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.

Tar Soup, repost of an old poem and then commentary

Tar Soup

I feel like I am swimming in tar soup
The black oily looking liquid stored in barrels behind the house on Carter
No rules then, ecology still a dirty hippy word,  they stood rusted and open inviting our childish games of tea and rainbow topped “tar soup”.

We would spoon it into our tiny plastic bowels and feed it to our dolls and  imaginary friends and dare each other to taste it.

And then there was the time in the Navy,
First estrogen in my field,
And testosterone so threatened that there was that time my TLD
went off the scale with the prank they pulled.

And thirty years of cigarettes, the coolest kid at ten,
I could inhale deeply when others were still turning green.

I feel like I am swimming through tar soup as I sit here at home
Coughing again, too tired to tie my shoes let alone run
And wallowing in why’s and whines, phone off and curtains drawn.

Then my Ipod alarm goes off and  I swear breathlessly and loud.

I forgot to turn it off when I called in to work
and a friends voice shuffled in by fate is singing its deep melodious magic
and a smile starts in my heart like a drop of dishsoap in an oily pan
spreading out like good deeds, the love licks at the pain in my joints.
I stretch them, pull back the covers, remove the blinders of my diagnosis
Wondering how I limited myself again.
I wash the misconceptions down the drain, hot shower with lavendar
Sip a bit of peppermint tea, wrapped in my softest blanket
And dress my new Hello Kittay and all my Teddy Bears,
anything to recover the joy
of living I have somehow misplaced behind the mirage
the fear
of cancer.

These are the days I keep to myself
Not to engender the praise of how strong, how long, how amazing.
But because quicksand is not a place you invite a friend.

CC

 

So I have started moving my poetry off Myspace because my goal is to delete the whole account before the year is out; some of the poetry is soooo bad I haven’t copied it at all but when in doubt I have moved it here. All the poems so far are from 2009 or earlier. This one, although not a great poem, I kept because it really does help me acknowledge how far my life has come (once again I have forgotten to be grateful.)

I first made the goal to participate in a triathlon in early 2009. I was in a support group for long-term cancer survivors. I was dependent on breathing treatments and prescription pain medication and seriously depressed, for which I was also receiving pharmacological treatment. The group assignment was to pick something big, with multiple steps, we had never done before, and design small goals to achieve it. The point of the exercise, I believe was to help all of us in that group re-attach to life, to stop saying good-bye and start greeting life instead. I did stay with the goal awhile but I only made it as far as walk/running a 5K, never rode a bike or learned to swim. I ran the race alone, only strangers to see me finish and quit there. I had previously quit the group due to insurance issues.

I am still trying to learn the lessons that group leader tried to teach us and trying to actually complete my first triathlon. My inaugural event is Oct 30, and although I have no idea how I will do, I will show up and my goal is to finish. I can swim now, and I can ride a bicycle and I did build relationships, and I am pharmaceutic free, except for the occasional Tylenol.

My current eating habits are not my best, do real good about five days out of the week. However, my “bad nutrition days” are better than my “good” days used to be.  I am at 213 pounds, hoped to be below 200 by race day but hope did not translate into action enough to make it so. However I started this time at 243 pounds so carry a 30 lb bag of dog food around a store for 30 minutes and you will believe me when I say even 30 lbs helps.

My exercise/training goals are to do each thing at least 30 minutes 3 times a week. The scheduled event is a Sprint and my long range goal is an open water full length tri in a year (no not an ironman, what, do you think I’m crazy? )

Current things making it challenging are a couple of the “everyman” sort of challenges like money for equipment and time for workouts, and one very personal one which is grief. I have tried a few dozen time to blog about my dog Noien and what her loss has meant to me this summer but guess I am not ready yet because I still haven’t. I haven’t even visited her grave again yet, and yup, I am crying now just having written this much.

My first best friend was a dog, Zack. He, Bonny(also a Spaniel) and Noien(my recently deceased Lhasa Apso) are probably the three closest friends I have ever had.

Today I meant to blog about them but distracted myself into moving poetry instead, and now to get my goals done I need to get off here and live my real life. I have been neglecting cyber and home the last few weeks. But lovely thing about life, where ever you is, there you are and there I can begin.

