Tag Archives: poem

DVerse Players: “Shade” The Tile Layers

The Tile Layers

 

The Tile Layers

The tile cutter on his knees whistles “Fur Elise—”
five measures over and over—all day with no surcease.
A younger man behind him, in another room,
whistles tunelessly in rhythm as he wields a broom.
Hod carriers laugh and loudly call. Comida will be soon.
One of the youngest sings out a jolly ribald tune.
Their labors hard, their hours long as they hauled and carried,
and yet they have not seemed distressed, back sore, stressed or harried.

As they go to take comida, they move with one assent
as if to be relieved of where their labor time is spent.
Outside my wall they line the curb, their legs stretched in the street
to eat their warm tortillas­­­­––their chiles, beans and meat.
The only time they’re quiet is now their mouths are chewing,
for they are never silent when they are up and doing.
Five minutes and then ten pass as the silence swells around me,
until I feel the magnitude of silence might astound me.

Then one quiet voice is heard, and then another slowly after.
But still no music, calling out, whistling or laughter.
I can imagine well the scene. They’re spread out in the shade,
on their backs just resting in the shadows trees have made.
An hour’s camaraderie, like school kids taking naps,
their ankles crossed, their dusted clothes, their work hats in their laps.
Against their quietness, a motor hums out from afar.
Persistent birdcalls interrupt the tire crunch of a car.

A lawnmower chops at grass below. My clock ticks out the time.
This hour’s quiet interlude is almost sublime.
They must wonder what I do clattering on these keys––
my room cut off from all the dust , but also from the breeze.
The large dog’s bed is in a cage with an open door.
The little dog forsakes his bed to curl up on the floor
nearer the larger, older dog, although he’s sound asleep.
They too prefer to sleep as one, their brotherhood to keep.

An hour passed, the jefe wakes and jostles all his neighbors
who find their voices as they waken to resume their labors.
The gentle scrape of trowels sets the rhythm for
young men shouldering hods of what old men spread on the floor.
The jefe scolds for tiles mismeasured, rails against the waste
of both time and materials lost because of haste.
After the day’s siesta, they work three hours more.
They measure, chip and cut and smooth, then fit and trim each door.

By day’s end, hands are coated, and collars ringed with sweat.
The dust of their day’s labors in their work clothes firmly set.
But folded in each backpack they once rested heads upon
is a fresh change of clothing that later they will don.
Cleaned and pressed, they’ll walk on home unmarked by dust or dirt,
ready for the ladies to admire and to flirt.
For a man’s not made of merely the work that he might do,
and when he leaves his labors, his day begins anew.

Actually, I was imagining the scene described in the poem as the house hushed for an hour after a morning and early afternoon of extreme noise. Diego and Morrie were imprisoned in the small run outside my door but in sight of the front entrance gate all the men had vanished through, tortured by observing all the activity they couldn’t get their paws on, not to mention all those lunches in the back packs.  Then, after I wrote the poem and started to hear a few voices from what seemed to be a direction not anticipated in my poem, I went out to the living room to see the younger members of the crew hunched over their smart phones on my patio, first watching some drama, then talking to what sounded like female voices. One lay stretched out as expected, but by the pool rather than out on the sidewalk. (I had earlier invited them to eat at the patio table and the table in the gazebo, but they had preferred to warm their tortillas in my microwave and then go eat in the street.) My former stereotypes dashed, I then ventured beyond my walls into the street, and there found the older generation living up to former experience and present expectations—asleep in the shade.

This is a reblog of an earlier poem.

 

If you want to play along and write a poem with the word “shade” in it, post it here:  https://dversepoets.com/2017/08/08/seeking-some-shade-today/

Childhood Wishes

 

daily life color162

Childhood Wishes

All those aimless childhood gambols—
dawn to dusk spontaneous ambles.
Up the block and down again,
back once more to where we’d been,
Hoping things perhaps had changed—
something misplaced, someone deranged.
But still, we found each of our homes
as regular as metronomes.
Day to day, each time we came,
everything was just the same.

How we craved a big event.
A calamity would be heaven-sent.
News to share in Sunday school
pithier than the Golden Rule.
We yearned for things to brag about
to cause town tongues to wag about.
Some juicy news or disaster that
served as excuse to chew the fat.
Instead, our lives were all the norm.
Safe and regular and warm.

