Room to Think

cedar bench

“Welcome to my house!” The little boy pulls aside a low hanging branch and gestures into the shadow of an old growth cedar tree.

“What a lovely home!” I look around the imaginary room: the evergreen walls, the mossy drapes, the soft carpet of aromatic brown needles. The boy grins.

“And that’s your house over there!” He points to another tree, and then to a fallen limb. “And this is your thinking bench.”

“My thinking bench?”

“Yes. When you want to think about things, you can come out here and sit on this bench.” I sit on the limb and marvel at this three-year-old’s creativity, and it occurs to me that every home could likely benefit from a thinking bench. See? It’s got me thinking already.

roughhewn cedar bench
space to breathe unfinished thoughts
warm breeze stirs the mind


dVerse open link night #267

Posted in humanity, poetry, prose | Tagged , , , | 27 Comments

spring reckoning

dead limb

Planted last winter,

I watched for your blush of life.

You remained dormant,

or dead – Now I’m left to choose:

wait and hope, or dig you out.


dVerse Meet the Bar challenge: 5-line Japanese Poetic Forms. My first attempt at a tanka. 

Posted in nature, poetry | Tagged , , , , | 39 Comments

Chez Maggie

NaPoWriMo,*Day twenty-seven:

Today’s prompt: “write a poem in the form of a review. But not a review of a book or a movie of a restaurant. Instead, I challenge you to write a poetic review of something that isn’t normally reviewed. For example, your mother-in-law, the moon, or the year 2020 (I think many of us have some thoughts on that one!)”

Herewith,

Chez Maggie

Chez Maggie

“Do you have reservations, Madam?”
Oh, I have so, so many.
And calling me “madam” didn’t help one bit.
“Yes. Maggie… Quarantine for one.”
“Ah, of course! Right this way.”

Doesn’t look too bad on the outside.
Basic ranch style, minimal landscaping.
Is that the gardener digging in the flower bed?
Wearing a tuxedo?
Oh, I guess not. It’s the resident cat.

Inside, the vibe is very industrial.
Squirrel cage light fixtures;
original 1950s oak floors throughout,
pocked by staple marks, blackened with water stains.
Perhaps a tad too industrial:
an orange extension cord snakes down the hallway;
a Stanley toolbox claims half the floor space in the bathroom.

Sleeping accommodations are comfy.
pink sheets in a lilac room.
I question how long it’s been since the bedding was changed.
The gardener has come inside, and is now
curled up on a sunny patch of living room carpet.

The bathroom is small and appears to be under renovation.
It’s cute, though, despite the measuring tape left on the vanity top
and the caulk gun tucked hazardously beneath the rug.
As to cleanliness… well, let’s just say the industrial style
needs to include some industrial cleaning soon.

On to the kitchen. Oh, my.
I think I will be ordering delivery for the duration of my stay.
That’s okay. I can’t cook anyway.
It’s almost as if the keepers of this establishment knew that already.

A sliding glass door leads to an enclosed back yard, which –
curiously – continues the industrial theme.
A pair of saw horses stand at the ready.
A second pair have collapsed and lay in a heap where they fell.
Old splintered baseboards poke out from a stack of two by sixes
that had a former life as part of the now diminished deck.

On the lawn, a white dog has passed out in the shade.
Or so it appears; I can tell he is watching me through half-veiled eyes.
He must be the other tenant I was warned about,
but I was told he is an excellent self-distancer.

So this is where I’ll be spending the sum of my
indeterminate quarantine.
No five-star rating here, but the accommodations will suffice.
The tuxedo cat makes a sweet gardener.
The lawn ornament dog will keep me occupied;
he seems to have an acute sense of meal times.

I give this place a three “S” rating:
Stay home;
Stay safe;
Stay alive.


