Haiku Hour

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Haiku Hour

Can’t sleep, up at five
check my phone for messages
someone liked my post

I eat my breakfast
granola and some coffee
now to get to work

I could try haiku
I get a pad of paper
broken pencil point

maybe I’ll give up
go back to bed and dream of
being late for school

but something tells me
try again, you idiot
so what can I do?

another coffee
a sharpened pencil this time
and an eraser

it’s five thirty now
the sun has not arisen
birds are still asleep

my street is quiet
I don’t hear any traffic
writing time is now

ten minutes have passed
I have not written a word
the page is empty

maybe I should try
a little meditation
and see what happens

find a quiet spot
close my eyes, breathe in, breathe out
repeat my mantra

buzzing in my ears
I feel like I am floating
a dog is barking

five barks in a row
silent for a moment, then
seven barks, then five

secret learned today:
all the world is poetry
glad to be alive.

© Lori Bonati, 2017

Badge 2017

Little Lorraine

photo-1494980947829-a7f5002f8c94Photo by Steve Shreve on Unsplash

Frank was a darkly handsome city boy, the oldest of five half-orphans (his father died young), and an Italian through and through. Alice was a shy, fair-haired country girl, an only child, and either German or French (nobody knew for sure). They met in 1948 and fell in love. Frank was twelve years older than Alice. He was also five inches shorter, but Alice looked up to him just the same.

Nine months and five days after their wedding, little Lorraine arrived.

They named her after a song (Sweet Lorraine), and at the age of three she was singing Nat King Cole tunes to people in the grocery store. When the Ted Mack Amateur Hour came to Buffalo, Frank put four-year-old Lorraine in the front seat of his Ford sedan and drove her to an audition.

On the way home, Frank told Lorraine that she hadn’t been chosen for the Ted Mack Amateur Hour because she was too young. Lorraine has a dim memory of this, or maybe someone told her about it later. Either way, she loves her father for explaining it to her that way.

Lorraine was never called Lorraine, except by her teachers. Everyone else called her Lorrie. Frank sometimes called her Lorraine the Brain.

In kindergarten, Lorraine followed her friend on the way to school. Her friend was following the mailman. When Lorraine finally walked into the kindergarten classroom that day (about an hour late), she announced to her teacher, “I’m late.” “I guess you are!” replied her teacher. Lorraine remembers this scene years later.

Lorraine’s kindergarten report card said: “Times Tardy: 1.” “What does ‘times tardy’ mean?” Lorraine asked Alice that afternoon as she handed over the report card to her mother. “What do you mean?” Alice asked, taking the report card from Lorraine’s small hand. One can only guess what was going through Alice’s mind as she realized that, not only had Lorraine followed her friend and had been late to school, but that she could read the words “times tardy.”

Stay tuned for more episodes of “Little Lorraine.” For now, suffice it to say that, despite her faults, and possibly because of them, Lorraine eventually made lots of friends (some of whom she followed), raised two amazing daughters, and tried very hard to become a person she herself could look up to.

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Tangled Up in New Headphones

“Oh what a tangled web we weave …” Sir Walter Scott

“Tangled headphones are my pet peeve …” Loristory

About a week ago, I was about to head out to the gym. As I mentioned in a previous post (“Gonna Be Some Changes“), listening to music at the gym is my antidote for boredom and exhaustion while trying to maintain an upright position on the treadmill. So imagine my panic when I couldn’t find my headphones!

I dug through my purse, my pockets, and my gym bag, to no avail. Where could they be? They had come with my new iPhone and I really, really liked them because the sound quality was good and they stayed put in my ears. (Did I just type Putin? No! Put in!) Let me rephrase that. My headphones stayed in place in my ears. Some of the cheaper headphones (like the ones you buy for $1 on airplanes) are constantly falling out. If you try wearing them on the plane then you risk the chance of having to elbow your seat-mate every few minutes while searching for errant earbuds. They most definitely would not stay in your ears while exercising at the gym.

My headphones were what motivated me to even go to the gym. Without them, I might as well just cancel my membership. But then I remembered that there was a Best Buy on the way to the gym. I drove there and found a new pair of iPhone headphones, identical to the ones I had lost. They cost $30. I told myself that $30 was a small price to pay for good health and reluctantly handed the clerk my credit card.

I’ve been to the gym a few times since then and I used my new headphones each time, storing them in a special pocket of my purse so I would not lose them.

