Monday’s Rune: Independence Day


On This July Day

Born a year after
the last big war,
for decades,
I said the pledge
with hand over heart and sang
patriotic songs.

I took cover under my desk,
was a Boy Scout of America
who could properly fold the flag
and post the colors at twelve.
I prayed every day. I trusted God.

I played at war and we
always won. We were
always right, better,
and stronger. Powerful,
but merciful.

I enlisted before
graduating from high school,
I saluted. I knew, followed,
and respected flag etiquette —
still do. I swore
to protect our Constitution.

I spent two careers in the service of
(willing to, but not wanting to,
die for) my country—my people.
I thought I taught my children well.

Now,
examining my conscience
I find I am a man of a different mind,
No longer as certain of our goodness,
of our unitedness, of our honest
democracy. I feel fooled and
deceived. I feel hated by my own.

It’s not the date, it is the old spirit
where I question my allegiance,
to what or whom?

It is still in me. I still care.
But nothing is the same.
Confidence is dead. For our
freedoms, I worry with dread.

I feel conflicted. Lost.
Our enemies are close.
How patriotic am I?
I should be. I want to be.

In truth, I feel this way
not because I no longer love
my country,
but because I still do.

Happy 4th, anyway.
Be careful out there.


Look both way as we try to understand.
But deeply mind the gaps.
Even the Nazis thought they were right.

According to THIS Gallup poll, it’s a thing.

 

Sammi’s Weekender #266 (flippant)

Click to flip over to Sammi’s blog and more 74-word wonders.

Was it something I said?

Many things I’ve done and not done
which brought me much self-inflicted grief;
like transfers or removals from jobs,

I’ve sat smiling at wrong times,
adulted too young, or the drink I tasted
when I got more than a little bit wasted,
‘twas most often my spectacular speech
that others appreciated the least.

I’m gifted this flippantly waggish tongue
emitting my intently presented voice
speaking a cutting language, exposing
my cantankerously lighthearted snarkastic choice.


Look both ways when words fly like the breath of buzzards.
Mind the gaps and if your gunna do it, go all the way.

Monday’s Rune: Perspective Poetry

Saturday (June 18th) , I wrote this poem at the Round Rock Writers Guild Word Yoga (poetry) exercise Zoom workshop. My friend, Kathrine, said she wanted to see it here. Who am I to disagree?

Her excellent blog is published at: https://lklatham.com/. Her exceptionally wonderful books of dark, speculative fiction designed to beguile the imagination and convince you the things that go bump in the night are real is sold wherever great lit can be had.

 


A Moment of Time

My mantra is right here, right now
in this place with my life
that is the sum total
of forty-million moments;
some so frightening
I thought I would die,
others so boring
I thought I would die,
but here I am,
right here, right now,
just me—Mister Bill—
and my 40-million moments,
greedily hoping for
ten or twenty million more,
when frightening or boring
are equally
(un)important to me.


Look both ways with awareness of time, but this moment is all we have.
Mind the gaps for good days and bad, as pleasantry is a matter of perspective.

Monday’s Rune: Big Country Swap Meet


Listen: Brack-In Ridge

Reportage from Abilene, Texas.

The parking lot guy collects a five spot.
I joke: five dollars to see my
brother-in-law?
The good ol’ boy
with the best trash and
the biggest damn stash east of the Pecos.
I suppose west of, too.

A cowboy swap meet.
Auto stuff, mostly.
Kind of a thing in a place,
next to a silent (today) drag strip.
I spied more vendors than not.

Gear heads. Rust is the most
favored color and condition.
Many men’s junk—treasures
for another’s home, yard, or garage.
To be sold again one day down the road.

Huge bushy mustachios, semi-clean blue jeans
with stained dirty shirts work, baseball caps
of some kind to cover secret coded bald heads,
hidden lips that barely part
speaking a strange dialect,

What’s the least y’all take?
I’h gotta have ‘at old junk.

Gotta get that much,
‘at’s mah last one,
except fer ones I ain’t sold yet.

Big sky country, gateway to western Texas.
And women looking. And high priced
cars, trucks, scoots, and toys
that been rustin’ for years.
Who knows where?

It’s a tribe thingy.
I like ‘em,
but I don’t get them.
They don’t get me. Seems fair enough.
Still, it’s fun to sit and stare. To look,
and to listen.


Look both ways, be y’all a seller or a buyer.
Mind the gaps for the best deal.

 

Monday’s Rune: Standing Down

It was unthinkable, back when
my without-resumé or bona fide
job was Dad: our father,
leader, wizard, fixer of all
things and people broken,
savior of my tribe; shaman,
vet, and driver out of all demons.

Despite my foibles,
hidden as many were—
we managed to cope.

