The Footprints Of Her Years

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Photo: Louisa Potter on Unsplash

 

 

She spilled

A trail of tears

Along the footprints of

Her years.

 

At first she was the

Princess.

The apple of her parents’

Eyes.

Half-grown, she had become

The Black Beauty

Sitting on the class’s

Throne.

 

When she first met him,

He was her wizard.

Jacob

Of the dazzling blue eyes.

 

They all followed him

Like cattle.

She swooned

Into his charm.

Into what she believed to be

His tender and true

Heart.

 

But her prince charming

Turned into

The Czar

Who wielded

A sharp tongue like a

Purple sword.

Who called her

Drab.

Unlovable.

A lazy housewife.

 

With her

No longer his

Purple queen,

He left in search of

Better.

Found his golden acre.

 

 

And she,

In tears of ice

Wept storms,

As blue fire

Drew Aurora Borealis

Across her broken heart.

 

 

 

For dVerse poetics

 

 

Not Out Of Joint

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The farmer pruning rows of trees,

The seller in the market.

The hens that daily lay their eggs,

For tomorrow’s nest (or basket).

The driver navigating streets,

The postman carting packets.

The parent shepherding a child

In mask and zipped up jacket.

The nurses, doctors

Plumbers, pets,

Who have become our mascots.

The slower pace

The seeking gaze

In meetings held in tablet.

The smaller gifts

That bloom in hearts,

As parks in flowers blanket.

The ebb and flow of day to day

The births, the hope, the caskets.

The love that feeds

The good of deeds,

The evenings’ clapping racket.

For as so many things are stalled,

Kindness grows in ranking,

And we are really not at all

Out of joint in thanking.

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing prompt: joint

 

 

Go Deep

 

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Photo: Amitai Asif

 

Go deep into the space within

Where sorrow holds to joy,

And find the light that shadow

Serenades

In times

Without employ.

Go deep into the burrowed

Land

Where memory resides,

And seek the song that

Dances,

Stubborn,

In your mind.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing prompt: Deep

Note: Dedicated to all who are struggling during these uncertain times. May you find all that you need, in health, in life, in light.

 

Not Welcome Here

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Photo: Franck V. on Unsplash

 

You are not welcome

Here,

With your

Contaminated fear.

You are not welcome

Here,

With words that hurt

And terms that mean to harm, divert,

Self-aggrandize, and

Smear.

There is a bigger risk

In hate

Than in keeping

Near.

You are not welcome

Here,

If you weaponize worry

To steer

Away from empathy,

Away from truth,

Away from the real challenges we share

As we ride great distances

On this one

Sphere.

Call this by its name.

Not by the rhetoric

Of racist,

Misinforming

Jeer.

Address it not in

Murky swamps

That deliberately

Throw mud into the

Gears.

Humanity is better

Than your insatiable need

To infect the

Atmosphere.

We’re on to you.

We see.

We hear.

We will hold steady to what

Matters.

We support the hardworking, factual and

Compassionately

Sincere.

But you?

You are not welcome

Here.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS writing prompt: Welcome

 

 

Them Poor Bushes

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Photo: Burst on Unsplash

 

She figures it would be okay.

She figures it would do.

She’ll find her schedule and get back,

Within a month or two.

She figures she could do the task.

She figures it is fine.

She’d done a thing like that before,

Not quite, but in outline.

Still, she figures it a breeze.

She figures she’d succeed.

Even when history, at best,

Is wondering if indeed.

She figures this, she figures that

In neutral all her wheels,

And it becomes impossible

To not begin to feel,

That maybe it’d be easier

To let them bushes be

They’re beat from hedging here and there

And wishing they could flee!

 

 

Note: This was really just for fun and isn’t about (ahem) anyone … So similarity to any individual is (sort of) coincidental … 😉 Dedicated to all the ‘he’ and ‘she’ and ‘you’ and ‘they,’ who won’t say yea and won’t say nay, and leave us all in limbo every day …

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: figure

 

 

As They Say …

 

Oy vey, Oy vey

Or, as they say.

Bless their hearts,

Now we best pray.

For this pack,

Who clear as day

Have evidently

Lost their way.

 

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: (un)pack

 

 

 

 

Choosing Dandelions

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Photo: Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

 

I wake and turn my back on the clock and seek the comfort of the dream that is still floating like a bubble, already fragile, above my head. It pops and disappears and there is nothing but a vague sense of something lost. I wanted to go back into it … and yet the choice, when it was made in some subterranean neurological net within my mind, was that sleep was to escape.

The day to unfold.

Still, and throughout the mundane tasks of morning, small search-parties like tentative roots into hard-packed sand, send shoots into my consciousness to try and capture whiffs of the dream. A hope that perhaps a fleeting dandelion seed of recollection will find purchase and regrow a stalk.

A place of in-between. Perhaps a corner of my mind is still in slumber. Perhaps if I find it, I will come across the dream, robust in puffy bubble-hood, still tethered to my insides, waiting to be seen.

Sometimes writing helps.

I have too much to do.

