A Tall Tale with Sandgrains of Truth

Beatrice caterpillared her way through life,
cocooned away in a dune shack
on Provincetown’s National Sea Shore.
Aware of her eccentricities,
town criers and town folk alike
let her live her reclusive life.

In the summer of nineteen seventy-nine
crowds gathered outside the Lobster Pot,
salivating at the new restaurant in town.
Suddenly, mouths agape,
they gawked at the brightly clad gal
who fluttered out its door.

Dressed in beaded striped chemise
gauzy wings mysteriously attached,
she looked vaguely familiar.
She smiled tossing menus to the crowd,
sand clinging to ginger ringlets,
long eyelashes and sunburned knees.

Beatrice had left the beach
and butterflied her way into town.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Sarah asks us to write a poem in which we verbify an animal or two. Among the examples she gives are dogging someone’s footsteps and badgering someone. She provides us with a list of animals to verbify, or we may choose our own. I chose the caterpillar and butterfly.

Photo is from one of our many annual two-week stays in Provincetown, on the very tip of Cape Cod. The “sandgrains of truth” in this tall tale of a poem are 1) the Lobster Pot first opened in Provincetown in 1979; and 2) there are indeed dune shacks on the National Seashore in Provincetown. People still use them today and they are considered by many as historical treasures. At different times, Jackson Pollock, E.E.Cummings, Norman Mailer, Jack Kerouac and Tennessee Williams lived in them.

Cubist Portrait Painted in Words

She led a paper doll life.
Strived to meet expectations from so many.
Put yourself together this way.
Tabs turned down. Pieces in place.

But those over there said, It’s better this way.
Snip snip. Glue applied till she was rearranged.
Someone else said, Add this to your face.
Minimize that part, emphasize this.

And all the hims over the years.
He said, Do this. So she did.
The last him said, Do what I say.
Wear this, not that. Never that.

She cut herself up so many times.
Attributes shed, shards left behind.
Fragments added,
ill fit though they were.

Until one day,
someone gifted her a bouquet.
A mixed bouquet
with twelve different blooms.

Holding them close, she eyed them carefully.
Curled up edges on the violet one.
Red rose, sagged and drooped a bit,
stem too thin for its weight.

Each flower beautiful in its own way,
nestled together in soft silk ribbons.
And at that moment, she decided.
I will be me.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe where today, I’m hosting Tuesday Poetics.

Today’s prompt introduces writers and readers to Thorvald Hellesen (1888 – 1937). I was introduced to this artist at our recent visit to the National Museum of Norway in Oslo. Hellesen grew up and studied art in Kristiania (Oslo). His debut exhibit in 1919, in Kristiania, was met with much derision and he never showed his art in Norway again. He moved to Paris at age twenty-three where he joined the circles of Picasso and Fernand Leger, Cubists who turned the norm of what art should be upside down. He had successful exhibitions in Paris and in addition to his painting, went on to design posters, textile patterns and worked with interior design. 104 years after his fatal debut in Kristiania (Oslo), this is the first museum exhibition devoted to Norway’s first consistent Cubist.

Within the prompt, I provide five different portraits painted by Hellesen, three of which are in the Cubist tradition, including the one I’ve used and posted above, “Suitor. Figure with Bouquet” painted in 1917-1918. Writers must choose one of the five portraits as inspiration for a poem and, of course, give credit to Hellesen.

Imagine with John

Image blurs reality.
One long gone, etched in charcoal,
hangs on wall.
Me frozen, living within his frame.
Trick of lighting,
reflection merges life and death.
Imagine all the people
livin’ life in peace.

I meander through gardens,
gardens he skipped through as a child.
Strawberry fields forever.
My words, set to this page,
meaningful to me.
His words, set to music,
reverberate round the world.

Imagine what words died within him,
unborn, silenced by those bullets.
Creativity treasured by so many,
silenced by that gun.
Children. Adults. Their voices
treasured by friends, family,
silenced too. By guns. Those bullets.
Their velocity rips through humanity.
Bullets sprayed in schools, grocery stores,
churches, movie theaters,
at concerts and in prayer,
on streets, on porches, in homes.

Image blurs reality.
The living stand with dead loved ones.
Framed in happiness on a shelf,
a dresser, hanging on a wall.
Reflection merges life with death
as we think, sing within our heads.
Imagine all the people
livin’ life in peace.
Oh dear God, please let it be.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Will share and read aloud at OLN LIVE on Saturday, May 20th, from 10 to 11 AM EST. Come join us to hear and see poets from around the globe. Click here, and then on the link for Saturday’s session with audio and video connection.

