The Path – A Double Nonet

The straight and narrow path calls to me

Stay strong, be brave, keep eyes ahead

Gluttonous green surrounds me

Lusciously tempting me

It can be all mine

Lumber, water

Resources

I will

Take

And

Share them

The path says:

You have enough

Abstain from conflict

Caused by fear, greed, hurt, hate

Bridge ignorance with knowledge

Each slat a step to love and peace

Generosity widens the path

This double nonet was written for Sadje’s “What do you see?” Picture Challenge #19. The photo Sadje provided (above) seemed to fit with Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt request for poems “abstaining from war and conflict while committing to compromise and to unity with and respect for nature into perpetuity.” I’m not sure my poem totally fulfills Jamie’s requirement but the two together, at least to me, are a perfect complement.

The season of Lent has begun for Christians and it is marked by fasting, almsgiving and prayer. Instead of giving something up, I’ve tried to do more – more praying, more helping, being kinder, being more compassionate, giving more whether it’s monetarily, physically, emotionally or mentally. Laurie, a fellow runner, from Meditation in Motion wrote a great blog post about this. I think this practice has helped me have more hope in the world. Especially with everything going on right now. Ghandi said it best, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

©️ 2020 iido

Biking to the Beach

The shoreline changes

My breath holds steady

Memories of salt, my beacon

The sea air shifts the sand

While waves grab the wet grains

The shoreline changes

Yet directions are not needed

The old bicycle just needs legs to pedal

My breath holds steady

Despite the sting in my eyes

Quickly there and then gone

Memories of salt, my beacon

This cascade poem incorporates four (4) prompts: Patrick’s Pic and a Word Challenge #220 – Shoreline, Merril at dVerse’s call for poems about impermanence, Punam’s Ragtag Daily Prompt – Beacon and the picture is courtesy of Sadje’s “What do you see?” Challenge #18. Sometimes it takes all these little pieces to create something big and beautiful (at least I hope this poem is such).

The idea of impermanence made me think of beaches and the changing shore. There are so many happy memories that can be made at the seashore. However, memories can change from year to year. The smell, feel, and taste of salt water and air also goes well with the salty tears shed in making bittersweet memories.

Ironically, (at least in stories and movies) people seem to go to the beach to get away from some painful event or memory without realizing that the pain is as impermanent as the seashore.

This month, remembering how transient the difficulties of life is, helped me keep moving forward – my beacon for this month. As the Persian adage states, “This too shall pass.”

©️ 2020 iido

Spring Transformations – A Haibun

The smell comes first – crisp like biting into fresh lettuce and clean like a new baby. Then a breeze with a “just right” coolness that even Goldilocks would approve of. Next comes small green buds, slowly sprouting from the soil and branches, testing patience and bringing hope.

The scent is different inside where nature has less power. Chemical, metallic, like a fake robot baby or what some earth dweller thinks the sun might smell like. There is no patience only promises of change, the beginnings (but not the endings) of transformations that manifest in mops plunged in buckets of soapy water, clothes sorted into “too big”, “too small” and “just right for now” (again, Goldilocks would be so proud), and the whirring sound of a treadmill going nowhere fast. The buds of transition form, shaking off the covered winter self to sprout the wings of the self that could be considered “the cat’s meow”.

Transformations start

The promise and hope of spring

Even cats can change

This haibun was written for Frank Tassone’s Monday Haibun prompt at DVerse to write about spring. The picture is courtesy of Sadje’s “What do you see?” Prompt #15.

This has been a bit of a busy week but only because I’ve been trying to get miles for the Taji100. That means that the time I would usually spend at night writing, I’ve been walking on the treadmill. I’ve logged 35 miles out of 100 so far!

It has been unseasonably warm this winter and we’ve also been inundated with a lot of rain. Spring seems to be already here in terms of the weather. But my body is still in hibernation mode. I don’t yet feel the need to do any big cleaning or to get out and about. I’m still holding on to my sweaters and fuzzy socks.

I’m not ready to transform into my “spring self” – the one that is ready to take on the world. Nope – my “hold on to the hygge self” is still going strong and honestly, I don’t mind the winter induced resting period. Making time to recharge and slow down is important and something that a lot of people overlook.

Cats know the value of inactivity. They may not literally transform into “catterflies” but cat owners can argue how cats can be transformative to their owners. Here’s to transformations – whether they can be seen or not!

©️ 2020 iido

Speak My Name – Fiction

The stories got it wrong, you know the ones about the “fallen angel” who defied the god. It wasn’t for power or control of the heavens. No, it was for love.

You see, he didn’t want to share the light that would allow the humans to survive in the world we created. He wanted to keep them dependent on him. But that meant they were subject to his whims. Like I was. I couldn’t do that to them.

He had created the cold, dark time then told the humans that if they didn’t give him sacrifices, that he wouldn’t bring back the sky fire that would warm them and make their food grow. I tried to help but he put out my sky fire and now it is just a shiny stone ball in the sky.

