Enigma, Mother Dear

There once was a woman named Helen Cecile
married and happy, her life surreal.
Many an escapade made us laugh,
silliness multiplied gaffe by gaffe.

I remember a day we spent at the zoo
where she created quite the to-do.
On the visitor’s side of the animal’s moat
she suddenly blanched and cleared her throat.
Shaking she stood near the pacing jaguars
knee red and swollen, stuck between bars.
Zookeepers rushed to embarrassing scene,
saving the day, they applied vaseline.

Seeking calm and less to-do
we headed to the petting zoo.
She laughed out loud patting the goats
who gathered round her petticoats.
Closing time near, she strolled through the gate,
stopped short and turned, sensing less weight.
Waving at us, with her once-flowered purse
she swore at the goats. You are perverse!
Her purse, you see, was now quite bald
they’d nudged and ate, till it was mauled.

My mother’s name was Helen Cecile,
life with her was surely surreal.
In between faults lie love and gaffes
missing-her-tears, softened by laughs.

IMG_9978

I’m behind here….written for day 17 of Napowrimo: Prompt was to write about a family anecdote. Need to catch up with days 18, 19 and today, 20.  More to come.

Not Her

Inherited from her,
the quick-to-explode gene.
Eyes down, fists clenched,
we stood silently passive
until the flame was spent.

Her sudden verbal lashings,
see-what-you-made-me-dos,
fury flung horiffic words.
Perhaps, in those moments,
I learned to control anger.

But she can fester within me.
Like termites gnawing
eroding the core of sanity.
Pause. Breathe.
Seek a good. A beautiful.

Take up pen and feel the script.
The flow. The ebbing.
I am not her.
Not that way.
I will it to be so.

Shadorma in the Grave Yard

family
mom, dad, son
me, last born
they waited nine years for me
now they wait again

mist hovers
floats above their graves
hushes sounds
muffles grief
head bowed, I know they miss me
I whisper, not yet

A shadorma written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Amaya is our host today and explains that a shadorma is a syllabic poem consisting of six-line stanzas, each stanza defined in lines of 3-5-3-3-7-5 syllables. She asks us to be motivated by the title of the form and perhaps write about “fog, the paranormal, or the unexplained phenomena of death and life. ” I’ve also posted a second shadorma, Bermuda Beautiful. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!

Scheherazade

Across the page my pen does fly
If, not, why
A pathway straight to and from my . . .
He, she, I
. . . Brain

I tell my story, tell again
First, next, then
Revise and edit with my pen
House, place, den
Me
Scheherazade
Storyteller

Written by Stella Hallberg, my granddaughter, who will soon be 11. She and I trade poetry prompts each month. She decided we would start the year with the same word, scheherazade. This is her poem….as she wrote it. No edits by me. It fits beautifully with Bjorn’s prompt for today at dVerse. He asks us to recognize the importance of silence in poetry. Silence can be illustrated with various punctuation, including the ellipsis . . . which Stella uses in her poem. Stella explained to me “The syllable pattern is something I might have made up. I did 8, 3, 8, 3, 1 twice, but at the end I added 5, 4. Do you like it?”  Yes, Stella, I do! 🙂

 

 

Gatherings

My first eighteen years ~
we enjoyed picnics
backyard fun,
family celebrations and holidays.
Cacophonies of raucous laughter and glee.

Hiatus years, different byways ~
address books with edit over edit.
Catch-up Christmas times
marked by postage-due,
aging faces afloat in photo cards.

Reunions of late, any time of year ~
increase in frequency.
Convene in funeral homes,
adjourn with casseroles
served over memories.

Still shadows walk beside me ~
aunts, uncles, cousins.
Will I be the last?
Sole survivor of happy clan,
left to sit with photo albums,
colors fading beyond the years.

Motivated by Misky’s Twiglet prompt, “still shadows.”  A twiglet is a short phrase meant to motivate thoughts. Photos from many many years ago when we often gathered with aunts and uncles and cousins – we had so much fun together in those days when the entire family lived nearby. Now, sadly, all the aunts and uncles, my folks and brother, and some of my cousins, have passed on from this life. Others live far from me. Family is always dear — no matter how far and no matter if earthly or not.  

