Poetry: Sijo for Two (NaPoWriMo day 20)

The NaPo prompt for day 20 was to write a poem in a traditional Korean poetic form called sijo, in English of course. Sijo is a specific form with a little flexibility unless one wished to exercise poetic license to color outside the lines. Since these are only three lines of 14 to 16 syllables each, I wrote two for Tuesday.


Marvelous Melancholy

I forgot about something important. What being bored feels like.
Oh, how I long for the days when I could do what I wanted.
Now I can’t just up and do, up and go. I mustn’t fall on my ass.

***

A Taste of Tint

Like yellow, it has never been one of my favorite colors.
Did I ever favor any one color over another?
I’m starting to like orange. Never saw a color I didn’t like.


Look both ways. Then smile. Sing a song, “I’m Alive!”
Mind the gaps for forgotten sorrow or the taste of color.

Poetry: Dad’s Ways (NaPoWriMo day 15)

For today’s NaPo prompt, I was supposed to think about (as in remember) a small habit I picked up from one of my parents. Then, I was to write, first about remembering my parent engaged in that behavior before writing about me doing the same thing.

I can do none of that. I recall no small habits of Mom or Dad, much less identify any I copied.

This prompt is one of several generative writing prompts created by Juan Martinez for his college-age creative writing students at Northwestern University. I’ve not been a college student for many years and probably completed my undergraduate degree before Professor Martinez was born.

But I wanted to write a poem from this prompt. Since Martinez used the term generative, I felt comfortable using his idea as the genesis for one applicable to my life by adjusting the parental habit concept to my father. Several of my father’s customs so irritated me that I intentionally do the opposite, do not do them, or if I ever did, I stopped copying them many years ago. This is not phyco-babble. I loved my Dad (sort of) but I despised much of what he did.

That way, I can remember and write about him while also writing about me not engaging in the same behavior, a bit of a reverse of the NaPo prompt. The original theme of a poem about my parent’s habits remains.


I loved him and I think
he loved me, but I can’t recall
him saying it. I’m freer with
I love you’s, hugs, and kisses. I don’t think
Mom considered him a good man.

He had only apple butter and cold
processed meat sandwiches as a kid.
I learned about apple butter at Jimmy’s house.
It was not allowed in ours.

Except for some dining-out places,
I hate for people to wait on or to serve me,
he seemed to expect it,
especially from my Mom.

His teeth spent nights in a glass with water,
I am meticulous about dental hygiene.

He smoked himself to death. I quit long ago.
He had religion. I gave that up too.
He often laid on the couch. I never do.

Our bathroom sink was always disgusting
because of his mess. I clean mine several times
each day and never leave it wet. I don’t think
I’m anal, but I pick up my shit and fix cockeyed things.

I learned how to do things and to have the right tools
before I start. He learned as he worked,
never with the right tool for the job.
I watched his frustration and learned
what not to do.

He didn’t drive. I have a motorcycle.
He smelled too much of cologne,
like a French whore house to me.
I never use scented products to smell attractive.

I believe exercise is good medicine,
he didn’t think so. I fight with my temper,
he often lost his without guilt. I tried to keep away
from him and that violent loss of control.

His ethnic epithets seemed normal Archie
Bunker stuff, I avoid them because of him,
not due to today’s PC environment. It was called
All In the Family, if you don’t know.

It seems to me that my Dad’s good influence
on me was letting me see, hear, and smell
that meat-and-potatoes Irishman who
I believe, did the best he could, and I knew
all along Mom wanted better.


Look both ways at their foibles and yours.
Nobody’s perfect, of course,
but mind the gaps to be the best you can.

 

Poetry: A junk drawer song (NaPoWriMo day 10)

The day ten NaPo prompt is to write a junk drawer song.

The process was to choose a song, listen to it and make notes. I was not to overthink it (yeah, right), but too late. Next, I was to rifle through a junk drawer and make more notes about the objects therein.

Third, I needed to bring the two pages of notes together by writing a poem. The final step is to name the poem.

I made a list of seven songs, then selected “The Boxer” by Simon and Garfunkel. If I am to connect a song to a poem, that folksy tune is it. If you are familiar with the Bridge Over Troubled Water version, you may not be aware of the verse sometimes left off. Read it and you’ll see me.

The verse not included:

Now the years are rolling by me—
They are rockin’ evenly.
I am older than I once was,
And younger than I’ll be.
That’s not unusual;
No, it isn’t strange:
After changes upon changes
We are more or less the same;
After changes we are more or less the same.

I had less control over the junk drawer, but I was able to choose from various depositories for miscellaneous stuff.


Take Comfort Here

I am the boxer. Back then,
I had more future than past.
It could have been worse.
I found buttons and church keys.

How I saw it all then,
Doing wrong making bad,
And sorry I wasted anytime on that bull shit.
There was a domino of Oma,
Among bottle caps of cities,
Near an empty tube of something.

But it was to please them that I wanted.
And promises I’d heard,
Smiley faced measuring tape,
Two hand fans, or was it three?

Is that a hypodermic needle?
When a boy becomes a man,
For a long time, he’s neither.
Looking for something to make his own.
An orange highlighter to ruin a good book.
Dried up glue sticks.

I felt the pain and heard the call,
A temptation was my sin.
A needle and nail polish remover?

I didn’t and still don’t know what I wanted.
In such a coal miner’s lad finds comfort.
Low places. It could be worse. An old iTouch,
A thumb drive. Julie’s roller derby pin.

I stand before the mirror.
I am still a boy with a fighter’s heart
Crying out,
“I’m leaving, I am leavin’ ‘n want no company,”
But I’m still the same frightened boxer.


I look both ways, at who I was and who I am:
still the same, not wishing I was gone.
The gaps are bleedin’ me, leadin’ me…home.

