Life’s Design

It seems to me, there is a map to our lives. Imagine that we can draw it on a grid. Each cell is a day. Cells filled in with bright colors are to-dos and pay-attention-tos. Some neon need-tos are so intense they cause a glare. Blank cells appear in chunks. Free days. Times to play, cogitate, and just be.

My early years were chock full of free days. But ultimately, they almost disappeared. The grid became so colorful, it was blinding. Full of responsibilities, accountability. Children to raise. Professional ladder to climb. Even in those few empty cells, vacation days, I found myself calling in to the office; answering emails. The job tinted even the blank chunks on my grid.

Now in rejuvenatement, never say retirement, filling in the grid is largely my choice. And as I look at it, I suddenly begin to understand, the map of my life is not all my own doing. The socioeconomic term “privilege” comes to mind. Circumstances of birth, ethnicity, geographical location – all have affected my life and enabled me to come to this point where the grid is much easier on the eyes. And in these days of Covid-19, I understand even more, how blessed I have been.

for the lucky ones
summer yields bountiful crops –
others slowly starve

Written for Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today Kim asks us to respond, in some way, to the image above, “Broadway Boogie Woogie”, created by Piet Mondrian, displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Haibun: 2 or 3 paragraphs of prose followed by a haiku that includes reference to a season.

Sun Driven

Alien-532 was born into the black sky. He witnessed creation of earth sun, man and his mate. His was a world of no light, no death. A crowded dark portion of the cosmos ruled by Alien-1, who did not acknowledge the sun. From birth, Alien-532 was different from his kind. He did not possess endurance, their one supposed trait. He dreamed of light and human touch. And so he fled toward earth and sun. But it was not to be.

Alien-1 caught him and declared his punishment. You shall forever have human form, but no living matter. You shall exist only under your beloved sun. You shall walk behind or in front of every human ever to be born, but never love.

To this day, his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream, even as day exists. Alien-532 is forever darkness, even in the sun.

Written for dVerse where it’s Prosery Monday.
Prosery defined: a work of prose that is 144 words or less, and includes a given line of poetry, exactly as it is written.
Bjorn is hosting and asks us to include the line “his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream”  from Maya Angelou’s poem Caged Bird.  Photo from Pixabay.com

Loner Interrupted

He fancied himself a loner.
Enjoyed solitude.
Cabin deep in woods.
Gardener. Hunter.
Private well and still too.
Voracious reader, simple cook.
No need for wife.
Too troublesome,
would probably snore too.
Social distancing?
Should be a snap,
except for that damned guy.
Stood in his way or followed behind
whenever the sun warmed up the day.

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Written fordVerse, the virtual pub for poets where on Tuesday, Bjorn asked us to write a poem that somehow relates to solitude, and Thursday Frank asks us to write a 14 line poem.

The Bee’s Knees

Handstand acrobat.
Mainly small time gigs,
circus tents in rural areas.
Environmentalist at heart.
Some thought her silly
giving up two weeks of pay,
assisting farmers in their fields.
Strange sight though,
legs in the air.
Pollen dusted knees
moving through acres,
attracting bees.

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Quadrille (exactly 44 words, sans title) written for dVerse where today the prompt word is “silly” – or any form of the word. Photo from Pixabay.com

Sarcophagus . . . how has it come to this?

PROMPT FROM TOADS FOR April 30: The final day of National Poetry Month 2020
“A few minutes from now, you will lose all means of communication with humanity.  You will not die, but will no longer be able to interact with the world. Whats the last thing you say?”

Entombed in silence,
solitudinously cocooned
in diaphanous gauze,
but nothing to see.
Nor can I hear.
Senses extraneous
when it is only me.
No exit,
only an aperture to my mind.
And so I choose to hum
not aloud, but in my mind.
Hesitantly, quietly,
internally.
Until my head is screaming
screaming that song.
What the world needs now
is love, sweet love.

But alas.
It is too late.

And shared with dVerse, the virtual put for poets, where it’s OLN Thursday.

Take a moment – the newcaster is on for just a moment…then comes the video at about 26 or 28 seconds in…..it is incredibly uplifting!  I PROMISE you will love it! A wonderful piece to listen to as we end NAPOWRIMO 2020!

The Norwegian Fjiords

Sit with me, bundled up, in cold crisp air.
This aft cabin deck, sailing through fjiords,
the widest aperture to wonder we will see.

The long gaze observes staggering beauty.
Craning to look up provides a granular view,
landscape etched and carved by glaciers.

Snow capped mountains glisten before us,
pearlescent as sunlight touches peaks
grey and darker grey where shadows impede.

Below wintry remnants yet to melt
earthen tones dotted by green patches
compliment the scene.

Not content with singular grandeur,
mirrored reflections ripple,
swaying colors float on ocean’s blue.

Off ship, we explore Geiranger.
Van slowly chugs up hairpin turns
until road stops where winter has not.

Our ship sits far far below us
like a monopoly or lego piece
set in a mural of wondrous beauty.

