Looking Dusty

Dust of Life
Today and yesterday and most likely tomorrow
are filled with the sweeping up of crumbs
remnants of life and living
never groovy, neat and tidy
as seen in magazines
Sunrise and high noon and very probably dusk
will be spent in a flurry of scrubbing floors
covered in scuffs and muddy paw prints
that resist the gleam expected from
surfaces clean enough to eat on
Time on the clock and calendar passes
the battle rages between us and
the far out dust and debris
in the end we return to that
we fought against
accepting our heritage.

This is my entry for the We’ave Written Weekly (W3) poetry prompt set by Kunjal on David’s blog, “The Skeptic’s Kaddish”. I am very aware of death. Lately death has touched many around me. And since I am not an island, death has looked me in the eye, nodded and passed by. As friends and family cope with the loss of people they love, I am reminded that death is ever present. We mostly dismiss the fact that these bodies were made of dust and that it is only natural that we return to dust. Perhaps being able to ignore death is what lets us savor the present… and still death winks at me.

Looking at Father’s Day

A verse in honor of this Father’s Day
When men take a leisurely pause from work
Enjoy TV, gifts, and beers as a perk
Do manly things with friends, goof off and play
Put chores and projects at home on delay
Ignore the phone, play online games and smirk
Favorite meals, dessert eat beast-mode berserk
At day’s end, Dad exhausted hits the hay

Yesterday was Father’s Day as celebrated in the USA. Generally this holiday doesn’t get the same respect or celebratory hoopla that Mother’s Day receives. Sparky’s dad is still with us and had celebrated his 89th birthday in March. He’s slowing down but still drives (even if he probably shouldn’t) and has a keen interest in all things golf, football, national politics, and family! So we took the opportunity to gather with him and shower him with all kinds of goodies (that is some tasty jam for his morning toast ritual). Sparky had been treated to dinner out by son#1 on the previous Wednesday and by son#2 the Sunday prior. I made Sparky’s dreams come true – we are now hosting a dog that will probably become our dog (actually his dog). We are giving it a week to see how she adjusts but this weekend went very well. Sparky and the new dog were curled up on the sofa watching TV Friday night so off to a good start.

The poem is an Italian Octave. It is an 8 line poem in iambic pentameter (which just didn’t work for me) with a strict rhyme scheme of ABBAABBA. Of course as soon as I saw that rhyme I knew I had to do one on Father’s Day!

Looking at Genes

There is debate on whether certain proclivities are the result of genetic disposition or environmental opportunity. Is the ability to see the world and translate that into poetry influenced by genes? It is hard to say. My mother was poetic. My great grandmother wrote poetry too. Yet neither of my sisters is so inclined and I alone am left to carry on the poetry genes. Son#1 can write poetry. He doesn’t but he could. I know this because he wrote in HS and his English teacher was very impressed (he was reading Ambrose Bierce) and was inspired. But I digress. Of my mother’s 6 grand children only one has ever actively written poetry beyond what was required in school.

During National Poetry Month, son#2 saw me struggling with one of the forms and asked what I was writing. I let him read what I had and pointed out what wasn’t working with the meter. He shook his head and retreated only to return and hand me a small slip of paper where he’d scribbled a few lines. His comment was, “Its only words. The meaning is up to the people reading them.” Sometimes he scares me. What follows is his poetic effort:

Bang! Bang!
My elbows strike the table
Spilling apple juice
Shattering the conversation
An orangutan enters
Stinks like feet
Nostrils flare
The quiet room waits
What?

I’m not sure what he wanted to express. It is however an apt description of him making an entrance. I’m undecided if I should encourage him because he really was interested or ignore him because he was poking fun at me… Any thoughts??

