Throwback Thursday: Senior Poetry Contest – The Final Poem!

Alright, y’all… here it is. The final installment of the three-poem series that won me the Senior Poetry Contest in 2007.

I know you’re probably dying of anticipation.

Your lips are plump and crisp, like purple grapes that dot the vine.
And when we kiss, I can’t help but to bite them in my mind.
And their juice flows thick and violet, down my chin and down my spine.

It puddles ’round my toes, and makes a sea of crimson waves.
And two porcelain flower pedals are the only things it saves.
And out of them, the ocean makes two tiny porcelain slaves.

The pedal-salves serve as your eyes, with two black circle-stains.
That gaze at me, and out the window sadly when it rains.
And they cry, because they’re being held by heavy, sightless chains.

They drape around your shoulder blades and dangle to the ground.
Shuffle dirt around your ankles – drag your posture down.
And wrap around your poor weak head, like a pitiful iron crown.

When you sleep, I run my fingers through the tangles in your hair
And I kiss them, like my children when they tell me life’s unfair.
You smile at me, and in my head I scream a silent prayer.

“Dear God, let the man be happy. Let his days run safe and long.
And when night falls upon him, Lord, I beg you. Keep him strong.
And may he never hear the words that litter my mind’s song.

Because his hands are like great diamonds with his palms against my cheeks.
And his voice could rattle mountains in the heavens when he speaks.
And because a single touch from him could haunt my dreams for weeks.

So I ask this in your name, Lord. Do consider this last plea.
Create his happiness a lock, and let me be the key.
I’ll ask nothing of you, evermore. Yours sincerely, me.”

And as I live life next to you, and watch events unfurl,
I’m reminded of a tale my mother told me as a girl.
When on her bed I’d sit with her, and by her leg I’d curl…

She would tell me of a woman who had loved a man to death
And had killed him with the deadly poisoned sweetness of her breath
Which was tainted with her love itself, and all its dangerous depth…

And so I retreat to watching as your eyelids flutter shut.
And I suppress the silent fire burning deep inside my gut.
I’m thinking thoughts about you… but I’ll never tell you what.


Throwback Thursday: Senior Poetry Contest, Part 2

Happy Throwback Thursday, readers!

For those of you who missed last week’s installment, we are recounting the three poems that I read during the Senior Poetry Contest during my final year of high school. I went on to win the contest… most likely because I was perhaps the only person taking the class because I was a legitimate geek, rather than just for an easy A.

Here is poem # 2:

I’m sorry – was I daydreaming?
I do that quite a bit.
Oh, what about? Like I would tell!
Well… this much I’ll admit.

There was a tree. And in its shade,
We lounged like ladybugs.
And our time was punctuated
By a dozen lengthy hugs.

We were by a lake, I think.
(I hadn’t gotten that far yet)
And we were reading Dorothy Parker
…Or Walt Whitman, I forget.

A picnic basket held our things,
Among them ham and cheese.
And we wandered over to our feast
While dusting grassy knees.

NO WAIT! We watched a baseball game.
And I asked, “Who’s on first?”
And you said something witty
And completely unrehearsed.

Then Mark Loretta got a run,
And then we got four more.
The game was legendary!
But… we didn’t know the score.

OR better yet, we walked the beach
With salty, windbown hair.
And we couldn’t look directly
At the water for the glare.

So we settled underneath the dock,
And watched the tide roll out.
We sat there for awhile, and well,
Then we talked about…

Oh – goodness gracious, I don’t know!
It’s all about the same.
I guess that’s just what I deserve
For playing the daydream game.

It’s a nasty cycle,
This imaginary life.
‘Cause you wake up – to the real world.
To death, and pain, and strife.

But I guess it’s better that way.
You know, when all is said and done.
What’s that saying? “Falls no shadow,
Where there shines no sun?”

Well, I’m back inside reality…
And my imagination’s shrinking.
But could you do me a favor?
Never ask me what I’m thinking!

Throwback Thursday: My Senior Poetry Contest

Hey there, readers!

It has been thoroughly wonderful sharing all my high school poetry with you. And the fun doesn’t stop here.

For this series of Throwback Thursday, I’d like to continue the poetry theme – but this time, recount the three poems that won me the Senior Poetry Contest.

Hang on a sec, there, tiger – before you get your expectations all high in the trees, note that  I’m pretty sure there was only one criterion for succeeding in the poetry contest: it had to rhyme.

