Sunday, May 20, 2018

At the Flower Show




Because of the grandmother who always raised flowers ... and reared me ... I have always had a certain connection with blossoms.


There is just something about being in the company of flowers ... the memories they stir with their scents, their color.


"At the Flower Show" is about one of those special occasions, a gathering of flowers ... and people ... a flower show.


But it's not so much about the flowers. I felt that my collection of words, picked up here and there along the way, would be inadequate to describe the flowers.


Ah, but the people. I was one of them. I could jot down something about the experience of being at a flower show. It would be something to remind me of that sunny day, that beautiful setting ... the realities of being there.


Of course, I couldn't resist the temptation to compare the visitors to flowers themselves.


The poem:


AT THE FLOWER SHOW

Visitors blossom in bright lines
when day begins, but start wilting
under the sun, and throngs
slowly surrender, settling
like long rows of potted plants
along the wooden benches.

© 1999
(originally published in Sisters Today)

Saturday, May 19, 2018

This Summer Day

































Today's poem just came to mind again ... so here goes:

I haven't looked up the birth date of the poem, but I'm sure it was written back in the days when my writing was done in an attic space ... a great spot where there was always a feeling of quiet ... away from the phones and other distractions.

It was a beautiful nook ... even had a view of the city ... but it was subject to temperature extremes ... HOT in the summer ... and finger-numbing COLD in the winter.

Got the scene?

I may have forgotten the date on which today's poem was written ... but I do recall sitting there barefoot at the keyboard as I wrote.

The poem:

THIS SUMMER DAY

It's five-thirty in the morning,
and in a nearby yard a dog
is barking for his breakfast.


A cardinal serenades
      

the dew-draped maple,
an unidentified singer
in a neighboring tree
provides counterpoint,
and I'm sitting barefoot,
ready for the steam.


A captive fan bestows
      

an artificial breeze,
one for me to remember
as the temperatures
and humidity blast off.


I may have to dig up
      

memories of last winter,
stored in the root cellar
of my mind for such a day.

Even the crows are out,
cawing: "Hot, hot, HOT!"
© 1995

(originally published in The Christian Science Monitor)

Today's word: hot

Friday, May 18, 2018

Spiraling Home






(One of my small acryllic paintings which came to mind when today's poem got my attention)







I sometimes think I should just reconcile myself to the fact that I will not likely catch up ... ever again. But I keep trying. Anyway, that's another story ... for another day.


Meanwhile ... one of the readers at an evening of poetry mentioned that autumn was her favorite season. At that very moment I felt that we had bonded.


It's my favorite, too ... although the other seasons have certain redeeming aspects, it's autumn that gets my vote.


There's just something about the colors, the quiet that seems to come with the transition ... at least I perceive it as a time of quiet ... of reflection ... such a peaceful interlude.


But let's let the poem speak for itself:


SPIRALING HOME

I have carried with me
Southern Illinois autumns,
fragile and enduring,
all these brittle years.

Still they comfort me,
memories showering down
in the autumn of my life.
Leaves spiraling to feathery
soft landings on woodland soil
waiting patiently for them,
children finally returning
to their beginnings.
© 1995

(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)

Today's word: enduring

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Naming the Fish











Today's poem is based on a phone call from my son, describing how he had taken his son fishing for the first time.

I could say that I made up some of the details, but that wouldn't be true, exactly ... the feel of the rod, the quivering fish, the sights and sounds that go along with fishing ... are based on memories of outings I had with my own sons.

The poem, incidentally, is part of a manuscript in search of a publisher.

NAMING THE FISH

First, there was the long
practice, getting the feel of the rod,
the flick that would send the lure
spinning out across the expanse
of driveway toward the evening sun,
the steady clicking of retrieval,
another flick, and another.

And now the blue water dazzles,
an early sun glinting, wind-stirred
ripples moving in such a way that you
feel you are moving, instead, drifting
toward some vague destination.

The sheath is removed from the barbs
of the lure now, a soft hum of line
extending, the plop, the long wait.

