Litany for election season

This came to me in the middle of the night, woke me up and hounded me until I wrote it all down. It feels somehow necessary. I hope it will be a comfort.

Candlelight vigil outside a Trump rally

We are each of us
mourning: those who are inside
rallying, those who are outside
praying, those who remained
at home.

We have lost friends, family,
community; faith, heart,
hope; our footing, our bearings,
our minds.

We are all of us
afraid: of each other, of the future,
of more loss.

We are none of us
beyond reproach, beyond help,
beyond forgiveness.

Divided as we seem, we are one
in our grief,
in our fear,
in our need
for one another.

october leaves

Remember fall?

After a brutally hot and dry September, it finally feels like autumn here in the Bluegrass. I’ve been reading a lot about cli-fi (climate fiction) lately, and it seems to have seeped into my poetry.

Memories of the fall

the trees dropped their leaves in relief
after weeks of drought and record
heat, thankful for cool clear nights
but far too tired to put on a show

 

maple leaf

One of the few bits of color I’ve seen

Turning

I’ve not written in weeks nor posted in months, but the frenzy of summer is giving way to the winding down of autumn, thank goodness. This poem was inspired by a lovely post from Michele Bledsoe at The Secret Kingdom: https://secretkingdombook.wordpress.com/2019/09/13/42-dogs-and-the-art-of-repetition/

Imperfect analogy

an artist titles her painting “42 Dogs”
and I think about dogs like snowflakes

unique and beautiful, infinite
in variation: size, shape, color

and then I realize dogs are nothing
like snowflakes, which are more

or less uniform in size and color
and pile up by the millions

on the lawn and front walk, and blow
into drifts against the house

and I am so grateful
that dogs are warm and soft

eyed and that snowflakes are not
in the least bit like dogs

 

ironweed

Volunteer ironweed (Vernonia sp.) that appeared in my yard

Reading and writing

After many, many days of sleeping, hours of coughing, and two rounds of medication, I’m finally feeling human again. I read when the throbbing in my head permitted but didn’t do much writing. Thanks to the amazing author notes that accompany the poetry at Rattle, however, I was able to think about writing.

This poem was derived from the author notes with poems posted at Rattle on July 17, 19, and 22.

Poetry workshop in three stanzas

every day she writes
with a sharp pencil
on lined paper
in a notebook – like this one?

he often ruins poems
working them to death
he believes they are not lost
but find other, better makers

we lose stuff all the time –
pets, people, wallets, jobs
a good poem makes a sound
readers recognize as their own

(https://www.rattle.com/city-of-refuge-by-katherine-barrett-swett/,
https://www.rattle.com/object-lesson-in-over-attachment-by-hayden-saunier/,
https://www.rattle.com/prozac-ode-by-craig-van-rooyen/)

blue river ii

Hibiscus moscheutos ‘Blue River II’ in my yard.

 

Holiday reservations

I was raised to understand that patriotism is placing the welfare of the whole – community, nation, society – above personal interests, trusting that service to others becomes, in the end, service to ourselves. Those ideas seem lost amid public expressions of individual freedom that grow louder and more ostentatious each year.

They say birthdays cease to have meaning after a while, and I always thought that was a comment on the passage of time. Now I’m not so sure.

Holiday reservations

This year on the Fourth we have plans to celebrate family birthdays –
except for Uncle Sam’s – he’s been acting so strange of late
we feel like we don’t know him anymore, which is saying a lot
because we have a pretty high tolerance for strange in this family.

Most of us are afraid for him – his health, his stability – but some
are afraid of him, of what he might do next. We don’t really know
how to talk about any of this – with ourselves, let alone with him –
but he doesn’t seem to be listening anyway. So we’ll have cake

and ice cream, and candles but no fireworks – not even sparklers –
and sing “Happy Birthday” and open cards and maybe a few
gifts. Then we’ll sedate the dog and turn in early, burying our heads
in the pillows to muffle the sounds of gunfire and other explosions.

 

echinacea

Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) from my yard

 

 

LexPoMo 2019, Day 20

lexpomo2018This was inspired by the paintings of Carolyn Young Hisel, seen in Luminous, a 50-year retrospective of her work at the Headley-Whitney Museum. My poetry circle took a field trip at the end of April to see the exhibition, which was amazing.

A woman is leaving

A red piano waits to carry her
on notes we cannot hear; a red boat
is moored at world’s edge

like a patient pony. She will dance
to the threshold, draped in lace;
she will step into the green wave

where the sun sets. Her head turns
to the luminous door, to the view
beyond the open window.

(Reposted from the Lexington Poetry Month website: https://lexpomo.com/poem/a-woman-is-leaving/)

iris and bellis

Bearded iris and English daisies, my yard, early May

 

LexPoMo 2019, Day 18

lexpomo2018This is pretty much how my day begins, every day. Most days I manage to respond before we reach DEFCON 1, but sometimes I don’t move fast enough and the cat has to pull out all the stops.

Alarm cat

soft whisker kisses
and delicate snuffling
on my nose, eyes, lips
with faint, most intimate
purring

vigorous edge and corner
rubbing on bedside table
and pile of books that slithers
to the floor with muted
thudding

deliberate stroll along headboard
to select, with care, which items
will be batted onto my head
and which will be sent
flying

soft thump as the bed is abandoned:
final stage has been triggered

silence long enough for me to drift
back to sleep, then unnaturally loud
sounds of moist mastication
and plastic, followed by
retching

objective achieved
I am up

(Reposted from the Lexington Poetry Month website: https://lexpomo.com/poem/alarm-cat/)

IMG_1172

…butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth…