Tag Archive for Extended Metaphor


The cornhusk is

oblong and green with overlapping peels.

The interwoven quilt covers

a sheet of silky threads that sticks in white,

fades to yellow and then brown,

twisted ragged at the top.

Huddled underneath are the kernels,

deep yellow dulling to white

through the cob’s length,

little teeth,

stuck in close and rooted deep.


Row by row the kernels dig into

the bed of the cob,

which nestles them close,

a firm mattress forming

to their soft, waxy skin.


I wonder how it is that they never argue,

lying so close together like that,

like my mama and daddy argued

before they divorced.


Now I have to find my way,

my teeth navigate the cob,

from Rock Hill to Cross Anchor,

with Lockhart in-between

and McConnells on the way

to Lockhart from Rock Hill.


Still water runs deep

Enough undertow to drown you

In invisible tides that at a glance seem so kind.

Children play in a haven of family strength

Unknowing, they charge across the dirty sand

Like soldiers with a war to wage.

Determination set in the eyes of one spring treasure

Sure that this time, she’ll reach the bottom

Even if she drowns,

She’ll be the first to find it.

I Almost Married Opportunity

Opportunity, so beautiful,

Appeared to me one day.

I viewed and contemplated her

But turned the other way.


So Opportunity left me,

Searched across the land.

And in a nicer place

She found a better man.


Now joy is he and great success,

With Opportunity by his side.

While sitting, I, in cardboard house,

Have nothing left to try.


If Opportunity returned to me,

I’m sure of what I’d do.

I’d likely turn my back again,

And off she’d run with you.


The first note strikes to

the tune of deception,

The second note sung by deceit,

The musicians play on, a harmony of lies

As we rise to dance in the fraud,

Our steps—quick and light as evasion—

Echo with hollowness when set to the floor,

Waltzes of guile, forgery, falsehood,

Sweeping the room with polished distortion

When under the weight of our own self-destruction,

As the delicate melody draws to an end,

the dance floor beneath us crumbles and shatters.

Piercing egos in the stillness


This work received a Gold Award in The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards of 2002.

Black Mamba

As graceful as a swan

But steel fast and deadly


Its leathery and slippery coat


Shines under the African sun


Its lengthy and lean body


Rests tranquilly in its masters firm hand


While the slave obediently

Gets ready to be whipped.

Down the Stairs

I run down the stairs to avoid the laughing clump behind me.

Why do groups of people have their voices all mesh together? It’s annoying. I can hear him, though, and her too.

I run down the stairs, down into a corner on the lowest level. I hope they stop on the second floor. The steps go… and go… and go… no. They’re coming down.

I look to the left, to the right, nervously, a mouse knowing that there’s a cat coming but unable to do anything. I think I can even feel my nose twitching.

And there are their feet. Like a movie, really, the camera pans upward: the feet, the knees, hips, stomach, breasts (it stops here for a second—if I’m going to be in an uncomfortable situation, I may as well have a little fun), up to the shoulders, neck, head. The laughing smile.

And the audio comes in suddenly, the conglomerate of adolescent voices forming one all-powerful. The popular crowd is a single being with semi-liberated appendages.

A mouse, did I say I was? Yes. A mouse, cowering against the wall. A mouse, deep in thought, paralyzed by headlights that have suddenly sprung from her eyes. Cats’ eyes are reflective, right? Sorta like headlights.

My eyes are black. Technically and metaphorically, it’s because they don’t reflect any light. It’s because it absorbs everything and gives nothing back.

Anyway, my eyes are black, not as catchy, but I’m a large mouse, so I’m noticed. A six-foot mouse cowering in a corner from the popular entity. Well, from a lot more than that, but it’s complicated.

“What are you doing?” he asks, smiling, laughing at the image of a large mouse with long curly hair.

I don’t answer.

“What are you doing?” Repeated. The smile is beginning to fade.

“Are you OK?” It’s gone.

And they begin to walk toward me. The cat, unbeknownst to itself, is upon me.

“What’s wrong?” It’s on me, as I slip my back down the wall and huddle myself into a crying ball.

