Saturday, October 31, 2020

OctPoWriMo 31: Dance the ghouls in . . .

Dance the ghouls in
for tonight is Halloween,
though there's one ghoul in particular,
that one with the lined face,
floppy red hair and red eyes,
grasping hands and greedy mouth,
I would love to dance right out.

This night is not like all other nights:
We won't see a long line of witches, clowns, or vampires
streaming to our door, cauldrons in hand,
begging for treats; the Day of the Dead
comes tomorrow.

Once I answered the door with my
snarkiest witch's laugh
and terrified a little four-year-old
in a cuddly Pooh Bear costume.
No tricks. I hide that laugh
to rage against the darkest night, 
hoping for an end to pandemic,
hoping for light,
eager for election returns to go smoothly,
not a revamp of Halloween night.

"Day of the Dead" by OpenClipArt-Vectors on Pixabay

Today is the very last day of OctPoWriMo, led by the inspiring prompts of Morgan Dragonwillow, to challenge us to write a poem each day throughout October. I just barely made it. Along the way, what wonderful poems others have posted, a respite from the combined effects of election and pandemic.

Why not go read a few poems? And enjoy just a little candy on this quiet Halloween night!

Friday, October 30, 2020

OctPoWriMo 30: I am . . .

What are mirrors for?
Reflecting and reflected, I seek
understanding in a drawing,
the lines tentative
when I want them to be bold.
Ah, behind glasses, I wait
for enlightenment,
for tomorrow,
maybe for the ending that will come
after so many days of living.
How did I manage this gift
of life and love
when all began in darkness?
I don't know.
I am grateful behind my glasses,
more grateful than you know.

Sometime in the 6th grade, I drew my first self portrait. The teacher wandered the classroom and stood behind me. She took my drawing and placed it against the blackboard. "Tell me what you see."  Her point? I had drawn my features all in pastels. Even from a short distance of a few feet, I was invisible. How could I tell her that this is how I saw myself? Invisible.

Today, Morgan inspired me with today's prompt to write an "I am . . . " poem. For the first time in many decades, her self portrait inspired me to draw again my own face. Just in pencil. Not looking in a mirror, but placing features just as I imagine them to be. Me. Older than average. Looking a little nerdy, but at peace.

Why not go to OctPoWriMo to see what others have written?

OctPoWriMo 29: Don't poke the bear . . .

Don't poke the bear in the cave,
sound advice my grandfather gave me.
Little did I think this would save
anything at all, let alone set me free
to wander far, to learn how to be brave;
somehow I lifted myself up from knee,
to run with full heart, no longer a slave,
reckoning my inner self's plea,
honoring the gift he once gave,
to simply be.

Today's prompt from OctPoWriMo and Morgan Dragonfellow winds inward to begin by writing "I am . . . " and take it in any direction at all. Morgan adds her own exploratory art work and invites us to celebrate this month-long journey. I'm still one day behind . . . and challenged to catch up. 

Image by Joaquin Aranoa (Pixabay)

About bears. There's something about the lumbering, ferocious, and, yes, dangerous bear that intrigues me. Once while hiking in the wilderness, we came upon a fresh bear track glistening on water-covered rocks, just minutes old. Reality check:  Do we turn back for the safety of the car or do we continue? We walked the rest of the trail to the very top and admired the vista of rolling mountains, our senses alert.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

OctPoWriMo 28: No More

We moved a lot when I was a kid. 
Lived out of boxes
and hotel rooms. 
Stayed with relatives and 'friends' 
I never met, switched
so many schools I can't remember.
I grew up changing neighborhoods
like the outfit of the day.
All I wanted 
was that house on the hill,
the one with a white picket fence
and roses.

Then I fell in love with a man
who lived in the same house 
since he was three.

Neither one of us could talk about travel
without hauling out the suitcase.
It didn't matter to me where we slept;
I'd found my home.

Hope you enjoy Ray Charles, "Hit the Road, Jack!"

