JUST BOPPIN’ ALONG

Last week, my friend Muri introduced me to a poetry form called The Bop.  A Bop consists of three mono-rhymed stanzas.  Each is followed by a single-line refrain.  The first stanza is six lines and presents a problem. The second stanza is eight lines and expands on the problem.  The third stanza is six lines and documents the resolution (or failed attempt/s at resolution).

That said, The Bop is an ideal form to address daily life in 2020.  There are huge problems all around us.  But it’s the pesky little problems that seem to demand most of our attention—dead batteries, overdue books, mosquito bites, etc.  When COVID-19 became a threat, I made it a habit to flush, then wash my hands until the toilet stops running, which takes about 20 seconds.  This approach works well as long as the flapper valve closes properly.  I dread when it doesn’t because I might have to put my hand into the tank.  And even if I don’t, I’ll have to touch something that warrants another 20 seconds of handwashing.

COMMODIUS BOP

I wipe my mucky tush,
toss paper in and flush,
and hear the water rush,
a robust cleansing gush
Down goes all the mush
but trickling, unhushed

whooshes in my ears

I wait a minute more
Quit running, I implore
A hit-the-flush encore
is weaker than before
and still the filler roars
Jig-jiggles are ignored
A loud and clear call for
internal maneuvers

whooshes in my ears

Let the games begin!
With clank of porcelain,
lid lifted, hand plunged in
dodging chains and pins
reseats valve seal again
A sweet but fleeting win

whooshes in my ears

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

HAVEN’T A SQUARE TO SPARE?

My favorite toilet paper meme so far is this one:

I used to spin that baby like I was on Wheel of Fortune.
Now I do it like I’m cracking a safe.

While everyone else is freaking about the TP shortage, I’m coming up with solutions.  My alternatives are normal, everyday things you’ll find around the house.  They range from flushable and washable to cosmo-politan and unconventional, even S&M if you don’t mind it a bit rough.  You’re welcome.  Now stay in, stay safe, and stay clean and dry.

PS:  I learned a new trick – how to do footnotes!

THE A-Z GUIDE TO
TP ALTERNATIVES

All types of wipes[1]
Brown grocery bags
Catalogs
Dust cloths
Euro-style bidet
Feminine products
Garden hose bidet
Handkerchiefs
Incontinence pads
Junk mail
Kleenex
Lone socks
Magazines
Napkins
Old newspapers
Paper towels
Quasi-TP[2]
Rags
Shop towels
Tissue paper
Unwashed undies
Vagabond items[3]
Washcloths
X-mas wrap
Yellow Pages
Zero waste methods[4]

[1] Baby, personal, flushable, hygienic, moist towelettes, Shittens
[2] Perforated paper on a roll that is 1-ply, recycled, or RV-safe
[3] Listed items that have wandered into your garage, car, treehouse, greenhouse, she-shed, storm cellar, camper, boat, summer cabin, etc.
[4] Shake-shake and Drip-dry (pee only)

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

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”

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

THEY REAL UN-COOL

Gwendolyn Brooks classic We Real Cool has been sitting in my “to be parodied” file for ages.  I love the cleverness of her poem–the clipped rhymes, the unusual line breaks, the repetition of the pronoun–but it defies satirization.  Is that even a word?  At last, a reasonable facsimile has coalesced.  The “they” falls off the map at the end, but somehow,
it seems fitting… poetically just.  Initially, I was drawn to this colorful COVID-19 map.  Looking at it today, however, I feel compelled to do a thorough Tupperware check before I put out the trash.

STABLE GENIUS & CO

They real tools.  They
damn fools.  They

cried hoax.  They
duped folks.  They

ignored docs.  They
spread pox.  Now

too late.  Up
to Fate.

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

NOTHING BETTER TO DO

Hello out there!  I’ve been in a bubble since we put our house on the market last summer.  It sold and we moved.  To northern Ohio, to be closer to our families.  (A bit ironic considering the current situation, huh?)  We survived the “unpacking cardboard boxes” stage and were just starting to venture out–meet the neighbors, join the gym, find my niche in the local poetry scene–and BOOM!  Now, like people all over the country, we are ‘social distancing.’  Rather than spending my days obsessing over Coronavirus graphs in the NY Times or watching idiots on Facebook lick shopping cart handles, I summoned the Muses and wrote a poem.

NEW NORMAL

No cure, no vaccine
means self-quarantine
Awkward new routines
Like elbow bump – ing
Six feet in between
Coughing into your sleeve
Doing good “hand hygiene”
Home-brewed caffeine
Home-cooked cuisine
School on a screen
Sermons live-streamed
More masks than Halloween
Morons hoarding TP
while others use leaves
or old magazines
Meanwhile, on TV
Trump pours gasoline
on the fire, more worried
‘bout the damned economy
than keeping you and me
safe from COVID-19

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

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.

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

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.

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

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

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

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

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!