Twenty Questions

Here’s what comes of it when I have too much time on my hands, and a Big Tent prompt to write a list poem. I can happily make lists of questions until the cows come home! These barely skim the surface…

Twenty Questions

Why do I only remember some of my dreams? Will people be routinely
microchipped one day? Why is it called wonder in a child, and nosiness
in an adult? Can the human mind truly grasp infinity? Will it ever stop
raining? If we all looked before we leapt, would we have come this far?
Would I have become a different person if I hadn’t eschewed Dick, Jane,
and Sally for the Cat in the Hat? Where indeed are the snows of yesteryear?
Will time tell? Does life imitate art, or vice versa? Does it matter? Will
the generation gap ever close? What is the actual proportion of inspiration
to perspiration? Does it vary from person to person? What if Big Brother
really is watching? Is it possible to be too connected? Is a miss as good
as a mile? Can words really fall on deaf ears? Do we add layers to ourselves
annually, like the grown rings of a tree? Will I ever run out of questions?

100 Things I Like

100 Things I Like

puppies. chocolate. poodles. cats. dahlias. blue skies. warm sunlight.
gentle rain. green shoots. crocuses. irises. daffodils. the color yellow.
books. bookstores. reading. my name. the color pink. spiral notebooks.
owls. candlelight. falling asleep. being awake. yoga. tai chi. stretching.
shiny things. being home. remembering dreams. day dreaming. making
lists. writing poetry. reading poetry. food. family time. vacations.
occasional silence. music. Mozart. Brahms. Paganini. Pachelbel. The Trout.
Simon and Garfunkle. Chad and Jeremy. Distant Shores. the beach. sand.
seashells. polished rocks. memories. free associating. writing. thinking.
doing. planning. carrying out. anticipation. new experiences, in moderation.
the familiar. little things. babies. jellybeans. dobosh torte. eclairs.
macaroons. gugelhupf. sweet things. hot tea. ginger lemon. licorice. spices.
cinnamon. paprika. sweet and sour. music boxes. early spring. rabbits.
milkweed seeds. maple seeds. clouds. snowflakes. snow that doesn’t stick.
trees with leaves. trees without leaves. trees in general. departing geese.
returning geese. fat robins. speckled baby robins. robin eggs. birds nests.
the sky at sunset. the sky at dawn. bayberry candles. flickering light.
fireflies. dragonflies. crickets. stars.

November 2010 Recap

Another month! My list of  writing accomplishments  for the month of November:

– I wrote 33 poems in 30 days for the 2010 Poetic Asides November PAD Chapbook Challenge. I extended my repertoire, by trying new poetic forms, including a rondeau, triolets, a pantoum, skeltonic verse, a shadorma, a hay(na)ku, bell curve Fibonacci, and a blitz poem.

– Took 1st place in the November 2010 Shiki  Kukai, free format section, with my “garden spider” haiku.

– Took 4th place in the November 2010 Shiki  Kukai, kigo section, with my “departing year” haiku.

– Submitted three haiku to the November/December Sketchbook “first snow” haiku thread (#1, #20 and #22).

– Took part in the 19th  Caribbean Kigo Kukai , with my “December again…” haiku.

– Wrote  “Under the Harvest Moon” and “Passing Through” to Big Tent Poetry weekly prompts.

– Had two Chicken Soup for the Soul stories make it to the finalist round. “Expert Advice” will appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: New Moms in March 2011, and “Taken by Storm” will appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Cat’s Life in April 2011.

– One of my haiku was accepted to the winter issue of Frogpond.

– Did a guest post about Kukai for my haiku buddy Kirsten Cliff’s wonderful Swimming in Lines of Haiku blog.

– Put lots more into the pipeline.

Time to edit my PAD poems for the chapbook challenge!

2010 November PAD- Day 29

Next to last day of the Poem-a-Day Challenge! I will be very ready to take a breather from writing poetry, and move into editing mode. I haven’t gone back and read any of my Day 1- 28 poems yet, so it will be a surprise (and hopefully a pleasant one!) when I take a look at what I’ve written, starting December 1st. If I have a handful of “keepers” in there, I’ll be very satisfied.

