Poetry: Big Red

When I first wrote this, I intended it for Sammi’s weekender. She had set a  prescribed limit of 88 words for the prompt word downpour, “no more, no less.” I was 95 words over. While Sammi has loosened up some of her rules, not that one. So, let’s call this poem, “A Second, Longer Downpour.”


She was a hog, bitchin’ red and heavy,
a real dresser on our outings.
Rider down, I could not lift her load.
I never gave her a name.

Straight pipe loud till I fixed her,
but on road trips, she was
my sweet ride. No hyperbole to say
she hugged road from between my legs.

Headin’ up busy highway north of
Fort Walton Beach when Ma Nature
hawked a torrential loogie thunderstorm.
As we headed back south, we got soaked.

The downpour first felt cold in my crotch.
With soaked windshield, visor, and glasses
I couldn’t see shit. I knew they (cars)
could not see me, or us, maybe not each other.

With us in the middle and idiots in cages
driving seventy while blind, we finally got home.
I cut her motor and dropped her stand.
Lovingly I leaned her left, slid off, and stopped shaking.

Walked into my garage, stripped naked, and
dropped soaked biker cloths right there. Yolonda
asked, “What happened to you?” The storm had passed.
I look at her and said, “I think I wet my pants.”


Look both ways. See and be seen.
Mind the gaps. Mind everything riding your hog.

 

Memorial Day Post: Red Poppies

Memorial Day is a day of remembrance to honor those who died in battles of all past wars in service to America. A Memorial Day (or Decoration Day) tradition is the buying and wearing of a red poppy.

The VFW organization has had the Buddy Poppy as its official flower for almost 100 years. Profits from artificial poppy sales have helped countless veterans and their widows, widowers, and orphans over the years. The poppy itself survives as a perpetual tribute to those who gave their lives for America’s freedom. That tradition is based on a poem.

This poem was written by Colonel John McCrae, a surgeon with Canada’s First Brigade Artillery. It expresses McCrae’s grief over the “row on row” of graves of soldiers who had died on Flanders’ battlefields in western Belgium and northern France, with a striking image of the bright red flowers blooming among the rows of white crosses.

The poem, “In Flanders Fields,” was reportedly first printed in the British magazine, Punch, in December 1915.


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

by Colonel John McCrae


Look both ways for the reason why, in war some must die.
Mind the gaps and wonder,
“And how many deaths will it take ’til he knows
That too many people have died?”
(“Blowin’ In the Wind” by Bob Dylan)

Poetry: Natural Brutality

Being one with nature,
the coexistence of life on Earth
is such a wonderful concept.

What is more part
of every life than death?

Has anyone told the fire ants,
much less gained the cooperation
of such touchy predators?

Will they forgive my use
of deadly chemicals to remove
a hideous colony
setting up housekeeping
on my back porch?

Will the bite of the rattlesnake
be part of Nature’s
delightful beauty?

I love Nature, but
I know something about it.

It’s unforgiving, painful,
deadly, and indiscriminate.

Natural selection
is Nature’s evolutionary tool
and the reason
ninety-nine percent
of all life types are extinct.


Look both ways,
mind the gaps in everything,
especially where place your body parts,
lest Nature object in some naturally painful way.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 30)

Day 30 prompt: write a poem about something that returns.


No Returns

Metamorphosis allows change.
That second is gone, now that one,
unidirectional time is master
to the second law of thermodynamics.

We see light from stars
dead millions or billions of years,
no star, but what it made, its art
lives on and returns not to its source.

I can return to loves and thoughts.
I find old places there,
remembering, like ifs,
whens and thens.
We can never go back
to the time when entropy began.

Desire to control order creates want
as new appears, nothing comes back.
As replacements appear, they seem
to be returns from when. Chaotic decline
becomes change by hopeful judgment.

A baby cries as a mother sighs
while an old man dies, a widow
wonders why a universe goes by
forever without order or reason.


