The Last Dance Sept. 16, 2018

Blogging…..yes, it seems to be what everyone is doing these days. I had hoped to have my poetry read by putting it on a blog. However, as far as I can tell, there are about 4 people who check on my blog on anything like a regular basis to see if I have added anything.
It has been months, I think, since I felt like carrying this on. If you are one of the few who reads this blog, then you will have noticed my absence. So, I am going to terminate the blog.
I have felt much less like writing anything lately and even less like posting anything on the blog. I will put a couple of short poems on here today that kind of explain my feelings at this point in my life.
ENCORE
The audience of life applauds,
luring me to try again,

to come back to performance,
to accomplishment, to sweat and tears.

But I will refuse.
I have played my song,

recited my piece,
danced my last dance.

I shall rest now and be real.
No more play-acting, no ego,

no need to prove my worth.
No encore.

I will share one last poem with you. I believe it to be one of my best…….

HOW TO HAVE A MEMORIAL SERVICE
(with a nod to “Tract” by William Carlos Williams)

I shall teach you, my friends, how to have a memorial service.
You all have what it takes…..
only memories, please bring them along.

I choose not to be the star of a procession,
no long line of mournful automobiles driving slowly
to what seems like doom, the sadness of cemetery.

My body will be gone, turned to ashes by the pyre,
so there is no need for graveside tears, no need
to watch as they lower me into cold earth.

But do come to honor my small family by being
at their side; encourage and pray for them.
I shall know and be grateful.

No wearing of black, please! My friends, do not
think this shows respect or grief. It only serves
to make the occasion grim and glum.

Instead, wear bright colors, the shades of celebration.
Be joyful as I will be, for be sure that where I am
is a place of overwhelming beauty, where you will join me.

No flowers, please. Give them instead to someone you love,
or someone that I loved. They only fade and wilt and remind
you of our shared mortality. Enjoy them now.

Please have music, lots of music, for that is what I have
loved. Sing joyfully, sing praises to God, sing of
encouragement and hope to each other.

Do not try to suppress your grief. If you have loved me,
then let the tears fall. Tears will heal and comfort.
All my friends will cry with you and those tears

will be my memorial, the memories that will go
with me as I take my leave of you.
I ask only that you not forget me.

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June 15

I’ve been having a very long dry spell with no inspiration at all. I have not felt like writing anything and so I am going to go back quite a few years and share some poems I wrote then.

2005………..

CONNECTIONS

A memory is what we call it,
but it’s more—-because
when spirits touch
they leave a trace behind,
an indelible imprint of influence.

If I allow you into my life
I will never be the same.
If we but speak, you become
a part of my consciousness.

You may go away, or I move on,
but what we leave behind is
the mystery of human connection,
the inescapable enigma of
why I am
and who you are.

2006

TUMBLEWEED

It was there in my yard this morning
obviously not belonging
among the well-placed organized
established cacti.

Monster tumbleweed, snagged by
thorns that stopped its flight.
I rescued it and set it free
to travel with the wind.

So effortless, to free a stray, dry weed;
not like the pains and problems
that blow in uninvited to my life
and are caught there, until I set them free.

WHERE DO THE WAVES GO

Where do the waves go when they reach the shore,
wafting in rhythm across the lake
in their perpetual motion of shine and shimmer,
distracting us from what lies beneath

like humanity, hiding under surface glitz,
endlessly ending at the shore of days,
mysteriously suggesting rebirth
somewhere
on another
shore.

2007

SUMMER NIGHT

I turn out the light.
I open the window shades,
and bathe in a shower of moonlight.

As I stretch onto the welcoming bed
I hear a lullaby rustling and
whispering in my palm trees

and feel the breeze saying goodnight
in the music of a wind chime next door.

May 24

I had to attend a funeral last week for the mother of a good friend up in Albuquerque. It was a long way from the church to the cemetery and hence this poem:

FUNERAL

click-click
click-click
click-click

the hazard lights blink
in melancholy monotony

for all the miles it takes
for the funeral procession

to turn at the cemetery gates,
ticking off our days and years

in inexorable count down,
an annoying reminder

of how we all end—-followed
by a line of mourners

click-clicking their way across town,
hypnotizing us to accept

death and loss

And…….on a lighter note:

O LAZY OL’ LADY O LADY-O

the days slip on by and
I get nothing done.
O lazy ol’ lady o lady-o.

sometimes life’s boring
and sometimes it’s fun.
O lazy ol’lady o lady-o.

I sit in my chair
‘cause I can’t go and run.
O lazy ol’ lady o lady-o.

and I’m quite content
to sit in the sun.
O lazy ol’ lady o lady-o.

So join me for tea
just you and just me.
we’ll be lazy ol ladies o ladies o.

