Monday, November 20, 2017

Help Wanted





Ah, I remember it well. We had stopped in Terre Haute to stretch our legs a bit. 

We'd been walking the corridors of a shopping mall, turned the corner into the food court, and there he was.

The elderly gentleman was sitting alone, one elbow resting on the edge of the table while he squinted at the newspaper he had tilted toward the light ... and his coffee sat, growing cold. 

We took a turn through the food court and walked on.

When we came by again, he was still there, sitting the same way, still poring over the paper.

I have no idea what he was actually reading, nor what his particular interest might have been, but something told me to find a place to sit and scribble a few words on a scrap of paper that I carry, just in case: 

"HELP WANTED - Conversationalist ... "

In due course, a poem was born of that experience, that chance observation, those three words I had scribbled.

The poem:


HELP WANTED

Having grown old,
I haunt the ads,
hoping to find one
that might say:
Help Wanted -
Conversationalist.
Witty, yet reserved.
Willing to listen.
Flexible hours.
No travel required.
Age no barrier.
© 1997

(originally published in Midwest Poetry Review)

Today's word: conversationalist

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Glorious Day








It was a glorious day.


It didn't start out that way. I'll spare you the details, but regular readers already know that most of my days don't start out ... let's just say that I'm not a morning person.


I attribute that to a symphony of aches and pains, certain stresses that never seem to go away - sorry about that ... I did promise to spare you the details, didn't I?


Let's just say that the day, as my days often do, thank goodness, got better as it wore on.


And I was reminded of an afternoon of poetry readings, some time ago.


As always, I had enjoyed the portion of the program in which I shared something I'd written, but I also relished sitting back and taking in the music of words written ... and now being read ... by others.

My poem was written some time ago, but I liked it when it came to me one quiet evening, and I never lost faith in it. 


Once again, I'm dealing with the subject of writing in the poem - and ... I always hasten to add ... I'm no expert on that.


But let's let the poem tell the story:


A GLORIOUS DAY


Someday I shall lie abed
in the innocent hours
of the afternoon, too weak
to walk, too tired to talk,
but writing, because it
pleases me so, gives me 
great comfort, a purpose,
a sense of worth that makes
the hours pass like sugar
coating on a bitter pill,
and I shall curl my toes,
flex my tired fingers,
while remarking, to no one
in particular, that this
has been a most remarkable
day, a time of butterflies
fluttering across my mind,
a glorious day of drowsy 
scratchings on the page, 
a time to go drifting
softly into sleep.


(2nd Place winner in 2009 Dayton Metro Library Poetry Contest, Senior Division)


Today's word: fluttering

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Flight





It was a hot summer day and I was about mid-way through my daily walk.


I paused in the shade near the corner, to look around and cool down a bit. I had just been standing there a few moments when it caught my eye: The shadow of something ... moving across the lawn of a nearby house.


As I followed the movement of that shadow, my gaze shifted slowly upward to the source. It turned out to be a crow, moving slowly, gracefully toward a perch high in a tree across the street.


It was quiet as it flew, then sat there looking around ... "judge-like," it appeared to me.


When I got home, I once again sat at the kitchen table and started writing. I had the makings of a poem.


Eventually, after several revisions, it became a poem ... and then, in time, was published.

The poem:


FLIGHT

The crow's shadow folds
and unfolds diagonally
across the lawn, up the fence
and away, almost before
I can fix my gaze on
that true flight taking place
well above the rooted houses.
Then silently he courses
toward a high, unobstructed
limb on which to sit
looking down, judge-like in his
dark robe, at the rest of us.
© 1996
(originally published in Read, America!)

Today's word: judge-like

Friday, November 17, 2017

Ever a Circle



Today's poem is written, seemingly, about autumn ... and it is ... but it deals with other seasons, too.

So I guess I'm not too far off base in using one of my photos that speaks ... from a worm's eye view ... of spring.

The seasons, as I say in the poem, form a recurring circle. 

