Category Archives: Poem

Animal Nature

Animal Nature

She had a penchant for excitement but discretion was a must,
for how her family worried and how her family fussed—
fingers tearing hair and both palms shielding eyes.
Was bungee-jumping safe? Did she think sky-diving wise?

They’d have her clipping coupons and baking cherry pies,
so she only did her favorite things shrouded in disguise.
A person in a chicken costume jumping from a plane
might have been seeking notice, might have seemed inane

if the chicken ever took off her feathers or her mask.
If she ever answered the questions they might ask.
But she only shed her feathers once safely in her home,
arranging them with fingers and a broad-toothed comb.

Snow-boarding in her fox costume, she knew they’d never know
how she banged up her left elbow, fractured her little toe.
She’d said it was at tennis—that family-sanctioned sport,
as they happily imagined her on golf course or on court.

They found other sport unseemly, inappropriate at best
when associated with their spotless family crest.
Thus did she live her life according to her nature
while never bringing shame to her family nomenclature!

Words prompts for the day are: eyes, penchant, excitement, discretion and coupon. Illustration from Pinterest.

Stale Humor


Stale Humor

A ubiquitous imagination is just like all the others
with no variation from your sister’s or your brother’s.
It does not twist or undulate. It runs a narrow course.
It has a sense of humor never varying from its source.

As Mother dreamed and Father dreamed, so does it dream as well.
It does not flaunt, cavort, carouse. It’s locked within a cell.
It doesn’t thrive on irony. It does not tease or bait us.
In lieu of furnishing fresh air, we flounder in its flatus.

God save us all from normalcy and those who are too dumb
to develop their own funny bone but who remain humdrum
by reciting age-old jokes to us and memorizing jokes
that haven’t drawn much laughter since they learned them from their folks.

 

Prompt words for the day are flatus, ubiquitous, imagination, carouse and twist.

An Empirical Truth

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A Empirical Truth

I’m writing to our leadership–selfish, short-sighted fools
who are selling off our national parks and making other rules
about protected species, pollution and our health.
Saying it’s for our good while the rich expand their wealth.

If Nero fiddled as Rome burned, it’s also true today
that our most notable leader also likes to play.
As he’s shooting birdies on wild habitats turned tame,
his kids take off for Africa to shoot some wild game.

What we do to others turns back on us in time,
and Mother Nature will  find a way of dealing with your crime.
I suggest that you use caution when visiting a zoo
lest the animals you threaten end up hunting you.

 

Prompt words for today are explain, empirical, zoo, caution and leadership.

Rescinded Offer

Rescinded Offer

Her succinct requirements rush outward like a river.
What she expects from marriage. What she expects he’ll give her.

She tries to soften her demands with voice both soft and sweet—
habits he must abolish. Standards he should meet.

They stand before cerulean bay the color of her eyes.
Waves breaking gently on the shore first soothe, then hypnotize.

Then a clap of thunder disturbs the scenic spell.
He hears the content of her words and knows her very well.

There won’t be any marriage. She never will be his.
He’s decided to just find a girl who’ll take him as he is!

 

Word prompts for the day are cerulean bay, abolish, river, succinct and breaking.

Mrs. Blumenschein Matriculates at Sixty

Mrs. Blumenschein Matriculates at Sixty

Enough with the babies. It’s time now for you.
Cease with the usual. Do something new.
For once be the player instead of the coach.
Let this school year start out with a brand new approach.
Before you’re a grandma, face your heart’s desire.
Matriculate college as others retire.
Sixty’s not too late to make use of your mind.
Create the life for which you have pined.
As your youngest departs to expand his knowledge,
pack up your own bags. It’s your own turn for college.

When I entered college in 1965, one of my fellow freshmen was Mrs. Blumenschein, age 60, mother of nine, who, when her youngest packed up for college, packed up and enrolled herself. She had long red tangled hair, the nicotine-stained fingers and cracked voice of a chain-smoker and a sharp mind. Graduating in four years with an A average, she became a graduate assistant in the English Department as she went on to get her masters. One form of discrimination rarely mentioned in this age of protest against racial, sexual and gender discrimination is ageism. Mrs. Blumeschein conquered that prejudice long before it ever became an issue elsewhere. So, here’s my tribute to Mrs. Blumenschein.

Prompts for the day are enough, baby, usual, matriculate and coach. Image thanks to Alonso Villa Ulloa on Unsplash, used with permission

Too Busy to Remember

Too Busy to Remember

 If she gave herself time to think, she remembered,
and when she remembered, it was too often with regret.

     My Grandmother kept too busy to remember—every minute filled.  Walking to town, she trained her eyes to scan the ditches for buttons, dimes, Crackerjack prizes, a ball some dog had chewed, orphaned jacks pieces, Popsicle sticks and bottle caps. Into her deep apron pockets each went, joining her skinned black leather coin purse and a tatting-edge handkerchief. Back home again, her radio tuned to the Back to the Bible Broadcast, her curtains pulled wide for viewing whichever neighbors might walk by, she kept her fingers busy with tatting, beading sequined felt butterflies, knitting baby booties in bands of blue, pink, yellow and white. She crocheted the edges of embroidered sheets and pillow slips—one set for each grandchild. She was almost 90 by the time she got to my sheets. Barely able to see, she sewed stitches that got messier inch by inch.

