Category Archives: Family

Envious

I’m green with envy
Hearing you complain
About having to care for
Your aging father
It’s such a burden you say

What I wouldn’t give
To be planning my daddy’s
95th birthday party today

But there’s no party
No celebration
Only wishing him near

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The prompt today at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write a Quadrille (44 words exactly) using the word “green.” The prompt isn’t live yet in my time zone, but I peeked at some other poets who have their poems up already to find out what the required word is.

My dad would have been 95, but he died 23 years ago so this is as close as I’ll get to celebrating his birthday.

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Southern Exposure

For weeks I’d been getting away with pants or at least longer shorts. Up in the mountains of Ramona it wasn’t too hot. But that day we were off to Calico ghost town in Death Valley—the whole family was going and there was no getting out of it. Besides, I loved the desert. Still, it was likely to be 100 degrees or more and there was no way to get away with pants. So I pulled on my pink shorts and tank top, hoping mom wouldn’t notice.

Of course she did. “What’s that bruise on the inside of your thigh?”

I suspect she already knew. Mary Lou’s mom had probably called her the day it happened. (Your daughter’s friend doesn’t get stepped on by your horse without you calling her mom, after all.) I had convinced myself she didn’t know I’d gone over there that morning; that I’d gotten away with the forbidden main-road crossing before school. I was sure she didn’t know about that fateful bareback horse ride and me falling off. But the jig was up. The heat had exposed my secret.

Southern exposure
Reveals what we’d like hidden
In the desert heat

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Had to write another Southwestern-inspired poem, a haibun this time, for dVerse Poets Pub.

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Remembering Dad

My dad was the best.

I remember when I was a kid how with gloved hand he would take each bullhead off the hook so I wouldn’t get cut by their spiky fins.

I remember how he taught me to shoot a BB gun in our backyard.

I remember how he let me play in the stacks of tires in his shop and then give me money to go get a Mister Misty at Dairy Queen down the street.

I remember how he would drive me to church and Missionettes and youth group meetings every week in middle school.

I remember when he took me shopping to buy my first pinstriped suit for speech and debate class.

I remember him saying he was going to buy me that Dodge Charger for sale on Main Street then bringing home a Ford Maverick instead because he got it for the price of the tow bill and a new engine that he put in.

I remember opening my mailbox at college and finding a card from him with the note “Here’s a little mad money for you. Don’t tell your mom.” and 20 bucks inside.

I remember that he came to my college graduation but not my wedding 4 months later because my mom was too sick.

I remember the huge smile on his face when he came to my baptism when I was 23.

I remember his last call, when he said “Come see me,” but I didn’t hear the urgency in his voice so I bought a plane ticket to Palm Springs for 2 weeks later.

I don’t remember who called to tell me he’d died a week later but I do remember the darkness that followed.

I remember the turbulence on the puddle-jumper from Portland to Palm Springs and wishing it would just crash.

I remember listening to “Indifference” by Pearl Jam and wondering if the pain of losing him would ever go away.

I remember many more things about my dad, but most of all I remember that he loved me and he died far too young.

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The prompt at NaPoWriMo today is to write an “I remember” poem.

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It’s Never Goodbye

I love to spend time with my friends
We chat, catch up, and share it all
Pick each other up when we fall
I hope our friendship never ends
For hard feelings we’ll make amends
We’ll laugh out loud, or we might cry
You’ll never know the reasons why
Our deep connection, our long bond
Keeps us close today and beyond
It’s see you later, not goodbye

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I’m spending the weekend with two college roommates, dear friends I’ve known for 32 years, and so I wrote this poem a day ahead in honor of our friendship and time together. And of course, I had to write a third décima because they are just too much fun.

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Cry, Pray, Write

So you want to know how to write a memoir. Well here’s what I know.

Step one: Ask yourself if you’re nuts.  If yes, proceed to step two.

Step two: Attend a writing conference for inspiration.

Step three: Go home and cry because you don’t want to reveal the level of detail one conference speaker said you would have to.

Step four: Pray and ask God for direction.

Step five: Write and self-publish an autobiographical poetry book that vaguely addresses the story you want to write.

Step six: Tell yourself the poetry book is a sufficient memoir because, after all, we don’t know what Paul’s thorn was either.

Step seven: Have several people ask when you’re going to write your story.

Step eight: Write an outline of your story in your Color Notes app on your phone, then write two book proposals, one for your memoir and one for a devotional.

Step nine: Attend another writers conference and pitch your book ideas to editors and agents.

Step ten: Get sidetracked for three months working on a “marketable” idea from the agent, ignoring advice from a spiritual writing mentor.

Step eleven: Get further sidetracked writing and self-publishing a holiday poetry book.

Step twelve: Lie awake at night running scenes in your head of what you need to write, but not get up to actually write them down because you don’t want to disturb the sleeping dog.

Step thirteen: Tell your friends and family you’ve decided to write your memoir. (This step may be optional, but is helpful if you’re the kind of person who once they’ve said they are doing something has to do it.)

Step fourteen: Decide you need to learn more about the craft of memoir writing.

Step fifteen: Read memoir by spiritual mentor from writing conference.

Step sixteen: Read another memoir, and a book about how to write memoir, and another memoir, and another book about how to write memoir, then start reading a third memoir but decide it’s not believable and make a mental note not to write your memoir that way.

Step seventeen: Take advice from book on memoir writing and simply start writing one paragraph, one scene at a time.