From that standpoint, I think it doesn't matter at which point we mount the whirling merry-go-round of seasons.

They keep coming around ... going around ... and we sometimes find ourselves complaining about this one ... too hot or too cold ... too dry or too wet ... find some fault in the present season, while looking forward to the next one ... or maybe even its opposite number.

Meanwhile, the poem:


EVER A CIRCLE

The pursuits of summer
have finally relented,
releasing children
to the autumn slide
of gathered books,
the shuffling of feet,
pencils crawling
on paper; the glimpsed
dogwood, glorious
with snowy blossoms
last spring, shows
first crimson now
on a clump of leaves.
How the months have
fallen away, piling
like shattered petals
across our memory,
in a depth sufficient
to sustain us over
another crossing
of bare-limbed winter
to spring, where
warm light is waiting
to help us celebrate
another completion
of this circle.
 © 1999

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

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Dawning






Those who know me well ... family and friends ... will be surprised to find I've written somewhat favorably about the beginning of the day.

Mornings have generally not been easy for me.

But this poem is not just about morning. It's about the experience of returning to an awareness of surroundings, discovering "words already dancing/ across the softly-lighted/ ballroom of my mind," of being on the verge ... after all that struggle ... of beginning to put words on paper.

Yes, it speaks to me about what I like best, writing, that activity which takes over after that "ballroom" activity, the real "dawning" that occurs with the writing itself.

The poem:

THE DAWNING

When the earth is still
hovering between sleep
and consciousness, when
birdsong is finding voice
and a distant bell
sways in the gentle wash
of sound, I come floating
out of a recurring dream,
yawning, stretching, eyes
struggling in darkness,
feet reaching cautiously
for the reality of floor,
words already dancing
across the softly-lighted
ballroom of my mind.
© 1999

(originally published in Sisters Today)

Today's word: yawning

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Catching a Wave





(No waves evident here; I just thought it might be good to share one of my peaceful photos ... this one taken at Cox Arboretum ... with this particular poem)

I don't think I was intended to be a morning person. Mornings have always been a struggle for me.


I know, I know. Morning is the best part of the day for the writer. Other concerns have not begun to intrude. 
The house is quiet. The brain is rested, ready to rev. Here's a whole new day beckoning.


But for me it's ... well, it's just morning. It takes me a little while to build some momentum.


I roll over, get one foot on the floor, then the other. I stand. I go teetering off in the general direction of the keyboard. I find the switch, flick it on.


By this time I have both eyes open. Things are starting to come into focus. And then, look out. Oh, look out! I'm starting to roll. I may even be writing soon.


This one was first published in Capper's:


CATCHING A WAVE

Down the avenues of my early-morning
mind zooms a flood of crowded, honking
thoughts that seek a place to park.

I’m too tired to direct traffic, too stressed
to sort them out. That must wait till later,
tongue losing its taste of suede, on the

verge of talk. But then they’re gone, not
a thought in sight, not a word of that
early-morning roar. Perhaps tomorrow.
© 1999

Today's word: momentum

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Brittle Poems





Still another poem about writing, but without any technical advice.


No how to- piece. Instead, some sounds, some images painted with words.


Add a bit of a twist with "fireflies ... looking for someone with a jar," and there you have it.


Many of my poems are "little thoughts" ... whether they blink on and off is another matter ... but they are ordinary little topics, depending a great deal on what the reader brings to them for completion.


Also, I keep saying that poems are meant to be shared ... so much depends on "someone who/ will catch them, enjoy/ them, let them fly again."


And there are so many out there worthy of being caught ... enjoyed ... shared.


The poem:

BRITTLE POEMS

My poems are written
on brittle paper, little
thoughts that blink
on and off like fireflies
scouring summer nights
looking for someone
with a jar, a quick
hand, someone who
will catch them, enjoy
them, let them fly again.
 © 2001
(originally published in Capper's)
Today's word: brittle