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

album-2974646_1920

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?”

Harlequin

Medieval court’s poetic jester
leaps cross marble floor,
bells on cap and toes.
Sings boldly eyeing men,
their indiscretions
bared aloud.

Sag-faced courtiers
murmur hoarsely, choking coarsely,
cannot silence tales.
Red-faced king sits in midst
as women waggle fingers,
his scepter turned to stone.

bells-1295520_1280

Quadrille (44 words, sans title) written for dVerse, the virtual pub for poets, where today De asks us to include the word “murmur”. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time — come on over and quaff some poems! 

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.  

 

Ode To My High School Gym

 

Home to . . .

blue onesied teenage girls
delicately batting badmintons,
and pimpled boys man-upping
in raucous dodge-ball games.

Crew cuts and ratted Aqua Net dos.

School assemblies.
Seats assigned by homeroom,
alphabetical misery.

Six-foot hoopsters.
Full-skirted
ball gown under-frames
and the tall gangly ball-shooting kind.

Hand-wringing game-ending cacophony,
and teenage clutching
Johnny-Mathis-crooning
sock-hop last chance
he-has-to-be-the-one dance.

Crepe paper.
Gathered in strips,
duct tape hand grips
bouncing in pompom cheers.
Stretched————————–
transformed to ceiling
with hanging mirrored ball
above parading bouffant heads.

Embarrassed girls
side-lined on folding chairs
watching nervous girls
lined up in pretended calm,
waiting to learn
if they would be the one
adorned in prom queen crown.

Fifty years later,
we stand on your creaking boards.
Is it possible? Is this the space?
Old age does not become you,
our once hallowed place.

IMG_6666

Frank hosts dVerse today, the virtual pub for poets, asking us to write an ode (poem of praise). No required form, meter or content. Photo: from my 1965 senior year high school annual, Waukegan Township High School in Waukegan, Illinois. Prom court….I was on a folding chair 🙂 And yes, there’s a metal hoop skirt under that second gown. You had to be really careful when you sat down! In the actual photo, you can see the basketball court lines on the gym floor. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time.

Single in the City

Perfectly happy
in her narrow galley kitchen,
she planed to outgrow it.
The oversized refrigerator
became her gallery of sorts.
Photos of him taped to the door,
ultimately yanked off in anger
before the catsup was even gone.
New boys appeared and disappeared,
friends she planned to feed into lovers.
Time emptied the tape dispenser.
No boys, just gummy residue.
So she walked in the rain one day
going store to store, on a magnet spree.
Colorful dots. Hearts. Fanciful sayings.
Two bright rainbows.
And one empty royal blue photo frame
she stuck on the far-right upper corner
of the freezer door.
She was, after all, an optimist
through and through.

 

I’m hosting dVerse today, the virtual pub for poets. It’s Tuesday Poetics and I’m asking folks to walk into their kitchen and peruse their refrigerator! Look inside. Look at the outside. What do you see that strikes your imagination that can be a jumping off point for a poem! Describe an object or use it somehow in a poem. Our refrigerator doors have always been a “gallery” of sorts with magnets and photos and sayings. So, looking at ours, I made up a young woman who uses her refrigerator door in somewhat the same way.
Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time.  Come visit and chill out with us today!

Two Lives – Metaphorically Speaking

i.
He lived a crab’s life
sidling through his world
without confronting anything head on.

—————————————————————————————————————————–

ii.
She never knew who she was.
Today, servant to his whims
yesterday his foil.
Tomorrow, his jewel case on display.

In her youth, the obedient child.
Perfect pianist stretching to reach the pedals
daddy’s little girl,
mama’s protegé.

Turn this way, look here.
Here, not there.
Do this. Do that.
Twisted. Manipulated.

She’d led a kaleidoscope life
until all the pieces crumbled,
reduced to shards.

surreal-402830_1920

Two poems, one short, one a bit longer, written for dVerse. Today, Bjorn hosts and asks us to write metaphorically. Pub opens at 3 PM Boston time.  For those who need a quick review from their highschool poetry unit, very basically stated, a simile is a comparison using the words “like” or “as.” A metaphor is a comparison without using the words “like” or “as.”  Both photos in public domain at http://www.pixabay.com

Reminders

Somehow,
even in the serenity of Cape Cod’s seashore
there are reminders of life’s turmoil.

Sea grass, once vibrant green
turned darkly dank
littering the shore,
forced asunder by ocean waves.

Three molted hermit crabs
espied at low tide,
battling over prized shell
future home for only one.

Salt water and mold
slowly rotting undersides
of aging, once sleek sloops.

In one’s calm,
one must not forget
those living through the storm.

climate-165080_1280

Posted on my blog on 9/13 —- but seems it fits beautifully for Bjorn’s 9/14 prompt at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. If you already read this yesterday, apologies. But I did want to repost for dVerse. Bjorn remins us that life has meaning metaphorically speaking. A metaphor is a comparison, without using the words “like” or “as.”  As I relax at the beautiful Cape Cod seashore, I am reminded by bits and pieces of nature, that others are struggling to recover from recent hurricanes and monsoons — struggling to regain a sense of calm and balance in their lives. For them, the storm, even when the rains and winds have ceased, continues.