
Through Target. Ten days 'til Christmas
Every register open and full.
I'm grateful I can't read people's thoughts
The lists of gifts, anger at strangers
Shock at prices, worries of bounced checks
Hope for a mother-in-law's approval.
I love these people through the discord
The one connection in my scattered tree
Roots. Just like Target, I have no main room
Where everyone meets. Family in different
States, friends in different cities, love indifferent.
We all come together at the check-out counter
Pay our dues, say our hellos and goodbyes
Pass the beggar, tell our lies.
I watch the frowns disperse.
In the land of sun and pavement
We cannot find a single rose
To stop and smell.

by E. M. Soos

December 02, 2003

The 91 Bus

Jamie stood alone by the dim streetlight,
Watching for the 91 bus.
She felt his presence too late.
Dirty hand on her mouth
Knife to her side. She didn't struggle
Let him push her into the baby blue van.

No seats in the back, he made her lay
Down. To her left a pile of blankets
On her right an empty McD's wrapper.
He slapped her face over and over
Getting his hard-on; peeled her
Orange layers, tossing aside her skin.
He dug into dry undergrowth.
Jamie turned her head
Stared at his white Keds
Her mind a rolodex of images

Her professor's face tonight
When she came in ten past eight
(still in her work uniform)
History class would save her future
Get her family out of this neighborhood
(but even rich kids have pedophile grandpas).

Papa watching the ten o'clock news
(she wasn't on it yet)
Waiting for her return.
Leftover rice and frijoles in the fridge.

Mami's old pink sweater
(Jamie almost wore it tonight)
Forgotten in the hall closet.

Jamie's thoughts encased her in glass
A sapphire in the hands of a thief.

by E. M. Soos

December 01, 2003

I'm Not Even Here

We went searching, looking
For a speaking apartment
One that would tell us our love will last
Call us friends, accept our lovemaking
In every room, laugh with our inside jokes
Shade out the calling Jehovah's Witnesses,
Their non-judgmental looks of pity
When we say we're not married.

We stepped into Pinecreek Village
White walls, new marble tile
Close to the freeways, college across
Every store in walking distance.
We'd never have to leave
Every desire peanut butter.
It's perfect for your skin. Safe

Place to raise kids.
They'll rise along with ignorance
Be afraid of the ghetto, never have to eat Spam
Measure themselves with possessions
Think to want is to not get
Hollywood Barbie for Christmas
Never be ashamed to bring friends home
Not even know their sheets match.

My flip-flopped heart still wears sandals
Even as my feet are pinched into dress boots.
My breasts still sag in this push-up bra.
I pretend to like Beyonce, but
I come with Joni Mitchell.
You say we don't have to stay here forever
Well, darling, I'm not even here.

by E. M. Soos


Each time I talk to V
I am pulled into her world
The moon to the earth.

She's lost another baby
In another fight with L.
He chased her to the bathroom
Shattered shower doors.

Two months V stayed in bed
L nursed her
To his side.

The bit lays loose on her tongue.
He fondles the reigns lovingly
Mounts her, runs her weary
Squeezes her spirit
With the heel of his boot.

At the end of each day's ride
She enters her stall grateful.
Laps water from his hands.

by E. M. Soos

November 25, 2003


I got home tonight, 12:33 A.M.

It's already tomorrow.

I didn't want to start my day

Wishing it were already over

The night sky nearing brightness.

I'd like to step in your shower

Let your drops, molting leaves

Fall off my arched neck

Dribble slowly down my breasts,

Stomach, thighs, knees

Until my feet are swollen red

Weighted by your touch.

I want your sweet warmth

To loosen my back muscles

Release the boa that constricts me.

Catch my breath.

Lose track of time.

Laugh at soggy fingertips.

Your fingers tip me.

I'm blindfolded and spun around

Ten times.





