Looking to Relax

On David’s blog, the Skeptic’s Kaddish, he hosts this week’s poet of the week, Suzette Benjamin. Her challenge is to write a Haiku or Tanka on the theme of “a favorite way to relax/unwind”. I used to love the Haiku. I used to write Haiku. But the funny thing was that the more I wrote and learned the less satisfied I was with my results. So I stopped writing them. I had been playing around with the Haiku again. Then this prompt. I took it as a sign that it was time to give Haiku another shot.

Pull tedium’s thread
Unravel the mind and heart
Breathe in love’s perfume

And because it is how I roll, a little explanation: When I’m really stressed and need to unwind I like to do a little visualization. I imagine the worry is a knitted sweater. And I find the thread and just pull. I also wind the yarn into a ball and then toss it away. To finish my “unwinding” I find Sparky and get my hug quota. I can smell love. I can hear the words “I love you” in each heart beat. Yep. That’s my relaxation.

Looking for the Hum

The living
Hear it, feel it
The hum electric
Transfer from heart to skin
Universal vibration
Conduction through touch and through sound
Some call it love others name it lust
Primal imperative, a new life formed

Our crabapple tree in the front yard has finally leafed out. The little red tinged leaves have expanded to an acceptable size to entice the tree frogs to take up residence again this spring. I love their constant chorus as they trill their love songs. Each evening as the sun sets, the wooing begins. They drown out the chirps of crickets, overpower the fading sparrow tunes, and even the lone cicada is silenced. The air is alive with the blended frequencies of each male frog making his case for love. As they take a breath, the females send out their tentative responses. By the time I’m in bed their songs have faded as they pair up. Only the forlorn solo voice of the unmated remains. A sad tune but now the only sound vibrating through the night time hours.

And if you are wondering, this is an Etheree. That is a syllabic form of 10 lines. The first line is one syllable and each line following adds a syllable until you conclude with a 10 syllable line.

Looking Under Rocks

Sometimes to find out what’s going on you have to look under rocks. Shortly after beginning my job (way back in 1991) I discovered that the big boss was a predator. He liked to hire young single women that he could manipulate. He called me into his office and started asking me very inappropriate questions. I let him know that his lines of inquiry were not appreciated. In the next couple of years I “rescued” a woman who needed a ride after work and had been told that the boss would gladly drive her to her class. After the first time, she was in tears dreading having to get into a car with him – I provided the ride instead. This pattern repeated itself until he made a fatal error. He targeted the wrong woman. She was smart and resourceful and very wily. I don’t know for sure what she had on him (photos? video?) but whatever it was, he was soon persona non grata and lost his job, his reputation, and nearly his marriage.

I survive by grace
You invade my space
Everyday I am beset
You explain my lack
I pick up your slack
Understand I’ve got your back

I escape your ire
I avoid the fire
Recommend another drink
I provide the room
Guarantee your doom
Engineer the drunken wink

You deny your guilt
Your defense will wilt
Understand a bully’s fate
Once again a groan
For misdeeds atone
Chauvinist’s power deflate

I produce photos
You appear sans clothes
A baboon has more finesse
Picturesque blackmail
Afternoon in jail
I remain employed, I’m blessed

This is an Alouette. A form created by Jan Turner. The name means skylark and is meant to mimic birdsong. It is a syllabic and rhyming form having a minimum of 2 stanzas. Each stanza has 6 lines with a rhyme scheme of a/a/b/c/c/b and a syllable count of 5/5/7/5/5/7. The metrical preference is to have the accent on the 3rd syllable of each line.

Looking at Evil

I had a very deep and meaningful conversation with my sister. We don’t often speak about religion. Mostly because we both moved away from the faith in which we were raised. During our weekly phone chat she told me that she had been listening to podcasts done by a Catholic Priest. Which considering her preferred denomination was quite startling. Even more so is that she is leaning into the Catholic Church as it appeals to her more conservative point of view. We talked for almost 3 hours. The discussion ranged from school shootings to political machinations to racial violence and poverty. She went on to say that she had had an overwhelming feeling that she needed to pray for protection against the forces of evil. I shared a prayer we use at church every Sunday (St. Michael the Archangel). When we prayed it together, she said she immediately felt a sense of safety and love surround her…

Prayers for protection breathed
Into the night air
“Protect my family from all evil prowling”
Mothers call on angels
“Guard them while they sleep”

All the angels and saints
Close ranks, take up arms
Demons are loosed, Satan seeks the unwary
They defend innocents
Keep their gaze on God

Danger stalks day and night
Mothers’ pleas rising
“Wrap my children within your protecting wings”
Sighs, “Steer them to safety”
The angels obey

This is a Double Ennead, a syllabic poetry form invented by Colleen M. Chesebro. It consists of 3 stanzas and each stanza has 5 lines with a syllable count of: 6/5/11/6/5 for a total of 33 syllables per stanza. This results in a poem of 99 syllables. Punctuation and rhyme are up to the individual poet.

Looking Into Faces

I went out with my Fashionista friend before we left on vacation. We ended up at the dreaded mall. There were so many storefronts that were empty. The mall had been a hangout for teens and the retired mall walkers but they are mostly gone. There were a large number of people occupying the benches and chairs. It appeared they were taking refuge from the stormy weather outside and perhaps trying to find a place that was safe from the dangers of living on the streets. I looked into several faces and saw only a world weariness, expressions that were hopeless and had lost any zest for life. Most had vacant expressions and were slack jawed. But one man had a wild look in his eyes as if he were wrestling with an inner demon.

