Awakening of a Septuagenarian

I am a product of white privilege.
I hula-hooped and pogo-sticked through youth
scholarshipped through college on the debate team
married, bought a house, and had two children.
We had two dogs who roamed our big back yard.
a vegetable garden and raspberry bushes.
Our kids had good friends, played board games
took music lessons, learned to drive,
went to high school swing choir competitions.
They went to college, married,
bought a house, and had kids
who took music lessons and walked to school.
None of us had the proverbial picket fence,
but sure seemed we had everything else.
I had no idea there was a Green Book.

At seventy-three, I am appalled, frightened,
and petrified for this country.
I applaud all who take a knee
and decry the knee that pressed,
without mercy, on George Floyd’s neck –
8 minutes and 15 seconds of deliberate hell.
I decry the lack of justice for Breonna Taylor.
I decry the narcissistic occupant
whose utter disregard for science,
truth, the environment, the letter of the law,
sacrifices made by our armed forces,
has decimated the moral fiber of this country,
left us with 200,000 lives lost to Covid.
And the number grows.
Yet people follow this self-centered prat,
gather in enclosed spaces
no masks, no social distance,
cheer on this person
masquerading as our president.
The occupant who doesn’t give a rip about them ~
except to keep him in power.
I write, I speak, I donate to senate contests,
and I WILL VOTE.
I maintain hope in the good.
That is my protest.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe, where today Grace asks us to consider protest poetry.

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.

Ancient Artist’s Final Days

Alone his last weeks,
squirreled away in abandoned dune shack
sole window open to ocean’s ebb and flow.
Easel, sawhorse-table, canned goods,
sleeping bag and brushes. Minimal décor.

She’d left him years ago,
but each day she came closer.
Porcelain skin, barely blushed cheeks
velvet brown eyes as he remembered them,
brimming love.

Pale coral tinted mouth,
retouched each day.
Gently he brushes her lips,
moistens them as mornings dawn,
heart searing, needing her.

Ribboned strapless sheath
painted to reveal sultry throat, soft shoulders.
Delicate fingers hold blooming vine.
Each rose carefully painted,
petaled to life.

Until at last he smells her scent,
roses permeate his soul.
One last rose lovingly placed
centered within her crowning hair,
her essence complete.

And so he sleeps his final sleep
as gulls squall in the distance
and waves create his elegy.
His bluing lips smile in repose,
knowing she is nearby.

I am hosting at dVerse today, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. I’m delighted to have reconnected with artist Catrin Welz-Stein who is graciously allowing us to select one of four provided images as motivation for our poetic creations today. I’ve chosen the beautiful image above – it was hard to choose as all four are magical in my opinion. You can find more of her work here: Catrin Welz-Stein, Join us today to see art-inspired poetry – what is called ekphrastic poetry.

Celestial Journal

Eyes spy these skies.
Robin’s egg blue ‘round brilliant yolk.
Dreary gloom leaking drizzly days.
Snowflake cutouts fairy-floating.
Impressionist pinks and mauves.
Ominous grey turning dark,
thunderclap cymbals crashing loud.
Cantankerous clouds tango dipping.
Firecracker sun fizzling out,
begrudgingly cedes to starry starry night.

Written for Quadrille Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the world. Today, De asks us to write a quadrille (poem of exactly 44 words, sans title) that includes the word “sky” or a form of the word. Photos are from various years in our beloved Provincetown, except for Van Gogh’s Starry Starry Night (one of my favorite paintings of all time).

Ledger of Life

In the wee hours of the morning
my mind tumbles faces, places, memories.
Little aches ping.
Hand holds pen to write,
conduit for black words
birthed on white unlined page.
What is this but a ledger of life?

Dids and dones
undones and shoulda-dones
woulda-dones, coulda-dones.
Little ones raised to move on
to raise little ones to move on
to raise little ones to move on.
Where in this pattern will I cease?

Dawn rises, stains sky in fiery reds
oranges, glaring orange-reds.
No sorbet pastel hues today.
Yesterday’s clouds only wisps today.
If they dissipate tomorrow,
will their essence still exist
somewhere in that indigo sky?

