How Do You See The Months of a Year?
The month of July seems to slip by so quickly in summertime. June plods along, teasing children in the northeast that the school year is about to end.
August bakes us till we beg for September, who is just pleased as punch to walk onto the scene. Clean polished floors, bright paper decorates bulletin boards trimmed in scalloped and straight edges. Books wait to be opened and explored. The hallways are quiet for just a little longer till the roar begins.
Empty beaches, no waiting in lines at the amusement parks too. September sets up for the colors of October, and the smell of turkey in the oven come November.
December is in a rush for Christmas, which makes everyone slow down, just for a few hours, remember the reason for this season and brings a realization that another calendar year has passed and a new year begins.
We trudge through January to get into February and try to remember the love for another. Before beginning a journey through March, that can or refuses to cooperate, pummel us with another snow storm, bitter wind, or the promise and anticipation of Spring.
April – she gives the first kiss to warmer weather and May never disappoints – as she whispers to children the end of the school year is near. Which seems to put the days into slow motion. Will it ever be June again?
Sounds in the Library
The cracking open of spines.
The comforting turn of pages.
Miss Jones loves them all.
The rubbing of covers being placed
Back upon shelves.
The warmth of a novel in your hands.
Miss Jones caresses them all.
The whispers of mother’s reading
Softly to their children.
The rhythmic breathing of old men
Within their newspapers.
Miss Jones inhales deeply, remembering
The smell of paper, glue and thread.
The dust fairies dancing in the light
Through tall windows.
The dust on long forgotten Britannica’s,
Textbooks and rolls of maps.
Miss Jones brings out a feather duster,
Releasing more fairies.
Many languages, many subjects,
Many authors, many artists.
Thousands upon thousands of pages.
Millions upon millions of words.
Miss Jones cherishes each letter.
The cur-chunk of the hand stamp is gone.
Paper pockets tucked carefully
On each back page are empty.
Five cents per day late fees have
Risen with inflation.
A computer scanner glows near the entrance.
Miss Jones watches and listens, adjusting her glasses.
Lifting her long skirt silently walks through the bookcases.
Disappearing, walking back through the pages of time.
No one believed me when I told them of the owl. His golden eyes like two perfect moons, with onyx centers watched me cautiously.
Often alone I’d fly on my swing, to pass the time. Climb the mulberry tree till I turned purple. But today I crawled beneath the blue spruce, rhododendron and beloved Mount Laurel.
A secret place. The pine needles were soft to sit on, at first. The branches delicate and bare in this cool shady place. I leaned against the foundation of our house. Watching life pass by -people walking down the street, cars driving up the street.
Then I looked up. The owl watched me. A shiver ran down my spine when I looked at large talons. I did not move – from fear or fascination, I know not.
We sat studying one another. The bag I carried with me, containing a favorite book, also held crayons, pencils and a drawing pad. Carefully I began to draw the owl.
He seemed to sit a little taller for me. A speckled breast, a dozen shades of brown, tufts of feathers pretending to be ears and those golden eyes.
I sat on those poky pine needles till I could no longer tell the colors of my crayons. The light faded quickly and the moon light shown bright, casting deep shadows past the rhodie’s blossoms. My mother called my name. The owl turned and listened. Slowly his head turned back to me. “So that is your name.” he whispered. I smiled and nodded. “I will see you again Patricia.” Raising his wings, he stretched. “When?” I asked. The impatience growing in my mothers voice.
“On the next full moon.” And he was gone. Nothing but a soft whoosh was left behind.
Crawling from under the branches, I heard my mothers voice, relieved now. “Oh there you are! What were you doing under there?” she asked.
“Owl watching.” I said. My mother smiled, looing at me a bit bemused, then sent me inside to wash my hands for dinner.
I saw that owl many times before I started school. No one ever did believe me. But I have the drawing to prove it.
