Monday, August 30, 2010

Quill #41 - Space - topic exploration (2010)

My family visited at an aunt's house.
All my cousins were there, my grandparents.
Suddenly everyone was rounded up,
Pushed into one tiny living room,
Children seated on shag carpeting,
Parents standing around in every space,
Grandma and Grandpa in recliners,
But not reclining,
As we all breathlessly watched a black and white screen,
And a helmeted man descending a ladder.
The strange thing was,
I thought we'd already been to the moon.

Generations of boys, sometimes even girls,
Have grown up believing that anything is possible.
Space travel sounded glamorous, slightly dangerous,
But always something we could strive to do.
And now,
When finally a dark-skinned child can be the president,
Now, when the "impossible" has happened,
An entire dream is cut off,
And this one wasn't even impossible.
Our final frontier is not space, not reality,
But a fantasy of travel,
"Star Trek,"
Going only where men have gone before.


Astronaut or president?
President or astronaut?
The boy who could be anything,
Do anything,
Used to have a much harder choice.
Now it's easier to be the president,
No matter who you are,
Than to travel the stars.
The machines have stolen our jobs,
Even in space.


Into the earth,
Into the ocean,
Deeper than ever before,

Nowhere to go,
No way to stop him,
Mankind must always explore.

Take away space,
Stop funding science,
Where will our brains take us then?

Overrun planet,
No other outlet,
How long will Life contain men?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Quill #40 - Haiku-shaped poems for Zailin (2010)

Late blooming lotus
Dies in deep winter's embrace.
No promise of spring.


A stone's longest skip
Will not prevent him sinking
Beside his brothers.


Brave little boy runs,
Chasing after butterflies
He will never catch.


Caped crusader comes
To save his parents from fear.
He hugs them too tight.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Quill #39 - Hero's Journey (2010)

Annoyed by the tick of a clock I cannot see,
I hear a countdown in my head
Of decisions lost in time and age.
My toes crackle and pop as I wiggle,
Trying to restore circulation and warm them.
It would be easy to despair
Over the days I was given to waste,
But a little boy calls to me from another room,
A young child with everything to live for,
Precious little memory,
And too few moments left to spend.
It is desperately unfair to him
That his presence teaches joy
In lessons he will never get to know.
No dreams of president or astronaut,
Nor baseball player, racing cars.
For him, the clock in his head
Is already sounding alarms and ringing bells,
But there is no fireman to save him from the din.
There is only love and toys,
And a seed that keeps growing larger
In luxuriously fertile ground.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Quill #38 - Pet (1997)

An alien parasite
Has attached itself to me.
It speaks to me
Via rumbles and growls
Only I can interpret.
Sometimes I talk back to it,
But that just makes it angry.
The creature has grown,
Over several years,
Until some people
Refer to it as my
'Spare tire.'
My mate calls it 'love handles'
And caresses it
As though it's a part of me.
My biggest problem is
Feeding it enough
To keep it happy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quill #36 - Tarnish (2010)

I brush away memory
Of grit, a ghost of sand, once
Present while shaping this stone
Forming the castle archway.

Built by distant relative,
An earl no more remembered,
Who passed this graceful eyesore,
Not one farthing for its care,
To child who died without heirs.

Strangers own it now, run as
An hotel sans doorknocker.
Traffic, night and day, circles
Like moat, or carrion birds,
Living off long-dead spoilage
And seasonal spillover.

The must reeks with decayed hopes,
Invading my mouth, my mind,
Poisoning the fresh drink of
Curiosity I brought
To share with a caring friend.

