Poetry: Hello, Tom.

All that I can recall
about Tom Steele,
is that he was tall, blondish hair,
quiet, and we never spoke.
We were both CHS
class of 1964, graduates.

His panel is 6E, line 104.
Tom was Army, C Company,
Second Battalion, 16th Infantry,
First Infantry Division. A grunt.
A boots-on-the-ground warrior.

At the Battle of Xa Can My,
April 11th, 1966, Tom was killed,
along with 36 fellow American soldiers,
age 20, not old enough to drink,
but young enough to die.

And I – must remember the boy
to whom I never spoke because
Memorial Day is all about him,
and them, for me to Remember.


Look both ways;
into the past to remember, into the future for something better.
Mind the gaps but try to treat folks with love and respect.
Say it. Care. You never know.

Poetry: Single Deed (NaPoWriMo day 21)

On the 21st day of April, Napo challenged me to create of poem like the “creepy” nursery rhyme, “There was a man of double deed.” While the prompt and example did not require rhyme, it felt better for me to pair them, as in the double deed piece. While this is one long poem of nine rhyming couplets, I broke the “how and when” sequence at line eight because the focus of the narrator changed. This dark poem is no nursery rhyme.


How old is old enough?
When did life become so tough?
How much time is yours or mine?
When will come our final chime?
How did life become this game?
When can we end all such pain?
How much loss can we endure?
When it’s over, will we be sure?
What we had for all those years,
How sad for us, all those tears.
What have we left of memories?
Let’s dance to end bad remedies.
What has life given us in the end?
How much love we failed to spend?
Here I am to make my plea.
I am here love, please set me free.
How long are lives strong enough?
Let us know when life gets rough.


Look both ways when the road is blocked.
Life has a beginning, middle, and an end,
but mind the gaps where the unbearable lingers
.

Poetry: The Late Train (NaPoWriMo day 8)

Edgar Lee Masters’ 1915 book, Spoon River Anthology, consists of poetic monologues, each spoken by a dead person buried in the fictional town of Spoon River.

My day eight NaPo prompt/assignment was to read a few of Masters’ poems, then write a poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead.


“Good morning America how are ya?” *
I’m J. R. Cash but call me Johnny.
I been a singer ‘n writer of songs all my life.
I wrote poems, too. Not no more though.
Paul and John Carter made a book
sometime after I moved out here.
I made lists of do’s and don’ts,
like who to kiss and who not.
Rockabilly, I walked the line in
more than one ring of fire.
Sue was a joke, Jackson was not. Either way,
I was the man in black, or undertaker was okay.
The Hag caught my San Quentin show. He signed up.
I was inside less than him. Now, I’m back with Jack
on the orange blossom special.
How ‘er my pals from Bitter Tears doing?
Ya know, that Lonesome Dove fellow?
He just hopped on this train.
“And often I say, No more I do it/
But I miss the traveling/And I miss the songs.” **

***

*From The City of New Orleans written by Steve Goodman, covered by many.
**Quotation from Cash’s poem, “My Song,” in Forever Words: The Unknown Poems.

Notes: ‘Paul’ Muldoon edited Forever Words. ‘John Cater’ Cash is his son. ‘Jack’ refers to his brother who was killed in an accident at a young age. ‘Hag’ refers to Merle Haggard.


Look both ways when you cross memory lane.
Mind the gaps well, or a song you might miss.

Poetry: War’s Bitterness (NaPoWriMo day 6)

The irony of today’s prompt is that it comes from Holly Lyn Walrath, who wrote of prompts, “…they all suck.” She poses this one as simple.

“Go to a book you love. Find a short line that strikes you. Make that line the title of your poem. Write a poem inspired by the line. Then, after you’ve finished, change the title completely.”

I want to finish this assignment today, so I am amending the prompt slightly.

I have lists of lines (quotes) from books I like. Examples I considered from Bukowski’s poetry book, Love is Dog from Hell, (also the title of one of the poems) include:

  1. “Sissies have a hard life.”
  2. “I never quite understood what it all meant and still don’t.”
  3. “Human relationships aren’t durable.”
  4. “Just drink more beer, more and more beer.”
  5. “An early taste of death is not necessarily a bad thing.”
  6. “Hit that thing/hit it hard.”

