This modern world has changed and changed
until I have become estranged.
These alterations make me dizzy.
I do not like my world so busy.
The young are used to change, it’s true.
They love the instant and the new.
Texts and sound bites come so fast.
Nothing’s really built to last.
But, for someone over fifty,
all this change is hardly nifty.
When at each end the candle’s burned,
when everything we’ve newly learned,
when everything that we hold dear
turns obsolete within one year,
we’re always slightly out of gear,
which makes us feel unjustly queer.
They make these changes without a clue.
Let’s start out minor, then work up to
the major things they’ve set askew:
(I will not mention Dr. Who.)
Every computer becomes its clone.
I cannot use the telephone.
My applications change so quick
that I have come to feel I’m thick.
Skype makes its changes overnight.
(Yet rarely ever improves the site.)
Microsoft Word just loves to change,
which leaves her users feeling strange.
Move this to there and that down here;
so all my mental powers, I fear,
are spent in figuring out the APP
and organizing a mental map
of how to write instead of what,
creating one big mental glut.
No room for creativity.
No safe place where our minds soar free.
We’re always “searching” for, instead,
our minds caught up in fear and dread
of where they’ve moved the enlarge bar to
in this week’s Word processing zoo!
Our e-mail servers have joined the plot.
I feel like pitching out the lot.
Just when I’ve learned most every trick
of tool and contact, every lick—
their Machiavellian, evil team
goes and changes the whole darn scheme!
But when we’re sending coast-to-coastal,
the alternative is going postal.
So though we bitch and though we frown,
they are the only game in town;
and so they have us where they want us.
Though they frustrate, ire and daunt us,
one after another, they are the same,
playing at this modern game
of change for change’s sake, it’s true.
There’s really nothing much to do.
So I submit, though in a tizzy,
I’ll relax less and keep real busy.
I’ll leave the cyber world alone
and concentrate on just one bone
I have to pick in this modern world,
and I say this with my top lip curled.
Max Factor, Revlon, Almay, please—
I kneel before you on my knees.
Leave the lipstick colors that we hold dear
alone! Don’t change them every year.
Each time you cancel one that’s zesty,
to find another makes us testy!!!
This is a rewrite of a poem written four years ago. The prompt today is zoo.
The ceiling fans turn above five women. One holds an almond cookie in her mouth as her hands adjust her notebook and reach for her pen. She moves the rest of the cookie into her mouth with the hand that has finished turning to the correct page, then brushes away the crumbs from the glass table. Another woman sits hunched over a tablet in her lap. She is wearing a black swimsuit and sits on the white canvas cushion of a rattan couch.
A third taps on her computer—a fact that has driven her former sofa neighbor out to the terrace to write––that tapping too distracting. Next door, the crash of chisel on concrete furnishes a counter-tempo to the gentle tapping of the keys. The ocean swells in a continual basso…snippets of a plaintive Mexican song straining in over the fence as well. The sparseness of the view––sea dunes, succulent ground cover, crashing ocean and sky–– is augmented by so many sounds that they blend into a cacophony that can be overlooked…or underheard, as the case may be.
I am the fifth woman, and as the other four write about whatever world each is in, their imagined voices fill my thoughts to a point where my own voice is lost. I can only record what I see and hear. It is as though my own imagination has been sucked up by the morning, lost in the profusion of thoughts of others that grow like liana in my mind.
The blades on the fans spin. Tiny upside-down crosses are formed by the bolts that secure the glass globes of the lights below the fans. Like crucifixes the tortured have slipped free from, they stand useless as metaphors but necessary in actuality. All of the crucified have scurried away…survivors of someone else’s bigotry or fears or cruelty.
Some of the survivors climb up the legs of the coffee table and pull themselves onto my computer keys. They jump on keys to say, “We have voices that will not be stilled. We sacrifice that bullies may be overcome. We expect you to resist as we do. Frightening as it is, it is the only way. Life is choice after choice and those choices, if easy, are not worth making.”
I take over. Brush them like crumbs from my keyboard. I get to choose how profound my life will be, at least on the page, and I don’t want to write about crucifixion, shootings in churches or fast food restaurants, massacres at concerts.
I want my senses filled with tappings and poundings and too-loud strains of music and where the fridge will go in the tiny new sleeping/feeding room I’m having constructed for my dogs. I want another almond cookie, and a sip, two sips of hazelnut coffee. Some of us have to have a happy life. Some need to go on in spite of the slaughter, greed, small-mindedness. We win in this way. Something exists in spite of the horrible chaos some would make of the world.
