Last night, a Fantasy

25 Nov

Last night there were protesters in Ferguson
bearing riotous yellow umbrellas
and fistfuls of daisies, honoring
the memory of one Michael Brown.
12 hours away, the Chairman
had an epiphany over his Corn Flakes
“Every child a blessing!”became an anthem
and millions of souls can now rest in peace.

Last night I got a call from Ben and Jerry
they needed my expertise in marketing
to formulate a new flavor. I told them
chocolate-covered pretzels are the ace
up my sleeve. We are in negotiations.

Last night while waxing her upper lip
Angela got a call from Vovka, inviting
her to play Risk with the guys, over at his place,
but she politely declined, citing the need
to wash that man right out of her hair.

Last night the bank called to apologize
For taking so damn long to make up their minds
so, we threw a party and invited all our friends
right after renting a dump truck to haul
these worldly sorrows away.

Last night, the children went straight to sleep
you tiptoed into the room, and said “shhh!”
we played Scrabble on the bed
and as you may have suspected, no one lost.

image

Today’s poem was inspired by a prompt by Anthony Desmond, over at Dverse poets pub where he quotes an interview with Albert Einstein.

In 1929, poet and journalist George Sylvester Viereck interviewed Albert Einstein.

He asked: “Do you account for your discoveries through intuition or inspiration?”

Einstein replies: “I’m enough of an artist to draw freely on my imagination, which I think is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

Tony prompts us to use our imagination to create a fantasy world in a poem. “When the noise of our surroundings gets a little too loud, imagination is the perfect escape,” he asserts. Well, today was extremely loud in my neck of the woods, but although Tony suggests that we move away from the familiar, I chose to keep things somewhat close to home. To quote the Spanish playwright Calderon de la Barca, “Toda la vida es sueño, y los sueños, sueños son …”

The Naming

25 Nov

your essence, encapsulated
in hope, with promise,
and on purpose, spoken
as a breathless blessing
every time I exhale it
up against your ear.

who are you?
let me tell you
and bask
in its fulfillment
who am I?
I long to know
and to show you
how I embrace it.

image

I am reading a book called One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. In the book she meditates on the effect of gratitude, and begins making a list, where she names all of the things she is grateful for. It doesn’t matter how big or small, yet because her life is in a state of upheaval she has to start small, almost microscopically small. Intangible and tangible things, such as washing the warm eggs, crackle in the fireplace, still warm cookies, all make the list. Moonlight on pillows, long, lisped prayers, kisses in dark …

In the naming of the things she feels grateful for she begins to find a new identity that eventually transforms her outlook. “Naming is to know a thing’s function in the cosmos- to name is to solve mystery. The space that spans my inner emptiness fills in the naming.”

What is in a Name?

24 Nov

Exactly one month ago I attended the Dodge Poetry Festival, held biannually in Newark, NJ. I really didn’t know what to expect when I bought my festival tickets, but my hope was that I would learn more about the mystery of becoming a published poet. I also hoped to be inspired, not just by hearing excellent poets read their work, but also by traveling alone, being in New Jersey, and most of all, seeing the beauty of autumn in the Northeast.

As a wife and work-at-home mother of five children, my life can be very hectic. Solitary moments are what I crave the most, followed closely by meaningful adult interaction, especially conversation. But, silence and solace are the most valuable to me, because that is when I can actually think deep thoughts. It’s from my deepest thoughts that some of my best poems have sprung, so I try to do what I can to get to that place. It’s a struggle, as those opportunities are elusive, so this is possibly why many poems germinate in my mind while I am driving or trying to fall asleep. Apparently composing words in my mind is how my brain defragments itself.

During the festival, several of the sessions were with panels of poets who both read their own poems and discussed poetry with each other in front of the audience. Afterwards they opened the floor to questions from the audience. I attended one such panel, which consisted of four poets: Billy Collins, US poet laureate, Steven Kuusisto, A. Van Jones, and Natalie Diaz. It was a great conversation, as they are poets from all different walks of life, and I enjoyed some of the poems they read, namely “Ode to the Beloved’s Hips” by Natalie Diaz, and “from” by A. Van Jordan.

When they opened the discussion up for questions from the audience, I bounded (literally) down the theater steps to the mic. I had missed asking my question the day before, so I was ready. This is what I asked:

I write poetry, and have been doing so for many years. It is a very necessary part of my life. However, I hesitate to call myself a poet. So, my question is, at what point in your careers as poets did you feel justified to call yourself a poet, and more generally, when do you think it is appropriate to do so?

Billy Collins was the first to respond. He said that he felt that he could really call himself a poet when he received the phone call from the librarian of Congress, informing him that he had been selected as poet laureate. He got a chuckle from the audience. Later on, when I had a minute to chat with him by myself, he added that he never calls himself a poet to random strangers. He said that one time he sat next to someone on an airplane, who asked him what he did, and he said he was a poet. “Oh, my 13 year old daughter writes poetry,” the person responded. After that, he said, he never tells people he’s a poet, and just tells them that he’s a teacher instead.

The second response was from A. Van Jordan, who said that he didn’t feel justified in calling himself a poet until he received monetary compensation for his work. That, in his eyes, made him legitimate in front of family and friends.

The third, and final, response was from Natalie Diaz. She said that if poetry is important to me, and such an important part of my life, then I should own the title “poet.” That way, she said, I will make time for it in my life, and give it the importance it deserves. In order to be a poet, we have to make time to actively write, and take time to do so. So, she said, I think you should call yourself a poet now.

