Saturday, June 30, 2007

Grandfather Writes

Here's what I said when I first shared "Grandfather Writes" with you on "Chosen Words":

Who knows? Perhaps it was my early witnessing of my grandfather's efforts at learning to write his name, the effort he was willing to put into it so late in his life, the obvious importance he attached to it ... perhaps it was all of these - or none of these - that impelled me to write.
I'm sure there were other factors, too, other lessons he taught me by example, as he and his wife, my dear grandmother, undertook the task of rearing me, of making me the person I am today.
I remember watching him, first at a distance, then a bit closer, and, finally, quite near as those shaky letters took form.
I remember the feeling of shared pride in this accomplishment, in knowing that the painfully written X ("his mark") no longer need be his signature.
It was a quantum leap.
My only regret, as I say in the poem, was that I neglected to tell him how proud I was of his achievement. But I think he knew. I think he always knew I was proud of him.
Now the poem:


My grandfather sat

in sweltering shade
beside the house,
holding a pencil stub,
practicing, practicing,
ignoring the heat,
the droning flies,
straining to focus
with dime-store glasses
while his cramping
fingers sent the pencil
crawling on the page,
strange, angular marks
scratched on the back
of the sale bill,
letters later emerging
in more fluid shapes
as he labored to write
his very own name.
How proud I felt
of his achievement.
How I wish
I had told him so.

© 2000

(second-place winner in the 2000 Ohio Poetry Day Contest)


Today's word: quantum

Friday, June 29, 2007

Fickle Petunias

There's something about walking ... that steady rhythm ... the relative quiet ... the way thoughts float in and out ... nothing in particular ... just random thoughts ...
One of my favorite walking routes ... even in dry years such as this one ... is blessed with flowers.
It's obvious that the owners ... give a lot of thought to the flowers' gift of color ... that they tend them carefully ... and they enjoy sharing the beauty of flowers with others.
This poem is an outgrowth of some of those flowers.
Actually, I only became casaually aware of this particular clump of blossoms ... my thoughts were wandering ... and then it seemed that the blossoms were actually nodding at me ... as if in greeting.
I thought about that ... thought about it some more ... and when I got back home, I sat at the kitchen table and wrote this little whimsical piece:

I have a nodding

with some petunias
who bob excitedly
when I walk by,
but then they
do the same when
a stranger passes.

© 1995

(originally published in Capper's)

Today's word: excitedly

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:
Finally got around to looking at your entry, Southernmush ... it's been one of those days ... and I think I come down on the side of those, including you now, probably ... in favor of sharing a smile, even with grouches. I've always felt, in a sense, that it gives you an edge in the situation. Reminds me of a person I worked with/for ... who always seemed grumpy ... it always delighted me to find us face-to-face in a situation where he had no escape ... and I'd give him one of my greatest smiles, which just seemed to irritate him ... but it always left me still smiling.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Catching a Wave

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 be writing soon.

This one was first published in Capper's:


Down the avenues of my early-morning

mind zooms a flood of crowded, honking

thoughts that seek a place to park.

Im 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 theyre gone, not

a thought in sight, not a word of that

early-morning roar. Perhaps tomorrow.

© 1999


Today's word: momentum

Afterthoughts ... in response to your comments:

Thanks for stopping by, Stormie. It's good to know that I'm not the only one with a low energy level in the morning ... looking back, though, I think I developed just a tad more tolerance of mornings, once I didn't have to roll out regularly and go dragging my body off to a job ... now, truth be known, I have less trouble crawling out in the morning than I did then. Hmmmm ...

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Rainy Night

I have an attic space where few sounds intrude, where I often go to write.

I became aware, one evening, of a tentative tapping on the skylight - rain. The scattered drops were, indeed, binding city lights to themselves, and clinging gem-like against the darkness.

I felt safe in that space, visualized motes dancing lazily in bright sunlight, beckoning, and I started writing.

What I wrote that evening evolved into a poem, which later found itself in good company in ByLine Magazine, and eventually found its way into Chance of Rain, my first collection of poems, all about rain, or its absence.


First few drops

spatter warily

on my skylight,

binding glimmers

of city lights

to themselves,

sliding them

down the dark

throat of night.

In this dim light

I am held safe

by an arid warmth

that eddies like

motes escaping

an attic book,

swirling, dancing

up a long stairway

toward that door

through which

the golden glow

of revelation

beckons me.

© 2003


Today's word: spatter

Saturday, June 2, 2007

A Plague of Squirrels

I'm kidding, of course.

The squirrels and I actually get along pretty well. Oh, I see them occasionally, pausing to stare at me and one of my funny looking hats.

But they never laugh and poke fun at me ... and I try to treat them with equal respect.

I do recall, though, that there was one encounter the day after we moved into Brimm Manor ... I thought I heard someone ... or something ... at the back door.

It was a squirrel.

From all indications, he was there for a handout. He'd been accustomed to being offered goodies.

Then there was the one which came down our chimney. Did we ever have fun that day!

Mostly, though, we just go our separate ways ... I'm afraid of heights ... and they seem to have a thing about mowing the lawn and watering the flowers.

The poem:


What vile crimes have I committed

that I must be punished by you,

you frenzied plague of squirrels?

You dig up the tulips, tear out

the gutter guards, leave pizza slices

dangling from the evergreens,

litter the driveway with twigs

and leaves while you perfect the art

of nesting, pile our picnic table

with walnut chewings, spread hysteria

by screeching from the highest limbs,

patter across our silent green roof

at daybreak, hide juicy, squishy things

under the swing's yellow cushions,

come down our chimney bearing gifts

of frantic sooty footprints over all

the basement, spending a whole afternoon

eluding me, until finally hiding

in a box so I might carry you outside

to set you free, a twitch of the tail

your cursory thanks for the ride,

and I see you later scampering down that

superhighway of cable, as though nothing

had happened today, absolutely nothing.

© 2001

(won a third place award in Ohio Poetry Day competition)


Today's word: scampering