Surrender – A Poem for My Cousin

I will stare into your eyes
As the poison drips into my arms
And laugh when I tuck plane tickets
To Europe in my suitcase

I will make faces at you
As I lay on the operating table
And laugh when my shirts are looser
And I see how much weight I’ve lost

I will flip you the finger
As I’m holding my kids
Celebrating graduations and birthdays
And even just regular days

I will slap you as you try to steal
The warmth of my blankets
And the heat of my lover
Wrapped in promises of forever and never

Yet when the time comes
And I know the difference between beignet and brioche
And I’m down to my high school weight
And the kids have gone back to their full lives
And my lover has fallen asleep on the couch

I will look you in the eyes
And smile sweetly
As I beckon you to me
And lay my head on your shoulder
Holding tightly
As you carry me across the threshold

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My cousin, Rowena, died in the early morning of Monday, May 11, 2020 after a long fight with breast cancer.  Coincidentally, Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Writing Prompt from last week requested poems responding to the questions, “If you were looking death in the face, what would you remember with joy? Who would you think of fondly? What would you remember sadly?” You can read other thought-provoking responses to her prompt here.  The submissions by Anjum Wasim Dar, Adrian Slonaker, and Mike Stone especially resonated with me this week.

Rowena is my first cousin to pass away. I didn’t think I was in that “season of life” yet, but with the pandemic and the state of our world, maybe it’s time to accept that Death has no season, no time line. It certainly wasn’t the time for Ahmaud Arbery.  I had always thought that if I was confronted by Death, that I would fight and have to be dragged to the grave…now the thought of surrendering to the inevitable, doesn’t seem all that scary…is that thought because of Faith or ignorance or a rational reaction to the hardship of living? I guess I won’t know until I’m looking Death in the face.

 

© 2020 iido

Silly Me – A Quadrille

It was silly of me 

To think it would be 

Different

After we were allowed out

I ran through the streets

Exuberant with

Gratitude

Love 

For surviving

Without what we 

Most cherished

Then realized

I was alone

Because to Others 

I was still nothing

 

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Image credit: Pixabay- Zhugher
( For visually challenged reader, the photo shows a man, on a pier, in a carefree swinging movement. A body of water is visible in the background.)

Lillian from dVerse requested quadrilles with theme “silly”, however, I could not rise to that challenge with all that has transpired this week weighing on me. Apologies, Lillian! I will try for a more light-hearted poem for next week.

This quadrille was also written for Sadje’s What to do you see? Photo Prompt #28. I had so many thoughts about this picture of a man – is he dancing? just strolling along? I think the background is in NYC, maybe looking into Queens but I am not sure. I have more thoughts about it though, but I have to confess, my mind has been preoccupied.

Finally, Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #231 – Nothing, completes this trifecta. While his “nothing” conjures relaxation and peace, my “nothing” has undertones of anger and hurt. Interesting how “nothing” can actually be more than one thing….

My mind is overwhelmed  yet I am finding it hard to put into words all the thoughts that keep spilling…

I did find this piece of calming inspiration written by Gina on her piece, Temporary.  She writes:

Temporary is here
permanently,
our home on earth is a gift
not a guarantee
isolation is life with a new colour
a temporary home,
one we did not order
nothing we ever deserved……

I have to find a new color to paint this part of my world……

ahmaud run graphic_20200507010413380515

 

© 2020 iido

2.23 – A Tanaga

Sun shines on sweaty black skin

Running rhythm beats within

Happiness shot down, el fin

Racist men have no chagrin

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I ran 2.23 difficult miles today.

It wasn’t difficult because I don’t like stopping at odd numbers. (Don’t tell me I’m the only one who will walk back and forth at the end of a run if I still need .01 to get to a nice, round number…)

It wasn’t difficult because it was 11:47 PM on a Friday night. (I am a night owl so running just before midnight is not out of the ordinary for me.)

It wasn’t difficult because it was a treadmill run. (Although, I am not a big fan of treadmill running, it’s how I’m getting most of my runs during this shelter in place.)

It was difficult because another young black man, Ahmaud Arbery, was killed for doing something that most other people could do without fear – he was going out for a run.

