Two Hundred Fifty-three – A Poem

Two hundred fifty-three

A yellow light I see

To yield or slow

At this point,

I don’t know

.

Two hundred fifty-three

It’s a conspiracy

You believe it’s fake

Based on nothing

But the Q-mmunity’s take

.

Two hundred fifty-three

I’ve been waiting patiently

Still so many vote for hate

Guns and chants

Used to manipulate

.

Two hundred fifty-three

Let’s think logically

Mathematics comes through

Because one plus one

Always equals two

.

Two hundred fifty-three

PA’s votes add twenty

Finally…

.

Two hundred SEVENTY-three

Our country ‘tis of thee and me

The voters have spoken

Americans must now unite

And fix what’s been broken

A late submission for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #251 – Mathematics. This was a hard word to wax poetic about, especially as I was quite distracted by the presidential election last week. The electoral votes were stuck on 253 for five whole days! I have to admit, I was glued to CNN, waiting to see if a breakthrough would come at 3 AM. It was all for naught as the votes from Pennsylvania were announced in Joe Biden’s favor relatively early on Saturday night. This poem captures some of my thoughts during this waiting period.

*NOTE: Serendipitously, I did find a news article about how “Math is the ‘Other Winner’ of the Election” so maybe Patrick’s prompt choice was not totally random…..

Grace at dVerse’s Setting the Bar offered a prompt to use Grapheme Color Synesthesia which inspired the 2nd line in the poem, however, I don’t think I truly incorporated it. I will have to go back to this prompt at a later time since the concept does fascinate me.

Despite the announcement from all major news outlets that Joe Biden is the president-elect of the United States of America and Kamala Harris is the first biracial woman vice-president-elect (but not the last as she said in her victory speech), the results won’t be official until the electoral college cast their votes on Dec 14, 2020 and Congress counts the votes and announces the winner on Jan 6, 2021 (did you know this process? I don’t think I ever paid it much attention until this year). So, we can’t fully celebrate yet since this transition period is already looking like it will be fraught with drama – just add it to the numerous stories of why the current White House occupant does not befit the office of the presidency.

I remain hopeful, but still very much sleep deprived. The democratic soul of the United States of America hangs in the balance.

Oh, and the pandemic is still going on ….

©️ 2020 iido

November Lament – A Poem

Oh, why have you lead me here?

My Lord, who I have faithfully followed

Enclosed in darkness

The cold seeping into my bones

There is no where to go

I fear you have left me

With nothing but a single light

Who will see this flame?

Who will hear my lament?

Who will shed a tear

For this wretched servant?

In Your hands, I have placed my life

My future is Yours to decide

I stand ready for Your pronouncement

I am waiting

(My Lord, I am fearful)

I am waiting

(My Lord, I am hopeless)

I am waiting

(My Lord, I am alone)

.

The flame flickers

I follow your whisper

And look up

Image credit; Linus Sandvide@ Unsplash
For the visually challenged reader, the image shows the back of a man who is standing in a dark medieval arch holding a flaming torch in his hand.

Coming in under the wire for Sadje’s What Do You See #53. I was writing this poem and going to a deep, dark place when I noticed the little window at the top. Hope is sometimes hard to see…

I was also able to incorporate Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #250 – Fear. Those deep, dark places can bring fear – fear of the unknown, fear of what we can’t control, fear that can paralyze…

And the last prompt that I was able to use was Beth Amanda’s Tuesday Writing Prompt at the Go Dog Go Cafe to write a piece of poetry to prose using the phrase “in your hands.” I’ve spoken before about how my faith has helped me through this pandemic period As we are nearing Election Day, I’m again leaning into that faith, trusting in God’s Divine Plan, praying for acceptance of that plan…

I don’t know what will happen to the United States of America on Nov. 4th. At this point, I am in that deep, dark place, the flame that burns inside me is sputtering. I’ve written postcards, talked to people about why I support these candidates, volunteered time in organizations that support my vision of the USA. I’ve already hand delivered my ballot. Now, I am waiting and searching for that window…

©️ 2020 iido

Artificial Man – A Limerick

There once was an artificial man

With genteel behaviors, used to scam

The many hearts that he stole

Could never fill his own gaping hole

A scoundrel with a hat in his hand

Image credit; Sean Lee @ Unsplash
For the visually challenged reader, this image shows a young man lounging against a door jamb with a hat held against his chest. The young man is quite a looker!

This limerick responds to Sadje’s “What do you see” prompt #50. This is milestone! Congratulations, Sadje! I was also able to incorporate Kate’s Friday Fun prompt – artificial. Poetic magic happens with a great word and photo prompt!

