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Surrender. . . and other responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

Image courtesy of Simon Matzinger, Unsplash

“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there.” Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451


Depending on where in the world you live, it’s already Wednesday. Here in Northern California it’s still Tuesday, though a late hour for this weekly post, an indication of the weight of the day’s deadlines and editorial responsibilities. Here now are poems that face the reality of living with dying, as we all ultimately do. These poems were inspired or shared in response to the last poem and prompt, Almost Time, May 6. Enjoy the lyric wisdom of mm brazfield, Anjum Wasim Dar, Irma Do, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Tamam Tracy Moncur, Nancy Ndeke, Clarissa Simmens, Adrian Slonaker, and Mike Stone.

Do join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are welcome: beginning, emerging, and pro poets.


my trip with Azrael

you know the time is nigh
you won’t need anything
would you agree
yes i’m prepared
while we travel can i tell you
how i loved the cool walks
the strong espressos and
the smell of fresh baked croissants over at Figaros
and when i was young
i loved the life that was
fast hard strong and brutal
was that when you felt invincible
Azrael asked
i suppose i didnt really feel anything
can i tell you about all of the beautiful people
dressed in all the colors and walk
step by step
and the children
they the true celestial thousand points of light multiply in God’s eyes forever
did you incur any regrets after all you’re just a human Azrael reminded
time lost revelling in my hatred and my pain first of self then of my nature of my sins and my enemies my inability for many years to feel with all of me
and seeing that i was about to cry Azrael lifted me with warmth and ease as my last breath sweet with smells of incense drew from me a soul unique and we clasp hands into the light of eternity

© 2020, mm brazfield

mm’s site is: Words Less Spoken, Gen X’r chronicles the art from of living in the Angelino metropolitan environment through poetry, creative writing, art, photography, and culture


Death-Mediocrity is Everywhere

Dedicated to Mary Oliver

Life moves in time in moment sublime
in moments painful in moments divine

life begins so joyfully with smiles yet
ends cuttingly, bodies scatter for miles

a month of obligation abstinence patience
teaches lessons of resilient tolerance

end a celebration a gratitude for completion
festive for some for some fatal cremation

horrible terrible killing fear murder cruelty
enemy advances ending lives brutally

Death Death Death all around ,will come
If it be not now, yet it will, for sure, come’

when the hearts bleed beat slowly slowly
when kids are burning dying, what is Holy?

what festivity what feast what happiness
what is Eid ~ what is care for family ?

a moment joyful reveals life is temporary
next, we should know heaven and eternity

Ah how truly said the great romantic poet
‘ In the very temple of delight resides veiled melancholy’

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

And When Death Comes

And when it comes
I will meet the Angel and smile
and say ‘you came before, lifted me,
quietly, I felt the pull,

I saw my self flying straight up high
it was so swift, in flight a few seconds
and as I looked down- I trembled-

‘oh where are you taking me?
my children are so young
and my parents are in later age
they need me too, see,they are alone,

And Oh Angel you were so kind
You let me go’
You had permission to do that
and I heard you say something’ ?

Now if I have been good
have looked after my parents
and have guided my children,
on the straight path,

I hope and pray that
my way, will be illumined
each day of life ,scented,
colorful like daisies and pansies,

life will begin afresh, pure, peaceful
as the Almighty is Gracious and Merciful
“I am precious to The Earth’,
I need not be frightened’and definitely
not as simply having visited this world’

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

Anjum-ji’s sites are:

“POETRY PEACE and REFORM Go Together -Let Us All Strive for PEACE on EARTH for ALL -Let Us Make a Better World -WRITE To Make PEACE PREVAIL.” Anjum Wasim Dar


Surrender

I will stare into your eyes
As the poison drips into my arms
And laugh when I tuck plane tickets
To Europe in my suitcase

I will make faces at you
As I lay on the operating table
And laugh when my shirts are looser
And I see how much weight I’ve lost

I will flip you the finger
As I’m holding my kids
Celebrating graduations and birthdays
And even just regular days

I will slap you as you try to steal
The warmth of my blankets
And the heat of my lover
Wrapped in promises of forever and never

Yet when the time comes
And I know the difference between beignet and brioche
And I’m down to my high school weight
And the kids have gone back to their full lives
And my lover has fallen asleep on the couch

I will look you in the eyes
And smile sweetly
As I beckon you to me
And lay my head on your shoulder
Holding tightly
As you carry me across the threshold

© 2020, Irma Do

Irma’s site is: I Do Run, And I do a few other things too . . . 


.prompt.

yes i think of you fondly

all of you gone this while

we continue thankful in that we knew you

a while

while

feeling fortunate

in that we have been here a while during the good bits,

learning from the other bits

there are a few of you in the garden while others are

elsewhere

some too far to visit

with one down the lane

handy

i keep that tidy & maybe the gardener is now unecessary

i will not attach photos

i see you all in mind

& i thank you

my life continues

& i thank you

© 2020, Sonja Benskin Mesher

Sonja’s sites are:


Looking Back
Standing at the threshold suspended between life and death doing my best to capture the fleeting images flashing before my face in this race which for me is about to be over…gone forevermore…never to be again.

Early childhood memories in Berkeley, CA. Harmon Street to be exact…my grandmother pouring out buttermilk from a jug just for us to go with our lunch…ugh…yuck. Delicious pies cooling in the window overlook the yard as chickens peck at the dirt unaware of their fate.

