2023 Hour 24: Hope (a list poem)

Write a poem about hope.

Walking in the woods without benefit of bug spray.
Rolling for Yahtzee when you have the large straight.
Returning the sweepstakes entry without making a purchase.
Crossing your fingers when your daughter strolls to home plate.
Beginning the journey with the engine light flashing.
Opening the door to a refrigerator you know to be empty.
Looking at real estate listings on a minimum-wage job.
Continuing the chemotherapy when the prognosis is grim.
Bringing a child into an unforgiving and unkind world.
Having faith you’ll be caught when you let yourself fall.

2023 Hour 23: Interrupted

We watched with interest as crews labored,
Digging foundations,
Securing beams into place,
Smoothing concrete.
Installing windows and carefully,
Stroking on the red paint.

The architect, we imagined,
Sought to communicate,
To share her brilliance,
To secure her legacy.
Surely, we thought,
This must be her

Nature, though, cares little for
The vanities of humanity.
Nature seeks out the
Heartbeat of the world,
Displaying her bounty
in abundance or scarcity,
Willy-nilly; when and where
she alone chooses.

Thus, the building –
That carefully constructed facade
Conveying an equally careful
Message to the neighborhood –
Lost its voice to the
Seemingly random presence
Of a single, scrawny tree.

2023 Hour 22: Mama speaks

All the days of my childhood,
Mama spoke three languages,
Effectively switching from
Tongue to tongue,
Reflecting mood,
Responding to situation.

Public, private, perverse Mama
Obscuring conversations,
Shutting out nosy neighbors and
Strangers on the train
With smooth, sinuous Spanish.

And then the real private Mama,
The one living in a four-room rowhouse
Surrounded by difficult husband and
Raising even more difficult children,
Insisting on English,
Teaching us to fit in.

Most fluent of all, though,
The language of silence.
Tightening lips,
Expressive brows lifting in peaks or
Crashing into valleys,
Dark eyes twinkling, narrowing,
Changing inexplicably, yet unmistakably.

Spanish, English, Silence.
Languages for the seasons of her life,
Communicating far more by
Her choices than words could
Ever say.

2023 Hour 20: Routine

Write a poem about a routine or ritual that is part of your life. It can be something like making coffee every morning, or something like attending religious services once a week.

Some people thrive on routine,
On knowing what comes next,
On following the familiar path;
I am not one of those people.

Erratic schedules never phased me.
Late nights and early mornings,
Meal times scattered throughout the day,
Varied school or work hours, as assigned.

Of late, though, I try to maintain routine.
Alarms set to wake up and take pills,
Controlling when to work and when to play.
Could it transform my life?

Well, still no regular times to eat,
Still no common time to sleep,
As yet, no repetition-wrought epiphanies;
Could routines be overrated?

2023: Hour 19: Missing you

Look on your phone and find the 10th non selfie picture and use that as your prompt. (My picture was taken after dark of my black cat curled up on my husband’s side of the bed while he was out of town.)

He sounded surface-calm on the phone as he walked down the stairs,
but something in his voice said, “All is not well.”
And as he continued to speak with his father
in that deceptively placid tone, he started
shoving random articles of clothing into a
small travel bag.

That unplanned trip stretched from a couple of days
into a couple of weeks and wrapped around
a bevy of unexpected and largely unwelcome
plot twists, the majority of them
medical in nature.

Late one night, preparing for sleep,
I sent him a message, as I was
wont to do. But this one
spurred a response.
“The cat has stolen your spot
on the bed,” I playfully captioned
a photo of our Ninja Kitty.
“Tell her it’s mine,”
he replied.

2023 Hour 18: Stack them up

I’ve never understood …

How there are people who believe there are tiers
of people, with their own kind
at the top.

What qualities can they possibly
see in themselves that jump out and
shout their inherent worth?

Where lies the beauty?
The intrinsic value?
The enduring goodness?

I’ve never understood …
The arrogance is both
baffling and

2023 Hour 17: Kaleidoscope

I repeat the stories.
The ones I remember,
The ones I’ve heard.
The ones that make me
Who I am.
And with each telling,

Memories scatter.
Settle into unexpected,
Unexplained places.
Transposing names,
Until my world is
New again.

2023 Hour 16: News in a nutshell

Write a poem that is pretending to be something else, a set of instructions, a recipe, a letter, a news report, etc.

Coming up:
Nightmares in real time.

On the rise.

The world?
It’s on fire.

Your government?

Your favorite team?
They lost.

The weather?
Storms moving in.

Details at 11.

2023 Hour 15: Revelation

Write a poem about an experience, but from the perspective of another. For example you could write a poem about your wedding from the experience of your spouse, or you could write a poem about an argument with a stranger from the perspective of the stranger.

My mother and my aunt gathered up the four of us –
my cousins, my sister, and me –
and drove into town each December
for the annual Christmas parade.

After Santa waved his goodbyes
And the crowds began to thin,
My mother would hand over a ten-dollar-bill
To me, and another to my sister,
And then handed both of us
Over to our older cousins
For the outing’s second act.

Paired off with a teenager
In one of the town’s two five and dimes,
We painstakingly sought out special gifts
For Mom, for Dad, for sister,
And one for the cousin who cheerfully
supervised the excursion.

Even then, ten dollars could only
Stretch so far.

Handkerchiefs or socks for Dad,
A toy for my younger sister.
Maybe some perfume for my cousin,
Or a bouncy new ball
For when we played jacks together.

But, what to choose for Mom?
My sister veered toward the outrageous –
The more impractical, the better.
Bright red nail polish,
An iridescent purple string of beads
Forever enshrined in family memories
As “the ball bearing necklace.”

My choices, though far more practical,
Failed to attain superior status.
Tubes of liquid glue and a
Padded cover for an ironing board
Must have surely been a disappointment
When the colorful wrapping paper
Parted to reveal its meager contents.

What do the gifts we offer to one another
Reveal about the relationship?
How must I have viewed my mother
At that tender age,
That I offered such mundane gifts
To the woman who offered me