Unknown ~ quadrille

Unknown

While ours to consider,
haunting or blessing, the past
will not foretell the future.

Riddled with unknowns, both
darkness and light, the path
before us is ours to discern.

Neither granting advantage
nor taking it for granted,
our challenge is to find the way.

This is my response to dVerse – Quadrille 120 (aka 119 part 2) – No way! Way!,
the prompt from Lisa at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to use
a form of the word way in a 44-word poem, with no required meter or rhyme.

 

Winter Blanket

Winter Blanket

It was a blanket, no more.
Just four inches of snow, but even less
has had my hands tightly gripping the steering wheel
as winds off the lake buffeted my trailer
at the crest of the Skyway crossing the Buffalo River.

Winter, always my least favorite season
for driving. For any reason, really.
The weight of snow on the shovel.
The wind chill while checking out my unit.
Kicking tires covered in slush. Driving.

But this was just a blanket of snow,
still waiting to be plowed at nine in the morning,
already packed down by morning traffic.
Traffic I navigated as I pulled a short trailer
into an intersection that was a glaze of ice.

Making a wide left turn, I watched the cars
that watched as I passed to their left, watched
the drivers’ already wide eyes widen further.
My gaze shifted from the road to my left mirror
to see my trailer jackknifing to meet me.

Heart in my mouth, I spun the wheel to the right,
felt my tractor straighten out, tugging the trailer pin
that had been pushing me around. The relief
in the eyes of those other drivers was palpable,
their cars spared for another day’s winter drive.

I pulled over a short way down the road,
did a walk-around, checked out my unit,
and kicked the tires, more out of frustration
than for any safety check. Safely back in the cab,
I drove off as I enjoyed a picturesque winter scene.

I may miss Buffalo, but I don’t miss Buffalo winters.

This poem is my second response to Poetics: Connections, the prompt from Merril at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to about connecting or connections—in any sense. Merril cites the poetry of Mary Oliver as an example.

Before I retired, I drove for a trucking company in Buffalo, New York.  Buffalo is known for its winter weather, especially the lake effect storms that drop snow carried by the winds off of Lake Erie.  They made for some interesting experiences while driving a tractor/trailer (semi).

Shared with Open Link Night #2812: LIVE Edition

Reflection ~ with audio

 


Reflection

A slight nudge, and I leave shore.
Or do I? It follows me on either side
as my kayak moves along the stream,
witnessing each stroke of my paddle.

And the stream, for its part doubling
the presence of the shore with sycamore,
oak, and maple casting their light
in ripples cast from my bow.

I touch the water as a floating leaf
passes, or is it the passing shore I touch?
Could it be that it has been the shore,
and not the water, that has drawn me here?

The newly rippled image tells me it could be both.

This poem is my response to Poetics: Connections, the prompt from Merril at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to about connecting or connections—in any sense. Merril cites the poetry of Mary Oliver as an example.

Heavy Heart ~ prosery

Heavy Heart

It was not by choice, but he left much earlier than anyone expected, his body finally succumbing to the ravages of illness that had plagued his life. His last six months were the hardest for him. The hardest for us.

But we go on. And so she did, for another fifteen years. Missing his love. Missing the many things he’d done for all of their life together. She was overwhelmed at first, but we assured her that we would do anything for her.

And we did, but the time came when her own health issues became too much for her. As I sit beside her bed, holding her hand while she sleeps, I know that soon she will take her last breath. Both of my parents will be gone.

Sometimes the great bones of my life seem so heavy, no night heavier than this.

This is my response to Prosery: Bone Weary, the prompt from Linda Lee Lyberg at dVerse ~ Poets Pub. With Prosery, the challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction with a 144-word limit. I suppose this could be seen as fiction. Included in the bit of prose is to be a complete line from a poem. For this prompt, the line to be included is from “Spring Azures,by Mary Oliver.

“Sometimes the great bones of my life seem so heavy,”
                                                                                     – Mary Oliver

I’ve met the additional challenge of hitting the 144-word mark, exactly.

Not Just Any Watch ~ with audio

 

Not Just Any Watch

This is not a timepiece held by just any man.
His later life an escape to simple times and the bottle,
it graced the pocket of your father’s jeans
and marked the hours as he worked by your side,
toiling in farm fields after your mother’s death.
And later, it measured the hours of tavern time
till we would pick him up and drive to Aunt Ginny’s,
his home in his last years far from those fields,
never recovering from his loss. Measuring
his life, short as it was, it passed to you,
its black shoestring of a watch chain lasting
even through the years it served you. It passed
from your hands to mine, a reminder
of the hard years of your youth, a witness
to the life you achieved through hours of hard work,
a testament to the power of time to heal.

