{p7 on pf lift a glass & w r i t e}

Every once in a while, I go through my blog’s drafts folder and find posts I began and never finished, or finished and never published. Sometimes, the reason is crystal clear – they were too moody, too personal, too specific. We always want to show our best selves in public, after all. But, every once in a while I find unfinished gems. I started a post last June, after Robin Smith died, and I was “all up in my feelings,” as it were, pondering her exhortation to me to keep writing despite the chaos in the world. (And there was chaos closer to home, too – after Robin passed, we had houseguests from across the country to entertain, my Mom went back to work, Tech Boy got a new job, and within two weeks, we’d abruptly moved out of a place we’d been for the five years since we moved back from the UK – it was A LOT. Too much, really.) I was groping my way through what those words meant to me. I did eventually publish something on writing near the end of June, and will eventually share the blog fragment — but today is more for my thoughts based on those words.

The fragment was some very descriptive thoughts on writing – and writing through life’s chaos – and as a jumping off point for the Seven Sisters Poetry Challenge this month, that’s my topic. Now, this month, Sara’s challenge was for us to write a toast. Or, kind of a toast, anyway; more of a salute to a…thing. Toasts for non-drinkers don’t come up a lot, but I gave it my best shot in three glasses.

three tools, one toast

A quill! A quill! The poet needs a quill
to scribe in blood the pain of loss
to lance the flesh and drain the wound
to coolly plot a double-cross
signal a shipwreck left marooned
A quill! A quill! All hail the mighty quill.
      ♦
A pen! A pen! All celebrate the pen
chips ice from frozen seas inside
a two-edged sword, which cut both ways
a whetstone to the tongue applied
we cross out lines and then rephrase –
A pen! A pen! All celebrate the pen.
      ♦
A word! A word! the writer seeks a word
elusive as a unicorn
it hovers just beyond one’s reach
grasped for in joy and hurled in scorn
its figure lent to grace your speech
A word! A word! the writer seeks a word.


Sara’s rules for “A Toast! A Toast!” were merely that we had to begin and end each poem with the same two words. (After setting the challenge, even SHE found this supremely difficult!!!). The crew is off in seven different directions this month, so we may not all get to this challenge at the same time, but we raise a glass to Laura in Cyprus, Sara in an airplane between here and there, Andi in the garden, Kelly in the studio, Tricia under a pile of final projects, Liz dashing between school and daughters, and me packing for vacation. The poetry must go on!

Poetry Friday is being hosted by the gracious Brenda Davis Harsham at Friendly Fairytales. Pop over to visit her beautiful garden-centric blog.

{time capsule, 1 year + one month ago}

April 3, 2017: “I’m fairly tolerant.” “I don’t see color.” “I’m pretty broad-minded.” “I’m the decider.” Because, if you have to say it, it’s likely not true, the previous four statements sound pretty off to me… and yet, they were said by well-intentioned people, and meant to be statements of purest truth.

During my last classroom visit, the teacher in charge made a slightly odd statement, perhaps meant to provoke the students into response. It was a deeply, deeply discomfiting statement, one which began with the statement, “I consider myself a liberal human being…” and ended with the statement that was something like but I didn’t realize black people did yoga. Unfortunately, I thought it was said in jest, and burst out laughing – only to realize no one had joined me. I could only attempt to salvage the moment and talk more in depth about the assumptions people make about people of other abilities, cultures, gender expressions, ethnicities, etc., in our country and in our world that lead to the confusions we share as human beings. It was …a moment.

broad-minded

I don’t see color –
(i’m better than that.) Unseen,
the people waited:
Unacknowledged, their voices.
Unheard, this story’s flip side.

the space between lines
that’s where you’ll find the story
& in the margins
(if you can’t see me, am i
your imaginary friend?)

Somoka is a form of poetry where both sides of the poem talk back to each other – and it’s supposed to form a love story. This time, it’s a missed connection…

…and a year on, I am no less confused by how that classroom visit went. I …just don’t understand, in all seriousness, how some of us can so fail to see the rest of us. I think some people operate on the two-year-old’s philosophy that if they close their eyes, some things don’t exist.

