Personal Poetry: Monthly Status Report – March Poems

March is supposed to come in like a lion and go out like a lamb — not this year. It’s reversed. It started pleasant enough, but now I am cold (I think I have one, or allergies due to pollen all over), it is cold and windy outside. When I finish all my reading and writing for today, I think I’ll take a sick day. Do retired folks get those, especially on Sundays? I feel the need to heal.

I posted a few of the poems I wrote during March. In addition to the 31 for each day, I wrote about 10 others simply because one does not refuse when one’s muse presents a poem. I also managed to write a few essays, but this month my poetry muse has been more active.

Poem titles for March included:

    • March (posted)
    • Rock and Roll Will Never Die
    • Now What I Was
    • A Touch of Cold (maybe it was cold in early March)
    • The Fire Down Below (posted)
    • Toys
    • At the Beginning of the Day
    • There Was a Time
    • Why We Can’t Be Friends (I can’t love/like everyone)
    • Late Bloomer (that would be me)
    • I Might Be
    • Me Too
    • Stinks (the smell, not the poem)
    • Hear Ye Me and Thee
    • The Dance (what we all want to do)
    • Bacon (the meat)
    • The Irish in Me (Must have been the 17th)
    • Too Much (of what?)
    • Losing It (crazy)
    • The Priest (a man I knew who died in prison)
    • Tank Hill
    • It’s Just Me
    • Handwriting from the Past
    • Confusing Transitions
    • Stability
    • Starting Short
    • Mari Zone II
    • Men Kill
    • Broken Sadness
    • Rouquin (French word)
    • Self Portrait as Poe

Beginning tomorrow (1 April 2019), I’ll continue to write at least one poem each day, but instead of writing to my muse’s ideas, I will write to whatever the National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) challenge prompts suggest. My source will be that website where each day’s assignments are posted around midnight. I’ll write and post the poem before giving up the day to Mister Sandman.

I expect to travel during the final days of the month, so I will be writing on the road (again—now I have Willie whining in my good ear). The world is rich with characters and topics, so I anticipate no lack of subjects (think small towns in west Texas).

Unlike my others, I feel challenged (obliged) to post these. That’s what NaPo is all about. Don’t say no pressure. Yes there is, and you know it.

As for prose, who knows?

Look both ways for opportunity and danger.
An inspiration need not be the creative juggernaut of the day.
Mind well gaps within the gaps.

Essay: I was thinking (some say I oughtn’t)

This past ten days was essentially a good week, plus three days. I am healed from the previous week when I had to deal with some of Texas’ smaller critters. I’ve written about them before, but I know more now.

Picture an orchestra or big band about to play. The conductor taps a stand a few times to get everyone’s attention and raises her or his arms and the musicians get ready. The audience quiets (or should) and everyone prepares for the first blast of music when virtually every musician simultaneously begins to play. Got it? I love it when they do it like that.

Tap, tap, tap…and

Now picture me stepping into my back yard to move some things out of the way. I knew there was a fire ant den over yonder. So, I didn’t go there. I did this, that, and the other thing. I then walked up the stairs to my porch and over to the door into the house. I did not hear the conductor do the tap, tap, tap with the baton.

When fire ants sting (and they do, like fire, thus the name) they play you like an orchestra. These little beasts run out of the den/nest/hiding place and climb onto your body, shoes, up your legs and arrange themselves just lickety-split. Tap, tap, tap, arms raised, then BLAM! Everyone of those little mother-fuckers stings in unison. That’s how it works. It hurts. I had reminders on my legs and ankles for days. Apparently, they release some sort of hormone, so they all get the ‘ready-aim-fire’ call in unison.

Fire ant stings about same as mine.

Last night I lay in bed thinking. Have you ever been to a place where some ass-hole or group of pains-in-the-ass people annoyed the hell out of you? The theater, a restaurant, some sporting event? There are lots of fire ants. Could we harvest a few hundred and put them in a little squeeze bottle thingy? Then, when we no longer can tolerate those people, spray about 20 of our little pissed-off fire ants into some strategic area of the offender’s person: hair, neck, feet, crotch…ideas? We’d get to play conductor. Stand, tap, tap, tap, raise our arms in the air. Let the music and dancing begin.

