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The extended fam rented a vacation home outside Yosemite years ago, and most members dropped in during some part of the week they could get off work. During that trip, Nephew 2 turned four. Memorably, he didn’t want a cake, so we went with what he ate the most of… a banana. Later that day, he had banana pancakes.

Years later, and every time that child comes into my house, there’s a banana in his hand. Or, in his backpack. Or, on the guest bed upstairs, something which, no matter how many times I remind him about food upstairs, keeps happening. (Along with the Legos I keep finding everywhere, but that’s another story.)

Brilliant and scattered, he wears the apologetic grin of the perpetual people pleaser. He’s turbo-carb-charged, with a lot of energy from his favorite fruit, and a lot on his mind. He still doesn’t like cake. He still prefers bananas. In his perfect world, there would be no chocolate, and banana chip cookies, instead. In some ways, he and his brother couldn’t be less alike. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of treat he requests this weekend… probably a whole bunch of bananas to himself.

Little Man at 9

hummingbird sweetness
as his busy brain vibrates
and sends him flying
into six different projects
fully fueled on yellow fruit

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Hayford Mills 051

As always, this time of year, Nikki Giovanni’s “Allowables” comes to mind, and the indictment of the last five lines scrapes me raw,
I don’t think

I’m allowed

To kill something

Because I am

Frightened

As someone anxiety disordered who is also deeply arachnophobic, the spider thing is a yearly struggle, and the struggle is real. Yet, with the exception of the odd black widow found indoors, none of these wee beasts can hurt me. None of them threaten the contents of my pantry, my person, or my livelihood. And yet, every year I completely freak out and can’t even bring myself to put a jar near them to relocate them. Every year I say, “I will do better.”

Every year that’s all I can do.

huntsman/hunted
if “all lives matter”
then murdering officers
never kill spiders
and black folks don’t make them flinch.
God, if reason trumped reflex…

Poetry Friday today is hosted by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem.

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Dolomites T 241

This year I participated in the Writing in the Margins Mentor program, the first time the planets have all aligned in order for me to do so. Mentoring someone is …kind of terrifying, actually. It challenges one’s imposter syndrome, because one has to set aside the ego-driven mosquito whine of, I don’t know what I’m doing, how can I –!? and keep the mentee’s needs central to the narrative. One has to constantly loop back to the truth that theirs is the opinion is that counts, theirs are the thoughts that will shape their manuscript, and ultimately, theirs are the choices to take or set aside the advice they receive, even if the mentor is certain there’s a “better” or even a “right” way to do a thing. Mentoring sharpens mentors, through teaching them the value of honesty, of looking at things a different angle, and of repeating a person’s truths back to them at the worst moments of their journey, so that they know what they believe, and can believe in it again.

It is exhausting. It is… paying forward what was, in various ways and through various people, given to me. Thus, it is something I’m going to do again.

insight

objects in mirror
are closer than they appear

seeking our blind spots –
we polish convex lenses

’til all that we are comes clear

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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
sound just like failure
no timidity here –
OWN that 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.)