Big, Big World
Remember when your world was new
how in the world surrounding you
everything seemed bigger then?
It often seems that way again
when we see things nostalgically,
for memory boosts them mightily.
Our mother’s lap or father’s knee
becomes a world–a rolling sea
as we remember rocking there—
a child traveling in their care.
The rooms of childhood were immense,
and all the traumas more intense.
Curtailed play and spilled ice creams
were tragedies expressed by screams.
Time stretched out like a highway then,
however short time might have been
for parents, who saw us grow up quickly.
Time surrounded us more thickly.
The days of summer passed so slow
from sunrise up to candle glow.
Voices echoed in failing light
as we took that last long flight
down the road from England’s hill.
It seemed to last for hours until
we reached the bottom and pedaled home
under that vast dimming dome
that soon the starlight would fill in
until the slow sun rose again.
The night was darker and longer then,
as we contemplated sin
that our prayers brought to mind,
and that inevitably would wind
into our dreams to swell and swell
until they became a hell—
our terrors spreading in the night
until our moms turned on the light,
still maintaining they weren’t there at all
as they followed her back down the hall.
All things were large when we were small–
those tiny cuts, that minor fall.
A childish spat heartbreaking when
you could have been where they were then
but couldn’t because you’d had a fight.
and they were wrong and you were right!
And though rage hadn’t lasted long,
they had to say that they were wrong!
And so you sobbed and fussed and pouted,
while outside, the others shouted
gleefully from swings and slide.
The pain more than you could abide.
When we were eight or six or three,
the whole world was hyperbole.
And now that we are fully grown,
living free and on our own,
hopefully we’ve learned to season
ire with pardon, dreams with reason.
And before it all blows up,
let us hope the world grows up!
The prompt today is “hyperbole“
If you haven’t seen the 2013 documentary “Muscle Shoals,” you should. The studio that spawned a lot of superior music is now closed, and when we passed through today, this is what we saw instead:
Be Here Now
Where once they made music, now buy a gun.
It’s so in style, join in the fun.
Sidearms your pleasure, armed with aplomb.
When you need bolstering, purchase a bomb.
Warfare’s a game. Come join in and play.
You can wage war for real when you grow up some day.
(Click on this Muscle Shoals link to see a trailer for the excellent documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auGUm2r0cLs.) In addition, here is an NPR story about Muscle Shoals Studio: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1437161
Summer Evenings Turn to Fall
Back when we drank summer through paper soda straws,
we played cowboys and Indians, hiding out in draws
that we imagined wilder. Our hearts beat with fear
of fictional opponents who might be drawing near.
We had no euphemisms for our enemies.
We only knew our fear of them, silent, on our knees.
Little did we know then, during childhood games,
imaginary enemies would assume other names.
No ditch big enough to hide, and no night dark enough.
No more cops and robbers. No more blind man’s bluff.
Strange that in those peaceful times the games we chose to play
were a mere foreshadowing of what is real today.
Back when summer filled our cheeks with melons and with berries,
why didn’t we fill balmy nights with princesses and fairies?
Back when life was summer smooth, we lusted after roughness,
as though we’d gain maturity through violence and toughness.
Feigning valor not yet gained, we knew not that tomorrow
we’d have the fears we’d feigned for real––the terror and the sorrow.
Childhood evenings filled with shouts and laughter interspersed
were in reflection adult games that we just rehearsed.
The picture is my sister Patti and her best friend Karen. Note the saddle placed on the makeshift “horse.”
It’s Not All About Us
It’s not all about us, whatever you say.
New days will still dawn when we’ve all passed away.
Though the world that we’ve made is important to us,
We’ve made hardly a dent with our foment and fuss.
All our grand plans and writings and arts
Are not new to this world. They’re just new to our hearts.
Everything everywhere has always been.
We just refind it again and again.
So when those with the power destroy where we’ve been,
it will all just start over–beginning again!
When the last bomb has been launched, dropped or hurled,
We’ll be gone, but all will be well with our world.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “No Cliffhangers.” Write a post about the topic of your choice, in whatever style you want, but make sure to end it with “…and all was well with the world.”
As per Mandy’s request, I’m publishing these pictures. As much as i admire the industry and organization of these fascinating creatures, it is also true that this year has been the worst in 13 years in my battle with the leaf cutter ants that have stripped my gardens time after time after time. What used to be a once-a-year skirmish has turned into a year-round battle to try to preserve some of my greenery and flowers.
