Looking at the Grass

Upon a blade
The temperatures freeze vapor
Appears warm in an ice coat
Because few words melt
Rather the god of glass grass
Spreads anxiety and insincerity
Run people
This course finds criticism
Hustle away from responsibility
Even the bushes and buds
Hide but are found

Spring is trying very hard to arrive. It isn’t getting much traction though. As soon as a tree dares push a bud onto a branch, we get more cold. Yesterday there was fog in the evening and this morning everything was coated in a thin glaze of ice. I was looking at the grass and every blade was encased in ice. I know that beneath the ice the grass is still supple but currently it is immobile. I feel that at times I am frozen in place and though everyone around me is running toward their own destinies, I am simply waiting for mine to find me… Which is the better course?

The above is a little free verse since I am feeling a bit trapped. I suppose letting the poetry have some free rein will eventually bring me back to the main road.

Looking Folded

Pressed paper dry and brittle
Origami woman creased deeply and folded neatly
Faded ink hints at a boldness lost in kimono patterns
Her hands lay in her lap
Her heart lay in her hands
Her memories fold back on themselves
Sliding like silk between parchment
A puff of wind and the silk billows
Scattering thoughts as dust motes
Love lost like frozen flakes and
Haiku emotions sharply cut the paper

My youngest sister is preparing to bring her MIL into her home. There are issues. Not the least of which is that dementia has become so pronounced that it is no longer safe for her to live alone in her own home. They have been attempting to care for her long distance (my sister and her husband live in Florida and his mother lives in Ohio) but even with a Monday through Friday sitter/housekeeper and the installed monitoring cameras it has become obvious that she needs someone with her around the clock. The town she lives in doesn’t really have many options, even with her daughter nearly next door (but she is still working and has a husband who is not willing to have his MIL join their household). So as soon as the bathroom is remodeled to be safe, they will move her to Florida. She indicated that was her wish when she visited them this last summer in a rare moment of clarity. If they can get her moved then the house and car can be sold. If it comes down to finding a nursing home there are many in the area to choose from. As I look on from a distance, and the grief of losing my mother still a raw memory, I see the pain of losing a parent while they are yet present as a special kind of torment.

Looking to Be Free

Women with hair pulled back in severe buns
Not a single hair dare stray or break loose
No expression of joy or pain, boredom or excitement
They remain stony, imprisoned hearts barely beating
Men in stiff uniforms standing row upon row
Eyes fixed ahead staring at nothing seeing nothing
There is no anticipation of movement or action
Their purpose simply to stand sentinel to freedom
A regimented existence unable to choose to blink
I watch them and shake out my hair into the wind
Become Medusa and spin with abandon
And I watch them closely for the tell tale signs
A tightening at the corner of the mouth and a tension
Starting with the eyelids and moving to the nostrils
The stare becomes a glare as the nostrils flare
And as suddenly as a gust of wind before a storm
I leap into the air taking flight, look down and cackle
To the lightning crackle and thunder clap of free fall
I see envy rise a green miasma as freedom rots
Their fingers twitch, wish for a salt shaker to tether
This bird to the ground and free nevermore be

Winter is upon us. To me winter is a prison where I am trapped by the cold and immobilized. I was musing on the strange condition of freedom and decided to pen a little free verse poetry (and to torture myself added some internal rhyme). As Americans we are all about personal freedoms (just ask any Trump supporter if they should be required to be vaccinated against coronavirus). We value personal choice as sacred until politics steps in. Some politicians don’t want to give women freedom to decide whether to become a mother or not. They don’t want to give equal protection under the law to minorities. They don’t want to allow immigrants a pathway to citizenship. They want to restrict American citizens’ ability to vote. The list is long and getting longer. It seems the access to freedom is a very narrow road. It makes me think we are headed toward Vonnegut’s dystopia in the story “Harrison Bergeron“…

Looking Fevered

I am fevered
The steam rises as I desiccate
Dry bones bone dry
Sweat flies ashen flakes
The fire rages body burns
Purified I muse
Reality is a charred mind
Brain fried crispy
Don’t breathe on me
Or I will fly apart
Blowing dust from an old book

I sleep feverish
Hover between life and death
Silkworm cocoon burns

The fire extinguished
Soaking wet embers
Waiting to reignite
There is nothing left
The fuel is sodden
Spider web mind remnants
Life less the baggage
Lighter freer unmoored
I can fly but no longer run
This story has no last chapter
Breezes blow me away

I claw at the sky
My thoughts rise up incense prayers
Death holds no fear

So here is a little amalgam of free verse and zappai to commemorate my horrific bout with an evil intestinal virus. It was at first assumed to be food poisoning. But food poisoning goes away after 24 – 48 hours. This nastiness lingered Friday into Saturday, Saturday slid to Monday. I thought that like the unfortunate Officer Kane in the original Alien movie, that I too was going to have something burst from me. I was in misery. A call to the doctor’s office netted me an appointment on Friday – a full 7 days since the beginning of my ordeal. I managed to stay hydrated, kept my appointment, and I didn’t die. Seems it is a virus but not THAT virus. (I can honestly say I loathe viruses.) Nothing that can be done but treat the symptoms. So I had been on the BRAT diet for 3 days prior to the doctor’s appointment. BRAT is Banana, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. Dry toast never tasted so good. Anyway, after another week I was able to add in a few bland foods gradually and after another week I’m back to normal (except that eating plain rice will not happen for a long long time)!

