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

Winging It – A Cinquain

Winding

Down – time for sleep

Whining soothed – breathing deep

Tomorrow – promises to keep

Winning

A beautiful sunset –
The reward for surviving the day

It is 1 AM where I am and I’ve been thinking all week about Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #239 – Winding. I was just about to give up when this little cinquain popped into my head. I love playing with words and sounds and the “W” sound in winding, whining, winning and winging, made me happy. Also – all those W words have all the same letters except for one! I’m sure there’s a lesson somewhere in there about perspective and mindset (how changing one thing can change the whole meaning, etc.) but we won’t get into that today.

If you haven’t noticed from my previous posts, being a parent in the middle of a pandemic is HARD! However, there are days that feel less hard and there are also days that feel incredible.

Today was a less hard day.

As I look at my “To Do” list for this coming week (reading blog posts and responding to comments are on there!), I was reminded by my Papa, that I’m doing the best I can. My kids are doing the best they can. We all are doing the best we can with the resources and information that we have.

I am adding being kind to myself and my family on to my “To Do” list for this week. You should too! If you need another reason why, check out Kate’s thoroughly convincing open letter post!

Sometimes you have to start with small goals…

©️ 2020 iido

Anniversary Hike – Three Haikus

Eighteen summers pass

Wishing puffs rooted in dreams

Happiness in bloom

I don’t know the real name of these flowers but they were like bigger dandelion puffs.

In the stillness green

Listen! My heart approaches

Your footsteps crunch leaves

My honey, NOT in his natural habitat…

A path just for two

Greenery gives privacy

Steps to sleepless nights

Nature made stairs for us…

This week, my Honey and I celebrated 18 years of wedded “bliss”! Yes, “bliss” is in quotes because like any other couple, we have had our ups and downs. But dealing with this pandemic as a couple and as a family has shown us that we are pretty well matched.

We celebrated by enlisting my parents to watch the kids while we went on a hike. What would have usually been an easy date night turned into a lesson on risk taking and selflessness (or maybe it was selfishness?). We hadn’t seen my parents since the shelter in place back in March so my kids were ecstatic to spend some time with them. Of course, we went through the pros and cons of whether to allow physical contact, use masks, etc. Sigh. There was no right answer, only love and prayers as we left the house for a few hours.

We took two short hikes – one a sun-filled trail that ended by a man-made lake surrounded by fields. The area is protected land for birds and other wildlife. A groundhog crossed our path as well as two beautiful iridescent blue birds who didn’t even move from their perch when we passed. The second hike was in a park in the middle of the city – a hidden gem that had well-marked hiking trails that traversed up and around a wooded hill and an unmarked trail that led down and long the river. We ended up getting lost and reluctantly had to use our cell phone map to guide us back to the car. An adventure with my Honey – fun and excitement for me (“We’re not lost, we’re exploring!”), exasperating for him (“Let’s use the GPS already!”), but overall we had a wonderful afternoon!

The 2nd haiku incorporates the Tuesday Writing prompt from Beth Amanda at Go Dog Go Cafe to use the phrase “in the stillness” in a piece of writing. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to join in their prompts – this one fell perfectly into place in this haiku! I was trying to capture the image of the two trees framing the water in the background when my Honey came traipsing through like a hairless Sasquatch caught on camera (I say that most lovingly).

The 3rd haiku incorporates a prompt from Patrick’s Thesaurus Game. The prompt was “clandestinely” which is synonymous to “privately” which became “privacy” in this haiku. The last line alludes to having children – our brood is never far from my mind.

It was great to be able to “escape” for awhile – no work, no kids, minimal thoughts of the pandemic. We went during the week so the trails were pretty empty – no need for masks or social distancing. We didn’t go out to eat at a fancy restaurant which is our usual anniversary outing, but spending time together, in nature, breathing fresh air and feeling the sun on our skin was refreshing, healing and connecting.

Here’s to another year with my Honey and wherever our path takes us.

