AU CONTRAIRE, L’ DOCTEUR!

“Sweets are gonna kill you,” my doctor is fond of saying.  Thanks to my friend Darlene, I will go to my next appointment armed with proof to the contrary.  Darlene and her husband had enlisted their son’s help to move stuff from their old house to their new one.  The son stopped on the way over and impulse-bought a fresh strawberry pie, the berries swimming in sugary red goo, smothered beneath a blanket of whipped cream.  They trucked load after load to the new house.  It was late, but Darlene wanted to go back and stay the night; she had to meet with a potential buyer early the next morning.  Her son talked her out of it by tempting her with the pie, which looked too yummy to resist.  Midway through dessert, their cell phones began buzzing with warnings from the National Weather Service.  Had it not been for that strawberry pie, Darlene would have been caught in the eye of the storm.

OWED TO STRAWBERRY PIE
(diminished hexaverse)

They had spent all day
moving heavy loads
from old house to new.
She wanted to go back
but her son stopped her.

“What about the
strawberry pie?”
he said. “Let’s sit
and have a piece.”

While they ate
and talked, a
tornado

flattened
their old

house.

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ALL THAT AND A BAG OF CHIPS

This week, a flawless organic California avocado is $2.89 at our local grocery.  They are out of season now, so prices will get worse before they get better.  I buy an avocado every week, regardless of the cost; they are essential to my happiness.  Last year, when Kroger put them
on sale for $1.00 each, I raced over to get some, visions of guacamole dancing in my head:

AVOCADO
a parody of Edgar Allan Poe’s Eldorado

I browse a while
In the produce aisles
Wheeling up and down rows
Hot on the trail
Of a massive sale
On my favorite, avocados

Where fleshy fruits
In dark green suits
Should have lain in neat rows
To my chagrin
Is an empty bin:
SOLD OUT of avocados

A stockboy’s near
So I bend his ear
Will there be more tomorrow?
He hurries back,
His handcart stacked
With crates of avocados

Over the mountain,
Over the moon,
I feel like I’ve won the Lotto!
At a buck apiece,
I’ll feast all week
On my stash of avocados

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TALKING TO STRANGERS

Last month, I decided I’d take the bus to Erie, PA to visit my sister.  When I shared this plan with my husband and sister, both offered to ferry me there and back rather than allow me to throw myself to the ‘Hounds.  I shushed them and bought a ticket, determined to have an adventure.  C’mon, how bad could it be?  For a very reasonable price, they do all the driving, and you get a comfy seat, a generous baggage allowance, an electrical outlet, complimentary WiFi, and a restroom.
I had tight connections to make in both Columbus and Cleveland, so things got off to a rocky start when the bus failed to show up at the designated pick-up point in Springfield.  The Greyhound rep checked the online tracker.  The bus was running late.  Like, over an hour late.  Hubby drove me to Columbus, I made my connection, and everything went smoothly from there.  On some legs, the bus was less than half full and every rider got a row to him or herself.  On the more crowded legs, I was quick to offer up the empty seat beside me.  Most people kept to themselves; they read novels, listened to music, or texted on their cell phones.  The nap-takers came prepared with C-shaped neck pillows and eye masks.  Others were eager to strike up a conversation.  If my seatmate wanted to chat, I obliged.  These dialogues were eye-opening.  Humans are complex beings, not always what they seem:

PEOPLE OF GREYHOUND

The bus driver arrives carrying a coffee
in each hand and fills us in on the rules.
“Be considerate of others around you.
No loud music or yakking on the phone.
Hold onto the overhead safety ropes
on your way to and from the restroom.
Weapons and smoking are prohibited.
Sit when you pee.  And there’s no maid
onboard, so pick up after yourselves.”

My first seatmate is a clean-cut dude
carrying nothing but a brown paper sack.
He’s 35 with kids by three “baby mamas.”
After he got out of “the joint,”
he started reading.  All those new ideas
“shifted his paradigm” and changed his life.
He channels Maya Angelou saying,
“When you know better, you gotta do better.”
Young black ex-cons can surprise you.