Swam Thursday, Ran friday, Ran Saturday, Biked Sunday…not sure why my Endomondo workouts aren’t posting when I “share” them, but s’OK. Gonna Run and bike later maybe, maybe not, tomorrow hopefully the “BIG” tuesday workouts with my awesome sons and incredible DIL.

Namaste friends and readers, remember impossible things keep happening every day…..

 

 

In search of his one true love…

Hummingbird Moth

 In search of his one true love he quested last night.

To begin life again has its own physics, 
but his, his was the kinetics of generations of destiny.

The moth need not overcome the inertia of its own distracted life
but beats and thrums incessantly.
Maniacally its wings "rat-a-tat-tat"against the clear light cover
storming the glass, battering the obstacle twixt it and the heat it seeks.

He threw himself again and again

leaving grey and brown dust marks where others luckier than him had found the secret entrance in;
he could not tear himself away from the beckoning siren light
and fly a few hundred feet instead to where the female waited
wings flat and still like a collector’s pinned specimen
pheromones spreading their welcome
just beyond domestic sight.
 
At last his Achemon god said yes to the drumming of his plea
up over the glowing globe he mounted and into his one true love he came
Pfft, and thump were the inglorious end to his hummingbird like flight
and now he is still but for the toss and catch in an orange feral cat’s game.
 
 

A musing morning meanderings without a point but itself

 ‎"..a lonely ghost uttering a truth that nobody would ever hear. But so long as he uttered it, in some obscure the continuity was not broken. It was not by making yourself heard but by staying sane that you carried on the human heritage." 1984 by George Orwell

Getting ready for Nanowrimo by writing daily again.  Seems everywhere I turn these days there are reminders of that past life, where I wrote and sold and performed for my bread and butter instead of my current occupation as nurse. Requests to read what I wrote keep confronting me and my desire to still maintain that wall of protection between what was and what is remains still too strong to accommodate. Luckily most of my published work was the throw away kind and published before computer technology made everything written or spoken immutable in form and at the whim of any editing punk for function. Yet it is ironically comforting that I do still exist as a writer on the internet. 

I entered the "New Era" writing contest while living with my foster parents the Urbanawiz’s (people who will ever be my example of what is good about Mormons) and my winning gave them the rights forever to my poems. They re-appeared again a decade later and hence their being readable on the internet. Two of my book reviews reveal more of my prosaic style under JM DeBiasi in archived Alibi issues. It used to be that this far right spiritual publication and this intellectual voice were properly triangulated by a third archived Gay travel article written in my perky, Girrl on the Go voice, but it has fallen off the cyber map now due to increasing age.

A poem written two years ago about a time when I was much clearer about my truth. And now Hilary Hahn, "my timer" is done so I will make breakfast and leave you with this tribute to one of many times I learned the size of the ocean of human misery.

Passive Resistance

We strummed acoustic guitars and sang in groups
Of missing flowers, blowing winds
As they approached with billy clubs and shields
Hurling insults and orders.
We met each others eyes and held ourselves in check with our chain of stares

The biting smoke they unleashed made even my airy soprano
a bit more Janis Joplin.
Our eyes streamed tears and nose dangled mucous tributes to
American justice
And voices quavery with chemical fear
Rose again in growing tides and waves
Unison, "Give Peace a Chance."

Until the boys in blue
roused the angry soldier in one of us
and he became at last what he had yet refused to be
And he rose up into contact with the billy club and shouted something back
and
that’s when the screaming started
and the bruises and the blood and the blame poured out
in American portions, service for one
but plenty for all to share.

I sat unmoving still keeping our three sets of eyes locked
Quietly caging our animal need to run, respond, fight back.
I had three stitches in my chin and two butterflies and my first bald patch on my head
You an armcast, and she with nothing broken
was witch green with healing bruises and a Jimmy Durante nose.
We were the lucky ones
Who knew peace could hurt so much.

Five days later we buried the one who fought, the one who fled
Ourselves quite alive, only our belief in justice was dead.

Read more: http://www.myspace.com/cassandracrow/blog#ixzz12XiORFhT