Tag Archives: Daily Life

Mapped-out Life

img_4638

Mapped-out Life

If you’re unhappy with your route—
dissatisfied and full of doubt—
then you might be second-guessing,
looking for your parents’ blessing,
wanting to please everyone,
putting duty before fun,
overlooking the main one
and therefore satisfying none.

You are the one to satisfy,
to be led by and to gratify.
The principles by which you’ll bide
must be the ones you find inside.
So if you make a faulty choice,
at least it’s due to your own voice
and easier to rectify
than if you’ve chosen to rely
on rules laid down by another:
boss or lover, dad or mother.

So when you step out on that road
that takes you to your life’s abode,
be sure that that first step you take
is one you’ve chosen you should make,
led perhaps by older, wiser
family member or advisor,
but nonetheless, just right for you—
what you cannot help but do.
For when you’re older, you’ll figure out
that’s what life is all about.

The prompt today was “doubt.”

Gourmand

dscf8268

Gourmand

His smile an invitation I could plainly see,
I very promptly answered his implied R.S.V.P.
But later on I wished that I had just let it be,
for that smile was for another girl the minute he had me!

An open invitation is his modus operandi.
Every social gathering provides him more eye candy.
Once seen, a tiny little lick is what he seems to savor.
He likes it when each taste he takes presents a different flavor.

Every toothsome girl he sees stirs his appetite,
and even though his smile suggests he’d like a little bite,
no matter what the tasty dish is that you choose to serve,
you’ll never be a main course, but merely an hors d’oeuvre.

The prompt today was “invitation.”

.”

Spending Time

img_6952jdbphoto


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.”

High Cholesterol


High Cholesterol

Bake the pies and roast the beast.
Call your friends from west and east.
They’ll enjoy the food, at least,
as from sparse greens my meal is pieced.
For I fear my life’s long feast
has, by necessity, now ceased!

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/feast/

“The World Swings Towards its Opposite”

“The World Swings Towards its Opposite”

Often we’re made by what we lack.
White stands out better against black.
A child’s hand against your hand
often helps you understand
how prepared the human zoo
is to go on without you.

The world keeps balancing its act,
although we often rue the fact.
A child is born? Another must
make room by turning back to dust.
And every time we try to change this,
nature steps in to rearrange us.

Pestilence, earthquake and flood
offset new birth by spilling blood.
Ebola, aids, dengue, the flu
are, alas, only a few
of nature’s horrors that balance joys.
Cold and hot and girls and boys,

feast and famine, rain and shine,
mountain, valley, fresh water, brine––
contrast is what defines our world.
Every “knit one” must be pearled.
The truth in this election year
is one that I have come to fear,

for just as prejudice seemed cured,
our world has turned back to absurd.
Obamacare may be replaced
with a plan that’s more debased.
Hatred and misogyny
may be the next thing that will be

inflicted upon our brave world
that reels under each new ill hurled
before cycling back to light,
healing from each horrid blight.
Who seeks to “Trump” our earthly hand,
is one hand closer to being canned!


“. . . when anything reaches its maximum potential, it turns toward its opposite.”
–(translation of a principle stated in the i ching.)

If you want tohttps://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/contrast/


IMG_4812
We Fill in the Blanks

I write notes three times weekly in my limping Spanish for Yolanda, not because I won’t see her, but because I probably won’t remember by then what  I need to tell her. She has asked me to order more vacuum cleaner bags from the states. I use the words I know, and tonight the word for vacuum has escaped my memory. So I leave this note on the kitchen island, taped to a filter I’ve found in the laundry room:

“Is this the bag for the machine for clean the floor?”
Es este la bolsa para la machina para limpiar el piso?

Then, taped to the stove top:

I’m sorry, Yolanda, but a potato broke in my oven  and it is very bad! I worked for one hour and a  half but it is still bad now.”
Lo siento, Yolanda, pero una papa romper in me estufa y es mui malo!  Trabajo por una hora media pero es malo ahora.

A potato broke in my oven?  I don’t know the word for exploded, but I think it must put a bit of levity into her morning to try to interpret what I have said.

