Just Beyond Tobacco Bay

Wade with me
through windswept grasses.
Stand tall against the gale
gazing at nature’s palette,
ocean’s waters.
Myriad shades of blue
blending, rippling from
azure to ultramarine,
royal blue to sapphire,
turquoise to navy.
Calcarenites protrude,
their dark rough surface
rocky, uneven. Each a sentinel
of this island called Bermuda.

Posted for NaPoWriMo day 12. Photo taken a number of years ago in Bermuda. This scene is just a short walk from Tobacco Bay. Staying in St. George’s for five different years in the months of January and February, we often hiked out to this beautiful spot. And yes, the ocean truly looks like this! No photoshopping here.

Swapping Decks

Escaped from blaring horns
hectic pace and sweat filled nights
caused by deadlines and stress.
Driving on two lane byways now.

The wayside diner beckons me.
Apple trees shade the walk,
bees buzz round fallen overripe fruit.
I don’t even lock the car doors.

Inside, large cheerful sunflowers
sit in vases on oilcloth covered tables.
Sheila sashays over with a pleasant hello,
sets down a chipped porcelain cup.

She pours in dark rich coffee right to the brim.
“What’ll ya have? Got fresh melon off the vine
and cinnamon buns are good today.”
Her nametag is printed in thick magic marker.

I sigh and nod my head. No words needed.
She saunters back somewhere, to the kitchen?
No matter. I just sit,
run my finger slowly round the coffee mug’s lip.

I stare out the window. Contemplate nothing.
No deadlines hurtling at me.
I’m in an internet dead zone.
I may just sit here until dinner time.

Placemat menu lists pot roast.
Sounds good to me.

Written for day 3 of NaPoWriMo. Today we are to create a Personal Universal Deck, an idea originated by the poet and playwright Michael McClure. He gave the project of creating such a deck to his students in a 1976 lecture at Naropa University. The idea is to take 50 index cards or pieces of paper and write words on each side of the card *so 2 words to a card; one on the front and one on the back; 100 words in total. The following instructions are given for the words: Divide 80 of the 100 words evenly among SIGHT, SOUND, TASTE, TOUCH AND SMELL, sixteen each. Also include 10 words of movement, at least one body part, and one abstraction (such as peace, patriotism, etc). Then, shuffle the cards and pick out at random, a number of cards. Lay them down and you will see the words looking at you. Create your poem using those words. The cards can be reshuffled and used many times….each time drawing out a number of cards from which to create your poem. You choose how many. I thought the title “Swapping Decks” went with the sense of the poem and also refers to the Personal Universal Deck I created for this prompt.

I picked out these words: blaring horn, cinnamon, buzz, sweat, sigh, sun flowers, and melon! These words were among the 100 that I wrote down on the cards, using the front and backs of the cards as instructed. An interesting exercise! I’m tempted to pull out the “deck of word cards” I’ve created, and use them again, drawing out cards at random, placing them on the table so one word on each is displayed (no fair turning the card over and choosing to use the other word!) and writing more poems from them. In a way, it’s like “found poetry”.

Frozen Tears

They spoke to me that day,
ice shelves weeping
falling into sea.
Like hands clapping for attention
their loud crack of fissure
turned our heads
We watched,
photographing the majestic.
Leaving Antarctica’s Paradise Bay
we saw remnants of her tears,
ice bergs – some small,
some humongous,
clogging our way.
And yet all we did
was maneuver through,
oblivious to her pain.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe, where the prompt Thursday was to use imagery and/or personification in our poem. Photo taken on our 2018 Antarctica cruise. Witness to climate change’s deleterious effects on melting ice shelves causing sea rise. Paradise Bay, silent save the birds and the cracking of shelves as they fell.

Ode to Bermuda

I am oceanically mesmerized.
Sitting on rippled sand,
slowly sifting granules
through my fingers
through my toes.

Waves splash, crash,
dash against shoreline’s rugged rocks.
Salty spray, misty on my skin,
lost in thought,
time labors not.

I stand, then saunter farther down shore.
Discover limestone formations,
arced frame through which I stare.
Architecturally designed by nature,
window open to bluest of blue seas.

This is Bermuda,
beautiful indeed.

Written for MTB (Meet the Bar) Thursday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the world. Today Peter is hosting and asks that we consider and emphasize sound in our poem. For example, we can use onomatopoeia (the word sounds like the object described); alliteration (repetition of consonants); rhyme; and rhythm.
Photo taken four years ago when we wintered in St. George, Bermuda. No photo-shopping in second photo. The water is truly those amazing colors!

Provincetown Farewell

Day dallies before night,
languorous not angry.
No streaks of orange-red.
No temper tantrum flares.
No sinking glaring half-orb
stamping her rays.

