Mystery in Poetry

September 15, 2014



I go back and forth on what good poetry is. I prefer story-telling over one or two words on each line, most often flowing down into a long kite tail of mystery. Mystery poetry is speaking in short word lines, only the writer knows what they meant. I’ve gone and made my self believe we need full sentences to make sense.

I’ve also learned, taught myself, that poetry is better if nibbled, take a breathe in between bites, nibble some more, and then digest it over time, it has helped. Sure, I heard it from others, more experienced poets, MFA poets, and well respected performance poets who just happen to have been Laureates and won awards. It really does work, like reading your work after you write it, to check for errors and sense.

Here is a mystery poem draft for you…

If You Can’t Take The Heat

get on off the your high horse,
and let ’er ride.
Most days, I’m on a spit.
Aren’t we all?
Rip roarin’, shoved up my…,
and yes, it hurts, a lot.
There’s no testin’ it before hand;

no higher power roped the wrong steed,
it’s just a ride, a long damned one at that.
How I ended up in the driver’s seat,
beats the heck outta me;

I liked it better in 1966,
when I sat behind Daddy.
He knew where he was goin’,
he most likely knew a destination,
and if anything looked good
before we arrived, we’d stop.
It was more of a feelin’,
and an ‘it’s all good’ experience.

Now-a-days nothin’ makes sense.
The ridin’, the ropin’, the meat—
of it all.
I tried to guide my own son,
show him the way of the land,
a few rules of respect,
and shortcuts, which we all use.
But he does it his own way.
My Son, he’s the driver now.

Most of us only have
a one way ticket—outta here.
No one asked for it;
it was waitin’ when we arrived,
when you woke up from the thrill.
I’m just happy I got to witness
the riders before,
the riders after,
and now I’m callin’ shotgun.

Mystery, or no mystery, most will get the meaning, or make it their own. That’s what goes into poetry, what’s inside of us. When we read poetry, we make it our own. If we don’t get it, then it’s still a strangers words, and that’s okay too.

What the heck am I doing here? Who knows, who cares, sometimes we just like the sound of our own voice…now that’s poetry!

What’s mystery poetry mean to you? Let us into your head, now that you got into mine…


A Peaceful Disturbance

Laying in the quiet darkness
of a good book and the living room
I hear a splat in the kitchen.
From around the doorway comes
a husband eating a banana.

He offers it up to my lips, ragged
edges brush, and I ask for a whiff.
Eating these thick and fibrous
fruit are not recommended
so late in the afternoon.

A lover brings his fruit close
almost touching my nose,
I sniff and take in its aroma.
It is one of my favorite flavors,
like love making, early mornings.

He dares me to playfully take it.
Into my mouth it goes
deep, deeper, and then I bite.
Only a small piece of the end, I smile.
Chewing, killing silence, with laughter.

I had just read a poem by a new author, his book sent via snail mail and he had written about something else, a different direction I was going with the draft above…

Laying in the quiet darkness
of a good book and the living room
I hear a splat in the kitchen.
From around the doorway comes
a husband eating a banana.

The peel would lay alone
for days, maybe a month
and begin turning slippery,
black and waiting;
for someone to fall into dangerous

disarray on my tile floor.
So I left my comfort zone
and on the way in my big toe
was caught in the carpet,
ripping my big toenail.

Painfully it flew off only
to land near the trash can.
Limping I returned to solace 
and waited for my son’s return.
Irritated at my request for help

he placed it and the yellow present
into the waste basket near the door.
Muttering as more were cleaned
laid to rest together,
it became a mothers compost urn.

I have to work on it, but I love reading others work and being inspired…

1st Annual Red Dashboard LLC Publishing

July 29th, 6:30-9 PM (food and beverage available for purchase)

Poets & Writers Reading and Gathering

1st Annual Red Dashboard LLC Publishing Reading

The Dream Cafe (in back)

5100 Belt Line Rd

Ste 208

Dallas, Texas 75254

Post on Facebook here

Whether you are one of our authors or just a writer looking for a venue to share your work, you’re welcome to join us!

I will be in town for a week attending the Hico, Texas gathering on the weekend to support a few of our authors and to promote my own book, My South By Southwest: …Recollection, and will be hosting the above event the next Tuesday, July 29th.

Hope to see y’all there!


Elizabeth Akin Stelling, Managing Editor/Educator, Red Dashboard LLC Publishing

Another Acceptance

July 12, 2014

Accepting ourselves is hard most of the time, but waiting on others to accept us, well, our work, it can be grueling. One might forget who they were waiting for…

I’m not sure why it took them so long to email me, but Literary Mama accepted a poem I wrote in the spring 2013, maybe sooner, I really do not remember. I often wonder if I should date my work. It was also an early draft. Poets get antsy and submit before the work is ready to speak. So Surprise! It spoke to someone.

It is due to go up March, 2015- seems like a long way off, but I’ll take it.

The title changed though, and the format, it was ‘Any Given Day’, and now it is ‘Paths That Carry Familiarity’. It appears in my new book, My South By Southwest: …Recollection.

Out of respect for the magazine I will not post the piece, either form, but it was about a moment I had forgotten in the past and a flashing light had it flooding back…

Who else is going to do this stuff for us writers?

