Thursday, April 23, 2015

Earth Day 2015 – the coming years

My writers' group yesterday discussed an article in The Guardian about the choices made by the Oxford Children's Dictionary editors that set me off, so I wrote this today.

Formosan Clouded Leopard












Earth Day 2015 – the coming years

The Oxford Children’s  Dictionary
edited out words like acorn, otter,
blossom and walnut from the most
recent edition – in the editors’
esteemed wisdom these words were
no longer relevant to today’s children.
Instead words added included celebrity,
broadband, database. Database this
for relevance: remove northern white
rhinoceros from the lexicon – do it soon –
there’s only one breeding male left.
Erase mountain gorilla, predicted
to disappear this year. We are on the edge
of a mass extinction event say the experts.
For the clouded leopard, it’s already
too late. Wipe its name from the slate.
Delete, delete, delete: Hawaiian crow,
last seen in 1999; Pyrenean Ibex, 2000;
spotted green pigeon, 2008. Never say
their names. They deserve better than
to be categorized by the species that
supervised their destruction. Remove
them from the discussion. Other names
rise to  the top of the list, replace what
was lost, next to be forgotten.  Keep
the newly added word, endangered.
We’ll need it in the coming years.



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Eleven Days














Eleven Days

clock ticks,
sun rises, crosses
sky, sets. i used to
call your name each
day: here. we promise
to visit: let me know. we
never do. not once.
no big deal. we were busy.
until today. i was told 
the crash was eleven
days ago. in my mind you
were still alive, smiling,
eleven days longer.
somehow i missed 
the news, missed the 
service, miss you. wish
we had kept that promise.
sun sets, crosses 
sky, rises. clock ticks.
i call your name.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Connected

Day 17 NaPoWriMo. Tonight's installment was inspired by a message from eBay and a note from a friend whose father-in-law passed.


Connected


eBay says it’s shipped
the gift I bought for Ella.
I discover old friends
have passed away
via Facebook. My wife
PM’s me from the family room,
and my sons rarely call: it’s
all about texting emoticons
these days. To feel grounded
I sometimes drag out old shoeboxes
(yes, really, shoeboxes) of Mom
or Dad’s letters. Seeing their handwriting
reaches parts of me the wired world
cannot. I sense the mood of the words
from written gesture, color of ink, a word
scratched out, underlined three times.
As I read I hear their voices in my head.
With the immediacy and evanescence
of  today’s connection, what shoebox
will my sons  open tomorrow? How will
they fit the sound of my voice into their
hearts? What of me will reach them
once my number is undialable, my server
forever disconnected?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Forecast Redacted

This is my first ever "Erasure Poem." Find some text, then erase words until you have something else. More concerned with form than message, I decided to have fun with a local forecast. Tomorrow I may try some political piece.


Forecast redacted:

Maximum umbrella usage,
the real rains may knock off
most of remaining cherry blossoms.
April showers keep flower power. Gusting
lets us know a wedge of cool,
but likely result is Confidence Clouds
in the evening stray breezes die.
Likely to wait until well after midnight
when chances rise just enough to make
pavements slick. Break up in the pop up,
mainly south of the city.
Remain light thanks to intervals.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Letter to Mom

This is a rewrite of yesterday's poem, with a new stanza. Hope that counts. Feels like a new poem to me. You be the judge. Better or not?

Letter to Mom, 2015


The mid-April air is sweet.
Lilacs have their turn now,
magnolias a forgotten dream;
spring wind strips away plum blossoms,
sends pink snow swirling into gutters.
Azaleas and rhodies kick their heels
at the street– Can-can dancers
raising their dresses:  pinks, reds, oranges,
whites, purples all in a line. A few frogs
still chirp at dusk, remind me of cicadas,
long, thick evenings bottling lightning bugs.

Another lifetime I brought you hand-picked
bouquets of May flowers; you cut lilacs
for the kitchen table, the one where we still
gather for good food, games, conversation.
I can’t bring myself to throw away the ladder-back
chairs we said grace upon– bless this– they collapse
in the shed, fall apart like faded letters, brittle,
last year’s blossoms.

Can I drop into those games again? Or the meals,
with talks full of broken dreams, this, the year
you’d turn 100? What do you have to say to me
on my 65th birthday? I already outlived you.
How do I reach you now to hold, look into your eyes,
see love hiding, blurred behind the years? This: I place
lilacs in the old vase. Set it on the table, lean over,
breathe deep.

