The Cruelest Month

It’s April again. This is National Poetry Month. I read T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland with a group of poets a couple of years ago. I enjoyed learning about the poem but I don’t remember what we decided he meant by April being the cruelest month. Except for the last decade (or more), April has become the month to inspire poets to write a new poem everyday. I’ve done it. It’s tough but does provide a nice stockpile of work to bring to critique workshops. But these days I’m just not into working that hard.

My motto for National Poetry Month: Enjoy poetry! There are lots of online poetry readings. I will be attending the book launch of the Heart Beats poetry anthology. published by Lisa Tomey, Prolific Pulse. (PS. I’m very proud to say that I have two poems in this book.). I will also be one of the poets featured at Poetry On Your Plate, hosted by the Carrboro Parks and Recreation department on April 26. (Living Poetry Meetup for the event.)

Of course I’ll write poetry. I’ll check the daily prompts on Robert Brewer’s “Write Better Poetry” daily April Challenge (formerly Poetic Asides). But not everyday! And I plan on reading poems from well-known poets. I read a lot of poetry from my contemporaries, but I think I could use some more grounding in the classics.

What do you plan to do for National Poetry Month?

Have You Met Me?

“Get out there and enjoy this beautiful day!”
Have you met me? I am indoorsy
I prefer Nature through a window.

“Have a fabulous day!”
How long have you know me?
Keep your uber enthusiasm to yourself.

“You should wear…
do … to your hair”
How dare you tell me
what I should care about.
Don’t give me diet advice.
Don’t talk to me before coffee.

“It’s April. Write a Poem every day!”
You can’t make me.
My inner child is strong.
Except I will write this one.

Horoscopes and Scars

Let’s me be clear. I don’t believe in horoscopes. I just think they’re fun to read, particularly the ones written by Rob Brezsny in “Free Will Astrology,” a syndicated weekly column that appears in free weekly independent newspapers and on the web at https://freewillastrology.com/. Poet, prophet, literate dabbler. He’s not really an astrologer as much as a suggester of things that could be useful. He quotes writers, artists and others. He writes about archetypes and references Freud and Jung. I never feel like his ‘scops are something to believe. Mostly they are just entertaining.

Take this week for example, my Scorpio horoscope for the week of March 25th, 2021:
“Blobs, spots, specks, smudges, cracks, defects, mistakes, accidents, exceptions, and irregularities are the windows to other worlds,” writes author Bob Miller. I would add that all those things, along with related phenomena like fissures, blemishes, stains, scars, blotches, muck, smears, dents, and imperfections, are often windows to very interesting parts of this seemingly regular old ordinary world—parts that might remain closed off from us without the help of those blobs and defects. I suggest you take full advantage of the opportunities they bring your way in the coming weeks.

This makes me think of Wabi-Sabi and Kintsugi.
Wabi Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that finds beauty in imperfect things. It is a beauty of things modest and humble, unconventional. Wabi is the kind of perfect beauty that is seemingly-paradoxically caused by just the right kind of imperfection. Sabi is the kind of beauty that can come only with age, such as the patina on a very old bronze statue. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of putting broken pottery pieces back together with gold — a metaphor for embracing your flaws and imperfections. The gold makes the pottery stronger and more beautiful. It reveals how to heal and shows you that you are better with your golden cracks,”

Looking for Wabi Sabi

Beauty in age and wear.
My old car runs despite scary noises,
dents and scrapes and petrified fries,
worse for wear inside and out.
I’m looking for Wabi Sabi.

Beauty in imperfection.
Scars and stripes on my skin,
grey hair, a pimple, an age spot.
I’m looking for Wabi Sabi.

As I tend to a surgeon’s cut
I check healing progress,
watch a new scar form.
How can I be more beautiful
with these red lines?
I must let my gold shine thru.

Rage against the spoons

Rage against the spoons

forks, knives that she insists
have to be divided into their own set
when they come out clean
even though they are used interchangeably
from whichever drawer is closest
when cutlery is required.

Rage against the overflowing shelf
of food storage containers
and pile of extra lids,
so many glasses
dishes, duplicates.

I couldn’t wait to leave home
so I could do things My Way
And now here I am
with family again
but the zip code and the territory is new.

Rage against the quirks of a plaque-addled brain.
Why must she…
Why can’t she…
This is mild! It’s only going to get worse.
Remembering how we were then
how it is now
with a senior-parent/child.

Rage against the new reality.

Poetry News and Notes

I haven’t been writing. I stare at a blank computer screen for a bit, then switch over to Facebook to read memes, watch animal videos and read articles about odd and weird things. Because I’ve spent two months migrating myself and my mother into a new house! Because I’m adjusting to being her caregiver! Because I’ve had surgery! Because blah blah blah. The world keeps turning.

It’s time to get back to Poetry. I have news!

Last year I was honored to receive Honorable Mention in the Light Verse category of the North Carolina Poetry Society’s annual poetry competition. This year I submitted to six of the 10 categories. And …

I received Second Place for my poem “Assume the Position” Bruce Lader Poetry of Witness category!

The full list of winners

Bruce Lader was a wonderful and prolific poet with four books of published poetry. He was very active in the North Carolina poetry community and a great believer in social justice. He was also a long-time friend of the editor and great supporter of the Heron Clan poetry anthology series. Sadly, Mr. Lader passed away from a very unexpected and sudden illness in 2020 just as we were assembling book seven of the series. So, I am especially thrilled and honored to have my poem win in this category..

