Silence is Not an Option – A Poem

In the whisper of night

My voice finds her way

Through the crack in my heart

Image credit: Jasmin Chew @ Unsplash 
For the visually challenged reader, the visually a young Asian woman looking up to the sky, where a crescent moon is visible. Her stance is meditative.

Sadje’s photo choice for her What Do You See #75 pairs beautifully with Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #270 – Whisper. Many times in the past weeks, I have looked up to the heavens, eyes closed, willing a moment of peace, whispering a prayer but really wanting to shout my anger and anguish to the sky.

I was asked to write about the recent news coverage of violence against Asian Americans for a local group that I write for. I am the only Asian person in this group and as such, the assumption was that writing a piece about this topic would be easy. Even I thought it would be easy…but it wasn’t. I’ve been conditioned to believe in the “model minority myth” – the one that says that Asians (especially Asian women) are the “good ones,” the “minority group” that has been able to achieve the American Dream, and because we don’t want to lose this status, we should overlook the ways in which we have been discriminated against, the ways in which racism and sexism has adversely affected our lives. I’ve always been told to keep my head down, do my work, don’t complain, don’t speak my mind, don’t rock the boat. That was how we have survived.

But now – it seems obvious that despite this moniker (that really only served to separate Asians/Asian Americans from other communities of color), we are not exempt from being victims of violence due to racism. No matter how quiet we are, how much work we do, or how many ways we serve this country – we are still considered “other, different, foreign.” There is no way we can assimilate our eyes, our skin, our hair to the white culture of the United States of America.

Yet for years, generations, we have kept quiet. Sure, there have been a few who have spoken out, who have gotten politically involved, trying to make a difference, make a change. But for the most of us, the rest of us, we have continued the mantra of “keep your head down, do your work, don’t complain” – don’t be noticed and they will forget about you and let you live your life in peace.

This belief is like when little kids cover their eyes and think that just because they can’t see us, that we can’t see them.

It’s cute and fun when you’re two, but it’s dangerous and scary to believe this when you’re 22 or 42 or 62.

Asian Americans need to open our eyes. We are not immune to racism or sexism or any other – ism. Whether we stay silent or not, whether we work or not, whether we save lives as a doctor or not, whether we serve in the armed forces or not (I can go on, but I think (I hope) you get the point), none of these behaviors can combat racism because racism needs to identified, racism needs to be called out an held accountable, racism needs to be decried with the loudest voice we have.

Racism needs to be identified.

Racism needs to be called out and held accountable.

Racism needs to be decried in the loudest voice we have.

I hope my broken-hearted voice is loud enough in the roar of day.

©️ 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

Hunter vs. Runner – A Haibun and Runfession #16, January 2021

Her white belly, like a dangerous cloud against the blue sky, was difficult to see at first. But hints of brown and the predatory glint of sharp eyes gave her away before her ear-piercing screech did.   

I pump my arms faster, willing my legs to follow suit as I traverse a country road where sage greens are losing the battle against fiery reds and commanding yellows. We are racing, this eagle and I, although my plodding footfalls are in no way as graceful as her gliding gilded wingspan. Wind rustles the golden corn stalks, the soothing cheer interrupted by a final taunting screech as the eagle and I part ways.

Hunter’s glint flash bright

I am not competition

Does that make me prey?

My first runfession of 2021! I’m finally able to link up with Marcia’s Healthy Slice, the creator of the Runfession Forum. It’s been months since I’ve had a proper runfession and my soles were getting heavy.

I was able to incorporate Patrick’s Pic and a Word #263 – Bright into this haibun that was inspired by Frank J. Tassone’s prompt of a haibun about eagles for d’Verse’s Haibun Monday. Full confession (since this is a runfession!) – I think the 1st picture above is actually a hawk (taken during a run in downtown Harrisburg) and, while the 2nd picture is an eagle, it’s not real but an iron sculpture at the Hawk Mountain Conservatory in Kempton, PA.

I did try racing a raptor during a run a few years ago. I wasn’t sure exactly what type of bird it was (probably a hawk) but I was on a country road training to get my road apple award when I noticed the bird flying over the corn fields to my right. I was so intrigued by it’s elegance that I actually almost fell into a ditch on the side of the road. Thankfully, I caught myself in time and only stumbled. By them the bird flew away, it’s screech was probably laughter at the clumsy creature hobbling along below.

