Poetry: Our Place in Line (NaPoWriMo) Day Eighteen

Today, the NaPo lady challenged me to write an elegy of my own. One in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail.

As far back into childhood I recall,
they say my day, my time, will come.
One day, perhaps quietly
or in some fitful mental agony
it will be my time to die.
But the bell has not
yet tolled for me—
soon enough—
it will.

Every pet, dog or cat,
lightning bug in a jar, turtle
or Easter chick; every snake, worm, or
ant; butterfly or bird, fish
or tarantula , things that flew,
crawled, walked or ran,
or just a sighting in the wild—
they’re all dead now—
I don’t know
what that is—
but they’re gone.

Every childhood friend is dead,
my mother died long after dad,
sisters both gone,
(estranged brother
I don’t know about,
he may outlive me,
if so, let it be).
I won’t know.

Uncles and aunts, one cousin (sort of) all
gone and others I don’t know about,
but they (ones I knew) are dead.
There may be some still doing,
but people of my memories
are past life. And this,
my friend,
is normal.

Some things don’t die, all people do.
Poets die (some never replaced)
but poems don’t.
The two most important
breaths we take,
the first and the last—
all the others
we call living.
That’s life,
Frank.

My sister would telephone,
“Billy” she’d say, “guess who died?”
she said, and then
she’d tell me.

When everyone and everything
I know of has died,
how do I know
who is next in line?
Is it I?
Or is it you?
Not if,
but when!

© Bill Reynolds, 2/18/2019

Know why you look both ways, otherwise, it is simply a meaningless turn of the head.
There will always be gaps but mind them anyway.

Poetry: Poem’s Point of View (NaPoWriMo) Day Seventeen

Today, I’m challenged to write a poem that presents a scene from an unusual point of view.

***

He will not leave me alone. All that touching and feeling me, he tweaks me mercilessly,
and (too often) makes me look like barfed up SpaghettiOs.
It’s embarrassing.
He thinks I am his and that he knows all about me.
He doesn’t.
I know teenagers who know more about me than that old fart.
Others simply see my words or hear my meter while he sees me as his personal art (bitch).
He puts his name on me – how rude is that? He doesn’t get it.

He talks about me (us—there are others) endlessly, influencing his friends
to fool around with me.
Sometimes he gets violent with paper and pen and pushes me around
because he thinks his mental malady will be short-lived. How rude!

He knows so little. He has been writing poetry for fifty-three (long) years.
BFD, right?
When he was young with a hard cock, he ignored me. Thoughts?!
That’s all I got from him. He liked us, but he was ashamed
because I didn’t do much to make him look strong and tough and mean.
I think he is an imposter and so does he.

I am all he does—all he thinks about. He explores me in every embarrassing way,
he sniffs me, touches me, he reads bawdy stories. He acts like I am some sort of trophy bride. And oh, my fucking god!
The limericks! The men who write them must be burning in hell.
I know for a fact that he’d rather a crusty, edgy limerick over a sweet love song poem.

Sometimes he writes me and then loses me.
Rather than be upset, he writes another me.
It’s as though I matter, but I also don’t. Which is it?
What the fuck?
He will never win a damn thing.
He wants to put us in a book and claim us as his own.
Such possessiveness! It’s unacceptable.
We are our own persons, who just happen to be poems.
If we belong to anyone, it is the poetic universe,
but he’ll never understand that.

There are reasons he was as he was,
and more reasons why he is as he is,
but none of that has anything to do with us,
the poems, the words, the lines and rhymes of Our verse.

When he looks at me it is like he is seeing a ghost, a shapeless cloud figure,
wavering without beginning or end,
just flowing shapes in many forms of endless words,
of unknown visions and interpretations.

Oh crap, he is picking up that god damn pointed, sharp pencil.
Soon he will be poking and scratching, adding and removing, or changing—endless changes.

In my next life, I want to be prose. Just a little time on his laptop, maybe one printing and we’re done. At least he knows prose and has been doing it since way back.
This rookie old fart poet will be the end of it all.

