“People around the world may be physically separated in pandemic lockdowns, but they are joined in at least one way — many are experiencing vivid and bizarre coronavirus dreams.” Why so many people are experiencing pandemic dreams, Helena Humphrey, NBC News
Do join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are welcome: beginning, emerging, and pro poets. This is a friendly, nonjudgmental opportunity offering the chance to exercise your poetic muscle, to display your work, and to “meet” other poets who may be new to you.
Sweat drips down
Onto the treadmill that has had better owners
But it can’t be heard up two flights of stairs at 3 AM
it won’t disturb my quietly sleeping children
it won’t disturb my quietly snoring spouse
it won’t disturb the quiet illusion of life as it should be
Here in the basement cave with it’s napoleon ceiling
I do not want to sleep
I do not want to dream
I do not want to figure out how to stay safe from something that can’t be seen
I do not want to figure out a “new normal”
If I am moving, I am not dreaming
of things that I can’t control
of things that I shouldn’t hope for
of things that could be or should be
of things that start with “what if”
So I run but not away, just enough to sleep
without the energy for my brain to continue the run
Of the classes my father paid,
Of the classes I paid for me,
Nothing tops like the classes I teach me,
Am the pupil,
Am the tutor,
Notes compare the mood,
Yesterday does shine quite a bit,
Today has it’s shadows,
Tomorrow seems a decade away,
My score sheet blurrs,
May mark pen draws exes in excess,
A staccato of dreams zig zags on the edge,
Every human smote rides my eyes,
I mourn with ease what mornings bring,
Vacation vacated it’s pull,
Reading tells better news,
Afraid is quite real,
Reality is traumatic,
My own voice sounds alien,
And prayer raised it’s volume,
My bridal hopes still dreams of a sunrise,
My groom is every human with a sigh,
Am reaching out to myself more,
Am negotiating with mind more,
Am recounting scars with a smile more,
Am learning from own lessons and tutorials,
And my score though not high,
It’s above average truth be told,
For priorities are ever clearer,
Rif raf and procrastination has exposed themselves.
I have met me and sat with me besides sleeping with me,
And I dare say am pleasantly surprised at who I saw,
A creature who thought they knew but now know they didn’t,
For what had mattered all those wasted years is simple,
Love life as you live it in the moment,
Enough is the best stock to keep,
Health is wealth of a kind and matters a lot,
The mind has great capacity to adapt,
And Humanity is just one part of the universe, and not the universe,
That all men are basically the same and their needs are simple.
And I woke with the smiling sun,
Thankful for such a class that taught me the simplicity of life.
Yellow ties snake out of
brown bin liners
like thin layers of leather
with static cling that
accommodate copious quarts
refuse, be it
a shattered sex toy or
a shiny tray splattered with spaghetti.
In the “new normal,”
I’m denied discretion as
it’s deemed an anti-contagion
civic duty to
fill out forms
listing every last
object chucked into each
garbage bag sagging
by the curb.
I nitpick over the papers,
plunged into panic as to
whether I’ve revealed
all my trash truths
in ink black enough and
fearing I may find myself
fined or detained or
banished to a rubbish blacklist
because I’ve unwittingly breached
the bureaucracy theater
thought up to thwart either COVID-19
or the bearers of virtual torches and
pitchforks turned viral
“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
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
“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
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
As you carry me across the threshold
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.
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.
Except the feeling
The feeling of time
Taking a turn for the worse
Can’t think about loved ones
Will miss them most
Will I also cry for?
Surrounded by Elements
Of beauty and truth
The poor person’s diamonds
Cool as rain
Hot as unwanted pain
Mixed Gas, creator of Air
Softly blowing my hair
And the Plasma of life’s Fire
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
Thought I’d touch you forever
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
How can I go on
Without the Elemental Beauty
Last week was speckled with
Kardashians and stock markets and
crude internet memes, yet now
the nuclear annihilation
my father once foresaw has
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
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
“Set wide the window. Let me drink the day.” Edith Wharton, Artemis to Actaeon and Other Verses
The Sun Is In Love With Me
what a morning, good morning burst of apricot, showering light drizzling glee, a child’s laughter if I had to live for just one day it would be this one, morning-glory nodding her bright-eyed blue head and i know, there’s no such thing no such thing as a death star there’s only life, over hill and field shining into windows, on warm grass Look! the daisies are smiling and the California poppies are popping yellow like corn in a pot the moon was muse last night today the sun is in love with me
And here we are still poeming away in the time of COVID-19. It’s not surprising that many of these poems reflect the global strategies for containing the virus so relentlessly dominating our thoughts. The poems collected here today are in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt, Magnolia Teacups, March 18, which encouraged poets to write about life on their day off. In one of his poems, Our Empty Shelves, Paul reveals what a shock it is to come back to work at his grocery after his days off and see the changes wrought by the pandemic.