Burdened with adversity and misguided history
we owned our piece of the world,
we held the keys that controlled the universe,
wherein I was (am?) suddenly
no longer the center to which they would turn.

Call it what is, that’s life, dismissing
whenever shit happens, when I’m forced
to admit I don’t know why. To say
I was wrong about so much.
I think and think again about it all,
the ultimatum. It wasn’t you. It’s me.


Look both ways when seeking the mysterious purpose of life,
or finding of the true self, or taking on the vocation mantle of service.
Mind the gaps for the distractions of relief are dear.

NaPoWriMo April 2022 (Day 21)

Click graphic for full prompt page and links to more poems.

Today’s NaPoWriMo.net four-part prompt was borrowed from poet Betsy Sholl. This assignment tasked me to write a poem within which I recall,

  1. someone I was close to, but I am no longer,
  2. a job I no longer do, and
  3. art that I saw once and that stuck with me.
  4. I was to close the poem with an unanswerable question.

Reflection

Side by side in many ways
our lives were intwined by profession,
friendship, and meaning. Only now,
looking back do I see that when
you went right, I vectored left,
fast friends now virtual strangers.

Maybe I no longer do those things,
I don’t walk or talk the same,
my goals and purposes are past,
yet my butt is a branded identity.
From that long ago past, my dreams
are still me then, me when I was
part of a thing bigger than myself.

I saw the cowboy of a distant genre
who rode one horse of divergent
color, who ranged and wrangled west.
I’m unlike him; no horse or saddle
sits beneath me. I’m just a deliberate, defiant,
dying breed with a protective attitude.
He sits, and stares. I wonder where.

Why the tie? Is the past part of me?
Am I still part of the past?
How do those people and things
have me in what they are today?
Does any of it matter?


Look both ways, but juxtapose the past with the present,
especially if both are greater than the future.
Mind the gaps because memory is notoriously unreliable.

NaPoWriMo April 2022 (Day 19)

Click the graphic for the prompt page and more poems by other participants.

Today’s challenge is to write a poem that starts with a command.

I wrote my poem as a more respectful, loving plea rather than a command, but the words suit the prompt’s intent well, as far as I’m concerned. My inspiration was the Peter, Paul, and Mary song, Day Is Done.


Our Day Undone

Tell me why you are sad, my son.
Let me hold your hand and listen
as you speak of woe. Call me
to your side as we talk, and we walk.
Stay near me. Tell me your regrets,
intone unknowns we both fear.

Is it wise for us to ask why, sadness
so deep we must cry? Tell me,
my son. I’ll be right here
until my last day is done. Burden my
purpose of commitment. I ask no easement,
but for your silence to clear.

Allow me to share this distress and bother
just as I’ve carried you before. I rejoiced
in your life, now let me suffer with you
the worst of your troubles. Let us be
like some small support
as we lean upon each other
and lift this load
until the healing is done
and sadness has passed.


Look both ways mindful of love’s burden.
Let compassion fill the gaps,
allow time and love to ease the pain until the day is done.

If you’re not familiar with the tune:

NaPoWriMo April 2022 (Day 12)

Today I opened the napowrimo.net prompt page and read about poetry online journals (something Maureen is doing this year), the two poems from yesterday’s prompt she selected to highlight, and the day twelve prompt, which said to write a poem about something small.


I Wear the Ring

Aunt Lorry (we called Delores, Mom’s sister, that) loved me
more than I realized. When I was very young,
she’d send envelopes addressed to me,
from Washington D.C. with Dennis the Menace
cartoons cut from her newspaper.

I didn’t see the connection then. But I do now. It was the only mail
I received from an adult when not my birthday or Christmas.

When I graduated from Texas A&M University Lorry insisted
on paying for my class ring. Aggie rings are a big deal
to alumni (called former students). I still wear the ring—
more than fifty years later. I remember Lorry every time.

She never married, was old fashioned, traditional, and a staunch
Catholic. She wasn’t difficult (usually) but criticized
what she thought was wrongdoing.
Yet she was hopeful to the edge of naiveite.

Had she been any different, I suppose I’d still have my ring,
but I would not have had a famous cartoon character
as my childhood alter ego.

Lorry died about ten years after I graduated and whenever
I wear the ring I’m reminded of her.
I will be until the day I die. Such a small thing but a big
reminder of my old maid aunt, my childhood, love, and
how ironic it is when things turn out differently than expected.


Look both ways and remember familial days.
Mind gaps that may bring surprising results.

NaPoWriMo April 2022 (Day 11)

Click the graphic to see the prompt, other poetry information, and links to more poems.

Today my Monday NaPo challenge was to “write a poem about a very large thing:” a mountain, whale, skyscraper, planet, or … an airplane.