Step eighteen: Get into text discussion with a friend who suggests yet another book on memoir writing you should read. Order said book on your Kindle, realize what you’ve ordered is actually a different book by that author, then order the paperback of the first book from Amazon.

Step nineteen: Write poems about writing memoir.

Step twenty: Stop worrying that your first draft is terrible (because as Anne Lamott says, they all are),  and resolve to write, edit, rewrite, and persevere.

I’m afraid that’s as far as I’ve gotten so you’ll have to come back next year for the remaining steps.

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The NaPoWriMo prompt for today is to write a “How To” poem. Since I am in the process of writing (or trying to write) my memoir, I thought I’d share a little step-by-step how-to on how to do it.

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Oh Ramona

The sun rises high
In the cerulean sky
The wind comes like manna
Out of Santa Ana

The brown weed field
Naught but thorns does yield

In the one-story houses
The ungrateful one grouses

Pool parties and a picnic feast
Friends come from north and east

Catching pollywogs and crayfish
Riding horses our greatest wish

I dream of being a writer
Not knowing I must be a fighter

Eucalyptus trees line the street
Dust devils you’re likely to meet

Nothing of substance to export
Not even our own airport

Painted on the town water tower
A lovely field of wildflower

There I found the lover of my soul
He who one day would make me whole

The sun and drought did conspire
To destroy weed fields by wildfire

That same sun sure did bless
So we’d wear shorts and Ts for dress
Bathing suits were all the rage
If only there I’d come of age

Riding bikes so innocent
To school and library we went

The most notable person in town
Was my dad who I seldom saw frown

He loved to pull our travel trailer
I think it reminded him of being a sailor
It sat out the picture window pane
And was more fun than flying by plane

Once again the wildfires burn
The news says for a good rain we yearn

I had a pen pal from Bangladesh
Suriman Bang was her name so fresh
I don’t remember what we wrote
And so I cannot share a quote

But I wonder if we talked of the unicorn
Or the day that Bigfoot was born

Did I share my favorite children’s tale
Where the Wild Things Are, when I sent her mail

Or Mystery in the Night Woods
Where Flying Squirrel hid in alley backwoods

Just beyond the border of town
You heard the sounds of animals die down
As evening gave way to dusk and night
At the Wild Animal Park all was right

I know not yet the meaning of fear
But bask in this sweet security dear

After I had moved away
A friend sent a postcard to say
With a picture of a sign that does endear
Wish you were still here

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The NaPoWriMo Day 16 prompt called for answering a series of Almanac questions and then using the answers to fashion a poem. I decided to write a poem about my childhood hometown of Ramona, California. I answered each of the questions and decided to leave all the answers as a series of thoughts about my life in that town.

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I Never Said Goodbye

January is the cruelest month
despite it’s shimmer of hope
It’s when cancer took you
I was twenty-three
Hadn’t yet made amends
for the pain I caused you
Still drowning in my own
Your death only added
to the shame
of not measuring up

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This quadrille is doing double duty today. It includes the dVerse Poets Pub word prompt from Victoria and offers my thoughts on the cruelest month for the NaPoWriMo prompt.

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Sweet Scent of Rain

The wafting scent of petrichor
Will remind me forevermore
Of streets lined with eucalyptus
Where my friends and I played and thus

Those were the days of fun and cheer
Memories that I hold so dear
Before, before the terror came
And life was no longer a game

Oh take me back sweet summer rain
To when scraped knees were my worst pain
Bicycle rides on dusty roads
Catching pollywogs, snakes, and toads

Our little dog would bark and scratch
While we hid in the garden patch
Mom had told us Go pull some weeds
Why are they here—we planted seeds

Weeds often grow among the tares
Some people say God never cares
There was a time that I agreed
I believed He forgot my need

He allowed pain to enter in
My memories tainted by sin
Engulfing me in endless torment
And yet He also left this scent

A reminder of hope and peace
Assurance pain one day will cease
Flooding my mind with memories
Of joyful times I’ve been at ease

Life’s a balance of rain and sun
An inkling that when each day’s done
I’m one day closer to the truth
Pain tried to pilfer in my youth

The truth that I am beloved
My future’s not something to dread
My memories aren’t who I am
I belong to God’s perfect Lamb

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5/12/16: Shared for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night. Head over there and check out the wonderful offerings by other poets today.

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The One-Eyed Wonder

I tell my dog to stay
so he promptly sits
He just wants to play
It’s a battle of wits
A quick game of fetch fits
with the cat’s added comedy
when he jumps and flits

It seemed like quite the tragedy
when the poor dog lost his left eye
Nonetheless he is wicked smart
and when he is wont to cry
it breaks my heart
Inwardly I moan
my heart’s not made of stone

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The Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub today is to write a Bouts-Rimés (pronounced Boo-ReeMay) with a given set of end rhyme words. When I read the word choices, I immediately was inspired to write this poem about my pets, both of whom had to go to the vet this morning. Our vet called Roman her “one-eyed wonder.”

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My Dear Son

Twenty-one years ago today
You came into our lives
You brought love for each day
By tens and twenties and fives

For you I’m writing a rhyming verse
Because that is the good kind
Though I know you’re not averse
To stories intertwined

I am so proud of who you are
The man who you’ve become
Your taste in music is a bit bizarre
Your humor will help overcome

Your compassion and generosity
Are traits I much admire
How you love your silly kitty
Is something to inspire

I could go on and on, you know
Because you are my dear son
On you blessings may God bestow
Until your many days are done

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