The Bottom Line (A Non-Traditional Minute Poem, Hour Twenty-Four)

The Bottom Line

 

Twenty-four hours have come to pass

I sit and stare

Through bloodshot eyes

Put pen to page

 

This adventure in expression

Has shown me much

About myself

And how I think

 

Losing sleep, forced isolation

In conclusion,

Was it worth it?

Bottom line, YEP.

 

(How appropriate to wind down a timed challenge with a minute poem! Minute poems feature exactly sixty syllables split among three stanzas. Each stanza follows a syllabic count of 8/4/4/4. A traditional minute poem has a specific rhyme scheme of aabb, ccdd, eeff and must be written in strict iambic pentameter. I chose the tired person’s non-traditional version, which releases me from those requirements.)

Childhood, In Three Pieces (Hour Twenty-Three)

Childhood, In Three Pieces

 

ONE

I climbed out of bed and fumbled through the hallway to the bathroom,

rubbing my sleepy eyes with my tiny fists, even though Momma had told me not to.

I lifted the lid and lowered my Strawberry Shortcake Underoos to my ankles,

grabbing hold of the sink to help hoist my not-quite-three-year-old booty up on the potty.

 

As the golden stream started to ebb and flow, curiosity got the best of me,

as it so often does with children. I opened my eyes and looked in the bathtub to my right,

and screamed like the little girl that I was!

 

There was a dead man in my bathtub!!

 

Fully dressed in a plaid western shirt and faded jeans, he lay semi-sprawled about the tub,

his arms and legs dangling freely over the porcelain edges, head tilted back against the faucet,

eyes closed tight, mouth half open though no sound came out.

 

Momma rushed in and shook him back to life. Turns out, Clifton wasn’t dead,

only drunk.

 

TWO

 

Identical twin boys plagued Mrs. McCurdy, my kindergarten teacher.

Danny and Donny Barlow.

The school saw fit to separate them, leaving Danny in the morning class,

while Donny attended afternoons with us. Soon, he was my boyfriend.

We stole a kiss under the table when we thought no one could see us.

 

Summer passed, and another fall. Rain flooded the streets of our hometown,

leaving drainage ditches to look like swimming pools. Danny dove in…

and never came out.

 

Holding Momma’s hand as we stood at his gravesite, I wondered why I wasn’t crying

like everyone else around me. I overheard my mother talking to Ms. Barlow and learned the twins’

little brother Billy had been hit by a Mack truck and broken his little leg. Spotting a familiar face,

I turned loose of Momma’s grip and wandered across the grass where Mrs. McCurdy stood.

I noticed her eyes were dry like mine. She smiled down at me and hugged my neck.

“It’s okay not to cry,” she said softly, squeezing my hand as she answered my unasked question.

 

THREE

Momma always told us stories of what a wonderful woman Edna Earl, our great-Grandma Burden was.

But the woman we knew growing up was different. Stricken by dementia and confused and often angry,

we only saw the cranky grouchy side of her. She didn’t like it when we were loud, or had friends over.

Little girls weren’t supposed to play with little boys. We were supposed to be seen but not heard whenever our great-grandmother was awake. Saturday nights at 7pm were meant for Gunsmoke.

 

I remember Momma crying on the phone with Granny. I was ten, my baby sister was eight. Dad told Momma to do what she had to do. He dropped her off at the hospital while we waited in the car.

Then he drove us across town to Putt-Putt. We dumped roll after roll of quarters into Rampage as the three of us sat there playing Godzilla, King Kong, and a third mega monster I can’t recall, bouncing from city to cartoon city, smashing skyscrapers and helicopters and anything else in our paths.

Edna Earl was called home that night, but all I remember are screen shots of animated wreckage Dad and Rachel and I had left behind.

 

 

(This poem was inspired by prompt for hour 23, to create a poem about your childhood in one to five numbered parts.)

Tyson (A Tanka Poem, Hour Twenty One)

Tyson

(Yes, he was a Boxer!)

 

My gentle giant,

Ninety pounds of fun and fur,

You kept me laughing.

Your silly smile soothed my soul.

You left pawprints on my heart.

 

                         

 

(A tanka is a five line poem with the syllable count 5/7/5/7/7. This poem was inspired by the Hour 21 prompt to write about an animal.)

Rediscovery (An Acrostic, Hour Twenty)

 

Rediscovery

 

Failure

Is hard for me.

Never do I

Dare to accept or admit defeat.

I‘m invincible, right?

Not on your nelly!

Grief has whooped

My arse in

Every way imaginable.

A once in a lifetime love

Gone forever.

An eighteen plus year career

I built by my blood, sweat, and tears is

No more.

All the security and stability

I‘d envisioned for my future was whisked away, leaving

Nothing behind.

Today, I admit defeat,

Establishing myself

As a three time loser just as

Soon as she files the paperwork and makes it official.

Yesterday may have bankrupted me, but tomorrow is a clean slate, a new start.

 

(An acrostic is a poem where the beginning letter of each line, when reading downward, spells out a word, message, or even the entire alphabet. I’ve highlighted each letter in red to make it easier to find the hidden message inside.)

