Category Archives: Life

It Curls and Swirls

Tendrils of cigarette smoke
swirl up to my bunk
curl in the air
it stunk

So I’d twirl the crank
open the tiny window
breathe fresh air
through the dusty
musty screen
it stunk

But not as bad
as Old Gold
bare butt smoke

_________________________-

I missed the first Quadrille Monday of the year at dVerse Poets Pub because we were travelling and I didn’t have time. But I read the prompt and the idea of a short poem using the word “curl” has been swirling in my mind ever since. I decided I’d catch up with Open Link Night

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Pick a Bridge

They call it Bridge City
and if you don’t know
how to get to one of the twelve bridges
(not counting the two in Oregon City)
that you need to take
to get where you’re going
you’re gonna get lost

And don’t try to follow GPS
’cause it’ll tell you to take
either of two lanes to get onto
the Ross Island Bridge
when only the right lane will do

You just better know
how to get there
if you want to bridge the gap
between where you are now
and where you want to be

Bridge City

_______________________________

For the prompt over at dVerse Poets Pub today Lillian is calling for bridge poems. I wasn’t going to write anything, but Bridge City just wouldn’t get out of my head.

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The Saving Grace of Jello

I don’t really know what cancer is, but mom’s in the hospital having surgery because she has it. I think that’s what Aunt Barb had and she died. I hope mom doesn’t die, too.

We’re visiting her today. She might be ready to come home, but I’m not sure. I hope so. She’s in a nice private hospital. Her room is almost homey with wood trim and soft lighting, not sterile like a typical hospital room. She’s sitting up in bed, propped up with pillows behind her. Her noon meal sits half eaten on the portable tray; she was always a slow eater, but this hospital food seems to have caused her to pick even more than usual. I climb up on the bed next to her and eye what’s left. “Can I have your Jello?” I ask. A half smile crosses her lips as she reckons I can help her clean her plate. “I have to eat it all before I can go home,” she says.

I wasn’t there the last time she went into the hospital. That time it was colon cancer. No one called to tell me she’d been admitted again or how bad it was, so I wasn’t there to eat her Jello. Maybe if I had been she could have come home again.

Rays of summer sun
Overshadowed by dark pall
Cancer beckons death

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It’s Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub and guest host Lady Nyo is calling for haibuns involving a childhood memory. If it was May or August, I might have conjured up a happy memory to share. But it’s January and I’m missing my mom so this is what I’ve got for today.

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Messy Presents

We want our presents in pretty paper
All wrapped up in a shiny neat bow
We want our faith to be the same
So our doubts and struggles never show

Yet the greatest gifts aren’t neat and tidy
Like the manger birth steeped in blood
A child born like any other babe
With the addition of dirty stable mud

And Christ’s willing sacrifice on the cross
After flogging caused welts and spit adorned
The bleeding brow of the King of kings
Ringed by crowds who mocked and scorned

Each trial and loss we face in life
Can draw us closer to the God we need
If we don’t bury the doubts that rise
But seek the gift each death has freed

Open the messy presents He gives
To find healing for all of life’s woes
Remember when you grieve the most
The Babe born to die for you knows

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Her Hideous Scar

Once I saw her without her shirt or bra
revealing the scar where her surgeon
first took her diseased breast then
sloppily gathered excess skin in a
quick running stitch of sutures
leaving her hideously deformed

It’s no wonder I seldom saw her smile

_______________________

De is running the show at dVerse Poets Pub today for Quadrille Monday where the word of the day is scar. The pub opens at noon PST so head on over and check out some of the great 44-word poems offered by patrons today.

My poem today is a rewrite of part of a description of my mom that I wrote this past week in my writing group.

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My One-Note Song

Last summer I entered my first poetry book, Light in My Darknessin the Writers Digest Self Published Book Awards contest. Riding high on the coattails of being named a finalist in the Cascade Writers Contest in the published poetry category, I decided to submit my book on the last possible day of the contest and see what happened. I didn’t really expect to win, but I thought the feedback I would receive might be valuable.

I received an email with the judge’s comments just yesterday. I was a bit surprised to find that my submission was only read by one judge. Given the price tag on entering and the national scope of the contest I figured they’d have at least two judges per book.

At any rate, I thought I’d share the less-than-glowing review here with you all. I know, it seems weird to share a review that doesn’t just rave about my book, but I do so for a reason. Although the judge found fault with my labor of love, it was the very fault that he or she found that made me smile. Here’s the review, copied and pasted with grammatical errors and all, with my favorite part in bold:

Judge’s Commentary*:

This book of Christian devotional poetry is written by a woman who pulled herself up from the depths of depression through faith, and she should be admired for it. I also appreciate is that the poet uses many different forms of poetry to express herself:  pantoums, sonnets, villanelles, cinquains, triolets, sestinas, ghazals, acrostics, and even a concrete poem, as well as other rhymed verse and free verse.

