Memorial Day was “our” family holiday. It’s now my remembering. After my parents were discharged, they returned to Father’s home town to realize their life’s long-held dream of raising lots of children, together. (Eventually, there were nine of us, seven living into adulthood.) My father was groundskeeper (one of many jobs) and then the sexton, of the village cemetery, and we children, while growing up, worked with him to get the grounds ready for the Memorial Day observances. Mother was in the Navy, and Father was in the Army, separated overseas, but both serving in the Pacific Theater. (In uniform).
Forecast for the week is for nighttime lows in the 30s and low 40s (although not below freezing), cold and gusty wind.
I decided not to post a couple of the poems that I wrote during April, so my count on this site comes up short. I fell ill from an infected wound, and so I have been sleeping a lot and taking antibiotics every six hours. I will be so happy to have more than five hours of sleep in a stretch…you wouldn’t believe! Follow-up appointment later this week.
Very loosely based on the Day 18 prompt from the Cuyahoga County Public Library. I am not sure that I’ll go back to rework this after NaPoWriMo is over for this year. I do know that I do not write poetry in four-line stanzas.
‘topics not under discussion’
sometimes I turn around to see
as though from outside human space
the larger patterns…masked by lies
then my heart catches…forgets how to beat
and I find myself hoping that it won’t
remember…how to start itself again
in the longer run the gifts I wield
will make no lasting difference
all will die quietly…fade away in sleep
what I can achieve is to be present
in this moment, acknowledging each
thing that lives and care…until we’re dead
Hay(na)Ku, a new form by Eileen R. Tabio, has one word in the first line, two in the second and three in the third, with each word having as many syllables as you wish. Try one! (Cuyahoga Library Writers Center, Day 10)
Crying children whisper through my dreams,
their voices faint and dying
from hunger and from fading hope.
I hold my heart untouched
behind a wall of patient waiting.
A few more months, my heart,
a few months only and they’ll die,
their crying cease.
Then only ghosts of crying children
will disturb your sleep.
Originally published as “Ghosts of Crying Children” in the January/February 1980 issue of OURS (as of 1994, the Adoptive Families Magazine), “Crying Children” has since been re-published in other venues). [Minor revisions.]
So many names, so many faces I no longer remember, voices muted by the overwhelming years. I threw away their letters. Burned their photographs. Drowned grief in nights of walking…days at the piano, my hands exhausted, my fingers worn. All is gone but for faded memories of having known.
no pretense… no dress rehearsal
letting go doesn’t get easier
familiar footsteps approach
pass by without a pause
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
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.
sounds fade away, approach again…
listening for forever
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 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.
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.
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…
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.
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
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.)
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.
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.
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
…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.
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.
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.