You catch me.

by E. M. Soos

November 24, 2003

Share, Shallow, Shalom

You're a pretty girl, he said,
but you could be hot.
Some make-up, different hair-do.
I wondered if he thought I'd thank him.
Should I get a boob job while I'm at it?

Figures he'd take offense,
Was only trying to help.

Thanks for your thoughtfulness,
all us lowly girls need guys like you.
Guide us. Where do we begin
to impress your kind?
Your insect mind?
When I die, I hope you're available
to apply my make-up.
Then my eulogy can include,
and she's a fine piece of ass,
mmm mmm.

by E. M. Soos

November 23, 2003

Night Walk

I sprint up the tiny hill, an island
in the rolling park.
The winter brings darkness
at 5:30, everyone snuggled inside
eating potatoes and steamed carrots.
A mouth full keeps the peace. The war
stops only to care
for this basic necessity.

Sammy follows me, panting
jogging her age.
I turn to watch her, four legs
six perhaps. In the moonlight
we look half our age.
I feel mighty, winded.

It matters not what we look like,
me running in Converse and blue jeans
Sammy without her collar.
Scaring birds from their nests
they caw out their warnings.

We do not run for the exercise
to go anywhere, to get away.
We run to feel like wind, we move
trees, shape clouds
tap windows.

I sing, Sammy politely ignoring
my pitch. She sniffs at nothing.
God watches from a lilac.
He doesn't know what he's missing
I think, attempting a cartwheel.

by E. M. Soos

November 22, 2003

Tuesday Storm

Dark hovering clouds
survey the landscape,
search for earth untouched;
dry arms outstretched toward heaven.

Red and orange catch eyes,
God unnoticed until wet.

by E. M. Soos

November 19, 2003

I Found My Beauty

It took me over again, two days ago. My enemy. I locked myself in the bathroom. I looked in the mirror and couldn't find beauty. My body felt heavy, bloated, embalmed. I wanted someone to find me, drain my pus-filled skin. I sat on the closed toilet seat in my green satin pajamas. I wrapped myself in bubbles, wanted to worry about no one, but the pictures wouldn't leave my eyes.

I see a man who loves me, kisses my scars. I pushed his sadness away, hoped I could be happy then. My heart still mounted that black winged horse.

I see another man from whose happiness I feed. I suck joy from his words. I can't help wondering if I'm exposing him to my craters, hope he doesn't fall in. He should be under the kitchen table laughing with his three year-old nephew, drawing with chalk.

I see my little sister, nineteen years old. Dropped her classes this semester. Lives in a layer of dirt. Wild mice in the walls. Dirty litter boxes. She escapes her new home with a bowl. Smokes until there is no stress.

I see the porn star, the smirk in her eyes. John and Zak try to "enlighten" me, to show me that porn never hurt anyone. I try to see what they see. I see two people having unprotected sex. "But they've been tested. She's gotta be on birth control." I see a woman whose career is fulfilling man's lust. "But she makes more money than all of us." I can't help wondering about her future as the camera focuses on her waxed vagina. What if she has children? Will she proudly tell them what she's done?

I see a homeless woman trying to sleep on the beach. It's three o'clock in the afternoon. She stays near the parking lot as if the ocean doesn't welcome the likes of her. Families walk along the waves. John, Zak and I play catch, our baseball mitts sandy. I want to feel joy from this playful throw, but I can feel the woman's eyes on my back. She stirs restlessly. Her bedroom is my playground.

The picture bubbles were pierced when the phone rang. The hard toilet a haven to my softness. I made myself stand up, take a shower, eat, spend the day with my sisters. We spoke of dreams, the future, none of us fulfilled where we were.

I drove home last night. Got stuck in traffic. Wanted to be alone in my room. I opened the front door and was greeted by the man who loves me. I didn't stop to hug or kiss him, kept unloading my car. He stood by my side, helped me silently, a faithful dog waiting patiently. When I finally faced him, I expected to hear his fears, his doubts. I waited to hear the blame. None of that came. Instead he thanked me. He felt that if it weren't for me he wouldn't have come this far and said even if we didn't work out he was grateful for the time we shared. I cried at the words. We talked like the old friends we are, and I loved him again.

