Poetry Month Day 5: Life as a Poet

It’s a blessingcurse
to
live in metaphor:
to see
sun pushing through clouds,
a shoelace refusing to relinquish its knots,
extra-long stoplights,
a stubbed toe,
wondering if
these things carry meaning

or just are what they are

and wondering if
that’s yet
another metaphor



Today’s quadrille was inspired by Raivenne, one of the folks who challenge me to try something new here and there.


Poetry Month Day 3: Birthday Tribute

Today my niece would have been twenty-one.

Birthdays.

They’re weird when the person we wish to celebrate is instead memorialized, made tribute-to.

Grief is weird.

Today, I’m sharing the poem I wrote last year because I don’t think I can do much better – but I’m adding an encouraging post-script for those of you who make it to the end. Thanks for reading.


Birthdays
should be marked
by cake and ice cream,
Instagram posts and Facebook wishes
Or texts, the kind with hearts
And balloons
And silly memes

but
this time
next time
every time

I’d settle
for
anything
that fills the absence.

I draft and scribble out poems in my head:

a catalog of today’s distractions

our conversation in the sun today

the four times I cried
(frustration, grief, happiness, gratitude)

how I wonder if other people
get to talk to those
long-gone, or not-so-long-gone,
or if I am lucky
or just weird

how dumb it is to depend on words anyway –
the arrogance of insisting
life can always be willed
into poem.


Post-script: In Crossfit, there are often “tribute” workouts dedicated to the memory of those who have fallen, often armed service members or first responders. These workouts incorporate elements or dates from their lives. I thought it was fitting to craft a workout in Jess’s memory, and I put it together with the help of Jess’s younger brother.

I put a call out to my gym members letting them know I’d be doing her workout today. I expected one or two folks to show up and sweat alongside me, but I was floored that so many came out to show their support. Knowing that I could draw on their love and strength brought tears to my eyes.

And we’re still smiling afterwards. Whew!

Poetry Month Day 2: Nothing Gold

I just needed one thing,
but in my drive
to the store I
tallied
the things I could also
gather, until
I saw I couldn’t

which reminded me of the
barbecue sauce I’ve sought
across five stores and
just
can’t
find
to save my life,

or that one frozen dinner
that was always my favorite,
never to be found
again
in the freezer section,

or those dried apples
or the chipotle ketchup
or the pancake mix
or the beet chips
or that spice blend,

and I wonder
if my
love for a thing
is a kiss of death –
whether there is a
deeper metaphor
behind my search, or
whether the
ephemeral
nature
of grocery product
is what Frost meant
when he said
nothing gold can stay.

Poetry Month, Day 1: Why Poetry

Of course, she thought
Of course I can write emails
And articles
And stories
And reflections
And journal entries

Of course, she thought,
There’s something to be said
For prosaic expression:
Tamed thoughts
Herded words
In nice neat lines
In nice neat columns
Of nice neat paragraphs

And of course, she thought
There comes a point
When words need to spill
Into whatever shape
Or form
Or style
They demand

And it is only then, she thought
With an exhale
That she is
Most
At
Home.

Story Challenge Day 31: Finding the Words

A while back, I was looking for a word to describe the relationships that I have with the writers I’ve gotten to know online through the March story challenge. I wanted a word that accurately captured the synergy I feel with so many of you.

And when I’m looking for a word that fits exactly what I want to say, I go to the thesaurus with a word that doesn’t work, but will maybe lead me there. I’m very picky when it comes to using the thesaurus. It’s like, I can’t think of the exact word that escapes me, but I’ll know it when I see it. I’ll come across the word, and it will fit like that last piece in the jigsaw puzzle, the one I can place with a sigh of relief.

So I started just with the word people. Not surprisingly, I didn’t find the word that fit the shade of meaning I was going for, the sense of friendship and belonging.

Person, maybe? No, that was even worse than the first one.

Maybe comrade would do the job? Was that what I was searching for? Eh, in the right ballpark. So maybe I meant compadre, which then led me to two heads thinking as one another – which, when you think about it, is an interesting place to end up. 

Two heads thinking as one another. Heads, hearts, souls, separate but traveling in similar directions.

How many times have I read a post and seen myself in someone else’s words? How many times do I read words and wish I had been the one to write them? How many times have I felt validated and affirmed through the experience of others?

Two heads thinking as one another. Compadres. Co-conspirators. Synergy. Whatever you call it, I’m grateful for all of you I’ve had the chance to get to know, or get to know better, through your writing this month.

As for me, you’ll catch me right back here tomorrow, forging ahead for poetry month. Hope to see you soon!

Story Challenge Day 30: List Poem

  1. Today, I have decided,
  2. I will write a list poem.
  3. About all of the things that made me happy
  4. And maybe some other stuff
  5. Depending on where the words lead me.
  6. Right now my house is empty
  7. But full
  8. Of delicious cooking-smells:
  9. Sundubu jjigae for later this week
  10. Breakfast for dinner tonight
  11. Banana bars for all the snacks.
  12. And the dog
  13. She isn’t complaining
  14. That I didn’t brave the rain
  15. To walk her today
  16. And the laundry is done
  17. And my work is done
  18. And tomorrow I can sleep late
  19. And get a fresh start,
  20. And I’ve almost made it to the end of March
  21. And I’ve written every day
  22. And maybe I haven’t pushed myself too hard
  23. But maybe I needed to learn self-forgiveness
  24. And patience
  25. And release.

Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!

Story Challenge Day 29: Requiem

Well, it finally happened.

After six years of wearing my absolute favorite shirt on the planet, I put it on for an afternoon workout, only to discover a giant hole right under the arm.

I don’t even know how it happened. I wore it last week. Was that hole there last week? I mean, I would have put it on groggy and in the dark at 5 am, but I think I would have noticed, or at least felt a breeze.

This shirt was there for me in my first fitness competition.

Overhead squat: my favorite! Note: no one, except for the camera apparently, was watching me lift. Just fine with ME.

This shirt was there for me when I was learning how to do pull-ups.

This shirt is good for at least three extra reps, right?

This shirt came along strong for the Women’s March in Chicago.

Here and ready to do stuff in – and for! – the world.

I hung out with great people in this shirt.

Look at us. Aren’t we adorable? This was one of my last times out in the world before COVID.

This shirt helped me pay tribute to my dear departed niece.

Sometimes it’s helpful to sweat in someone’s memory…

The one bright spot in all of this is that the store I bought my t-shirt from still sells them, and I have already ordered a new one to replace it. Yes, my floor has dog hair dust bunnies on it. Yes, I’m overdue for a dental cleaning. Yes, it has been a horrifically long time since my last haircut. But this t-shirt is on its way.

Priorities, people.


Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!

Story Challenge Day 28: House Poem

NOTE TO SELF: Lainie, when you come across someone’s post that you want to try out, remember to note whose blog you found it on so that you can easily give them credit and you don’t spend a random half hour looking for a link.

All right, friends. Ideally, I’d link you up with my inspiring author -here,- but seeing as I must have been too preoccupied at the time, I’m unable. Just know, whoever you are, that you challenged me and made me smile.


My post for today comes from a poetry prompt from none other than Naomi Shihab Nye. The original poster looked at them and wrote a poem in 5 minutes. I’ll attempt to do the same, and you’re invited to do so, as well!

1. What do you do first when you get home
2. How have you used your home differently (Covid years)
3. What would you ask your house?
4. What would you tell your house?
5. Look out a window from your home and write 5 things you see.
6. Make a comparison (any comparison)

Here I go…


I’m home! I’m home! I’m home!
I shout,
Shoes off, backpack to the side,
Arms full of dog ears
And butts
And tails
As they get their sniffs
And wags

Home now
Hasn’t much changed, it is
Still
Refuge, shelter,
The place I am
Most comfortable,
Happiest

House, what do you need?
What parts do you wish I’d
Spend more time on,
Spend more time in
Love on
Just a little more?

House,
I can feel my way around you
By heart
There’s so much I know of you
By heart

Just look out your window
Can you see it?
The black walnut tree,
The stacked firewood,
The aging deck,
The old watering can,
The herb garden, brown.
Maybe…maybe you need more love.

Maybe you’re just like
Those dogs,
Wanting, needing
Requiring, demanding
Attention as
Needed and necessary,
Asking me to take care of you,
So you can take care of me.


Well. There it is. I have a feeling I’m going to come back and work craft on this one, but the rules did say five minutes. So, I’ll go by that old chestnut: “Bless and release.”

Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!


Story Challenge Day 27: Another Little Word

My One Little Word for this year was hard to come by. I went through a lot of thinking before I settled in on space: space to just be, space to figure out what exactly I wanted or needed for myself.

Well.

I’ve been taking space. I’ve had time on my couch with some flair pens and ideas batting back and forth.

If you can follow my thought pattern, more power to ya!

I’ve taken space on long walks in pretty spaces.

And with a companion like this, it’s quite lovely.

I’ve taken space while I move big things.

Been pushing this bad boy down and back once a week ’til I get better, stronger, faster.

I’ve taken space with people who ground me.

Dinner with a friend. In an actual PLACE. I almost forgot how wonderful that is.

And all of that time, all of that space, has allowed me to discover my next One Little Word. I hoped it would be a revelation, that this One Little Word would point the way to what I need, what I want, where I’m supposed to be going in this life.

Yeah, no such luck.

Still, my new One Little Word fills me with the hope that yes, I just might be inching closer to figuring a few things out here and there. Because I’ve felt a shift within myself.

Shift.

That feeling when I’ve done the work, done the thinking, and while there hasn’t really been much change to me on the outside, I can feel that things are somehow different on the inside.

Could it be that I’m staring eye-to-eye at midlife, getting antsy? Maybe.
Is it possible I’m on the edge of something big and important? Yep.
Might I still have a whole long way to go? Ab. So. Lute. Ly.

For now, though, I’m going to feel and explore this shift. That is, ’til the next One Little Word comes around to tap me on the shoulder.



Interested in learning more about the March Slice of Life Challenge, or wanting to read more great posts? Head over to the Two Writing Teachers site!