She Smiled – A Poem

And she was Freed

Through the Right of Combat

Won with Fairness and Grace

Triumphant, she scaled the Highest Tower

Of the Fortress that had been her Prison

Below her, Chaos reigned

As her captors pointed fingers

And ran away from Responsibility

She smiled, basking in her strength and resilience.

Image credit: Sean Thomas @ Unsplash
For the visually challenged reader, the image shows a huge dragon on the corner rooftop of a building. The building has columns and a balcony and the corner rooftop is domed.

Catching up with inspiration from Sadje’s What Do You See #94 and Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #272 – Freed, #273 – Right, #274 – Fortress and #275 – Chaos. It’s been so long since I’ve put ‘fingers to computer” (the modern day “pen to paper”) – this poem came easy after seeing this fantastical picture from Sadje.

Sometimes, I am dragon in the picture – strong, fierce, fighting for what she believes is right, triumphant in her accomplishment. But often times, I am more seen in the “traditional” view of the dragon – the bad one that needs to be defeated, the one causing chaos and trouble, the unreasonable one. I look at all the Disney movies where the “bad guys” are actually women – mothers – and wonder about the families of origin of those story writers.

What is it about a strong woman that seems scary? That make people want to contain them? Tame them? Dampen their greatness? Simone Biles – Serena Williams – Hillary Clinton – they have nice teeth and no spiked wings, I haven’t seen them sitting on any rooftops….so what is it about strong women that make people want to vilify them?

©️ 2021 iido

The Geometry of Sunshine – A Haibun

Parallel lines seep through the leaves. It highlights the perimeter of moss, a verdant tangent kissing the circumference of rocks and logs. Morning dew collects in an overturned mushroom umbrella, bending the light at a 45 degree angle. The reflection distracts a vibrant red cardinal from his song. He puffs out his chest, taking measured steps along the branch, before resuming his aria in the spotlight. 

A grid of trees holds points of sunshine, a linear connection between time and purpose. At one vertex, a grateful squirrel pops out her head, inhaling fresh air, thinking of her cache of acorns. At another, a woodpecker begins a radius from bark through phloem to heartwood. The tap-tap-tapping sending perpendicular reverberations, intersecting the quiet morning light. 

Morning’s right angles

Chords of sunshine connecting

The shape of nature

Full disclosure – this is not a “morning sun”, it’s the setting sun. I am a night owl and not an early bird.

Catching up with Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge! This haibun incorporates #264 – Sunshine, #266 – Vibrance (I used “vibrant” instead), #267 – Light and #269 – Geometry. Geometry was one of my best subjects so this poem was a fun challenge! Can you find all the geometry terms?

I have always loved math even though after a time, the concepts started to elude me. This happened when I started high school, around the time when my head became filled with other things. I didn’t understand this phenomenon until I became an adult and studied it my feminist social work classes.

My older daughter (the author) turns 13 tomorrow. I see this process starting to happen to her – she is really good at math and science (she’s a whiz at computer coding) yet she claims she hates this subjects. She is only one of three girls in her private school class and I know she’s heard comments from other students when she is able to grasp a concept before others.

Nature can be cruel (as the saying goes), but nature is also full of beauty and wonder. This is also true of humans. We can chose what we focus on. We can chose what narrative governs our lives. I hope my girls can see the options and make the best choice.

©️ 2021 iido

Perpendicular Perspective – A Poem

You look down on me without realizing 

Your strength and beauty perfectly balanced 

From your perch 

A perpendicular perspective 

Your artist eyes watching 

My plateaued trajectory 

You don’t realize your wings are ready

To feel the air and lift

An arrow at the end of your line

Infinite, vertical 

Do not continue to look down

My line ends in a point

Flatlined living

Look up with your artist eyes

And imagine, create

Look up with your eagle eyes 

And focus, achieve

The scale has shifted

I look up at you and realize

You’re strength and beauty perfectly balanced 

Image credit: Sonny Mauricio
For the visually challenged reader, this image shows a bald eagle sitting in the bare branches of a tree. It is looking down at the camera

Hello! Hello! It’s been a while – over a month (yikes!) since I’ve last posted. I’ve been busy – and I’m excited to tell you with what – but first, I’m catching up…well, you know, catching up in my usual “late to the party” way…is there any other way? (cue eye-roll and self-deprecating facetiousness)

Three things inspired me with this poem. First, was this adorable picture from Sadje’s What do you see #73. I missed the deadline to be included in her round up, but you can read all the other wonderful submissions here. Second, was Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #268 – Scale and #269 – Perpendicular. Now, I have been a long time fan of Patrick’s challenges and am actually on a streak. Being the “competitive” person that I am, I will have to go back and complete the other challenges because there are no breaks when streaking!

