Looking Nostalgic

This is the last entry for National Poetry Month. I’ve completed the Super Poetry Challenge and claim bragging rights by using the Bonus prompt – write a poem using the words basil, ink, tub, bread, candle and lace! Hope you enjoy this one!

She can barely read the ink
On the card, questions the use of basil
In a recipe for potato bread
All the while the bread in the tub
Rises like smoke from a candle
And she rolls up sleeves trimmed with lace

Too late she regrets the choice of lace
While baking as she smudges ink
On sleeves now sooty as a candle
Wick, and the poor basil
Plant has sacrificed to the dough in the tub
That once baked will be bread

She remembers her mother’s bread
Loses track of time fingering the lace
As the dough doubles in the tub
She remembers to punch it down leaving ink
On the dough and coming away with basil
Bits on her knuckles and decides to light a candle

She dims the lights to see the candle
Better inhaling the aroma of bread
Dough tinged with the sharp smell of basil
She kneads the dough and it sticks in the lace
On her sleeves, at least she washed the ink
From her hands as she washed the tub

She didn’t take the time to dry the tub
The water spots reflected the light of the candle
Over come with sadness her tears fell and the ink
On that long ago written recipe for potato bread
Started to run as she quickly blotted it with a lace
Cuff flecked with chopped basil

Forming the loaves, a single leaf of basil
Adorned the top, resting as she stowed the tub
Scrubbed at the dirty sleeve lace
Blew out the candle
And placed the pans into the oven to become bread
Which would hopefully be white despite the ink

Her mother’s memory in fresh basil and scented candle
Her mother’s mixing tub and her secret recipe for bread
Made her happy even with ruined lace from the ink

I know this is long but I felt that I needed to write a sestina for the sake of nostalgia. You see many years ago on Xanga, a poetry friend challenged me to write a sestina. I struggled mightily. It got to the point that I developed a strong phobia to this particular form. She would write sestinas that would send me into literary raptures. I was baffled at how she could take 6 random words and weave a wonderful story within a poem and not only make it flow but make it live and breathe. So in honor of Sandra (aka Harpo’sMark aka BianchiStreet) I bit the bullet and wrote a sestina and I didn’t even stutter or break out in hives!!

Looking at Skeptics

The 12th prompt for NPM Super Poetry Challenge is to write 3 haiku. The haiku is a Japanese form consisting of 17 or less stressed or “on” word signs in 3 lines. The anglicized form is 3 lines with 17 syllables with 5 syllables in the first and third lines and 7 in the 2nd line. Although the following verses are haiku, they are more specifically senyrus. Senyru are a about human foibles and are often cynical or darkly humorous.

I clean all the sinks
Dust, sweep, scour, chase down germs
Still cower at home

An allergic cough
Causes panic at checkout
Blows nose and buys milk

Virus panic comes
My thoughts spin out of control
Hamster wheel of doom

Back in March when the first recommendations for social distancing/self-quarantine were made, many were very skeptical. I saw some very smug people make comments that this was 1. A hoax. 2. A great way to lighten the burden on Social Security due to “boomer removal”. 3. A made up problem to crash the economy. 4. Not their problem because they were young and healthy and it would be nothing more than a “cold”. 5. That the misfortune of others was their own fault. Well, I keep reading about the spread of the coronavirus and the mounting statistics of those infected and the number of hospitalizations and deaths. At first it was only the elderly and those with chronic health issues that were considered most vulnerable. That changed when younger and younger people were getting sick and requiring respiratory assistance. And in a heartbeat it became everyone’s problem: The 25 year old who was having to make funeral arrangements for their spouse, and the 30 year old whose job disappeared because the business owner died, and the mother sitting vigil at her child’s bed praying that a hospitalization is not needed. I could go on but I won’t. In Sparky’s family, 5 are employed nurses. Of those 5, 4 are in the thick of it. We all worry about them as they are being exposed daily as they are involved in the care and treatment of coronavirus positive patients. It is grim. It is heartbreaking. It will have to run its course. But, and I say this even though there are some who don’t agree, we will survive as a nation. There are a few who will fall away from their faith and many more who will become stronger. I am encouraged by the acts of kindness in my community. There has been a greater sense of caring and sharing. We have been able to help our neighbors and families. When the next door neighbor had her baby, there were dinners provided and diapers delivered. Those who had extra made a gift. I know it was very much appreciated as we had a short conversation with her husband from his deck to our patio. So I’m sending my prayers for each of you. Stay safe, stay well, stay home.