We Monopolied and kicked the can.
We walked and biked and hopped and ran.
Combed back yards for a four leaf clover.
Played blind man’s bluff and Annie-I-Over.
But still we yearned for something new.
Felt caught in long hot summer’s glue.
Stones kicked down roads by summer sandals
attempts to dislodge unearthed scandals.
Little did we know one day
we’d be called upon to pay

Our debt for wishes finally granted.
Yet how we cursed and wept and ranted
when all those asked-for ills befell us.
Why didn’t anybody tell us
that normalcy is everything—
those quiet times that soon took wing.
Telephones first brought the news
of all those things we’d one day lose:
old pets, old dreams, old friends and spouses.
Totalled cars, repossessed houses.

War and pestilence and hunger?
We did not know when we were younger
that they were not simply a game.
We did not know that casting blame
on those responsible would fail.
For rich men do not go to jail.
They buy our votes then do their deeds
so no man but they ever succeeds.
And never can they get enough
as they cloak our eyes in blind man’s bluff.
But oh the scandals we now can tell.
Our childhood wishes realized so well.

The prompt word today was amble.

Tailor of Mankind

     IMG_7739Doll by Judy jdb photo

            Tailor of Mankind

    He thought he would be a tailor of men.
 Then, “Woman!” he thought,
  laughing as he
      extracted a rib, seaming

hills and valleys, taking a subtle tuck
     here, folding an excessive curve there
and there. Smoothing it over, shortening
          a length. Extending another.

      Making them fit and not fit.
  Not a perfect pair but rather
thesis and antithesis,
yin
   and
yang.
   Anima
           and
  Animus
     he shaped into each
               in different quantities.

                    Then, he clothed perfection,
       sheathing it and obscuring
  differences to be discovered
    under falling leaves, in darkness,
          setting a whole world in motion.
                           Then he wept.

The prompt today is tailor.

Birds of a Feather

poem


Birds of a Feather

Tossed about in the storm—the tidepools and the heather.
Cast adrift in the air like a tattered feather.
Blown wherever fate decrees, determined by the weather.
One surrenders all control when they are without tether.
Blown up to the highest points, then dropped to the nether.
Never knowing what comes next. Never knowing whether
somewhere there’s another soul, skin weathered into leather
to furnish some protection once we have flocked together.

The prompt today is tether.

Paper Shoes

 

Paper Shoes

I’m folding me some paper shoes
so I can walk away the blues.
The love poems I cannot recall
I’ll scuff off as I pass the mall.
Someone will find my words all shredded—
how you wooed and won and bedded
one so young and so naive
that she could not help but believe
words pilfered from a Hallmark store
that you had often used before.

All those lovelorn lines obscured.
All that loneliness endured.
On Main Street I will shed my heart—
that part of me you tore apart.
All the lines I wrote about it,
all the times I grew to doubt it.
Your words the heel, my words the sole,
the sidewalks will consume them whole.

All the futile poetry
that passed once between you and me
ground into the pavement where
perhaps two lovers will find it there—
the words like seeds that hung around
hoping for more fertile ground.
Love sprouted from a used-up word
might strike some others as absurd,
But I like to think perhaps
our use of them was just a lapse.
Repeated by those other voices
who choose to live by other choices,
all those words that we now rue
might work for lovers who are new.

 

 

The prompt word today is paper. (Image from internet, photographer unknown.)

Ragtag Hattie

jdbphoto

 

Ragtag Hattie

Though her clothes are old and ratty,
her cast-off hats tattered and gnatty,
and her aroma eau de catty,
still her style is somewhat natty.
She has a certain savoir faire,
a childlike, careless stylish air.
Silk scarves and clanking jewelry
devoid of runway foolery.

Diaphanous and parachutey,
silk nightgowns might do double duty
as ballgowns were she ever asked
to functions one arrives at masked
in Dior dresses  or black tie.
In lieu of that, she’ll just get by
strolling the streets in finery
gained from her dumpster minery.

Onlookers may think her batty—
clothes so rumpled, hair so matty.
all of her gloriously tatty—
her ballet slippers so pitter-patty
scuffling through the city streets,
greeting everyone she meets.

She is a fixture in our town
with a certain wide renown.
Pointed out to visiting friends,
her unique presence somehow lends
a flavor to the streets she walks.
She does not mind the stares and gawks.

Until one day she is not there—
her birdlike plumage, strange and rare
flown to a runway far above–
a blown-off hat, a single glove
left on the stairway where she fell—
to become this legend that I tell.

 

 

The prompt today is natty.

Hesitation

 

Hesitation

As I recite my Sunday Psalms,
two butterflies alight like balms
upon the leper’s outstretched palms.

Thus nature intervenes and calms

the remainder of my qualms.
I fill the beggar’s hands with alms.

 

The prompt word today was “qualm.”