Letter to Mom

Veronica says this needs more. Probably. For tonight, this is what I have. Thanks, Tele, for the FB post that brought this around... rewritten now, several times.


Letter to Mom, 2015


The mid-April air is sweet.
Lilacs have their turn now,
magnolias a forgotten dream;
spring wind strips away plum blossoms,
sends pink snow swirling into gutters.
Azaleas and rhodies kick their heels
at the street– Can-can dancers
raising their dresses:  pinks, reds, oranges,
whites, purples all in a line. A few frogs
still chirp at dusk, remind me of cicadas,
long, thick evenings bottling lightning bugs.
Another lifetime I brought you hand-picked
bouquets of May flowers; you cut lilacs
for the kitchen table, the one we still gather
around. I can’t bring myself to throw away
the ladder-back chairs we said grace upon–
bless this– they collapse in the shed,
fall apart like faded letters, brittle,
last year’s blossoms.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

fill the gap



sleepy tonight,
have been all day.
lids droop, leaves without water;
limbs sag, stick,
thoughts pummel me to bed,
drop me on the couch,
pin me to the chair.
take the easy way out:
close the eyes
fill the gap.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Butterfly

Listening to Joshua Radin tonight, I drew cards for inspiration: Anne Bradstreet and T.S. Eliot. Who knows what that means? Man. More poetry...




Butterfly


Butterfly,
tell me where
your wing beat
takes us,
you forward
and up;
me mowed under
by first kisses
last gasps,
and all
in between?

What avenues
taken
or abandoned
by blossoms
on a tree,
a goodbye
or a net?
A stroke
of ink,
a scent,
a wave,
the first cough,
step, or rung?

Journeys
counted
in instants
evaporated,
each breath
abandoned
for the
next.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Writing with a Migraine





Writing with a Migraine

is an exercise in willpower.
Sunglare wince.
I must get this down
before pain,
disorientation,
confusion hits.
Before eyes
can’t  distinguish
one key from another,
see past the sparkle,
the visual aura –
the first warning.
Slow keystrokes,
deliberate, pull
muddled thought
down the arms, out
reluctant fingers; 
stunned, heavy eyes. 
Done then?
A nap to wash away
pain. Hide under
pillow, something soft
to sooth. Clouds move in.
Rain taps the roof.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Seven is the number of forgetting.





Seven is the number of forgetting.


I had to be there at seven, and the date
escaped me. At nine, when I slammed the trunk,
I remembered, tried driving fast enough to turn
back time. Didn’t work.

Tonight I was sure I needed to be there
     at seven.
Showed up 15 minutes early, to an empty,
dark house. No cars in the drive. Checked my
email from last week. Appointment was seven
…hours ago.  Seven.  The number of forgetting.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Advice for Green Crew

Day eight. 


Advice for Green Crew


Tell your daughter you love her
so many times she’ll remember.
Tell your mother, too.

Watch the sun rise over the ocean.
Notice how slow it happens,
how much is packed into

the hour before dawn. Do it
repeatedly, until you truly
understand what daybreak means.

Call home. Often. Even when you’re so
tired you can’t think of anything
to say. Breathe into the phone so

we’ll know you’re there. On the boat, 
hold on. Keep a firm, conscious grip on 
the lifeline– never trust the sea to be gentle.

Log each day with your heart first,
then camera, pen, head. You will only feel
like this once. Write letters to your daughter, 

so she’ll know what this meant to you– why 
you left. Mail them when you reach port. Make 
sure whoever gets them knows to save them


for when she’s old enough.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Best Effort

Day Seven. After lunch with my sons today.




Best Effort


Flying through time at 70 mph, you,
my youngest son, ask, Of anyone
 who lived, who would you pick
to sit with, have a conversation?

I can’t choose.
Socrates, Jack London, Einstein, Maya
Angelou come to mind. Hemingway.
Isaac Newton, we both agree, or any
of the minds on Cosmos– discuss stars
with Galileo or Carl Sagan. Human
rights with Rosa Parks.  Overwhelmed,
we drive on. Later this evening, it lands:
I would talk with family: parents first, then
work back. Aren’t they the ones, all foibles
and faults, bad choices, bigotry, dishonesty,
filled past the brim with errors and meanness;
aren’t they the ones to sit across from,
with their knowledge now of death and life?
Ask them the hard question: What was the most
important thing? And hear the answer ring,
shattered crystal: You. You were my best effort.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Payback

Day Six, NapoWriMo. 