We did a Beatles themed excursion on a recent British Isles cruise. It included a visit to Liverpool and the actual Strawberry Fields that John Lennon wrote about. Strawberry Fields was and is the name of a facility run by the Salvation Army for children. It’s surrounded by gardens. When Lennon was a small boy, estranged from his mother, he lived with his aunt within walking distance of Strawberry Fields. He often went through the red gates to play with children in these gardens. While visiting the gardens and a building that includes information about John Lennon’s relationship with the facility, and the actual piano he composed Imagine on, we viewed an artist’s exhibit of charcoal paintings including the first image at the top of the page. This image was the motivation for my poem today. John Lennon was assasinated; shot 5 times outside the gates to his New York City apartment. My poem refers to his assasination, as well as the Beatles song, Strawberry Fields Forever; and Lennon’s song, Imagine, written and recorded after the Beatles broke up.

An Alternate Reality

Take my hand. Travel with me
through starry starry nights
to a new place not yet discovered.
Not yet befouled by humanity,
but still palpable in its existence.

Happiness, serenity, joy,
jubilation, celebration, exuberance
good works and caring,
and most importantly,
optimism shall color this world.

All peoples dwelling here
shall live within the light.
None shall be unseen, unheard,
besmirched, assigned to the shadows.
If I were to paint this place . . .

it would be spills of pastels
and primary hues
beginning at the bottom of the canvas
and rising until they meld
into a crescendo of love.

If you take my hand this day,
this hour
this moment
to embark upon this journey,
might others join our endeavor?

Can it only be achieved on a small scale,
two people within a cocoon?

Or can we gather together
creative spirits of master artists
from centuries past?
Might they join today’s artists
and somehow . . .

paint our dreams into a reality . . .
into a place of life
and joy and hope
for you and me . . .
and for the many.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe.

I’m hosting OLN LIVE at dVerse on Thursday from 3 to 4 PM EST and again on Saturday from 10 to 11 AM EST.

It’s an opportunity to join us via video and audio, to read a poem of your choice and listen as others do the same. OR, just come to sit in if you prefer.

Go to https://dversepoets.com beginning at 3 PM Thursday, EST, and you’ll find a link for Thursday’s LIVE session and one for Saturday – just click on the link and you’ll be with us LIVE!

Image is of course, Starry Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh and is in public domain.

Hey you!!!

Do not come round me
with doom and gloom,
tales of burnt toast, Trumpian despair,
woe-is-me whines about this country.
I desperately want instead,
to believe happiness lives.

Let us walk outside.
Look for children skipping rope,
sharing colored chalk,
drawing sidewalk art
that regales the urban streets.
Let us look for smiles.

You do know we can vote?
We can demonstrate.
We can share our thoughts
in poetry and blogs, letters
and chats with our neighbors.
We can choose to spread the good.

When you come to visit me,
bring into my home a jubilant spirit.
In return, I shall give you a welcome gift,
bundles of daffodils tied in crimson ribbons.
Can you see the joyfulness in that?
Together, we can concentrate on hope.

Written for dVerse the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Sanaa is hosting, offering up a new poetic form for us to consider called Line Messaging. “Line messaging is a poetry form created by Angel Favazza where the poet seeks to utilize the last line of each stanza to bring forth and represent an idea, a thought and notion . . . the last line of each stanza, when read separately from the poem, should deliver an independent messsage or be a poem all on its own.”

Thus the last lines of each stanza above create the following much shorter poem:
Hope Lives:

To believe happiness lives
let us look for smiles.
We can choose to spread the good.
Together, we can concentrate on hope.

Photo from Pixabay.com

The Power of Artistry

Gustav, cloak me in yellow.
My golden mantle shimmers
as does my heart in your embrace.
Your mouth meets mine,
a kiss divine.

Surround me in yellow, Vincent.
Bouquet me with sunflowers.
Run beside me round yeasty haystacks.
Worry not my darling,
your works shall be loved

Dazzle me in yellow, William.
Ease my loneliness,
wander with me beneath cumulus clouds.
Dance with me, as daffodils do,
waving brightly in the hills we climb.

Someone, please, mesmerize us with yellow.
Glaze our eyes in sunshine.
Brush merriment into wildflower scenes.
Blend colors into happiness upon your palette.
Make this world a wondrous place.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Sarah asks us to consider the color yellow. My poem references The Kiss by Gustav Klimt; Sunflowers and Haystacks, both paintings by Vincent Van Gogh; and the poem Daffodils by William Wordsworth.

Art work images are in public domain. Daffodils image from Pixabay.com

Nantucket Magic

Jane Montgomery sat on the wicker chair. What a wonderful day she’d had! The beginning of her summer retreat on Nantucket, away from hectic city life, publisher’s demands, her acrimonious divorce settlement. She chose this out-of-the-way cottage deliberately. Walking to the secluded beach this morning, was like salve on her bruised psyche.  

He was sitting on the sand, nuzzling his border collie, staring out at the waves. She tentatively stopped to say hello. Maybe it was the magic of this island, or the romance novels she’d read in her 20s about this place, but they ended up spending the day together. He was here for the summer too.

