{npm24: 22}

Happy Earth Day… it’s a bit ironic that my thoughts today are on judgment, when there’s so much moralizing and judgment about the environment. NOT WITHOUT CAUSE, in some ways, but I kind of hate how much individuals turn on each other over things which we should be pressuring corporations and institutions about, instead of side-eying each other so hard…

One of the worst parts of growing up in my family is that I learned to judge everyone – and myself – early and often. It is an everlasting source of bemusement to me that one of the firm tenets of Christianity is ‘Don’t judge, or you’ll be judged by the same rubric,’ and …yet. I’m learning, though, to be conscious of my own observations and attitudes. To make more neutral statements. To ask questions. To realize that my hearing is more important that my opinion.

Does being non-judgmental count regarding environmental concerns? I don’t know… but when the tenor of our concern gets wielded like a weapon in our quest to save the earth, it doesn’t help…

Untitled Draft

“Do not judge,” easy enough to say it,
Who knows what hardships haunt the hearts of man?
Bite your tongue, or be named a hypocrite.

The Golden Rule’s a maxim found in Holy Writ
Respect as central to that same game plan
as “Do not judge.” Easy enough to say it,

Hard to admit that we, too, are unfit.
Who sees MY stuff, once your stuff hits the fan?
Bite your tongue! Or be named a hypocrite,

Or, just human. Here we can admit it:
“Perfect’s” a gap that humans cannot span.
So, don’t judge. Easy enough to say it…

Our moralizing’s harder to omit.
We just want to feel better than ‘less than!’
Bite your tongue, or be named a hypocrite…

Since judgment ravels what should be tight-knit,
And swindles peace from life like a con-man,
Do not judge. Too easy just to say it,
So, bite your tongue, or are you a hypocrite?

{npm24: 20 & 21}

Yesterday I lost two — TWO!!! — needles whilst working on an embroidery project. I’d been doing some yard work, and the sequel to all of the hoeing and weed-ripping was The Body Strikes Back (kinda like the Empire, but hopefully somewhat smaller). My joints swell, and holding onto small things becomes challenging, much to my annoyance. Himself has a cure for this – he’s rigged up a little plastic box with two rows of magnets inside, which he happily runs along the floor until he can find the errant slivers of metal. It’s nice to have someone always handy with a solution. And look – I’ve lost two needles – and somehow mislaid a poetry post – and yet the planet still spins. Imagine that.

Thoughts on the Occasion of Losing A Needle, Again: A Tanka

Guess it could be worse:
You could have lost your flosses,
Or misplaced your eyes.
Stitches affix the fiction
That you haven’t lost the plot.

Marriage

You know you’re a match
Their pluses match your minus
The math just works out.

{npm24: 19}

My GOODNESS, it’s nearly the penultimate week of the month! Time to check in again with this month’s NPM Objective from The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933), “Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.” – T.S. Eliot

A level deeper into my, erm, substratum, I think of the unnamed feelings I have surrounding the well-meaning. There is a woman with whom I peripherally interact in my volunteer work who is a fervent inclusivity ally. She consistently grabs the spotlight with her dogged insistence on letting all and sundry know that if anyone ‘better’ comes along to do any of the tasks she’s been assigned, she will step aside for them. That would only makes sense in a work environment, to move aside for the better qualified – and a savvy manager would make sure that happened. However, this is volunteer work, and her “better” is always a person of color.

Have you ever tried to grab hold of the amorphous reasons behind WHY something feels discomfiting? Have you ever tried to do so in a poem? I have been sitting with those feelings and here I am – going to, without a mentor poem this time – blank them onto the page. (This IS A DRAFT, NOT A POEM) Am I going to want to make it all at least rhyme tomorrow? YES. Am I going to feel like it’s incoherent enough not to address real feelings? Yes. Is that going to matter? No – because… feelings, duh. If I knew why it was bothering me, I could write a better poem, but alas, smoke and sand…

Draft, Untitled 4/18

The more you try to hold them in your hands
The more the tumbled grit slithers away
You’re micro in the cosmic, that’s your place
Let go! There’s nothing you need understand.