A middle schooler headed to Camp Timbertall totally enthralled by the Redwood trees…trunks a mahogany red stretching high into the sky…up…up… up…green leaves ballooning atop the elongated trunk declaring summer fun has arrived in all its anticipation and expectations.

Piano lessons from age six…scales…arpeggios mixed with the classical…playing in the Jr. Bach festival…brother the boogie woogie king of the neighborhood…always some good piano music swinging with singing having fun ‘til the day was almost done.

High school graduation…civil rights demonstrations…relocation to the east coast…falling in love with New York City…Harlem nights, jazz, poetry…meeting the man who was to become my husband…trombonist…composer deep-rooted in the avant-garde revolutionary music.

Marriage vows…jumping the broom in a small room in front of a self-avowed minister declaring “until death do us part”…days and nights filled with wine, filled with art…then suddenly burnt out…new start…change of heart…God becomes my all in all.

Newark, NJ… our new home…my husband’s home town…going back to school…six children…the absolute rule for three decades wading through the deep waters of raising children…music education/ elementary ed certification…teaching is now my life.

Diary of an Inner City Teacher, my story about the glory, the good, the challenges in the honorable profession of teaching…reaching out to, and understanding students regardless of learning styles…regardless of emotions, just learning to go that extra mile for each and every child.

Fifteen hour flight to Johannesburg South Africa…a trip home to my ancestral land…Africa the motherland…family and cultural ties severed by slavery but reconnected through the church to the drumbeat of my soul to a whole nother aspect of my being.

Images have been captured…will I be raptured? My breathing now labored…my vision blurry….although very cloudy I feel a hand enclose mine…a voice in the distance says “it’s your time”…the melodic sound of voices draw me into the realm of absolute silence.

© 2020, Tamam Tracy Moncur

Tracy’s book is Diary of an Inner City Teacher, a probe into the reality of teaching in our inner city school systems as seen from the front line.


AT THIS MOMENT,
Reaching out to my transport yonder, seconds reel to hug thoughts, one more time,
The flood of joy of creations gift in a child, O what a miracle!
Seeing the innocence and trust as only Heaven must know,
That first cry announcing birth, what mystery!

Reaching out to my transport yonder, seconds play an old tune,
Mother’s gentle hand massaging away a dreary fever, while,
Father held heaven to a session of hope for the child,
The bliss of safety anchored in the pillars of parentage,
Knowing for sure nothing would be spared for my sake.

Reaching out for my transport yonder, seconds rushing to close my eyes,
Deep heaves over that sorry never given, and silence when speech would suffice,
Pride of anger and bastard hoarding of hurts so useless,
Time fleeting and I so sad,
That when chance availed itself,
I now leave without embracing the fulnes in the beauty of peace,
One that comes from full acknowledgement,
Of the frailty of not letting go when time allowed.

Reaching out for my transport yonder,
Time closes the divide and erects a wall
I look at the agony of love and know nothing matters than love,
And though tears are beyond recall of my journey,
These hurriedly scribbled words should alert you of your time.
Nothing matters in matters of life but goodwill, love and care for those in need,
For as I soar away from what held me captive,
I bid you do good for it’s sake,
To beat the vanity that I now know to be,
As my last breath expires and material drops to dust.

© 2020, Nancy Ndeke

Nancy’s Amazon Page is HERE


***(With its death)

With its death
the day gilds
the leaves.
I do not know the names of
the tree
and it doesn’t matter for
beauty.

© 2020, Bozhidar Pengelov, a.k.a. Bogpan

Bozhidar’s site is: bogpan – блог за авторска поезия, блог за авторска поезия 


Constituents 

Seventy-two
Nothing new
Except the feeling
The feeling of time
Taking a turn for the worse
Can’t think about loved ones
No contest
Will miss them most
Who
Or what
Will I also cry for?
Surrounded by Elements
Of beauty and truth
Solid Earth
Birthing botanicals
And crystals
The poor person’s diamonds
Liquid Water
Amniotic life
Cool as rain
Hot as unwanted pain
Mixed Gas, creator of Air
Softly blowing my hair
And the Plasma of life’s Fire
Burning passionately
From this love affair with Life
Thought I’d see you all
Forever etched in the gray matter
But that, too, will be Dead
There, I said it: Dead
It hurts to know
That although
Thought I’d touch you forever
Smell you
Taste you eternally
See your beauty
While hearing your music
That music of the universe
In my 3-beat heart
I so thought it would never stop
But no
How can I go on
Without the Elemental Beauty
Of Life…?

© 2020, Clarissa Simmens

Clarissa’s site is: Poeturja, Poetry


Wednesday’s Child is Full of Woe

Last week was speckled with
Kardashians and stock markets and
crude internet memes, yet now
the nuclear annihilation
my father once foresaw has
spontaneously spread
from an unexpected pocket of the planet,
labeling nearly all life with a
pressing expiry date.

Back during Dorito-and-Aqua Net-stained
marathon phone sessions
in the safe, dark coolness of the sofa in the basement,
my high school crony Ron revealed that, if
a mushroom cloud ever bloomed nearby, he’d
survey the display with his dad on the porch.
Deprived of that option, I merely
remember my parents,
probably praying and mouthing Isaiah 41:10
in a tearful huddle with my brother’s brood,
and spark a last DuMaurier Ultra Light
(a shared tobacco habit
being one of our few common features)
despite having quit because it’s more soothing
than the scarier smoke I’ll be
choking through soon.

