LIFE: JUST ONE DAMNED PROCESS AFTER ANOTHER

Last year, I was working through a list of poetry prompts.  One of them was “A Process.”  I liked the word itself, with its varied pronunciations and meanings, its ability to function as a noun or a verb, the way it was changed by the addition of a prefix or a suffix and how it captured the whole of life as well as its many individual parts:

LIFE’S NEVER-ENDING PROCESS

Surviving the birth process
Processing language
Processed American cheese
grilled into sandwiches
Film processed into photos
Falling in love and
processing down the aisle
in a gown of ivory lace
Enduring the hiring process
Inprocessing a new job
Learning that my chosen field
follows its own process
Flow charts of our processes,
processed and reprocessed,
Process Improvement
the subject of every meeting
Queues to process
The mortgage process
Endless forms to be processed
Computers processing data
I don’t want processed
selling my information,
a global marketing process
A legal process once or twice
Outprocessing my job,
a daunting process
The retirement process,
and the adjustment process
Processing to the next phase,
a procession of words
in my brain just waiting to be
processed into poetry
A blissful, procreative process
so resolutely unsystematic,
it might not be a process at all
Pure unprocessed freedom
in such an overprocessed world
is, admittedly, a lot to process

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

Advertisements

AN ARACHNID AND HER TAJ MAHAL

‘Tis the season for critters.  It’s been unseasonably warm this week and the bugs are back in force.  Big, bumbling “carpenter” bees pollinating things, or maybe building a hive around the corner.  Primordial-looking stink bugs emerging from winter hibernation.  House flies.  Fleas.  And the most dreaded of all creepy-crawlies, ticks—Lyme disease, anyone? Around this time last year, or maybe two years ago, a tiny spider began constructing a home in my potted lime tree.  Is there such a thing as a “carpenter” spider?  Every day, I’d think about moving her outside, but then, I’d see the artistic additions she had made to her web overnight and change my mind.  This cascade poem is for her:

SCHEHERAZADE

An eight-legged Scheherazade
spins a new yarn every night,
slowly building a silken castle
that delights and fascinates me

Early summer, she crossed my
threshold, took up residence in
a potted plant, and pled to stay,
an eight-legged Scheherazade

She sleeps all day, striped legs
folded neatly around her body,
while her industrious alter ego
spins a new yarn every night

On a solid foundation, she adds
an east wing, a towering turret,
and a series of flying buttresses,
slowly building a silken castle

Her keen architectural prowess
is revealed in the morning sun
a shimmering, glittering genius
that delights and fascinates me

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

FELINE ONLINE, WINTER QUARTER

During those long winter nights when it is too cold for an outdoor cat to go out, how does he entertain himself?  Scratching in his litterbox and wondering why his poo smells powder-fresh, and how it magically disappears?  Gnawing through the package his favorite treats come in?  Watching the bathtub faucet drip?  All that and more, it seems.  I used to wonder who was messing with my computer.  Now, I think I know:

NIGHT SCHOOL

The mouse is askew,
the icons paw-sized, again
But this time, he’s left a trail,
having forgotten to wipe
his browsing history:

PHYSICAL SKILLS
High Jump I – Counters
High Jump II – Refrigerator
Sneak Attacks
Shedding on Demand

HAZARD AVOIDANCE
Baths and Water
Vacuum Cleaners
The Crate Escape
Pills and Vet Visits

LANGUAGE SKILLS
Nuances of Meow
Hissing and Yowling
Body Language
Advanced Ignoring

OUTDOOR SKILLS
Camouflage
Birding and Mousing
Skunk: Friend or Foe?
Traffic Smarts

CAT BURGLAR
Computer Settings
Cupboards and Closets
Faucets and Doorknobs
Raiding the Dog Dish

JUST FOR FUN
Litter Tracking
Hacking up hairballs
Batting Electrical Cords
Let Me In, Let Me Out

It throws a brand new spin
on the nature v. nurture debate
but I am weirdly proud of him;
my clever cat,
just six credits from his Masters

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

 

READING BETWEEN THE LINES

If you’re a writer and you submit your work, rejection letters are a part of life.  They are generic and carefully worded, so as to let the rejectee down as gently as possible.  My poem is crafted out of sentences from actual rejection letters I have received (in bold).  Note: I obfuscated or changed proper names to protect the innocent.  Sandwiched between the sanitized lines are my own sarcastic additions (in italics).  If you’ve been snubbed, you might as well have some fun with it.


