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.

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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.

Love Letter, Long Overdue

Strewn on the floor
stacked on a spindle,
my teenage love affairs.
Sometimes lying on my bed,
smile plastered on my face.
Sometimes gliding slowly,
watching in the mirror,
arms hugging waist.
Paul Anka, Johnny Mathis,
Harry Belafonte,
and Fabian too.
That plop-down sound.
Then needle stuck in groove,
spun round and round.
Forty-five RPM respite
from teenage angst.
Black vinyl disks,
I adored thee.

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NaPoWriMo starts tomorrow — April is National Poetry Month. The challenge is to write a poem every day. We begin a day early with an early-bird prompt to write a love letter.

Impatient in Iowa

Elusive spring
buried beneath snow.
Monotone whitened rural scene
minus crocus, lilacs,
and red breasted robins.
Brightened only by weathered barn
and newly painted crimson birdhouse,
daredevil cheerful bracelet
on snow laden tree limb.
Old man winter,
still balking at retirement.

Photo by Sari Hacker, my former Iowa Valley High School student. Fond memories of our days in Marengo, Iowa.

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.

Summer Treat

Fat slabs of bacon
slapped on the griddle
sizzled and curled.
That frying pan sings its song,
flame burning
grease bubbling
never spatter-free.

Stack ‘em high
with a few tomatoes,
mayo-slathered
between some greens.
Mama says,
Make it healthy,
serve on whole wheat bread.

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A second quadrille (poem of exactly 44 words, sans title) for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Victoria asks us to use the word “burn” or a form of the word. Thought I’d add a humorous one to the mix today. For a more sensuously burning take, go to my first post Tryst.

tanka – a study in brevity

childhood innocence
blushing cheeks and pudgy knees
jump-rope and hopscotch ~
photos keep her company
brittle memories thick with dust

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Frank is our Thursday host at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. He asks us to consider brevity in our writing…and talks about the Japanese poetic forms of haiku and tanka as examples of brevity. Tanka is 5 lines with the syllabic content 5-7-5-7-7 and should contain a “pivot” at or after the third line. Here, there is a change of perspective: lines 1 – 3 describe childhood for the reader. There’s a sense of liveliness and action. Lines 4 and 5 shift the reader’s view to an elderly person looking at the photos of childhood and hopscotch. The liveliness is gone, replaced by that last line. The person seems alone….left to finger and think about these images, these brittle memories. Perhaps the photos and her memory are “thick with dust?”

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.

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Haibun from Days Gone By

Looking back from this vantage point, from who I am now and how we raised our children, I’m surprised at my calm, unquestioning “okay” to one man during my lifetime. Wally Rucks, high school football coach and my guidance counselor.

I only had one meeting with this overweight, jowly faced man. In 1964, at the beginning of my senior year.
“Are you filling out your college applications?”
“Yes.”
“What career are you aiming for?”
As the only female on our award-winning debate team, I was ready with the answer. “A lawyer.”
“Girls don’t do that. Study to be a Speech and English teacher.”
The meeting was over. I walked out the door and that’s what I did. I became a high school Speech and English teacher, albeit a very good one.

And then years later, I earned a second Master’s Degree and a PhD. Became a university dean and traveled the world solo, meeting corporate executives, establishing internships for our Global MBAs. Go suck an egg, Mr. Rucks.

smallest acorn
trampled in mud by hiking galoots
tall now in forest green

It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse and today we’re supposed to write about something that surprises us. Come join us at the virtual pub for poets — bar opens at 3 PM Boston time. Haibun: short, precise prose (cannot be fiction) followed by a haiku.