Forty-four Words are Not Enough – A Quadrille

In the nick of time

My motto, my nemesis

My days overfilled with

Kids needing

Husband wanting

Daughterly obligations

School “volunteering”

Catholic guilt

Running miles – Ha! No

Running behind – yes

Secretary, chef, driver

Driving myself crazy

Oh look something else to sign up for!

This quadrille responds to De Jackson’s (WhimsyGizmo) quadrille prompt #87 – Nick and Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Writing Prompt to write about my life and the things/events that make an impression on me.

Well, if you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you know my poetry and prose usually revolve around my identities as a mother and runner. This quadrille is no exception!

The school year has started for all my kids, even my preschooler is in three day PreK. Yet despite having three days “all by myself,” I find myself still running out of time, running late, running from appointment to appointment. I’ve signed up to help out at their school and at our church while training for a race, writing and keeping up with household duties. This might not be a lot for other people, but it’s a lot for me. I’ve been thinking about going back to work outside the home but where would I fit that in? That “nick” of time is not truly enough.

©️ iido 2019

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Salt of the City – A Haibun

They were mostly tall, thin, and dark skinned like the softest black velvet. Their clothes hung on them. Their feet in flip-flops covered with dust. Yet their voices were strong, offering their wares in accented English – mini Eiffel towers, larger Eiffel towers, ones that light up as if it were covered with fireflies, ones that were staid. Their bodies seemed strong, carrying large sacks of these trinkets to different parts of the park. The odor of their sweat was strong, evidence of their hard work in the heat.

They stood out among the tourists – they were there working, laboring under the sun – while we were there for fun, our choice to stand in lines under the sun.

Maybe they arrived in this city with a degree or some other skills; definitely they arrived with hope. Yet their labor in the City of Lights seemed to diminish the light in their own eyes.

Summer’s salty sweat

Seasons the immigrant’s work

Hope masks bitterness

This haibun was inspired by two prompts: Frank at D’Verse for Haibun Monday requested a Haibun inspired by labor, workers in honor of Labor Day and Jamie at The Poet by Day Wednesday Writing Prompt requested poems inspired by a city. (Responses to Jamie’s Prompt can be found here.)

When we visited Paris this summer, I was surprised by how much the area around the Eiffel Tower has changed. The area was surrounded by a see-through barrier. You had to go through security before you could even get close to the tower. This was much different than when I visited the tower in early 2001.

I also noticed the men (they were all men) who were clearly immigrants to Paris selling souvenirs. I don’t remember them on my last trip there. But it made me wonder about them, their stories, if they were selling souvenirs of their own accord, if they had families, if they had ever gone up to the top of the tower they were selling miniatures of.

I always wonder if workers who sell from blankets on street corners might be trafficking victims and that by buying these wares, I am complicit in this modern day slavery. I know these men were working hard – it was evident in their hands and feet, their eyes. When is this type of labor honored?

©️ iido 2019

Motherhood’s Constant Companion – A Poem’s

We stole down the stairs
Avoiding the creaky steps
Wedge heels in hand
I check my image in the mirror –
High waisted dark jeans to hold in the pouch
Three-quarter sleeves peasant blouse
Hiding all the upper jiggly parts

Hearing a honk, I exit the side door
I shouldn’t have been surprised that you jumped in the car with me
You weren’t even dressed
But you fit right in with the others
Crowding the car with talk of our escapes
And the reasons we decided to leave tonight

At the bar, even a few drinks didn’t convince you
That you should have stayed home tonight
Instead, you hugged me tighter
Constricting my heart
Keeping my thoughts on what I left behind

I looked at all the women who were alone at the bar
Talking candidly with friends
Accepting drinks from soon-to-be friends
Their jeans hung at their narrow hips
Their blouses baring the firmness of their inexperience

I look away, an awkward Cinderella who can’t wait for the clock to strike

Finally, heading home, pretending this was like old times
Despite the look of relief on all our faces
Knowing that we survived having you with us tonight

Oh Guilt,
Born the minute we heard our child’s first cry…
Motherhood’s Constant Companion

Back to school season has so many meanings and emotions for mothers. So Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #202 – Mothers is so apropos! The picture I have used above was taken from Patrick’s prompt as well. I had originally thought to use a picture of mine but this photo of Patrick’s tugged at me. The innocent trust that children automatically give to their mothers (and fathers) is such a great gift but at times can also feel like a burden called guilt.