April 26,’18

FOGGY BOTTOM

they call it Foggy Bottom,
but is the fog at the bottom?
or is it at the top?

they play chess there
but don’t seem to know what move to make,
or what strategies to plan.

can anyone explain the revolving door, the
labyrinth where bureaucrats come and go
and shuffle papers until they can retire?

I think there used to be statesmen there
perhaps they all escaped from the swamp.

SONNET FOR A SUFFERING SOUL

How can I listen to such music sweet?
It washes through my soul’s dark night of woe
and goes no faster than my heart can beat.
As it decreases to a passage slow
I close my eyes and feel the rising pain
which none but music’s power can summon here.
The passion of my heart has dormant lain
but now evokes a memory of fear.
I feel a salty tear upon my face
while litanies of my life will still recite
omissions and my failure to embrace
the future while the past has shaped my sight.
Play on, oh harmonies deep within my soul;
consume, and my regretful mind console.

April 16, ’18

WISDOM CRIES

where are the prophetic voices now?
can you hear them?
they are there, muted, straining
to be heard above the cacophony

of wealth and power, of selfish
indifference and indolence.
Will you stop and listen to Wisdom?
she still cries in the street.

Where, oh where are those who
will give their hopes, their dreams
their very lives, to justice,
to love, to others?

Will you come with me into the street?
shall we follow Wisdom,
shall we march to the beat
of her drum? shall we

leave the ranks of the army who
follow the drumbeat
of greed and self-indulgence,
crushing peace underfoot.

Those who step to a military march
see ahead the Mecca of might,
the cathedral of comfort in
a world of wealth.

The marchers in that army stride
on easy street, a smoothly
paved boulevard, unmarked by
prints from their boots.

Those who follow Wisdom struggle
on a potholed, rutted road,
a path our culture forgot to pave,
and they stumble, they fall,

their feet bloody and blistered,
boots long worn through
by unrelenting rocks of caring,
love, and selfless grit.

Somewhere still a prophet’s voice
cries out for justice
and Wisdom leads the way
to peace.

CHALLENGE

It was a mixed talent group,
a choir come together to learn something new.

None were prepared for the challenge. The harmonies
were strange, the rhythms off-beat, and they struggled.

It was a metaphor for life—at first try daunting to
many who aren’t sure they can master it.

Some just go along, pretending
an understanding of what’s required,

needing to be part of a group
while not contributing much.

Some look at the music life has presented
to them, throw up their hands and say

“This is much too hard!
I’m not even going to try.”

Some blame the conductor for choosing music
so difficult. His expectations are too high.

Some look round at the other singers
and think they could never be as good as

those blessed with more natural talent, so
they do not celebrate their own abilities.

But some persevere, knowing it is one challenge
among many, so they look beyond the moment

to the thrill of performance, the final
achievement, no matter how hard it is today.

And then we’ll reach the last page and we’ll hear
those triumphant last chords. The conductor will say,

“Well done!” and we will bask in
his approval and the reward of applause .

March 25, 2018

To the few readers who do check my blog…..apologies for lagging so far behind. I have taken on some new tasks recently that have been absorbing my time. I always vow to post to this blog more often and then it gets postponed.
I hope you will still check it out once in awhile.
My health condition is stable except for my back, which continues to worsen. I am seeing an osteopath at the local medical school here at the NM State University. She may be able to help.
My condolences to you who are suffering still the ravages of winter. Today it was 80 degrees here. Temperatures vary some, but it will get warmer in the next couple of months. Winds are blowing, however, as they always do. If you are thinking of visiting New Mexico, please don’t come in the spring.!
So….here are a couple of poems. I missed blogging about St.Paddy’s Day, so even though it is past, here’s a poem I call

MY LITTLE GREEN RASCAL

A leprechaun is an odd little thing,
I’m sure one lives in my house.
I see his footprints everywhere
though he’s quiet as a mouse.

He’s cheeky and sneaky, leaves only a trace
of his trickery, but well I know
‘twas not me who locked the door last night
and left the dog out in the snow.

He hides in my computer too
and moves the keys around.
So when I’m typing out my poem
he makes mistakes abound.

Things appear where they don’t belong
not where I think they should be.
But it’s rather nice to have him around
to blame things on, you see.

Here’s the sort of poem I write when I’m feeling old:

UNCONTROLLABLE

I can control
my temper,
the temperature,
my tongue,
my children,
my reactions,
my health,
my diet,
but I cannot
control the years.

They fly by me,
laughing hysterically,
knowing they will
have the last word,
when I will have
no control.

More soon……….I hope !! Happy Easter.