Today's prompt from OctPoWriMo and Morgan Dragonfellow was first inspired by railroads and railroad tracks. I remember falling asleep to the sounds of a railroad car clacking away on back country tracks across eastern Washington, Canada and later, Egypt. Then Morgan added these possible words to consider: traveling, vagabond, wanderer, and nomadic. Oofta! Where's the suitcase!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

OctPoWriMo 27: One more week left and right .. .

One week left.
We are poised right
before the election.
Millions have cast their ballots.
Millions more ready to stand in line. 
Wearing masks. Or not.
One week from tonight,
we millions will watch returns,
hoping to avoid chaos,
complaints of voter fraud,
gun toting poll watchers.

I am truly grateful to live 
in a state with 100% mail-in ballots.
Election night one week away.
Meanwhile a friend's mother dies of covid;
cases on the rise.
We wait and watch in quarantine
and hope and pray
this democracy will survive.

Some of us are uncertain.
Others are absolutely certain.
And after the election,
what will transpire on those days
between election and inauguration?
How many Executive Orders will transform
what once was built slowly?

I'd rather sit by a pond
to watch a white egret  
find a quiet place to stretch his wings.
But we are not allowed to look away
from this election, 
this democracy. 
Even I, older than average,
am ready to hit the streets,
if needed.

Image by sscheema on Pixabay

This last week of OctPoWriMo, anticipating election returns (or dreading them), adds another layer of distraction. So, I'm remembering all the times I have voted and hoped for a good outcome. The same is true this year. Morgan Dragonwillow invited us today to reflect on choices. I'm not so sure I can write poetry the rest of this week.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

OctPoWriMo 26: In the dark . . .

When the witch
sits above the window,
is it time to hide
under the bed?

If the pumpkin's ready
for carving,
are the knives

As the final hours
of the beast draw near,
when the moon
spins to darkness,
is it safer outside
or in?

Image by Alexas Photos on Pixabay


Monday, October 26, 2020

OctPoWriMo 25: In the mud . . .

A poet friend of mine, Annis, also writing a poem a day for OctPoWriMo, created a new poetic form called Saba x Tatu (saba in Swahili stands for 7 and tatu for 3). The poetic form has seven lines, and each line decreases one syllable until the last line, which returns to 7 syllables. Her delightful poem is called "Stretch" and can be read HERE

Mayhap I'll never see a
creature earthy as thee,
sitting in the mud
imbued with crud,
yet tranquil,
at peace.
Oh warthog, I could be thee.

Warthog near the Norongoro Crater, Tanzania (Camp 2012)

We traveled to Tanzania on a once-in-a-lifetime excursion to see such animals we'd only read about. This warthog didn't even wiggle as our jeep passed by, quite content to relax in the mud. I learned the poor things suffer from certain ailments that the mud eases. Now, with quarantine, such travels seem even closer to a dream. At least, we have memories. And photos.

OctPoWriMo 24: Perfect Quiet

Perhaps a chime
rings out over the walled garden
as the poet sits
by the reflecting pool,
a blank page before him.
The hour passes.
He raises his brush,
as unexpected as a melody,
the letters splash out,
black on white,
a controlled meaning:
All in the moment,
the now.

"32 Persons of Different Occupations Poetry Competition", 1494 (Wikipedia)

After the end of World War II, my aunt went to Tokyo as part of the American occupation there. She came back with a love of Japanese poetry and culture, which inspired today's effort. Read more about Japanese poetry at Wikipedia.

Today's poem is part of OctPoWriMo, that challenge to write a poem a day throughout October. Check out that link to see what others have written! Sadly, I'm falling a little behind. Blame the early October snow or a cold that made me sleepy for a day.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

OctPoWriMo 23: Unexpected snow . . .

No one expected snow to turn
our days upside down.
Pandemic doesn't stop us
from delighting in each flake,
the transformation of our small landscape
to pure white, and now,
dazzling sun, each towering pine
snow-kissed, wind-swept,
a morning of hope.

Image by Peggy Chocair on Pixabay

Snow at the end of October? Truly unexpected. About five inches fell last night. The sun is out, but I don't expect that snow to go anywhere with a high of 33 F today (and a low of 11 F tonight). Brrrr! But the Pandemic has trained us well. We don't go anywhere. The fridge is full, electricity's still working, and that sun is shining. 

