Category Archives: poetry

Do You Have a Muse?

Do you have a muse? Someone or something that inspires you to create? I guess I do, because it seems that every time I decide to post a photograph, I end up writing. Take today, for example.

I sat here at my desk with the intention of posting a photo of a hummingbird, one I’d seen while out for a walk yesterday. I usually write a few words to go with my photos, so I wondered what I could say about this one.

Before I had a chance to start typing, though, I heard a voice (my muse?) telling me what to write.

“Write a poem,” the voice said.

“About what?” I asked.

“Well, what are you thinking about right now? What are you feeling?”

“Well, duh,” I said. “I’m thinking about the pandemic, what else is there to think about?”

“Okay, but are you sure you want to write about something so intense? Maybe just write a poem about a bird.”

“I have to write about what’s on my mind,” I countered. “Maybe I can work the little bird into the poem somehow.”

“Alright” the voice said, “it’s your blog. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

You see, I’d been lying on the sofa today, feeling a sense of unfocused inertia. I’ve been feeling that way on and off for the last couple of days. Have you been feeling that way, too?

For the past month, I’ve been busy doing things like working from home, writing, making masks, talking to friends, figuring out how to safely get food, and, of course, watching Netflix. I’m not a total nerd. But I’ve also been glued to the news, and that’s okay, because I want to know what’s going on. I think it’s important that we stay on top of things. But sometimes I try to do too much, and then it seems as if my brain just shuts down and all I can do is crossword puzzles. And that’s okay, too.

Anyway, I was feeling very foggy-brained and distracted by (a) my phone, (b) a crossword puzzle, (c) my Spanish flashcards, and (d) thoughts about the pandemic. (The correct answer is all of the above.) I had  just told myself to focus on only one thing at a time when I got up to get something (I forget what) and I found myself sitting here at the computer. I know, I probably need meds more wine.

And while I’d been on the couch, I kept thinking about something Billy Collins said recently in one of his live-from-home poetry talks. In speaking about social isolation, he said we’re  living under a “futureless condition,” not knowing how long this situation will last or what life will be like afterwards. He compared it to being in 4th grade, where the only future you can imagine is “5th grade.” I thought that was a great description of how I’ve been feeling. And again, it’s okay to feel that way. I guess another way to describe it is how Bob Dylan would have put it: “no direction home.”

Then I looked at my little bird photo through the “futureless condition” lens, and I could imagine how that bird must feel, clinging to a tiny branch, swaying in the breeze, not sure why he was there or where he would be heading to next. And I knew I wanted to try and put all of those thoughts and feelings and images into a poem.

I did write the poem, but I have no idea whether it’s “any good,” so I’m going to let it steep for a while before I publish it. Meanwhile, here’s my little muse, the light little bird that inspired all this heavy thinking today.

And before you go, if the spirit grabs you, don’t forget to leave a comment and let me know how you’re doing. Do you have a muse?

Black-chinned hummingbird watermarked

 

 

Learning Curve

It

was

early

in March,

nearly spring,

the season of hope,

and my grandson Elliot

would soon have a birthday —

his first. I couldn’t wait to see him.

I had my ticket. Flight 351. April 24.

 

Then, like a giant evil raptor, the pandemic

swooped in, wrecking havoc across continents.

The world was shocked. Thousands fell ill. Many died.

I cancelled my trip. Elliot would have to wait to see Grandma.

People are saying: “It feels like a sci-fi movie,” and “This is weird.”

Some say, “I’m scared,” or even, “It’s like living in the Twilight Zone.”

I watch the news. It’s real. I learn about mitigation and flattening the curve.

I live alone. The silence is deafening. When this is over, I think I’ll get a puppy.

 

We are in this together. We all buy wipes, wash our hands, stand six feet apart.

We cough into our elbows, sew masks, sing from windows, applaud helpers.

We call our parents, record funny songs, take up new hobbies, practice yoga.

We praise our essential workers. We send them big tips and free pizzas.

Our houses are spotless, our cupboards are bare. We’re okay with that.

We try to embrace love and deny fear. We don’t always succeed.

We check our wipes and toilet paper supplies on a daily basis.

We tell ourselves we’ll get through this. Most of us will.

 

When this is finally over, I will visit family.

There will be laughter, and also tears.

As for the rest of the world, will we

reflect on things? Will we know

what we did right? Appreciate

how we cooperated? Mend?

Will we ask ourselves

“What did we learn?

What

was

it?”


Written for Cheer Peppers as part of a daily writing prompt for the month of April.