My sad lot so reflects the world’s disgrace
Disease and sickness inform my whole life
My weary bones bear witness in my face
Wild eyes, dead soul reflected in the knife
I search for faces that still bear some light
Seeing empathy and God’s divine spark
The people who still shine in darkest night
They washed away all trace of sin’s black mark
My face contorts as I make the hard choice
To kill or end this life by my own hand
Compound the sin and give evil a voice
I resist and to Good my soul remand
Day breaks and hope enters this broken world
Hold high heaven’s banner of grace unfurled

This poem is a Sonnet. The sonnet is composed of 14 lines written in iambic pentameter with a rhyme scheme of ababcdcdefefgg. I often struggle with the sonnet. This poem has a fairly dark topic but I hope that the possibility of redemption brightens the mood.

Looking to Tend the Garden

We live in Love Town
A quiet place for two
Peace is our heritage
Just for me and you

It is a happy home
We have a sunny view
Filled with joy and laughter
And troubles far and few

I live alone in Love Town
My heart was shown untrue
I wander in this empty place
I wonder what to do

I’m tending a wilted garden
Where hope and fun once grew
Watered with my falling tears
Hoping love will grow anew

The above is a simple little quatrain, that is a poem with 4 line stanzas where even lines rhyme. There is no requirement for meter or syllable count only that the lines should be of similar length.

We were sitting around on Sunday night discussing longevity in marriages. Sparky’s parents will have been married 68 years soon. His oldest brother and sister (who got married a week apart) will be celebrating 45 years of marriage and of course Sparky and I will be headed to 40 years of wedded bliss in September. My sisters have both been married 35 and 34 years. Seems when we get married it “sticks”. So it was an interesting discussion about what makes marriages last. After a lot of reminiscing and talking about funny episodes it came down to just a couple things:
1. Humor – It is important to recognize the funny parts of life and marriage and laugh together.
2. Forgiveness – We all make mistakes. Cut the other person some slack and accept apologies and forgive the little things. Sometimes there might be big things but even those can be forgiven.
3. Put the other person first – If that is done then there won’t be any big things that require forgiveness!

Looking Consonance in the Eye and Assonance in the….

This week’s W3 prompt was set by no other than the host himself David at the Skeptics Kaddish. His prompt was to write a poem of at least 6 lines using consonance and/or assonance. That is the device of using repeated consonant sounds or repeated vowel sounds. I used both. Well, we stared each other down for a couple days then did a little dance (like cats before the brawl). And then – BAM! Consonance and assonance jumped me and we went a couple rounds. I got in some jabs and a few solid slaps while consonance had both hands in my hair but assonance kicked my… butt.

My brain is not on the thought train
I take the inane lane to attain naught
Slate blank, taut, I strain
Mate bade me to bed trot
Its late but I may yet sate this muse
Rake great lines in heaps straight
Taint the page with words abused
Nay ain’t a gnat’s trace of my poetic trait

Looking for Dogs in Heaven

This is the last prompt in the NPM 2023 Nonce Forms Scavenger Hunt! This 12th prompt is to write a Helipad by Sangeetha from the “Creativity Forms Verses” nonce forms. This form has 9 lines. All the lines begin and end with the letter H which is capitalized and bolded. All words in line 5 are also capitalized and bolded. All lines should be the same length including spaces. This will form the H indicating a helicopter landing pad! The bonus is to use an animal in the poem.

Heaven’s roll call finds a glitcH
Hunting lost name a big hitcH
Holds up the line teeth gnasH
Hounds growl softly talk trasH
Hero a police dog feels wratH
Hesitated on this paved patH
He wants an eternity so posH
Hopes name’s found by gosH

There is a dichotomy between the commonly held beliefs and that of many faiths on the question of whether animals have souls. Judaism and some Christian faiths believe humans to be the only living beings to have souls. However, many other religions – most notably Hinduism and Jainism – teach that all living beings have souls. Many of my friends believe that “all dogs go to heaven”. Even within the Catholic Church there is uncertainty. Seems way back in 1850 Pope Pius IX stated that only humans had a soul and thus only humans went to heaven and that animals had no soul… Then in 1975 Pope Paul VI said, “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ.” and in 2014 Pope John Paul II in speaking to comfort a boy who had lost his dog stated, “all of God’s creatures,” can make it to heaven. Yet the church doctrine is that only humans go to heaven.

This was what inspired my poem – a friend just lost her dog after 16 years. Another friend lost her parrot that she had had for over 30 years. A police dog was buried with full honors having lost his life in the line of duty. I have worked with animals most of my life, and I have no idea if they do or don’t have souls. I want to believe they do. I guess I’ll find out one way or the other when I die…

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 Dizzy

Here is my effort for the Nonce forms NPM23 scavenger hunt – a Dizzy. A poem of 10 lines of 10 syllables with a rhyme scheme of a/b/c/a/b/c/a/b/c/a and requires words of motion be used. Bonus -to use the word dizzy (check!).

Wind blowing whips fine red grit grains up stirred
Swirl rises, a smoke signal dirt devil
Mesa towers over drought ridden sand
First Nations, second thought, third choice, last word
Die or thrive, water finds its own level
Dream people guided by the spirit’s hand
Soul soars dizzy beyond limits, a bird
Know each leaf, rock, stream, creature is special
Each one bound in life and death to the land
One with the earth and sky, freedom conferred

I was looking through my photos of our trip many years ago to Arizona and New Mexico. I’m not sure where we were exactly but there was a long string of abandoned roadside stands. Well, we thought they were abandoned. Turns out they weren’t – just very ramshackle. We stopped to get lunch at a very small restaurant with a limited menu (I’d never had fry bread before). This was a hard and unforgiving land and climate. How often do we find ourselves constrained by our environment? More often it is by responsibilities, family, and expectations. Do you feel free?