Day 1: 31in31

The men and women clutch tight to other’s rumored failings,

the straws of a destiny gone wrong, greedily gathered.

The branching differences of vision chopped away,

opinions carved to suit and

Stuccoed with a righteous judgement,

motes of mismade choices in mud smear glue

fortify the icy glass walled houses

Sheltering and unifying fear.

All the voices swirl in moldish mist;

“If you can’t say something nice, come join the fun.”

“Maybe sit a little closer to me,”

“Have you heard about the latest scandal?”

“Did you here what So and so said about them?”

“Politics today…”

“Society today…”

“If it wasn’t for them, I would be…”

“Well if it wasn’t for you, they’d be…”

“If you don’t believe like me, you’re wrong…”

“If your not with us….”

But the chorus of the sun and dandelion heads are calling me to hope

With relief, I slip away.

31 Poems in 31 Days

With Big thanks to Poewar.com

They aren’t all here yet, but they will be soon. Most have already been read by my poetry fans. October is 30 in 30. November is novel month, December is RAK month, and January is the month when I feel overwhelmed by all of last years unfinished business an try to start over. February is the month of LOVE (this year even the valentines kind, but usually just a chance to focus on the “charites” more than the “eros”

Prompt 1 Write about something you gave away in childhood

Present Pluperfect

The beads were pink, a perfect opalescent pink
Plastic my adult knows, but my child believed pearls.

So very pink, perhaps I should have chosen white
I will never know,
My mother’s life leeched away before I even knew her middle name
Let alone a favorite color,
I was six, and the Ben Franklin jewels were pink.

I’d heard her wish for pearls after the lady with the driver came,
It was the final fitting for her New Year’s dress,
Mom was sitting on the stoop with Miss Darlene’s mom
Darlene was Roxanne’s age
And had real Barbie dolls, not the hollow plastic kind,
They were talking about the sparkly earrings the Lady kept twisting as she eyed herself in the mirror making it hard for mum to mark the hem

“You outdid yourself Marlene, the dress is stunning, ”
She wiggled a hand dyed pump, “Do you Really think these are the right shoes?
My mother’s stained fingers touched them with the reverence saved for holy things.
“The satin is perfect.”

The pinning and the preening done
The woman stood and waited impatiently for the teeth to seperate
The new zipper making a soft munching sound between the satin and the bugle beads.

“Well I need it done tomorrow instead of Friday.’

“Yes ma’am, ” my mother breathed, “but that will be-”

“Not extra, I won’t pay it” And the woman wrinkled her nose and sniffed disparaging,
“I can’t bare the smell of cabbage, how can you eat it so often.”
The woman stood there in her bra and girdle
Unashamedly aware of no one there.

When she left my mom plopped on the stoop.

“She’s quite a piece of work,” my neighbor laughed, “Wish I had just one rock half the size of those she was wearing in her ears.”

“I don’t much like diamonds,” my mother replied, touching her hand to her neck
As if remembering a time
When the flowers men gave her
Didn’t bloom blue beneath her left eye.
“I had pearls once.”

The beads were pink
And 3.99 plus tax and required a sisterly co-conspirator for the ransom.
The tag said “Santa Claus” that Christmas morning
When I was six.

Prompt 2 Write about changing your opinion
Heart Change

Zack was my best friend in a childhood parsimonious with friendship
Bought by my father to hunt birds, a pedigree and blue ribbon progeny
Who herded me away from the ditches and crosswalks
while parents were busy with important adult things
I was just 12 when I woke to be told he was gone.
No good-byes.
I cried inconsolably and ate a bottle of baby aspirin I stole from the neighbor.
I threw up and no one knew
And I swore I would never love again.

 

When Buster first appeared,
We were still we
And all love lasted forever.
Sick with the desire to please,
I agreed
And I said the dog could stay
If you kept him off the bed.

Now his golden head drapes across my ankle
Warm brown eyes smiling approval as I drift towards sleep.
I think of him then,
The vector for this, my most infectious love.
And how you again gave me forever.

 

Prompt 3 Write about something trending

 

 
My response to Day 4 prompt of a “place” poem in 31 in 31 at Poewar.com, plus a bonus poem!
Lighthouse Rock

I smelled of Jean Nate and Fresca
You of collar starch and bottled beer
Each time the ocean crashed against the rock
And seaweed reached between my toes,
You tossed another swallow back
And I blinked the spray away from tearful eyes.

“Why are you crying?” You asked, puzzled only, not afraid,
Used to the quick and constant turn of tides.

“All this,” and I motioned,
Trying to encompass the enormity of light, and color and form.

Knowing I could not help you understand
The choreography of gull and wave and sand,
I merely said, “it’s OK, it’s a good cry.”

