Tag Archives: Daily Post

No Longer in the Present

jdbphoto

No Longer in the Present

Seated around the table in our favorite cafe,
attention to each other has come to be passé
We are not present here and now. We’re all in other places
as we stare at tiny screens, intent on other faces.

The friends we have around us will simply have to wait
for our interest in the world-at-large to finally abate.
The news that’s happening elsewhere is simply more amusing
than what might be happening in this space our body’s using.

Other friends are funnier in their “selfie” poses—
pooching out their lips at us and scrunching up their noses.
It won’t do to look natural, we have to look unique
in the selfsame pose that all selfie-flashers seek.

So if your friends are boring, not half so chic as you,
you always have the option to make a Tweet or two.
Check out the latest fashions available from China.
They’ll only take three months to reach you here in Carolina.

Check out the weather in Tibet and give YouTube a glance.
Companions won’t distract you if you don’t give them a chance.
Living one life at a time no longer has to do
so long as you remember to have your phone with you!

So if you’ve dropped a French fry and spilled ketchup down your dress,
you needn’t be embarrassed. It couldn’t matter less.
Intent on Twitter, Instagram, Facetiming and Facebooking,
the friends with you won’t notice, for nobody is looking.

The prompt word is present.

Cruel Harvest

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Cruel Harvest

In this middle morning,
pelicans drop like hail on the surface of the water.
This is not their usual style,
for they do not dive headfirst
and squeeze bills to necks
and swallow as before,
but merely float and dip their beaks
and raise their heads and dip again.

I hope it is not the tiny sea turtles
that we put in the water last night
that they are feeding on like hors d’oeuvres,
greedily.
But surely those turtles,
placed in to swim away 15 hours ago
are elsewhere than this,
facing other dangers, no doubt,
but at least, sad endings  I don’t bear witness to.

 We had waited until sunset
when the birds had gone
to lift the tiny creatures
from their plastic world
and set them,
confused and stunned,
upon the sand
to turn in circles
until we placed them right again
and again,
sometimes patting their tails
to encourage their voyage
to a new life shocking in its largeness.

 “What is this
lifting up and putting down?”
they must have thought,
“and then this broad expanse
that lifts us, spins us,
submerges us?”
Courageously, they lifted their  heads to swim,
only to be tumbled by waves—another  shock.
What more had life to surprise them with?
First, that bursting from the shell that had protected them,
then that thrusting into a colder world.

Children squealed with glee and were warned by elders
not to step back lest they step on the turtles that surrounded us—
all of us looking backwards as we stepped,
cameras clicking,
voices in English, Spanish, French—
all enchanted with these creatures perfectly formed
with black flippers and beautiful shells.
We saw their tiny heads like periscopes above the waves—
swarms of them at first and then separate,
swimming off to their individual fates.
Fifteen minutes later, the rising action
featured a solitary pelican that swooped for one
and then another and another
bedtime snack.
“No,” we screamed.
One woman threw a rock.
These pelicans that had enchanted me for weeks
as I watched their graceful flight and sure plummetings,
now prompted a new story
where they were villains, stopping new life,
bringing back the theme I have been so aware of here
for these weeks of my daily floatings in the sea.

Every organism, every animal, every person on this earth
lives only by merit of the death of others.
When life ends in infancy, how sad, how sad, we say;
but also say seeing the full grown pelican on the beach,
bleached to bones,
its beak sealed shut with a plastic circle from a six pack
or the needlefish, stretched on the sand and picked by carrion.
Never so obvious as here, this feeding of life on life,
and never so startling as when we placed the baby turtles
on the sand, wanting to save one for ourselves,
but knowing this action had a larger purpose than that.

We surrendered them to their life apart from us,
then moments later,
saw the pelican feed on them
guiltlessly,
living his place in the world.
Oh that I, too, had acted more selfishly—
palming one tiny turtle,
putting it in my loose pocket,
keeping it safe
away from that broad sea
that has so many means
by which to claim it.

Courage is the prompt word today. This poem is a rewrite of “Putting the Tiny Sea Turtles into the Sea,” a piece I wrote four years ago when the local sea turtle reserve brought dishpans full of the tiny creatures to La Manzanilla for volunteers to assist in releasing them to the wild sea.

The Meeting

 

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The Meeting

A simple country rube was he,
short at the cuff and out at knee;
but standing with his hat in hand,
he made a gesture brave and grand.
He faced the richest man in town—
a brutal man of wide renown
who saw him as a simple clown—
a fool just made for shooting down.

While in his case, it was debated
whether being educated
made a fellow learning-smart
at the expense of building heart,
nonetheless, he was well-suited.
His choice in fashion not disputed.
Well-tonsured, polished, buff and tan,
the epitome of a GQ man.

He stood there in his doorway wide,
framed by the luxury inside
and eyed this bumpkin, shy and dim.
What business had this man with him?
“Speak up,” he barked, “if you are able!
You’ve pulled me from my breakfast table.
Speak your piece and take you off
to plow or hoe or watering trough!”

And though the rube was shy and humble,
he did not stammer, falter, mumble.
He simply drew a folded note
from the pocket of his coat,
handed it over, and said good-bye,
facing him with steely eye,
and with no other reason to stay,
climbed in his pickup and drove away.

The great man turned upon his heel
and went in to resume his meal.
He buttered toast and spread compote
before he thought to read the note.
“Jacob,” it said, “I am Janelle—
that one that you once knew so well.
When I left, you never knew
inside I carried part of you.

