Nothing Behind the Wall ~ prosery

Nothing Behind the Wall

As the wall grows higher, some think they understand, for they feel threatened. Something must be done to hold back the masses who threaten their insular worlds, to exclude those with foreign designs and deviant thoughts.

If they truly understood, they would recognize that he is only playing to their fears, as with anything he says or does. Anything to benefit his cronies, and especially himself, while elevating his stature in their eyes.

Walls are his favorite. Whether visible, such as the border wall, or the exaggerated principles meant to exclude outsiders, the imagined threat of those he so easily dupes, or the wall he builds around himself.

Not all are blind to this. There are those who understand completely, those who could tell his followers, “There is nothing behind the wall except a space where the wind whistles, but you cannot see that.”

This bit of flash fiction is my response to Of Houses, Walls, and Whistling WindsDreams, presented by Merril at dVerse ~ Poets Pub. With Prosery, the challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction with a 144-word limit. Included in the bit of prose is to be a complete line from a poem. My flash fiction also meets the additional challenge of hitting the 144-word mark, exactly.
For this prompt, the line to be included is from “Drawings By Children,” by Lisel Mueller. (the complete poem can be found here)

“there is nothing behind the wall
except a space where the wind whistles.”

                              – Lisel Mueller

I have included the following line, as well. (“but you cannot see that”)
Image source: Detroit Free Press

Donald Downer

Donald Downer

What deeper descent than this lift?

Falling
Falling
Falling

Our attendant
Lips pursed
Beneath brim of red hat

Offers no excuses
Only promises
Of a living hell

The doors open to reveal
A hell no different than
The last four years trapped with him

A swift kick out the door
A simple X on a ballot
And we leave him behind

What sweeter ascent than this lift?

Reena’s Exploration Challenge #160 offers this scenario:

You go down in a lift that doesn’t stop for hours.
When it finally opens, what do you see?

On the Road Again, Finally

On the Road Again, Finally

I’ll be away for the next three weeks, so I thought I’d get in one more chance to take photos of fall colors. On Saturday, I went for a drive to Ha Ha Tonka State Park, which is 60 miles south of my home in Missouri. It’s located on Lake of the Ozarks and is known for its limestone bluffs and karst formations, as well as for the fire-ravaged mansion known as “The Castle.” I’ve posted other photo blogs of its fall colors in the past, including this one.

It was a mostly sunny day when I left home. By the time I reached the lake, scattered clouds became mostly cloudy as the day went on. The temperatures were in the mid-60s so it was comfortable walking weather. I didn’t do any trail hiking, but I walked about 1 ¾ miles by following the paved and graveled paths. While some trees were bare, many were colorful and the oaks and hickories were getting ready to change.

As I said, I’ll be gone for a few weeks. I left yesterday, Sunday, and drove 700 miles to my son’s home in Cleveland. I’ll stay here for a few days before moving on to Buffalo to stay with my son. Of course, I’ve spent some time (the first visit in eleven months) with my granddaughter, who will be two years old in a couple of weeks, and I’ll see her again on the return trip.

I thought I’d need to stay here for fourteen days, so that I’d be cleared to enter New York State, but NY’s travel restrictions changed while I was driving to Ohio. Now the requirement for all out-of-state travelers is a negative COVID test within three days prior to entering NY, followed by a three-day quarantine in NY, followed by a COVID test in NY.

Coincidentally, I tested in Missouri and received a “negative” notification Sunday morning. Since test results can take up to a week, I’ll drive to NY on Wednesday (within the three -day window),  then test on Saturday. I should have my “negative” result by the following Saturday, just in time for me to see my daughter for the first time in eleven months, just before her baby is born. Since she has type 1 diabetes, her doctors want to induce labor two weeks early to avoid complications. So, she has a “tentative date” of November 17 for her first child, and if everything works out I’ll get to meet my new granddaughter.

My online presence has been erratic the past few months, but for the next three weeks it could be sporadic. I know I’ll have down time while family is busy at work and I’m technically “in quarantine,” so we’ll see how that works out. I have poetry to catch up on, as well as comments on my own poetry to catch up with, so I’ll do what I can. I’ve looked forward to this visit for a while, and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

decisions
take new direction
changing leaves

Here are some of those photos from Saturday.
(Click any image for a larger view in a new tab.)