©Bill Reynolds, 4/17/2019

Look at all things both ways, male and female, creator and created, toucher and touched, kisser and kissed, poet and poem. Mind the gaps which harbor resentment of the art.

Poetry: The Tale of the Trail (NaPoWriMo) Day Sixteen

Today, I’m challenged to write a poem that uses the form of a list to defamiliarize the mundane.

The path, or trail if you like,
is a story. I know it’s a story,
because
it has a beginning, a middle
and an end. The path has composition
or a tale about the trail, it tails off,
or degenerates its form with
decomposed granite. The path
is decomposing hard stone
of different size rocks
down to powder, dust – granite.
The trail speaks with a crunching
voice, almost a groan I hear
with each step. The deer leave prints
when its wet after rain. Ants build their trail
on the path to cross perpendicular. I see it.
The sand of their trail is like a vein
across the path I walk, sometimes a snake
will try the trail, but not for long.
A variety of insects share their path.
Grasses and bushes, acorns for trees
find the trail worth a try. Bluebonnets
are undeterred by the inhospitable
and decomposing hard crushed pebbles,
and they grow through it to prove it.
There are sticks
and some leaves on the path,
on the sides, grasses push in
to reclaim what was
once not even a dirt path,
an unmarked open flowering field.
A bench sits
beside the trail and invites me
to stop, to rest, and to ponder
the stories of the trail, and the deer,
the birds, busy squirrels, sniffing dogs,
maybe a mysterious cat or two.
I accept the invitation before
I finish walking through
the story
told by the path that talks to me
(with a very special gravelly voice)
beginning, middle, and the end.

© Bill Reynolds, 4/16/2019

Look to both sides, to front and back, and listen to inhale it all.
Mind the gaps made by ants.

Poetry: The Stock of Love (NaPoWriMo) Day Fifteen

Today, I’m challenged to write a dramatic monologue poem. I tried to create specific voices of character that act as both narrators of the poem and participants, which could be acted out by someone reciting it.

****

He is just there, out of reach for now.
Or is it us? So waiting and watching his stare.
Dare we touch such darkness, or look upon him,
in a time to sample solutions?
To this time we have come, as you and I will have done,
to seek his work in our lives.

The darkness that follows, at times closer or farther,
but always, always there.
We look not to see into his darkness
as he looks upon us with calm eyes
for seeking an inevitable time, when we
feel his welcome breath as a wind of the wise.

With a song he beckons us to release
this pain of our suffering into his care.
This love has been our personal world,
but now we may touch an eternal threshold of peace.
Release me not, but allow you go with me
in search of our final love of his prize.

With pain and regret I feel deep in my bones,
to him, I send you in my despair.
Such shaking a coward deep within me,
I step into our eternal new home.
As we lie here in the dark, and together we sleep,
for a time never again to rise.

© Bill Reynolds, 4/15/2019

Look both ways to feel the times of birth, love, life, and death.
Mind the gaps in space and time.

Poetry: Evil Darkness Denied (NaPoWriMo) Day Thirteen

Today, I wrote a poem about something “mysterious and spooky!” (As the prompt challenge defined it.) I mused the denied duality of human nature as set forth in the classic Jekyll and Hyde, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [1886] by Robert Louis Stevenson. My review of the book is here.

***

Not evil I but you
Live with a darkness
of truth denied with
not to Hide mind
what must be true.

Wretched are you
to ask me to see
a truth as part of I.
Created by god
no evil must I be.

False belief is
the sinless soul
of self-righteous evil,
within you disguised
as good and pure.

As Lanyon needed
Jekyll’s truth to see
from Hyde’s reveal,
to accept the two,
both part of you.

There is no light without darkness,
no good without evil,
no truth without lies,
no life without death,
no two without one.

Seek out truth in you,
of more than half,
balance reality or die
from the only good truth
is really a lie.

© Bill Reynolds, 4/13/2019

Look both ways to find evil and good in you. It is your one and only truth.
Mind the gaps of fear and self-deceit, they hide your Hyde.

