Watersource – A Compound Word Verse

fingers whisper, curl and beckon

enticed, my thoughts try to reckon

watercress

eyes with hazel depths hold hidden 

promises that are forbidden

waterproof

words flush doubt down and out my head

rocks become pillows on the bed

waterjet 

thoughts tumble and swirl, confusion

swallowed by dark adoration

waterfront

desire so verdant, lush, alive

lull my senses to take the dive

waterfall

Image credit; Sean Robertson @ Unsplash 
For the visually challenged reader, the image shows a natural pool fed with streams. There is mist on its surface and there are green moss covered rocks surrounding it.

I am late for submission to Sadje’s What do you see #104 (I am out of practice and I forget about the time difference) but the photo she chose and the poetry form introduced by Grace at dVerse have been swirling around and around in my head. Grace chose the Compound Word Verse, a challenging poetry form that piqued my interest (which I am late to submit for as well). I first tried to use the root word “pool” for my compound word but when I realized I needed five compound words, I had to switch to something that had more possibilities (I couldn’t make up cool new compound words like Kate did – read her take on it here).

I used a lot of enjambed sentences in my version of this form. This was accidental as it took me three verses to realize that because “water” had two syllables, that I could only use the compound word for that last line. As I am coming to learn though – there are no accidents in life. Things happen for a reason and most of the time, we will not know what that reason is.

Not searching for “reason” has actually helped me during this pandemic. I think if I tried to figure out why people were doing the things they were doing, why all these awful things have been happening, why so many people have died – I would have gone into a deep, deep depression. Instead, I’ve held on to the belief that God has a plan and is taking care of things. So I don’t have to figure things out, just trust that He knows what he is doing. Maybe this is why they say that reason is the opposite of faith!

What’s kept you going? Has that changed in the long months of pandemic? What do you need/want now to continue? Suggestions welcome (asking for a friend! LOL!).

©️ 2021 iido

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 Invitation – A Trenta Sei

Invitation hung overhead

Immobilized, I can only stare

Insistence dressed in red

Urging me to take the dare

What will happen if I open

Adventures to make my heart soften

Immobilized, I can only stare

Yet slowly, my hand grabs the prize

My heartbeat skips as I tear

Deliberate actions, my disguise

With breath held, my eyes scan

An exhale discovers the grand plan

Insistence dressed in red

Has worn me down to my delight

Tickets and suitcase are on the bed

Hurry, pack then catch the flight

No need to bring so much stuff

A dress and a dream will be enough

Urging me to take the dare

My furrowed brow contrasts your smile

You grab the bag and my hand with care

I hope my trust is not juvenile

This trip, a leap, my fear returns

Should I deny my heart that yearns?

What will happen if I open

This door to a place unknown

What will it say on my coffin

If they knew that I had thrown

An opportunity to transcend my fear

What will I find in a different hemisphere?

Adventures to make my heart soften

To see, eat and feel something new

This dream I have had often

So fears – I bid you adieu 

With love and trust I spread my wings

Ready for the adventure this invitation brings

Image credit: Simona Sergi @ Unsplash. For the visually challenged reader, this image shows an envelope hanging by a white tread. In the background there is a house entrance.

Image credit: Timur Kozmenko. For the visually challenged reader, this is an image of a girl dressed in a red swirling frock walking towards open gates. The gates are very tall and appear to be Asian in origin. From the open gate you can see mountains visible through a cloudy sky.

Sometimes you see or read or hear something that you know would make a good poem or a good story, yet it doesn’t coalesce until something else brings it together. This was the case for me with this poem. Sadje had two beautiful pictures for her What do you see #64 and What do you see #65 (links are to her round-up posts so you can read all the wonderful submissions for these prompts). I loved the pop of red in each picture! The pictures seemed to be connected and, since I missed the deadline for the first prompt, I wanted to bring their stories together for this past week. Alas, the words and ideas were not fitting together.

I had almost given up when I ran across an unfamiliar poetry form called the “trenta sei” introduced by Donna Matthews at the Go Dog Go Cafe. Viola! The story came together and I think the cascade feature of the trenta sei form really worked with this poem.

Fear, bravery and prudence have been themes that we’ve discussed as a family during this pandemic time. We don’t want to live our lives in fear of this coronavirus, however should we be brave and risk getting sick or practice prudence and abide with all the pandemic precautions? I know every family has to take their own individual circumstances into consideration, yet it makes it difficult when my definition of bravery or prudence conflicts with someone else’s. For example, my kids have been asking about play dates because their friends are now going on play dates. But unless the playdates are outside with masks, my answer has been no – it’s winter so unfortunately for my kids….(sigh)….