Third, and probably the most meaningful inspiration for this poem is my older daughter who just self-published her first book at the tender age of 12! Yes – my daughter has published her own book before I have! At an age when I was consumed with awkwardness and other growing pains, my daughter has the self-confidence, the motivation, and the perseverance to spend this past pandemic year writing a book and designing and creating the cover art. She even did all the research for how she can self-publish it.

If you can’t tell, I am very proud of her and very much in awe of her accomplishment.

You can find her book on Amazon. She joins the ranks of other esteemed writers on WP such as Mich (see her book here) and Ivor (see his books here and here) and Chris (see one of her many books here).

©️ 2021 iido

Growing Pain – A Tanka

Bright sun of your face

Hair flying free with laughter

Lunchtime playground fun

Replaced by eye rolls and sighs

The penumbra comes too soon

Image credit; Teslariu Mehai @ Unsplash
For the visually challenged reader, this image shows a person wearing a paper-bag over their head. Words ” Photo shop” are written by hand on the bag.

The word penumbra comes from the Bushboy’s Thursday RagTag Daily prompt. I had never heard that word before but the idea of a half shadow intrigued me.

On the other hand, this photo from Sadje’s What do you see #66 brought up a lot of emotions for me, the strongest of which was avoidance (hence my missing the deadline). It took me awhile to process why this was.

The paper bag of the woman’s head didn’t sit well with me. It made me think about all the ways that women are “covered” – how we cover our true selves or how other people try to cover us up. How might we “photoshop” what we want others to see when our true selves are hidden? I began to wonder what her face might be like under the bag – is her face blank? is she frowning? Is she smiling even though her smile can’t be seen?

This reminded me of those “awkward years” as a pre-teen, feeling embarrassed of “changes” and not feeling comfortable in my own skin. I probably would have hidden in a paper bag if I could. That was the time when I decided I wasn’t good at math (even though I was doing high school level math in junior high) – becoming “less than” I truly was. I wouldn’t find my whole self until much later in life.

And now I see my daughter entering that stage where she’s spending more time wearing her ear buds and the eye rolls outnumber the laughter. I try to remind her to stay true to who she is and not feel like she has to become “less than” for other people. Is this something all girls – women – go through? Or is it something that is part of human nature and growing up?

When does the bag go over our face and a penumbra covers our true selves? Or maybe the better question is why…

©️ 2021 iido

Making Phở – A Poem

She will rise at 5 AM

Finding the ingredients

Laid out on the kitchen counter

Ready for her attention

The bones are gently placed in the pot

The water covers the bones like a flood engulfing islands

The sachet of spices soaks in the stove top hot tub 

Bobbing in circles as it imparts its essential essence

The ginger sizzles with an aromatic burn 

Quickly extinguished as it splashes next to the star anise and daikon radish

The fire is lowered and the waiting begins.

She will watch the sun rise

Remembering your journey

From little boy to grown man

Imagining your journey

From your house to her home.

She will soak the rice noodles when the sun starts to slide

And cut the meat, paper thin

Wincing when the knife gets too close to her fingertips

Two types of onions, chopped, give her an excuse 

To second guess how she has raised you.

Before the moon rises, she will prepare the table

Chopsticks on white napkins

Large bowls filled with 

Softened rice noodles

Raw beef sliced paper thin 

Onions – two kinds.

And when the doorbell rings

And your deep voice reverberates in her womb

She’ll ladle the broth

Steaming with spices

Warmed with ginger

Hearty with marrow

And serve you a bowl

Of her love.

Image credit:

Pisauikan@ Pixabay 

( For the visually challenged

reader, the image shows an

old woman whose face is

deeply lined. There is a faint

smile on her face)

This is a late entry for Sadje’s What Do You See #52. This prompt marks the one year anniversary of Sadje’s What Do You See. Despite the lateness, I wanted to to acknowledge the inspiration Sadje gifts us with her weekly picture prompt. Her observations of “what she saw” over the course of this year are spot on! Thank you, Sadje for stretching our imaginations and sharing our interpretations!

I was also able to include Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #249 – Rise. I’m sure he has a really good excuse for being MIA for month but all that matters is that I’m still on my streak!!

This poem was inspired by my husband’s mom. No, she doesn’t look like the picture of the old Asian woman from Sadje’s prompt. My mother-in-law actually looks quite younger than her almost 70 years on this earth – her skin is smooth, unblemished and her hair retains its thick curls (natural) and black color (bottled). She does wake up at 5 AM to start cooking phở when she knows we will be visiting. It usually takes us 8-10 hours to get to my husband’s hometown and the broth she makes is the first thing we smell when they open the door. Good phở cannot be rushed (believe me, I’ve tried!) and my mother-in-law’s recipe is the best!