Today I woke up. The mirror still shows my swollen neck, my crooked nose, my unused body. Today I smiled. I see beauty. I had been looking in the mirror, waiting to see what my friends see in me. I laughed. How could I have forgotten? Three days ago I convinced two grown men to play hide-and-seek. A six-foot three-inch man tried to hide under a blanket.

Today I found my beauty, not in my mirror, but in the eyes of my enemy.

by E. M. Soos

November 10, 2003

A Visit to Monterey

"We argued for about a state," John says, sipping his Malibu Rum and Coke. I just had to laugh at the words, even as my hands trembled of you.

John regrets letting her get away. I regret leaving this town. There's nothing like regret to excuse drinking to drown.

I walk by myself, memorizing each dusty step of the PG trail. I remember walking this path after lonely days of work. The waves still crash on the rocks. The smell is the same, salt mist dangling, clinging to flowering cliffs, and I think of how I came here to shrug off the day so I could come home and greet you with a smile.

I sit off the trail now, watch the green and blue waves, lean my head on a wet rock. It shields me from the cold breeze. I cry with beauty. A fly lands on my shoe, washes its face. I wonder what or who I was in my lives before this one. Why can't I be this beach fly, know nothing of love or sadness, feast on the shit in life?

I stand up and a hoard of flies rush at me. I walk back and a blackbird follows me. He stares at me, cussing, calling me, demanding that I stay. I keep walking. The path narrows and I put one foot in front of the other. A sparrow watches me pass. I wonder why he didn't fly away. My heart bleeds through the soles of my feet, leaving fresh prints that I can't protect.

by E. M. Soos

October 19, 2003

My Name is Emma

The first craving hits me, a mirror of cigarette smoke. This is the easier one, my hands barely trembling, the first course in a meal of shakes. I look forward to the nausea. I deserve it, long for its vengeance, wish it were the end of a bad dream. I'd wake up and not really be a murderer, an addict, my family's disaster.

The hard jail bench posing as a bed is a cold welcome. The grayness matches my blood. I was scared of the rose petal curtains, the bright white walls of my sister's house. They taunted me, "You'll never have us, never be one of us." I retorted, tried to believe I was better than the drug that held me together, that I could bend back its grabbing fingers, make it cringe, drop to the ground. I was winning that self-defense battle for awhile, until today.

I decided to look my attacker in the face, saw my own green eyes. It wasn't the heroin after me at all. My own hands were wrapped around my soul, and the sweet silk was what kept me from noticing. I drop the hand I'm resisting, run back to the numbing needle.

My sister doesn't know, asks me to watch baby Charlotte. She leaves to buy milk and Huggies. I swim in my honey, roll my eyes in sugar. A loud wail interrupts my transcendence. A baby is in pain. Her eyes squeezed shut, face cherry. What is it, what's wrong? The words can't escape my tongue, stick to my teeth. The noise won't stop grinding, knifing my skull. The hurt is coming from her mouth. I can see it, red, red, red. I want to make her feel fine, taste my honey. I grab my needle, stab her lip. Charlotte, Charlotte. The sweet milk enters her. The crying won't stop. Stop, stop, stop, STOP! I stab the empty needle again, again, again, again, until I can't hear anything.

In the quiet I try to glue my hair to the wall to keep the floor in its rightful place.

by E. M. Soos

October 01, 2003

Drawing Blood

I'm number 63.
The orange chairs in the waiting room are linked
together. I guess that means the man sitting two seats
down has a connection with me
Perhaps us sickies might go psycho, steal
some ugly-ass chairs, or move them an inch
in the wrong direction.

The red LED's change to 62.
The man two seats down stands up
enters the lab. No revolt here.
We all follow the rules, take our turns.

Sometimes I just wanna take that nurse's needle
stick it through her People magazine
scream I'm a real person.
Sure, I'd be a psycho.