©️ 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

To My Stubborn Father from Your Stubborn Daughter – A Double Nonet Letter

Dearest Dad – You always stood your ground

With standards high above my reach

Standing on that moral hill

Cloistered rules, you would teach

I inhaled it all

Principled breath

Held belief

Until

Truth

Breathed

Knowledge

You don’t know

Of the “Other”

Exhaled, these old rules

No longer hold my views

I have climbed another hill

And stand on ground planted by you

With love and principles – Your Daughter

New life growing on top of the old. That’s not Groot – that’s the circle of life!

I love my Papa. I am his favorite daughter….OK, his only daughter….but I am also his favorite debating partner. My dad and I are similar in so many ways and this is probably why we debate/argue/quarrel more with each other than he does with my other siblings.

My dad always held high standards of morality, values and principles. He passed that on to me, although sometimes we look at these high standards from different sides. So we see things in a different way and approach problems/issues in a different way. Although if you look at the underlying values of these approaches and points of views, you would see that they are the same. You might even ask, why are we even arguing?

The fact is that despite our similarities, I am a different person than my dad. I’ve had experiences that my dad has not. Some of these experiences are because I grew up middle class in the USA while he grew up upper class in the Philippines. Other experiences are because he is a man and I am a woman. Still other experiences are because he was born and grew up in a different era than I did (almost a quarter of a century separates us).

I wrote this poem for two prompts: one was Punam’s Ragtag Daily Prompt for Saturday – Cloistered and the other was for Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt to “write about a suffocating situation”. I will admit that when I was younger (especially in my teenage years), I did find my Papa’s rules “suffocating,” but as I grew up, and now have children of my own, I realize how those rules showed the depth of my Papa’s love.

Happy Belated Father’s Day, Papa! Here is some Key Lime Pie for you! I love you!

©️ 2020 iido

Transition – A Poem

My daughter is growing hair

You know, “down there”

So we sat and talked about

Transitions

We talked about breasts and deodorant

About mood swings and not smelling rank

We even read a book about

Transitions

My bittersweet thoughts of my girl growing up

Interrupted by her saying that it needs to stop

Because she’s really a boy in

Transition

The feelings she had, now identified

A revelation that she could no longer hide

And so she wanted to

Transition

My bittersweet thoughts turned to fear

This went against beliefs I hold dear

What did I do wrong to warrant

Transition

But this wasn’t about me and my happiness

It was about my sweet child and their completeness

So I took a deep breath and researched

Transition

We went to the doctor and talked to the priest

We went to the mall, to try on clothes, at least

My love for my child would get us though

Transition

Acceptance is hard, some days I’m not there

Bittersweet thoughts in my head still flare

But my child’s on a journey, how can I not care

We can adjust to change, no need to despair

So proud of my child as we begin to prepare for

Transition

Image obtained from WordPress Free Photo Library (first time I’ve used an image from there – there wasn’t any attribution info so I hope this reference is ok).

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #237 – Transition. It is a work of fiction – my children haven’t expressed any gender or sexual preferences so far. I hope that if they do, I would be able to live up to the open acceptance I have characterized in this poem.

I want to believe that human love is unconditional, but I know that isn’t true. Even our love for our children isn’t unconditional – we expect something back, whether it’s obedience or taking care of us in our old age. Still, I hope to show my children that love can transcend and transform any difficult situation.

With the pandemic and calls for racial justice continuing, let’s not forget that this is also Pride Month. Love is love! Intersectionality should be a part of any process seeking true justice and equity.

EDITED 6/22/20 4 PM – I forgot to link this post to Kate’s Friday Fun request for our favorite sayings (this is what happens when inspiration wakes you up at 3 AM!). I don’t actually have a favorite saying, but I do collect sayings that I resonate with me. This saying, I think, was an unconscious inspiration for the poem above:

“Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby- awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess.” 
― Lemony Snicket, Horseradish

This saying has also made a home in my mind lately. I’m not sure if it’s leasing the space or if it’s there to stay…

“I have accepted fear as part of life – specifically the fear of change... I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back....” 
― Erica Jong

I hope it’s here to stay….

©️ 2020 iido

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

IMG_5681

 

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

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

IMG_5918

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

 

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

IMG_5689

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:

IMG_5660

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