In line in Cleveland, a chocolate Adonis
with shined shoes and a swank iPhone says
he’s heading back to rehab after a day pass.
“Think that vending machine takes fives?”
“Probably,” I reply.
He returns holding a bottle of lemonade
and I ask how much they ganked him for.
He snorts.  “Did you just say ganked?”
Old white ladies can surprise you, too.

My next seatmate is a pasty redhead
in faded Levis with more holes than denim.
She’ll be riding all night to get to Nashville.
She opens her shiny copper-colored handbag,
withdraws a can of Pringles,
and allows herself one diminutive handful.
I envy her restraint.
When she nods off, her head slumps forward
like a flower on a broken stem.

Within earshot, jagged snores saw through
the feather-light laughter of a guy sporting
Elton John sunglasses and bedazzled jeans.
A Barbie doll-shaped brunette is on her way
to an exam that will determine her worthiness
for a slot in a speech pathology program.
A plain-clothes nun silently prays the rosary.
An afroed teenager bobs his head in time
to the pumping bass overspilling his earbuds.

On the final leg, I meet a dark foreigner
with a gold front tooth and wicked breath.
I offer him a box of wintergreen TicTacs.
He accepts them with a gracious “Merci.”
He asks if I have children.  When I say no,
he nods gravely and replies, “God’s will.”
He teaches me a few French basics:
Bonjour.  Comment vas-tu?  Bien, merci.
“Au revoir, ami,” he grins when we part.

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A VOICE FROM THE GREAT BEYOND

Earlier this week, a reminder popped up on my FaceBook:  “Conrad Balliet has a birthday today. Let him know you’re thinking about him!”  Had he not passed away last August, he would have turned 92.  I miss him a lot.  He hosted Tower Group meetings in his home and recited poetry on WYSO’s Conrad’s Corner for decades.  Local poets stepped
up to fill the gap.  Steve Broidy now hosts our monthly meetings; Lori Gravley and David Garrison have kept the Corner going.  Conrad’s old recordings are interspersed throughout the schedule, and it is always uplifting to tune in and hear his voice.

Conrad was a WB Yeats aficionado so I wrote this parody of “Where My Books Go” to read at his memorial service.  I think of it every time I hear him reciting Yeats on the radio:

LEGACY

All the verse he has uttered
on the radio each night
preserved for all eternity
through the magic of sound bytes
Our sad, sad hearts shall perk their ears
as his lilting voice recites
the works of Yeats and all the greats,
a comfort and a delight

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HALF RHYME, FULL DISCLOSURE

I could make up some lame excuse for falling off the face of the blogo-sphere, like overdoing it during the April poetry challenge, being out of town to take care of an ailing sister, dealing with a fender bender and a leaking toilet upon my return, or having to send a buttload of cards for June birthdays and graduations, but I won’t.  The real reason is LAI‘D out below:


APOLOGY

Five weeks of stasis
in the JustJoan Oasis
on WordPress

Is a lengthy hiatus
and truly outrageous,
I confess

I felt un-loquacious;
forgive my audacious
laziness

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SO LONG AND THANKS FOR ALL THE PROMPTS

It’s the closing day of Muri’s Poetry Month Challenge, and I’m down to the final prompt:  10. Write a Blitz poem

I saved this one for last because it’s my favorite.  Blitzing is quick and easy, with a minimum of rules.  In 2017, I led a poetry seminar at the public library.  I chose this as our class exercise because a Blitz can be completed handily in ten minutes, and it’s a stream of consciousness technique where writers spontaneously reveal a lot about themselves.
I insisted that the participants not erase, but simply go with whatever came to mind.  Reading their poem aloud was optional, but most did.  It’s a getting-to-know-you exercise far superior to the kind where you tell your name, where you’re from, and your occupation.  For the Blitz below, I began with the word spring. You don’t get to choose the title;
it is derived from specific words in the poem:  (the first word of Line 3) (preposition or conjunction) (the first word of line 47).  In this case, it was a very apt sign-off at the end of a super challenge.  Thanks, Muri!

