I’M GOING WITH DOOR #2

I’d been trying to work myself into enough of a lather to satisfy Muri’s RANT PROSE prompt. Surely there was something in my life worthy of a two-page screed?  Silly team building exercises.  The word MONETIZE.  Paying $4.19 for a gallon of gas.  Driving in Cleveland.  A cat that can’t decide if he wants to be in or out.  Poetry getting celebrated only one month of the year.  Unfortunately, the rant part of my brain got short-circuited by a book I read for discussion group, The Story of More by Hope Jahren.  In summary, it’s about haves and have-nots and how the First World’s lust for meat and electricity and gas-guzzling SUV’s has pushed global warming almost to the tipping point.  Suddenly, every tirade I conjured up sounded petty and whiny.  I couldn’t roll out two pages, even just for kicks, without thinking to myself, Put a cork in it, why don’t you, Karen?  What right had I to grumble while others went without food and clean water?  While they were living in shanties and being buried alive by mudslides?  Fleeing with just the clothes on their backs to escape the war over fossil fuels going on in their back yard?  I decided to go with Muri’s alternate prompt on this one, beginning my BLITZ with the word BLIND.  Blitzes are fun and fast and, if done freely (without censoring), quite telling about the writer.  Buried in mine you will find faith and fathers and food.  Scammers and skivers and jailbirds.  180’s and superheroes and #2 pencils.  Viruses and ferocity and travels à la Gulliver.  Old-fashioned things, necessary things, and things found on Buzzword BINGO cards, the whole enchilada sprinkled liberally with homophones.  I challenge you to write a blitz and examine the flotsam that emerges from your subconscious. Maybe you’ll get lucky and end up where I did, alone with a slice of key lime pie. 

Thank you, Murisopsis, for making National Poetry Month special with yet another marvelous challenge!!!

FAITH IN LOCKSTEP

Blind fury
Blind faith
Faith healer
Faith of our Fathers
Fathers and mothers
Father’s Day
Day of the Dead
Day lily
Lilliputians
Lily pad
Pad the bill
Pad by the phone
Phone call
Phonograph
Graphic
Graphite
Fight or flight
Fight Club
Club soda
Club Med
Med Mart
Medex
Ex-con
X-men
Menopause
Menu
Universe
U-turn
Turn for the worse
Turnabout
About-face
A bout of the flu
Flu shot
Flew off the handle
Handel’s Messiah
Handle it
It’s a bird
It’s a plane
Plain Jane
Plain yogurt
Yogurt parfait
Yogurt and berries
Buries treasure
Buries the dead
Deadbeat
Deadlock
Lockstep
Lock and key
Key players
Key lime pie

A POEM WITHIN A POEM

So here I am, Muri, another few days into your National Poetry Month Challenge, trying out another new form. The WALTMARIE is a compact powerhouse: a small poem with an even smaller poem hidden inside. Like the fortune cookie of the poetry world.

The inspiration for this one came from a Christmas gift I bought myself. My old pillow had lost a lot of feathers (thanks to Tailor) and was flat as a pancake, flatter than even I like it. I’m mildly allergic to feathers so I bought a synthetic PrimaLoft one from LL Bean; it was too poofy and I had to return it. In December, I wound up with $15 of Kohl’s cash in my wallet. The shelf life on Kohl’s cash is short and if you don’t use it, you lose it. So I puttered around the store looking for something to spend it on. Lo and behold, I found a premium king-sized memory foam pillow that retails for over $100, on sale for $49. With my Kohl’s cash, it would be just $34. I don’t usually care for memory foam—it gets too hot—but this pillow has a “soothing, cool gel cover.” I pressed my hand into the floor model and it was, indeed, cool. It was of a suitable height, about four inches, and could be returned if it didn’t live up to my expectations. What did I have to lose?? Cha-ching went my credit card. I took it home, wrapped it, and slipped it under the Christmas tree. The next morning, I woke up with my neck stiff and sore, as if my old pillow had beaten me during the night. I made a command decision; I unwrapped Mr. Memory Foam, sheathed him in a clean pillow case, and propped him on my bed. I carefully re-wrapped the box he had come in and slid it back under the tree. So it wouldn’t look as though St. Nick had snubbed me, you know? I’ve slept on it every night since and attest that it’s worth every penny I paid for it.

DEAR PILLOW

Every night,
I rest
comfortably and easily,
my head
warm and heavy
on your
broad, memory foam
shoulder
where I release my cares
and dream