Robert Lee Brewer suggested trying a list poem, to the prompt : write a “next steps” poem. What I decided to try instead was a blitz poem, which I think also qualifies as a list poem of sorts. The blitz poem was even more fun to write than I imagined, once I got the hang of it! I read the rules of the form, took a nice long and invigorating walk while brainstorming what to write, and came home and wrote my poem in a trice. I think what appeals to me is the stream-of-consciousness feel to it. And as an added bonus, and quite unintentionally (or perhaps because I was subliminally influenced by the Big Tent Poetry prompt this week), it also works for that prompt too.


Poem to Write

Make a list
Make a poem
Poem away
Poem all day
Day for writing
Day at a time
Time to spare
Time enough
Enough is enough
Enough is too much
Much ado
Much to do
Do the laundry
Do the dishes
Dishes on the counter
Dishes in the sink
Sink full of suds
Sink or swim
Swim with the sharks
Swim away
Away today
Away somewhere
Somewhere special
Somewhere in time
Time to write
Time to start
Start at the beginning
Start over again
Again and again
Again I write
Write a stanza
Write a line
Line by line
Line at a time
Time for breakfast
Time for a walk
Walk for an hour
Walk in the cold
Cold fingers
Cold toes
Toes and fingers
Toes the line
Line by line
Line at a time
Time doesn’t wait
Time to write
Write a poem
Write a list

Under the Harvest Moon

The Big Tent Poetry prompt this week was to write a cascade poem. Immersed as I am in the Poetic Asides November PAD Chapbook Challenge, I was hard pressed to write a cascade poem, until I realized I wrote one a few weeks ago for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge. I decided that it was recent enough!

About the subject: For 15 years, my family and I attended the Salmon Festival at Oxbow Park the second weekend of October, which celebrated the return of the fall Chinook salmon to the Sandy River to spawn. It was a wonderful family event, with kids activities, salmon viewing walks, horse-drawn carriage rides, educational booths by many environmental groups, a fish “school”, educating people about how salmon fit in with our local watersheds, and native American dancing. Oh yeah, and a salmon barbecue. For me it was an affirmation of the cycle of life, paying tribute not just to the salmon, but to the native people who have a long history of deriving their sustenance from the salmon runs. Alas, the festival is no more, a victim of budget cuts, scaled back to simply two weekends of guided walks. The salmon runs are likewise diminishing, and I fear it is only a matter of time before a way of life is irretrievably lost. My poem is in tribute to the amazing migration of the Chinook salmon.

Under the Harvest Moon

Windfall apples strewn on the lawn—
under the harvest moon, again
Chinook salmon find their way home.

The steady insistence of rain
thrums a tattoo on sodden leaves—
windfall apples strewn on the lawn.

A leaf, a branch, a silhouette—
who now hovers in shadowy dark,
under the harvest moon, again?

Swimming upstream, always upstream
(how can they know which way to go?)
Chinook salmon find their way home.

Passing Through

I’m never quite sure what to expect as the next prompt for Big Tent Poetry– each one is more creative than the last! This week, we were invited to leave first lines from our own poems for use by others. I didn’t use any of the lines, per se, but Cynthia Veach’s wonderful line: “Then V by V the geese decide to leave” suggested the topic for my poem.

Passing Through

They arrive in lines, with great cries,
heralding their arrival at this midway point—
travelers, just passing through
to their ultimate destination.
With silent accord, they descend on the lake,
a resting place for weary wings,
and just as suddenly, are gone again,
swept up by the wind,
forming chevrons across the sky,
leaving autumn in their wake.

Keeper of the Relics

Another week, another Big Tent Poetry prompt to respond to. Where does the time go? I suppose I might have written about something else altogether, if the need had not arisen for me to approach “the boxes” in search of an important paper. Funny how that works.

Keeper of the Relics

In my house is a storage room,
and in that storage room are boxes,
lots of boxes, the kind you can buy
at a moving and storage facility
or even an office supply store,
and in those boxes are relics,
old letters and postcards, the matching
skirts my father brought back one year
from Greece for my sisters and me,
my mother’s knitting needles and yarn,
left over from long abandoned projects—
things too baffling to keep, too precious
to throw away, things that defy
categorization, the detritus of a life,
two lives, well spent, now gone before.