Looking at Cowardice

Prompt #11 for NPM Super Poetry Challenge is to write an acrostic poem using a word to describe your worst enemy. I decided to up the difficulty factor and wrote this as a monorhyme as well. My worst enemy used to be myself, at least that was what I thought. Having lived a charmed life, I didn’t experience serious bullying until I was an adult. That’s when I started believing in the existence of true, unadulterated evil. Like many bullies, my bully had several glaring personality flaws – insecurity, self-centeredness, over arching ambition, and cowardice. All these resulted in petty and manipulative behaviors. There were times when the bullying consisted of belittling comments to others and to my face, undermining my authority, spreading rumors, and even withholding information in an attempt to make me appear incompetent. I learned to deflect, circumvent, and fly under the radar. Finally I decided to roar. It was a good day. It didn’t stop the bullying for good but it did make an impression and set some boundaries. It has been a few years since I had to interact with my bully. I have forgiven but it is very hard to forget.

Caught and pushed around
Overwhelmed and nearly drowned
When in a revelation profound
A mouse rose up and stood her ground
Reaction from the bully astound
Defeated and retreated the mouse victor crowned

Looking at Opposites

For NPM Super Poetry Challenge prompt #10 I needed to write about two opposites using an Etheree and a Reverse Etheree. These forms are syllabic. The Etheree is composed of 10 lines with the first line having 1 syllable and increasing by one until the last line has 10 syllables. The Reverse Etheree starts with 10 syllables and each subsequent line decreases by 1 until the last line has a single syllable. My mind has been dwelling on the need for more love and less hate. It was one of those FB moments when my feed suddenly provided Jackie DeShannon from so very long ago singing, “What the world needs now is love sweet love…” I think it is still true.

Our best self
Brings us closer
To God and others
Proves generosity
Prepares in us a clean heart
Gives others compassionate care
Banishes jealousy and ill-will
Opens our eyes to see Christ in others

Being self-centered blinds us to Jesus
Unable to see all those in need
Hardens the heart, spreads bigotry
Nurtures greed and avarice
Allows sin to take hold
Increases evil
Grows vanity
Feeds cruelty

Looking at Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them*

I love the internet for many reasons and I hate it for just as many. For some reason people have lost the ability to do research and form their own opinions. And to top it off, we as a nation have lost the ability to accept anyone with a different opinion. The level of acrimony surrounding this election cycle coupled with the nastiness that is accompanying the coronavirus has made social isolation much easier to handle. The internet is now the home for anyone with an opinion (that may or may not be based on fact or sound observations) to scream at the top of their lungs. I’m assuming that they have latched onto the liars methodology of repeating a lie often enough that it becomes accepted as truth. Some individuals on the internet disguise their identities and have multiple accounts so that they can appear as a larger group and thus more credible. I’m sure you’ve all heard about business owners that send in multiple reviews (all 5 stars) to make their business look good or maybe better than it really is. I’m not an expert on lies and lying as I really try to avoid that trap. I’ve always felt that honesty is the best policy. There were many times at work that it was obvious that I was being deceived. I became astute in recognizing an untruth. The idea that there was personal integrity present in the workforce was foreign to some people and my modeling it became a beacon for better behavior among my coworkers. I like to think that that is part of my legacy.
* this is a take off on a book my mother enjoyed

This little rant (and I haven’t really let loose in a long time) is the result of the NPM Super Poetry Challenge #9 – Explore your feelings about deceit in a poem. So here is a little poem composed in rhyming couplets…

Do not tell lies my mother said
Deceit is a woven, tangled web
For every untruth that you tell
Is another step toward the door of hell
But what about the little one
To spare tender feelings spun?
Or the lie that isn’t so bad
That keeps others from getting mad?
Telling fibs is a sin of commission
But evading truth is a sin of omission
Damned if you do and damned if you don’t
My personal decision is that I just won’t!

