Category Archives: Poetry

Poems in many categories: Loss, NaPoWriMo

Good Fortune

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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.

Romancing the Muse

The Not Yet Dead Poets Society new Anthology is now available on Amazon.

Here is a link: https://www.amazon.com/Romancing-Muse-Selected-Poems-Chapalas/dp/1540749967/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1488924021&sr=8-2&keywords=kenneth+salzmann

Rhythm Method

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(The poem I’ve written below is based on the “Five Principles for Getting through the Trump Years,” given by Alice Walker in her speech at a reading in La Manzanilla, Mexico two nights ago on February 20, 2017. I was fortunate enough to be at that reading where she and four other excellent writers also talked about subjugation, prejudice, inequality, poverty and the importance of kindness, open-mindedness, acceptance and education in bringing our country to a better level of fairness to all.  I’ll talk about some of the other poets and storytellers who told their tales in a later post; but for today, and since it fit in with today’s prompt, here is my take on Ms. Walker’s wonderful talk.)

Rhythm Method

You’ve got to listen to the beat.
Shake your booty, pound your feet.
If you want to survive the day,
the rhythm method is the way.
It’s been said by smarter folks than I
that it’s the way that we’ll get by
in times we think we won’t survive—
the way we stay fully alive
in spite of voters who were hazy
and voted in a man who’s crazy.

Instead of listening to his bleat,

until the time of his defeat,
first and foremost, kindness will
help us to swallow this bitter pill.
A close connection with nature might
help us stay strong in the fight.
Respect for all those elders who
just might be another hue:

native tribes or Africans
brought unwillingly as hands
to shore up our economy
and build a country for you and me
while they paid the awful fee
in poverty and slavery.
It’s time to set our people free!

Gratitude for human life,
both theirs and ours, will allay strife.
In times like these, less than enhancing,
“Hard times demand furious dancing!”
One wiser and more in the groove
than I am, says that we must “Move!”
James Cleveland sang “This too shall pass,”
Turn on his music and move your ass.

Thousands of people dance along
this wonderful old gospel song
in her mind’s eye and I agree.
While we are waiting, you and me,
for enough others to see the light
and step in line to wage the fight,
we have to keep the joy in us
in spite of this unholy fuss
that seeks to keep us frightened and
prisoners in our native land.

Instead of knives and swords and guns,
defeat the tyrant with jokes and puns.
Comedians will save the day
and keep us laughing on the way.
But in the mean time, move your feet.
Feel the rhythm. Feel the beat.
If this nation has a chance,
perhaps we’ll find it in the dance.

The quotations above are all from Alice Walker’s talk. In prose form, here again are her five principles for getting through the Trump years (or hopefully, months.)

1. Kindness, which can keep us going through these unkind times.

2. A close connection with nature.

3. Respect for our oldest biological ancestors including native Americans (specifically those at Standing Rock), Africans  (who survived the fierce physical brutality of slavery) and Europeans such as John Brown and Susan B. Anthony.

4.  ‘Move!  Hard times demand furious dancing.’ Reverend James Cleveland sang, “This too shall pass.”  Get a recording of it and dance to it! She has an image of thousands of people dancing to this wonderful gospel song.

5. Maintain gratitude for human life.

She ended by relating the importance of meditation, which she described as a means “to rediscover the blue sky that is our mind,” and by stating that one way we can overcome the constant bad news with which our oppressors drug us is to learn the bad news first from comedians. This, perhaps, is one way for us to get through this dark period in our history.

The prompt today was rhythmic.

Sunset at Cambry Woods

 

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Sunset at Cambry Woods

In the forest, wild and lush,
hear the music of the thrush
break the stillness of the brush.
If else disturbs it, make it hush,
for we have fled the world’s mad crush
with all its craziness and rush
that grinds sensation into mush,
distilling it as mindless slush.
The world flares up, the clouds are plush
as we see all its bloodshed flush
into the sunset’s subtle blush.

The prompt today was lush.

Devastation Station

IMG_0223 Devastation Station

Our beautiful world licks her wounds
and limps around us, twirling her skirts
to blow dry dust, then empties her wash water
in deluges that flush away even more.
Not content with the bounty she provides,
they gauge her skin and pick her scabs,
feeding her poison every day.

Rich men lauded for their tax-deductible charity, get richer
by purloining more of the earth’s bounties
that they call their own.
Super yachts and super models  
give testimony to their greatness,
obscuring lurid details
of their journeys to success.

Their trophy wives marry desolation,
then furnish it themselves ever after—
future alimony little enough reward
for the sale of life and dignity.
The social pages full of the same old story—
old men professing their virility
by photos taken with presidents and starlets.

They  reillustrate their own lives with
records of success on study walls,
like rich wallpaper obscuring scars
they’ve left around them in the world.
Hiding stories of devastation
the world keeps choosing
to reward them for.

 

 

The prompt word today was “devastation.”

Overworked or Labor Shirked?


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Overworked or Labor Shirked?

It’s hard for me to find the middle
between hard labor and the fiddle.
Work? I either overdo it
or endeavor to eschew it.
Work all day and then all night,
being very erudite—
putting words down on the page,
imprisoned in my muse’s cage.

Perhaps I fear my distant past
when good work habits didn’t last
and days were spent in dreaming or
novels read behind closed door—
midnight radio a chance
for fantasies to spin romance.
Whole days stretched as though to catch
an errant dream of true love’s match.

I feared such days were sloth, and yet
perhaps they were just roads to get
to the place where I would tell
the stories that I knew so well
because I’d lived them first in dreams
or days just bursting at the seams
with doing nothing but living life—
its pleasures, problems, romance, strife.

First the doing at my leisure,
then the writing, and the seizure
of all the details of the past
that, once down on paper, are made to last.
Overworked or over-lived,
life first collected, then finely sieved.
Panned like gold to find the treasure—
leisure and work in even measure.

Overworked” is the prompt word today.