(Above:) Here you see bougainvillea, honeysuckle and hibiscus fallen to the tiny but effective jaws of the leaf cutters. This pile of leaf segments cut from the bushes above awaits transport to the nest.
An ant struggles to move his fallen comrade back to the nest.
For a fascinating look at the devastation army ants can wreak, I recommend that you read “Leningren Vs. the Ants” by Carl Stephenson.
Every year, my mom helped us make May baskets to fill with candy and leave on the doorsteps of our friends. As mentioned in an earlier post, we’d ring the doorbell and run. If the recipient caught us, they could kiss or pinch us—their choice.
Some years we bought fancy handled nut cups from the dime store and used them, but I liked best to make my own. One year, my mother showed us something special to use for May baskets. Her family knew how to make these incredible tissue-paper ornaments that, with a cupcake liner filled with candy glued into the bottom, hung down in a web-like form. We’d pin them at the top and when you held them up they would fall down in a lacy accordion effect so they were a foot or two high. The only way you could really get the effect was to put them on the floor and hold up the top part or hang them from something.
She didn’t remember whether it was her mother or one of her seven older siblings who taught her how to make them, but about five years ago, when I went to the International Music festival in Adelaide, Australia, I went into one of the tents on local cultures around the world and saw my mom’s May baskets hanging all over the tent! It seemed surreal. The tent was displaying handicrafts from the Philippines, and it turns out that my mom’s May baskets were actually hand-cut Philippine lanterns. Suddenly, it all made sense.
My mother’s older sister had married an army officer who served under General MacArthur and my aunt had become a very good friend of Jean MacArthur. She told a funny story about going to a ball and not having a dress to wear and either Jean persuaded my aunt to wear one of Jean’s very fancy satin nightgowns or vice versa. (Wish I’d written down all these family stories when they were fresh.) Anyway, when MacArthur was sent to the Philippines during the war, he took my Uncle Tubby with him.
Jean MacArthur elected to stay in the Philippines with her husband and at one point, my Aunt Betty was there as well. She talked of journeying through headhunter country and other adventures I have forgotten and that she had perhaps embellished, but the point of this circuitous story is that obviously, it was my Aunt Betty who brought the tradition of hand-cut Philippine tissue paper lanterns back to Junction City, Kansas, creating a family tradition that I must remember to hand down to my three nieces—the last surviving members of the family who might be remotely interested in how to create three-dimensional beauty from a flat piece of tissue paper.
I’m going to stop now and go to find two sheets of contrasting color tissue paper and a pair of scissors, to see if I even remember how!!! I’ll post a picture if I figure it out. (I, alas, could find only one piece of tissue paper, so I’ll have to post a less-spectacular example of this family craft that after three tries, I finally remembered.)
Now, I’d love for you to pass along a story about one of your own special family memories, handicrafts or recipes by posting it on my blog.
Happy Mayday, five days late. Happy family memories and here’s to passing them on.
A tanka is a verse form of five lines following the pattern of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables. This poem consists of nine tankas that deal with the question, “Does might make right or does write make might?”
Tanks or Tankas?
It is such pleasure
lying in my morning bed,
I forsake those “shoulds”––
pool aerobics and the gym––
save them for another day.
As I exercise
that switchboard of all muscles,
the marvelous brain,
ideas are pumped like barbells
to create a well-toned verse.
Iron man or sage––
which will win and which will lose?
Is it brain or brawn
that moves our species forward
to survive this crazy race?
Our laptops used for
what––as pens or weaponry?
Which serves us better
in this age’s lethal match
for survival, power, wealth?
Which moves us forward?
Philosopher? Iron Man?
Poet? Soldier? Jock?
Which insures our progress toward
a place as Darwin’s fittest?
in contemporary thought
wins most of the points
to insure a lengthy life
(and a husband or a wife).
They also serve who
sit and wait upon their bums,
writing out their odes
by recording just what comes.
So now you need to tell us
which of these will win:
the muscle man or soldier
or the poet’s pen?
If muscle is your power
If you think that it will win,
please now consider:
the leg may be the longest
of your muscles, but
the largest strongest muscle
is the one you sit upon!