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Oh, my GOODNESS, sometimes chamber music is just… hard. We’re doing a piece by Swedish composer Thomas Jennefelt called “Warning to the Rich,” and … it’s all humming and whispering and discordant chords and semi-choruses shouting and mocking laughter and abrupt cut-offs, and, like, wailing — I kind of hate it, but it’s also kind of awesome. I haven’t decided yet.

When I think over the years how many times I have absolutely LOATHED a song or piece we’ve started, and then come away appreciating the hard work, and absolutely loving the piece, well, it makes me laugh. Why do I even bother complaining?

s i n g

songs discordant, sung
with insufficient drama
sounds just like failure
no timidity here –
own this harmonic maelstrom!

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Good morning!

This penultimate Poetry Friday in National Poetry Month is graciously hosted at The Opposite of Indifference. Please do drop by and wish Tabatha’s middle-grade anthology, IMPERFECT: Poems About Mistakes a Happy Book Birthday on this its release day, and visit The Mistakes Anthology blog.


Tech Boy has a conference, so I’m going to hole up in a hotel for a few days. We’re going to Philadelphia!

I was excited about my first trip to Pennsylvania, but… Timing is EVERYTHING. I was planning, at least part of the time, on grabbing a seat at a coffee shop and people watching, but, maybe not this …lifetime.

I remember being a small child and having one or the other of my parents remind me over and over and over and over about how to conduct myself in a store – don’t touch anything, don’t ask for anything, stay right with me, don’t put your hands in your pockets, stay to the middle of the aisle. I always thought that it was because they thought I was so bad that I would cut up if they didn’t remind me… but later, after watching their interactions – the one lady who followed my mother through the drugstore, the man who appeared at each of the aisle in the hardware store – I understood. Once you’ve been followed through a store, you realize you’re not a customer, you’re a problem… and some of us learn that very young. Today’s tanka touches on the idea of childhood having a different expiration date for majority and minority children.

Keep Your Hands In the Cart
in particular
hardware stores were the worst –
nails, screws, and washers
beckoning with silver gleam
“Don’t you touch NOTHIN’,” says Dad

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Peachtree 112

To all my friends suffering under the nth snowstorm… at least it has a neat name.

blackberry winter (n.): Used chiefly in the southern regions of America, this refers to a period of cold weather in the late spring, more boringly called a “cold snap.” The term is said to come from chilly weather appearing after the blackberry plants have begun to bloom, which Americans will feast on in cobblers throughout summer. Other terms for this are after-winter, blackthorn winter, dogwood winter or redbud winter.

So, take heart… it’s started. If you have to, make your own flowers… but, they’re coming. And then, there will be berries.

mud-time
it begins with clouds
now forming, piling, parting
precipitation
wakens first the weeds. leaves next
slowly greening – and then blooms

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My most frequent interaction with my bank is convincing them I exist.

It’s… weird, actually. I use my bank card so much it should smoke. I pay for my groceries online (and then go pick them up, which is a fun convenience). I buy clothes and shoes and jewelry on ThredUp, and visit the terror that is Etsy far too often. I rarely have to stick my card into a reader in a public place, but I have my bank card number memorized. And yet: every once in a while, it doesn’t work… possibly because of that lack of sticking-my-card-in-a-reader thing. I think. Whatever it is, I call the bank to check in. Is there some problem with my card? And then, they scurry to verify my identity, my mother’s maiden name, her great-grandmother’s favorite color, and they look at my records. Oh, they see a move (a year ago), and then say, brightly, “Let’s update that address and phone number!” And then they say, “Oh, we updated that? A year ago? Well, we have no idea what’s happened!”

And yet: it keeps happening.

she tries to convince the electronic overlords she exists
My heart brags, I AM
Pounding in a lively beat
As bank cards decline.
The all-seeing eye, blinded
While reading a dime from space.

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Began this morning with a dental appointment.

My last major dental interaction was when we were living in the UK, when I got a wisdom tooth pulled… which took all of thirty minutes. I’ve always had, as my last dentist called them, “boring horse teeth,” sturdy and dependable, with nothing much at all exciting going on with them, which is an unalloyed blessing. Today’s visit was mainly to remove a filling I got when I was ten, and replace it, because fillings do wear out. It was still a big pain though, mainly because my dentist has televisions at every chair. And in the waiting room. And possibly in the staff break room. Did I need to see Kelly Ripa or The View from every room? I don’t know how the receptionist and all the staff can stand it, but it’s for the convenience of the patients. Allegedly.

press MUTE

closed captioning scrolls
behind closed eyelids. Ignore
the whine of the drill –
outside, birds are singing.
across azure skies, clouds come.

Poetry Friday today is hosted by Robin Hood Black, she of the coolest name, at Life On the Deckle Edge. It’s the birthday of children’s lit poet Lee Bennett Hopkins – another cool name – and we wish this poet many happy returns of the day!

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The other day, I made the mistake of wandering over to lean against an outdoor table to talk to a friend… and leapt back, as I discovered the entire underside of the table, and much of the top was a wriggling mass of… oak caterpillars. (aka Western tussock moth caterpillars).

I retreated to the safety of a table beneath a maple. However, these guys were paragliding down from the oak on skeins of silk, to go where the wind took them. As I sat and read under my tree, I brushed them off of my shoes… my socks… the cuffs of my cardigan, my purse, my book, my collarbone, the back of my neck…

…and then we decided maybe it was time to go home, as there was Entirely Too Much Nature outside.

fuzzy logic

a dun-colored moth –
fully unremarkable –
confirms Metamorphosis,
(that insect intermission)
transforms even the spineless

(If you look at the picture carefully, you will count EIGHT at the moment I snapped this, under the maple. Please consider that a.] these were LITTLE ones, and b.] I was as far away as I could get from said oak tree and still be within hailing distance of my friends, and c.] I took this picture AFTER I’d flicked them away from my feet. For the sixtieth time. It was definitely time to just leave the outdoors to the those who live there.)

