Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Whistling girls and crowing hens . . .

I never understood
why I couldn't whistle
or strut.
I stuck my nose
as deep as anyone
into books,
even as my blonde hair
and breasts
labelled me bimbo.
And then I did
finally understand:
No woman on the moon.
no Amazon won my battles.
Stone by stone and
step by step,
I learned camoflage,
how to talk football,
how to run meetings,
how to push down walls
and rise to my own ends.

This prompt comes from Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides. Choose an adage, make that adage the title of your poem. I instantly remembered hearing my mother tell me as a young girl that "Whistling girls and crowing hens come to bad ends." That wasn't quite as bad as "men don't make passes at girls who wear glasses," but I always felt I could whistle if I wanted to. This poem comes out of that rebellious time when I did have blonde hair, worked by day at a conservative bank, and at night, went to college.

Monday, November 16, 2009


He carried out
his ablutions
with the aplomb
of someone
with more
than one bathroom.
I waited
in the hall,
magazine in hand,
dreams caught
in my hair,
poetry under my fingers,
carefully folded
over to morning.

This little poem is dedicated to my brother-in-law as the clan gathers in a one-bathroom-house, and is somewhat inspired by Dorianne Laux' column, "Poetry: Writing From a Lived Life" in Writer's Digest, February 2009. Laux (it turns out, also at one time from Oregon), wrote about Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems, which he snatched at odd moments by writing every single day. I'm trying to catch up. Three Writer's Digests from the Library here in Philadelphia, and one more I just got from Borders. I make time for writing nearly every morning, novel first and hope for poetry. And then the blogging takes me to unexpected places. Check out the Frank O'Hara poem "Animals", written in 1950. Now, there's a poem.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

#189 Oracle . . .

What oracle speaks
from fading family photographs?
Even the handsome man
with a small dark bow tie,
his blond moustache
combed and curled,
has enigmatic eyes.
Who stands next to whom?
Who touches the loved one,
as if she or he would fly away
in a wind so unexpected
that stories need to be invented?
Generations later, what memories
do we breathe in,
what histories do we invent?

This week's Sunday Scribblings prompt is simply oracle. A lovely prompt. Visit the link to see what others have written.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

On visiting Stirling Castle

What remains here at Stirling Castle:
a raven hops on a castle wall,
the sun glints on stone palaces and yellowing leaves,
a gargoyle's head,
two artisans weave a tapestry, mille-fleur,
a thousand flowers bloom red and blue and green,
the unicorn's legs picked in black and white.
Afternoons for cream tea and scones
with sultanas, plump and dark,
your hand shakes slightly as you add sugar,
pomp and subterfuge, processions,
the coming and the going,
the spring and the fall,
and winter ahead.

Stirling Palace and Forework, Scotland
Stirling Castle, Scotland

Sometimes I feel flat, as if another poem will never come. And then one does. And I know why I feel sad, even as each day is beautiful, the sun shines, and the promise of another day is ahead. All is well in my world, and yet the days pass. No one lives forever, not even poets.