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My choir, the Mission Peak Chamber Singers, opened our virtual May concert up to people all over the world. We’d already planned it, on the topic of homelessness… a topic which is even more brutally timely than ever.

Some of our singers joined us at 6 a.m. from Jerusalem. Many of us joined at 8 pm from the Western states, while others straggled in from the East Coast at midnight. It was… not the same as sitting in a room full of people. Many of us felt really weird about being on screen a full hour and a half. Some of us looked exhausted – at the beginning – or the end – of a busy, long day. We got lost. We hit bad notes, and were utterly confused. It was what we had, though, and we are determined to make it work. (You’re welcome to join us.)

zoom: choir rehearsal

staring down a screen
we, joined by untold strangers
sing into the dark

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So many of my friends are sharing recipes and so many people are cooking just now. I’m happy to simply eat fresh fruit and dream of being allowed to go to the Farmer’s Market again someday… I’m grateful that gardens are still “essential services.”

Strawberry Cranberry Piwheels 1

vita brevis, bonum fragum

berry season soon…
carpe diem, amici
don’t forget whipped cream

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late night

so few cars passing
The stars shine with clarity
Brightening silence

Sky watching the other night, we were astonished to see… Venus. I’ve never seen it so clear that the curve of the planet was visible with the naked eye – just that small difference in commutes and traffic, and already the world changes.

{national poetry month: solus}

Irvington 283

{2020}

a windy Spring day
flings scent of dryer sheets and
last month’s first hindsight

It’s NPM, wherein we celebrate having our way with words. March lasted forever, but someday we’ll look back at it with longing for how good it was, I’m afraid. I’m definitely sticking to haiku this week, as I search for something to say that isn’t… what everyone is saying. I don’t want to make yet another journal of a plague month – but neither do I want to forget everything that’s going on. Instead of chronicling what I’m feeling – which is the same thing everyone is feeling, existential dread – I’m instead going to try very hard to finding something new to see – or a new way to see it – every day. There’s no point promising not to be morose or sad, but I’m encouraging all of us to try and really see things just now – things we should remember.

Something I wrote for a virtual concert our choir is having: It is a paradox that as the pandemic forces us as the world into our separate corners, it highlights the ways in which we are all interconnected. We have all become woven into a tapestry called ‘society’ without even really noticing how our threads cross… and it’s painfully evident how broken we become when we abandon that interdependence and try to live without it. Homeless or homed, rich or poor, infected or well, are all in the same leaking boat. We need to see what it is that put us here, critically examine the leadership that kept it going, and look for a way out – together. Tall order, but, I think, doable.


People have always been walkers in this neighborhood – we have a lot of families who walk as a group – and now they’re circling all hours of the day. Sometimes they chat, and always, we wave, but it’s both uplifting, and heart-twinging. When they’re out of sight, sometimes their voices float back. How we stretch to listen to conversations not our own! I feel like we’ve all turned to ghosts; only our voice carrying proof of life…

Irvington 310

masked

can you see a smile
obscured by a folded mask?
look: my eyes smile back


Poetry Sister Liz is also doing her annual haiku project this month, as is Poetry Cousin Mary Lee. Don’t miss their original poetry this month.

{pf: p7 becomes a ‘classic’}

When we came up with this word “classic” for our prompt this month, I was… a wholly different person. As were you, I’m sure. December us did not know March us, that’s for sure. December me thought ‘classic’ was a pretty okay word. March me feels like ‘classic’ is a trap.

(Yes, I’m being slightly dramatic. March me can BE dramatic – March me has earned it.)

I think ‘classic’ feels less trustworthy right now because …a lot of people do a lot of things because In The Good Old Days, We… and then insert some inanity that doesn’t have much bearing on the present day. It happens – the classic things are comfortable, and have been perceived to have a good value over time. However… as March me knows very well, times change. Often rapidly and with maximum unexpectedness. I’m all for knowing what we valued from the past, but boy do we need to be ready to jump and come correct for the new day – or we’ll get run down by circumstances, left behind by progress, or let a lot of people down who NEED you to be on top of things.

Enough said.

Now, those who know me know I love a classic car – I ADORE looking at what I call Museum Cars – those cars that people don’t really drive except from their garage to their driveway, just to show them off. They’re beautiful! I really wanted one – but they’re …not reasonable. Even with their steel bodies, their crumple zones are HORRIBLE, and today’s traffic warrants both airbags and seatbelts – classic cars usually have neither. Their gas mileage is atrocious – and even if I went through with my grand plan to have a hybrid gas or electric engine inserted into a classic car body, not only would it not sound the same, it wouldn’t give me what I want – which is a world where I could drive that kind of car, slide around safely on wide bench seats, wear gloves and a double strand of pearls and run errands instead of just taking my car five feet out of the garage into the drive. Sometimes, things that are classic are meant only for a certain time, and then that time is over.

We adjust.

Mostly.

All of those thoughts – and current events – tumbled through my head this week when Liz reminded us that it was time to remember ourselves as poets. I surprised myself with my change of heart, but I think it’s quintessentially me: old school as I can get, but always keeping a weather eye out for the new.