My husband is the first of four boys. His brothers are scattered across the United States – we are the second closest to his parents. I remember the first time I visited my husband’s parents in their home – I was really nervous but my mother-in-law made me feel welcomed and promised to share her recipes with me if I married her son. She served phở to us that winter day and ever since then, anytime we would return to my husband’s childhood home, phở is the first meal we would have.

I have often wondered what she thought of the women who came to take her boys far from home. Does she feel replaced? Does she worry if they are taking care of her sons in the same way that she took care of them? Does she enjoy the quiet of the house? Does she miss cleaning up after them? Does she wish they lived closer and visited more often?

I haven’t asked her these questions, but when I think about my own answers to these questions, and think about my kids who aren’t even dating yet being far away from me, my eyes start behaving like I’m chopping onions and I start to think of how I can serve them love in a bowl.

©️ 2020 iido

Stargazing – A Double Nonet

Mama, is there time to watch the stars?

The sleeping bag is by the door

 We can snuggle to stay warm

And count the stars all night

We can tell stories

And share secrets

Me and you

Under

Stars

.

Yes

My child

Let’s count stars

On this clear night

We have all the time

Let’s snuggle close, you’re safe

I’ll always have time for you

I’ll share my favorite story

Of the star who fell into my heart

Image credit: Adrien King @ Unsplash 
( For the visually challenged reader, the image shows an hour glass sitting on a small table. The sand has run through the glass. Two hand are reaching for it from opposite ends )

Here is my second response to Sadje’s What Do You See #51 photo prompt. This double nonet focused on the stars in the background and depicts another aspect of parenting during a pandemic. This one is has a “happier” tone. (Yes, I am making an effort to not be so doom and gloom on my blog. Cue rainbow farting unicorns…or not…)

I’ve been trying to make sure that each of my kids are getting some one-on-one time and that we are doing some special things to break up the monotony. I think everyone can agree that the feelings of anxiety, helplessness and isolation have increased during the past six months since pandemic safety measures have been in place here in the USA. And it doesn’t look like these precautions are going away any time soon – numbers of coronavirus cases are again increasing all over the country.

This pandemic – this entire year of 2020 – has been anything but normal. But, I have this crazy idea that, for my family, I want it to be special for positive reasons as well as negative. I want my kids to look back on this year and say, “Yes, we missed a whole year of ‘real’ school, we missed being with friends and family, we missed out on family trips and extracurricular activities, but….we got to stay up late and watch movies, we made some really yummy meals together, I learned a new skill, I started a new hobby, my siblings and I made up cool games, I realized I loved doing laundry…” OK – maybe not that last one, but I can hope…

And that’s the other thing I want my kids to remember from the year 2020 – that there is always hope, that they are resilient, and that together, we can still make the world a better place.

©️ 2020 iido

The Gift of Time – A Poem

The screen lights my face

Reflecting the curated world

Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling

.

Your hand on my sleeve, then on my face 

Your voice reflecting a child’s request

Tugging, tugging, tugging

.

I turn away, pulling the screen to my chest

My peace broken, I add to the disturbance 

Yelling, yelling, yelling

.

You turn away and drop your creation

Broken bits of pride scattering on the floor

Falling, falling, falling

.

The sound of escape pings

The sound of reality heavily sighs with slumped shoulders and sits in front of the TV, turning on a show it’s seen before

The feel of escape vibrates

The feel of reality punches the gut with the realization that time should be given to a small hand and not a small hand held device

.

I am all thumbs, fumbling, 

dropping the screen

dropping down next to you

Putting my face in front of your face

Seeing, listening, loving

.

Living

Image credit: Adrien King @ Unsplash 
( For the visually challenged reader, the image shows an hour glass sitting on a small table. The sand has run through the glass. Two hand are reaching for it from opposite ends )

An “early” post (at least for me!) for Sadje’s What Do You See #51 picture prompt. The picture above sent my mind in two directions. This is probably the first time I worked on two poems at the same time! I’ll post my second poem after this one.

This picture intrigued me because of the hands. The one on the table seemed desperate, as if reaching the hour glass was a final act. As someone who is chronically late, I can say that time and I are not friends. I thought that being at home and not having outside obligations due to the pandemic would gift me a lot of time to write and run and do all the other things that I told myself I would do if “I had more time.”

That hasn’t been the case.

Time seems to be going faster despite the fact that all the days are blending together. From the time I wake up to when I go to bed (which is pretty late), I’m on the “go” while staying at home. And since all the kids are at home with me, I am acutely aware of how much time I am spending on activities that I would have usually gotten done while they are in school, versus the time and attention I am giving to them during the day. Some times it’s more or less even, some days it’s weighted to one side.