We simply stare in awe
in profound silence,
and we understand.

We are but a few breaths
in the life of this earth.
She is the grandeur eternal.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. I’m host for today’s Tuesday Poetics.

I have a second poem written today for Toads, with a wonderful video from our walk to day. You may want to check it out as well!

Given that so many people are sheltering at home during these challenging days, and almost everyone has cancelled recent travel plans, I thought it might be fun for dVerse folks to offer a travelogue of sorts….take you places while you’re sitting at home.

So the prompt is this: the title of the poem must be like a pin in a map: that is a place. The body of the poem must take us there with its words and imagery. I’ve also asked folks to post photos of the place, if that’s possible. Given that dVerse poets are from across the globe, literally, I think you’ll have a grand time reading our poetics today. Pub opens at 3 pm Boston time.

Photos from our 2017 trip to the Norwegian Fjiords. 

In Celebration of Matsuo Basho

When we travel, we most especially enjoy immersing ourselves in new cultures. Last April we toured the Asakusa area of Tokyo. Many people strolled these special grounds, photographing the iconic 5-tiered pagoda and praying before the Shinto and Buddhist shrines. We saw a good number of people in formal kimonos, rented from nearby shops to mark a celebratory visit, perhaps a birthday, engagement or anniversary. We stood quietly in front of a temple, in awe of its gold and rich reds. Walking a bit away from the crowds, we discovered a memorial to the poet Matsuo Basho. He lived from 1644 to 1694, during Japan’s Edo period. His haiku are considered the ultimate example of this poetic form. I touched his memorial stone in awe and appreciation.

As we ended our time at Asakusa, I talked with Kaz, our guide. I learned his mother wrote and published poetry in her youth and he told me more about the continued honor that Basho is paid in his country. He gifted me with the special pen he’d been using to jot down notes, in Japanese characters. He also gave me a beautiful writing pad with cherry blossoms etched on it. I was so very touched.

Later, back at our hotel, I did a bit of research and discovered Basho’s haiku about this place:

A cloud of cherry blossoms
the chime of a temple bell
is it Asakusa, is it Ueno?

花の雲    鐘は上野か   浅草か

see with your eyes wide ~
bees visit many gardens
all have sweet nectar

Day 27 of National Poetry Writing Month. Today’s post is written for both Toads and dVerse’sHaibun Monday. ¯¯

Toads asks us to consider the ancient tea ceremony and The Way of Tea which includes a good number of suggestions on how to share tea meaningfully. One, that I used to motivate this prompt is: “See with your eyes! Listen with your ears! And if you wish to smell the fragrance, press for an explanation of every unresolved matter until your understanding is complete.”
My haiku at the end moves beyond humans appreciating other cultures and explains that even the bee appreciates nectar from many gardens. 

Frank hosts dVerse and asks us to consider how similar Basho and Shakespeare were to their cultures, in their own time and for many generations to come. He asks us to write a haibun related to one of these famous literary geniuses.

A Good Life

The happiness project,
a heartbreaking work of staggering genius.
Plain and simple:
eat, pray, love
embracing earth.

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Day 23 of National Poetry Month: first installment today is written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets.  Bjorn  asks us to explore “found poetry” — and more specifically, Book Spine Poetry.
Look at the books on your shelf, pick some with titles that speak to you and arrange the titles into a poem! We have the choice of “adding some meat to the bones” — as in filling in some of our own words around the titles.

I love the way these 5 books fit together.
Consider it a belated Earth Day poem!

Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Dig out some books and come join us!  

Scene fades to . . .

. . . sun peeking round cotton-puff clouds.
I wander meadows flush with buttercups
trees rustling in breeze.
Leaves gleam myriad shades of green.
Sitting cross-legged, eyes closed
hands prayer-folded to chest
soothed by buttercups,
undulating tall grasses.
Serenity . . .

RRRRiiiinnnnnggggg!
RRRRiiiinnnnnggggg!

Scene shifts
I grudgingly answer call.

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Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets where it’s Quadrille Monday and the word to be used within the body of our exactly 44 word poem (sans title) is flush

In this Covid-19 era, I find myself doing yoga and meditating every day. This morning the telephone rudely interrupted me – motivating this post. Stay safe everyone! 

Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Photo from Pixabay.com

Oh Brother, Dear

He was nine years older.
His daddy went off to war,
I was the afterthought.

I was the tag-along
the have-to-take-along,
the dawdling one behind.

I delivered his eulogy
unbelievably far too soon.
Mom and dad sat numb.

All these years later
they wait for me again,
resting on a grassy hill.

Not yet, I whisper.
Not yet.

Day 16 of National Poetry Writing Month and today Toads asks us to write about something that stems from the word “remains” — the word itself does not need to be included. This poem is also posted to dVerse, the virtual pub for poets’ Open Link Night which I host today. Poets may post one poem of their choice, no particular form or prompt. dVerse opens at 3 PM Boston time today.