Sometimes…

Sometimes, at waking, the most odd and unexpected trains of thought roll through my mind.

after the headwaters

time does not heal
all wounds, but only stretches out
the tepid stream

life—an endless river
immortality its death

Copyright © 2018-06-13, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

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No Regrets

the colors of springtime
the scent of autumn’s falling leaves
non, je ne regrette rien

© Elizabeth W. Bennefeld, 2018-05-31.

Written in response to Mara Eastern’s (maraeastern[dot]com) post on that date on the discontinuation of WP’s weekly Photo Challenge (among too many other things). Her photos were better than mine, and more eclectic.

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Eventide

budding branches in a still evening against light cloud cover

Resting Winds

the wind rests quiet on the land
faint sunlight shrinks behind
tree branches and blue clouds
pasted on a blue-grey sky

birds sing summonings
then nestle into nests
for warmth throughout
a night with which the cold
returns too soon

cling to the cold, a shield
against the warming days

Copyright © 2018-05-11, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Day 14, Open Air Dining | #NaPoWriMo2018

I decided to go back to yesterday’s poetry prompts list and write a poem to go with my favorite grasshopper photograph.

Brewer: “For today’s prompt, pick an insect (any insect), make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “Praying Mantis,” “Ants,” and “Grasshoppers.” I’ll even except other creepy crawlies, like spiders, slugs, and leeches (shiver). Sorry in advance if this prompt gives you the heebie-jeebies; feel free to use insect repellent in your verse.”

Suave Photo Subject (Photo © by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld. All rights reserved).

“Grasshopper”

one warm summer day
a debonair grasshopper
dines on a flower

spotting a street photographer
he grins between bites and bows

Copyright © 2018-04-14, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Originally published on The Moments Between blog.

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Day 26, Life-long learning | #NaPoWriMo2018

flower seed packets scattered on a desk

Next month’s flowers

nahaiwrimo:April 26 LEARN

Real life-long learning doesn’t have to be profound or deep or even long-lasting. Doing so keeps us young! While in Boston this last weekend, I learned that I love lobster rolls. I also learned that I love the warm welcoming people I met. Learning something new blesses us all in one way or another and perhaps only in hindsight. Onward!


a water pail
moist dirt between my toes
sunlight’s warmth
 
after a lingering winter
it’s time to plant flowers

Copyright © 2018-04-26, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

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Tidying up #NaPoWriMo2018 month

In the midst of all, I have misplaced text files for poems I wrote and meant to put here and/or email to my writing partners for this National Poetry Month challenge. I hope to have all gathered together (more poems written as necessary) before Midnight (local).

I’ve a number of them, I think, at QuiltedPoetry.net. I’ll get those copied here, also. I like having these month-long challenges and class work gathered together in a specific spot. And then exporting the file WordPress files to save for a backup.

I hope that you’ve found something amongst these (rough drafts) poems that have intrigued you or been otherwise a good read.

 

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Day 30, A Closing Poem | #NaPoWriMo2018

Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a closing time poem. Or another way of coming at this prompt is to write a poem in which something is coming to an end–like this month’s poetry challenge. Could be the end of a concert, an era, or whatever else must come to a close.

I had thought there would be more feelings about…more active involvement in the act of my dying. Interaction with this new experience. Not simply waiting in the not-silence, listening to my breath in- and outing…all other sounds too far away. I slip into sleep. When I wake, I listen for the sound of breathing, check to see if it’s really mine. Somewhere along the line, it won’t be, anymore.

solitary room
sounds fade away, approach again
listening for forever

Copyright © 2018-04-30, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

 

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Day 24: Growing Up | #NaPoWriMo2018

hometown cemetery

Prompt for the day, Cayahoga library: List all the jobs you have had, including volunteer work and other unpaid jobs. Turn the list into a list poem by rearranging, repeating or just titling it. /Or/ write a poem about one of them.

I thought I’d stick to the jobs during grade school and high school, leaving out the gardening chores, since that really was free labor for the common good.

 

“It’s good for you”

My first jobs, tedious but
character- and muscle-building
picking rocks at springtime
in farmers’ fields
kids’ time is cheaper than repairs

Father rented us out by the day

The second summer job lasted
much shorter than it seemed
which was always and forever
clipping grass around stones
mowing the cemetery grounds
setting traps for ground squirrels
who spoiled painstaking work—
lugging pails of well water
to drown the pests or
drive them out

Should have stuck with the rock picking

The best job of my childhood
was selling door to door
in a small town every household
finds the need for more stationery
cards for none or all occasions
so their children find buyers, too

Pay-off was a week or two
each August far away from home
for private and group lessons,
ensemble, band and choir rehearsals

Brass ensemble work cost extra…
Worth the miles walked to get there

Copyright © 2018-04-24, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

 

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April 21 – Rewriting the World | #NaPoWriMo

books, journals, and writing implements

Rewriting the World

nahaiwrimo prompt for Day 21: PRINT

“I just finished reading ‘The Printmaker’s Daughter’ by Katherine Govier about Hokusai’s daughter and their lives together early to mid 1800’s . The book got me thinking about woodblock printing, printing presses with moveable type, print making on silk or paper or other materials and how that has changed over the years since the invention of the Gutenberg press. How our civilization has changed because of print! Press on!”

Bring Your Own Plot

Print has gotten smaller
in books as years go by
and letters crowd the line
with two or more ascenders
where only one should be, and
below the quivering baseline
the descenders stub their toes

I do not know what choice to make
to maximize these story times—
read very fast for fleeting joy…
or memorize my favorite lines
to savor when the light fades
and shadows darken all

We will call up treasured stories,
the characters and I, and we
will plot out better endings
in which none of us will die

Copyright © 2018-05-02, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

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Day 19: Origins | #NaPoWriMo2018

Prompt for Day 19 is from the Cayahoga Library:

An “origin story” is the backstory of how a character became a protagonist or how superheroines (or -heroes) received theirsuperpowers. Write a poem that imagines your backstory as either a poet or a superhero(ine).

The Vicissitudes of Childhood

I learned to talk aloud
by learning how to read
line by line, books read—
two pages, pointing out
each word and saying it,
and when I’d read them back
I’d open up my mouth again…
to eat a bite of baby food
while Mother turned the page

Copyright © 2018-04-21, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Day 29: Whatever it takes | #NaPoWriMo

spring clouds behind barren tree branches

Brewer: “For today’s prompt, write a response poem. Respond to whatever helps you get your poem written…”

dry leaves dance above—
leaping higher than treetops
stripped by April winds

green shoots kissed by dirt and rain
pledge autumn one more harvest

Copyright © 2018-04-29, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

This poem is in response to a poem not from this challenge, but one that I wrote for the 2008 SFPA poetry contest; the theme was “Energy”. The poem’s title is “Future Freedom”. It’s the second poem on this page of my QuiltedPoetry.net blog.

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Backyard Visitation, April 28 | #NaPoWriMo2018

sturdy metal fence surrounding a 50-sq-ft gstarden plot

Fenced-in Wildflower Garden

Cuyahoga Library prompt: Cleveland poet Russell Atkins describes a backyard that “has hold/ of the throats/ of trees.” Write a poem that personifies your backyard, or the backyard of someone you know, during a particular season of the year.

like an old grave site
the fenced-in garden bed lies
shadowed by bare limbs

last fall’s scattered stalks conceal
shoots of this year’s wildflowers

Copyright © 2018-04-28, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

 

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Story Poem, another Day 27 prompt | #NaPoWriMo2018

Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a story poem. Think of a story, could be a long, complicated, winding story, but for a poem, it may make more sense to make it a short, direct story.

Sort of a plot summary of a book that I wrote, many years ago, and then put aside. I have no suitable photos to go with it. Comes to mind, again, every once in a while, morphing over…nearly 4 decades.

“Blood to Blood”

Not who he thought, his father,
not he who was seated as chairman
in his grandfather’s boardroom.

His true father, not by name, but blood,
one who labored in his mother’s gardens,
holding his hand as he took his first steps,

sharing carrots with him from those gardens.
Eating green peas nested in their pods,
they watched koi fish swim among the lilies.

As he grew, listening to rain and
painting the colors of the wind,
he came into his heritage and ran.

Not a heritage of wealth,
but fear, fleeing to the one
who taught him how to run.

Copyright © 2018-04-28, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

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Day 27: Wind and Water (final version) | #NaPoWriMo2018

waves beat on the shore
playing footsies with strangers
then slipping away

wind and sand party along
the beach … Catch me if you can!

Copyright © 2018-04-27, by Elizabeth Bennefeld, final version.

Prompt: Ronovan Writes Haiku challenge of 23 April 2018: Beat and Party.

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Day 25: Warning Sign | #NaPoWriMo2018

The prompt that I chose for April 25 was from NaPoWriMo: Today, we challenge you to write a poem that takes the form of a warning label . . . for yourself! (Mine definitely includes the statement: “Do Not Feed More Than Four Cookies Per Hour.”

“Warning”

DO NOT ENTER
Life is Contagious
Death is Certain

Copyright © 2018-05-05, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Warning Label

Now, I have to look over my files and posts, again, to make sure that I’ve got everything on this blog.

Elizabeth

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Day 22: As Far as the East Is | NaPoWriMo2018

For April 22, I selected this prompt from naprowrimo:

And now for our daily prompt (optional as always). I’ve found this one rather useful in trying to ‘surprise’ myself into writing something I wouldn’t have come up with otherwise. Today, I’d like you to take one of the following statements of something impossible, and then write a poem in which the impossible thing happens: …” But the phrase that immediately came to mind was “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” Psalm 103:12.

As Far As The East Is

the sun rolls along
west is ahead—east, behind
just a glance away

In bright sunlight, all shadows
are behind me as I face the sun.

Copyright © 2018-04-25, by Elizabeth Bennefeld. [Playing catch-up.]

 

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Day 23: Vistas | #NaPoWriMo2018

slumbering dawn
tucked away in grey-pink clouds—
wake the morning sun

Copyright © 2018-04-24, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

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Day 20 – Energy | #NaPoWriMo2018

Flowers in Rain (2014-08-02)

exuberant raindrops
keep time against the window
until the cloud-break

streams send water toward the sea
as shadows turn to light

Copyright © 2018-04-30, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Note: Finishing up with the missed/delayed poem postings for #NaPoWriMo2018. Searching for photographs to go with the poems.

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Day 18 – Tempted to Silence | #NaPoWriMo2018


Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a temptation poem. Nearly everyone is tempted by something: fame, glory, money, chocolate. Today is the perfect day to give in to the temptation to write about your (or “a friend’s”) temptation. Also, I totally understand the temptation to write about The Temptations today.

Tempted to Silence

as the years move on
as I move with them
or we go separate ways

I have less to say
there is less to hear
around me that inspires…

I don’t know what I miss—
words of kindness, uplifting
without self-serving thoughts

a different world, perhaps,
outside the door…with hope
for more than me and mine and yours

If I were alone, again
if there were no one to care
if I were there or here

I would take a lease
on a cabin in the woods
for enough years to die

listening to rain and bird calls
wind and ice and hearth fire
pencil scratching paper

the opening of a door

Copyright © 2018-04-18, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

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Day 17: Aeronautics, Intermission | #NaPoWriMo2018

Dragonfly

Prompt from #RonovanWrites #Haiku – Original post with more photos.

sunlight on his wings
iridescent dragonfly
the joy of his dance

Copyright © 2018-04-17, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

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Day 16: fish | #NaPoWriMo2018

I love to dance
balancing vertically
strong horizontal sweeps
of the tail fin below…
gill covers and filaments
vibrating, my head up
looking at the bright waves
of sunlight as the lights
flow on above me

the water moves
and I am still

Copyright © 2018-04-16, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

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Day 15 – If I were a garden | #NaPoWriMo2018

late-spring garden

Prompt-
Cayahoga library: Katerina Stoykova-Klemer has written, “Often I Wish I Were// a potato.// Eyes opened/ in all directions.” Begin a poem with “Often I wish I were” and complete the  stanza with…” and  see where that takes your poem.

“Wishes”

I sometimes wish I were a garden
filled with roots, berries and such
I would renew both dirt and harvest
sending seeds throughout the Earth

I always wished I had big shoulders
broad and strong to share life’s cares
I’d wrap my arms around the crying
help transform their tears to joy

I often wish I were a spirit
floating high above the world…
I’d watch closely for the hurting
act to foster hope’s rebirth

Copyright 2018-04-15, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

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Day 13 Prompt: “M” = Muskeg | NaPoWriMo2018

Cuyahoga Library Prompt: ‘Open a dictionary to the letter “m.” Scan until you find the first word you don’t know the meaning of that intrigues you, and then write a poem about that word.’

muskeg meadows
camouflage soft ground that has
no base to stand on

Copyright © 2018-04-13, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

From Wikipedia: “Muskeg consists of dead plants in various states of decomposition (as peat), ranging from fairly intact sphagnum moss, to sedge peat, to highly decomposed humus.” [Article].

Ah, well! Perhaps the other prompts for this day will turn out better.

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Day 12 Prompt: Natural Landscape | NaPoWriMo2018

NaPoWriMo Prompt: Today, we’d like to challenge you specifically to write a haibun that takes in the natural landscape of the place you live. It may be the high sierra, dusty plains, lush rainforest, or a suburbia of tiny, identical houses – but wherever you live, here’s your chance to bring it to life through the charming mix-and-match methodology of haibun.