With only 10 days to the election, have you voted?

Today's little poem is part of OctPoWriMo, that challenge to write a poem a day throughout October. Check out that link to see what others have written! And celebrate with me: I'm almost finally caught up!

Friday, October 23, 2020

OctPoWriMo 22: I'll have me a . . .

I'll have me a biscuit.
Pass 'em right over.
Don't remember the last time
I sunk my teeth into somethin' so fine.
Don't dally, lover,
I'll give you a dime
afore I go back out on the line.
Too many years I been a drover,
my hands an' my heart filled with grime,
but fer these biscuits, I'll pine,
an' I'll have just one more.

Friday morning biscuits (2020)

My grandfather was a cowboy. I grew up eating these biscuits, the best my gramie made. Just simple flour, salt, butter, milk, and a little baking powder. Grandad used to tell tales of how out on the range, the cattle lulled to sleep, the cook used to bake these biscuits in an iron pot over the fire, right next to another pot filled with beans. So, once in a while, I think of those old days and make a batch. Today, snow's coming, so I filled the morning with the smell of bacon and biscuits.

Today's poem is part of OctPoWriMo, that challenge to write a poem a day throughout October. Check out that link to see what others have written!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

OctPoWriMo 21: If we were elephants . . .

If we were traveling
into the future, wouldn't it be
easier to walk in a line,
even with eyes closed, to know
someone is ahead of us,
someone is behind us?
Perhaps if we were elephants,
we'd travel in the middle of a line,
their tails swishing,
an occasional huff of warm breath,
reassuring, even after the sun went down.
Like children, we could hold hands,
not knowing what was ahead,
but somehow, not worrying,
not weeping, not waking in anguish
in the middle of the night,
instead leaning into those great beasts,
warm and safe, secure, unafraid.

Image by blende12 on Pixabay

OctPoWriMo 20: A Sun's Promise

For each day that begins
with sun and blue sky,
I remember days of rain.
Only bright colors could vanquish
that unrelenting gray.
Here, close to mountains,
once a volcanic belly, 
a city spreads out under the sun.
Even when it rains, 
the sun appears at least once a day,
keeping a promise,
even when the snow falls too early,
even when it rains,
even if I feel gray.

Lincoln Park, August 2020

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

OctPoWriMo 19: Florida Vacation

From north to south, we drove
leaving hills of snow to warm cove,
seeking respite from city strife
to discover birds unexpected,
wood stork, so ugly, yet resurrected,
out of the swamp, ungainly and alive,
a sharp contrast to sleek blue heron,
hunters both, their relentless quiet blaring
through what peace we could contrive.

Wood Stork (Florida, 2003)

Great Blue Heron (Florida, 2003)

With special thanks to those poets at OctPoWriMo 2020 and Morgan Dragonwillow for inspiring us all.  Today's poetic form is Nove Otto, with rhyme scheme of aacbbcddc. Enjoy this glance back to an unforgettable trip from Philadelphia in the winter to a month in Florida, where I nearly stepped on a crocodile!

Monday, October 19, 2020

OctPoWriMo 18: Begin the morning . . .

Begin the morning with hot peppermint tea,
hoping for a jolt. No caffeine;
Dried peppermint leaves 
were once found in pyramids.
Was its use medicinal or spiritual,
a love potion of the time? My sip
tingles on the tongue with sharpness;
the warmth soothes me
to meditation, yet the tingles remain.
Another taste, not the simple sip
taken in a polite tearoom
out of a delicate cup, but one of
those big, life-affirming, gasping gulps:
the tea’s warmth
slithers straight to my womb.

Image by Conger at Pixabay

Today's poetry prompt comes from Morgan Dragonwillow at OctPoWriMo. She asks us to begin by noticing what is around us. What could I start with but that morning cup of peppermint tea? Join in and see what others have written. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

OctPoWriMo 17: Did You Smile Today?