As an Asian, female running in the United States of America, this is what keeps me up at night. Racism is alive and well here. It is more apparent and more prevalent since it’s been given the “all clear” from the highest office in our country.  While the white men, a Father/Son duo, who shot Ahmaud were arrested, they live in an area where they (the two white men who shot an unarmed black man) are well connected with law enforcement and the legal system. Will Ahmaud get justice?  FYI – there are no hate crime laws in Georgia….

This tanaga (while not written in Filipino) is my way of raising consciousness about the unconscionable. #irunwithMaud #blacklivesmatter

ahmaud run graphic_20200507010413380515

 

Moon Phases – A Poem

Moonbeams shine through the window

Highlighting hands in circular motion

Scccrrruuuubbb, sccccrrruuuuubbb,

The sound elongating on each orbital pass

Along the Corelle plane

Muffling the hopeful crinkle of suds

 

She looks out the window

Her eyes following the moon path

Russsstling, russssssstling

Wrestling with her mind to focus on the task

She looks down at the wet line along her shirt waist

Pointing to the needy stack of temporary satiation

 

Slowly, her hands stop their motion

And she lifts up her right hand to

Capture the moonlight upon her palm

She watches the shadows play hide and seek 

And feels the pull of Artemis to abandon her post

An arrow pierces her heart 

And she holds her breath in realization

 

Quickly, she presses her face to the window

Her breath now fogs up the glass

HAAAAAAAAAA, haaaaaaaa…….Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh

The cooling pressure reminding her

The moon is cold and lonely like a clean plate 

She notices the front of her shirt is wet

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This poem was inspired by Patrick’s Pic and a Word Prompt #230 – Moon. I took this photo of the moon on a cloudy night this week. It looks so far away….

When I was thinking about this poem, I actually was washing dishes and looking out the window – this was after dinner, when the kids were still up and about and not at all tired enough for bed. The noise was daytime loud. There was nothing in particular that happened to make the day “bad” and even their after dinner/before bedtime squabbling wasn’t particularly bothersome. I was just waiting for the day to be over, so I could have some time for myself (sorry, Hubby).

It was only after all the kids (and Hubby) were in bed and the house was silent that I was able to formulate into words and phrases what that moment was like – a moment that I’m sure many mothers (and maybe some fathers) have experienced. It’s these moments that people always tell you to be grateful for because they will be gone soon enough.  It’s these moments that you try your hardest to accept as just a phase of life. 

I was reminded about a quote from St. Teresa of Calcutta, Mother Teresa, who said, “Wash the plate not because it is dirty nor because you are told to wash it, but because you love the person who will use it next.” Yet what if you’re having a hard time loving any of the potential people who will use the dish next because they are arguing about who’s turn it is to pick a show to watch while getting sticky ice cream and cake crumbs all over the couch? (It was supposed to be a nice treat….)  Maybe it takes a saint to not answer Artemis’ call….

 

© 2020 iido

 

Mango Salsa – An Acrostic Poem for CalmKate

My friend: how did you know to

Answer my unsaid request, to

Negotiate distance and visit the abode of my soul, to

Give sweet words and kind fruit to 

Offset the bitterness brought by isolation.

Slicing through skin,

Accepting what is laid bare,

Lavishing wisdom like a balm while

Savoring mango salsa under 

A shared umbrella of hope

Last week, Kate at Aroused by Arête requested letters or words in her comments which she promptly turned into acrostic poems about the commentator. I gave her the words “mango salsa” since Kate had mentioned that she was on her way to the store (then would return to continue with her task) and this is my current food obsession. Of course, I was being cheeky and was subsequently quite humbled by her genuine response.

Kate’s intuitive and generous nature, her powers of observation, and her loving candor were on full display in her poems. You can read her responses here. I loved what she wrote for me and about me!

I wrote this poem with gratitude in my heart. Thank you again, Kate!! Once this is all over, please come and visit and share some mango salsa and chips with me!

© 2020 iido   

C Battle – A Poem for My Cousin

The sun sets on your battle with the C

It’s orange rays shining sadness on a war

Well-fought but ending in irreplaceable loss

There should be no shame in your choice

Although the disappointment is heavy

Like the curtain of dark clouds that await the sun’s last bow

Look towards the beacon of light – it is not as distant as it seems

Only good memories will be in the spotlight

Hold your head high and savor the last notes

As they crescendo like those

Cresting waves of C that sought to bring you under

Your choice to let go deserves applause and a standing ovation

Rest, then ready your sail for the next adventure

Image credit- Pixabay-Thommas

This poem was written for Sadje’s “What do you see?” Picture Challenge #26 and Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #229 – Choices.