Beats stealing a fucking chair.

by E. M. Soos

September 20, 2003


Somewhere there's a man who follows the ocean breeze
into a conch shell of lavender breath,
a man who will float in and out of my curled walls
until one day his anchor will fall on my heart.
Today I glance around, wonder if I've met that man
yet. I can't imagine what he might look like
for fear that I'll carve the wrong face,
miss the real wave when it passes over my home.
Try, try, try to fly, I will say to him.
He'll try and fail.
Try and fail.
He'll look behind himself
see that his wings are on me,
can't lift off without my flowering hand.

by E. M. Soos

September 01, 2003

Bike Ride

Melodious poems caress the soft creases
of my ears, Fiona Apple warms
the headphones, sings of wearing time
like a dress. My pedaling slows
to the bluesy beat, blood flows
through my limbs.

I picture a sweet open field.
My legs wrapped around ribs
of an appaloosa. Fiona's
singing never drowns out
the whistling finches. The wind
covers traffic sounds. A feeling
of love, so pure, for life
fills my eyes.
Equal only to a child's laugh.

by E. M. Soos

August 23, 2003

Other People's Words

I took other people's words
Stuck them on my wall.
I could love them forever
Live on the sweet sap seeping
Through their rough bark.
I can't feel anyone's life anymore.
Arms full of heavy coats
Can't keep up with their carefree steps.
Wolves on the horizon, and I'm
Wishing for an elephant, strong enough.
I have nothing to give, to leave behind
Except the words on my wall.
Other people's words.

by E. M. Soos

August 19, 2003


The day couldn't eat me up
Like yesterday. I sit still
Under the sink of dripping shells
Bury myself a new life, eat the slug
Crawling under my skin.
Don't let me follow you home
I just might stay the night.
Wrap my arms around your feet
Drag my heart out of your soles
Leave the closet light on for the prophets.
Hate me so I can't be with you
So you don't come into my house
The doodling on the wall
Colors men wearing yellow skirts
Swinging clubs at each other
Laughing at Sin's clenched fist.
Hug me though, one last time
As I swallow this bug
Slime and all
And drink to you.

by E. M. Soos

July 03, 2003


As you fall asleep for the last time, will you hear me singing our song? I'll be 400 miles away, but our time zones are the same. 5:30 p.m. The needle will puncture your skin. I'll be singing to the tune of Unchained Melody, "Oh my Kitty, you're so pretty. I've hungered for your purr, a long, lonely time." Will you hear me and go quietly, or will you meow like you always do when I sing you our song?

If you can't hear me, I hope at least you remember the sweet things as you go - canned tuna, Thanksgiving turkey, Pina Colada Paletas.

Dream of your favorite things. I'll remember my favorite times with you. Whenever I was sad, you came to me, let me hold you tight, licked my tears. When I practiced my violin, you came to me, sang along, even when my notes were sour. I'll remember how you only liked to drink water as it flowed from the faucet, shook your paws off when you were through. I'll remember the echo sound the walls made when you bounced off them down the hallway, having fun in your own silly way. These memories will hold me, as I wish I could hold you.

Go now, my friend, to the open arms of all those who've gone before you. Grampie will pet you, let you sit in his lap. Tanner will laugh as you bounce off heaven's walls. Amelia and you will make up, CT will share his broccoli, Pearl will taunt you in her four-tiered bowl, Freddy and Fromage will let you chase them, maybe chase you back. But Pud is the one most waiting for you - she can't wait to snuggle with you again.

by E. M. Soos

June 26, 2003


Here we are, silly again. Five years
of being apart erased in one laugh.
One understanding look and the devils
are pitchforked.

You probably wanted to show me
just how different you've become.
You may have quit the drugs, gained
some weight, settled in
with an older man, but you can't
fool me. You're still the same
friend I love and cherish.
The one who taught me that life
is just a witches brew, an emulsion,
an experiment without a known outcome.

