Looking in the Family Tree

This is my 11th offering for the NPM 2023 Nonce Forms Scavenger Hunt. The Silver Shovel by Monty Vern is a variation on the Golden Shovel where you take a line or lines from an existing poem and credit the original poet and poem. The Silver Shovel uses each KEY word as an end word skipping words like a/an/and/the/or etc. that are not essential to the meaning of the line. You must keep the end words in order. The new poem does not have to have the same subject as the poem the line(s) were derived from. The bonus is to use a poem from a WP poet – I selected Sarah David’s (Words and Coffee blog) poem “Work in Progress”.

Who do I call family
The people at work
Or forget them for progress
The ancestors from a severed tree
Those broken and burnt branches
With a delicate tenuous arching

How does this tree grow
Winding and vining with forks
I perch and attempt to choose
A green leafy and fruitful limb
But it is an unknown
All knowledge beyond my reach

Ancient histories intersecting
We wandered verdant valleys
Alone and lost strangers relying
On gifts and kindness gentle
Care received from foreign hands
From people unconcerned with histories

I mourn for my father’s
Lost pride discarded on the journey
Precious reminders a tapestry
Woven of women’s sacred mysteries
Passed down now lost a mother’s
Origin and love stories

These were in my very DNA secreted
A tangled reminiscence of galleries
Where hang the past and present life’s
Questions teased with answers
That the modern nomad finds unneeded
Having surrendered everything for love

This tree transplanted in new dirt
Grew slowly years out of time
Watered with a hope for revealed truth
Thinking good fruit would follow
But we are a lost rootless family
No matter how hard we work
Pasts are forgotten in the name of progress

My mother was very much the genealogist and traced her family back to the 1500s. My father’s side proved much more troublesome. My father had family in Europe and in Asia (Russia) that between the Russian Pogroms and the Holocaust were lost. The family tree supposedly had both Roma and Jew. Neither group fared well. My Grandmother Ernestine (Tena) was a German Jew and my Grandfather Sidney was a Russian Jew. Their grandparents had the foresight to come to America. Other than knowing that my father’s paternal side were tailors and his maternal side consisted of grocers and common laborers, there isn’t much other information. The Ancestry 23andMe DNA test only confirms what we had suspected. When they came to the US they assimilated and the 2nd generation rejected their past – language, customs, and dress. They moved from NY to Chicago. So I am a melting pot – a true blending of everything that makes America unique and yet I wish I knew more about those people missing from the official transcript of my family tree…

Looking at More or Less

Her house refuses to wait
until a man replies to
The question she shouts
Provide sufficiency
End disappointment
Sustain hope
No more no less
What do you want
He cries
No more no less

Here’s a little free verse written in honor of a strong woman. She is much younger than myself, and has seen a horrible reversal of fortune. She was married (technically is still married but the divorce is soon to be finalized) and is parenting 2 young children on her own. She has moved into a small apartment and went from part-time to full-time employment. This was a rough transition for her but thankfully her employer was very eager to give her more hours. She has a mother who is willing to care for the kids after school.

For several weeks (after her husband simply stopped coming home) she was sure he had been injured or killed. She called the police, his work, his friends and all his family members trying to find out if they knew where he was, the last time he was seen or if he’d contacted them. If anyone had information they weren’t sharing it. He finally surfaced at Christmas. She was beyond angry. By then she had cancelled all the credit cards, closed the bank account, and changed the locks on the house. Because his paychecks hadn’t been deposited in almost 6 months, she had put the house on the market in an effort to prevent foreclosure.

She is smart and wounded. She is strong but struggling. Her dreams of what life was supposed to hold have evaporated. But (and this is what is so terrible and magnificent) she is no longer relying on someone else to provide her happiness. She has discovered her inner warrior. She knows that she is capable of giving her children a home, love, security, and the support they need. There is no more waiting on a man to rescue her. She will settle for no less than what she is worth!

Looking into Owl Eyes

This is the very last of the House of Mayhem of the Mind Scavenger Hunt developed and hosted by MoonCatBlue. I am wrapping this up with a story poem (free verse sandwiched in a monorhyme) that includes the situation on Prompt #6 – due to a misunderstanding someone has booked a stay at an AirBnB/owl sanctuary despite a mild fear of birds and #8 – retell/reimagine a children’s story shifted for adults. I chose the Grimm Fairy Tale The Owl for this prompt. It is essentially a story about letting the imagination override reason resulting in destruction of property and death of an ordinary owl which is imagined to be a supernatural monster.

