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.

Sammi’s Weekender (154): Fabric


It was almost olive drab once,
now faded OD, but green,
the back says, Nothin’s Easy.
A well-worn tee from my days
running or trekking Government
Canyon, near San Antonio. It’s
not a canyon at all.

On the front you can make out
the drawing of the hills,
the name ends with, State
Natural Area
. The crew neck fabric
is tattered from use and washes.

It’s size large to hang loose,
but no longer does.
Do you think it shrunk?
Or have I expanded
my physical surroundings?

If I had a favorite tee,
this might be it,
but I don’t want others to feel
helly-jelly. It’s just a shirt.
Like the brown one I’m wearing now
from my second Cowtown Marathon
that says, opposite the front,
I’m Back. Cuz I was.


Look both ways for ties to tees and memories.
Mind the gaps or it’s the rag bin for sure.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 26)

Day 26 prompt: write a poem using responses to an Almanac Questionnaire of 23 questions as the basis. My 23 responses follow the poem. Additionally, I used the 80s song, Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears, for inspiration. A video of the younger Fears for Tears group also follows the poem. I selected this version for the sights as much as the sounds. There are several other good videos, including a late cover by LORDE, which is very (scary) different.


Welcome to my life
What’s done is done forever
Even my dreams are unreal reality
Rain, colors, pennies, and cats
Distant mountains, local culture, answers
With no questions, lovers and indecisions.
Do I want to rule the world?

Dragon music in the distance
Mixed with drums of tribal nuisance
But the path to take, I cannot decide,
Is beauty in the freedom of my pleasure?
I fear the pain that lasts forever.
Do you want to rule the world?

Is there life atop the steeple?
As walls and halls crumble, AC to DC?
Can I answer her questionnaire?
Welcome to mi vida loca, a happy
blessed by sad. Does anybody
Want to rule the world?

Married to my convolutions, may
Her memory Bern my conscience,
The alley of answers to many questions.
Can responsibility, freedom,
Or love rule the world?

The headline news is like this:
A virus. We’re all basically screwed.
But nothing is good or bad, and
Nothing lasts forever. Of this
I am certain: I do not want
To rule the world.


Look both ways to answer questions.
Mind the gaps.
One poem, twenty-three answers.

Almanac Questionnaire

Weather: I prefer rain to hot and dry.
Flora: Color variation is good. Green is a favorite.
Architecture: I like old church architecture, both inside and out.
Customs: I’ve never liked shaking hands, I don’t love everyone, and I hug only favorite people.
Mammals/reptiles/fish: I like dogs. I prefer cats. Both are pets. I respect nature, but it’s not safe.
Childhood dream: Hard to say, but I always thought something was not right. Unlimited candy?
Found on the Street: Pennies for luck, treasures no one wants but me.
Export: Wendell Berry prefers local economy. I understand why.
Graffiti: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Lover: Everyone should have at least one.
Conspiracy: There are some, but everything is not.
Dress: no ties, comfort before culture, some sweatpants are nicer than others.
Hometown memory: The distant Poconos.
Notable person: Mom.
Outside your window, you find: Texas
Today’s news headline: The NY Governor is an interesting person. The TX Lt Gov is not.
Scrap from a letter: I wish I still had the letter my father wrote to me.
Animal from a myth: Dragons
Story read to children at night: Once upon a time they lived happily ever after and other lies.
You walk three minutes down an alley and you find: the answer to the question.
You walk to the border and hear: music.
What you fear: mean and stupid in the same person.
Picture on your city’s postcard: Coal miners, cactus, and rivers.


NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 25)

Day 25 prompt: write a poem using Hymn to Life, a long poem by James Schuyler as a guidepost while following the prompted suggestions of Hoa Nguyen. Write for at least 20 minutes.