A Late Spring

Rabbits have eaten the bark from low Cotoneaster branches, leaving them bare to lingering cold, icy winds, and snow storms. Again this year, the bushes are at risk to dry and die when the heat does come, searing tender leaves. There will be no warm rains to waken grass seed strewn in hope, six months ago. Birds eat the grains, finding no new growth.

dormant flax seeds hide
beneath last autumn’s bent stalks
waiting for summer

Copyright © 2018-04-13, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Day 11 prompt: stone(s) | #NaPoWriMo2018

Wild Violet

Wild Violet

NaHaiWriMo Prompt for day 11: stone(s)

pebbles underfoot
dry path through the heavy dew
bold whispers of spring

violets perfume the breeze
moonlight bathes the late-night waves

Copyright © 2018-04-13, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Day 9: Who We Were | #NaPoWriMo2018

I decided to go back to April 9, to the Pilgrimage prompt, and wander a bit through the family tree. My mother was a genealogist, among other things, and we kids got to do research, each in our turn.

Who We Were
[still a rough draft]

Our people came from Iowa
by way of the Norman invasion,
Mayflower I and II, the Winthrop Fleet
by way of rivers on diverse craft
neighbors with neighbors
towns moving together

They arrived in the Firelands
then settled in Iowa and
opened South Dakota—farms
were lost behind the dam, so
back to small-town Iowa

Penneys went into retail, catalog sales
A connection of “our” Bennetts sent
Stanley to find Livingston
the Deans made sausage, and the
Gallops (Kolopp, from Alsace) took polls

The grocery store owner in
South Dakota patented a plow
the Carters served in India
as Methodist missionaries
Evangeline Ink wrote an exposé
novel about TB camp swindles

My generation and the next have been
lawyers, executives, freelancers, clerks
writing and publishing books,
poetry. textbooks, and many stories
nurses caring for the injured and elderly,
builders, handcrafters, quilters,
artists, musicians

Myself, I grow wild flax
in the backyard garden, take naps
with the puppy dogs, make up recipes
and do the laundry, play piano, and
hold my husband close to my heart

I read only as many books in a week
as I write poems, a photo for most
no children, but a library
gathered over a lifetime
determined to leave no book unread…
always buying more

There’s always time to write a poem…
time to read a book

Copyright © 2018-04-10, by Elizabeth W. “Lizl” Bennefeld.

Continue reading

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Day 10: Simultaneity | #NaPoWriMo2018

migrating birds returning in the spring

NaPoWriMo Prompt: “Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of simultaneity, in which multiple things are happening at once.”

geese cry overhead
the dogs sit up and listen
leaves remain silent

I would fly like those wild birds
fly to be with you again

Copyright © 2018-04-10, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Journaling: paper vs. digital

books, journals, and writing implements

The Written Word: here or there?

I find it interesting, how different the topics are for my online journal from the paper journal that I have returned to since the first of 2018. Things that I would only post, if at all, on my Patchwork Prose site, which still suffers little to no traffic in any given month. (I have not brought myself to write there much.)

I suspect that I am more secretive than I’d thought. Or, more accurately, how much a “private person” I’ve turned out to be, simply because I do not talk much about externals. Because I don’t live in the externals.

Often, a “thing” or “experience” seems not objectively real until I write it down somewhere. Or relive it to myself in words so that it will stick. I have found it interesting that I can go back through memory and reimage, should other events overtake me, and so file a happening in words in my mind or on paper afterwards. Not always, but sometimes. Enough.

When I look back through the written journals before I shred them (I have journaled since my high school years), I find that a lot of what I have puzzled over/pondered, surprises me. Looks unfamiliar. The same is true of my online journals. Excepting, perhaps, the poems that I write.

Elizabeth

 

 

 

 

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Day 8: Late Snowfall | #NaPoWriMo2018

tulip shoots, nibbled by rabbits between late snowstorms

Nibbled

tulips pushing through
loam to newly fallen snow
wait in line for spring

our rabbits, lacking new grass,
nibble tender tulip shoots

Copyright © 2018-04-08, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

We have a lot of rabbits in our yard and the surrounding neighborhood, which we appreciate, since they provide a lot of exercise for our dogs. First thing in the morning, they are eager to go outside and check for rabbits who’ve stayed out eating past the softer light of sunrise. They have such fun! Especially when the rabbits run off in different directions…or taunt the dogs by making an extra detour around the garden shed before slipping out through the fence.

 

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Day 7: Sound | #NaPoWriMo2018

The prompt for today called for a poem involving one (or more) of the senses. I find that I still miss hearing those voices in the night, singing me to sleep.

bedclothes, folded down

“Night Sounds”

in the apartment where I lived
before I married, a quarter century past,
late at night through air ducts
the building sang to me
deep, rumbling chants
basso profondo choir

I recall the voices—
vibrations in my bones—
rocking me to sleep
wrapped in
silent
sound

Copyright © 2018-04-07, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

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Day 5 Prompt – Intelligence | #NaPoWriMo2018

Brewer: For today’s prompt, write an intelligence poem. Of course, intelligence is subjective. What is common sense for one person makes no sense to another. But intelligence is more than IQ and test scores. There’s artificial intelligence, intelligent animals, and military intel. And I’ve found that many poets have a special intelligence of their own.

the books by the chair

“Specialized Intelligence”

I’m good with words
Ideas flow from my mouth
guiding the bewildered
the puzzled, the lost

Just don’t ask me to repeat
what I said last—I can’t
My mind has moved
into a new channel

The sound of spoken words
often bypasses memory
The words that I gave you
rest only with you, now

Copyright © 2018-04-05, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Day 6: uneven lines | NaPoWriMo2018

frost patterns on the window

Broken Lines

Prompt from NaPoWriMo: “Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that stretches your comfort zone with line breaks. That could be a poem with very long lines, or very short lines. Or a poem that blends the two….”

uneven lines

when the patterns that you see
do not mirror the observations of others
patterns can be dangerous
the loaded gun can go off
when patterns go askew
things can happen
even when they don’t
flow with the
current
script
a lot like my life

Copyright © 2018-04-06, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Day 4: Dragonfly, Perspectives | #napowrimo2018

Dragonfly

Prompt for Day 4 from the NaHaiWriMo page on Facebook.

Sleepy dragonfly…
reconsider this day’s world
shifting perspectives

warmth and rest can set thoughts free
transforming dreams into flight

Copyright © 2018-04-04, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Day 3: Empty | life of words

books, journals, and writing implements

the written word

life of words

filtered through words
life lived at second hand
a slower pace—indepth
reexamined
contemplated and
reworked

without the words
written out or spoken—
if only heard, repeat them
before they disappear
into the aether—
wordless melodies and rhythms
sensory nonsense songs

not meaningful
without the verbs
subjects and adjectives
caught in imaged
letters upon the mind
retrievable…
sounds are only
empty noise

Copyright © 2018-04-03, by Elizabeth (Lizl) Bennefeld.

Again, a rough draft, I expect.

Lizl

 

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Day 2: Portrait | NaPoWriMo2018

Prompt: Portrait

the face in the mirror…mine
as I looked 30 years ago
gaunt…drawn…withdrawn
hair cut short—cut off

after all those years
do I appear the same to
anyone but me? will they
know me at a glance?

I will not know them
I did not know them then
then, I did not care
now, there is no one else

Copyright © 2018/04/02, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld (Lizl).

This one’s probably a rough draft.

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Day 1: Dreams in Porcelain | #NaPoWriMo2018

 within the bowl
blue trees surround a small house
patterns from childhood
born of her best memories—
paths forward…wishes…hopes

Copyright © 2018-04-01, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld (Lizl).

I read both the NaPoWriMo and the NaHaiWriMo prompts for this day, coming away with “bowl” (haiku prompt) and NaPoWriMo’s suggestion to write a love poem to an object. They blended in my mind to produce “Dreams in Porcelain”, combining Mother’s memories of her childhood and her love of collecting such decorative pieces during her cross-country travels. As they reminded her, I expect, of her childhood, the memory of them calls up memories from my own childhood…and the dreams that she had and fostered for us.

 

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Distant Silence | WP Weekly Photo Challenge

jet plane vapor trail across the eastern sky at morning, tree branches in the foreground

Morning Vapor Trail

 

like a vapor trail
barely visible against
the sky…too far
away to hear a sound
as life begins and ends

Copyright © 2018-01-18, by Lizl Bennefeld.

WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Silence.

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Late night thoughts

Reading about the excess profit taking on generic drugs by companies centered on fast money rather than service to society, I find myself becoming convinced that for me to purchase and use such products would not be something I could bring myself to do. And then I wonder how much that conviction rests on my confidence of life after death.

In dealing with health issues currently, I avoid certain medications and diagnostic procedures. Some side effects that I know run in the family make me choose no treatment, rather than the certain damage to health and quality of life that would result from preventive medication.

A case in point would be the suggestion by doctor and nurse educator that I should use insulin to bring my blood sugar level down quickly.  Knowing myself to be less than attentive or oriented to time and place, I refused that option, deeming the possibility of my killing myself by double- or triple-dosing myself through inattention to what I do to be more likely than effective self-treatment. After twelve months, I am now tapering off the medication that I did accept a prescription for.

That raises another question in my mind regarding motivation. Am I simply adverse to interfering with life’s progression? Do I think that nothing bad will happen to me by avoiding preventive treatments? What sort of internal guidelines/proscriptions am I following.

I feel strongly about the choices that I have been and continue to make. I do not know what my internal driver is. At all. Except that it seems to have something to do with the purpose of and framework for living in this world.

 

 

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Late at Night

book lying open on the sofa with dog toys

One Chapter Not Yet Read

the ticking clock
restless sounds of puppy dreams…
one unread chapter

curtains closed against the dark
stars above adorn the night

Copyright © 2017-12-18, by Lizl Bennefeld. All rights reserved.

 

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Being real

This Isn’t Real?

what’s real

being real isn’t hard
if
you don’t expect today’s
real to be the same
as yesterday’s or
tomorrow’s version

reality changes as
the hours and days journey
through near and distant lands
inner and outer space
and down into the earth’s
core and out again

“real” is this moment—
nothing less and…
nothing
more

“What’s real” Copyright © 2017-12-05, by Lizl Bennefeld.

 

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Back in the Day (30 November 2017)

Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a “back in the day” poem. You might also
call this a “good old days” poem or a “bad old days” poem. To me, back in
the day is synonymous with history–but a kind of personal history (even if
shared among a community).

gold field…harvest time
footprints and downed stalks trail us
our shortcut home

— Elizabeth Bennefeld, Copyright © 2017-11-30.

In childhood, we wandered throughout the neighboring pastures and fields, afternoons and early evenings and weekend days. We swam in the creeks and marshes, rivers and shallow pond, often coming home soaked to the skin and coated with mud. When we arrived home in answer to Mother’s call, she often made us strip at the back door and sprayed us down with the garden hose until we were clean enough to come into the house, put on clean clothes, and help set the table for supper.

 

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Response Poem (29 November 2017)

Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a response poem. The poem can be a response to anything–a piece of news, some art, a famous (or not so famous) quotation, or whatever. However, I thought it might be a cool opportunity to respond to a poem that you’ve written this month. If both poems work, it could make an interesting dynamic to have two (or more) poems that interact with each other.

leaves on edge
dance to autumn’s wind
jeté…temps levé

Elizabeth Bennefeld, haiku: Autumn Dance, Copyright © 2017-10-18

yesterday, leaves fell
today they spiral upwards
reaching for the sky

as nature strives for balance
who falls down, must rise again

Elizabeth Bennefeld, tanka, Copyright © 2017-11-29

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Rough Draft – (28 November 2017)

I wrote a rough draft for a longer poem, yesterday.  I’ve been working on revisions, but it’s not ready to post anywhere.

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The Marsh’s Edge (27 November 2017)

tall cattails in marshy ground

cattails

marsh’s edge
red-winged blackbirds celebrate
new-hatched chicks
 
clinging to his reedy stalk,
feathers fluffed, the father sings

Copyright © by Elizabeth Bennefeld, 2017-11-27
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Shine (26 November 2017)

autumn leaf, cotoneaster shrub, sunlight shining through

Golden Light

sunshine through leaves
kissed by frost…changing color
golden light

Copyright © 2017-11-26, by Lizl Bennefeld.

Prompt: Brewer: shine

 

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Raindrops (25 November 2017)

PoetryPotion: Rain, rain, rain!
raindrops on the roof
raindrops on the window pane
raindrops all about
rain came down, this week, in sheets
that can’t be used for sails
     —Elizabeth Bennefeld, 2017-11-25
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Remember Me (24 November 2017)

My husband and I have been talking about this writing prompt, how we feel about being remembered after we die. As a writer, I thought at first that I would want my poetry to be remembered (and I would be pleased if people printed out a poem or two that spoke to them, since one does not remember poems, and contrary to popular belief, stuff on the Internet does not hang around forever). And I write too much, too often, to produce comprehensive books of my work.

Ephemeral experiences, however, are worthy of being cherished. So often, I find, people remember me because of my smile…and mention it to me, when they see me again after our first meeting. Smiles. Laughter. Recognition of a momentary rapport with a stranger. A moment of not-aloneness. When I experience that, I feel somehow more real.


Prompt for the 24th: Brewer: For today’s prompt, write a “how I’ll be remembered” poem. It’s an interesting question: How will I be remembered? My amazing looks? My incredible personality? My charitable nature? My goofy jokes? The cranky guy who’s always telling people to stay off his lawn? Dive into this introspection today.

 

Remember Me

If you remember me at all,
recall my joy—my laughter.

Remember me. The one who
looked into your eyes
and recognized a friend.

No matter that we’d never meet again.

Remember me, taking notice of you,
drawing your attention. I laughed…

And you laughed, too.

