Hour 14 — Plants Who Love Us

Beth A. Fleisher

Hour 14

 

Prompt:  In her wonderful book Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer writes — ‘In some Native languages the term for plants translates to “those who take care of us.’  Use any part of this quote (with credit), or the ideas it contains as a jumping off point for your poem this hour.

 

Plants Who Love Us

 

When Creator placed the peoples on Mother Earth,

he also provided everything they needed for food, shelter,

clothing, transportation, happiness, and good health.

All of these good gifts are provided by the birds, fish, and animals

and by plants and trees. Native peoples would say, the wingeds,

the swimmers, and the four-leggeds.

 

When an animal is hunted for food, in the traditional

Native way, the hunter asks permission to take its

life for their food, and then thanks the animal for that gift.

Likewise, when plants are harvested for food, there are

ceremonies to thank the plants for taking care of

the people and for giving them their good medicine.

 

Long before medicine was made in big buildings for profit,

Native peoples knew which plants to use for good health,

where to find them, how to gather them so as to protect

next year’s crop, how to prepare them, and how much

and how often to consume them for the best benefits.

All of these things Creator taught the peoples.

 

In traditional life ways, even in 2020, many Native peoples

still rely on all their relations, plant and animal, to provide

for their needs. A familiar saying is, We are all related.

We are all part of this world that Creator has made for us.

We all help each other. We all take care of each other.

We all need each other.  We are all related.

 

Hour 13 — Mental Health Walks

Beth A. Fleisher

Hour 13

 

Prompt:  Write a poem about a physical activity you do all the time. It could be something mundane and chore related, such as brushing your teeth or mowing the lawn, or it could be something you do for fun, or for your health, like running or swimming. The poem can be about more than that physical activity, but it must start and end with it.

 

Mental Health Walks

 

Sheltering at home

sounds so benign

until you realize

what it means.

No going out

no company coming in.

Four walls, two cats,

and cabin fever.

 

We aren’t supposed to

leave our apartment complex

so every day, twice a day,

I take a mental health walk

around our thankfully large

parking lot, which is bordered

by lovely tall fir, cedar, and pine trees,

home to many kinds of friendly wildlife.

 

Squirrels jump from branch to branch,

crows caw out their displeasure

(or pleasure, hard to tell which),

and blue jays swoop in front of me.

I’m reminded that I’m never alone

unless I choose not to see that

Creator sends unlikely friends

to visit on my mental health walks.

 

 

Hour 12 — Signs at the Panama Hotel

Beth A. Fleisher

Hour 12

Prompt:  Take a book off the shelf… First line: Old Henry Lee stood transfixed by all the commotion at the Panama Hotel.

 

Signs at the Panama Hotel

 

The Panama Hotel was old.

The guidebooks said historic, and that’s true.

But old is true, too, exterior

in need of paint, interior needing carpet,

like an elderly woman who needs a new dress.

 

I told my Seattle friend Henry Lee

about my grandparents owning a shop

in Chinatown when they were young.

I wanted to stay nearby and walk around

the neighborhood, see their old shop.

 

He said the Panama Hotel was just the place,

barely a stone’s throw away from Chinatown.

By all accounts, it was still a favorite place

to stay, close to Pike’s Place Market,

where you can buy pretty much anything.

 

So, I had booked a room for one, sight unseen,

and here I was, in my room, which was clean

and tidy and included a small refrigerator,

microwave, hair dryer, iron, and a sink —

but no en suite bathroom.

 

I stared transfixed at the plush, spa-like bathrobe

hanging in the closet. And the sign beside it:

Please enjoy this robe when you use the bathroom

in the hallway. Separate men’s and ladies facilities.

I stood there and read the sign again.

 

Well, I shrugged, at least there are separate

men’s and ladies’ facilities. In my mind, I made

the words sound very proper and British.

Out in the hallway, I was just reaching for

the door to the ladies’ room when a man bolted past me.

 

Close behind him was a little, old lady waving her cane

like a Jedi light saber, yelling “Pervert,” and a younger woman

who was trying to stop her. A crowd had gathered,

everyone talking at once. It was quite a commotion.

Apparently, the poor fellow hadn’t read either sign.

 

Hour 11 — The Peoples’ House

Beth A. Fleisher

Hour 11

 

Prompt 11:  Write a poem about or set in a place you have never been to. It could be a real concrete location, or something more metaphorical, imaginary or fictional – somewhere over the rainbow comes to mind.

 

The Peoples’ House

 

We walked down Black Lives Matter Plaza

to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the Peoples’ House.

It used to be called the White House, but after

the murder of George Floyd by a White

Minneapolis police officer,

and the months of Protests across the country that followed,

the White House became a bunker

for the Never Named One,

and the peoples were kept out by nine-feet-high,

black riot fences and concrete barricades.

 

When the White House was liberated

on January 20, 2021, on his first day in office,

our new President

issued an Executive Order renaming

the historic building the Peoples’ House,

and we stopped at the large, new sign

to get our pictures taken.