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One of the oddly undiscussed side-effects of growing up in a very conservative faith is that I never wore red lipstick, or nail polish, because red was… tacky, basically.

It called for attention. It insinuated. It wasn’t modest and quiet like A Young Lady Should Be.

All that from a color? Yep.

An Auntie I adore always wears brilliant red polish on her very short, squared-off nails, and I remember a less than charitable comment I overheard that her nails looked bitten down to bleeding. I keep short nails (no longer bitten… mostly) and know myself to be prosaic, hardworking, no-frills, no fuss, no nonsense. Not someone unserious who flaunts a red lip or polish, right?

So stupid. One of the worst things about clarifying one’s own beliefs is how often I find other people’s thoughts substituted whole-cloth for thoughts of my own. I grew up never wearing a red lip or a red nail, because that was the next best thing to Jezebel (like we actually even know what that murderous woman wore)… but, that isn’t ever what I thought. If I’m in the right mood, I LIKE red. I like most colors, if they’re in the right shade. (Why else do I have both teal and turquoise shades of tights??)

Last week, Tech Boy brought me a lipstick that’s redder than anything I’ve ever worn (Colourpop Sessy, bc Sessy is what my little brother called me for a long time, and I exclaimed over it whilst watching a makeup tutorial), and I’ve enjoyed painting it on – when I’m not going anywhere. Admittedly, as much as I KNOW red is FINE, I still feel like it makes my lips look HUGE and pouty and …wow, do I look like the whore of Babylon? some adolescent playing dress-up? It infuriates me how much other people’s voices play in my head, so I’m defiantly wearing my lippy now every. single. day. In my house.

Eventually, I’m going to go outside.

piloted

old habits die hard,
stumbling down well-traveled roads –
a flash of brightness
dances just beyond our reach
over the next hill, progress

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Iceland 2016 94

A meal eaten in haste – dry bread and bitter herbs, standing clothed and shod, gripping walking sticks. We are prepared for the anything, everything – anticipating the starter pistol’s sharp report, yearning for the open road, whilst apprehension lingers just beyond the door in the old copper penny smells of spattered blood… and Shadow blackens the night, pursued by rising wails…

Exodus

the wide road beckons
onward to freedom. Behind
doors like bloodstained mouths, screaming
for innocence slain, the People
await the passing of Death

(Actually, yes, my imagination DID keep me up nights as a child. Why do you ask?)

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It’s the first Friday of the month, and the Poetry Sisters are ba-ack. (And that is never not going to sound faintly ominous.) This month, we’re in sunny downtown Antarctica … or, at least I am; others may gone on to places where their brains were able to be more or less thawed. Nevertheless, this month, the Poetry Seven took on writing a variation on a Golden Shovel poem, that is, incorporating a single line from another person’s poem into one of our own. Myriad other poets may have done this assignment properly, by using the borrowed line’s words to end each of the words of your poem, but… mine simply wouldn’t work out like that.

It might have had to do with the line I chose from Elizabeth Bishop’s One Art, which was the poem Tricia selected for us this month. We’re all familiar with it and its theme of loss — and there are many lines which would have lent themselves to shaping my poem around loss. I… didn’t want to, for whatever reason. So the line I chose was places, and names, and where it was you meant, which is the most vague thing ever – but I felt like challenging myself.

Others poets have heeded the call to a challenge this month including Sara, with a rather ominous title, Tricia, who couldn’t decide on a line; Laura, who’s been “branching” out this week; Liz, who has traveled AND partied this week, Kelly, who could barely drag herself out of her new art studio long enough to put pen to paper, and Andi, who found a sled somewhere, and a Yeti to pull her back up to the top. She can’t be bothered to come in out of the snow just yet, but she’ll be back.


an·te·ced·ent

/ˌan(t)əˈsēdnt/
noun
          1. a thing or event that existed before or logically precedes another.
          “some antecedents to the African novel might exist in Africa’s oral traditions”
          synonyms:
precursor, forerunner, predecessor


ancestry sites hold just the highlights of
places and names, and where it was. You meant
to present it, your past’s territory –
but found just blank pages and nothing. No story.

Is DNA testing so worth our investing?
Gateway to the past! Splash with spit to come through!
those twenty-three pairs are
commodities, wares
and data determines percentage, not clues

what have we to show,
we seekers, who know we are remnants of
slavery’s chattel-bred schemes?
What else do we carry? Our truth’s ordinary –
are we really our ancestor’s wildest of dreams?

each beat of a heart is state-of-the-art
a voyage more vital than Mayflower’s sailing
no more handicap or blanks left on a map
your story begins where you choose its unveiling.


I’m not yet sure if I, er, should have challenged myself quite this thoroughly… but that’s the point of our little monthly excursions. It ironically follows the same theme I was discussing yesterday – despite me beginning this poem before I heard the latest story about an inquiry through Ancestry.com. Oh, the shocks and surprises in the careless delving into one’s familial structures. Digging into the past can undermine some foundations, so be careful what you look for, dear ones. We do not dwell within the lines of the past; we live in the now. Though your line – like mine – may have begun in darkness, it can still end in perfect light. The story begins where you choose to begin it.


Poetry Friday today is graciously hosted by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater at the Poem Farm.