Sheltered / Seeking Shelter

We stood on the deck of our cruise ship, warm and comfortable, having just eaten our fill for breakfast in a beautiful dining room. The night before, we’d had wine with dinner and our choice of four entrees. We were returning to the ship’s home port in Florida, to then return to our highrise condominium in Boston.

The Captain’s voice was clear and strong over the loudspeakers. “There is a small boat of refugees on our starboard side. We have alerted the Coast Guard and will hold our position until they arrive. We believe in safety at sea for all. This will not impede our itinerary. We will arrive at our home port as scheduled.“

A small boat bobbed in the ocean, the people barely distinguishable except to see they were crowded in what looked like a rubber raft. It looked so low in the water, as if it was barely staying afloat. When the Coast Guard arrived more than an hour after the announcement, our ship moved away quickly. We only saw the Coast Guard approach the refugees. We never knew what happened to them.

cherry tree blooms pink
robin sits in feathered nest
mole burrows in darkness

It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today, Mish asks us to consider the word “shelter” in our haibun: two or three succinct paragraphs of prose that are nonfiction/autobiographical, followed by a classic haiku.

Photo is from November 2021, when we took a cruise in the Caribbean. It was sobering to see in reality, what we’d read about in newspapers and heard about in the news.

Moving Day

Chipmunk cheeks, chubby knees
toddler toddles unsteadily.
Plops down on diaper padded bum
eyes surprised at sudden landing.
Spies round unknown object
in midst of packing boxes.
Left-over, missed by movers,
his to explore and claim.
Metal globe on brass colored axis,
somewhat dented
but sporting what looks to him
like gaily colored splotches.
Blues and reds and blacks
and yellows and greens
and shapes that fascinate.
Pudgy fingers reach out,
touch cool round surface
and tentatively push . . .
then more . . .and more and
ooooh spinning colors.
Faster, faster, faster,
round and round and round.
Squeals of delight
draw me to the door.
I see this happy child,
the world, a spinning top for him.
Unaware of famine, wars, discord,
and oh so intricately drawn borders.
Imagine whirled peace
with colors spun into one.
Boundaries blurred and gone
and laughter the only sound.
Or just as suddenly,
what could be.
A world in shock,
tipped off its axis
and the only sound,
disappointed screams.

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

For the prompt, I’ve provided a list of sixteen Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavors, many of which have been retired. Writers must include the name of at least one flavor from the list of sixteen in the body of their poem – and the poem cannot be about ice cream! I’ve used the flavor Imagine Whirled Peace. It was a Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor from 2007 to 2013.

Writers cannot change the order of the words in the flavor, or the tense of the words. They cannnot change the words of the flavor into plurals or possessives. They cannot add words between the words in the name of the flavor. Of course, folks are free to use more than one flavor from the list. After all, who doesn’t like a double-dipper or triple-dipper ice cream cone????

Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us – it should be fun!

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead . . .

I’m melting, melting. Ohhhhh, what a world, what a world, destroy my beautiful wickedness.” Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz

I planned it. Me and Rudy.
It was all fixed.
The machines, the ballots.
All a disaster.

Millions believed me.
They didn’t drink bleach
but they believed I won
because I said so.

This commission.
These videos. These emails.
My people spilling it all.
Gutless.

This witch hunt . . .
closing in . . .
my battery is low
and it’s getting dark.

Laura provides a unique prompt for today’s Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. She provides seven quotations of famous departing words. We must choose one and include it in a “deathbed poem of our imagination.”

The line provided by Laura: “My battery is low and it’s getting dark.” Mars rover ‘Opportunity’

The prompt got me thinking about Donald Trump and the January 6 Commission. May the vast amount of evidence presented be the demise of the Big Lie and expose the danger Donald Trump presents to democracy and the well-being of this country. May his power and cult-like status among otherwise sane people melt away, similar to what happened to the Wicked Witch in the Wizard of Oz.

Watching the Unimaginable

So many have blood on their hands.
Mirrors avoided to save face
hands folded to avoid guilt tremors
heads bowed – horse blinders unavailable.

In another world,
nineteen children don angel wings.
Their days playing on the beach
never to be again.

Together with angels from Sandy Hook
they hover, watch intently, hope . . .
surely this time
change will come.

Written for Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Merril asks us to consider summer and write an ekphrastic poem. She provides a number of paintings that are in some way related to summer. We are to choose one or more to work with. Our poem should be inspired by the painting; not describe the painting. The painting I chose from among those provided is Summer Day, Brighton Beach by Carl Zimmermann.

To clarify the references in my poem:

On December 14, 2012, in Newtown Connecticut, twenty children, ages 6 and 7, were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Attempts to enact stricter gun laws in the United States failed.

On May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas, nineteen children, ages 9, 10 and 11, were murdered at Robb Elementary School.

A Voice from Ukraine

I promise you, there is beauty somewhere.
Stand quietly outside to hear birdsong.
See stars shine in the ebony of night.
Hear the innocence of a small child’s prayer.
Marvel at harmony in evensong.
Your freedom as a right, shines ever bright.

In our war, even as lives are taken
there is pride, resolve, purpose in the fight.
One newborn who survives shines hope ‘ere long.
The world’s sense of justice shall awaken.

Help us.