Copyright © 2017-11-24, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Neglected Chores (24 November 2017)

stack of clothing on a chair

Neglected Chores

stacks of clothes
worn and freshly laundered
gather dust

the outside world fades away
when words are singing in my mind

Copyright © 2017-11-24, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Outside the Window (23 November 2017)

black cat in a dark room, sitting under a lamp and looking out the window through lace curtains

Cat at the Window

songs of birds outside
a window too often closed—
their songs muted

cats cannot fly away…but
birds cannot escape the cold

Copyright © 2017-11-23, by Lizl Bennefeld.

Prompt 172. Write a poem using the following image: a cat sitting on a windowsill looking outside. ~ Donovan, Melissa. 1200 Creative Writing Prompts (Adventures in Writing) (p. 99). Swan Hatch Press.

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Spring Blizzard (22 November 2017)

icicles shaped by strong, cold winds

Icicle Teeth

brisk arctic winds
spring clouds from the south
wind sculpted ice

icicle teeth hang from branches
threatening spring tulips

Copyright © 2017-11-22, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Outside War, Inside (21 November 2017)

bifurcated
forcibly polarized world
no in-between

dark skin or white…no gender
pushed to declare a side

Copyright © 2017-11-21, by Lizl Bennefeld.

Prompt from PoetryPotion: “The war inside”

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Season Transformation April 2013

Photographs from an earlier, very “weathery” year

tall snowdrifts in front of the garden shed door on 15 April 2013

15 April 2013 Blizzard

aftermath of freezing rain, gale-force winds, and subsequent snow as the temperature plummeted

20 April 2013 Wind-Driven Ice

brisk arctic winds
spring clouds from the south
wind sculpted ice

see-through teeth hang from branches
threatening spring tulips

Copyright © 2017-11-22, by Lizl Bennefeld.

Tulips in a Sheltered Spot
20 April 2013

WP Weekly Photo Challenge: Transformation

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ecology (19 November 2017)

dead ground

we didn’t expect
oceans dead, oxygen gone
cities down sink holes

we thought…smog and air filters
self-sufficient geo-domes

Copyright © 2017-11-21, by Lizl Bennefeld.

I believe that the 19th day was the one that I missed in the poem-a-day string. Having given up on the prompts for that day, I found a prompt that did appeal to me: Not what we expected (from PoetryPotion, Nov. 20). Now, I should be caught up on the writing of ’em, if not the posting.

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Ragged Sunlight (20 November 2017)

 

sharp north winds
broken cloud cover
ragged sunlight

winter…refuge from the heat
cold seeps into these old bones

Copyright © 2017-11-20, by Elizabeth (Lizl) Bennefeld.

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What I Meant to Say (18 November 2017)

I did write a poem for Day 18 in response to the prompt “what I meant to say”, but decided not to put it on my blog. Sometimes that happens.

Still working on a poem for Day 19.

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Night Sounds (17 November 2017)

For Day 17, the prompt I chose is “ember”

tea leaves and night sounds
a steel pot on warm embers
battered cups

distractions discarded
we talk about what matters

— Elizabeth W. “Lizl” Bennefeld, copyright © 2017-11-19.

Prompt: “ember” from Day 16th’s list on NaHaiWriMo, since on the 16th I wrote a poem from among the prompts for November 14.

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Seeing Mother (16 November 2017)

my parents, photo taken in 2008 or 2009

Mother and Father

Prompt: “When I see my mother”

When I see her now
she looks so much younger—
filled with song

vigorous and happy, radiant…
sorrows past, still in love

—Elizabeth Bennefeld, 2017-11-18

Note:

My mother died on 15 November 2016 (age 94, and my father, a little more than 3 months later, age 100), and I have been trying to write a poem for the Day 14 prompt from PoetryPotion: “When I see my mother”.  It took me a while, but it was a writing prompt I wanted to respond to. (Also posting this on my Quilted Poetry blog.)
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Memories (15 November 2017)

banked camp fire
glowing embers toast
the last s’mores

laughter and hot cocoa
childhood memories of love

Copyright © by Elizabeth “Lizl” Bennefeld, 2017-11-15

 

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Harvesting Fog (14 November 2017)

Nahaiwrimo: droplet

harvest mountain fog
catch droplets on nets—water
to green the desert
— Elizabeth Bennefeld, 2017-11-14
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Partly Cloudy (13 November 2017)

This is a poem that I wrote for the “Ronovan Writes Haiku” weekly poetry writing challenge, for which two words are provided as prompts and synonyms are allowed. Haiku are, for purposes of the challenge, defined as 5-7-5 format…or writer’s choice, which often includes tanka, senryu, and, I expect, katauta and sedoka. Haven’t really kept track of all the variances. I first published this poem on my Quilted Poetry website: Partly Cloudy (Ronovan Writes Haiku).

alluring stars…
between dusk and daylight
so short a time
dreams drift past like clouds
some bring rain and others, snow
     Copyright © Elizabeth Bennefeld, 2017-11-13

 

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Fog and Ice (11, 12 November 2017)

NaHaiWriMo prompts for days 11 and 12: fog and ice

early dawn
fog above the river
veiled hills

Copyright 2017-11-11, by Elizabeth “Lizl” Bennefeld.

ice along the shore
the tree twigs and branches
coated with rime

Copyright © 2017-11-12, by Elizabeth “Lizl” Bennefeld.

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Blanket of light (10 November 2017)

night sky
fiery blanket of light
a sea of stars

broad enough to span a life
deep enough to hide within

Copyright © 2017-11-10, by Elizabeth “Lizl” Bennefeld.

Source: QuiltedPoetry.net – Poem a day, Day 10

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Cold Winds (9 November 2017)

bare branches in November

 

geese and frigid winds
flow south…ragged array
their loud cries

— Elizabeth W. Bennefeld
Copyright © 2017-11-09

NaHaiWriMo prompt for this day: “flow”.

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Water Puddle (8 November 2017)

sky underfoot

after rain
water puddle mirror
sky underfoot

Copyright © 2017-11-08, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Writing a poem a day during November 2017.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Temporary

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Sleepy Ocean (November 7, 2017)

ripples slide onshore
whispering along the sand—
night songs in moonlight
as the restless ocean sighs…
falls more deeply into sleep

Copyright © 2017-11-07, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

NaHaiWriMo prompt for 7 Nov. 2017: sigh

 

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Breath of Morning (November 6, 2017)

the breath of morning
tints eastern skies … as night’s hand
tucks away its stars

Copyright © 2017-11-06, by Lizl Bennefeld.

I went through a number of variations on this. Still not sure which one I like the best. This, which I mailed in for my poem-a-day group, or the adaptation I used for Ronovan Writes Haiku weekly challenge.  Or perhaps one of the drafts that I deleted.

 

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Swoop Down (5 November 2017) | #NaHaiWriMo

peregrine’s swoop
grasping talons…beating wings
flickertail feathers

Copyright © 2017-11-05, by Elizabeth W. (Lizl) Bennefeld.

Prompt: #NaHaiWriMo : Swoop

 

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New Snow (4 November 2017)

Rabbit Tracks

 

blanket of new snow
puffy clouds hold in earth’s warmth
rabbit tracks melt first

Copyright © November 4, 2017, by Elizabeth W. (Lizl) Bennefeld.

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November Weather (3 November 2017)

Today’s prompt is from The Daily Poet: What’s The Weather Out There?
tiny snowflakes drift
down in slow motion…to ground
too warm to hold them
Copyright © 2017-11-03, by Lizl Bennefeld.

 

Also, I made a stab at using the prompt for today from the NaHaiWriMo page: hurricane

 

hurricane of sights
cacophony of noises
chaos on chaos

worlds don’t end by fire or ice
but buried by falling stars

Copyright © 2017-11-03, by Lizl Bennefeld.
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Solar Sky Diving (2 November 2017)

unfurl your wings
catch and sail the solar wind
from Venus to Earth

hide inside Luna’s shadow—
count the myriad divers stars

Copyright © 2017-11-02, by Lizl Bennefeld.

NaHaiWriMo prompt for November 2: solar wind.

I went with NaHaiWriMo’s prompt, again: solar wind. I remember reading a science fiction book (I think it was in Lightwing, by Tara Harper, 1992) that included traveling from asteroid to asteroid using foil sails powered by the solar winds of the star where their space station was placed in orbit. Sometimes I dream of it

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One feather (1 November 2017)

feather from a Flickertail

One Feather, Fallen

white feather—
cradled by blades of grass—
free of dew

one feather fell to earth
together the rest still fly

Copyright © 2017-11-01, by Lizl Bennefeld.

Not a novelist, I intend to write (at least) one poem a day during November 2017, during the 2017 #NaNoWriMo challenge.

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Tomorrow never comes

the sun rose
rolled along its silent path—
solitary
it’s wandered off unnoted
tomorrow will not happen

Copyright © 2017-10-22, by
Elizabeth W. Bennefeld
Fargo ND USA

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trapped in dystopia

not fake news
poor people live there…
let them starve

caught up by someone else’s
timeline…no way out of here

Copyright © 2017-10-13, Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

Tough, getting to sleep, tonight.

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One-upmanship

a murder of crows gathered in the crown of the cottonwood tree

Crows in the Treetops

crows caw overhead
landing on high branches
taking off again

the loudest bird will settle
only for the highest perch

Copyright © 2017-10-07, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

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Startled amusement

yellow tulip / hopeless love

Hopeless Love

old photographs
a poppy for remembrance—
so long ago
his proposal accepted
his startled silence

Copyright © 2017-10-05, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

 

The waning days of the Japanese Poetry workshop. Far too short!

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Pedestrian – Photo Challenge

I like this one a lot, and so decided to put it here, also. This is the last week of “Introduction to Japanese Poetry”, and I’m really enjoying it.

asian lady beetle

Pedestrian at the Crosswalk

cross-branch travel
Asian lady beetle on foot
a common sight

air travel has appeal
but no snacks are served

Copyright © 2017-10-04, by Elizabeth W. (Lizl) Bennefeld.

Written in response to WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Pedestrian.

 

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Graveside memories

photograph of a family photo montage

family photographs

Remembering my parents’ graveside military services as the months progress toward first anniversaries. A year ago, plus a few weeks, my mother entered the hospital, and then into hospice care for two months before her death. Father followed her perhaps ten weeks later.

Two years previous, on September 30, my youngest sister died. She also was in the military. I expect that her son Jesse received the flag from her funeral.

Actually, all three memorial services were filled with crowds of family, friends, townspeople, many stories, much laughter, and overflowing love. As the concrete memories of those events fade in the aloneness of the years that follow, such reminders are blessings.

My remaining sister mentioned in a recent letter the memory of our mother and father sneaking off from the family room for a while to spend time alone with each other, when my sister was young. A reminder of the happiness of our family life and growing up in our family.

I recently woke up from a dream (this week, I think) having just seen my (much younger) mother walking out of and away from the woodworking shop that Al and I are building in the back yard, this summer (and autumn and most likely winter, also). Mom was wearing her favorite red t-shirt with the embroidery on it, which she herself had added, and her blue shorts, and when she looked at me, she was smiling. And so, with the continuing loss, there is also continuing joy.

snow-laden graves
memorial service programs
their photo montage

folded flags, spent cartridges
their ashes…my shattered heart

Copyright © 2017-09-29, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

I am discovering all over again how much writing about the losses in my life helps with the healing process. Happy memories surface, again, and I can think about our shared past…and the many years mostly not shared. All is understood, now, and where there is understanding, there is forgiveness. I look forward to that, whether it’s literal or only a figure of speech.

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In its own shadow

The tanka practice in week three of the workshop continues. This is one of the practice poems that I think I will not submit to the workshop leader; it feels like just an extended haiku. I like the flower, though. Seems as though I need a photograph, or at least a picture in my mind’s eye, in order to get started. And I’d always thought that I’m not a “visual” person.

yellow california poppy, its leaves casting shadows on the petals

In its Own Shadow

shadow leaves
brown on gold petals
celebrate color
poppy flowers bask
in the summer sun

Copyright © 2017-09-27, by Elizabeth Wicker Bennefeld.

 

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It is morning . . .

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is morning, and

I worry about the honeybees

and the farmers who grow weeds

no longer bothered

by herbicides

Copyright © 2017-09-14, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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Everyday Inspiration: Poetry Workshop

Beginning on Monday, 11 September, and continuing for four weeks, I am taking part in an online poetry workshop: Introduction to Japanese Poetry. It is a “hands-on”, writing workshop, which I expect to enjoy immensely. I’ve a book by the instructor, Naomi Wakan: Haiku: One Breath Poetry, which I have put aside for the time being, while I am working the workshop exercises.

 

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 20: Wrap It Up

Mother and me, doily on my head

Mother and Me, 1940s

 

What I enjoyed (and did not)

I enjoyed the prompts. They were not earthshaking, but they served their purpose. The subjects were predictable, but the techniques/methods for addressing the prompts were varied. I was able to bypass the techniques I needed to and choose from alternatives that fit me better. One thing that I tried to do was to avoid responding to every (or every other) assignment with a poem. I think I got away with only 10% being poetry, and the only original-to-the-project poem the Acrostic for Day 13. Since I usually write 3- to 7- or 10-line poems, 16 lines stretched beyond my customary word count.

What I missed with this course, and what made Writing 201: Poetry so rewarding, was the active push to community and interaction that came with the private WordPress form for that particular class, starting and ending at the same time, so that there was a coordination of activities. The #everydayinspiration tag in the WP Reader helped, as did finding bloggers with whom I am familiar who were also beginning at approximately the same time. As my schedule eased, I reached out to a few more, some of whom will end up on my Reading list for this particular blog. (I have a number of blogs, each with a different general focus and tone.)