Because these were performed out-loud, free verse was at a distinct disadvantage. That is the only fact to which I can attribute my win.

But nonetheless, venturing into these archives of my life has certainly been a fun little experience for me. I hope it has been for you, too.

Here was the first poem submitted into the Senior Poetry Contest:

While other women share the bliss
Of means to avoid loneliness…
I shift my weight, and bite my nails,
And watch their sensual exhales.

I have no gift, and know not how
To woo a man, and lift his brow.
And so… I talk. And talk some more,
Until his very ear is sore.

They say a woman ought to know
The proper way to give a show.
She bats her eyes, and parts her lips,
And when she walks, she sways her hips.

It all seems very easy, see –
To anyone who isn’t me.
I have no eyelashes to bat,
And… let’s be frank. I like to chat.

And so I sit, and watch in awe,
And on my fingernails I gnaw…
As every other girl on Earth
Let’s men determine what she’s worth.

Well bring it on, Saint Valentine!
If this is it, then I resign.
I need no male to gawk at me.
Those crazy girls need therapy.

So keep your romance, Nicholas Sparks
And Mr. Hottie’s suave remarks…
If boys don’t like me, it’s their loss.
I’m happy with my Hagan Daas.

And so, the next time a handsome guy
Approaches me, then I’ll reply,
“Oh I’m so sorry, but I’m already late.
My nails and I have got a date.”


Thank you, Wisconsin!

Throwback Thursday: More poems, but for the love of god no more cowboys

Okay, okay. I get it.

You’ve enjoyed my cowboy poems, I’m sure, but now it’s time for a respite. I know.

Which is why for this installment of Throwback Thursday, I bring you another poem… though, not of the cowboy variety.

In fact, this time I’m giving you a rare gift, dear reader – as this blog post will be exceptionally short.

(Do try contain your enthusiasm, please.)

This poem was written on New Year’s Eve, as we embarked on a journey from 2006 to 2007. I was at a party.

I had a crush on a boy who had a crush on my best friend, and allowed myself to be consumed with this crushing truth so entirely that I’m ashamed to say it might have ruined my whole evening. These were dark days in the journals of Susie Wittbrodt… dark days indeed.

I’ll spare you the surrounding woe-is-me journal entries, but I will share this little gem – scribbled into my journal in the bathroom of a friend’s house, while I pined over the exceptional hurt that is unrequited love:

His cigarette hung limp
Between a pair of grainy lips.
It bounced between them as he spoke,
Conducting snarky quips.
I pretended to palate his poisonous prose
As I pondered his dark silhouette.
But my ponderings wandered just under his nose,
At his dancing red-tipped cigarette.


Happy Throwback Thursday!

Throwback Thursday: Cowboy Poems, Part 3!

Oh hey there, readers. You’re in luck! It’s time for our next installment of Throwback Thursday, the most recent series of which recounts my childhood obsession with cowboys and my propensity toward god-awful poetry.

Are you sick of these yet?

Here’s another:

Three nooses swayed loose in the breeze like a sigh.
Three men stood informal for this brand of necktie.

Exists a trail, a quick inhale,
In the depths of the old frontier.
It houses dregs, and spider legs,
And sounds that bite your ear.

The path he chose, knew all his foes,
Was one of fear and dread.
And none would choose to walk that way
Who were not walking dead.

But ‘long the path, out broke the wrath,
Amongst the murky gray
Of a rider spent, and deeply bent
On revenge against those who betray.

A woman sat weeping against a cold floor,
Thinking maybe she’d dreamt that she’d opened the door.

She’d bid him to stay, in her courteous way,
And insisted he sit by the fire.
Her smile was sweet, and her tiny home neat
And her dress was of brilliant sapphire.

The rider, next morning, was first to awake,
And rushed home on a paranoid whim.
He had dreamt of his life, and his satisfied life,
But came home to none other but him.

His wife sat up straight, and did not have to wait
For the man at the door to react.
She assumed he would break every precious keepsake,
But alas, he’d left each one intact.

And what do you think any sane man would do,
Despite what the judges and laws told him to?

Upon the horses weighted back,
Two bodies rose and fell.
And all of the trees, like the poor horse’s knees,
Were submersed in a terrible hell.