She picked up her journal, pen in hand, and thoughtfully began writing her first Nantucket entry. The seed of a poem lay dormant in my heart, . . . She stopped, sipped her cold chardonnay, smiled, and continued writing.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. It’s Prosery Monday – a unique form of writing developed here at dVerse. Writers are given one line from a poem to include in a piece of prose exactly 144 words in length. The line must be used word for word, exactly as given. To be clear, we are not to write a poem. We are to write prose, generally flash fiction.

Today Mish is hosting and gives us the line “The seed of a poem lay dormant in my heart.” The line is from the poem Winged Words by Valsa George.

Image by JamesDeMers from Pixabay

Forward/Backward: Message Still Resonates

There is good in the world,
I remind myself
collecting my thoughts.
In morgues across this country
body bags, small and large.
In churches and theaters,
in schools and grocery stores,
automatic military assault weapons kill.
To concentrate on the good,
sometimes difficult.
Scattered thoughts.

Scattered thoughts.
Sometimes difficult
to concentrate on the good.
Automatic military assault weapons kill
in schools and grocery stores,
in churches and theaters.
Body bags, small and large,
in morgues across this country.
Collecting my thoughts
I remind myself,
there is good in the world.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Laura asks us to consider “cleaving to antonyms”. One method she suggests is to write a Reverso poem: same words read backwards and forwards, making poetic sense. She also asks us to choose a pair of antonyms from a list she provides, to include in our poem(s). I chose scatter and collect.

Today, in 2023, politicians and the NRA use the 2nd amendment, ratified in 1791, to justify private citizens owning military assault weapons. Do you think our founding fathers could even fathom the power of an AK 47? Or want Mr. Joe Blow living in the cabin down the lane to own one? And Mr. Smith, three cabins away? And Mr. Jones, across the lily pad pond?

In the Newtown slaying at Sandy Hook Elementary School, twenty children were slaughtered in a matter of minutes. Bodies were so obliterated, in some cases shoes were used for early identification. Three nine-year olds were recently killed in Nashville. The state legislature in Tennessee will vote today to expel three Democrat representatives because they joined more than one thousand of their constituents, the people who elected them, on the statehouse grounds in a demonstration for gun control.

Yes, somedays, it’s hard to concentrate on the good. And there is a lot of it. But some days, with 24/7 news, it’s difficult. Politicians are concerned about taking race out of books about Rosa Parks; banning books in schools and in town libraries; forbidding girls in schools (or anyone in schools) to talk about menstruation/periods until sixth grade; want to deny children, until they are eighteen, any kind of counseling or medical help for gender issues; remove gender studies as a major in colleges and universities; outlaw drag shows; deny women any rights to their reproductive health including in some states, denial of abortions under any circumstances or, in the news yesterday, after six weeks of pregnancy.

And we have mass shootings every week it seems.

So there you have it: a message read forwards or backwards. Anyway you look at it, it gets more and more difficult these days to concentrate on the good.

Apologies for the rant todaydear Glenn would understand. I miss him.

A haiku for this historic day . . .

Coral flamboyance,
long legs and necks, all squawking.
Flamingo mosh pit.

Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Lisa provides a choice of three specific prompts, all with reference to animals. I chose the option to write about an animal, considering its nature.

A group of flamingoes is called a flamboyance. There is a metaphorical allusion here….might be more clear if flamingoes were orange….or if while madly cackling and squawking they wore red baseball hats.

You Became My Constant

I was not there, the day everything changed.
When was that? When World War II ended?
When Einstein discovered relativity?
When nine-eleven crashed into infamy?

Or when Harry really met Sally?
Or when you simply ate a peach that summer day,
juice deliciously dripping down your tanned wrist.
Somewhere at that moment, I suppose a child was born.

Truth is, everything changes
with every breath we take.
Every pivot, every spin, every loping run,
something new becomes.

Nothing stands still. Except perhaps
sentinel mountains in the Norwegian fjords.
Yet even they are marred by subtle granular shifts
as we gaze up at their rugged rockface surface.

Like when we turned around
and our children became adults.
We noticed when their braces came off that summer,
but we didn’t register the daily shifts.

I don’t understand my image in the mirror.
I know it’s me. But how did it become . . . that?
Wasn’t it just yesterday, I was a brunette
and you introduced yourself to me?

Fifty-seven years later, we walk more slowly,
still hand in hand more often than not.
We’ve passed through so many seasons together,
the path is now longer behind than in front.

And so my love, in this moment
that shall also pass by all too quickly,
I simply must tell you.
I am thankful for every day.
I am thankful for you.

Written to share with dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe.

Saturday, March 18, dVerse will go LIVE with audio and video from 10 to 11 AM EST.

Folks from across the globe will meet face-to-face via Google Meet to read a poem of their choosing, and to visit across the miles.

Click here between 10 and 11 AM Boston time on Saturday, March 18th to join us — you’ll find an easy link that will open in your browser so you can meet everyone. Be sure to click on the SATURDAY link. Come and read a poem of your own OR just watch and listen. We’re a friendly goup and the more the merrier!

Photos: That’s George, the love of my life, and I our freshman year in college – many many years ago. Second photo is of us this past summer.