Recently I had the opportunity to take a poetry workshop. It has been a joy to discover that our local library has a wealth of programs for writers. If you have not explored your library, I encourage you to do so. If they do not have what you’re looking for – perhaps you can offer to help create something unique. The Brenda Connor-Bey Learning to See Legacy Workshop Serie: Poetry and Music: Form and Re-Form was presented by Ruth D. Handel. Ruth herself a published author, is a wonderful instructor. On this particular day we looked at several poems and pieces of art work telling the story of Icarus. Although I cannot touch upon the depths of Muriel Rukeyser’s Waiting for Icarus, nor Anne Sexton’s To A Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph. I enjoyed the lesson and the practice very much. This is the piece I wrote at the end of class.
He soared! Incredible! Is it possible?!
He soared! Into the turquoise sky, warm sun, cool rain.
He soared! Catching a current, swift and crisp!
He soared! Higher and higher, he burst through the clouds!
He soared! Then noticed the birds were gone…
He plunged. At first without fear.
He plunged. Picking up speed, the smell of warm wax filled his nostrils.
He plunged. The wind stung his eyes.
He plunged. The panic begins to grow and strengthen and finds its way into his heart.
He plunged, into the ocean, his body shattered into a thousand tear drops.
When I was married, my husband came with children. He once told me if we had children of our own and they were ugly it was my fault – since he had a portfolio! Yeah. I still married him. Anyway, as you can imagine money was really really tight when you are just starting out and have child support payments! So to make Christmas morning longer than it took to open the gifts we could buy – I came up with a treasure hunt of sorts. My stepson is now 36 and home for the holidays. This is the poem he woke up to this Christmas morning. Enjoy!
To celebrate the Christmas memories of the past.
I thought you might enjoy – a riddle at last.
To find a gift – you must explore! I will tell you the gift
is hidden on the first floor.
In the 80’s the money was stretched to the max.
The idea of piles of gifts was our hope, but alas.
The numbers were so thin, but the love there was vast.
How could we make Christmas morning last?
So we thought of a plan to ensure ‘fun & joy’
Develop a hide and seek treasure hunt – sure!
Writing notes with a rhyme hiding small boxes & bags.
To be honest it was fun for the grown-ups this gag.
Tucked in corners and cabinets, closets on hooks.
We hid said presents till you took a look!
It was several years later we learned with a fright.
Your sister and you would get up nice and bright.
Pre-read all those rhymes, pre-find all the gifts.
Rotten children you were tricking us, having fits!
But alas the years fly, more Christmas’ past.
Here you are once again, home, safe at last.
So Clayton, can you guess where a present awaits?
I’ll give you a hint – its near a soggy place!
Mom2 & Dad
(yes dear readers – it was near the potty!)
Summertime In The South
A warm summer in Mississippi is a sweltering summer in New York.
A blistering summer in Chicago, Do they have summers in Alaska?
A warm summer in Mississippi is impossible to move quickly in 110 degrees.
Everything slows down to a crawl. The snails simply stop.
A warm summer in Mississippi, grows bugs larger than science or God intended.
Mosquitoes cause welts the size of quarters.
Horseflies torture the farm animals.
A warm summer in Mississippi means sweat does not cool your skin, it stings your eyes.
Dampens clothing, drenches your hair.
Kisses are salty.
A warm summer in Mississippi, Kennedy rockers creek and groan on Mamo’s front porch.
Fly swatters smack flies, occasionally a child’s butt as they run by.
They squeal and jump, they’re laughter grows dim.
A warm summer in Mississippi, brings memories of faded Polaroid pictures.
Cowboys and sawmills, cool sweet tea, sticky hugs, churning peach ice cream.
Feels Like Summertime
The coals are blazing red, so hot
The skin on your face is angry to the touch.
Burning coals smell like summer.
Daddy yells, “Stay Back!”
The old lawn mower screams and grunts,
Its dull blade turns like a propeller.
Lawn mowers sound like summer.
Late afternoon, Mama hauls the hose
To the backyard. The sprinkler begins.
Cold water sizzles on hot backs.
Thmp, thmp, thmp, thmp – it sings the song of summer.
Fireflies blink in eight mayonnaise jars.
Their magic lights up the night
Twinkling stars in freshly mowed grass looks like summer.
