What I imagine I will be remembered by
is probably in the past, my present more taken up by
remembering than by doing.
That energy to create a life seems worn out
so that rising and sorting piles of papers
seems an Everest to scale.
Who knew that we would wear out, too.
Prefer our deskchairs to the dance floor,
our own tables to the favorite gathering place?
We have dulled to pewter,
finest silver that we once were.
Once hatless, ratted and curled,
now we shield ourselves from the sun
with wider brims,
celebrate midnight in solitude,
go the way of civilizations
headed toward their end.
Today’s prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me: Imagine yourself at the end of your life. What sort of legacy will you leave? Describe the lasting effect you want to have on the world, after you’re gone.
How many family albums have been thrown away
to make room for Tonka trunks and ruffled dresses,
Tinker Toys scattered across closet shelves?
Of what use are lives lived fifty years ago or more?
Store them neatly on computers,
sealed behind glass for all to easily see,
taking up space
in a cloud–floating above
so if the cloud is ever broken,
they will float down like rain
to soak white sheets hanging on clotheslines,
or onto windshields to be scraped away
by wiper blades–
like fine gnats or raindrops–
floating onto our horizontal world,
bringing the past to soak into the present.
Falling action becoming forward motion,
carried to the future. All things indivisible.
Everything still here–
even if as ash
from burning albums,
and blown away.
The Prompt: Do Not Disturb–How do you manage your online privacy? Are there certain things you won’t post in certain places? Information you’ll never share online? Or do you assume information about you is accessible anyway?
The Prompt: Write a poem that takes the form of a dialogue. My dialogue takes place between my 7 year old self and my 67 year old self who, ironically, is writing this in Mexico.
of Grandma’s barn
whole lost worlds down there.
Our own attic–that door held down
by a gravity never challenged.
I wanted to see
the hanging gardens of Babylon,
Mexico and Africa–
all these places from books,
their pieces jumbled together
like puzzle pieces
in the deep recesses of my closet,
but ready for assembly
when I would
make my future memories
I crouch with myself at seven–
sharing imagined dangers
in deep closets,
trying to conjure the world.
So many small town stories
while I dreamed of living
in those fairy tale places
of Bible stories
that stood on a shelf
the Bobbsey Twins
Some of us spend our lives
trying to be like books,
then spend our old age
trying to remember childhood,
The Prompt: Alphabet Soup. Write down one word for each letter of the alphabet and then construct a post making use of these words.
How did you find your way into my dreams,
ripping my comfort apart at the seams?
I barely escaped to back rooms of my self
where still I found thoughts of you stacked on a shelf
carefully obscured both in front and above
by other less perilous memories of love.
You walked nonchalantly into the room
that I had just cleared with a cloth and a broom
of other dangers and sadnesses not
knowing that I had 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 dangers 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.
He handed it to me without ceremony—a small leather bag, awl-punched and stitched together by hand. Its flap was held together by a clasp made from a two fishing line sinkers and a piece of woven wax linen. I unwound the wax linen and found inside a tiny wooden heart with his initials on one side, mine on the other. A small hole in the heart had a braided cord of wax linen strung through that was attached to the bag so that the heart could not be lost. He had woven more waxed linen into a neck cord. I was 39 years old when he gave me that incredible thing I never thought I would receive: his heart—as much of it as he could give. Continue reading
Lately, the mornings had grown crisp. Even here, below the tropic of Cancer, where they were rumored to have the second best climate in the world, they suffered a few weeks of weather where she regretted having neither heat nor air conditioning in her house. Its brick and concrete walls held-in the cool air. In the summer, this was a welcome fact. Now, in mid-November, it created the effect of the cold storage locker at the butcher shop in the small South Dakota town where she had grown up.
