Category Archives: Poems about families

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.

Relax Redux: Empty Nest

Tonight, one of my favorite blogs, written by Carol and titled “Relax,” published a poem that begins with the lines:

Tonight, I am missing
all half-grown kissing
–oh! I meant kittens—
an orange one, Mittens,

(HERE is a link to her entire poem.)

I, however, loved the original typo (or contrived typo) and challenged her to make a poem starting from it and remaining with that idea.  I promised to do so myself, and have, hoping she won’t mind my stealing my version of her first line.  Here is mine:

Empty Nest

I’ve been missing
that half-grown kissing
that lasts a minute
with chocolate in it.
Runny noses.
Heads of roses
picked off stems
like rarest gems
presented in
a tuna tin.
Priceless treasure
for my pleasure.

My life lacks
these loving smacks––
even a quickie,
albeit sticky
with peanut butter.
A parting stutter,
and then they’re gone
and off upon
adventures new,
away from you,
taking their kisses
to other misses.

I’m awaiting hers.  Are you up to meeting the challenge, Carol?

Wish List of a Youngest Daughter


Wish List of a Youngest Daughter

Off and on, I’ve been wishing
my dad and I could go fishing.
I guess my sister could go along
so long as she does nothing wrong
like catch a fish bigger than mine
or tease or hum or brag or whine.

Perhaps she’ll sit back in the bed
and not up in the cab instead,
so Dad and I can be alone—
the truck a sort of “private zone.”
He’ll hit the bumps real hard so she
will wish she was in front with me.

Just like I always pray and pray
her friends and she will let me stay
with them, when they come for the night
and play without me, door shut tight.
Marvelous fun had down the hall,
but not with me.  I am too small.

That’s why, when Dad tells me a joke,
I’ll laugh real loud until I choke;
and my sister, sitting there behind
might feel left out, but I don’t mind.
And when we get to where we’re going,
to the stock dam, cattle lowing,

Dad will bait my hook for me
and sister, too, and then we’ll see
who will catch the biggest fish.
I guess it’s obvious that my wish
is that I’ll catch the biggest one,
and sister will go home with none!

The prompt today is “Fishing.”

Spending Time

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Spending Time

What do you value most, my friend? What carries you through life?
Have you friends and children? A husband or a wife?
If what we find of value in all the world contains
all we carry with us when youth and vigor wanes,
would you choose a portrait of all that you have had
that points your view toward happier times as the world turns sad,
or would you choose a camera that points you at the world––
all these younger lives than yours, about to come unfurled?
Whatever gives us life at first, then takes it all away
really only gives us what we have today
to value and make use of. So I want to be bolder,
looking straight ahead of me and not over my shoulder.
Though every hour has value, and every second in it,
the only time we have to spend is the coming minute.

The prompt word today is “value.”

Let’s Pretend

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Let’s Pretend

“Let’s pretend,” the children say,
as they hurry off to play.
But that same action has often blown
up in the face of those full-grown.
Escape is easier these days
with all the various means and ways
we have to skirt reality
by what we listen to and see.

On television or movie screen,
we might pretend that what we’ve seen
is more reality than fact,
until we find that we react
so vividly to what is fiction
that it becomes a real addiction
that deflects our full attention
from that we do not dare to mention.

Escape increasingly is sought––
deflecting us from what we ought
really to be dealing with.
Instead of truth, we choose the myth.
Global warming, poverty,
Isis, the disparity
between the classes and the use
of meth and alcohol abuse.

Children wielding guns because
it is what every game now does.
Adults displaying their frustration
at our society’s obfuscation
of the truth of what goes on
in a society gone wrong.
Wealth governs us then shields us from
how far from truth we’ve really come.

We watch pretty fantasies
that entertain or shock or please
filling us with false elation
that is not of our own creation.
So life becomes vicarious,
distracting us from various
problems where we might have acted
if we had not been distracted

by the gross banality
passing for reality
of made-up people who act and preen
on TV or computer screen.
There’s something to be said, you see
in favor of reality
when dealing with the painful facts
of what it is one’s own life lacks.

The prompt word today was “pretend.”

God’s Assembly Place

God’s Assembly Place

Leaving the Masons’ Lodge behind,
there was Mrs. Shimer’s cool dark little house
and the grade school slides to pass,
then spirea bushes to pull the petals from
before I reached the mysterious brick church
nestled in trees across from the lumber yard.

The sign said “Assembly of God.”
Everyone else said, “holy rollers and speakers in tongues,”
but they threw the best Bible school of the summer.
My mom let me attend them all: Lutheran,
Community Bible, Seven Day Adventist, Assembly of God
and our own Church––Methodist.

The Community Bible Church called us Jet Cadets
who made progress through the skies
by attendance and memorizing Bible verses.
The Methodists had the best art supplies,
but the Assembly of God
had that aura of mystery–
as though God had assembled us all there for a special purpose.

Because I had heard what went on there
when I wasn’t present,
I was the Nancy Drew of vacation Bible school,
looking fruitlessly for clues
as I made do with Kool Aid,
peanut butter cookies and
mimeographed pictures of Bible stories to color.

Then every day, the short walk home again
through that bridal path of spilled spirea blossoms,
with faith that tomorrow
religion just might turn into that great adventure
that I knew I was born to.

Thanks Whimsygizmo for leading me to this prompt with your wonderful poem. Readers, if you want to participate in the Writer’s Digest prompts, find them here:
Poetic Asides

What Vestige Left?

                                                              What Vestige Left?

I think what any of my ancestors would find most surprising if they were to come back is that there is so little of them left.  My paternal grandma would look for her quilts, her embroidery and her China cabinet full of glass and porcelain and would find none of them in my house.  I spent too many years traveling, so my older sister Betty Jo and my cousin Betty Jane wound up with all of grandma’s things. The one good quilt is over Betty Jo’s bed in the managed care facility where she now lives, but she knows nothing of it or of us or of her own children, being the prisoner of Alzheimer’s that she is.

My cousin Betty Jane passed on years ago, so the China cabinet full of Grandma’s dishes is in Idaho in the house of  her second husband. What Grandma would find of herself in my house is:
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one blue bowl filled with jade plant cuttings by my kitchen sink,

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an old pottery canning jar above my kitchen cabinets––

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and remnants of her tatting, a small square cut from a pillowslip she embroidered and part of a quilt square that I used in a retablo entitled “Our Lady of Notions.” (The view above is looking down on the top of the retablo–details not shown because of the shooting angle in the view of the entire retablo below.)

judy 2Amazing that so little remains of her in my house when she had a house stuffed full of things.  Now that I am the one with the house stuffed full, I wonder what of me will remain after fifty years.  Perhaps just this blog or my books or my artwork.  Maybe that is why I am so compulsive about writing and doing art–that need to be remembered.

The Prompt: Modern Families––If one of your late ancestors were to come back from the dead and join you for dinner, what things about your family would this person find the most shocking?
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/modern-families/