February 17, 2018

CANE

When you’re young the cane is candy,
coming from a clown and
eating up the pain.
Later, you discover the cane is sugar,
the bane of your brain.
And when you’re old and vain,
believing morbific pain to be
a common cure for joy,
And after pride suffers a sprain,
unable to feign sufficiency anymore,
the cane appears,
though not urbane,
as karma.

That is a poem I wrote 15 years ago and now it turns out it was rather prophetic. Since I just had my 74th birthday I have decided that I can now allow myself to be officially old and use a cane. I formerly scoffed at the idea, having so much pride and thinking it would only make me look old.
But now I AM old and so I’ve gotten a cane. I’ve been unsteady on my feet, especially on uneven ground, so the cane helps to stabilize my walk a bit and keep me from tripping. I hope.

This next poem was written just last year:

FEBRUARY
oh look!
it’s the month of my birth.
and I cannot decide if I should
celebrate and call my friends in
for a party
or cry copious tears of rage
because of age.

but, seriously, I know that
tears are wasted on what I cannot change
and the years will pass
without my permission.

and so, I will put on the smiley face.
I will claim sageness and sagacity
and pretend I am so much wiser
than the young.

I do, however, avoid mirrors,
especially in changing rooms at the mall,
and try not to stare in envy
at my friends who have managed to keep
their youthful figures by
indulging in hopeless exercise.

For even though the sun is shining
to cheer up a winter day,
I can just as cheerfully sit
and exercise my mind,
losing myself and my cares
in other places, other concerns,
other months that may arrive
and offer hope.

I still haven’t gotten the advice I needed about the spacing of lines on my blog. I keep putting it off. It doesn’t seem to be near the top of my “to-do” list. But I decided I’d go ahead and put a few more poems on anyway.
I most usually write short poems but once in awhile the words just keep flowing out of my pen and I do run on. !

ALONE

Even as a child I looked for solitude,
craving it like one who starves.
First there was my cherry tree,
the one I claimed as mine because
I found the chair, hidden high among
the branches, just the right size for me
with branches curving to make a back
and a seat. I fancied no one could find
me there and I could dream, I could imagine.

The me who grew into the teen years
found a secret hiding place down by the creek
that ran through the town near where I lived.
Someone before me had constructed a rough shelter
under a tree and I claimed it as my own.
When I felt that need to escape,
I walked there in the evening,
through the dark, willing that no one
should see me or find me.
It was a strange and rough place for a young girl
as I see it now. Then it was my refuge,
a place that belonged only to me,
a feeling quite rare. I could cry there,
and think. I could pretend I had escaped
from my life and all its hurts.

For many years to come there was no solitude.
Life brought me people, the “other” who claimed my space,
always there, a presence clamoring for my attention.

But now I have solitude, the solitude
that life delivered to my door
in a package I did not order, but must open.
I cannot flee now to a secret hiding place,
cannot escape from what I have become.

The years that pass are amused at my pain,
asking “what did you expect?”
and so there is no comfort except from
those who share place with me,
experiencing life together though remaining
alone. We cannot help each other.
but only gaze with sorrowful eyes,
holding hands and murmuring prayers.
We cling to our faith, but it does not
dry our eyes when pain dominates the day,
stamping out the optimism that
tries to rise with the sun.

And yet, who am I to complain?
I, who am so blessed,
my problems infinitesimal
in the scheme of things.

January 4, 2018

It’s 2018 !  I always remember when a date like that seemed like science fiction for sure.  At any rate, it is just another year, just another date as the days fly by.

Truly, I do pray that the coming year will turn out to be better in some way than the last one. Most of my family and friends are getting older, just as I am, and so it becomes harder to believe in a “happy” future.  We all suffer aches and pains and diseases of one kind or another.  And then, knowing that 2018 will include a proliferation of political advertising makes one want to put their head in the sand and groan.  Not as bad as the presidential election years, I guess.

We had a very warm fall here in New Mexico, but now it is winter.  Winter here means temperatures during the day in the 50s and 60s (sometimes even 70s) and cold nights.  We are at 4000 ft.altitude, so that is why we have cold nights.  But most days are sunny, making the cooler temperatures easy to take.

I had a quiet Christmas….sang in 3 different church services on the 24th, and went to a Christmas Day service at St.James Episcopal with my dear friends Barb and Jim Toth.  Barb plays organ there.  Then the 3 of us had a lovely buffet dinner at a restaurant.

We had a “Watchnight” service at our church on New Year’s Eve.  I was surprised to see that planned as I had not been to one since I was a child.  I well remember going to a NY Eve gathering at someone’s home and then near midnight they would have a worship service and pray the new year in. I guess it was a novel idea to everyone as only 6 of us showed up for the midnight communion service.  I heard that it had been suggested by an African-American man who attends our church, and he had said it was an African-American church tradition.  However, I don’t think that is where our custom came from in B.C. back in the 1940s and 50s.  I would be interested to know if any of my readers remember anything similar.

