Are you with me?

Dump the pointy-eared pixie!
I may be tinsel-tipsy,
but what’s with that guy?
Elf on a Shelf, the supreme tattler.
Old St. Nick sure didn’t hire him.
Why cultivate fear in a kid’s heart
when Rudolph’s coming to town?
Unconditional love,
so much better!

A quadrille written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Mish asks us to use the word tinsel, or a form of the word (not a synonym) in a poem of exactly 44 words. Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash
Elf on a Shelf is a product predominately sold in the U.S. Parents can set the elf out and move it about the house every night when the children go to bed so it seems like the elf is alive. The children then hunt for the elf the next morning. The real purpose of the elf is to spy on the children and make sure they’re being good so Santa will come on Christmas morning! Parents actually tell the children they must be good or the elf will let Santa know they’re on the naughty list! I’ve never liked this idea – no offense to anyone reading this who uses it during the Christmas season. Just my opinion.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Every time I see them
it creates an image in the present
which in seconds or hours
or a day or years,
depending on recall,
is always in my past.

We gathered to honor the matriarch.
From Texas, Illinois, California, Wisconsin,
Minnesota, North and South Carolina,
Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Virginia too.

She was the rock, the foundation.
Granddaughter of Swedish immigrants,
upholding the traditions.
Her life, lived for so many.

A career in nursing, a ministry of sorts.
She offered healing to the afflicted.
From surgical assistance to the elderly’s pains,
to the scrapes of school-age youth.

She taught her children compassion.
Lessons passed on to grandchildren
and their children. To nieces,
extended family, friends and neighbors too.

She faced the depths of loss and pain,
courageous and resilient.
Sustained by faith in God and love of life,
she taught us even through her death.

Family gathered to pray, to sing,
to share a meal. Tears and smiles comingled.
Yesterday’s emotional today,
so filled with love and caring support.
That is the essence of this family,
what we share and treasure most.

Those moments of yesterday’s today,
far too quickly in our past.
But still they give us hope and strength,
to face all of our coming tomorrows.

Written in memory of Janice Stewart. The family gathered on Saturday, December 11th at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wheaton, Illinois to celebrate her life. She will be missed by so many.

PHOTOS:
Hjalmer Hallberg immigrated from Sweden. He and his wife, Anna, settled in Chicago, Illinois. The photo on the left shows their five grandchildren. From left to right: George Hallberg, Nancy Jahnke, Lynne Gehrke, Janice Stewart, Donald Hallberg. Neil Netherton, Nancy’s brother, passed away many years ago. He was Hjalmer and Anna’s sixth grandchild. The second photo was taken immediately following the celebration of Janice’s life at St. Paul’s Church on Saturday, December 11th.

December in Boston

White frosting on the ground,
icing on the trees as well.
Cold air nips at noses,
wool capped walkers lean into wind.

Skaters glide clockwise
round Boston’s frozen Frog Pond.
Brightly colored mittened hands
wave happily to friends.

Old North’s bells chime
as they did in Paul Revere’s day.
Her white steeple towers proudly
over festively garlanded gates.

Mrs. Martignetti and son
sit in Modern Pastry Shop.
Chat and warm their hands
over cappuccino filled coffee cups.

Oh yes, it’s true.
Everyone admits it.
Old Man Winter is definitely here.

Written for Open Link Night Live at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today, we’re invited to post any poem of our choice and join others at a LIVE dVerse session which is from 3 to 4 PM, Boston time. To join us, either to read your own poem or just to listen, click here at 3 PM and follow easy directions to access. It’s a global bunch and a lot of fun. All poetry written and read in English. Photo from pixabay.com

NOTE: The line about Mrs. Martignetti and son is dedicated to Anthony Martignetti. Anthony came to the U.S. as a 9-year old. He became famous when, as a 12-year old Italian immigrant, he ran through Boston’s North End in a television commercial for Prince spaghetti, as his mother yelled “Anthony!” The commercial first aired in 1969 and ran for 14 years making him a local and national celebrity. See short video below of the commercial and its history.

That special time of year . . .

. . . packed away memories
slowly, carefully unwrapped.
Mother’s paper-thin pink glass bell.
Father’s airplane ornament
one clipped wing, hangs askew.

