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

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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.

Lost Bell

School was officially out for the summer. But somehow, Bell was lost. A precocious first grader, tall for her age, she’d ended up in an empty hall. I can’t miss my bus! Ma will be so mad! Where is everyone???

She saw a weird machine-thing hanging on the wall. Climbing on it, standing tiptoe, her hand just reached the window. Oops. The black handle-thing fell off. The machine buzzed. Bell pounded on the window and screamed for help. Standing by her small charges in the driveway, Mrs. Verizon heard the ruckus. She hurried inside to find the distraught Bell.

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Word Count: 100  Written for Friday Fictioneers where the inimitable Rochelle Wisoff-Fields presents a weekly photographic motivator for flash fiction (a story of 100 words or less). Photo credit: J. Hardy Carroll. 

Calamity

She leaned against the wall
sun beating down
sweat on her brow,
legs aquiver.

No doubt about it
a long hard fall
a catastrophe ’tis true,
but she’d landed on her feet.

She counted in her head
one . . .
two . . .
ah. . . . just three.

She arched her back
preened a bit
and catwalked down the lane.
Six more to go.

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Includes July’s word prompt from my granddaughter, “catastrophe.”

Mugshot Poetry

The infamous Flowers Act,
high-steppers of vaudeville fame.
Two performances a day
forty-two weeks a year,
those days before the movies talked.

Flunkie acts started shows,
as rows began to fill.
Maybelle and her off-key dogs?
Surefire way to empty the house.
The best was always in-between.

Operatic divas with mighty breasts
Mr. Visser and his singing duck
acrobats performing impossible knots
and in the midst of all this prime time,
René strutted onto the stage.

Deflowered early in her career
she’d made the best of it.
Twirled baby Rosebud overhead
tapping away to the newest tune,
audience clapping with glee.

Child-stars grow as years move on,
mamas trying to keep them young.
Highlight move of the Flowers act
dancing with Rosey held overhead,
harder and harder to do with a smile.

Teenage angst festered full-bloom.
Rosie kicked higher and higher still,
belligerantly balked at precarious lifts.
Brass played louder, drummer too
covering angry words that flew.

And then . . .

The nefarious night of 1929.
Outdoor billboards proclaimed,
See Our Flowers Tap To Delight.
Spotlights cued, the band played
and curtains rose to a barren stage.

As talkies came
and vaudeville disappeared,
their billboard photo gathered dust.
Missing persons,
never found.

Advance the reel please,
to 1932, in the Big Apple.
Crowds waited raucously.
til Radio City Music Hall
flung open her art deco doors.

The organ played and the audience cheered.
High steppers fanned across the stage,
kicking their way into Billboard fame.
Including one with a rosey attitude,
because her time had finally come.

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It’s Tuesday’s Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today I’m hosting, asking folks to write a poem motivated by mugshots from the 1920s (all in public domain). Folks can use their imagination and take their post anywhere the photo inspires, as long as they include one of the photos, all of which can be found here. I did some research on vaudeville and Radio City Music Hall. Vaudeville acts were arranged as mentioned in stanza two. There actually was a very popular vaudeville act, Gus Visser and his singing duck! Radio City Music Hall did open in 1932. All else….your guess is as good as mine! Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time.  Come on over and enjoy a mug!

Fib Poetry X 3

She
said
I do
and he said
tomorrow I will.
No happily ever after.

Fib
me
tell me
you love me
never let me go.
False hopes are my down comforter.

Lie
with
me now
and we’ll live
a love of fool’s gold.
Shining ore not, craving your touch.

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Just introduced to this fun little form. Fib poetry:  6 lines that follow this mathematical formula for syllables:  1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 6 thus totalling 20 syllables.

 

 

The Black Widow

Imagining herself on silver screen,
seductive in lace, she hosts a soiree.
She lures her guests, her evil goal unseen,
with delicate threads to lead them astray.
Her hourglass figure, tempting when seen,
is summoned to weave a web for her prey.
Beware,  Miss Arachnid’s truly notorious.
Her venomous kiss, always victorious.

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Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today, Frank is hosting and asks us to write an Ottava Rima. A new form for me, and quite challenging. It is actually an old Italian form of poetry that has multiple stanzas of 8 lines, in iambic pentameter (10 feet per line), with an ababababcc rhyme scheme. Frank gave us a reprieve and said one stanza was acceptable. Iambic pentameter also involves a pattern of unstressed and stressed syllables — which I find extremely difficult — so I originally went with 10 syllables per line and avoided the stress! The version you just read, went back and aimed for the iambic pentameter. I have new admiration for Will Shakespeare! Stop over and see what others have done with the form — or better yet, give it a try yourself and join us — we’re a very friendly bunch! Photo in public domain.

A Sharp Little Ditty

Harrison Hedgehog
all a dither
in a quiver,
over Patty Porcupine. 

How to propose?
The poetic one,
undone,
by a prickly giggly gal. 

A note, inside a balloon,
a quadrille.
Then with her own quill,
Patty will pop the question!


It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. De is tending bar and asks us to giggle today 😊. Forty-four words, not including the title, that include the word “giggle.”  I figure in our crazy world, it’s a good day for a silly little ditty! Photo is of Harrison Hedgehog,  in public domain.