I also wrote it for my cousin in Texas who is in the last stages of cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago. She beat it once but when it returned again, the prognosis was not as good. They didn’t think she would make it to Christmas of last year so we held a huge birthday party for her in September. But she held on, and had time to visit with family here and in the Philippines. Through it all, she was in extreme pain and had lost the use of one side of her body. This past week, she took a turn for the worse and was admitted to the hospital. She decided that she was done fighting. Yesterday morning, she had minor surgery to insert some tubes so she could be more comfortable. She will be saying her final goodbyes this weekend and has decided that she wants to go home to die instead of to a hospice.

When I saw Sadje’s picture prompt, I wasn’t sure what to make of it at first. Then I started getting news of my cousin and the week flew by. This morning, I looked at the picture again and I finally noticed the lighthouse in the distance – a beacon of hope in this intense picture.

Patrick’s prompt (like so many of his prompts) resonated with what I was experiencing this week. I know making this choice is a painful one for my cousin, but it is what is right for her. She leaves behind two young adult daughters, both her parents and stepparents, two siblings and their children, and all of us, cousins and our families.

Amidst this pandemic, the ebb and flow of illness and health, life and death, happiness and sadness still occur.

(c) 2020 iido

Flushed – A Quadrille and April Runfession #9

My face flushed from this furious run 

My eyes reddened by saline streaming south 

My tongue tastes salt from sweaty tears or tearful sweat 

My shoulders alternate between tensely touching my ears and depressingly drooping

Hamster wheel running provides the only approved escape route

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April is coming to an end. It’s been a month since the shelter in place order has been in effect in our area. That’s a month of not being able to physically be in school, get together with friends, go on a group run. That’s a month of virtual learning or cyber learning or distancing learning or not learning. That’s a month of missed birthdays, missed trips to the play ground, missed races.  April is coming to an end when it seems like it never even got started. 

Forgive me, Nike, for I have sinned….

Ma Irma

 

I runfess…I have not been “just doing it”. If you look at my mileage for March and April, it is quite pitiful compared to the strong start I had in January and February. I think I’ve been in “shock” even though everyone else in the family seems to have adjusted to the shelter in place order.  I was trying really hard to get the kids to do their school work, make home made healthy meals every day, stay on top of laundry and cleaning  – basically, being all “Little House on the Prairie” . I never saw Ma needing a run because she needed a break from Pa and Laura and Mary and Baby Carrie and the cooking and cleaning on the farmstead.

I runfess…I’m no Ma Ingalls! I need to workout to keep my sanity while doing all those other things. So, I’ve slowly been getting back into a regular running schedule. Since I’m not morning person, this has meant going to bed really, really, really late. By the time the kids are in bed, the dishes done, the house cleaned up and things prepped for the next day (plus logging onto WordPress and getting some writing in), I’m not heading down to the treadmill until around 11 PM.  I don’t think I’ve been able to get to bed before 1 AM the past few days!

(This picture on the right is from when I visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, MN.  I loved watching Little House on the Prairie growing up so this was a highlight on our cross-country trip. But as you can see, frontier life is not for me! If the bonnet doesn’t fit….)

 

On the positive side though – I’ve reached 200 miles this year for the Run The Year Challenge! Realistically, I probably won’t be able to finish 2020 miles this year, but I’m going to see how many miles I can get in. Not having my SRTT/MRTT group to run with has been so hard…but seeing their posts about their sola runs have continued to be inspiring and motivating! IMG_5821

I runfess…I’ve been crying after my runs (the inspiration for my poem which was written for Mish at dVerse Quadrille #102 – Flush). I’ve been keeping it together during the day with the kids but these nightly runs and crying sessions have been very cathartic. It’s like the feeling I get after I’ve finished a particularly grueling race or run. This shelter in place has felt like running a marathon very day for the last 35 days…except my butt seems to be growing instead of shrinking….

Not a very upbeat or inspirational runfession for this month but an honest one – isn’t that what runfessions are for? Thanks for this forum, Marcia at Marcia’s Healthy Slice!

Until next time….I’m still writing and running and raising these kids the best I can…plus, my jeans do still fit….