If my hammering heart doesn’t halt from horror and
anger, my vital organs will be envenomed by
other people’s politics and pride, and I’ll never again
hear Dusty Springfield’s vulnerable voice
wailing about “Your Hurtin’ Kind of Love” over swirling strings
while I spin in time to the vinyl in exhilarating circles
between the cuckoo clock and the iced chai latte with oat milk
that’ll spoil, unsipped.
Summer sunlight shimmers, and I’m missing rain, spitting
against my shaved head and naked arms or
on my window as I nestle into freshly-washed pillowcases,
not unlike the rushing veil of water on that morning
in Moncton when my buddy with the scratchy beard and pirate eyes and I
showered together.

I drop-kick my laptop off the balcony because
there’s no point in completing that
tedious editing job to pay rent rendered needless
since death is at least free for the corpse, and,
over the chaos and crying and swearing and shooting,
an unseen beak trills in a soprano, competing with
those sirens savaging my eardrums.
I press Natasha against my chest,
not far from armpits
permeated with perspiration;
I need to protect her, even if
the gesture is a sham for show, and
her heat is what I wish to feel before
meeting my peace-loving Mennonite ancestors
who’ll say, “we told you so.”

© 2020, Adrian Slonaker


Final Interpretation of Silence

Raanana, August 10, 2018

Today Death touched my friend’s lips
With her icy finger and silenced them,
Enfolding him in her long dark robes
And carrying him against her cold breast.
Across the wide sea, I stand alone now
Unable to cobble together a few words
To measure the greatness of my friend.
He called himself a wordsmith
But I called him a poet.
He knew the names of every flower,
Every bird and every cloud.
He could paint a picture in your mind
So detailed you’d swear you’d been there,
And if you called yourself a poet too,
You’d have died to write like him.
What a eulogy of himself he could have given
If Death had not taken away his breath first,
Now silence must be his eulogy
With nobody left to interpret it.

from Call of the Whippoorwill

© 2018, Mike Stone 

I’ve Seen Death Come

Raanana, June 4, 2018

I’ve seen death come for some
But not for others.
I’ve seen it drag souls from those they loved
And seen souls pull death’s slippery robes
Begging to be taken with it
Wherever it may go.
I’ve seen death sit patiently by a bedside,
Waiting for some soul to ask to be released,
And seen it rescue others
From the fear or pain of dying,
A thousand times worse than death, once come.
What else can be said of death?
That it’s unknown until it comes
And once it comes,
There’s no time left for wisdom’s gain.

from Call of the Whippoorwill

© 2018, Mike Stone 

Zen and the Art of Dying

Raanana, December 23, 2017

Death, after a full life, is not so fearsome.
It’s like a kind of meditation,
A relaxation from the tensions of living and dying,
A clarity that sees illusions, but also through them,
A detachment from pain and desire
In which the subject and object disappear together
And all that is left is invisible and silent.
Death is not a thing that stalks you,
That finds you where you hide,
It’s not a thing you can hold in your hand,
Thumbs up or thumbs down,
But the end of a life that never was forever,
That proffers bitter-sweet meaning
To those who accept it
On its threshold.

from Call of the Whippoorwill

© 2017, Mike Stone

The Hermit and the Cabin

My poor soul, bless its,
Well, you know what I mean,
Would soar like an eagle over dappled valleys
Dragging my body along with it if it could
But it has grown accustomed to the weight
And cumbersomeness of my body
Like a hermit grows accustomed to his cabin
Of rough-hewn logs and thatched twig roof
Lost in a wilderness of loveliness and terror.
The cabin protects it in a small way
From the vicissitudes of a heart’s seasons
And the uncertainties of our knowing,
But eventually the weeds send their tendrils
Through the chinks between the logs
At first admitting welcome daylight
But then unwelcome cold and finally
Strangling the logs with their slow sure strength
Until the hermit is forced to leave the cabin
Looking for another not too overgrown or exposed.
The old cabin will miss its hermit
Until the last log falls to ground
And the roof lies unthatched among the weeds, but
What cares the hermit for the cabin
Or the soul for its earthly body?

from The Hoopoe’s Call

© 2019,  Mike Stone

Mike’s website is HERE.

Call of the Whippoorwill is Mike Stone’s fourth book of poetry. It and other books of poetry and of science fiction by Mike are available from Amazon all over the world. Mike’s U.S. Amazon Page is HERE.


Jamie Dedes:

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Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

Maintain the movement.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton

A Long Day’s Journey Into Montana . . . and other poems in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

Photograph courtesy of Zoltan Tasi, Unsplash

“if i knew what the artist knows,
i would surely respond soul and body
to the echo of the Ineffable in rough earthy things

i would not fear decay or work left undone
i would travel like the river through its rugged, irregular channels
comfortable with this life; imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”
Wabi Sabi, Jamie Dedes (inspired by Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers by Leonard Koren



And this being Tuesday, here are the wonderful, inspired, and through-provoking poems from the poets who came out to play in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt and poem, The Art of Reinvention, April 29. I have no doubt that you will enjoy these poems by Anjum Wasim Dar, Irma Do, Frank McMahon, Sandra Benskin Mesher, Ben Naga, Nancy Ndeke, Eric Nicholson, Adrian Slonaker, and Mike Stone.

Do join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are welcome: beginning, emerging, and pro poets.


She said…
My birth was a reinvention, nature’s just intervention,
against worldly desirous selfish, the spirits conspired.