“You’re silly,” you said and tossed your empty bottle,
messageless,
upon the retreating sea.

The fire and violet dimmed at world’s end
And the cold of the granite clawed hard at my buttock
Ignoring my corduroy jeans.

“Also, you’re a senior, ” I said.

“So?” The first shade of caution in your eyes.

Dropping your hand I raced back up the dirt path
Avoiding the sumac and poison ivy wearing their first full day of green.

“Last one back to the car is a rotten egg!”

You caught me and we tumbled together there
All legs and lips and jeans
Till the stars sang of curfew
And home.
And the tide in full retreat
Began to rise again.

 

Prompt Day 5: Here is a composite picture. I wrote from a patients personna but then rewrote till all identifying info was removed. Almost all of my patients have some degree of vision issue, hearing problems, and tracheostomies. Some are completely dependent on vent and feeding tubes, depending on the nurse even be moved; others only use the vent at night, some are now vent free and some even eventually walk. But ALL have personality, likes, dislikes, fears and favorites. I hope I did them justice.

 

Occupational Therapy

Music is playing as I lay on my back and respond with my body to the
Colors and lights and sounds.
Footsteps, I feel them as much as hear them grow closer,
Even though the new hard plastic things are already shoved in my ear.
Two people, one grandma, one a stranger.
I hear those sounds again as Grandma’s voice rumbles
My name, I know my name in all its versions,
Elizabeth, Lizbeth, L’il Lizzie, Hush Lizzie, Poor baby,
But she says my favorite “Pretty Betty Butterfly”
Only Grandma calls me her “Pretty Betty Butterfly.”
I turn my head trying to catch a glimpse of the other, new voice,
it is soft and full of small sounds. It’s mostly Grandma talking.

“Cortical Blindness”
“Anoxic Brain Injury”
“Difficult delivery, lucky they both lived”
It is grandma’s voice, but those sounds make it sad.
I know the sounds but not what they mean.
I know sad,
I know happy,
I even know mad.
I know Grandma
And mother
And hungry
And full
And light and smells and warmth of arms.
I know I like Elmo, and Daniel the Tiger.
I start to chirp my tracheal Grandma song.

But now there is a new voice.
I am cautious, and close my eyes, pretend sleep.
Because I also know pain.

But there are no bright lights or biting smells
Just the press of the thing against my chest and my belly.
I am uncertain, afraid
But then there are arms holding me and the voice knows how to lean into the parts I can see.
Her hand puts my one hand on Grandma
And moves her other hand by her chin, her mouth.
Then I am sitting propped in her lap,
She takes my hand and touches Kitty,
my other hand touches my face, just below the nose
(I know nose)
and my hand moves sideways in the air,
I think she wants something from me
So I try to raise my own hand to my face.
Over and over we touch things and move our hands.

I like her smile, and her singing
And I want to tell her that
But mostly I want to close my eyes and smell her shirt
And dream.

 

Prompt 7: lists

Five

Five minutes
Five tasks
Five objects each task
I count the cups as I wash them
1..2..3..4..5
Then count them again as I dry them
5..4..3..2..1
Folding five towels
Five items from gravity storage to destination
Five uniforms ironed
All to forget that outside
A man was just murdered
By his memories,
So technically a murder/suicide.
They say he went to the gas station and called 911
Then returned to stay with her until they came.
He had her blood on his hands
And his own pouring out from his stomach
Not at all like the TV
No need for music swells to set the mood.

The cop who wrestled him, banging loud at my door
Asking questions
I say I know nothing
Because at that moment all I know
Is the need to lock my door five times when he leaves.

Five episodes
Not even the Doctor or Torchwood
Erasing the memory
Or stopping the rocking
I am not here but there again
Counting the hands and the bodies
Playing a sorting of colors
Like human M&M’s.

Five breaths
Five minutes
Five corn chips

Five dishes
Five letters started and shredded
Five random posts onto face book

I walk the dogs
Counting my steps
In sets of five
Five more minutes
I can be OK, in five more minutes
In the meantime, five quick games of Words with Friends

Five seemed to choose itself as my magic number.
Three was not enough to soothe me
Back when I picked a cap for my compulsive behaviors
And six just too many
I still had children to raise and life to live and function was my highest priority
Only later did I equate it with the elements
Earth, Fire, Air, Water and the One Spirit infused in all
But sometimes instead of counting I say them.

Five more steps, five more minutes, five more bites
When I am reaching
Anyone can eat a whale, five bites at a time.

And only five when I am coping, forgetting
Remembering I am alive.

Five words
As remedy for my PTSD diagnosis,
“And this too shall pass.”