TIME FOR GOOD-BYE

Spring has sprung
Springtime
Time to get up
Timepiece
Piece of cake
Piecemeal
Mealtime
Meal ticket
Ticket taker
Ticket to ride
Ride operator
Ride it out
Outside
Out of the loop
Loophole
Loop around
Around back
Around the bend
Bend me, shape me, any way you want me
Bendable
Able-bodied
Able to reach
Reach out
Reach for the stars
Stars in the sky
Stars in Hollywood
Hollywood couples
Hollywood Squares
Square meal
Square deal
Deal with it
Deal on the table
Table tennis
Tabletop
Top Dog
Top Gun
Gunmetal
Gunpoint
Point a finger
Point taken
Taken away
Taken for a ride
Ride into the sunset
Ride a wave
Wave crashing
Wave good-bye
Good-bye for now
Good-bye forever
Forever
Now

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ANYBODY NEED EMPTY HANGERS?

OK, Muri, economy of creativity can be pushed only so far.  We’re down to singlets now.  Because I am not a clothes-horse like you, I was a little distressed by this prompt:

12.  Write a list poem about clothes.

My closet is mostly empty.  I cannot imagine owning 87 jackets.  Heck, I can’t even imagine owning 87 pairs of very sensible underwear.  If I was to write a list poem about clothing I have loved, it would be very short:

Wide t-shirts
Sweatpants
The End

So, how about a list of clothing I have hated?  I’ve been hating clothing for a long time, so that would give me plenty of material to work with. I’m also channeling Dr. Seuss, so maybe that earns me a bonus point…

CLOTHING I HAVE HATED

Any kind of uniform
Shoes that pinch my toes
Slimy polyester tops
Tights and pantyhose

Midriff sweaters, button-flys
Stripes that go sideways
Anything “bedazzled”
Or from my sewing phase

Clingy t-shirts, dowdy skorts
Spandex undergarments
Pants without elastic waists
Jackets with faux pockets

Items knit from itchy wool
Ugly bridesmaid gowns
Things that have to be dry-cleaned
Or add ten extra pounds

With all the clothing I despise,
I wonder, honestly,
if I should chuck it all and join
a nudist colony

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WHAT’S THAT NOISE?

This poem combines just two of Muri’s prompts; it’s the best I can do considering what’s left.

2.  Write a poem about the changing seasons
7.  Write a Quatern

The following piece hums happily along as winter turns to spring.  It is
a “non-traditional” quatern—a few of the syllables are missing and the line that moves through the stanzas is close but not identical.  I have added internal rhymes just for fun.  What can I say?  Creativity doesn’t always stay within the lines.

APRIL ALL ABUZZ

Humming, humming, earth is humming
Soft vibrations wake creation
Dormant grass shoots up en masse
Greening blades in countless shades

Keen homeowners start their motors
Humming, humming, engines humming
Mowers growling, tillers plowing
Jostling beds of sleepyheads

Bulbs awaken, breaking open
From each womb, a brilliant bloom
Humming, humming, flowers humming
Pistils, stamens, sweet libations

Bold prospectors seeking nectar
smell perfume and zoom, zoom, zoom
from their hives in overdrive
Humming, humming, life is humming

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THREE FOR THREE, 4 PROMPTS LEFT

On her blog, A Different Perspective, my friend Murisopsis issued a challenge for National Poetry Month:  using the supplied prompts, in any order, write thirteen poems in 30 days, one poem each Monday, Wednesday and Friday in April.  The first week, I nailed three prompts with one poem; the second week, ditto.  Could I pull off this amazing feat a third time?  See for yourself!

4.  Write a concrete (shape) poem
5.  Write a poem about signs of spring
8.  Write four Haiku about favorite foods

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ANOTHER TRIPLE HEADER, MURI!

On her blog, A Different Perspective, my buddy Murisopsis laid down
a challenge for National Poetry Month: using the supplied prompts, in any order, write thirteen poems in 30 days (one poem each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through the month of April).  The first week, I managed to nail three prompts with one poem.  It was so much fun, I decided to choose three more and try it again.

1.  Write a limerick
6.  Write a poem about dogs
9.  Write an acrostic poem using an emotion

Without further ado, here is my blissful acrostic limerick about dogs:

WALKING THE DOGS

Bold-nosed explorers are they
Lollygaggers at the odor buffet
In the grass, on a tree
Smelly poop, pungent pee
So strong I can’t pull them away

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