Tuesday, October 25, 2016

#21 Abandonment

The suitcases await by the door,
and I'm in the process
of abandoning the familiar, 
leaving behind those comfortable
necessaries I cannot take with me.
Even for a two week trip,
I'll miss these accessories  
that give structure to each day,
the sewing machine, three bookcases,
that cushioned chair, my comforter. 
Well, the laptop travels, as does 
a journal with blank pages,
for I would not leave behind my words.
What is this trip but another journey
of letting go?

Japanese Gardens at Manito Park (October 2015)
Another poem for OctPoWriMo. Visit HERE to see what others have written.

Monday, October 24, 2016

#20 Tucson Mermaid

Arizona Cap Canal (Wikipedia)

Tucson is an ordinary town of artsy suburbs --
if you look past the saguaro dotting the rolling, dry hills,
ancient guardians that lift spiny arms to the sky.
At night, the lights of baked adobe houses measure
blocks of homes, while stars pierce the sky,
white pinholes. My sister saw a mermaid once
who swam in the canal. This could be no ordinary
mermaid to be drawn to the desert.
Maybe my sister followed a dusty trail
along the cement waterway to discover
a fan-shaped shell, where no shell should be.
Geologists remind us of a long ago inland sea;
perhaps this mermaid searches for her family,
lost in the desert, but stubborn,
like some I know who seek comfort inside
those pretty beige adobe houses.
Outside gray wolves howl, no respite for the mermaid.
Maybe she rests near the saguaro at night,
venturing out along the canal,
searching and singing even today.

Arizona Canal near Scottsdale

I discovered that Tucson celebrates the monsoon season in mid-August with 'Return of the Mermaids,' a community parade complete with mermaids of every description. So OctPoWriMo's prompt for today was 'fantastical'. See what others have written HERE.

#19 When September becomes October . . .

October view out our apartment

When September becomes October,
on its way to November
with gray, endless days, do we
settle down with comforters, safe
behind locked doors
to watch the television flicker?
Or do we go out,
walk along that well-known path
down past the watershed,
that little lake where the last of the ducks gather,
a few Canada geese stop on their way south,
the wind fresh with a bite 
of winter to come?

I've been sick with an early winter cold this last week, with not enough energy to even write a little poem, but I do have a renewed appreciation for each day of health and energy that, alas, we all take for granted far too much. Happy to be back and now maybe too far behind this OctPoWriMo's month of poetry challenge. But at least I'm writing, and here in eastern Washington, even when it rains, the sun comes out.

Check out what others are writing for OctPoWriMo HERE. Today's prompt was 'fantastical' so maybe I shall return and write a little more.

Friday, October 21, 2016

#18 The quilt show is over

I'm still recovering.
Last Sunday, the quilt show ended.
I wandered past some 600 quilts, 
with sore feet, a few quilts
decorated with ribbons,
and there,
hung casually among the others,
a quilt that made me stop. 
Someone's vision,
a turquoise bear, raven,
turtle, salmon,
a howling wolf,
with traditionally patched bear paw
blocks, all sacred spirit carriers
of past and present and future,
balanced in a dreamscape of white.
I wonder what creative journey
brought this quilt
to this place
for me to admire,
moved nearly to tears.

"Turquoise Bear" by Butch Bovan
Washington State Quilters 2016 Quilt Show
(click to see larger image)
What an amazing quilt. Stop by OctPoWriMo hosted by Poets on the Page to catch up on what others have written HERE

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

#17 You are savory . . .

You are sometimes hot 
and sometimes sweet, 
the mist from the chiles I cooked 
lingering, pricking my eyes with tears,
a tangerine fresh picked eased the sting.
Together we ate crunchy fried grasshoppers in Turkey,
fresh goat cheese in Greece, the chunks
white and smelly, 
and used chopsticks in Canada
to dip chicken toes 
in a red-yellow Chinese gravy.
We watched a young man 
on the beach in Rio  
work a machete
to open up a coconut, the milk
unexpectedly warm.
Bring out the suitcases. 
I want to savor each day with you.

Here are two pictures from that trip to South America. In most families, when one rattles the suitcase, the other might say, "Not this summer, dear." But in our family, when the suitcase comes out, we both pack.
Allen with the mermaid at Rio de Janiero, Brazil

Sampling Coconut milk in Rio

One day behind, so I'm still playing catchup to write a poem a day for OctPoWriMo. Why not amble over HERE to see what others are writing!

Monday, October 17, 2016

#16 I'd rather watch football

I'd rather watch football.
The attacks are choreographed,
a brutal ballet of strategy, 
the kid, the pro, the quarterback 
all balanced in a violent dance 
that, for once, has little to do
with politics. 

