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: The Price of Refuge (NaPoWriMo) Day Nine

Today, I’m supposed to write a list of things, a poem, in the style of Sei Shonagon. I decided that my list will be a poem in a series of lines taken from the lyrics of some of my favorite songs. I let a theme emerge as I quickly selected lines jumping out at me.

I’m glad these prompts are not graded.

Fantasy could never be so giving,
Oh lord, make it shallow so that
there’s no turning back.
Such are promises, all lies and jest.
Live and learn from fools and from
sages still a man hears
what he wants to hear.
Honesty is such a lonely word
when I’m deep inside me,
the road is long with many
a winding turn,
but listen carefully to the sound,
there’s battle lines being drawn,
this rage that lasts a thousand years.
Every form of refuge has its price,
everybody’s got the dues in life to pay.
It’d be easy to add up all the pain,
the dark is too hard to beat.
Everyone goes south every now and then
to forget about life for a while,
strange how the night moves,
with autumn closing in.
Life’s bigger.
Nobody seems to care and you
can’t find the door
when logic and proportion
have fallen sloppy dead
on a cold Nebraska night,
but try to understand, try,
try to understand.
What does it matter?
Nothing really matters to me.

© Bill Reynolds 4/9/2019

Look both ways in the magic, music, and song.
Mind gaps in the lyrics that matter.

Poetry: Blue on Blue (NaPoWriMo) Day Eight

Today, I’m challenged to think about an argot of a profession and to incorporate it into a metaphor that governs or drives my poem.

Blue on Blue is an example of a euphemism for a euphemism. It is a way of saying friendly fire – shooting at your own side.

The real-world situation I used was the death of Patrick (Pat) Daniel Tillman on April 22, 2004, from friendly fire by his own men in Afghanistan. I also read Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade before penning this, consequently quoting or adapting phrase from that classic war blunder poem.

Blue-on-Blue

Down Range into the mouth of the canyon
they rode
into the Valley of Death.

Forward, charge for the guns.

Into harm’s way each soldier will
do as they are told.

Theirs not to make reply,
theirs not to reason why,
theirs but to do and die.

They were unaware
that all would not go well
for a hum of the defender’s dude.
As all the world just wondered why,
they drove on,
into the mouth of hell.

Into moon dust places others cared
not to be,
this the second bat, 75th R&R,
Serials One and Two,
and a broken Humvee.

As the shadows of dusk and death
brushed and touched their fear and fight,
a flash burst out and turned onto the path
brave men would here now die,
before that night arrived.

Confusion stormed with shot and shell,
yet into a fire and fight from hell,
they blundered.
A wave and a nod as more shots flashed—
Then,
from a barrel
the missile was launched,
fired into the skull of our hero.

Now our boy, a man lies dead
upon the sad dusty ground,
killed by his own,
in a wild dismay with
that bullet into his head,
A price too high to pay,
and a loss too much to bear.

When we set out to stay alive,
and for others to die,
do we ever ask
or even stop,
and try to reason why?

We kill and we maim,
both friends and the foe,
for some god,
or maybe our country.
Yet somehow,
when it’s like this
it’s nowhere close to the same.
Charlie Foxtrot! Blue on blue.

©Bill Reynolds, 4/8/2019

Look and listen for the voices of the innocent dead.
Mind the gaps and beware of the dark canyons.

Poetry: Possibles (NaPoWriMo) Day Six

Today, I’ve been challenged to write a poem emphasizing the power of if. I wrote a poem so-titled last September (read it here). This is different. It’s less personal – more philosophical and asks a lot of questions.

The Possibles (of Impossible Ifs)

If lives were perfect, would they be?
If not for night, would we know day?
Does pain delight then go away?
To live forever, would be okay?

Abraham would be a joke, see
Joan of Arc would be alive.
If life was perfect, would I survive?
What if I were you, and you were me?

What if we felt neither sad nor woe?
Where the hell would happy go?
If this might be, could you vote yes or no?
Or do banal waters float your boat?

Everything is possible. If that, why so?
Would perfect make me want to go?
In a perfect world show, what is not?
If the answer’s here. I want to know.

Leave the gaps. Let’s not be saps,
When we die, they’ll still play Taps.

There’s something here, I clearly see,
This imperfect world is alright with me.

© Bill Reynolds, 4/6/2019

Look both ways, imagined and real.
Mind gaps you see, for honest sex appeal.

 

Poetry: Too Much (NaPoWriMo) Day 4

Today, the challenge was to write my own sad poem. The sonnet form was to help me – its very compactness might compel me to be straightforward, using plain, small words.

My brother had retired from his job in the WTC North Tower, prior to 911. This reflects his return visit story as he told it to me.

Too Much

His world was changed. A forever new game.
A self that was gone, down with the rubble,
Friends dead, enemies too. Some with no name.
Few bodies found. Just tributes to trouble
Stacked like coffins, empty boxes at best.
One year sooner, this burden he’d have born.
Proud monoliths now dust, ashes and death,
Tombs now shrines to hate, religion, and war.

He stopped and looked up at an empty sky,
His identity lived in rejection.
Innocent of deed, so many had died.
He walked in the familiar direction,
Emotions unknown squeezed him to the bone.
His mind now gone. He turned – could not go on.

©Bill Reynolds 4/4/2019

Look both ways, but sometimes, you just cannot. Gaps can be huge.

 

Poetry: Recovery (NaPoWriMo) Day One

The first prompt was to write a poem that provides the reader with instructions on how to do something. I am sick and recovering from a cold, so that’s my poem: how to recover from a cold.

Recovery

Illnesses, colds and flu and some others,
oddly part of a healthy life. It’s normal
for us to suffer. I never get sick.

Until I do, because some germ has taken
to my body as a nice B&B place for a week
or so, and my body begins evicting the visitors

causing displays and loss of sleep and feelings
for which miserable is the visible coughing,
sneezing, and blowing snot. Need more tissue.

Head and body aches and pains and all form
of physical and mental malady, but the torment
and discomforts are symptoms of recovery.

Wash hands often, save others from you, take
meds to dry, less coffee and no beer or wine,
this medication and that – take them all

as directed by a bottle or doctor, but mostly
drink water, juice, tea, and ask doctor Google,
the answer is always the same. Wait.

Like most problems in life, illness will pass,
but another will replace it someday, a cold
or allergy from pollen, or some flu. Make feelings less bad,

medicate and wait, be miserable for days or weeks,
but recover you will. And the tiny viruses in you
will leave you only to return one day to the B&B.

©Bill Reynolds 4/1/2019

Look both ways for avoiding sickness. But mind the gaps of the already ill.

Poetry: Searching for Nothing

wandering the halls, pacing, here,
then there, this way and that – in
corridors between over-decorated
rooms of the hopeless romantic lover
and the stark stripped-bare
reality of a stinking nihilist’s
hopeless shit-house of oblivion,
with its dullness and pointless obscurity

looking for answers in pain
where
too many unreal illusions
are at one end,
and silent nothingness
at the other,
just the bitter taste
of death
following me – chasing me

divining into these closets of insanity,
the brutality of life pounding
and raping each victim as one
reaches for love to taste
no eternal bliss or to miss –
eternal silence, quiet, peace.

©Bill Reynolds 3/28/2019

Look both ways. You need to know what’s coming and going.
Look again to mind the gap.