Prompt 6

 

A Poem after Meditation
The tingle starts at my largest toe;
My right foot is slightly bigger than my left,
And more calloused.
It is always that toenail on my outsized distal phalange
That I sacrifice to long distance running;
When I can run
Which isn’t today
But I wish was today
Which is why
I am sitting
And breathing
In
Out
In
Out
In

Out

Out

I am my breath.

Empty of expectation
I find that center again
Where something more than I resides

Quan Yin smiles from my altar
The music playing her chant is somewhere far outside me
Until the final chime

The unfolding into the world begins again
With stretches and steps I can take
While my soul prepares to run

My old poem was about the bleakness of an old dead tree in spring.

October Tree

Camouflaged amidst the newly winter widowed and almost child leafless trees
The un-growing oak cradles a newly pregnant squirrel
In its hollow places;
Myriad bugs build shelter, eat
Reproduce
And are eaten
In the city beneath it’s loosening bark.
Creating civilizations,
While the rest are mourning leaves.

Prompt 8 Write an elegy, which is where I got stuck.
Suzanne’s Elegy

In preschool you already knew that tilting your head to the side made adults stop and stare
Large brown eyes and elfin face, hair like night,
Daddy’s princess and Mommy’s most wanted baby girl
We all heard the story again and again about the miracle of you;
I might have resented you
But I, too, was enthralled.
Always the same
Everyone’s golden girl,
The one we loved best
And rescued, and pampered, and pretended was whole.
You were always singing and laughing
Hiding your pain in your humor and music
In the end you took your own life
When your final misadventure took its toll.
It was this time of year when your daughter died.
Not yet 18 and hit by an inebriated driver,
We all put our differences behind to bury her
And make memorial Rosita Kittens at the Tennessee mall Build A Bear.
Was it that loss and that memory that pulled you deep into the well of despair that fall?
Or was it everything, maybe nothing at all?
Depression is like that, unpredictable,
Yours as dark as your childhood suns were bright.
And you did your own unpredictable medication routine
With your equally unpredictable and cruel husband
Bearing his beatings for the feel of the elixir he brought in your veins.
I will think of you each autumn and swing in a swing,
Tell a punny story,
Maybe climb a tree
I will remember you as a child
As a teenager singing about the small house of Uncle Thomas
On your high school stage,
Young mother with the shining eyes of joy,
Danielle’s mother at her graveside, shoulders bowed in grief.
I will not remember the bruised face and arms
The lies and attempted manipulations,
Or the times you stole money, or refused to leave
As anything more than symptoms of your disease.

 

 

Prompt 9 is my metered poem, and there is a bit of poetry geek humor Which I hope makes up for its purely punny message.

Epic Elegy

I stopped his leap at yon Meyer’s bridge; yet our poor hero fell
No epic deeds, no Latin tongue, no mourners, no church bell knells.
Herman’s bridge the footing slipped, momentum gained, grip lost
Homer’s form free falling now to history truly lost.

 

 

Prompt 14 Let’s repeat ourselves for art

 

Rainy Night in San Tan

Beside the light that stops my homeward progress,
A billboard family promises the “lasting lifestyle that love makes,”
While wet ammonia slams into my nostrils;
The future suburbs stockyard past bruising my senses, watering my eyes.
The beasts themselves long since became burgers, beefy fast food fare
Or Johnson Steak House fresh filets.
The land sold during the building boom stands vacant
except for the faded plasterboard promise,
And memories bitter perfume.

 

 

American Nightmare

Wake in panic, sweat soaking the bed, body screaming formal commands to neither move
Or remain still;
The burner cell phone blinks green but
Every voice mail is just one more bill collector
And the ghoulish green lights up the
Stapled papers from the door reminding me that tomorrow
I lose everything. Eviction
Or pay
But that was yesterday
And the money ain’t coming
But any way the new day is here .
Roll over to syrup brown eyes and feel warm licks to the hand
And smile as Janis voice breaks across the tinny speakers of the AM/FM clock radio
“I guess we got our freedom,” I say and fluff his ears,
Knowing we were just casual visitors to this stable middle class life
And today we return to our roofless home
Less the peripheral accoutrements of the American Dream.
I contemplate
Calling Goodwill at the crack of dawn to come take it all
Except for the clothes and the dogs in the car.
But then I shut off the phone
And roll over and go back to sleep,
For four more hours I can pretend
And believe,
But knowing whatever the miracle looks like
We’ll still have each other
And I’ll still have me.

Endangered Species

Sometimes the bravest thing I do all day
Is wake up.
On days like these
I pace the confines of my safety,
Unsurrendered.
More Northern White Rhino than Arabian Orryx,
I crumble under your constraint
Dreading the cost of this kindness.