This poem was inspired by a recent MNO (Moms Night Out) – it was a spontaneous evening which was good and bad. I didn’t have time to really prepare the kids for my going out and that also meant, I didn’t have time to practice my mental gymnastics to justify leaving my kids and hubby for the night. Mom guilt is a real thing!

©️ iido 2019

The Caged Bird Caterwauls – A Pantoum

I know why the caged bird sings
Sour sweet melodies of human maladies
Vibrating out into the fractured world
There is no accompanying harmony

Sour sweet melodies of human maladies
Poetic squawks implored yet ignored by broken ears
There is no accompanying harmony
When the free birds don’t want change

Poetic squawks implored yet ignored by broken ears
She caterwauls until the cage shatters
When the free birds don’t want change
Her powerful voice portends the power of action

She caterwauls until the cage shatters
Vibrating out into the fractured world
Her powerful voice portends the power of action
This is why the caged bird sings*

A late response to Patrick’s Pic and a Word #201 – Fractured this week. Patrick’s poem about “fractured memories altered with time…[manipulated] to serve the present” stumped me for a while. His words ring true – especially since truth seems like such a rare commodity these days. Even the priest at my church today spoke of the importance of truth and to stay away and not believe the “King of Lies” (aka the Devil or Satan).

Jamie Dedes’ Wednesday Writing Prompt asked the question: Does poetry make a difference? My response with this poem is a resounding “YES!” especially when poetry speaks one’s truth and leads to action. How many speeches delivered by great civil rights leaders and activists read and sound like poetry? How many of their words inspired and strengthened and called to action people who might have otherwise stood by the sidelines? Conversely, how many poets have written/spoken words that inspired and strengthened and called to action? One such poet was Maya Angelou.

The first and last line of this pantoum is the same* (as the form requires) and comes from Maya Angelou’s literary autobiography of the same name. This book is part of the Feminist Book Title Challenge from Christine at Brave and Reckless. Maya Angelou (1928-2014) was a poet/writer/activist whose words and work centered the reality and truth of her African American female experience. Her poem, “Still I Rise,” is my current mantra especially after reading about the recent incidents of gun violence perpetrated by white supremacists in the USA, as well as the unfettered proliferation of anti-immigrant policies.

Maya Angelou also wrote a poem titled, “Caged Bird” (1983), which has the following refrain:

The caged bird sings with a fearful trill 
Of things unknown but longed for still 
And his tune is heard on the distant hill for 
The caged bird sings of freedom. 

* Edited 8/27/2019

I changed the last line of the poem from the original “I know why the caged bird sings” to its current form “This is why the caged bird sings.” While I know it breaks the Pantoum form, I felt the message (of the need for poets to continue to raise their voices especially in times of injustice) superseded the form. I hope you agree! (If not, please let me know! The editing process is a continuous one….😁).

©️ iido 2019

Thoughts on Awakening – A Senryu

The joy of morning

Crowded out by pointy knees

In my lower back

(Yes, I know that picture is of frog legs and not of kid legs that kick and flail in the bed then eventually ending up across my neck while the other is jammed between L3 and L4. But I am usually too groggy to take a picture of said kids’ flailing legs when they are in the bed. )

Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt when I was on vacation was to write about “What is it like when you are awaken in the morning? Are you up-and-at ’em right away?  Do you curl back up for a few moments of precious sleep?  Are you ever disoriented, perhaps not knowing the time or place?” You can read the poetic responses she received here.