“O God!” I screamed, and “O God!” again and again; for there before my eyes—pale and shaken, and half fainting, and groping before him with his hands, like a man restored from death—there stood Henry Jekyll!” Dr. Lanyon’s words and recollection serve as the climax of the story. The question of Dr. Jekyll’s relationship to Mr. Hyde is resolved.

 

Poetry: A Good Pain (NaPoWriMo) Day Twelve

My poetry challenge on this Friday is to write a poem about two things of mine. One was to be a dull thing that I own, why and how I love it. The other was a significant thing I own and what it would mean for me to give away, or to destroy the object?

 

 

*** A Prose Poem

Technology is significant. Toenails are dull. We upgrade computers, cell phones, and tablets. We cut toenails and toss them. Sometimes we wonder why we have nails (sometimes I wonder about computers too). Computers get viruses, toenails get fungi. One seems to make my life easier, the other we may paint and glitz up for fashion. One costs hard-earned cash, while the other may be pedi-’d when we mani-, but they were originally free. Toenails are expendable. They can turn black, fall off, and then grow back – sometimes.

While tech stuff may be frustrating, annoying, and expensive, we keep it close. Attached nails I never forget. But I would not go back home to retrieve a nail. Computers never caused me physical pain. I caused my feet anguish which they returned in misery.

Drop my phone in a toilet – get a new one. Drop this toenail in a toilet, I’d get it out, rinse and dry it off and I’d keep it. People joke about me and my toenail in a bottle. But while a painful memory, it’s a life treasure.

No longer a runner, my marathon streak ended at number 15, the Steamtown Marathon. This one was in the New Mexico portion of the Chihuahuan Desert for nine painful, grueling hours. Blisters as big as my feet, pain from self-abuse, all my toenails turned black. Some fell off.

I made stops at medical tents for foot care and to dump all that sand and desert scree from inside my shoes. During the short refreshing rests and pee breaks, I observed more serious casualties. Some turned back and limped or rode a golf cart home, others took the more serious ambulance rides. It was freezing at the start of the race one mile up and a hot high-desert afternoon when I finished. The blessed mountain top view from another thousand feet up brought a slight smile that said now we’re going down there.

I did the same event over the next three years as a wiser, more experienced participant. Finished all four New Mexico marathons (and the other 11) walking catawampus supported by ego and a feeling of achievement that defies words. It was more than a high. It hurt so good! That toenail is my reminder. I’m keeping it. You can have this other stuff.

© Bill Reynolds, 4/12/2019

Look both ways. Our greatest achievements will always be
the most difficult and painful.
Mind the gaps, wear good shoes, and take care of your feet.
Your nails look great!

All turned black, three fell off.

Poetry: Why am I Me? (NaPoWriMo) Day Eleven

My poetry challenge today is to write a poem of origin. Where am I from geographically, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And having come from there, where am I now?

It’s not really a home, but it’s where I am from,
a place and a people from whom I’ve come,
other places they called home were not theirs.
Were they as proud as I, of who they were?

My look, perhaps a taste or a talent; a religion
or a language, this tribe of people like me.
Am I good enough? Were they? My foibles,
both pride and shame cloud my reality,
I don’t know what to feel about who or what I am,
or that I am at all, or who or what they were.
Why does it matter now? Is it because
knowing you is knowing me?

Why should I care? Am I a conduit of genes, maybe
I pass on life, survival, perhaps some weakness?
Who am I? Why am I? Why now? What do I want?
Taste, beauty, mindful intelligence, with durability
all passed from them to me, then to continuous family.

Why am I and what did you want? Life until death?
What is it that I don’t know? Not just life, but
thoughts. What did you think? What did you cling to?
Did your strength or weakness pass to me?
We’re from there, and there, and other places.

The you I’ve never met, secrets you’ve never told,
burdens never experienced, fears not shared,
friends, enemies, jealousies, hatreds that
may have traveled, but then died with you.
So much of what I am flowed from you to me.
Maybe I simply pass on, or maybe I just do.

©Bill Reynolds, 4/11/2019

Careful as you peer into the gaps of history but look both ways.