Variety

I also had fun with the Mine Your Own Material assignment, where I chose as my unifying subject “Food”. I located a couple of favorite recipes (a breakfast omelet and a gluten-free cake-in-a-cup). Also, I pulled out an old science fiction short story that I wrote in 2005 for a 48-hour short-story-writing competition; a light romance and a consideration of variations of plants that should be first grown on community/agricultural space habitat. For having been written in two days, I thought it didn’t turn out too badly, considering that I hardly ever write short stories, and have only had one published (in the previous century … in a limited edition anthology … not in the United States).

An “Aha” Moment

In between my first and second jobs out of college (computer programmer and computer operations), I lived with a fellow for about seven months, when he graduated from college at the end of summer school and joined the U.S. Army (his number in the draft lottery was 038). During that time, I was going through my notebooks and boxes of papers, time after time, looking for my senior philosophy paper, of which I was particularly proud. I could not find it. What killed the relationship was my discovery that he had taken my paper, presumably retyped it, and then handed it in as his senior physics paper. Evidently he did well, or he would have been panicking about having to (re)write the paper at the last minute or face not graduating on time.

I was a help to him in his adjustment to having to go out and live in the world, as I provided a structure for him that served him well until his death (late winter or early spring of 2014). But as I was writing the blog post about making my own decisions, it dawned on me that I had never forgiven him, even though my actions toward him were loving actions. I refused ever to see him again, finally, some time after his discharge, and suggested that he not phone me anymore, and he made his way successfully in the world, generally. The “aha” moment was when I recognized that recalling him in the process of writing about that particular time period in my life evoked a sudden, powerful rage.

I think that I want to think about that for a while. I think that I over reacted and that he was right to believe that I would not be understanding about his appropriation of my work.

As I continue blogging

As I continue blogging, I plan to continue being open to what I may learn about myself and others. And how I feel at a particular moment about a situation, a person, or a group of people, does not have to govern how I will act or react. It has not in the past. I think that’s probably a good thing.

Years from now

Having lost to death seven close relatives within the past eleven months has affected how I feel about planning on/for continuity in our lives. My writing and photographs are on the Intenet, an ephemeral medium. They will not continue to exist past the funds that pay monthly or yearly for my blog space and domains. As I have always written for myself and for the now, I will bear that in mind as I continue. I write because I am a writer, and I trust that those who also might/should look at my photos, art, or writing, will find it. If not, there always will someone else to write, to see the world as effectively as I do, albeit from their own perspective. We are as much or more a collective being, we humans, than individual. Nothing needful is lost.

 

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 19: Roundup of Great Reads

Perhaps not so much great “reads” in every case. I do enjoy looking at photographs of the out-of-doors and the creatures that live there.

Belinda Grover Photography: Belinda Grover has a particularly nice photograph of a hoverfly on a plant leaf here. I love taking photographs of the hoverflies in my garden, and I was taken with hers.

I am fascinated with the works of art at Golnaran Art, and have been for years! On this page: “There is no fear to leave, when you are ready to get lost.”

I cannot leave out Mara Eastern’s blog. Her photos in particularly set me to writing off-the-cuff poems to go with them. I strive to restrain myself. But you might take a look at the comments for this blog entry. (My complete poem is here.)

And finally, I have very much enjoyed the poems at Paul Webb’s Portfolio. And, his blog is Oudeis2005 on WordPress.

 

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 18: A series of anecdotes

Not likely…Instead, a few pictures with comments.

These photos are from my personal album. My parents took a lot photographs throughout their lifetimes. As we left home for college, we each received a large photo album with a copy of every photograph that included us. Mine is on the bookshelf just to my right as I sit in the front room. This first group is photos taken the first winter in our “new” house. They started out building a basement house, adding the upper story (which my mother designed and drew up the blueprints for) before I finished grade school. My mother’s father took endless correspondence courses, and she and her father took architecture courses together; she also worked at the hardware store until she left for college.

In the summertime, Mother would send Dad and me out of the house, so that she could take care of the younger children and get housework done. (I was an active, precocious child.) I enjoyed going fishing, learning how to remove the scales from the fish, learning how to mark a trail through the “woods” in the pastures along the river, and going out into the fields with my father and his brothers when they went hunting for pheasants. (When I reached the proper age for such, I was the only girl in the school-sponsored Hunter Education Program.) The table at which I am sitting in that last photograph above is a picnic table that my parents built to serve as a kitchen table in the basement. (Mother’s father had a lumber yard, back in Iowa, and she was really handy at planning and building shelves, bedsteads, daybeds and whatever else needed doing. Together, she and I built the furniture for my first apartment after college and refinished some pieces that we picked up at the Salvation Army Store.)

Three more photographs.  First is the “gathering of the Wicker clan” for Father’s 100th birthday party, the day after Mother’s memorial service in the home town. The second is a photo that Dad had taken to send to Mom while they were in the service (Army and Navy, respectively). The third is a portrait photo of Mother in uniform.

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 17: A Map as Your Muse

For this day of “Finding Everyday Inspiration”, I am once again “mining my own material”. “Right-of-Ways” was written in response to a Poetry 101 Rehab prompt (March 2015). The Google Map encompasses various places I traveled to, whether by train, plane, bus or car, or in the 60s and early 70s and short of cash, hitchhiking. As the tenor of this country’s mood has become tense, concerning the Dreamers and DACA, I recall my own dreams and the often treacherous freedoms of my childhood and early adulthood.

Right-of-Ways”

Rivers and railroad right-of-ways
were the trails of breadcrumbs
that led me away from home
to adventures in long hot days
of childhood’s summers.

They tempted me to run across the tracks,
then follow until the railroad bridge
spanned a river. Tree branches overhung
a bend where I could fish and dive and swim,
sheltered from the rapid currents.

Later, because one cannot hike or swim
through all the years of growing up,
I saved my allowance to travel the right-of-way.
A commuter train would take me to the city
with its wonders of a Five-and-Dime with escalators.

The right-of-ways felt right. They
ran both ways: between home’s safety
and a world of new sounds and hotdogs with
mustard and tall buildings and people
who didn’t all talk or look like us.

Sometimes railroad right-of-ways
divide a village into two. The ‘right’ and
‘wrong’ divide themselves from one another.
The right-of-way can turn into a wall of
self-defense against humiliation, others’ pride.

We have need of right-of-ways, the trains and
rivers that guide us, move us from traps and tears
to dreams and possibilities. Roadways not barred,
right-of-ways that offer open passage
to wherever we are called to become.

Copyright © 2015-04-30, by Liz Bennefeld.

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 16: Mine Your Own Material

Favorite Recipes and a Short Story, from previous years of blogging

Eggs and Orange Juice, September 2014

I like starting out the day with an omelette, a couple times a week. Sometimes they’re simple, and sometimes they’re more involved.

This morning’s omelette consisted of three eggs, two slices of colby-jack cheese, a small handful of Dole chopped salad greens, two sliced baby bella mushrooms, and two small celery stocks with leaves from the very center of the bunch. I cooked them in butter, the greens first, then the well-beaten eggs, and the cheese scattered across the top. Seasoning: generous portions of ground cumin and ground white pepper over all. (I’m not at all fond of salt.)

One time-saving practice is using paper plates and bowls. There is a limit to how much time I want to spend washing dishes. Serving meals on paper plates atop the Corelle plates of corresponding size simplifies cleanup.

Cake in a Cup, October 2014

In a large cup, mix together dry ingredients

4 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp cocoa powder (unsweetened)

Add one egg and mix thoroughly. Stir in the rest of the ingredients one at a time and continue stirring until batter is smooth.

3 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp vanilla extract

Put the cup into the microwave and heat on High power for 3 minutes. Remove the cup promptly and turn out the cake onto a plate.

Variation 1. Using brownie mix that calls for added oil and milk, in place of the sugar and cocoa powder add equivalent amounts of flour. [If you use coconut flour, add an extra Tbsp of milk (or water) for each Tbsp of coconut flour.]

Variation 2. If you have problems with gluten: I use gluten-free flour (or brownie mix) for my own cake in a cup. When my baking shelf is fully stocked, I use 1 Tbsp each of white rice, brown rice, tapioca, and coconut flours.

A Food-Centered Short Story
Written for a 48-hour short story competition in 2005

“By Any Other Name”
a short story by Liz Bennefeld

Elaine sat at the desk, telephone to her ear, nodding in response to the speaker at the other end of the circuit and throwing in an “I see” during the occasional breaks. She hated roses—especially red ones—and the stink that came with them. Useless plants! Let in just one rose with the discretionary planting allotments! There would be fifty different varieties of ornamental roses in the space habitat, and there wouldn’t be a useful plant in the bunch. Even though she knew her hatred of the plants harkened back to early childhood, when she hadn’t been allowed to plant her own little herbs in the only space available, in amongst her grandmother’s prized rose bushes, she could not overcome the distaste the memories brought up.
Continue reading

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 15: Take a c(l)ue

Rather than poll my readers (hi, Mara!), I turned to the alternatives listed for Day 15 on the Resource Page and selected three related suggestions:

  • Tell us about a book that opened your eyes when you were young.
  • Describe a life-changing experience with a book.

When I was in grade-school, I read “In Hiding”, a novella by Wilmar H. Shiras, and later, Children of the Atom, based on “In Hiding” and two other subsequent stories. (Our village librarian knew that I was into science fiction novels, and I got a steady supply from her and from the regional bookmobile from second grade on up.) The child who was the central character in the book had interests beyond his age and had developed self-protective practices that helped him maintain a fairly normal front to the rest of the world. The novel deals with his finding other children like him and gradually forming community with them and beginning the process of integrating with society.

Because I found it difficult to communicate with peers, with few interests in common, I started developing some of those techniques as a camouflage. That is, I pretty much quit talking to people in general, outside of my family, except for librarians, who could be counted on to provide me with reading material beyond my grade level. I also shadowed a couple of students in my class who seemed to have no other friends, and that gave the three of us a group to be part of: to sit together during school events and to walk with, going from one classroom to the next. I don’t think I formed any friendships as such until my last two years in college. Almost none of those “took”, but at least I knew and was known by a fair number of people. As I look back, I don’t think I was quite so invisible during my college years as I had thought at the time. I still wasn’t paying much attention to anything outside my head.

Another thing that Shiras’ stories and others taught me was to start making decisions about my own life, and not just follow the path of least controversy. In college, lacking only two courses to complete minors in chemistry and mathematics, I started an English major the summer leading into my junior year, and the summer leading into my senior year, I began a philosophy major. The philosophy department arranged for me to take one of the required courses by independent study, so that I would graduate on time. My parents had been set on my becoming a scientist (and making a lot of money with a major corporation). My changes in coursework did not go down well, but since I had previously arranged with my chemistry advisor to have him talk with my parents about my decision, should that become necessary, I prevailed. But had to borrow more money, my senior year, than I’d planned on to pull it off.

Anyway, Shiras provided a “role model” for me that made me comfortable moving through society without more than minimal interaction. After I ended my corporate career to work freelance, I began to meet more people with similar interests. That was really good, being able to have conversations with folks. Talk about almost anything. Sometimes, still, I don’t find the right words to communicate what I see in my mind, but that also doesn’t bother me so much anymore.

  • Where do you like to read?

When I was very young, I liked to climb from the top of the bookshelf into the casement of the window and hide behind the curtains to read. Ours was a basement house in the early years, and so I could look out the window at ground level. Later, I learned how to open the window from the inside and slide the screen out, so that I could disappear into the horse pasture just beyond our back fence. The village was not well lit at night, and on the other side of the pasture’s windbreak, to the west, I see the sky clearly, the moon (I drew maps) and the constellations (I drew maps). Lovely escape into another world!

 

An assignment in WordPress Blogging U’s course Writing: Finding Everyday Inspiration.

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 14: Making My Day

This morning, 7 September 2017, I awoke after eight hours of sleep (or more). I’d practically fallen into bed, last night, before the sun had set. Exhausted, I think. I had fallen asleep towards the end of the afternoon, was awakened by hungry puppies, and did not really come alert, again, afterwards.

Toddy coffee cold-brew system

Toddy: The Night Before the Morning’s Coffee

Wednesday was a scattered day. I awakened without the alarm, as usual, at 8:30 o’clock or a little after, let the Scampers outside, took my fasting BG test, fed the Scampers, and, picking up my point-and-shoot camera, took the Scampers outside, again. The temperature was in the high 40s °F. There were no open flowers in the wildflower garden, other than the Plains Coreopsis, and so we went back inside to nap (the Scampers), make coffee (for Al), and find something to eat (my breakfast).

Thaddeus, outrunning Charlie, who is not in the picture.

In Hot Pursuit, 2017-09-06

I ate, brought coffee to Al, who was still in bed, and settled in to read the news and drink my first cup of Toddy coffee of the day (homemade cold-brew coffee concentrate diluted with whole milk). The Scampers napped. We went outside again at a little after 10:00 o’clock, and the Scampers raced around the yard while I took photographs. The sun was out, the temperature had risen a bit, and there were insects to photograph. Oddly, a lot of them stopped to pose for the camera!

Meanwhile, Al got boards measured and trimmed for the morning’s task of installing the soffits on the south side of the in-progress woodworking shop building in the back yard. I get the tall ladder, so that I have something to hold onto. This project has been an exercise, not just physically, but also in dealing with my dislike of heights. I continued to take photographs, off and on, while Al trimmed the next boards we were to put into place.