Bath tub empties – shows a brown ring.
You play harder outside.
Mama puts clean crisp white sheets on grandmothers bed.
You fall asleep quickly, dreaming of summer
A Life Time
June 7, 2014
A life time.
No set time frame for that statement. A life time, in a sick newborn is a matter of days or weeks, if your lucky months. You never heard their voice, or had a conversation with them. But you loved them and cherished them dearly. You’d die for them if you could.
A life time.
To a child with leukemia it is a torture not knowing if you will have your first date, if your date will care if your bald, if you’ll ever have a first kiss, be married, mow the lawn.
A life time.
To a young adult – it is a thousand years. No worries, you are invincible. You hurry fast, party hard, laugh too loudly because you do not care, you have all the time in the world.
A life time.
To a mature adult – we know better now. We see how close that car came to us before it came to a screaming stop. Maybe we walked away from a horrible accident, maybe our friend did not. Life is a little too real.
A life time.
To a middle aged person – we can feel our wisdom and dip from it. We’ve been there, done that and gotten a closet full of t-shirts. We see our bodies changing to look how we remember our parents, when our consciousness turned on. We’re a little more careful – life insurance, wills, trust funds if we’ve got. You see the sunset in the distance.
A life time.
To a man or woman who cannot hold a coffee mug with one hand any more. Who watches the young with a tear in their eye – happy for them, remembering for themselves. Who tries not to burden anyone with their constant aches, tying a shoe, the crinkle of a diaper they cannot hear themselves, but painfully aware others hear it, smell it, look away. Knowing they may or may not wear one.
A life time.
There are no promises for just how long you have to live on this earth. Feel the breezes, hear the birds discussing something important in song, touching the cool waters and bask in the sun.
So slow down and be aware of this time – this right now – this – its all I have for sure time and do not waste it,
nor feel entitled to it,
or disrespect it.
A Memorial Day Poem of Songs from WWII
Must Stick Together…
Every heart holds true for the red, white and blue
Mom I Miss Your Apple Pie…
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Leaning on a Lamp Post…
Down Forget Me Not Lane
Yankee Doodle Dandy
From my personal favorite trio, The Andrew Sisters, to Vera Lynn, The Mills Brothers, Irving Berlin and Benny Goodman just to name a few – the songs written, played and sung during the wars were incredible. From feeling the pride, to laughing, then wiping away a tear was of course very emotional, yet deeply special.
Listening to the words of so many songs, including those listed above in my simple poem – helped people cope; with a situation they had no control over.
I wish you dear reader, a safe, happy and uneventfully wonderful Memorial Day.
This Ain’t Asia!
The Nina, the Pinta and Santa Maria
Gold from deep pockets of nobility.
Built fine sea worthy vessels.
Dreams of riches, silks & spice.
Adventures on the high seas!
“Wait, where are we going?! I told my wife I’d be back by Christmas next year. She’ll kill me if I’m late.”
‘You know she will forgive you being late with gold in your pocket!’
Mast, Sails, Ropes, Cardinal free
Christoforo, shaped like a pear, stands proudly on the bridge.
In his hand a telescope glistens in the sun.
His manner calm, his eyes ever searching their goal.
He breaths deeply, he smiles to himself.
We are finally on our way!
“I think I’m going to be sick.”
‘You’ll find your sea legs soon mate.’
Someone shouts “AHOY!” brought both men to their feet.
Baggywrinkle, Backstays, Barrelman’s stern view
The Barrelman points off the starboard bow.
“Where the heck is the Santa Maria?
Don’t tell me we lost the ship!”
Barrelman yells, ‘Off the starboard you idiots!’
The sailors all turn to their ‘other’ starboard.
How is this possible.
Chris looks pale.
The Santa Maria’s hull sits low in the Atlantic.
She is taking on water.
Bailers’ frantically work to pump the sea back to its proper place.
“Giuseppe left the porthole open again!”
The youngest sailor turn red.
He squirms under their jest.
Buckets of ocean soak the boy’s clothes.