So I sit next to you,
sometimes holding hands,
rooting for my team,
sharing a little beer,
and a few groans
when someone plays outside the rules
and someone else lays quiet
on the field.

Seahawks' Special Teams block a point (Wikipedia)
I'm a day behind with writing a poem a day for OctPoWriMo's poetry challenge. Catch up with other poets HERE.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

#15: Versailles and 'blue' musings on the election

Entry to Versailles (Camp 2004)

Met by pigeons, we enter the gate,
the crest of the king in gold filigree and iron,
the grand promenade, a car park,
before us, massive Versailles,
residence of French kings since the 17th Century.
Guards monitor our passing,
our sandals and tennis shoes, a Gallic shrug.
Would the king have said,
“Off with their heads!”

Should the king wish to pray,
his private chapel awaits, surely ornate enough
To inspire thoughts of God.

Ceiling, Upper columns,
King's Private Chapel (Camp 2004)

We walk past the king’s bedroom,
Courtiers arrived each morning
to assist him in dressing, even to the chamber pot.

The King's bedroom (Camp 2004)

Stunned by opulence, we wander 
down the Hall of Mirrors so arranged
the king could admire his progress
to the Queen’s bedroom or beyond.

Hall of Mirrors (Camp 2004)

Who could imagine
at the end of World War I,
Germany signed the Treaty of Peace here?

Detail, Queen's Bedroom (Camp 2004)

Would a jug of wine, a loaf of bread
be sufficient in such a place?
The long halls, empty of furniture and portable art,
throng now with tourists and history.

In the Royal Theater, 3,000 wax candles
burned at each performance.
Perhaps artisans were well rewarded,
I only recall this excess
led to the French Revolution.

Versailles (Wikipedia)

NOTE: The last time I watched television with such intensity was the coverage of John F. Kennedy's funeral. I am so dismayed by the news coverage, highlights of press conferences, the sheer vituperation in the dialogues online and off during these last weeks before the election. Poetry seems very far from my heart. 

So today I'm sharing a poem from 2014 about a visit to Versailles ten years ago. Perhaps I worry now about how fragile our democracy is. Maybe this reminder of what sheer, untrammeled power can wreak on the people of France can remind us to not stay home in protest, but to vote. 

And we're not going to "vote early and often" as was said here in the U.S. in the 1900s to describe ballot stuffing. Allen remembers a time in Philadelphia in the late 1950s when certain precinct leaders met voters in a bar with a $10 bill and a name to use. Or stories about ballot boxes conveniently 'lost' in Southern rural areas in the 1970s. Or the time, again in Philadelphia in the 1980s, that two big bruisers offered to come into that tiny, private, curtained election booth with me because the levers to vote for the 'other' party would not work. I got dirty looks because precinct watchers called the 'malfunction' in.

Does all this make me 'blue' -- for blue is today's poetry prompt from OctPoWriMo. Nope. The more I write, the more determined I become . . . to keep writing and to vote! 

Check out what other folks writing for OctPoWriMo have written HERE

Friday, October 14, 2016

#14: The Scream . . .

Edvard Munch, "The Scream" (1893)
Source: Wikipedia

What inspired this blood red sky?
This roiling dark ocean nearly rising to the hills?
This terror? All else in the painting
seems ordinary as two men stroll
along a boardwalk. Munch says the colors
shrieked, it felt as if "an infinite scream 
was passing through nature."

I first saw "The Scream" when I was twelve.
I thought it a reaction to World War II,
some global horror.
But the date was wrong.
And yet, Munch reports feeling faint, anxious. 
Critics suggest the recent explosion of Krakatoa
may have influenced him. Or a nearby slaughterhouse, 
a lunatic asylum. I only know the terror
he captured in this painting 
resonated with me, as if the world were ending
while some walked by unaware.
Every day someone lives in this scream.

Today's prompt from OctPoWriMo asks us to explore something shameful, perhaps inspired by this week's political news. Ah, but I don't want to go there. Yes, I will watch the coming debate (leaving the room when the tension becomes intense). I will  hope for a focus on details -- philosophy of leadership, and I will vote. Democracy is fragile. But I don't want to argue, or watch stalking behavior, or listen to people shrieking at each other. That seems shameful in a debate. There, I've said it. Now to move on.

So today's topic is now up to me. Over at Writer's Digest's poetry prompts, Robert Lee Brewer suggests an ekphrastic poem, that is a poem inspired by art. Now, there's a direction for today. Which painting shall I explore? Which painting do I remember seeing first?  Read more about Edvard Munch HERE.

Read a few poets from OctPoWriMo here.