Title That Poem

I’m slowly cleaning out my In Progress folder. In the last two months I’ve work-shopped, edited and moved out several poem. Tonight’s high point was finally making a decision on how to incorporate the feedback I got on a poem in the July workshop. I spit it into two poems and moved them into the appropriate folder.

I’ve heard it said that poems are never finished, but simply abandoned. It may be true. Some of the poems in this folder have been there for years. The oldest file, titled Twilight, is dated 2016. When I opened up the document, I see three different attempts at a short poem, each titled Twilight, the earliest dated 2000.  Twilight is my least favorite time of day. That might be why I never got that one together.

But let’s move on. Today I need your help getting another poem out of limbo. I wrote this one for this year’s April Poem-a-Day challenge. The prompt was to incorporate 6 specific words in the poem. I managed to do that fairly quickly, with one of the prompt words in each of six lines. And then I stalled.  I wasn’t feeling it and eventually just wrapped it up with a rather silly/jokey ending, and saved it as “6 words” because I couldn’t be bothered with creating a real title.

I’ve decided that I want to stick a fork in it, and call it done. A plastic fork, not a stainless steel one because I might want to revisit it at some time. I just need it out of the folder so I can “find” it someday and either revise it or delete it. But before I can do that, I need a title to rename the file and add it to the inventory. That’s where I need your help Dear Reader.  Please read the poem below and post your suggestions for a title in the comments. Bonus points and undying love if you come up with a better final line. I might even have a prize to send.

The wolves are howling in the hills.
The lonely sound echoes in my belly.
It has been too long since I felt your embrace.
As my resolve grows to remedy
this situation, the fixtures that keep us apart
become as bumps in the road.
I’ll be there as soon as I find my shoes!

 

dance

North of Oxford – The Pandemic Issue #6

I’m pleased to be included in the latest issue of Pandemic poetry from North of Oxford. Scroll all the way down to the bottom to see my three poems.

North of Oxford

“Windowbox Flowers and Rain Barrel” “Windowbox Flowers and Rain Barrel” by Mary M. Michaels https://marymmichaels.weebly.com/

Thanks to the poets for contributing to The Pandemic Issue #6 from North of Oxford and Mary M. Michaels for graciously providing her art.  In order of appearance we present:  Henry Crawford, Megha Sood, Sheila Allen with Emily Jensen, Kerry Trautman, M. J. Arcangelini, Stephen Bochinski, Christine Riddle, Maria Keane, Marko Otten, Patricia Carragon, Jonel Abellanosa, Reizel Polak, Lois Perch Villemaire, Stephen Page, John Stickney, Ethel Gofen, Nan Ottenritter, Larry C. Tolbert, Kirsty A. Niven, Roderick Deacey, Gwil James Thomas and JeanMarie Olivieri
.
.
Henry Crawford
.
View From The Refrigerated Truck
.
The one below me died last Thursday.
They took him to the ICU the day before.
Put him on a ventilator.
.
Next to me a woman I remember
from the waiting room. The steel doors opened
to a blast of sunlight and cold vapor.
.

View original post 6,151 more words

Hair!

Dear Diary,

I’ve heard that women must suffer for beauty. I reject that notion! I will process my trauma through poetry.

Princess JM

Corona Hair
I’m here to tell a sad tale
of a beauty salon visit fail.

I went from hair, hair everywhere
to hardly any, anywhere.

Four months without a cut
I was in a hairy rut.

My big head looked like a poodle
not a human but a canine’s noodle.

I skipped the chain store cutters
and went to a salon with my mother.

Short hair is the style for me.
Clipper and guard are so easy.

But the communication lacked
and thus was my hair hacked.

Instead of length one inch
I got less, just a pinch.

I won’t cry because hair grows
but not as fast as Pinocchio’s nose.

 

How I started

JM is poodle

How I ended

post haircut 1 new hair

Put on Your Fancy Pants

We are going back in time to the Victorian Age!

I love words and I collect unique and interesting words. I squirrel them away in files and when I’m bored or procrastinating and want to do anything but write, I read through them. Included in my files is a list of fun but obscure words that were popular during the Victorian Age.

Recently e-Quips, my pal and fellow blogger posted an article she found featuring Victorian Slang. It reminded me of a poem I wrote during the April Poem a Day Challenge using some of the words from my list. I’ve been told by certain readers that I don’t post enough poetry; so without further ado, here is my forgotten about, just-for-fun poem. If some of the vocabulary is new to you, you can look them up in the Mental Floss article, 56 Delightful Victorian Slang Terms You Should Be Using.