The butcher shop had a room-sized walk-in freezer that functioned as a meat safety-deposit vault. People in the town paid to rent private lockers. Ranchers could bring a live cow to the butcher and he and his family would kill it, age the meat, wrap it in neat packages labeled hamburger, rib eye, chuck roast, rump roast or sirloin; and then stow it away in drawers big enough to hold an entire dismantled cow. When she was very small, she could remember going to the locker with her mother or father to get the week’s meat from the drawer that had their name scrawled on a piece of masking tape stuck on its front.
The locker also sold ice cream sandwiches by the carton of 50 or so, which they would take home and store in the freezer compartment of their refrigerator. They were square little bars—half the size of the bigger ones you could buy individually at the supermarket, and she grew chubby the year she turned nine—probably mainly due to her mother’s lack of rules about how many could be consumed daily. When the supply grew sparse, it was replenished by whoever went to the locker—her mom or dad or oldest sister.
It is early morning and she puts off getting out of bed to face the brisk air. Water is streaming into the pool. She can hear its hiss as the hot volcanic water hits the cooler water of the pool. Pasiano the gardener clears his throat. Later, when Yolanda arrives, the dogs will grow restless and bark to be fed. It is not the bright morning promised by the precognition of the weather channel. Even through the white scrim of the manta cloth drapes, She can tell that the sun is muted. The past two days have been marked by intermittent rain showers coming from a sky permanently cottoned-over by a layer of clouds that now and then the sun peeks through. As she lies in bed typing, she can see a light ray through the curtains, but it fades quickly away.
8:01. It is now legal for the noises of the day to begin. The neighbor’s spoiled son roars by in his ATV that is muffler-less. The harsh sound slashes a gash through the gentler sounds of the day: the whisk whisk whisk of Pasiano’s broom, the surge as a steadier supply of hot water streams into the pool from the pipe hidden within the concrete form of a plumed serpent that spews water from between the fangs of its open mouth.
She has fantasized about stringing a wire across the cobblestone road to spill that teenaged brat from his ugly machine. This is the violence prompted by an early morning slaughtered by his ear-splitting exit. On weekends, he is up the hill and down the hill with his friends. Once, when she went to protest, they steered their monster tricycles in her direction, veering off just as she jumped back onto the sidewalk. She couldn’t hear their laughs above the deafening din of three bikes, but the girls on the back of the vehicles turned to look at her as they roared away, and their mouths were stretched in broad grins of amusement over this aged gringo who had come out with a frown to comment on the fun of youth.
They have gone. She can hear their mechanical beasts speeding down the road toward the carretera, their loud roars terrorizing neighborhood after neighborhood as they pass. She returns to the house to make the phone call to the office that will protest this noise and this small terrorist action.
“Yes, senora, we will look into it.”
“Will you call their father this time?”
“Yes, senora. The father is in Guadalajara now, but when he comes, we will call him.”
“They veered their bikes toward me so I had to jump back on the sidewalk!”
“Yes, senora. We will tell them.”
She hangs up knowing they will not tell the parents anything. They are important enough to have a huge house here in the tennis club where she lives— house they use on occasional weekends. A house which sits empty for most of the year. A house where they once brought their children and their cousins and friends to swim in the steaming hot water of the club pool or their own pools. A party house for their children, now that they have reached their teen years.
The father would be an important business man with connections, perhaps a judge or politician. It was rumored that one of the houses on her street, one further up the mountainside, was owned by a member of the cartel.
Whatever the truth of this, the complaint would not be made. In Mexico, so long as their misdeeds did not come too completely to the surface, the rich were invulnerable—cushioned by a layer of privilege augmented by mordida. No foreigner who chose to come up against a Mexican would ever win—no matter how large the misdeed. Murderers might be caught, but the case would then fade away in time so that they might never be tried, but again would be released on some technicality given birth to by mordida. Houses and land paid for in full by gringos could be reclaimed by entrepreneurs or ejidos powerful enough to know the right judge or the right politician.