Steven Kuusisto said he liked Natalie’s answer, and so do I. I felt very encouraged by what she said, and I know she is right in saying so. I make time for things that are important to me in my life, such as staying in shape and being outdoors. I make time for important naps on Saturdays. I try to carve out time for writing, or even just thinking, but it has always been difficult to justify, given my circumstances. So, guess what?

I am a Poet.

Dancing, @Cheers, Orange Park.

Dancing, @Cheers, Orange Park.

Long Branch

12 Nov

Robert Pinsky, US poet laureate
said that all of his poems
in one form, or another
are about Long Branch.

The same is true for me.
All of my poems, well
almost all, are about you,
in varying percentages
and, maybe not the you
you think you are
but, the you I see you as
which is a kind you
a noble you, slightly erudite, and fun
the you I have carried with me
all these years
and if you know me
well enough, you could
read any of my poems
and place your finger
right where x marks the spot
every time
and possibly see yourself
as the hidden treasure
that I have always thought you are.

I am not sure I need to apologize
since I didn’t intend it to be this way
there are no secret messages
or hidden agendas
and it often surprises me
as much as it must surprise
and perplex you; I can only say that
something about you stayed with me:
it peeks out from between the sheets
of poems I have scribbled, it has
mixed into my palette of colors,
it has woven itself into this
blanket of words
I sleep with.

I looked up.

I looked up.

Every poet needs a muse, but we don’t necessarily get to choose our muses. I am grateful to have one, though. To be able to draw consistent inspiration from a source removed from my current state and circumstance has enabled me to use my imagination to create instead of wallow. I have several muses, actually, not just one, but the common thread they share is that they help me write boldly, from the heart. That is not an easy thing for me because I am naturally shy, which in the past has inhibited me from doing or saying things that I later wish I had done, or said. The result is very liberating, and it leads me in an upward spiral; it helps me keep a positive outlook on life.

Long Branch, NJ is my hometown.

Messages in Milk

10 Nov

motherhood is a constant state
of feeling overwhelmed, starting
the moment you first latched on.
me, feeling the whoosh whoosh
of milk surging through my breast, your
big eyes rolling back into your head
your fist tight around my finger
my heart about to explode

you drank from me
greedily, yet ironically
the more you took,
the more I had to give
milk leaked out, overflowing
I felt like Arnold Schwarzenegger
if you can imagine him as a nursing mother
in a milk-wet t-shirt, suddenly
my nipples had new meaning

motherhood grabs you by the chest
and pushes you through a door
into a brightly lit room where
you fumble around, temporarily blinded
eventually, familiar shapes emerge
but, not like before, nothing
is like before

i taught myself to discern your cries
though I wonder, did I learn
to simply recognize your unique sound;
or perhaps it was the other way around?
Maybe all that time you suckled
in the crook of my arm, was spent
tuning your ear, learning my songs,
so one day you could sing them back to me

Nursing 40 miles offshore, sailing north

Nursing 40 miles offshore, sailing north

All I Have

28 Oct

Words paint what my eyes perceive
Words sculpt what my heart conceives
Words open doors that have no latch
Words light a fire where there is no match.
Words caress where my hands can’t touch
Words make me rich, while I don’t have much.
Words convey my greatest fears,
Which have to do with keeping friendships dear,
Don’t use them against me, or forget what I say,
And please, don’t take my words away.

image

Dodge

25 Oct

It is a wellspring.
Come soak your cloth in
these cool waters.
Wring it out, and lay it
across your forehead.

Come fill your canteen
brimming to overflowing,
and just try to walk away
without splashing any, as you
gingerly savor small sips.

Come dip your paintbrush
disguised as a pen,
come drink your fill
from the dipper, and then
pass it on. It’s a wellspring.

image

I flew back home to NJ this weekend to go to the Dodge Poetry Festival. It is my first time attending, and I am so glad I was able to come! It is a fantastic event, featuring poets from all walks of life, reading and sharing their poems … It’s extremely inspiring and encouraging, as a poet, to come and listen. It’s only been two days (it’s a FOUR day event!) so far, but I have come away with so much … Check out their website and come! http://www.dodgepoetry.org

News Worthy

22 Oct

Setting: a table
kitchen, cafe, conference room
I’ll lend you my ear
let’s synchronize our lives,
bring each other up
to date with what’s yours
and what’s mine, all
summed up in a stolen
moment of irresistible time
its so good to see
your smiling face, so pull up
a chair, dear friend, for right now
we are home.

image

Whiling away the early morning hours in Orlando International Airport, I decided to take a crack at today’s prompt over at Dverse Poets Pub. Mary asks us to write a poem about news, could be current events or personal news. What inspired this poem was the idea brought forth in the comments about us all gathering around a sort of international kitchen table each week, sharing our stories through poetry with each other. I am about to embark on a trip to my homeland, and will have the opportunity to briefly reconnect with dear friends, the thought of which warms my heart. Check out some of the other poems written in response to the prompt: www.dversepoets.com

Revive!

17 Oct

A found poem from Sukkot

Revive!
follow your heart
I just gotta dance
shofar, so good
stand with Israel
you can’t block my shine

image

image

Tarry

17 Oct

I want to live in Tarrytown,
on the banks of the Hudson.
I’d tarry there, with you,
while the sun shifts
restless, casting long shadows,
ships steaming north,
traffic stacking on the Tappan Zee.

On lingering afternoons we’ll tarry,
mesmerized by diamonds on the river,
kicking our stones downhill, clearing a path,
sharing a soundless conversation
of meaningful looks and glances.

I’d tarry there all day with you,
holding hands while balancing
along the train tracks, then
jumping off and feeling
the Hudson line rumble away,
just to turn, at the right moment, and catch
that twinkle in your eye.

image

Nautical flags flying.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 398 other followers

%d bloggers like this: