Poetry

Poetry by Shawn Aveningo

Enjoy a few samples of my poetry. I will be posting some of the poems on this page that have been published in literary magazines, journals and anthologies, as well as from my own personal books.

 


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First Snow Following the Election

There’s a hush—a stillness—
that muffles the groundswell,
as flurries flutter and whiteness
blankets our sleep. We weep
for truth, its heartbreaking loss
akin to a missing dog from our youth.
Our boots etch fractals in fresh powder
and we search our neighbor’s eyes
for a sign—hoping we are still
on the same side.

“First Snow After the Election” was first published in 2016 in Writer’s Resist.


 

 

On Making Bisque to Comfort the Mother Who Lost Her Son

I pick tomatoes from my garden.
I carve each one with an X.
I blanch. I peel. I puree.

As I press the pulp, extract tiny seeds
through a strainer, I remember
a day long ago in September, when

my son had just turned sixteen.
He was king. He had everything
to live for—minus the will.

We were lucky. We reached into
dark water and pulled him up.
She found the gun . . . her dead son.

Citric acid stings the flesh under
my fingernails. Her eyes sting
with the sight she’ll never un-see.

I grind a few more peppercorns,
season the soup with minced basil
add salt of a mother’s tears.

“On Making Bisque to Comfort the Mother who Lost Her Son” was first published in Visitant Lit, Oct 2016.


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Pink Ribbons

One lump or two?
Ma’am….your coffee?
One lump or two?
Such an innocent question
uttered hundreds of times
in tea rooms, coffee houses,
restaurants, airplanes.

Today, those words
had the power
to bring her to her knees.
No amount of chamomile
or honey capable
of soothing her pain.
She was drowning
in a sea of sorrow,
fearful of what
tomorrow would bring.

How could she face
this new reflection,
scarred, disfigured?
What would she see
reflecting in his eyes?
He said he would always
love her, no matter what.
He said she would always
be beautiful to him,
but this . . . this
isn’t what crosses your
mind, vowing in
sickness and health.

Each day she’ll carry on,
with a stiff upper lip
and pink ribbons in her hair,
stuffing the prosthetic
into her bra, no longer
adorned with sheer lace.

She’ll march with an
army of women.

She’s grateful to be
among the living,
a survivor as she’s
now known. But she misses
her curves, even if sometimes
they sagged. She misses
the tingling of her nipples
when her husband held
her in his arms. She
misses feeling like a woman.
She misses feeling
whole.

Ma’am?
One lump or two?
She replied,
Oh, No Thank You.
No lumps for me.

This poem was written in honor of the many women who have battled breast cancer and won. It was first published in Survivor’s Review and then again in Wait a Minute, I Have to Take Off My Bra (Inkspotter Press).


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What Hat?

Every time I hear Joe Cocker
with his raspy, wry voice,
and those tickled ivories,
it gives me
reason to live,
at least for another
9 ½ weeks or so.

So baby,
Lets linger upon linoleum
as you finger feed me
strawberries and melon,
sweet whipped cream,
spicy chorizo, and
champagne kisses
from your lips.

I’ll take the lead
from Chrissie Hynde
and prove to you
there’s nobody else
here like me. I’ll pretend,
I’m special.

And if it’s okay with you,
I’ll just leave my shoes on.

“What Hat” was first published in 2010 in Savage Melodies & Last Call Serenades, a poetry anthology published by Six Ft. Swells Press. 


 

Union

We are gathered here today, in the now,
in the molecule of this unmeasured moment
of perfection, to witness the union of two souls
who once again have collided, whom chaos,
in all her magic, have fused and bathed in orgasmic light.
Call it Fate. Call it Karma. Call it Divine Intervention.
Call it Love. Call it Lust. Call it whatever you must.
I call it…Truth!
Truth waits. It waits as long as it needs,
but always keeps it’s promise of revelation.
Truth watches as two meander,
one dancing on moonbeams, the other drumming the cosmos.
Truth waits for our physicality to meet our spirituality.
Truth waits for the universe and its wisdom to catch up.
Truth forces us to shed our skin, until only the core is revealed.
The core of you. The core of me. The core of us.
It is in truth that I stand before you,
not before congregations, but before constellations.
It is in truth, I am naked. I am broken.
I am whole;

Nazar Look, a publication house in Romania, published “Union” in 2013 in both English and in Crimean Tatar in their international anthology on unity titled Metric Conversions.


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A Mother’s Dream

I remember it like it was yesterday,
bringing my two identical bundles of pink
home from the hospital. It was Spring, in Atlanta.
I remember rocking them each night
into the wee hours of the morning
blanketing them in as much joy,
pride a mother could possibly secrete,
attempting to feed them a lifetime of confidence
so that when the day came for them to fly,
they would soar, knowing they are always loved.

Every time a mother gives birth,
she gives birth to two dreams:
the dream that evolves within the soul of that child,
to be a firefighter, a dancer, a teacher, a poet.
And the dream that never changes,
the one that’s formed with the first fetal flutter,
cemented with the sound of her baby’s first cry,
that dream for her child to be healthy,
happy, loved.

So you see, I have a dream.
I have a dream that every child grows up
in a world, in a country, in a state,
secure that she is free to love
whomever she chooses.
I have a dream where “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
simply becomes, “It Don’t Matter”.
What matters is what’s in your heart,
not what’s written or interpreted
to be true in a book.
What matters is the commitment,
the affection, the devotion,
between two souls,
no matter in what skin color, body shape,
or gender they reside.
What matters is love …period.

You see, it’s time I finally took a stand,
speak up to make you understand
because my daughters deserve
to walk in hand in hand
with the one they love
just as my son walks today
in our supposed land
of the free.

You see, he has that privilege without contest or debate,
without the interference of homegrown hate
or those so ignorant they think they can pray the slate
clean of DNA, the very genes that seal our fate,
signal to our hearts who we want to date,
as we meander through this jungle for our true soul mate.

I mean, isn’t that what we all want in the first place?
Surely, love means more than just the ability to procreate.

I think it’s high time we unite,
we unite in this battle, this fight
the next chapter in pursuit of equal rights,
for ALL our children.

Because my children
and your children
deserve to live the dream,
to be healthy, to be happy
and above all
loved.

I wrote “A Mother’s Dream” for my daughters and performed it for the first time at Sacramento’s 100K Poets for Change in 2012. It was then published in Skin 2 Skin: Art of the Lesbian, and again in The Possiblity Place.