Looking for Safety

Nothing is safe anymore
Lead in my wheat noodles
Uranium leaching into my water
Antibiotics in the chicken
And plastics in my chocolate
These are an inconvenience
But white privilege in my school
Racism in the workplace
Body shaming in the gym
Homophobia in my church
These are lethal to my soul

I was reading some online research journals and all the head lines were dire. Basically we are being poisoned or more accurately, we are poisoning the environment. Which in turn is incorporating the poisons into everything from food and water, to air and animals. It has gotten so bad that if one were to read an analysis of spaghetti noodles it would scare the pants off you! It is not something that is going to make me stop eating pasta. This environmental crisis won’t end over night. I’m guessing it won’t be resolved until after I’m dead and gone.

I used to put all my groceries into reusable bags. But the grocery stores have banned the bags – they don’t want you to bring your germy bags into their store. We used to get the newspaper but decided not to kill any more trees. Now we get all our news online or on TV. I used to look for products that had a minimum of packaging. Since COVID has come to visit, all the grocery stores are wrapping everything! All my broccoli is now hermetically sealed in plastic. Ditto for green beans, tomatoes, even corn on the cob – it is all wrapped in plastic for a “hygienic shopping experience”. We have easily tripled the amount of plastic we have to discard or recycle.

But to put this in perspective, it will not damage my chances for eternal life. That is, I will do my best to reduce, reuse and recycle. I don’t think my choice of dark versus milk chocolate will result in an additional delay for me to pass through the pearly gates… What would alter my trajectory to heaven is failure to protect the weak and vulnerable. Being unable to see Christ in others, to deny my assistance and my voice to those in danger, failing to do what I was commanded (feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, aid the sick) all that will set me on the path to hell instead of heaven.

I am weary hearing my fellow Christians fixate on stopping abortion to the exclusion of realizing the harm other policies have on the lives and well-being of fellow citizens and those seeking refuge in this great country. The current policies that deny asylum seekers a safe haven, prevent access to health care, put corporations before people, sanction racism and foment violence are completely at odds with Christian principles. I think abortion is wrong but I’m not about to force my belief on someone else, especially when preventing access to safe and medically performed procedures will result in death or even worse – permanent physical damage. I would never have an abortion. But unless we are prepared as a nation to house, feed, educate and provide a loving and safe home for every child, we cannot and should not force women to bear children they do not want, cannot feed and clothe, and do not have the support to care for them. Pro-life starts at conception and DOES NOT end at birth. Sadly the actions of many Pro-life supporters stop short of caring for the born instead focusing only on the unborn.

Looking at the Tides

We were discussing memories of swim lessons with the extended and distanced family on a Sunday as we gathered and consumed individually packaged frozen treats. Some of Sparky’s family never learned to swim while others are natural fish. I personally never achieved swimming proficiency. Every summer my mother signed us up for lessons at the community pool. I finally grew/aged out of the baby pool and was placed in the 3′ deep area. It terrified me since I was only an inch taller than the water was deep. I spent a lot of time hanging onto the edge gasping for breath. In HS I got a B in swimming class but that was because I tried very hard and despite sinking like a rock, never gave up. Sparky took swim lessons too but was much more successful.

We were always sailors
Riding on briny waves
Rocked in the deep dark
Of our mother’s wombs
Suddenly marooned
Still drenched and damp
We search for sea water
Fearlessly wade into oceans
Beg the riptide to take us
Rock us to eternal sleep
Betrayed by the salinity
Rocked on the ebb and flow
We float

Looking at Becoming a Diamond

Your words
Pierce my heart
As you speak
All I hear are sirens
That slow high pitched
Wail that fades in and out
The sound of disaster
The sound of despair
The sound of heart break
The sound of howling dogs
The sound of my voice
Full throated ululation
Joining your keening
For what was
For what is
For what will be

There are times when I feel like the finger of God is pushing down and trapping me beneath the weight of all things. I know in my mind that diamonds are produced when carbon, a common and ugly substance, is put under extreme pressure. The pressure so great that it rearranges the inherent structure of the substance. I do not want to be a diamond. None of us want to be reshaped by events outside our control. Yet it happens all the time. I have had such sad news. News I am not at liberty to divulge. Only that it strikes such sorrow and helplessness into my heart and mind that I am bereft of action. I am at a loss at this blow. I want to shake my fist at God and demand that this unfair treatment stop. I want to scream and blame and have a little tantrum. Terrible things happen but they are generally spaced such that you can recover physically and emotionally and even spiritually. But not lately. There has been an avalanche of catastrophe heaped upon someone close to me. At present all I’m capable of doing is joining my voice to the sound of the sirens.