We’ve had a lot of rain for weeks in this part of (drought or flood) Texas. But it did not rain Thursday of that week. That was when I decided it was time to get back on the rough trails for my walk. I knew the grass was about knee-high tall everywhere they don’t mow. I did not realize how much grass grows on the trails! Since it has been so wet, fewer people have been walking the grass down and they have not mowed out there. I wore long pants tight at the ankle, socks, and a long sleeved shirt.

Chigger bites. I didn’t have so many.

I showered afterwards, but I woke up Friday morning with a dozen chigger bites. I used to think chiggers burrowed into your skin and stayed there. They bite, move, and bite again. Literally they eat skin (me). But they soften you up for dinner with a chemical that causes irritation and itching and lasts about a week.

I have DEET bug spray, and I know how to keep them off, but I didn’t use it. It was a cold, wet morning. I was fresh raw meat strolling through high grass looking for snakes or whatever critters might be hiding in there (ya can’t see chiggers). The hungry bugs were glad to see me. I transported chiggers on my person to my home on my body. For a week the bites mixed well with the fire ant stings for leg and ankle decorations.

The nest is still there in my yard, even though it was recently treated specifically for fire ants. I’ve ordered another kind of treatment for my clothing (permethrin) to deter the chiggers and other bugs, like ticks. I will treat clothing for trails and will apply DEET to my legs, ankles, and exposed skin. Oh, they found a mosquito with West Nile Virus on the south side. I live on the northside, but this should help with that.

I still like the idea of spraying fire ants on annoying people. Just don’t get caught.

Look both ways. Watch out for snakes, scorpions, and tarantulas.
Mind the gaps where hide the chiggers and fire ants.

Poetry: Everybody Has a Mother

52 years ago.

Everybody Has a Mother

I had a mom. And I loved her too.
Then she died, as all mothers do.

Now I have this woman here,
Texas gal and hell-of-a-dear.
Not my mother, no siree,
Nor sister or brother, but oh is she
Mother to the progeny,
who are something
that’s part of me.

She is my lady,
you can see,
love ‘er to bits like a
long-time lover
should.
She’s their mother.
They all love ‘er –
she loves ’em too,
as mothers do.

I love her so,
And likewise them.

Mom o’ my children,
all Texas born.
Now all growed-up
with kin a their own
Tex-bred kids
of one kind or other.

We love ‘em all,
short, fat, skinny and tall.

We love ’em up,
but she Loves them
more than I,
‘cuz that’s what Moms
can do. Love them all
a lot, you see,
more than you and more ‘n me.

Daughter, sis, and cuzin to some,
Wife to me, a very special one
Good sport of a kind and sort,
Mom to three,
Oma to more.

Yolonda,
this poem, my dear lady,
is just for you.

(Bill Reynolds © 12 May 2018)

Y’all be lookin’ both ways cuz Momma be comin’ with a spoon.
Mind the gaps.

Poetry (sort of, again) — NaPoWriMo: Fix’n ta Pit Stop

The 28th day of NaPoWriMo prompted me to draft a prose poem in the form/style of a postcard. Ain’t it funny, how time drifts away? I got local with vernacular and dialog and supported it with a short video clip.

 

Fix’n ta Pit Stop

Ah war-out ‘tween Austin an Waco, west-a the shinry an’ east a’the hill country. Mah butt was plum give-out. Feelin’ a smidgen puny, ah dismounted. Lucky as all-git-out, seen a big’o swait-tay saloon o’er yonder. It’ud be jist the thang, cuz ah was fixin’ to be flat as a cow-patty, ‘n dry as Odessa. Ah jerked up mah britches, an moseyed o’r to Harly’s Truck Stop. Dark as a big thicket, them ‘boys gimme a look’n over. Ah tipped mah sombrero, “Howdy. How y’all doin’?” “Ah’ite, ah’rite,” and “better’n all git out,” an one oh’boy yelled, “How ‘bout them ka‘boys?” Barkeep smiled, “Wha’cha drinkin’?” “I’ll have Shirly Temple.” Bar goes silent. Bar back says, “She jist left.” Ah near got-down with all the hootin’ and a-hall-erin’. “Well then, how ‘bout cold Lone Star? An gimme some’a-dem chips ‘n sausa.” Ah drank-up ‘n warshed-up, “Been good. Nite-cha-all,” and ah headed out fer Willie’s Place up ‘a road prit’-near Carl’s Corner.