After lunch, we went to the mall, where I got my six-week haircut. The salon is being remodeled, and so everything was set up in half of the salon space. I am certain that exposure to the various chemicals quite near to me contributed to my fatigue and breathing problems. Upon leaving the mall, we stopped at the grocery to pick up some essentials (lots of meat, forgot to buy more milk), and then went home, again. I took a nap while Al went out to do more chores, and I ended up in the gazebo for a while before I made a sandwich for supper, drank another cup of Toddy coffee, and went to sleep, again.

Shelter at Evening, 2017-09-06

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 13: Play with Word Count

thick snowfall partly obscuring windblown tree branches

Snow Before the New Year

 

Mostly, I write short verse. What SFPA refers to as “Dwarf” poetry (10 lines or fewer). Writing a longer poem than usual would qualify, I think, as playing with the word count. On a whim, I also upended habit by employing a different technique and structure, as well as a change of topic. This was written on a whim, once through, so please forgive any fumbling in the writing.

 

Lapse Into Winter Sanity

Trees grow along the road
Hiding fields and gardens
In shade and shadows
Safe from brutal winds

Aside the bales of hay
Lurk deer and cattle, mingled
Snug behind the thick, dried straw
Open to the warm midmorning sun

Winter snows pile up
Inside the windbreaks
Leaves insulate foundations
Last service by dormant trees

Peace covers the countryside
As the winter wears on, isolating
Sleeping towns and villages
Spared floods and fear and fools

Copyright © 2017-09-05, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

 

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 12: Critique a Piece of Work

Today, express your opinion on a topic or a piece of artwork. This is your opportunity to comment on something you’re passionate about, or review a piece of entertainment that you love or despise. | You can approach this assignment in your own style and preferred format, and write about work in any genre or medium that speaks to you.

This assignment has presented a conundrum. A discontinuity. Critique and review are not the same thing, nor is a critical review or comments on an object of passion or entertainment. In the Resources section for this course, I read the alternative, “Offer your perspective on a topic of your choice (from politics to public education, from feminism to the environment, or any other topic you’re passionate about).” I wonder if we’re just asking, Do you feel strongly enough about some subject to speak about it?

According to the online Cambridge Dictionary, passionate is defined as “having very strong feelings or emotions”. I would go so far as to say that I have convictions. A conviction is defined as “a firmly held belief or opinion”; synonyms include “idea, stance, thoughts, persuasion, article of faith,” &c.  I think that convictions translate more directly into decisions and actions, in contrast to passion, which I associate with reactions, rather than decisions, and less objectively focused with regard to consequences.

I don’t know why, but an incident…a couples questionnaire that my husband and I filled out during premarital counseling, required in order to marry in the church of our choice. The instrument was designed to analyze the family of origin in terms of structure and power. My husband’s family was categorized as rigid and authoritarian, while my environment was described as chaotic anarchy. And so, my opinions are my own and closely held, but I believe that I would be uncomfortable at finding myself among other people like me.

 

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 11: A Cup of Coffee

Toddy coffee cold-brew system

Toddy: The Night Before the Morning’s Coffee

If we were having coffee together, today, I would share some fresh, cold-brew coffee with you. Hot, warm or cold, made with water or milk or some of each. There’s also a selection of black tea in the cupboard and cold water in the refrigerator. The puppies aren’t used to having company, but they’ll lie down, once they’ve said “Hello”, and go back to sleep while we visit.

If we were having coffee together, today, I would tell you that my day went well. My husband is building a woodworking shop in the back yard, and today he was able to finish his To-Do List without my help. Tomorrow I’ll be back up on a ladder, lifting boards and holding them in place while he measures them or nails them onto to the studs. The building is taking shape with windows, doors, and exterior walls done, but for the siding.

If we were having coffee together, I would show you some of the photographs that I took, today, in the back yard. The cool quiet shade of the cotoneaster bushes providing the perfect spot to pull up camp chairs, a step stool for a table between them. Do you remember when film was expensive, as was having the pictures developed, and so we would limit our picture-taking and not be able to look at the photographs for months? That was on my budget, anyway. My parents, with a true sense of history, hauled their cameras with them wherever they went. Even to the Philippine Islands and Hawaii, when they were stationed there during WW II. There are so many photo albums in the family home, which one of my brothers bought after their deaths, that we could never get through them even to label the subjects of the photos or where they were taken.

If we were having coffee together, I would remind you that I have been changing around my various blogs and domains and their content as life is changing, here. We are back to going through papers, books, clothes, and such, and tossing the excess. I hope to get the longer desk in my back sitting room moved out to the workshop, so that I have more room for bookshelves. I would like to move those out of the basement, just in case we also get heavy rainfall here. One must think of those things. I have replaced many books with e-editions, but I still have hardcover books that I cherish.

Anyway, I went through The Art of Disorder and set all of my posts before May to “Private”. Instead of using that blog for tracking my health numbers and nattering about how I feel tired, I plan to use it more for challenges. I am feeling well enough, now, to try keeping up with the weekly photo challenges and the daily prompts from WordPress. This blog will go back to poetry, short stories, and perhaps essays, that don’t fit in with my Quilted Poetry posts at WordPress. Do you compartmentalize your creative efforts? I think that my flower photographs and my recipes/cooking activities go together, so I am not changing that for now. This is the blog where I posted my “Poem a Day” for the 2017 NaPoWriMo challenge. I did that with a group, this year, which was a lot of fun.

Everything will get sorted out eventually. Or not.

I am glad that we were able to get together for coffee, this evening. I hope you will stop by again.

Best wishes!
Lizl

P.S. (Almost) every weekend, I take part in the #WeekendCoffeeShare on my Stray Coffee Breaks blog (also on WordPress). Please drop by if you’re in the neighborhood!

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 10: Let the Scene Write Itself

I quietly observe the world around me through the eye of the camera, more often than not.

large, green fly atop the center of a Plains Coreopsis flower

Taking It Easy

So far, we’ve found inspiration from our own experiences, images, words, and more. Today, let’s quietly observe the world around us and write about what we see.

the garden’s abuzz
bees hiding in the clover
just a fly in view

“abuzz”. Copyright © 2017-08-30, by Lizl Bennefeld.

 

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 9: Writing and Not Writing

What do you do when you’re not writing? How do you reset and return to the dashboard, refreshed? What do you need in your day-to-day life to maintain balance: Running? Yoga? Gardening? Painting? Cooking? Today, tell us.

A lot of pastimes were interrupted by health problems (approximately 2012-2015) and periodic flooding that caused a lot of upheaval (emptying the basement library/bedroom for a number of spring flood and rain incidents). Adding to that were the stresses of deaths in the family (2013-2017) and both my husband and I retiring in 2012.

Music

I started taking piano lessons at age six, when I was in second grade, and I’ve continued playing throughout the decades. I resumed playing the piano, last year. Basically exercises and beginning pieces, as I rebuild the muscles in my wrists, hands, and arms. I enjoy the movement involved in piano playing. A couple years ago, I gave away my cornet and trumpet, but I still occasionally play my soprano recorder and my harmonica.

Exercise

I use the elliptical machine in the front room when the weather isn’t suitable for the exercise bike that lives in the backyard gazebo, which is enclosed, but doesn’t have heat or air conditioning.  I try to spend at least fifteen minutes, one to three times a day, on one or the other. Recently, I have added my hand weights while I pedal (6.6 lb and 3.3 lb) to develop a better sense of balance (pedaling while not holding onto the handlebars). My goal is to continue rebuilding my arm and leg muscles. To help me get back into other activities I’m used to doing and beginning to pick up, again.

Carpenter’s Helper

My husband has started building his woodworking shop in our back yard, and I’ve helped in many ways with measuring, raising walls, carrying delivered materials from place to place, and getting on the ladder to hold the siding for measuring and nailing it into place. I’m beginning to feel more comfortable at the top end of the ladder (9-ft. ceiling). It’s a lot of fun. I haven’t really built anything since my mother and I made furniture for my first apartment. The woodworking shop will have room in the back (separate room with lock) for other hobbies, so as to free up basement space.

Gardening

I haven’t been growing herbs or culinary plants for several years, now, as my initial garden plot was displaced to make room for the concrete slab on which the woodworking shop now sits. The previous summer (2015?) we had work done to raise the ground around the house, addressing the problems with drainage and water seepage. Also, we put in an egress door. I have fencing to install around the new, 50-ft. garden at the bottom of the back yard, next time I’m not hauling around or bracing siding. Also, I’ve been fermenting spent coffee grounds to put in as a base when I dig up the silt around the house in sections to mix it with the peat moss. Also, I will be dividing the tulip, daffodil, and iris bulbs/tubers so they’re properly spaced.

Photography/Photo Art

The garden was the basis for my formal photography/photo art business from 2004 to 2009; I continued to sell through RedBubble until I collected my last commission check in the spring of 2015. Every morning, when the puppies and I go outside, I take a camera with me. I love taking photographs of the animals and insects, berries on the shrubs, leaves in the grass…I could spend whole days doing that. When my husband and I were going out with our ham radio club for Skywarn storm spotting with the National Weather Service’s weather spotter activities, I would take a camera and photograph interesting cloud formations, trees in motion, and such. I still do that to a limited extent here in town, but Skywarn duty was really fun. I still have my ham radio license and check into the local net every once in a while.

Student

Current serious reading includes Fukuyama’s Political Order and Political Decay, which I had to buy after I read the first volume: The Origins of Political Order. I am rereading some of my favorites from high school and college; the most recent is Buber’s I and Thou (intro. by Walter Kaufmann.) (My mother turned me on to Buber, Barth, Boltmann, Bonhoeffer et al., and my dad handed off a lot of history books and contemporary literature). I am also working my way through Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society: Bridging Research and Practice. I got interested in bereavement, grief, and counseling while meeting with the grief counselor from Hospice after my parents died. I am fascinated by the concept of non-finite grief and finding the topic addressed in other books that my counselor recommended. I started college in math and the hard sciences, but made the move into the humanities the summer before my junior year. Completed an English major (literature and composition), and then picked up a major in philosophy. I have enrolled in a workshop that will be coming up pretty soon: Introduction to Japanese Poetry. I started writing haiku in 1965 or ’66, and I am looking forward to digging deeper into it. I’ve been reading The Haiku Handbook, this summer, but have on hand to read next a book on Haiku and one on Tanka that were written by the person who’s doing the online workshop.

Reader

Currently I am rereading L.E. Modesitt’s Imager Portfolio while waiting for the next book in the series to come out. I also favor Anne Bishop’s The Others series, anything by Julie Czerneda, Doranna Durgin, and William Sanders, as well as Sharon Shinn, Laura Anne Gilman, and a couple dozen other authors who write science fiction, fantasy, cozy mysteries, “sweet” and traditional Regency romances, and having inherited the family’s Great Books of the Western World set upon our parents’ deaths, including the ten study guides and the inclusive Great Ideas Today yearbooks, I am rereading old favorites and thinking about tackling another guided study. (My mother took a speed reading course at a local college while I was in junior high school, and then sat me down to do all of the exercises; she also took me to the lab, where I practiced the techniques on the speed-reading equipment with a timer. Supposedly, it increases comprehension and retention.)

Target Pistol Shooting

Before I started having respiratory problems, I was involved in target pistol shooting, including practices for Bullseye competition (with my husband). The other objective of my exercising is to be able to shoot to that level again. Also, with the diabetes, my eyesight has changed. Now that the blood glucose levels are down, I am hoping that my next pair of eyeglasses will allow me to shoot at 50 ft. again. In the meanwhile, I have work on reloading for my favorite guns, because the price of factory ammunition is too high to be affordable. I am building up a good stock, because I will need a lot for proper practicing.

Cooking and Nutrition

With both diabetes and gluten sensitivity/celiac disease in the family, I spend much enjoyable time cooking for myself, coming up with new and different ways to cook the foods that I select, and collecting good cookware (when it goes on sale, preferably). I spent some time each day reading the community forums on the American Diabetes Association website. It is fascinating, coordinating food, sleep, exercise, and minimal medication to reach and maintain health weight and diet and deal effectively with any problems that arise.

I enjoy playing with the dogs, taking part in activities as I am able, doing chores, and having enjoyable discussions and daily conversation with my husband. An added pastime, this year: I am enjoying the New York Times daily crossword puzzles online. And I do write a lot of poetry along the way. I enjoy the variety in my life and the balance between acquisition, quiet for assimilation, and creative action.

 

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 8: Reinvent the Letter Format (or not)

blue wild flax flower in the garden with stems; colour altered

Blue Wild Flax

Some might say a post in the form of a letter is trite and overdone. But with the right approach and tone, a letter can tell a great story and get your message across (and it doesn’t have to be negative or shaming — a letter can be joyous).

Today, write your post as a letter. About what, and to whom? Up to you!

As it turned out, I wrote a letter, sent by email, to a cousin who lives out-of-state, whom I have not seen face to face since we both were in high school, if I remember correctly. We have gotten into contact because of deaths in our immediate family: her parents (October and July) and mine (December and February). I wrote to her again yesterday, and I received an answering letter today.

That, of course, has brought to mind correspondents that I have not written to in years. One friend that I exchanged letters with in 2011-2012 has not responded since then, and I did not because of my poor health at the time. The other person? In the midst of all, I totally lost track of time, between my mother’s failing health, coping with the new puppies, and seemingly getting hit hard by the diabetes that was diagnosed this last December. I believe that she was the last one to write.

I don’t care to “reinvent the letter format”. What I do care to do, now that my other sister and I have begun exchanging notes again, is pick up some of the dropped threads. Over my lifetime I have enjoyed sending and receiving letters. It’s a whole different thing from blogging and texting.