A couple of days after the January 6 Insurrection attempt at the State Capital, I posted a poem about it (Epiphany Demonstrations), with a note about it being a rushed draft. As expected, the submission group I monitor on Facebook had a rush of calls for poems about the event. It gave me a reason to work on the poem a bit and I submitted it to Gnashing Teeth Publications for an anthology on the subject. The poem was accepted! I haven’t bought the book yet cause, busy, but I will. The anthology is available on Amazon.

So that’s it on the self-promotion front. I certainly need to get back to poetry as I’ve got a “ghost” of a poem floating around my head. (Thanks to Audrey Driscoll and her latest blog post, A Page a Day, for that term, and for the nudge to write.)

Umbrella Days

Monday 3/1 Living Poetry Prompt

When it rains it pours
but it’s been raining too damn long
and I need some sun.

These gray skies are seeping into my gray matter
Looking for salvation in the next weather report.

Well dear readers – looks like my recent medical crisis is NOT over. It’s been nice to be at home but I’m headed back in for infection control. I miss it here. But I’ll be back. Send good vibes.

Mars

Give me a spacesuit
and take me to Mars
so I can scream my rage to the rocks
throw sand, and break the air around me.
But no!
Don’t leave me there with the robots
The loneliness would crush me
despite the low gravity.
Must I silence this grief
in order to live in your orbit?


Transitions

Dear Diary,
My re-entry to normal civilian life has been bumpy and surreal. While I am happier than a squirrel living in a Mr. Planter’s nut factory to be in my own bed again, I almost miss the convenience of ice chips and jello delivered bedside.
Princess JeanMarie

Hello! It’s good to be home again, behind the screen, fresh off a two-week stay at UNC hospital (Chapel Hill, NC). I don’t recommend emergency surgery for a bowel obstruction, but if you’re going to get your guts twisted into a knot, it’s a good place to go, and to leave (cause really, leaving the hospital is always better than going in.)

I don’t really have much to say at the moment. No poetry (yet). Looking forward to a full recovery (stupid post op infection). Oh….

2021: You can suck it!

Epiphany Demonstrations

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill went up the hill
to lobby on behalf of big business and tobacco.
The Senate fell down and broke its crown.
And the House came tumbling after.

That poem is from my collection of political and nonsense poems, “Not-for-the-Nursery Rhymes.” I wrote and published them almost a decade ago, and now when I read it, it seems so quaint. Is the tobacco lobby still one of the top 5 most evil institutions? Not all political poetry ages well. Here’s an updated version. I readily concede, it is not my finest work, and that’s OK. Sometimes you just have to work things out. Besides, I (naively) hope that ten years from now readers won’t know what I’m talking about.

January 6, 2021

Jack and Jill went up the hill
to bust into the Capitol.
The unruly seditious radicals
put Democracy in condition critical.
They believed 45’s lies and people died.
Senators were forced to take sides.
Congress confirmed the election
to thwart their QANON erection.
But we’re not done. It’s not over yet.
We’re in a precarious political situation
just days before 46’s inauguration.
Pick your side and hold on tight.
We’re not done with this fight.

Happy New Year

The wee hours are the best for contemplation, especially on this first day of a new year. The last 11 days have been exhausting: two days in the hospital (not covid), family in town to help me pack and move (they had to do the bulk of it), and a steady stream of minor and major setbacks. But we all survived, and we managed to have some Christmas cheer. So here I am, alone in a quiet new space, surrounded by boxes to unpack.

I rarely miss watching the annual ball drop from New York’s Time Square, but this year I left the tv off. Sure, if 2020 was a person I would spit in its eye as it slunk out the door; but it isn’t. Counting down seconds would not magically make everything better. There’s no fairy godmother to wave a wand and make corona virus disappear, turn my (brand new) bathrobe into a ballgown, or have an eligible bachelor bring me fancy footwear. The only thing left to do is keep the fire of hope alive, write poetry; and keep moving forward.

And now, a poem about the overnight watch. I wrote this in 2013. Happy New Year!

Midnight

Midnight is where truth and lies become one.

The Zen and when of Midnight
is the razor’s edge between times,
a space outside of (right) now:
not today, not quite tomorrow.

The face and the place of Midnight
is a dark night and a thin veil
between the natural and other.

The little ones and old folk
are tucked up tight.
Midnight is occupied
by witches and lovers,
preachers and writers.
You know — all the cool kids.

If I could live my life
60 slim seconds at a time
let it be at Midnight.

Happy Holidays

Gift Giving
I don’t need anything but you.
A smile a laugh, let’s raise a glass.

Don’t give me something I have to dust.
How about a meal we don’t have to cook.

Don’t agonize over what to buy.
A warm hug is always the right size.

No delicate, awkward gift exchange
like a china plate atop a teeter-totter.

Just give me a kiss that I can return.
And I will carry your love everywhere.

This poem is my response to the Monday Poetry Prompt.

Is there a difference between a gift and a present? Yes, according to Merriam Webster.

Are you a writer, still looking for last-minute gifts? Check out The Season of Giving blog post by horror novelist Priscilla Bettis.

No matter what holiday you choose to celebrate this month, I hope it is joyful and brings you peace.