Looking at Silver Linings

I decided to participate in Monty Vern’s June poetry challenge to write a “Silver Lining” poem. This poem is a take on the Golden Shovel where you take a line from a poem and use each word in order as the end word in each line of your own poem. The difference between the Golden Shovel and the Silver Lining is that in the Silver Lining you are allowed to leave out unimportant articles like “the” and “a” and some prepositions, retaining the dominant words. I tried, really I did, but gold outshines silver every time. So even though I did try to leave out the little words it just didn’t happen. If it is really important a distinction just drop them as you read and see if it makes everything better… Monty gave a list of 3 lines from various poets. As soon as I saw Carl Sandburg on the list I knew I was in.

“A molten gold flows away from the sun.” from “Evening Sea Wind” by Carl Sandburg

The hammer raised falls, slag shoots a
Gray heat not so removed from molten
Iron once a bright glowing gold
Now dulled as heat rolls and life flows
The men start with vigor but it fades away
And the toil wears them faster from
Any soul abrasions industry devises the
Furnace is their heart and their sun

Sandburg wrote about industry around Chicago and this is something I’ve been near in may ways – geographically and that Sparky worked for a Steel Company for many years (thankfully not in the foundry). The vision of these “men of steel” has stayed with me. They start out young and end up with stress fractures and bent and ready for the scrap heap. But not before they have produced sons eager to take up where their fathers left off. And though that is a biased point of view, many would defend the decision to work in the mills. They say it is a good job with good pay and excellent benefits. It provided their families with a home and food and money to pay for a boat and trips to the lake. And that is true. I suppose it is all about choice and perspective…

Looking at We’ave Written Weekly

This weeks We’ave Written Weekly poetry prompt hosted by David on the Skeptic’s Kaddish is from Britta. Her challenge was to write any poem using one of the words from her poem as the title… That leaves it wide open as her poem is dense with delightful words! So here goes.

Drunken Crows
With feathered wing and piercing eye
We grow and fledge, take to the sky
We fly through life thinking we are above

Haughty birds we flock together
Prance and preen with shiny feather
Unaware of the iridescent lies

We play on thermals in the sun
Swoop and loop until day is done
And only in landing see the flight path

As night descends and all goes dark
The crowns slip from proud monarch
And soon realize we are just drunken crows

This was written as a Tripadi, a Bengali poetic form written in tercets. There must be at least on tercet but there is no limit on the total number. Each tercet is syllabic and rhyming with a rhyme scheme of a/a/x (where x is unrhymed) and a syllable count of 8/8/10.

As many know I’m a fan of the crow. On our trip to the mountains we saw ravens, which are in the same family as crows but a much bigger version, kind of the Midwest crow on steroids. Anyway the Indiana crow is not a wimpy bird, being corn fed and growing into a formidable scavenger. That said, the crow is playful. They have been noted as one of the animals capable of play. And play they do! On a warm day when the heat on the pavement shimmers, there in the air unseen by the human eye are hot air thermals creating a roller-coaster ride for the crows. They will ride these up and up without a single flap of a wing and then exit and slowly spiral then plummet toward the ground. At the last minute they adjust and with flapping wings re-enter the thermal just to do it all over again. It reminds me of people who play around and never consider that are inferior to nature or other people. But life has a way of turning the mirror so that we see exactly how silly and often insignificant we really are in the larger scheme of things.

Looking Protected

His parentage unknown with saucer sized feet

All too soon the rest of him caught up
The chain-link fence was a chin rest.

His tail destroyed the lamps and knick-knacks
His weight made sofa cushions collapse
His ferocity toward the intruder saved their lives

This is a Cherita, named from the Malay word for story. It is a poem consisting of 3 stanzas. The first stanza is a single line. The second a couplet and the third line a tercet. The line lengths are at the poet’s discretion. It is untitled, centered on the page, and has no requirement to rhyme since it is modeled on the haiku/tanka.