Ever since I opened my eyes and saw Land Ahoy’
my caretaker’s faces fell, Oh it’s a girl, not a boy’

O boy, O boy, how I lost all attention, in the newly
found dimension, and to adapt to the Earthly code

I was reinvented from a ‘star’ to the human mode,
Life was all peaceful joy, lots of frolic and fun

Books pens and colors, my best teacher was a nun,
all good till I grew a bit, life then pointed a loaded gun

Not a golden buttercup, nor a bed of red roses, life was
a journey with hypertension and little comprehension

Flashes of love, commands, reprimands, and countless
demands, as ‘you girl, stop romping like a tomboy, restless’

Reinvention began early in skin and bone , a change enforced
had to leave and move away from the personal comfort zone.

Repeated bouts of illness drenched me in sweat and pain
I came under the surgeon’s knife again and again and again.

So she said

Destined to shine in a constellation up high, for a purpose,
sacredly pure, nature tested experimented me for sure

Called ‘short’ in height and low on the scales, actively smart
at home with three sisters I became ‘The prince of Wales.’

The young carefree part was over too soon, reinvention
returned to transform me into a bride, wife and mother.

What people saw was a lucky lady, sari clad laden with gold
what my inner self felt was a commodity invented, and sold.

Reinvention did not stop, as roles and health kept changing
from bride to wife, to mother cook , a total maid in the making.

‘We are such stuff as dreams are made on’, all revels will end,
Earth’s surface is emptied, humanity to isolated lock down, sent.

People are reinventing a whole new digital life, a fresh slice,
but this time a tube a mask a cane or wheelchair may not suffice.

So she said

Reinvention is the art, part of life, it is in nature from the start
For all in this world, a role to play, a duty, before we depart.

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

Some Lines

I am but a label in a category
of diverse species, of humanity
surrounded by crows, chicken
and cats,visited by cows, in
company with a grey African parrot,

Sun’s changed position gives light
moon sometimes peeps through the
window at night,silence distorted by
barking dogs, wonder they are angry
or happy at humans locked down.

Unseen ecosystems decaying or
surviving, green or brown,one moment
wood, the next misunderstood, sprayed
netted drowned in fathoms bottomless,
nature changes forms, reinvents, recreates
all terrestrial on Earthly plane, all celestial
in the Milky Way-

and I say
‘All life is forever to be-
O Lord Thou hast made me-
shall thy work decay?’

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

Anjum ji’s sites are:

“POETRY PEACE and REFORM Go Together -Let Us All Strive for PEACE on EARTH for ALL -Let Us Make a Better World -WRITE To Make PEACE PREVAIL.” Anjum Wasim Dar


Red Cup Revisited

The red cup – a fixture in pictures
My focus yet blurred in my mind
Strong and sweet – the fake message
Scared and silenced – the truth
It matched everything
Or so I thought
Remember?
I can
Not
Stop
Drinking
Toss the cup
Where can I drown
This fear of living
Who can I reinvent?
Lost for so long in the mix
I need to climb out of the rocks
Where is the hand holding the red cup?

© 2020, Irma Do

Irma’s site is: I Do Run / And I do a few other things too . . . 


Schrodinger’s Cat

Desperate to avoid reality’s sharp spears,
the walls of his world closing in,
he thought he’d apply for the role
of Schrodinger’s cat. He’d read a bit
about it, liked the idea of being at the same time
somewhere and nowhere.

He thought he’d seen an advert inviting
applications, in a paper or on-line,
he wasn’t sure. He dug around
on the world-wide web, learned that Schrodinger
had died. Or so it said. But how could they be sure?

To be a cat, sure of its identity,
pampered master of the household!
To have nine lives! He’d need those, or one
at least if they sealed him in the steel-
walled chamber, give him for company
an atom, which might decay or then
again might not. And if it did go off, triggering
the deadly charge of cyanide or bomb,
then his other self would be elsewhere
outside the chamber, observing the scientists
or safely ensconced in Harrogate.

He dreamed of this happy feline state.
To be and not to be, that indeed
was the question, inside reality
and outside. It might lead on, perhaps,
to a part in Cats: Eric, the quantum cat.

He fell asleep, humming the Great Escape,
replete with dreams. Until a worm
of doubt began to slither and ruffle
his grey, drowsing cells, led him, nearly,
to the edge of a fundamental question.

© 2020, Frank McMahon

At the Storm’s Edge, Frank’s debut collection, is available through Amazon US HERE and Amazon UK HERE.


.reinvention, day one.

so we have no internet, the

tv went off, we slept lovely.

woke to pouring rain and i

am still in pyjamas,

not a bit angry.

was hoping to write grevious

and nasy, yet without the spell

check i am as nothing.

it is later now, a slight

reinvention.

© 2020, Sonja Benskin Mesher

…reinvention, another day…

seems i have reinvented

everything quieter than before.

wet autumn days or is it winter,

the change comes

gradually.

i dreamed a cloud of

falling leaves, awake to find it is so.

it is so very quiet here today.

