GOT GOOSEBUMPS?

One of the high points of my life was receiving a reply to my letter to the Car Talk Guys.  It was published in the Dayton Daily News, allowing anyone who could identify me (how many Joans could there be with a 1966 VW Bus?) to have a laugh at my expense.

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SHIT STORM SESTINA

The sestina is a complicated poetry form, one that gives my bud Muri hives.  I don’t blame her.  A sestina has six six-line stanzas and a three-line envoi.  The same six words are the end words of the lines in each stanza, but they appear in a different order each time, as set forth by the rules of the form.  They show up in a prescribed order in the envoi as well.  I wrote my first sestina during a poetry workshop.  The words (witch, field, guide, fire, violet, and shit-storm) were contributed by the students in the class.  How does a person use “shit-storm” seven times in one poem?  You’re about to find out.  That workshop was five years ago.  I’ve kept in touch with the instructor, Dr. Woodward Martin, and recently had the pleasure of hearing him read at a Zoom poetry event.

MEDICS IN TRAINING  

Instructing new recruits was a sergeant everyone called The Witch.
She was ill-tempered but would teach us how to survive in the field.
She handed each of us a spiral-bound combat readiness guide.
Being prepared would prevent unfortunate trials by fire.
For instance, CPR was best learned BEFORE your buddy turned violet
and you found yourself in the middle of a shit-storm.

And eventually it was going to happen, the shit-storm.
It was inevitable in the world of combat, said The Witch.
I may have begun hyperventilating, my fingers were turning violet.
She pointed this out, asked what remedy we’d use in the field.
Every pair of eyes looked down, flipping through pages rapid-fire,
searching for redemption in the little spiral-bound guide

Breathing into a paper bag will help, advised the guide.
Rebreathing CO2 should calm the anxious and dizzy shit-storm.
Commit it to memory, she said, many hyperventilate under fire,
and if you don’t have a paper bag, any kind will do.  The Witch
reminded us that medical supplies are often lacking in the field.
One has to make do when fingers begin to tingle and turn violet.

I had never before thought of it as an ugly color, violet,
but it usually meant something ominous, according to the guide.
Not like the pretty patches of wildflowers that dotted our field,
but mottling and cyanosis and bruises and dead tissue, a shit-storm
of potentially life-threatening ailments.  Just as The Witch
opened her mouth to speak, an alarm rang out – Fire!  Fire!  Fire!

We made an orderly exit and stood watching as the fire
trucks pulled up, sirens screaming, to investigate the gray-violet
smoke rising from the building.  We realized The Witch
had begun to hyperventilate.  No one needed to consult the guide.
Armed with our new knowledge, we were ready for the shit-storm.
A recruit pulled a paper lunch bag from the pocket of his field

jacket, delighted that he was properly equipped to field
the emergency.  He had her breathe into the bag as the fire
raged on, the flames consuming the roof and sending a shit storm
of ashes swirling through the air.  He took her arm to guide
her to a bench, where normal color returned to her once-violet
fingertips.  Once she recovered her composure, The Witch

seemed not so much a witch as a human like us, a field
medic and leader and guide.  I heard she married one of the fire-
men, named her daughter Violet, and still loves a good shit storm.

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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)

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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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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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RIPENING, OR LACK THEREOF

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 #5 is “Use the theme of ripening in a poem.”

Ripening is a word I associate with fruit and late summer.  Fat tomatoes from the garden, luscious melons from the farm market, peaches, pears, and apples straight from the orchard.  This time of year, fruit is found at grocery stores.  It’s picked before its prime in some faraway sunny place and cold-shipped to Ohio.  “Cuties” are generally good, and bananas and avocados will ripen reliably on the counter, but I steer clear of the other stuff.  In the pre-COVID-19 world, hubby would sometimes accompany me to the grocery and toss things into the cart when I wasn’t looking—Cocoa Puffs, Oreos, a six-pack of Negro Modela, and occasionally, fruit.  I can abide with kiddie cereal and cookies and beer.  Bad fruit?  No way.

The poem is a parody of This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams.

REJECTION

I have put back
the peaches
that were in
the grocery cart

and which
you were probably
thinking
would ripen

Forgive me
they were hopeless
so green
and so hard

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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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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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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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