Look both ways with logic and reason.
The universe makes the rules.
Mind the gaps of chaos to separate truth from wishes hoped for.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 28)

Day 28 prompt: describe a bedroom from your past in a series of descriptive paragraphs or a poem.


Noreen got Married

Circa 1899, a row of ten two-story homes were built. On the second floor of the third house down from Madison Street, toward Washington, we had four bedrooms, and one bathroom like the other nine, faux-fronted; leaky, flat, black-tar roofed, wood construction row, or block homes, in local vernacular. Now townhomes go up for sale.

Mom & Dad had a front bedroom. Danny was ten and had the other. Down the hall Shirley, about 14, had a room to the right, next to the one small bathroom. The largest room was Noreen’s, who was twenty. I cribbed in my parent’s room.

The house to the left had 11 (9 kids, mostly girls). To the right, a multi-generational family group of about eight, depending on who died or committed suicide. We were a lucky few.

I got Danny’s room when Noreen married and moved three blocks away, and Danny moved to hers. I recall feeling special. My own room, one size up from the bathroom, but mine. And a bed. No crib.

My room had a window but no closet. A chest for things and a small brown metal cabinet. I recall the room larger than it is. I don’t recall the wallpaper. Dad used a steamer to remove it. He painted over bare plaster and lath walls with textured green or blue paint that scratched if you rubbed against it.

Each second-floor room had one lightbulb hanging down in the center with a pull-chain. The only wall switches were push-buttons in the hall stairway, dining room, and going down into the cold, wet, filthy cellar. Electricity was an afterthought.

Rooms had capped, stubbed, pipes sticking out of a wall from when gas was used for lighting. Stubs were convenient to hang things but were live gas lines.

Wood plank floors were covered with linoleum in designs and colors I forget, but all showed traces of wear and the plank flooring beneath. Each ended about a foot from walls.

My room was directly over our living room, or parlor as they liked to call it. It had a vent for heat from a nineteenth century, coal-fired furnace in the dirt-floored cellar.

An old, unused chimney stuck out from my west wall. That prevented my bed from being against the wall, thus leaving a gap on one side, a place to hide magazines and things I did not want Mom to see. They were not nudes or porn, but risqué enough for me as I recall. I never told the priest in confession about the hiding place or what I stashed there.

The street was close below my window and Packy’s saloon was only two houses up, making noise a constant when my window was open, only a bit less loud when not. After we got TV, I’d fall asleep listening to the music of Perry Mason or whatever they watched.

When Danny finally left for the Marines, I moved to the back bedroom – a rite of passage. It had a door to the outside used to sneak out at night until I got caught. But my first bedroom has many stories, some remembered, most forgotten, many denied. It was a big deal in my life, until it wasn’t.


Look both ways in houses with more past than future.
Mind the gaps for cold drafts and loose boards.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 27)

Day 27 prompt: write a poem in the form of a review of something that isn’t normally reviewed. I reviewed my creativity muse.


The Myth of the Muse

Ideas come.
Mousa, child of Zeus,
sky fairy serving maybes
on Ouija boards of art.

Writing, creative inspiration,
poetry. It’s all work.
“Shoveling shit from
a sitting (or standing) position.”

My muse is not out there,
she’s in here (head, heart, soul,
big toe). This is not
Big Magic. It’s work. A job.

Try. Fail. Repeat. Erasing
is creative writing, drawing,
or painting (crafting). We’re all phonies,
and none of us are. Fear makes waits.

New ideas are borrowed reality.
Read, think, write, and a magic muse
will find life. Punch production clocks,
then make words, pictures, pieces.

I must self-muse: love it or leave it.
Buy the damn lottery ticket.
Go for the interview. Sign up.
“God helps those….” Who makes them?


Look both ways for inspiration
but look within for courage to work.
Mind the gaps for your impostor’s syndrome.

***

Note: quotes are Stephen King (shoveling…), and Dad (God helps…).
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Big Magic.