Charm City


They did yoga on the grass in the park
as the police helicopters circled

women in spandex spinning hula hoops

while he smiled from the stage

fingers pressed firmly on the strings of his bass

down the street

the protesters chanted 

inaudible over the banjo

and Bumper Jacksons’ ragtime blues

hard cider and sunshine

harder loss

white grandmas making spaghetti 

with gluten free noodles

while a black mother plans a funeral

a dancing city weeping
April 2015

Julie Ayers

NaPoWriMo Day 25

weight limit



she was surprised to find herself happy
as if she’d finally been able to remove
a 472-pound pack she’d been carrying on her back
as she journeyed
thinking she needed baggage that size
to contain all she wanted
when all she really needed
fit perfectly inside her
small but capable
factory-issued frame

April 2015
Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 24




April 23 —
Today, Lucius turns nine.

Nine years ago, a ringing phone
woke me in the early morning dark
and my brother told me the happy news
about his son’s birth.

Later that day, my family
joined in a Kidney Walk fundraiser,
my 10-year-old daughter proudly wearing the sign:
Today is the 4th anniversary of my kidney transplant.

She was strawberries and cream
amidst the pink dogwood blooms.

We were relief and jubilation.

April 30 —
Nine years ago, a routine chest x-ray
of my daughter showed her lungs
full of dark blooms.

May 11 —
My birthday.
Nine years ago, I packed bags
for me and my daughter,
her being admitted to the hospital
for a lung biopsy.

May 13 —
Mother’s Day.
Nine years ago, my tiny, sweet, resilient daughter,
who carried a torso already striped with scars,
was diagnosed with lymphoma.

Every Spring Since —
Like everyone, I watch for signs
from the living things around
that it is time again to bud, grow,
display what has been hidden inside,
unseen but waiting.

I watch my radiant daughter
and pray, again, please, this year,
that every reveal hold promise
and unspoiled beauty.

April 2015
Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 23


Today, Birthdays, Holidays, and Anniversaries




Clock face glowing
3:37 am
she shifts from side
to back
and imagines the ceiling cracks
to be roads
follows one over and out
until all she can see are hills
rolling green
lush a taste
scent of motion
she dreams awake
and loosens time
grateful for a form
of dimness
that accommodates
her finest trimming

April 2015
Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 22


Softly, Bloom



Once, I had my mouth wired shut for six weeks post surgery on my jaw.
That same week, my dad, David, died.
While I grieved for my father, I struggled with exhaustion,
bone-deep pain, and crippling headaches – byproducts of loss
of parent and solid nutrition.

My brother-in-law, David, came to visit near the end
of my oral-binding phase.
Seeing me gaunt and pale, he asked
what taste I most missed.
I said cookies. Chocolate chip. My dad’s favorite.

David, ever the hospitable, who delighted in discovering
a person’s favorite foods, searching out the best
recipe, practicing a perfect version, and serving
this culinary gift when he next saw you,
was a great amateur chef, but not much of a baker.

Undaunted, he went to the grocery store and purchased
tubes of raw cookie dough, baked up a batch of gooey, undercooked,
heartbreakingly delicious chocolate chip dotted gobs of love
and told me to break off tiny pieces, slip them between my banded
teeth and let them rest on my tongue. Dissolve.

The only thing that possibly could have surpassed the delightfulness
of the taste of my father’s favorite treat at that moment was the sweetness
of my brother-in-law’s thoughtful creativity.

When this kind David, at age 47, suddenly died of a brain aneurysm several years later,
I tattooed a lotus on my wrist. Now each time I extend my right hand and reach out,
I see embedded in the flower’s shape, its flat bottom then arch of petals,
a D, and am reminded of my Davids, and the rare beauty and sweetness
that can grow from the murkiest and darkest of sources.

April 2015
Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 21






You know how if you care about someone and they don’t like dill,
you try to avoid making anything that might require dill?
To please them, you will purge your life of dill.
You go so far, work to stay so pure of dill,
that even when you are not with them you still eschew dill.
But maybe you really love dill.
Maybe your favorite seasoning of all time is dill,
but you believe you love them more, so you shun dill.
After all, no question, right? People before dill.
And then, one day, they leave your life and suddenly dill
can return and you think, “Wow, I actually prefer dill.”

April 2015
Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 20


Climate Changed


imageShe decided to breathe on only odd-numbered days.
A conservation strategy to help the planet and herself
waste less energy expanding and contracting her lungs,
taking in all that good oxygen from around her,
and with every exhale,
replacing it with damaging carbon dioxide.

She briefly wondered if anyone would notice her blue periods,
which would necessarily be punctuated by silence,
as all words are mostly made of air.

Her undertaking was short-lived, as was she.

And she never did learn that no one noted the loss of her words,
or of her.

April 2015
Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 19