Read other responses here.

Betwixt and Between

Well I kinda sorta wrote to prompt this week for Big Tent Poetry. Actually, it’s more like a reprise of last week’s prompt. I liked the haibun form so well I had to do it again! And a  journey, taken frequently in the past, that I’m contemplating taking again soon is an adventure, right?

Betwixt and Between

The first leg of my journey. I feel the familiar sense of anticipation twinged with reservations: Have I forgotten anything? (Have I ever forgotten anything?) Is this the best time to be going? (Is there really any best time?) My side of the bed will be empty tonight— I will be elsewhere. (Is this what death feels like?)

windfall apples—
another one detaches
from the tree

Now I am disassembling. Off comes the jacket, the shoes, my belt, my watch, my keys from my pocket. Out comes my Ziploc bag with miniature bottles of toothpaste and lotions. One by one, they fill up the little plastic bin, then another. I feel myself getting smaller and smaller. Becoming undone.

beneath the outer
layer of onion—
another layer

The green light comes on, the uniformed security guard waves me through. I have passed the test. Been given clearance. I’m on my way. I reconstitute myself. Put back all the pieces. Suitcase. Check. Shoes, belt, watch, jacket, keys. Check. Toothpaste and friends. Back in the suitcase. Ticket, driver’s license. All here. Before I have time to wonder: Do I have time to grab a quick lunch? Where’s my gate? I get swept away in the crowd, heading for Concourse A.

summer afternoon—
the drone of bees
grows louder

Finally we are on the runway, taxiing into position. More clearance given. We roll along, unimpeded now, picking up speed, faster and faster until the wheels lift, the nose of the plane points skyward and with a mighty roar, we are airborne!

higher than
the highest cloud—
the eagle

The Doors are Closing

This week’s Big Tent Poetry prompt (which I almost missed, due to being so busy this week I forgot to check the Monday prompt until today), is to write a travel haibun. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at haibun. It combines my favorite two literary elements: prose writing and haiku. So here is my very first (and definitely not last!) haibun:

The Doors are Closing

This is an eastbound train to City Center and Gresham. The doors are closing. Past cars on the freeway, suddenly plunged into the darkness of the tunnel. Riders with iPod buds in their ears, behind newspapers, dozers. Metal on metal, shrieking in protest. Washington Park. Doors to my left. The doors are closing. And suddenly we emerge again, like moles, blinking into the sunlight. Past The Real Mother Goose, past Brooks Brothers, past the Galleria. This is a blue line train to Gresham. In the priority seating area, you are required to move for seniors and people with disabilities. Sun gone, now threatening rain. A man huddled in blankets on the sidewalk looks up at the sky with dead eyes. A woman snubs a cigarette out on the sidewalk. Skidmore Fountain. Doors to my right. The doors are closing. Over the steel bridge, the Willamette still and sullen. I stash away my notepad, take a few wobbly steps to the door, clutching the pole for balance. Rose Quarter Transit Center, Rose Quarter Arena, and Memorial Coliseum. Doors to my left and right. Exit, breathe city air, shoulder my backpack. I’ve arrived. Behind me, the doors are closing…

early fall-
the maple drops
a single leaf

Pineapple Summer

This week’s Big Tent Poetry prompt was a wordle. The words that jumped out at me were pineapple, silk, and summer. I wrote this at four in the morning, when I couldn’t sleep anyway. Maybe that’s the trick to writing poetry that springs from the unconscious mind– I certainly never consciously think about pineapple upside-down cake, or corn silk either, for that matter!

Pineapple Summer

The secret of pineapple upside-down cake
is that the pineapples have to start at the bottom
in order to end up on top. Eventually.
Life can be like this. Or not.
Some things start at the bottom
and stay at the bottom. Like fish.
Some start on top and fall. Like Humpty Dumpty.
Others just drift. Like milkweeds on the breeze.
Or summer days, which slide one into the next,
smooth as corn silk.

More poetic response to this prompt can be found at the Big Tent website.