May

The blooms on the plum tree are falling,
Their time spent as flowers gone,
In joyful anticipation of new fruit,
And spring for me too is done.

The school year rushes to a close,
Memorial Day ahead to slowly wake,
Giving us one more long weekend,
A paltry reminder of the joy of spring break.

/ / /

This poem was inspired by “May” by Sara Teasdale over at the imaginary garden with real toads.

humming fools

the fool is humming again
the king is rolling olives around his mouth
the queen is busy with her needlework
but she is also listening

only the children are laughing
playing at stones and dominoes
while the men from the country
bring their sheep for shearing

the bleached wool will then be dyed
and spun by the traditional method
yarn for the queen’s needlework
she is not fooled by the humming

/ / /

salt      mouth
olive juice      napkin
fingers      dominoes

delicate method
sheep’s wool
fingers needlework

humming      laughing
feet      bleached stones
country men      fools

/ / /

These poems were written in response to Whirligig 8 at Sunday’s Whirligig. I had started the second one first, but it wasn’t going anywhere, so I tried something more narrative, which is the first poem above. Returning to my first attempt, I stripped it down, trying a different tack for a narrative.

In Case of Case

If you find you don’t like
the actual state of things
as may be the case
then write a political poem

If yours is a sad case
then try to be happy
or just be happy
there’s no use just trying

If yours is a case of hardship
hang in there
adversity builds character
so I’m told

If it’s a mystery case
then go investigate
you won’t find it
if you don’t look for it

If someone presents a strong case
then yours has to be stronger
and by stronger
I mean wiser

If it’s a severe case of the flu
stay home from work
take care of yourself
watch bad daytime tv

If it’s the nominative case
then flip it around
make the noun a verb
Google it if you don’t know how

If it’s a briefcase
carry it
If it’s a legal case
hire a lawyer

If you’re the case
hope you have a good doctor
and you’re in a good hospital
and they don’t mess up your chart

If it’s a case of conscience
listen to that little voice
it’s saying the right thing
so you’ll do the right thing

If someone’s on your case
tell them to back off
maybe you need
to get off their case

If you’ve got a case
for the girl next door
or the boy next door
just ask them out

In any case
another stanza can be added
if this is not the case
for you

/ / /

This poem was written to the “In Case of (blank)” prompt at Poetic Asides for day eleven of the Poem-a-Day Challenge.

“Make your lines straight”

Make your lines straight
But slope and
Trope them with images
That reveal slowly

Slant the truth
If you must
Or give us just a taste
Of all the truth

Circle round the truth
Follow the tangents
Because the direct approach
Is (yawn) and cliche

Put the truth
On the periphery
For the readers’ vision
To see without looking

/ / /

This is another poem written in response to the prompt to write a straight line poem at Poetic Asides.

Corona

Vessels ply the river of shadows
flowing like wind through willow branches
not crawling over mud and stones
and not a stain on the world

They are nailed together with effort
and brushed with the color of imaginings
They carry north the trembled souls
to the hope of that rarefied air

That corona that flows from the sun
as smoke glides from the captain’s corona
and rises to the top of the bluffs
to confound the fugitive catchers

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Wordle 60 at The Sunday Whirl.

Walking the Way

As a young man, I was angry
that I was learning everything the hard way.
I wanted some guidance, some warning
about the sharp turns in the road ahead.

I railed at everyone around me,
frustrated that I had no road map,
until I began to understand that I had the tools
I needed to make my own way.

I began to draw and write,
crude at first, without a doubt,
but it was my map, and it was enough,
and more, it empowered me to be me.

I’m still unfolding that map today,
fleshing out details here, looking fondly
on areas I no longer walk, as well as
all the new spaces, ever expanding.

Doubt drives me still, so I check
the map often to be sure I’m on track.
And I’ve let go of the anger at myself
when I find myself off the path.

Some days, the map folds up neatly,
the creases aligning, beauty like origami.
Other days, I fold it the wrong way,
and struggle to make it pocket-size again.

And on the occasional day, it’s a prop
for a bit of sleight of hand.
You may not know where it is,
because I misdirected you, but I know.

And now I wonder: will my sons want
me to give them a road map?
Or will they make their own metaphor?
It’s this big blank space right here.

I’ll give them more guidance than I got,
but I won’t be upset when they ignore me.
It will be their map that they’re writing
and drawing on – and walking and dancing.

I’ll give them a map and suggest some places
to begin, but then I’ll cede control,
and tell them it’s okay to be off the path,
as long as you’re still on the map.

/ / /

This poem was written in response to the walk of life prompt at Poetic Bloomings.

Burnished Fossils

A flinty landscape for an austere man.
He scrapes away at the flinty earth,
And thinks scrape isn’t the right word.
It’s too rough for the work he does.

Nothing grows here except knowledge,
Drenched in sweat from heat, not hard labor.
The irony of brittle rock, hard but fragile,
Is not lost on the archaeologist, who is the same.