Captain, First Mate, Commodore, Crew
Weeks turn to months, sun rises and sets.
360 degree horizon remains the same.
No seagulls, no land.
The crew begins to doubt.
“Oh no not again, we’re lost aren’t we Chris?”
The smack could be hard from bow to stern as the sailor’s hat hit the deck.
‘Storm clouds off the port bow!’
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Another storm?! Jesus…!!!
A clap of thunder, a flash of lightening stops the sailor’s next word.
Ships are tossed from side to side.
Rain beats the men on deck.
The crew tie themselves with heavy ropes.
The storm rages on and on and on.
“Hey Rod, Roddy, Rodrigo! You up there?!
A very green sailor slowly looks down from his post.
“Are you okay?” Rodrigo waves slowly, the sun feels good on this back.
He pauses to focus on a shadow in front of him.
He is not alone in the nest.
Seagull, Albatross, Sandpipers too
The snowy white wings adjust their position.
Flapping away the dampness.
The sailor stood up much to quickly and emptied his stomach over
The side of his perch.
“Son of a bitch!” yelled a voice below.
‘Land ho’ said Rodrigo hoarsely, whipping bile from his lips.
Laughter mix with vomit and rum as other crewmen step back, look up.
‘LAND HO!’ First silence, now deep voices cheer!
No silk, no gold, no cinnamon or cloves
Christoforo is called from below.
Shielding his eyes from the sun, he looked at a coast.
In his heart he knows this is not Asia.
A tear slips down his cheek.
“Where the heck are we?? Oh man the Queen is gonna be pissed!”
Sharp elbows in ribs silence the observation.
The hulls, full with air on the journey home.
The sailor’s pockets deep with empty.
A different land, Isabella’s promised payload?
Palm trees, waterfalls, and mangos ripe.
Christoforo and his crew
Dock his ships in paradise.
Learning to See Poetry Workshop
May 6, 2014
Thinking of Bridges
Delaware Whitestone Brooklyn,
Tappan Zee Suspension, stone, steel GWB
Draw bridges lifting
Must bridge the line
Dental bridge aching
Playing bridge calms the mind
London Bridge is falling down The children sing and dance
Glasses sit on the bridge of a nose
A Band-Aid rolled and lashed
Rope bridge tied to canyon walls
Bridging mountains up on high
Root bridges grow in Jaintia hills
Bridging souls to heavens sky
Bridge the gap between us
Covered bridges up in Maine
To the bridges of Madison County
Golden Gate across the bay
From building the Bridge on the River Kwai
To Bridge Over Troubled Waters sang
Don’t burn your bridges behind you
May you find your way ‘cross again. ____________________________________________________________ Mary Catherine stood in front of the classroom. It was her turn for the oral presentation to the class. We watched her carefully set up a single burner, pot, wooden spoon and trays covered with wax paper. The classroom was full that day. The dark stained floors creaked and groaned as the 7th graders re-positioned chairs for a better view. The smell of chalk soon gave way to the smell of cocoa and peanut butter melting together. Mary Catherine spoke clearly as she held up what she was adding to the pot of wonderfulness – our mouths already watering. She pushed her glasses back up from her nose. Looped her long blond hair behind her ear as she explained the origin of this no bake cookie recipe. “It was in the back of a Superman comic book. Right under the x-ray glasses and beside the secret decoder ring.” The students quickly accepted the source. The teachers glanced at one another a little suspect. Oatmeal was added and the gentle stirring of ingredients became a challenge. Mary Catherine wrestled with the wooden spoon. Dropping spoonfuls onto the wax paper, she explained they cool quickly then would be ready to taste. Those where the days no one asked if there was a peanut allergy or conflict with medication. No one was ADD, just a little hyper, and only one child’s special need was speech therapy for a stutter. Other teachers and students crowded by the door. The smell of chocolate and peanut butter lured them to our room. Mary Catherine passed out two cookies each. I can remember how the chocolate filled my mouth, my senses were overjoyed. My tongue danced around the warm peanut butter. Forty years later I smile as I take out the copy of that recipe she wrote for me. The paper is yellow, the smudges from my first time baking them myself still remain. I serve them to my now twenty something daughters as they smile and make their mothers yummy sounds. Mmmmmmm!
