Tag Archives: poem

CFFC Challenge: The Letter “J”

Judith

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week directs us to post a photo of something beginning with the letter “J” that contains at least six letters. Believe it or not, it took me a good ten minutes to come up with such a word!  I was about to resort to the dictionary when I spied this photo on my desktop. I had used it just a few days ago, but earlier, when I went to put it away, my eyes fell on the purse and I started to wonder what I would have carried in a purse when I was three years old. It seemed like a good subject for a poem, so I left the photo there to remind me to try to do so after I did Cee’s “Fun Foto” post. It didn’t occur to me for a long time, that since my name is Judith and it was a photo of me, that I could do both at the same time. 

Cee’s “J” Challenge.

 

Church Purse

What does a three-year-old put in a purse she takes to church?
Held primly on her lap as legs swing freely from their perch.
Feet dangling from the pew above the varnished floorboards where
fifty years of townsfolk have walked enroute to prayer.
Small straw purse grasped tightly in two nail-bitten fists,
too little for a lipstick or store receipts or lists.

If perhaps the sermon stretches on too long,
what can she find inside this purse that she has brought along?
Black plastic strap she’s twisted securely ‘round a finger—
once she has unwound it, how long will the marks linger
pressed into her chubby flesh, like four little rings
she surveys as she unsnaps her purse to view her “things?”

A single piece of Juicy Fruit in case she gets a cough.
A snap bead and a single bud that happened to fall off
the rosebush of that big house as she ran ahead to linger
on their way to church and squeezed it with her finger
(and perhaps her thumbnail) until it finally snapped.
She’d peel off its petals later as she napped.

She knew she shouldn’t do this. They’d told her this before,
but her parents walked so slowly, and those naps were such a bore.
God may have seen even the smallest sparrow fall,
but were single rosebuds seen by him at all?
That lady they belonged to was so bossy and so haughty
that she provoked the saintliest children to be naughty!

A single plastic wrapped-up toy she worries to and fro
from her last night’s Cracker Jacks bought before the show.
She softly rustles cellophane between her restless fingers,
then sniffs them to determine if the caramel smell still lingers.
Mama gently elbows her to say she should desist––
fluttering her hand a bit, loosely from the wrist.

She looks for things much quieter in her little purse.
Her snap pistol is noisier. This marble would be worse,
dropped upon the church floor where it would roll away.
If she caused such a ruckus, what would the preacher say?
Something at the bottom feels so round and sticky.
Probably a Lifesaver gone all soft and icky.

A little lace-edged hanky that Grandma tatted for her.
She said that she would show her how, but she’s sure it would bore her.
A folded piece of paper. Crayons––one blue, one red.
If the sermon goes too long, she can color instead.
Mama will not mind and neither will her Dad.
Sister will be embarrassed, but she cares not a tad.

Later on her Daddy’s eyes will start to close,
but she’s sure her mom will nudge him before he starts to doze.
That’s why she is sitting right there in the middle
to correct his snoozes and her daughter’s every fiddle.
Sister is so perfect she needs no reprimand,
so she sits on the outside, removed from Mama’s hand.

After the sermon’s over, the collection plate
passes here before her, certain of its fate.
She’ll unsnap the little purse and reach down far inside it
to try to find the quarter where she chose to hide it
stuck in her silly putty in a little ball.
Now she wonders whether she can remove it all.

The people farther down the pew look in her direction
to try to see the cause of the collection plate’s deflection,
so her quarter is surrendered to join the coins and bills
piled there around it in green and silver hills.
It is the only quarter blanketed in blue.
It is a nice addition, this unexpected hue.

Sister looks disgusted, but her parents do not see,
That quarter cannot be traced back to her now, luckily.
Church will soon be ended with a prayer and song,
and when the music starts up, she will gladly sing along.
 She still dreads church but she gives thanks, for it could be worse.
She could be forced to live through it without her Sunday purse!