The man in the front, who was drained from the hunt,
Slanted forward in bone-weary slump.
His bloody companion, whose breath now was still,
Rode as cargo on the horse’s bare rump.

The rider now sped, for just up ahead,
Lay a shovel and a hill
And next to them, a six-foot hole
Where he would dump his kill.

Three nooses swung loose as a clergyman prayed,
Three men were marched forward – and two were afraid.

Throwback Thursday: More Cowboy Poems

Happy Throwback Thursday, everybody.

For those of you who weren’t here for our last Throwback Thursday installment, this week I’ll be continuing with my series of cowboy poems.

I have to chuckle when I read these, because they very literally have no rhyme or reason. There’s no clear plot line, sketchy scenery descriptions, and usually a pretty abrupt ending because my brain started hurting trying to sculpt a cohesive rhythm. So I hope you’ll forgive my total lack of general storytelling etiquette.

But in any case, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying binge-walking down memory lane lately, so I’m gonna share. Here’s another:

A defined black silhouette cut through the brilliant orange sky.
It grew quickly as it neared where Dr. Kelly heaved a sigh.
The man rode hard as beads of sweat ran sideways ‘cross his face,
And fourteen miles away, made Dr. Kelly start to pace.

The woman stirred in bed, and doing so, let out a moan.
The doctor only shook his head and thought, “I should have known.”
The man on horseback yelled a slew of loud, impatient words.
The sky darkened behind him as he raced a flock of birds.

His horse was panting hard when that first star shone clear and bright.
Others like it took their place in the icy threatening night.
He shook the reigns again, last trace of purple drowning east…
The gap closed now to twelve miles, and Dr. Kelly’s fear increased.

The rim of his old cowboy hat was wet with sweat and blood.
The bottom of his boots and jeans were caked in orange mud.
His shirt was ripped, his jacket torn, his face upset and scared…
But Dr. Kelly stood convinced that he just didn’t care.

Another painful moan came from the woman on the bed.
The doctor wandered to her side and felt a burning head.
“There’s nothing I can do,” he whispered with a silent tear.
More followed with the blatant lie, “Your husband’s almost here.”

Eight miles away, a tired shadow pushed against the cold.
He’d been riding for hours, now, from the moment he was told.
The messenger had brought the news that made his heart stop dead.
“Your wife’s in grave condition, sir,” the poor young man had said.

And grave was too cheerful a word to apply in his wife’s room,
For death was hovering nearby, and toward her bed it loomed.
Six miles to go, the ride pressed, and screamed a silent prayer:
“Dear God, I know I’ve made mistakes, but this just isn’t fair.”

Throwback Thursday: Susie and her cowboy poems…

Hardly anyone I went to high school with reads my blog, but if they did they’d be rolling their eyes right now.

I may have mentioned my obsession with poetry in a previous post… and I believe I also mentioned how absurdly god-awful my poems were. What I haven’t discussed yet, was my perpetual fascination with cowboy-themed poems. (I was reading a lot of Zane Grey at the time.)

There was just something about the romance of riding horseback, kicking up dust and adventuring into the great wide nowhere with nothing but a bandana around your neck and a revolver at your hip.

It grabbed hold of my heart and hung on tight – as it did so many writers before me. And as such, my crude attempts at poetry began to assume the tropes of the Wild West.

In the next Throwback Thursday series, I’ll recount a few of the poems here… as long as I have your assurance, dear reader, that you won’t judge them.

(Note: None of them are titled. I’ve always struggled with titling things – a trait that has followed me into my current writing career. Also, I know I change tenses and I use adjectives instead of adverbs. I’m sorry, okay?)

Late at night, in the dark and the wet
When the light is teased and shunned,
There rides a man weighted down with regret
And the thick metal sheath of his gun.

He slumps on his saddle, tired and worn
His silhouette not but a clod:
A sorrowful cowboy whose jacket is torn
And whose morals are tragically flawed.

Yes tragically flawed are the morals of he,
Who sits in his hollow, on heaps of debris,
And grins as he waits for his poor enemy,
Yes, flawed are the morals of he.

A labyrinthine cavern, just miles away
Was where he’d established his lair.
He had good intentions, although I daresay
That his victim had hardly a prayer.

The hapless approached as his murderer waited
And as he arrived at the den
Sat a man with a pistol, all conscience abated.
A shot rang out once – then again.

