Tag Archives: Daily Prompt

Gremlins (A Teenage Mythology)

Of course none of these teens, who happen to be my nieces and nephew, would ever sneak in after hours!

A Teenage Mythology

A sneeze is how a poltergeist gets outside of you.
At night a different stinky elf sleeps inside each shoe.

Every creaking rafter supports its resident ghost,
and it’s little gremlins who make you burn the toast.

Each night those tricky fairies put snarls in your hair,
while pixies in your sock drawer unsort every pair.

Midnight curtain billows are caused by banshee whistles.
Vampires use your toothbrush and put cooties in its bristles.

Truths all come in singles. It’s lies that come in pairs.
That’s a zombie, not a teenager, sneaking up the stairs.

 

 

Gremlins is the prompt word today. This is a rewrite of a poem written 4 years ago.  Can’t believe that I actually had a poem with “gremlins” in it.  Glad the WordPress search function
has a better memory than I do.

Mercy Oath

Mercy Oath

I have mercy on spiders and crickets and snakes.
I swerve on the highway for animals’ sakes,
but I swat at mosquitoes and execute flies
when they land on my food or dive bomb my eyes.
I do not like insects to invade my bod
like noseeums that dive in a suicide squad.

I poison leaf cutters and stomp on each roach
and execute scorpions that dare to encroach
on my personal space. There’s a place here for all,
but not on my floor or pillow or wall.
Though I don’t wish to be overly cruel,
each thing in its place is the usual rule.

Ladybugs, dragonflies, butterflies and
hoppers and roly-bugs are simply grand.
I’ll rescue bees when they fall in my pool.
Wasp nests I’ll leave as a usual rule
if they are no danger to human or cats.,
and my tejas are havens for dozens of bats.

Possums in my bushes and nests in each tree
are not a problem. They don’t bother me.
We’re all placed in this world to subsist with each other
which means we must learn to exist with each other.
So I here take a vow to hurt no living thing
that doesn’t eat plants or bite, pinch or sting.

 

The prompt today is mercy.

Mr. Crow


Mr. Crow

A flash of shadow in morning’s glow–
interrupts the daylight’s flow.
That sleek black coat I seem to know.
Why have you come here, Mr. Crow?


I heard that here the water’s fine.

The garden lush. The fruit divine.
I saw it falling from the vine
and swooped right in to make it mine.


You bow at us as though in jest,
then bend your wing and dip your chest.
You have not come at our behest.
We know you rob the songbird’s nest.


But I just stand here, staunch and tall.

I make no movement, sound no call.
I threaten no one.  None at all.
Your garden holds me in its thrall.


The mourning doves and chickadees
do not bathe here as they please.
Black bird, you splash there, as though to tease,
then dry your feathers in the breeze.

I watch to see what you may do.
Through kitchen window, you’re in full view.
One beaded eye of turquoise hue
watches no songbirds.  It watches you.


Mr. Crow, with feathers fine,
take care where you might choose to dine.
The grapes you eat were meant for wine.
Please stick to seeds.  The grapes are mine!


To those of you behind the drapes,

it is a myth I dine on grapes
In garden grass, I watch for shapes.
No skittering snake or mouse escapes.


Small birds won’t deign to linger near
or take a bath while you are here.
Their fluttering movements display their fear.
They find your visit very queer.


I haven’t been here very long.

I’ve robbed no grapes, I’ve stilled no song.
Though your suspicions are grossly wrong,
since I’m not welcome, I’ll move along.

The blackbird lifts from saucer’s edge,
skirts the  treetops, lands on the hedge.

A warbler lifts from stalks of sedge
and takes his place on the birdbath’s ledge.


Since I was traveling from the time I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning until I got home 12 hours later, this is a rewrite of a poem from 2 1/2 years ago. Today’s prompt is nest.

Stirring the Pot

 

Stirring the Pot

Chunks and grains swirl round and round. They form a muddy mass.
I keep my paddle churning them as I turn on the gas.
As all the chunks and  bits melt down, the volume now decreases.
I watch the whole mess carefully. My vigilance increases.
I see it all congealing—an oily inky sludge
that after lengthy stirring finally turns to fudge!
This horrid, bubbling, lumpy goo that appeared so pernicious,
in the end turns into something creamy, rich, delicious.

 

In a recent conversation with a friend who is a scientist, water expert and inspector of water systems and industrial water waste, I learned the interesting fact that there is some hope regarding environmental issues, even in the wake of the Trump administration’s ridiculous easing of standards. He assured me that they’ve had little influence on the industrial systems he inspects as the large companies, first of all, are set up to conform to stricter standards and the restructuring of the system would be so costly that they are not about to alter things to meet new laws that will probably be changed back again anyway and which even they see the dangers of.

