Looking at the End (of Summer Scavenger Hunt)

So we made it through the month of August without anyone’s head exploding from dealing with all these poetry forms. I’m pleased with all the poetry I wrote and I enjoyed reading your poems. A big round of applause to all who persevered and attempted the End of Summer scavenger hunt! This last poem is for the last prompt – write a Blitz poem on the topic of death. The Blitz poem is kind of a stream of consciousness form but after you have it written you can tweak it a bit to make your point….

Live to Die
To be or not to be
To think is to live
Live fast
Live quickly
Quickly we run
Quickly we fade
Fade like photos
Fade away
Away from the race
Away from work
Work to eat
Work to play
Play at love
Play at life
Life lessons
Life keeps going
Going forward
Going toward the end
End the chaos
End the worry
Worry about family
Worry about debts
Debts owed
Debts not paid
Paid in full
Paid my way
Way to go home
Way it will be
Be calm
Be happy
Happy life
Happy death
Death comes
Death delayed
Delayed by love
Delayed by force
Force of will
Force death’s hand
Hand me over
Hand up to heaven
Heaven awaits
Heaven not denied
Denied the devil’s due
Denied extra time
Time marches on
Time to die
Die we must
Die to live

“Without a mother one cannot love. Without a mother one cannot die.” ― Herman Hesse

Looking at the Path to Self Discovery

After every failure or mistake
Before the triumphal parade
Chancing the possible heartache
Despite being dismayed
Efforts will be rewarded
For those who understand self
Good works will be recorded
Honors for knowing thyself
In all good time we discover
Just how strong we can become
Know from all hurts you recover
Learn what you can overcome
Many turnings and falls
No cowards need apply
Onward despite blocking walls
Patiently barricades defy
Quietly the soul is revealed
Recognizing inner worth
Spirit and truth not concealed
Truly a psyche’s rebirth
Undaunted by self actualization
Victorious you wear your crown
Walk proud without a translation
X-linked fashion diva about town
You don’t require outside affirmation
Zones of uncertainty struck down!

For the End of Summer scavenger hunt I used prompt #12 – Write an abecedarian poem about the path to self-discovery.

I suppose I was lucky. I was gifted with a strong sense of self that my parents nurtured. I experienced some bullying, exclusion, and some peer pressure but I always went my own way. That resulted in having an eclectic group of friends both in high school and college. It seemed that I collected the outcasts and the oddballs. And we had more fun than anyone could imagine! It was in the safety of those friends that we were allowed to develop our own sense of style, our literary tastes, and explore our talents. Once I was on my own, I discovered that I liked my own company. I saw a fair number of people who were willing to settle for unhappy relationship simply to avoid being alone. I had some failures and yet they were not complete failures because I learned something about myself, my abilities and my weaknesses. I became self reliant out of necessity. I could cook, clean, repair toilets, revive worn out furniture, refinish woodwork, and improvise solutions to problems that would send many into the arms of debt. My self confidence soared with each little triumph. It was that confidence that made it possible to succeed in my career, my marriage, and now in retirement! I’m happy with who I am and who I’ve become. What about you?

Looking for Forgiveness

My conscience yearns to atone
Yet I hesitate to confess
There is an ache in heart and bone
Each sin a cause for distress
Help must come from God alone
Pour on me forgiveness

This is the End of Summer scavenger hunt prompt #11 – Write a Harrisham Rhyme on the topic of Forgiveness. This form is a little tricky in that there is a rhyme scheme of A/B/A/B/A/B for the end words of the 6 line poem AND a catch at the beginning of each line. That catch is that the last letter of the first word of the first line becomes the first letter of the of the first word of the second line, this pattern is repeated for each line. Makes you have to really do a little thinking!