Brother’s cardboard Santa.
Crayoned red suit and black boots,
thinning cotton-puff beard and cuffs.
His first grade art project
crafted near eighty years ago.

You three sleep eternally
warmed in earth’s loving arms.
But each holiday season
you live with me again,
if only atop my Christmas tree.

Merril hosts Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for global poets. Her prompt for today: “write about any object – a family heirloom, a museum piece, a monument, or a palace. The choice is yours, but there must be some link to history and the past.” The bell and airplane are 90+ years old.

Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!

In the Heyday of Sears!

My great-grandparents’ home sold, I kept a battered trunk found in the attic. I’m ready to see what’s inside. Carefully wrapped motheaten clothes? A well-worn deep plum velvet dress with tiny waist. A once vibrant red and black plaid wool vest with watch pocket. And a faded sepia-toned photograph: them standing in front of their new house, wearing these same clothes. Eyes closed, I’m with them. I dress in their stories. Patterned and purple as night, they hold my hands. Celebrating, dressed up, I feel their happiness.

Back to the trunk! One last item. A yellowed brittle 1911 Sears Catalog. I open to the page marked by a faded ribbon. Houses for sale in a Sears Catalog? It’s this house! “The Clyde: $2,608. Kit includes 10,000 pieces of framing lumber and everything you’ll need, including doorknobs.” And I have trouble with model airplane kits!

Written for Prosery Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today, we’re not doing poetry. Rather, we’re to include a specific line from a poem given by the pub tender, in a piece of flash fiction that is 144 words or less, sans title. The line we must use today, worded exactly as it appears (we may change the punctuation) is “I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night.” The line is in the poem When we Sing of Might by Kimberly Blaeser, an indigenous poet. This was a tough line for me to incorporate, partly because of the first person and tense used in the line. This, by the way, is pure fiction.
Images from Searshouseseeker.com

Note: By 1908, one-fifth of Americans subscribed to the Sears & Roebuck Mail Order Catalog. At its peak, it included 100,000+ items on 1400 pages and weighed 4 pounds. It was free to receive in the mail. In 1908, kits for 40 “modern homes” were offered in the Sears catalog. From 1908 to 1940, the Sears Modern Homes Program offered mail-order houses, called “kit homes.” Would-be homeowners sent in a check and in a matter of weeks, they received everything they needed via a train car, to build their new home. IE lumber came precut with an instruction booklet. Everything was included, including doorknobs. Sears advertised their homes (each named, IE The Magnolia, The Clyde) could be completed in less than ninety days, without a carpenter, by someone with “rudimentary skills.” Over 75,000 homes were shipped. There is a website with photos of these homes that still exist across the US. Illustrations above taken from that site: Searshouseseeker.com

Shut Down

Friday night and the lights are low.
Tinseltown dimmed, marquees dark,
Broadway shut down.
Performers encased at home, mouths agape.
No words. No melodies.
No sound escapes their parched lips.
Feet stilled, faces bare. They sit, not in the wings,
but on couches and chairs. No audience.
Just the cat curled up on their feet,
surprised to find this comfort in these hours.
The night the music died and the curtain fell,
subways ground to a halt.
This, the night Covid came to town.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today I’m hosting Tuesday Poetics and delving into Sweden’s musical archives. I’m asking folks to include one line, and one line only, from the lyrics of ABBA’s Dancing Queen. The line must be used word for word within the body of the poem. You can find the lyrics to Dancing Queen, as well as some fun information about ABBA, in my prompt at dVerse. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time and full prompt will appear then. Image from Pixabay.com

Shhhhh, she’s hiding . . .

buttercup crown
under stocking cap of ivy vine.
Rose petal leggings, freesia shawl,
lily-of-the-valley boots. Winter clad,
she joins thousands of fairies
gathered on mountainsides,
hidden by evergreen fronds.
Spirits bright, they wait for spring,
their fairy lights aglow.
Winter’s secret no one knows.