My hand drops and looks exchange.
Silently agreeing to
Not inhale any spirits,
We go seeking sweeter airs.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quill #35 - Window Phantom (1990)

A window phantom peeked at me behind
The curtain which was covering her door.
Perhaps she thought I would pretend I'm blind,
As elevator occupants ignore
Each other till odd circumstance intrude.
Obliging though I am to some degree,
I did think "Peeping Thomasina" rude;
Capricious bones began to trouble me.
"Hello!" I shouted, waving with my right
Hand, curving left to better shade my eyes.
I must have startled her for, at the sight,
She moaned and dropped the curtain in surprise;
And must have given word to all the rest.
For privacy, my neighborhood's the best!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Quill #34 - TMI -TMI - I'm not kidding! - You were warned! - TMI - TMI

My lungs are rattling so low down within my chest that my stomach gurgles when I try to breathe. Also, when I repeatedly cough hard enough to pull some of that deep congestion out of my lungs, it smells like stale cigarette smoke, non-menthol. I haven't been near cigarette smoke, even second-hand, in too long for that to be happening.

Chest rattles go deep
Stomach makes gurgly sounds.
How long will cold last?

I've coughed convulsively so many times that I have a cut on the underside of the tip of my tongue from where it has been flung against one of my lower teeth. This tooth is not that sharp. I get spells where I need air, for some reason, and my chest heaves ten or twenty times in a row - not exaggerating - trying to put air into my body but the fluid acts like an oral dam. So, I'm working hard at expelling, then trying to inhale air that gets trapped by the gunk in my chest before it gets inside my lungs which, because it vibrates, causes more coughing. Each time I cough, my tongue hits that tooth, cutting the exact same sore spot even deeper.

Cold sore, sore tongue,
Strong desire to avoid speech,
Husband wants to chat.

The cut hurts my mouth and makes me talk funny. Trying to communicate with my husband has been a trial. He can't understand what I'm saying and I end up repeating myself several times, trying to speak more clearly without cutting myself again. If I wasn't sick and hurting, I'd play with him, pretend to be the priest in The Princess Bride or something, because that would be a whole lot more fun than actually having a speech impediment caused by pain.

I tell my husband,
"Phlease toon uff de DFee, dere."
He doesn't do it.

To make matters slightly worse, it's too dang hot in the house! We keep the lights and other heat producers off, including the stove. We have central air, three other window air conditioners, three fans running constantly, and we're lucky if we can keep the internal temperature under eighty degrees, fahrenheit. I've sweated and chilled in my bed so many times, with nobody in the house feeling well enough to change sheets, that every breath I do manage to pull has a funky odor to it, not assisted by little accidents caused by coughs that could scare a bull elephant into fleeing. I don't even notice how loud these eruptions are anymore. I just see the stares from horrified family members.

Three ac's, three fans,
Nothing making heat inside,
My world is still hot.

Eighty in the house,
With fans, no lights, no hot food,
Still fighting a cold.

I'm supposed to be writing new things for my blog, not just posting older stuff that is sometimes, rarely, good work, and more often crap I just keep for purposes of nostalgia. So, while sick, I've written some haiku-shaped "poems" because I can't concentrate on what might actually be worth writing. I hope you'll tell me they're crap and that I should get better because, honestly, if being this sick was the only way to be a writer, I'd be an accountant.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Quill #32 - Snow (1969)

Wonderful light little pieces of white
Falling gently from the skies
Dancing spritely on your face and
Putting a sparkle into your eyes.

Fiery silvery glitter from high
Shaping into a frozen sea
Brightening the sleeping world
And glistening upon a tree.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Quill #31 - Whippoorwill Memory (2009)

There was a whippoorwill outside our house when I was growing up. Her slow mournful call was the subject of many breakfast conversations with my father. When I moved away, I didn't miss the bird the way I'd worry over a lost tooth that would be probed again and again. Instead, her absence affected me as if a quality to the air was lacking, or like a piece of music remembered only in dreams. Every time I heard another I was transported for a few rare moments to a small frame house in Kansas. a space at the table my father built, two eggs fried in butter, and a warm spring day waiting for me.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Quill #30 - Nature Calling (1989)

Lakeside hilltop,
Loudly honking geese,
Full moon in fog,
Rings of evergreen,

Flute and tambourine,
Chanting lips, then
Silence suddenly.

Gates wide open,
Death no barrier!
Great Ki, Druidess,
Goddess, blessed be.

Priestly kisses
Feet, then knees and womb,
Breasts, red crescents.
Lion iris bloom.