The Big Event

It is morning. Friday morning. It’s the day. The day when I risk my life.
Sitting up, I remove my c-pap mask. I walk to the master bathroom.
After peeing I wash my hands. I walk to the living room.
Yolonda says, “It’s going to be 94 today. Walk outside soon to be cool.”
I make coffee, black, with a red wine-colored maker. I add milk.
I move things in the sink and on the counter. I wash my hands.
I say, “We must complete the list. I go to the store today.” I take
the last orange. A happy fruit for a poem. I sit and type on my laptop.
The sound of The Price is Right is distracting as I read about oranges.
Back in the kitchen, I do inventories of shelves, fridge, and freezer.
She rewrites the list, an orderly plan for the store. I add milk.
I don’t see her list vanilla ice cream. I wash my hands.
I review the list for items and order. I plan movements and wonder
if alcohol or disinfectant will ever be there again. I take morning pills
with coffee and pour frozen blueberries into a bowl, then some granola
I made yesterday, and I top with sliced half-a-banana. I wash my hands.
I check the list for frozen blueberries. I go back to my lappy to read more
about the fruit and the word for the color of orange while eating cereal.
She comes in and we talk of things like food, adult children, grandchildren,
politics, and humor. I take my empty bowl to the kitchen and rinse it.
I wash my hands. I look at some sketches. Draw lines. I look at my painting.
I add green, purple, brown, and blue. I wash my hands. I get dressed.
I inventory my pockets; wallet, handkerchief, pocket-knife,
notebook and pen, keys. I put on gloves to retrieve the trash can
from the curb, leaving the still full recycling bin. I remove the gloves.
I wash my hands. I wash my glasses with shaving cream.
In the car I notice the full gas tank is on week three. I don sunscreen sleeves
and sunglasses. I back out and drive to a grocery store. I park.
I wear a blue surgical mask and darker blue, almost purple, surgical gloves.
I pull up a bandanna-like scarf over the mask. I notice others
with masks and gloves. I feel like a team player. I retrieve a cart.
The young man at the door hands me a wipe.
I wipe the cart and trash the wipe. It begins. I risk my life // for food and drink.
No rubbing alcohol or disinfectant. Too many close calls // less than six feet.
I see men without masks. Republicans, I assume. Why do they believe that?
And not this? Which checkout line is shortest? I follow the rules. I thank them
and go to my car. I load it and return cart to a stand. In the car I remove masks,
realize I wore my sunglasses the whole time. I carefully remove gloves. I wash
my hands with sanitizer and drive home. I put on different gloves
to check mail, carry in deliveries, and retrieve the recycling bin.
I remove those gloves, then I remove store items from plastic bags into cart.
Yolonda takes the cart into our house. I open delivery boxes. I wash my hands.
We discuss the overall condition of store, the virus evasion, what they had,
and what not. We buy real food. Ice cream is real. It’s too hot to walk.
I write and sketch and paint. I didn’t see a text she had sent.
I feel like I cheated death one more day, one more time. I wash my hands.
Our internet and cable TV are down. I write anyway. It is Friday.


Look both ways while shopping.
Watch for people, carts, and items on lists.
Mind the gaps before they fill with carts and shoppers.
Wash your hands.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 23)

Day 23 prompt: write a poem about a letter of the alphabet or letters forming a short word.


Words of Woe

You came to save us from distress,
simple, yet smart, and set in Morse code:
dot dot dot  dash dash dash  dot dot dot,
signaled in sight, sound, or touch.

S O S, an ambigram palindrome with
a beat in songs by Abba, Avicii,
and Rihanna with a telegraphic
message of mayday, mayday, m’aidez.

From Germany to boy scout merit badges
to beach branches and mirrored flashes,
your footprints in the snow, simple,
unmistakable, unambiguous.

A call . . .  for help – – – to be heard . . .
around the world.
Sometimes something lifesaving,
too often, distressfully not. S O S.


Look both ways for signs and signals of distress.
Mind the gaps for the meaning of space and time.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 22)

Day 22 prompt: write a poem inspired by an idiomatic phrase from a different language or culture.


How about both? I selected avoir l’esprit d’escalier (or avoir l’esprit de l’escalier), a French phrase that means to have the wit of the staircase. In English, we say escalator wit or afterwit. It refers to not making a repartee or a quick, witty reply, or clever comeback. The French admire and train for avoir de la répartie (the witty comeback) as part of their national sport: arguing and debating (so said dame de l’enseignement du français, Camille Chevalier-Karfis).

This idiom refers to thinking of your comeback after leaving and reaching the bottom of the stairs. The philosopher Diderot wrote about it around 1775, so it’s not a new thing.

Credit: Jim introduced me to this phrase a several months ago. Thanks hombre.


Right Back

I enjoy arguing. I even took argumentation
in college and I still twiddle with logic. But, I no
longer can find that safe place or person to engage
in a bit of désaccord amical. Is it me?

Am I sensitive to condescension or the ad hominem
manner I dismissed in my youth? Have I lost my edge?
Do I fear my own cuts to the core? I wish no harm.
In the past, I assumed my words were salt seasoned.

Am I more concerned with keeping the peace and less
with truth or finding fact? Can I call it at all, much less
like it is? Can we drink and swear, and point or turn
the voices up, yet go home friends who share more?

Is it my own l’esprit de l’escalier which forces me toward
and another thing … an hour later? Do you mean more to me
now than back then? Am I protecting you from me, me from you,
or is it some witness to the kerfuffle of wisdom and wit?

Or perhaps my heart and soul, my being me has fallen
into an age of mellow. Maybe I am diluted by political
and religious sensitivity, and by correctness of a culture
that wraps truth in euphemisms. Me? No way, José.


Look both ways in the world for cultural differences and similarities.
Mind the gaps, but know we are all connected.

NaPoWriMo: 30 poems in 30 days (day 16)

 


Day 16 prompt: write a poem of over-the-top compliments. I added my apology.


To all the men and women, to the heroes and heroines
in worlds of history, art, literature, lifestyle, and character;
in science, medicine, and defense, like beacons of hope for humanity
you have been, each individually, a bright star in my sky.
By your exquisite example of perfection personified,
with wit, wisdom, and humor, you were my compass.

I was blinded by your brilliance, deaf to your depth,
ignorant of your veracity. Forgive my foolish denial of
truth by seeing you only as god or goddess, only as
a sunny day with never a shadowed soul, never a flaw,
never as another frail human being. When I placed
you upon pedestals and you proved me wrong,
we both cried.


Look both ways with discernment toward others.
Mind the gaps in every life as perfection is not what we think it is.