National Poetry Writing Month, Day 27

Posted in daily prompt, humor, poetry | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Simple Life

Day 26 of NaPoWriMo.*

For today’s prompt, we were asked to fill out an “Almanac Questionnaire” that you can find here, then use our responses as the basis for a poem. And so I came up with this depiction of where I live.

forest

The Simple Life

I live in Washington.
State, not DC.
In the city of Vancouver.
United States, not British Columbia.
Across the river from Portland.
Oregon, not Maine.
Oh, never mind. It’s complicated.

Explorers Lewis and Clark wandered through here
on their way to the Pacific Ocean.
Lewis wrote that the area was
“the only desired situation for settlement
west of the Rocky Mountains.”
Then he moved on and settled in Oregon instead.
When asked why, it is said he was said
to have said, “It’s complicated.”

Captain U.S. Grant was stationed here,
at Columbia Barracks. Then he resigned from the army
and became president. Eventually.
A very uncivil war intervened in that General timeline.
We’re still hashing that war out.
Complicated, indeed.

Sasquatch roams the forests in these parts.
Kinda shy, though; we don’t see him much.
Olympic figure skater Tonya Harding roamed the ice rinks here.
Then her competitor was cut off at the knees —
so to speak – and Tonya took the fall. So to speak.
It’s complicated.

We don’t carry umbrellas when it rains here.
For the most part we don’t jaywalk.
We wear dark clothes on dark days.
Maybe that’s why we forego jaywalking.
On sunny weekends we go hiking in the Gorge.
On rainy weekends we hike faster.
Simple pleasures.

You can wander down most any alley here and find
a micro-brewery or a coffee shop. Or both.
The local newspaper, The Columbian,
(named for the river, not the country)
sported this headline yesterday:
“There’s no reason to struggle to get your coffee fix —
even in the middle of a pandemic.”

We have our priorities, after all.
They are pretty straightforward.
Come visit us sometime, if you can find us.
It’s kind of complicated.


*National Poetry Writing Month, Day 26

Posted in daily prompt, poetry, Washington | Tagged , , | 17 Comments

Day Twenty-five: Free Write

NaPoWriMo Day 25. *

Today, “The prompt, which you can find in its entirety here, was  developed by the poet and teacher Hoa Nguyen, asks you to use a long poem by James Schuyler as a guidepost for your poem.” The original prompt asks for a twenty minute free write, “a writing prompt toward the present tense, a meditation in everyday language, that makes room for small noticing and our most spacious perceptions.”

I managed to do a lot of small noticing, but not a whole lot of spacious perceiving. Oh, well. Here ’tis:

chules and hyacinths

Senselessness for the Senses

I wake up this morning to the sound of rain water,
gargling its way through the downspout outside my
bedroom window. I am reminded that I meant to
dig up the concrete block where the downspout ends.
I need to change the grade to send the water outward,
more toward the lawn. I fear it is drowning my foundation,
and someday I will awaken to find myself pouring through
a flooded wall, slipping through the storm drain out on the street,
my bedclothes encasing me like a scuba suit. Would that happen?
This afternoon it is sunny. A cool breeze. The gutter effervescence
is replaced by some neighbor’s gas engine pistoning down the street.
I don’t like noisy gas-powered tools. I like to dig in the dirt. Bare hands.
That’s how you gain the minerals, through the skin.
Brown dirt on brown hands. White fingernails that never manage to be white.
And lots of purple flowers. “Why so many purple flowers?“
It’s my favorite color. But that’s not really why.
The grape hyacinths just multiply every year.
They grow through the crack between my concrete porch and side walk.
So hardy; it would be a shame to remove them.
What else? Spanish bluebells, lilacs, lavender, rosemary… all purple. But later,
the bright orange California poppies will come. And the yellow St. Johns wort.
And dandelions. Always dandelions. The bees like them, so I leave them be.
We coexist. We wild together, in our own weedy way.
The weeds like the freedom of my yard. They can do as they please;
grow, blossom, meditate, and ultimately self-actualize… if they so desire.
Clouds are forming now, and the breeze is picking up.
If I could smell, I might notice someone getting their barbecue ready to burn dinner.
Or someone smoking weed behind the fence. I can’t smell much, though,
so neighbors are free to barbecue their weeds undisturbed by me.
I was to listen to James Schuyler reading his poem, “Hymn to Life” today.
A recording of 34 minutes. I made it to ten. He doesn’t’ sound like a poet.
Not like I imagined he would. Or should. Not that there’s a poet sound.
I seldom read my poetry aloud; it never sounds like I think it should.
Maybe my poetry stinks, but I just can’t smell it. I should listen, I suppose.
I listen. I hear the weeds growing. The dandelion seed heads shimmy in the breeze.
They want to catch the wind and be blown away.
I want to write poetry that blows the reader away.
If I read this writing aloud, will I sound like a poet? Or just like a weed,
self-actualized or otherwise?
An airplane flies over my house in the partly cloudy sky. It smells distant.
I will go inside now and make dinner.