The Future is Effulgent

When I get out of here
I’m going to run across town,
straight into your arms.

I’ve got the morbs and I need
to see your giggle-mug.

I want to plant a wet one
on your sauce-box,

When we come up for air
from the longest smooch.
we’ll celebrate with some hooch

And when we are forswunke
from all the canoodling
we’ll step outside for a lazy soodle.

When I get out of here
I’m going to run across town,
straight into your arms.

I should have been there the whole time.

Pump up the Volume

Today I want to talk about something serious. There is an election coming up in November for US President. The act of voting itself is so important to me, that every election I encourage everyone to vote for the candidate of their choice, even if it’s not my choice. I’m a Democratic so you know who I will vote for; but this post is not a campaign ad for Biden. This is about the act of voting and the disease of racism infecting that system.

I learned about Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement in school. For years leading up to and during the Civil Rights Act are full of stories of people of color not being allowed to register to vote and being turned away at polls. I thought that was “history.” It is not. Voting is getting harder to do, not easier.

Voter suppression is still an active and effective tool of the Republican party, and it is growing stronger. In 2010, states across the country had already introduced legislation that would put unnecessary barriers in front of the ballot box, particularly for voters of color. Some states with early voting reduced the number of days of advance access to the polls. Others required forms of identification to vote that lawmakers knew many Americans did not have. States like Tennessee also burdened community groups that help register voters with unnecessary regulations and restrictions.

The Republican party knows that this year the pandemic may do the work for them. That is why they are dragging their feet on approving VOTE BY MAIL. We need secure technology, fair and accessible voting locations, machines and poll workers.

How can you join the effort to protect the vote? Let your Governor and Secretary of State know how you feel. Sign an online petition if you can find one. Get registered. Encourage everyone you know to check their registration status and make sure it’s active. Request an absentee ballot if you are eligible.

You can also get creative! The Declaration for American Democracy organization (https://declarationforamericandemocracy.org/openmic/) is holding a Protect the Vote Open Mic.

They are asking people to use their creativity to Pump Up the Volume! Here are some options that you can do:  Record a video. Take a selfie with a sign. Write a poem. Perform a song. Draw or paint a picture. Make a playlist. Design a graphic. Write a letter. Write a blog post

Then share your creativity on Social Media using the hashtag  #DemocracyOpenMic.

Vote like it’s the last time you’re going to vote because if things keep going the way they are, it just might be.

Corona Life Pictures

Dear Diary,
Month three of my confinement. I’ve been following Rapunzel’s “patented” regime, but my hair has not reached escape-from-tower-length yet. Instead, I just feel like that other Disney character, The Shaggy Dog. She’s going to get a piece of mind the next time I see her.
Princess JM

The pandemic induced stay-at-home orders have made me appreciate my freedom and privilege in a whole new way. Despite not going out for social events, I do go out for essentials such as groceries, gas, and the occasional drive through. I haven’t done any non-essential, browsing for fun type of shopping, and I miss it. However, recently I broke my dustpan – the special one on a stick so I don’t have to bend over. I get wobbly when I do that.  I got it for a dollar at the everything-for-a-dollar store which just so happens to be my favorite place for retail therapy. I deserve to be safe in my own home. Right? OK, I took my privileged self to Dollar Tree.  No dustpans-on-a-stick. Don’t cry for me though. I got a few essentials, some snacks, and ….

My $5 Retail Therapy Haul:

retail therapy

New puzzle! An easy 500 pieces.  Hmmm. This box is really small….

dime for scale

Dime to show scale on how small these pieces are. Really?! This is what happens when dollar-store-brain takes over.

But I persisted.  I had to practically be on top of it, but I got it done…

missing piece

Are you kidding me?! One missing piece?!

I decided to tape it up anyway. Glad I did because I found the rogue piece.

finished art puzzle

Ready for hanging!

Stay safe. Stay strong. Stay shaggy.

contemplating haircut

Poetry News & Notes

While the corona lock down has been bad for many in terms of work, school and sports, it has not slowed down poetry at all. I’ve got lots to tell you to let’s get to it.

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Two of my “plague” poems have been published by The Typescript poetry journal. I’m pleased as punch. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve seen these in slightly different format, but please do click here to read them out on their website. Poke around the site a bit. There’s a lot of good poetry!

