dVerse Quadrille #135: Shake that Poem Groove Thang

https://dversepoets.com/2021/09/06/quadrille-135-shake-that-poem-groove-thang/


Top Guns Care

An odd pair were we.
Everyone’s friend, as
SpineRipper called me
(to rib my neutrality),
knowing I was his.

Navy fighter pilots,
tailhookers all.
JW, warrior to the core.
Taught me to call the ball
when in the groove.
We cried at kiss off.


Look both ways except on short final to your carrier.
Fly the ball, not the deck, and mind the gaps.
Aviators die here.

Gloss: Captain John (SpineRipper) Waples (USN) was my boss and friend (sort of). He was also one of the greats of Naval Aviation with 1,300+ aircraft carrier landings, 400 at night (a rumored record). He flew many combat missions. He was the original shock and awe combat leader.

I met him after we had both hung up our flight suits, although John still owned and  flew his own biplane (he called a kite). Wapes was an enigma to me. Blunt and easily angered (thus the call sign/nick name), yet amenable, and a man who seemed to care about people. We had little in common except for what seemed to be an honest mutual admiration that neither of us ever understood. I didn’t know until the end. I will never understand why. Call the ball, in the groove, and kiss-off are USN fighter pilot jargon.

Sammi’s Weekender #225 (newspaper)

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Delivery Pros

Times Leader trucks stopped
at Butler and Main
around four each day,
any season, any weather.

We carried bundles,
cut binding wires,
counted papers,
rolled them and stuffed full
our heavy canvas bags as only
experienced newspaper boys can,
for precise throwing
onto porches passed
on our route.

We knew customer’s names,
addresses, dogs, gates, and fences.
We collected cash, paid the Times.
Made profits. Businessmen at twelve.


Look both ways and remember the days when print was king.
Mind the gaps, bumps, hard work, and headline news.
Collect politely to keep customers.

 


 

Poetry: Moving Forward


The boy hid quietly in the back,
never raised his hand, got low grades
for lack of class participation. A shy,
quiet, introverted mama’s boy—
a child, it was his nature.

Adults criticized that he cried too easily.
He cared too much.
Felt too deeply. For a boy.
They would not let him be.
His siblings knew
and encouraged another side.
He learned to deny
his own deep-felt emotions.
Authority ran his life,
maybe his spirit.

He listened, learned, observed,
and grew; first, into a troubled teen, then
he became a young man.
Gradually, he moved
closer to the front, like a warrior
toward danger. Down range.

Today, an old man walks in and sits
front and center. Sharp tongued,
the quick-witted septuagenarian,
with a grin of secret wisdom,
is ready to advise any damn fool
playing games of authority.


Look both ways in the spirit of the young
and the eyes of the old.
Be careful what you wish for,
watch your step, and mind the gaps.
Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.

Midweek Poetry: Medical Warriors


 

My hips, thighs, and especially calf muscles
become painful when I walk. It’s poor
blood circulation with several medical names,
thanks to my poor choices such as who
my paternal grandfather was, my dad,
and my long past smoking. But I walk anyway.

Almost every day. I like it. I’ve always
exercised. Completed a dozen marathons
after age 60, always been a bit of a gym rat.
Now I swim too. Doctors like it all better
than pills. I must endure such pain
in my battle to delay inevitable days.

They do their best. Me too. It’s okay.
I have countless privileges denied others.
Like life. I can and I must endure,
for as long as I can. I’ll keep mindful
of those less privileged who fight in fear
tougher battles than I’ll ever see.


Look both ways and see all around.
Smell, taste, touch, and hear everything.
Mind the gaps as you fill them with knowledge.

And “sing with me, sing for a year
Sing for the laughter, and sing the tear
Sing with me, if it’s just for today
Maybe tomorrow…”
(Lyrics from Dream On by Aerosmith)

Poetry: It’s August Again


It’s August again. Just another
one of twelve named collections of days
to mark our planetary position
relative to our Sun, called sol, in our
solar system spinning reliably about
in some outer spiral arm
of our Milky Way galaxy. Our home.

August is supposed to mean something important,
like some Roman title signifying reverence;
to hold in high regard. I don’t do that for August.

As a child, school started next month,
I was often bored, sunburned, a year older.
Halloween and Christmas were far off.
I feared some raging red-faced nun’s pounding footsteps
and bone rattling beads storming my way,
with some weapon of horror in her hellish hand.
Hormones made me feel things I didn’t understand.
I still don’t get all that. Crazy life.