I will ignore.

Will choose to sit and breathe and let my mind and fingers wander where they may, the sands of time, the depths of grief, the dawns of days, the fluttering delights, the warmth of recognition, the sorrows of injustice. Currents of discovery of what’s already there. A sea of tethered bubbles like a field of hot-air balloons, straining at the anchors to let loose.

I wrote of a blimp just the day before.

Was that the origin or the reaction to the imagery of bobbing thoughts and fullness so tangible it turns air into rising power? Was the blimp the source or the reflection of the fragility of any skin if pulled too tight, of the leaking deflation if seams are untended, the world upended as it spirals out of flight?

I write. I breathe.

I look pointedly away from the pink sticky notes and the open documents holding forms awaiting filling for a speaking engagement and another for an upcoming presentation and a list of emails needing a response.

I make a choice.

To chase a dandelion.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS Challenge: Choices

 

 

The Parade

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Photo: Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

 

It was partially because they needed to find something to focus on, and the months ahead stretched barren of anything worthy of looking forward to; and partially because they believed they had some yet-to-be-discovered organizational talents and this could be a good way to shine a little spotlight on them; and partially because they knew it was the last thing Mayor Perry would expect. The latter reason alone was worth the effort. Especially when it would be something he won’t be able to admit he was against and may even end up having to endorse.

So they planned a parade.

They enlisted friends’ cars for floats and roped in small sponsorships by neighborhood stores and minor celebrities. They tempted bands and cheerleaders from local middle-schools with free exposure and offered same for the martial arts students from George’s Judo (which, not to be outdone, was followed by the dancers from Teens’ Tap and Ballroom Ballerinas). They raised money (and attention) by holding bake-sales on stoops and organizing a popup donate-your-merchandise shop on the sidewalk in front of the library. They printed flyers and pinned them to bulletin boards then convinced store owners to tape some into their display windows, by telling them every one else already had.

Peer pressure worked.

Most people didn’t ask too many questions about why a “Celebrate Ourselves” parade was necessary, where it had been born or by whom or to what end. The general theme seemed good enough, and it probably didn’t feel right to be against celebrating who one was and what they belonged to and were included in.

They ordered “CO” shirts, stickers, and visors in neon-green, complete with an abstract sketch of a float-turned-banner-turned-thumbs-up to ‘carry’ the letters as the parade’s logo. They uploaded photos of themselves handing shirts to firefighters, visors to grinning grandmothers in the park, and an assortment of the stuff to slightly bewildered parents at the playground. The stickers were a hit with the kids.

They videoed themselves delivering a shirt to the mayor’s office, then sent the video to the local news, who shared it under the title: “The Mayor Celebrates ‘Celebrating Ourselves.'” Social media amplified it.

By the following morning the mayor was accosted by a reporter on his way out of the gym. The insistent young woman shoved a microphone in Mayor Perry’s face and asked whether he’d been asked to be the Grand Marshal.

“Not yet,” he mumbled.

An hour later they were in his office, neon-green shirts on, tailed by the reporter they’d tipped ahead of time for an “exclusive follow-up scoop.”

Soon enough a statement was issued and the news headlined: “Mayor Perry to Lead CO Parade.”

Sponsorships streamed on: The gym the Mayor belonged to. The bank. The local hospital. The Aerobatics Club.

Requests came in for satellite parades in nearby towns.

The national news picked the story. Talking heads nodded and argued the pros and cons.

Mayor Perry marched, neon-green shirt and forced smile on.

 

By the following year they ran for office, with the CO logo strategically in the background.

Celebrating themselves was fun.

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS and JusJoJun writing prompt

 

 

On Thresholds

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Photo: Offmetro.com

 

A few hours ago I stood at the first floor indoor balcony of “The Shops” at the Time Warner complex, “Jingle Bells” playing softly in the background, and stared at the commotion on the street below. The traffic circle and the whole street was awash in red, white, and blue. Not of flags, but in emergency vehicles.

Behind me the shopping center continued its pre-holiday buzz, filled with the distinct hubbub of people at the ceremony of gawk and point, browse and purchase. The mall was festive. Large ornamental decorations hung from the ceiling, and the balcony’s railing attracted a steady stream of visitors keen to capture a photo for immediate uploading into social media. It was a lovely spot to take a photo in, and yet it surprised me how many of the people who approached the banister seemed not to register the events that were taking place right outside the very windows that framed their shot.

It was impossible to miss.

Or was it?

Perhaps the tourists, energetically set to mingle with the locals, assumed that a constant whine of fire-engines, ambulances, and NYPD in a mass of first responders’ flicker is part of everyday in New York City. And perhaps in many ways it indeed is … and I am the one inured to an ongoing level of it. Perhaps where the quantity outside had, for me, somehow shifted qualitatively from the mundane to the attention-getting … the flickering outside had long surpassed the visitors’ threshold and had moved them beyond a place of response …

I considered how this was representative of the way in which, in general, once a “Too-Much” level for something is reached, a further increase in magnitude of too-muchness can paradoxically fade into the woodwork, swallowed by saturation.