First and foremost, the illustration is titled Freedom and is painted by Ukranian artist, Vika Muse. This past Tuesday, she gave permission for dVerse Poets to feature her artwork and write poems inspired by them.

Vika Muse wrote about another of her paintings, The Air of Freedom, “I wish I could have manta rays in the sky…instead of Russian bombs and military airplanes. I’ve noticed that my disturbing paintings didn’t make me happier. They cause even deeper depression. So I’ve tried to draw my future. It is bright and sunny. There are no bombs and war…Only beautiful landscapes and dreamlike sky. I hope I’ll meet such a future some day.”

Vika Muse says this about Freedom, the painting that inspired my poem today: “This artwork was made due to the hope, that we have the light at the end and the name of this light – is the Victory. That we will survive and rebuild our country.”

You can find artwork by Vika Muse at @get.muse and http://www.inprnt.com

And a thank-you to Mish at dVerse for discovering this artist so we can all see and marvel at her wonderful work.

Today’s post was specifically written for NAPOWRIMO, Day 16. We are asked to write a Curtal Sonnet, a poetry form invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

A Curtal Sonnet is 11 lines (actually 10.5) which is precisely 3/4 of the structure of a Petrachan sonnet which is 14 lines in length. That is, it is shrunk proportionally. The rhyme scheme is abcabc dcbdc The final line is a tail or half line. Another, what I call, sudoku prompt!
I’ve taken poetic license because of the intensity of the poem, to ignore the final line’s “c” rhyme requirement, but it is the requisite 2 syllables. The other lines are all the requisite 10 syllables.

The Dandelions of Ukraine

She paints a different scene
different from the devastation of war.
One of deep meaning to her people.

Far from crimson-orange flames,
bomb bursting flares in night skies,
blood-stained rubble covered streets.

She paints a girl with auburn hair
back to us, looking out at sunburst sky
in the midst of dandelion fields.

Beautiful broadleaf perennial weed,
dandelions bloom brightly yellow,
steep in teas and make fine wine.

Notoriously challenging to remove,
ten-inch-long taproots deep in soil
tenaciously hold their place in earth.

Sunflowers may be the national flower,
but this upstart weed personifies her people.
Strength, perseverance, and beauty,
just as she painted, the dandelion field.

Written for Poetics Tuesday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Mish is hosting and gives us an inspiring, beautiful and timely prompt, acquainting us with Ukrainian artist, Vika Muse. We are to select one of her remarkable paintings and be inspired by it. As Mish writes: “During this unfathomable yet very real situation in her homeland, let us bask in the light of her artistry and be a reflection of light with our words.”

The work of Vika Muse can be found on Instagram at @get.muse and is featured on the website http://www.inprnt.com (just do a search on this site for Vika Muse and all her artwork will come up). I selected her piece, The Dandelion Field.

dVerse pub opens at 3 PM Boston time, featuring this prompt.

Provincetown Aubade

I stand at water’s edge
on the precipice of new day
as darkness surrounds me.
Cold damp salted air clings
and coats my upper lip.

Cinnamon colored strips
jut their way through ebony sky.
Monotone scrim begins to fluctuate
as dark clouds differentiate themselves,
shades of grey against paling black.

There, there in front of me
hints of red-orange light.
Shards of yellow tinted crimson
elongate, stretch, and slowly shift
until my chill is forgotten.

Glorious golden orb begins to rise.
Sole cormorant on jetty stone
shadowed now in rising dawn,
my only company as I smile.
Today is indeed, a new day.


Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets and for NAPOWRIMO, Day 8.

Laura is hosting dVerse and shares with us the background and meaning of aubade. It is a serenade to dawn. She asks us to write a melodious poem evoking day break and using either the word “morning” or “aubade” in our title.

Photo is from one of our annual two-week stays in Provincetown, at the very tip of Cape Cod, where dawn never ceases to amaze.

This I Promise

nocturnal goddess I am
not of human form
shaped like sliver moon
my candle burns at both ends

headdress gleaned from stars
burning blazing they produce light
beauty etched in darkened scrim
it will not last the night

wars desecrate my vision
some of you defile my spirit
create hell in falling sky
but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends

acts of kindness, innocence of babes
good will shall overcome cruelty
and like the warmth of rising sun
it gives a lovely light

Image from Pixabay.com

Written for NAPOWRIMO Day 3 where the prompt is to write a Spanish form of poertry called a glosa – a form new to me. “Take a quatrain from a poem that you like, and then write a four-stanza poem that explains or responds to each line of the quatrain, with each of the quatrain’s four lines in turn forming the last line of each stanza.”

My glosa references Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem, which is one quatrain in length, First Fig:
My candle burns at both ends;
it will not last the night;
but ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –
it gives a lovely light!

Derecho

Curtain billows in wind.
Candlelight flickers,
flame shivers, dips,
almost snuffed out.
Metaphorical
for our predicament,
but a gentler scene.

Healthcare systems threatened.
Tsunami of violence,
hatred, inequities.
We cup our hands
around the flame of hope,
trying to protect it
through these storms.

It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today we’re to include the word “shiver” or a form of the word (not a synonym) in our poem of exactly 44 words, sans title. Pub opens at 3 PM, Boston time. Come join us!

* A derecho is a wide-spread, long lived, dangerous windstorm.