In a darkened, protracted watery world, the roots snake and swarm together like so many nerve tendrils seeking nourishment to stimulate growth
a clipping, clearly bottled up for future life little leaves drink in the window light, send signals down into the feelers that long for soil
icebergs and snowbirds stare, stoic, from the wall uprooted from arctic climes brought here, to this cafe for a stretch of the imagination, almost a canvas against which this hot September afternoon feels like a joke
ridiculous: the difference from aquatic birth to solid earth, so far north to deepest south espresso sings: hand to mouth
Following on from yesterday’s post, another scrutiny poem. Thank you for reading!
Floating in my cup of tea: the bric-a-brac chunk leftovers from the small scoop of flavorful dust I stirred in, along with honey, to give it an extra something
this zest, now unattractive — no matter how tasty — in its warm, gentle brown swimming pool
a finer mix would have disappeared, become one with the cream-kissed elixir yet this one will not go so gently: wryly it proclaims its presence as if a little bit of the garden had blown over the tea table by an inexplicable gust of mid-morning
it wants to be seen like leftover leaves, it wants to be read its one final parting message to the ever-refreshing world
On page 99 of Mary Oliver’s Poetry Handbook, she says “The poet must not only write the poem but must scrutinize the world intensely. . . ” Reading that line made me decide to spend a part of my writing day scrutinizing whatever stood out to me as a potential subject. My cup of tea came first! Tomorrow, I will share another. There are lot of poetry books that suggest this kind of exercise; no matter how often I do it, I find it rewarding – whether or not the poems it produces are amazing, I find the action of paying closer attention in general is a good habit to develop.
She’d said that to herself a thousand times, making secret promises while she lay awake in bed at night, in the morning’s vacant space of teeth brushing and lunch packing, in the car quiet of the commute. She knew it would only take a moment’s firm decision, and then it would be done. But still the clock ticked and the days passed one after another, piling up into a heap of years.
A promise is a promise. Lacy’s mother had sworn she would go back to that place of fairy tales, the one they always talked about. She had sworn she would make the trip, with or without her, for both their sakes, to confront the memories and make them real again, make them whole. She said she would bring them back in a box that she could open if she wanted, or could slide under the bed and forget until the time was right.
It turned out that her mother’s journey didn’t include travel. It never opened up enough for her to carry out her careful plan, no matter how many times she had called Lacy and said, “Honey, I am going this year: I am. You’ll see. I am going to manage to get away. I’ve got all the money saved up right here.”
Her voice, like honey; her idea, like a sweet hidden comb in both their hearts. But she never did manage. Time and life were the bee keepers that smoked them into somnolence and acquiescence. Reality put their dreams in a back bedroom to sleep in forgotten darkness.
Two years ago, Lacy had found the box of money under her mother’s bed while she was cleaning out the house. It still smelled of new shoes. Wads of bills and handfuls of coins crushed and rattled, tied together with a piece of red yarn. For two years, it had stared at her from the windowsill. She heard its dry voice whispering all the things that could never be said, telling all the stories that were still waiting to be told.
It was a Tuesday, and she was already late for work. The kettle was screaming at her from the stove when the phone rang, and while she walked to answer it she heard her mother’s voice, clear as if she was right there in the kitchen.
Always everything was impatience, a refusal to wait, the grinding machine that she allowed to make decisions for her. Lacy had been putting everything she used to hope for on the back burner for so long that she hardly even noticed the overcooked, burning smell anymore. Her dreams had caramelized into a solid, blackened crust. Now, when she stood listening to her boss on the other end of the phone, the acrid smoke of neglect filled her nostrils. She felt her mother’s eyes on her; she heard the rattle of all those saved coins in the box.
Lacy turned off the stove. Her boss paused, and she replied, “Yes, I realize all this, and I realize that I am late. I am going to need more time, at least a week. After that, I will be back and set it all right.”
She absorbed the stunned silence, and said her words to end the call. Lacy picked up her keys, her purse, turned out the light and locked the front door. The car dinged a welcome to her and revved with confident obedience. She saw the shoebox there in the front window, safe for some other rainy day. She picked up her phone and sent a text to a number she still knew by heart. “I am on my way.” She put on her seatbelt, slipped the gears into reverse, and backed out onto her own private highway.
I am considering doing NaNoWriMo again this year, so I am playing around with prose a little in preparation for what I might write. The other day, they shared a 31 day prep challenge thing on their instagram; this is my beginning. I don’t know if this is what they intended, and also it’s supposed to be posted on instagram, but whatev’s. Some rules are meant to be broken, right? “More of a guideline. . . . ” as Jack Sparrow would say. . . .
I walked and walked through halls of wonder til at last I reached the end where God’s own voice resounds like thunder from images well known as friends
In awe beneath that gorgeous ceiling sequestered as a holy choice overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings brought back to earth by recorded noise
Quiet! and No pictures, please! Loudly they remind, again: they’re watching, they are not our friends
Security, so ill at ease, the crowd, while vibrantly bedazzled makes preservation’s efforts frazzled
A balmy night in lovely Roma with hungry bellies we sat down and promptly proceeded to drown in courses vast as we had known
Eating well beyond our quota dessert was offered as the crown: chocolate morsels, rich and brown Tummies strained at each iota
At ten o’clock, our meal complete, in came a family to begin the panoply of kitchen jinns
Pizza, pasta, and meaty feats paraded to their tabel’s head, while we went home and straight to bed
Continuing right along with inspiration courtesy of Mary Oliver’s Poetry Handbook – AND the companion book, Rules for the Dance, which deals specifically withmetered verse – I came across the Italian Sonnetand of course had to give it a try. I am a big fan of sonnets in general, especially since I find them such a challenge.