Isn’t it wonderful that we can sooth our spirits and connect with others through poetry without passing anything more dangerously contagious than perspectives and experience? Much thanks this week to mm brazfield, Paul Brookes, Anjum Wasim Dar, Irma Do, Sonia Benskin Mesher, Nancy Ndeke, Miroslava Panayotova, Bishnu Charan Parida, and Adrian Slonaker for coming out to play and so gracefully responding to the challenge.
Enjoy! Be inspired, comforted, stirred, … and do join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt. All are welcome: beginning, emerging, and pro poets.
sábado de manhã*
dew drops shape
coffee slowly drips
from the hallway foot steps fall
Cortana plays old time country tunes
the gray cat her ocean green eyes watch me write words that will remain unspoken
in proper fresh Beef fat for better flavour, in a proper chip pan. Don’t let
old fat lie. Keep it new, not like neighbours, nowt against them,
not meaning to be offensive but veg don’t put hairs on your chest,
or give a bloke owt to hold onto on a night. There’s yon young un out
on a morning in her slippers and pyjamas hangs out her undies,
as if no ones looking. Him next door in his loose dressing gown lumps white
bags in grey bin, pussy cardboard boxes in blue. Like I said don’t let old fat lie.
Tha allus sees summat proper fresh
out thee windows.
A book begins and ends in a garden.
A book begins and ends in delight.
See the coloured pages
Scattered like pixels.
Each bird note is a colour.
Each rustle is a colour.
Sometimes a rubato
out of the usual rhythm
of this morning and evening
The garden of memory.
His rock garden reminded my late dad
of Lake District mountains.
Each page is a leaf,
each leaf an instrument
played by the gust.
Every chorus of leaves
A fresh painting of the garden.
An as yet, unpublished poem, part of last year’s poetry month
It was Friday night quite late, a silent voice told
me, ‘ pull the curtains and look’, right in front
suspended, illuminating the sky, smilingly
appeared the crescent, another bright star in its
company, ‘we are here, and you are not alone’
Lucky me to have seen them, I returned to my
desk and thought, ‘would I be able to finish my
pending work, the story that my son wishes me
to write? The poems, that are in the files needing
printing? The half knitted baby sweaters, and afghan
squares? the clock’s needle kept moving smoothly
not ticking, soon it will be predawn prayer time,
time to pull aside the curtains and see the first light
reveal the hillside, alas here there are no magnolias
nor roses nor tulips, but fields and a few farmers-
Birds will appear, to feast on the crumbs put on the
wall, crows fly over from time to time, strangely they
are silent, Saturday mornings are silent as schools are
closed, children are silent too sleeping late, peaceful
is the atmosphere- Saturdays are ‘get together days’
The village farmer will bring fresh vegetables, lay
them on the ‘charpoy’ on the roadside close to his field
and the day’s sale will soon begin-the city nearby will
gradually rise from its drowsy numbness, half opened
eyes watching vehicles begin to race as work begins
on a much slower pace, asking for and giving space
just a selfish concern and soon busy in the worldly
“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
Saturday mornings begin best with
Awakening while the sun still sleeps, dressing then
Trotting down the stairs with sneakers in hand, quietly making a PB and J yet
Ultimately waking the youngest ones with the coffee pot’s final hiss,
Rushing to get them back to bed then, quickly into the car, fueling and hydrating
(me not the car)
Driving to a favorite trail, late, but relieved that my tribe waited for me to
Arrive before starting on our group run.
Yes, this is the best way to begin a Saturday.
I have lived, I have been bereaved,
I have known joy leaping in bubbly bounces, and,
I have bowed completely defeated and defenseless,
But this one Saturday, is uniquely born,
A day of anxious waiting,
A day of tedious praying,
Marooned inside my mind and space,
Common nature sounds refuse to led the old tongue,
For my attenae is pulled long and hard into my chests behavior,
Listening to the engine humming,
Keenly hearing the erratic thrum,
Is it so is it not so?
Am I “goosed” am I not ” goosed”
I remember leaving my appetite at the doctor’s place,
I forget where I misplaced my seen of peace,
Photographs seem to mock my staring eyes,
My moves are jerky and my nerves frayed,
I want to pray but my tongue plays roof top stuck,
This Saturday morning is quite a mouth full,
It exposes the cowardly self of my self,
Preaching loneliness in a severe tongue and jeering at my speeding heart.