A former coworker got a puppy from the animal shelter.  She and her family wanted a small to medium sized dog, something in the range of a cocker spaniel/border collie. All the puppies they had were “Heinz 57” variety. The adoption clerk informed them that the mother had been a sheltie and the father was unknown. Anyway, they selected a likely pup that appeared to be fluffy enough and friendly. After a couple weeks and a visit to their vet, it was determined that their 12 week old pet was really maybe 8 weeks old. The vet’s prediction was that their small to medium sized dog would be much bigger. Her prediction was spot on. When Fluffy went in to get his 16 week vaccinations, he was big. By the time he was 8 months he was the size of a very hairy Great Dane and he was still in the gangly adolescent phase. My coworker considered re-homing Fluffy but her kids were all very attached. Fluffy went to obedience classes and was really a star pupil. His only bad habit was getting on the furniture…

Anyway, his tail was a weapon. If he was happy to see you, you could expect bruises on your thighs from being beaten with that wagging tail. He redecorated her house by eliminating clutter, magazines, and glass figurines (really anything breakable at wag height).  She was at her wits end when he decided the new living room sofa was his bed. She shooed him off it but he would be back as soon as she turned her back. A year later he was a lean and muscular dog. She told me he weighed about 140 pounds! Her good sofa was sagging and the cushions a total loss and she decided that he had to go. A few days later as the family slept, two men broke into the house through the kitchen window. Perhaps they were looking for anything to sell for drug money, maybe they had more wicked plans. But Fluffy cornered them and set up such a racket that even the neighbors knew something was wrong. When the police came the intruders basically begged to be arrested! Fluffy obediently stood down and let the police do their job.

She was curious to know just what kind of dog he was . The results of the canine DNA test pointed to a mix of several big dogs – St. Bernard, Rottweiler, Great Dane, and Akita. Fluffy is now allowed to sleep on the sofa and the talk of him being sent away has ceased forever. Sparky wants a dog but not a really big one. He just might get his wish. The only catch is the backyard needs the fence repaired and we have to see if the dog in question likes Sparky as much as he likes her…

Looking Down the Drain

The violent pattern repeats
Dead children are non-issues
To all the right-wing zealots
Who claim to protect non-viable tissues

Guns in the hands of sick souls
Bullets per second crack-crack
Lives of innocents snuffed out
Gun rights trumps children’s futures, they fade to black

Lives lost to a bullet count
I’m preaching to the choir
Pro-Life can’t support Pro-gun
This cognitive dissonance remains dire

Rise up and say no to death
Chase insanity away
Regulate gun ownership
To the same standard as abortion – today

This is an Endecha, a Spanish form of quatrains with a specific syllable count or 7/7/7/11 and a rhyme scheme of a/b/c/b. This form is often a dirge or lament. Considering the continued gun violence I’m not sure how the pro-gun lobby can justify fighting against better controls and regulation of gun sales and ownership. These children were not a threat. Their lives were as valuable if not more valuable than the unborn. Yet no one is protesting at gun shops or fire arms distributors/manufacturers. Why? Have we so lost our way as decent humans that we no longer care?? Have we become so inured by violence that it no longer causes a visceral reaction and revulsion???
I’m still under the weather. I’m better and the coughing that has kept me awake has been replace with a different kind of insomnia. Sleep didn’t come easily to me last night because of the death that is drowning me. The number of casualties during the last 2 weeks in mass gun violence: 5 injured in OH, 5 injured in NC, 2 dead/3 injured in IN, 10 dead/3 injured in NY, 21 dead/17 injured in TX, 4 injured in WA, 1 dead/3 injured in FL, 1 dead/8 injured in CA, 1 dead/3 injured in LA, 2 dead/7 injured in IL, 2 dead 2 injured in PA, 1 dead/ 6 injured in MI. One hundred and five dead and wounded and the numbers continue to climb as lives are carelessly poured down the drain.

Looking at the Scenic View

View map
Point, tap

We travel to find calm
The road our healing balm

Our destination isn’t set
Hot meal, clean bed not a sure bet

Smooth or rough road
All cares unload

Ignore the warning sign
Keep moving down the line

Pause every day
Give thanks and pray

The above is a Hexaduad. That is a rhyming verse of 12 lines written in 6 rhyming couplets. The trick is that each couplet has a specific syllable count (by line): 2/2 6/6 8/8 4/4 6/6 4/4 and each couplet must rhyme and no rhymes can be repeated in other couplets.