A gaggle of teens passed by me, loudly debating the level of celebrity of some pop artist and the likelihood of her responding to a social media message. I found myself thinking of how an aspiring celebrity’s fan mail may be eagerly read when it first comes, every letter representing an individual … but might turn into a mass measured by boxes or at most a quick count of envelopes by the time fan mail becomes too numerous to actually read. One would have to pull out a single letter from the avalanche in order to rediscover the real person who’d placed a bit of themselves into the message. Otherwise, the very same person’s letter would remain as unseen as the rest.

It was the way so many other things — or at the very least the individuality of them — became meaningless when turned to be too many to count or attend to.

A stubborn blare of a siren jarred me out of my reverie and I returned my eyes to the scene outside the window. A ladder was raised to a high floor on one of the ornamental buildings on the exclusive street ahead. As far as the eye could see, Central Park South was brighter and more colorful than the lights around a tree.

Smoke billowed. It was a different kind of column than the one exuded by steam vents in the streets or steam stacks in the roofs of buildings. Fire.

Someone’s home. Someone’s belongings. Someone’s person could be at the mercy of the flames, tittering between existing and being devoured. The safety of the emergency personnel, too.

In this city of millions, it was all of it real. It was all individually significant in its own way.

“Keep safe,” I breathed. “May whatever this is, not completely mar your day.”

 

 

[Click for a Citizen App video of today at that time. Thankfully, all are safe.]

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS prompt: ‘ingle’

 

 

Relative Loudness

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Photo: Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

 

“It’s way too loud!”

Maria smoothed her skirt. Her mother’s sense of what wasn’t “too loud” was limited to washed-out grays, faded pastels, and the kind of drab that would put even a hyperactive child to sleep. “I like it.”

“You can’t possibly think you’ll get the job dressed like this.”

Her mother always went for the jugular.

Maria shrugged. She’d learned the hard way that to show her wounding only meant that more of it was certain to be dished out.

“Don’t come crying to me when someone more professional gets the position,” her mother added.

“Thanks for the support, Mom,” Maria sighed. She grabbed her bag, checked to see that the bus card was in her pocket, and walked out, deliberately ignoring the foyer’s mirror. She’ll give herself a final once over later, against a store’s window or parked car if she needed to. Any reflective surface would be more forgiving than her mother’s eye.

Some days the anger churned inside her like a witch’s noxious brew. A dash of fury, an evil eye of newt, a cup of resentment, a clump of shame, a fistful of sorrow, all stirred with the bone of a dog left to die in the street under a full moon.

“She can’t help it,” Sam, when he was still around, would try to soothe her. He was spared the worst of their mother’s tongue-lashings, being a boy and therefore less intrinsically prone to disappointing her. But he was well aware of how their mother’s wrath was doled onto Maria, and he’d even take blame where he could, knowing he wasn’t likely to be punished for the same misdemeanor, and that he’ll get off lightly when he was. “Mom sees in you everything she wants to be and cannot.”

It was truth. It was also small consolation.

“I can’t help it that she had less opportunity,” Maria would pout in answer. “It’s not my fault she was kept home to raise her siblings and never got to finish school. It’s not my fault she feels unable to try anything, or that Dad liked pointing out how uneducated she was.” And still … more often than not Sam’s reminders of where their mother had learned criticism toward daughters, and of the inordinate amounts she’d had to put up with, did help awaken a measure of empathy.

Some days less than others, though.

And on this particular morning Maria had very little of it to spare.

She’d worked hard to prepare for this job interview, and she’d put much thought into the clothing she selected. The turquoise top and a the splash of magenta in the beaded necklace were meant to put a bit of color in her pale complexion. She coupled that with a dark blue skirt with a banana-yellow belt. A matching silk scarf was tied around the handles of her rather overtired bag. She wore a single turquoise bangle on her wrist, and the dark blue pumps she’d kept for special occasions. Her hair was pulled back from her face behind one ear to reveal a single studded earring, and fell in soft curls over her cheek on the other side.

She thought she looked nice. Till her mother’s acid raised welts of doubt.

A whistle sounded and she turned around fully prepared to frown, only to have her lips turn up when she saw the whistler.

“You look glam!” Her eighty five year old neighbor leaned onto his rake and grinned at her through few remaining teeth. “Big day?”

“Hi Mr. Green,” she smiled back. “Yes. I mean, I hope. Job interview.”

“Ah,” he nodded sagely. “And you sure do look the part! Go get ’em! And don’t you let yourself worry none. Tell them all the good things that you are and can do, and don’t you be shy about it, either. It’s is your time to shine, so you go ahead and speak up as loud as anything. Show them who you are so they not miss the chance to employ you. And swing by on your way back to tell me how it went, will you now?”

She nodded. She did not trust her voice …

But her heart felt warmed and her feet were lighter as she walked toward the bus, every window reflecting rosy cheeks and a sparkle in her eye.

 

 

 

 

For Linda Hill’s SoCS challenge: Loud