No Bake Cookie Recipe
Combine in a pot: stir together 2 cups sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup milk, 1/4 cup butter, 2 cups sugar
Place on medium heat and cook until mixture begins to boil. Add 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter – turn off the heat and stir until well incorporated. Add: a pinch of salt, 1 tsp vanilla, 3 cups quick cook oatmeal (not instant, or old fashion)
Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. Any extra can be sprinkled on ice cream for extra yum! Warning: this recipe contains sugar, chocolate, and peanut butter yumminess. It is NOT figure friendly BUT it does have oatmeal in it, which is an awesome grain, therefore I completely endorse this product. Enjoy!!
Note: Taking some time to sit and watch the Hudson River this winter, under a pergola facing the Tappan Zee Bridge. I remembered taking kayaks under it and watching pieces of concrete chunks fall into the water. It was terrifying, to this day I say a little prayer when I must drive across it. I cannot wait until the new bridge is completed. Considering the icy water in the Hudson, I thought instead of taking a poem focusing on Water, which my first thoughts were refresh, renew, cleanse and turn it into a something a little more cold and dark. An experiment outside my comfort zone. The second poem is much lighter, followed by two Haiku. I hope you enjoy the variety. Dark Waters, Wet Grave The dark shadow of the Tappan Zee bridge from the surface of the Hudson, is frightenly magnificent. Steel & concrete, cables and bolts the size of my father’s fists line the beams. The shadow is cool on my face looking up from the deck. You feel the mighty bridge’s weight, its strength. Then a brilliant flash of sun, blinding for a moment before Ray-bans turn on. The pounding of the pile driver spreads ripples shore to shore. Porches’ to eighteen wheelers, Fiat’s and dump trucks race across the span. Their noise covers the scream. Watching the Bayliner hit his skull silences the unexpected sound in the river. The man coughs, turn to choking gasps. I watch as his mouth fills with the cold murky water. It fills up his lungs, pushing the air down into his body cavity, it bubbles back up as the body sinks below the surface. The shadow of the bridge keeps dark secrets, watery graves, frightening mysteries. ******************************************************************************* Another woman on the deck, different scene, different focus. Warm Waters The wind filled the sails and the boat lurched forward. The wood groaned as the bow cuts through the white caps. The young woman watched the swirls fold over one another in rhythmic waves. Her summer frock clung to the curves of her body. Sun kissed waters cobalt blue, splashes of colors, shimmering greens and gold. Dolphins’ race interconnecting patters weaving, diving down muscles stretch and launch – breaking into the sky to swim for a moment in the air! Warm water envelopes their perfect form, caresses of familiar comfort. ******************************************************************************** Lastly one of my favorite forms of poetry. Two Haiku Remembering classical Haiku is a 5-7-5 – with a change. I have written one with a change and one sorta/kinda without. I’m sure you can guess which is which.
Clear, icy, water
Fishes swim as one
Crisp, hot, filet of sole.
Silent morning comes
Kayak glides over water
Branches block the way
Oh No He Did Not! 12-4-13
“See it reads much better now”, he said. He corrected her writing, he changed her writing, he raped her writing! Oh No He Did Not! “Yes, yes he did! AND in front of everyone at the table!” I added gasping!! “In front of everyone?!” she shuttered. “Yes, yes he did! AND he took a tone!” my voice hit a high pitch at the audacity of the action. Oh No He Did Not! “What kind of tone?”she asked. “That of a parent scolding a child – that of a politician’s box – that of a ‘do as I say not as I do’ – for I am a white male and you are a woman!!” I spit the words out. Oh No He Did Not! “Did you say anything?” she inquired. I paused for a moment, disappointed with myself. “I should have, but I couldn’t, I couldn’t pick my jaw up off the floor fast enough. I regret that now. It wasn’t my class and the group leader didn’t react! How could I react and the group leader not react?!” Oh No He Did Not! “Is she okay?” she quietly asked in concern. “Who? Me?! No I’m not okay! I’m angry, I’m appalled, I’m frustrated, and confused. Am I wrong to feel this way?!” “No” she said gently. “But I meant, is the writer – is SHE okay?” “Ohhhhhh her”, I took a breath settling myself. “Yes, she seemed to be okay.” “Seemed to be?!” her voice rose an octave. “What do you mean she seemed to be??” “You see – she accepted it. She listened and she looked and she accepted it. She even thanked him for his input. She doesn’t know better, she didn’t realize the wrong had been done. She does not know she IS a writer. She smiled and was thankful for the poison.” “Oh no he did not…” her words trailing off soft and sad. We sat together on the cloud and watched the sunrise together. The morning trumpets in the distance called the first shift of angels. Slowly we rose respectfully and listen to the choir. Our wings bumped into each others and we grinned and looping our arms together listening to the sweet song. One Muse leans on another.