{mistress mannerly & #introvertproblems}

Dear Mistress Mannerly,

Today Tech Boy and I were invited to vacation in a lovely seaside resort home with two other couples. How can I explain to them that I’d rather chow down on rusted iron nails than be trapped in a house full of strangers who expect me to act like I want to speak to them and not hide in an empty room, and who want me to do something other than completely ignore them in favor of reading a book?

Signed,

An introvert completely panicking about togetherness in August even though it’s months away.


Greetings, Completely Panicking Introvert,

The seaside is lovely at any time of year, and you’ll find these next three months will just fly by, never fear. While those in the pica community prove that there are indeed minerals like iron and zinc to be gained from ingesting clays, metals, and the like, Mistress Mannerly begs to remind you that chewing nails will absolutely wreak havoc with your smile. Substituting the barest pinch of ground glass for your iron indulgence will result in a much more satisfyingly attractive corpse.

Mistress Mannerly begs you remember, panic is counterproductive. Mindful action – even the mindful action of letting rip the odd existential scream – is a much better way to get on.

Fare you well, and tastefully,

Mistress Mannerly

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Peachtree 38

still running

and, Monday again –
already the schedule twists,
disrupting set plans
no time to waste on chewing
just grab a straw and swallow

Could there maybe someday be a Monday in which we move briskly after the alarm? A day when we are not subsequently engaged in flinging things around in a tizzy before we have Something Scheduled? Perhaps someday?

National Poetry Month has been a joy – thanks to everyone who participated at their individual blogs, and thanks to all of you who flitted through this month. Here’s to poetry, and the random thoughts that pass through our brains.

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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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At first, I thought it was a raccoon. The ones we have here are the size of small dogs… but raccoons (especially these jumbo beasts) are messy wee buggers and leave destruction in their wake. Were one visiting my solar fountain, I’d probably also have pulled wires, broken pottery, mammal hair and bits of crayfish left behind. So, it’s probably not a raccoon (unless somewhere there is an exquisitely neat and polite one).

As I mentioned the other day, I think I might be inadvertently playing a game with a crow. Which is fine; it’s all part of my cunning plan to someday lead an army of crows to make war on the squirrels. (You knew I had this plan. Don’t act like you’re surprised.) Every morning, Young Corvus is lurking in the back garden, but flaps away (in a rather ungainly fashion, which is why I posit s/he is Young Corvus and not Suave, Old and Wise) when one of us goes out. And every day… right in the middle of the walk, a glitter of glass stones.

I somehow have gotten involved in this… replacing the Shiny, because Reasons. And today, I baited the fountain with colored buttons and beads, as well as new glass stones, because More Reasons. Silly ones.

I mean, if we’re going to play, we have to play for points, right? Could you imagine if s/he decide they want to TRADE shiny items…

I Spy, With My Beady Black Eye

greedy as a child
Young Corvus comes calling
coveting baubles
deft pilferer of trifles
a charming corvid crime spree

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Today, I’m combining two things: our 2nd Tuesday of the month image prompt, plus today’s tanka.

Since we posted this at Wonderland, I’ve been wondering and wondering what’s been… bothering me about this image, which this month comes from Flickr user Claus Rebler of Korneuburg, Austria. I’ve finally figured it out: there’s a distinct lack of… life.

We’ve got golden hay – basically dead grass. We’ve got a beautifully rendered sky. We’ve got not one bird, not one insect. The perfection of the image is eerily sterile and a bit worrying, when taken from that perspective. And yes – I have watched one too many farming horror movies, I guess. (Actually I don’t care for horror movies at all, having been forced by Mean Boys to watch a part of Children of the Corn when I was five. [Parents: when visiting the homes of friends with children of their own, be sure your child knows that it’s perfectly acceptable to walk away from said children and come and sit by you if said children are absolute wastes of carbon.] Ugh.)

I have a teensy postage stamp of a back garden, and I have dropping by the resident phoebe, goldfinches, starlings, doves, the odd kestrel, uncounted wrens, robins, and massive, shining black crows. How does this whole field not have one crow? (I’d like to give this field my crow, because my crow will not leave the shiny bits of glass in my tiny fountain alone. Each morning I wake to them scattered on the ground. Each morning, I put them back. The crow has likely decided that this is a game…)

What is a farm without bugs and birds? What is growth without …life? How is a story without antagonists?

Untitled

riddle of the prairie

under sterile skies
Rapunzel’s straw, in bobbins
already spun gold
a sanitized fairytale
happily ever after

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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