That made me so angry! For millennia, I have supported him whether I agreed with what he did or not. How many worlds did we create together? How many worlds did he destroy for his own selfish reasons?

But not this one! These humans I made looked the most like me than any of the other creatures I had fashioned for him before. They were like children to me and I loved them.

I was done sitting idly by. The bit of fire that I brought the humans helped them to survive the cold and the dark. It helped them to thrive so they no longer had to depend on him. I was their liberator, their angel who saved them from death.

“Lucy, our Light,” they used to call me.

“Lucifer, the Light Bearer,” they used to praise my gift to them.

They loved me and I loved them! Why else would I have risked his wrath?

But he got the better of me. He corrupted the humans, corrupted my gift. He turned my gift of warmth and life into one of destruction and death, scaring the humans into thinking I wanted to harm them. And now my name is no longer shouted with joy but spit out with hate and worse, fear.

My heart is broken but I don’t regret helping my humans. And I know, one day, my name, my real name, will again be spoken with love.

Sadje at Keep it Alive has given us another beautiful picture prompt for this week’s “What do you see?” #13. The flame in the woman’s hand made me think of the story of Prometheus as well as the story of the fall of Lucifer.

Fire, which brings heat and light, has always been important to our survival. If you’ve ever watch episodes of the show, “Naked and Afraid,” getting a fire started is usually the number one priority for the contestants. The question of how did early humans discover fire is still unanswered. Still, I am grateful for the hominid who might have seen a burning bush and said, “Hey, this could be useful…”

******

As I was writing this post, I remembered the fires still burning in Australia. Fire – like most things in life – can be both good and bad. If you would like to donate to help those affected by these fires, this link will take you to an article that has links to organizations accepting donations.

©️ 2020 iido

Out to Pasture – A Rhyming Poem

Her hooves pawed at the frozen ground.

Her coat matted a sticky mud brown.

The haflinger snorted, nostrils flared

Tossing her mane without a care

Or so it seemed, this lonely horse

Left in the cold without recourse

She was too old, her back too swayed

A life giving rides to any who paid

But now, no longer able to work

No more carrot treats as a perk

Standing in the mirror, she nuzzled her reflection

The mirror an impractical gift of appreciation

Her breath fogged the silvery surface

As the moon emerged and shone on her face

A tingling started and then a pain

Then something blossomed in her brain

A horn of gold twisted from her forelock

Her coat showed no more signs of muck

Her body grew with muscles strong

Her mane and tail got Fabio long

She turned to the mirror and let out a neigh

She won’t become glue to her owner’s dismay

No more prancing for the pleasure of others

A unicorn surely should not be smothered

She nudged her stall door then galloped out of the barn

Without a look back, she didn’t give a darn

As a unicorn, she didn’t need to linger

But if only she had a middle finger

I had fun writing this poem for Sadje’s picture prompt What do you see? Challenge #12 although the inspiration was actually a sad event.

My daughters take horse back riding lessons. There is a halflinger named Sarge who has been at this barn for a long time and is usually the first horse that new students ride due to his gentle nature. He is getting old and has been having some physical issues. His owner mentioned selling him when he can no longer give riding lessons. I asked the owner if she would sell him despite making her a lot of money giving riding lessons. She said despite Sarge being a good horse, that he still needed to earn his keep and that she would have no use for him if he is no longer able to work.

I didn’t grow up on a farm so it is difficult for me to wrap my head around the idea of animals that aren’t pets, that they are there to serve their purpose for humans – whether pulling wagons, laying eggs, giving milk or being our food. I know I participate in this exploitation and I joke about it (if cows didn’t taste so good…) however this reality really saddened me. After years of work, this horse would just be tossed away as if he didn’t matter.

The Go Dog Go Cafe’s Tuesday Writing Prompt to use the phrase “standing in the mirror, she…” helped me turn this sad scenario into a happy ending. Sometimes we need to take a good look in the mirror to see our self-worth and to leave situations or people who don’t honor our worth. We might not sprout a golden horn, but our confidence and self esteem would shine through.

©️ 2020 iido

What Do You See? – A Poem for Hélène Vaillant

If words were clouds
Hers would be soft and comforting
The kind you see on brisk autumn afternoons
As Golden leaves fall around you.

If words were water
Hers would be in a bathtub
With bubbles that smelled of eucalyptus and mint
Clearing the mind for the wisdom that came with a well lived life

If words were a picture
Hers would be a garden painted in the style of Monet
With a mother and child the brightest of the flowering blooms

If words asked a question
Hers would be, “What do you see?”
And she’d let me answer
With interpretive imagination
And poetic passion

Hélène Vaillant is a blogger who I started following because of her “What Do You See?” Weekly Challenge. She would post a picture as a prompt and Challenge is to write poetry/prose about it. I found her through one of the other blogs that I follow and was instantly taken by the beautiful pictures she posted for the Challenge as well as the insightful poems Hélène wrote. As I started to comment and engage with Hélène on her blog, she started to comment and engage with me on mine. Her comments were always thoughtful and caring with just the right amount of wisdom added.