So forgiveness comes in many ways. Most people think that when they are wronged it is difficult to impossible to forgive the person who has committed the wrong. In fact many feel that to forgive is the same as condoning the act or that there is an element of forgetting the hurt done to you. But really forgiving another who has hurt or wronged you has nothing to do with them! It is all about you. To forgive is to put down the anger. It is to set aside the thoughts of revenge, comeuppance, and retribution. Forgiveness given means that you don’t waste energy, time or effort thinking about the other person. The injury is not forgotten but it is relegated to the past, it is history. To forgive another person is an act of self-preservation. It helps you more than them, especially if they have not acknowledged that they have hurt you.

The person who asks for forgiveness has realized the gravity of their actions. You are not able to judge their sincerity, you cannot see into their hearts, minds, or souls. What you can do is set down the burden of hurt. By giving them the words of your forgiveness you tell them that you are not dwelling on the wrong, you are not holding them in your thoughts, you are walking away from the past. That doesn’t mean you forget what they’ve done. It doesn’t obligate you to be their friend. In fact it means you are moving on and that you no longer have any need or desire to speak to them or see them ever again. I was once told that forgiveness was like stepping in dog poo. You forgive (wipe it away), step away from the pile, and make a note of the location so that you don’t repeat the experience. Not forgiving is having it on your shoe and constantly smelling it, tracking it in your car and home, and possibly having it ruin your shoe, your good mood, your friendships, your work life and even alienating those you live with and love dearly!

Looking for Revenge

You did me wrong
Claimed it was your right
But they say that revenge
Is best served ice cold
And that patience
Is a virtue that I have
And possession is 9/10 of the law
At least that’s what they say

I hear what they say
But they are so very wrong
Cautioning me not to take the law
Into my own hands even if I’m right
My heart burns as I have
An elaborate plan for revenge
But it will require patience
And a day that dawns cold

Hell is freezing it’s so cold
And I waited to have my say
But I’ve run out of patience
To get reparations for the wrong
Payment consists of revenge
Forget the law
I don’t forget the hurt you have
Inflicted – You had no right

I’m putting things to right
I hope you suffer the cold
Suffer like I have
I wonder what they’ll say
About breaking the law
I’ll wait with patience
Smiling as I relish the revenge
An eye for an eye can’t be wrong

A right codified as criminal by law
Turns hearts cold and destroys patience
I will have my righteous revenge
Even when they say it is damnably wrong

I really don’t think this one needs much explanation. This is the End of Summer scavenger hunt prompt #10 – Write an Octina on the topic of revenge. The Octina is a variation of the sestina with 4 stanzas of eight lines per stanza. The envoi is 4 lines that use the end words two per line. Like the sestina the same end words are repeated in each stanza according to a matrix. Because the order repeats after 4 stanzas there are only 4 instead of 8.

Looking at Exploration

I set off without consulting a map
So sure of my destination
And familiarity with the way
That I would never become lost
Or confused, fate had other plans
And so I wander

Like a meandering river I wander
Causing a redrawing of the map
Turning my plans
Into an unknown destination
Refusing to admit I’m lost
Still so certain I know the way

I circle back turn again a different way
Repeat the mantra “not all who wander
Are lost”
Decide to unfold the map
Trace the route to my destination
Note the destruction of my plans

I can’t remember the plans
I don’t know the way
Slippery memory of a destination
I fish for the answers as I wander
Tracing my veins as a map
Knowing that I’m lost

Exploring uncharted lands lost
Was never part of my plans
A mental map
To find my heart’s way
Instead the mind will wander
Never to reach my destination

Suddenly you loomed as my destination
You saved me when I was lost
Holding my hand you wonder as I wander
You were in my dreams but not plans
Yet you found a way
To put me on your map

Love has its destination despite plans
Being lost in love is the only way
To wander even when consulting a map

This is my sestina to fulfill the End of Summer scavenger hunt prompt #9 – Write a sestina about exploration. I have to give credit for the inspiration for this one to Kim Hawke. She shared a post on FB on May 17th about the meandering of a river’s course over time and how the river moves/changes and how this relates to the evolution of a woman into her own person. Anyway she suggested it as a writing prompt. I saved it thinking that perhaps I’d make it into a prompt for this scavenger hunt. Well I completely forgot. Then as I was writing this sestina it all came back to me. Sestinas have never been easy for me but I think I’m getting a little better or at least a little more comfortable writing them. This one practically wrote itself!