 

© 2020 iido

Otherness – A Poem

I think of your Otherness

When I see your hand held out in front of me

Your five fingers extended from your curved palm

In that universal sign that means both

“Here, take this” and

“Please, help me”

 

I think of your Otherness

When I see you walking on the side of the road

One foot in front of the other

The same way that all babies walk

Since they learned to take their first steps

 

I think of your Otherness

When you turn your head to smile at me

In that international meaning

That needs no words to say

“Hello, I see you”

 

I have to think of your Otherness

Otherwise

When I see you,

I would hate myself for looking the other way.

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I had written this poem and then posted it really quickly on Sunday night to make the deadline for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #228 – Otherness. If you read and commented before I was able to totally finish this post, thank you! I hope you get a chance to read this 2nd part of it.

The week the schools closed here because of the pandemic, I had taken the kids to Target to grab a few things. On our way home, at the corner where we had stopped to make a right, we saw a homeless man carrying a sign asking for help, as he went from car to car.  Usually, I have a little baggie with some granola bars and a few dollars that I would hand out however, on this day, I didn’t even look at the homeless man, trying to avoid making eye contact with him.

The light turned green and we turned the corner, and my kids asked me why I hadn’t given him anything. Hesitantly, I explained that I was worried about getting the coronavirus and that our safety was more important right now than helping the homeless man. My 9 year old then said, “But he probably doesn’t know about the coronavirus if he’s homeless. He probably doesn’t have a TV or a cell phone to get the news. He just knows that he needs help and we didn’t help him.”

Her astute perception has stayed with me.

Especially as more Americans file for unemployment benefits, the line between Self and Other, “Us Who Have” and “Them Who Have Not”, is blurring. In a lot of ways, we are all “Those Who Used To Have”.

Will we be able to see each other’s similarities now instead of focusing on our differences?

Will we be able to see “The Other” in ourselves?

 

 

(c) 2020 iido

Playtime – Four Connected Senryu

Being, Doing – BOING!

Keep up with life’s rhythmic bounce

Now the ball has dropped

 

Pushed and pulled now – PUFF!

In a cough, the order’s gone

Chaos! Tag, you’re it!

 

Now we sit, stay – RUFF!

Yet still, there’s a need to fetch

Wait for it – steady 

 

Being, staying, here

My eyes reflect what’s in yours

Let’s go build a fort

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I originally wrote this connected senryu just to get down some thoughts I’ve had this week. Serendipitously,  Laura at dVerse asked for poems about our relationship with “order” and with a few word changes, this poem fit right in.  I do like using a poetry form  – it helps me to not be too wordy and makes me focus on showing not telling (I hope you can see that in my poetry!).  I also do love order – not to be confused with a love of cleaning, though! I love the order of knowing what to expect, which is why I don’t love our current coronavirus situation.

The poem starts with this inspiration:

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Yes, that is a basketball and a foam tennis ball in the branches of a tree. I don’t know what the kids were doing outside but they swear it was not intentional…

The middle part (I’m pretty sure) came from my subconscious acceptance that my kids really, really, really want a dog  (yes, “Ruff” = “Rough” in the poem). They are doing everything in their power to show how responsible they will be if we got one (including daily vacuuming). My older daughter even made a powerpoint presentation about why we should get a dog.   My conscious answer is still, “We’ll see…” (meaning “no”) but the fact that a dog made it into a poem….

It ends with the first picture – my kids building with these large lego blocks and other materials (chairs, picnic blankets, boxes, bikes, cones). Obviously, this was a week where minimum school work was accomplished yet there was still lots of learning and problem solving opportunities.

I go back and forth between how much to enforce schoolwork and our daily schedule versus allowing the kids to do what they want. Some days (OK, most days), I am pretty strict with staying on schedule and making sure the kids are productive in an academic way. Prior to the coronavirus shut down, our lives were full with activities and things to do. We had a schedule, an order, a rhythm to our day and week that didn’t waver and was usually pretty consistent once it was set. (Yes, I have read the articles about how kids thrive in consistent environments.)  And I thought the kids liked doing all these activities.

I think they still do, but I think they also enjoy this slower pace of life that allows them the freedom to be more spontaneous with their time. Despite the inevitable chaos of having some days with less structure, having more time together to just be with each other to play, talk, connect – it really is a positive outcome of having to “shelter-in-place” to “flatten the curve” of this pandemic. Kids really don’t need all that much – well, besides a dog….

 

 

(c) 2020 iido