Hopefully, one thing that we will learn as a result of this ongoing disaster and embarrassment is that we need to alter the powers of the president, especially regarding his appointment of lifetime judges and his ability to administratively change standards that should be determined by congress or popular vote.  The other changes that must be made are in the electoral college and lobbying rules. Perhaps the only good that will come out of this POTUS “calling trump” on us is that it will stir the pot and bring about much-needed  change. The rules of our democracy did not take into account the possibility of the election of such an ignorant, childish and corrupt leader as Trump has proven to be.

 

The prompt word today is sludge.

Poets and Pundits and Scribes


Poets and Pundits and Scribes

This particular moment of this particular day
is the only time in which we’re sure to have our say.
Life lived moment to moment is the single choice we have.
For past pains and for future wounds, now is the only salve.
I spread its gift over myself. Its healing unguent lingers.
The world that I make out of it coils out beneath my fingers.
I drift back to my past times, I project to tomorrow.
Times actual and potential are moments that I borrow
to wrap my attitude around to write daily depictions
of what my life consists of—its confessions and its fictions.
We skirt around the details of what we think is actual,
but nothing ever written has been totally factual.
I write what I remember and what I hope will be,
then press it onto paper for perpetuity.



 

Today’s prompt was particular.

Stormy Weather

 

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Stormy Weather

Increasingly, the atmosphere
is starting to feel rather queer.
Instead of cats and dogs, I fear,
it’s raining antelope and deer.
Day after day, year after year,
nature shifts to a higher gear.
It does not take a weather seer
to see the writing on the mirror.
The warnings hinted at appear.
A cataclysm is drawing near.

The prompt today is atmospheric.

Mushroom Years

Today, November 17 of 2017, I’m in Minnesota, finally, with nieces and nephews—not much time before my nephew goes back to Iowa tomorrow, and I can hear them talking downstairs, so I’ll avail myself of this piece written three years ago about my “Mushroom Years.”  It was 1973, a much different space and time when I definitely had much more energy as I back packed from Australia to Africa.  This was near the beginning of that journey:

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Bali-Bound, 1973

Germans, Aussies, Kiwi, Brit, Dutch, Canadians, Swiss.
I was the lone American who was pulled into this
adventure—just thirteen of us, including them and me
in a tank barge left from WWII, across the Timor Sea.
We did not know that Bugis pirates still set sail out there,
for we were young and reckless, and we didn’t care.
We still felt invulnerable. We would never die.
We all sought our giant chunk of the adventure pie.
We sailed all day and through the night and part of a new day.
Most of the cash that we had left was what we had to pay
to reach the west shore of an Island lashed by monsoon rain.
All bridges and all roads washed out, we searched for rides in vain.
A lonely store stocked not with much—some cans of cheese, two Cokes.
Not adequate provender for such starving, thirsty folks.
We crossed from Portugese Timor onto Indonesian ground.
Although we all had traveler’s checks, there was not much cash found
within our empty pockets, yet to Bali we were bound.
Still an unspoiled paradise—a haven with few cars
or partying Australians or honeymooning stars.

We stopped at one last little hut where I took off my sandals
to ease my feet, and thus were they made off with by some vandals.
And so it was that we set out through jungles vined and rooted,
fording rivers filled with leeches. I, alas, barefooted!
But chivalry was still in vogue and one or two or three
of my fellow travelers shared their boots with me
taking turns at walking barefooted for awhile
as we walked through the jungle, mile after mile.
Till late in the afternoon we came across an inn
(By then my resolution grown dangerously thin!)
Alas, we had no money for dinners and our room,
and here was where the two Swiss guys dispelled our sense of gloom.
They traded the two ten-speed bikes they’d carried or they’d ridden
most of their way around world—and they did it unbidden
by any of us, for we knew those bikes were like their kin;
and yet they gave up both of them for one night in this inn
for all of us, plus dinner—a repast full and rich,
and furthermore, our breakfast and the promise of a hitch
on a truck loaded with grain bags that was headed out tomorrow.
They did this for all of us and did not show their sorrow.
After showers poured from pails, (I noticed, I’d grown thinner)
some of us had a little nap and then a welcome dinner.
And when the Germans both pulled out their guitars for a song,
the sons of our innkeeper brought out theirs and sang along!
We all chipped in to teach the lyrics to Bobby McGee.
Our beds and food cost dearly, but the music was all free.

Next morning, we climbed high upon the grain bags for our ride
while Indonesians hung onto the rear and either side.
That truck looked like a peddler with his wagon piled high,
not with the usual notions, but with humans far and nigh.
We rode along uncomfortably, hour after hour.
No songs for us this long, long day, our mood was turning dour.
When it was nearing dusk, that truck gave one tremendous lurch
that very nearly threw us all from our precarious perch.
The Indonesians climbed on down and vanished all but one,
while the drivers told to us this next stage in our fun.
The axle cleanly broken, they would start out to get aid.
They’d come for us tomorrow—but they wanted to be paid!
We waved them off with promises—just one more awful bungle
and looked around for sleeping spots in this dense, darkening jungle.

