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.”
one warm summer day
a debonair grasshopper
dines on a flower
spotting a street photographer
he grins between bites and bows
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
after a lingering winter
it’s time to plant flowers
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
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
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 blog.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
…and when the tide had turned,
when waking from long sleep, I found
that all was swept away
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,
to welcome me?
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.
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.
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.
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.