As an adult, August now means hot and dry. West coast
wildfires raging on while US Forest Service bureaucrats
either fight or fiddle for smarter management
policies for mother nature to ignore.

I try to be respectful of August.
It’s the end of summer, the gateway for September
as promised glories of Autumn soon fall upon us. Coolness.
And color. And feelings. October promises more.
My apologies to summer lovers, tanned bodies,
teacher’s times off, vacations (because kids), and to Caesar.
I say it every year. Only Christmas can save August.


Look both ways to seasons past and yet to come.
Mind the gaps in government policies.
They’re only human, even if they can’t admit it, until the mic is hot.

Sammi’s Weekender #218 (tessellate)

Click above for Sammi’s blog.

Geometric Memory

It’s one of those words,
comforting to hear and speak.

To say as tongues touch teeth,
not lips, a fun word to think.

Fifty years since projected
mosaics, as she asked,
“Does this tessellate?” We
learned patterned meanings.

No use for the word, till now.
Yet, I remember the day and teacher
who taught me how polygons tessellate.


Look both ways teaching and learning lessons.
Memories are forever but mind the gaps for irretrievable loses.

Sammi’s Weekender (unknown)


Turning Into the Wind

Like Bob Seeger’s line,
“I wish
I didn’t know now
what I didn’t know then,”
back when my lost
happiness was
still unknown.

Before I won these emotional
and physical scars;
blissfully, foolishly ignorant;
lucky, privileged;
without foible; free to be me;
a self-centered fool
with a college degree.

Now a recovered lover
of painful truths I never sought.
But I’m proud of our past.


Look both ways,
to the earth and into the heavens,
into the night and through each day’s light.
Mind the gaps and face the facts. It was what it was, and so were we.

***

Note: Song lyrics are from “Against the Wind” by Bob Seeger & The Silver Bullet Band.

Sammi’s Weekender #211 (nomenclature)

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Handle With Care

Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge,
in the 10th of Poemcrazy said,
“in practical shoes, holding forth
with firm opinions”
were too many Sues.

Birthed and baptized, lacking
middle saintly nomenclature,
seeking to assert rightful independence,
Confirmation granted my pick,
Saint Bartholomew, a sub
for unsainted Bartley.

Mom had a fit. We fought.
She wanted Richard. I did not.
Constant embarrassment,
my lifelong reminder,
my middle moniker: John.
I wish I agreed to Richard,
at least a better memory.


Look both ways for better self-names. How often would we change?
I’m Dad, Opa, Mister Bill to some, cantankerous (and other adjectives)
Bill or Billy to the few.
Mind the gaps where we may only name things, pets, and kids.

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: Mello Bill (NaPoWriMo day 14)

The NaPo prompt for today was to write a poem that “delves into the meaning” of my first or last name. For me, that’s about family history.


Mom couldn’t remember her mother,
but her father lived much longer. I,
while given his name, never met him
or any grandparent.

Mom’s family propensity
for female progeny meant that I
could have been baptized Wilhelmina.
But the presence of a penis undermined
her best planned pronouncements. I was William,
after my maternal grandfather, yet Mom and Sis
often teased by directing that female alias at me.

For my name, more meaning
requires German or Norman research,
the discovery of which
has nothing to do with me.

Neighbors often called me Danny
after my Dad or older half-brother, but
I told them, “I’m Billy.”
They often seemed confused.
Mom said I was demonstrative (whatever that meant).
Wilhelmina probably would have been histrionic.
Today it’s curmudgeonly snarkastic, but they love me.

I don’t know if so-called meanings of my name
have squat-all to do with who I am, or this William.
It’s Bill that I prefer to go by although our first born
is also named William and goes by Billy
(or Bill when I’m not around).

As for that “strong-willed warrior,
protector, or helmet” stuff from the dictionaries,
regarding the meanings of my first name,
none of it has anything to do with me,
or who I am.

Yet, some who know would call me stubborn.
And there were all those years in uniform
for which people insist on thanking me,
as if I’d been an underpaid volunteer.
Maybe so, maybe not. I guess we’ll never know.


Look both ways and inward.
Does your name define who you are, or is it the other way around?
Mind the gaps in family history, you might not be who you think you are.