IS CHEWING REALLY NECESSARY?

Today’s response to MURI’S 2020 CHALLENGE FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.  Like the 2019 challenge, this consists of 13 prompts, one for each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in April. They can be completed in any order.  If you are interested in participating, click on the above link for the prompts and posting guidelines.

Prompt #13 is “Get extra points and bragging rights by writing a poem using the following words – basil, candle, ink, tub, bread, lace.”

A strange grouping of words, no doubt… They painted a picture in my mind of a long soak in a clawfoot tub with a few tealights burning, the window open, lace curtains fluttering in the breeze.  On the vanity lies
a longhand letter half-tucked into a matching envelope.  But the bread did not materialize.  Neither did the basil.  Even if they had, how would
I write a poem about a scenario I know zilch about?  I can’t sit still long enough to enjoy a bath and neither of my bathrooms have a window, not to mention nobody in their right mind brings a treasured piece of correspondence into a space full of puddles and poo molecules.

Writer’s rule #1 is “Write what you know.”  When one of my crowns fell out, I had a story to tell.  But how would I get all the compulsory words to fit?  Poets are masterful at finding ways to break the rules while still operating within them.  They might even throw in a rhyme scheme just for shits and grins.

Yuge thanks to Muri for hosting this NPM challenge and providing the prompts.  I don’t know which was more fun, writing my own poems or reading the other submissions.

UH-OH

An upper crown
fell out of place
and left behind
an empty space

A jack-o-lantern
sans the candle
chewing things
it cannot handle

A trap for dough
and basil shreds
from Italian subs
on crusty bread

Off to Drug Mart
I boldly went
for a jar of DIY
tooth cement

The fix felt weird
My bite was off
It proved no match
for dental floss

The options suck
A vexing wobble?
Or a tender stub
to mollycoddle?

I’m on the brink
Should I endure it?
Or have an expert
resecure it?

Despite the risks
of COVID’s scare,
I guess I’ll brave
the dental chair

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POCKETFUL OF POEMS

Today’s response to MURI’S 2020 CHALLENGE FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.  Like the 2019 challenge, this consists of 13 prompts, one for each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in April. They can be completed in any order.  If you are interested in participating, click on the above link for the prompts and posting guidelines.

Prompt #12 is “Write 3 haiku.”

I have two journals.  One allots five lines a day, just enough space to jot down the important and unique.  Gas 1.59 today!  Cardinal got trapped in squirrel feeder.  First daffodil.  Eyeglasses arrived by mail.  M-I-L sent Thanksgiving card for Easter — LOL.  You know, that sort of thing.  The other is a black and white composition book for dissecting my feelings.  That’s my “Angst Journal,” unlimited real estate for longhand bitching.  There are stacks of them in a carton in the attic.  I may bequeath them to my sister when I die so she can marvel at how I managed to maintain such a sunny disposition when my whole world was falling apart:  the furnace repair that took seven service calls, the dental visit where Dr. Dingbat drilled my tongue, the painful backlash of having reported a boss to her superiors—it’s all in there.

Haiku is the pocket journal…  full of interesting tidbits, small wonders, and existential questions that lead the writer down a familiar road only to take her somewhere she did not expect.

THE COVID LIFE

Dug out winter gloves
Spent morning cleaning freezer
Found bacon—woo hoo!

BLT for lunch
Spinach in lieu of lettuce
Tasteless tomato

Took long, hot shower
Drank coffee, got on WordPress
Umm, what day is it?

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YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO HOME BUT YOU CAN’T STAY HERE

Today’s response to MURI’S 2020 CHALLENGE FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.  Like the 2019 challenge, this consists of 13 prompts, one for each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in April. They can be completed in any order.  If you are interested in participating, click on the above link for the prompts and posting guidelines.

Prompt #11 is “Write an acrostic poem using a word to describe your worst enemy.”

