{thanksfully: 9}

Happy birthday to a boy I had a suuuuuper sekrit crush on at age 16. Ironic that I cannot consistently remember the birthdays of my three closest friends – or my nephews – but I can for now and forever tell you the month and year of the birth of one JB Moors. And I didn’t even like him by the time our paths parted!

Today, I am thankful for the persistence of memory… and that the human brain is a completely bizarre thing.


who knew, years later
that his name, unwritten still
would be imprinted?
mind like a steel-trap, risking
my permanent record, marked

{thanksfully: 8}

Madea, my maternal grandmother, had a great love for… Chuck Norris. Clint Eastwood. Tough guy movies and violent Westerns. A bit unique for an elderly Black woman who only ever read the Bible and did the Jumbles crossword, but there you go – Madea spent a lot of time with the Old Testament God, I guess.

The only time the two of them were at ease in each other’s company was when my Dad would watch “cowboy pictures” with Madea. Sunday afternoons, it was black-and-white movies and 70’s adventure dramas, and once, memorably, Eastwood’s iconic Two Mules for Sister Sara,” starring the inimitable Shirley MacLaine.
Now I know the film to be some improbable tale of a nun falling in love with a violent cowboy who rescues her (unrealistic, with a heavy dose of Stockholm syndrome), but when I first saw the film, the most memorable thing to me was Sister Sara’s eyelashes. Boy, I COVETED Shirley MacLaine’s lashes, and it wasn’t until later that my naive little brain realized those were – duh! – falsies, probably the fancy ones made out of mink. (Boy, what a testament of different people having wildly, vastly different experiences! I wonder what my father and Madea saw in that film…) Sister Sara’s are to this day my peak aspirational lash goals. We don’t always get to chose our, um, fashion icons, but today I’m feeling affectionate gratitude for Miss Shirley – past lives or no – who is still one stylish dame.

the MacLaine effect on eleven-year-old me

a butterfly’s wings
meteorologists said,
could cause a windstorm.
someday, i’ll have that power
simply by batting my eyes.

{thanksfully: 7}

Today, I am grateful for my youngest sibs, my nieces and nephews, who, like my students, gave me a shadow of the experience of parenting: watching someone grow past the expectations everyone has had for them. My niece just received a richly-deserved promotion to a senior supervisory position. After the dysfunctional family-owned business, where her boss’s mother routinely screamed at her boss over design decisions, after the boss who asked her out, repeatedly, and hung over her desk and stared when she wouldn’t date him, her current job, where she’s seen, valued, and appreciated must be a relief. It’s been a long, grueling march – but her end goal is finally in sight.

the long game

moving the tassel
signals commencement. we cry,
the future is now!
more truthful: futures exist
endurance is the new “now”

{thanksful: 6}

It’s The Day! We kept Hearing About! With Exclamation Points! All hail the Midterms at last, I guess. So much depends on… so much.

force, fulcrum, pivot

hat tip to William Carlos Williams & Archimedes
given levers we

one voice into

single story to

a monochrome world

May we move things again – not back to where they were, but forward, to a new reality.

{thanksfully: 5}

For the past month, I’ve made a batch of applesauce on a Monday morning. I’m trying to figure out how to make enough to last us a bit, but at the rate the apples are coming in to the Farmer’s Market – some perfect and crisp, others just slightly overripe – it’s time to make sauce while the sun shines. Or something like that.

Ode to the Pink Lady

who needs pumpkin spice?
apples don’t – no camouflage
is necessary
even caramel* apples
are no match for fresh and crisp

(*My syllable count for a tanka may differ from yours, since for me, caramel has three syllables; I know for others, it has two.)

{thanksfully: 4}

Weekends are, for some, a time of rest. Not so much for Tech Boy, who will indeed work all the hours God gives, and then steal some from the devil. When he works Sundays, I hang out in the office, since sunshine puddles nicely on the floor, just under my desk, and my footrest works well for a laptop or book stand. (There is photographic evidence of this, but… you don’t need to see me curled up like a cat on the floor in the sun, do you? No, you do not.)

all I want to do
is curl up in the sunshine
with a book in hand
it is this, my lofty goal
as Sunday sunbeams puddle

{thanksfully: 3}

This morning I’m racing off to a church in Livermore to be with friends, and to sing. I love, love, love the connections and community made within groups of musicians. You don’t have to know each other well to harmonize.

a chorus of laughs
greets an off-key, clashing chord
“that didn’t go well!”
breathe, listen, and try again –
bless’d be those notes that bind us

{missing: one perfect dress}

This is the story of the Technicolor Dream Dress.