Not really having any idea what to write about, I decided to turn my attention to my memories from the trip to Rome I made in 2003; this seemed fitting for an Italian sonnet! I made a few attempts, and at first I got carried away with my thoughts and neglected to follow the form correctly. Sometimes it’s helpful to write the desired rhyme scheme in the margin!
Thank you for reading! There’s another Italian sonnet on my Medium page, and I will be sharing a couple more here eventually.
Baudelaire said to be drunk, always, so this morning I am choosing tea and sunshine, music, the hinting breath of maybe some kind of creation that’s knocking at the cabinet door to get out, just on the other side of this cup of kindness. You are what you eat, and drink, and probably sights and sounds pile on and add to that sum total, too; I hear the ding of the adding machine as it tallies me all up, illuminated this morning by the kitchen windows and bright on the inside in spite of a sleepless night. Drunkenness? Why not: draw deep, drink it all in.
Reading about Prose Poetry the other day, YOU KNOW WHERE but yes of course in Mary Oliver’s Poetry Handbook, I saw the name of Baudelaire: a name I often thought of when I was a teenager but had ignored for a few decades. A quick search online brought me his epic Be Drunk poem, and here you have the result of my reflection upon it. Thank you for reading!
In this fading comes regeneration (even the most robust things must sleep) so the trees light up with celebration while within the soil their roots stretch out deep as on a bed locked far inside a keep whose walls will shield them from the coming chill. Above, the birds who hop around and peep will soon retire, leaving the air still. And we who wait on our nature’s capricious will with deeper longings taking root for hearth and home hold anticipation tight in our hands until the first cool morning blows upon our weary bones.
I’ve heard of a time of second childhood that starts to bloom with an outward aging when times of rest might seem to work for good each day becomes instead more engaging. In the heart, defiant storms are raging. What I’ve heard, I begin to understand: each moment seems elaborate staging. Time runs too swiftly through my outstretched hands; while one part fades, another part makes a new stand like a tree digging deep to ignite revival. I take a new look at the autumn of this land and hear inside the jingling keys of survival.
This is my attempt at a poem of Spenserian stanzas. As often happens, I may have gotten carried away and neglected my duty to the strict metre. . . . still, this is my offering for the first day of Autumn. Thank you for reading! Excuse me while I go eat pumpkin-y cinnamon-y things. . .
This post is a continuation of something I started on my Medium page, which you can read here. I had a wonderful afternoon recently at Austin’s Laguna Gloria, writing, wandering, photographing. Below are 3 more poems, with their relevant Polaroids, from that day. (Read more about the sculpture garden at this link.)
Snake, they called me. Temptress. They’re right: it’s my calling to call to them. This voice of mine with its calm sweetness is bound to be a magnet away from that hard rough world.
They fear the sea, but I know it like I know my body like my soul knows that one day it will answer a magnetic call of its own
The Sorcerer’s Burden
One would expect a great number of bits and pieces to be used in the process of conjuring, odds and ends with magical purpose going about their business in some mystical, unfathomable way one that maybe even the sorcerer doesn’t understand He learned these things long ago, as an apprentice rolling up his star-studded sleeves and donning his cap to get stuck in problem solving the only way he knows how.
But storage – that’s a problem for everyone when there’s a lot of this and that about scraps and leavings that need to be stashed
A jar of earth is a good trap for those tidbits that defy reason and normal everyday laws that require a secret keeping place that need a bit of earth to cage them in
Stone on stone, I piled the sturdy blocks of foundation building the weight of my reality chiseling away at whatever debris had barnacled onto the truth I held inside
So now, today, I am heavy-rooted to the voracious earth a stoic sentinel to sweet veritas welcoming observation and whatever comes my way
Ferocious as a violin whose bow knows constant friction this morning saw the day begin with nature’s noisy diction
The bee’s electric rushing notes ignite the air with sparks; while monarch haphazardly dotes on flowers, in an arc
Dragonflies in endless motion avoid the beaks of birds; squirrels with hoarding’s wild devotion dispute, fencing with words
The outside world is never still nor is it ever neutral; the static of my mind rebels against its cloying pull
“Make a choice and spring to action!” the morning seems to say but love’s path seems to me more brazen: in peace, I’ll start today
This poem, again, was inspired by a line from Mary Oliver’s Poetry Handbook – a line that I can’t seem to locate in the text, so sadly I can’t share the page number, but I made a note of it and immediately wrote a poem, so I know it’s in there. The line that inspired me is the poem’s title.
the stirring up in all its forms with which a busy day adorns the fact and fiction of my heart can leave me breathless with its scorn awash in doubt, swiftly forlorn, tossed in the air and torn apart.
by faith, I reach for solid ground, I rest a while where all is sound and agitation soon departs.
Reading about tetrameter in Mary Oliver’s Poetry Handbook, she mentioned how that meter can bring a sense of “agitation.” That word – and my desire to try writing specifically in tetrameter – brought about this poem. The accompanying photograph was made a few years ago when I was feeling more than a little agitated over the crowded state of my house. Thank you for reading!