Category Archives: Family

Generational Reunion

scan089

Generational Reunion

Those stern-looking ancestors with furrowed brow—
if they saw what they’ve evolved into now,
would they be shocked at how I spend my day
toiling for hours on tasks that don’t pay?
Would my sense of humor be found too offensive?
Would they be shocked and would they feel defensive
if I told them the truth about what I believe?
Would how I turned out just cause them to grieve?

Would they swim in my pool, enjoy my strange home
with odd paintings and statues beneath a great dome,
or think me a heathen and pray for my soul?
Would my redemption be their only goal?
Would the truth of their progeny cause them to balk
so they were loath both to laugh and to talk?
Transposed to my setting, I’m sure they’d be shocked
but similar traits might come out as we talked.

One might be an artist, another a writer.
The atmosphere might turn out closer and lighter.
I’d see their high cheekbones and they would see mine.
We’d compare our physiques and our tastes as we dine.
Surely there’s something in genes that would bind us,
draw us together, unite and remind us
this is my past that is visiting me
and I am the one that they turned out to be!

 

scan088

These are photos of my Dutch and Scottish ancestors. The prompts are setting, loath and ancestor. Here are the links:

https://fivedotoh.com/2018/08/07/fowc-with-fandango-setting/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2018/08/07/loath/

https://dailyaddictions542855004.wordpress.com/ Ancestor

Maternal Support

scan076

Because I finally found this photo of my mother that I’ve been looking for for years, I had to put it on my blog.  I just love how young she looks, wonder what prompted her lifting up my stroller, love the depiction of the new neighborhood we’d just moved into that lacked even graveled streets, let alone paved ones.  I’m wondering if she lifted me up to show off her spectator pumps?  Pretty fancy for a mother in a housedress holding her chunky baby aloft complete with heavy metal stroller. This is my all-time favorite photo of my mother and me so I just had to share it. That’s the Masonic Temple in the background, by the way. My mother was 37 years old. I must have been between 10 months and a year old.

In case you are curious, here are a number of poems, essays and stories I’ve written about my mother over the years. Bet you can’t read the whole bunch!! But if you want to read just one, let it be the first one, which gives the most complete view of her.

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2014/04/25/napowrimo-day-25-she/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2017/04/12/family-secrets/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2017/03/19/the-emperor-of-chocola/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2017/03/02/i-imagine-dverse-poets-prose-poetry/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/12/22/believe/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/09/20/generational-drift/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2015/01/30/china-bulldog/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2014/10/17/mommy-talk/

https://judydykstrabrown.com/2018/04/24/elegy-for-eunice/

 

Fact and Fiction

 

Various photos of my Mom, Dad, sisters and me. (Poem follows)

Fact and Fiction

If I had met my parents when we all were sixty-seven,
(before she went on oxygen, before he went to heaven,)
would we have liked each other and found something to say?
As strangers, would we walk on by or pass the time of day?

My father liked to be the one spinning out the tale.
Beside his abundant stories, I think most of mine would pale.
He wasn’t a joke-teller or a purveyor of fictions.
It was true stories of his life that fueled his depictions.

And when his friends had heard them all, he’d tell them all again.
Though they stretched with every telling, still his tales never grew thin.
If fifteen wolves pursued him—a number that is plenty,
the next time that he told the tale, I’ll wager there’d be twenty!

When I returned from Africa with stories of my own,
I found that they weren’t good enough, for all of them had grown
with all my dad’s retellings, so the rhino I had snapped
a photo of, now chased me. (In reality, it napped.)

I think perhaps my mother would like my poems the best.
She’d like the rhyme and meter, the humor and the jest.
For I learned all of it from her when I was very small,
as she was doing rhyming before I learned to crawl.

I grew up with her diaries—all of them in rhyme.
She had them in a notebook and we read them all the time.
The tales of her friend Gussie, who wasn’t allowed beaus;
so they said they went to Bible study, though it was a pose.

Gussie’s mother baked two pies, (for coffee hour, they said.)
Her father said he’d pick them up. They said they’d walk instead.
They took one of her mother’s pies to those within the church,
then took the other with them as they left them in the lurch!

Their beaus were waiting for them in a car with motor running.
Instead of Bible reading, they preferred to do some funning.
To abscond with both the pies was something that they had debated,
but in the end they left one pie–an action that they hated.

Two sisters present were their foes. They were so prim and proper.
To steal one pie was lie enough—but two would be a whopper!
Mom’s entry in her journal is one I can still tell.
(Don’t know why it’s the only one that I remember well.)

Line for line, here’s what she said in metered verse and rhyme,
though it’s been sixty years since I heard it for the first time:
“We left that crowd of greedy Dirks to feast upon our pies.
We were so mad, like Gussie’s Dad—had pitchforks in our eyes!”

My mother burned this journal when I was just a kid.
I wish she hadn’t done so, but alas, it’s true, she did.
Perhaps she didn’t want to see us following her ways.
Instead of what she did, better to follow what she says.

But I am sure if she still lived we’d have a little fun,
sitting down together when every day was done
and writing all our exploits down, relaying all our slips—
saving for posterity the words that pass our lips.

And in the meantime, Dad would tell as long as he was able,
all those stories that he’s told at table after table.
In coffee shops and golf courses, at parties or a dance,
he would go on telling them, whenever there’s a chance.

And if we all were strangers, and none of us were kids,
we could relate our stories without putting on the skids.
Each would outdo the other as we passed around the bend,
with story after story till we all came to The End!!!

Rogershipp’s prompt word for today is: Abundant

Near: dVerse Poets Pub, Apr 28, 2018

Near

My father went from obscurity to a sort of small renown.
He worked hard as a rancher and the mayor of our town.
He met my mother at a dance in her sister’s borrowed gown–
both of them lonely visitors to a faraway strange town.
I’ve thought about it often since we laid him down.
Why didn’t I ask more questions? Why didn’t I write it down?

Many a calf he helped to birth and many a field he’s mown.
Avoided his mother if he could–long-suffering aged crone.
Not many highways traveled,nor many airwaves flown.
He died in his angry daughter’s arms–the two of them alone.
I’ve thought of it often till regrets have turned into a drone.

His eyes were always looking further over yon.
Over a ripening field of wheat or over a fresh-mowed lawn.
Working, often, until dark and up again at dawn.
A man of camaraderie and wit and brains and brawn.

He liked to tell a story and sing a rousing tune.
Stand on the porch at midnight to piss under the moon.
He gave me a turquoise ring, a baby rabbit and a coon.

Now that he’s very gone away.  Now that I’m very grown,
I know my flesh is of his flesh. My bone is of his bone.

And I wish that I’d asked more questions. That we’d both been less alone.

DSC02618
The form of this poem is one consisting of six stanzas, the first with 6 lines and each thereafter one less line.  Each line in each stanza rhymes with all the other lines in that stanza and each stanza’s rhyme is a near rhyme to the last. The name of this form is Sylvestrian Near Rhyme and since “Near” describes both the theme and form of my poem, it is also the name of the poem.  And yes, I did make up the form!  I’d love it if poets given to rhyming and meter would attempt the form and send me the results as comments or a link to this blog.

For dVerse Poets Pub

She Always Sleeps with the Radio On

My sister Betty, ages three to seventy three


She Always Sleeps with the Radio On

Each night,
      as I negotiate
              the squeaky stairs
                   from her attic guest room
           down to the bathroom
     one more time,
I hear the voices.

I imagine them as her companions,
    drowning out night sounds,
        freeing her mind from its hard task
of remembering.

Tonight, she sits on a lawn chair
on the grass. I sit on the front steps,
listening
   to a friend on the
     steps next to me, strumming, strumming,
as my sister and I sing along
in high school harmony.

The little girls across the street
       are the first to come,
       tiny lawn chairs in arms,
  to plop themselves in front of us
for the concert.

As they settle, my sister says,
“Now, back to the music.”

Moments later, their mother follows,
   bringing initial happy news
       of their upcoming trip
to a lake where last year
a teenage girl had been abducted,
         a segue to more disturbing news
of yesterday’s daylight intruder
flushed from a house a block away.

I’d noticed
    the police car
       circling, puzzled
           by his vigilance as we walked
      the neighborhood today.
 I’d smiled at the man on the bike who didn’t look
      a part of this neighborhood, wondering how he’d fare,

but now I feel the threat of him.

“House of the Rising Sun,” stops dog-walkers in their tracks
  as the litle ones
     sit on the sidewalk
         stringing beads I brought,
capturing this night
to hang around their necks:
gray plastic elephants,
            pink stars,
                   orange hearts,
                           green dolphins strung midleap
on sparkly purple cord.

This night strings us all together:
                  beads, words, music, the night sounds
of insects and frogs,

                                                 happy stories interspersed with fearful ones,
traffic from the busy street one block away.
             Hungry mosquitoes,
                    gathering suddenly,
are what break us apart.

     As we climb the stairs,
             her door
                        next
                            to the only
                                   bathroom
                     in the house
              closes.

For the first time 
    in the week I’ve been here,
          I hear no radio
                on my nightlong explorations
down the stairs.

At ten o’clock, 1:30 and 3,
          the hall outside her bedroom
                         stays silent,
          this evening’s full company
flooding over into the night.

We have exhausted her mind, filled it, worn her out.
           She stlll feels our presence.
                     
                                Four a.m.

A creaking door, and once again,
          silence becomes
        a cup for her to fill.
            Something is needed
to relieve worry—
to leave no room
    for either remembering
  or the lack of it.
I hear them then, insistent, down the stairs and in the hall.

                       Voices all night long.

 

 

The prompt word today is insist.

Beloved: WordPress Weekly Photo Prompt

 

On Facebook, click on the URL to see all  35  photos. When you get to my blog, then click the first photo and arrows to enlarge all photos.

 

The WP Weekly photo prompt is beloved.

Relating Old Stories

IMG_1482

Old Stories

Like the lyrics to a favorite song,
half-remembered as we sing along,
the stories that we love the best
and relate with the strongest zest
are those that we have half forgotten–
misplacing details ill-begotten.
Like wrinkles smoothed with Photoshop,
we know where truth is meant to stop.
We smooth the bumps and oil the friction
by sugaring the truth with fiction.

As well as the photo album shown above, this poem is a golden oldie from a few years ago. The prompt today is relate.