Last night I read one of my poems for the first time, behind a microphone, at a poetry event in downtown Des Moines. There was a large gathering, more so than I’d expected. The crowd was diverse, eclectic and punctuated with young folk, some high school age, most in their twenties and thirties. A few oldsters such as myself were in attendance. At 60, I had to wonder if I wasn’t the oldest person in the room. No matter. It was exciting to see so many young people, ardent devotees of the written and spoken word: the beauty and angst of poetry.

The readings were, in large part, tributes to the cadence of hip hop and rap, speaking universal themes of love, discovery and acceptance with a few jabs at the current administration thrown in for good measure. And while there were some very good offerings, I cannot help but wonder how these young talents might translate to broader topics, interests beyond transgender discrimination, rape culture and lesbian love. An observation, mind you, not a critique…

As for my own experience, I was only a little shaky. I belong to three groups, two of which are devoted to the process of writing, the other to poetry. Each is unique in both their format and their focus. All are made up of wonderfully gifted and interesting individuals. Sharing my poems and writing is somewhat the same at these venues, sans the microphone and stage. At our group gatherings, we sit around a table, made up of known and friendly faces. Quite different from standing slightly elevated with dozens of pairs of eyes sitting around the room before you. But – doable, indeed.

It was an interesting evening, something quite different from the basketball game we’ll attend tonight, to be sure! I enjoyed myself and hope to engage in a repeat performance.

I [heart] you lovely husband
curled up together in our stretched out recliner
cheek to breastbone
loving the sound of your labored breathing
as we both struggle to stay awake
watching Saturday Night Live
all cozy and such
knowing we should untangle our wayward limbs
and hobble down the hallway to the waiting warmth of bed
but this feels too good
to let go of it just yet.

Daily Prompt: Cozy

Confession may be good for the soul
but there are things I cannot tell you
secrets that might shatter your heart
atrocities that occurred a lifetime ago
opinions that are mine alone
things that today matter not in the least.

And besides: whose soul are we talking about here?

Yours
or mine?

Yours doesn’t need the pain
and mine needs only my own absolution.

And that, my love, I’m working on in my own sweet time.

Daily Prompt: Confess

On the 13th of December, an XPressPay invoice email appeared in our Inbox. My husband, Bill, uses XPressPay to pay our Norwalk utility bills. Nothing unusual here except I noticed the subject line on this particular email (which I chose not to open and read so as to not ruin the surprise anymore than seeing this had already done!) read 2018 Dog License Application.

Holy Cow! I thought. Bill did it. He got me a puppy!! We’d just seen a gorgeous cock-a-poo a few days earlier while walking at Gray’s Lake. The owners gave us the breeder information and later that day Bill made the comment ‘maybe we should get you a puppy’. I said nothing at the time so when I saw this email my heart soared!! OMG. A puppy!!

I started to prepare myself for impending puppyhood. I read articles and posts about the first 24 hours home, the first few weeks & months and how to train, feed and care for my new puppy. I was STOKED and looking forward, although somewhat anxiously, to opening our home to a new companion.

Christmas morning – crickets.

I waited patiently, wondering how Bill was going to spring it on me. Was he going to give me a dog leash or the license tags wrapped in shiny Christmas paper? Or maybe he’d wrapped the crate we’d use to bring our new puppy home from the breeder. Bill said nothing. At noon we headed to Kent & Kim’s for dinner and gifts. Perhaps he would present me with the accoutrements of dog ownership there when we exchanged presents with family. Or – OR!! Maybe Kent & Kim actually had my new puppy waiting for me at their house!! OMG. My tummy was doing flip-flops. I was nervous, excited and anxious.

We get there. The house was pretty quiet. No furtive glances. No coy looks. No puppy sounds emanating from the basement (maybe that’s where they had him?!?) I continued to wait. Lunch was a little delayed so we decided to open gifts before we ate. OMG. Here we go!! I waited. And waited some more. And then – it was over. Time to eat.

Nothing.

What the heck?!?!