 

It was a new day in America, and at the Peoples’ House.

We could see and feel the difference.

On the South Lawn, the flag of the National Congress

of American Indians now proudly flies

beside the U.S. flag

and the Black Lives Matter flag.

Secret Service agents hand us bottles of water

when we enter the East Wing, and the President

and his wife greet us and welcome us.

 

Our tour guide lead us to the Oval Office, and

we were happy to see that the portrait

of slave-owning Andrew Jackson — best known as

“an Indian fighter” for his brutality and genocide

against Native Americans — was gone, removed to storage.

In its place hangs a painting of Chief Crazy Horse,

a great leader of his people.

On another wall, a portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

honors his life and legacy.

Throughout the Peoples’ House, paintings and statues

glorifying racism and oppression had been removed,

and artwork showing inclusivity and justice for all

is now lifted up and admired.

 

When we finished the tour and left, we felt that

the Peoples’ House truly represented all of the people.

It was a good day to be at the Peoples’ House.

 

Hour 10 — Moonshadow

Beth A. Fleisher

Hour 10

 

Prompt 10: Listen to Moonshadow by Cat Stevens. Write a poem as soon as the song ends.

 

 

Moonshadow

 

Grandma Moon

follows me

shining her light

all around me

protecting me

guiding me.

Free as a child I am

Leapin’ and hoppin’

On a moonshadow,

Moonshadow, moonshadow,

Moonshadow.

 

Hour 9 — Strange Firefly

Beth A. Fleisher

Hour 9

 

Prompt 9:  Write a poem containing at least five of the following ten words. If you want it can include all ten words. If this prompt seems at all familiar, it is probably because we do it every year, just with different words. XFirefly. XBottle. XMask. XPorridge. XZoom. XLethargy. XTreeline. XHeat. XStrange. XCottage

 

Strange Firefly

 

Pandemic, Day 146

I’ve been at my Grandmother’s cottage

since Day 1. What started as a weekend visit

has become a trudge of endless days.

At least I don’t have to worry about wearing

a mask here, like I see all my friends doing on Zoom.

Grandma Jeannie lives by herself on a small

private island off the coast of Washington state.

Her A-frame cottage stands in a small, natural meadow,

surrounded by a treeline of old growth Douglas fir.

 

Contact with the outside world is limited to

the red dinghy that arrives the first week

of every month with her supplies.

I normally love being here, but today, lethargy

overtook my normal good spirits.

Surprising, because it was Supply Day,

and Grandma had ordered two giant pizzas

from town, one Classic Pepperoni,

the other, a Meat Lovers Special, both my faves.

But to me, it might as well have been

tasteless porridge.

After trying to get me to eat, with no success,

even Grandma Jeannie was done with

my “lazy yellow dog” attitude.

 

“Here,” she said, handing me a large glass bottle

with a pointed top, “Go catch some fireflies.”

I looked into her snappy brown eyes.

She didn’t look crazy, but who knew?

She held the bottle out to me, shaking it insistently,

and I reluctantly took it. And almost dropped it

because of the heat radiating from the glass to my fingers.

Whoa, what the..?

After a second, the heat diminished to a comforting

warmth, and I went outside.

 

I knew what fireflies were and what they looked like.

Hadn’t I been coming here my whole life? But I’d never

tried to actually catch any until tonight. When we were kids,

my brother Bob did that, but not me. I thought it was dumb.

I sighed deeply. I knew Grandma Jeannie well enough to know

I couldn’t go back until I had caught at least one firefly.

 

There were dozens dancing through the air, blinking on and off,

putting on quite a light show. Should be easy, I thought.

Then I saw this one totally strange firefly. And I mean strange!

It was probably three times bigger than any of the others,

and it separated from the bunch? Flock? Whatever… and

flew right up to me. It lit on the very top of the bottle,

bright green light flashing on and off, wings folded.

Why hadn’t I taken the top off the bottle?

The strange, green firefly looked at me … winked, and smiled.

That’s when I knew that life was about to get

much more interesting at Grandma Jeannie’s cottage.

 

Hour 8 — Platypus and Eagle

Beth A. Fleisher

Hour 8

 

Prompt 8: Translate one of the emoji poems and write a poem by translating one of them back into verse. You can deviate from translating at any point, if the poem goes a different direction. Or you can write a poem about your experience with emojis instead.

 

 

Platypus and Eagle

 

Tyger, Tyger burning bright,

In the forests of the night:

What immortal hand or eye,

Dare frame thy fearful

Symmetry.

            ~ William Blake

Only Creator has both an immortal hand

and an immortal eye,

able to create beautiful symmetry

in two such disparate creatures

as Platypus

and Eagle.

 

Hour 7 — Season of the Covid

Beth A. Fleisher

Hour 7

 

Prompt 7:  Write a poem titled Season of the (fill in the blank). The fill in the blank could be a reference, it could be an actual season, it could be something abstract, or concrete, anything you want. The key is to write a poem that matches, or interacts with that title.