But I digress…I’m trying to distract you from the true purpose of this post which is to give a good runfession because Saucony knows, I need it….

I runfess…2020 was dismal year for running for me. Despite doing 100 miles in February 2020 for the Taji 100, when the pandemic hit in March and everything closed down, my motivation was gone faster than the time it takes me to wash my hands (20 seconds or singing “Happy birthday” twice). But 2021 is new year and I have already committed to several challenges this year.

I runfess…Maybe I’m crazy but I’ve always wanted to run across the USA like Forrest Gump. So when a friend asked me if I wanted to run the Amerithon with her, of course I said yes! January was a slow start with only 41 miles for the month, but at least it was a start.

I runfess…I’m doing a little double dipping with my miles for February. Not only am I running the Amerithon, but I also signed up for the Taji 100 (again!). Yes, 100 miles in the month of February for Team RWB and to support our men and women in the military. I have a nephew serving in the Air Force and numerous friends who are retired military so this challenge has significant meaning to me.

I runfess….I am still injured and am probably a little crazy to attempt this high mileage after several months of inactivity. However, I am tired of feeling like the injured mouse just waiting for some eagle or hawk to swoop down and put me out my misery. I’m actually walking about 90% of my miles, so while that will take longer, I think (hope) it will keep me from totally exacerbating my injuries. Just don’t tell my sports medicine doc what I’m doing…

I am so glad that running/walking has returned to being a bright spot in my life! I do feel so much better with regular exercise. Even if I don’t reach 100 miles in February or complete the 3521 miles for Amerithon, I know that the journey is more important than the destination. With the pandemic still going strong here in the USA, I’m not sure what else this year will bring, but at least my intentions are clear – 2021 will be a better year!

©️ 2021 iido

Winter Dance – A Pantoum

A lazy dance in silent snow

Wearing lace of ice and air

Swaying gently to a rhythm unknown

Caressing my nape with a freezing squeeze

Wearing lace of ice and air

My eyes marvel at the delicacy 

Caressing my nape with a freezing squeeze

An appetizing shiver puckers my skin

My eyes marvel at the delicacy 

I squint, imagining the transparent twinkles 

An appetizing shiver puckers my skin

The soothing cold symphony satisfies my soul

I squint, imagining the transparent twinkles

Caressing my nape with a freezing squeeze

The soothing cold symphony satisfies my soul

A lazy dance in silent snow

Pictures courtesy of Peggy Cardone, private collection. ©️ Peggy Cardone. All rights reserved.

I missed Patrick’s Pic and a Word Weekly Challenge #261 – Ice and #262 – Freezing. It’s been a busy few weeks, but when I saw these gorgeous photos from my friend, Peggy, inspiration fell from the sky like one of these delicate beauties and this pantoum was born.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been outside when it’s been snowing. I usually try to stay inside the minute a snowflake makes an appearance, but there was one time when my husband was traveling and I had to use the snowblower to clear off our driveway. Snowblowing is usually my husband’s job so needless to say, starting the snowblower and figuring out how it worked is a story in and of itself! But I did it and I started blowing the snow off the driveway, making a huge arc of snow that landed on the lawn. The snowblower was loud and stinky (yuck to gas fumes), but I was determined to prove that I could snowblow as well as I could make hot chocolate.

As I was on my third row, it started snowing again, Just gently that I didn’t notice at first – until a snowflake landed on my eye lash. I could see it clearly, hanging right in front of my eyeball. I stopped the snowblower and immediately, the quiet of the snowfall enveloped me, like a soft blanket. I was the only one out and it was evening, the night already a violet-black. The silent snow softly falling, the smell of crisp cold air – I couldn’t turn the snowblower back on to ruin the simple sacredness of the moment. After standing in the quiet night, my outstretched limbs gathering hundreds of unique snowflakes, I returned the snowblower to the garage and took out the snow shovel. The sh-sh-sh of the shovel was a better accompaniment to the snowflakes’ leisurely orchestra. The hot chocolate could wait but this moment would not.