Looking Aghast at War

Two bullies exchanging words
Turn to throwing well aimed stones
Surrounded by their pals they aren’t alone
And before long they toss verbal bombs
Threats become action as they dig their graves

Two gangs fight over turf filled with graves
Spray paint their symbols and words
Scattered indelible dirty bombs
A witness to stupidity displayed on tombstones
And the women weep and wail alone

To give the cause credence he worked alone
Planting a flag at each of the graves
Breaking the silence of the stones
They were past the time of impotent words
To effect change they turned to bombs

Night was a time to fear the bombs
Huddled in dark cellars all alone
Peace was nothing but empty words
All the countries mourned and dug graves
Cities and towns turned to piles of stones

The mothers sifted through the stones
Searching for life after the bombs
They placed sons and daughters in graves
Bereft of husband and family they sat alone
Empty of tears, pleas, prayers and curse words

War robs us of words, turns hearts to stones, makes us alone
War’s bombs unsated by the graves of our hopes and dreams

This is my take on the End of Summer scavenger hunt prompt #8 – Write a Pentina on the topic of war. A pentina is a variation of the sestina but instead of 6 stanzas of six lines there are 5 stanzas of five lines. Anyway, it is only a tiny bit less difficult than the sestina. I’m considering it a “warm-up” for the sestina coming next.

We are a belligerent species. I can only be thankful that nations have NOT been able to pull together like army ants – that would certainly doom us to extinction. It starts almost as soon as we can walk. By the time we are old enough to play in groups there are those who exert dominance over their playmates and demand the immediate use of toys even if others are playing with them. The bully evolves into the gang leader. In adulthood there are those who believe that violence is the means to an end (usually the end that they want to achieve). It doesn’t stop there it expands to cultures, countries, religious communities, you name the group. There is someone trying to push their vision onto others using all and every means but especially violence. And then we get war. It pains me to think of the lives lost, the potential squandered, the tears shed. There is nothing praiseworthy about war. No matter how it is spun war is an expense that takes more than it gives and there really isn’t a winner – we all lose.

Looking and Finding Whimsy

With joy and smiles I skip through life
Ignore the urge to act my age
Adversity just makes me laugh

Jokes, puns, plays on words make me laugh
Give in to whimsy, give it life
Act my shoe size instead of age

Every year advances my age
Though death approaches still I laugh
Work as fun lets me enjoy life

I laugh through life at every age.

The 7th prompt for the End of Summer scavenger hunt is to write a Tritina with a touch of whimsy or nonsense. The Tritina is a “half sestina” made of 3 three line stanzas with a single line envoi at the end. Like the sestina the last end words of the first stanza are repeated in a different order in the following stanzas. There is no requirement or prohibition on meter or rhyme though the poem is most commonly written in tetrameter or pentameter.

This just about sums up my life’s philosophy. I’m not by nature an optimistic soul. I am at heart a worst case scenario person. I spent a good portion of my professional life trying to prepare for and then mitigate disasters. It made it quite apparent that I didn’t have near as much control over the cosmos as I wanted. That lead me to the realization that you can either choose tears or laughter. I decided to enjoy the little things, take the opportunity to laugh, chortle, chuckle, and even giggle my way along this road called life. There are some who pooh-pooh a less than dead serious approach to life as pure nonsense. But in the end we have to do what works best for our individual lives. (Yes, you can be serious and I’m serious when I say that laughter can be the best medicine.)

Looking at Poverty

Thirst, hunger
Hollow eyed children
Turn to crime to fill bellies

The End of Summer scavenger hunt has as prompt #6 – Write an Oddquain about poverty. The Oddquain is a short, usually unrhymed poem consisting of seventeen syllables distributed 1, 3, 5, 7, 1 in five lines. So this is in keeping with the short Haiku inspired poetry that the first 6 prompts have focused on.