Now the roar of the ATV’s is forgotten with the passing of the first truck hauling gravel and stone up to the construction site at the highest point presently reachable on the mountain. One day those mountains that rose so beautifully above her would be filled with houses to the very top; but for now, as the noise of the churning engine fades into the cold white sky, she contemplates what she will write about now that the demands of the prompt have been met. She will not write a funny rhyme today. Her mind has already been trapped by the mood prompted by the demands of this day’s topic.
She wonders how the parts of what she has written can be brought together. It is as though she has written a beginning and an end with no middle. Perhaps that was how a novel was begun in the mind of a novelist—to start out with meat in a cold storage locker and end up with a neighbor’s son terrorizing the neighborhood on an ATV. Was that how it went? Could she stuff those two vignettes with enough information to stretch them apart like a bota bag full of sweet wine? Did she have the capacity to grow those grapes, the skill to ferment them and siphon them into the bag she has created on this cloudy morning that only now was beginning to let the rays of sunlight through? That strong Mexican sun made more powerful by the high elevation of this place at the almost top of a mountain on a street set at such an angle that if there were ever snow here, she could step outside her house and sled in one straight line down to the lake that was a mile away, across its frozen surface, all the way to the other side.
The Prompt: Today you can write about anything, in whatever genre or form, but your post must include a speeding car, a phone call, and a crisp, bright morning. (Wildcard: you can swap any of the above for a good joke.)
Staid: adjective: sedate, respectable and unadventurous. “staid law firms”
synonyms: sedate, respectable, quiet, serious, serious-minded, steady, conventional, traditional, unadventurous, unenterprising, set in one’s ways, sober, proper, decorous, formal, stuffy, stiff, priggish
Life is too short to be afraid,
caught, traditional and staid,
serious, steady, lacking flair,
always well-clothed and never bare.
We were not meant for formal fare,
pinched and tucked with perfect hair.
We’re meant to flap and drag and wear
with tattered bits and unkempt hair.
Life’s meant to mess us up a bit
as we make use of all of it.
Not just the parts traditional,
decorous and conditional.
Take a chance to win or fail.
Face the flood and face the gale.
Jump right in with both your feet
when adventure you chance to meet.
Go out to meet the world with grace,
hand extended, face-to-face.
In this great apple called mankind,
live in the fruit, not in the rind.
In the messy, fragrant, toothsome center
be an enjoyer, not a repenter.
Buy life full-price and not on clearance.
Live on the pith and not appearance.
For all too soon it will be over.
That field you rolled in, full of clover,
will sprout small stones that bruise your spine.
The rich mussels on which you dine
will be something you’ll have to pass
for fear that you might suffer gas.
The places where you want to go
can’t be got to when you’re slow.
You won’t have the energy
to travel fast and travel free—
to hitchhike, backpack, hop a train
when you have rheumatism pain.
So gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
“Real” life will wait another day.
Be silly and take chances now.
Forsake the contract, pledge and vow.
Too soon the walker and the cane.
You never will be young again.
The Prompt:No Time to Waste—Fill in the blank: “Life is too short to _____.” Now, write a post telling us how you’ve come to that conclusion.
The Prompt: Reverse Shot—What’s your earliest memory involving another person? Recreate the scene — from the other person’s perspective.
My earliest memory is waking up in my crib and making a noise to let my mom know I was awake and then watching her walk in with a big grin. I remember very clearly thinking how delighted she was to see me and how anxious she must have been for me to wake up! Ha!
I can hear the baby stirring, but she’s quiet for now. I guess I’ll try to finish the Daily Crossword before going in to see if she’s really ready to get up from her nap. If she’s wet or restless, she always lets me know—the same gurgle as usual, but a bit louder, to make sure I notice.
The divan I’m lying on is so close to the open door to her room that there’s no chance I won’t hear her if she really needs me. Hmmmmm. A Hawaiian goose. I’ve seen that a dozen times. Nene, I think.
