Tag Archives: poem

Agave Marias

 

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Agave Marias

Two sides are battling for possession of my life. One pushes me ahead, urging, “Do, do, do, and you will be of value,” but the other twines a hand around my ankle and pulls me down to earth and whispers, “Be.” The “Proud Marys,” I have named these contrasting women who emerge one at a time from my center, but since I have lived in Mexico for seventeen years now, perhaps Maria would be a better shared name. A name is all they share, for by their own natures one is an outward person: a doer, a liver of life, a socializer. The other is inner: a reclusive watcher, dreamer, thinker, artist and writer.

Some people know how to balance these voices, but I don’t. And so I live on a little seesaw of made and canceled plans, meetings and random days of alternately reading, writing, watching movies or wandering around my house attending to my ever-lengthening “to do” list. What is life, I wonder? Is it your accomplishments? I have lists of those I seem to have less and less willpower to sit down to and finish. It’s like I have to sacrifice the satisfaction of ticking things off a list for the promise of a different kind of life.

I don’t think I’ve every really felt I had significance other than as a doer of things: artist, writer, committee chairman, decorator of houses, organizer of my friends’ lives. Yet during all of this activity, I always suspected that all around me people were leading lives that were more fun than mine, more satisfactory. If I gave more, did more, accomplished more, I thought I would attract this ideal life to me.

A tour guide once explained to me the importance of the agave plant in Mexico. For the Mexican of the past, the agave was what the buffalo was to the American plains Indian. Different parts of the agave plant were used to make rope, housing, clothing, food, dye and last but never least, mescal—the finest of tequila-like alcohol. So perhaps I should call my Marias the Agave Marias. Between them, they furnish me with all of the necessities of life. One says organize, proceed in a linear fashion. The other says, “Brainstorm. Go with the flow. Let process win over need for a perfect product.” So I let one Maria lead me through my mind and put it all down on paper, now and then letting the other Maria pop in to clean things up a bit and organize. Agave Marias, furnishing it all.

Childless, have I instead created all of the possibilities for myself within myself? In refusing to give birth, have I hoarded all of the possibilities of my genes within myself and is that what has led to this slightly schizophrenic seesaw of existence-—one day running off for an entire day of activity, the next staying home behind walls? One side wanting to be Cinderella at the ball, the other side wanting only the security of my own hearth?

I was married for fourteen years and before that lived with another man for three years, I’ve also had female roommates, but most of my life has been lived alone. There is some part of me that only exists in solitude and when I’m too long away from her, I miss her. Without her I feel superficial. It is from this side of my Agave Maria that I draw all of my real nourishment—my creativity, my soul. The other Maria is my reward—the finished product, the publication party or the book tour.

All of the seed I hoarded has given birth to these different entities within myself. Failing to produce offspring, I have become my own offspring. These children, my Marias, journey out from me but always return to the wellspring. I go to the party but come home to snuggle into bed for the entire next day, venturing out only for popcorn and a different CD. Or I sit on the side of the tub for two hours with my laptop on my lap, writing a story which takes me into a wonderful world of my own creation.

It is Christmas, and in the background, a chorus sings what to my ears becomes, “Agave Mar-eee-e-e-e-aaaah,” and the beautiful notes convince me, for a short time, that I am the mother of creation, the one Maria that all of Mexico celebrates, tattoos upon their chests, dyes into their T-shirts, puts on decals and bumper stickers, commemorates in stone or plaster or clay or wood in every house. She is the spirit of duality in all women and in all men: flesh and spirit, of this world as well as heaven, of the utilitarian and the creative, human and divine.

All of us are Agave Marias, learning to collect ourselves and pull all sides of ourselves in to ourselves to appreciate them. We are our own mothers as well as our sisters and daughters and friends. Within all of us are these Agave Marias, like sisters absolutely indispensable to each other who are nonetheless competing for our attention.