A blur of thoughts on this changing place,
This square foot of rock and fossil.
His rough tongue scares the volunteers,
Yet his burnished reputation keeps them coming.

He chalks it up to thirst for knowledge,
And the wonder of barnacles in the desert.
Geologic time, not human time, so limited
By our short lifespans and paltry imaginations.

Meaning in work, discovery, and quiet,
This season of digging, this cocoon
That will open back at the university,
Yet it’s here that he is the butterfly.

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Wordle 58 at The Sunday Whirl.

My work primarily ended for another school year on Friday, May 25, when I promoted another class of students to middle school. I have been so busy with grading, report cards, and various activities around the promotion ceremony itself, not to mention my son’s eighth birthday last weekend, that I haven’t written/posted a poem since the 16th, which seems to me a long dry spell after the busyplayfulness of April.

I have drafted a poem to last week’s wordle as well, which I plan on posting tomorrow. If you get a chance, please come back and read it.

Thank you to everyone who visits my blog. I do appreciate it.

Richard

Multiple Meanings

This post is my suggestion for Prompt #100 at We Write Poems.

I recently suggested a dozen words to Brenda Warren for her blog, The Sunday Whirl. I chose twelve words that have multiple meanings. Many of them can be used as a verb and a noun, for example. Brenda graciously used the words I suggested, and many people wrote poems using those words. I was so pleased with the diversity of poems that came out of those twelve words, that I thought I’d suggest the idea again.

So, here is the idea. Go to Multiple Meaning Words, choose ten to twelve of those words, then write your poem incorporating the words that you chose. You may use the words once, or you may use them twice, utilizing both meanings/parts of speech.

I offer two examples. The first poem I wrote with those twelve words was “The Vacation.” Then I challenged myself and wrote a new poem, “Communication”, using each of the words twice, each time as a different part of speech.

The words were: pet, string, wish, point, trick, shine, paw, smell, pack, shape, taste, and whisper.

The Vacation

The irony is that it doesn’t empty my mind,
But fills it with stuff that I don’t want to think about.
And then I look at the string around my finger,
and I find I’m filled with worries about what I forgot.

Brewster paws at my pant leg; he’s hungry,
and so am I, but all I do for now is pet his head.
He knows something is up, as I’m packing,
but there’s no point in trying to trick him either.

I will have to find a shirt that has my smell on it,
or there’ll be no way he’ll go to the kennel.
He’s had a taste of that loneliness before,
and I’m loath to put him through it again.

I wish that going away was just easier.
It’s not like I can just shine him on.
He’s part of my pack, just as I’m his,
and no whispering lie will change that.

This is the shape of things for him and me:
Master and pet, smelly bachelors both of us.
Is it really so wrong to want to be alone
and enjoy it, when it leaves him lonely?

/ / /

Communication

I could whisper from far, far away
but you might think I’m trying to trick you

What trick is this, you’d ask,
but couched as a whisper I can’t hear

I could shine a light on my point
or I could just point at the string

of conversations we’ve had and trust you
to find the light’s shine all on your own

Or I could string you along
so that you’d wish for a truth

that you could smell or taste,
or pet or paw as if it were a shape

to be held, when you know the smell
of subterfuge and the taste of bitterness,

angry that I’ve treated you as a pet,
smacked your paw with a rolled newspaper

And then I light a cigarette from my pack,
blowing smoke signals at you,

trying to pack as much information
in every motion that I make,

the shape of every syllable and sound,
the wish I breathe as I shape this poem

The Vacation

The irony is that it doesn’t empty my mind,
But fills it with stuff that I don’t want to think about.
And then I look at the string around my finger,
and I find I’m filled with worries about what I forgot.

Brewster paws at my pant leg; he’s hungry,
and so am I, but all I do for now is pet his head.
He knows something is up, as I’m packing,
but there’s no point in trying to trick him either.

I will have to find a shirt that has my smell on it,
or there’ll be no way he’ll go to the kennel.
He’s had a taste of that loneliness before,
and I’m loath to put him through it again.

I wish that going away was just easier.
It’s not like I can just shine him on.
He’s part of my pack, just as I’m his,
and no whispering lie will change that.

This is the shape of things for him and me:
Master and pet, smelly bachelors both of us.
Is it really so wrong to want to be alone
and enjoy it, when it leaves him lonely?

/ / /

This poem was written in response to Wordle 50 at The Sunday Whirl.

Brenda was kind enough to use some words that I suggested. Thanks, Brenda.

Shadows and Light

There is magic in the shadows,
as they dance towards each other,
no stiff muscles, no canes needed,
unless it’s part of the dance.

There is magic in the light too,
casting shadows towards each other.
What’s important is not the physics,
but the frisson of the dance.

/ / /

This poem was written to the photo prompt above, In the Shadows – Prompt #48, from Poetic Bloomings.