My problem with this 127-page book is that it is composed almost entirely of poems of praise, and after a while it becomes a one-note song. The entire first section uses the metaphor of darkness into light to describe her salvation and coming up from depression. One can say the same thing only so many ways. There are five more sections to the book, on themes of “bring light to the darkness of others”, “being set free from the past”, forgiveness, “god in the midst of pain and suffering”, and a last section of what I would describe as “pure praise”.  Recurring themes come up in poem after poem: darkness vs. light, Jesus vs. Satan, “jars of clay”, etc. Most of the poems have an addendum of a Scripture quote too. Also, the poet chooses to label the type of poetic form beneath the title of most of these poems. This isn’t necessary, and many rhymed poems here are mislabeled as “free verse.”  The book conveys its message through its cover too – a kneeling figure on a cliff looking up to an image of a cross on a mountainside. The type size is quite large- was it meant to be a “large-print” book ? (I’m not asking this facetiously.) The bio and blurbs on the back cover are well-presented.

Granted, I am not a devout person, so maybe I don’t take the message to heart as a more religious person would. Still, I think even a faithful reader may find this book a bit repetitive after the first twenty or thirty pages.  My advice to the author: Use your interest in poetic forms to your best advantage, and diversify your themes and subjects. There is so much you can say from a perspective of faith about nature, your family and friends, social issues, even your career.  Don’t be afraid to bring in more details of your life and less of the language of praise, and your next book may be even better.

I am thrilled that this reader saw my praise of God so prominently in my poetry. If that is my one-note song, I’ve succeeded in doing what God has called me to do. I’ll keep singing that song until the day I die. To those struggling with depression, I want to clearly reveal the love and hope of Jesus so that they might one day praise Him, too, for being the Light in their darkness.

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Prayer Sparks

Despair sparks desperation
sends me to my knees
I want to cry
I don’t know why
Sobbing turns to prayer
deep in my soul

Mercy sparks forgiveness
sends me to my knees
I find healing
for this desperate feeling
Life that makes me whole

———
This is my writing for Quadrille Monday at dVerse Poets Pub. The word for today is spark.

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Waikiki

It hardly seems like Hawaii–at least not the laidback Hawaii I’ve come to love. The beaches, lined with high-priced high-rise hotels, packed to the gills with bikini clad women and surfers in flower-patterned board shorts. Blonde kiddies screech as the waves hit their tiny legs. They’ll screech louder later when the sunburn sets in; little black-haired Asian tots would suffer the same fate if not for parents obsessed with using a sunbrella. Mere steps away from the crowded beaches limos, rental cars, tour buses, and shuttles cram bumper to bumper down Waikiki strip. Several blocks away runs H-1 with crazy on and off ramps, merging lanes, roadway running below, packed with tourists and locals alike. Only the warmth of the air and the smell of the ocean attest to the fact that this bustling metropolis is, indeed, Hawaii.

Warm summer rain falls
But the calendar says it’s
October’s rainbow

image

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For Haibun Monday at dVerse Poets Pub this week, Bjorn is calling for non-traditional haibun with cityscape as the theme. I just spent four days on Oahu and am now blissfully on Maui away from the crazy that is Honolulu.

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Clouds of Haleakala

sunrise

Standing in the dark in the middle of a rain cloud
sideways rain at ten-thousand feet slapping my face

Waiting, waiting for sunrise
Angry visitors give up, go home, curse the clouds

We wait, are rewarded with beauty of sparkling rays
streaming  God’s glory

________________________

I decided to write a second more positive Quadrille for dVerse Poets Pub today. The word to include is cloud, which made me think of being in the midst of a cloud waiting for sunrise on Mt. Haleakala, Maui.

 

 

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What Is Bravery?

Why say I’m brave?
You don’t call robbery victims brave
when they tell
You don’t call shooting victims brave
when they tell
You don’t call mugging victims brave
when they tell
Yet your clouded view calls me brave
when I tell
I was raped

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Today is Quadrille Monday over at dVerse Poets Pub. The prompt will be up at 12:00 PT, but I learned that the word for today is “cloud” from Victoria who has access to the prompt earlier than I do. But I wrote the first draft of this Quadrille earlier this morning not knowing what the word was and then worked it in later. I think it’s better with the change.

The impetus for this poem was something that happened last week when I told a group of people in a meeting that I had been raped. I won’t go into the context of the discussion, but during and after the meeting several people told me how brave I was to speak up. As I pondered those comments over the past week I felt an anger welling up. To me, those comments were indicative of the stigma that still remains on victims of sexual assault, like somehow we are partly to blame for what has happened to us and we should be ashamed of what we’ve been through.

I am thankful that God doesn’t see it that way. He doesn’t call me brave; He calls me beloved.

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