“Honor them by listening to each,” Mother Maria says to me and suddenly I realize that there are more than two Agave Marias within me. This third motherly Maria seeks to reconcile the others and whispers, “Look deeper. There is always one more. All welcome. All part of life.”

 

The daily prompt was Narcissism. Since I had already written on this topic in April, I chose a slightly different slant on this prompt, concentrating on the different sides of myself in a slightly nacissistic manner. My original Narcissism poem, published in April for NaPoWriMo is HERE.

Pen and Ink

 

Pen and Ink

The pen that stands, clipped and inert
in the pocket of your shirt
has no power on its own
so long as it is left alone,
but once held upright in your grip,
free of cap and free of clip,
it forms a partnership of sorts
that spews out pithy, smart retorts.

It snaps the present into line
with words that, effortless, combine
in sentences that, once unfurled,
have the power to change the world.
I ask you, who would ever think
that two joined objects—pen and ink—
could form a perfect synergy
to spew out jokes or tragedy?

Guided by a hand like yours,
a pen can open many doors.
A simple point, an ink-trailed line,
could link your heart with one like mine.
Unclip it now. Uncap its point.
Let paper now that ink anoint.
Let words turn somersaults and caper.
Let words flow from your heart to paper.

Let ink flow rampant from its cage
to dance across the naked page.
No telling what it might report
as words go wild and cavort.
“I” and “love” and “you” might do
a sort of line-dance or soft-shoe.
Words just might and words just may
leak out and give your heart away.

The prompt word for Tourmaline’s One Word Photo Challenge is pen.

Core Identity

Judy's new haircut and thin lips

Core Identity

Whoever really gets to see
what is at the core of me?
Neither my mother nor my lover
gets to see beneath my cover.
No surgery has extracted it.
It’s not exposed in ire or wit.
It’s in a corner still unlit,
buried in identity’s pit.

Even I have not exhumed it, for
I’ve never found my very core.
Some say it’s found in meditation,
prayer or true love’s exaltation,
but I have journeyed into each
merely to wind up on the beach
of what I know must be the sea
of my soul’s identity.

Perhaps it is the world’s distractions––
all its toys and fine abstractions,
its petty jealousies and fears
regarding family and careers
that get me lost while searching for
that ladder, passageway or door
that will lead me to the root of me––
that seed of my identity.

Perhaps in death we’re rejoined with
the part of us that is our pith.
Could it be what life is for—
this striving toward identity’s core?
Perhaps the lonely death I fear
will finally serve to bring me near,
away from all those things I’m not
to that whole self I’ve always sought

 

The WordPress prompt today is core.

 

Neap Tide

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Three years ago I published this poem with no ending, asking commenters to construct an ending.  There were a number of excellent solutions, but unfairly, I never published one of my own, so I’m giving myself the additional assignment to finish the poem  since it also makes use of today’s prompt word of  “tide.” I’ve made many adjustments in the original poem and added the last stanza. 

Neap Tide

Borne, then born.
Clothed, fed, shorn.
Housed and cuddled,
Brain filled and muddled,
schooled, polished, allowed to roam,
to make the world into a home.

In my third quarter, now sedate.
Content to let my life abate.
Find worlds inside and there abide,
to let what happens be my guide.
To try to live with less precision.
To fear less the world’s derision.

Why so hard to be oneself?
Easier when on the shelf.
Now as I pull my world around me,
memories and dreams surround me—
my solitude a crystal jar
that lets me ponder from afar.

The current of my life, its tide,
reaches without and pulls inside
the things that help me try to see
where my life has taken me.
I contemplate and sometimes share
the truths that I’ve discovered there.

You come to read and judge each word
as wise, amusing or absurd.
You give new insights to what I’ve said—
poems not completed until they’re read.
Less in the world, ironically,
more of the world’s discovered me.

 

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If you’d like to see how others  ended the poem three years ago, go HERE.

The prompt today was tide.