© 2020, Sonja Benskin Mesher

Sonja’s sites are:


Unconventional Gambit

Shall I compare thee to a pile of dung
Left, still warm and steaming, by my horse?
So graceful, so well groomed, so well hung.
I describe the creature not myself of course
And pray my words may not, my darling, cause dismay.
Oh forgive a fool whose ardour outruns his tongue.
Should my simple similes offend thee what can I say
But that ’tis from untrimm’d spontaneity they’ve sprung.
If thou wrinkle thy nose at the smell, even sight
Of manure let my lips bid you reconsider the conceit.
Coming upon such ordure to the gardener is a delight
To be shovelled up and carried away tout de suite
For forking it into a bed is surely only but meet.
Without such sustenance would a rose smell so sweet?

© 2020, Ben Naga

Ben’s site is Ben Naga, Gifts from the Musey Lady and Me. “Laissez-moi vous recanter ma vraie histoire.”


Past This Corner.

Names define, like locales and culinary delights,
Faith’s too and the practices demanded,
Routines set, manners and etiquettes,
Arriving at ports of who the outside says we are,
See how the tides disagree,
With the silent wind howling and sweeping,
Knocking sense of old forts down,
Hear the rhythm of anxiety drive leaders to tears,
See the rise of questions over old biases,
Notice the flattening of hills of divisions,
Depths are shallowing with new eyes,
Everywhere a new dawn speaks,
Deference is no longer business as usual,
Indifference is learning a new thing,
Every truism is called for re-evaluation,
Hearts are matching with a light lense,
One not trained to pay allegiance to differentiate,
Reprograming the senses to acknowledge more,
We are back at the drawing board of humanity,
And shocking results bear witness,
That all we held prestigious is hollow,
And those we thought minions are angels,
And that material can be so valueless in times of need,
And that humanity needs a higher power to pull it out of it’s own mess,
Leading fact being,
It’s taken a tempest to teach us to be human again,
Harshness has sent us to observe,
Ever so carefully,
That either,
We reinvent our collective treatment of Earth and earthlings,
Or, tragically,
Man walks the dinosaur road.
Everything teaches.
Let agony teach us repentance ,
Forgiveness and fair play.
Respecting life and it’s sustainer.

© 2020, Nancy Ndeke

Nancy’s Amazon Page is HERE.


In the Shadow of Covid 19

In the garden
daffodils wilt; blossom falls.
Some may see today repeating
like a wind-up toy, while
what may seem hum drum,
the hum of the fridge,
a ticking clock,
the science fiction silence outside,
is the world renewing itself
in each dying moment.
And we too, while honouring
the bitter taste of each
remembered mistake
can fall apart again and again.

© 2020, Eric Nicholson

Eric’s site is: https://erikleo.wordpress.com


Long Night’s Journey Into Montana

Barely cognizant of the college town
just clinging to the jagged western edge
of Big Sky Country
the way a hostage hangs on to hope,
I’d never been to Missoula.
But at three-thirty a.m. last Thursday,
inspired by filtered internet images
and a kind wrestler in a cowboy hat
raised in the region,
I bought a one-way ticket,
concluding that this
must be a place capable of
incubating a fugitive from
stultifying status quos
who’s ghosted
his foot-gazing gait
and pizza-packed paunch,
swapping them for tight-fitting togs
and a swagger that surfaced
once he split from
toxic sap staining a family tree
and a metropolitan apartment
polluted with the vibrations of
vicious self-vilification.

So I spend the plane’s descent
placing a faded denim jacket
over broad, bony kneecaps,
extracting a pocket spiral notebook
adorned with the address of a
hotel-turned-home,
and noting down a new name
that spontaneously becomes
my own.

© 2020, Adrian Slonaker

Use the search feature on this site and on The BeZine to read more of Adrian’s poetry. Worth your time.


Body and Soul

All things physical were once naught,
Became, changed, continued changing,
And will be naught once more,
Whether it is a living breathing thing,
A skyscraper or a star,
And if it was once beautiful
That will also change,
But Plato spoke of ideals,
Perfect and so unchanging,
Untouched by the experience of time,
So impossible in the world of physicality
Yet so real as only souls can be
Where time never was nor will be
And if a soul is beautiful
Then beautiful it will always be.

Except from The Hoopoe’s Call

©2020, Mike Stone

Hope and Despair

There are but two futures to portend:
Hope is one, despair the other.
Despair comes to you from the western horizon
Bearing a large sack on his hunched back
And kerplatzes his fat tuches on your chest,
Plucking reasons why you can’t or shouldn’t
From his heavy sack.
Hope is not a safety net to catch you if you fall
Unless first you put one under you.
Hope comes to you from the east
Bearing nothing but her thin light
To dispel the western darkness.
Hope softly persuades you to change
What you can and must.
She gently pushes you over your nest’s edge
Impossibly high off the ground
So that you may fly
Or die.

Except from The Hoopoe’s Call

© 2020, Mike Stone

Creating a Language

I had a thought one day:
Why not create a special language?
After all, it has been said that
Languages shape the way we think
And likely what we think,
And since we can do whatever we do want,
I would like to change our language.

I would start by getting rid of certain words,
The hateful, hurtful, shameful ones,
The ones we wish we’d never said or heard:
Killing, hurting, raping, stealing,
Cheating, lying, disrespecting,
Boasting, pointing fingers,
Singing na-na na-na,
Warfare, torture, threats, and frightening,
Anger and self-righteousness.
There’s probably more, I’ll let you know
When I think of them.

I wouldn’t get rid of sad words
Since sadness is the other side of happiness
And nothing has just one side.

