Monthly Archives: April 2020

The Bee Keeper

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Carlos is still trying to get the bees out of my spare lot. I can’t hear them buzzing today so sounds like they have calmed down. Tomorrow we’ll discover whether they have accepted the new hive he’s trying to introduce them to so he can remove them to his land and away from mine so we can clear the lot. It’s been a loooong haul. He’s the third bee keeper we’ve called. Wanted to share this portrait I took of him.

A while ago I published a tribute to Jim Tipton, another beekeeper and fine poet. You can read that tribute here: https://judydykstrabrown.com/2018/05/21/the-bee-keeper/.

And, you can see Jim and read about his last book here: https://judydykstrabrown.com/2018/07/29/meet-jim-tipton-poet-and-keeper-of-bees/

Morrie Plays Pool Basketball

 

For you Morrie fans, here is a video of my housesitter Ian teaching him to play basketball in the pool. Don’t worry. Ian isn’t really in the au naturel. He has on flesh colored trunks. Morrie is nude.

Morrie’s Ball: NaPoWriMo–last day for 2020!

 


Morrie’s Ball

I throw the ball and throw the ball,
over my head in an arc to the garden downhill from the pool
where every midnight I do aerobic exercises and yoga,
trying to stem the freezing-up of joints,
the spreading of spare tires around the waist.

I am allergic to the sun,
and so these sometime-between-midnight-
and-3 a.m.-sessions in the pool

have come to be habit,
with both me and the small black shaggy dog
who leaves his bed in the doggie domain,
no matter how late I make the trip to the pool,
carrying his green tennis ball.

It is the latest in a long progression of balls
chewed to tatters until they are incapable of buoyancy
that sink to the pool bottom to be picked up by toes,
toed to hand, and thrown down again.
When they are replaced in the morning with a fresh ball,
he still searches for the old one,
like a child’s nigh nigh, grown valuable through use.

Again and again he drops the ball in the pool
and I interrupt every fifth repetition to throw the ball.
Like an automaton, he returns with precision,
then is off like a flash so fast
that sometimes he catches the ball I throw before it hits the ground.
This little dog, faithful in his returns,
sometimes jumps up on the grassy mound
I’ve made for him in a big flower pot by the pool,
chews the ball,
drops and catches it before it falls to the water,
drops and catches,
as though teasing me
the way houseguests might have teased him in the past with a false throw.

Or, sometimes he drops it on the grass,
noses it to the edge and then catches it before it falls.
Over and over, constructing his own games.
Then, bored or rested up from his countless runs,
he lofts the ball into the water precisely in front of me
and I pause in my front leg kicks
to resume my obligation.

But this night, he returns listless after the third throw.

“Go get the ball, Morrie,” I command, and he runs with less speed and vigor down the hill to the garden. I hear him checking out his favorite places,  but he does not return, and when I call him, finally, he returns, ball-less, jumps up on his mound and falls asleep.

He’s getting old, I think.
Hard to imagine this little ball of energy
as being anything but a pup.
He’ll bring it to me tomorrow, I think.
But tomorrow
and tomorrow
and tomorrow
brings no Morrie with a ball.

When I go down to the hammock the next day,
his enthusiastic leap up onto my stomach
is the same, his same insistence
that I rub his ears, his belly, his back.
But no ball proffered for a throw.
No Morrie returning again and again for more.

I am feeling the older for it,
like a mother who sees her last child
off to University or down the aisle, fully grown,
but I am reassured three days later,
when I arise from the hammock
to climb the incline up to the house
and see lodged firmly in the crotch of the plumeria tree
five feet off the ground: Morrie’s ball.

He sees me retrieve it
and runs enthusiastically up to the pool with me,
where I peel off my clothes
and descend like Venus into the pool,
arc my arm over,
and throw the ball.
He is back with it
before I get to the other end of the pool.
If they could see
through the dense foliage
that surrounds the pool,
what would the neighbors think
of this 72-year-old skinny dipping,
lofting a ball over her head
for her little dog
in broad daylight?

Morrie and I don’t care.

Happy Ending

The final NaPoWriMo challenge for 2020 is to write a poem about something that always returns.

 

Garden Scandals

photo by Derrick Knight.


Garden Scandals

“Campanula and cryptomeria together in one bed?

I find it very scandalous,” the one who found them said.

Such shocking behavior from ones of mixed genera!

Perhaps you could move one of them to a far-distant terra?

 

I found this in my notes.. I think it was a comment I once sent to Derrick or someone else who mentioned these two plants coexisting in their garden. Couldn’t find photos of them in my picture file but Derrick, perhaps you have a photo you’d like to contribute?

Ha! Derrick Knight came through. Click on the link to see his original photo and post. He publishes daily photos of his Wife Jackie’s garden and other rambles. Thanks, Derrick for the photo above. Have you removed the campanula or do scandals continue to go on in your garden?

Swarm

Swarm
It’s the dance of the bees with drone after drone

leaving the hive and the queen on her throne.
Carlos the Bee guy seems most disconcerted,
and I wish that we had been sooner alerted.

The air’s raining bees. They are buzzing and winging
into my gazebo and soon might be stinging.
We leap from the hammock, Morrie and me.
He’s licking his nose and I’m slapping my knee.

We run for the house with one bee giving chase.
Its wings scrape my ear and my arm and my face.
We get to the house before it gets mean,
but again and again, it butts into the screen.

Honey is sweet and well worth its labors,
but creatures that make it do not make good neighbors.

When I tried to hire someone to clear off the empty lot I own next to my house, they ran into a problem—two hives of aggressive bees that made clearing the land impossible. Carlos the dreadlocked bee keeper is coming today to remove the combs of one hive that is reachable and to trap the bees to move to his own apiary, but when he came to check out the situation yesterday, the event described in the above poem occurred. He’s back today, and Morrie and I are going to stay inside!!!

Prompts today are dance, drone, raining and disconcert

This photo and all photos without attribution on this blog have been taken by me.

Dogs and Cats, NaPoWriMo 2020, Day 29

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Dogs and Cats

Cats are more bendable, dogs more dependable.
Cats are more stretchable, dogs much more fetchable.
Dogs rip and tear and their kisses are wetter.
Cats donate hair to your favorite sweater.

Dogs howl at the moon and bark at the neighbors.
Curling and stretching the extent of the labors
of cats whereas dogs display energy plus––
harassing the mailman or chasing a bus.

Both species have four feet, fur and a tail,

fall into two classes: female and male,
and when there is breakage, neither is to blame.
But that’s the extent of the ways they’re the same.

For day 29 of NaPoWriMo 2020, we were to write a poem about our pets.

High School Commencement, 2020 Style

     muhammad-rizwan-VnydpKiCDaY-unsplash Used with permission

High School Commencement, 2020 Style

Here in Coyote Valley, we’ve had a small preview
of just what can happen when the world has gone askew.
High School Graduation might have gone without a hitch.
A certain senior’s choice of clothing was the only glitch.
When he approached the platform, parents nearly had a stroke.
His classmates simply had a laugh. They all enjoyed the joke.
His Hazmat suit was timely, though his mortarboard was tilted.
It beat the valedictory speech, which was a little stilted.
Thus Billy Jenkins pulled one over getting his diploma.
First the face mask and what with the principal’s glaucoma,
he missed the fact of who he had just handed an escape
from another year as senior without the dread red tape
of actually passing history, keyboarding or biology.
English, math or woodshop, PE or sociology.
Without opening a single book, Billy counted coup.
Add this to the statistics. COVID-19 got him through.

Prompts for today are coyote, valley, graduation, stroke and preview,