Looking at Broken Sugar Bowls

This is my NPM (National Poetry Month) Super Poetry Challenge entry using prompt #2 – Write a poem using the words willow, bird, tea. I decided to write a type of cinquain (a 5 line poem) using the Spanish style of a quintella. The quintella has 5 lines with 8 syllables per line. There is no set rhyme scheme as long as there are no more than 2 consecutive lines that rhyme. Of course the cinquain uses only 2 rhyming sounds…

I recall my mother’s tea set
The sugar bowl minus handles
Broken during anger’s scandals
Weeping willow-ware the wall met
Bird lid flew at heads of vandals

I come from a long line of sugar bowl slingers. Seems when the women in my family get angry (and all previous sugar bowl assassins were red heads) they grab the sugar bowl and with the accuracy of a major league pitcher send it flying. My mother would tell the story of her grandma Bessie hurling the sugar bowl at grandpa Jim when he would “get her Irish up”. It seems none of the sugar bowls had handles or lids. My mother didn’t realize they were supposed to have lids and handles until she was nearly grown. I guess it is better than throwing knives since there were plenty of those in the kitchen too…

Looking Chilled

Last night we walked beneath the stars
Comets passed by ascending Mars
We trod in silence up a hill
Our hearts aflame against the chill

Snowflakes clung to branches of pine
I didn’t care, your hand in mine
The milky way our eyes did fill
Our hearts aflame against the chill

As we stood the moon lit the sky
In the quiet an owl soared by
Cheeks and noses cold we stood still
Our hearts aflame against the chill

Faces pointed into the wind
We watched the owl to feast descend
Then turned our feet toward home down hill
Our hearts aflame against the chill

The above is today’s offering for the Super Poetry Challenge in honor of NPM. I used prompt #7 – Write a poem using the words – stars, pine, sky, wind, chill. I decided to write a Kyrielle. A Kyrielle is a poem of 4 stanzas with 4 lines per stanza. Each line has 8 syllables and the last line of the first stanza becomes the refrain and is repeated as the last line of subsequent stanzas. The stanzas consist of rhyming couplets. This results in a rhyme scheme of aaxX – bbxX – ccxX – ddxX where the X is the refrain. It sounds much more confusing than it really is.

With the prospect of Spring supposedly upon us, I’m still skeptical. I can recall snow in May so until we hit consistent temperatures at night of 60 degrees Fahrenheit, I will not mothball my winter coat!

Looking for New Leaves

Today’s Super Poetry Challenge for NPM is prompt #6 – Write a Quatern about new leaves. A Quatern is a 16 line French form consisting of 4 quatrains (stanza of 4 lines) where each line has 8 syllables. The first line of the first quatrain is repeated as the 2nd line in the second quatrain, 3rd line of the third quatrain, and final line of the 4th quatrain. There is no required meter nor does the poem have a set rhyme scheme.

Burst forth in glory with the sun
My prayer to melt the icy grip
The vernal equinox has come
And all my world is primed for green

Why hesitate you fragrant bloom
Burst forth in glory with the sun
Eastertime shows the empty tomb
Release the joy of tender leaf

Birch and larch green buds have begun
Soon maple, elm and all the rest
Burst forth in glory with the sun
Verdant forest and hills rejoice

New and tender leaves wave hello
Unfurled and welcoming the spring
Bees dance on wind as buds below
Burst forth in glory with the sun

It usually takes a good long time for the leaves to finally appear in Northern Indiana. We had some warmer weather in late February that fooled some of the trees into thinking it was time to start pushing out some leaves. Then we had snow and cold and ice. There are a few trees that have dared to push some new leaves out into the world. They are tiny and a pale sickly green. Most of the trees remain naked. A few have reddish buds on their branches and a few more are thinking about it but so far it is still a stark winter-scape. Easter was just last Sunday and my daffodils have just put up some leaves. If I’m lucky I’ll have blooms by Mother’s Day!