Payback


There are parts of this
I don’t talk about, face,
admit. Sleepless nights,
house shuddering in wind
before a fish day, eyes open
on the ceiling, backs of eyelids,
out the window, wondering beyond
bad water, pounding rollers and my
own helplessness. Have I done this
before? Drowned in a past life?  What
else explains this loss of rational thought;
payment for mistakes ended under water?
I thought selling out would remedy the fear.
It did. But my son goes fishing this spring.
And I am awake in bed again, listening.

After the Storm

Again, a late night, another late post of a poem. The prompt was in the title.


After the Storm


When the wind takes a breath,
stops shaking the trees in a tantrum,
when clouds seize opportunity, scatter,
swirl and part, and the sun turns water
to steam on the rooftop, you step out
the door, tentative like tulips pounded
by the rain, lift your head, send brightness
back to the sun, to the sky.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Hide the Knives

A recent prompt in my writers' group was to write about things we keep in the kitchen drawer. Not sure how it turned into this, but here's today's Napowrimo poem, Day # 4:



Hide the Knives


We don’t keep the sharp knives in a drawer,
so accessible, they jump at your fingers
too easily, rest on their backs, claws out.
Like you, even with eyes closed, seeming
passive, angelic look on your face; anything
but benign, sharp edges hidden, ready to pounce.
No time to withdraw, seek safe refuge.

Too late. Drops of blood drip on the silverware.
I can’t keep anything nice. Sting. Run water over it.
Wash it off with clenched teeth: Stitches?
Not this time. No doctor, nurse necessary. Slap
Bandaid on the wound, a little Neosporin will take 
care of that. If you shed a tear, I’ll give you something 
to cry about.  Clean the knife when you’re done.
Put it away. It might hurt someone.

Like Trees

Napowrimo Day Three. In bed at 11:30. Shit! No poem today!  Half hour later, this.


Like Trees


the water changes daily–
gray, green, blue, white,
black, glassy, ripples, rollers,
whitecaps, mountains. Fish
jump everywhere you look one day.
The next is blank, featureless ocean.
I remember walking a park on the hill
in Louisville after a tornado:  hardwoods
snapped like children’s toys, six-ton Pick Up
Stix, strewn on top of one another. Hours
before, we walked the trail for the hundredth,
two-hundredth time. After the storm, we got
lost in the jumble. the water is like that. easy
to lose yourself. never the same. never anchored.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Veronica

Day two of Napowrimo. Been a rough couple of days around here. Somehow, I have been lucky enough to be with this woman.




Veronica


Only here can
I find someone
to listen, not bark
at shadows, run
for cover.
I unveil darkness,
you lean close;
I stumble,
you reach out.
You sort me
like the cherry
sorts blossoms,
like the sky
catalogues clouds.
Only here have
I found someone.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jessica on April First

It's been a couple of years since I tried NapoWrimo, the poem-a-day challenge for April, National Poetry month. Last year I was battling back and eye problems, and working hard on the FisherPoets anthology I edited. This year I am healthier and have far less on my plate, so I'm giving it a shot again. This morning I had a visit right before I woke from a former student and friend who was killed in a car crash three years ago. Been thinking about her all day. It would be just like her to pull a stunt like this on April Fool's.





Jessica on April First


Before I awoke this morning
I opened a bathroom door,
and walked in on you. You stood,
ducked your head, and closed
the door again. Realizing
my mistake, I laughed, turned
away, and waited. I had to go,
and hadn’t known you were in there.
You opened the door and came out,
smiling as we both apologized. Before
I realized in my dream who I was
talking with, before I remembered
you are three years dead, I closed
the door a second time. When I opened
my eyes you were gone. After I awoke
and took care of my need, all I wanted
was to go back to sleep and talk
some more. Just a few more moments
with you, smiling, ducking your head,
before I awake.
                  ______

Before I awake with you, smile,
duck your head, just a few more
moments, all I want is to talk, go
back to sleep. I open my eyes, you
are gone. A door closes a second time.
I recall You are three years dead. Who
am I talking with? A door opens, you
come out, smiling. I didn’t know you were
there. Didn’t realize my mistake. Turn

away, wait again. Before I awake, this.