Year 3

Poetry and writing are essential to my wellbeing. I’ve been writing and publishing for almost half a century, so I write almost daily, but the half marathon gives me a day just to celebrate poetry. My schedule is crazy, but I find a way to make time for this.

Looking forward to Saturday!

Play Is Holy

Playing with rhymes and word lists just because it’s hour twelve:

Take a picnic to the lake.
You can spare the time.
Don’t take
your money job so seriously.

Drive your old Jeep
into the woods. Witness
the glory and the moods
of trees and trails. Responsibility

is overrated. Rest yourself
beneath the canopy of trees.
Breathe fresh air, release
resentments. Gather peace.

The Freedom of Nothing

“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose.”
-Kris Kristofferson

Preacher’s kid.
No freedom at all.
Every minute accounted for.
Every action observed and judged.

You don’t think about it too much
when you’re ten
and a boy. But somewhere along the way
to adulthood,
everything changes.

You resent the prying eyes,
the sinners who expect you to be a saint.
It was worse for my sisters,
but girls are strong as steel.
They each found different paths out.
One married a preacher
(out of the frying pan into the fire).
One finds solace in wine.
One broke the shackles of organized religion,
and found god in her garden.

Me, I still believe,
but prayer is an open road.
I can sleep in an alley
as easily as I can a bed. Find a willing lover
when it gets too hot or too cold.
Leave when spring warms the ground,
when fall cools the air.

Work when I can.
Find free stuff when I can’t.
Nothing to lose but my freedom,
and when the turn comes, I’ll consider heaven
if the rules aren’t too tight.

Ode to the Barnyard Artist

So, you don’t lay eggs,
those golden things,
food of the gods;

you don’t bow at my feet,
cackling joyfully,
like my speckled brown beauties;

but you sing the new day,
and keep singing until dusk,
my farmyard musician;
you flaunt your golden tail feathers,
barnyard couture;
and flap your wings and rise
in an avian ballet.

Hour Nine: Recognizing the Mountebank

“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” -George Sand

It’s easy to be generous
when you have enough.
It’s easy to love
when you were raised with unconditional love.

The real kindness comes from the widow
who gives her last mite.
But what of the mountebank, that con man
selling snake oil so many are buying?

How can he be so greedy
when he always had everything—
private schools, private jets,
gold plated urinals?

What makes the person who was given the world
so unkind? What makes him so afraid?
What makes him need to steal
the widow’s mite?

Maybe he was given gold instead of kindness.
Maybe loss was a punishable offense.
We can’t judge. Something made him. But for the sake of the Constitution,
we don’t have to vote for him.

Farm Girl Pantoum

How did I end up here on a farm
when I’ve always felt at home in the city?
How did I become so domestic,
so unsophisticated, so middle class?

I’ve always felt at home in the city,
but now I look at city lawns in wonder.
So unsophisticated, so middle class.
Wouldn’t chickens and garden make your life better?

I look at those small city lawns. No wonder
I ended up here on a farm.
Chickens and garden make anyone’s life better.
Dirt is sophistication. Chicken shit is real class.

Oklahoma Haibun

Was it three or four years ago that the drought first dried up the creek? It was the summer that the okra blossoms burned up and dropped off, when my harvest was nothing but peppers and eggplant. I don’t like eggplant. Last summer, it was cool here, but blistering in Seattle. This year, I let the garden go. I planted and watered, but I didn’t weed. Volunteers took up whole patches. The bees, the birds, and the butterflies loved the lemon balm, the four-feet-tall marigolds, chickweed and Malabar spinach. I got a few potatoes, some early tomatoes, but then the petunias and the tomatoes burned up. I made note of what survived–vincas, cannas, those peppers again. There was still color, still food for the frogs and rabbits that moved into the garden. In the face of uncertainty, I’ll call that success.

My senator knows
Earth is not getting warmer.
His proof? A snowball.

Ancient Technology

How Grandma loved that attic fan,
and the breezeway between her house and the cellar,
and the big chest-type deep freeze that meant
she didn’t have to can every blessed thing
she put by for the lean months,

and the television
that got two channels, one out of Ada
and the other out of Ardmore, enough
as long as she got Lawrence Welk
and his lovely Irish tenor
on Saturday night.

Iowa

Iowa

Drove out of the parking lot,
opened the door of my yellow Camaro, threw up,
and drove on. Not sure I was the one
who should have been driving. Three women

out for a boozy lunch. This must have been before Mom said,
I’m not watching the kids if you’re going out drinking.

Someone brought up Iowa, that Freddie and Valjean,
were visiting her parent’s farm there.
On a whim, we picked up babies, packed extra diapers,
and took off.

At night, left your brother and Valjean’s little girl
with Freddie. Four women and a baby in a stroller.
We took you to town, to places you didn’t belong.
Valjean’s mom told me what a good mother I was.

In daylight, you sat in a box under a tree, giggled
and grabbed leaves by the handful. Your brother ran.
You guys loved that farm, the farm Valjean escaped.
Poor Valjean. Her mother doted on tiny, graceful you,

not the big-boned grandbaby all the way from New Jersey.
I didn’t understand then about family politics,
about Freddie, the nurturer, who just happened to be
a dope dealer, about disappointment,

or about the changes I had to make in myself
to be a proper mother.

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