Most limericks are funny or irreverent I always think of the one about the the man from the island off Cape Cod, MA. This one is more of a cautionary tale. While I enjoy looking – I’ve learned that some people are just good to look at.

©️ 2020 iido

Free Bird? – A Reverse Nonet

Stuck

Despite

The option

To fly away

Caught in a snapshot

Indecision showing

Trust as fragile as the song

I used to sing at your window

Will you raise your hand to set me free?

Image credit- Evan Clark @ Unsplash 
( For the visually challenged reader, the image shows a hand extended out with a little bird sitting on it. In the background one can see a lake and it’s shore in distance)

Another busy week, but I didn’t want to miss out on Sadje’s “What do you see?” #49 this week. Birds have often been used as metaphors for life – there is the “canary in the coal mine,” the “bird in a gilded cage,” the “early bird,” and “birds of a feather.” Birds have been featured in songs, like Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird” and books, such as Maya Angelou’s autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

As the election in the USA gets closer and issues of racial and social justice remain unresolved, I feel even more committed to doing small acts to help preserve this democracy and uphold it’s promise of equality and equity. I’m raising my hand in solidarity.

So between homeschooling/virtual learning, being involved the local election, and keeping up with usual household needs, I’m trying to continue to find the time to write and read and run. Some days, I have to chose what to do. Some days, sleep wins. Some days, I feel like I am doing the right thing for my family and for myself. Some days, I feel like I have accomplished nothing. Some days, I feel like I could be doing more.

Some days, just raising my hand and saying, “Present,” is enough.

©️ 2020 iido

Watercolor Recipes: Ruby Rosette – A Poem

Ruby Rosette and a splash of water

Swirl together

Use for

……….Rhythmic writhing with your soulmate

……….Machines beeping in the hospital

……….Shouting matches (and silent treatments)

Ruby Rosette and two splashes of water

Swirl together

Use for

……….Aromas of newborn babies

……….Skin after being waxed

……….Sunset walks in bare feet

Ruby Rosette and three splashes of water

Swirl together

Use for

……….Slipping on the sidewalk

……….Chores that you don’t like

……….Hard candy

Ruby Rosette and four splashes of water

Swirl together

Use for

……….Deep breaths before trying something new

……….Writhing alone

……….I’m sorries

I really enjoyed thinking about colors and situations for my last poem so I couldn’t resist doing it again for this one. Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #248 – Rosette provided the inspiration for this one. His rosette was from a church in Valencia, Spain. My favorite rosette is the one at the Sacre Couer Cathedral in Paris, however I couldn’t find the picture of it from my last trip there.

Roses are one of my favorite flowers. It’s always a treat when Hubby brings me a “just because” bouquet. My first dozen red roses were from my parents for a musical I was in 8th grade. My other favorite flower are pansies. Both these flowers come in different colors that have various meanings. Rubies only come in one color (obviously) but it can have different shades – from deep red to a more pinkish hue.

Red is life – the color of blood, of passionate anger and passionate love, of store-bought valentine hearts, of dying suns and dying sons. With this pandemic, I’ve had numerous moments where I “saw red.” Bad news coming one right after the other, the constant frustrations of life being not like what it was before, FOMO, weariness and sadness about politics, the climate, wildfires, social injustice, police brutality, racism, and the coronavirus ….AAAARRRRRGGHHHHHH!

Red is life – it comes with soft, velvet petals and sharp, stabbing thorns; it comes with a scent that jogs your memory and requires a response from your head and your heart. Unlike bulls, we can see red. And unlike bulls, we have some control over what we do when we see it.

©️ 2020 iido

The Power of Sand – A Haiku Sonnet

Vast expanse looming 

Single disconnected grains 

Hour glass ticking 

.

The tiniest rock

Carries the heaviest weight

Strength alone ebbing

.

Frustrated steps sink

Grains claw in supplication

Prayer time ending

.

One is annoyance

Millions demand attention

A sand storm brewing

.

Vast problems challenge

Connecting into action

Image credit: Dan Grinwis- Unsplash 
(For visually challenged reader, the image shows a person walking in a desert, dwarfed by huge sand dunes. A long line of their footsteps can be seen behind them)

Squeaking in under the wire of Sadje’s What do you see? #46. The picture above might seem hopeless, scary to some – a figure alone in the desert. But to me, I felt envious of the time to be alone, to walk and think, to feel the heat on my skin and the notice the individual grains of sand beneath my feet.

