Betty

Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 85th birthday. As an awkward 20 year old newlywed, I didn’t know what to call her. Mrs. Bell felt too formal. Didn’t know if I should call her Mom. So I didn’t call her anything. It took me years to be able to call her Betty.

She loved me and loved on me. As a mother of three boys, I think she was glad to have a daughter. She always remembered birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day. She bought Key Lime pie when I visited. When she hugged me she would tell  me I smelled good. This poem is for her.

 

August 21, 2017

 

The phone rang early in the murky sleep-state of morning

Packed a bag, boarded the dog, headed home

Into the day-darkness of that solar eclipse

Alabama to  Florida

Ominous shadowed light dimly glowed all around me

Driving home to say goodbye

To someone who loved me unconditionally

Pulled off at a rest stop

Where a stranger loaned me his glasses

To behold this obscurity of the sun

As I looked through bleak eyes

To a future without her

 

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PAD 2019 – #3 – Thanks to Rudyard Kipling and Teachers Everywhere

if-3-logo-png-transparent

by Compello

Day 11 was a dedication poem.  I based this on Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If”.

 

Thanks to Rudyard Kipling and Teachers Everywhere

(this is for those who choose the high road)

 

If you can keep your head when all

– the government who has no clue

– parents who put blame on you

– media who love to prey

– colleges who lead astray

— test companies who line their pockets

about you are losing theirs

– the solution is common core

– and what’s more

answer this heard to read, complicated word problem and you know math

 

If you can trust yourself when they tell you

you should be in another field

(don’t yield)

If you can wait for supplies that never come

and feed the hungry with snacks brought from home

or be hated by that one kid

for something you know you never did

yet be wise, but not a know-it-all

 

If you can dream but know

dreams don’t all come true

If you can think for yourself

not just on cue

If you can meet with fire and intruder drills

and keep the children all around you calm

 

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

twisted by students in their parents’ ears

or watch the pencils you gave your money for, broken

but continue to build up skills with broken tools

If you can make a heap of all your earnings

plus a little extra on the side

 

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

to hold on when there’s not much to hold on to

If you can talk to crowds

or walk with principals and not lose the common touch

If all kids count with you

no matter size or hue

 

If you can fill an unforgiving hour

with sixty minutes worth of all you have

and repeat

your’s is the job and everything that’s in it

then – which is more – you’ll be a teacher, my friend!

 

 

 

Mom

80a

April, 2016

 

Mom was born April 9, 1936. She would have been 83 today. It’s been 14 months since she died. So many little things happen throughout the days that knock me back, that remind me over and over that she isn’t here. I wrote the following poem in April, 2010. It was the first year I completed the PAD Challenge. I never really shared my poetry with her. Haven’t really shared it with anyone much in my family. Perhaps I should apply these words of Ray Bradbury…

“Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art.”

 

Mother

There at the end of the line
The hand of my dear mother
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

Never a woman so fine
There is not another
There at the end of the line

Her spirit, gentle, kind
None else would I rather
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

Growing round her like a vine
Myself, my brothers
There at the end of the line

So lovely, so divine
No, there is no other
Her sweet comfort, it was mine

For days of old I pine
Yes, one after another
There at the end of the line

PAD 2019 – #2 – Mary Cassatt

Day four’s prompt was to write about a painter. I chose Mary Cassett.

 

Thank You, Mary Cassatt

 

no need to be a mother

to portray the loveliness

tender and soft

of mother and child

but her woman’s touch

and child’s heart

has given us a glimpse

of a love so real

her courage as a woman

in a man’s world

has given us beauty

has given us joy

in the high calling

of motherhood

PAD 2019 #1 – Worst Case

OStock Inventory

graphic-OStock Inventory

So, PAD started on Monday. Poem-A-Day for those of you who don’t know. This is my 7th or 8th year participating – I’ve got to check on that. Anyway, I am super excited and motivated now because for the first time I’ve had a poem accepted for publication in a literary magazine. More on that later.

Tuesdays during PAD are always Twofer – two prompts to choose from or to combine, whatever suits the fancy. This Tuesday it was Worst Case/Best Case. I’ve been reading a lot of stories lately where there is much hardness, tough times, sadness – scenarios I cannot always relate to.

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines

Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry 

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

 

I began thinking about what to write for “worst case”. I’ve worked many different jobs over the years: babysitter, fast food, retail, home daycare, customer service representative in a credit department, house cleaner, freelance writer, janitor at a school, teacher, substitute teacher, tutor, general office worker. Plus mothering. I remember the worst job I ever had. It didn’t last too long. I found something else, but I don’t remember what. I worked for a company that went into retail stores and completed an inventory. That job inspired my poem.

Worst Case

that time she worked for the inventory company

left her babies to ride in a van

full of people she didn’t know

who laughed over last night’s escapades

and told dirty jokes

for an hour and a half

to a hardware store

in a podunk town

with dust covered shelves

where she counted boxes of nails

and smelly bicycle tires

she couldn’t hold it any longer

so went into the dirtiest

bathroom she’d ever seen

used all her muscles

to not touch the toilet seat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April in the South

bird photo.JPG

The PAD prompt  for Day 14 was the word “report”. Here’s mine.

 

April in the South

Canceled plans for the day

Checked radios and batteries

All day long the weatherman predicts

But no one really knows

Just when and where

In the backyard cardinals gather

Do they understand?

Where will they shelter when the storms arrive?

A breeze belies what is to come

A brief reprieve in the heavy air

Pressing all around

A pale haze under darkening skies

Waiting, waiting

 

Favorites

The prompt for PAD Day 16 was to write a “favorite” poem. I wrote this using a Bop poem format…

Favorites

What’s your favorite is a hard question
Who’s your favorite is loaded
Say green instead of yellow
Anytime, and no one cares
But if it’s political or familial
Look out and step lightly

I love, I like, I’m a fan

My favorite today may change
But doesn’t just blow with the wind
It grows and evolves
I am allowed to prefer
Southern rock over classical
There’s room in my spirit for both
I can love pie best
Without giving up cake

I love, I like, I’m a fan

The better question might be
What’s your favorite today?
Don’t answer to tickle the ears
Be honest and sidestep
If you must
For who doesn’t prefer peace?

I love, I like, I’m a fan

This reminded me of a portions of the lyrics of Murder in the City by the Avett Brothers.

…I wonder which brother is better
Which one our parents love the most
I sure did get in lots of trouble
They seem to let the other go

A tear fell from my father’s eyes
I wondered what my dad would say
He said I love you and I’m proud of you both
in so many different ways…

 

mebros

“Always remember there was nothing worth sharing

like the love that let us share our name.”