We settled on a little hillock clear of trees and vine.
Rolled out all our sleeping bags. On what were we to dine?
One tiny little can of cheese and sardines in a tin
and those two Cokes we’d purchased—our provisions were most thin.
Hans had pellets with him meant for purifying water.
Guys headed out in search of it like lambs led to the slaughter.
The sky was darkening, but I knew I had to go to pee.
I headed down to where the trees afforded privacy,
pulled down my pants and put my hand, to balance, on a tree
when a sudden piercing pain shot from my hand through all of me!
I screamed and all my traveling friends came running down the hill.
I think of all my crises they were soon to have their fill.
I felt as though a burning dart had pierced through my right hand.
Toppled and now hobbled, I was unable to stand.

They helped me pull my pants up, sadly with a still-full bladder
as I heard the Timorese man say that it had been an adder.
I’d die within the hour, there was nothing we could do.
They emptied all their pills out and decided I’d take two
of everything we carried in our pockets and our packs,
for all of us were traveling with a drugstore on our backs.
To wash them down they offered up the ultimate in gifts:
the Cokes that we were hoarding, then they sat with me in shifts.

My finger swelled to such a size that the one ring I wore
cut off circulation until Peter cussed and swore,
“We’ll have to cut it off, so Trevor come here with your knife.
We have to cut if off of her to try to save her life.”
They put my hand upon a rock, I was delirious.
Trevor was looking rather green. Could they be serious?
He brought the knife down to my finger, but his wrist went limp.
The Germans gave a severe look, as though he were a wimp.
They told him to get on with it, but still he chose to linger.
“I just can’t do it,” Trevor said, “I can’t cut off her finger!”
“Not the finger, fool,” they said, “Just cut the ring away!”
And Trevor used the saw blade, for he had no more to say.
All night they held my arm aloft and manned the tourniquet,
It’s clear to me that I will be forever in their debt.
When I hadn’t died after an hour, the old man rubbed his eyes
and said it was another snake and I’d be paralyzed
on my right side but wouldn’t die—somewhat of a relief,
and still, I must admit I viewed paralysis with grief.

Eight hours later, still awake, I heard a distinct pop
and the swelling went down, but the throbbing did not stop.
Years later when I read “The Pearl” by Steinbeck just for fun,
when the baby nearly died, stung by the scorpion,
in just eight hours the swelling went down. That’s how I came to see
that it was probably a scorpion that had stung me.
They came with a new axle and we were on our way
and made it to our destination later that next day.
We caught a plane to Bali, but I got there in a haze,
to fall in bed where I was passed out cold for three more days.
Covered with red rashes from the rivers that we’d forded,
we were treated by the women in the houses were we boarded,
who tended to our wounds from leeches and our dysentery.
Yes, Bali then was paradise, but entrance wasn’t free.

Still, we’d paid the price and we were there right at the start,
before the rush of travelers destroyed some of its heart.
We rented bikes and rode the island, town to town to town
without meeting any traffic to try to mow us down.
A quarter for our rooms each night, a quarter for our lunch.
A lobster dinner for fifty cents—we were a happy bunch.
Processions down the streets at night, where gamelans abounded.
and temple ceremonies—all-in-all, we were astounded.
Magic mushrooms by the grocery bag cooked into omelets for us,
everywhere we went, the people just seemed to adore us.

Kuta beach was lazy then, and as we strolled along,
the most commercial thing we faced to buy was a sarong.
No beggars and no hawkers and no motorbikes to meet.
No half-an-hour to stand and wait to try to cross the street.
You might have guessed from hints I’ve given that there’s been a change.
Everything has altered now and become very strange.
Poppies restaurant—a tiny place in ‘73,
has grown into a restaurant chain with dishes gluten-free.
Hotels abound and hawkers flog their watches on each street.
Young Australians in each bar must drink to beat the heat.
We lived on just one dollar a day, in homes on Kuta Beach,
for there were no hotels yet anywhere within our reach.
There are more stories I could tell, and might, another day.
This tale has gone on for too long, so I must fade away.
But first I must apologize for this long-winded view
and say if you’re in Bali, we were there ahead of you!

Note: I should explain that the reason we had no cash is because we were traveling with travelers checks in this era before money machines and credit cards, and in these isolated regions of the island  there were no banks or other places to cash the checks. I’m sure we all later recompensed the two guys who sacrificed their beloved bikes for our room, board and transportation. The prompt today was mushroom.

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