I know this feeling is because of all the “family time” we have been having. I never realized how much I enjoyed having time to myself until those opportunities were curtailed with this pandemic. I grew up in a family where we were together all the time so I actually don’t mind all the togetherness, but since having a taste of time alone when all the kids were in school last year…being able to sit in a silent house is definitely a luxury I enjoy!

But this poem had another inspiration with Kate’s Friday Fun Prompt – Vastness and Donna Matthew’s Poetry Form Challenge on the Go Dog Go Cafe to try a Haiku Sonnet. I love form challenges. I used the traditional American syllable form for my haikus. It’s still brief enough for me (LOL – if you haven’t noticed I do tend to be wordy so the use of forms is definitely a challenge)!

The idea of vastness though, like being alone, can be hopeless and scary sometimes. But Kate writes:

spaciousness or vastness often opens our minds
especially if we are feeling tightness or fear

Writing this poem made me think of all the things I am afraid to do alone, but that are easier to do with others. As the old adage states: there is strength in numbers, strength in being together – whether with friends or family.

Creating vastness also means creating space for others to join you. If we are closed in – physically, mentally, emotionally – we won’t have the space for others – other people, other ideas, other experiences.

With all the discord in our world today, creating space for togetherness seems to be one solution.

©️ 2020 iido

Hot Air Rises – A Nonet

Their fire exhaling passionate hope

Their dreams hidden in wickered hearts

No thorns to cause them to pop

Captured in weightless bulbs

Cloudless promises

Reaching higher

So many

So close

Rise

Ian Dooley- Unsplash
( For the visually challenged reader, the image shows a sky full of hot air balloons in various colors. The nearest one shows a couple in the basket with an operator)

This nonet was written for Sadje’s What do you see? photo prompt #45 (hopefully not too late!). I also was able to incorporate Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #246 – Thorns.

I loved this image of hot air balloons rising. We have a hot air balloon company near us who take off from the local airport. My kids have loved seeing them float over our house. One time they got close enough that when we waved, the people in the basket waved back.

Hot air ballooning has always intrigued me. But it has also terrified me – flying high in the sky in a small basket, subject to the whims of wind. There are only two choices – sit at the bottom of the basket and try not to hyperventilate with fear, or stand up, turn your face to the wind and enjoy the scenery.

With the pandemic still going strong and the upcoming election, I’ve struggled with this choice. But the blue skies have been beckoning me…enjoy the ride and let my hope ride….

©️2020 iido

Traveler – A Thesaurus Game Poem

If I traveled with only a backpack, 

With no place to go and no place to be

A wondering wanderer, I can be called

Searching for my identity

.

If I traveled in my trusty RV

And practiced my talent for strings and flute

My gypsy ways could bring excitement

Until my parking spot starts a dispute

.

If I traveled to places new and exciting

Bringing my own values to locations unknown

My ignorance would call me explorer, pioneer, pilgrim

But what would the inhabitants put on my headstone?

.

So how can a traveler earn a good name

When going on a long awaited expedition?

My traveling advice is simple yet hard

Check your behavior and not your intention.

My traveling kids…I wonder what they are thinking….Picture taken at the Badlands National Park, SD.

This week, Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #238 – Vagabond has a new twist! He has introduced the Thesaurus Game rules, where instead of using the actual word prompt, you use a synonym of that word. Well, I went a little overboard with the synonyms (what can I say, I’m a competitive over-achiever deep down inside!) and I might have snuck in a little bit of social commentary in there (not quite against the rules, but toeing the line), but I did have fun writing this poem!

I love word play – whether it’s a game with words, like Scrabble or Bananagrams, or puns or any other wittiness that involves words. Growing up, I had an old Pringles can that I covered with white paper. Anytime I learned a new word, I would write it on that can. I had a dictionary and thesaurus by the can and would try to use the new word or a synonym or antonym at least seven times before I could check it off and claim it as “Mine”.

My love of words lead me to wanting my kids to also have a love of words. To make sure they had good vocabulary, I never talked to them in baby talk. I read to them when they were still in the womb. I explained and defined words for them. I made sure to pronounce words clearly and concisely. I think my efforts lead to having very articulate children – which has it’s positives and negatives. While my kids all love to talk, I have one who reads a lot but struggles with spelling and vocabulary and one who doesn’t want to read or write at all (despite being able to). This boggles my mind as these are the things I love!