Oh, Oh. There’s that little singing purr. She’s ready. So much for the puzzle for a little while, until I get her changed, liquified and busy with her toys in her playpen.
There she is. So adorable, peeking out from between the bars of her crib. I can see her eyes dilate when she sees me, one chubby little arm reaching through the bars, hand out, fingers spread. Waving hello like her sisters taught her. Face open in the biggest grin to see her mom. It’s like looking in a mirror. I can feel that same grin stretching my own cheeks. I can’t believe I’ve created this sweet girl. Me, the laziest woman on earth—I made this!
She’s gotten heavier and OUCH! those little fingernails need trimming. She wraps her chubby legs around me like a vise. Fat little toes for gobbling as I change her diaper. That strange arrow birthmark pointing straight down and filling the vee between her legs like a direction signal. So strange. My first child to have marks of any kind–the small port wine stain on her neck, and this larger brown birthmark in such an odd place. So glad this big one will never really show that much so long as she has any clothes on at all.
She’s perfect, so far as anyone else knows. I’ll put her with a cookie and orange juice in her bottle into her playpen and finish my puzzle. No need to change her clothes. Her dad will be home soon for his afternoon break and he’ll have her filthy from his field clothes within seconds of entering the house. They’ll both be asleep within minutes–him in his rocking chair with his feet up on the footstool and the glass of iced tea I’ve brought him sweating on his chair-side table, her stretched out on her tummy on his chest, little cheek pressed against his neck, wheat chaff and field dust on her sleeper and making light depressions on her cheek. I’ve never seen a man who loves babies more. When we don’t have one of our own, he borrows them from tourists in the restaurant where he meets his friends for coffee in the afternoon. “Want me to hold your baby for you while you eat?” he says, and they always say yes. The novelty of the big farmer in the J.C. Penny’s khaki work clothes and the straw hat holding their little city baby? They just wish they’d brought their camera in.
Hmmm. A South American Country. Peru? No, that’s just four letters. Chile? There’s Ben’s truck. Guess I’ll get the baby out of the playpen and have her waiting at the door for him when he comes in!
The Prompt: Reverse Shot—What’s your earliest memory involving another person? Recreate the scene — from the other person’s perspective.
(P.S.This is a pretty unremarkable post for my 300th posting, but I have an eye appointment in an hour so must hurry. Perhaps I’ll do another post later in the day…It was fun trying to write from my mother’s perspective. Sorry it had to be so hurried.)
(P.P.S. The eye doctor never showed up, although I waited an hour. I was sure it said I had an appointment in my calendar. I must need my eyes examined!)
2017 Note: It’s been three years since Word Press used the prompt “recreate.” At that time, I used the prompt to make my 300th blog entry. Now I have penned (or shot) my 3,444th entry, so it seems appropriate to reblog it. Thanks for reading it—and perhaps for reading it again.
So What Am I, Chopped Liver?
The first time I can remember feeling unequal was in college, in Modern American Literature class. I remember the teacher (male) asking questions and I would usually raise my hand and answer first. I would make a point about whatever we had been reading and there would be a moderate reaction on the part of the teacher and the mainly male members of the class.
Half an hour later, after much discussion, invariably, one of the male members of the class would repeat what I had said as his own opinion and everyone would laud what he had to say as insightful and brilliant and everyone would agree!
This happened time after time. It was as though none of them really listened to what I said, or perhaps that their minds weren’t ready to accept it unless they went through a period of inductive reasoning first and they needed all the accumulated comments of the class to bring them to acknowledge what I had known from the beginning.
What it felt like, however, was that they put no credence in the ideas of a woman. This is not the only time I have noticed this. It happens now and then in the small poetry workshop I am a member of. I am really curious about whether any other woman has ever noticed this same phenomena.
The Prompt: Unequal Terms—Did you know today is Blog Action Day? Join bloggers from around the world and write a post about what inequality means to you. Have you ever encountered it in your daily life?