Messy May: Book Title Poems and Other Creations

May is a messy month. For teachers and students, it’s the time of year for cleaning out lockers and packing up classrooms. For college graduates, it’s often a season of change– moving in or moving out or moving back home or moving on. And for parents, May might mean the messiness of summer scheduling– camps and vacations and sleepovers and appointments and figuring out who’s going where and when and why.

For writers, the month of May may or may not mean anything major. It doesn’t necessarily mark a pivotal point in the year. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still choose to make a mess.

Up until mid-May, I was busy writing The Ghostly Tales of Delaware (coming this August!) while marketing The Ghostly Tales of Dallas. (Did you catch my interview with Jane McGarry on Good Morning Texas? If not, click on the image below to check out my segment of the show!) When I submitted the Delaware manuscript on May 15th, I suddenly had a little down time before my next deadline. That’s where things got messy. Deliciously, delightfully messy.

First, I spent some time drawing and coloring. Even though it makes my hand hurt, I love sitting and coloring a pattern for hours while listening to an audio book or favorite TV series. My almost-one-year-old kitten helped add to the messiness by stealing my pencil sharpener, then knocking over my jar of colored pencils and batting the jar around the floor. A couple of days later, I traded my colored pencils and paper for acrylic paints and a canvas. This time, I locked the cat out of the room, but I still made plenty of mess myself. When that project was done, I looked around and decided my books were much too tidy.

It had been a few years since I spent a night making book title poems. I’ve gotten a lot of new books since then and have said goodbye to many others. I could tell poems awaited in the new assortment. I started pulling books off shelves. Books and books and books. Piles and piles and piles. I started with the ones I’ve recently acquired, the ones who haven’t had the fun of playing the found poetry game before, books like The Broken Lands by Kate Milford and The Space Between You and Me by Ashley B. Davis and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I wanted to use as many of the new ones as possible, but I had to pull some of my old standbys too. I mean, Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and Billy Collins’s Sailing Alone Around the Room are just too perfect for making found poems. When I had a big enough mess, I started seeing what fit together. Here’s what I came up with…

S is for space,
the space between you and me.
This is not a drill,
the worlds we leave behind
marooned in realtime,
the stars beneath our feet,
voices in the air
shout a wish in the dark–
tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.


The Broken Lands Bomb Shelter

The woman in white,
the trespasser,
the scapegoat,
the searcher,
the outsiders,
the forbiddens,
the new kid on the block,
a common person…
All thirteen inside/
The last generation
tap dancing on the roof.


Ancestor approved rules of civility
amaze me.
The dream stealer
writing down the bones,
horoscopes for the dead.
Other words for home
flutter and hum.
Smallest leaf,
extending the shade,
the tree is older than you are.


The tiny journalist
becoming a writer.
Interview with the vampire,
call and response.
The last interview…
Still writing
the magazine that never dies.


Little women from the dust returned
transfer big magic
to kill a mockingbird.
Bird by bird,
eleven wingbeats
in a kingdom of birds,
the golden feather
sailing alone around the room.


Poems that live forever
our bodies, ourselves
like water for chocolate.
Call us what we carry–
every soul a star.


Stories for the Dead of Night

The night the scarecrow walked
through the woods
along Greathouse Road,
the house with chicken legs
haunted Dallas,
her own two feet
growing pains,
a rattle of bones,
the clackity worser
off the road.


I’m not missing,
Miss Nelson is missing!
Myths and legends
rattle the emotion thesaurus.
My wicked, wicked ways
eclipse the walls around us.
Which witch?
Something wicked this way comes,
a lantern in her hand.


A thousand mornings
in the company of cats
spark good poems,
good omens,
the arrival
the color of magic.


The strange and beautiful sorrows of Ava Lavender
ring the house of leaves.
Speak of the devil
breaking dawn.
Shift the shadow of the wind,
dust the picture of Dorian Gray.
The lost track of time:
faithful place
after ever after.


Well, that was fun. Now to clean up my mess.

Published by Carie Juettner

Carie Juettner is a former middle school teacher and the author of The Ghostly Tales of New England, The Ghostly Tales of Austin, The Ghostly Tales of Burlington, and The Ghostly Tales of Dallas in the Spooky America series by Arcadia Publishing. Her poems and short stories have appeared in publications such as The Twin Bill, Nature Futures, and Daily Science Fiction. Carie lives in Richardson, Texas, with her husband and pets. She was born on Halloween, and her favorite color is purple.

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