Later, she will go home and report today’s pleasure.  “The senora?  Today she broke a potato in the oven. She tried to clean it for awhile, then went to write another poem.”

There will be no rancor in her statement, for the humor of the unlearned words that still stand between our total comprehension of each other will be gentled by the total understanding that compensates for those lost words.
IMG_4815

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Handwritten.” When was the last time you wrote something by hand? What was it?

For Red: The Summer Home

The Summer Home

Decaying Farmhouse in Missouri Soybean Field

Photo by okcforgottenman, aka flycatcher

THE SUMMER HOME

When my dad bought the land
where the Big White River and Little White River joined,
I couldn’t believe that we owned land with trees on it.
While he plowed the small field,
I walked the woods and found the abandoned shanty.
Its door was open; in fact it could not shut.
Inside was a mysterious, sweet and fecund smell–
a mouse smell new to me
that I couldn’t stop myself from breathing in.
The mildew and the dust,
the musk of warm linoleum,
every new smell and sight was magic.

I was enchanted by this house emptied
of chairs and tables and beds,
yet full of the accumulated energy of past tame lives
and present wild ones:
the moving of leaf shadows
across the chipped linoleum of the L-shaped kitchen,
the dents on the floor where the kitchen chairs had set,
as though someone had taken care each day
to line up the legs in their holders.
Upstairs I found crayon scribbles halfway up the wall–
the arm reach of a three-year-old.

When I asked about the house,
my dad said that it was our summer home,
and the next time we went to the field,
I brought a broom.

I cleaned out the mouse droppings and the tumbleweeds.
I collected the peeled tile fragments,
imagining gluing them back again.
I washed out a quart canning jar at the pump
and filled it with spring water
and sweet clover,
putting it on the floor
between the kitchen chair holes
in the exact middle of the vanished table.
With the old shirt I found in the corner,
I rubbed mud and river sand
from the linoleum counter tops.
More sand worked as Ajax to scrub out sinks.

All summer long I worked on our summer home,
and for that summer and many summers to come,
I waited in vain for our move to the river house.

I sat on its screened front porch.
Outside the screen grew spearmint and peppermint.
On the top leaf of the tallest branch was a grasshopper,
the kind that left tobacco stains in your hand
when you held it.
All around me were the trees–
the swaying shedding cottonwoods
and scrub chokecherries.
It was a wealth of trees I’d never seen before
in the town where we lived on the bare prairie
nor on the roads we traversed for hundreds of miles
to see a movie or a dentist
or to buy clothes.

Around the screens buzzed the heavy flies,
their motors slow in the heat of July–
all the flies on the outside
wanting to get in
and all the flies on the inside
pressing the screen to get out–
like I longed to get out
to the freedom of trees
where black crows
and dull brown sparrows
rustled their wings
and flew from branch to branch.

In the distance, meadowlarks called
the only birdcall I ever recognized.
No squirrels, no chipmunks; but, rabbits? Yes.
My father said no bears,
but he’d told me the story of Hugh Glass,
mauled by a bear,
walking this river for a hundred miles
past this very joining of the Big and Little White,
in search of help;
and I could imagine one last bear or two
hidden in my woods.

So at night, at home in our winter house in town,
when he told the story I loved the best,
I was the one who discovered the bears’ cottage,
and the cottage was our summer home.
The chairs–too hard, too soft, just right—
I sat upon in turn,
taking great care every time to nestle each leg
back into its correct place on the kitchen linoleum.
And when I lay in the perfect bed of the little bear,
I could touch the crayon markings on the wall.

So when the three bears found me asleep
in the little bear’s room,
they weren’t really very scary;
but I ran anyway,
into my dark and shadowed owl-calling woods,
my woods still echoing the day lit fluted calls of meadowlarks,
their music shaken from the snarled leaves
in the evening breeze.
I ran to trees–
their leaves frosted by moonlight and the Milky Way,
vibrating with the power of the Big Dipper and Orion,
the Seven Sisters and the North Star.

Into the trees
to where I stored my memories
in the frog-croaking depressions under clumps of grass,
in the tangles of Creeping Jenny
and the fluff of dandelions,
in the sand hollows
that crept up from the riverbanks,
in the cocklebur and the chigger-infested grass,
in the crooks of cottonwoods and caves of thickets,
in the tiny cupped palms
of sweet clover and purple alfalfa,
in the wheat grass and the oats and trefoil.