Last night I decided to clean out my purse. What did I find? Kleenex. Old receipts. Pens. Pencils. Lipstick. Gym padlock. Tangled web of wires. Wait … what?

headphones

Yes, folks, what you see above is not one, not two, but three sets of headphones. (Did I mention that I also have headphones for my iPod that I carry in my purse in case I want to watch TV at the gym? They don’t fit in my new iPhone because … Apple.)

Somehow, my new iPhone headphones found my old iPhone headphones (and my iPod headphones) deep in the dark recesses of my purse pocket, and all three sets bonded. Literally. It took me about 5 minutes to untangle them. And even though I knew they were probably meant to live together forever in harmony, I took things into my own hands and came up with this ingenious plan:

headphones all 3-2

We’ll see how long that lasts.

Shweta Mehrishi Sharma‘s NanoPoblano post yesterday about lost keys inspired me to tell my own version of “Lost.” Do you have a “lost” story of your own? I’d love to hear it!

 

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Lines in the Sand

As promised yesterday, I’m posting more photos of the Sea of Cortez. I took them in 2006 while on vacation in Mexico. I thought this post would just be about the photos. But, as often happens when I start writing, I never know where I’ll end up. True to form, my voyage today to the Sea of Cortez has brought me to some unexpected territory.

The featured image above shows 13 birds (12 pelicans and 1 independent-minded seagull). I thought that was rather fitting for the Day 13 Nano Poblano challenge. Here are some other photos that I took that day:

I’ve always found footprints in the sand intriguing. The bird tracks were made by a seagull (maybe the one in the photo above). The wave tracks make me think about how temporary everything is, like these word-tracks that I’m typing right now.

I was surprised to see a U.S. Capitol building on a beach in Mexico. I wouldn’t have expected that, given the tensions between the two countries. But the picture was taken in 2006, before talk of any border wall, right? Wrong. I just Googled “history of U.S. border wall” and found this article on worldstir.com that gives a timeline of U.S./Mexico border issues since 1845. Construction of a border wall was first mandated in 1993.

One thing that struck me about that timeline is that U.S. policies toward Mexico have always been calculated to serve our interests and ignore theirs. First we took their land through war, then we encouraged their people to immigrate here for their cheap labor, and then we deported them again when the Great Depression hit. We even require Native Americans whose tribe spans both countries to carry documentation with them when they travel within their own land, and we arrest and deport them when they fail to do so. I’m interested in this topic because, having worked in Tucson schools, I’ve known of many “dreamers” who feel like they’re out of options, or who live in fear that their parents will be deported while they’re at school.

After reading the timeline, I was curious to learn even more and found a Library of Congress post about the history of Mexican immigration. The article begins like this:

“The first Mexicans to become part of the United States never crossed any border. Instead, the border crossed them.”

A line in the sand, the imprint of war. Why can’t we all be like the pelicans and gulls, and just learn to get along?

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Sea of Cortez

It’s Day 12 of the Nano Poblano blogging challenge. I’ve managed to get through days 1 through 11 without too much trouble, but today I really struggled to think of something profound, interesting, funny, or newsworthy. My mind was a blank, so I looked in my blog closet. (That’s where I keep all of my old, wrinkled, dusty ideas.) But my blog closet was empty, except for a bunch of hangers. Well, there was one thing hanging in it. A t-shirt. The t-shirt said, “I went to the Sea of Cortez, and all I got was this lousy poem.”

Just kidding. I don’t really have a blog closet, or a t-shirt that says that. But that’s how I felt, until I re-read the old poem below and thought to myself, “I kind of like it.” So here it is, my old raggedy t-shirt of a poem. I hope you like it, too. Tomorrow I’ll post some Sea of Cortez photos.

Oh, and by the way, I went to Nano Poblano 2017, and so far I’m getting a lot more than a lousy t-shirt. I’m bringing back a lot of great souvenirs (your posts).

Sea of Cortez

Thin white clouds as flat as sheets
lay pressed and cool against the sky
while underneath, the warm sea surged
like liquid glass on wrinkled sand.

A bent man in a canvas chair
sat silently and watched the waves;
his hearing ran out long ago
and so he listened with his heart.

Two boys with skin as pink as shrimp
dug holes and filled them up with stones,
then threw them at some guileless gulls
just to make them fly away.

The old man saw the flat white clouds,
the pink boys, and the pale blue sky
and felt the pounding of the surf,
a pulse that came in measured beats,

A song of stones hurled into space,
of blood thundering through the veins,
a sound that only mermaids speak
and only hearts can understand.