This poem was a quick, rushed affair, in part, because we’re putting in the garden (in between rainshowers) and so my days are writing in the afternoon/evening, and shoveling and weeding right now in the morning. (My body would really like that part of the day to end soon, but it’s hanging in there in a shocking fashion: go, me!) Once Liz reminded us of our poetry date, I couldn’t help but jump in with both feet. Just for fun, I used words in this poem which remind me of my Poetry Sisters – various turns of phrases which bring them to mind. As a for instance: there’s a math phrase in here I’d normally not use anywhere, much less in a poem, but I thought of Tricia, and of course put it in. Here’s to you, you classy, respectful, marching, offbeat, inviting, cherished women. I am holding you close in my thoughts.

(In case you can’t tell, the title is A Classic Question.)


Like classic cars, it’s “Good old days” again –
The past, for some, remains a sacred space
Enshrined amnesia: “Remember when?”
Our glory days there never are erased.

There’s value in a classic, over time –
Respectful weight imbued with lasting style:
“That’s how we did it then!” back in our prime
But halting change’s march isn’t worthwhile.

We, curious, advance on all things new
Delight in offbeat, random, spare, and strange
And so we change: adjusting our world view
A widening invites an interchange.

So, classic – yes, it’s only what we know
Valuable, true, but celebrate routine?
Can we not cherish “known” but say hello
To odd and bright? – make that our golden mean?


Many of us right now are struggling to think straight, much less write – and many of us have suddenly had new and nearly impossibly things heaped upon us as we figure out how to make our new reality work. Check in with your family-friends, folks! And read some poetry from mine. Laura is here. Sara is here. Liz is here. Tricia is here. Some of the other Poetry Sisters may chime in later in the weekend, or catch us next month.

Poetry Friday is being ably wrangled by Tabatha Yeatts, at The Opposite of Indifference, which is quite the aptly named blog.

The road is new, and so are our shoes just now. Take breaks as we break things in – there will be some blisters and some pinching, and we may be lost at first. Keep walking, knowing we all are walking the same strange roads, together. Pax.

{pf: p7 hindsight – & birds again}

It’s been three years since my mother was last meant to have retired.

Originally, it did not stick.

It’s partially a teaching thing. There’s always some class somewhere who needs you, and whose teachers are students you once mentored or something, and they ask – please? – if you couldn’t fill in for them while this or that happens, while someone has maternity leave, while the earth implodes and reforms its mantle and the dinosaurs return. It’s always something. And, my mother, usually, is happy to help. Usually. Lately, though, she’s been counting the days ’til her last subbing job is over, and saying, “Okay, I’m done.”

I think she means it, too.

I wrote a poem in response to one my mother wrote to me, about the time she went back to work, and with all the bird flurries going on just now, it fits the bill for a poem to which I want to respond.

No nightingale, nor angel without wings
Her song rings out while pushing playground swings –
“Use listening ears – Is that what Teacher said?
“Sand’s not for throwing. Throw a ball instead.”

Long years her songs have echoed in the yard
As Littles changed, and outgrew her safeguards
Such weary notes must falter now, sometimes…
“Keep bottoms on your chairs. It’s clean-up time!”
Some birds fly south, once eggs, now hatched, take flight
Are RV migrants, dawn, until twilight
This nightingale, whose silver-plumage shines
Still loves the song, affection genuine.

Though caged, she sings in faith. Substance deferred
Through evidence unseen, hope’s undeterred.

©February 2018

I love the resigned expression (if birds can have an expression) on the face of this piping plover, as all of her chicks cram themselves in around her legs. She’s probably wondering if she’ll ever walk alone again – I know my mother did. (The real question was probably more along the lines of if she’d ever get to go to the toilet again in peace, but let’s just draw a veil over that, shall we?)

In nature, parents are allegedly much more stern parents, and push their babies out of the nest. That’s not exactly true – more often than not, baby birds are nagged out of the nest, teased, cajoled and bullied – just like human babies. Most often, though, the babies just… try out their wings one day, and fly. Sometimes, it is simply… time. One of the more terrifyingly adorable babies of the natural world are wood ducks. Wood ducklings, according to PBS, jump from nests upwards of fifty feet high. And, they… bounce.

There’s a life lesson in there somewhere… no, it’s not the one about leaping and the net appearing or whatever nonsense. The more likely lesson is that if you jump, you may land more safely than you’d imagined. Perhaps, the lesson is a Leap Year koan, something about, get out of the nest already, and give your wings a try. Whatever it is, I imagine it’s all in learning how to fall. Here’s to trusting the blue…

For your edification, this is a variation on a kyrielle.

Balboa Park 36

Baby Birds

They, loudly chirping, clamor for a bite,
A place to hide, or entertainment – rights
Which they demand as lawfully their due,
Beaks gaping wide and feathers all askew.

Offspring produced with effort quiet lie,
Sweet, silent gametes, nested warm and dry.
How anxiously they’re preened when they’re brand-new!
Their every tiny peep attended to…

But soon enough, their din and racket swells
(Almost as soon as their beaks breech their shells…)
Their growing wings and bodies can’t subdue
The restless urge to bid the nest adieu.

They stretch their wings, gravity’s neophytes
‘Til one small step entrusts them to the blue.

©February 2020

Spring is coiling to spring forth, the birds are busy, and there are poetic revelations – and a whole lot else – happening all over. Our poets are revisiting their writing – Laura‘s revisit is here, and Sara’s is here. and Liz is here. Tricia is here. Other of our poetry seven may pop in later in the weekend.

In the mood for more? Poetry Friday is hosted by Karen Edmisten, she of the shockingly clever blog with the perfectly lovely name. Have a marvelous nearly-Spring weekend, and don’t forget to leap.