In the darkness I alight
Pay the Uber head toward light
Air BnB for the night
Rustling wings give me a fright
Fear of owls swooping in flight
This mistake can’t be put right
The urge to leave I must fight
Sleep and dream and just sit tight
All is better in daylight

A tangled dream of monstrous eyes
Clawing talons squeezing breath
From punctured lungs and crushing weight
I confront the owl confused
Who is more afeard when imagination
Captures reason and tears logic down?
Would I burn up all I own
When dread runs a rushing wind
And causes insanity in men?

Sweat drenched awake at midnight
The Lord’s Prayer aloud recite
Fear and terror will incite
A great panic to ignite
Patient wait for dawn’s first sight
See that everything’s alright
Convince self of trip’s delight
Know owls don’t hold hateful spite
For dream owls with flames I smite

Looking at a Productive Day

Do good work in daily parts
Beginning work starts
Happy busy hearts
Respond to need
Eschew greed
Take heed
This day

A friend (and former coworker) of mine is recovering from a stroke. She is only 50 years old. It was sudden and unexpected. Because of a previous cancer scare, she has been very careful with her health. She exercised, riding her bike on 10 mile circuits, and ate a nearly vegetarian diet to mind her cholesterol. She didn’t smoke or drink or take illegal drugs. Yet she suffered a fairly significant stroke. At first she couldn’t talk or walk or even hold a spoon. It was a good sign when she recognized her husband. It took nearly 3 months of therapies – occupational, physical, speech. She worked hard and it paid off! She finally came home. She is hoping to go back to work before spring this year. To that end she is really pushing herself. She has a regimen of daily exercises and daily tasks that she has to complete. She is to the point that when she loads the dishwasher she says a prayer. Wiping off the kitchen table sends her into a praise frenzy. All the little things that I do without a thought are major accomplishments that are worthy of a prayer of thanksgiving. Talking to her on the phone I was struck by how happy she is to be alive.

Looking at Alzheimer’s Disease

This is another entry for MoonCatBlue’s House of Mayhem of the Mind Scavenger Hunt using prompts #3 – A snake is on the loose somewhere it really shouldn’t be, #15 – Use the line “Everyone thought Len would be President, but he took a different exit and started selling used cars off of Highway 8”, #32 – a quest involving a fork, tattoo, pick-up truck, lobster, #33 – At an event someone gets a swag bag containing something not really meant for them, #34 – Memory: real and imagined. Let the mayhem begin!

I can’t remember if we met before
Such a nice man
I think we attended a wedding
Of a mutual friend
They served lobster with tiny forks
No that’s not it at all
It was when I had a flat tire
He was the man
With the pick-up truck and tattoos
Or was it at work
When we had the big party
I got a swag bag
That had a 30 year service plaque
Obviously not for me
It is so exhausting questing about
Searching for a name
Trying to remember a face, an event
Maybe he’s that kid, Len
We thought he’d end up President
But he took a different exit
Sold used cars off of Highway 8
I’m so tired now
But I dare not sleep because of the snake
I know it’s in the bed
Now where did that kind man get to
He promised to check
For the snake in the sheets and help
Me discover where
My husband has been hiding

Looking Like a Servant

You Weren’t Born To Serve Another’s Agenda

You demand ice cream pounding
On the table as if driving roofing nails
You complain of too tight trousers
I become your tailor, thimble on thumb
Your anger spills over seeing a dog hair
Randomly shed by your mangy mutt
Keep this place clean you shout
Declutter the kitchen, fold the laundry
Make my coffee, do it all now
These and other conversations play on a loop
And I cannot mourn sitting next to your coffin

The first scavenger hunt I ever participated in was on Xanga way back in the day. It was devised by a Xangan called MoonCatBlue. Well, she has issued another Scavenger Hunt – “MoonCatBlue’s House of Mayhem’s Revival Scavenger Hunt of the Mind”. I was invited to join this private little group so you will all be subjected to the Mayhem that may occur. The above Free Verse is based on prompt #1 – Check your daily horoscope. Select one sentence and use it as a title. I also included prompt #2 – Incorporate: thimble, coffin, tailor, ice cream, dog hair, roofing nails.

