Crying Children (orig. pub. Jan./Feb. 1980)

“Crying Children”

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.]

 

Waiting for the silence

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

Copyright© 2018-08-11, by Elizabeth W. Bennefeld.

 

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.

Day 30, A Closing Poem | #NaPoWriMo2018

Today’s prompt, write a closing time poem.

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.)

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.

 

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.

 

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

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.

 

 

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.

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.