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NJ Mayor reads poetry at daily corona updates to uplift the city. I believe that poetry has the power to change to change the world. Others do as well as evidenced by this quote from the article:

“He knows poetry is not simply entertainment, but a part of the civil charge and consciousness of the people, his people,” Jasmine Mans, a poet, author and the creative director of artist initiative Embrace Newark, says of Baraka.

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The creator and primary editor of the Heron Clan poetry anthology has been holding a series of poetry readings for contributors to celebrate the release of book 7. They’ve all been during the day but the LAST one is this week, Thursday, May 28 from 7 pm to 9 pm EST. I’ll be one of the featured readers, AND there’s plenty of space for an open mic. If you’re in need of poetry, to listen and/or perform, please send me an email (see my “About” page) and I’ll hook you up with the Zoom URL info.

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My new favorite thing is Writing With Auntie Laurel. Hawaiian poet and author, Laurel Nakanishi, teaches poetry in public and charter schools. During the corona virus lock down she has created a series of videos so that children can learn poetry from home. The series is called “Writing With Auntie Laurel.” Although the intended audience for the 10-minute videos are children in grades 3-5, don’t let that stop you from enjoying these charming interactive videos, and prompts.

In fact, I loved these videos so much, I sent the link to my buddy Bart and suggested that he use the prompt in lesson 6 – Write a name poem – for his weekly Monday poetry prompt. And he took me up on it plus added a nice grown-up twist. Check out the Living Poetry 5/25 Monday Poetry Prompt to read my poem about my name, as well as an acrostic poem I did about someone else. While you’re at it, feel free to sign up to get the weekly prompts delivered to your inbox.

Zooming Poetry

Today was the NC Poetry Society’s Sam Ragen Awards Day. Poets, family, and friends gathered, via Zoom, to hear poets read the first and second place, and honorable mention poems of the 2020 contest.

It was my first time attending an NCPS event. They start at 10:00 in the morning when I am generally asleep, and are held at a small town almost two hours away. Frankly, the “commute” (to my desk) this morning was a bit much. I didn’t sign in till 10:30. However, as an Honorable Mention-er, I made the effort.

It was good but frankly, I’m a bit over saturated. The day started with readings for the youth contest winners, followed by an open mic. After a thirty-minute break, the adult contest first, second and honorable mention winners (10 categories) fread from 1:00 to 2:30. Yikes! That’s a LOT of poetry!

I’m glad we have technology to support us during this time of social distancing, but there are drawbacks. Everyone is muted except the person speaking, and the lack of sound makes the experience a bit desolate.  During the youth readings the screen was filled with small windows of participants. Lots of folks put hands in the air to clap. The moderator for the adult contest, elected to have the speaker show up in a large window. Many thanks to the generous audience members who kept the comments coming in the chat window! My poem is in the humor category and I missed hearing laughter. I also have a new appreciation for all the late-night talk show hosts who are doing their stand-up monologues in empty rooms. Tough gig!

But enough about me. Let’s talk about my poem. Now that the NCPS annual anthology of winning contest poems has been published and is being mailed, I am now free to share my poem here, with permission and recognition. Enjoy.

Husbandry
Husband number 1 was my ticket out of town
away from the local factory which swallowed
hopeless high school graduates.
When we got to Vegas I gave back the ring
and told him, kindly, “It ain’t no thing.”

Husband number 2 was my sugar daddy.
He earned a living from the poker tables
and wore me like decoration.
But when he hit a losing streak
I left town with a computer geek.

Husband number 3 was my baby daddy.
It was all coos and cuddles until
we argued about dishes and diapers.
He gave me a boy but not a better life
so I left him, and he found a better wife.

Husband number 4 was the high school coach.
I went to all the hometown games
to cheer on the team and whet his whistle.
It turns out that he was not a good lay
but my kid didn’t need a dad anyway.

My son is grown with a wife of his own
and I’m starting to feel that familiar itch.
Hey Good Looking! Wanna get hitched?

First publisher: Pinesong: Awards 2020, Vol. 56

It takes a village

Dear Diary,

Day Eleventy-Eighty of my confinement. Yesterday I went on a covert mission to retrieve items from the car, when one of the villagers spoke to me. I froze momentarily, my shock and alarm hidden behind cloth. Slowly I nodded. Yes, I remember how to do this. Emboldened and cheered I used my phone today. It does more than text! Life is good.

Princess JM
emoji disappointed
I hope this finds you well, and thriving in this weird time. We all need a village from time to time, whether to survive the plague or get through the April Poem a Day challenge.