You used to reach people with your Tarot
cards, sing Leather acapella, eat bean burritos
for breakfast. I could get lost
in your ideas of how we're all made of plastic
or maybe just dipped in it.
Did you think my silence
was a mothers judgment, that I
thought you were crazy? If so, you were wrong.
I sat still so I could hear you,
soak in your dreams, try to hold
onto your level of consciousness
many ladder rungs above my own.

Did I ever tell you that you amaze me?
That I wish I could know like you do?
That your ocean mind flowed into my stream?
I always carried you with me
even when my current rippled
in a different direction.

Yes, our waters have merged
again, and maybe we're dormant
in someone's shit-filled toilet,
about to be flushed. But somehow
that's a Creamsicle on a summer's eve
when I'm with you.

by E. M. Soos

May 01, 2003

Prayer to Death

Death, the only immortal who treats us all alike, whose pity and whose peace and whose refuge are for all - the soiled and the pure, the rich and the poor, the loved and the unloved. - Mark Twain

I awake from my prayer to death. Feel the cold black marble burn my skin. How long was I on the bathroom floor? Probably only minutes. My joints detest. It had been hours.

My conscience resists this moment of clarity, wants to be brought down again into the picture-frame of insanity where wanting (no, needing) death is allowed.

I want to believe that no one understands. None of the doors around me have handles. Is it the Devil who feeds my self pity into such a cocoon that it's hard to break my head free of the sticky swirls? Or is it the Devil who cuts open the cocoon so that I can remember the world around me?

by E. M. Soos

January 10, 2003

Sam and Annie

We watch the end of Sleepless in Seattle, you and I. Annie sits down to dinner with the perfect man. She stares out the window at the Empire State Building, thinks of a man she doesn't know.

"We should visit New York sometime," I sigh. "Why?" You ask. I cannot answer. I thought you knew. I thought you'd turn to me, smile and say, "Sure, why not?"

Remember that day I put music to our wedding slide show? I must have listened to I Come to You With Open Arms four dozen times. I smiled every time your picture came up - your face as you held that stinky fish. You entered the room and rolled your eyes. "Are you sick of this song yet?" I giggled. "Yes!" You said.

Now I sit here, covered in a peach blanket, watching Annie and Sam. You enter the room and say, "I can't believe you're watching this again."

I don't understand us sometimes. The other day I was dying for some playfulness, to see you grin, have you look into my eyes. I begged you to wrestle with me, "Let's have a pillow fight!" You spoke about someone getting hurt, something getting broken. You finally gave in, halfheartedly tickled me. I swung my pillow. You sat there. I teasingly gave you a hickey on your ribs. You didn't struggle. I admit you did open up, smile when you pinned me, perk up when it turned sexual.

We made love in the closet, just like that one time long ago. I remember that first time being tender, this time was rough, the floor left its imprint in my back. The magic of the act must have left with the old blue stained carpet, replaced with a harsh tan one, no shag to soften my spine.

I want to believe you're Sam and I'm Annie, but most of the time you're not even Walter. At least he always said the perfect thing, could find fate in picking the right China, loved Annie enough to let her go.

by E. M. Soos

May 01, 2002

Learning to Fight Dragons

Background on This Section of Poetry

When I first found my written voice, I was already a college student. I found that creative writing not only helped me to tell my own history/experiences, but it could also be used to break silences in our communities. The following section of poetry is taken from my Capstone project which started when I began to wonder why I was not taught how to write creatively earlier. Yes, I was exposed to literature and poetry (especially in high school Honors English classes), but I was not actually taught how to form a poem or given the creative freedom to do so. We were being exposed to all these great authors and books, but I never felt that it was so that I could someday be an author myself. It was so that we had a basic knowledge of literature and history. I remember no mention or encouragement to write our own histories.

Through my research for my Capstone project, I began to understand why. I had attended schools in low-income areas where, because of a lack of funding, arts are usually the first classes cut from the curriculum.