Dear WRITER,
and I use the term “writer” loosely

Greetings from the LALA-ZINE staff
tasked with drafting rejection letters
Thank you for allowing us to consider
how appalling poetry can be, owing to
your recent submission, WHATEVER
which, quite frankly, took the cake.

We recognize the effort you put into
ignoring the clearly stated guidelines for
submitting this piece, and regret that
because it is a complete waste of paper,
it doesn’t meet our needs at this time
or at any other time, for that matter.

Rest assured, it was read thoroughly
by a sleep-deprived, first-year intern
and given most careful consideration
as in, What the hell were you thinking?
before being returned to you by mail
in the SASE you so dutifully provided.

Ultimately, simple editorial preference
for quality work over hackneyed refuse
guides our choices; it is not a comment
OK, you got us…  it actually is a comment
on the merit of your particular piece
one best suited for the recycling bin

Although we are unable to accept it,
(our congenial euphemism for rejection)
we wish you luck in placing it elsewhere
You are going to need it, in this situation
and in all your future writing endeavors
Take my advice, don’t quit your day job.

Sincerely,
Not really,
Mae B. Nextime
First Assistant to the Assistant Editor
and Voice of Your Harshest Inner Critic

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

SINCE WHEN ARE U-TURNS LEGAL?

Last week’s comments about my self-check nightmare were generally sympathetic.  Others hate them as much as I do, but we figure they’re here to stay whether we like them or not, so we had better move into the 21st century.  I’ll be the first to admit, technology is great when it works.  But if you overuse it, it becomes a crutch that could be yanked out from under you at the worst possible moment.  Don’t believe me?

Try using your cell phone to call for help when your car breaks down in Amish country.

Try downloading a Kindle book while vacationing on a remote Lake Erie island.  You’ll end up on the library steps with your fingers crossed, just like every other camper who didn’t bring a paper book.

Try using your flashlight app after the power has been out for two days.

Try missing your exit and letting your GPS lead the way:

THE ADVICE NOT TAKEN*

Two roads diverged on the interstate
the traffic tight and moving fast
Ol’ Tom-Tom warned a bit too late
to queue up left instead of straight;
we missed our exit, blew right past.

“Recalculating,” Tom intoned
as he my waywardness discerned,
then silent went my chaperone
until his mocking monotone
advised an “authorized U-turn.”

I traveled on a mile or two,
past gravel U’s with glaring signs
prohibiting my passage through,
yet Tom-Tom didn’t have a clue,
repeating, twice, his standard line.

I shut him off and heaved a sigh
knowing, from that moment hence,
on map and wits should I rely
‘cause Tom, although a clever guy,
is not equipped with common sense.

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

*A parody of Robert Frost’s THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

THE SCARLET LUDDITE*

I lost my self-check virginity at 43.  Five o’clock rush was in full swing at the grocery and the cashiered lanes were jammed.  At the far end, the self-check barker hollers, “Step right up, folks!  Noooooo waiting!”  My earnest desire to save ten minutes quickly devolves into an S&M night-mare, a threesome with Evil Siri and a hillbilly clerk who take turns verbally spanking me while I screw myself and turn fifty shades of red.

Self-checks are all business—no foreplay with the mints and gum, no perusing tabloid headlines.  I punch START, scan my reward card, and set my reusable bag on the carousel.  A smooth female voice scolds, “Please remove your item, scan it, and place it in the bag.”  The bag is empty, so I pay no mind.  I wave a can of pineapples over the scanner.  Nothing happens.  After several more (literally) fruitless attempts, the attendant scurries over.  “It’s your shopping bag,” she says.  “If you’re gonna use your own bag, you gotta say so before you start.”  She hits CANCEL.  When the screen resets, she demonstrates, as if to an idiot, how to press USE MY OWN BAG.

I scan the pineapples… beep.  Cat food… beep.  Cake mix… beep.  Frosting… beep.  Finding my groove at last.  Birthday card… beep.  I slide it into the bag. “Please place the item in the bag,” says the voice.  Ummm, it is.  I take it out and shove it in harder, but the voice drones on, unconvinced, until the attendant arrives and hits the bypass key.  She shrugs.  “Sometimes lightweight stuff don’t register.”