I also wanted to make sure my kids had a chance to travel and really wanted to instill in them a love of travel. The picture above is from our cross-country trip four years ago. It’s one of my favorite memories of all time. The excitement of traveling made the trip easy. We didn’t use any electronics during the drive; instead, we relied on “old fashioned” games like I Spy, Car Bingo and of course, Looking Out the Window.

Driving across the United States, I was amazed at how the landscape changed from arid deserts to tree topped mountains, from boring straight line roads to stomach churning curvy roads. I loved the wide open spaces and imagined how it would have been to experience these places before an interstate highway and concrete cities were built. These thoughts lead to the heartache of accepting the fact that Native Americans were forced off the lands that we were traveling through. While I can enjoy the view of these majestic landscapes, Native Americans might feel differently, acknowledging the trauma and loss they suffered so we can travel in comfort.

The United States of America is a land of contradictions – it stands for the highest ideals of what people can accomplish yet cowers to protect and hide the basest behaviors perpetrated by these same people. Can I love the physical beauty of it’s landscape while also mourning the cost of being able to experience that beauty? Can I advocate for Black lives while still supporting police officers? Can I experience racist micro-aggressions yet still wish my neighbor a good morning? As a traveler, an immigrant to this country, I would like to answer with a hopeful, “Yes”.

©️ 2020 iido

A Shining Moment – A Haibun

I am drinking hot coffee despite the 90 degree weather, the sweet creamy liquid warming my nostrils before I take a sip. I hold it for a moment, savoring it’s decadence before swallowing, while watching my children run through the sprinkler. The sunlight glistens off the water droplets hanging onto their dark hair and tan skin. These diamonds sparkle and glisten before being flung into the air echoing the sound of their laughter. I drink my coffee and commit this happy, shining moment to memory.

Growing up, my sprinkler was the fire hydrant in front of my neighbor’s house. Instead of soft, squishy grass underfoot, we had pavement that left our feet raw from scrapes on the unyielding surface. Our laughter gurgled like the fire hydrant while our screams matched the siren wail of the police – a warning that our water play time would soon come to an end. My mother would drink black coffee and watch us from the stoop, her worries emanating from the lines between her eyes, like the sun’s rays burning our already darkened skin.  

On this summer day, I drink my coffee, leaning against my marble countertop while looking at my children through the panoramic kitchen window and toast myself for not having wrinkles between my eyes.

Sunshine rewarding
Generations of hard work -
Suburban sprinkler
I bought this water toy for my kids to play with since we don’t have a pool. I thought it was cute when I bought it – maybe because, subconsciously, it reminded me of my childhood summers in Brooklyn.

This haibun was written for Lillian’s request on dVerse’s Haibun Monday to write a traditional haibun about One Shining Moment in our lives. Lillian has an excellent description of what entails a “traditional haibun” including resources for the KIGO (a word/phrase that alludes to a season – in mine, sunshine alludes to summer) and examples of KIREJI (a shift that adds insight). I hope that my haibun is meets the bar!

Serendipitously, this haibun also works for Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt to juxtapose our life as an adult against our life as a child. I do marvel at the difference between my childhood as an immigrant to this country versus that of my children. My parents both worked, my mom during the day and dad at night. We lived in a diverse neighborhood in the city where my brothers and I would walk to school around the corner. We took public transportation and made frequent trips into “The City”. I did my share of “babysitting” my brothers and could be classified as a “latch-key kid” growing up.

Eventually, we were able to move out of Brooklyn and out to Long Island where my younger brothers were able to live the “suburban life” – taking a school bus, playing football on Friday nights, getting their driver’s license at 16. By that time, I was already in college so my experience with “suburban life” only came when I was married and about to have kids.

My kids have never had to take public transportation as their sole means of getting around. They marvel at sidewalks and when we do go on the train or bus in the “big city”, it’s a grand adventure! They have always had a back yard and have no clue what a “stoop” is. My husband (who is also an immigrant) and I have taken them back to the places where we grew up and they marvel at the “tiny houses” and wonder how we lived with only one bathroom, without a yard, and having to share bedrooms.

Race/ethnicity, social class, education, profession – these are all inter-related. My “shining moment” would not have come to fruition without the hard work and sacrifice of my parents, without the guidance of teachers, without the encouragement of friends. Yet for some, even with these current supports, the institutionalized discrimination/racism inherent in our systems in the USA keep them from reaching their shining moment, from getting their just reward for their hard work and sacrifice, and that of their ancestors.

We all deserve a shining moment in our lives. I would even venture to say, we deserve more than one. I would even be bold enough to say, that we deserve to shine as bright as we would want in every moment in our lives. Shine on, friends, shine on!

©️ 2020 iido