Menopause hit me like a ton of bricks.  Fat cells gathered for a family reunion in the space between my armpits and knees.  When the party was over, I couldn’t get them to leave so I let them hang around.  I fed them cheese manicotti and Pringles.  I encouraged them to be fruitful and multiply.  “Size doesn’t matter” became my mantra, along with its pants tag cousin “16 is the new 14.”  But those extra pounds caused a lot of old friends to turn on me.  Suddenly, everything felt tighter—elastic waistbands, t-shirts, armchairs, the space between my car and the garage wall, my chest when I walked a couple blocks with the dog.  There were more and more things to avoid—fitting rooms, swimsuits, photos that showed my chins, high school reunions, rickety lawn chairs, Spanx garments capable of suffocation or entrapment.

When I resolved to lose weight, the cosmos used every trick in the book to try and stop me.  NOOM proved too technologically challenging.  The local gym was pricey and required an extra pair of shoes, ones that had never set foot in the outside world.  Nine days after I joined, they shut down due to Coronavirus.  The same week, the nurse called with my lab results; I was to decrease my thyroid medication, which would make my mission even more difficult.  The grocery store ran out of low-fat mayo and multi-grain flatbread.  But the more the universe thwarted me, the more determined I became.  I counted calories, swore off snacking, and upped the daily dog walk to a mile.  I crocheted to keep my hands busy.  Over a period of six weeks, my afghan grew and I shrank.  Not so much that I’d blow away in a strong wind, but my enemy is not as formidable as he once was.  I’m on the road to victory!

IN THE REARVIEW

Worrying about BP, diabetes, heart attacks
Every year, buying new jeans in a larger size
Insecurity, avoiding mirrors, dodging selfies
Going toe-to-toe with the fridge and losing
Hating the scale with its big black numbers
Trying to squeeeeze into a shrinking world

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A LIE BY ANY OTHER NAME…

Today’s response to MURI’S 2020 CHALLENGE FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.  Like the 2019 challenge, this consists of 13 prompts, one for each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in April. They can be completed in any order.  If you are interested in participating, click on the above link for the prompts and posting guidelines.

In an “economy of creativity,” I have combined prompts #9 and #10:
“Explore your feelings about deceit in a poem.”
“Write about 2 opposites using an Etheree and a Reverse Etheree.”

There is none so blind as he who will not see.  I find it astonishing that so many people dismiss the difficult truths before them and put their faith in fairy tales.  A lie dressed up in a thousand-dollar suit is still a lie.  Repeating it doesn’t make it true.  Calling it an “alternative fact” or a “spin” doesn’t make it true.  We are all culpable to some degree for the problems plaguing our country and planet.  Rather than accepting our share of the blame and working toward solutions, we bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is fine.  Well, it isn’t, and it isn’t going to get better until we open our eyes (and minds) to the truth.

WILLFUL BLINDNESS

Lies
Fiction
Cover-ups
Fabrications
Alternative facts
Out-and-out bullshit
Misleading information
False promises, propaganda
Contradictions, inconsistencies
So many eager to drink the Kool-aid

Deceit assaults our every sense and yet
we believe what we want to believe
instead of seeking out what’s real
Straightforward information
from credible sources
Trustworthy advice
Transparency
Honesty
The facts
Truth

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THE FORM THAT GOBSMACKS

Today’s response to MURI’S 2020 CHALLENGE FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.  Like the 2019 challenge, this consists of 13 prompts, one for each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in April. They can be completed in any order.  If you are interested in participating, click on the above link for the prompts and posting guidelines.

Prompt #6 is “Write a quatern about new leaves.”

Quaterns are my poetic nemesis.  The first line wends its way through the poem, making an appearance in every stanza.  Hasn’t it heard it’s supposed to stay in its own stanza throughout quarantine and “social distance” from neighboring ones?  When a quatern is done well, the repeating line doesn’t call attention to itself; it blends unobtrusively into the scenery and gobsmacks the reader when he gets to the end.  Like a perp suddenly realizing that an unmarked car has been tailing
him for blocks…  How did he not see it coming?

PETAL TO THE METAL

The speed at which new leaves unfurl
captivates like a magic trick
Sun-warmed branches thin and thick
adorn themselves with nubby pearls

Who else but Nature could predict
the speed at which new leaves unfurl,
caressing careworn bark and burl?
Or grasp their shady arithmetic?