Looking at the Ocean

I am continually amazed at this world. Late Autumn in Northern Indiana tends toward a grey and cloudy sky that is prone to rain that will eventually give way to snow. All that has put me in a reflective mood. Michel at fauguetmichel asked me about the ocean and sky missing from a poem. That got me to thinking. You see I live in Indiana and have for most of my life. Indiana is landlocked and flat and winter is cold and long. In my musing I had to admit that the ocean seems a far away mystical place. I am going to be visiting my Florida sister in a few months (in February). The little free verse with rhyming couplets below combines that sea memory and my imagination.

Salt tears fall
Join the tears of all
From my eyes
From the skies
Witness the weeping
Ocean holds them keeping
The sadness and woes
Against the shore throws

I am the deep sea
The salt water is in me
Cries in my chest swell
I release them and yell
Out my anguish and pain
Only then can I remain
As guardian of the earth
And to all creation give birth

Looking Seasonal

She’s off her meds
Indecisiveness hovers
A yes becomes a no
Hot to cold unbalanced
Crying jags
Maniacal laughter
I stand back and guess
Zig or zag
One minute saintly
The next a killer
She waffles between
Remorse and anger
Cheerful and violent
Until she abandons me
To winter

A little free verse for Fall. The official first day of Autumn was September 22nd but at that point we were still enjoying Summer. There is definitely a shift in seasons with fall weather starting later and winter lingering longer. This makes spring abbreviated and even summer isn’t what it used to be (now it is either scorching heat or overcast). I used to think fall was my favorite season but there haven’t been very many crisp sunny days. Fall is cold one day and hot the next. It has rained far too often. It has been very windy – so much so that raking leaves has become a futile effort. Sparky has taken to bagging all the leaves – to keep peace with the neighbors and to prevent raking up the same leaves two or three times. Every time I start to switch to the fall/winter wardrobe it gets hot. I’m thinking Mother Nature needs a little Prozac!

Looking for the Wait to End

Today is Friday and my schedule is jam packed. It is a hurry up and wait kind of day. We are doing a food run to stock the church food pantry (have to go to a warehouse and dig through bins to select canned goods etc.). Then to church to unload the food. That will be followed by a trip to retrieve my art from the Student Faculty Show. Then it is a call to my sister followed by a call to the other sister. At some point we will eat lunch, get our COVID boosters, and walk the dog at least twice. Then for dinner we are off to a restaurant for the High School Classes of 1970 – 1979 Reunions. Since Sparky and almost all of his siblings graduated in that time frame, as well as my cousins (3 which live in town), and our very good friends, there will be lots of familiar faces.

Since I’m participating in David’s We’ave Written Weekly poetry cooperative, I have to wait until my entry posts so I can add it to Mr. Linky. So the timing is important – I’ll have been poised at the keyboard for several minutes to ensure my entry is in time. A.J. Wilson proposed the prompt of a poem of no more than 12 lines and incorporating the word waiting:

My DNA coils and divides in its own time
As a woman, waiting is in my genes
Waiting for what day brings, for a phone to ring
For a man to sing to my heart, to reach my prime
Waiting for the time of birth, quickening of earth
All the while holding my breath in anticipation
Of becoming full and whole and then night falls
And the waiting resumes, eyes searching the gloom
Looking for myself buried in the waiting
With dawn I’m drawn to the horizon, the sun, the fun
Waiting patiently for me to discover the wait is over
As I burst into tears dancing and prancing free

Looking to Leave Fast

This week’s Wea’ve Written Weekly (W3) sponsored by David at the Skeptic’s Kaddish is a prompt by the incomparable Michelle Navajas. Her prompt is to write a free verse poem of 12 lines and to use the word “adorable”. So here I go!

My memories were once beautiful, ravishing, desirable
Our love was the envy of friends, strangers, even enemies
Until that fateful day
You called me adorable, a puppy, a frilly Valentine, cute
And in that instant you took me from your heart
Placed me on display as a trophy
Made me static
A thing
But I will not be shelved or held apart
I am not a dog given to following commands
My heart is wild and I will be free to love with abandon
Unfettered by memories of your love’s chains

Sparky and I were sitting around the kitchen table with some long time friends and musing about family. We were wondering about the reasons that in both our families there were a dearth of divorces. The only thing that we could come up with was that all the marriages were dynamic. Marriage is a team sport, a partnership, a collaboration.