Sammi’s Weekender #195 (gargantuan)


Small Heart; Big Deal

Sometimes, size matters. It seems sensible,
big things are to do big jobs. But not always.

Our most important parts are brains, hearts, lungs, livers, and stomachs.
In that order. Everything matters but size.

The most impressive of these is the heart.
Small, weighing less than a pound, it does gargantuan work.

Pounding up to 25 quarts of blood each minute every day at 70 beats a minute,
one-hundred thousand times per day. Three billion in a lifetime.

The size of my fist, our hearts, yours, and mine,
have been heralded through history, physically and emotionally.


Look both ways in chambers and valves.
Feel and hear as the beat goes on. Mind the gaps on the EKG.

Sammi’s Weekender #189 (troglodyte)

Click to open Sammi’s blog

Favored Bonds

With nothin’ left to lose, they closed their doors.
Perennials, long past thirty-seven point eight median years,
they lived what’s left of life.

She, an unwilling anchoress,
he a happy troglodyte of hopeful health.
With preeminence declining,
they stood their ground.

They shunned from their bubbled bastion those
who denied reality or died in denial
of reality’s science, as plagues of nonsense
took many from loved ones.

Together, they danced ‘till the end of love,
touched by mature minds.
Happy to be alive in a new world, until
the end of time comes for them.


Look both ways crossing life’s boundaries.
Mind the gaps and keep moving.

Treasured Rags

 

“The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.” (Marie Kondo)


New clothes were brought home
as treasured items proudly worn.
Gifts of love once remembered.

And cloth diapers for three babies,
none of whom used wash and wear for theirs,
but they sure as hell wore them.

Old shirts, their purpose long fulfilled,
now used to clean, dry, or wipe.
They’re washed, then continue to serve.

Old rags have memories woven into fabric—
from experiences with life;
from when first worn, old rags aren’t discards.

They’ve simply changed uses. Like people.
And memories. Lots of memories.
“…a rite of passage to a new life.”


Look both ways,
from the marvel of the mint to the value of the venerable.
Mind the gaps, but for most, “it don’t mean a thing.”

Sammi’s Weekender #183 (Wrangle)

Click to go to Sammi’s page and words of other’s.

Left, Right, Left

Loudly, we would wrangle well into the wee hours.
Gene and I would worry all but us; uneasy friends, smok-an’ drinkin’ buds
with different ways we saw our world.
Not even—no more.


Look and listen both ways. Lean from friends.
Mind the gaps of age and wisdom, our unforgiving nature.

***

 

Friday Fictioneers 9/18/2020 (Poetry: Joe’s plan)

Thanks to Rochelle @ Rochelle Wisoff-Fields-Addicted to Purple for providing another Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. Her weekly challenge is for us to write a story of 100 words or less based on a photo prompt (thanks to Roger Bultot).

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Genre: Narrative poetry
Title: Joe’s Plan
Word count: 96

***

Joe was okay for 96;
a walker, a bag, and caths.
not bad. no cancer.
she was long gone.
he felt guilty and missed her.

Joe had a plan.
one night, after the poker game,
the pain was too much.
at the hospital er, shingles, they said,
was not deadly.

Joe’s plan,
that night in his bathtub
he used his .38 Special
to join with her,
just past the veil.

Joe’s girlfriend found him, cops came,
hazmet cleaned up. some family members
dealt with his stuff. all they ever wanted
was joe’s money. now it’s finished.

***

Look both ways and wonder why, but death awaits all.
Mind the gaps and keep your powder dry.

Click for link.

Friday Fictioneers for 8/21/2020 (One Last Time)

Many thanks to Rochelle @ Rochelle Wisoff-Fields-Addicted to Purple for pointing me to another photo-inspired Friday Fictioneers. The weekly challenge she presents is to write a story based on the photo prompt, provided today by Ted Strutz.

My task is to write a complete story in 100 words or less.

Photo by Ted Strutz ©

Title: One Last Time
Genre: Fiction (Southern Gothic)
Word count: 100

***

Abject fear hit me when I saw his house, familiar feelings founded on my childhood nightmares with an abusive father and an enabling mother.

I love South Carolina’s low country but have few good memories, a good place with fine people. But not him.

I walked the three steps to front door. A gunshot stunned me. I ducked, looked around, then carefully opened the door.

He put the WWII .45 on the table and said, “Safety’s broke. I ain’t goin’ to no death house.”

“Well, Dad, you cannot live here. And you damn sure ain’t livin’ with me. Now pack!”

***


Look both ways for the life you’ve lived.
Mind the gap like a bad dream.

Click for link.

dVerse prose: A Time

Thanks to Merril (from New Jersey) for hosting this dVerse bar challenge: Prosery Monday: A Time, to which I am responding on Tuesday. Merril says to write prose of less then 145 words in response to this line from the poem “A Time” by Allison Adelle Hodge Coke.

“when it is over said and done

it was a time

and there was never enough of it.”


Genre: flash memoir
Word count: 143
Title: L’esprit de l’escalier

***

Last Fall, I wrote a poem about watching my father drink coffee and smoke when I was a young child. Our father-son relationship improved slightly later in life.

I’d received good reaction to the piece, so I considered its potential for submission. I requested further feedback from a critique group (mostly fiction writers). I was aware of the potential risks, but I wanted to know their thoughts.

One person asked, “I did not understand the last few lines where you said, ‘I figured it out. He did too. In the end, it was just the end.’ Can you explain what you meant?”

Stumped for a good answer, I copped-out with, “He died”—a true but poor response on my part.

Now I could simply say, “When it is over, said, and done, it was a time. And there was never enough of it.”

***

Look both ways for answers.
Mind the gaps in the poetry of others,
it’s where we may find answers.