I found out recently (from Jordy at Jordy’s Streaming) that Hélène had passed away. I don’t know how old she was or what she died from although she had mentioned that she wasn’t feeling well a few months ago and wouldn’t be blogging for awhile. I did know that her husband had passed away just a few months before she did. I also knew that she had a special devotion to the Virgin Mary, specifically, the Madonna and Child. I had even taken pictures of various sculptures of the Madonna and Child during a trip to the Met in NYC thinking I would send them to her when she got back on her blog.

As of today, Hélène’s WordPress blog has already been removed. This makes me so sad. I wonder what happened to all her poems, all the poems bloggers wrote for her prompts, all the comments and memories contained within her blog. I found this article from Fandango that speaks to this loss (Thank you, Jen Goldie for directing me to it).

I hope Hélène knew she had touched so many people with her words, prompts and comments. I will always remember her gentle heart and kind, wise comments.

Rest In Peace, Hélène.

©️ iido 2019

Breaking Stone – A Poem

I looked at you

With your short hair and black square glasses

An 80s band t-shirt tucked into slim waist, denim shorts that fell a tad below your knees

I could see the curved outline of your breast when you turned to look at me

Appreciatively

Like I was looking at you.

Hey, you said

The simple greeting caused my skin to pucker

While you moistened, then bit your full bottom lip

And readjusted your glasses with slender, honey colored fingers topped with dark purple nail polish

Hey, I said

Because that’s the best pick up line.

And so We started

Asking and answering

Feeling out yet avoiding the urge to touch

Softness against softness.

Then the hard truth came around the corner

Time to go, babe, he said

The sadness in your eyes

As my face fell in my hands and

My fear of the truth hardening

Until I turned to stone.

Immobilized

Stuck in the life carved out for me

Since birth

Since before birth

The expectations hewn into a 5 foot 4 inch alcove.

Then your touch on my hand, soft like the kiss of a butterfly

Strong like the arch of a rainbow

Pressing a paper against my calloused skin

I look at you and brave a smile.

This poem was inspired by Hélène’s “What do you see?” Picture Prompt Challenge and also by Christine E. Ray’s Pride Month Writing Prompt Challenge – Brave.

Hélène’s picture seemed despairing when I first looked at it. But then I noticed the rainbow shining on the broken statue and remembered reading Christine’s prompt, and this poem was born. Breaking through the stone barriers in our lives (whether externally or internally imposed – like racism, sexism, homophobia) takes a lot of bravery! And while I know there are people reading this blog that may be put off with the topic of my poem, I hope the universality of the theme, “Be true to yourself” resonates and finds an empathic home in their hearts.

©️ iido 2019

Kitty so Fair – A Limerick

There once was a kitty so fair

That her beaus would do anything she dared

She’d sit on the roof

Have them climb up as proof

That they loved her beyond compare

A little limerick for this cheeky picture courtesy of Hélène for her “What do you see?” Weekly Photo prompt.

My kids have been out of school since last week so my writing, reading and commenting time (as well as my running time!) has been limited the past week. They start camp next week so hopefully I’ll get back some time. I love my kids and love spending the extra time with them but I also need my space.

My older daughter is reading a book called, Quiet Power: The Secret Strengths of Introverts. She is 11 and already very insightful! Contrary to popular belief, I am actually more of an introvert who doesn’t mind interacting with a lot of people. But once those people are gone, I need to retreat and be alone or with just my husband to recharge. So unlike Ms. Kitty in the picture above, one beau is plenty for me!

©️ iido 2019

Niagara’s Gift – An Etheree

You opened the door to a darkened room

Only the colored waters tumbling,

Like my heart for your thoughtful gift,

Into the steamy cauldron

Of sacrifice, support

Commitment and strength

Only with you

Life’s barrels

Withstand

Falls

This etheree was inspired by Hélène’s “What do you see?” Picture Prompt of a beautifully wrapped gift. Gifts can come in many types – some are concrete objects, others are experiences, while still others are words or emotions. Gifts are usually given for special occasions but the best ones, I think, are the ones given “just because”.

The other picture is the view from our hotel room this weekend – a gift from my loving, supportive hubby who also drove us all the way to Niagara Falls so I could run the the Niagara Falls International Women’s Half Marathon. The race will start in just 7 hours but I am awake with nervous energy. I did not train very well for this race and I just got a new shoes two days ago (since my old pair were completely destroyed) so I am not setting the bar too high on my finish time.

I did get to meet the trailblazing Katherine Switzer who is as lovely and kind as she is inspirational! She is 72 and still so vibrant! She told me that her ancestors were Germans who settled in the Lancaster, PA area and became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch. Who knew?

I’m also starting the race with a group of wonderful women from Moms RUN this Town, not to mention the hundreds of other fabulous women who are running this race. So, I know that no matter my time tomorrow – I’m going to finish and feel accomplished!

But I also know I wouldn’t be here this weekend without the gift of my family supporting this crazy obsession of mine to run. So this race is for them…although I’m still keeping the medal all to myself.

©️ iido 2019