Pre-Modern

the-enigma-of-a-dayWe erected statues
to those leaders
who inspired
or enslaved,

back when things got done.
There was a kind of progress—
armies marched to kill,
factories produced and polluted.

It was a simpler time,
when a nation’s wealth
was calculated in tons
instead of bytes

and the elected were meant to lead
instead of distract.

 

(An ekphrastic poem written to “The Enigma of a Day” by Giorgio de Chirico, the Living Poetry September Visual Poetry Prompt.)

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Duty

girl-3395298_1280Yesterday I hosted a germination workshop for Living Poetry. We had six poets working with eight prompts over two hours. One of the prompts was to write about duty.

Duty

Even when the words won’t run
some days they barely crawl
the poet’s duty is to write

Drunk or sober
amused or apathetic
it’s our obligation
to drag a metaphor
out of the ordinary
to reveal meaning
found hidden under
the tiniest pebble
of inspiration

 

(I also used this for today’s Monday Poetry Prompt.)

 

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Chana Saag, Hot

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Chana Saag, Hot

I set fire to my mouth
with self delusion,
misbelieving I could handle
the spice.

Water doesn’t put it out
it spreads it around
like flames and gasoline.

Nose running,
scalp sweating,
lips smouldering.

My stomach — a furnace
whose walls are buckling,
belching like a dragon

until a lovely lhassie
in a mango dress
extinguishes the fire
with her kiss.

 

(From this morning’s Living Poetry Prompt and tonight’s dinner.)

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Asthma

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Asthma

More wheezing than breathing,
like a blood pressure cuff
tightening around my chest.
Shoulders clenched to the neck,
eyes glassy, diaphragm sore,
exhausted from lack of air.

More panic than pain,
being wrung like a rag.
You try relaxing
when your heart drums
too little oxygen
from flaccid lungs.

Pray for that first deep open breath,
that gulp of cool water on a stifling day.

 

(Yesterday’s Living Poetry Prompt was “Inhale“.)

 

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Gerald Ford’s Grave

20190718_150655.jpgMy summer road trip has been disappointing in the lack of any new ancestral graves and I’ve barely made any progress on my genealogy so I thought I’d go for an easy win.

20190718_152510I’ve been collecting Dead Presidents since my youth and Gerald Ford is my 35th of the 39. He’s also my 31st Dead Vice President of the 42. (There are 14 men who have been both President, Vice President and Dead.)

His presidential museum is located in beautiful downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan, on the banks of the Grand River. They wanted $10 to tour the museum itself but the grave was just north of the building and free so I thought I’d pay my respects then get back on the road. But it was such a relaxing space, the modern architecture was appealing and while sitting on a park bench in the shade posting to Instagram, I changed my mind and walked inside.

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The museum is nicely done with lots of artifacts from his and his wife Betty’s life, including a full scale replica of the Oval Office which was interesting if only to provide context to all the photos I’ve seen over the years. It’s big but not that big for an office.

I fully expected the local hero worship and rose-colored glasses of hindsight but since I can remember the Ford administration, it was easy, and occasionally amusing, to detect the overly generous interpretations of events and actions during his presidency.

20190718_152454I wonder how differently history would have unfolded if he hadn’t pardoned Nixon just a month into his term. At the time, as a preteen Quaker boy just learning about national politics, I thought it a reasonable decision. I was willing to forgive since no future president would risk similar ignominy by committing crimes while in office, right?

If President Ford and our “Government of Laws and not of Men” had held former President Nixon responsible for his crimes, would we have sold arms to Iran to fund the Contras in Nicaragua? Would we have gotten lied into a war in Iraq?

Would Donald Trump be just another reality TV star today?

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I Write Her Weekly Haiku/Senryu Challenge #27

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Her sly supple skin
painted with welcoming words
I’m eager to read

 

(I follow a lot of poetry blogs and see various challenges floating around but this particular visual prompt by Bill Wadman got my attention, I assume the reason is obvious. I encourage all my readers to take up this IWH Haiku/Senryu Challenge . The deadline is Saturday.)

 

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Astronaut Sonnet

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Astronaut Sonnet

She floats in orbit
around the pole
wearing a skintight
see-through spacesuit.

She scans the club,
observing the primitives
who slip green paper
into her Möbius garter.

She doesn’t belong,
neither angel nor alien,
strutting eight inches
above the earth.

Marooned by her craft—
tethered to this dreary planet.

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Hourglass Published

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My poem Hourglass was published this morning on Olive Skins, a new online journal for surreal or abstract art. Check it out!

 

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Remember?

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Remember?

Remember when we fought Nazis
instead of defending them?

Remember when we liberated concentration camps
instead of building them?

Remember when we welcomed refugee children
instead of jailing them?

The greatest generation is dying
and their grandchildren have become
the very evil they once saved us from.

(From this week’s Monday Poetry Prompt and current events.)

 

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Lake House

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Lake House

She lies in forest
Green fresh from rain
Living breath of earth
Cool summer morn

Mirrored in the lake
Spinning dawn ghosts
Light spilling over
Guarding mountains

She welcomes me back
Slipping her doors
With comfortable warmth
‘Round my frailty

No longer exposed
At last at home

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(Twelve years ago I left this idyllic house on the shore of Manitook Lake, Granby, Connecticut.)

 

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