Same Day, Different Thoughts 8-14-13 Same people Different faces Same sweat Different shoes Same music Different rhythm Same determination Different doubt Same me Different day Same me Different age Same air Different amount Same wants…, needs… Different wants…,needs… Same kids Different dreams Same husband Different marriage Same vows Different love Same promise Different values Same passion Different ache Same empty space Different hollow Same hope Different journey *** Recently I heard that if you create rhyming poems you are dead in the water as a writer. Well, perhaps I am floating on the dead sea, but when this poem came to me, it rhymed. I liked it; enjoyed writing it, it is what it is. I hope dear reader, you enjoy reading it.
Grey Trees Winter 11-17-13 The leaves are all gone. Branches are bare. Tree limbs creek and grown in the air. Moss covered south side. Bark rough and smooth. Trees standing so still, warn in their groove. Birch grow bright white. Elm, oak and willow. Years have they stood in the ground as their pillow. Children play outside. Trees bending near. What wonderful stories and games will they hear? The leaves are all gone. Winters fragrance in the breeze. The chill to the bone , hot cider brings ease. The birds have flown South now. Cardinal, chickadee, nuthatch remain. Trees welcome their company and song untamed. Evenings grow dark, Rain turns to snow. Trees heave a sigh, stretching up as they grow. Moon glows so brilliantly, Glistens softly on ice. Love tucked away in the memories nice. Once for the trees, so cold in the night. Twice for the love, so strong and so right. Last for the birds who have chosen to stay. One more for my dearest daughters I pray. ***
Gold Pens 11-11-13
My dad’s gold pens. They stood like little soldiers in fancy dress uniforms, peeking out above his pocket. Tucked in beside them was a pen light. It was dressed in silver. My dad’s gold pens made his hands look huge. I would watch him write – it was magical – because I had not learned script yet. My dad’s gold pens were ready all the time. To be used to write a much needed prescription for pain, to jot a note in a chart, or quickly fill in a check writing fast and furious – like if he did it quickly it wouldn’t hurt as much! My dad’s gold pens lay here at my desk now – one has a black top – that looked like a tiny hat to me – I realize now that was the pen, and the one without the hat was a pencil – not a lieutenant. No ink, no lead anymore. My dad’s gold pens are really the only thing I have from his, besides his photographs, and a small frat pin. I wore it proudly on my lapel when I was a student teacher. People asked and I proudly told of him. He was proud of me then too. My dad’s gold pens. They watch me write now, they help me remember a simpler time, an innocent time. They capture my childhood in two five and a quarter inches of life. I wonder if he would be proud of me now… ***
Large, Red Dog 8-19-13
Large, red dog.
Long legs tangled on the sofa.
Begins to run.
Eyes roll back – white show – Ewwww.
Twitching. Running faster. Crying.
I call his name. “Duke, wake up sweetie, you’re safe.”
He looks at me, wide eyed, frightened.
Something is still chasing him. He stops, focus’, relax. Stretch. Blink. Scratch.
Growls low & slow – because he cannot purr.
Looks at me, soft, grateful, sweet. What a mush.
Large, red dog.