© Lori Bonati, 2017

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Eleven Eleven

Today’s post was written for the “litebeing chronicles” blog, where a

SENSE-SATIONAL BLOGGING CHALLENGE

is underway for the month of November. When I chose 11/11 as the date for my post, I received the following response:

“11/11 is such an auspicious date, great choice!”

Yes, 11/11 has been auspicious for me. Ten years ago — on 11/11/07 — I met the man I would eventually marry.

Truth be told, we met before that, on match.com, but that doesn’t count, does it? His match.com profile said he played piano and liked Jackson Browne. That would have been enough for me — I play folk guitar and love piano — but in his picture he was riding a train and had a camera slung around his neck, just the right combination of sensitive musician and street-smart artist to hook me in.

We met for coffee on 11/11. We talked a lot about music, and a little about our former marriages. Our first official date (a Herbie Hancock concert) went smoothly. Before long, we played some songs together, and I started to dabble in songwriting. (He’d already done quite a bit of that himself.) Eventually, we decided to record our songs, but we needed a name for our duo.

Because we’d met on 11/11, and his apartment just happened to be #11 (how’s that for auspicious?), I suggested the name Two Candles. But when I Googled “Two Candles,” I found that the name had already been taken … by a store that sold sex toys. We didn’t want any confusion about that, so we crossed Two Candles off our list and kept thinking.

We came up with at least a hundred possible names — I’ve still got the list — before hitting on the one that would stick: Pacific Buffalo. (He’s from the Pacific Northwest and I’m from Buffalo.) For me, the name Pacific Buffalo conjures up oceans and prairies, modern and rustic – and that describes our music, too. There’s no one genre that we fit into, so I’ve made one up: “Cool Americana.”

Writing and recording cool Americana music with my husband has been fulfilling, frustrating, exciting, scary, tedious, and exhausting … but never boring. It’s taught me so much about music, about singing, about breathing, and about myself. It has shown me what a nitpicky perfectionist I can be, and also what a patient person my husband is. It’s made me a better listener. I’ll never hear music the same way again.

It’s also what got me started on blogging. Our band needed a website, so I became the official blogger. For a real treat to your senses, go to our website and check us out!

Which senses bring me joy and delight? They all do, but the one I chose to write about for today is the sense of hearing, and more specifically, of music appreciation. When I listen to music, I’m carried on a sea of sound to a space outside myself, a beautiful space filled with energy, waves, and light. In that way, I get to commune with some really cool, rustic, and positive energy in the universe. It even helps me to believe that there’s some meaning to my life (although I haven’t quite figured out what it all means yet). Is there a song in there somewhere? I sure hope so. Maybe I’ll call it “Eleven Eleven.”

Thank you, litebeing chronicles, for inviting me to write today’s post. My being feels lighter now that I’ve shared my love of music with you.

Tomorrow’s Sense-ational Challenge writer is: Barbara Franken

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The Magna What?

Two years ago, I entered my first poetry contest. I’m not much of a poet, and I know it, but I’m interested in poetry and I do have a tendency to wade into deep water and get in over my head. Well, these waters were deep indeed, and the current was strong. In fact, it carried me 800 years into the past, and, figuratively speaking, across the Atlantic Ocean. That’s because the contest was part of a London festival celebrating the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215. The highlight of the event would be the reading of the winning poem (by the poet). I had never been to England. Game on.

The last time I remember anybody even mentioning the Magna Carta was maybe in my very dry high school World History class. I say maybe because I really don’t remember much about that class. I got B’s only because I knew how to study and cram for tests. I didn’t really start to appreciate history until much later. I had a lot of Googling to do if I was going to write any kind of a poem about the Magna Carta.

Well, Google I did. I didn’t win a prize, but the effort was worth it anyway. I learned something new, and I had fun doing it. If you want to learn more about the Magna Carta … well, it’s 2017. You know what to do.

And now for my poem.

At Runnymede

At Runnymede we made our stand
eight hundred years ago;
the rolling hills and River Thames
bore witness to it all.

We gathered in the meadow
with rebellion on our minds
and told King John he had no right
to act above the law.

“We’re nobles with a noble cause,
And free men, by the way!
Your taxes are exorbitant,
your punishments arcane.

The Archbishop has drafted
a more modern set of rules,
and what’s more, it’s in Latin
so it’s legal as can be!”

“I can’t accept your terms, you fools,”
said haughty old King John.
“The Pope’s in my back pocket,
so you haven’t got a prayer.”