Full disclosure, I am not a good sleeper which makes me a horrible waker-upper. I am usually not fully awake until around 10-11 AM. This is bad news for my family, especially my hubby who is in charge of breakfast and getting kids dressed in the morning by default. When he travels, our mornings are hectic and stressful. I will admit to relying on my older daughter to get me up since she has been blessed with the Early Bird Gene from her dad.

There are many reasons I don’t get a good night’s sleep but only two reasons that I wake up in the morning with aching shoulders and back. Wager a guess what these are?

****

Here are some more senryus/haikus on Thoughts on Awakening:

No, no, no, not yet
Keep that dreadful sun at bay
Snooze 10 minutes more

New day go away
My eye lids still seek the moon
I curl contented

I would love you, Dawn
But you are an Early Bird
My worm needs its sleep

Children wake refreshed
Sprawled out on a king sized bed
Parents on the edge

©️ iido 2019

The Cure – Not the Band but a Double Dizain

For sale! The Ultimate Cure for your ills
It removes pride, hatred, entitlement
It heals hearts and minds as your soul, it fills
But I don’t say this for my amusement
In fact, that’s the cure for Life’s excrement

Put on your fun pants, ignore the pshaw
Start with a titter, a chuckle, guffaw
The wheels start turning when you realize
That laughter, the cure-all, relaxes your jaw
So smile in the face of what you despise

This isn’t snake oil but conflict detox
Holster your words, your glares, your fist and gun
Your howl of hilarity will outfox
The zombies who follow the orange one
Mark Twain said laughter is the best weapon

Stockpile some toothbrushes, toothpaste and mints
Practice your giggles and comedy stints
Change what you can then get your wheels churning
Let the arc on your face leave its imprint
The laughing cure keeps the world from burning

This double dizain (that is, two back-to-back dizains – I may have made this form up…) is my response to Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #200 – Wheels and Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt to write a poem about what would happen if there was a “world-wise detoxification event, an international soul healing day” that would “unite [us/the world] in letting go of the hatreds, resentments, and pains that define so many of us and that we’ve inherited.”

This poem did not come together until I read this blog post from Shaun Jex @stoopkid entitled “Manifesto”. Shaun introduced me to this quote from Mark Twain:

Will a day come when the race will detect the funniness of these juvenilities and laugh at them–and by laughing at them destroy them? For your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon–laughter. Power, Money, Persuasion, Supplication, Persecution–these can lift at a colossal humbug,–push it a little– crowd it a little–weaken it a little, century by century: but only Laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of Laughter nothing can stand.
– “The Chronicle of Young Satan,” Mysterious Stranger Manuscripts

This reminded me of the “Man in the Green Shirt” who went viral a few weeks ago and as well as the Pop Mob who used humor to diffuse the alt-right demonstrators in Portland, OR (you can read about Pop Mob’s counter-demonstration efforts here).

Of course, it’s not as easy as telling a few jokes and sharing laughter to solve the world’s problems. But imagine if it can be…so wear a smile today and tomorrow and the next day….it’s free and you don’t even need a prescription!

©️ iido 2019

Toni in the Room with the Yellow Wallpaper – A Quadrille Honoring Toni Morrison (1931-2019)

Her voice bounced off the yellow wallpaper,
Reverberating with strength and wisdom,
Uplifting the mahogany tones
In the old-fashioned design.
She refused to allow the surround to distract her,
Refused to explain her powerful gift.
She rose above inert ideas
Owning her freed self.

Toni Morrison died this past Monday, leaving behind an unapologetic legacy of literature centering Black American lives. She spoke candidly about racism in America, calling its function a “distraction” (read more here).

In this quadrille for De Jackson at dVerse (Quadrille # 83 – Voice), I have imagined her in the setting of Charlotte Gilman’s novel, The Yellow Wallpaper, to fulfill Christine’s Brave and Reckless August Feminist Book Title Challenge.

For me, Toni Morrison embodied the ultimate goal and greatest achievement for any writer/poet – that is, to write stories/poems as your Authentic Self.

©️ iido 2019