 

 

 

 

 

thicker than water, by Jane Dougherty

thicker than water, by Jane Dougherty

Receiving “thicker than water,” the new chapbook from Jane Dougherty, I read. And I read on. With each new poem I thought I had found my favorite. When I came to the end I looked back and thought it should be “She says,” with these lines:

“you will still have my hand’s touch,
the depth of my eyes, the falling into step
that will never fail, while there is still a star
pinned to the vault of the heavens.”

But perhaps because of certain events, situations that make me realize that even the best plans are subject to forces beyond our control, I decided on two favorites, “The storm is coming” and “Grieving.”

From “The storm is coming,” these lines speak to me:

“Will we stay in this skin-warmed dimness
Or walk separate paths
Strewn with roses and thorns,
To a still trout pool, a cove of the sea?”

And from “Grieving,” these words:

“the rain, and the land forever disappeared

in an ocean of mist. Silence.
I called out to bring you back,
my white-breasted gull,

but only the moon replied,
tossing her horns, and strewed the
empty waves with silver feathers.”

With each of the twenty-six poems in this chapbook you will come to understand how rain and waves, and yes even cold seas, are woven through our thoughts and emotions as we navigate events in our lives.

As she says in “The wise woman in the shell”:

“True songs are in the water,
strung and plucked by the wind’s flight
through the chords of the wild air.”

Each of these poems is a song.

“thicker than water,” the new chapbook from Jane Dougherty, is available in the US in both paperback and Kindle format at Amazon.com. It’s also available at these Amazon links:

UK: https://tinyurl.com/y2et7dcr
Australia: https://tinyurl.com/yykla7nm
Canada: https://tinyurl.com/yxu5azlk
India: https://tinyurl.com/yy6qvle5

Order your copy today. You’ll be glad you did.

Respect

Respect

Beyond the tangled web
that threatens to choke the life
from this nation, that dearth
of dignity woven through society

From its highest leader, sworn
to preserve that dignity,
To those sworn to protect
the common people

There is a light within
the hearts of the people
Where true worth is recognized
A hope that lives

Behind the web that threatens
to cover it with darkness
One that grants to all
that which is their due

Respect

Shared with Open Link #277 – Live edition at dVerse ~ Poets Pub
(which goes live at 2pm CT)

Image
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Dark Matter in a Simulated Universe
© KIPAC, AMNH

New Leaves Wait to Grow ~ haibun

New Leaves Wait to Grow

It was an easy decision for me, when I decided to move to Missouri. I was following my heart to be with the woman I love. If we were going to be together, it was much easier for me to make the move than it would have been for her. Still not yet sixty (I had retired at fifty-three), I had no job to hold me back.

I gave a lot of thought to being away from my children and reasoned that it would be no different than if they were to move away after completing college. My eldest son had attended university in Cleveland and had a job there as a computer engineer. My other son still lived in the Buffalo area, working in IT for a web hosting firm, and wasn’t afraid to travel himself. Meanwhile, my daughter was in college, and there were no guarantees that she would stay in the area once she completed school. Since then, she has become a high school counselor, and all three have stayed in their respective cities.

It’s 700 miles to Cleveland, and another 200 miles further on to Buffalo, and I’ve driven those roads to visit them at least twenty times in the past eight years. I don’t mind the drive. We have a great time when we’re together, and we’ve even had them as guests when they’ve visited us.

When my granddaughter arrived (two years ago, next month), I realized there was something I hadn’t anticipated. Grandchildren unexpected? No, but I hadn’t thought about how much I would be missing, over the miles. Now, I saw her (and held her!) a few times in the first year, and there have been many video calls, but it’s been nearly eleven months since I’ve actually seen her.

And now, my daughter is expecting her first child in three weeks. Meanwhile, due to the COVID-19 infection rate, Missouri has been on the out-of-state travel ban list for New York State for months-on-end and flirts off-and-on with the slightly less stringent restrictions for Ohio.

I am where my heart has taken me, but I wonder.  If I knew then what I know now, would I have considered the move a folly?

old leaves fall
new leaves wait to grow
left behind

This haibun is my response to dVerse – Poetics #427 – Mussenden’s Temple,
the prompt from Lisa at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, with the prompt
to write a poem using the word folly.

The Ultimate Fright Night ~ haibun

The Ultimate Fright Night

As he had for years, he placed a large bowl of candy on the table just inside the door of his home, put decorations on the outside of the door, placed an orange bulb in the lamppost, and waited for the children to ring his doorbell as they called out the cheerful chant, “Trick or Treat.” But times had changed, and fewer children roamed the streets on this festive night. Concerns for safety meant parents took their children to churches and malls for their treats, and each year fewer and fewer superheroes and princesses appeared at his door, leaving him with a bowlful of sugary sweets to ration for himself for the next few months.