The year my dad decided to expand the field
on the river bottom,
I pleaded, I cajoled, I promised, I prayed
for the summer home
where I had lived for neither one summer
nor one night, in actuality,
but where, nevertheless, I’d had faith
I would someday live.

Of course, there was no saving the woods
and summer house.
It was rich river land, prime for irrigation.
The trees were a waste of soil.
The summer home–everybody’s gentle joke on me.

After the cats and bulldozers were through,
I went with my dad to see
where trees had been ripped out,
the house burned to the ground,
the soil turned and planted
with crops that would build the land.
Their woods now furrowed soil,
the crows and sparrows
had gone to some other shaded place;
the mice, back to the fields.

My former references of trees forever gone,
the present references of sky and fence posts
too wide and new,
I wasn’t sure where my summer home had stood.
The house’s ghost destroyed by the bright sunlight,
the woodland paths replaced by tractor treads,
I watched instead a meadowlark
soar over brown fields and settle on barbed wire,
claiming the new field for its own.
With no house or forest left,
my only shade was chokecherry bushes,
my only chair, the pickup running board.
And so my summers at the river
vanished in the smoke of my summer home
and smoldering tree stumps.

But every night, my woods again threw still shadows
over the summer house,
and I ran once more the corridors of moonlight
cut through dense trees
like parts in a small girl’s hair.
I ran in the wet dew of the condensing summer heat.
I ran on the fuel of my need for magic
and wildness
and rivers
and trees.
I ran fueled by my need to be with something
that lived outside my window
as I passed long nights in my winter house.

It lay in the dark tapping of the trumpet vine branch
against my window
and the crunching of gravel
as someone walked by on the unpaved street–
out past midnight and I couldn’t tell who.
It lay in the pricking of the hair on my arm
as I stuck it out from the bed
and pressed it to the screen.

Always, in town, it lay outside of me–
except for when I floated the paths
of the woods surrounding the summer house,
joining it in dreams,
night after night and then less frequently
until the dreams came once a month
or once a year–
in darkness, always recognized;
but nonetheless forgotten in the light.

So by the time I saw the river field grown lush with corn,
I was a teenager in my first grownup swimsuit,
floating the milky Little White in an inner tube,
down to its junction
with the clear and colder-running water of the Big White,
my best friend next to me,
our cooler full of Coca-Colas and ham salad,
our conversations full of boys and music.

At the border of the field, to get to the river bank,
we crawled over the border of large tree trunks
laid horizontal, half-buried in sand.
I guess I knew they were the bones of my midnight woods.
I guess some part of me felt
the ghost of my summer house.
But, as I lay on my back on the submerged sand bank,
the warm water flowed so sensuously over my shoulders
and down my legs
that my suit seemed to peel itself
from my shoulders, breasts, thighs, calves.
And in a dream I floated the muddy water
of the Little White,
turning in the current
until the water seemed to flow inside of me,
floating me down
to the cool clear water of the Big White,
farther and farther away
from the summer home.

This poem was posted specifically as a response to THIS post on Red’s Wrap.

“The Summer Home” is excerpted from Prairie Moths–Memories of a Farmer’s Daughter, which is available Available on Amazon in Print and Kindle Versions and at Diane Pearl Colecciones and Sol Mexicana in Ajijic, MX

 

Wheat Cover 34 font

 Just as moths rise from prairie grasses to fly away, so did the author yearn to be free from the very place that nurtured her. Judy Dykstra-Brown’s verse stories and accompanying photographs give a vivid portrayal of rural life in the fifties and sixties, evoking the colors and sounds of the prairie and the longing a child with an active imagination feels for faraway places. From a small child curled up on the couch listening to her father’s stories of homestead days to pubescent fantasies of young itinerant combiners to her first forays into romance in the front seat of a ’59 Chevy, her memories acquire a value in time that she did not acknowledge while living them. Lovers of good poetry and those who miss the magic of childhood will relish Prairie Moths. (Excerpted from a review by Harriet Hart)