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 Being a Veteran

I chose to go into the Air Force,
twice,
and to stay long enough
to eventually be told,
“your service is no longer required.”
So, with that, I promptly retired.

I joined up. Some call it served.
I’ve never been thanked for joining,
only for service,
a word with twenty meanings
as a noun,
five as a verb, and five more
as an adjective, where I fit in;
but not in the three more legal terms
nor most of the twelve listed
as kids definitions.

My service included my promise
to kill millions of them
should they undertake
to kill millions of us, as we
would both destroy more than
half the planet in the process
of a world-wide Armageddon.

My service was learning
how to do that and fully
intending to do exactly that!

It was my sworn duty to protect
and defend the Constitution, and,
as I understand it, still is because
I have not been released from
that oath, and, technically,
I’m still on the payroll.

I struggle even today with
being anti-war, but if
there is one,
I’d rather not miss it.
If a deed needs to be
done to protect and defend,
and if I’m still able, let me
stand in line to join up again,
with others, willing to kill
and maybe to die for
some vague idea which
so few of us seem
to correctly understand.

Don’t thank me
for my service,
or for your freedom,
or for any sacrifice
by my family or me.

Thank the Constitution
for that. Or, better yet,
if you can do for your
country, which is the idea,
join up in a way
that suits your person
and your conscience.

As I watch the guards, I notice they march both ways.
There are no gaps.

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.

Fandango’s Provocative Question (#45)

Fandango’s provocative question ends up as three questions. They are:

1. Are there limits to human creativity?

2. Is it possible for humans to create something completely novel and new that is based on nothing that previously existed?

3. Or is human creativity just rearranging and building on previous ideas?

His inspiration appears to have been biblical from Ecclesiastes, there is nothing new under the sun.

In his first question, I want to change creativity to achievement. But that’s just me. I have three answers to that question. They are yes, no, and I don’t know. Yes, because there must be limits, but I can’t tell you what they are. No because in my lifetime, I have seen so much done by humans, achievement seems limitless. I don’t know because the question is theoretical and fenced by definitions and terminology.

For the second question I have to say it is not possible for humans to create something from nothing (I deal with this all the time regarding the origin of the universe). In fact, I’m not sure nothing is even possible. We may discover something we did not know existed, but that is not creating it. I love reading about creative hacks for common household items (or figuring out some myself). Is a new way of using something common not creative? Vaccines are a creative way to use the human body’s natural immune system to combat disease. But we did not create it. Discovery, yes.

In the third question I again object to the word creativity. Rearranging and building are creative endeavors. Discovering new ways of using anything is what has been done. In fact, I find the way the question is posed to be creatively demeaning of the human spirit.

As far as the claim nothing new under the sun goes, for Solomon there may not have been. But Earth is not all that is under the sun, right? Who knows what else may be discovered away from our planet and how that may be achieved by humans?

Look both ways for answers but mind the eternal gaps.

Poetry: The Young Turks: Wisdom of Frogs and Toads

When I ran with the dogs,
with the whippets and hounds, but mostly
with many young mongrels,

Confident advice flowed with barking
ignorance as Young Turk wisdom without
benefit of time or trial.

All things were defined by toads little wiser
or experienced than were we pups, with
foibles and foolishness all their own.

Success and failure were measured by the ignorance
of prediction rather than outcome, by dreams
over reality, by desires above experience.

Dead war dog stories try telling us
that neither happiness nor success
bother to dress up in frogskins.

Shine your light when you look both ways.
Mind and mine deeply gaps of the past
filled with learned experience.