Gatherings / Prompt #12

Whether I was a child or the sage adult I grew to be,
summer always brought
summer camp with hikes, dances, competitions, long evenings of songs and secrets 
daily bus rides with bumps and jolts and everyone piling on then scrambling off
ball games with hot dogs, a trusted mitt nearby for that foul ball, waves among the crowd

Bustling and jostling against others were part of life.
Now I cherish calm rituals with a few loved ones, 
even as we slowly emerge from behind our masks.
I have changed, content with my smaller yet deeper world
still connected with others when I see them with softer eyes. 

Summer is beautiful, but it has transformed for me.

A Poem Sans Laugh, Laughter, or Giggle // Hour #11

All he wanted for Christmas was the job as that jolliest old elf. 
Part-time gigs weren't too hard were they? Ah, but nothing was guaranteed these days. 
He knew what he had to do.
What should he reserve for the teens too old to be there in the first place? 
He'd smirk a slight titter with just the right tilt of his head with arched eybrows.
For the parents serving up the usual jokes, he'd chuckle or chortle, 
his voice now taking on the deep tones with his shoulders bouncing up and down just enough.

Of course, for the children old enough and brave enough to bounce on his lap, pull his beard,
poke at his eyes and nose to see how he'd react, he could call out each "ho ho ho" 
from a jiggling belly strongly enough to send them bouncing onto the floor if needed 
-- not too hard, just enough to guffaw "Merry Christmas" as helper elves escorted them away. 

He practiced in the mirror. Cookies and milk through the nose was tricky to master. 
"Heehaws" were nixed because they sounded too much like tippled reindeer on New Year's Eve.
He watched Fr. Christmas over and over on tv, determined to copy such impeccable style. 
Such joy was hard to fake this season when so much had gone wrong. 

Still, he was spending Christmas with his grandchildren, 
three-year old twin boys and their one-year old twin sister. 
As Santa Claus, he would learn what gifts other children dreamt of opening, 
and he'd buy them for his family's Yule - their first together in two years.

There he stood in front of his looking glass. His red jacket was draped on the bed but 
his black boots were polished so brightly they shone, 
golden suspenders held up pants up while sparkling against his as fresh white shirt.
Three little ones tottled in, cried out, "Santa Claus!" and showered him with hugs. 

Deep within his heart, a babble started trickling softly, crescendoed with each kiss,  
and then pealed out in pure joy. Soon all harmonized with a whimsical, gleeful chorus. 
Yes, he would get this job. He had found his Christmas song.            

Butterflies On Strike / Hour #10

"Strike!" Everyone heard that cry sounding throughout the field. 
Enough is enough, and they were tired of having to find new homes each year
because of a soccer field, a mall, a high rise, or an expanded interstate. 
Nope, they were going to stop fluttering and focus more on the butter side of life. 
Smooth, easy to handle, just being lovely, and laying there - just laying there. 
They also began chit-chatting, singing, gossiping, complaining, telling bawdy jokes,
alternately heckling or whistling at passersby. It proved to be fun, after all. 

Some butterflies figured they could do this for their remaining days;
others figured they could just keep doing this up to the end of their year.
So sweet it was to realize others would be coming along after. 
Thicker and thicker they stacked upon the ground, organizing more and more. 
Practicing speeches for television broadcasts, interviewing each other, and
sending a few delegates to spread awareness and organize in other communities. 
They were growing bolder and stronger. 

Who can blame them, really?   
After all, we all knew what happened to fireflies and lightning bugs from childhood. 
How many stars can we see looking up into the night sky? 
What happened to the many animals that were so abundant and shared the world with us?
Think back on your own childhood; go out into the evening's shadows tonight.
See if your world looks the same. 
The butterflies had had enough, plain and simple. They were on strike.


Alphabet Soup: Hour #9

A is for the aisle I wandered in Dollar General with a 
basket in my hands: Alphabet Soup stood there, waiting for me.
Closing my hands around the can, I took another three, then the remaining four. 
Different friends came to mind with 
Each passing moment: long walks home with 
friends who would join me for lunch. 
Gooey grilled cheese sandwiches and alphabet soup
had us giggling and spelling out words
in those years of learning for fun, not for a 
job or promotion or certificate but rather for the joy of 
-- nope, nope, nope, No K in this bowl
learning and making friends and exploring 
my world through books, bus rides, shops, 
neighbors, and long afternoons of dreams.
Of course, I knew I was growing too old as the gold years flew by. 
Perhaps I could hold on, however, for just a moment as 
quiet magic (the best kind) stopped time. It happened, 
really it did, that afternoon I went walking and 
stepped inside the store with everything just for me.
Touching the jumpropes, plastic flowers, and pinwheels helped me 
understand the great wisdom of slowly slurping each 
wonderful spoonful of soup after forming words in a game, an
X bringing extra points, of course. 
Years vanish when I eat this lovely soup. 
Zillions of childhood memories come all at once with each bowl. 

A Home Within

Searching for our house, your eyes gleamed when you saw this and decided we had found home: 
a sturdy dog house, surely strong enough for quite a gentle giant. 

You had visions for it, knowing exactly what you wanted.  
You brought in a poker table with leather top and side pockets for game chips, 
decorated with vintage posters from feather and boa days, a special chair for me. 

This shed made our home your castle, 
and your poker table provided escape, wealth, chance, and deeper connections to others. 

When friends suffered illness, you made it all the more accessible and comfortable; 
when each member lost a loved one, you created a space of listening among jokes and cigars. 

A treehouse in youth, a motorcycle in your adventure years, and now a den for fellowship, 
searching for our house, your eyes gleamed when you saw this and knew we had found home. 

This shed made our home your castle.
A favorite among all your friends, you created their haven for games and deepened friendships. 
It grew richer with each passing year, each joke and confidence, and a patina of smoke and tales.

Death transformed every aspect of our lives during the world-wide crisis, and friends moved or fell away. 
Yesterday a young man discovered your poker table as front lawn trash and seized it with bright eyes just like yours had been.

Love and Wisdom / Hour Seven

Flowers from branches above

murmur that one melody from

so long ago, their time before.

It sings now on the wind,

tones in minors yet so powerful.

Impetuous and wild-eyed while

pining and planning for excitement

the world over,

she saw his gentle smile and stopped

suddenly still in the madcap, open world.

He’d been to the world, called out in return when

he needed to serve and every night saw

home grow more focused in his wizened eyes, and

her boundless energy took ever more colors

with each dream.

Their first dances were on busses with

transistor radios, church galas with

crepe paper decorations, jazz dives with

grizzled poets scribbling to notes played

while the two swayed everywhere, anywhere,

each day they had together.

The songs play now in improvised notes,

a phrase wafting in on the breeze in harmony

with the rustles from above.

A lifetime of holding each other gently,

a tender blessing to each other,

they sit together and envision their next adventure

while their hearts dance in bliss.




A Bountiful Day

Suppose we do return again as animals,

well, Alfred is the dog I want to be when I live again.

Notice his wizened eyes gazing upon us with both

pride and majesty on his spacious chair ready for his next nap.

Having traveled the world on grueling expeditions and youthful larks,

he has known bitter, uncompromising work and exhuberant, blissful adventures.

He now reigns over his house with his seventeen children, eighty-four grandchildren, and

too many great-grandchildren to keep track of as he listens to them all bark

their birthday greetings. Ah yes, today is his bountiful day as we celebrate his bountiful life.

Hour #5 / Ba da-da dah dah dah dah . . . . .

Got my hardback novel ‘neath this old oak tree.

A sunflower springs up behind me,

feeling groovy.

So I sing to myself

over and over.

Groovy, recapturing youth.

Groovy, slowing down in the midst of great change.

Groovy, delighting in the life we’ve been knitting from

improvisation and heartache.

Ba da-da dah dah dah dah . . . . .

Ba da-da dah dah dah dah . . . . .

Ba da-da dah dah dah dah . . . . .

Yet the words no longer rhyme.

We look for our sunshine silhouettes

on the pavement

making us taller and bigger and better, just as we want to be.

Yet, we know such fancy and hope no longer exist.

Sweet innocence does not return

as we gather treasures in

a satchel,

a cigar box,

a childhood lunch box.

Such carefree memories we will whisk away and

shut forever with this nail of time and

cruelty which has wizened us.

We try to sing, but the words won’t complete.

Ba da-da dah dah dah dah . . . . .

Ba da-da dah dah dah dah . . . . .

Ba da-da dah dah dah dah . . . . .

The song will not complete,

so we make space for silence.





2122 and 1922 Prompt Hour #4

Step Right Up! Step Right Up! Ladies and Gents.

The tour will begin soon for you lovely Ladies and Gents.

This brave new world of 2122 promises to bring you shudders of delight.

Notice the beauties!

Bobbed hair, bared knees and shoulders, lips painted just right, just right, just right, just right, but still no rights.

Oh yes, you have the vote. So go ahead and be sure to vote dear little ladies.

health care, credit, jobs, and children remain under the domain of husbands and your politicians

Yet still, vote, little ladies. Your Charleston plays on and on. . . .Step Right Up!

Sail down this river with me.

Fordland’s rubber empire has been de-rusted and polished.

Marvel at our space-age assembly in this cleared Amazon forest.

True, we don’t need to see those who live behind the factories.

After all, poverty is such an ugly plight.

All is right, right, right and humming in this tropical Brazilian night.

Sway to the beats of the Brazilian Samba as we dance through the night.

Step Right Up! Step Right Up!

What fun we’ll have as we wander into those naughty neighborhoods.

We will dance to the Darktown Strutters Ball, delight in exotic Oriental and Egyptian smokes.

indulge in all that is outlawed and expensive. Your needs are settled for today, just today.

We just clear away debris and make everything shine for you so it seems right, right, right.

Step right up, Little Ladies.

Step right up.


Our Waltz // Prompt #3

Oh, how we’ve danced these last two years.

Our first twenty? Merely practice for our waltz

of surviving, fretful tears, hushed and distant goodbyes.

We breathed the same air, now precious and scarce

as our world gasped for more through sobs and jolts.

You bowed then tipped your hat, and I curtsied with

a demure glance again to catch your direction.

Where would our dance lead us?

This same dance of rhythm, two four six eight steps

repeating the melody in a song which grew deeper,

more resonant each day we were blessed to dance.

You are now the one closest to me,

mine who grew closer as our pivots changed to pirouettes.

Our shared precious air, our quiet sky, our shaky dance,

drawing us together in our daily gavotte, our high steps,

our shimmy, our moments of stillness as music swept over us.

You have been the truest partner in our waltz.


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