As you read this I am recovering from the scenic trip that Sparky planned out for us. We managed to travel to Utah by flying into Las Vegas (one of my least favorite cities). From there we rented a car and drove to Mesa Verde National Park where we hiked and found a couple geocaches (Sparky promised we wouldn’t be doing any “death marches” but he lied). From there we headed to Arches National Park. We were turned away (reminiscent of our attempt to enter Canada). Sparky didn’t realize we had to have reservations and they were all booked for the next 3 months! We ended up at Canyonlands National Park instead. It was much less strenuous or so it seemed. We followed that by visiting Dead Horse Point State Park. By the end of the day we had 9 caches! The next day we went to Arches National Park. We had to be at the gate at 5:30 AM so that we could enter without a reservation.  The views were beautiful and we stood at the cache locations and just soaked in the beauty of it all. From there it was on to Capitol Reef National Park. This had several caches along the road but unlike the other parks was much less developed. That meant we were not outfitted or experienced enough to hike the trails. I did have my walking stick but that wasn’t going to help much… The next stop was Bryce Canyon National Park. This was a much tamer place than I expected. There were very nicely paved walks to overlooks and the trails were well marked and groomed. Sparky took photos. I tried. I’m always disappointed in my pictures since they don’t capture the grandeur of the place. I felt the breeze and feasted on the magnificence of creation. I breathed the air and soon after started to feel ill. The next day we ended up in Zion National Park. There were a couple of virtual and earth caches that didn’t require belaying ropes and a death wish. We decided to travel by the Park Shuttle since I wasn’t feeling too perky. The next morning I was definitely sick. We headed to Sin City and I slept for most of the day. Anyway, despite the uncertainty of travel, lack of comfortable beds, and having to rely on dry cereal for more meals than anticipated, it was a very good trip (not counting the last 36 hours). Driving in mountainous terrain certainly is a motivator for prayer – for safety, thanksgiving for deliverance from death, and praise for the magnificence of creation. If you’ve read this far here are some photos for your enjoyment!

Looking Woven

Finding A Voice

There is quiet but not silence
Follow the rhythm of breathing
Blink with rustling of eyelashes
Hear the humming of hearts beating

Creaking joints as positions shift
There is quiet but not silence
A small murmur of discomfort
Introspection on world violence

Look inward at private struggles
Lips move as prayers remain wordless
There is quiet but not silence
Kindness surrounds with forgiveness

Still our tongues to hear the message
Put aside human defiance
Listen to Love softly whisper
There is quiet but not silence

This is a French form, a Quatern, having 16 lines written in 4 quatrains with 8 syllables per line. The first line of the 1st quatrain becomes the second line of the 2nd quatrain, the third line of the 3rd quatrain, and finally the last line of the 4th quatrain. To satisfy the requirements of Wea’ve Written Weekly (W3) as Kerfe’s directions specify a poem of 16 lines or less with the first line and the last line are identical.

Looking for Calm

There is a tendency to dwell in the eye of the storm. I seek that oasis while chaos swirls. I’m not alone in that desire to escape. Right now I feel that life is tilting and sliding me away from comfort. The way I deal with upheaval must reveal some sort character strength or flaw that will bring down judgement on my head. Being mindful of the consequences of my actions, I have evaluated my response to unpleasantness.

1. I have an overly developed flight response. I prefer to avoid confrontation if at all possible.
2. I try to use my words. I believe in détente and compromise to avoid conflict.
3. Physical confrontation is not in my repertoire. I outgrew that by the time I reached middle school. That said I will defend myself. And I will fight “dirty”.
4. My belief in the goodness of mankind is not often shaken in my day to day interactions. That said, I cringe and my soul writhes when I view the turmoil in this world.

Thus I am conflicted. I don’t like seeing the hurt or knowing the details of the torment but I am compelled by conscience to be informed. My instinct is to turn away. A little Tanka to close out this post:

I question my God
When justice isn’t enough
For the scarred and scared
Will the wounded ever heal
Can love mend the divided