In Pacific Grove, at Robert Down Elementary where 85% of the student population is white, there is a large creative writing program - even for second graders! This program was started by bringing in a local poet to teach the children (and the teachers) about creative writing. Using one second grade classroom's methods, and through the help of a budding non-profit program started by a fellow co-worker, I brought this idea to Manzanita Elementary in Seaside where 94% of the students are considered minorities. With the help of some friends, I taught a 4-week after school creative writing class.

The poems in this section came from my experiences with the children at Manzanita Elementary. The dragon image came to me after reading one child's unfinished story, which I write about in Even Children Have Dragons. After getting to know this child, I could not separate his writing from his life. When I learned that his father abused him, I read his story differently. I wondered who was the dragon in his story. Was it just an arbitrary character? Probably. But I began to see dragons to be anything that stands in the way of our well being, that contributes to inequalities, that inhibits us from being everything that we could be.

The dragons in my title, "Learning to Fight Dragons," are our inequitable systems, the politics that create unequal opportunities, and the history of racism, classism and all other "ism's" built into our laws and institutions. While teaching the children, both they and I were learning how to fight against those particular dragons through our writing. If the children feel that they have a voice, then hopefully they will use it to help others see the inequities in our communities.

One other metaphor I used the dragon image for was my own thoughts and fears that inhibit me from using my voice the way I want. For example, in What is an Emotion?, I start off seeing the children as dragons in order to portray my fear of them, of what they might think of me, of what I was trying to teach, and of realizing my own inexperience as a teacher. Sometimes your biggest obstacle is yourself.

For me, writing about these issues and about my experiences, being truthful to myself and others, is a way to fight against my own dragons. I hope my writing helps to fight all types of dragons and encourages others to find their voices as well.

What Are You Really Doing?

For the teacher who asked this question
after I introduced the writing class

I've built a tiny world in my heart.
The people in my heart travel
through veins, vessels, arteries
looking to understand every part
of my body, but they always return
to the center, core, corazon.
My heart people work together
keep their earth alive
swim on white blood cells
sew scabs over cuts
extend hands full of oxygen
greet each other with hugs
dance together to the beat
of their homeland.
What I'm really doing is
trying to share this world
teach children to dance
with their own hearts,
bring my heart people
to exist beyond my body,
live in hands of presidents
popes, kings, queens,
in the mouths of every child.

by E. M. Soos

Background on this poem

Even Children Have Dragons

For G. We all miss you.

From the very beginning, your story was a poem,

If you give a Dragon
a glass of water,
If you give a Dragon
a glass of water,

He'll cry out fire.

He'll want to blow

fire at you,

but he will blow

steam at you.

I never thought about it until
you didn't come back, until your
mother took you to a safer place
away from the father who used his fists.
I never thought you would know a
real dragon, I just believed that you
had an imagination that would fill
Lake Superior, that your dragon
would eventually be slain.
I never thought that the reason you pulled
the wings from ladybugs was
to keep them safe in your hand.


A little brown face looks up at me
Her eyebrows pushed together
I'm sorry we made you sad, Miss Erin.
She is one of the few children
who tried to listen today, who
did not run around the classroom,
write ASS on the blackboard,
giggle when I scolded.
She is sorry for something she did not do.
I wonder as she bends to help me clean
up the plastic straw covers, empty juice boxes
crushed pretzels in the carpet. She tries to lift a chair
onto a desk only inches shorter than she.
I wonder at a child who told me
I didn't get to eat today
when I handed her an apple, then
this is so yummy as she bit into its green skin.
I pick up ten other apples, uneaten
remember the other day.
She wouldn't throw away a granola bar
that had dropped on the ground.
Sand covered its edges, but she held it
in both hands, savoring its rough
oatmeal touch, as other children threw theirs
to the ground, crushing them under shoes.

by E. M. Soos

Background on this poem

If I Hadn't

For the mother who asked if her
other daughter
could join the class late

If I hadn't been standing outside,
four bags - full of pencils, writing pads, markers
green apples, juice boxes - surrounding my legs,
waiting for the principal to show us our room
If five children hadn't come up to me
interrupted our conversation with

What are we doing today, Miss Erin?
Can I have a juice now?

