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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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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PARDON MY FRENCH

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 #8 is “Use these words in a poem – rice, mice, nice.”

Three rhyming words, perfect for a Vers Beaucoup.  Very French.  Which sparked a memory of a passage in Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris.  The author, an American who resides in France part-time, tells of an appointment with his French dentist.  The TV is always tuned to the French travel channel.  This day, a family in Africa has discovered a burrow of mice.  David turns away to answer the assistant’s question and turns back to find the family eating mouse-kebabs they’ve grilled over a campfire.  Unable to keep it to himself, he interrupts the dental proceedings, struggling with his limited vocabulary to convey what he has just seen, “Ils ont mange des souris en brochette!” (“They ate mice on skewers!”)  Without blinking an eye, the dentist replies, “Ah, oui?”  (“Oh yeah?”)

I’m not that cosmopolitan.  I have never eaten mice or any other kind of vermin, and thanks to the association of Coronavirus with “alternative meats” in the press, I probably never will.  So don’t get all grossed out, the poem is 100% make-believe.  The photo is from Google Images but the paper plate looks oddly familiar.  I think I may have the same ones.

WHO’S UP FOR TAKE-OUT?

When I’m in the mood for street food, I know a dude
who peddles barbecued mice with a side of fried rice
for a nice price.  No more bat, his sales fell flat when
WHO’s Fat Cats found them liable for the viral spiral

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BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES!

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 #7 is “Write a poem using the words – stars, pine, sky, wind, chill.”

I tried to use these words in a less straightforward way, in a poem that wasn’t about nature, but they twisted around like a ornery tornado and rearranged themselves into a morningtime scene I’ve experienced a few times while dashing out to get the paper.  No Weather Channel forecast is necessary.  Every sense is on alert, urging me to do what I came to do and hightail it back inside.

The poem is a Shadorma.

FOREBODING

Pine trembles
Stars have turned their backs
Wind quiets
Sudden chill
creeps up the sleeves of my coat
Sky glows yellow-green

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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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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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BUBBLE, BUBBLE, TOIL & TROUBLE

In 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 #2 is “Use the following words in a poem – willow, bird, tea.”  On my mind as I wrote my response was an article from last week’s New York Times wherein a nurse complained that the hospital she worked at was out of everything.  Not just ventilators and masks and gloves, but vital medications.  No sedatives for patients on ventilators.  No Tylenol for patients with fevers.  If hospitals cannot get their hands on Tylenol, what hope is there for the rest of us?  I pulled out a book I bought long ago, an encyclopedia of alternative medicine.  Mostly simple, common sense remedies—clove to soothe a toothache, ginger to calm an upset stomach, menthol and camphor to loosen chest congestion, honey and lemon to quiet a cough.  Roll your eyes if you want, but home remedies might be worth a shot when you’re suffering and there are no over-the-counter meds to be had.  Now’s the time to befriend that odd neighbor who knows about stuff like feverfew and St John’s wort.

AMATEUR HERBALIST

Our neighbor, a strange bird is she
grinding bark from a white willow tree
with mortar and pestle
then boiling the kettle
to brew some homemade “headache tea”

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SHAD HAPPENS

My WordPress buddy Murisopsis has issued another CHALLENGE FOR NATIONAL POETRY MONTH.  Like last year’s, it 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 rules for posting.

Prompt #1 is “Use the following words in a poem – fish, hands, lips.”  Luckily for me, I had a Haiku-sized fish story.  We moved in October to a house near Lake Erie, a short jaunt from Nickel Plate Beach.  We often walk our dogs down there.  A few weeks ago, we were met by an eerie sight, one that got me to wondering, in light of the current plague, if the signs from Revelation might be in progress.  Folks who have lived here their whole lives and are intimately familiar with the life cycle and behavior of shad, enjoyed a hearty guffaw at my expense.  I met the prompt’s requirements by slipping in a homophone.  Listen; it’s there.

NOT THE END

Thousands of beached fish!
Apocalypse?  Old hands laugh,
happens every spring

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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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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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