Take a turn down whimsy lane,
where the black and marigold cat stalks
with head and tail held high, past the shrubbery,
teasing the little white lap dog behind that picket fence,
who romps back and forth,
its shrill bark piercing the morning quiet.
Take a right on Mulberry Lane to the coffee shop
where for a moment, that strong scent of lemon,
tea, and hot lattes offer distraction.
Maybe we could walk far enough to the beach
where waves roll in, splash on the sand,
and the next line of waves returns,
at least until the tide turns.
We'll talk softly, stare at the horizon,
and maybe we'll smile.

Image from Pexels on Pixabay

NOTE: With special thanks to Morgan Dragonwillow and OctPoWriMo for her encouraging prompts that lead a few of us to try to write a poem a day! Check out what others have written!

Saturday, October 17, 2020

OctPoWriMo 16: Morning Musing

Went to the cupboard,
the shelves were bare.
What was I hoping
to find there?

Drank my morning coffee,
down to the last sip,
Covid stats up,
Time for a trip.

What's over that next hill,
why are we waiting?
I want that unexpected thrill,
No hesitating.

Pulled out the suitcase,
filled it to the brim,
How could I travel
without him?

                       Image by comfreak on Pixabay

Thursday, October 15, 2020

OctPoWriMo 15: Looking Back

If only we could travel once again to Tanzania,
south of the Serengheti, that quasi-safari in jeeps,
a melange of people, national parks, and animals:
history, culture, geography, so many words
to prepare for the surprise of:
a lion at dawn, leading her cubs to water,
a wart hug sitting in a mud bath,
two giraffes munching tree tops,
a baby elephant destroying a tree for lunch,
an ostrich in full plumage almost dancing in the dust,
a cluster of zebras leading
hundreds of wildebeests across the savannah,
mountains floating behind clouds,
the sharp, unexpected flight of an antelope
in front of our jeep, chased by a hungry lion.
And the proud Masai women, robed in bright colors,
their beaded necklaces bouncing in dance, just for us,
the men competing to catch their eye:
Who can jump highest?
We tourists listen to stories around the campfire,
go to sleep in tents, the sounds of night around us,
then home with memories to share.
A once in a lifetime trip, we said, 
but I would go again with you.

Allen and I took this unforgettable trip in the late fall of 2012 with friends.  With just about two weeks to the election, enjoy this distraction!

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

OctPoWriMo 14: Promises

Some days the smallest of moments comfort us:

acorns fallen by a leaf,

an infant's bare toes curling tight with no socks,

a kitten stretching her neck to be scratched,

that brisk, fresh, first breeze of fall,

the dogs romping in the back yard,

an old man, napping, his white beard soft,

a promise for tomorrow.

For now, all is right in the world,

perhaps not all right,

but we have these moments yet

to comfort us. 

"Acorns" by Nietjuh on Pixabay

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

OctPoWriMo 13: My Mother . . .

My mother was a Hollywood starlet
until she had three daughters.
I was the oldest,
tall, nerdy, and wore glasses.
My sister, one year younger, was like our mother.
When she walked into a room,
everyone else was invisible.
That didn't bother me.
I was already invisible.
My baby sister, an afterthought,
came along ten years later.
I mothered her even after
our mother died.

Monday, October 12, 2020

OctPoWriMo 12: Maybe a Mask

Maybe I should start merrily maskless 
to motivate others to move away, 
sort of motivate them, test their mettle,
meaning, through some marvel that
they (and I) could be more mindful
as we move through each day, a miracle
we don't share more. Mercy me,
my muttering mission messes
up this meditation. Do we merit more?
More magic, more moms muttering:  
to mask or masque, that is the question!
A mask on Mona Lisa?
Together merrily mature, we might miss
(mercifully?) this mind-blowing mobilization.
Even my mentor says: MASK!
A true majestic marriage of mind
over matter.  

Mona Lisa by Sumanley on Pixabay

Today, Morgan Dragonwillow admits she's having a hard time with the poetry prompt for OctPoWriMo -- to write a poem inspired by keywords: playful, childlike, silly. But I appreciate her work in setting up these prompts as tonight, I'm pretty tired from a full day, maybe too tired to try one of the recommended poetry forms: Zanila Rhyme or Tongue Twister. UPDATE: I went with the tongue twister!