That brings me to another thought. The ephemeral nature of electronic media. The intangible nature of it diminishes it, even as it makes it easier to hold onto during one’s life. (I take photos of letters I receive and stick them on my backup HD and a flash drive. My new puppy devours paper products. Loves sheets of paper and envelopes in particular. Especially if crunchy see-through windows are involved.)

Since I have hosted blogs, I expect that almost all of my poetry and photographic art will disappear within a short time after my death.

Ephemeral works of art. I am not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

 

 

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day Seven: Let Social Media Inspire You

One of the goals of this course is to help you tap into new and unexpected places for post ideas. Today, let’s look to Twitter for inspiration. Don’t worry — you don’t need an account. Even if Twitter isn’t for you, you might be surprised at how you can find starting points for our own writing there.

Below, you’ll see five tweets, and we hope one will elicit a response from you.

Blogging University, WordPress.com

I found a couple of the provided tweets that recall echoes from across the decades.

I found that to be a useful discovery early on. Being confident that I did not know, let me release the panic and terror of not knowing everything (a seeming demand for perfection and omniscience placed upon me by parents, neighbors, teachers et al.), so that I could concentrate on learning what was at hand. Knowing that I knew nothing, I had so many interesting paths to discovery! And no embarrassment for not having answers for anyone else’s questions. Ultimately, it took away the pressure of parental and academia’s unrealistic expectations and allowed me to continue on a carefree romp through my life of study.

Yeah, but nobody’s going to blame me for a star’s dying, even if they found out about it. And rightly so! On the other hand, my worrying about tomorrow’s work might actually prevent catastrophe. One that I could rightly be blamed for. The disparity of scale makes the comparison a bit silly.

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 6: The Space to Write

I usually like to be in the midst of things as I write. That means, here, being in the front room, where I’m just steps from whatever I need. Our dogs keep me company, and taking them outside every hour or so is helpful, because I have a tendency otherwise just to sit in one spot. Getting proper exercise has become more important as I age, and so I’ve added an elliptical machine to the front room and moved the (used) exercise bike to the three-season gazebo. I’ve also free weights for exercising my arms while I’m pedaling.

My writing environment is, now that I look at it, designed to keep me from writing or reading to the exclusion of everything else. The “writing” part comes automatically, while thinking is taking place. The Space to Write betters my chances of being able to continue writing in the long run, while making it easier to interrupt the writing to take care of everyday needs for food, rest, recreation and playing fetch with the dogs. There is a quilt for taking a nap, and I’ve got a larger-size lap desk that doubles as a foot rest when placed on the bottom shelf’s Great Ideas Today yearbooks.

Another thing that I appreciate about the arrangement is that if I get restless or just want to lose myself in motion for a while, my piano is within easy reach. I can play familiar pieces, distract myself with trying to learn a new piece, or just let my mind wander while I play arpeggios or multi-octave scales. I no longer have room for the exercise mat in the front room. Moved it out into the gazebo for use during the warmer weather.

Again, I’ve extended the day far too long. We were up and out in the back yard, Friday morning, siding my husband’s new woodworking shop, and so I have added my writing to the other end of the day.

Blogging University Course: Writing: Finding Everyday Inspiration

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 5: Begin with a Quotation

One need not hope in order to undertake,
nor succeed in order to persevere.
— William I, Prince of Orange (1533–1584)

I don’t recall when I first came across this quotation attributed to William I, Prince of Orange, but it’s stuck with me through decades. It connects in my mind with the poem that I wrote for my parents as a Christmas present (see “Born of Love”), a few years after I quit corporate to start my own freelance business. Took a while for the business to take off, but stuck with it.

It has been important to me, in great part, thanks to my parents, that I make decisions on the basis of what seems right to me. “Everybody’s doing it” is not an excuse for refraining from a right action or for following a path that doesn’t lead to where I want to be in the long run. There are no guarantees of success, even if the decision is faultless and praiseworthy. One acts because acting is the right thing to do, or refrains from acting because the action would not be the best. Even when I pick my battles, I sometimes lose them. That doesn’t mean that I should not try. Taking the easy path or “going with the flow” because it’s easier or less dangerous (or doesn’t make me look like an idiot to other people) … well, one just didn’t do that. Even when there’s no path marked out.

Over the decades it’s turned into a pretty solid commitment. A way of living. A way of life. Choosing life. Weighing the consequences is important in terms of ramifications for family relationships and commitments, but that could no longer be the deciding factor. It’s not about winning or losing, but about choosing the right paths and taking the right actions. And accepting that others do not have to understand. Each of us is unique. Each has one’s own paths to follow, directions to go, decisions to make.

And now, my eyes are tired and I can no longer see to write.

Best wishes!
Lizl

Finding Everyday Inspiration: A WordPress Course

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Finding Everyday Inspiration, Day 4: In Transit

In Transit

In Transit:
Nth Dimension Travel

the perfect place, filled
with people going somewhere—
step aside from them

picture one unnumbered world
where green, vibrant valleys wait

cross over, mindful
to watch your step–don’t look up
and lose the pathway

two stations, many journeys
may you new tomorrows find

Copyright © 2017-08-24, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

 

Finding Everyday Inspiration: A WordPress Course

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Everyday Inspiration, Day Three: One-word inspiration

Select one word from this list as your post inspiration. Have you always wanted to write about the decision that changed your life? Are you a long-term traveler looking for a place to settle?…

Or, one can look at the list of six words and realize that as a group, they are a poem that wants to be discovered:

  • hope
  • regret
  • home
  • choice
  • secret
  • abundance

 

‘children, after
loss of parents’

home is no more
with grief
comes an abundance
of regret

in secret, our hope
each makes the choice
to outrun death
and mourn alone

Copyright © 2017-08-22, by E.W. Bennefeld.

 

 

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Everyday Inspiration, Day Two: Write a List

wild flax flower in my garden (colours altered), orange flower and greenish-blue stem,

Blue Wild Flax Flower Art

This is an interesting exercise for me, because I enjoy writing lists. My favorite, “O Hidden Drawer“, was written in February 2015 for Writing 201: Poetry (WordPress, Blogging U). More recently, on this blog, I wrote “Survival” for day 25 of the 2017 NaPoWriMo challenge, a prose poem comprised of a list of things to be remembered in the midst of living life.

What I’m good at . . .

  1. Developing and sticking to a food regimen (mostly)
  2. Creating something or engaging in creative activity everyday
  3. Attempting to relearn skills that I have lost (e.g., playing the piano)
  4. Engaging people in conversations (which become one-sided, and so don’t last as long as I would like, but still . . . )
  5. Relaxing, taking naps, and thinking—staying centered
  6. Reading lots and lots of books, diverse genres and topics
  7. Taking photographs
  8. Writing poems
  9. Nattering on and on, mostly to myself or the dogs, when I am not reading or writing or exercising, which has resulted in
  10. Not watching television, listening to the radio (except to listen to the local ham radio net on weekends sometimes), or playing music for background noise
  11. Writing long letters. I do need friends or acquaintances to write to, who also would write letters. One of the things I do miss from college is the endless discussions about weighty topics.

 

 

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Finding Everyday Inspiration: I write because . . .

great books of the western world, great ideas today

Why do I write? At its most basic, I write to find out what I think, or, what I am thinking about. I write prose to discover, to remember, and to understand. I write poetry/prose poetry to discover how I feel about what I think.

I have journaled since my high-school years. Previous to that, I took in information whole. I don’t recall making any value judgments. Nor do I remember thinking about the emotions I experienced when I was a child. They were exterior to me. Which isn’t to say that I did not experience emotions. They simply did not transfer or communicate the experience to my thinking self.

Secondly, I write because I am not in dialogue with anyone, anymore, except with my husband. Having a joint life, we communicate freely about common and individual interests, thoughts, and feelings. He is so much a part of me/the world in which I daily live, that there seems to be no I/Thou, but instead, us. Dialogue with—dare I say “outsiders”?—serves the same purpose of discovery. I discover thoughts, lines of thought, and deep truths within myself. That I then write, to clarify for myself my thoughts, reactions, feelings, and related values.

Related to writing, I recall Julia Cameron’s “Morning Pages”, which I do not write in the proper manner, because I get allergic reactions to my hand’s rubbing against paper, and in more recent decades, cramping in my fingers that cuts short the physical experience of writing.* The discomforts derail my trains of thought. Second, I don’t seem to have “unloading” to do. Burdens carried that must be spewed forth onto the page in order to be dealt with and forgotten.

I loved to write letters, but ran out of people to send them to. People who might read them and respond. I suspect that my thoughts are majorly boring, aside from my short poetry. I sometimes wrote letters with no intention of mailing them. It’s almost like corresponding with someone else, because I went back over the letters and reread them. Like favorite books written by favorite authors.

I have discovered—we have, we siblings—that our parents maintained correspondence throughout the war, no matter where they each were stationed, and again when our father was called up during the Korean Conflict.  That encourages me, finding out that writing volumes (and also, taking photographs, which we have in plenty from before our parents met and throughout their lives), that my sense of self-awareness and the need to take notice/note of my surroundings and interior life is a family trait. As has been voluminous reading. Reading through letters written between them, I realize how much, how deeply they were involved in each other, through good times and bad, until the very end. And now beyond.

Writing. It’s like talking to myself out loud while taking a long walk through the pastures and thickets and along the river. Everything seems more clearly defined. Manageable, or not, but more real.

* * *

*Our mother, who used to do typing exhibitions at her state fair when she was in school, raised a brood of touch typists, I suspect. She considered typing (keyboarding) to be a survival skill, and her skills transferred over to her computer keyboard.

Copyright © by E. W. Bennefeld. All rights reserved.

 

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Too short, mourning

photograph of a family photo montage

family photographs

 

only photographs–
still, silent in their stark frames–
wait for tears to fall

12 months, too short for mourning …
too soon, the memories fade

 

too short, mourning. Copyright 2017-08-18, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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July 26: A pair of poems

the squirrels in the back yard at winter

At Home

“i did not want to trouble her”

i would not trouble her
with present reality
the look behind her eyes, knowing
that she did not know,
worrying what she’d once again forgotten
that should always have been remembered

i’d said good-bye a month ago,
then left her undisturbed–
living cherished, not alone
in the simple “now”

i could not trouble her,
insert myself…

let her long-feared flaws and failures
drift by unnoticed
to the end of the beginning
of eternal life
together once again with her mother
and her beloved father
those she never, through it all, forgot

Copyright © 2017-07-26, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

 

if I do not remember

if I cannot remember you…
my love, let me go

let me not remember either
all the rest
or, fearful, fret
at what i’ve lost
that leaves me with such
emptiness

losing you
losing the clear, sweet memories of you
i’ve lost everything

let go the empty shell

“if I do not remember”. Copyright © 2017-07-26, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

These poems, although I posted the second one today on my poetry blog, belong together. Remembering is a way, I think, to let go of grief by understanding the loss. In this case, the loss of my parents, this last winter.

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To Turn Back the Tide

edge of town, looking south

The Edge of Memory

“To Turn Back the Tide”

…and when the tide had turned,
when waking from long sleep, I found
that all was swept away
or reconfigured
beyond memories

Who am I in this new world?
If there are paths
I cannot see them … yet

If I should go to sleep, again–
if I would sleep–
until the tide rolls in, once more,
would the safe, familiar world
that I once thought I knew–
believed I lived within–
be here before my eyes,
my heart,
to welcome me?

And if not? Then…?

“To Turn Back the Tide”. Copyright © 2017-06-28, by Lizl Bennefeld.

 

Transition points feel foggy … nebulous … like standing on a piece of ground that cannot be seen or felt. Like wading at the edge of an unknown body of water, depths and currents still to be discovered, with morning mist cloaking the past and future in white and shadows. Memories, the only solid ground.

Inspired by The Daily Post’s photo prompt for this week: Delta.

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Fading Rainbow

half-arc of a rainbow at mid-afternoon in the eastern sky

Rainbow, Disappearing

‘fading rainbow’

rainbows fade too soon
turning to vapor as night
falls upon the sky

mist rises at the new moon
the night sky falls toward the Earth

 

Copyright © 2017-06-18, by Lizl Bennefeld.
All rights reserved.

As the last traces of the afternoon’s rainbow faded away, I found myself regretting that it would not…that they never remain long enough to satisfy that in me which longs for a rainbow at the end of the storm. One must pay attention to the rainbow when it appears, remember it, and bring the memory out again as the need arises. Much more need for a rainbow, much more often than they find themselves in the sky. They’re not to be ignored or discounted. One puts aside trivial chores to count the colors and mark their disappearance as they fade again.

 

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Getting It Right

blue wild flax flowers, shadows and light

“Getting it Right”

I write the story of my life
one day at a time, taking care
to leaf through previous pages,
editing events, adjusting
back stories, tidying errors
and casual mistakes
that I would not have made,
had I known then what I think
I know today…subject
to further alterations
as seem prudent at the time.

There is time. There is always
time to get it right. There is
an eternity to get it all right.
Written out finally with no mistakes.

Copyright © 2017-06-10, by E.W. Bennefeld.

I had at one time, encouraged by others, considered writing an autobiography. As I go through the process of adjusting to my parents’ deaths, I realize that that would be the wrong avenue for me to take in grieving. Better, bits and bites in poetry and limited explorations in prose.

I have other things to do with my time, and I most probably will not have time to get it right. Not in this lifetime, anyway.