Looking Ripe

The NPM Super Poetry Challenge prompt today is #5 – Use the theme of ripening in a poem. I decided to write a Lai. This is a French form composed of stanzas of 9 lines with a strict syllabic count and rhyme scheme. That is a syllable count of 5-5-2-5-5-2-5-5-2 with the corresponding rhyme of a-a-b-c-c-b-d-d-b. Anyway this was made easier due to a story Sparky’s father told about the trouble he got into for stealing apples.

Green apples appear
Announce summer near
Sweet hype
Sun kissed apples hide
Hungry boys abide
Drool wipe
Juicy fruit hangs high
Climbing boy comes nigh
Steals ripe

Holding two full bags
Greed delays and lags
One bite
Farmer guards his crop
Stealing hopes to stop
Gives fright
Turns out dogs to watch
Puts thieves’ plan to scotch
At night

Although I know you liked the poem, I’m pretty sure you want the “rest of the story”! Sparky’s dad was not a child. Nope. He was a supposedly mature responsible adult. However he and his buddies were golfing on a hot day (and there might have been some beer involved). One of them hit a ball that went into the little apple orchard next to the golf course. Not wanting to lose the ball and also thinking it might be a little cooler in the shade of the trees, the foursome went in search of the missing ball. They were delighted to find the ball. They also found themselves surrounded by large, fragrant, and ripe apples. Unable to resist they each decided to pick an apple and eat it on the spot. They agreed that they were the best apples they’d ever had. Although he couldn’t recall whose idea it had been, they all picked apples to take home. Now, Sparky’s dad had 6 kids so he had 6 apples. The other guys had fewer mouths at home but had used their shirts to hold their bounty. Just as they were headed back to the golf course, the orchard owner came tearing into view. They were caught red-handed. The farmer threatened to call the cops but the men offered to pay for the apples. They were each charged a dollar. At the time, that made them the most expensive apples any of the men had ever purchased. Still it was much less expensive than a trip to jail!

Looking at a Dark Sky

One of the joys of retirement is not being a slave to the alarm clock. Yet old habits die hard. After rising for work for over 40 years at 6:00 AM, my bladder is on a timer. I will drag myself out of bed at 6:30 AM to go to the bathroom, even if I then crawl back to bed and burrow under the covers. A couple months ago I was doing a study that required me to rise up and motivate so that I arrived at work by 7:30 AM. It was brutal. I remembered sharply why I hated winter. You see 6:00 AM lacks light. The sun is just beginning to think about peeking above the horizon. It is at that moment when the internal clock battles with the external one. The eyes reluctantly open to darkness. The feet leave the warmth of the covers and meet the cold floor. The day is upon me and I dutifully pry myself from the dreamscape to a cold reality.

With that inspiration I present a cascade poem for NPM challenge #4. Cascade poems are composed of 4 three line stanzas. There is no rhyme or meter. Instead each line in the first stanza becomes the last line in subsequent stanzas. Thus the first stanza is ABC, the 2nd would be abA, followed by cdB, and efC. I know it sounds very complicated but just read the poem and you’ll see it isn’t difficult at all!

I can scarce see the stars fade to morning
The slow crescendo of bird song to sunrise
With a slow stretch I abandon the night

Through slitted eyelids I observe the clock
Glancing at the window and beyond
I can scarce see the stars fade to morning

Night wind sways the trees casting shadows
The angel chorus seeps into my ears
The slow crescendo of bird song to sunrise

The house sighs and murmurs in the dark
But I must arise and greet the new day
With a slow stretch I abandon the night