Sunday, April 20, 2014

Trying Haikus

Today was wonderful in that I got to not only hear our Washington State Poet Laureate, Elizabeth Austen read some of her poems, but some other local poets as well. It was an event at one of the local libraries. I even participated in reading a couple of my own poems during the open mike portion of the program. But I didn’t hear but one person do any haikus. Her haikus were pretty brilliant, I had to admit.
I’m late posting this again tonight because I was challenging myself to write in that style---the haiku. I am not really comfortable attempting it. Some people think the haiku is easy to write, but I struggle with it. Here are my twenty minutes of attempting the genre. I’m sure some of you are much better at this then I am. Leave me a haiku!
Traditionally they are 5-7-5 in syllables, but there was a web site claiming that is not the case in English anymore that syllables don’t really count. I took that to heart with some of them.

Tomato plants reaching for sun
Call to me
I plant early

Fluffy pealed trees
Signal goes for spring
Yielding to frigid rains

Smell of brownies baking
Walk by the lake
Remind me swimming comes

Come God Almighty
Take away world’s mighty sin
You are much stronger

Held up by my love
Before I was born he came
He overcame grave

Sending sun’s rays back
I knelt down and felt around
Where the arrow fell

Looking down seeing
More is forgotten this hour
Starring at my hands

Rough patches on feet
Examines my heart speaking
Rub some lotion in

Slice through pain piercing
Look beyond the horizon
Bird wings its way free

Forgive me now
Hand placed on face tenderly
Turns to warmth again

Spring Blood moon rises
Thin, wet grass shutters in wind
Gaping ground swallows

Round wrinkled eyes soft
Place needle in hand to thread
Pull through missing once

Jesus treads not hard
Slides over donkey saddle
Braying covers cheers

Held tight in my arms
Place scraped out permanently

Round in a square hole

Friday, April 18, 2014

Running with Peter on Good Friday...

April 18, 2014
Today all day I was thinking about Peter and his denial of Christ in the events of Good Friday. In Matthew 26 Jesus tells Peter to his face that Peter will deny even knowing Christ before the night was out. And it happens just as Jesus said. Peter instantly regretful, weeps about it.
It really is Maundy Thursday this incident happens (or symbolically happens as we don’t know it was actually a Thursday), but I think about what Peter is weighed down with as Jesus says, “It is finished” and what Friday night was like for him.
Cock’s Third Cry
Fire light flickers
Fog rolls sickens
Night deepens fills
Cut open it spills
My insides out.
Now no doubt
But then, then I sinned
Turning away,
Spinned dizzy with grief
I wanted relief
Had none
I run
Beyond the pale
Footsteps echoing fail
Undone sharp shorn
Wish I hadn’t been born
What have I done?
I gave up the one
I had sworn to protect
A moment of neglect
To save myself
Putting honor on the shelf
Stopping, panting hard
I’ve run very far
I fall down
Where I was bound
I do not know
Looking up I see
Him not me.
On this hillside he died
This I cannot deny
Crusted crab of grief
Crawls to a seat
Here beneath the cross
I live his loss
Waiting for morning light

To take back this wretched night

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Trees..spring...I really like Spring trees....

April 17, 2014
There is this beautiful willow tree on the way to the pool and it lodged in my brain tonight.

Tremendous Willow
Weeping willows capture my attention
No other tree feels as deeply
Wearing what it is in its name
For all the world to judge
If it is indeed sad enough
Or wanting too much
A solid knotted trunk of grief
Going against the grain
As trees stand with arms raised
But my willow bends over
Bowing to all in welcome and service
Locks of hair-like branches
Turn twisting to the water or pasture
The wind blows
It transforms as a prima ballerina
Otherwise it resides there waiting
For someone to sit half-hidden
Underneath it singing
For an hour or more
Remembering a time better then now
But not so good
As to ignore the rich present
Underneath the loving arms
Of this wondrous willow

That waters Heaven’s solitude

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Rediscovering Easter eggs

We dyed Easter eggs together this afternoon for the first time ever. My son had never done it and I hadn’t done it since I was a child. We did this with a friend and it was fun. He stuck with it so much better then frosting gingerbread men this Christmas. I think it was the ease and color and he has a fascination whenever I bring out eggs. He doesn’t eat eggs and won’t try them, but loves to talk about them, hold them, crack them if helping me bake something, and now I know he loves dying them too.