THE SLOW ROAD TO HIPPIE HEAVEN

In 2007 we traveled to Colorado to buy an old VW Bus we saw on The Samba.com. The trip was quite an adventure. Since then, we’ve been fixing her up when we can find extra money and craftsmen willing to work on her at the same time. Presently, she is mechanically sound, sporting white walls and a renovated body with a fresh paint job, new windshield glass, LED headlamps, and those adorable white bumpers that were standard back in 1966. We found an auto upholstery guy in Dayton who recovered her front seats in leather back in 2019 and will be making rear cushions to match as soon as we get the bed installed. When we moved here, we got lucky and found Dave, a guy who works exclusively on old Volkswagens. You might think, with so few old Bugs and Busses still out there, that Dave is a starving artist, sitting around like the Maytag repairman, waiting for the phone to ring. You couldn’t be more wrong. Vintage VW’s in various states of disrepair are parked all over his property, eagerly awaiting their turn in the garage. Last week when Dave texted and said he was ready to do the interior, we wasted nary a minute getting her there. She’s got seatbelts now, the floor is in, and her interior panels are being crafted as we speak. Next, he will install the furniture I built last year (from a kit custom-made in the UK that cost us, like, a bazillion dollars), reframe and seal the pop-out side windows, fabricate new windows for the snow top (Google it), and install a new roof vent. I’m hoping she’ll be show-ready soon, and come October, we’ll be riding across Lake Erie on the ferry for Kombis on Kelleys (Island), sponsored by our local VW league, appropriately named LEAKOIL.

The poem below, an ESPINELA, is part of Muri’s 2022 Poetry Month Challenge.

SHOWTIME!

The renovation has begun
at last, on our Volkswagen Bus
With luck, she’ll be returned to us
in time to have some summer fun

Windows sealed, door panels done,
Z-bed and cabinets in place,
we’ll journey in our groovy space
to campgrounds hosting Kombi shows
and gawk all day at rows and rows
of Splitties, Vanagons, and Bays

DON’T MESS WITH PERFECTION

Last summer my husband was in the hospital for three weeks. The grass quickly went from kempt to shaggy to knee-high. Not inclined to mow it myself, I explained my plight to our neighbor, Mike, who mows the lawn next door to ours with his Toro rider. I said I would pay him whatever he thought was fair. He offered to do it for free but I insisted he should be compensated. He thought about it for a few seconds and said, “Hmmm, those chocolate chip cookies you bake are the best I’ve ever had” and a deal was born. He mows the lawn and I deliver a batch of cookies to his house, always chocolate chip. Our deal worked out so well, my hubby’s never had to mow the lawn again. Mike’s three kids now refer to me as The Cookie Lady. People tell me I should “monetize” my baking talents. Lord, I hate that word. As if hobbies that don’t make money (poetry, for instance) aren’t worth doing. Moreover, who wants to fool with W-2s or 1099s and cut the IRS in on their profits?

The poem below, a CASCADE, is part of Muri’s Poetry Month Challenge.

NEIGHBORLY BARTER

Mike mows my lawn
for chocolate chip cookies
A perfect arrangement

Every Saturday afternoon
from April to October
Mike mows my lawn

His kids know the drill
He finishes and they clamor
for chocolate chip cookies

He does his thing; I do mine
We both get what we want
A perfect arrangement

CLAIRVOYANCE TO THE RESCUE

WARNING: This post is rated “T” (Tear Jerker) 

Those of you who read my Christmas letter know my beloved fur-baby Tailor passed away last summer. His final chapter began with a lame leg. His left rear leg had always been problematic; he had been born with a luxated patella and undergone knee surgery when he was four, so it made sense for the vet to hitch her wagon to the simplest explanation, a torn ACL. She gave him Rimadyl and referred him to an orthopedic vet. I took him there ten days later. After reviewing his chart and x-ray, the specialist could tell me only three things for sure:  his ACL was fine, he had lost thirteen pounds in a month, and there was ‘something’ in his belly that didn’t belong there. The writing was on the wall but the doc was hesitant to drop “the C bomb” and I wasn’t ready to hear it.  So he mumbled something about inflammation and sent us off with a short course of Prednisone, the pharmaceutical equivalent of a Hail Mary. It didn’t cure anything, of course, but it blunted Tailor’s pain, boosted his energy, and revved up his appetite. It bought him two joy-filled weeks of rolling in soft spring grass, feasting on prime rib and fried chicken, and watching every dog movie available on Disney Plus.  Raging, as it were, against the dying of the light. You can hold the pedal to the metal, but you can get only so far before you run out of gas. He fell in the screen porch on a Saturday night and spent Sunday on the couch, weak and shaking. We found a mobile vet willing to euthanize him at home on Monday. When she arrived, Tailor was curled up on his zebra blanket (the one pictured above) watching his fav movie, Ratatouille. She gave him a sedative and encouraged us to talk to him while it took effect. “He’ll be groggy,” she said, “but he can still hear you.” I couldn’t talk without getting choked up so I just thought the words in my head. He’d always been able to read my mind and I hoped his internal battery still had enough juice to tune in to our shared frequency. When we see each other on the flip side, I’ll ask him what he remembers.

The following poem is both a response to and a GOLDEN SHOVEL of Dylan Thomas’s famous work.

WORDLESS SEND-OFF

Poets can be wrong; do exactly what he says not to do.
When your eyes feel heavy and begin to droop, do not
resist.  You have fought bravely, earned the right to go
to The Rainbow Bridge.   I stroke your paw with gentle
fingers…  Daddy is singing “You are My Sunshine” into
your ear; can you hear him?  Relax now, and allow that
dopey sleepiness to engulf you, whisk you away. Good
job.  Good boy.  Go gentle, Tailor, into that good night.

If you would like to participate in my friend Muri’s Poetry Month Challenge, click HERE for the details.

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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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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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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