Monthly Archives: September 2014

The Whole Truth

Today’s WordPress prompt was: Truth Serum—You’ve come into possession of one vial of truth serum. Who would you give it to (with the person’s consent, of course) — and what questions would you ask?

I took the truth serum myself and the first thing I admitted was that I didn’t like the prompt, so I wrote about something else. If you want to see my poem today, go here.

Fire on the Mountain

Fire on the Mountain

The smell of burning leaves us only when we sleep,
the hills above us aflame for weeks as the wind
catches the upraised hands of a dozen fires
and hurries them here and there.

It is like this every year
at the end of summer,
with the dry grass ignited by
light reflected by a piece of glass
or careless farmers burning off their fields.

The lushness of the rainy season
long since turned to fodder by the sun,
the fires burn for weeks along the ridges
and the hollows of the Sierra Madre—
raising her skirts from where we humans
puddle at her ankles.

Imprisoned in their separate worlds,
the village dogs bark
as though if freed
they’d catch the flames
or give chase at least.

The distracting smell of roasting meat
hints at some neighborhood barbecue,
but only afterwards do we find
the cow caught by her horns in the fence
and roasted live.

Still, that smell of roasting meat
pushes fingers through the smoke of coyote brush
and piñon pines and sage,
driving the dogs to frenzy.

The new young gardener’s
ancient heap of rusting Honda
chugs up the hill like the rhythm section
of this neighborhood banda group
with its smoke machine gone crazy
and its light show far above.

The eerie woodwinds
of canine voices far below
circle like children
waiting for their birthday cake,
ringing ‘round the rosy,
ringing ‘round the rosy
as ashes, ashes,
it all falls down.

I discovered a new prompting site. The prompt for this poem was to write down the following, then to use all six in a poem that begins with “The smell of burning leaves….” (I had a different take on that first line.)

Something you buy in a bakery. (Birthday cake)
A smell in a diner. (Roast beef)
A make of automobile. (Honda)
Something people do to relieve stress. (Sleep)
An unusual musical instrument. (Quena flute. I felt the actual name of the instrument distracted from the poem, so I used the more generic “woodwind.”)
A child’s game. (Ring around the Rosy)

Here is the link for that site if you want to follow the prompt or see other poems written to this prompt.

Nighttime: Dia de los Muertos

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This week’s photo theme for WordPress was “Nighttime,” but it was too hard to pick one of the many night scenes I was considering, so instead I chose a series of shots from last year’s Dia de los Muertos in Patzcuaro.  Dancing, graveside ceremonies, refreshments and general revelry go on all night long.  Our boat broke down half way to the island and so we had an especially long night of it as men opened the bottom of the boat to try to free the fishing nets that had been securely wound around the propellers.

News Blues

News Blues

wars, tsunamis
murdered mommies
global warming
cancers forming
mad religions and heretics
engineering our genetics
drug cartels
emptying wells
mounting debt
nuclear threat

I hate to say it
but every day it
is getting worse
this global curse
and human capers
in all the papers
so all in all
it’s an easy call
I find less friction
in reading fiction!

The Prompt:The Great Divide—When reading for fun, do you usually choose fiction or non-fiction? Do you have an idea why you prefer one over the other?

The Indigestibles

The Prompt: Mouths Wide Shut—Are you a picky eater? Share some of your favorite food quirks with us (the more exotic, the better!). Omnivores: what’s the one thing you won’t eat?

The Indigestibles

No room for mushrooms, can’t live with liver.
The thought of brains just makes me shiver.
Though I like pizza, my other law
is I don’t eat tomatoes raw!

Drinking milk’s against my wishes.
Fish is simply for the fishes.
I eat no veal or other baby,
and steak for me is simply “maybe.”

So if it’s your plan to invest
in things that I like to ingest,
I won’t make it any harder
for you to come and stock my larder.