What are those things in the bags for?

Do I have to wear a name tag?

Can I be in your group please?

If I hadn't been worrying that we might
not have a classroom that day
If I hadn't forgotten to introduce myself
shake your hand, look you in the eye
If I hadn't been white, and
you hadn't been black
would you still have walked away that day
humphed through your nose
muttered under your breath
Would the history of our skin colors
still have kept us from becoming friends?

by E. M. Soos

Background on this poem

What is an Emotion?

For my father, who helped me
see the humor in this situation

I stand in front of dragons ten mountains tall,
teeth red with blood, long as houses,
feet covered with silver scales,
tongues of firebombs. My stomach
is kneaded dough. The dragons' eyes
stare at me. I know I must speak.

What is an emotion?

The dragons' heads tilt,
one raises his left wing slowly,
Like when you move?

The dragons get smaller.
They look up at me from desks
only two and a half feet tall,
silver caps on their teeth, shoelaces
untied, voices like crickets.

Um... no, that's motion. E-motions are like feelings. Who can give me an example of a feeling?

Ten hands raise, ticking back and forth
at the highest speed of a metronome.
I pick a boy sitting by himself, mouth
opened in an "O." Um, a feeling is...
I feel tired?

The other children yell, I know, I know!
I stand at the blackboard,
the chalk between my fingers
like twenty horses dragging my hands.
I try to write.

I want to say,
an emotion is like an animal that lives inside us. When we are hugged, we feel like kittens with their mother. When our sister takes our toys we feel like roaring lions. When our friends ignore us, we feel like puppies in a cage.

Instead I find the words are bigger dragons,
their breaths of fire drown my pleas.

by E. M. Soos

Background on this poem

I Hear Poems in Their Lives

I listen to all the rumors, the hanging
facts of the children's lives, and I see
a young boy leaning over a piece of paper,
writing about fighting Pokemon characters,
not mentioning that his father used the belt
on him again last night.

I see two sisters who were born minutes apart,
J. is three feet tall and weighs 30 pounds,
J.A. is four foot five and weighs 120 pounds.
They do not sit next to each other,
say, this is my sister or hold hands.
Their other sister has a different last name,
a different father. She lies to me, tells me
I didn't get a snack
, so she can bring one home.
I don't ask her why, hand her the bag.

I see a boy lay his head on a desk
covering his story with his deep breaths.
If I ask him why he's falling asleep, he might say,
I was up playing video games last night.
No one tucked him in,
made sure his teeth were brushed,
saw that he had eight hours of sleep.

I see eight children who do not know
their mothers or fathers, they have
a parent or two in prison,
they are raised by older sisters, brothers,
or sick grandparents.

I see these things and know
that poems are in these children.
I hear their pencils moving like windmills on water,
sending ripples to edges of fields,
learning to fight their dragons every day.

by E. M. Soos

Background on this poem

January 01, 2002

Ghosts of El Salvador

In front of piles of rotting wood, stacked
On a cracked foundation, five ghosts float.
Four of them have the likeness of boys,
Their pale faces unwrinkled through their frowns.
They clasp their air-like hands together,
Stronger than tanks, although shadows of ether.
The fifth ghost is behind the others,
His black priest gown does not sway as the wind
Creaks through the broken structure.

Two young girls walk toward the crumbled building.
Everyone in San Antonio Abad says that the place is haunted,
That people have tried to rebuild the home
Only to find their work undone the next day.
The girls' steps become shorter and shorter.
Can you see anything? Gloria whispers.
The other girl shakes her head, grabs Gloria's hand.
Together, they step over what was once a doorway,
Pass through the five ghosts, then glance at each other.
Do you feel that? Gloria asks, looking behind her.

