Hour 24: Photo prompt, Fireworks

The Independence Day fireworks
In my small hometown were also
Small. And rather sparse.
But we would drive
And sit in the car
And wait for what felt like
Hours, to see the next one
Explode.

When I first saw the firework show for
Pittsburgh’s Light Up Night,
Officially kicking off the
Christmas shopping season
In the ‘burgh,
The dazzling display
Bursting over Point State Park
As I stood with college friends
In the November chill
Entranced me.

I moved to the suburbs,
Where I lay back on the grass
At the local football field
And watched the myriad colors
Rain down, seemingly, all around me
One steamy Fourth of July.
My husband,
Himself of a scientific bent,
Explained the how and the why,
Despite my stated preference
Not to know.
To me, they were just
Magic.

As the world closed in on me,
Making me more aware
Of trouble, of climate,
Of a need for urgent action,
I struggled to find the magic.
The human rights abuses
And dangerous working conditions
Nagged at me.
The environmental damage
Hounded me.
The magic died.
And with it,
A piece of
Me.

Hour 23: A poem about cheese

When my sister and I were young girls
My mother bought us slices of
waxy cheese wrapped individually in plastic
To eat on our sandwiches.

My aunt, who had five children,
All of them older than my sister and I,
Always had Velveeta at her house.
We thought they were very lucky.

My father bought himself Swiss cheese.
Not because he refused to share it,
But because my sister and I, and also my mother,
Wouldn’t eat “stinky” cheese.

I still don’t care for fragrant cheeses,
And I no longer eat waxy slices.
I’m not impressed by Velveeta, either.
A cheddar sharp upon the tongue?
Truly cheesy bliss!

Hour 22: Wake yourself up

I gave up on drinking caffeine,
And with it both soda and coffee,
I’ve been without both for five years now.
How will I wake myself up?

I never have thought there’s a reason
For running just so I can run.
It’s pointless unless I’m in danger.
How will I wake myself up?

My eyes are technically open,
My fingers are typing these words.
My brain may not be engaged, though.
How will I wake myself up?

I don’t have to go to the office,
I don’t need to set an alarm.
Today is still part of the weekend,
I don’t need to wake myself up!

Hour 21: Random prompt, non-rhyming spider poem

Write a poem about a spider. This poem should not rhyme.

My sixth-grade science teacher,
Mr. Lundvall,
Kept a pet tarantula
In his classroom.

The spider,
Whose name I cannot recall,
Was black and orange,
And very hairy.

She — I do remember
The spider was female —
Or at least that’s what we were told,
She was also very large.

Some of my classmates
Would hold the tarantula,
Letting it wander
Up and down their arms.

Somehow I doubt a science teacher
Would today allow students
To handle a poisonous spider.
Times were different then.

Hour 20: Walking at night

Growing up in the shadow of the treeline,
In a house sitting at the base
Of the rolling Appalachian mountains,
I learned quite young to walk by starlight.

Having not yet learned of the dangers
Sometimes lurking in the night,
I played outside, even in the woods,
Confident, as the sun went down.

Packing a flashlight for a week at camp,
I positioned it carefully inside the cabin,
Frequently leaving it behind to stroll
Along the paths in the company of the moon.

Living as an adult in the city,
I learned to respect the night shadows,
Sometimes to fear the dark unknown,
And lost the magic of the night.

Hour 19: Self-portrait

Writing defined my professional life for more than two decades,
Before I chose to make it something I must choose to do.
Leaving the newspaper business behind should have been difficult,
The paper itself made the decision easier by a change in ownership,
Staff buyouts, altered job responsibilities, and a changing situation at home.
My younger daughter entered college, and suddenly I needed to be Mom less,
Angie more. We speak frequently, several times each week, online or on the phone.
My older daughter gets in touch when she needs something or
When something strikes her as absurd and she needs someone to hear it.
My own children have grown past childhood,
But my days are still filled with what feels a lot like parenting
Other people’s children. Before school. After school. During summer vacation.
I’ve volunteered with children of all ages for most of my life; now I am paid
To take care of them. For now, though it feels like a brief stop along my life’s journey
While I take the time to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
I’m really not a morning person, although if I need to be awake,
I’m not ill-tempered because of it. I’d rather see 5 a.m. approach as I struggle to
Finish the final chapter of a favorite book, an ending I see coming,
Having read the story many times before, but still unable to put it down
Before reaching the beloved finale just one more time.
My husband has been my best friend for most of my life.
I do not deserve his patience, but I try to appreciate it.
We are growing into middle age together. Sometimes gracefully. Sometimes not.
God has a bigger purpose for me, if only God would reveal it. If only I would
Search more diligently for it. My parents instilled faith in me.
Taught me the value found in service to others. Sometimes, I’m sure,
They wish to pull me back closer to their own view of God. But it’s too late.
My eyes are open to the horrors taking place in our world and my
Heart has felt the need to be a part of the healing.
Maybe next week. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe today.