Organic bananas.  It wants the PLU number on the sticker.  94011…  ENTER.  “Weighing, please wait” says the voice.  I’m patient for fully twenty seconds before glowering at the attendant, who grudgingly grants the bananas passage into the bag.  Organic avocado.  94225…  ENTER.  The same screen reappears.  Figuring I must have keyed it in wrong, I re-enter the digits.  This time, it works.  Relieved, I place the avocado in the bag and hit FINISH“Do you have any coupons?”  NO.
I swipe my VISA and inexplicably, the transaction is declined.

As I gather my wits, the attendant struts over.  Apparently, that second screen was asking how many avocadoes I had.  I’ve exceeded her void limit; she’s got to page the manager.  I’m mortified, but the expression on the guy’s face when he sees the total, $94,235.56, is almost worth it.  He voids and re-rings.  I pay and slink off to the parking lot in shame.  Oblivious to his frantic shouts, I make it halfway to my car before he catches me, proffering, with a saccharine smile, a familiar-looking reusable bag.  “Forget something?”

Oops, better make that fifty-one shades of red.

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

*This true story made it to the final round in the 2018 Erma Bombeck Humor Writing Contest.

I’VE GOT A LEGO BY THE TAIL…

For Christmas, my husband got me a Lego set.  Yes, I’m a kid at heart, but that’s not why.  This set makes, like, the grooviest model 1960’s Volkswagen Bus ever.  We’ve owned three of them, a 1973 Bus, 1984 Vanagon, and a 1966 Splittie with a rare Freedom America snow cap. I’ve been known to collect VW Bus memorabilia like t-shirts, magnets, die cast models, bird houses, Christmas lights, etc, and I could hardly believe my luck when this beauty popped up on Amazon.com, just in time for Santa to deliver it.  One tiny caveat: Legos require assembly.

I grew up making things, with blocks, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, erector sets.  There were no Legos yet, but building is building, right?  The box said “Expert, for ages 16 and up.” I wasn’t intimidated until I opened it.  This particular set contains 1,334 pieces in twelve different colors and 235 different shapes.  Many of them are smaller than my pinky finger-nail.  There were two instruction manuals.  I figured one was English, the other, Spanish.  Nope.  You need both.  There were no words, just diagrams of its 115 complex steps.  I shoved it all back in the box and it took me a month to work up the nerve to open it again.  You build a Lego Bus the way you eat an elephant… one bite at a time.  Now that it’s done, I feel like it should be displayed in a glass trophy case, right next to my Olympic gold medal for Endurance Lego Construction.

LEGOS, LEGOS

Legos, Legos, a thousand plus
in the kit for the Volkswagen Bus
What mere mortal hand and eye
would dare attempt its assembly?

I dump the contents of the box:
thirteen bags of plastic blocks,
instruction books marked “1” and “2”
with diagrams out the wazoo

This potpourri, I organize
first by color, then shape and size
Special parts in their own piles:
headlights, hinges, bumpers, tires

I build each module, step by step,
awed at how the parts connect
Frame and axles, checkered floor,
engine, cockpit, windows, doors

Splittie windshield, louvered vents,
a roof equipped with a pop-up tent
Ensconced inside, a small homestead
cupboards, table, fold-down bed

When the final page I reach
and snap in place the crowning piece,
Do I smile, my work to see?
Take photos for posterity?

(You betcha!)

Legos, Legos, a thousand plus
behold, transformed into a Bus
and due to the level of difficulty,
they’ll remain a Bus eternally

  front view

 with splittie windows open

 in the driver’s seat

 rear view

 back hatch open

 engine compartment

 side view

with side doors open

 pop-up tent

 living area

 Z-bed down

 my favorite piece

Have a comment? Click HERE to share it!

LIFE WITH A FAHRVERGREMLIN

In a prior post involving supernatural phenomena, I mentioned the FahrverGremlin that lived inside my 1989 Volkswagen Fox.  I owned Foxy for ten years, until she was nineteen with 279,000* miles.  That little “driving annoyance” kept me junking, jury rigging, and devising workarounds until the minute the title changed hands.  I presented a potential buyer with a two-page list of Foxy’s quirks and he scoffed, saying I “wasn’t gonna scare him off that easy.”  We settled on fifty bucks, but before I could collect it, he laid a hard luck story on me.  I gave him a 100% discount, but still felt as though I’d ripped him off.

