by Ricki Mandeville

Home is the city where it always rains,
soundtrack of rain like a cool, jazzy riff,
a moody place where twilight comes early,
steals through the trees, the clasp of wet branches
that sway against the gray angora sky
while lights in buildings go on one by one.
Where people never leave the house without
a raincoat, and umbrellas pop open
like multi-colored wings coming to life
on puddled sidewalks in the heart of town.

I smile at men with pale indoor faces,
who speak in low tones in bars and cafes,
but walk back to my tiny loft alone,
the drizzle beading seed pearls in my hair,
turning torrential, soaking my wool coat,
feeding me lines I whisper to myself
to the ragged meter of the downpour
as I dash home, run dripping to my desk,
scrawl words on paper before I forget,
soak the worn carpet and never notice.

Some nights when rain bangs loud as kettle drums
I crank Miles Davis up to drown it out.
Or Joni Mitchell. Pour some chardonnay.
Turn off the lights, draw the curtains aside,
stand there, let lightning flash and do not move
from the window as rain tattoos my cheeks
with narrow streaks that roll like dingy tears.
And I think of you then, at the instant
my shadow jumps to life against the wall:
its solitary tango, empty arms.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This was a wonderful prompt. It had me writing about Seattle within five minutes. I noticed right away that most of my lines were naturally emerging in ten syllables. So I gave myself an assignment to write three stanzas of ten lines each, with every line decasyllabic. I love losing myself in the intense focus of such discipline.

IMAGE: “Lightning in Seattle” by Quynh Ton. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ricki Mandeville’s poems have appeared in Comstock Review, San Pedro River Review, Stone Highway Review, Texas Poetry Calendar 2014 & 15, Penumbra, and other publications. She is a cofounder and consulting editor of Moon Tide Press and the author of A Thin Strand of Lights (Moon Tide Press). A speaker for various literary events, she lives near the ocean in Huntington Beach, California.