Cruelty (A Lune, Hour Nineteen)

Cruelty

you laugh when I cry

cruelty

my pain, your pleasure

 

 

(A lune is also known as American Haiku and follows the three line format with a syllable count of 5/3/5.)

 

 

 

Dear PaPa (An Epistolary Poem, Hour 18)

Dear PaPa

 

Dear PaPa,

 

I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but you scarred me for life.

When we were little children, we’d climb in the pickup with Daddy

and drive to your house. You kept the pantry full of Little Debbie snacks,

and every time we’d visit, we’d eagerly wait for that magic moment

when you’d smile and turn us loose in the cabinets, allowing us to chow down

on your stash of brownies.

 

When I turned ten years old, battling prepubescent pudge

and already chunkier than all the girls my age, we ventured to your house.

Unwilling to wait for your permission, I asked if I could have a brownie.

Looking me up and down disapprovingly, you sighed, shook your head,

and asked, “Do you really think you need it?”

 

I was crushed. My lifelong struggle with my weight had begun.

 

I remember how every Christmas, you’d give each of us grandkids a crisp new $5 bill.

Until the number of grandkids exceeded the number of dollars you had to spare.

I didn’t understand why the money suddenly stopped.

Didn’t you still love us?

 

Fast forward a few years to somewhere in my teens. Mom and Dad

needed a night out, and feeling unable or unwilling to trust me,

they left us in your care. Watching TV with you, we passed out on the couch.

Believing we were asleep and the coast was clear,

you changed the channel to a raunchy boob flick,

Private School.

Pretending to doze off, I placed a pillow over my face,

turned my head to the side, and secretly watched through the crack,

thinking you were none the wiser.

 

Until I felt you pull the pillow from my face,

sigh and shake your head.

“If you’re gonna watch it, you may as well sit up and watch it.”

Embarrassed beyond measure once again,

I awkwardly did as you said. 

You were the grown up, so if you said something, it had to be right.

Right?

 

December 1992.

Dad drove to your house to check on you, then called home in a panic.

He couldn’t wake you up. They rushed you to the hospital up the road.

The family came and went, all hours, day and night. Dad refused to leave you,

and I refused to leave his side. The next sixty some odd hours are a blur, traces of faces

and voices, trails of shared laughter and tears. The last time Dad and I went back to see you,

I didn’t know what to say. I saw my Daddy cry, which he never did,

as he held one of your hands and I held the other.

He said his “I love you” and I squeezed your hand silently,

hoping you knew I meant the words he spoke,

I simply had no strength to utter them.

A single tear fell from your eye.

 

That’s the last thing I remember.

 

I’m so sorry….

I never said I love you,

or I forgive you.

Or even thank you,

for the many things you taught me in life,

both good and bad;

for creating my father,

making him the man he is,

who in turn made me the woman I have become:

a lover, a fighter,

a stubborn headed survivor.

 

I love you, PaPa.

 

 

(An epistolary poem is simply a letter written to someone or something. It can be serious or humorous or both.)

Dandelion (A Shadorma, Photo Prompt, Hour Seventeen)

Dandelion

Some see a

wish, some see a weed.

Me? I see

tiny white

arms, reaching out for us as

they blow by.

 

 

(This is the photo provided in the prompt that I chose to write about. A shadorma is a six line poem with a syllable count of 3/5/3/3/7/5.)

On Life and Diabetes (Hour Sixteen)

On Life and Diabetes

 

Unzipping my case,

I fumble for my meter.

Staring solemnly

at the series of small callouses

gracing every digit on my left my hand,

it dawns on me:

my life IS diabetes.

 

Too many times each day,

I poke myself,

seeking the level of glucose

flowing through my veins.

 

Each test leaves behind a scar,

so tiny the naked eye might miss it,

yet so bold it feels like Braille

beneath a blind man’s fingers.

 

If my sugar runs high,

I must inject myself with insulin,

restoring the natural order of things.

 

Should my levels be low,

I must feed my face,

building blocks like protein to

preserve my strength.

 

I constantly check my ’emotional glucose’ meter too.

 

Through pricks and barbs who poke and prod,

I discover where my sweetness levels fall.

Every puncture point leaves its mark

in my memories,

its scars upon my heart.

 

If I’ve been too kind and caring,

left myself wide open and vulnerable,

it’s time to serve up a shot of cynicism,

and remember

that the world doesn’t love

the same way that I do.

 

If I’ve lost my sweet edge

and ventured to the sour side,

I must feast on love and laughter,

and the follies of furry four-footed friends

until all is right with the world once more.

 

Should I choose not to check

and let ignorance be bliss,

I know I’ll not survive.

 

Diabetes or Life?

 

Either way,

you prick me and I bleed.

Sticks and Stones (Mirror Hay(na)ku, Hour Fifteen)

Sticks and Stones

 

Words

penetrate flesh,

piercing my heart.

 

My mouth moves.

I scream.

Silence.

(A hay(na)ku poem is composed of three lines, the only rule being one word in the first line, two words in the second, and three words in the last line. A reverse hay(na)ku is three lines where the first line is three words, the second is two, and the last line is one word. I compiled the two styles together and created the mirror hay(na)ku… assuming someone out there hasn’t already beat me to it!)

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