Someday,
I shall no longer walk this earth.
How many little ones raised to move on
to raise little ones raised to move on
will recall my name?
Know where to find my words,
poems once so thoughtfully scribed.

Perhaps I shall be a faded photo
in an antique frame,
dusty but shelved with someone’s knickknacks
between Kahil Gibran’s The Prophet
and James Patterson’s final mystery.
And when I think about it,
listening to the ocean roll in,
I’m okay with that.


Click on link above to see video…takes a second to run.
Written for Open Link Night at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. OLN means folks can post any one poem of their choosing; no prompts given. Video taken Wednesday, September 16 in the age of Covid….from our deck in Provincetown.

Seasonal Scenes

Summer tourist ignores gawking stares,
is scantily clad
leaving little to imagination.
Too intent on catching season’s last rays
exchanging working haze for lazy days.

Its transition, felled by floral war of sorts,
gold dipped sunflowers droop defeated.
For autumn’s hearty mums,
brass and bragadocious, now gleam victorious.

Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse. Today Laura asks us to write a nine line poem. To make it more challenging, she asks that it incorporate a specific line from a poem she’s cited; and that line just happens to be exactly nine words long! Each of these nine words then, in that order, become the first word in each of the nine lines of my poem. Confused?
Here’s the line: “Summer is leaving too, exchanging its gold for brass” from Dorothy Lawrenson’s September. Now, look just at the first word in each of the nine lines of my poem Seasonal Scenes. And now read those first words from top to bottom and voila, they say Summer is leaving too, exchanging its gold for brass!

Photo from pixabay.com

Love Is . . .

Just twenty months apart, they grew up together. Whispered secrets through a grate between their bedroom walls. Shared stories at supper time. Shared chores on family camping vacations. One tent for the four of us. Four small blue canvas chairs always set up by the campfire site. We sat together talking. Sometimes stared at stars and moon; watched ember sparks glow. They always slept soundly when the lantern was doused, even in their teenage years. Cocooned in sleeping bags.

Years later, they live six-hundred miles apart. Raising their families. Busy with life. Those starry nights are part of who they are. Like deep and long roots sustaining the stately oak, those special times inform how they define family. I wonder if in their dreams, they sleep with the moon shared between them still. Far apart, but always akin.

Written for Prosery Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today, Merril is hosting and asks us to include the line “In their dreams, they sleep with the moon” in a story or memoir (some type of prose; cannot be poetry). The line is from Mary Oliver’s Death at Wild River.

Re-imagined

Version One

I take my walkabouts at the optimum time of day,
always with my shadow in the lead,
following her confident pace,
one step at a time into my future.

Version Two

I walkabout at half-past two.
Toe-to-toe,
my shadow leads the way
then picks up the pace.
We two-step
then strut
then run.
We dare the future
to trip us up,
dare the sun to set.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Peter, who is from Australia, tells us that we write like a dog and should edit like a cat! He asks us to rewrite a poem we’ve previously posted. I do like the second version better. Photo from Pixabay.com

It’s Me

I like my positive attitude
my hazel-green eyes
my dad’s white-streaked wave in my hair
the Vionic shoes I wear to support my feet
so I can dance when the mood strikes.

I love that I married my best friend
that Face Time allows me to see our son
that our daughter still laughs with us
and our children still think
our thoughts are important.

I love that I’m in my seventh decade
and whenever anyone complains
about growing old,
I always say,
“and aren’t we glad we are!”

In this age of Covid, I am blessed
to be a recluse with the man I love
to walk along the Charles River
to be healthy and safe.
I am humbled by my privilege.

Written for Poetics Tuesday at dVerse, the virtual pub for global poets. Today Sarah asks us to write a self-portrait poem.
Last week , we walked along the Charles and then through Boston’s Public Garden, where this photo is taken. Since we do not own a car and avoid public transportation during this age of Covid, we explore and walk within a perimeter that our feet will take us. Can you tell we’re smiling for this selfie
?

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.