It’s Mexican Hat season.
They dance in the rain, anyway the wind blows,
swaying smoothly back and forth,
bouncing—just a little,
with wet touches from showering raindrops.
And now it’s time. Put away dark felt hats.
Get out the white straws with good brims
for hot summer days, sunscreen
for kids out of school and in the pool.
Masks down. Baseball games. Dad’s Day.
Lock-a-ways minus hugs-er-kisses, going or gone;
eating outs, coffee inside or out-back, it’s all on the list
as some virus ebbs but not yet gone.
Not yet. Not all gone.
Nature’s changing. Deer sleeping. Skunks are mating.
Birds begging loud and lively, ready to party at sunrise.
Long days inching sunsets later
as we give Spring a pass—its due.
All of us, a season older.
Here come the suns of another Texas summer.
Three sisters tapping on season’s door:
June, July, and August, ready
to straddle time—solstice to equinox.
I’ve memories, some good, some bad.
I want more, and more.
Then, I want still more.
Look both ways at passing seasons.
Mind the gaps and water the plants.
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.
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.
My Dear Brave
and Foolish souls
of towns and villas
near here and over there
and in the wilds
of states and nations,
And especially to the genius
members of clubs and churches
the poor pussy cats, so tortured
by death-catcher face-hankies,
burdened by distance to spit;
fearful of immunology,
skeptical of fact and science,
with brains pushing intellects
matching your belt size, named
for nothing but yay-me,
or hooray our-side;
what the fuck were you thinking?
Your claim to care
is as selfish as your
to the disgusting, proud
of abuse toward woman
and children. You went
from zero with no worries
to disaster (one you caused),
then you tried
to pray and lie
your way out of it.
Good job, Fester fake-brain!
in making meaningless
with your galactical
Look both ways because sometimes
you just must say what’s on your mind.
Mind the gaps in these bizarre, crazy, and worrisome times.
This prompt is called “in the window.” I was to imagine a window looking into a place or onto a particular scene. I was to write what I saw and what was going on.
Through distant darkness
neither walking nor running, I was
moving as if a floating camera
toward some spot of light
in a black universe, like one
dot of star, then to a portal,
which I determined to be a window.
A woman was there
on the other side,
in her world of light
from which she looked out.
Her almond eyes stared
and seemed to see into a past,
perhaps mine. Could she see
through me, as if not seeing me,
toward a distant, common hill
in the dark? One she knew well?
She seemed to look but not to see,
her blank blue eyes were calm
Her hair was streaked with gray
atop her oval head, and softly it dropped
on both sides to a mild but wildly
smooth, unyoung neck. Neither naked
nor covered, her body was as a
faint veil with arms that
I could not see,
with hands she never looked to.
Her skin was pale but smooth,
with pleasant facial wisdom lines.
Her eyes seemed neither pleased
nor sad as she stared, deadpan
into the darkness,
as if I was not there, or perhaps,
she didn’t care; with
eyes that seemed to say something
of a storied past looking into
a dark, peaceful future.
Her nose was powder plain
above a mouth that neither
smiled nor frowned, as if she
thought I could not see her
from my darkness through
the window of her light.
I sensed a beautiful love that was
pure and honest, like a mother
for a child; but also, I thought
I could see a longing or an expecting
in her now-graying, moist eyes.
Eyes without tears or regret.
Then I saw that the window was
a mirror of reality. The woman was
my reflection, able to see
only into my past,
the image of the real me.
Or was it she that I needed to see?
A lighter, brighter, more loving
reflection of myself. The side I’ve never met.
See both ways when looking through windows or into mirrors,
especially as metaphors of life. Mind the gaps, the cracks, the wrinkles, and the patina of age.
Everything means something.
First, I want to wish Yolonda a Happy Birthday and many more.
This prompt challenged me to write a poem that poses questions. I think I am starting to get silly. Two more days after this.
If it has no effect on us, and some like that,
why feel bad when someone does good?
I mean, WTF is that? And where the fuck’s it at?
If the speed limit’s X and I’m in the groove,
why do I want to dive X + five and my motor
wants us to move?
Why do I like anyway the wind blows?
It seems wishy-washy, and why was
a bow-legged woman doing the boogaloo?
Why do I hate being asked if I need help
if she got the jive and I don’t?
But I do hear crickets at Fat Jack’s downtown
If it’s easy come, easy go, how do I know?
Do I like cats that keep the beat?
Do I like dogs that make me move my feet?
Why do I forget the drummer, drummer I want to remember,
but recall useless shit without trying?
Easy come, easy go.
Is it possible to think hard, or even harder? Can you give me the beat?
Is there a euphemism for euphemism?
Has the guitar player been around the world?
Can’t he play a lick for lookin’ at the girls?
One two three four five six seven,
will you change your ways just to get to heaven?
If eleven just lays there to rhyme with seven, then why
do some like this and some like that?
And don’t some know where it’s at?
If you don’t get loose, if you don’t groove,
will your motor make it or your motor not move?
If easy comes and easy goes, can it be anyway the wind blows?
If time won’t tell you then don’t ask me. Easy come,
easy go, which away does the wind blow?
Look both ways for nonsense questions.
Mind the gaps and keep your motor running.
Maybe you’ll wanna read the poem again after the video.
It took me all day (admittedly, I was busy) to find my response to the 2021, NaPoWriMo 27th prompt, which was to write a poem inspired by an entry from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
It was dinner time before I chose the contrived word, lilo. It’s supposed to mean “a friendship that can be dormant for years only to pick right back up instantly, as if no time had passed since last seeing each other.”