I got a message about a review out of Philly, and here it is!

My South By Southwest: …Recollection review by Fox Chase Review

If you have not bought my book yet, but want it signed…all you have to do is ask!

It is on Amazon…

Plus, I’m going to Hico, Texas July 25-27th for National Day of the Cowboy; will be some roping (no roping), music, hell raising (Tex-mex eatin’), and lots of poetry reading. Y’all come on down now!

Details here:

National Day of the Cowboy in Hico, Texas


National Day of the Cowboy website 


My Birthday Wish

June 17, 2014

I have none specifically,
because they have all been granted.

Hubs is my passion, all
wrapped into one package.

He finds the perfect card,
this year he wrote poetry inside.

My health is getting in line,
and I have always been a good patient.

Nothing more to say, except
I wish it wouldn’t end…

Complex Poet (Posts)

June 6, 2014

October2008 159 copy

It’s summer, why am I thinking of the fall? Because things pass in such similarity…

You, My Architect, And I, Your Elizabeth

after, Reaching for the Moon

We first discover October; vines spreading over hard ground, vast greens stretching their arms, hands cupped and unfurling in dance, giving thanks to the sun before berries burst from delicate flowery fruit in the jungles of the cities, north and south. Such a short season a future grows together, two, in mornings romantic light. Every minute, of every day loneliness became bearable. Sweeter if sugar is added, before roasted in buttery words. Scornful heat tests the flesh, and still will yield a mouthful. But, at its best. Nourished by dryness, bem-vindo! One makes the most of its place. You, propped up leaf umbrellas so, I could waltz the rugged terrain, get just the right amount of daylight— an ever so thoughtful lover; brushing up against my skin, shadows are always the body, more awake in the moonlight. Improbable likenesses,  surreal surroundings wrapped up, in condensed volume whispers. I, at your side, for always, your pumpkin. Fairy-tales do come true.

A draft, and not in the form I typed it here. No energy to piece it back together, so it lay here in the shade…


I submitted a poem to Texas Observer just after the first of the year and got an email, a sweet email, saying the editor loved all five of my poems but could only publish the shortest. It wasn’t until I received the magazine (and a check!) did I realize why. The poem took up 2/3’s of the page. It was great seeing my name in such big print. I’m humbled at what they produced, and proud.

Although money for writing such things will not get me into a mansion anytime soon, but I am very grateful they felt it was worthy…

Cowtown, Texas 1975 is in my new book, My South By Southwest: A Cast Iron Recollection

Take A Walk With Me

May 12, 2014


Something Which Doesn’t Belong

It was spring, 1989, four of us friends
decided to make it a Florida vacation.
We booked a beach condo with
an extravagant golf course veranda.

We felt decadent on our borrowed patio,
watching sea gulls pelt us in hunger
more attention than the morning downpour.
Bird poop is supposed to be good luck.

Snorkeling in the overcast afternoon,
meant sunscreen lathered on,
don’t rub the red spots intensely, repeat.
Breathe in slow, and relax underwater.

We each laughed as we dived in
and out of the ocean with vigor. Our fins
flapping like adolescent whales.
Waves slapped us towards a reef.

Heather, and I stretched our sea legs,
leaving the others to shrink in
the distance as sand moved, oblivious
through a larger hourglass.

I saw a small conch in my path,
neglectful I placed it in my jacket pocket.
We were all trinkets under the blanket
of the densely black clouded sky.

Did the small crab, collapsed on my salon perch,
drawn to the sounds of boundless frenzy, drape
itself over the deep salmon edge, with six possibilities
of escape to a water-less landing, scream

“I’ve died, and gone to hell in a hand basket!”








It’s been great getting random phone calls about my book. I notice a few sold today, it is exciting. Nerve racking, because I wonder, self doubt creeps in.

I wrote this on the spot for another writer, she asked if I felt naked when people read about my life? It’s all tongue and cheek, but here is my reply…


Song and Dance, One Isle Over

My mother stopped to talk
to a man looking for split pea
soup ingredients.
She told him to season with
salt pork, tiny pieces in a skillet.
Dice the onions really good, add water
because some people do not eat them
and don’t want them visible.
But it’s important to layer flavor.

He rubbed his belly as she went on,
smiling and shaking his head. Those eyes
as wide as the smile on the Green Giant.
“Oh, make sure you buy frozen peas
if you can’t cook fresh. Never canned.”
My sister and I  just stood there,
holding on to the cart. I rolled
my hazel eyes, as if to say
Oh nooo, here we go again!

Mom began telling the complete
stranger about her hypertension,
a fancy name for something you get
when your body can’t process
all the salt. Her tears began to fall.

And like a deer in headlights
the person is sure to be the kill.
The innocent deer came out
of the canned goods forest
for a little salt lick, but was
shot dead with a thousand
buck shot of words.

By now my brother was two
isles over calling out for us.
Little sister, Mary, shouted out to him
“We’re over here Alton, still.
She’s about to tell Mr. So and so
about the time we all were
locked in the car, and daddy
sat drunk in his underwear
on the boat, embarrassing his self.”

Yes, it almost happened…