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Daily Post Photo Challenge: Friend

two cocker spaniels, fast asleep on the couch, accompanied by their ball

The Scampers, Fast Asleep

Constant companions…

Daily Post Photo Challenge, 2017-05-31

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NaPoWriMo, Day 30 – “Tulips at Springtime”, “The Future”

Prompt: Something that happens again and again.

“Tulips at Springtime”

One year soon after I was married,
my mother ordered tulip bulbs
to be planted in the fall,
sent all the way from Holland,
from the farm on which they grow.

She planted bulbs and gave us some.
We placed ours near to those
my husband’s mother planted
many years ago to complement
the lily tulips favored
by the folks who’d come before.

My mother’s gone, his mother, too,
but still the tulips grow.
I wonder if the children of
the folks who lived here
half a century ago remember,
too, the blooms that grew,
planted by their mom and dad
and maybe them.

first flowers
the last memories
tears…always

“Tulips at Springtime”. Copyright © 2017-04-30, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Prompt: The (blank), replace “blank” to make the poem’s title.

“The Future”

My father’s final worry,
which he took to his grave,
was his children’s children
and their children living
in a world in which
there would no longer be
clean air or water,
healthy food or crops–
a world in which the haves
would eat the have-nots
when the time had come
that nothing else was left.

“The Future”. Copyright © 2017-04-30, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

Note: This poem is loosely based on a description of one of the last conversations he had with his oldest son, before our father died in February. My father had strong convictions about the expanding effects of climate change and what it would mean for the next generations. At age 100+, with no health problems to speak of, Father decided, one evening, to take a nap, and didn’t wake up, again.

 

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 29 – Who’s Hiding in the Fog?

The prompt for day 29 from NaHaiWriMo was “What hides in this fog”.

fog hides me

deep fog hides
my form and footsteps
still, unseen

well-meaning trees wrap
their branches with mist

“fog hides me”. Copyright © 2017-04-29, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 28 – Lake in Winter

 

the lake in winter

whispering silence
gentle touch of winter’s cold
water’s smooth surface

the quiet of falling snow
the chime as each flake fractures

Copyright © 27 April 2017, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

Source: “The Sound of Snowflakes”, by Philip Ball.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 27 – Changing Weather

tulips partly covered by new snow

approaching storm

murmuring of wind
the chill taste of springtime snow
a shake of thunder

Copyright © by 27 April 2017, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

NaHaiWriMo prompt for Day 27: “shake of thunder”.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 26 – Regret

Robert Lee Brewer, Writer’s Digest:
For today’s prompt, write a regret poem. Most people regret some action they’ve taken over the years, whether it’s saying the wrong thing, making the wrong choice, or putting off something for a tomorrow that never comes. Write about your own regrets, or the regrets of others (this is a great opportunity to write a persona poem).

“Her Death”

Angry, still, she would have said,
Just keep away from me!
You ruin everything you touch,
speaking out…butting in.

Let, at least, my dying be
about me, with my friends.
I only care about my own.
My death belongs to me!

Copyright © 2017-04-26, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

 

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 25 – Survival

I love enumeratio poetry! I decided just to have fun with this, and made a numbered list in response to the prompt. As an aside, here: I have been writing (and referring to) survival lists/guides ever since I started journaling sometime in the sixties, while I still was in high school. As I finished each journal, I would copy my list into the new one, go through the old one to pull out the “creative writing” pages, and then shred or burn the old journal. I quit doing paper journals around beginning of the century.

 

Write yourself a survival guide as a list poem: What are the things you need to know to survive? What should you have known? What do you need to remember? What do you know that only you can tell yourself? What items do you need? What actions do you need to take? [Sarah Tatro, Poetry Super Highway]

Survival Guide:
Things I decided, at one time or another, that I knew and needed to remember
(most recent edition)

1. Nobody knows the answers. Everyone is making it up as they go along.

2. It’s better to screw up making your own mistakes than making someone else’s.

3. Make a list of what you know and, if possible, why you think you know it. Then make decisions on the basis of that list, not on what you want to be real when you’re going crazy.

4. God understands your messes, and they don’t bother Him. He doesn’t confuse them with what or who you are, and neither should you.

5. Gain or loss, pleasure or pain, discovery or routine, sickness or health, friends or isolation, life or death. There are no guarantees or promises concerning these, life’s incidentals. And, they don’t count.

6. You are not alone. You are always loved. You are loved and valued neither more nor less than any and every other living being in creation. You are cared for. Always. No matter what.

7. Act justly, observe appropriate opportunities to perform acts of loving kindness, walk discretely with God and everyone else. As one among all the others.

8. We are all equally responsible. God is the One who’s capable.

9. You will never come to the end of things you do not know, or, knowing, things you do not understand. Not in your job description. You are responsible to give and receive love.

10. You have a profound purpose in life. You achieved it sometime before you turned twenty (or ten … or thirty), and you’ll never know what it was. Everything since then has been gravy.

Copyright © 2017-04-25, by Lizl Bennefeld.

 

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NaPoWriMo – update

I’ve gotten a bit behind in putting my daily poems onto the net. As I may have mentioned, (maybe not here; maybe just elsewhere), my husband is building a workshop in the back yard (18’x24′ — lifelong ambition), and I have, of course, been helping out a bit. (Heavy lifting and such. Yes! Really!) I have yesterday’s poem ready to add, and I’m going to do that before I dig around and find the others. I do not know what happened to a couple of them, and so must do some searching.

In the meanwhile…snow!

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 24 – Mountain

There has been much back-and-forth on our poetry association’s mailing list about contemporary English haiku. I am feeling my way.

[untitled]

bare dirt heaped
where a bush used to grow
our only mountain

Copyright © 24 April 2017, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 23 – Horizon

I chose the “horizon” prompt from nahaiwrimo and wrote this poem in consideration of the weekend’s wet and windy weather.

a day of rest

on the horizon
the sun peers through heavy clouds
forecast, partly wet

frogs take heart in the damp dawn
I stoke the fire, heat the tea

“a day of rest”. Copyright © 24 April 2017, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 22 – Shooting Star

NaHaiWriMo prompt: shooting star

Jeweled shooting stars
line the wooded limestone path
on which I wander.

Copyright © 22 April 2017, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

The Jeweled Shooting Star is a wildflower that grows in Minnesota.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 21 – Shooting Stars (a Georgic Poem)

The NaHaiWriMo prompt was “shooting star”, but the “write a Georgic poem” (“a poem dealing with practical aspects of agriculture and rural affairs”) was taken from day 22’s list of prompts for our small group.

Jeweled Shooting Star flower

Jeweled Shooting Star

“Planted from Seeds”

Jeweled Shooting Stars
take three or more years to bloom,
planted in dry soil.

Copyright © 2017-04-23, by Lizl Bennefeld.
Photo is located at www.wildflower.org.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 20 – God of the Suns

Prompt: Typically we can only see the moon and stars at night; however what if inexplicably the stars were visible in the blue sky of the middle of the day? How would a poet (such as yourself!) describe this phenomenon? [Silano, Martha; Agodon, Kelli. The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice, Two Sylvias Press.]

I didn’t describe the phenomenon. Instead, I wondered, what if there were a lot of stars close enough to a planet to be seen in daylight in addition to the primary sun? Just for fun, I considered how that might be expressed in the context of religious verse.

 

“The God of the Suns”

While stolid Sol o’ersees the day-to-days
and helps the world go on in myriad ways,
pay your close attention also
to the farther suns that show,
glittering streams of sparkling light
across the sky in day and night.
They touch the long-term course of time
and bring about life’s gifts sublime.

Copyright © April 2017, by Lizl (Elizabeth) Bennefeld. All rights reserved.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 19 – The Years

Prompt from NaHaiWriMo: “Candle”

 

All the Years

In your memory
a candle at the window
each day as light fades

Copyright © 2017-04-19, by Lizl (Elizabeth) Bennefeld.

 

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 18 – Cluttered Timelines

Cluttered Timelines

The cobweb that grows in my head
makes changes that disregard thread.
I remember tomorrow,
but to my great sorrow,
I don’t know when I went to bed.

Copyright © April 2017, by Elizabeth Bennefeld.

The prompt was “Cobweb” from #NaHaiWriMo, but I hadn’t written a limerick for a while.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 17 – Dark Stars

Constellation of Dark Stars

Night darkness
distant sounds of water
flowing

A branch
broken by the wind
beating

Dark stars
surfaces too cool for light
invisible

Isolation
constant as an old friend
forever

Copyright © 2017-04-17, by Lizl Bennefeld.

Writing prompt: Nocturne (musical).

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 16 – Management System

Prompt from Brewer: ‘For today’s prompt, take the phrase “(blank) System,” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem.’

Management System

Understanding is at the roots of management,
but first one comes to understand the nature
of the one who understands.

Clear the body, first, of tension.
After, clear the mind of thought
and strip desire from the soul.

Ask, then, for what worthwhile purpose
the system must be managed, or if
by nature, it might manage better
on its own.

Management System [a prose poem of sorts]. Copyright © 2017-04-16, by E. W. Bennefeld.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 15 – Feather

NaHaiWriMo’s prompt (as offered on our small NaPoWriMo writing list) for April 15, was “feather”. I now have a photograph to go with my poem.

birds' nest beneath the roof

Occupied

feathers, twigs and grass
sparrows, each spring, build a nest
home’s where children are

Home, Sweet Home. Copyright © 2017-04-15, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 14 – Out Walking (2 poems)

“Afternoon Walk”

Fair weather forecast—
From beneath my umbrella
I watch the rain fall

Copyright © 2017-04-14, by E. W. Bennefeld.

And from a previous challenge, here is a poem about a longer walk with mist and fog.

a narrow, dirt road in farming country, grass growing down the center past the crossroad

At a Crossroad

“From Past to Future”

A misty path, the past, behind me,
the future’s foggy road ahead,
at this clear crossroads
I’ll abide a while,
light a fire and warm
three cups of tea
to welcome passersby,
inviting them to rest
and be at peace
in this moment,
this now.

Copyright © 2016-07-31, by E. W. Bennefeld.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 13 – [untitled]

text of poem

A Poem
written 13 April 2017

 

failing light
along the dark path
fireflies

at star rise
fish dance in the light
of moonbeams

night sounds call
my head nods over my teacup

[untitled]. Copyright © 2017-04-13, by E.W. Bennefeld.

I have tried to do the bare minimum, and still I feel overloaded, and I want simply to lie down and do nothing at all until at least February of 2022. That not being feasible…I think that I will fix a large salad and reread a favorite book.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 12 – Fog

The prompt is the one given to our group from NaHaiWriMo, but I have not written a Haiku. Instead, I am sharing a poem that I wrote for the February 2015 Blogging U Poetry 201 writing course/event, which was a lot of fun. This poem was written for day five of the first week.

“Not a Foggy City Street”

When people and penguins pass through doors, they leave
their short-term memories where they no longer are.

This is why penguins, having deemed primordial ice sheets least likely
to sprout city center architecture that would block the view

of morning sunrises and tow’ring clouds that carry snow–
forever multiplying amnesia’s doorways and confusion–

have settled in there permanently. At least until
those they eschewed have blacked ice and snow

and ushered in the age of
no-cost heating.

Not a Foggy City Street“. Copyright © 2015, February, by E. W. Bennefeld. All rights reserved.

 

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 11 – Wonder

a view of a lake inlet from the top of a hill

 

From the hill nearby
one can spy blue lakes, wonder
at nature’s lush green

a cup of tea, a blanket
the afternoon sun brings warmth

“Wonder”. Copyright © 2017-04-11, by Lizl Bennefeld.

I wrote the three-line haiku for this week’s #RonovanWrites #Haiku Poetry challenge. The NaHaiWriMo prompt given to our group for the day is “tea”.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 10 – Frost

I wrote this poem while thinking of the photos that I have taken of frost that often decorates my windows when the temperature and humidity cooperate. Much less in recent years as the winters are warmer and the most recent central air heating/cooling system discourage frost ferns.

frost

winter’s fingers paint
white murals on the windows
intricate and fine

sunlight reflects the colors
that tint nature’s works of art

“frost”. Copyright © 2017-04-12, by Lizl Bennefeld.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 9 – Fitting In

The prompt that I’ve chosen for Day 9 is “Fitting in is hard to do”, a prompt from the mailing-list group that I’ve been on during the current month. The poem I’ve selected in response to this prompt is “Roots”, a prose poem that I wrote in response to a Poetry-101-Rehab prompt (Mara Eastern’s group, then hosted by Andy Townend) on 18 January 2016.

Roots
a prose poem

My roots were firmly fastened to the books that I found in the many libraries in this and other towns surrounding my parents’ village. They brought me there (libraries). They fetched them to me (books). They presented me with new soil; the ground in which the writers grew and learned and wrote from. My roots went deep, are deep but mobile. Not fastened to the ground—to any ground, but nurtured by the soil that gave birth to those books I read, the people who wrote them. Good or bad. True or false. Or telling truth more strongly through their stories than through news reports.

And so I live today within five miles, still, of where I was born. Still asked, “You have an accent. Where are you from?” And when I answer, they respond, “Where have you lived, then?” or “That cannot be!” Here I remain, still a stranger to them all. All but a few. The roots that hold the tightest are not of my father’s village, where I was raised…or in this larger city, birthplace of my father.

I’m not born of, no, nor grafted to that stock, but to my parents’ real lives and home: their travels, loyalties, their loves, their dreams…the universe.

“Roots: A prose poem.” Copyright © 2016-01-18, by Lizl Bennefeld. All rights reserved.

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NaPoWriMo 2017, Day 8 – Sunflowers

Following the sun
from dawn to dusk, soaking in
energy to stop,

sunflowers face east when grown.
Morning’s bees love warm flowers.

