Making It All Up

I’ve always been enamored with words and storytelling as evidenced by my poems, Logophile and Biting the Hand. My mother and older brother struggled to keep up with my insatiable demand for bedtime stories. In fact, my early reading ability came from that thirst. My mother simply insisted that I “read” my favorite (and memorized) story to them. Et voila, I was a reader. My move to storyteller has been a little more complicated. There are so many excellent stories (and storytellers) out there that I drag my feet writing my own stories, my fiction. I have ideas but self-doubt raises its ugly head and I lose my nerve.

But I’m digging in and coaxing those characters in my head to come out and say Hi!

 

Making It All Up

 

I can’t believe people make it all up
symbols scratched on open pages
dowsing, shaping, scrying

 
a new god whose blue in blue eyes gaze on desert lands
otjize, red clay and home, becomes balm of nations
a simple wardrobe the gateway to faraway lands

 
these alchemists called writers
alone, casting their sight deep within
working in silence the better to hear

 

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Lore

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt is:  “…write a poem re-telling a family anecdote that has stuck with you over time”.

Here’s my take.

Lore

I was yours before I was my own self, so the story goes. You, the child
who ran her worried. You, the adventurer, who was found two blocks 
from home instead of napping. Clear in your mind — at 4 years — was play
and the new friend from before. She found you then. Her face lively
with fear and relief. Just the thought of your reunion and I am cold.

Had you not been found, who would I be? The stairs would have claimed
her and me, your baby. Her fall in slowed time, end over fecund end.
We slumped on the bottom tread and would not wake. Thank God
for the path you followed: out the house to the neighbor. No falter
in this quest, you were captain and savior, son and big brother.

Knocking, knocking and then your answer:
“Mama and my baby fell down.”

Stripped

In creating a poem, sometimes a concise line or frank telling of a thing gets lost.

Job

The house needed painting.
Its sides wore straggles of color.
She gathered ladder, can, and tools.
All fit snug against the house corners.
Waves of hued ribbons followed.
No song entered her head.
No words were warbled.
Enamel lashes laid on readied wood.
Day progressed. So did she.
Brushes lay in turpentine.
Her back speaks a balky language.
The house needs nothing.

Lost Found

I planned to try my hand at a new (for me) poetic form but I suck at time management. So here’s a quick and dirty take on a found poem.

 

Found Poem

(found fragments from The Sun, May 2014)

in the twelve years since you died
i still remember
the pitch of your whistle
your warnings turned into joke

choose your target wisely
don’t dress like a protester
never date a blond surfer

now i understand the whys
aunt tia told me about him
the college boyfriend named Eric
such menace in a lowered brow

the silences make sense at 40
at 18 it embarrassed me
you always found a reason to eat

you told me i should have children
the most meaningful part of your life
we were    you said

i don’t want children     i have no
plans for old age surprises
i won’t add more life to a world
that already has so many

Lost

When I was 13, a friend gave a book to read. I can’t remember the title but I happily remember it was a Choose Your Own Adventure story. One book, one story with multiple outcomes. It was grand.

These days with Facebook and Twitter it’s so easy for us to fall into our own Choose Your Own Adventure. So much self-selecting going on, we can’t see what actually constitutes reality.

 

Lost

1

a man, balding in haphazard patches, smokes crack at a covered bus stop

his body erratically jerking forward and to the right, fingers plucking at air

 

a flare of flame at the base of the container held to his lips

matted head flung back, the better to catch the smoke

 

all, while a man seated a few feet from him, stares into his cell phone

his hoodie pulled forward, a screen around his face  

 

his stillness an indictment of the jitter-judder of his fellow bus rider

 

2

on the rain-glassed road, a car becomes a silverfish in traffic  

its tail lights a sudden red, flashing morse code from too far away

 

its wheels drift out to in lane in a slow-motion pratfall from on high

the driver its sole occupant

 

he fails to light the blunt clutched in his right hand

aware of nothing but the flame unable to catch

 

3

a man threads his way around dining tables, the floor a seismic shift beneath his feet

his eyes, a smear in the unshaven face, begs without words for money

 

“Are you following me?”  he yells behind him

the man, white button-down/black slacks/tie doggedly trailing him

“Yes.”

 

Biting the Hand

I’m enamored with The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds, a children’s book about Jerome — a collector of words — who discovers a new way to use his beloved words. As with all great literature, I felt the book was about me — was me — and my journey as a poet.

I revel in words, the craft of shaping words into a poem. I love poetry…but what if I feel most of what is called poetry is not.

