“Parable of the Red Birds” and other poems by poets in response to last Wednesday’s Writing Prompt
Last Wednesday’s Writing Prompt (April 19,2017): “We’ve probably all been there and/or known someone who’s been there, thinking if they change where they live, who their married to, where they go to school, things will be better. Maybe they will, but probably not unless there are some internal changes. What’s your view or experience? Tell us in poem or prose.”
I think each of these poets did a fine job in responding. I enjoyed their work and know you will too. Read on …
Parable of the Red Birds
The cardinals outside my window
Have two babies cuddled in the nest-
I peered in to see gray downy bundles
Rather ugly little fellows, mouths all agape.
Today, the fledglings are out of the nest.
The male cardinal has been vigilant,
Constantly flying to the little dears,
Dropping food in their open mouths.
While they flap clumsy tiny wings
The father flits about, devout in his care
Leaving me to wonder, where is Momma?
What is that Momma Cardinal up to?
After a little reading, I have discovered
No—she didn’t fly the coop with a lover-
She’s off to make her second nest of eggs.
The father is feeding her and the babies!
So what does this have to do with the grass
Looking greener over the fence? Nothing.
Sometimes everything is as it should be-
Your home is where your family assembles-
Either the family you’re been born with
Or the cackle of friends you’ve chosen
And gathered, dear one by dear one,
And it’s the place you build your wings.
© 2017, Sharon Frye (The Poetry of Sharon Frye)
quite often these days
I focus on a moment from the past
identify strongly with it
and very soon find myself back there
pursuing a path that leads
from that moment into other moments
that just might have been
so that I am lost in passageways
I never took—corridors of time
I maybe only half-explored; it’s an effort
to wrench myself away back here
where all’s strange and unaccountable
& forlorn with a sense of great loss
so it was when I discovered (used as
a bookmark) a letter I never answered
asking me if I was happy now
I had left her and gone my own way—
if I could let her know (she said) she’d
rest content so I disappear into her
missing me and start wondering how
to reply—the letter is fifty-five years old
for god’s sake but as I said I’m prone
to follow up these distant naked leads
fully expecting the characters I bring to life
to make a response to me as I do to them
:: when ::
when small boys wake early,
when the journey is long,
the other disturbing the night
until all around is tired,
no real work done.
have you really lost your arm,
have you really changed your life,
have you lost your sun glasses
do you know the people here,
who think i have sold my house,
who look after the dead,
© Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA)
FLIGHT OF A FASHION
She traveled north
with her husband she chose
based on society’s mores
his decision accepted based
on her need to fly
trading asphalt and concrete
for a similar landscape
peppered with evergreens
leaving behind her self
melting in the heat of day
preparing for a rain cleansing
her of tainted memories
she traded her self-identity
with the prospect of years
rearing children alone
in unfamiliar landscape
needing to fly
always tethered & wings clipped
by a ritual of custom
her wings a rainbow
coloring her inside and out
brightened by the sun
dampened by the rain
her self conflicted interests
birds fly home to roost and nest
innate to their very being
so each time she returned to
her place of birth she
fell into memories
coming to know her colored feathers
of self would always remain
inside no matter
the need to fly
© 2017, Renee Espriu (Renee Just Turtle Flight)
1.) Picked Apple Falls Hard On Him
Him On Her
apples, little earths
of laughtered kisses
of words that tickle
of giggle flesh,
deep red and green
or change in colour
from one to the other
or pick one.
Your apricots, peaches
a predatory sweetness
invites the unwary
as you feel slightly soft
and pull away easily
swell to full size and turn
a shiny blue-black
incise deep past
the mantel to core
molten with sweet
over your tongue
out of the flesh
out of the month
through holes in the bones
Picked Apple, woodbride,
you tend gardens with skill,
devoted to orchards’ care,
love fields and branches
laden with ripe apples,
carry a curved pruning knife,
cut back scraggy growth,
lop limbs spread too far,
split bark, insert a graft,
provide sap from different stock
for trees bairns.
Will not suffer them being parched, waters twining tendrils o’ their thirsty
root. This is your love, your passion,
no need of lust. Workaholic, close
yourself off in an orchard, post a notice, ” No Men Allowed”.
2.) Her On Him
glance and you’re a scraggy girl darkened in denim,
a bespectacled man in a ballooned jumper, honeyed farmer, shy hunter,
I wake up to a tupped shepherd,
come back to a wick carjacker.