This poem is my response to Poetics:Object Poems, the prompt from Mish at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, which is to write a poem beginning with “This is not a ______” and centered around an every day object, sparing the details of the object and instead showing the connection that it has made or what it represents.

Image: the pocket watch that once belonged to my grandfather, and then my father.

Love Like Waterfall ~ haibun

24 June 24 2017

Love Like Waterfall

We stood on the the shore of Lake Erie, just as we had many times in the past. From the waves rolling onto its sandy beaches, to the dunes lining those shores, to the wildlife found along the the shore and on the marshes within the park, to its wonderful lighthouse, Presque Isle State Park in Erie Pennsylvania has much to offer and has become one of our favorite places to visit. We always make it a priority to stop there when we drive from Missouri to Buffalo to see family and friends.

But this visit was different. Family and friends from Erie, Cleveland, Youngstown, and Buffalo (and even Tennessee and Washington state) were there to share in the beauty of the moment as we stood beneath the towering Presque Isle lighthouse to exchange our wedding vows.

Pennsylvania is one of the few states to allow self-administered weddings. Because Presque Isle has come to mean so much to us, it seemed only natural for us to have our wedding there. I wrote poetic verse that was read by my children and my granddaughter, and I also wrote the vows that we exchanged. It was the perfect setting for our new beginning.

under clear blue skies
waves in the sunlight sparkle
love like waterfall

This haibun is my response to Happy New Year! This prompt from Lillian at dVerse ~ Poets Pub is to write a traditional haibun about a new beginning we’ve experienced in our lifetime. The haiku within the haibun is to include a kigo (a word associated with a season – here, waterfall for summer) and a kireji or cutting word at the end of the second line. This word (in English haiku, it can even be simple punctuation, such as a dash, comma, ellipsis, or an exclamation point) briefly cuts the stream of thought, indicating that the verse consists of two thoughts half independent of each other. In my haibun, sparkle serves as the haiku’s kireji.

For the Many ~ Golden Shovel ~ with audio

MTB: endings / beginnings, the prompt from Peter Frankis at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, asks us to write a poem while considering endings, with a suggestion to write a Golden Shovel poem.  Per Introduction: The Golden Shovel, by Don Share at Poetry Foundation, “The last words of each line in a Golden Shovel poem are, in order, words from a line or lines taken often, but not invariably, from a Brooks poem.”  This was first done by Terrance Hayes in homage to Gwendolyn Brooks, with his poem The Golden Shovel.  This, my first Golden Shovel, was inspired by Infirm, by Gwendolyn Brooks, found here.


 

For the Many

One class, one caste to include everybody.
None are immune here.
This disease that plagues us today is
intent on adding to the infirm.

One class, one caste to include everybody.
None are immune here.
Your failure to recognize this is
sure to take a toll on the infirm.

You say you have survived, but oh,
some are not so quick to mend.
You may scoff at what I say, ridicule me,
but some will never mend.
It could have been you. It may be me.
This does not make you better, a lord.

I read the signs, the news today,
and understand I am one of many, that I
am exposed when you say
you have no need to fear, to
take caution, that you are not one of them.

Despite what you say,
you, too, are of the many. Others act to
protect their fellows, protect them
with no thought to say
they cannot be troubled, to
act as though they care not for them.

For they do, with no thought to lord
it over the many.  Their desire to look
out for their fellow man, you and I,
is a sign that you are, that I am,
valued, and that is beautiful.

When the common and the beautiful
are seen as equal and viewed with
compassion, that is when my
true respect for others takes wing.

Our strength rises when that
understanding of equality is
wedded with a desire to spare the wounded.

There should be no “my,”
only “our.” When we see eye to eye,
when we come to realize that
the key to our survival is
best served when the many are bonded,
we will prevail. That, or

suffer the loss of my
sister or your mother, a deaf ear
turned to the grief that will not
serve sentiments funded
towards the consideration of others, or
even ourselves. Your regard for my
well-being should come unbidden. We walk
the same path. A beginning. An end. All
else may differ, but all else is a-wobble.

All is insanity, to think that I’m
insignificant to you, little enough
to trouble your mind, to
mask your pretension of superiority. Be
more than that. Be beautiful.