(Bill Reynolds, 4/28/2018)

This is where I live folks. Lest you think I make this shit up:

Ride sober, look both ways, take breaks,
drink un-swait-tay, mind the gaps,
and love Willie.

Click link to National Poetry Writing Month

Poem – NaPoWriMo: Welcome Home…sort of

The day 12 poem prompt of the 2018 National Poetry Writing Month prompt challenges me to write a haibun, which is a prose/poem form that takes in the natural landscape. This one is supposed to be about the place where I live, to bring this area to life through a charming mix-and-match methodology of haibun. Read about haibun here if you care to.

I am not sure about the charming part. Haibun, and the included haiku or tanka are Japanese poetic forms hundreds of years old. I’m not that old, nor am I Japanese. But, I am an old American boomer-poet, and child of the sixties. It’s poetry. I write ditties. Ditties don’t have rules. What follows is my twist on haibun. (No disrespect to any oriental art from intended.)

Welcome Home…sort of

The rocky trail invites my curiosity as it gives me perspective into the central Texas biota detected by my five senses and absorbed into the lungs of my mind. Stubborn life forms which I admire more for hardiness and attitude than for beauty or comeliness. Bright green immature ears grow from dark-gray, near-dead, needle-covered cactus. Big old oaks mix with scrawny mesquite and scrubs-n-shrubs to shade the rough pathway.

Rain strips pollen
from the air
a deer looks at me

So much nature
look, dunna touch
hearing of voices

Life thrives in this arid environ that permits me, a feral foreign pest, to have a limited experience. Flora here is so much like the native human species; tough, resilient, rebellious. Then there are the wildflowers: the bluebonnets, the Indian paintbrush and blankets. Beautiful. For now.

(Bill Reynolds, 4/12/2018)

Look both ways to see it all. Enjoy the scene but mind the gaps.

Texas longhorn in a field of bluebonnets
Click link to National Poetry Writing Month

 

Signs Yer in Texas

I’m on thin ice here. Texas is different and the natives (Texans) not only insist on it, Texas Pride demands it with few boundaries. It was also 86-cents a 6-pack beer when I was in college. I married a Texas girl, all my kids were born here, and they all read my dribble.

Before traveling, people asked if we or our family lived anywhere near Houston and the flooding from hurricane Harvey. We are about 150 miles west of Houston, so family was on the outer bands of the storm—no damage or flooding, just rain.

Things from my morning walk…

Barbed wire (called “bob-war” in Tex-speak) may be useful for controlling cows, but it’s annoying and dangerous to humans. Putting up such fencing when it’s unnecessary is foolish, but they do it. And they run that miserable prison shit-wire right into the river. WTF is the point of that? There is not a farm, farm animal, ranch, or cow within miles. This is an in-town resort with people and kids. The state motto is “Friendship,” but nuthin’s friendly about that wire. And don’t give me that “good fences-good neighbors” crap. Pointed wire bits that can rip your skin off is not good, neighborly, or friendly.

Texas highways have the best signs. Some are funny. Like up by Moran, a little dry-spot of a town of four or five hundred hardy souls. “Moran next four exits.” It is not on an interstate, there are no exits, and you drive through town. If ya blink, ya miss it. Sarcasm and I love it. Better yet, “Moran Yacht Club Next Right.” There is no yacht club, no water or lake, just cactus and tumbleweed, residents with a sense of humor, and one joker who works for the highway department.

So, as I entered Cypress Bend Park on my walk this morning, I got a chuckle out of the signs at the entrance.

