I was lucky . . .

The summers of my privileged youth were filled with riding bicycles with my best friend, June; drinking from the garden hose; drawing hopscotch grids with colored chalk; climbing Mrs. Jester’s apple trees; running through sprinklers in the back yard; and fishing off the Lake Michigan pier with my dad. Once every summer, my mom bought a box of popsicles and doled them out to me and my friends. Everyone else fought over the red ones. I always had the yellow ones to myself. I guess nobody else liked banana.

hot city summer
steam hovers over pavement
tempers flare, guns pop



Frank is hosting haibun Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today he asks us to consider summer. Photos from my childhood, in the early 1950s. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!

Haibun: one or two paragraphs of succinct prose, usually biographical in nature, followed by a haiku that amplifies the theme, but does not duplicate the prose.

Brooding (from the lines of Maya Angelou)

When I think about myself
there is a deep brooding.
The day hangs heavy
no sound falls.
I see you,
shadows on the wall
just beyond my reaching.

Lying, thinking
I almost remember
when you came to me, unbidden.
Your smile, delicate
a young body, light,
your skin like dawn.
We saw beyond our seeming.

One innocent spring
it occurs to me now,
the dust of ancient pages.

A cento (poem made up of lines taken from other poems) written for NAPOWRIMO, the final day.

Every line in this poem, is the first line in one of Maya Angelou’s poems. The poems are listed below, in the order of their appearance:

When I Think About Myself
My Arkansas
Greyday
After
Thank You, Lord
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me
Slave Coffle
Alone
I Almost Remember
When You Come to Me
Woman Me
To Beat the Child Was Bad Enough
Passing Time
We Saw Beyond Our Seeming
Now Long Ago
Changing
Communication II: The Student

Spring Time on Butrick Street

Rain drops glisten daffodil petals.
Forsythia blooms in Mrs. Jester’s yard.
Buttery yarn disappears from hank,
chain-stitched and double-crocheted
by arthritic fingers on blue-veined hands.
Children with yellow chalk-smudged cheeks
squat on sidewalk squares.
Round smiling sun in place,
they draw happy flowers below.

Written for NAPOWRIMO, Day 18 and dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe: both prompts coincide nicely in this poem.

It’s Quadrille Monday at dVerse. The word to put in our poem of exactly 44 words (sans title) is “chalk” and the pub opens at 3 PM Boston time.

The NAPOWRIMO prompt is to “write a poem that provides five answers to the same question – without ever specifically identifying the question that is being answered.” The question I’ve answered is “What are yellow things you might see in the spring? My answers are daffodils, forsythia, yarn, chalk-smudged cheeks, and the sun. Photo is from Pixabay.com

** I grew up in Waukegan, Illinois. The house I lived in from the time I was two until I went into third grade was at 144 South Butrick Street. Mrs. Jester was our elderly next door neighbor.

Straws

Our lives are made of moments, some plain, some filled with awe.
Looking back I was surprised how many included sipping through a straw!

My mother showed me how to sip orange juice to go with grahams;
Then coca cola and ice cream sodas helped make me who I am.
Chocolate milkshakes, creamy and thick should be against the law.
The memories sweet, of all those times sipping through a straw.

In college I learned about Scotch Mists, served with straws black and thin;
As were those Mai Tai’s with rum and gardenias that almost did me in.
Anything sipped through a straw was yummy. To me a special treat,
Until the memories of hospital stays I do not wish to repeat.

When your lips are cracked, your mouth is dry and your body feels so raw
There is no better thing the nurses can bring than water to sip through a straw.
It’s funny the things that come to mind; the adventures, the things you saw.
My life’s special moments have often come when sipping through a straw.

Straws is written by Lindsey Ein: wonderful writer, wonderful friend, and mother to our dear son-in-law. She shared this poem with dVerse LIVE on Thursday – I’m just a bit late posting it.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Every time I see them
it creates an image in the present
which in seconds or hours
or a day or years,
depending on recall,
is always in my past.

We gathered to honor the matriarch.
From Texas, Illinois, California, Wisconsin,
Minnesota, North and South Carolina,
Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Virginia too.

She was the rock, the foundation.
Granddaughter of Swedish immigrants,
upholding the traditions.
Her life, lived for so many.

A career in nursing, a ministry of sorts.
She offered healing to the afflicted.
From surgical assistance to the elderly’s pains,
to the scrapes of school-age youth.

She taught her children compassion.
Lessons passed on to grandchildren
and their children. To nieces,
extended family, friends and neighbors too.

She faced the depths of loss and pain,
courageous and resilient.
Sustained by faith in God and love of life,
she taught us even through her death.

Family gathered to pray, to sing,
to share a meal. Tears and smiles comingled.
Yesterday’s emotional today,
so filled with love and caring support.
That is the essence of this family,
what we share and treasure most.

Those moments of yesterday’s today,
far too quickly in our past.
But still they give us hope and strength,
to face all of our coming tomorrows.