But now my life is nearly done,
I think it’s fair you meet your son.
Because of my sad circumstance,
he promised to give you a chance
to reap the harvest you have sown
and meet the son you’ve never known.
But, take care that things do not go badly.
He does not suffer fools gladly.”

 

The prompt word today was rube.

Costume

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Costume

I want to be an artist, a writer and a wife—
juggling all these masks with just a minimum of strife.
A lover, mother, daughter, cousin, sister-in-law, sister.
A friend to every woman and a temptress to each mister.
A master to my canine friends and slave to all my cats.
A pal to all my blogger friends, not just to swell my stats.
As well as to some Facebook friends and email friends and Skype.
(I no longer use snail mail—I’m simply not the type!)
So, if I were being truthful and I didn’t give a fig
about what others thought of me, I’d dress up like a pig.
Why the porcine costume? The tail curled in a ring?
Because in my life choices—I want everything!

The prompt today was costume.

Debatable Edibles at the Pot Luck Dinner

 

click on photos to enlarge. jdb photos


Debatable Edibles at the Pot Luck Dinner

That dip indeed looks most delicious—
one of many lovely dishes
spread out here upon the table.
I’d eat them all if I were able,
yet, I admit I am suspicious
of this and several other dishes.

I fear that they may harbor fishes—
foodstuffs far outside my wishes
of consumable provender;
for fish of any size or gender,
no matter how incredible,
I’ve always found inedible.

Tuna, marlin, salmon, cod
are flavors that I find most odd.
Clams and lobster, oysters, shrimp—
brand me as a seafood wimp.
Anything with gill or fin
I do not choose to put within.

No horseradish or mayonnaise
can shield me from the pure malaise
that befalls me when I bite into
a canape I’ll later rue.
You cannot hide that fishy flavor
to turn it to a taste I’ll savor.

Many others  have met defeat
when trying to get me to eat
anything from sea or lake.
It’s a mistake I just won’t make.
So keep your ceviche and dips.
I’ll make do with potato chips.

The prompt today is suspicious.

Mnemonic Phonics

 

 

 

Mnemonic Phonics

Babies use clues amniotic
to deal with stimuli chaotic,
but later, memory gets thick.
In short,  it’s anything but quick.

Age slows us down and trims our wick,
fogs our recall,  slows our pick.
So I resort to many a trick
to give my mind a little kick.

This loss of memory’s demonic
and leads to fits most histrionic,
so I depend on clues mnemonic
for memory that’s supersonic:

(Can you guess what the below mnemonic devices help me to remember?)

Neither leisured foreigner
seized or forfeited the weird heights.

Every good boy does fine.
Good boys do fine always.

My very excellent mother just spewed up nine plums.

How about you?  What mnemonic devices do you use?

 

The prompt word is mnemonic.

She Always Sleeps with the Radio On

My sister Betty, ages three to seventy three


She Always Sleeps with the Radio On

Each night,
      as I negotiate
              the squeaky stairs
                   from her attic guest room
           down to the bathroom
     one more time,
I hear the voices.

I imagine them as her companions,
    drowning out night sounds,
        freeing her mind from its hard task
of remembering.

Tonight, she sits on a lawn chair
on the grass. I sit on the front steps,
listening
   to a friend on the
     steps next to me, strumming, strumming,
as my sister and I sing along
in high school harmony.

The little girls across the street
       are the first to come,
       tiny lawn chairs in arms,
  to plop themselves in front of us
for the concert.

As they settle, my sister says,
“Now, back to the music.”

Moments later, their mother follows,
   bringing initial happy news
       of their upcoming trip
to a lake where last year
a teenage girl had been abducted,
         a segue to more disturbing news
of yesterday’s daylight intruder
flushed from a house a block away.

I’d noticed
    the police car
       circling, puzzled
           by his vigilance as we walked
      the neighborhood today.
 I’d smiled at the man on the bike who didn’t look
      a part of this neighborhood, wondering how he’d fare,

but now I feel the threat of him.

“House of the Rising Sun,” stops dog-walkers in their tracks
  as the litle ones
     sit on the sidewalk
         stringing beads I brought,
capturing this night
to hang around their necks:
gray plastic elephants,
            pink stars,
                   orange hearts,
                           green dolphins strung midleap
on sparkly purple cord.

This night strings us all together:
                  beads, words, music, the night sounds
of insects and frogs,

                                                 happy stories interspersed with fearful ones,
traffic from the busy street one block away.
             Hungry mosquitoes,
                    gathering suddenly,
are what break us apart.

     As we climb the stairs,
             her door
                        next
                            to the only
                                   bathroom
                     in the house
              closes.

For the first time 
    in the week I’ve been here,
          I hear no radio
                on my nightlong explorations
down the stairs.

At ten o’clock, 1:30 and 3,
          the hall outside her bedroom
                         stays silent,
          this evening’s full company
flooding over into the night.

We have exhausted her mind, filled it, worn her out.
           She stlll feels our presence.
                     
                                Four a.m.

A creaking door, and once again,
          silence becomes
        a cup for her to fill.
            Something is needed
to relieve worry—
to leave no room
    for either remembering
  or the lack of it.
I hear them then, insistent, down the stairs and in the hall.

                       Voices all night long.

 

 

The prompt word today is insist.