Risky Business

Risky Business

 How have you found your way into my dreams,
ripping my comfort apart at the seams?
I thought I’d escaped to back rooms of my self
but still I find thoughts of you stacked on a shelf
carefully obscured both in front and above
by other less perilous memories of love.

You walk nonchalantly into the room
that I have just cleared with a cloth and a broom
of other dangers and sadnesses not
knowing that I have been once again caught.
Now I hide out behind walls at the back
where all of my worst fears reside in a stack.

Cowering here as you stride through the place
that your very presence has turned dark and base.
How could I have loved such a frightening soul,
the box of my heart turned into a bowl
with all of my secrets and weakness revealed—
things that I now know I should have kept sealed?

There you sit quietly, perched on a chair,
one hand on the desk top, one hand on your hair
writing cruel words—I know about me.
I ease my way over, hoping to see,
but the paper is empty, your ink has turned clear
making improbable all that I fear.

As now I remember that I let you in,
forgetting all else in the charm of your grin.
The joy of your hand as it guided me sure
across the dance floor—all that allure
that kept me involved in the surface of you
overlooking the risks as most of us do.

If I’d had an x-ray taken of you
when our romance was shiny and new
I might have seen sooner your dangerous zone
and taken a detour and left you alone.
And perhaps now my dreams would be placid and calm
so I’d sleep without worry, sleep without qualm.

I might not have moved off to the edge of the world,
might still have been sleeping, never unfurled.
Perhaps it’s these dangers that make us let go
of all of the comforts of worlds that we know
and send us out elsewhere to discover a self
we’d have never found sitting safe on a shelf.

 

This again is a rewrite of a poem written three years ago. The prompt word today was risky.

Future Archaeology

If one day far in the future, someone stumbles upon my old hard drive in a landfill and somehow gets it to work, what would they find? A sort of modern day Dead Sea scroll? Read on:

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Hard Drive

If you long for mystery,
poems, facts and history,
long perambulations
and wild exaggerations,
recipes and letters and
episodes of Homeland,
Elementary, Sherlock, Friends,
a blogging site that never ends,

Emails, YouTube, Facebook notes,
starts of novels, copied quotes,
OkCupid pictures of
possibilities for love,
notes from nice guys, threats from creeps,
notes from guys who play for keeps,
friends who only write when drunk,
chain e-mails, jokes and other junk,

two hundred drafts of my third book,
(each one different, have a look),
kids stories and their illustrations,
the Christmas plans of my relations,
photographs of my whole life—
its happiness and pain and strife—
some successes but also follies,
fireworks, insects, gardens, dollies,

travel snaps and friendly faces,
rooms at home or foreign places,
birds and children, beaches, skies,
the camera lens is true and wise
and not as given to fraud and lies
as writings filtered through the eyes
of one who feels the joys or pains
of what she witnesses, then deigns

to try to change her reader’s mind
to accord with the type or kind
of thoughts she carries deep inside:
pride’s cutting edge, love’s waning tide—
things lovely, funny, jarring, rare.
So read this hard drive if you dare,
but if you fear a life laid bare,
I have one word for you. Beware.

The prompt today was fraud. 

Genius

 

The Genius of Choice

I do not crave a sylphlike form.
Mere gorgeousness is not the norm
If I seek to build my ego up,
I do not need a 4D cup—
the back strain nor the stares and gawking.
The genius of a Stephen Hawking?
I do not want it, seek it not;
and I would not wish to be caught
inside a Porsche or Aston Martin.
Joy’s not packaged in a carton
large nor small. No jewels seek I.
No diamonds sparkle in my mind’s eye.
I do not envy your honor student.
Your sex life I just find imprudent.
I covet not thy ox nor ass,
thy husband nor thy backstage pass.
There’s just one thing I’m thirsting for.
If I had it, I’d need no more.
I guess I’ll tell the truth, y’all.
What do I want? I want it ALL!!!!

 

The prompt today was genius. (This is an edited version of a poem formerly published in 2014 under a different name.)

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

 

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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.