In fact, I'm still smiling about what another OctPoWriMo poet, Australian Rallentanda, wrote a few days back with her poem, "You Have To Be A Genius or Greek."  Make it a good week!

Sunday, October 11, 2020

OctPoWriMo 11: Musings at Manito Park

Where do we find poetry?
That singular mix of rhyme 
or free verse that has little structure, 
the laying of words in a line
to be read silently or aloud?
Some writers call on a muse
to inspire that string of words;
others wait until a poem takes form 
somewhere between the conscious and memory.
I'm drawn to image and experience,
dreaming my way to meaning.

We've walked so often in Manito Park, 
explored the Japanese garden there.
It doesn't seem to matter which way
I point the camera or sketch: peace reposes here
in the leaves colored with orange and sun,
in the flicker of koi just below the water.
I sit on a bench a little out of the way
to watch the ducks perched on a tiny island 
in the middle of the reflective pool. 
Here truly, the muse must live,
ever appreciative of each day's light
that fades to star-filled night.
Yes, peace reposes here.

Note: Today's poem came a little late, partly inspired by Morgan Dragonwillow's prompt for OctPoWriMo, to write about the muse, and partly by those many visits to Manito Park here in Spokane. I finally looked up what 'Manito' means to discover it stands for a spirit in Native American tradition, somehow appropriate for thinking about a muse and poetry.

It's dark outside now and rainy, cold with the first brush of coming winter. But this picture of changing leaves of a little tree in the small Japanese Garden at Manito Park reminds me of beauty everywhere and in every season.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

OctPoWriMo 10: Leaning into Fall

When are we ever ready for the change of seasons?
That single day when summer turns irrevocably to fall,
I dither and wish, for any cluster of reasons,
hoping this once, I could stop time and stall
this moment, the passing of years
frozen, the lines on your face smoothed out.
I do not watch your every step, my fears
covered over with smiles, hiding each doubt;
even as the leaves drift brown to the ground,
at all we’ve shared, I remain spellbound.

Hiking along Dishman Hills 

Today's walk brought gray skies, a brisk wind, more leaves on the ground, and an awareness that, in another month or two, we'd be walking in the snow and facing into another year. 

Good news for those in Washington State: Our ballots arrived in the mail. Just a little over three weeks to the election!

Friday, October 09, 2020

OctPoWriMo 9: Deidre -- and a New Cover

 I do like writing gritty historical fiction, jumping back in time to learn that times were tough back then, mostly for the working class. One of my step-fathers was a steel worker, so I know that world.

Deidre is the heroine of my book, Years of Stone, set in 1840's Australia during the convict era. She gave up her home to travel by ship to Tasmania, hoping to be reunited with the man she loved. Mac, a man with a temper, was transported because he fought against evictions on their island home. Deidre never backed down from the challenges facing her. She took risks to help Mac and to establish a new life in Van Diemen's Land.

I had a great cover when Years of Stone was first published, modeled after covers by well-established writers of historical fiction . . . but the cover looks so cold and doesn't speak at all to Deidre's character, her tenacity and her love for Mac.

Deidre, where did you find the courage
to follow the man you loved
all the way across the ocean in a sailing ship,
crowded in cabins too small? 
Shipwrecked and lost,
you landed in Van Diemen's Land
with no job and no prospects,
Mac in prison. 

Yet you leaned into each new day
scheming, working, hoping to find some way
to fit into this scrabble-hard colony with little hope,
knowing somehow 
that you and Mac one day,
mayhap seven years hence, seven years of stone,
would be reunited. Not every woman 
who wears a long dress
can be discounted.

Here's the new cover. What do you think?

Cover design by Angie Zambrano

OctPoWriMo 8: Daily Walk

Before the weather turns too cold, we walk
out to the pond and back, along a well-traveled path,
cutting through a tidy row of houses to see
what waterbirds have stopped on their flight south,
Canada geese most likely or a few ducks,
anonymous and a little lost and lonely.
The weeds have shifted into a riot of color,
a last gasp before true winter, their seeds floating
as free as any bird, clumps of white from reeds,
the sharp yellow-orange of poppies and
purple blooms of lupin beg to be remembered
when the snow comes.