Fizz Fuzz Easter Does
Eggs hard boiled
I feel loyal
To that green
And yellow scene
With the white bunny
Who looks so funny
Legs crossed cockily
leaning on a big tree
he smiles at the eggs
under his legs
like he has just hatched
this great big batch
Eggs of many colors
not made out of rubber
but looking festive
We did our best of
vinegar and dye
spheres of sky
or ovals of gold
other hues unfold
sunset orange into view
serene green pulled from our stew
Purple with one pink dot
Emerges to surprise our lot
We discover childhood again
An Easter bright spot

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Morning poem...

April 15, 2014
I'm cheating a bit tonight as I wrote this, I think this fall, when I was running to the bus a lot for my job. I still do run to the bus, but I haven't seen the tent there probably since I wrote this. I need a break from writing a brand new poem every day----so I’m taking a quick run at re-writing this one instead.
Catching Up to the Bus
Harried at the inconvenience
I rail kicking up a ruckus
Out the door earlier than I want
I walk out into the cool damp drearies
The collection box for used clothing is newly removed
I momentarily notice,
Crossing over the overpass
I look down nestled in the long grass is a tent
No signs of life among the highway roars
My heart melts
I think about the cold wet night before
About the bus pass in my pocket
And my malignant complaints
Having to roll out of my warm bed with the birds,
But not really
Not like this
I want to go buy breakfast for both of us,
But I’ll miss my bus
My job I go to wouldn’t understand,
Compassion will have to wait
My heart turns the corner to gratefulness

Rejoicing for a small handful of troubles today

Monday, April 14, 2014

Testing 1, 2, 3....

April 14, 2014
My little boy has been doing a lot of tests at school and nearly every school I go to sub at these days they are also in the midst of tests. Here is tonight’s poem reflecting on my panicked Saturday morning taking the SAT nearly thirty years ago at a small boarding school in North Carolina. And below that are two poems I wrote while being a proctor last year in May during the state standardized testing at some local high schools.

The Cat-in-the-Hat SAT
I can still see the cafeteria table
And position in the dining room
There I sat to take my SAT
It felt like the world was hinged
And I would be swallowed
If it would only open up
The lock was this test
We began and it all ran together
I knew nothing or hardly anything
Set before me and the bubbles
Kept rising and being popped
Before I could fill them in
Time nearly gone
The bath full of bubbles
My head wanting to drift away
Looking out at the Carolina Mountains
Wishing I were that bird in flight
Hanging on top of currents
Taking her to a new destination
Far, far away from
The smell of breakfast lingering
And lunch about to begin
The buzzer about to blow
And I have at least thirty questions to go
I panic filling in randomly
The ovals spinning round my page
Like a tiger pacing her cage
Her last roar is left to chance

Setting Standards    
You have one hour for this section
Opening their booklets
Allowing the dread in
This dead-end culture
Filling in circles
Like carrion seeking vultures
Ripping apart the most smart
Because standardize doesn’t
Even begin to summarize
What these students really know
Put on the spot of someone
Else’s thinking
Mechanical questions
Plus the pressures of time
Some will do fine
Many fall to the midline
Those below fall to depths unknown
Their moorings ripped away from home
Problem is they could be
Picasso, Puccini, or Poe,
We’ll never be able to tell
In this endless loop of testing Hell

