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

Freedom – A Haiku

To have the freedom

To not think of injustice

Sunset privilege

The colors of sunset after a beautiful summer-like day….

This haiku was written for Patrick’s Pic and Word Challenge #236 – Freedom. My head has been pretty preoccupied with all the protests that have been occurring, as well as the usual pandemic news briefings. It’s disconcerting to me in many ways, so I have been trying hard to find the places that I can control and feel effective in what I do. This has been challenging.

The last line of my haiku comes from the history of towns, here in the USA, that prohibited blacks from being in the town after sunset. Of course, this prevented blacks from living in these towns. These towns were called “sundown towns” and are not widely known since this racist policy doesn’t appear in history books, although, I’m sure the black folks who lived near these areas were aware for safety reasons. These towns stayed “all white on purpose” and, until around the 1970s, some had signs saying so. Violence was another way that white residents made clear that blacks and other people of color were not allowed in the area. This PDF from author, James Loewen (who wrote the first and only book about sundown towns in the USA), introduces the history of this phenomenon which still exists to this day.

Besides redlining, sundown towns are another “hidden” aspect of the systemic nature of racism here in the USA. These practices were not written in history books but people – whites and blacks – knew about them. Because they weren’t documented, there was no way for blacks to prove they were being discriminated against. And if they tried to prove it or if they did not follow these written rules, there would be a violent reaction.

This is how racism works for people of color – stay silent or be a target. For white people, racism’s message is – stay silent and enjoy the benefits or you’ll be a target as well.

This is why we need to be raise our voices and our actions to be ANTI-Racist. Being passively against racism is how racism exists. This passivity includes saying the right words, even believing in equality, but not doing anything about it.

I live in a white neighborhood – there is only one other Asian family that lives in our whole entire neighborhood. On our cul-de-sac with six families, I know there are three families that support the current president who has shown support for racist attitudes. I bought the sign below:

Will freedom of speech be extended to us? We’ll see when the sun goes down….

©️ 2020 iido

Rant – A Poem

I could rant about the boredom

About not being able to eat at the crepe place

Or get my nails done to match the front door

I could rant about the kids 

Running around inside then outside, being loud

And disturbing the neighbors working from home

I could rant about the heat 

And not being able to go to the beach

Or to Disney for the first time

I could rant, but I won’t

I can’t

When families are made newly homeless through job loss

When food pantries are not getting enough donations as their lines get longer

When parents are risking their lives for $7.25 an hour

When some kids don’t have an outside

When some kids can’t be loud or else

When black bodies are pitted against blue bodies

When black bodies are killed and will never get to go to Disney

My immigrant, light skinned Asian, college educated, middle class, suburban stay at home mother runner rant is bullshit.

Because I can still breathe when others cannot.

New House in the Suburbs, Paul Klee
1924 – National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

This poem was written for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #235 – Rant. I have also incorporated a Wednesday Writing Prompt from Jamie Dedes’ that she posted on April 22, 2020 that used the picture above as a starting point. I wasn’t able to write anything for that prompt then, but the picture has stayed with me so I am glad to be able to use it now.

I really liked the haziness of this painting – it reminds me of the images/ideas I had in my head about the kind of house I would live in when I grew up. I wanted a symmetrical house, with a weeping willow in the yard, maybe a pond close by. There would be a swing under the weeping willow and in the fenced in yard, there would be apple trees and flowers. And of course, there would be birds flying under the yellow sun with a few puffy clouds overhead.

I lived on the first floor of a duplex in Brooklyn when I envisioned my “grown up home”. We had a little yard in the back that was usually overgrown with weeds despite our attempts to grow vegetables and flowers. The kitchen was all the way in the back, so you had to pass through all the rooms to get to the back of the house. I would ride my bike up and down the street on the sidewalk, from our house to Aunt Rita’s house – that’s as far as my mom would let us. Sometimes, we would go to the bodega at the end of the block to get treats or get some plantains for a quick and yummy afternoon snack.

My kids have never lived in the type of place I lived in growing up. They’ve only known single family homes in the suburbs with decent yards and two or more bathrooms. They all are currently obsessed with living in tiny homes when they grow up, that they would park in our driveway so we can all still have dinner together as a family.

All my dreams of living in a spacious house have been reversed with my children’s dream of living in a home smaller than my childhood Brooklyn home. The irony.

As I write this in my typical American suburban kitchen with granite countertops, I am acutely aware of what I have, that others don’t. Yes, I know my husband and I worked hard to afford to be “comfortable”; that our parents also worked hard so we can live “better” then they did. But I know we had help – social supports, financial resources and a systemic societal advantage of being stereotyped as the “model minority”.

At least, I used to see it as an advantage. After much reading (check out this article and this one), I realized that any type of stereotype is still a stereotype and is actually a disadvantage. Also, the whims of racism can change quickly and harshly as evidenced by the rise of anti-Asian sentiments with the arrival of the coronavirus that has been named by some as the “Chinese virus”.

So while I have lead a financially and educationally privileged life, I still have experienced racism:

  • I’ve been accused of stealing at the local grocery store numerous time (to the point that I go to a different store farther way in a more diverse neighborhood just so I don’t have to worry about being “randomly audited” when I shop – because it isn’t random if it’s always and only me)
  • I’ve been called racial slurs as I’ve been out running
  • I’ve felt afraid going to a new place and realizing I was the only non-white person there and getting those looks that tell me I don’t belong

The thing with racism is that it erases the individual – that all important staple of American exceptionalism. You don’t see my struggles and triumphs. You don’t know about the awards I’ve won or that my closet with pants sizes ranging from college to pregnancy. You aren’t aware that I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or of my passionate conviction that Heinz is the best and only ketchup in the world. You don’t know that I dreamt of a house with a willow tree in the front.