Let the world see that in you.
Join those who believe that others are
no less than beautiful.
Be one who thinks of others, too.

As a side note, this may be the longest poem I’ve written.

Never Without a Trace

Never Without a Trace

Standing by the river that has carried me this far,
its course passing far beyond my own horizon,
I think of how little my life has played in its grand scale.

Coming, going, the waterbirds don’t leave a trace.
Or so I thought of life, my own being complete
and having little to show for my passing.

But then, looking down on its sandy shore,
I saw the tracks of a heron’s path and thought
of the child I once held, the fruit of my loins

traveling along that same river on a course
far ahead of my own, yet echoing my own,
one of many that fill the river to its banks.

The prompt for Poetics: Stepping Off the Sidewalk, from Laura at dVerse ~ Poets Pub is to use one of eight given fragments from the mystic poets in a poem. I have used “Coming, going, the waterbirds don’t leave a trace,” a line attributed to Dōgen, a 13th Century Japanese Buddhist monk.

Image source: Minneapolis Institute of Art
~ Heron on Branch, by Ohara Shōson ~
(click image/larger view/new tab)

Reason to Believe ~ prosery

Reason to Believe

Why would grandchildren make any difference in my life? What is there in witnessing the growth of child to adult, once-removed, that should should stir emotions already invested? Some questions can only be answered with time.

Grandchildren gained through adoption were the beginning of a gradual softening of that reticence. Witnessing their accomplishments from a perspective that has evolved with age, I understand their paths are laced with trials that compound with each generation. My concern for their future is no less, is perhaps greater, than the same I’ve had for my own children. My love for them certainly is no less.

Then came the birth of a granddaughter, and another, their eyes holding a depth of innocence that has melted this heart of mine. With that love and concern, my questions have been answered.

Reading what I have just written, I now believe.

This is my response to Some Prosery Cheer!, the prompt from Lillian at dVerse ~ Poets Pub. With Prosery, the challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction with a 144-word limit. I suppose this could be seen as fiction. Included in the bit of prose is to be a complete line from a poem.  For this prompt, the line to be included is from “Afterword,” by Louise Glück. (the complete poem can be found here)

“Reading what I have just written, I now believe”

                                                            – Louise Glück

I’ve met the additional challenge of hitting the 144-word mark, exactly.

A story of when the ice detached and the people floated away ~ with audio

Poetics: travels in the wild, the prompt from Sarah at dVerse ~ Poets Pub, offers seven lines from “Surfacing,” a book of essays exploring the natural world and different histories by Kathleen Jamie, with one of those lines to be used as the title of a poem.

Those lines are:
• Travelling in the wilderness
• She said if a red fox had crossed somewhere, that area was safe
• They say only the south wind flattens grass
• We are teachers to our grandchildren
• Lead dogs are very smart
• Squirrel hunting in the mountains
A story of when the ice detached and the people floated away

Let’s call my response a stream of consciousness.


 

A story of when the ice detached
and the people floated away

Fear not, for this is merely a matter of conjecture and prognostication,
one that could come to pass given the habits and tendencies
of people when restrictions are placed upon them,
such as food rationing and curfews meant to restrict movement
that might make them the targets of an enemy during a time of war.

Not that that would ever happen or be willingly accepted
by a populace as a matter of pride in a joint effort to end the loss
of life to matters completely out of their control with an end result
of victory over a force that threatened the entire world.

Yes, this is about the restriction of movement, if one considers
maintaining safe distances as a means to limit the hardship
of others when close quarters may mean the difference
between suffering a great loss and the eventual freedom
to move about freely once the crisis has passed.

But this is not about food rationing, unless one considers the inability
to socially gather at either fine dining or fast food dining
establishments as the establishment of food rationing,
regardless of the availability of food at home,
despite, or as the direct result of, the hoarding of essential items.

What seems to plague the people of this tale is masked in the vanity
of people determined to do as they please and in an exaggeration of the loss
of freedom in the face of an economic hardship that would have been weathered
in the past by a determination to bring and end to that hardship.

And so the tale is simply this.
In a cold-hearted world, where the efforts of the people
might be seen as less demanding than during times of war,
where little thought was given to the health and safety of others,
and where simple sacrifices were disdained,
the ice detached and the people floated away.

~~ background music track for audio poem ~~
Ice Flow, by  Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

Graphic image: Amazon image layered with Wikipedia image