Herding poems

“Nobody ever said to van Gogh, ‘Paint The Starry Night again, man’,” — Joni Mitchell

They appear like apparitions

that my pen races to convert

before they are gone.

I learned very early to carry a little book

to honor their swift flight.

When I first became aware of them,

I gathered them in booklets

to hand out to my angst-filled

teenaged friends. For a certain period,

I sang them. And songs are requested

much more often than poems or paintings.

I’ve never asked where they come from.

I just reach out

and pen them, a living herd corralled.

Who would expect to see a unicorn

with an owl, a buffalo and a panther

all together, pacing, flapping,

rustling for your attention?

I keep them like a box of costumes

for my grandchildren.

Try on any of them,

let yourself be transformed.

I’ll play along.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: costume


Be Right Back

I have tried walking away calmly

while he is reading a book with someone.

I have slipped away quietly

even sneakily

when he is absorbed by puzzles.

Once as he was eating food he loves

I was there and back again

and he never took note.

Yesterday I walked him into the room,

discussed what happened there,

and then closed the door between us.

Oh, the cries, the pounding on the door,

the calls straight from the heart

devastated, abandoned with no resource

no matter who else is in the house.

And the relief on his face when I finally

after two long long minutes

reappear, tears still staining his cheeks.

He has only been on this planet

for a such a short time;

we still count it in months.

I have the feeling that he knows me

in some other plane, and that

he has things to share before I go back there.

That bathroom could very well be a portal

that I use to go back and forth

to a place he loves and misses.

It could be that he knows what I don’t,

that far too soon this grandmother

grandson bond will transform yet again,

that our time together is so sweet

that we should be suspicious

of the doors that separate us

even for a very short time.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: suspicious

Hanging out

As the old man rambled on,

I felt my thoughts take off,

transported on the magical journey,

willing to be led

startled by this new perspective.

This!, my soul exclaimed, rising

in exultation as chains and blinders

fell off so smoothly

it was as if they’d never been.

We walked together on a shore

newly revealed by the dawning

sun, the trackless sand spreading

in front of us, the waves

erasing evidence of our path.

He ended gently and as I settled to earth

I heard one of the foreign students

complain about the boring lecture.

The space between the uttered

words is lost when the translation

seizes it.  Perhaps we can only offer this mystery

like a shell cast up by the tide,

silent but for the distant

echo of the waves.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: lecture

It’s A Kind Of Magic

Once upon a time, I conjured a diamond ring.

No, seriously.  My sister-in-law had lost it

in the wilderness, devastated

and unsure where to begin to search.

The others told her to accept its loss

and move on, but I had just read

a book about nature magic,

so I went to the fire

and visualized that ring so clearly,

focusing on her tears

and waited for a sign.

A single stream of smoke

pointed off to the left,

so I followed it until it dissipated.

When it was gone, I looked around

wondering what the next clue was

and there it was, at my feet.

Her brother had just predicted,

“You’ll never find it,”

when I said

“Here it is!” I couldn’t tell

them what I’d done;

even the restoration of the prized heirloom

would not dislodge their disbelief

rooted firmly as they were

in a concrete world of particles

that do not coexist,

but merely sit uneasily next to each other,

unjoined, disjointed.

Any kind of magic that relies

on unity and connection,

any conjuring that pulls a thread

to reveal the whole cloth

was inconceivable, even though

the diamond sparkled in the sunlight,

even though I held it in my hand.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: conjure

Curious Devices

They taught me that Every Good Boy Does Fine

or worse, Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge

which left me, a good girl who drooled

over chocolate, quite worried.

Since gender wasn’t mentioned in FACE,

I supposed that was left to me,

so I faced the fact that without a penis,

I was ill-equipped for this world.

Actually, it took many years of introspection

to understand that when men write

mnemonics, they forget young girls

are also memorizing history —

unless it is, as some believe, deliberate

stifling of her story.

What if I’d been taught that

Every Gender Balances Divine Family?

Now there is a big thought

for a curious child to ponder

while fingers move up and down

the scales.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: mnemonic

Prizing Silver

You insist that I shine

even when I feel tarnished

way past yellow-gold,

all the way to a dull black.

You tell me that well-used silver

develops a gorgeous, mellow,

soft grey patina,

a lustrous finish made of tiny marks

in the soft metal.

I look in the mirror and focus on the flaws;

you see beauty in me.

In me!  I have not seen

what you do, for I look

through my culture that praises

youthful, unlined faces.

I will give up the blindness

for you.  Accepting my own

beauty is my way of

treasuring the stunning sight

I see, without even trying, in you.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: insist


When inflammation interfered with my ability

to live, I learned to eliminate

every inflammatory-causing food,

every stressor in the environment,

poisons and toxins in creams, shampoos,

conditioners, makeup, hair dye.

It is like going back five generations,

when my maternal ancestors made everything

from scratch, choosing the seeds

to grow the necessary ingredients.

Not so easy to do in a world

of manufactured, genetically modified food,

living in a sealed environment

where cleaning products, furniture,

carpets, even the air

is filled with toxins.

And to achieve an emotional balance

in a world where everything is rushed,

changing, demanding, frenetic —

I meditate

while my housemates listen

to FoxNews and other fearmongerers.

To simplify now means to leave

the mainstream,

purposefully seek the quiet eddies,

listen to waterfalls

and always call back

to the others: this way lies peace

if you can only let go

of the flames you hold so tightly.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: simplify