Poetry: In the Stacks

Circa 1890

Some things I’ve always known,
like where the Library was,
especially the one with a funny name,
the Osterhout Free Library,
in my hometown, which to me
was and is The Library.

Looking like the Presbyterian church
it first was in 1849,
with (now gone) ivy covered walls,
hinting of mysteries, adventures,
and the wisdom within;
a mile to walk was nothing
for a keen young lad to go
for a book or two.

Through church doors that open
into the vast, once Calvinistic,
nave with colorless unstained leaded glass,
now with desks and shelves filled
with books and things,
one finds it all.
Hush! Whisper please.
People are reading.

Off to the left dim dark stacks
beckoned like a secret
church transept and silent choir loft.

The true spirits of the library’s haunted
dark and dingy, yet welcoming,
old book-scented stacks, silent
dust and maybe mischief,
with muffled giggles of children
or lovers, each playing with
resident hushing ghosts.

Long ago—a place of prayer,
now a sanctuary
of human wisdom and happiness.

***

Comb the dark stacks of old libraries looking both ways for dusty old history.
Mind the gaps and giggles of the ghosts.


Note: Because this was my first community library during my formative years, it was what I expected all others to look like. Not a bad standard.

Click the image to link to library information.

 

Poetry: Up Your Rolex

You know who you are,
driving fast and weaving past
in your European model automobile
costing four to ten times
the worth of my car. I am so
sorry to have used your
private interstate highway

And set my cruise control
a mere smidgen over
the legal speed limit of eighty
fucking statute miles an hour.

I was foolish indeed,
to humbly assume such speed
would suffice to get you
to your Sunday morning
emergency appointment.

Trucks once had their speed limits
for safety. But, no longer. Perhaps
you can have limits removed
for drivers of a Beamer, Audi,
Benz, or a Lex.

Maybe even
your own lane forbidden
to the minions who believe
their thirty-dollar Timex
is as good with time
as your uptown Rolex.

My foolish economy has jaded
my vision since I struggled
to see life your way.

And finally, begging your pardon
one last time.
Fuck you, asshole.

***

Look both ways, these wankers pass on both sides.
Mind the gaps, they’re filled by saps.

Poetry Report: November Poems + Ann’s

I’ve written that the best thing about August is September. Not this year. September brought several personally stressful events into my normally complacent private world. October was a month for healing and action. Gradually, recovery unfolded as those things apparently changed to my favor thanks to the efforts of a few loving people.

I did not win the lottery, but I began to relax. November was the best of the three months—not exactly perfect, but the worries from two months earlier seemed controlled. I’ll take it.

Thanksgiving Day is the traditional time our immediate family gathers. It is our time. Indeed, we had a house full, but I put in my notice for next year. We’re too old for that shit. It was fun and we are all grateful for how things have turned out so far. But there are people out there trying to make a living fixin’ turkey, giblet gravy, cranberry whatever, and all that stuff. I should help.

This poem was written about me writing a poem each day by a friend from my writers’ group. After Ann, who I like to call Barbara Ann (not her real name – long story: Ba ba ba ba Barbara Ann and the Beach Boys), read it during one of our poetry sessions. I requested, and she gave me, permission to post it here.

One Poem A Day?
By Ann Bordelon

“A poem a day?” That’s quite a task!
I say that’s wa-a-a-a-ay too much to ask.
One a week might be realistic,
But one a day is too optimistic.
They don’t have to rhyme, you say,
But still, one every single day?
There aren’t that many words in my brain,
I’ll run out in a month, what a strain.
Please tell me that this is a sort of a joke
And the reality is that you misspoke.
Instead of “one poem a day” you meant,
“One poem a week is what we should invent.”

Thanks, Ann. Wonderful poem. I’m honored.

I don’t know if I could cut back to less than one poem a day, much less to one a week. On this coming New Year’s Eve, I will complete my mission of composing at least one poem each day during 2019. After that, who knows?

The titles/topics of the daily poems I wrote during November were:

  1. Dying Dignity
  2. Ineffable
  3. First Reading
  4. Finding Treasure
  5. Poets are Dying
  6. Editing
  7. Don’t Bite Me
  8. Natural Brutality
  9. Liminal
  10. Some Cussing Required
  11. Precious and Rare Days
  12. To PC or not to PC, a Question
  13. Thoughts
  14. Imagined Solutions
  15. Muse Berries
  16. Draconian
  17. Up Your Rolex
  18. My Colorado Morning
  19. Extraordinary Knowing
  20. Lie to Me
  21. Dear Deer
  22. The Gap is Gray
  23. I Hear You Died
  24. The Final Week
  25. My Twilight Swim
  26. Ignorance is not Bliss
  27. Expectations
  28. Cowboys 2.0
  29. Body Gremlins
  30. Morphology

As we enter the last month of the year, I look both ways—to future months
as I wonder what’s next with a curious fantasy about the advent
of a new time and age. I think about past months
with more satisfaction than I’m entitled.
I shall mind the gaps in my life, one day at a time.

Poetry: Figured It Out

He poured the sugared and evaporated
milk-creamed coffee over the side
of his cup into the saucer below,
where it cooled. His eyes rolled back
as he took a long, slow, hot drag
from the short, burning white cigarette,
I could see the pleasure on his face
as he derived joy from the smoke.
Then he picked up the saucer and slurped,
like the king of his court. This was the norm.