Then I’d add some brand-new words,
Some words we wished we had but didn’t:
Words that tell you how I really feel,
Rainbow words with all the gradients of feeling,
Like different grades of love,
Powerful words that can do what they say,
Single words that say everything,
Words that make you lift your head to hear them,
Different lengths of silence, like rests in music;
These are words I’d like to add.

Except from The Hoopoe’s Call

© 2019, Mike Stone

I Am What I Am

I’m not what I once was
Neither am I what I will be.
I am what I am
Until death do me part.

Except from The Hoopoe’s Call

© 2019, Mike Stone

To Survive in a Haphazard World

To survive in a haphazard world
In which good and evil are meaningless words
To understand what is happening all around
What has happened and what might happen or not
To feel what is good or evil to oneself and others
To think of what one’s done and not done
What one might do and what one must
To believe what one can’t think through
And to doubt those beliefs when doubts arise
To act when there’s no more time to think
But to stop that action when there’s time to think
Or it’s no longer needed,
These are what a mind is for.

Except from The Hoopoe’s Call

© 2019, Mike Stone

Mike’s website is HERE.

Call of the Whippoorwill is Mike Stone’s fourth book of poetry, It contains all new poems covering the years from 2017 to 2019. The poetry in this book reflects the unique perspectives and experiences of an American in Israel. The book is a smorgasbord of descriptions, empathies, wonderings, and questionings. It is available on Kindle and if you have Kindle Unlimited you can download it as part of your membership. I did.  Recommended. / J.D


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VIVIENNE, THE POET (Part 2): Poems and Biography of poet Mike Stone’s Mom

“Emily* sat with her wide skirts
Spread out over the squirrels and roses
Like a peacock’s tail in the desert of my childhood
Hugging the incubus of her daydreams
And listening to her own loneliness
As though her hands could touch its shape.” Ouija Poem #1, Mike Stone, February 5, 2016



Editor’s Notes: The photographs here belong to Mike and his family.  Please be respectful.  Note also that Mike’s mom changed the spelling of her name from Vivian to Vivienne, hence the discrepancy between the narrative commentary and the name on the book and the header photograph. The reference to Emily in the poem above is to Vivian/Vivienne who, if she could have chosen her own name, would have chosen “Emily.” Mike’s poem above is from Songs of Joy and Pain, the complete collection of Vivienne’s poems. The book closes with some poems by Mike under the general title Conversations with My Dead Mother.  / J.D.”

POETRY

Related
.
Dear Child, you wonder why I watch you so,
Your solemn, grey eyes now are questioning me.
How much are they like mine! How wise and still –
Brimming with dreams. I saw your fingers clutch
Your book as though it were some precious jewel –
And so it is …
A thousand books ago,
I sat as you sit now, far, far away
In some new land, my mind the strange mirror
Of what I read. What joyous life can dance
Across a printed page! Quiet little elf,
Too old for those your age, but still too young
To understand the subtle meanings of
The grownup’s world. Like me, aloof you sit,
Thoughtful, and yet, perhaps one moment back
Your little feet were flying over sand,
Eager, and swift, like wind, and close to God –
(Or what you think God is).
You deem me rude
To come and pierce your solitude. I know
More than you dream, how precious are your thoughts,
Guarded and unperceived. You see, dear heart,
We are but one. You are the child I was,
I am the poet grown that you will be.
……………………………July 13, 1948

Child of the Poet
.
I am the child of the Poet,
The daughter of the Beloved.
My soul was moulded by the hands
Of the Infinite Creator.
Silent and tender was His touch;
Eternal is His creation.

Out of a darkness do I come,
Reluctant to leave the warmth
Of the womb that has cradled me,
Rebellious at being thrust forth
From the secret nights I have known,
Into a strange, beginning day.
I am born now of love and pain
That is shared by the earth each spring,
When flowers break the hard, stubborn ground –
Shattering beauty with beauty, –
So I pierce the wind with my cries,
And the flight of years with my birth.
I am born, and the Beloved,
My Mother, is joyous and free.
Her voice is lifted in singing. –
“World, I give you my dearest child,
My vision of beauty made whole!”
And I am her dream and her song.
. . . . . . .  . . . .  . July 9, 1952
.

Sacrilege
.
So you thought to love a poet, –
Scornfully inclined,
Dared to want a poet’s body, –
And refuse her mind!

Did you guess her soul carved deeper
Than the shallow well?
Know it filled with flames of heaven,
And the ice of hell?
Could you think to take the darling
Of the gods above,
Bind her spirit into submission,
In the name of “Love”?
Leave the hearts of poets for others –
Wiser men, and kings;
You are well-content with lesser,
Foolish, little things!
                              February 14, 1953
,

The Cry of the Dreamers
.
World, you seek to still our yearning,
Have presumed to curse the stream
Raging in our hearts, as madness,
Hailing stagnant lakes supreme;
Proudly garbed in robes of science
You dissect the Poet’s dream!

In your land that grants the tyrant
Leave to trick the stupid breed,
Lauds the fork-tongued man as clever,
Bows before the rich man’s greed;
In their midst, you call us foolish
Who would plant a different seed …
What do you require of dreamers
Leaving footprints in the sky?
Is it envy gnawing in you
That would suffocate our cry;
In your sterile disbelieving
Do you still shout, “Crucify!”
Ever have you scorned our treasure,
Shunned the beauty we would give,
Cast away the sun and roses
Of the star-born fugitive …
Ever was Life sung by dreamers
Who were not afraid to live!
                       September 22, 1954

.
Goodbye
.
Goodbye, I will not lift my lips to touch yours
In this farewell, or look into your eyes,
Instead, I’ll note how spring has come too early –
For still, within my heart, the winter lies!