But because I have lead a financially and educationally privileged life, I need to use that advantage to help those who were not as fortunate (through no fault of their own). Otherwise, I will be just as complicit in perpetuating racism.

Rant over.

©️ 2020 iido

The Photographer – A Poem

His presence captures the nuance of a place

The feel of colors on the wall

The look of air captured in stillness

The sounds of triumphant details

The smell of belonging within a vast space

His presents are introspective breaths inhaled

With a click of a camera

And the scratch of a pencil on the back of a ticket or napkin

And exhaled onto a screen where he dares us

To be present in the world

Image credit- Pixabay-DariuszSankowski
( The image shows an old-fashioned camera resting on a faded map. There are three photos in sepia print next to the camera)

This poem was inspired by Sadje’s What Do you See? Prompt #32 which features a camera on top of a map with photos of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Colosseum in Rome and a city street (maybe New York?). Of course, when I saw it, I immediately thought of one of the few photographers I know, Patrick, and his Pic and a Word Weekly Challenge #234 – Presence.

I was actually thinking of titling this poem, “Patrick – A Poem”, but I wasn’t sure if the subject would appreciate that since he seems most comfortable behind the camera than in front. I owe Patrick a great debt of gratitude – he was one of the first, if not, the first blog that I followed and commented on. I was quite surprised that he actually responded to my comment with such warmth and humor. That’s when I realized that WordPress wasn’t just about posting stuff. It really is about building a community through words and pictures.

You can find my first submission for Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge # 43 – Lesson – HERE. It took awhile, but I have been fairly consistent with doing this challenge, even though I am a week behind. Patrick’s photos are breathtaking and his words are thought-provoking. In another life where I have more of an artist’s eye, I would have loved to be a world traveling photographer and writer. But for now, I am content seeing the world through Patrick’s Pix to Words.

©️ 2020 iido

Harvesting Questions – A Quadrille

What harvest will we reap

When the seeds of isolation bloom?

Will it feed the hunger of connection?

Or will it be blighted with fear?

Is food for our soul

A quick fix for the 

Needs of our bodies?

Which god should we worship?

That old saying, “You reap what you sow”…. who planted snowflakes?

Racing against time to get this quadrille in for De Jackson at dVerse, Quadrille #104 – Fix. I was also able to incorporate Patrick’s Pic and a Word Weekly Challenge #223 – Harvest (back on track and continuing my streak!!) as well as, Kate’s Friday Fun Prompt – Worship. I am so pleased with myself for finding the time to write today and get some of my thoughts out on paper. This is my 3rd post for today! I’ve never done that before….maybe it’s because I have to run tonight…..

I’ve been looking into virtual summer camps for my kids today and thinking about what we can focus on for this summer – academics, athletics, or amusement? At the same time, I was reading parenting blogs about how parents are dealing with kids being home all the time during shelter in place. The saying, “You reap what you sow” popped in my head – what summer seeds do I want to sow in my kids that will lead to a “good harvest”? What does a “good harvest” look like?

I’m going to be thinking about this during my run tonight…

©️ 2020 iido

Gesundheit – A Kyoka

The empty bench sighed

Emergent greens cried

Spring’s promise implied

Whisper-soft steps hide

Tissues beside

image
Image credit- Pixabay– Majaranda
(For the visually challenged reader, the image shows a young girl standing next to an old sprawling tree in a park. There is an empty bench in front of her)

This is the first kyoka that I have written, in fact, I hadn’t heard of a kyoka until reading Frank’s Meet the Bar post on dVerse about 5 line Japanese poetry. Frank (not to be confused with this Frank Tassone), who is an expert in English-language, Japanese style poetry, writes that a kyoka like a tanka except the focus is on human nature. He also explains that in order to follow more closely, the Japanese linguistic unit called “mora”, that the syllable count should be between 20-24 and not 31. Challenge accepted!

Did I succeed in taking a lovely picture offered by Sadje’s What do you see Picture Prompt #30 and turning it into a satirical take on human nature? My allergies say, YES! Especially since I was also able to include Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #232 – Emergent into this piece. (I’m still on a streak and it was Patrick’s birthday last weekend!) Do I get bonus points for the unintentional rhyming? The kyoka doesn’t have that requirement but this poem seemed to think it was the “elbow nudge, nudge” it needed.

Spring is definitely here and summer is fast on her heels. School has ended for my kids so we are taking a break from academics and focusing on….nothing for now. This has been hard for me as it seems we “devolve” when we don’t have some sort of structure…however, my kids are not big fans of schedules or “being told what to do”. Of course, they’re not….they are big fans of video games, eating brownies for breakfast, eating breakfast food for any meal other than breakfast, talking to friends on the latest app for hours and seeing how many days can they not shower or brush their teeth before they’re able to smell themselves.

With shelter in place is still in effect, there no summer camps available, the play grounds are still off-limits and our usual summer activities (pool, museums, travel) are all still closed. I worry about how the next two months will go, as I don’t think being in front of electronic screens while eating sugar in all it’s forms is the best idea.

So, I’m giving them through the weekend, then, we’re going to start having suggestions for things to do during the day that needs to be done by a certain time.

A schedule by any other name…is still structure that is needed by children and welcome by mothers!

©️ 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

 

img_1799

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

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

 

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