Near: dVerse Poets Pub, Apr 28, 2018

Near

My father went from obscurity to a sort of small renown.
He worked hard as a rancher and the mayor of our town.
He met my mother at a dance in her sister’s borrowed gown–
both of them lonely visitors to a faraway strange town.
I’ve thought about it often since we laid him down.
Why didn’t I ask more questions? Why didn’t I write it down?

Many a calf he helped to birth and many a field he’s mown.
Avoided his mother if he could–long-suffering aged crone.
Not many highways traveled,nor many airwaves flown.
He died in his angry daughter’s arms–the two of them alone.
I’ve thought of it often till regrets have turned into a drone.

His eyes were always looking further over yon.
Over a ripening field of wheat or over a fresh-mowed lawn.
Working, often, until dark and up again at dawn.
A man of camaraderie and wit and brains and brawn.

He liked to tell a story and sing a rousing tune.
Stand on the porch at midnight to piss under the moon.
He gave me a turquoise ring, a baby rabbit and a coon.

Now that he’s very gone away.  Now that I’m very grown,
I know my flesh is of his flesh. My bone is of his bone.

And I wish that I’d asked more questions. That we’d both been less alone.

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The form of this poem is one consisting of six stanzas, the first with 6 lines and each thereafter one less line.  Each line in each stanza rhymes with all the other lines in that stanza and each stanza’s rhyme is a near rhyme to the last. The name of this form is Sylvestrian Near Rhyme and since “Near” describes both the theme and form of my poem, it is also the name of the poem.  And yes, I did make up the form!  I’d love it if poets given to rhyming and meter would attempt the form and send me the results as comments or a link to this blog.

For dVerse Poets Pub

Matins: NaPoWriMo 2018, Day 18

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 Matins

We lie in each other’s shelter,
hiding what is necessary,
shedding guilt,
holding one another in the soft reverence
of those who seek to be loved.
We can hardly believe
how our pieces are coming together—
the hard world retreating,
falling like pages from our hands,
making us want that loss of everything
except the two of us.

Flattery is unnecessary, as is reassurance.
We hold one another as protection,
quieting each other,
gathering our petty problems
like brood hens put inside for the night,
safe and barely yearning 
for the freedom of low branches,
flight to further fence posts and away.
How could we have ever wished escape?
Caught up in our private morning,
we find it hard to remember

what the rest of the world rails against.

 


Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt: find a poem in a book or magazine (ideally one you are not familiar with). Use a piece of paper to cover over everything but the last line. Now write a line of your own that completes the thought of that single line you can see, or otherwise responds to it. Now move your piece of paper up to uncover the second-to-last line of your source poem, and write the second line of your new poem to complete/respond to this second-to-last line. Keep going, uncovering and writing, until you get to the first line of your source poem, which you will complete/respond to as the last line of your new poem. It might not be a finished draft, but hopefully it at least contains the seeds of one.

This is a link to the poem “Hail Mary,” by Megan Blankenship that I chose from “Blackbird” Magazine to use to inspire my poem.

 

 

 

Banded

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Banded

From string to string and fret to fret,
they draw us into music’s net.
They strum and pick and blithely finger
notes that make us want to linger,
tap the table, move our feet
to their infectious strumming beat.

They are my favorite sort of band––
unique and playing their own brand
of acoustic, bluesy notes––
a kind of music that denotes
connection to a world of hearts.
Their music woos and cuts and smarts.

Opening sensibilities.
Music that unites and frees
our spirits to commune and soar.
Notes that journey to our core.
Which is what music’s meant to do
in  dancehall, city street or pew.

Good music sets our hats askew,
chases us down and counts a coup.
Stirs our hearts and brings a change.
Astounds us with its depth and range.
Draws us with it, layer on layer,
unites us in communal prayer.

Denominationless, it draws
us in and gives a place to pause
together to survey that place
devoid of sex or age or race.
That place where we unite in song.
Give up ourselves, and sing along.

The prompt today is fret.