     Now it’s me filling every minute of the day.  At midnight, I lie writing just one more line with heavy eyes. They close.  I open them.  They close again.  When I finally fold the paper and turn off the light, I give in to the agony of delayed pleasure–Sleep. Awakening, I dress and drive to the gym.  I read on the treadmill, read on the stationary bike and thigh machine, read on the leg lift.  Read until my hands are needed and holding the book is impossible.  Then I do one thing only–lift the weights, pull them down, let them bend me over, bend myself back up again.

     Over breakfast at the Mountain Inn, I switch to the paper: news, comics, crossword.  Back home, I cook, pound, dip, form, and couch paper.  I run down to the garden to cut bamboo, climb back uphill to the studio to strip leaves, bend branches, sew them to the dried paper.  In my ears, is the constant company of the radio–the blues or Uncle Jr., “Arden’s Garden” or “Talk of the Nation,” “Fresh Air” or “National Press Club,”  “Garrison Keillor” or “Click and Clack.”  From everywhere come the waves that fill my mind and fill my day. 

     I work until seven, then move into the house to cook the evening meal.  The radio in the kitchen leaks McNeil and Lehrer and  this time I  catch different details from the earlier report.  With dinner, there is a talk with my husband Bob, a video perhaps, or more time for the Sunday Crossword. After dinner, a good book.  In this way, I fill every second.  There is no precious time to waste. 

     Sitting on the garden bench, eyes closed, I listen to bamboo.  Eyes open, I watch it.  I walk to it.  Let bamboo brush my cheek.  Keep listening.  Watch the light filtered by bamboo.  Watch the redwood needles dry and  fall to catch in swaying bamboo.  Watch them settle more securely, their rust-red dryness brittle against the subtle green. The black trunks of mature plants, mottled stalks of one-year-olds, yellow blades of new growth. A scrub jay perches on the swayback crosspiece of a simple oriental arch.  Above the redwood path, a Stellar Jay scolds the gray cat who sleeps on the bench beside me. 

     The water skimmers skate the abbreviated lower pool of our wine keg fountain with its wooden spouts decayed and fallen to the ground, its three tiers silent, its pump long removed.  Papyrus bends and shivers to the sparse wind.  A bay tree shadows the remains of ferns turned red beside this summer’s green.  There is the gentle hammer of the acorn woodpecker against the gray ghost of the long dead tree.  The drone of yellow jackets in their nest below the tree house—their journeys out and journeys back again.  The loud whirring of the hummingbird.  Frantic fanning of his wings, the delicate dipping of the beak, smooth probing of the plastic petals of the sugar water feeder, then the dainty glide to ginger flower, to the pomegranate and the goldfish plant. 

     All the world is doing doing while I’m not doing anything. Not keeping myself from remembering, yet still not remembering.  I’m in my garden without doing anything.  Too busy to do anything until the phone rings, its brrrrrrrrr flooding downhill to fill the bamboo grove, its shrill voice splitting air, spilling jays from tree limbs over head.  Awake again, I push off from the garden bench,  run up the hill, reach the stairs, climb half way up, then stop.  I turn, go down again, walk slowly down the hill, sit on the bench beside the cat who has not stirred.  I hear the phone, but silence swells around it, pushing it farther into  the distance as I let it ring and ring and ring and ring and ring and ring and ring.

Ours is a society that fears most the waste of time, yet in spite of our best efforts,
we’re always running out of it. The secret to finding more time
is to give value to it precisely by wasting it.

 

Not a classic haibun, but close enough, I hope, For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets 

Day’s End

 

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Day’s End

There’s a fire in the sky, but shadows to come.
Hummingbirds ceasing their prolix hum.
Unpredictable garage doors creak open on hinges
as fathers come home from their work or their binges.

Moms lean over fences, cranky from their labors,
putting off dinner to gossip with neighbors
as children stream home from playground or field
to see what computer or TV screens yield.

The strings of the day slow down to a strum
as day turns to night and the senses go numb.
Everything sinking, growing more deep.
Darkening, quieting, falling asleep.

Prompts today are “fire in the sky,” cranky, unpredictable, prolix and shadows.

Sent to Our Rooms

 

Sent to Our Rooms

What if we compensated nature for all that we have ruined?
Restored to her what’s apropos to try to get attuned
to her natural cycles, her balances and rules?
What if we acquired wisdom and ceased to play the fools?
If we wrote a different story, her determining the themes,
shifted ourselves to her side instead of warring teams,
once she saw we were behaving, one future glowing day,
might she lift her restrictions and let us out to play?

Prompts for today are what if, apropos, theme, compensate and ruin.

Alarm Clock Rejoinder

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Alarm Clock Rejoinder

My alarm clock’s rude awakening I eschew vis-á-vis
a gentler mode of wakeup that is buzzer-free.
Questions upon awakening I find somewhat aberrant.
Kindly save your queries until I am more coherent.
If I’m a pebble that must drop into my daily start,
I pray the ripples of my morning  come farther apart.

 

Prompt words today are vis-á-vis, awakening, coherent, save and ripples,

Beach Boys, Second Generation

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Beach Boys, Second Generation

See the motley little band
trudge the beach, tip cup in hand.
A funnel stuffed into a hose––
is held to lips and then one blows.
Two other small musicians lug
a twenty-liter water jug.
Later, one begins to hum
accompanying his buddy’s drum.



I’ve shown these photos before, but the poem is new, for: dVerse Poets Quadrille Challenge: Drum