They can feel what happened those years ago in 1979,
The fear in their mouths is that of the ghosts.
They cannot see the four boys sweeping outside the house,
Cannot feel the ground shaking beneath them
Cannot see a small army and tank approaching
Cannot see blood from the boys' bodies, shots between their eyes
Cannot see Father Ortiz run toward the tank, palms out
Cannot taste the weight of the tread over his body
Cannot see the tank crash through the walls of the house
Cannot see the women inside the kitchen
Cannot smell the food burning on the stove.

But they can feel
The life and death of that moment, the cold reach
Of the Father's hand as he strokes their faces.

by E. M. Soos

La Luna

For the Co-Madres of El Salvador

She sits naked on a wooden chair. The specks of wood in her ass
bother her less than the black t-shirt that has been torn into four
pieces; one piece for her eyes, one for her hands behind her back,
two tie her feet to the chair. She cannot see the windowless
basement, the roaches that scatter across the floor, the three
policemen who stand in front of her. She can hear their zippers
slide open, feel her legs shake when their rifles hit her chair.
Tell us the names of the women. She lifts her head, thinks of the
pictures they had shown her on the wall, pictures of her friends,
companions, the women whose sons, husbands, had been given
electric shocks to the head, shot in the back, decapitated;
the women who were fighting to stop the disappearances. To you
they're all named Maria
, she thinks. She says nothing. She hears
a pair of boots clunk closer. The man's breath smells of tequila
as he whispers in her right ear, You, you are like la luna,
the moon,
with all its holes. The men untie her feet, lift her
from the chair, throw her to the ground. One man holds her
legs open, another takes his rifle, thrusts it into her vagina.
Her body slides with the dirt on the cold cement floor. Their hard
penises scrape the walls of her bleeding vagina, rip open her anus.
The moon hears her cries.

by E. M. Soos

January 01, 2001

In Memory Of

The blue and yellow truck
Ordside painted on its doors,
bounces along the road
towing my sagging white Honda.

The driver, a heavyset white man
nicknamed Fuzzy, is hunched
over the wheel, dark
circles surround his eyes.

An empty Burger King soda cup
sits among fingerprints of grease
encased in a plastic holder, jiggling
with the rhythm of the engine roar.

On the glove box below a glossy print
of a smiling, blond-haired boy,
a black inscription glints, In Memory Of
I ask myself, Is this his brother? His son?
I do not ask the driver.

Instead he tells me
over the engine's grumble
how he got his nickname,
how his bladder is full, throat parched
been on shift 24 hours today.

His pants sigh under the weight
of years of grease.
Shoved in the panel of the truck
a lotto stub yearns for limos
and black tuxedos.

Behind us
the chains are monsters.
They pull, drag, clink.
Sparking gravel.

by E. M. Soos

March 08, 2000


Blowing curtains cold
Arms wrapping warm around me
A dwelling of love.

Brown dirty stained rug
Where we lay together safe
You smile as I laugh.

by E. M. Soos

October 02, 1999

Bedtime Poem

tickle away the feeling
all I want is to be held
to feel you close to me
as I die each day away.

what's wrong with being truthful?
it hurts now, but pain is better
with truth rather than
lies behind a truth ahead.

I think I'll sleep now
comforted in an unmade bed
with thoughts of yesterday
and not of years to come

yes, I laugh mildly
as I lay my head down.
he calls me honey.
I think that's funny.

by E. M. Soos

July 02, 1999

One More Hill

Like a dirt road being rolled across
spokes of wheels turn in my head.
A spike of a shoe crunches my face
The taste of sweet sweat dries
on my lips.

I hear my heart racing as you win
Half of a day breezes by
as wind that blew on my skin
Your triumph was mine
A shared pride
that fell, apart.

The smell of the trail
lingers as I see truth cycling
through the bowels of my body
and I accept it,
this narrow path
widening into a new road
of Love, without a
finish line.

by E. M. Soos