Where yesterday were pregnant sticks
today green hands sport veins and whorls
The speed at which new leaves unfurl!
They wave to the wind like lunatics

In frenzied breeze, they dip and twirl
A fresher place one could not pick
to read or nap or just reflect
on the speed at which new leaves unfurl

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LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

Today’s response to MURI’S 2020 CHALLENGE FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.  Like the 2019 challenge, this consists of 13 prompts, one for each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in April. They can be completed in any order.  If you are interested in participating, click on the above link for the prompts and posting guidelines.

Prompt #4 is “Write a cascade poem.”

OK, Muri.  About what?  I guess that’s up to me.  As I scan the room for inspiration, my eyes alight on an overfull laundry basket containing an afghan that has been in progress for ten years or so.  Actually, it was a failed sweater that kind of cascaded into an afghan.  ‘The Beast’ has been relegated to my Unfinished Projects Closet a number of times.  (For more info on my UPC, click HERE.)  One of my Lenten resolutions was to work on it for an hour or so every day.  Having to stay in due to Coronavirus provided the necessary couch glue (a substance similar to writers’ chair glue) to get the job done.  I am on the homestretch now, pulling from the very last skein.  I should be finished by Easter.

CHANGE OF PLANS

Many rows of sweater unceremoniously unraveled
I exchanged my knitting needles for a crochet hook
Soon an oversized afghan shall rise from the ashes

Project Fair Isle began with 10 skeins of wooly yarn
and a novice’s zeal.  Result not as ‘fair’ as I’d hoped
Many rows of sweater unceremoniously unraveled

A gorgeous tangle of blues and greens and indigos
too itchy to wear, too pricey to waste.  What now?
I exchanged my knitting needles for a crochet hook

And crocheted a long row in the only stitch I know
doubled back and added 36 skeins found on E-Bay
Soon an oversized afghan shall rise from the ashes

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OLD FOLKS AT HOME

Today’s response to MURI’S 2020 CHALLENGE FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.  Like the 2019 challenge, this consists of 13 prompts, one for each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in April. They can be completed in any order.  If you are interested in participating, click on the above link for the prompts and posting guidelines.

Prompt #3 is “Write a poem about a porch swing.”

This was a hard one, Muri, because I’ve never had a porch swing.  No one I knew had one.  I liked swings as a child, but the porch kind would have seemed too tame.  On the swings at my school, I could go so high it felt like I was flying.  Tire swings were fun, too.  As an adult, I adored porch swings I saw in magazines or on strangers’ porches but I never lived in a place that had a proper porch.  We moved last October into a century-old house with not one, but two screened porches.  Our Amish double swing didn’t work in either of them, so my husband furnished the front porch the way he wanted, with two “old people chairs” he purchased at Goodwill.  I wasn’t crazy about them at first, but they are actually quite comfy and their motion is soothing.  It’s warm enough now to read the newspaper out there, or just sit and watch the world go by.

The poem is a triolet.

ROCKIN’ IS THE NEW SWINGIN’

On my porch, no swing has swung
A rocking chair is more my speed
I loved swing sets when I was young
but on my porch, no swing has swung
An Amish double swing once hung
from a sturdy branch in our ash tree
but on my porch, no swing has swung
A rocking chair is more my speed

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GATHERING WORDS CLOSE

A few days ago, my friend Lori sent out the weekly schedule of poems that would be read on Conrad’s Corner.  She expressed hope that we were all “safe in our homes, gathering words close for comfort and companionship.”  In the middle of the line-up was Robert Frost’s Fire and Ice, a tongue-in-cheek musing on whether fire or ice might more effectively destroy the world.  Considering global warming and glacial meltdown, I also “hold with those who favor fire.”  His words niggled their way into my brain, supplying Satira (my parody-loving muse) with
a framework to build upon.  I allowed her free rein, insisting only that she pick a subject other than COVID-19.  We’ve all had enough of that, haven’t we?  Here’s what she came up with:

TWENTY-FIVE OR FIFTY?

Some say life starts at twenty-five,
Some say at fifty
I felt more bodily alive
at the lissom age of twenty-five
But wisdom did not come so swiftly,
nor easiness in my own skin
Being a smart and confident fifty
and at peace within
is pretty nifty

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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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