Thicken Your Skin with Ink

Her lips are twin corpses
wearing annihilation as gloss.

Her word-rot tries to kiss,
bite, eat, kick… everyone. Don’t run,
love, don’t alter your plot.

Thicken your skin with ink, armor your-Self
with humor (“Yes!” roar flesh-ripping laughter),

upcycle your anger, turn dreadful
into a miracle garden, bloom
magic with happy teeth,

keep being you.


the wee notes (on steroids):
– today, my Muse is hosting the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads. Since she is a masochist who enjoys a “good” challenge, the mad thing invited us to choose 3 to 13 (nonconsecutive) words out of the quote below, then use said words to craft a poem that is a deliberate celebration of metaphor. It’s Friday, as you might have noticed *cough*, so my Muse dearest could not be talked out of flying over to Hedgewitch’s. The moment I opened my mouth to point out that using 13 words in a poem of only 55 words might not be as easy as it sounds, she started screeching like a chalkboard that has recently learned just how torturous her howling can be. Yes, she won. But worry not about my dignity, I took my revenge by waiting until the very last minute to write my contribution. And, oh, you’ve no idea how much that irritates her.

– the 13 words I… I mean, the Muse, chose: corpses, annihilation, word, alter, ink, humor, flesh, laughter, anger, dreadful, miracle, magic, happy

– and the quote, from Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale (one of my favorite novels): “People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in the ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.”

55 thoughts on “Thicken Your Skin with Ink”

  1. A great title, Magaly, and I love the physicality of this poem, especially the opening lines and
    ‘upcycle your anger, turn dreadful
    into a miracle garden, bloom
    magic with happy teeth’.

  2. DANG!

    That is an astoundingly good use of the words. The trick with these things is not just to try to get the words in there, but to have the whole damn thing sound like something you might naturally say. That there is poetry witchery. In 55 words! Also, I just love this piece in general. It’s good advice in patented Magaly kick-ass, take-no-prisoners tone.

  3. First, you would never know reading this that the words came before the poem, which is true art. Second, it blew my socks off with message, diction and delivery. Third..that opening line made me think of actual people I have known…unfortunately, but there it is–the horror is real here, as well as the solution of what to do with it–bury it in the garden, where fertilizer turns from dead things to living ones. Good to have you back on the 55, dear Magaly, and this prompt looks very tempting…maybe my own muse will respond. We can hope anyway. Thanks for assisting in a kickass weekend.

  4. Who needs four horsemen when Revlon turns out their Always Armageddon line? Phew!

    It is patently unfair for you and Hedge to host different prompts on the same day. Couldn’t Edwina Easybake be up at Toads just this once, with a prompt about happy haiku or something? And you tomorrow? No? Damn.

  5. To upcycle anger – in our times I have seen a few do it quite well. I know someone who instead of giving in to political anger is doing an amazing job volunteering and raising money for nursing homes and immigrants – and he is wildly successful – needs and emotional support is being delivered and received well! It’s exciting to watch and be a part of. Be the change, so to speak.

    • Spilling our rage in the face of the one who entices can be very satisfying (for about a second). But morphing that rage into energy to combat the madness in a positive way is real magic. Be the change, indeed…

  6. I have a very odd, peculiar but satisfying image painted in my head, now – of corpse lips painted in annihilation – and the way you’ve danced/dressed it down, then lifted us back up, to recycle anger – to boom! “bloom” – yeah, this has a pulsing, renewal beat – it screams spring to – of life.

  7. This was a challenging prompt…it took me all day to come up with something. So bravo for making me use my brain. Love your take…memories of the The Addams Family come to mind 🙂

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