Goodbye, and speak not now of a tomorrow,
Or say, in parting, that we still are friends,
For friendship cannot be for those once lovers –
The night comes quickly when the sun descends!
We’ve learned impassioned vows are made, then broken,
We know the fires of love consume, then die,
And leave no trace – no softly burning embers
To glow, but just the ultimate – goodbye!
                                   December 11, 1954
.

At Onslow Bay
.
Spare my wild heart words of logic,
Here upon the naked sand;
Love and cautious apprehension
Never have walked hand-in-hand!

See my small form straight, unbowing,
Braced against the ocean’s wind,
Think you, that I’ll halt and ponder
If I gave too much, or sinned?
Is your heart a door half-open
On intruders’ love and pain;
Better shut and bolt it tightly –
Let me weep out in the rain …
Stooping down, you find a seashell,
Hold it, listening, to your ear,
Heeding not my young heart drowning
In the roaring floodtide here!
                              December 16, 1954
.

Memorable
.
I crowned you with a golden crown
For which a prince might long;
I wrote you deathless in a poem;
I made your name a song,
And one dark night I burned your face
With kisses wild and strong.

But what cared you for crowns of gold?
The rhymes you never miss;
My poems you scarcely can recall;
Yet, you remember this:
That one dark night your heart was burned,
And by a young poet’s kiss.
                                      January 22, 1955
..
– Vivienne Stone,
.
These poems are excerpts from The Song of Joy and Pain. They are copyright protected and published here with Mike Stone’s Permission. 
.

BIOGRAPHY

Vivian Stone in a Red Dress.

VIVIAN STONE (a.k.a. Vivienne Stone) was born Vivian Ethel Hamm on November 16, 1927, in Reading Ohio, now a suburb of Cincinnati. She was the second of five children: Wilda (oldest), Vivian, George, Bobby, and Gloria (youngest). She attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  She eloped with Alvin W. Stone and they were married on June 15, 1946, in Newport, Kentucky. After the marriage they lived in Clintonville, Ohio. Vivian gave birth to Mike Stone on March 27, 1947 and to Victoria Stone on October 11, 1951.

Vivian and Alvin were divorced on November 5, 1954 when her children were three and seven, respectively. A legal agreement, approved by a Franklin County court judge, was signed saying that Dad would be awarded custody of the children. Vivian was allowed frequent visiting rights. She moved to  Virginia Lee Gardens in Columbus and subsequently married Irwin (Irv) Papish, a practicing psychiatrist from Cleveland, Ohio.

Irv was called up as an Army psychiatrist with the rank of captain and transferred down to a US base in Panama with his new wife, Vivian. Toward the end of Irv’s duty in Panama, Vivian and Irv adopted two infants, Lisa and Chris.

Vivian was killed in a freak pedestrian accident in which a local driver reached over for a pack of cigarettes and inadvertently swerved into her while she was walking by the side of the road to her next-door neighbors’ house. She died two weeks later, on December 20, 1961. She was buried Hillcrest Memorial Park, Bedford Heights, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Her poetry collection was published by her son, Mike Stone, on October 13, 2018.  The collection is available in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited through Amazon US, UK, and around the world.

VIVIENNE, THE POET (Part 1): The Song of Joy and Pain (from my perspective), by poet Mike Stone

                      You deem me rude
To come and pierce your solitude. I know
More than you dream, how precious are your thoughts,
Guarded and unperceived. You see, dear heart,
We are but one. You are the child I was,
I am the poet grown that you will be.
Vivienne Stone, excerpt from Related (July 13, 1948)
….

“I never saw my mother’s book of poetry until a couple years ago (2018). I don’t remember seeing any of her poems or seeing her in the act of writing.” Mike Stone 



Editor’s Note: The photographs here belong to Mike and his family.  Please be respectful.  Note also that Mike’s mom changed the spelling of her name from Vivian to Vivienne, hence the discrepancy between the narrative and the name on the book and the header photograph. / J.D.

These are the dry facts of my life relating to my mother and her hand-written leather-bound book of poetry, The Song of Joy and Pain. The facts form a triangle in my mind: my father, my mother, and my stepmother.

My father and mother eloped and got married young. Dad was nineteen. Mom was eighteen. I was born nine months and twelve days later. My sister, Victoria, was born four-and-a-half years after me.

At this point, I must state that I have no factual memories of my mother prior to the age of thirteen. I have memories. They just aren’t factual; that is, whatever I might have remembered from personal experience had been supplanted by a collage of other people’s narratives and the few physical documents I happened to come across.

It has been said that we see only what we expect to see. I believe that the memories that we’ve experienced directly are replaced by parts of narratives that are associated with those experiences. Those narratives come to us from the people we trust.

Victoria and Mike
Victoria and Mike

Dad divorced Mom when I was seven years old. Victoria was three. This was when the narratives started. Dad’s narrative went like this: Mom was an unfit mother. She was hysterical. She beat me with a pancake turner. This was why he divorced her and sued for custody of my sister and me. She wrote “poetry” (deprecatingly said) and held poetry “salons” in which she would sit on the floor in a circle of “poetry” admirers. Dad hated these salons.

I never saw my mother’s book of poetry until a couple years ago (2018). I don’t remember seeing any of her poems or seeing her in the act of writing.

