A Maid in the Mist ~ aisling

A Maid in the Mist

I stand on the shore of the Niagara,
beside a stand of reeds,
dawn shedding its light dimly
through morning fog.
On a rock amid those cattails,
a black-crested night heron
turns its red eye towards me,
and the bird’s shape shifts
until I’m faced by a maiden
in a simple gown of gray and white
that shifts like the wings
of the bird that first greeted me.
Lelawala, Maid of the Mist, speaks.

Long was I troubled by the return
of the snake of my time, that serpent
that sought to poison these waters,
and so my people. Only by the will
of the Thunder God was it defeated,
its great body forming the rim
of the mighty falls. But your snake
is not mine. It is industry.

While your neighbors to the north
have long sought to maintain their shore
as a parkway, it took long decades
for your people to recognize the toll
imposed by industry. The renewed state
of that shore must be a reminder
to never again let that snake raise its head.

I realize that the fog has thinned
in the morning light, and that,
once again, I am eyed by that heron,
which turns from me to take flight.

I wake, and I’m left with a fading memory,
an early morning mist that dissipates
in a warm October sunrise as the air loses
its grasp on the river, lets it slip back
into its already cooling depths,
that air now filled with sunlight.

This is my response to Day 25 at napowrimo.net, where we are challenged to write in the poetic form known as aisling, which was developed in Ireland. Maureen tells us that “an aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it.”

The Niagara River forms a portion of the border between the United States and Canada. While Ontario has long maintained a parkway along the entire length of the river, New York’s shore from Lake Erie to Niagara Falls has been home to all kinds of industry, from chemical factories to steel and paper mills to landfills. Many of those plants are gone, and conservation efforts have cleaned the shoreline and restored habitats. In both countries, the Maid of the Mist is recognized as a symbol of Niagara Falls. Details of the legend can be found here.

 Image: black-crested night Heron on the Niagara River, at dusk
~ click for larger view in new tab ~

Teatime for Gladys

Teatime for Gladys

I’m telling you,
there’s something strange going on in that house.

Needing to vent after working long after
the office should have closed
to complete a project that was later than
yesterday’s paper delivered tomorrow,
receiving a good chewing out by his boss,
and feeling more bedraggled than a slipper
gnawed by his friend when she turned him into a dog,
he walked in the door to find his dinner on the table,
fried chicken soggier than the teabag
that’s been sitting in my cup since I saw this all happen.

Hotter than a steam whistle on a Natchez riverboat in August,
his anger boiled out of him in a scream that rippled
across his lips like the waves rolling off that boat’s bow.
Done venting, and feeling as foolish as a carny
hitting the dunk tank water for the fifth time
at the arm of a high school baseball pitcher,
he apologized to his loving wife with words
softer than a whisper in a monastery.
With one twitch of her nose, the table was set
for an eight-course dinner
with a steaming roast sitting in the center.

Abner Kravitz closed the blinds and turned to Gladys.
The Stephens are no different than any new married couple.
I swear, you’re so cuckoo you’ll end up getting a part
if they ever make that Ken Kesey novel into a movie.

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” written by Ken Kesey in 1962 was adapted as a Broadway play in 1963 and as a movie in 1975.

“softer than a whisper in a monastery” was the first line that came to me as I wrote this.

This is my response to Day 24 at napowrimo.net, where Maureen Thorsen cites the style in Raymond Chandler’s detective novels and asks us to “channel your inner gumshoe, and write a poem in which you describe something with a hard-boiled simile. Feel free to use just one, or try to go for broke and stuff your poem with similes till it’s . . . as dense as bread baked by a plumber, as round as the eyes of a girl who wants you to think she’s never heard such language, and as easy to miss as a brass band in a cathedral.”

Image source: YouTube

Expectations Unbound

Expectations Unbound

Unbound dedication
To a world of poetry

Their life

Poets gathered
To hear poets
Speak of joy
In their language
With unbound enthusiasm

Unbound Book Festival

This morning, at the Unbound Book Festival in Columbia, Missouri, I attended a reading by Francine J. Harris and Angela Hume.

This is my response to Twiglet #275: a world of words and Day 23 at napowrimo.net, where we are asked to “write a poem in the style of Kay Ryan, whose poems tend to be short and snappy.”

There Is Nothing but a Memory ~ with audio


There Is Nothing but a Memory

There is nothing to the reports of my early –
or not-so-early – demise.

There is nothing I would like more
than for that to not be true.

There is nothing to be done,
when all is said and done.

There is nothing to see here.

There is nothing more to say,
except that there is nothing.

This is my response to Day 22 at napowrimo.net,
which asks us to write a poem that uses repetition.