How are you doing with that? Is it getting easier or harder? Are you more inspired to write poetry or just tired at this point? For me personally, the answer is, Yes, and both.

I follow Robert Brewer’s PAD prompts, but sometimes they bore me. I also get ideas from other writers and other poems. The title of today’s poem, see below, came from something my friend said on the phone. I gave the line to my friend and colleague, Bartholomew Barker. (Click here to see read what he did with the line.) His post, in turn,  gave me the title, and the idea, for this blog post. It’s that village everyone keeps talking about.

~ ~ // ~ ~

The Loudest Silence
The cars, horns, sirens, and gunshots
are stopped.
There is nothing but birdsong and cicadas
in the streets.

Even the voices in my head
have quieted,
drowned out by the tinnitus
of the conch shell.

Alone now, I can finally listen,
heartbeat skips
There is nothing but void,
the loudest silence.

Want one more?  This is the poem I wrote on April 1 to the prompt, “write a new world poem.” I brought it to Living Poetry’s monthly workshop, and this is the revised poem.

New World

I did not walk through a wardrobe
or follow a rabbit into a hole
or stare too long into a looking glass.
My house was not swept up in a tornado

The naïve woman I was, secure in my belief
that shocking lies and bad behavior
could never bear fruit,
died the day reason left the land.

What was once a granite foundation
has become sandstone, eroding from ill winds.
Apathy grows slowly like the buildup of callus.
A war zone can feel homey when bombs become a habit.

The sun has set on the democracy of my youth
and I am lost in my own country.

Passover, Plague, Poetry

April 8th was the first night of Passover. I was blessed with an invitation to a beautiful Passover Seder hosted by dear friends via Zoom. Prior to the meal, participants received a link to a Haggadah, which is essentially a program that details each part of the ritual including questions and responses, prayers and songs, in Hebrew with English translations. 

Given that we are currently enduring a Corvid-19 pandemic, it was especially poignant to celebrate the liberation of the Jewish people after their captors had suffered through 10 plagues. That’s a lot of suffering. I’m very glad that we have only one at the moment… sort of. More on that later. Why were there so many plagues in this story?  As I’m neither Jewish or a biblical scholar I can’t answer that question. I only know that Exodus says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. Hmph. He must have been a Republican.

It would be overblown and sensational to say we’re living in a parallel universe, but there is an old truism that states: “Everything old is new again.” During the Passover Seder, participants recite the 10 plagues. If you need a reminder, they were, in order: Blood, Frogs, Lice, Wild Beasts, Cattle Disease, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Darkness, and Death of the first born. A difficult list to be sure, but I got choked up by this statement that came next.

The joy of our celebration today is also lessened by our awareness of sorrow and oppression in all parts of the world. The plagues of the Egyptians can be said to be repeated in modern tragedies. As the pain of others lessens our joy, let us once more take from our juice or wine as we say together these current day plagues: Hunger, War, Homelessness, Domestic Violence, Environmental Destruction, Injustice, Poverty, Toxic Chemicals, Pollution of the Earth. and Lack of Health care. L’Chaim- To Life: A UU Haggadah for Church Celebrations, copyright 2012 -Rev. Julie-Ann Silberman-Bunn

Next Year in person! May all people live in peace! Happy Passover, L’Chaim, To Life!

~  / /  ~

National Poetry Month is rolling on. Are you one of many writers committed to writing a Poem A Day? I am committed to writing as many poems as I am moved to write. That might be 30, 20 or some other number. My output as of April 8, is 7 poems. But here’s the problem. They’re all plague poems! They all reference either the pandemic directly or the current dystopian environment we are in at the moment.

I’m not one to share everything I write. Some are fodder for a critique workshop; some are just poetry practice. However, in the spirit of the month, and Passover,  I’m going to share 2 of my plague poems. Enjoy. Stay safe. Keep washing your hands. Moisturize.

Breathless

I wanted a moment that took my breath away,
to be held close and get lost in your eyes,
before a kiss so deep we come away
panting with passion.

Instead I got the brush of a stranger,
a fever and a cough,
and a ventilator to push air
into my breathless body.

The nurses assure me that you are well,
safe and sheltered at home.
Their gloved hands hold mine
a poor substitute for yours.

When it is my turn to go, breathe deep
and I will come to you on the wind.

Dating in the Time of Corona
We are six feet apart, shoulder to shoulder,
if we both stretched our arms
and touched fingertips.
Forbidden to do so, we resort
to mutual masturbation.