Then he dismissed us with a wave,
but we would not be cowed
Instead, we grew more resolute
than ever, and declared,

“We’re mad as hell, you tyrant, you!
Divine rights are passé!
No longer will we acquiesce
to your outlandish schemes!

Our liberty is sacred,
but you are not, King John,
and if you dare to cross us
we will seize your lands at once!”

Reluctantly, the king accepted
our demands that day
with no intent to honor them —
but they survived his reign.

At Runnymede the River Thames
and rolling hills abide;
eight centuries have come and gone —
and Magna Carta stands!

© Lori Bonati, 2017

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Lost and Found

“Lost and Found” is my first ever guest post! I wrote it for Day 9 of “Rage Against the Machine,” running through November at The Seeker’s Dungeon (hosted by Sreejit Poole). You can find my guest post (with song video) by clicking here.

Many thanks to Sreejit Poole for allowing me to participate in “Rage Against the Machine.” Be sure to visit him at The Seeker’s Dungeon.

This is also my Day 9 post for Nano Poblano. Check out their awesome blog posts here!

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Gonna Be Some Changes

I’ve recently started going to the gym, but I don’t like it. It’s not any one particular thing — it’s just the whole package. The echoes, the grunts, the smells. Not knowing how the machines work. The pain. And don’t forget the scales, which might not be the most accurate machines ever invented. (I don’t know how I managed it, but recently I weighed .6 pounds more immediately after a workout than I did right before it.)

I used to have some pretty reasonable excuses for not going to the gym: “It’s too expensive.” “I don’t have time.” “It’s too far to drive.” But I can’t use those excuses now that I’ve retired, qualified for a Silver Sneakers (free membership) card, and discovered a Planet Fitness five minutes from my house. And then I read this headline today:

“Mayo Clinic discovers high-intensity aerobic training can reverse aging processes in adults.”

After reading that good news, I thought I might try to hate going to the gym a little less.

According to the study, which was conducted by the Mayo Clinic in 2017 and reported online here, the best method for reversing the aging process may be through interval training. (Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional and I don’t know how scientifically rigorous the study was. But those two words, “reverse aging,” do have a certain appeal.)

“Interval training” is defined as about three to four minutes of hard exertion — for example, on a stationary bike — and then a rest period. Rinse and repeat. Yay! If they say “three to four minutes,” maybe that really means I can get away with “two to three minutes” as a newbie. And that rest period is appealing, too, since I greatly prefer to do awful things like boring gym exercises in small chunks, with plenty of time for heavy breathing and checking Instagram between the intervals. And I like that word “stationary,” too. I can do stationary quite well.

I have to admit that Planet Fitness is one of the least objectionable gyms I’ve been to. Their color scheme is deep purple, and they keep the lights turned down really low. That’s why I decided to keep going there, actually. It’s so dark that your cellulite looks just like interesting shadows. They even have a huge slogan emblazoned on the wall: “No Judgement.” (I always thought that “judgement” was spelled “judgment.” So whenever I see their sign, I feel judgmental about their spelling. But maybe it’s a British spelling. Does anyone out there know? Because I want to feel less judgmental while I’m in there. “Judge not, lest ye be judged” has special meaning when you’re on public display in your gym shorts.)

I went to the gym yesterday and was hard at work on the treadmill. (This was before I knew about the much easier and relaxing — I hope — interval training method.) I was listening to music through my headphones, a method that I’ve found works well to distract me from the burning in my lungs and the sweat dripping from my brow. About ten minutes into my workout, a song came on that got my adrenaline pumping, and my feet seemed to take on a life of their own. It was the aptly titled “Gonna Be Some Changes Made” by Bruce Hornsby. The tempo was perfect for my treadmill speed (about 2.5 miles per hour) and the music was energizing. It could be the lyrics that motivated me. (It’s hard to think about going home and lying on the couch with a bag of potato chips when you’re listening to him sing about all those changes he’s going to make.)

I think maybe I should download some other songs with the word “change” in the title, and bring them with me to the gym. For example:

Changes (David Bowie)

A Change Would Do You Good (Sheryl Crowe)

Waiting for the World to Change (John Mayer)

A Change is Gonna Come (Sam Cooke)

Change My Way of Living (Allman Brothers)

Change the World (Eric Clapton)

Psychologist Carl Rogers had this to say about change:

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

OK, that does it. Starting today, I’m going to accept the fact that I dislike the gym. And then there are going to be some changes made … starting tomorrow.

 

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