Spiral, clockwise
Dancing 'round a hearth,
Cake crumbs, blood wine,
Merry meet and part.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Quill #29 - Curtains! (2010)

Stop it!
Dang it!
Stupid cat!
I'm not going to pet you.
I'm mad at you.
Quit purring.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Quill #28 - Needled (2010)

No mere temple servant,
The Hand of Hera,
Strikes my back with Zeus's fire,
Twirls tiny lightning rods
That do no more than prickle,
Sending helicopter messages
By distraction,
Benedictions wrapped in pain
Dance beneath my skin,
Myriad heavenly footsteps
Applying pressure.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Quill #27 - Mountain Song (1991)

Oh, the name of the God is 'I am,'
And the name of the Goddess, too.
When you speak to Them, say, "I am,"
If you want Them to know you.

What is on top of the mountain,
Waiting there to see?
How should I climb the mountain?
Wise One, please tell me.

O' my daughter, this is your journey,
No one else can teach you the way.
You must climb till reaching the summit,
But remember what you must say...

Oh, the name of the God is 'I am,'
And the name of the Goddess, too.
When you speak to Them, say, "I am,"
If you want Them to know you.

What is on top of the mountain,
Waiting here to see?
How did you climb the mountain?
Daughter, please tell me.

O' my mother, this was my journey,
No one else could climb the same way.
My path went higher than the summit,
And I was One with the Gods today.

Oh, the name of the God is 'I am,'
And the name of the Goddess, too.
When you speak to Them, say, "I am,"
If you want Them to know you.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Quill #26 - The Mountain (1989)

"What is on top of the mountain?" Blue Feather asked her mother.
"Which mountain?" Great Owl queried.
"The peak you climbed last year when you weren't feeling very well."
"Oh, that mountain."
"Yes, that mountain," answered the youth.
"No one can describe that mountain," replied her mother.

"What is on top of the mountain?" Blue Feather asked her father.
"Which mountain?" Handsome Elk queried.
"The mountain you and our uncles circle for hunt."
"I do not know," responded her father. "I have never climbed up that far."

"What is on top of the mountain?" Blue Feather asked her grandfather.
"What mountain?" queried Sleeping Buffalo.
"The mountain over there!" cried his granddaughter as she pointed in the direction of the summit.
Grandfather put on his glasses and stared at the place she indicated.
"I don't see any mountain," he grumbled. "Play somewhere else now."

"What is on top of the mountain?" Blue Feather asked her grandmother.
"Why don't you climb it and see?" suggested Medicine Woman.

"I'm going to the top of the mountain," Blue Feather said to her mother. "Which is the best path to use?"
Great Owl set down her basket of seeds and began gathering some herbs.
"I will make a special tea for you," she stated. "Once you have drunk the tea, you will be able to climb any path you choose."

"I'm going to the top of the mountain," Blue Feather said to her father. "Which path is the most beautiful?"
Handsome Elk stopped dancing and opened his medicine pouch.
"I will consult the contents of my pouch," he declared. "They will tell me which path you should follow."

"I'm going to the top of the mountain," Blue Feather said to her grandfather. "What is the best way to climb a high peak?"
"Why would you want to do such a silly thing? replied Sleeping Buffalo, laying down his pipe to speak. "There is too much work to do here." He waggled a finger at her.

"I'm going to the top of the mountain," Blue Feather said to her grandmother. "What should I take with me?"
Medicine Woman shook her rattle at her granddaughter.
"Just go!" she urged the youth. "Take nothing."

Blue Feather stood at the top of the mountain.
She breathed cold air.
She smelled pine scent from twisted, hunched trees.
She felt the brisk wind blow feathers into her hair.
She saw eagles hover in strong currents.
She heard a snake's rattle and the chanting of storm clouds.

When she turned around to look at the village, Blue Feather saw her grandmother's spirit flying up to meet her.

"Well, Blue Feather," asked Medicine Woman's spirit, once she had arrived at the crest. "What is on top of the mountain?"
Her granddaughter thought for just a moment, then gave her answer.

"I am."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Quill #25 - Poe'er (2010)

Free verse or rhyme,
Rhyme or free verse,
Which is the better?
Which is the worse?