Written in memory of Janice Stewart. The family gathered on Saturday, December 11th at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Wheaton, Illinois to celebrate her life. She will be missed by so many.

PHOTOS:
Hjalmer Hallberg immigrated from Sweden. He and his wife, Anna, settled in Chicago, Illinois. The photo on the left shows their five grandchildren. From left to right: George Hallberg, Nancy Jahnke, Lynne Gehrke, Janice Stewart, Donald Hallberg. Neil Netherton, Nancy’s brother, passed away many years ago. He was Hjalmer and Anna’s sixth grandchild. The second photo was taken immediately following the celebration of Janice’s life at St. Paul’s Church on Saturday, December 11th.

That special time of year . . .

. . . packed away memories
slowly, carefully unwrapped.
Mother’s paper-thin pink glass bell.
Father’s airplane ornament
one clipped wing, hangs askew.

Brother’s cardboard Santa.
Crayoned red suit and black boots,
thinning cotton-puff beard and cuffs.
His first grade art project
crafted near eighty years ago.

You three sleep eternally
warmed in earth’s loving arms.
But each holiday season
you live with me again,
if only atop my Christmas tree.

Merril hosts Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for global poets. Her prompt for today: “write about any object – a family heirloom, a museum piece, a monument, or a palace. The choice is yours, but there must be some link to history and the past.” The bell and airplane are 90+ years old.

Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time. Come join us!

Shut Down

Friday night and the lights are low.
Tinseltown dimmed, marquees dark,
Broadway shut down.
Performers encased at home, mouths agape.
No words. No melodies.
No sound escapes their parched lips.
Feet stilled, faces bare. They sit, not in the wings,
but on couches and chairs. No audience.
Just the cat curled up on their feet,
surprised to find this comfort in these hours.
The night the music died and the curtain fell,
subways ground to a halt.
This, the night Covid came to town.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today I’m hosting Tuesday Poetics and delving into Sweden’s musical archives. I’m asking folks to include one line, and one line only, from the lyrics of ABBA’s Dancing Queen. The line must be used word for word within the body of the poem. You can find the lyrics to Dancing Queen, as well as some fun information about ABBA, in my prompt at dVerse. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time and full prompt will appear then. Image from Pixabay.com

Remainders

Cleaning out her grandmother’s home
she found only one mirror.
Hidden in the back of a drawer
buried under delicate handkerchiefs.
Some with embroidered flowers,
others with faded tatted edging.
It had multiple cracks
but the maple handle’s patina
still glowed.

The bouquet began drooping days ago.
Calla lily bodies downed,
long stems succumbed to gravity.
Sunflower heads
ruffled edges turning brown,
faces no longer meet the eye.
Nearby, on oak sidebar,
shriveled pink-veined orchid petals
ready to fall.

Retreated to their tents
they sleep encased in sleeping bags.
Bought on sale,
blue cloth on the outside.
Inside, cowboys ride horses,
stand with guns holstered by cacti.
Childlike Western print
on bright yellow flannel.
Embers pale in campfire ash.

Gathered for their fiftieth
they take the tour,
campus now lush with trees.
Three-story new student center
sports three dining options,
baristas in the Coffee Corner.
Library tables barren, minus green
Readers’ Guides to Periodical Literature.
Fossils still displayed in the Geology Museum.

Scientist by training, environmentalist by trade,
he took over cooking after retirement.
Meticulous shopping lists.
Weekly menu spreadsheets.
One recipe covers two nights.
Red aproned
in black and white tiled galley kitchen.
Meal cooked, served, eaten.
Leftovers stored for another day.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today Bjorn asks us to write a Cadralor. This is a relatively new poetry form. It is comprised of five unrelated, highly-visual stanzas. Each stanza must stand alone as a poem. Stanzas should be fewer than ten lines and usually each stanza has the same number of lines. Imagery is crucial – each stanza should be like a scene or a photograph. The fifth stanza is the crucible and should answer the question “For what do you yearn?” In the case of Remainders, I’m emphasizing that the leftovers, in each of the stanzas, has or has had value. In the last stanza, leftovers is taken literally.

Oh Glorious Day

This Iowa field, this Iowa day.
I stand in the midst of flowers
green grasses waving,
sun’s warmth soaking my skin.
Double hollyhocks stand tall.
Gaillardia faces blush,
edged in sherbet yellow ruffles.
Ethereal clouds float lazily,
cotton ball fluffs
like white misshapen dots
on seersucker blue sky.
Newly painted barn gleams
surrounded by emerald shrubs,
trees and hills.
Ah yes, Iowa,
you are indeed the heartland,
loved by so many.

Written for dVerse, the virtual pub for global poets. It’s OLN (Open Link Night) and Mish is hosting.
We’ve not lived in Iowa since 1997, but oh the glorious memories we have of our days there. From teaching in a small rural high school, to owning our first home on 30 acres of land, to raising our children in a University town and earning my PhD there. Iowa is known as the Heartland – we surely found it that.

Photo is from Nancy Mast who often posts Iowa farm photos.