I do think it a splendid idea to pray in the New Year instead of partying.  Prayer is so needed.

So…..anyhoo….. I was planning to publish 2 or 3 poems here today, but I am dismayed at being unable to space the lines to make them look like they should look.  So I’m not going to put any more poems on this blog until I can get someone to help me figure out how to do it right.  I’m not terribly expert at any kind of technology.  I do hate it when the poems appear double-spaced and all on the left margins.  That is not the way I write them !!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Wed. December 6

The sun disappeared for awhile.  Days this week have been cloudy and it is cooler.  Slightly more like winter.

I started going to therapy and then I decided to stop it.  That is because the therapist gave me a list of exercises to do and told me that I should do those particular ones and no other from now on.  So I do them at home; I couldn’t see having Medicare pay for me trundling over to the therapy facility to repeat the same old exercises.  Didn’t make any sense to me.  Besides, it took a chunk out of my day for nothing.

So now we are thinking about Christmas, right?  It cannot be avoided.  Here is a poem that I dredged up from my memories:

MY CHILDHOOD CHRISTMAS

only a fresh pine tree,

festive with ornaments

and garland unpacked

year after year,

tinsel reused,

aging yet undiminished

in splendor just because

of the season.

 

what did a child care?

stores were not crammed

with cheap ornaments,

plastic Santas and

fake poinsettias

there were no stores selling

only Christmas (for indeed

you cannot buy Christmas)

 

no TV specials (no TV at all)

no carols played on the

radio in November

so that by December 25th

everyone has heard

White Christmas for

the two hundredth time

with Santa coming to town so often

by Christmas Eve he

becomes a bore

 

Christmas meant

once a year treats,

like chocolate mints,

mandarin oranges, and

the Christmas goose,

Mother’s fruit cake

and pumpkin pie

 

it is only nostalgia now,

memories to be held dear,

dancing in my head

instead of sugar plums

Sunday, Nov.26th

Wow!   Can you believe it is almost December 2017?  Next Sunday begins Advent already.  It is particularly hard for us to believe here in the deep southwest as the weather has been more like early fall.  It is warm and sunny, with cooler nights.  Makes it hard to know what to wear.  This morning when I left for church at 7:15 AM it was not even 40 degrees, but this afternoon it will be at least 75.

My daughter Lara came down from Denver to spend Thanksgiving with me.  We had a good time together, as always.  Her visits are always much too short.

I will be starting a round of physical therapy this coming week.  This time I’ve been given a very experienced therapist. If he cannot help me with the back pain, then no one can.  He explained to me that because of my long history of disk deterioration, I will likely never be pain free.  I knew that, really, as I have been through just about every therapy known….shots, surgery, etc. and still it continues to worsen.  I deal with it by resting a lot, using ice or heat, and my TENS unit.  I hate that I can only walk short distances or stand for short periods of time, but that is my lot.

I guess I’ll start my Christmas card list this afternoon.  I used to have all my cards mailed to Canada right after Thanksgiving.  This year I am dragging.

So……..here are 3 more poems that I have written during 2017:

This one was written last January, not recently !

 

             FAIRY FROST

    This morning was cold and when

I went to my car, ready

to scrape ice off the windshield…

 

surprise!  no sheet of ice was there.

Instead, a frosty fairy had

painted lace designs of winter flowers,

 

intricate, ethereal loveliness for me

to marvel at. I wanted to leave it there,

it seemed unfeeling to scrape it away

 

but Sun was out and his pragmatic rays

would deny the fairy art in time

and  I had to see to drive away.

 

                     METER

There is rhythm in the metronome of life,

a swing dance between birth and death,

learning and forgetting,

joy and loss,

comfort and pain.

 

As music flows in meter

it measures the beat of our lives—

often the steady four-four of day to day,

sometimes the smooth three-four of a waltz,

occasionally the cut time syncopation

of the unexpected,

and we dance to them all.

 

This next one is all about my bird phobia.  I think it may have begun with my Dad’s chickens.  Birds, alive or dead, give me the creeps.

PANIC

Oh no!

How did you get in

the house?

Please, please

see the open door.

You can’t be here.

 

Oh no!

Now you’re behind

the hutch.

My fear is rising,

tears,

gasping breaths,

panic!

 

I cannot leave

the room….

you might move

and I wouldn’t

know where you were.

I must stay

and stare.

I shake

and burble.

 

Hours pass.

I’ve dissolved

into a useless

life form staring,

unable to move.

 

At last, my

rescuer arrives.

A husband who

chirps cheerfully,

“It’s only a bird!”

 

ONLY a bird!

and my

inexplicable

state of phobia.