Looking at a Favorite

I had fun with this one as is fitting because it is the last of the prompts that Kim Hawke had put forth for May. These last two of Kim’s MMPP prompts were: Write a poem for or about Beltane (or the midpoint between vernal equinox and summer solstice) and Write a piece in the style of your favorite poet, or about your favorite poet. I love Carl Sandburg. We had to memorize a poem for 7th grade English and I wanted to memorize “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg. I had found it in an anthology on my parent’s bookcase. My teacher, Miss Watson, felt the theme was too mature and my classmates wouldn’t understand it. Instead she approved a much shorter Sandburg poem “Fog” which was easy – too easy I thought! So for your reading pleasure my take on Sandburg’s style and interpretation of Beltane in the industrialized world…

I squint into the sun of the blast furnace
The roar of the fire fierce but the men more so
The heat intensifies the hunger and the thirst
And we toil making our own tribute to Beltane
The flame is mine, the god of iron and steel is mine
And the boys jump between crucibles
Leap past molten metal between slag showers
Ingots
Billets
Slabs
Coils
Shovel coke and sweat the dust from our faces
Wear flowers of soot and char while we dance
We sing as a raging inferno pounding iron
Listen to our song of spark and sizzle

Looking into the Mathematics of Poetry

For MMPP Kim issued a prompt asking the question – “If math is a language, like music, can it be poem-ed? Math poem. Go.” So I was considering all the ways to approach this and though “What about a Fibonacci sequence poem?” Then Promisesunshine beat me to it. Not wanting to be a copy cat, I had to delve further and further into poetic forms and *gasp* mathematical theory. So there are rules and then there are theories about what is presumed to be the rules. In the world of science, mathematics, and (especially including) physics the rules are based on observation and deduction supported by calculations based on demonstrated laws. Over time these laws have been modified and sometimes radically changed. Are you still following? So the bottom line is that what is can become what was and replaced by a newer version of what we think (at the time) is truth.

I really do not want to open that can of worms and go spelunking through philosophy. So I’m going back to math. You see math and I have an uneasy truce. I won’t poke it and it promised not to poke me. Now the idea of a math poem brings me to the concept of an ekphrastic poem (another prompt). The strict interpretation of ekphrastic poetry is a descriptive poem of a physical work of art such as a Grecian urn (Thank you John Keats). But poets have never been ones to stick strictly to the rules. Which is why there are so few mathematician poets. So to bend the rules I will make the assumption that ekphrastic poetry can not only describe 2D and 3D arts (paintings and sculptures) but can include the feelings engendered by viewing said works. I would further theorize that the feelings can be transferred to the elegant and possibly the most artful of of mathematical fields – geometry and calculus.

Interval Exploration

The ends of my world
Are joined in a circle that is
Made of irrational values
Circular emotions spin in
An orbit making infinite
Revolutions within a
Circumscribed square
I am trying with all my
Strength to find the set
Of all numbers that are true
For my interval such that
The angles of my world
Are multiples of two
The solution for
My intersection
My circular soul
Which careens in a box
In the circle of reality
Is to multiply two by
Infinity
Which gives me the only
Answer
One.

For all of you who managed to get through that without having a mental collapse, I just want you to know how I’m feeling after finishing this prompt – yeah this

Looking at Knots

She tied the knot in the corner of the bed sheet
A mumbled prayer dribbled off her lips
Past the woman tying knots in a hankie
Tears running off her chin to splash
Across her wedding ring
A reminder of the knot tied so long ago
She walked to the desk her stomach in knots
From anxiety and fear and lack of lunch
All the knots frayed from holding so long
Knowing that the knot holding this man
To his life was loosening
No amount of fancy rope work
Bowline, half hitch or square knot
Would tie him up and keep him here

They don’t allow it anymore. A longtime ago the nurses would tie a knot in the corner of the sheet of a patient on the brink of death. The superstition was that by tying a knot in the sheet the person would be “tied” to this life and not pass on your shift. Now any nurse caught performing this little ritual would be reprimanded and possibly fired. We as a species have a long history of knot tying. We do it all the time either literally or figuratively. When was the last time you were tied in knots or tied something in knots??