Biting the Hand

Will I go to hell if I say this:

the words I find
standing thin and colorless
on cream and linen pages

render me inert
unsinged           chained

is it hypocrisy
when I call myself a poet

read the single word
and one-lined fragments
bright with hip-pop and

plated in lowercase
(much like this)
knowing they lack

and wonder where is
the tinder to my spark

where is the heat
to make flesh cinder

Butterfly effect

Everyday we alter each other.  A person cuts you off in traffic, you curse and later the anger simmering in you gets dumped on the waitress who spills your coffee.

But it also works positively. Like the Good Samaritan effect, which happens when volunteers who come to the aid of strangers in distress and how witnessing that aid spurs you to help in other situations.

Years ago, I met the poet Belle Waring. I read her work. Today I wrote about her.

 

today i wrote about belle waring

crescent moon falling star

waxing and our fated wane

 

today I wrote about belle waring

influence of words    bladed clarity

flirting with nostalgia

 

for all that neverwas and willneverbe

 

today I wrote about belle waring

spring star    gibbous moon

all that lies in darkness still

Inciting Incident

Conversations on the bus. Any dictionary. Emails. It’s all music to me because I’m always scouting words or phrases, listening to the rhythms of our mother tongue. Listening to life. The term, inciting incident, drew me when I read it recently. Especially when I read its accompanying definition: “an event, small or large, that dramatically changes the nature of an ordinary day, that ‘radically upsets the balance of forces in the protagonist’s life’.”

Stuff happens. All the better to remind us all that life isn’t fixed and control is illusory.

Incident

it was the phone booth in Mexico
instructions written in rebus,
in language determined to be coy

no, it was trying to call home
proud to be only a small dash
from homeland

later in the retelling, a quality
of light made it all a retablo
an ex-voto laid out against sin

the man was gnarled in chain link
half out of one, half in another
homeland of his choosing

freedom spread just beyond
the twist of cloth and sweat
flesh and tears       we both listened

desperate for a yellow brick calle
to the booted echo rushing forward
helpless as others who pulled at him

border guards scattered them
like crows, like pigeons, sullen
in flight        desperados perched
ready for another opening

Quiet

Still waters run deep.

Dibs

The ice cream melted while I waited. I called twice more
after the first time. Apology clear in the dispatcher’s voice,
she tried to cover for the delay. The phone’s handset
was weighted and hot. Shoppers paraded from car to store
and back. The light cotton of my Sunday dress wilted
on my body. I took no pleasure in my high heels. Seamed
stockings more torture than tease in the humidity.

After an hour, the cab came. The driver, his cocoa skin —
so like mine — glowing with sweat, loaded my bags
before I finished my last call. I sat in the back, thankful
for air conditioning, and wiped at the stickiness
on my hands. Moving homeward finally, I was relieved.

“I’m sorry you had to wait, Ma’am but he couldn’t make it.”

The sentence made no sense. Who couldn’t make it?
The explanation filled the cab’s interior, landed messily at my feet.
Only one driver for me.                    He called dibs on my calls. Stayed late
on the nights I worked. Didn’t talk much but his pale eyes listened
to my pleasantries and stories and laughter.

All of my groceries put away, I reached for the dog food.
The 5lb. bag of dog food left on the cart. I found another cab company.

Ready

April 1, 2018   11:54 p.m.

Before wrangling us – my brother and me – out of bed for school. Before leaving for a convoluted bus commute and her workday.  My mother started her days with Jack Lalane and Fran Carlton.

Stretching. Reaching. With a few donkey kicks, jumping Jacks, and a prayer thrown in. She was trim, fit, and more than capable of handling what the day had in store for her.

I’m spending today and the month of April doing my own stretching and reaching in poetic fashion. I’ll try a few new things. I’ll get more than a little sweaty. It’ll get ugly.

You might want to stick around and watch the show.  [Subscribe to pinacasa by clicking the Follow button in the lower right-hand corner of the home page.]

NaPoWriMo. (A hand clap and hands rubbing together.) Let’s get started.

 

Assent

She threads greedy fingers into the curly nimbus,
aware that touching this frost only brings warmth.
She revels in his weight, their flesh asprawl grass
and earth. Lap, eager throne for his head’s crown. 

His eyes follow black marks on white, dance
along the small screen. His silence gives assent,
she thinks, to her petting. She indulges in another
caress. The strands smooth under her hand. 

All but the curl or two which corkscrew 
around the fine bones of her fingers.