Hour 18: Bulletin board image prompt

The message boards in our home
Speak the personalities
Who post on them,
Write on them,
Who decide what is worth saving,
Choose what to keep, and where.

The bulletin board,
The all-business board,
Started life as mine,
With important phone numbers,
Coupons, bills, receipts,
Invitations,
Reminders for upcoming
Appointments.

Others saw its usefulness,
Siphoned space for themselves,
Added documents needing signatures,
Checks waiting to clear
Online deposits,
Warranty cards never to be
Returned.

We added a whiteboard, then,
A place for temporary notes.
“Went to the library. Be back soon,
Love, Mom”
“Went running.”
“Call your sister.”
“I fed the cats.”

The routine messages of our daily lives
Grew to include notes that never left.
Phone numbers with no names attached,
Remaining on the board
In case someone remembered them, and needed them.

Measurements for bookcases and for sewing projects,
Lists of recurring chores
Never crossed off before
Needing to be added to our list, yet again.
Wash the laundry. Do the dishes.
Buy some bread, or milk.
Our lives, our lists.
Storyboards of us.

Hour 17: Gaiman quote prompt

“Books were safer than other people anyway.” – Neil Gaiman

People forget, if they ever knew,
Just how dangerous it is
To read a book.

To open the cover and discover
Again, for the first time,
The birth of an idea.

Words wielded like weapons,
Disrupting world orders,
Creating chaos.

Religions rely on them,
Governments censor them,
People unite through them.

A story holds up a mirror,
Sends out a challenge,
Persuades, changes, reveals.

True wisdom never underestimates
The revolutionary power
Contained within a book.

Hour 16: Sense other than vision

I love to watch the flames
In a blazing campfire
Tangle together, then
Leap apart
In a dance that never repeats,
Yet remains the same,
Never failing to entrance.

There’s depth to a campfire.
More than just how it looks.
More to fascinate and captivate,
To mesmerize and tantalize.

Warmth, of course.
Heat.
Drawing me in,
Pushing me away.
The wanting to be close,
The needing to find space.

The smell of wood burning,
Of hickory, in particular,
Brings me back home,
Sitting nearby as my father feeds
Wedges of wood, too fast,
Onto a fire
In a home-fashioned outdoor iron pit.

Lacking oxygen, the fire
Puts out a call for help — smoke,
Rolling off the wood and
Catching flight,
Reaching for the chance to escape.

A campfire supplies musical
Accompaniment for its dance.
The sharp scrape of the match
Signals the opening stanza.
Eerie silence, a collective
Held breath, hoping for success.
Air blown softly,
Then greater puffs,
Then the faint, unmistakable whoosh
Of flame climbing,
Spreading, pulling twigs into the song.

Sizzling harmonies underlie the notes
As water in the wet wood gives up
And waltzes into the fray.
The occasional “Crack!” divides
the measures into stanzas, verses,
As the melody spins its way
onto the cool evening air.

And finally, as the whirling music fades
Into a lullaby,
One last, long, loud hiss,
The water thrown, reluctantly,
Over the faint red of the slumbering coals,
Plunging all into silence,
Into darkness,
Into the cold
Of night.

Hour 15: Random prompt, Before Darkness

I believed, then.
I believed in my own power.
In yours.
In our goodness.
Our rightness.
Your kindness.
I know better now.
The world is unkind,
And so are you.
Everything feels wrong,
And I am far from powerful.
I am weak.
You made me weak.
You are not of good,
But of evil.
But I will have
My revenge.
Before darkness
Falls.

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