Yes, two shots rang out that night, painfully clear,
And out of the cavern, two bodies appear,
The live one discernibly bearing a sneer,
Yes, the shots rang out painfully clear.

And now as he rides, he is ridden with shame
And can taste acrid guilt on his breath,
For he knows that he deserves all of the blame
For that miserable, undeserved death.


Happy Throwback Thursday, world!

Throwback Thursday: My First College Class

This week on Throwback Thursday, we’ll be recounting a pivotal day in the history of Susie: my very first day of college. I actually wrote this in a journal I was keeping in tandem with my best friend, who went to college in Sacramento. The deal was, since we couldn’t be with each other every moment anymore, we would each write about all of our experiences in a journal which we would later exchange. The fact that I still have this journal to be able to recount it to you should tell you how well that plan worked out.

Maybe decades of overhyped college movies are to blame here, or the amount of time I’ve spent envisioning this moment… but my first class as a student at SDSU is infuriatingly disappointing.

My professor is not old and wise and graying, with studious-looking bifocals and the hint of a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. He is a 40-something divorcee (he mentioned his ex-wife 30 seconds into his introduction) – with too much hair, and the tendency some adults have to assume that cursing allows them to relate to today’s youth. His sentences are peppered with “hell”s and “damn”s, and he looks around for approval each time before continuing.

When I signed up for “Philosophy 101,” it was with wide-eyed enthusiasm, envisioning – oh, I don’t know – desks in a circle, not rows. Heated class discussions that continue long outside the classroom. A teacher who coaches us with the unbridled passion of a close friend.

My notebook is categorized into pretty little sections, and one of which is labeled, in meticulous handwriting, Philosophy. It is to this section that it currently lies open, “August 27, 2007” written neatly at the top of the page. My pen is still poised on line one.

I look around at my fellow freshman, presumably also experiencing their first college class. Fifteen minutes in, two are already sleeping. The girl to my immediate left is doodling boats in the margins of her paper.

Our desks, regrettably, are in a boring little grid. As of yet, we have not engaged in any awe-inspiring philosophical debates, and this professor looks about as excited to be here as we do.

He drones on about course expectations, walking us through the syllabus line by line. He feels the need to outline for us that 90% and above is considered an A. 80% and above is a B, etc. (Where does he think we’ve been for the last 18 years, that would necessitate this explanation?)

There will be a midterm and a final and they are both multiple-choice (in a philosophy class?). Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated, nor will tardiness or truancy. (But sleeping in class is apparently a-okay.)

When he begins talking about chewing gum (we’re not allowed to), I start to drift. My eyes begin to wander, and I settle on the girl to my left, whose nautical drawings in the margins have expanded – her oceans eventually spilling onto the main of the paper. The entire first page of her notebook is filled with swirling water and waves – just on the brink of crashing into impressively detailed sailboats and pirate ships.

After a minute of being mesmerized by the sight of it, I look down at my own notebook – which still only holds the date. I suddenly become overwhelmed with pressure about what my first penstroke of the first page in my first class on my very first day of college will be.

If only I could doodle.

After a few awkward scribbles, I settle on a short story. I write about my walk to class, and how positive I was about being the only female in a several-block radius wearing jeans. How my iPod played “Hard Times” by Ray Charles, and it made me chuckle to myself – juxtaposed with my surrounding peers, donning Gucci purses and designer clothes. I reflected on my fellow students at this school, the sororities and short shorts. It was like a gathering of the “popular” group of every high school in the state, consolidated into one location. I’ve never exactly fit in, but here I couldn’t see how I ever would. I felt wholly and absolutely different. Other.

Before I can even finish a paragraph, Mr. Freeman is telling the class they can go. It catches me off guard – I scramble to stuff my supplies in my backpack, and everybody else is out the door more rapidly than I can even process what’s happening.

How were they all so completely synchronized? They must have been packed up already, I think. They must have been watching the clock.

I can hardly blame them. We’ll all probably be watching the clock for the next four years.

Throwback Thursday: A Collection of Poems

Hey there, readers! Happy Throwback Thursday! If you’re new around here, Throwback Thursday is when we take a trip down memory lane with the recent discovery of all my childhood journals. Sometimes these trips are nostalgic, some confrontational, some humorous, and still others are a little haunting for me. But nonetheless, I hope they’re entertaining.

