Day 11 prompt: write a poem in which one or more flowers take on specific meanings. I wrote three poems, but only posting two.
That Special Flower
March is an alarm clock
if you’re a Texas Bluebonnet,
the official flower of that State
We have pride of place artfully
set in many homes but few yards
of natives and transplants, alike.
By legislative decree, all species
are official, and abundant,
thanks to Lady Bird who said plant a tree, a bush, or a shrub.
Our blue pedals and white top
mark spring weather as we make
bisexual moves for next year.
We marvel at our neighbor,
Indian Paintbrushes or Blankets
complimentary red and yellow
color of 200 species or more,
as we compete for turf in arid, sandy,
dry soil. It’s Texas, after all.
Crowding where others fear to grow
we push our blue until we turn purple,
near the end of our time, then struggle
and exit the stage for later bloomers.
True Texans must be pictured with
children and pets and flowers all around.
They hunt bluebonnets with cameras,
and drive miles to wait in line,
to see and capture scenes
in the perfect photo or painting,
and they name everything after us.
What’s not the lone star is called
the bluebonnet whatever it is.
It’s nice to be so loved, but our
magical time is brief, yet meaningful.
Here comes the sun of the Texas
Summer following Spring.
Married to Bluebonnets
Texas Bluebonnets mean Yolonda,
and art on our walls, and spares in boxes,
they mean Lady Bird behind so many
wildflowers, like Indian Paintbrush,
or Blankets, they are what early spring is for.
They tell us it’s that time of change.
In Texas, it’s Spring baseball (but not this year)
and bluebonnets and with their blue and white
caps that turn purple (purple bonnets?);
and the red, orange, yellow tease of
200 varieties of Indian whatever wildflowers
that are the first up, pushing their
primary colors quickly into the world,
making seeds to make more flowers for next year.
They mean the toughness of my adopted State,
the arid sandiness and limestonish mix
to be followed in the last few weeks
of spring with more crazy beautiful
flowering weeds, and the colorful,
awesomeness of prickly pear cactus
flowers that remind me of Silvia Plath,
and her poem about Red Poppies, yet to come.
I smile at the flowers, partly because of beauty,
and partly because of what they mean to me;
another season with a new reason, but mostly
because of who they remind me of.
Look both ways but keep your eyes on the road.
Mind the gaps, each one is there for a seed to make a plant.
Day 4 Prompt: write a poem based on an image from a dream.
I dream. Real life things.
Clears the mind is what they say,
acting out, kicking or yelling.
I remember falling,
I’ve never fallen like that,
Trying to swim
in the air, in my bed.
Crazy, right? But seems so real.
The fall ends
with an awakening,
heavy breathing, until then
It’s like Aerosmith
singing, telling me to sing,
screaming in my ear
Uncontrolled. Letting go,
all of it,
the stress, the tests
normal life washed
from my mind as fear falls
into a new day
of happiness and blissful life.
Dream on, dream on,
and sing with me. Before
he takes you away.
Look both ways.
Sleeping and dreaming, both part of living.
Mind the gaps with me, sing with me. Dream on, with me.
House lights were off, back in the day.
A tinted eerie black and white glare,
as the boob-tube illuminated
white nicotine-laced clouds,
cigarette smoke from lit ends of
Camels or Pall Malls, unfiltered butts crowded
many ashtrays, back in the day.
Like ghosts sucked into dying lungs
of people I loved,
alive, back in the day.
The smelly, wispy, floating clouds
rolled and twisted or waved
as we passed through,
back in the day.
Forbidden addictions, I then, not yet
old enough to kill myself,
back in the day.
Second hand was for used,
plus all who breathed in,
nicotine laced habits, back in the day.
Born into our rite of passage.
Now sick and dying, smoking goes on.
Never allow science to invade
We’ve always done it this way.
Back in the day.
Look both ways but stay away from back in the day.
Discover progress through science but mind the gaps to fill as we learn.
Work through it, he said,
more pain is good gain.
Can you go farther?
(implying the pain
I should endure)
To do more?
Through it, he said. I asked.
“I understand, Doc,
but do you?” Push
through — more pain—
limping, then numbness
pain, then physical collapse.
Then I sense some gain.
Then more. Must I now confess
at the end of the battle?
Doc, you were right.
Muscles are tight
and sore as hell,
with pain and cramps,
but improvement costs,
some weight’s been tossed.
Should I go on, and on?
Pain goes both ways, some is beneficial, some is a warning to stop.
I Listen to, and learn, my body. I mind the gaps to learn the differences.
I think my aunt Lorry loved me a lot more than I realized. I remember how each week she’d cut the latest Dennis the Menace gag comic, single-panel cartoon from her newspaper along with a word of the day snippet, and she would mail them to me accompanied by a little note. My behavior reminded her of the cartoon protagonist, or vice versa. While I never saw the connection (the cartoon being more innocently contrived), it was the only mail I recall getting from anyone, particularly from an adult when it was not my birthday or Christmas. Lorry and what she did for me are among many things I failed to adequately appreciate in my childhood. But I do now.
When I graduated from Texas A&M, my mother’s older sister also paid for my class ring. Aggie class rings are a big deal to alumni (aka former students), as they are for grads of many other schools. I still wear the ring today, almost 50 years later.
Her real name was Dolores. My sister and I, along with our cousin, called her Lorry, but I never asked why. For most of my life, Lorry lived and worked in Washington, D.C., about a four-hour drive from Wilks-Barre today with light traffic, but almost twice that by bus in the 1950s. So, I didn’t see her often. She also never married and was considered old fashioned and a very traditional, staunch Catholic, even back in the day. She was not difficult, but would criticize wrongdoing when she saw it, explaining her labored relationship with my father.
I suspect Lorry was quite bright. Had it not been for the negative antifeminist influences of her early 20th Century culture and her family, she would have achieved more, not that she did poorly for one who entered the female workforce early in the Great Depression. But then, I’d not have a famous cartoon character as a childhood alter ego, my vocabulary might be less sufficient, and my word-love less geeky had she been different.
Unlike me and little Jackie Paper, Dennis (the menace) Mitchell is still five-and-a-half years old. The cartoon dates to 1951, and it is still in world-wide syndication. Can you imagine Dennis in his late 60s? (I smiled when I wrote that question.) I can. I imagine him in his early 70s, still with the persona of a five-year-old troublemaker.
For the record, Puff the Magic Dragon and Jackie Paper are in their late fifties. I try not to mentally associate them with AC-47 Spooky gunships through that song, but that’s part of me too. There is a certain sadness to all that 1960s and ‘70s stuff that my Irish nature seems to nostalgically understand, but few others get.
But I wonder. What would the Lorry I knew think of me today? As always, there are some aspects of me with which she would undoubtedly find fault. I’m sure she would explain where I could improve. Fair enough. But would she get my ironic sense of humor? What about my vocabulary? I’d probably get a dictionary or world atlas for my birthday (again). And what of her opinion of my writing? My poems (the clean ones)?
Do you have a troublesome young family member? Do you think he or she will remember you and write about you 40 years after you die? Lorry would not have thought so either. But she’d a been wrong. And she might have corrected my spelling and grammar. And I would change it – for her.
What we see as we look both ways changes with life and times,
but not really who we are.
Mind the gaps, but cherish the memories.