Across the fence a child cries and a mother sings,
In the distance, the train whistles,
Further still, thunder rolls,
The smell of moisture in the air fills my lungs,
I take a shower and a hot cup of coffee,
I have a load of mail to answer to and,
And a poem for this day,
Was advised to socially distance till this cough runs out,
Am alone but not so lonely,
And this Saturday is a day of and for lessons,
Sometimes, we take for granted the beauty of togetherness,
A fact if I survive, I do promise on this Saturday morning,
Never take for granted the simple joys of interactions.
Nestled naked in a king-size bed,
I banish the brashness of Saturday morning sunrays
with blackout curtains
and quench a parched mouth with
starfruit sparkling water –
an upgrade from the Lucky Charms-infused moo juice
of my youth,
neutralizing the gorgonzola and mushroom pie
acquired from that quirky pizzeria run by hipsters
and the sucrose-laden liquid thought to be coffee
quaffed during the frenzy of fringe freak shows
known as Friday night trash TV,
trailed by an extended dose of calming darkness
with pressures popped like a succession of cracked knuckles
and a heart rate relaxed by
a fresh paycheck in the belly of my bank account
and a satin-bound blanket that doubles as a hug
when you’re single.
Oh lovely chance, what can I do To give my gratefulness to you? You rise between myself and me With a wise persistency; I would have broken body and soul, But by your grace, still I am whole. Many a thing you did to save me, Many a holy gift you gave me, Music and friends and happy love More than my dearest dreaming of; And now in this wide twilight hour With earth and heaven a dark, blue flower, In a humble mood I bless You wisdom– your waywardness. You brought me even here, where I Live on a hill against the sky And look on mountains and the sea And a thin white moon in the pepper tree. Sara Teasdale,The Collected Poems
Note: I am putting The Poet by Day on hiatus starting tomorrow for the holy days. I’ll return on January 8, 2010 with the next Wednesday Writing Prompt.
♥ Wishing you much joy in the year end festivities. ♥
♥ Best wishes for the 2020! ♥
if the rust stained bones in my frame
where to ever get a chance again
to glide across the universe
look into Pandora’s jet white eyes
and smell the lighted stars
like people sniff the roses
my soul to keep i’d give away
to plug the holes
and pave new ways
for dusk to kiss the lonely hearts
for dawn to inter the bitter crop
from where my old roots are rotted
i’d be a renegade of love again
with bombs of ear drums
i would fight
to give a spot to everyone
in God’s angelic choir
if the sacred morning dew
can forgive me
for not being wide awake
in baptizing my sinful state
in the worldly river of life
reason being i was up all night
marching behind my sisters and brothers
blinded by the poisoned dark
with intent to guide them out
of their imposed upon madness
or if the maidens of the light
would prefer to bring me back
i would want to be
a lightning bolt
looking to correct
the wicked negatives of the cold hard ground
with the positives in the celestial clouds
to quench the crops of kindness
that are drying out
yet in all honesty
i’d be more than content
to come back as a rainbow colored bubble
making some kid laugh
She would have been a wild child
Wind-blown without temperance
She would have held her truth
high like a flag, running
Her feet scraped raw
Her words etched into never-ending
Wonder. She would have gulped life
Ever-thirsty Her heart, the drum of Earth
River-blood in her veins
She would never stop
Until she flew wings
Cutting gravity. Each slice pushing
Her higher. Lungs becoming sky
So vast and blue she would not know
Ending, She would have been
Tantrums, and cries
So let it be
A bolt from blue
Well, you have got “Nothing” to say ….yeah
Then you tell me that
You don’t tell us “Sorry”
Join in our circle of friends
Let’s talk ….yeah
Let sags of your face rise and fall
More and more
Well, brace yourself to love
And make it a plan but little sense ….yeah
More and more
If you get another chance
Tantrums, and cries
So let it be
A bolt from blue
O, that moment of imminent action
When a confluence of worlds intersect
All is possible
Like The Death of Socrates
As he reaches for his hemlock
Iconic cup of forced suicide
What will he do? Recant?
It would change history
But the speechifying continues
“Don’t!” I shout to the painting
As if there is no known conclusion
Might as well scream at the hero of a horror flick
“Don’t go down the cellar/up the attic/outside to the shed”
And now, in modern times
I find myself screaming at the dumb teenager:
“Charge your phone!”
O that special moment
Time etched on canvas in paint
And the Universe holds its breath
As I hesitate
And then say, “Sure, we might as well get married”
Maybe not as important as Hector
About to be murdered by Achilles
Can he surrender and live to fight
And why do I
Focus on marriage?
Surely I regret giving up
Guitar, writing, tarot
Perhaps it’s just feeling Blue
During this Red, Green and Gold holiday
But junctures appear, innocently beckoning
And I so wish there had been
A painting depicting that imminent action
Something I could have studied and thought about
Before opening my mouth
And just maybe
Unlike Socrates and Hector
That moment could have been deflected
A lone laser point harmlessly careening
Into endless space…