You’re everyone else, but yourself.
can’t pin you down,
my turning year,
first grape that darkens
on purpling bunch,
spiky corn-ear that swells
with milky grain; near my toes
you’re sweet cherries, autumn plums and a mulberry redder
a change in the weather,
a new set of clothes,
an alteration in the air,
and I love you.
3.) My Seduction
A challenge. Never impress
you as myself.
Too young, no prospects.
Men have to invent
themselves to get anywhere.
I want to see you all the time.
So I turns up at your door
a rude farmer,
brought you a basket
filled with ears of barley.
Next, my forehead bound with freshly cut hay, as I might have been tossing new-mown grass.
“Sorry. No men. Busy.”
Another day I lumped horses
bridle in my stiff hand,
so you’d swear I’d unyoked
a weary team.
“No stables. Goodbye!”
With knife I were a female dresser
and pruner of vines:
“No vines here. I’m busy.”
Sometimes I’d carry ladder
and bucket a Window cleaner.
“No windows here. Goodbye.”
A scraggy girl darkened in denim,
beg a bunch of wildflowers
for her mam and you say
“Nothing wild in this garden, girl.
Sorry, mowed them all down”
A bespectacled man in a ballooned jumper, honeyed farmer, shy hunter,
“Sorry. Read the notice. No men allowed.”
4.) The Old Lass
I wrap my head with a coloured scarf,
lean on a staff, sprout grey hair, wrinkled
as a decaying fruit, caved in hollows,
thin skin, fungus faced, moles, brown
blotches, sour breath, stink of stale piss lingers, and a small spiky moustache.
She lets me in her well-tended garden,
to admire fruit and fruit of her
She a Pear’s sweetness
salves a searching tongue,
a Peach’s blush like sunrise
a Plum’s scent entices, smooth and laughing,
a Cherry’s scarlet lips rain sodden
a blossoming branch
makes bees dance
a secret orchard
‘You are so much more lovely’,
I snog her.
Sit on flattened grass,
look at branches bend weighed
down with fruit.
Vine and Tree
There is an elm opposite,
gleaming bunches of grapes.
I tell her
“Remarkable tree, and its entwining vine.
But, if that tree stood there, unmated,
without its vine, it wouldn’t be sought after for more than its leaves, and vine
also, joined to and rests on the elm,
will lie on the ground,
if it were not married to it, and leaning on it.’
You reply “It is a tree. Marriage means nothing to me.”
“A thousand men want you,
you shun them, turn away.”
But, if you are wise,
if you want to marry well,
listen to me, an old lass,
as loves you more than you think,
more than them all, reject others
and choose Change to share your bed!
You have my pledge as well:
he’s not better known to himself
than he is to me: he does not wander
hither and thither, lives by himself
and he doesn’t love latest girl he’s seen.
You’ll be his first love, and his last.
He’ll devote his life only to you.
He’s young, blessed with natural charm,
can take on a fitting appearance, if needs be. Whatever you want,
though you ask for all of it,
he will do.
He doesn’t want fruit of your trees,
or sweet juice of your herbs:
he needs nothing but you.
Take pity on his ardour,
and believe that he,
who seeks you,
is begging you,
in person, through my gob.
I’ll tell you the tale
of Stone Lass
“Spunk sees Cruel lass from afar
gobsmacked by her looks
he gets smitten hard
and determines she’ll be hooked
Asks her mates for her mobile number,
and all her social media pages,
scours internet for details,
winds himself up in rages.
Gets his message through once
or twice but she mocks him
” Fancy me. You do right. I’m gorgeous”
and promptly blocks him.
Finds her home and knocks
and her Dad answers and says
“She don’t want to know, son.
Thinks your a stalker. Away!”
Writes his first letter and posts
it personally through her door,
it tells her she’s won and he’ll be gone
she can celebrate and more
she can see him lose his life
which is all he has left for her.
Cruel scoffs at this but goes along
for the crack and laughter.
She sees him throw a rope
already knotted around a beam
put his neck in the noose
and let out a scarifying scream.
Then she feels herself harden
calcified flesh and bone
she is a statue.”
Picked Apple has no reaction.
Change thinks stuff it
and becomes himself
young, virile and fresh.
Picked Apple falls hard for him.
© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow)
We continue with the current recommended read: On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder. Left, right or center – American or not – it’s a must read.
LESSON ELEVEN: INVESTIGATE. “Figure things out for yurself. Spend more time with long articles. Subsidize investigative journalism by subscribing to print media. Realize that some of what is on the internet is there to harm you. Learn about sites that investigate propaganda campaigns (some of which come from abroad). Take responsibility for what you communicate with others.” Prof. Snyder, On Tyranny, Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century