This evening she dabbles,
pastel palette en plein aire.

Blushing, she rouges blue sky.
Sun butter yellows upon her brush,
delicately blend into rosey hues.
Bending closer, stroking more,
soft kisses touch ocean calm
till violet hues meld into scene.

She pauses quietly in her beauty,
then softly fades farewell.

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Originally published a number of years ago. Publishing again today as we return to Boston. Instead of our usual two weeks, with walks into town to meander galleries, shops and eat at restaurants, in this age of Covid, we spent just 8 days in hibernation at our rental by the ocean. But, Provincetown, even without all the hoopla and town attractions, never disappoints.

Sunset photos taken in Provincetown, at the very tip of Cape Cod. No photoshopping; no edits. Just pointed my phone and clicked. Breathtaking evening as you can see. Easy to understand why artists and poets (including Mary Oliver) flock to Provincetown.

Provincetown Good Night

Early fall breeze wisps over me
touches my brow, my nose,
swirls ’round the room.
Plastic window blinds plink a tune.

Lying, just barely awake,
my hand touches yours.
Fifty years together,
twenty years enjoying this place.

Provincetown’s oceanic lullabies,
gull squalls and answering calls,
raucous Commercial street walks,
and paint-brushed skies to end the days.

Lying next to me, this year’s fourth night,
your fingers curve round mine.
Your lips puff out some snoozing air
and I smile.

Eye lids heavy,
I imagine us young again.
Dancing in the stars
riding on moonbeam tails,
and I grin myself to sleep.

Photo taken in Provincetown from our deck, BC (before Covid) in 2019. This year we are hunkered down, still enjoying the ocean and beautiful scenes similar to this, but maintaining our Covid-bubble. We are not walking in to town to galleries, restaurants, and shops. Here’s hoping next year will find us on raucous Commercial street again!

An Iowa Story

She returned
to eavesdrop on her history.
Imagine Grandpa’s weathered face,
rusted tractor rumbling through fields.
Picture Grandma young and spry,
aproned in her summer kitchen.
Failing roofs,
weathered homestead,
long empty.
But as she left, it whispered,
You are our dreams come true.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today Kim asks us to write a Quadrille (poem of exactly 44 words, sans title) using the word “eavesdropper” or a form of the word.

PHOTOS provided by Andrea Gunderson Frederickson. She was a high school student of mine many many years ago when I taught at Iowa Valley High School in Marengo, Iowa. This is her grandparents’ homestead, just outside of Marengo. Summer kitchens were used to avoid heating up the entire house during the hot and humid summer months.

Iceland

We’ve seen firsthand the many faces of Iceland. We’ve soaked in the Blue Lagoon and walked beside hot bubbling fumaroles in the Krysuvik geothermal field. We’ve hiked in her desolate volcanic terrain.

Wearing sturdy hiking boots, using walking sticks for leverage, we climbed to the top of Stora Eldborg, an extinct volcanic crater. At its peak, buffeted by winds, our travel van below was a mere dot. Craters in the distance looked like small molehills. On the descent, our sticks helped take the pressure off our knees.

An hour later, we donned hardhats with headlights; no sticks allowed. Our guide took us to explore a 2,000 year old lava tube. Once a conduit for flowing molten rock, the channel crusted over forming a tunnel which we gingerly entered. We inched over boulders, slid down slabs, and crawled our way through parts of this damp, dark hollowed out place. Our headlights revealed pockmarked, cracked, uneven walls and lavacicles that hung from the ceiling. We came upon misshapen lava pillars impeding forward progress, thus marking our turn-back point. By the time we clambered out of the tube, my body was chilled to the bone and I was exuberant to feel the sun.

earth weathers through all
summer’s torrid heat burns land
below ground, cold springs

Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Frank is our host and asks us to write about a hike, or somehow use the word hike in our post. Photos are from our 2017 visit to Iceland.
HAIBUN: 2 or 3 paragraphs of prose, must be true; followed by a haiku.

Arachnophobic . . .

I should have known.
She silked the room,
entered with swishing skirts.
Eye-lashed me
in that coquettish way.
Wove words into delights.
Spinning wheeled me,
unlike any woman I’d ever known.
I could not escape her wiles.
I skeined under her spell.
First hands, then arms,
then eyes, then heart.
My senses spooled as one,
tautly captured in her clutches.
She left me,
forever specimened.
Pushpinned my veins
until I was but a dried shell.
Once a vibrant man,
now locked in despair.
I shall never love again.

Written for Meet the Bar at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets from around the globe. Today, Bjorn asks us to “verbify” in our poem. That is, to use a noun, or several, as verbs in our poem. Photo taken a number of years ago at Ricoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.