Dad remarried two years later. I was encouraged to call my stepmother “Mom”, although it was a few months before I felt able to do so. A new narrative began: our mother had never loved us. After a while, after calling my stepmother “Mom”, I began referring to my birthmother as “my biological mother” to avoid confusion when discussing her. As time went on, I just called my birthmother by her first name, “Vivian”.

Vivian remarried a year or so after the divorce. Her husband (Irv) was a psychiatrist. They visited my sister and me twice a year. Eventually, Irv was called up to the Army and they were transferred to Panama for three years. A few months before they were to be rotated Stateside, they adopted two infants, Lisa and Chris.

Three days before they were to fly back home, Vivian was killed in a freak pedestrian accident. I was fourteen when we received a letter informing us of her death.

Six years ago (2014), Lisa contacted my sister and me on Facebook. Although she was only an infant when Vivian was killed and had no direct memories of her, she had heard many stories about Vivian from Irv and also from friends of the family in Panama and America who knew Vivian and knew her history with my father, my sister, and me. The narratives Lisa had heard contradicted the narratives on which I was raised: Vivian had loved my sister and me very much. Dad’s family had been against the marriage and had forced my father to divorce Vivian or he would not receive any financial support from them. Vivian was unwilling to give up custody of us. Dad’s parents had Vivian committed to an insane asylum until she agreed to sign the divorce papers.

Lisa told my sister and me that Irv had sent her two hand-written leather-bound books of Vivian’s poetry, which were word-for-word copies of each other. Lisa had read Vivian’s poetry and it was clear to her from Vivian’s poems how much she had loved us.

Narratives against narratives. The ground shook under my feet. My childhood memories crashed and lay in ruins. I couldn’t imagine any possible motive for Lisa to lie about Vivian’s past, but I could imagine a few possible motives for my father and stepmother to lie to us.

Dad passed away in 2010. By 2017 our stepmother suffered from vascular dementia. We placed her in a 24/7 nursing care facility. She passed away in October 2019.

Vivienne Stone’s collection is available through Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and Kindle Unlimited

How did I come into possession of my mother’s poetry collection?
Lisa had told my sister and me that she would be happy to give us one of the hand-written copies of our mother’s poetry. She sent the book to Victoria since Lisa lived in New York state and Victoria lived in Connecticut. I live in Israel. We didn’t trust the international postal carriers to get such a precious book to me in Israel, so the next time I went to Columbus Ohio to visit our stepmother in 2018, Victoria mailed the book to my cousin in Columbus who handed it to me when I arrived.

What did I think of her poems?
I love poetry, both the writing and reading of poetry; however, I’m very demanding of the poets and poetry that I read. Poets must be authentic in their expression. They must be brilliant. Poems must leap with originality. They must surprise me. I have scant patience for less-than-brilliant poets. My only rule in writing is that I write what I’d like to read.

Before I opened our mother’s book of poetry, I trembled in fear of what I was about to read. I was afraid that I would be disappointed, that her poetry would be just “poetry”, as Dad had described in deprecation.

I opened her book and read the first poem and then the next, and the next. Her poetry exceeded my wildest expectations. Her poems were beautiful; they were brilliant; and they were authentic. She wrote poems about everything and everyone around her, and how she felt about them. She wrote about how she loved my father as only a poet can love. She wrote of the betrayal she felt when Dad told her he was divorcing her. She wrote of the despair and loneliness she felt. She wrote about her thoughts of suicide.

How did I feel about her poems?
I believed every word my mother wrote. A poet who is authentic does not lie. If you must lie in a poem you write, then what is the point of writing the poem? The authentic poet needs to reveal his soul. Perhaps that is the difference between a poet and a wordsmith. A wordsmith connects one word to another, considering rhyme and meter, showing off his or her knowledge and vocabulary. A poet’s soul needs to peek out of his or her poetry.

Therefore, the truth about our mother and us cracked and crumbled the narratives of my childhood memories. I feel freed of my shackles. I feel empty though. I know my childhood memories are false, but her poems cannot replace my memories because I have no memories to replace.

I transcribed our mother’s poetry into digital form, using a script font reminiscent of her handwriting. There were fifty-four poems in all. I added a foreword and, at the end, poems that I had written about her, to her. It was a labor of love for me.

How did I feel?
I felt that my father had thrown away a goddess worth more than all the wealth his family had threatened to withhold from him. He should have stood up to his parents and protected his wife who had loved him with the purest of innocence. That is what I would have done if I had been in his shoes. I felt that my father had lied to us, to me, because he was ashamed of what he had done. I felt that our stepmother had lied to us because she had wanted us to love her instead of our mother.

In what ways did her poetry change me?
Her poetry made me return to my childhood to love and cherish her, retrospectively. In doing so, I’ve grown to love the little boy that I was once. Now, I am seventy-three years old. It’s about time.

© 2020, Mike Stone

RELATED:

MIKE STONE (Uncollected Works) is a regular participant in The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt. We are always delighted with the opportunity to read  and share his work.  Mike was born in Columbus Ohio, USA, in 1947 and was graduated from Ohio State University with a BA in Psychology. He served in both the US Army and the Israeli Defense Forces. He’s been writing poetry since he was a student at OSU and supports his writing habit by working as a computer networking security consultant. He moved to Israel in 1978 and lives in Raanana. He is married and has three sons and seven grandchildren. Mike’s Amazon Page is HERE. His work is recommended without reservation.