©️ 2021 iido

Old Woman Running – And Poem and Runfession #15, October/November/December 2020

The hallway, long and dark, 

Echoes footsteps, like a dull bell

Ringing a dirge.

The egress beckons, urging speed, 

Alas, the footsteps carry 

The weight of time

Old woman running

If plodding could be considered as such

The effort coming out of her pores

Her face, glistening

Brow furrowed, lips frowning

A beauty hidden in determined wrinkles

At last the goal is reached

She pauses at the threshold

Stepping aside

A young girl runs by,

Face glistening with hope 

A new year zooming by with possibilities

The old woman laughs

Such innocence in ignorance

Better not to know, her inner child says

She makes her slow exit

Relieved yet fully aware

Not her best race, but finished nonetheless

Image credit; Tim Hüfner @ Unsplash 
For visually challenged reader, the image shows wall art. A woman is dressed in 1950’s style. A speech bubble next to her says, ” Listen to your inner child.” There are cartoons and graffiti on the wall too.

Hello and Welcome to 2021!! What a year it has been! Yes, I know it’s only been 7 days into 2021, but if you’ve been listening to the news coming out of Washington, DC, you’ll know what I mean about this year not starting off as best as it could.

I’m still back in 2020 – not because I didn’t want to leave, but because I feel like there is still so much I needed/wanted to get done before the year changed. Alas, Time waits for no one (especially a chronically late procrastinator like me)! This poem and runfession incorporates Sadje’s What Do You See #61 (check out the wonderful responses to her prompt in her roundup here) and two of Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #258 – Beauty and #259 – Hope.

Next week (or maybe this week if I can get it together) I will be back on track. This is my mantra for 2021 – “Get back on track!” Or maybe it should be “Don’t fall off the rails”….

I’ve combined my runfessions from the last three months of 2020 because honestly, there was really nothing to runfess those last few months. I did absolutely no running during that time – I wouldn’t even count the 2 mile run/walks I did here and there. I didn’t even really think about running. The Spartan race that I had signed up for in October was cancelled and that was in it for my motivation for 2020. So that’s my biggest runfession for 2020!

I’m hoping 2021 will be the year I get back into running. I’ve already signed up for 2 Spartan obstacle races – a sprint and a stadion – something different to break up the running a bit. And I’m looking to do at least 1 half marathon. Of course, this is all pandemic provisional.

I couldn’t decide if I identified more with the old woman running or the young girl running in the poem. How about you? We’re 7 days into 2021, yet I’m wondering if 2020 has decided to hang around…

©️ 2020 iido

Countdown – A Cascade Poem

The porch steps are cold despite the flowers

I remain hopeful in my solitude

The radio wails so I don’t have to

It’s 6 pm and I’ve been waiting

Since 3 pm, your promise repeating yet

The porch steps are cold despite the flowers

.

It’s 9 pm and darkness is whispering

Forget, the candles are melting yet

I remain hopeful in my solitude

.

It’s midnight and I’m fumbling

For reasons, don’t stop believing yet

The radio wails so I don’t have to

Image credit; Shche- Team @ Unsplash 
For the visually challenged reader, the image shows an outdoor scene. An old fashioned radio is placed next to a couple of candles and a wicker basket. Behind the radio is a pot full of blooming red flowers.

I’ve been sitting on this poem for a few days, but it’s time to set it free! Peter, at dVerse’s last Meeting of the Bar for 2020, brought these prompts together with his request for poems that explored different endings/beginnings. I immediately thought of a cascade poem, one of my favorites with lines that repeat and loop back. The one above also plays with enjambment.

Sadje’s What do you see #60 provide the inspirational picture while Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #257 – Solitude provided the feeling that this picture brought for me. Maybe it’s the melancholy that the end of the year brings me, even for a year as bad as 2020. This year definitely had its share of disappointments, promises and plans not kept. And solitude – even with family, that feeling of disconnectedness has been quite profound this year.

Still, I’m sad to see this year end – I’ve enjoyed the extra time with my children and the more relaxed (meaning, basically non-existent) schedule. I know 2021 will be better. It has to be.