Most of my teachers,
Most of the times,
Said, "It's not poetry
Unless it rhymes!"

Those that rate free verse
As poetry, too,
Think themselves 'lightened,
Diviners of true.

This little dog'grel
Will not mend a fence
'Tween those that want either
To make better sense.

Symbology rules
In the p. p. o. view.
You might as well spell
'Leaves of Grass' I. O. U.

We're not going to solve this
Ridiculous fight
Till God reaches down
To put out the light.

Suffice it to say that,
Whatever you use,
You're likely unpaid
And seeking a muse.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Quill #24 - Senior Farewell (1979)

It's coming.

The time we looked forward to when, way back in our youth, people asked us amusing questions like, "What will you be when you grow up?"

It's coming.

The thing we couldn't wait for when we got angry at our parents and wanted to be older so we wouldn't have to put up with them anymore.

It's coming.

We're not children anymore. We can't hide behind our mother's skirts or hold our father's hand when we're scared of the dark.

It won't be long before we're doing that for our children.

It's coming.

On graduation night, when we stand up there so proud... and so alone, we'll cry. Because the panic will finally hit us and we'll finally realize there's no more waiting around.

Life is here.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Quill #23 - Facade (1979)

An empty stage,
In an empty room, dark,
Strewn with cobwebs, and dust, and old programs.
Only a few hours before
The stage was bright,
The room filled with people,
A play was performed.

The curtain closed.
The lights went off.
The cars left.
The characters that were brought to life for a few short lines
Disappeared as though never there.
Gone forever,
Except in the hearts of the players, and the old programs,
Waiting to be swept away...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Quill #22 - A Marvell-ous Response (1995)

To those who would rush me before my time,
Speaking blithely of joys of the flesh,
You claim you hear chariots approaching behind
As though Death, at your shoulder, stands ready to thresh.

Truth is, if you value my heart and my mind,
And not merely desire my form,
Is it not worth it to you to be gen'rous and kind?
Or am I but a jewel to adorn?

There are joys in the hunt and the chase, in all life!
One can choose to forego parts of that.
But regret follows those who dispense with a rite.
Courtship ought to be more than a doff of the hat.

The game is to separate the chaff from the wheat,
Would you hasten me out of my dole?
If you have not the patience to wait for my meat,
How much time will you give for my soul?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Quill #21 - Buster Daddy (2010)

"Smash his face!" I thought,
Rooting for Marlene in this play.
She swings a crowbar at him a few times,
But the physical is not her realm.
He gets a sore toe and feelings of loss.
She gains some bruises,
A new life, and love,
Harmonic resonances,
A re-gifted son,
A better deal all around than even Roosevelt's.
This generation, one of the first to understand
Why help was needed,
Still has too many voices
Sounding out the praises of abusive corporate partners,
Feeling trapped and unequal to the demands,
Unable or unwilling to leave,
Like battered spouses everywhere,
Lacking even a cast iron skillet for weaponry,
And betrayed,
By their own loyalty and lack of options.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Quill #20 - Artist Descending Life (2001-2002)

It's a good thing artists are brilliant
when we can't afford to pay the electric bills.
Understanding balance is an important skill
when we have to do the books every month.
Only a starving artist can make a "Still Life of Fruit"
substitute for the real thing.
Next time let's have "Still Life of Steak Dinner."
Temperamental natures are a blessing
when the bed isn't big enough for two.
Dear Soulmate, in future lives,
let's take turns being practical.
You go first.
Baths are much cheaper when you can draw one.
When they told us we would suffer for our art,
did you think they meant winters, too?
At least we can use warm colors.
We do our best impressionistic work
when we can't focus on our real goals.
I wish somebody rich would tell us what they like
so we could paint it.
It's a good thing artist's don't need their ears to paint.
Then again, they do make an interesting brush stroke.
We do our best work with nudes
when we can't afford to do laundry.
Would you like one cubist or two with your drink?
When the baby was born,
we understood Dadaism for the first time.
Our best life insurance policy is death.
That's when the paintings sell.