Copied Essay
Before me is what the boy-man could be,
Tall, pale skinned
A grown version of my wee man
I’m used to seeing here
Covered up fear,
In this high school classroom
Sits a stretched out copy
Of my original
My little boy
You almost man
Are here with me
Flushed, earnest,
Working feverishly
To complete an English test
I give you the rules
You follow them as best you can
Don’t we all when we feel tested?
Across town my wee boy is studying
Drawing in his shaky second-grade style,
The wings, head, body, and antenna,
English essays have not fluttered into his synapses,
My child still goes from flower to flower,
Not sweating the hour against the clock,
Dreading to hear the “all stop”,
The earnest student looks up to meet my gaze,
Only to look past me to find
That word that escapes him
for the right statement of purpose,
Predisposed I look like
I’m checking to make sure he’s not cheating,
I think my boy’s eyes are more blue,
Geared wider still to all things new,
The essayist puts down his pencil to crack his knuckles.
My boy doesn’t know how to do that yet
And my son would laugh asking Mr. Essay
To do that popcorn-like noise again and again
As sounds bind my little larva to people
He has whole conversations made up of one question,
A test of your listening abilities
To follow what he desires to know
From that one moment
Frozen in repeats
Until he knows what it is
To do, to be, to hear,
He wonders with his ears
His auscultation brings forth so many questions
There isn’t a test to contain it
The act of popping your knuckles
Can be a whole symphonic movement
Involving that single very solitary question
Where something like that may come from
I hear my boy asking you now
Essay boy-man looks like he could be a good big brother.
He might show my son such things
And my wee boy would practice it
Until he found his wings

Palm Sunday

Palms of Broken Certainty
I broke off a palm branch
Laying a soft carpet
For a weather worn baby donkey
Holding a man
Excitement built up till joy
Dammed up broke loose
Exploding inside and out
I ripped off another branch
Waving wildly now,
Joining in the celebration
Of something I wasn’t even sure of
Encouraged by the crowd
To belong to this swell
Riding into the city gates
Focused on the man, Jesus
Looking so ridiculous
On a tiny burrow
That seemed borrowed
Nearly broken down
Unsure of its part
In this triumphant entrance
Just a man riding a donkey
I grab a third branch
I am shoved to the front
Jesus looks at me
I bow and reach up
Offering him the broken branch
To tread upon
He pulls the branch
Raising me to stand
“Walk with me,” he says

I do, even though, I don’t know how

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

(I did write both poems before midnight on April 12th, but didn't get posted until the 13th! Eeeek! The words and pictures were not cooperating tonight.) 

We took a trip up to see the beautiful Skagit Valley Tulip Festival today. It goes all the month of April and never fails to amaze me even though I’ve been many times. The second poem comes from the walkways up there and my son was fascinated with them---many of the children were. They are seemingly cracked, but spongy and bouncy. 

Transcendent Tulips
Caught in the rush
My face full flush
Turned into the sun
The tulips run
Forever into the horizon
Color completed 1 Nisan
Here painted into the earth’s fabric
An awakening white tantrism
Giving in to the unraveling
Of spring hovering, rattling
All that screams “rest me!”
Compounded with fresh air tests
The squeezing in my chest
Against the fray’s current
Obsessing on circumstances weren’t
I let go into the field
Fervid fever of fancy I yield
Yellow, pink, purple, red,
Where you have lead
I will go with the flow
I know and lo!
I’m on the mend


Dry Mud Pie Trails
My boy bounces on his toes
Over a mound of earth
“It’s cracked earth, like the desert scorched,”
He believes the hot sun has done this
Though we’ve hauled him out of mucky mud puddles
And avoided the squishy earth that wants to suck us down
He dances over these cracked plots
Testing the buoyancy in one spot
Kicking up clods
Like it is his job
To make a new road
That is smoother
And easier for us to walk
He is serious and ignores
The beauty all around
In favor of this one cracked space beneath his feet
“It is springy, yeah, underneath there” he states again and again
As we point out the color streaming around
In the flower’s finest hour
We take pictures of this plant that will die in minutes
As he talks about what will last
The mud, the earth, and the thing the flowers are planted in
It never goes away
He knows what is important
And that is what holds his concentration
Despite our loud shouts
Of what is beauty?
He finds distinction
In the ordinary place
A bit cracked and dry
With a bounce unusual
He imagines the possibility

Underneath the common ground