Category Archives: Judy Dykstra-Brown poems

Label Machine

IMG_2240

Label Machine

Pure rayon or crepe de chine?
Trust the labelling machine.
It for sure will have it right
and easily can solve your plight
when you have that puzzling quandary
over what to call your laundry.
It’s easy.  You are simply able
to look inside and read the label.

With people, it is not the same.
Labelling may unfairly blame
someone of a certain hue
for something they would never do.
You may as well class cleft of chin
as a mark of sloth or sin
as to choose one’s place of birth
as a determiner of their worth.

It’s clear we’ve failed our populace
when we see how many of us
trust bigotry and generalization
to determine policies of  nation.
“Give us your tired and your poor”
has been swept right out the door.
The symbol of what’s free and fair
now stands forlorn with empty stare.

Behold: the Statue of Liberty—
a symbol of hypocrisy.

IMG_2238

The prompt today was label, one of those maddeningly short and simple words in the English language that I have had to repeatedly look up to make sure I’ve spelled it correctly.  “Lable” just looks right to me!!!!

The Emperor of Chocolate

                                                                             image from internet

The Emperor of Chocolate

I am the emperor of chocolate. I conquer every bar.
I can detect its presence in wrappings or in jar.
When there’s no chocolate to be found, I simply can’t abide it.
I can find it anywhere—wherever you might hide it.
My tendency toward chocolate is a tale I hate to tell;
but I cannot help it, for it’s congenital.
My mother abused substances—namely, Russell Stover.
She could not close the box lid until eating them was over.

She couldn’t resist chocolates, though she was not a glutton
when it came to other foods like hamburgers or mutton.
She received a box of chocolates on every holiday—
on her birthday and for Christmas, and for sure on Mother’s Day.
When it came to appreciation, my mother never failed them,
for when it came to chocolates, she always just inhaled them.
One time my dad decided that he would have some fun.
He bought my mom some chocolates to dole out one-by-one.

He hid them underneath the cushion of a chair
to give her one piece daily, but she knew that they were there.
She ate the whole box in two days. It really was disgraceful.
Every time I saw her, it seemed she had a face full.
Only with my father did she manage to save face,
For she bought chocolate-covered cherries and put one in the place
of every chocolate she stole. My father never knew.
She was not tempted by the cherries—a taste she could eschew.

My father always thought he’d pulled one over on my mother,
although I’ve always known that the true jokester was another.
When the box was only cherries, and he offered them to her,
she’d say, “I’ll save it for later,” or sometimes she’d  demur.
To resist chocolate cherries, she was fully able,
and I was fully loyal to preserving mother’s fable.
That’s how my addiction was learned at Mother’s knee,
because the chocolate-covered cherries? She gave them all to me.

The prompt today is conquer.

Good Fortune

DSC07563

Good Fortune

How lucky I’ve been in the bad luck I’ve had,
for no matter how dangerous, life-threatening, bad,
I’ve always come out both alive and still kicking
whenever my life chose to give me a licking.

The prompt word today is luck.

QUERY

Query

Have you a pattern for your life
wherein you’ve cut out stress and strife,
only allowing perfection?
Is every day a new confection—
cherry pie and chocolate cake?
No rejection? No heartbreak?
No erstwhile friends or jealous crazies—
your entire life a field of daisies?
It must be great, without a doubt,
but what have you to write about?

The prompt word today was pattern.

Leftovers

dsc09172

Leftovers

New words fly at me in a swarm.
They do not mean to do me harm,
but still I feel beaten and battered.
They might feel they haven’t mattered
if I do not use them all,
and yet I feel the beach’s call.
The dog is clamoring to be fed
while I am writing this instead.

The guilt of it cuts like a knife.

I’ve got to go and have a life!
I save the words already used,
and lest the others feel abused,
I leave them on the page as well
to tell the stories they might tell
If I had the time to use them.
I hope you’ll take time to peruse them:

fife  strife excel tell bell yell cell

The prompt today was swarm.

Snap

 

Snap

You flavor my memory with common tastes: Spam and corned beef hash.
You wanted to be the common man, but you were anything but.
The bold aggression and the subtle feminine sweep of what you formed—

beautiful. Your hands never clumsy as they sculpted wood and stone.
Metal bent and melted into beauty at your touch,
and colors lifted the wings you gave them.


I floated, also–– too independent to be formed by you,

but still uplifted that a man like you could love me.
It validated something in me—those hard choices I had made
because I listened to something vivid in myself I had not yet found a name for.
Dreams taught me. And synchronicity.

I had always wanted to be a wanderer­­­­—to try to quench those yearnings
that had haunted my daydreams since I was a child.
I cut the ties that bound and wandered West to find you—stable man
pinned by your wings to obligation all your life.
Instead of pinning me down, you wandered with me.
The gypsy life of making and selling art. The easy camaraderie of that circus life.
The vans and wagons circling every weekend in a different convention center parking lot.
Nights pulled into the woods or by the ocean.
Short nights in transit, parked in neighborhoods where we’d be gone by six.
The song of tires on the road, Dan Bern and Chris Smither. Books on tape.
Pulling quickly off the road to lug a dead tree or a well-formed boulder into the van
or to engineer its route up to the roof,
so we returned home as heavily laden as we had departed—
bowed under by the fresh makings of art.

The texture of our home life was silver dust and wood curls.
Its sounds were the stone saw and the drills and polisher.
The heat of the kiln hours after it had lost its art.
The fine storm spray of the sandblaster,
the whine of drills and whirling dervish of the lathe.
The smell of resin, redwood, stone dust, paint.
The sharp bite of metal. The warm bread smell of cooling fired clay.
Every bit of my life was flavored by what you loved––what I loved, too,
our interests merging so completely that for awhile
we had no separate lives, but one life welded end-to-end.

These remembraces are not organized or filed.
They flutter into my mind like hidden lists blown off tall shelves.
That life now a scrapbook of the past with certain photos plucked out
to be tucked under bedroom mirror rims or carried in wallets.

Snap. You put yourself into my mind.

Snap. Another memory follows,
and I am an old woman replaying her life.
Snap. The creak of the tortilla machine across the street in the early hours.
The loud rush of the surf, the rattling startup of a motorcycle.
The raspberry seed between my teeth,
the scent of the dog’s bath still on my hands,
sand gritting the sheets
and art projects taking over every surface.
Snap. I am me, looking for the next adventure.

 

Below photos snapped a few minutes ago. Proof of the tale.  New projects.
Click on first photo to enlarge and see all photos.

 

 

The prompt today was vivid.

“I Imagine” dVerse Poets, Prose Poetry

img_1090

I Imagine

I imagine one more holiday.
My mother sits at a large picture window
looking out over a broad beach,
watching dogs fetching sticks.
Then, because she cannot help it,
she takes her shoes off to walk through packed sand.
I imagine her sighting the offshore rock
where puffins nest.
I imagine footprints—hers and mine
and the paw prints of the dog—
someone else’s—
who joins us for the price of a stick thrown
over and over into the waves.

My mother could count her trips to the beach
on one hand,
and most of those times have been with me.
Once, in Wales, we sat on the long sea wall
under Dylan Thomas’s boathouse.
A cat walked the wall out to us,
precise and careful
to get as few grains of sand as possible
between its paw pads.
As it preened and arched under my mother’s smooth hand,
its black hairs caught in her diamond rings.

The other time we went to the beach
was in Australia.
We stayed out all afternoon,
throwing and throwing a stick,
a big black dog running first after,
then in front of it,
my dad sleeping in the car parked at the roadside,
my mother and I playing together
as we had never played before.

My mother and the ocean
have always been so far divided,
with me as the guide rope in between.
I imagine reeling them both in toward each other
and one more trip.
My mother, me, a dog or cat.
Wind to bundle up for and to walk against.
Wind to turn our ears away from.
Sand to pour out of our pockets
to form a small  volcano
with a crab’s claw at the top.

So that years from now,
when I empty one pocket,
I will find sails from by-the-wind sailors
and shark egg casings,
fragile black kelp berries
and polished stones.
The bones of my mother. The dreams of me.

From the other pocket, empty,
I will pull all the reunions I never fought hard enough for—
regrets over trips to the sea we never made.
And I’ll imagine taking me to oceans.
Walks. Treasures hidden in and hiding sand.
Someone walking with me—
someone else’s child, perhaps,
and a dog chasing sticks.

Note: I never took that last trip to the ocean with my mother, but I think of her every year when I come to stay at the beach on my own, and this year in particular, every time I throw the stick for Morrie and every time children come to play with us.

Written for the dVerse Poets prompt, Prose Poetry.To play along, go HERE.