On the way home, a Little Free Library makes us stop
at this bounty: Take a book or leave one
for others to enjoy. A simple gift well matched
by a new sign taped on the side of the library:
“Love Thy Neighbor: No Exceptions.”
I sigh. Every neighbor? No exceptions?
I know the couple who live here: A retired minister.
His gracious wife. I could live next door to them.
I would not choose to live near the White House.
Perhaps some things we cannot choose.
When all else fails, I will try to remember
their wisdom: “Love Thy Neighbor. No Exceptions.”

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

OctPoWriMo 7: Respite

A flower does not ring the doorbell,
engage in robocalls, talk over your fears,
tweet in the middle of the night.
This flower, a lily floating on a pond
in a corner of a Japanese garden, simply exists.
Does a flower have any awareness
of hot or cold? Does it lay out its petals
to seduce that bee to drift near?
Does a flower fear the coming snow?
Celebrate spring?
Life could be simpler.
Let us sit on this sheltered bench here in this garden
to watch the light play on the turning leaves.

Waterlily by GK von Skoddenheimen on Pixabay

Today's October Challenge (OctPoWriMo) to write a poem a day is a little late for today is IWSG's challenge to respond to their question of the month: Are you a working writer -- or what? 

Somehow, the poem came along early this morning. Sending you moments of respite for the coming week, I hope you enjoy this little meditation on a garden that we love to visit throughout the year.

IWSG Oct 7: Another Working Writer

 Glad to be here for another month in this tumultuous year, 2020. 

The first Wednesday for those of us in the community of Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is set aside to write about how we're doing and how we're feeling. Each month, we connect to each other's writerly goals and dreams by responding to an (optional) question -- which this month happens to be: 

When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if latter two, what does that look like? 

OK, I'm just going to lay it out there. I'm an older than average, working indie writer. What that means is I'm retired and don't go into an office or a classroom (or meetings, much). My writing is the anchor that gets me through these Pandemic-shaped days because I love to fall into my story, my characters, their dilemmas, their dreams. Each morning, I write. My word count is not measured in thousands of new words each week. My goals are modest. Here's what's on my 'writing plate' this week:

--Knee deep in new story, Island Wife, another sequel set in northern Scotland in the 1840s. Writing scenes and researching. Progress: About 40% completed (25K words with goal of 50-60K by December).

--Hoping to approve a new cover for Years of Stone this week for PB, Kindle, and . . . (ta da) audiobook. After two years of waiting, reviewing, and hoping, my voice actor finally got the recording approved by ACX. I'm roughly 50% through reviewing 55 chapters before launch.

--Absolutely committed to writing challenges as a way to encourage writing every day. So, I'm trying to write a poem a day for OctPoWriMo 2020, hosted by Morgan Dragonwillow and roughly modeled after NaNoWrMo (which is coming up faster than we think). I love the way poetry slows me down and takes me to unexpected places. And, by the way, #BattleBlog just posted its challenge for 1K this month with its prompt: Exotic.

Back to the pandemic. We are in one of those vulnerable groups, so we stay at home as much as possible with side trips to the pharmacy and doctor visits. Groceries are ordered online and delivered. We take a daily 30-minute walk, and hubby is thrilled with sports (thank goodness!). 

Right now, my daughter is waiting out the three days to find out if she has Covid, and I'm scared because she's unemployed, her family's at risk, and I don't know how to help. Friday UPDATE: It did take four (that's 4) days before the test results came back. No Covid. Not this time. But if it had been Covid, how many days to scatter and spread . . . 

So, the mantra that keeps me focused is: I am a working writer. I do my best every day. If you can, consider contributing (or upping your contribution) to your local food banks. Too  many people are hungry and vulnerable. Meanwhile, may we all stay safe, support each other, and write those stories that are closest to our hearts.

Vista at Lincoln Park (2020)
One of our favorite walks.