Don’t you dare pop that top until your ass is off our grass. The Guadalupe is kinda green now, but I bet it’s a high yellow color during the summer months.

Know what state you are in. And in this one, fear the sun. And for god’s sake, smile as you fry.

WTF is a “volume drinking device?” Do we need signs to remind us not to jump to our death? Lock yer cooler, the fish are thirsty.

It is not only the heat that is brutal in Texas. The norm for rain is the accompaniment of loud thunder and deadly lightning. Do the peeps here really need signs reminding them to use common sense? Seriously?

If you aren’t concealed (gun) carry licensed in Texas, you must be a namby-pamby liberal Yankee. Thus, if you visit the state capitol, you must pass through the metal detector. That is not required for the 80% who work there and are so-licensed. We know you’re carrying, so just go ahead.

Open carry is also common virtually everywhere in Texas and a gun rack in your pickup is standard, if not required, equipment.

But listen here, Cowboy. Do not open that beer until you’re “feet wet.” And above all, do not dare to open-carry your own bar-b-que grill into this here park. That would be dangerous. Comprehendo, Sundance? (Said the sheriff with a big smile.)

See? Thin ice. I will hear about this.

Look both ways for an easy way through those barb wire fences.
Mind the gaps and don’t jump off the bridges sober.

Along the Guadalupe

After putting this on Facebook, I decided that it may make a nice blog read. We are spending the month of October in Texas. Western Washington State, where we currently live, and south-central Texas are vastly different in climate, geography, and culture. Even the Mexican food here is different (called Tex-Mex). We are “from” Texas. Wife is native-born and I’m a damn-Yankee (she always said it’s one word) transplant. We are staying near the Guadalupe River in New Braunfels. What follows documents my last adventure walking her banks.

I added bug spray to our Wally World shopping list. On my walk this morning, I realized that “humid” is not the same everywhere. Here, it’s oppressive and crushingly heavy, even at 75 degrees. I fed the Texas mosquitos. I plan to heed the signs I’ve seen warning of the illnesses caused by fighting the “battle of the bite.” I wonder how my blood mixed with BP meds and Plavix made the skeeters feel. They were picking on me cuz my thin blood is an easy suck and swallow.

Near a local veteran’s place, I passed a fowl pair, one of whom gave me ample verbal warning. I was not plagued by attack from the VFW ducks cuz after I told them that I had friends who graduated from Oregon U., they let me pass.

It rained nicely during my walk and I enjoyed it. The rain was pleasant for here; no down-pouring buckets or lightening, which is the norm. I got wet; not soaked by the much-appreciated morning gift from the “friendship” state. I was not okay with the hungry insects.

As I was walking along with the wet grass and bushes brushing against my bare legs, I saw the sign: “Warning: Poison Ivy.” Oh, great; right? Maybe the ivy’s growth was restricted to that one little patch? Or, maybe the rain washed the poison off. I saw two men walking toward me. They both had fishing rods and hunting a good spot to wet their lines. I pointed to the sign and said, “Now they tell me.” They had a good laugh.

The last time I fished, I had much more hair and many fewer wrinkles. Long ago, I decided it was too much trouble and way too much of nothing else.

 

Apparently, trees have numbers for names in these parts. I met Mr. 2292 and his family (the Cupressaceaes) on my walk. He didn’t tell me why he is called a “bald cypress” (Taxodium Distichium) when he is clearly not bald. But that name sounds like a character in a dystopian book, right? And they say Latin is a dead language—ppffftt! (Bald is cuz they lose their leaves in winter; something no self-respecting Distichium does.)

I did not see Chris and Mona Lisa, who were inspired to write their names on one of the cypress to advertise their love. I hope that works out for all concerned, but I’m betting the tree outlasts the love.

The “no diving” sign at the pool makes the reason very clear. Ouch! I think I still liked fishing the last time I dove into a swimming pool.

I saw this quote to share with you: “Grief is love with nowhere to go.”

Have a good day.

Look both ways. Once you see the poison ivy sign, it may be too late.
Mind the gaps, the water’s cold.