I rejected them for a sentence from Tim O’Brien’s book, The Things They Carried. The protagonist is referring to his decision to be drafted and go to Viet Nam, rather than flee to Canada.

“I would go to the war—I would kill and maybe die—because I was embarrassed not to.”

I used each of these three independent clauses as the title for a quatrain. Then, I wrote the overall title of the combined poem, but I left the original lines.


War’s Bitterness

I would go to the war*—

Not to defend my country
or the Constitution, or our freedom,
or our way of life, to a war
I did not believe in.

I would kill and maybe die*—

Even my own countrymen would
condemn me and others who did
see themselves as defenders, many heroes
who would be wasted in a war they hated.

I was embarrassed not to*—

I cried. I didn’t want to go. I felt
that I had no choice. Could I kill?
Would I be killed or maimed?
Would I ever understand why?


(*Taken from the boat scene while fishing on the Rainy River in the book, The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.)

Look both ways. Feel the pressure. Decide.
Mind the gaps, especially those in your mind.
You’re only a living, fallible human.

Sammi’s Weekender #202 (yonder)

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Book Up

Perhaps the most prolific
“Minor Regional Novelist,”
memoirist, and
cowboy de-mythologist
has told his final truth
and attended his last picture show,
over yonder,
in Archer City, Texas.

Two days ago, that
gringo who told the
truth about
drug-store cowboys,
closed up shop.


Look both ways as you measure success,
especially of vanishing breeds.
Mind the gaps wherein hidden depression lasts for years.


Larry McMurtry, a prolific novelist and screenwriter who demythologized the American West with his unromantic depictions of life on the 19th-century frontier and in contemporary small-town Texas, died on Thursday at home in Archer City, Texas. He was 84.

Read more about this by clicking here.

 

Sammi’s Weekender #194 (beguile)

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Delusion of Truth

Were they so deeply deceived?
Is companionship enough?

She was beguiled by deception, he by
love and trust, they by knowing.

Truth was given freely, and the cost
was death, maybe. How simple.

The book deceived me, tempted
by eternal heavenly bliss,

Dishonored by knowing morality.
Then I read the book.


Look both ways.
Doubt lies, believe truth.
Mind gaps for deception.

Sammi’s Weekender #189 (troglodyte)

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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.

Sammi’s Weekender (Dire)


From the Universe, I call down a pox upon them.
Dirae with Furiae shall tear their poisonous skin
to feed comrade vultures sitting in shadows of guilt.

Curators of dire curses upon innocents, dealers of death cards,
may shepherds of fools find woeful futures haunted
by those who paid the greatest price to dance with fantasy and lies.


Look both ways seeking answers, but beware
gaps of darkness are where truth is hard and lies come easy.

Friday Fictioneers 10-2-2020

Thanks again to cat-herder extraordinaire, Rochelle @ Rochelle Wisoff-Fields-Addicted to Purple for providing another Friday Fictioneers photo prompt. Her weekly challenge is for us to write a story (beginning, middle, and end) of 100 words or less based on a photo prompt. Thanks to Rowena Curtin for the photo.

PHOTO PROMPT © Rowena Curtin

 


Genre: Fiction
Title: Xin Loi Gonzo
Word Count: 100

***

The sun was behind him, half blinding me. Gonzo insisted on knowing why I asked to meet him so early.

He swore and moved aggressively toward me. I backed-up and said, “Some make the world a better place, some we would better off without, and some make no difference.

When he charged me, I drew the pistol, repeatedly squeezing the trigger before I could point it. He knocked me down but did not move after we were on the ground. I stood, shot him in the head, and said, “I just made the world a better place. Xin lỗi, Gonzo.”

***

Look both ways when making room and don’t bring a knife to gun fight.
Mind the gaps and keep the sun at your back.


Click for link.

Xin lỗi is Vietnamese for ‘sorry’ or in my case, ‘sorry about that.’