As you might imagine, Foxy’s impish stowaway caused a few crazily comic scenes.  The look on a friend’s face when I hit the brakes at a stoplight and the glove box flew open, spewing its contents all over
her feet.  The glower of the parking valet when I tossed him my keys with a warning that both the AC and reverse gear were out of order. The E-check gal’s wide-eyed alarm when she brushed the horn button with her boob during the emissions test and it blared mercilessly until she pulled it out of the garage and shut off the ignition.  I wonder if Foxy’s still on the road, how much more mischief the FahrverGremlin has stirred up.  Below are some examples from my own experience:



Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

ALL WORKED UP OVER NOTHING?

After last week’s post, I googled “funny epitaphs” and found these.

      Uh-oh…

Dozens of fellow hypochondriacs echoed Tippy Gnu’s sentiment:

Two-thirds of my long nursing career was spent in an office, caring for Internal Medicine patients that ranged in age from AARP to elderly.
A lot of that time was devoted to phone calls, including the triage of various symptoms.  It’s a fact that when you hit a certain age, bodies start to go haywire.  Your eyes go wonky; suddenly, your arms aren’t long enough to read a menu.  You forget things.  Your energy flags.  You get dizzy.  Your heart flippy-flops in your chest.  You get winded walking your normal route.  Your knees ache.  Your back aches.  You develop constipation.  You can’t sleep.  Etc.  It could be nothing, or it could be something.  I ended up scheduling a lot of appointments to
let the doctor sort it out.  Many of the patients consulted online sites like symptomchecker.com or diagnoseme.com before they called me.  (Who says older people aren’t computer-savvy?)  They knew what they had, or at least, what tests should be ordered.  When the results came back negative, instead of breathing a sigh of relief, they’d protest and demand a more intensive work-up.  I know from experience the flurry
of testing that one piddling complaint can set in motion.  That said, I
am hesitant to mention every little twinge.  My approach (one I do not advocate for everyone) is as follows:  if it’s minor or can be solved with a trip to the drugstore, I shut up about it.  The hours I have left on this earth are limited and I’d rather not while them away reading outdated magazines in some doctor’s waiting room.  This poem’s for you, Tippy.  Enjoy that Redbook circa 1995; the doctor will be with you shortly.

MID-LIFE HYPOCHONDRIA

Some ailments run in families;
it’s proven they’re genetic.
I’m ripe to have a heart attack
or wind up diabetic.

I found a scary-looking mole;
I’m positive it’s cancer.
But Doc will say it looks benign,
his standard go-to answer.

I’ve put on six or seven pounds,
my hair is falling out.
My thyroid must be out of whack;
too low, without a doubt.

I suffer from exhaustion
and my feet are always freezing.
According to my online search,
anemia’s the reason.

My allergies are flaring up.
I’m riddled with arthritis.
This sharp pain in my abdomen
could be appendicitis.

My check-up turns up nothing
but alas, my mind won’t rest:
I know there’s something wrong with me!
Please, Doc, just one more test?

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!

WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A DIRT NAP

Last week’s post was all about life, birth, coming into the world.  This week, we’re zooming to the other end of the spectrum to introduce a new poetry form.  An EPITAPH POEM is one designed to appear on a tombstone.  They are necessarily brief and often rhyme.  They can be funny or serious or poignant, however the deceased would want to be remembered.  If you could write your own epitaph, what would it say?  Here are a few of mine.  Feel free to add yours in a comment, below.

WRITTEN IN STONE

Laid corner to corner
in her graveyard suite,
she’ll slumber in death
as she lived: Oblique.

Moving into
this dimension
is just another
reinvention.

To the dates,
pay no mind.
She was only
twenty-nine.

Below the daisies,
things turn a 180.
My body will rot,
my teeth will not.

Took my vitamins, ate my kale,
drank protein shakes, to no avail.
Healthy or not, we end up dead,
wishing we’d chosen pie instead.

Have a comment?  Click HERE to share it!