The being and its conglomerate of voices start up again. What’s wrong, can we do anything, what happened, should I call a teacher: the cat’s claws rip me to shreds.

There’s nothing more boring to a cat than a mouse it can’t eat or play with, however, and since I don’t answer, it soon gets bored. It leaves. I am forgotten, forgotten fairly easily for most of the appendages. She remembers, maybe, but she’s not really an appendage. She’s everywhere. She’s a shiny black: absorbs everything, but reflects some. That’s the only difference between me and her, even if it is a small one that causes such a huge gap in our existences.

The mouse limps off.

Practically a Joke

We huddled anxiously; five flashlights

switched off to let our eyes adjust,

all systems Go after a week of planning.

We pushed from our canvas

platform tent into the scattered moonlight,

crept to Ricky’s tent, carefully

lifted the stiff fabric door flaps—

he was asleep. Counting on fingers:

1, 2, …3, we lifted his cot and carried him,

cleverly, into the woods on a path

we’d cleared and marked. A hundred feet,

holding back laughter. We snuck away; he

snored. We flocked around the picnic table.

Leigh, usually quiet behind his thick Welsh accent,

cackled, and we busted up. Seth hopped

on the table and ripped off his shirt,

dancing around, reminding someone

of the one-armed stripper joke.


Then we heard twigs snap,

whispered shut up.

Ricky emerged from the trees,

feet bare, hair awry—

our laughter erupting. Then,

his look of confusion

magnified by his voice:

Guys, I woke up and

I was like, ‘Where

the fuck am I?’

and we howled.


The words aren’t that funny, anymore—

too many times I’ve

fallen asleep, been carried

into the woods,

slept there so long

that when I finally wake

up, I think nothing different.


Finally, Matt, the dumbass,

booted a tin fire bucket like

a soccer ball, sent it clanging

over rocks and roots,

and a flashlight beam darted

out from Ricky’s father’s tent.


I see the bud slowly opening

Its pale petals to the sky.

The sun welcomes it with its warmth—

Warmth of love.

And life garlands it with pearls of dew.


The flower sways gently in the breeze—

Breeze of comfort.

It nestles in the safety of the leaves,

Inconspicuous—but beautiful.


The breeze builds to a gale,

Rocking the frail stem.

But the flower stands still,

Fighting with courage,

For it wants to live to see life,

To be greeted by the sun every day,

To sleep under the night’s stars,

To lend nectar to the bees,

To do what it can for the earth’s peace.

To die, only when the petals

Shrink to nothingness.


I see God’s every creature as that flower,

Fighting to live in a cruel world.

Yet longing to give and help,

Longing for joy—and peace.

Every heart is a soldier,

And a beautiful flower.

A flower that will give

Its radiance to the world.

A flower that wants to live,

Not simply survive.


Every single one of us

Has an island of our own.

Trapped and racked by storms,

Each one stands alone.


We sometimes hear soft whispers

Guided to us on the breeze,

Across the empty spaces,

And across the deep blue seas.


And so we tell ourselves

That we are not alone,

That there are others out there

On islands of their own.


So our eyes scan the horizon

For any sign of life at all,

But the sea remains a barrier,

A never-bending wall.


We may brush with others,

As long or briefly as may be.

But all of us, in truth, we are

Divided by a raging sea.


There is no boat, no raft, no ship,

Strong enough to pass by here.

The winds are too strong and too rough,

And so we remain trapped by fear.


We have not the courage

To leave all that we know.

There are no sails to draw us on,

And it’s much too far to row.


And so every single one of us

Remains on a island of our own.

Trapped by fear of what is different,

And ultimately alone.


as I looked out the window

and gazed toward the sea

I saw so many people

all looking back at me

they are hungry

very cold

they are children

now grown old

their faces long

for deep within

there is no soul

inside their skin


I turned them away

they aren’t mine to keep

I couldn’t give them shelter

nor a place to sleep

I’m just a humble person

not a savior

not a prophet

these are things I cannot be

as I looked back out the window

and gazed toward the sea

I saw gently rolling waves

and no one else but me