B-52 BUFF

I was in uniform when I first watched, from a safe distance,
100-yards away from the air base runway, standing out
among the brown shin oak, scrub-brush prairie of west Texas,
by then the second largest US state in size, while
dozens of B-52s took-off separated by mere seconds.

Wider and longer than half a football field,
each lumbering silver giant powered by eight jet engines
seemed to groan as it gradually lifted
its 450-thousand-pound gross payload airborne,
mocking gravity while ostentatious clouds of black smoke billowed,
a roaring thunder shattered my ears as earth trembling
vibrations shook my entire eighteen-year-old body.

My friend scoffed when I said I would. But later,
as a less young crew dog at the heart of the beast,
I flew the Big Ugly Fat Fucker, affectionately BUFF.
The B-52 bomber set at my fingertips unnatural
science-fiction levels of destructive power
unknown in all the wars throughout human history.

The BUFF leaked fluids, stank of puke and piss,
was cramped and uncomfortable, dangerous
even to us, who both loved and hated her. She was old,
ugly, unglamorous, and deadly. However, together
with us, the whole was greater than the sum of parts.

Eventually hundreds became few. Only bones
and a few isolated squadrons remain today,
approaching 60 years hence.
The missions were long, tough, and thankless,
and occasionally as scary as hell itself.
So, why are my memories framed with such palatable pride?


Look both ways and all around for enigmatic things great and small.
Mind the gaps but ignore the flaws.
Anybody can do the easy.
Embrace the suck.

B-52s launching at minimum intervals of 12 seconds. The black smoke is created by water being injected into the engines and stops after a few minutes.

 

NaPoWriMo April 2022 (Day 3)

Since it’s Sunday, (I’ve no idea why that matters to Maureen Thorson [Napo creator and prompt director], but I acknowledge that most folks who work do so on approximately five of the other six days) so today’s NaPo prompt is (she said “a bit”) complex. I’m to write a poem in a Spanish form called glosa (or glose). Glosa explains or responds to another poem or part of one. Until today, I was unfamiliar with this form, but now I am intrigued by it.

THE GLOSA OR GLOSE requires:

  1. a) A cabeza (or motto) – the quatrain borrowed from another poet, whose authorship must be acknowledged.
  2. b) Four 10-line stanzas, each ending with one of the lines in sequence from the cabeza.
  3. c) A rhyme-scheme requirement that lines 6 and 9 rhyme with the final word of line 10.

It seems challenging, but “The point of any formal (poem) constraint is primarily to put you under pressure to write a little differently from your default style, and in the case of the glosa, you’re forced to participate quite explicitly in the work of another poet, many new possibilities for writing differently can be magically released.

“There’s great scope for playing with this form, by varying the constraints. You could choose a different stanza length, write in free verse, in a metre of your choice, or in syllabics; dispense with rhyme or increase the amount of rhyme; use a different length of cabeza, or introduce the lines of the cabeza in different positions in your stanza.” ~ John Wheway, “How to write a Glosa.” (https://www.johnwheway.com/?p=4)

I did the prompt and followed the form as closely as I could, except for one rhyme. Who cares, right?

The most difficult part of this was browsing through my favorite poets to find the perfect quatrain, then to cull that dozen down to one.


I could feel the day offering itself to me
and I wanted nothing more
than to be in the moment—but which moment?
Not that one, or that one, or that one
,

From the book, The Trouble with Poetry (and other poems): “In the Moment,” by Billy Collins.

Life’s Moments

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
they’d ask, “Do you have a girl friend?
I needed answers. Also, “How was school today?”
I grew up without ever knowing
what it was I wanted to be.
I married young and that stopped
all questions about any girlfriend,
and then one day I woke on up.
The value of school I started to see
I could feel the day offering itself to me.

One day at a time, moment by moment
I lived my life, and I slowly learned
what I wanted to do, he who I wanted to be
even though, before, I didn’t know or want
to be the he who was evolving into me.
Each day of my life I opened another door.
The important people in my life called me
Bill or Dad or Opa, not sir or major.
I finally had my feet on the floor
and I wanted nothing more.

Forty million moments later I knew
the answers to so many of their questions
but I can’t tell them now, not that they
ever really cared, like everyone does
after they’ve grown up (if they do),
they’re all gone now to find others to torment.
So little I remember, the work I did,
the people I loved (and those I did not)
I think about my future, I want nothing more
than to be in the moment—but which moment?

I wish I could tell them now
what I didn’t know then, what I’ve become,
and how I made my way, and what
I have to say. I never liked school,
a necessary evil at best,
but that’s all long over and done.
I’ve paid my dues. Didn’t always give my best
even when life was some questioning test.
I try moments and memories I could’ve become,
Not that one, or that one, or that one, …


Look both ways to the future and the past
but live every moment like it might be your last.
Mind the gaps and the questions, but live long into the answers.