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!

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

 

 

Little Boy

e1

PAD Day 4 was to write a portrait poem. This one’s for E.

 

 

Little Boy

I know you like smoked cheddar,

but not that weird cheese, Ricotta

you know every Star Wars character

and superhero

but you didn’t know your great-grandpas

your cow-lick is untamable,

your curiosity insatiable

you are lanky and heavy footed

you love videos that are silly

and reading in bed

you have a wonderful laugh,

but it stays buried inside too often

when you sleep you sleep hard,

then you are up with the sun

you are the little boy

I will always love

 

 

Case Cutters

The prompt for PAD Day 4 was Case ______. This isn’t my best work, but I can’t help but think there are others out there that feel the way I do on the topic.
cc3

Case Cutters

There is something about a case cutter
That gives me the heebie-jeebies
Give me a knife any old day
I can handle an ax or a hatchet
Scissors are simple
Toe nail clippers a breeze
But keep those case cutters
Away from me

The First of May and The Poet

The First of May 

 

So, the last day of PAD arrived with a prompt of “The _________”  . I went with the theme of the whole month. I love this poetic marathon every year; I just hope to keep at it. I hope to polish up a few poems and submit some for publication. Perhaps THIS will be the year!

cold bell

2017

 

The Poet

she breathes the air of yesterday
infused with memories sweet and clear
outside her window, falling rain transports her
to childhood afternoons
or to the coast of Ireland
or to a washed out hope

she dreams of possibilities and regrets
possibilities give her words that soar
regrets form melancholic stanzas
and so she writes
into the night
on tear-stained paper

she walks through days alone
gathering images and syllables
saving them in her pocket
hiding them in her heart
until they spill out
unrestrained and satisfying