I was friends with Jimmy as far back as I can recall.
Like forever. He was a grade ahead of me,
but only seven months older. Jack was younger.
Jack and I became friends in high school,
Class of ’64. Jimmy might have been ’64 too,
but I don’t recall cuz jumbled memory. It’s fishy.
I was the one who moved away,
yet so did they, eventually. But I went first.
That bond when you grow up together,
close in every way. Boys become men.
That’s sad. I knew their foibles and flaws,
and I suppose they knew mine. Jack did for sure.
Jimmy was a hyperbolist. He wanted to impress me.
To prove himself. Why? I feel guilty.
Why did he always feel like that? I loved Jim for him.
I knew when he lied, exaggerated, or fibbed up a storm.
I didn’t care, but it was pointless.
Fifty years later, face to face, Jack and I realized
we were alike in many ways, not all, but for years
neither would broach one thing cuz we both thought wrong.
The irony was we lost something there.
We each assumed, and we were wrong
about our best friends. I feel sorry about that.
When I last saw Jimmy, we met and talked.
Jimmy told me of all his achievements.
When and how life had cheated him: The Navy.
We hugged meeting and parting, as old men
who’d not seen each other since being children
will do. I knew then, Jim as was not well.
Jimmy died. Then Jack. We can’t lilo.
All I can do is to write about them and me.
Maybe that’s something. But good god we were
friends who did a lot of childish,
stupid, teenage shit together. I wish we’d
all been more honest as men. Like boys.
Look both ways in old friendships
unaffected by time or tribulation.
Mind the gaps.
Drink to the reunion. Nothing is for always.
For NaPo day 26, I was to write a parody. I was to find a poem or song and write an altered version of it. A parody is also called a spoof, a send-up, a take-off, a lampoon, a play on something, or a caricature. It is a creative work designed to imitate, comment on, and/or make fun of its subject by means of satiric or ironic imitation.
I decided to work on the song(s) “Old Hippie” by the Bellamy Brothers, a classic paean to male boomers that many of us related to. David Bellamy wrote three of these: one at 35, one at 45, and one at 55. Mine goes to 75 (the age of the other brother) and is more about me.
He turns seventy-five on a Tuesday
sometime late this next July.
Can’t believe his friends’ all dead,
but down the same old road he’ll still try
to understand and to keep his level head.
But now he craves those crazy days
with his shoulders back,
his chin held proud and high.
He still looks at life and wonders why.
He stopped with church and never prays
but he never wonders when he’ll die.
He still loves old soft county rock,
his poems come from just such songs.
His only friends are now computer faces,
and medicine pros working to help him get along,
with medical-grade stainless steel heart parts.
But he’ll run no more endurance races,
Just the tips and bits on legs that hate him.
He’s an old soldier who wants to be
a hippie getting older every day,
with hair and colors and closet disco music.
An old hippie who knows what life is for,
still wanting to be her man, before
she goes knocking on his door.
He’s an old man who always hated war,
but seemed to know what it was for.
He’s been confused by a government
he both supports and finds disgusting,
and people who tell him to forgive,
while he decides to let them live.
He likes people but not in crowds.
He craves his tribe, but they’ve all died.
Spending quiet time at home alone,
his kids are still his universe,
and Texas is still his home.
He’s a boomer till the day he dies,
he now fears life more than death,
he’s looked at evil in the eye
believes in love and wonders why,
then drums to ten below his breath.
Look both ways and avoid reading the obituaries.
Mind the gaps in everything but believe
you’re this damn old.
With less than a week left, the Global NaPoWriMo, 25th-day prompt was to write a poem for a particular occasion: an occasional poem. Every active poet seems to write these. The latest well known were Amanda Gorman’s readings for Prez Biden’s inauguration, and the 2021, Super Bowl. Another was Elizabeth Alexander’s “Praise Song for the Day,” written for Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.
Others include “The Charge of the Light Brigade” by Tennyson, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe about the American Civil War; and “The Day Lady Died” by Frank O’Hara about the death of Billie Holiday.
Occasional poems (not a form or style, but a topic) are often lyrical due to their origin in performance and music accompaniment. Historically, they have appeared as wedding songs, dirges, elegies, hymns, and odes.
I decided on a happy personal occasion, walking with my daughter, Julie (who I call, Dewey).
A private occasion, at her location, we walked,
she on my right and me to her left, as
carefully we stepped around
ants, mud puddles; cow, and horse shit;
some plants better untouched, and more.
(She ran beside me years ago, on my right then too,
as I neared the end of the San Antonio Marathon
into the Alamo Dome, there for her Dad.)
We talked of important life things,
other people, how whatever-all
came up to be, stream-of-consciousness
chat, and we talked of what is.
We spoke of things we don’t discuss.
I mostly listened and watched for minor
dangers. I looked at her. She felt pain.
Could have been anything, but it was something.
I mixed roles: both father and friend,
old man down the road,
advocate and critic, partner and lawyer.
Life goes on, but not forever.
My own worry and pain of little consequence,
then—right there, right now; on this land, under that hot,
dry Texas sun. In the end, we were both having fun.
It was more than enjoyable, but not for fun;
it was exercise, but not for health; it was just
a father and daughter sharing some time and life,
one with the other. The little things, like
love and freedom, aches and pains. —— And family.
Look both ways when your baby makes you grand,
when you lean on each other,
when you surrender love for love.
Mind the gaps and watch your step.