Watching the black and white film version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as a child really made an impression on me. In fact it gave me nightmares! The rattling chains of Bob Marley and the depiction of Scrooge’s grave (with the eerie music) was of no account. The scene with the ghost of Christmas Present where beneath his robe are two starving children. The ghost proclaims, “They are Man’s. This boy is Ignorance, this girl is Want. Beware them both, but most of all, beware this boy.” That was what haunted me. It was a very visceral depiction that echoed the story of St. Vincent de Paul as told in the publication Little Pictorial Lives of the Saints, “He went through the streets of Paris at night seeking the children who were left there to die. Once robbers rushed upon him, thinking he carried a treasure, but when he opened his cloak they recognized him and his burden and fell at his feet.”

I was taught that poverty was man-made and not “ordained by God” though there are some who believe that misfortune, illness, and poverty are the result of judgements from God. That said it is also incumbent on me and you and everyone on this planet to work to lift the afflicted. A two pronged approach of education and charity can do wonders. I would posit that another area that we need to address in the fight against poverty is one of social justice – the rooting out of racism, bigotry, economic subjugation, and even voter suppression. Only when we have that kind of society will we see a near elimination of poverty. Only when we can lift up each other can we walk together. (Yes, I admit that I wrote the prompts with those issues I’m passionate about in mind. I hope you can find something in the prompts to feel passionate about…)

Looking Timely

Cloud shadow quickly flees
Slipping through my fingers
Past, present, and future
Anguish and bliss pass away

The End of Summer scavenger hunt prompt #5 is to write a Naani on the topic of time. The Naani is a poem form from India. It is syllabic written in 4 lines with a total of 20 -25 syllables total. Like the Haiku it doesn’t rhyme. The poem is not bound to any specific subject but usually depicts human relations and current events. I chose a syllable count of 6/6/6/7 for my lines for a total of 25 syllables.

Time is a slippery thing. No sooner than we grab hold of now, it becomes then. As hard as we strain to reach the future, it is always a nanosecond beyond our fingers. As we reach, it slides into our touch to become the present and sublimes instantly to become the past. The problem with time is that humans have the capability to remember what just was and to long for what may be. That means we are constantly dragging the past into our present via nostalgia and persistent reminiscence. We also hope and anticipate a future formed by wishes and dreams. I am not saying that those abilities are undesirable, on the contrary those traits have built civilizations. On the individual level however if one lives in the past or in dreams of the future alone, the present living is neglected. That neglect robs the person of any new memories and the dreams will remain unobtainable. We find the person in a state of suspended animation – neither living nor dead and just as separated from the rest of the world. The best is to relish this moment. Remember the string of memories and wear them like a beautiful necklace. Place the dreams like flowers in your hair where you can smell their sweet perfume even as you live in this very instant.

Looking Hateful

Hate is a very powerful emotion. It goes beyond revulsion, dislike, loathing, and distrust. Hatred has been observed in the streets of the USA, on display in our federal and state and local governments, and even in those charged with the protection of every citizen. Hatred is active and turned toward others (though some people seem to hate themselves). It is easy to spot and yet some are having trouble recognizing it in themselves and in others. So to recap for those who can’t recognize or don’t seem to know what hatred looks like:
1. It is any action taken with malice and intention to harm another person – either physically, emotionally, psychologically, or economically.
2. It is an attitude of dismissal of others because you believe they are not worthy, capable, valuable, or knowledgeable enough to make decisions for themselves based on your opinion or conviction instead of their abilities.
3. It is any selfish, unkind, uncaring, boastful, demeaning, unloving, arrogant, rude, bossy, resentful, lying, criminal, or deceptive interaction. Yep. All of it.
4. Hatred is a salve that is applied to cover hurts by shifting blame from the consequences of your own actions onto the heads of others.

Below is my End of Summer scavenger hunt prompt #4 – write a Hay(na)ku on the subject of hate. A Hay(na)ku is a 3 line word count poem consisting of three lines with a word count of 1/2/3. There is no required meter or rhyme and no restriction on syllable count per word.

Begat loathing
Hatred birthed violence