De is hosting Quadrille Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. She asks us to include the word “crown” or a form of the word (not a synonym of the word) in a poem of exactly 44 words, sans title. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!
Image from Pixabay.com

Lives in the Balance

We’d been aboard the cruise ship for fifteen days. This, the sixteenth, our last day prior to disembarking in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Relaxation our goal, we never got off the ship. We simply explored this glorious vessel. Marveled at her sculptures, paintings, photographic art; and her six fine dining rooms, each different in décor. We enjoyed delicious entrées and delectable desserts. Our stateroom had a king-size bed and large bathroom with rain shower and soaking tub.

And then, on this sixteenth day, the Captain’s announcement: There is a raft on our starboard side with sixteen refugees. We will remain near them for approximately three hours until the U.S. Coastguard comes to their aid. We are committed to the safety of everyone at sea. Through binoculars I watched a green rubber raft bobbing in white capped waves. Four oars floundered, trying to propel and steer the raft. Desperate people struggled to survive against the elements.

I’ve read articles, seen news clips, about refugees plodding across and through unforgiving terrain. But nothing compared to seeing this from my cruise ship balcony. The juxta-positioning of my life at that moment, the privileged lives of everyone on the cruise ship, to what was happening before my eyes. Heart-wrenching. It started to drizzle and a rainbow appeared, arcing over the raft. I immediately thought of it as a metaphor for hope. These people, hunched against the wind, shoving four wooden paddles through the teeming ocean, desperate to overcome the insurmountable, seeking a better life, with God knows what going through their minds. And me standing there, so privileged, that I could formulate poetic thoughts and think metaphorically.

fire hydrants gush
kids splash, jump in ghetto streets –
country club pool soothes

Written for dVerse Haibun Monday. Frank asks us to write something in relation to Thanksgiving or being thankful. We just returned from a Caribbean cruise on Celebrity’s newest ship, the Apex. The ship is stunningly beautiful. On the last day at sea, what I’ve written about in this haibun happened. Watching the refugees, I suddenly understood how privileged I am. I prayed for these poor souls, hoping they survive their treacherous journey. We could only surmise they left Cuba to get to Florida’s shores. Watching them, from a cruise ship balcony, I realized how fortunate and how blessed I am. Thankful for every day. Thankful for freedom. Thankful for a warm bed and food. Privileged to afford a cruise. Humbled to watch this scene unfold.
Photos all taken on our cruise.

Some days I want to . . .

. . . put on roller skates and
careen down the esplanade
along the Charles River.
Grinning, looking straight ahead.
Faster, faster, and faster still.
Wind blowing back my hair,
tearing my eyes
until the real world blurs
and I am flying
with wheels as my wings.

Written for Quadrille Monday at dVerse, the vitual pub for poets around the globe. I’m hosting today, asking folks to use the word “careen” within their poem of exactly 44 words, sans title.

The esplanade is a wonderful green space in Boston that in part, runs along the Charles River. It has a very long walking/bicycling/rollerskating path along the river itself and is only about 2 city blocks from where we live. It goes for miles and we often take walks there. For those of you who watch the Boston Pops 4th of July concert on television, the hatch where they perform is on the esplanade itself, just off the river. Photo from Pixabay.com

The Darkest Day

Mother Nature chagrined,
shrouded in grey low-slung sky.
Rains gush, pummel sideways
as she weeps beyond control.
Strong oaks uprooted,
her scalp bared in raw splotches.

Gales punish the unrepentant.
We the offenders struggle
bending at right angles from the waist,
plodding toward imagined escape.
Our feeble umbrellas abandoned,
their broken ribs litter the sodden path.

Has her sun forsaken us, our sins too great?
Depression’s black hole inverted,
is this vortex our fate?
It drowns even the most optimistic,
hope abandoned in storming grief.
We fear the apocalypse has begun.

Written for Open Link Night at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe.

Idea for poem came from yesterday — waking up at 6 AM and finding trees outside our windows blowing like crazy in the midst of a Nor’easter that lasted for almost 12 hours. It downed many trees across the area. Many across
Boston and surrounding area lost power from pummeling rain and wind gusts up to 80 mph. We remained safely indoors. Photo is in public domain in Pixabay.com and is not from Boston.

**I am a positive person – really I am! Sometimes I have no idea why the pen turns to the dark side.