Oops. Forgot to to say thank you to Alex J. Cavanaugh for starting this community -- and thank you to this month's hosts -- Jemima Pett, Beth Camp (that's me), Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!  And here's our badge!

As Alex says, "Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!"

Join in or read what others have written by going to IWSG's home site.

Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

OctPoWriMo6: Exotic

We landed in Egypt, too excited to sleep, 
with backpacks, travel guides, ready for the overnight train trip
clacking south to Luxor. We slept hunkered over
on fixed wooden seats throughout the night to awake to
morning in a land of palm trees and desert,
passing small walled villages,
men in long robes and colorful shawls,
who walked beside donkey-powered carts and
fields of alfalfa, White Nile Herons dotting irrigation ditches.

We were here to explore the pyramids,
decode prayers of falling stars, read the Text of the Dead,
and stand awed in the shadow of temple columns,
not quite realizing the memories we would carry home. 

Snake Charmer, Aswan (2004)

View of Abu Simbal from our excursion boat (2004)

Bedouin and camels at Saqqara (2004)

Temple at Luxor (2004)

I’m not sure how I had the courage to travel this way, without encumbrances, Allen and I, for nearly eight months, from Israel, to Egypt, then in order, truly a month in each country, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France, and England. We made our way as independent travelers, finding the least expensive options all along the way, staying in hostels and hotels, eating food in restaurants and from vendors (yes, we ate fried locusts, tasty and crunchy), visiting every museum and cultural icon we could discover, each country hospitable and unique. 

Today, during a time of pandemic, such travel seems unlikely. We have memories, photographs, and notebooks to dream over and to remember. Today’s attempt at a poem captures only a snippet of our great adventure -- and began as I tried to think of the most exotic thing I've done, this month's writing prompt from #BlogBattle -- and today's prompt from OctPoWriMo, travel.

Thank you again to Morgan Dragonwillow for inspiring writers all through October.

Monday, October 05, 2020

OctPoWriMo 5: Head in the Clouds

I’ve always admired the steady gait
of a giraffe. Maybe those knobby knees
that punctuate their legs, or
those impossibly long necks that undulate  
as they pace through the savannah,
caught my heart.

What do they hide under their calm exterior?
What does a giraffe think about
in its relentless search for grasses?

Maybe I feel the same about any elephant
I’ve seen here at home or in the wild,
so large, rounded with serenity.
Once I saw a baby elephant nearly destroy
a tree, tearing the bark into bite-sized bits
and eating them all in a frenzy.

Perhaps the images we treasure
on our flannel pajamas
hide a voracious hunger,
an insatiable desire to survive.

Image by DimaDim-Art on Pixabay.

October 5, just the fifth day in this month-long poetry challenge. Are you writing your own poetry? 

Have you checked out what others are writing about? Try looking HERE for Morgan Dragonwillow's poetry prompts. Check out the comments to enjoy diversity as we all face down the challenges (poetry and otherwise) that each day brings. May the coming week be good to you!

Sunday, October 04, 2020

OctPoWriMo 4: Sing the Body Electric

Whitman sings the body electric,
with his rope-held blanket covering all,
but I look down like any Neolithic woman,
gnarled fingers, knobby knees,
one foot slightly larger than the other,
misdirection, deflection, imperfection,
one eye turning to the horizon
where stars shift and dreams of escape hover.
Stir the pot, make the bed, forage
in the bin for the last bit of oat,
then walk out under night’s cover alone,
under the stars, cold and shivering,
to wish I had taken a blanket
and that I kept my soul.

I remember falling in love with Whitman’s poetry and then being shocked in a literature class about the tales of Walter Whitman looking for work in Washington, D. C., wearing a blanket with a rope for a belt, leaning on some bureaucrat’s desk, wild hair flying. But tonight, I couldn't find any proof to verify that story about a shaggy blanket that Whitman supposedly used as a coat.