What I wouldn’t give to get back the days when being brave meant trying the level 7 spice instead of the level 3 or signing up for that ballroom dancing class or traveling to a new and different part of the world…

©️ 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

The Time Between – A Haibun

Orange fingers reach out trying to warm the cold grey steel. Is it a “come hither welcome” or the desperate grasping of a last chance attempt to prevent slipping into oblivion? Still, the sun’s tendrils hover in that space between, a promise or a reminder of potential. They mimic the train tracks that reflect back this conundrum in a different voice. Tracks can lead away or lead towards depending on the sound of the train. 

How can this indecision be solved in the quiet stillness of transition?  It doesn’t – instead it needs to be savored like cognac or espresso caressing your tongue, warming your mouth, your throat, your belly.  Only then can you appreciate this moment in time.  

Sunrise or sunset

Best seen with eyes gently closed,

Heart thrown wide open

Image credit; Rodrigo Curi @ Unsplash 
For the visually challenged reader, the image shows the sun setting over the horizon, and in the foreground, you can see rail tracks.

I knew I had to write something for Sadje’s What do you see #63 when I saw this picture. It reminded me of living in New York City and riding the subway to and from school. I lived in Brooklyn then, but went to high school in Manhattan. I did school plays and would stay after school for rehearsal then hanging out with friends. I loved watching the sunset. Years later, when I was home from college over the summer, I had a job doing interviews with alumni from my college. We had moved to Long Island by then, and I would wake up early and take the LIRR into the city for meetings. I loved watching the sunrise.

When I first looked at this picture, I thought it was a sunrise and then read the description which said it was sunset. It always amazes how people can look at the same picture and come up with totally different descriptions, explanations, meanings. That’s one of the things I love about picture prompts, and all prompts really: the responses to these prompts are so varied yet each one is beautiful, poetic and true – at least, for the poet and the people who resonate with their words.

I wonder if all people understand this concept or if it is only poets and writers? Photographers and painters (especially the abstract kind) – probably definitely. Sculptors? Architects? I would think so. Engineers and mathematicians – maybe not, since, in their disciplines, there is usually only 1 correct answer. Politicans – I guess it would depend, but currently there is a cohort where I can confidently say, “No, they do not understand or accept this concept”. Extremists who are willing to go to jail or die for their misbegotten ideology – definitely not.

“Art and love are the same thing: It’s the process of seeing yourself in things that are not you.” 
― Chuck Klosterman, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story

©️ 2020 iido

Yard Art – A Rhyming Nonet

They rush to create despite the cold

Bundled up with layers of clothes

Bright eyes look at fallen snow

Being the first to know

The feel of quiet

They don’t like it

Squeals to start

Make yard

Art

My kids enjoying the first snow of the season…

This poem is dedicated to kids, Gina and all my readers who love the snow. The inspiration for this rhyming nonet is Kate’s Friday Fun prompt from last week – yard art.

Merry Christmas for those celebrating!

We are fortunate to be able to spend the holiday with my parents and siblings. With careful planning and quarantining before getting together, we are hoping to have a safe(r) holiday get together. This pandemic has definitely made clear what truly matters in life.

©️ 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

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

Curiosity – A Haiku

Curiosity

Sees beyond the black and white

The key to freedom

Image credit: Billow 926@ Unsplash
( For the visually challenged reader, the image shows a baby panda standing in a mosses basket. Next to it is a wicker basket it is leaning into)

This adorable picture is courtesy of Sadje’s What Do You See #54 photo prompt. I am biased to baby pandas. My older son is obsessed with pandas so we have a plethora of stuffed pandas in our house.

Baby pandas are born small, weak. They are pink and blind. If there is more than one born (and often times there are) the mother panda must chose one to care for since she doesn’t have the resources to support both. Pandas are the opposite of rabbits – they do not mate often, have long gestation periods, and can only care for one baby at a time. They rely on one food source (bamboo) and are not known as the most aggressive animals (no matter what the movie “Kung Fu Panda” might have you believe).

Yet they have become a symbol of hope, a symbol of what humans can accomplish if they work to bring nature back into balance instead of continuing to destroy for the sake of “progress”.

As the pandemic progressed, it makes me wonder where are the “pandas” in my life? Where else do I have to put in work to keep that part of my life alive? What about in yours?

©️ 2020 iido