©️ 2020 iido

To Touch the Moon – A Poem

If I reached out a hand 

Toward the moon, touching

It’s essence, not merely flying 

Over its form, like geese 

heading south, but capturing 

The hard rock, biting into my palm

Reminding me I am just a girl

And not a silly goose. 

Image credit; Lolame @ Pixabay
For visually challenged reader, the image shows three Cranes flying in the evening sky. You can see a waning gibbous moon behind the birds.

Getting back on track with a poem for Sadje’s What Do You See #59. When I first saw this picture, I thought the birds were geese, however after pasting in the description, I now realize they are cranes. If I knew that before hand, this poem might have taken a different path. But I didn’t and that’s OK.

I also incorporated Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #256 – Touching. There are so many things I want to touch! I’m the type of person that if I see an interesting texture – on a wall or on clothing or in nature – my curiosity gets the best of me and I do reach out to touch it. Touch is really one of our most underrated senses but it’s the one we have the most of since we are covered in skin from head to toes.

There is a saying, “Shoot for the moon – even if you fail, you might land on a star.” This poem reflects my thoughts before I tried for the moon.

©️ 2020 iido

Thanksgiving 2020 – A Sestina

The smell of bread perks my senses

I struggle against the warmth of comfort

Wrapped in blanketed protection

Dreaming of food and family 

Around a table, laughing together

Ignoring the nightmare outside

.

I get dressed and check outside

The warm sun deluding my senses

Into thinking it would be OK to be together

Why should we throw out our comfort?

The Bible says love of God, of family

Provides everything we need, even protection

.

What are we really protecting? 

Is the fear from inside or outside?

We shouldn’t be afraid of our family

Yet I feel that niggle, like Spidey senses

No amount of food can bring comfort

If we get sick from being together 

.

Is the risk worth it to be together? 

Should we stay away for protection?

If one gets sick or dies, will memories of this time be enough to bring comfort?

My worries spill from my body to outside

I do not want to kill my family

.

Because this is what it’s about – family

The primal need to be together

The smell, the sight, the sounds of food and laughter filing my senes

My role should be as protector

Not a bystander looking in from outside

Aloofness won’t bring comfort

.

But sickness and death also won’t bring comfort

I do not want to lose anyone in my family 

So I invite them to come in from outside 

If this is the last time we are all together

I will build a wall around my heart as protection 

As we take leave of our senses

.

There is no comfort in being left outside

My senses overload upon seeing my family

Breaking bread together crumbles the wall of protection 

Can you guess what my favorite Thanksgiving food is?

Hello! It’s been a while and I’m jumping right back in with a submission for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Weekly Challenge #253 – Bread, #254 – Nightmares and #255 – Warmth. Back on track to continue my streak! My original idea for these prompts were to write about a carb-free diet and how awful that sounds to me right now being that we are in the middle of Christmas baking, however, as with all things at this moment when positive COVID-19 cases have almost reached 15 million in the USA, not eating warm bread doesn’t seem like that much of a nightmare.

I am also tried out the sestina form for the first time. It seems to work well for the merry-go-round of worry I seem to be riding since having family over for Thanksgiving. Yes, we had a gathering of over 10 people. No, we didn’t wear masks. Yes, my family quarantined before we had my family over due to my dad being immune compromised (we only left the house for work and food) AND we are quarantining until the end of this week just to make sure we don’t have anything from this gathering. While I know most people would not be this strict in following the CDC guidelines, we are trying to do our part in preventing the spread of this novel coronavirus.

But that’s the thing – we are doing our part but I see other people are not. Until there is enforcement of the safety guidelines, I fear this pandemic will continue to rage unabated. Sure, there is talk of a vaccine coming out in the spring of 2021, but how many more people will get the coronavirus until then? How many more people will die?

I’ve read about countries where they have been able to stop the spread of the coronavirus in certain areas and where they haven’t had any new cases in over a month (I’m looking at you Melbourn, Australia – shoutout to Kate and Ivor!) Will Americans ever be able to let go of their “right to individuality” in order to do something for the good of society? At this moment in time, the answer for most Americans seem to be a resounding no.

Maybe come January 20, 2021 things will change. My hope is that it does. Then I can go back to obsessing about sourdough bread bowls filled with clam chowder.

©️ 2020 iido