Too Smart for My Own Good ~ with audio


                    Wheat Field with Crows (1890), Vincent van Gogh


Too Smart for My Own Good

No way. Never would I name you.
Ghosts. Closets.
Sure we had some good times.
Too good, at times.
Too much drinking, not enough
time spent on studies. Playing cards
was not the math I needed. The physics
of dominoes and falling cards
did nothing for my grades.
After two years, I engineered my way
out of school and into the job
building stereo and TV cabinets.
Thanks for getting me in. Of course,
you were always in control, but the boss
telling me I was too smart for my own good
was the best thing that could happen to me.
I went on to drive trucks. And drink less.
You went back to school. It was too late
for me to plant those seeds. You were
the wheat field. I was the crows, leaving
the darkness behind. Where would I be
now, if I’d stayed?

This is my response to Day 21 at napowrimo.net, in which were asked to “write a poem in which you first recall someone you used to know closely but are no longer in touch with, then a job you used to have but no longer do, and then a piece of art that you saw once and that has stuck with you over time. Finally, close the poem with an unanswerable question.” (The name can be found in the first line.)

Coincidentally, Departure, written in 2016, also uses Vincent van Gogh’s Wheat Field with Crows and touches on the same topic, although indirectly.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Weasels Everywhere

Weasels Everywhere

I saw one on the suburban shore of the Niagara.
Too large to be someone’s pet ferret, it puzzled me.
Mike set me straight. They had been seen
across the river on Grand Island. Mink.
And now, in Missouri. I think. Or thought.
The first time, swimming across a river –
what I would call a stream after a life on the Niagara –
to hide among trees and roots tumbled downstream
in a flood. It was low water the second time,
when I saw one ten miles away, loping along the shore.
The last time? Same place as the first, but the trees
and roots were long washed downstream, rivers doing
what rivers do. Farm country and woods, where
I might expect to see a mink. Or did I? River otters
are native to Missouri, and more common.
Too large for mink, and no white markings.
But what’s the difference? Indeed, why
differentiate? Both are beautiful,
and in their place. I’m sure both would
respect the other’s territory, that neither would
take it upon themselves to destroy the other’s home.
So I paddle, in both places, hoping for a glimpse
of that peace that seems so foreign to the outside world.

This is my response to earthweal weekly challenge: EVERWILD, where Sherry Marr asks us to “write from that place of holding onto wildness of soul, to balance the wild love and wild grief we swing between on any given day, at this time of utter unpredictability, when Mother Earth herself is providing us with comfort in our grief, even while she herself is bleeding.”

Off prompt, but shared with Day 21 at napowrimo.net.

Image source: Missouri Department of Conservation

The Sensual Side of Spaghetti Squash

The Sensual Side of Spaghetti Squash

Ooh, yes!
Right there.
Rake your fingers
across my ribs
as you stroke my flesh.
Do it with a bit of sauce,
but don’t stop there.
Squash your inhibitions.
Not too cheesy. Just enough.
Let me feel your tongue
as we take it all the way.
Let me know this once-
in-a-lifetime experience.

This is my response to Day 20 at napowrimo.net,
where we are asked to write a poem “that anthropomorphizes a kind of food.”.

Image source: The Daily Meal

Navigating the Hazards of Self-analysis to Find Your Place in the Big Picture

Navigating the Hazards of Self-analysis
to Find Your Place in the Big Picture

Your options are not
restricted by your mindset.
If you think otherwise
you may discover
you were right
all along.

Consider the alternative.

This is my response to Day 19 at napowrimo.net,
where we are asked to write a poem that starts with a command.

Image source: medium.com

Forever and Always

Forever and Always

Yesterday, today, tomorrow.
All one.

I’m not going anywhere.
I didn’t travel all this way for nothing.

What was born within
notes of jazz and poetry,
beside blue water
beneath the stars,
knows no end.

The truth, yours and mine,
is found in the Nebulous Collection
and all that has followed.

Forever and Always.

This is my response to Day 18 at napowrimo.net, which is to write a poem that provides five answers to the same question – without ever specifically identifying the question that is being answered.

Always in Megan’s Orbit

Always in  Megan’s Orbit

Four years, now.
Two more, and the time
I’ve missed you
will begin to eclipse
the time I shared with you.

You loved walks at any time,
autumn, summer, spring,
but you were already entering
your winter when I met you,
and soon a short walk
was followed by a long nap.

Leaping high for snow
pushed off the deck
became more of a bound,
and jumping at raked leaves
might bring a fall on the hip
that had plagued you
most of your life.

Border collie to the end,
you brought me into your fold,
and I’m better for the love
found there. Nothing will eclipse that.

This is my response to Day 17 at napowrimo.net,
where we are asked to write a dog-inspired poem.

…more Megan, on WordPress

April 4, 2015
September 11, 2015
April 24, 2016
December 8, 2016
January 24, 2017
April 21, 2017
October 10, 2017
June 16, 2018
June 22, 2018