For today’s installment, I’ll start off by saying that I love poetry. I grew up with Emily Dickinson and Dorothy Parker, and was trying my hand at iambic pentameter before I could even pronounce it. However, I’ll have to admit that I was never very good at it. To quote Leif Enger, one of my favorite authors, “There was no word I wouldn’t misuse, no rhythm I wouldn’t break for a rhyme.”

So today I’ve prepared a compilation of sorts, a “greatest hits” of some of the poems I’ve scribbled over the years… with the caveat that, admittedly, none of them are really all that awesome. My hope is that by grouping them together, several mediocre poems = one passable blog post. That’s math, right?

So here they are, organized chronologically:


The messenger says when he brings us good news
That we oughtn’t be happy, it’s surely a ruse.

But what will he say when bad tidings he brings?
It’s the rhythm that pulses all things, all things…


Write stories of Egyptian kings
In perfect rhythm rhyme
Disgusting are the little things
I do to pass the time.


I once had a very nice shoe.
Its brother was very nice, too.
But the left and the right
Were both lost in the night.
Oh heavens, now what shall I do?


Your heart is like some icy lake
On whose cold brink I stand
And though, for you my heart doth ache –
I’ll stay warm here on land.


Happy Throwback Thursday, y’all!

Throwback Thursday: A 10-Year-Old’s Take on Boys

Welcome back to Throwback Thursday! Where we explore the labyrinthine rabbit holes of Susie’s youthful brain, as documented in 16 years’ worth of childhood journals.

This week, we’ll be delving into the mind of 10-year-old Susie, upon her first exposure to a permeating lifelong challenge: boys.

On October 12, 1999, I plopped down onto my bed and pulled out my trusty green marker to write down this little gem:

Boys. Can’t live with them, can’t live with them.

I actually wrote that. I wrote the word “sigh” in parentheses. Dramatic literary tendencies momentarily set aside, this revelation was one that resonated with me so wholly that I felt each letter warranted the occupation of TWO lines’ worth of journal space. College-ruled just ain’t gonna do it for me this time, journal. These boys – and their insufferable nature – are a serious business.

Why do boys have to make everything so difficult??????????

I have to admire my elementary-age self for being just childish enough to want to add several superfluous question marks, but still just obsessive-compulsive enough to want to make it an even 10. (For that matter, I guess that particular trait followed me into adulthood, since I also felt the need to count the question marks when transcribing this)


I also wrote “ugh,” because I wanted this journal entry to be particularly onomatopoeic.

Today I was holding cupcakes for Lauren, and Mike came up to ask for one. I told him they weren’t mine to give, and he said “fine” and called me mean!

Riveting stuff.

It gets better:

That right there ruined my day completely.

…Wait, completely? By a guy calling you mean? Little Susie, first of all, please treasure this life of yours… so carefree that someone calling you mean is journal-worthy – and ruined your day, no less.

But second, I have to admit that based on that impassioned opening, I expected something a little more exciting to follow… and I find myself disappointed. You’ve now reached a conclusion that would later shape romantic interactions for the rest of your life – that boys are difficult – and it turned out to be the result of one silly little cupcake-related comment? The first two lines of this entry wrote a check that this story simply did not cash.

If the person reading this is in my room right now, Mike is the guy in the black and white picture on my bulletin board.

…Wait I’m sorry, what? If the person reading this is in your room right now? Hey, psycho child, if a stranger is IN YOUR ROOM READING YOUR JOURNAL, we’ve got bigger problems than character identification.

Isn’t he cute? I think so too.

Ahhh, and the clouds part. Here we unveil the real truth to this journal entry… that I actually secretly had a really big crush on Mike but couldn’t admit it – even to myself – and the most I could do was print out a black-and-white photo and display it nonchalantly on my bulletin board. In hopes that maybe someday someone would come along, read my journal, comment on his devastating cuteness, and I could carelessly agree without anyone being the wiser.

Oh, ten-year-old me, how I wish I could impart some wisdom on your confused soul!

But alas, I would have to stumble upon these wisdoms on my own. Happy to report that, 14 years later, I apparently got over my fear of liking boys. Although, old habits die hard: I definitely have a black-and-white picture of Taylor in my wallet.

In case you’re wondering, I did some Facebook investigating and uncovered that Mike is now engaged… to a girl who is (presumably) not mean.