It’s a really short story.

Once upon a time, I was asked to attend a big work party for Tech Boy’s job, and tried to find a dress that would say that I was smart and gracious and well-educated and chill, and nice, and a good partner to my Person. Once upon a time, I thought The Right Dress could be the magic to speak all these things, things that would defuse questions like, “where did you meet?” or worse, “where did he find you?” or “I would never have pictured the two of you together,” questions and commentary for which there is really no appropriate response. Once I believed the Right Dress could turn “have you written anything I’ve read?” which means “should i make the effort to know you because you’ll be famous and make money?” into “Oh, a writer. Interesting.”

Dresses, however, are just clothes. Laying all of that at the thin and insubstantial hem of a mere dress was an insidious lie, and a little sneaky way of allowing the -isms to dissolve me, a way to attach moral authority and social privilege to appearance and race and gender.

identity crisis

once upon a time
i wore what i wanted to
played hard and scraped knees –
actions spoke louder than clothes.

now i am at sea
fallen in over my head
and ready to drown
now i bleat out plaintively
“is this ‘right?’ is this dress ‘me?'”

Once upon a time, I realized I will never find the perfect dress. And, after a few deep breaths, that will be all right.

{pf: p7 repeats the anaphora}

Happy November!

We’ve made it this far! Only a few more days ’til the Midterm Election madness is OVAH! …and then, we start the next Presidential cycle… God Almighty, preserve us…

Okay, so today the Seven Sisters are not honestly repeating a poetic form – this is a new one for us. I’m punning on the repeating pattern of words in the anaphora, which I love. (Also, shout out to my sisters, none of whom are actually nuns, though the idea of a nice long dark dress and a contemplative lifestyle definitely has its merits just now!) Our theme was, loosely, grace in the face of loss. Gratitude, while letting go. The end of the season, the end of a day, these are losses in their own way. I have a poem about surrendering the cares of the day in my head but it didn’t get finished in time…

The anaphora poetic form is, in some respects, fairly simple. It’s not confined to syllables or pentameter – any style of prose or poem will do, as long as one uses the repetition of a word or phase. It worked for Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King, Jr. It’s part of the swinging cadence of sermons and political speeches (which we’re all paying avid attention to this month so we can VOTE, right? Right). So, on the surface, this was one of the easier challenges I could come up with for a very, very busy month.

Do you ever get the feeling that October is like kicking a ball downhill that only picks up speed in November? Most of us have snatched a moment here or there for poetry this month, but it’s not been a time to stop and smell the roses for many of us. Thus, today’s poem is… meant to recapture the last time we really could slow and observe things as we wanted to — childhood. I thought of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1929 “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” and this became a child’s autumn verse – celebrating the moon and the muck and the bugs in a new season, and all the adventures to be had evading bedtime, at the end of the day. If I’d thought about it, I could have finished the poem with the morning and giving up the loss of night time, but, oh well. I’m taking a page out of Laura’s book today, and combining the poem with an illustration.

I’m grateful this poem came to me, because everything else I came up with was really heavy and dark, and — no. Enough with that right now. This is a month of gratitude, and so I’m thankful for the opportunity to stop and hunker down in the weeds to see what treasures might be discovered.

Other discoveries this month are at Laura’s blog. Tricia’s poem – which she is probably still tweaking – is here. Liz is ,a href=”http://lizgartonscanlon.com/2018/11/poetry-project-november-2018/”>burying her lede. Andi joins us again this month, Kelly’s poem she composed on the fly while Sara’s traveling and will post later this month.

Happy month of gratitude. I’m thankful that Poetry Friday today is hosted over at the amazing and vote-centric Alphabet Soup by Jama-j, who is all things awesome.