But this year he waited in vain, for there were no smiling faces, and no one rang the doorbell looking for treats. In the true spirit of this frightful night, the children had one more reason to listen to the words they had heard for so long, “Don’t take candy from strangers.”

blue moon curse
on All Hallows’ Eve
COVID plague

This is my response to Haibun Monday 10-26-20: Happy Halloween!,
the prompt from Frank Tassone at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.

Hiking with Mark Twain

Hiking with Mark Twain

I’ve always enjoyed taking photos of fall colors, especially when I lived in New York, with its colorful sugar maples. Although Missouri has fewer maples, in the eight years I’ve lived here I’ve taken the opportunity to hike in a few of the state parks and conservation areas in the fall. This year I decided to try something different.  (Click any image for a larger view in a new tab.)

The Mark Twain National Forest covers 3 million acres (1.5 million acres of that is public land), with nine tracts of forests in the southern half of Missouri. On Thursday, I hiked one of the loop trails in the 16,500 acre Cedar Creek Ranger District, which is the one district north of the Missouri River and has 34 miles of trails. Before 1940, private landowners intensively cultivated the land, resulting in depleted and eroded soils. In the 1940s, the Soil Conservation Service began purchasing and rebuilding it, stabilizing gullies and planting trees and grasses. It’s been managed by the U.S. Forest Service since 1953. The Smith Creek Loop covers 5 miles, but I hiked 5.7 miles to cover a couple of side trails for photo opportunities.

It was a sunny day, and the temperature reached 87ºF by late afternoon (a near record). While I could have chosen a cooler day for hiking (Friday’s high was 49º), Thursday was a dry day in the middle of a rainy spell. I started at the southeast corner of the loop, traveling “counterclockwise,” which worked out well as I appreciated the mostly-level stretch of the final mile. This image, with the trail map layered over a Google terrain map, shows how much the elevation changes on the trail.

As I hiked the trail, it was obvious that some of it follows former roads. Any trace of gravel or dirt roadway is long gone, and if it wasn’t overgrown it would look like a lane winding through the forest. The width of the loop trail varies from 15-20 feet down to a mere footpath crowded by trees. This area is known for hills and bluffs, so much of the trail includes slopes that climb and descend the numerous ridges leading to the bluffs. We can get some pretty heavy rain here, and those old paths offer the perfect course for runoff, so the trail often winds around or parallels those sections. In fact, we had a heavy rain the day before, so there were a few spots that had slick areas that were hidden beneath fallen leaves. Even on some of the narrow, steep sections, hoof prints were evident, as the trail is open to horseback.

The trail crosses Smith Creek, which is about 25 feet wide, but there was no water running in the creek. One side trail took me to Cedar Creek, which is 30 feet wide with a very mild current. The trail led to an old iron bridge that served the road that once ran through there.

I never had to actually cross Cedar Creek, but the trail loop approaches it at two other points. The overlooks there gave some nice views looking down and across the water. The first was about 100 feet above the creek. The second, at roughly 150 feet above the creek, had some impressive formations, with cedars clinging to the edge of the bluff.

Cedar Creek, 100 feet below a limestone bluff

This tract of land is primarily oak, hickory and cedar, but I saw a dead tree that could have been an ash, and I did get some maple photos.

I had the trail pretty much to myself, encountering one pair of hikers, and these two that crossed my path.

Western Black Snake – 4 ft. long

Its been about a year since I’ve taken a hike of three or more miles. This one was was a reminder that I’ve had a couple of health issues since then. My back and legs were feeling it before I was done, but I recovered with no problems. Early this year I learned of a heart condition I’ve had all my life, one that now leaves me briefly winded when I climb a flight of stairs. The downhill slopes were a breeze, but let me tell you, my heart knew when I was climbing, even on gentle and moderate inclines.

Occasional stops on the frequent uphill climbs were the order of the day. I’m only 67 and have a few years ahead of me, but I’m learning that I need to modify my activity, something I’ll have to keep in mind on future hikes. My favorite part of this hike was the overlooks, so the next time I walk this trail I’ll start at the bridge near the northwest corner of the loop and hike up to the overlooks. There and back.