Arrogance

When did time become made real?
In the cradle of the universe? As the solar system formed?
When organisms flourished?
As the human era dawned?

Does God, all infinite and wise, measure time like us?
If God has always been, indeed,
Then when does God begin?

“In the beginning” kicks off Genesis,
The creator’s task unveiled.
“In our beginning” sings my conscience,
An inconvenience, for my sake.

If time can only come to bear
When humans can conceive it,
Is time a hard, existing chain,
Or merely an illusion?

(From a prompt: “Time is an illusion.”)

Empress

“She’s not allowed in the bedroom,”
I said
When we brought our kitten home.

She cried outside our door, and
I relented.
“She can come in during the day.”

She slept curled up behind my knees.
I loved it.
The cat, she ruled our house.

She snacked on aloe and creeping Charlie.
I wanted plants.
“We’ll put them high on the shelf.”

She liked to drink from toilet bowls.
I disapproved.
We flushed, and left lids raised.

She plotted to watch birds out of windows.
I cleared the sills.
The cat, she ruled our house.

She pushed her food onto the floor.
I hated the mess.
We bought deeper bowls, and floor mats.

She deposited hair on clothes and blankets.
I winced, shook my head.
We learned to love the lint brush.

She followed me with dogged intent.
I carried her. Always.
This cat, she ruled my heart.

(From a prompt: “The cat rules the house.”)

The storm brews in silence

Creamy, buttery sunlight
highlights gnats swarming,
pestering,
begging for my attention.

Vibrant, cotton candy blue sky
drapes
lavender mountain ridges,
looming,
waiting to be noticed.

“A storm is brewing up north.”

The oldtimer clad in grim khaki plaid
grinds out his prediction
past his equally
dismal brown
carpenter’s pencil clenched in
tea-toned teeth.
Watching,
lifting his head,
nodding in agreement with himself.

“How does he know?”

I watch; see only sun and shimmering sky.
Lift my head; feel only the filmy breeze.
No storm vibes tingling here.
No clouds darken,
threaten,
portend.

The storm brews in silence.
Somehow, he hears.

And, it pours.

(From a combination of prompts: Write a poem where a color features prominently and “A storm is brewing up North.”)

What if?

What if we sit here and speak with each other,
just you and me?

What if our speech shows care and respect,
even when we disagree?

What if our friendship continues to grow,
as we share our views openly?

What if our pair expanded to more,
and opinions were honored kindly?

What if our group could convince larger crowds,
that tolerance provides the key?

What if those crowds then took to the streets,
and pleaded for speech to flow free?

What if our world, with its troubles and cares,
could now a peaceful path see?

What if, just now, just you and just me,
could find enough room to be “we?”

From a prompt: What if there are no more what ifs?

Invasion

There’s an elephant in my kitchen.
There’s an ostrich on the stairs.
The zoo’s let out its inmates,
And now my pool is full of bears!

The wolves nap in the bedroom;
The koala’s found the den.
Zookeeper says he’s coming,
But he isn’t sure just when.

The bison chomps my tulips,
The gazelle romps on the lawn.
My home is filled with animals,
But my cat can only yawn.

The lion roars from the bathroom,
A monkey swings through the door.
Please, come collect these intruders!
I cannot take this anymore!

(In response to a prompt, “There’s a baby elephant in the kitchen.” A flashback to my many years of reading Jack Prelutsky poetry to my children.)

Like a girl

I want to play soccer, Mama.
Can I have a soccer ball?
Soccer’s a boy’s game, darling.
But, I’ll play it like a girl.

I want to climb the apple tree,
Mama, can I please?
Only boys scale trees, my darling.
But, I’ll climb it like a girl.

I want to ride the big horse, Mama,
And race, and feel the breeze.
Racing’s a sport for boys, my dear.
But, I’ll mount up like a girl.

Math’s my favorite class now, Mama;
I need a graphing calculator.
Boys will calculate for you, now darling.
But, I’ll figure like a girl.

Colleges are queuing up
and courting me now, Mama!
Boys are better students, dear child.
But, I’ll learn like a girl.

I’ll take a job as an engineer,
Mama, did you hear?
Boys make plans and build, my dear.
But, I’ll design like a girl.

I’ll play and climb and ride and learn,
And, Mama, don’t you see?
The boys, though talented enough,
Cannot compare to me.

Perceptual Narrowing (Through a Child’s Eyes)

Inspired by a Japanese experiment showing that very young babies notice details adults cannot.

“Babies might see things that adults can’t, but adults more fully understand what they do see.” – Smithsonianmag.com

She stares, mesmerized.
I look, and I shrug.
I’ve seen it before;
It reaches her, tugs.

Her attention is snagged,
I’m indifferent, bored.
I’ve been here; so what?
She’s inclined to explore.

She’s new to this world,
I’m stuck in a rut.
There’s naught to surprise me;
But a fresh path she’ll cut.

Thank goodness for babies,
For clear vision, for glee
In the simple and small things
That now escape me.

The devil made me do it

Based on the prompt, “The devil made me do it.” First, a limerick about some of my husband’s childhood antics (with some liberties taken). Second, a haiku about a trick I once played on my father.

He climbed up a dresser, then fell off.
Shoved soap up his nose, oh! Sniff! Burn! Cough!
Sponges in toasters,
Airborne beverage coasters,
He made his poor mum stiff drinks quaff.

The sheriff’s star gleamed
on my father’s plaid work shirt.
His coworkers laughed.

Newcomer to the poetry marathon

Although I have earned a living through writing for more than 20 years, this is the first time I have participated in a group writing venture like this one. The prospect excites me!

Most of my written work has been for newspapers, magazines and curriculum; I haven’t written poetry consistently since my college years. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of creative energy I have now, and to improving my creative writing skills for the future.

My 16-year-old daughter plans to join me in the half-marathon, too. I encouraged my older daughter, a creative writing major entering her sophomore year in college, to sign up, but she is particularly stubborn about not doing anything that comes with a recommendation from her mother. (Sigh.) Maybe next year!

As soon as I finish writing a Little League baseball story for the newspaper and editing the August newsletter for my church tomorrow, I plan to devote myself to exercising my poetry muscles and preparing for the half-marathon.

The newspaper I work for has recently been bought by a large media company, and the stress levels have been high as everyone waits to see who will keep their jobs and what our new working conditions will look like. This half-marathon represents a welcome respite from those concerns and an opportunity to just “put pen to paper,” or fingers to keys, more likely.

Happy writing, everyone!

 

Things that bring me joy (a list poem)

A newly-sharpened pencil
scratching across the pristine page.

Warm woolly socks
pulled gratefully over half-numb chilly toes.

A soft, squirming kitten
snuggling securely beneath my chin.

The defiant block
my daughter stuffs in her
high school volleyball match.

Giggles from the blue chair,
a woman-child ensconced,
immersed in her book.

The smell of fresh-cut grass
drifting lazily
in the kitchen window.

Hymns sung with fervor
by a thousand – no, more,
who gather.
Renewing bonds,
Reviving love,
One friend to another.