I am that hand on the table, grasping for more time yet knowing it will be taken away from me and never returned.

©️ 2020 iido

Mama Bear’s Center – A Double Nonet

Your mouth downturned, sadly hiccuping,

Then wailing, your big tears trailing

Down your cheeks, onto your lips

Your body caves inward

Shoulders tight, arms limp

Knees bent and tucked

Rejection

Centered

Hurt

My

Center

Bellows, stomps

Expands to crush

Those who dare to hurt

My Baby Girl weeping

I gather you up and tuck

You under my chin and hold tight

Willing your pain to become my own

My Baby Girl with her Baby Dolls. Picture above ©️ 2020 iido

This double nonet was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #247 – Center or in Canadian, “Centre”. 😁 I am all caught up with Patrick’s challenge – YAY!

But not-Yay for the “inspiration” for this poem. It’s been a very hard week for “virtual learning” aka “learning from home,” especially for my younger daughter. She misses her friends and dislikes feeling that she is missing out on all the fun stuff of school. Yes, tweens can experience serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Our Montessori school has been playing “catch up” with technology since they were not a high tech school to begin with. Coupled with some internal dysfunction that often arises during times of crisis, her school wasn’t meeting her needs academically or otherwise.

This made my sensitive girl very upset – she excels in school and the feeling of disconnect was very destabilizing for her. Despite her attempts at communicating with the teachers, nothing was done to address these problems. While I certainly sympathize with the stress and pressure that teachers are currently under, no one – NO ONE – has the right to disregard and disrespect my child.

Mama Bear drank some coffee and readied for battle.

If you are a parent, you know the pain of witnessing your child be in pain, whether physical, emotional or mental. Sometimes they have to endure it – sometimes they should endure it (especially if it is an outcome of a bad decision on their part). But as a parent, if I can protect my child from pain or take it away from them, I do – I have – and I always will.

Maybe this makes me one of those entitled parents. I feel that parents of color (as well as parents of kids with different abilities), when we are advocating for our kids, we are often seen as entitled, demanding, troublemakers. Unsurprisingly, another child (white, female) who was experiencing the same issue as my daughter, had her concerns addressed compassionately and immediately. You don’t want to think about what other factors might come into play, but that is always in the back of my mind. I wanted to make sure my girl knew that even if racism was in play, that she shouldn’t settle for something less than what she deserved.

In the end, we did reach a resolution and hopefully these improvements will be implemented next week.

Mama Bear will be watching…..

****

I could not post this on September 11, 2020 and not pay tribute to the lives lost on this date, 19 years ago. Like most people, I can remember where I was when I heard the news about the first plan crashing into the Twin Towers. I remember everything about that day.

Growing up in New York, I have very fond memories of the Twin Towers. I’ve lain down on the pavement between the towers and watched the sky turn behind the towers, making for a dizzying and awe-inspiring experience (this is what nerdy high schoolers did back in the day). I’ve been to the top and marveled at the busy beauty that is New York City. The news reports, the pictures of the horrors of that day are now also etched in my mind.

9-11-01 Never Forget….

©️ 2020 iido

Radiance Reviewed – A Poem

My radiance suffers

when I don’t sleep

and the bags under my eyes

carry tears and worries.

.

My radiance suffers

when I eat sour cream pringles

and bagels with cream cheese

then bemoan the cheese on my thighs.

.

My radiance suffers

when I have three kids on my one lap

and I don’t have enough

eyes and ears to share.

.

My radiance suffers

when I am googling and scrolling

and shoveling crap into my brain and soul

thinking it’s fertilizer instead of just shit.

.

My radiance suffers

when I don’t talk to an adult

besides with my thumbs

that can’t differentiate between sarcasm and snark.

.

My radiance suffers

My light gets dimmer

My flame flickers

But maybe

It is not my time to shine….

Playing catch up as the school year starts! There won’t be any “alone time” this year since my kids will all be learning from home so I’m trying to “find time” when I can. Right now, time is waiting in line for take out.

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and A Word Challenge #244 – Radiance. I’m a week or two behind but I’m committed to this streak!

Life is anything but radiant right now, so like reading and writing and running, I’m trying to find the glimmers when I can. My friend calls this “find grace” – for myself and others – during this time. It really does help find the “shine” in the heavy dullness of living during a pandemic. It’s the hope that I’m clinging to. It’s the priorities that I am mindfully choosing. It’s the gratitude for blessings that I am counting.

So while I may not yet be back to regular posts…I’m still here… and I appreciate your time in reading this….

©️ 2020 iido