All else you want to bring to feed me—
what edibles you wish to cede me:
Injera, curries, Thai, Chinese—
all are sure to tempt and please.

Except for one thing I just thought of
that in the past I’ve had a lot of.
There’s one more mouthful I won’t try.
I have no taste for humble pie!

Second Thoughts

The Prompt: “Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.” – Edna Ferber. Do you agree with this statement on excess?

In reading all of the other posts on this topic
, a second thought has occurred to me that no one else has stated, so I’m posting a second post!

Nothing is as bad as too little.  At least those with too much have a choice.  We can stop eating, give away our money and our clothes, sell the big house and big car. Try being a mother who has no shelter and no food for her children. She does not even always have the choice to steal food if there is no food there to steal. Nothing is as bad as too little.

Too Much, Too Many

The Prompt: “Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.” – Edna Ferber. Do you agree with this statement on excess?

 Too Much, Too Many

Lately, I’ve taken to having panic attacks late at night as I’m trying to fall asleep. When I’m having one of these episodes, I suddenly feel as though I’m not going to be able to breathe. It’s not that I can’t breathe at the moment, but a feeling that I’m soon not going to be able to breathe. Sometimes it helps to use an inhaler, then to substitute one pillow for two and to lie on my back rather than my side, as I usually sleep; but more often than not, the only way I can stem the rising panic is to go outside in the fresh air and to sit for awhile, or walk.

This doesn’t happen every night, but it happens too often for comfort. I live alone, and although from time to time I miss company, these late night episodes are the only times when I fear being alone. Perhaps a vision of someday being old and vulnerable is what prompts them, but I know the reason why that fear is expressed as an inability to breathe is because of a TV show I watched over a year ago wherein a young boy was bound, blindfolded and buried alive as water slowly filled up the tank he was buried in, eventually drowning him after 24 hours of torture during which he was aware of his eventual fate. I can think of no more horrible death, and I would give a thousand dollars not to have seen that scene. I no longer watch the show but its damage has been done and it is that scene, along with an earlier scene where I was trapped underwater and came very close to drowning that fuel my conscious nightmares during this time.

In my daylight world, I have a similar fear of being buried under things. My main problems are tool, art supplies and papers—many of which are equally worthless to me. (Closets full of too-small or too-large clothes I just might shrink down to or grow into again, my husband’s stone-drilling tools that have resided in two large cupboards in my garage for 13 years and never used, my income tax returns and receipts that go back to 1964, a lifetime of letters  and drawers and shelves of art supplies and collage items I’m fairly sure I’ll never use.) Yet, I have an irrational fear that the minute I rid myself of them, I will need them. I also have paintings stored in every closet as well as under a high rise bed I had made in my upstairs guest room—a bed with a drawer that holds 20 paintings—some by famous painters, some by myself. I would not hang my paintings, but also cannot throw them away or sell them. Nor can I throw away any of the probably 50,000 items that fill every shelf, drawer, bag, surface and hidden spot of my art studio. I make excuses for myself. I am a collage artist. I teach classes and I may need them to share. They have sentimental value.

My house is not messy (except for desktops and my studio) and there is generally a place for everything. It is clean, thanks to a three-times-a-week housecleaner. When company comes, I usually finally organize my desk, file the papers and cover those I don’t get filed with a beautiful scarf or sari, but I know there is a clutter hidden in a drawer or under a beautiful cover, and this disorganization chokes me as surely as my night panics.

My grandmother was a hoarder and so was my oldest sister. I tell myself I have this in control more than they did; but occasionally, when the piles on the built in desk that covers one wall in my bedroom spill over onto the chair, I start to fear that the family curse is taking me over. And in the dark, I can sense it growing nearer, its arms stretched out and its hands aching to encircle my neck and to choke me, shutting off my air slowly, over the years, leaving my middle sister (the uncluttered one) to finally do what I have not been able to do: to rid my house of too much, too many—the irony being that I will be the first object they will have to remove to enable her to do it!