Later in the day, Bill and I sat off to the side on the couch in the living room, family busy elsewhere in the house. Quietly, I told him about the email and wondered out loud ‘what gives?!?!’ Bill had no idea what I was talking about. “Dog license? You think I bought a dog license for someone?” Then: “Oh. You thought I got YOU a puppy?” He truly had no idea what I was referring to. Finally, I realized he was sincere. He felt bad. No, he hadn’t gotten me a dog. “Let’s go get you one tomorrow”, he said. “If you really want one.”

So.

No puppy. Somehow a huge mistake. I don’t know why we got this email. When we got home late last night and opened it up to read it, all that it contained was a blank application form. NO clue as to why they sent it.

This morning I told my husband that maybe winter wouldn’t be the best time to get a puppy. We’ll revisit this discussion come spring.

Sigh. No furry little friend – for now.

And still, I wait…

stardust and pixies
Dark Shadows and Salem witch trials,
ethereal creatures on my mind.
strung-out childhood memories of
fireflies & Purple Passion
Life Saver books
(butterscotch, my favorite).
six girls in the back of Dad’s pickup truck
take me home country roads
sunlight stretching long and bright
unending summer days,
winter’s blast providing other joys:
snow forts, sledding, skating (always) on thin ice.
oh, to be the young girl I once was
with the opportunity to seek
the potential that hid itself from me
but knowable had I only thought to look for it
and to believe that I was enough.

Steve placed the King James, opened face-down, on a three-legged stool, not far from the searing heat of the roaring fire. Revelations had nothing to reveal to him. It made no sense, no matter which way he sliced and diced the thing. He felt as if he’d lost his way over the years, finally unshackled from the orthodoxy of indoctrination that had gripped him at an early, impressionable age and that was, he thought, fine by him.

Religion had lost its luster. The hold it had on him had become looser and flimsier in this, his eighth decade on the planet. Nature was his god now. His mind was sound, his 75-year-old body still fit and trim. Daily walks on the beach, gathering driftwood, sifting through tidal wrack to unearth man’s middle finger of careless disregard for the beauty and awe of the world, had taught him many things, not the least of which was the propensity of humans to look outside themselves for solace, for answers, for comfort. All that was required was within. Steve understood this now.

Majestic nature, the silence of being, the grandeur of it all inspired his devotion: oceans, mountains, streams and fields and hills, lakes, creeks, ponds and marshes. The diversity of plants and animals, the glorious and changing seasons, the powerfully awesome forces of the skies – these were no trifles. They were his all. These spiritual elements comprised the core of who he was and what he believed in. More importantly, they inspired him to live in the moment and to be grateful for every morsel of this beautiful cocoon that enveloped him in its tender, ferocious arms.

At one time, he felt torn about his evolving views. No more. This was Life and he would cherish and nurture and enjoy it for as long as he was fortunate enough to do so.

Daily Prompt: Torn

rain and a northwesterly wind of near monsoon proportions rattling the windows
yet another addictive Netflix series to (happily) consume our evening hours
two heaping bowls of air-popped popcorn, with just enough salt & butter
colorful throws pulled up tight to ward off winter’s chill
the only source of light emanating from the big screen: The Crown, Narcos or Peaky Blinders.
i steal a peek across the room at my handsome husband, munching popcorn, his eyes intent on Pablo Escabar,
his beautiful profile nearly taking my breath away.

you ask me what is bliss? it is just this.

Daily Prompt: Bliss

I watched a tractor through the magnifying magic of binoculars this morning. Unaided, I was just able to make out his high beams (why they were on I haven’t a clue as the day is bright, despite the heavy blanket of clouds in the sky) but through the lens, details began to emerge as the tractor ran its errands. To the side in an adjacent field, I saw a white pickup and a newly-clear view of what is normally admired via a quick glance out our sunroom windows. Canada geese flew into my line of sight and, setting the binoculars aside, I noticed a squirrel scampering across the third hole, skirting the bunkers. The pond on the far end of the second fairway patiently waits for the geese to land, arboreal sentinels keeping watch. Purple finches, closer to home, approach our feeder, happy I’m sure, that only yesterday I refilled it with the black sunflower seeds they so heartily crave. There is no snow – just yet – and we’ll enjoy temperatures in the 40s and 50s the next several days but make no mistake: winter is coming.