What troubles you is trouble’s thinning skin.
You’re triggered, primed, and spoiling for a fight.
So packed inside you’re ripe enough to crack
But you’re a lady, so you pack it in.

Dust riding on the wind can’t slow this train
Unless that windstorm’s fine enough to choke.
When engines, falter, wheezing your mistake,
Make common cause with nomads, wait for rain…

We see all that we have here, what is known,
Is all our people need is all we lack.
Yet somehow, hearts abraded still, we chafe
Hands fumbling after smoke that’s being blown.


Have you been following this year’s Progressive Poem? I am kicking myself for not jump in to add lines on an earlier date, in a way, as the poem now has… like, a name and an identity now, and maybe I should have worked with it when it was more of an amorphous zygote!? I hope I don’t ruin it.

Meanwhile, Poetry Friday is celebrated today at Second Cousin Heidi’s juicy little universe, where you’ll find poems with clarity – and titles. Happy Friday.

{npm24: 18}

I’m a big fan of the poet Joseph Fasano. I discovered him on social media, which is where I’ve discovered a lot of poets, slam poets on the various videos, snippets of lines and snapshots of books people upload. Once again, I’m going to trust to another poet to help me past my… block with blank verse, and Joseph Fasano seems like a grand gentleman for the journey.

Untitled, after Joseph Fasano’s “The Middle of the Way.” This one is definitely still a draft – it took me the whole ruddy day – and still has no title (EDITED TO ADD: Nope – I came up with one tangentially related now, so whew. I actually… like this? A little? It has internal rhyme. I can live with that):

Burn Scar

A low-banked fire waiting, smoldering coals,
A little life left yet guttering in flame.
A child, on hearing father’s hurried step
Looks up with homefires burning in her gaze.
They’re doused, as with the sea salting his tongue
He speaks, and drowns new-born an ember’s heart,
Then raked across the coals, she’s left, bereft,
He’s heedless how combustion leaves its mark.
Exhausted and extinguished, ardor dies,
Cementing sodden ash. But let him look
And clammy hearth once more sputters to spark
The smoke rises forever in this space,
and fumbles towards the tinder, towards this flame
and surges suddenly to brilliant blaze.

{npm24: 17}

Mom has what she calls a “Senior Moment” when she walks into a room and forgets what she came for. I have what I call ‘Dyscalculia Moments.’ Today it was the date – I literally read the 1 and the 7 on the calendar as a 1 and a 2. I often invert numbers and/or completely make them up, so it shouldn’t surprise me. And, yet it gives me a double-take each time.

John Hopkins University has a Mathematics of Music course. The American Mathematical Society has a whole page exploring the intersection of mathematics and music. For a long time as a kid, I didn’t understand why I couldn’t “get” reading music, remembering time signatures and what all the little patterns meant. As an adult, learning about the way my brain works and does not… well, now I get it.

This will never be effortless for me. This will never not be a problem. I’m learning to be unembarrassed, and to accept the good. Look at the intricacies of sheet music, and I can understand that! Look at me claim the weird little things that I do to make my life function: see the tiny notations in my music, places to put my pencil so I can count? It’s not ‘Touch Math’ as its taught in many school districts, but it’s close – and it works for me.

Everyone has coping mechanisms, I remind myself. May yours continue to work for you.

Mistakes Were Made

Mistaken, yet again
My blunders make me sigh.
“This too shall pass.” But when!?
Perhaps before I die?

My blunders make me cry.
Burnt cookies in the bin!
Perhaps before I’ll die,
I’ll know twenty’s not ten?

Burnt cookies in the bin…
“Too late to reapply.”
Can’t rely on my brain,
My calendar’s awry.

“Too late to reapply.”
And can’t apply my brain.
My whole schedule’s awry.
Numbers drive me insane.

Can’t rely on my brain.
This too shall pass. But, when
Math gives me a migraine
Mistake are made, again.