 

tanka

one christmas mass past
my hands clasped, so smooth, so young
hers riddled vein-blue ~
snow covers ground, gently still
my hands hued with age, missing hers

Our Christmas tree is a memory tree. The bell from my mother’s tree, when she was a little girl. The Santa my brother made in first grade. He was nine years older than me and died far far too young at fifty-one. The airplane from my father’s tree when he was a little boy. Christmas brings so many memories of cherished times past with relatives, friends and family. Merry Christmas, everyone!
Tanka form: 5 lines, syllables of 5-7-5-7-7. There should be a “twist” or change that occurs between lines 3 and 4.

Advent

I sit silently this early morn,
scenes from yesterdays
flickering through my mind.

Their childhood. My childhood.
Her sliver-thin sugar cookies,
his wool overcoat and black galoshes.

Seasonal luminaries.
These scenes from Christmas past
remembered through the hush of time.

Light shafts begin to intrude,
cast shapes upon the floor.
Today encroaches as the rising dawn.

Reluctantly I stir,
take up requirements of the day
but a promise I do make.

On Christmas Day, in early morn
I shall return to these shadows,
to this quiet place of calm.

I shall recall again the way it was,
the ones who were, those many times.
And I shall whisper to my memories,
Merry Christmas to all.

candles-in-soft-light-1407463

What’s in a Name?

Lillian Mae Gruenwald. My full name before marriage. Lillian after my maternal grandmother, and by happenstance, my father’s twin sister. Mae after a beloved great-aunt. I hated it. The name; not my relatives. Cousins called me Lilly Mae or Little Mae. To everyone else I was Lillian.

In high school I was the skinny girl on the cheerleader squad. The only one chosen because of acrobatic abilities. I was also the only girl on the debate team. I dared to carry long metal boxes of index cards filled with researched “evidence.” I argued aggressively with boys, at tournaments all over the state of Illinois. To me, Lillian Gruenwald was a never-would-vote-for-homecoming-queen kind of name. And I was right. At homecoming, I was left leading the crowd in cheers for our Bulldogs while the Gail Shorts and Kay Savels left to change clothes. I watched as they sedately rode around the field at half-time, draped over new-model convertibles, donated for the occasion by the local Oldsmobile dealer.

So when my folks readied to leave me at college on that fateful day in early Autumn 1965, a crisp, cool, fresh day, I fidgeted. I willed them to leave before anyone came up to greet us. They finally did, after dutifully giving their Lillian lots of parental advice and enough hugs to smother me. I stood on the curb by the dorm, finally alone. Poised for a new life. On the brink of a new beginning. And then some newbie freshmen came up to greet me. I don’t remember who they were. Or how many there were. But I distinctly remember grinning, holding out my hand to shake their hands, and saying confidently, “Hi, I’m Lill.

sugar maple tree
dwarfed in surrounding green leaves
claims fall glory with crimson red

IMG_2938

Toni is hosting Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. The theme today is KOMOREEI…a Japanese terms that literally means the light filtered between leaves, usually occurring in spring and fall…that in-between season. We’re asked to write about something that has occurred in between seasons.  Haibun: 2 or 3 tightly written paragraphs of prose, not fiction; followed by a haiku. In true Japanese form, the haiku is not beholden to the syllabic count, rather must be about nature and include a “season” word. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Photo in Boston’s Public Garden, Fall 2016. PS:  I’m happy being called Lill or Lillian these days….with age comes a knowledge that we are who we are, regardless of the name.

Tanka Tatting

nature’s lace makers
shadows made by rustling leaves
spider’s silken web
once empty spaces glisten ~
like memories easing pain

spider-web-with-water-beads-921039_1920

Gayle is hosting Open Link Night at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets and we’re invited to post a poem of our choice. I’ve been lace-knitting a shawl lately and have become obsessed with the way making lace is all about creating empty spaces and joining them together. Making emptiness beautiful. Hence this tanka today!  A Tanka is a 7 line poem with the following syllabic form: 5, 7, 5, 7, 7. There is supposed to be a shift from the natural in their first 4 lines…to something personal / human in the last line.