We win by fighting, but we also win by being. By remaining. By choosing to be happy. The ocean roars and sometimes I must roar, also. But not always.
Since Monday, I’ve been in Puerto Vallarta at a writer’s retreat with seven other women. Since our days start before the prompts come out, there is no time to write before the sessions begin, so I’m resorting to editing earlier work. This piece was written at a retreat attended by most of these same women three years ago. The prompt today was snippet.
Ice Cream Manifesto
It’s just a little kiosk in the middle of the street
between two one-way roadways, in the center where they meet.
There aren’t any tables. There isn’t any chair.
You have to stand out in the street to give your order there.
Mango or tequila, tamarind or corn.
As you can see, the flavors don’t agree with any norm.
They’ve ice cream made of purest cream , but they have ices, too,
in so many flavors that I always choose a few.
My favorite? Strawberry ice. Vanilla under it.
I get a cone so I don’t have to wait to plunder it.
I finish it as I drive home, licking all the way.
I give my dogs the empty cone. It always makes their day.
The cone is hard as any bone–sweet and chewy, too.
If I were a better mother, I’d arrange that they had two.
But though I know I’d enjoy two passing o’er my lips,
Later I would not enjoy their presence on my hips.
I love that little ice cream stand. Love it all to heck,
with its lovely homemade ice cream made in Jocotepec.
That pueblo is quite close to me. It’s just five miles or so.
So it isn’t that it is so very far for me to go.
The thing is that for me, ice cream is an impulse buy.
It’s not a major purchase, like a cake or like a pie.
If I just happen to be passing and see that fellow there
waving his ice cream scoops at me, right out in the air,
preordination says that I must stop and have one now–
a bite of crispy wafer cone, adorned with ice of cow.
I do not claim responsibility for decisions of this kind.
It’s a creative impulse, not a matter of the mind.
So if you’re a public servant–an official of this town
looking for new laws to pass, don’t tear this kiosk down.
Fill some potholes in the street or put a speed bump in.
For legislating ice cream bans is sure to be a sin!
This is an edit of a poem from two years ago. Still at my writer’s retreat with little time to do prompts in the morning and since WordPress messed up and gave an extra prompt on the 26th, I’m just doing prompts in sequence a day behind..hard to explain, but gives me a chance to get the prompt done the night before.Nov 28/29 Daily Post Prompt, One Way.
When the daylight takes its bite
eating up the dark of night
I begin my daily rite
of finding all the words to cite
that serve to bring my thoughts to light.
I write and write and write and write–
filling up my blogging site
until my dogs begin to fight,
and finally I know it’s quite
necessary to do what’s right.
And this is when I find I might
secure my laptop lid up tight
and give my brain a small respite.
It is my second day’s delight
for they have tried to be polite
lest they disturb me or incite
words that in my haste are trite.
With open door, I then invite
their appetites—now at their height.
Each jumps and spins–high as a kite,
and comes to have his morning bite.
Eight of us are at a writing retreat in Puerto Vallarta so I’ll soon be doing writing to a different prompt. In the meantime, this is a rewrite of a poem written 3 years ago. The prompt today is bite.
The Knitted and the Purled
Nothing in this world can exist happily ever after.
A house is built of lows and highs: foundation before rafter.
Up and down’s the truth of it, the brilliant and the dark.
No week is composed totally of Sunday in the park.
Existence is a pendulum that sweeps across our lives.
Worker bees die every day in service to their hives.
Good seems finely balanced by a constant lurking evil.
Roses have their aphids. Cotton has its weevil.
There is so much that’s wonderful in the world we live in,
but no one wins at every game. Sometimes we have to give in,
playing with the cards we’re given—flush or straight or fold—
sometimes in the heat of luck, sometimes out in the cold.
Ups and downs create the whole of our amazing world,
its surface formed by contrast of the knitted and the purled.
Sometimes we’re given what is sweet, at other times the bile
as we choose moment by moment to live happily for a while.
Rewrite of a poem from three years ago. The prompt today is knit.
What fewer love stories there would be if we could see their endings—so many middles of romances left unread by those who read their last pages first. When I remember each past first kiss, it is in a mirror half obscured by the future reflected in it. One love is forever caught underwater where it gasps for air. Another is ashes floating out in rings to touch the edges of a lake which is shrinking inward from its banks, as though in complicity to aid their settling along its edges. Another lies in small droplets of blood on a road where it was ambushed, too late to be a message of anything but regret for love that died before the lover and a lover who died too soon. There are all these deaths of loves—like a class for the unfortunates who, kept in after school, are made to trace their lines again and again in the belief that love is taught by repetition and that wisdom comes from practice.