{npm24: 16}

Okay, this is WILDLY off-topic for my project this month, but I have to do it anyway, because Reasons.

Author Charlie Jane Anders did a brief series of reviews for ‘terrible gender-swapping’ films in her newsletter this week, and admitted that she’d never seen the 1993 Robin Williams comedy “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Neither does she want to see it, but invited reviews of it on her behalf – in haiku only.

See what I mean? I need to write this haiku because REASONS.*

A 90’s Movie Truism

fat folks in films, and
women of a certain age:
interchangeable

Level Up Your Parenting: Do Drag!

he was a “bad” dad:
but such a stellar nanny…
was it just the dress?

The Reason We Watched

a diamond in mud
shines despite its circumstance:
We loved you, Robin.

*With apologies if this is your all time favorite film. It wasn’t terrible, exactly, it was just… a 90’s movie… reflecting an epically wretched, horrifying era.

{npm24: 15}

Ah, yes, the Ides of April, our modern day of betrayal and infamy and what feels like the sudden death of any hope of having a reasonably full bank account. April remains the cruelest month, as the sun has been snatched away again, and returned us to gray cold – although I’m excited to say we got out and worked hard after our Sunday gig to get a few more flowers into the ground. Still, today, is cold and gray, and it feels hard to push through the fatigue and know that better days are coming. You?

it’s not through

the only way out
is a trail marked with arrows.
I choose a U-turn.

{npm24: 14}

I kind of hate the waste of a waxed amaryllis. It’s such a popular holiday gift, but the wax renders the plant useless for composting, and also creates an impenetrable boundary for the roots to cross. People watch them bloom, and throw them out. I’m sure I’ve whinged about this before.

I’m relieved that the ones I rescued survived to go outside. I’m thrilled that one is standing tall.

leafed

greenery brilliant
glowing red petals, spattered
and weather-beaten:
sturdy beauty’s cultivar
affirms what it takes to bloom.

{npm24: 13}

Spring swings in on a pendulum – we move from fair high seventies back to restless winds and driving rain. And back again. And yet, it’s a good day.

Sometimes our homes feel more homey than other times, and for me, that’s a rainy day spent alone. Peace and plenty are things I’m thankful for – plenty of time, if not plenty of money – and solitude, stitching, and tea…

rainy morning

the poppies have bowed
gaudy heads lowering
tea steams the streaked glass

{npm24: 12}

Happy Poetry Friday!

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Brené Brown’s TED talk from a few years ago wherein she mentions a Christmas movie – a family in a car singing carols, the camera panning over the individual faces, and then — she stops the imaginary movie, then she asks people what happens next. People immediately say “car crash.” Others add to that, imagining oncologist based bad news, serial killers – menace. I heard this in a talk, and laughed out loud. Like, what the heck?! Who are the people who think that?! And what the hell is wrong with them?

Um…? The people who think that is …us. Me. Brown talks about how many people feel like ‘the worst’ is always going to happen. We are fear-based society, raised in fear-based systems – even our faith is fear-based. Joy is greeted with foreboding, and disappointment is a state of being.

When I got done laughing about this, I had to cry.

Do You Believe in Love?

I struggle to believe
My faith lingers in facts:
Time moves on. People leave.
I live with my bags packed.

My faith confesses fact:
Gifts get taken away.
I live with my bags packed –
“Nothing gold can stay.”

Gifts get taken away
Fears, holding them too tight,
Since “nothing gold can stay,”
Dread keeps us from delight.

Fear makes us grip too tight
And, one foot out the door,
Dread blotting out delight,
Does absence faith restore?

My one foot’s out the door,
Time’s moved on. People leave.
Losses leave my heart sore.
I struggle… I believe.


I felt this TED talk rated another repeating poem – but just to be difficult, I have returned to pantoums. Jone’s our hostess today, with a smart interview with the author of a most gorgeous ekphrastic anthology – and Jone herself has a photograph included. Thanks, Jone, and Happy Poetry Friday.