Copyright © 2017-04-09, by E. W. Bennefeld.

I suppose that I could have stayed awake, last night, to write a poem, if I had concentrated on it, but I fell asleep with the lights still on, soon after I sat down in the recliner.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 7 – Who Am I?

“Who Am I?”

I am lightly anchored to the Earth,
drifting gently on my mooring lines
when the wind is strong … Or, when
the water rises, I pull in the lines
and ride the tide of river flood
or ocean until I stretch a hand
or foot to snag another point of rest,
and tie me down to sleep.

A rumor passed from mouth to ear
in almost silent confidence, saying
‘We were left here, still too young
to travel to the stars, to get back home,
before our parents had to leave. And so …’
they left us here to wait. What happened,
that no one returned to find us? All
the others of us ‘made the best of it’.

Who am I, on this strange ground? Writing.
Watching the sky at night. Listening
to the cries of ocean creatures also lost
and calling out, “I’m here! We’re here!
Come! Don’t leave us here to die alone!”
Where can I leave a cairn that they will find
when I can no longer see or hear or wait
for their final, longed-for landing?

Copyright © 2017-04-07, by E. W. Bennefeld.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 6 – Tides of the Heart

Prompt: Tide

“Tides of the Heart”

sea water stretches
toward the moon in vain…no time
to reach its heart’s dream

Copyright © 2017-04-06, by E. W. Bennefeld.

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NaPoWriMo17, Day 5 – Water Lily

Prompt from NaHaiWriMo: Water Lily

 

golden fish retreat

beneath white water lilies,

sheltered from the sun

Copyright © 6 April 2017, by E. W. Bennefeld.
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NaPoWriMo17, Day 4 – Thunder

distant thunder calls
Strike! as lightning’s bright echoes
roll over raindrops

Luna’s face shines past dark clouds
frogs trade their logs for moonbeams

Copyright © 2017-04-04, by E. W. Bennefeld.
I got the prompt from the prompt list sent by the group that I’m writing with.

 

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NaPoWriMo2017, Day 03 – Allantide Dreams

The prompt that selected for today called for a poem about a holiday that I do not celebrate. Information about Allantide, also known as the Feast of Saint Allan,  can be found, among other places on the Internet, at Wikipedia, but also on a webpage about Allantide – The Cornish Halloween.

Allantide Dreams

At Allantide, as I did lie here sleeping,
I saw the apple-promised vision clear–
the face of him, my true love dear, appearing,
a ghost in mists of nearness–magic dream.

The face it was of him I loved in childhood,
who saved me from a drowning in the lake.
He beckons, softly whisp’ring, “Come and find me.
Come, join me now, my lover, in the wake.”

Alas, sir, you don’t lead where I can follow.
I cannot bear the water round my head.
I can’t forget the paleness of your features
as you lay there before me, still, quite dead.

I’ll eat this apple in your loving memory,
but stay here, safely kept upon the shore.
Each Allantide, I swear, I’ll give thanksgiving,
but a living love I’ll cherish even more.

Copyright © 2017-04-03, by E. W. Bennefeld.

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NaPoWriMo2017, Day 02 | “Ghost Echoes” & “Trout and Water Strider”

I find that I am enjoying the writing process, so far, this time around. Even though I do not know more than one of the people in this writing group, I find it stimulating to write. Having the group also makes me feel accountable for getting something written to the deadline. A nice lot of prompts have been offered/proposed each day. The first day, I combined prompts and wrote one poem. Today, I chose and wrote in response to two prompts.

Prompt: Rain

ghost echoes
circles in the pond
a raindrop

 

Prompt: Write a “not today” poem….

“Trout and Water Strider”

six feet with hair and bubbles —
good to eat? —
stride across the silver-spangled
ceiling of the world

that moving shadow midst the ripples
of the quiet river bend,
a backwater buffet
of unexpected,
unsuspecting treats

but not today

today, I am a meditating presence,
not a predator or prey,
watching while the world
floats past, above my scaled head,

muted, as I hang suspended
in cool, shaded water

not thinking, now, not doing…
being, finally, ‘not me’

“Ghost Echoes” and “Trout and Water Strider”. Copyright © 2017-04-02, by E. W. Bennefeld.

 

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NaPoWriMo2017, Day 01 | “Everything Is Gone”

Several of the provided prompts led me to writing the poem “Everything is Gone”. The first suggestion to appeal to me was to write a poem in a couplet style called the “landay”, with 9 syllables in the first line and 13 in the second. The second suggestion was in the form of a question, basically, “When did you become aware of your own mortality?”. For me, that was age five, the first day that I came home from school to discover that no one was in the house but me. My parents told me that when they got home and found me, I was beyond panic…shattered.

Employing the landay, I have taken liberties with it. I have not written a two-line poem, but a poem consisting of four couplets. I have let sentences run on from one couplet to the next. Also, I have begun a new sentence in the middle of the first line of a couplet.  I have a hope to jar or shock the reader with a disjointed or awkward feeling.

“Everything Is Gone”

There are no more towels left to trade.
Two last scraps hung from a dead branch, near the dry bucket.

The larger is mine, since Father died.
Mother’s is covering my baby sister’s face, now,

one corner wet, where I spit on it,
for her to suck on, the rest to keep flies off her eyes

until she’s dead. Then I’ll walk away
with cloth to trade for a bite of food before I die.

Copyright © 2017-04-01, by E. W. Bennefeld.

 

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National Poetry Writing Month 2017

I have tried upon occasion to write a poem for each day of the month, sometimes for National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and sometimes during NaNoWriMo. I haven’t always done really well. In the best years, I have generated a lot of notes for poems, which I’ve repaired to over years and created poems from them. Usually not my best work, but…

This year, I have teamed up with a writer whom I have known for years, and some of her friends, to write poetry each day during April, at least inspired by something in the provided prompts.

I am planning to do a separate blog post for each poem that I write during NaPoWriMo. For now. And using the tags #NaPoWriMo and #NaPoWriMo2017.

Alternately, I may post a previous poem that I wrote years ago, or a poem written by someone else.

 

 

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SFF Net and grief

Among the losses that I am mourning is the closure of SFF Net, of which I had been a member since 1997, I think. Believe I didn’t get a newsgroup until the next year.  Yesterday I had my first in-person meeting with C., the grief counselor from the local offices of our regional Hospice association. My late mother enjoyed hospice services during the two months that she was in a nursing home, until she died at the middle of November. (Fortunately, the rapid onset dementia protected her from awareness of the national election results.) Our meeting was productive and relaxing. C. is easy to talk to/with/at; she is skilled in keeping conversation going on track, encouraging the general rambling that produces relevant information and genuine emotional responses. And she seems to enjoy my poetry, saying at one point, you’re very good at that—or words to that effect. It was fun to orient her to the members of my immediate family and activities/interactions before any of the children (of which I am the oldest) had left home to attend college.

I have purchased the latest edition of Stress Management (2012, 30th Anniversary), completed the life event checklist for the past 12 months (total was over 300, again), and reviewed the muscle relaxation and imaging exercises for relieving physical stress in my original paper copy.

April is, I understand, national poetry month, and I have, against my better judgment, committed myself to writing at least one poem a day for the next thirty days. A group led by a woman who was one of the members off the WritingChat group that I joined during the nineties. We’ll see just how long that lasts.

The new floor is installed in the kitchen, and I have moved out cookbooks to dedicate one set of shelving to holding the everyday pots and pans. The second, four-shelf unit is holding paper plates and bowls, dog paraphernalia, blood pressure kit, &c.  I still need a proper mop and bucket for wet mopping the floor, which is vinyl. May it never overheat!

 

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Outside, again

The temperature is high enough, again, to sit outside in the gazebo (out of the sun) and read the news, watch the dogs play and listen to my husband’s latest wood-working project in progress. I don’t often use this small computer/tablet, and I find that cannot find all of the keys when I need them. I think that I need to find the touchpad settings and make it less responsive. At the ends of sentences, or when I simply pause, I find that when I am ready to type, again, the cursor has returned to the beginning of the line (or page).

I had a nice selection of photographs and things to say, when I retired for the night, but I turned off the lights and went to sleep, instead. This morning I was awakened by a telephone call from a local who had found my phone number on the Internet in connection to my former (as of 2012-12-31) business. I am loathe to give it up, since it’s been my number since I moved to this town in the late 1970s.

I have made connection with the hospice worker, who will be dropping by later in the week for a nice visit. In the meanwhile, I downloaded the current ebook edition of my Stress Management go-to book (30th Anniversary edition in 2012, and I believe I bought the first edition shortly after it came out). I reviewed and went through the muscle relaxing/awareness procedures. Realized as I did them mindfully that I have continued using them over the intervening decades. My life changes for the past 12 months total over 300 points. ::sigh::  I think that I will incorporate mindful practice of the physical exercises in the daily routines.

My puppy is pacing. I must see what he wants.

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WeekendCoffeeShare | 26 March ’17

Monday is so far in the past, I hardly remember it, now.

Welcome! Thank you for dropping by for coffee, this week. There is Toddy coffee, hot or cold, made with water, milk, or both. Many kinds of cheese for nibbling while we visit.

My weekend has ended with a special treat. We went to Denny’s for supper, and I ordered the salmon skillet. Very good, but entirely too much food. I expect to get two or three more meals from it. With restaurants, I know, there may be a broad range experience within the same franchise, but the one here in town usually does pretty well.

My week has been a bit spotty, but I finally managed to brush my teeth without opening up the extraction site again. Still hasn’t hurt worth mentioning, though. I had a nice visit with my doctor to check up on the progress with the diabetes 2. Met the goal that she had set for the A1C when we met at the end of December, which was my ~2-week visit after the diagnosis. The numbers are going down (the A1C by more than 4 percentage points). As is the cholesterol and my weight: I now have lost 21 pounds since December 13th.

I find that I am extremely tired at the end of this week, however. Since getting through all of the rough stuff fairly well, with nothing on the schedule for the next two weeks except helping with the workshop construction in the back yard and getting to the dogs to the vet towards the end of the second week, I have found my thoughts turning back to my parents. I find that my sharpest memories of them are from when they were in their late seventies and going forward. That was, I think, when we spent a lot of quality time together as adults. Mom, more than Dad. When I think of them, I realize that as with myself, they probably thought of themselves as … ageless, or at least in their thirties or forties. I miss them a lot, although not as much as I did during the last years of their lives, when they turned inward and toward each other’s company and mutual support.

I wonder if this is the time to give the hospice organization a call and check on the grief support services available for the 13 months following Mom’s death, she being the one who was under hospice care during the last two months of her life, when she went into the nursing home.

This Weekend Coffee Share post is on a different site. It isn’t set up to automatically feed my posts to the search engines and such.

Hope you have a good week!

Lizl

Link to this week’s post by our host at Nerd in the Brain. Enjoy!

 

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And so forth

standing at the door
to the beginning, hand raised…
still, the second thoughts

I have stayed up too late, tonight, deciding which poems, written during the past three years, I want to share on these pages. I also wonder about what will happen to them when I’ve gone away.

At the moment, I am making WP pages for the poems, while thinking that I want to make regular HTML pages also, as I have planned to do with the Hallowe’en poetry recordings and photo art pieces.

I have, however, added pages under “Favorites” that display four of the poems I like the best of those recently written.

I am so very tired. And I keep seeing Mother and Father, in my mind’s eye, not dead but still at home, living out their days and wondering why I do not write or call. It was difficult in the last year particularly, because my mother’s sight and hearing were failing and my father was nearly deaf (which improved when he had the doctor clean the wax out of his ears during the last appointment with him, after Mother had died).

My mother had forgotten who I was, for the most part, and would not talk to me when I phoned. Now that they both can see and hear, again, I hesitate to write, not knowing how to forward the letters, and I do not know if either, unlike my mother’s mother, would care to listen and respond.

 

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Starting Out

This year…these past six months have been among the most difficult of my life, taking into account life changes. Both of my parents died, ages 94 and 100. The family home is being sold, although to one of my brothers, who is leasing the house from the estate until the paperwork is done for making the purchase. I’ve come around to good health with a major health issue, only to find a couple more that were stress triggered. And so, I am on a more restricted diet. I need to lose weight in addition to avoiding foods with gluten.

And my favorite place on the Internet, SFF Net, is closing down; I was a member there beginning in the autumn of 1997 (I got a newsgroup the following year). I met and got to know so many wonderful people there over the years, and they helped keep up my interest in writing as I struggled through decades of freelance writing and editing gigs. It is so wonderful to be retired, with more free time to write. Even with the additional aspects of living that I must now attend to, each day.

And, yes, I did need a different blog for writing these sorts of things. A place for me. Another of those quiet spaces in which to write, looking up to see in my mind’s eye the pasture in the distance, the creek and slough and the cottonwood and plum trees and lilacs beyond them. I can/would hear the red-winged blackbirds calling as they hung onto the cattails at the edge of the water, accompanied in the background by a high-pitched chorus of frogs.

Quiet spaces for the mind to see, even though decades (and burgeoning allergies) separate me from the places and activities of my grade school, high school, and college years and beyond. I am back on the exercise machine again, building stamina so that I can take long walks, again, come summer, when the school buses do not pollute the neighborhood air. I am not an indoor person by nature, and I strive to become more active. So far, it’s just the elliptical machine, a cheap one from a chain store, but I also have hand weights to add and some dance warm-up exercise DVDs to return to as I’m able.

It’s good, just being able to relax and write, again. Something besides poems in response to sporadic prompts.

Is good!

 

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