Walt Whitman as photographed by Mathew Brady (Wikipedia)

Whitman’s writing in “I Sing the Body Electric” (1855) is to be admired for more than his affirmation of the sacred in all human bodies, his emphasis on equality, his stand against slavery of every kind. My little poem today began with just the title of his poem and then led me to some research on Whitman. You may enjoy reading these:

This compelling biography summarizes Whitman’s life in more detail, from his childhood and working class background, to his quest to find his own voice, and his service to others during the Civil War.

Read the very famous essay, “Reminiscences of Walt Whitman,” by Whitman’s friend, John Townsend Trowbridge, published in The Atlantic in 1902.

Saturday, October 03, 2020

OctPoWriMo 3: If I Wore Glasses . . .

If I wore glasses while I slept,
would I see into the future, past the news anchors
who raise their voices, slightly hysterical,
as they probe the latest press releases,
the newest cases of Covid, the denials,
and the factoids that swim atop the truth.
Would I learn anything
about what comes next?

In my dreams, I travel again to Greece,
to Delphi, once considered the center of the world,
where on the hilltop stadium, chariots,
driven by the chosen, once competed in games.

Below, overlooking the valley,
I find the Oracle dedicated to Apollo,
its rounded columns of stone marked
“Know thyself,” and “Nothing in excess.”

I follow the nearby sacred stream to a cleft in the earth,
and breathe deeply into that wind of prophecy.
Like sybils of old, my words will not be heard
until spring. But, when I wake,
those words of promise vanish, like vapor.
I’m not heartened, even
when the scent of laurel
lingers in my room.

    Oracle at Delphi (Camp, 2004)

Memories of a sabbatical trip that Allen and I took, as independent travelers, to countries along the Mediterranean still flavor my writing when least expected. I hope you enjoy -- and join me -- in trying to write that poem each day of October. Celebrate!

Friday, October 02, 2020

Octpowrimo 2: Time Travel


If I could travel back in time,
to that exact moment
when my mother and father had sex,
most likely after some wild party,
would I have wished to be born?
Maybe not.

I could easily forget my first three decades,
that is, until I met you some forty-six years ago.
Tonight, my gratitude spirals back in time,
to that tiny seed I once was,
and to our daughter who began one New Year’s Eve,
still a miracle. Such beginnings and, yes,
endings too,
take me to the only infinite I know,
reflected in your eyes.

Today marks the second day of October's writing challenge to write a poem a day. Can't say every day will bring a good poem, but this one was fun to write, reminding me in this time of challenge and chaos of what I cherish.

Poets & Writers posts prompts for those writing fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One of their poetry prompts: Write a series of short poems inspired by the concept of time travel. If you could go back or move forward in time, who would you see and what would you change?

And that beautiful image is by Beate Bachmann on Pixabay.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

OctPoWriMo 1: Seeing Light

These days, even a walk in a Japanese garden 
turns worrisome when others come too close, 
as I glance to see if they’re wearing their masks.

All I want is to watch the colors in the leaves change
as the afternoon breeze lifts through this tiny garden,
and to take in the silence of the reflecting pool,
disturbed only by the ripple of a carp’s fin
as it turns about in waters soon cold.

If ever we needed light,
it is this hour, this day, these coming months
that seem to separate us all.
We’re facing into another year
when truly, everything is changing.
With hope and despair so closely balanced,
I slowly let go of what once was
and try to accept each day,
to cherish those moments
when the light flickers red and gold,
and the leaves fall.

October 1st is celebrated in England as National Poetry Day in England with the prompt Vision: See Like a Poet. 

Here in the states, OctPoWriMo, a challenge started by Morgan Dragonwillow,  asks writers to write a poem a day throughout the month. Today’s prompt gives us a starting point: Shining your light.

I shall try to meet this month-long challenge because just the process of writing a poem slows me down and makes me more observant about what I’m feeling and thinking about. That act of writing becomes almost a form of meditation, not a bad thing during these hard times of pandemic, uncontrollable wildfires, unemployment of a scale unheard of, hurricane season, and, lest we forget, politics – all against the backdrop of ordinary life.

Read more about National Poetry Day in England HERE and OctPoWriMo HERE. Why not join in? And that picture? Taken in nearby Manito Park's Japanese Garden where on sunny days, one can sit or stroll for a moment of peace.