Then the line goes suddenly taut,
tingling, the feeling of life
racing its length, bending the rod
until, finally, the water parts
and you’re holding a slippery,
wiggling, gasping fish, looking
into its large, imploring eyes,
giving it a name, a person’s name,
then letting it slip gently back
into the water and swim away.

© 2006

Today's word: spinning

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Morning Talk





(Not the kind of tree I'm talking about in today's poem ... but I thought I'd share my little watercolor sketch with you)

I like to think that poems come to me ... and they will, I've discovered, if I can just sit still in one place long enough.

This one may not have come to me, exactly, but I found the material for it in the tree just outside my window.

I sat listening to a certain sound, then located its source ... and watched.

From there it was simply a matter of putting my impressions on paper before they ... the impressions, that is ... flew away.

I admit that I found more than just the sights and sounds of a mother-and-daughter exchange between two cardinals to write about.

Before I'd finished, I couldn't resist drawing the parallel between these two beautiful little creatures and the rest of us ... 

we superior beings who "own" so much of this material world ... and are, perhaps, so bent on possessing more of it ... that we neglect to build little bridges between us ... particularly between the generations.

End of sermon. 

And now, on to the poem:

MORNING TALK

Amid a rising tide of summer sounds,
I slowly become aware of one pair 
catching my ear more than the others.

Then there they are, a mother cardinal
and her offspring, flitting and talking
to each other in the blue spruce.

Talking of food, perhaps, or safety
in these thick boughs, weighty subjects,
or maybe just chit-chat between
 
this mother and her young daughter.
I have no way of knowing, but they
seem to have found an understanding,

a quiet accord, like a gently swaying 
footbridge between the generations,
that we humans keep hoping to find.

© 2003

(originally published in Capper's) 

Today's word: chit-chat

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Lost Line







There's something about the rhythm of walking ... especially alone, nobody to talk to ... which can set a phrase to coursing repeatedly through your brain.


Perhaps it's something you recall from a conversation, or it may simply pop out of the blue.


The more you think about it, the more entrenched it becomes. Then you start hoping it will stay in place until you get back home, or until you find a curbside bench where you can sit 
and commit that persistent phrase to paper.


Sometimes it's a series of phrases, thoughts that are beginning to shape themselves into a poem.


It was at this point in one of my walks, when I found myself in mid-street ... but let's let the poem tell the story. "The Lost Line" was originally published in ByLine magazine.


THE LOST LINE


Walking, engrossed
in the troubling
task of untangling
a difficult line,
I looked up
at mid-street
into the whites
of the eyes of a car.


The startled driver
swerved and went on,
as did I, trembling
at the thought
of being cut down,
end-stopped,
in such a way.


I left the line
lying there where
I had dropped it,
a broken lanyard,
the possibility
of starting
something big
scared out of it.

I doubt that I
can ever reclaim it,
poor frayed thing,
abandoned, lost,
turned to a frazzle
by tires that sing
without ceasing
on Wayne Avenue.
© 1996

Today's word: lanyard

Monday, May 14, 2018

Hope Renewed





Today's poem reminds me of the good old days, way back when I was putting together a free, weekly e-mailed newsletter (anybody remember that version of "Squiggles"?).

One of our annual rituals was a countdown toward spring.

It was not unusual for it to begin with the first frost in the autumn, struggle through the gray days of winter, then go marching toward brighter, sunnier, warmer ... growing ... days of spring.

This poem also reminds me of a time when Phyllis and I shared a sleeping room high under the roof of the house, where the sound ... the music ... of rain was so soothing, so reassuring.

Though I can't hear the rain thumping on the roof where we are now, the sound of it slanting against the bedroom window is still a pleasant interlude, a reminder ...


The poem:


HOPE RENEWED

Spring rain
thumps on my roof
as though testing it
for ripeness,
and in the sunny
back yard of my mind
I see red roses
blossoming again.
 © 1994

(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: blossoming