*National Poetry Writing Month, Day twenty-five.

Posted in daily prompt, poetry | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Found!

The poetry challenge today on the dVerse site is to write a “found” poem using the words on book spines.

Bjorn asks us to:

Go through your collection on books, and note the titles.
Sort them so the titles form a poem.
Take a photo of the books.
Write down the poem.

And so, my found poem — a haiku of sorts —  with its found title:

Finding Your Way

found poem

wherever you go
roads of destiny — options —
some answered questions


dVerse ~ Poets Pub: Finding poems in bookshelves

Posted in 5-7-5, Haiku, poetry | Tagged , , , , | 19 Comments

Sweet Bella

bella3

Bella went to heaven today.
Now her worry wrinkles will unfold.
She will take well-earned peaceful naps
and  wake the angels with her snoring.

Bella1

She will bow down and wiggle her butt
in the universal “let’s play” gesture,
And other dog angels will tussle with her
in fields of sweet grass and flowers.

bella7

She will live forever in our hearts,
her soulful gaze will touch our thoughts.
Her memory will always bless us,
just as she did in life.

bella5

Rest in peace, Miss Bella.

Posted in Animalia, poetry, serious stuff | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Frostilocks

tree leaves

Whose house this is, I think I know.
Their village is the woods, and so
they will not mind my stepping in,
I’ll eat their porridge, then I’ll go.

Their furniture both sparse and spare,
I tried to sit in every chair.
One too hard and one too soft,
one broke beneath my derriere.

I tasted porridge, hot and cold,
and one just right. I drained the bowl.
Then up the stairs to take a nap.
I’m as ill-mannered as I am bold.

I fell asleep, but woke to stares
of three sizes of disgruntled bears,
I’ve miles to run ’til I escape
three hungry beasts with broken chairs.


Day 12 of National Poetry Writing Month. I’m off-prompt today. I woke up thinking of Robert Frost for some reason, so I went with it. 

Happy Easter! Be safe! 

Posted in humor, poetry | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Harbinger

Day Eleven of NaPoWriMo.*

Today’s prompt:
“write a poem in which one or more flowers take on specific meanings. “

And so:

Harbinger

You push through winter-hardened earth;
herald of spring, though
late winter snow lingers.

A peek of green, soon a finger,
then – when next I think to look –
the golden trumpet atop a slender stem.

Whipped by feisty winds,
assailed by torrent rains,
flattened by a boisterous spring, and I

speculate that you lost your gamble
in being first to show. But
you rise again, regal as ever…

defiant, daring daffodil!

daffodil


*National Poetry Writing Month, Day 11

Posted in daily prompt, nature, poetry | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Day Ten

NaPoWriMo Day Ten.*

“Today’s prompt is to write a hay(na)ku). Created by the poet Eileen Tabios and named by Vince Gotera , the hay(na)ku is a variant on the haiku. A hay(na)ku consists of a three-line stanza, where the first line has one word, the second line has two words, and the third line has three words.”

Short and sweet. Don’t blink:

flower
bed    spring
pokes through surface

IMG_4443


*National Poetry Writing Month, Day Ten

Posted in daily prompt, poetry | Tagged , | 2 Comments