I was too young to know how we,
as a family, were so totally dependent
upon that old man, that coalminer with a bad
back and a temper to match. I figured
it out. He did too. In the end,

it was just the end.

Look both ways but accept reality.
Mind the gaps,
but let not foolish wishfulness lead to wrongful discernment.

Poetry: On Raising Teens

I recall, eons ago, when I was neither adult nor child,
during a phase of life known as adolescence
or numerically, being a teenager.

I also recall later being
a male adult parent to three, at one point—
all three almost simultaneously fitting
the technical teenager definition.

We all age up, but teeny boppers, as was once
a more affectionate term, stay the same.
Someone is always oddly 13, 15, 17, or some
age of that hormonally unbalanced
and the musically misguided post-pubescence.

I recall that back then, I was often bored unless
in the midst of violent volcanic eruptions,
and even then, given time, I found them dreary.
Almost everything of interest
involved getting into trouble, things which
I confess to doing with reckless abandon.

Now I look around and see grandchildren,
mostly in some phase of teenage-ism,
some exhibiting familiar behavior, some not.
I see parents, once teens themselves, distraught
over viewing in their progeny reflections of
their former life, a past they seldom
confess or want to remember.

I have no solutions and few suggestions for
those raising difficult teen personalities, like me,
like them, maybe like my parents in the
years of the Great Depression or
WWI or II. But I smile slightly
and I sympathize greatly.

Two things in life are not for sissies:
raising teenagers and getting old. That,
having done both, I can swear to. But,
in the long run, they are worth it.

May we all live long, prosper,
and remember. “Tomorrow, and
Tomorrow, and So Forth.”

Look both ways as life transitions. Be mindful of the gaps in denial.

Poetry Report: October Poems

Even if I was bad at math (I’m not), with 61 days remaining this year, I have written more than 300 poems during 2019, beginning with my commitment on New Year’s Day. Writing at least one poem each day has been more of a learning experience than I expected. Originally, I thought it would be difficult but fun, and it has been, but I wondered if I could manage it every day for a whole year.

An unintentional consequence has been that I read much more poetry and I’ve bought more poetry books this year than ever. I’ve also become comfortable trying to write a poem about anything at any time. Sometimes I have no idea where it will go—I just sit down and write. A poem happens (no claims for first draft quality).

I’ve written around the clock. With my pen or laptop at my fingertips, I have composed poems during the wee hours after midnight, before dawn and at sunrise, before and after breakfast, at mid-morning with coffee, while dropping crumbs of my lunch onto my poesy, before and after dinner and while drinking wine or coffee (sometimes too much).

I’ve written them in the car as Yolonda drove, in coffee shops (alone or with groups), at meetings, on my back porch, in other people’s back or front yards, in my daughter’s kitchen, and in every room of our house except the garage and bathrooms (but I should, right?). Using sights or happenings for prompts, I composed while cooling my heels in waiting or examination rooms, while sitting, standing, or on the lie. I have composed mental poems that are never written down, but they don’t count.

Except when I use prompts, like Sammi’s weekender, at writer’s group meetings, or during NaPoWriMo in April, topics are virtually random thoughts or events. Billy Collins even wrote a poem about people telling him there’s a poem in that. I try to write as soon as a thought occurs to me.

I’ve now happily welcomed poetry as the biggest part of my writing life, with encouragement from friends, family, readers, and other poets/writers.

The titles of the 31 poems I wrote each day during October were:

  1. Hard Times Were Had by Us
  2. Shots and Jabs
  3. Choose Your Role
  4. Old Feelings
  5. I Need an Answer
  6. Haven
  7. We’re Number Two
  8. Old Man in My House
  9. Music in Me
  10. CSL (Clive Staples Lewis)
  11. Projects
  12. Irreplaceable Love
  13. Relief Strategy
  14. Too Much
  15. Fallen Pride
  16. Debatable
  17. Art in Us
  18. Your Own
  19. Where Goes the Candlelight?
  20. Aurora
  21. Oldies
  22. Risk & Danger = Life
  23. My Lucky Tree
  24. I could have been a Poet
  25. Road Trip Pits
  26. Saturday at Dawn
  27. The Sunday Marathon
  28. On Raising Teens
  29. Fortuna Redux
  30. It’s All Just Stuff
  31. Times Around

Trust no one.
Look both ways on one-way streets.
Mind the gaps with a skeptic’s crown.

Poem: Sammi’s Weekend Prompt 129 (a)

Click to hyperlink to Sammi’s page

***

Saturday at Dawn

As I sit at Julie’s kitchen table discussing worries
Special cats pass making cat comments and the dog smiles.
Do they know human life is not what they think?
Later, at dusk’s twilight, we’ll discuss solutions,
All because we live in an imperfect world.

***

Look both ways from dawn till dusk.
Mind the gaps lest they intrude like an ignored horse.

Note: I decided to use Sammi’s weekend prompt for my Saturday and Sunday poems. That is what a weekend is, right? So, there shall be another 44-word twilight poem tomorrow.