 

Season of the Covid

 

Is there any passing of the seasons

in this crazy world we’re living in?

It all feels like one homogenous thing.

Some days. Many days. And yet

I see

the Iris buds rise from the leaves

and then open into lush purple flowers

with sweet scent of Spring.

As those blooms fade,

I see

my lilac tree is laden with huge ropes

of little purple flowers with pink centers,

and I can smell their deep fragrance from my window.

I see

the first robin with his red breast.

And hummingbirds who have been away for a year

appear at the feeder on my patio to sip nectar.

I can feel

the difference in the warmth of the sun on my back

as spring glides into summer.

So why do I feel like time is not moving on at all?

 

I was talking with my daughter yesterday

about the State Fair being cancelled,

along with all of the 4th of July Fireworks,

parades, carnivals, and barbecues.

That was my “AHA!” moment.

I’m realizing that all of the big and little social events

that normally mark the march of time are missing.

No April birthday celebrations with my sons.

No excited preparation for Mother’s Day or Father’s Day.

No burst of freedom when school is out for the summer.

No graduation ceremonies.

No stop to buy Sparklers and Ground Blooming Flowers for the 4th of July.

 

It seems that from mid-March until now,

almost the end of June,

we’ve been living in one big, long difficult season:

The Season of the Covid.

 

Face coverings, social distancing,

shelter at home, be responsible,

protect the elders, don’t go to stores,

wash your hands, disinfect everything,

make PPE, search several towns to find t.p.!

The passing of the seasons has been usurped

by the passing of the Phases.

 

I find it’s all too much. Too much to think about,

too much to worry about, too much to take in.

I desperately want my old life back,

when the passing of the seasons meant family time,

going on adventures, planning trips, and celebrations.

 

But as I take a deep breath and look out my sliding glass door,

two ducks are happily swimming laps in our closed swimming pool!

I assume they flew in from the more-crowded wildlife refuge,

and as they enjoy this clear blue body of water all to themselves,

the absurdity of it hits me, and I can’t stop smiling.

 

The season of Covid brings its benefits, too.

The decreased air pollution during the lockdown

meant more oxygen in the air and happier birds,

who fill the air with their joyful thanks.

Families who, on average, had 38 minutes of interaction

per day suddenly are together All.The.Time. and

they are learning to talk to each other again.

And K-12 kids who spent hours in front of video games

in their pre-Covid lives, are now outside, riding bikes,

and inventing the 2020 version of King of the Hill.

Workers have realized they can work from home,

and I’m not sure employers can ever

put that Genie back in the bottle…or cubicle.

And we all finally have time to really pay attention

to the news — and we were horrified and disgusted

as we watched George Floyd murdered before our eyes.

And we have had time to take to the streets and march in protests,

rediscovering that the Power really is with the People.

 

The Season of Covid continues. We can either struggle

against its lessons, or embrace them. Some of us have prayed

for Something to wake people up.

The Season of the Covid definitely has done that.

Hour 6 — The Alarm (Clock)

Beth A. Fleisher

Hour 6

 

Prompt 6:  My Own. 🙂

 

The Alarm (Clock)

 

Clearly, the inventors of alarm clocks

and digital phone alarms

to start the day

had a skewed (or totally screwed up) psyche.

How else would they have devised such torture?

On a daily basis, no less!

You’re in deep REM sleep,

maybe in some lovely dream space,

and suddenly there’s this loud, discordant noise

jolting you awake,

dragging you from the dream!

Heart thumping, you look wildly around,

until gradually the blood gets back to your brain

and you realize what it is.

Reaching for your phone,

you smack the blinking X to make it stop.

Ahhhh. Blessed silence returns.

You snuggle back down in your blankets, hopeful…

…but, really, do you have any prayer of returning

to that magical, mystical dream space?

Nope. It’s Gone Forever.

Thanks a lot, stupid alarm!!

Hour 5 — Sunrise on Spirit Mountain

Beth A. Fleisher

Hour 5

 

Prompt 5: Choose a picture and use it as the jumping off point for a poem.

 

 

Sunrise on Spirit Mountain

 

I open my eyes to the first glimmers of daylight,

reveling in the morning stillness,

that soft blue time before the world awakens.

He is standing in my line of sight,

maybe a half-dozen yards away,

one foot resting on a log,

Butterfly Flute in his hands,

waiting.

Peace encircles him.

As I watch, keeping the silence,

Grampa Sun comes up slowly over the mountain,

silvery gold glinting the tops of Douglas fir trees.

He puts the flute to his lips and blows his breath

into the flute, which sings out a flute song so pure

that all our relatives — birds, deer, squirrels, butterflies —

stop their morning rituals to listen.

The flute song,

born of this morning,

born for this moment,

creates perfect harmony between us and all things.

Flute song calls us to walk in beauty,

to love fully,

to forgive freely.

to help each other,

to dream new dreams.

As Grampa Sun is fully revealed, the flute song ends,

he lowers the Butterfly Flute,

and walks silently back to our sleeping bag.

I open my eyes and I am home in my bed.