The Hourglass

A massive granite boulder stood erect and solid on the shore, gazing at the
distant line where sea and sky collide, deep blue below and pale blue above, azure
edges bound together as if stitched with an eternal thread: a border on a quilt that never
ravels, never wears. And as the boulder watched, it felt the ocean’s salty waves,
until it cracked and crumbled, turning into shards and stones, and then,
like sea and sky, the rock and water merged, becoming sand.
One day a child with pail and shovel scooped the sand
into an empty hourglass. It glittered as it trickled
from past to future, pulled by force of
gravity, swept along
from end to end
drifting
down
in the
one direction
it could possibly
go, without knowing how, or why,
until a wild and random white cap plunged
itself upon the shore. It flipped and tossed the hourglass
as if it were a fish, until it was no longer standing as before,
but now its top was bottom, bottom top, and the unwitting sand began to
travel back through time, not knowing it had made the trip before, not realizing that
the hourglass was its eternal home, neither half-empty nor half-full, only a vessel
carrying moving energy, the kind that’s made when sea and sky collide.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This is a rough draft of a poem I’m working on. WordPress messed up the formatting a bit, and I’m not sure about the title. Suggestions welcome! (I’ve never written a shape poem before.)

This is post #4 for NanoPoblano2019. Click the link to see great stuff by other wild and crazy November bloggers!

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My Airbnb Surprise

There once was a woman named Lori

who wanted to feel hunky dory

so she went on vacation

and to her elation

her neighbors were ducks, end of story!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Yes, my suburban airbnb host raises not only ducks, but chickens. And the ducks in the picture were standing by the chicken coop having a conversation with the chickens when I arrived.

My host said I can help myself to fresh chicken eggs while I’m here. She has more than she can use. But how do I get past the ducks? And how do I open the coop without letting the chickens out?

To be continued.

 

A Silly Reminder

I see that the year’s almost finished

my calendar tells me it’s true

and lately my posting’s diminished

I have no excuses for you

 

I blogged every day in November

except for the days I did not

but now, toward the end of December,

I’m finding my blogging skills shot

 

It’s been a long time since I posted

a month, maybe more, I would guess

you probably thought that I’d ghosted

or that my life’s turned out a mess

 

But that isn’t true, I’m just lazy

or maybe I’m just on a break

or possibly I’ve gone quite crazy

or could be I’ve jumped in a lake

 

I don’t believe anyone’s noticed,

I doubt that my presence was missed

it’s not like I’m missing in action

I’m not on the Most Wanted list

 

But nevertheless, I am back now

just saying hello with this verse

to serve as a silly reminder

that I’m here, for better or worse.

 

Happy New Year!

 

 

Two Horses

Last November, David Ellis introduced me to the concept of “found poetry.” (David is a fellow blogger and “Cheer Pepper” — a participant in November’s daily blogging extravaganza known as “NanoPoblano.”)

Found poetry (also known as “blackout poetry”) is a poem that you discover and then alter by deleting certain words until a new poem emerges. I never thought of stealing borrowing David’s idea until November 18th rolled around and I was stuck for an idea of my own.

But since I like including photos with my blog entries, I took a little field trip first. Camera in hand, I ventured an hour from my home to the small town of Tubac, Arizona, near the Mexico border. As sunset approached, I came upon two horses contentedly enjoying their dinner.

horses at Tubac

I returned home and began my search for a Found Poem that had something to do with horses. I decided on Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” Here’s the original:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sounds the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

And now here is my Found Poem:

I think I know in the village
his little horse near the lake.
The darkest bells shake to ask
if there is the sweep of easy wind.
The woods are lovely and deep
but I have to go to sleep.

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Diversity Song

Yesterday, I walked to a little park near my apartment. It was a beautiful day. People of all ages, shapes, and sizes were out walking and riding bikes. A gray-haired woman sat on a bench in the sun next to a young woman with Down syndrome. A bald man on a recumbent bike sat quietly next to a statue, a memorial to children in the community who have died. Children played on a rainbow-colored slide. I noticed that it was also a rainbow-colored variety of children; their hair was black, brown, and yellow. It got me thinking about America.

It’s hard NOT to think about America these days (especially if, like me, you happen to be an American). We’re in the news every day, and most of it’s downright embarrassing. But at the park, I started thinking about what I believe truly makes America great. To me, it’s our diversity.

Maybe this Thanksgiving, Americans should make more of an effort to give thanks for our diversity. And maybe we should celebrate it this Fourth of July, too.

Tonight, I’ve written some lyrics about diversity in America. You might want to sing them to the tune of “America the Beautiful” while sitting down for your Thanksgiving dinner this year.

DIVERSITY

Oh beautiful for this our home
For mountains, rivers, trees
For buffalo so plentiful
Fish swimming in the seas
For Native people living here
Respectful of the land
The beans and corn and squash adorned
That perfect feast so grand

Oh brave the many immigrants
Who faced the ocean storms
With hopes of finding better lives
Wishing to be transformed
And braver still the stolen ones
Robbed of their liberty
Our country’s been a melting pot
Though not completely free.

We stand for nothing if not this:
We are diversity
A land of many colors proud
That is our legacy
America, America
Our strength: our many shades
A garden where all flowers grow
Where every grain can wave!

© Lori Bonati

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Mice in the Moonlight

My NanoPoblano2018 post for today is a poem I wrote in response to a prompt by Jessie Stevens. On her blog site, Behind the Willows, Jessie posted a  picture prompt, a photo she took of a red gate latch, complete with a few mouse droppings. She said we could use the photo as a prompt to generate our own writing ideas, and I did. I’ve copied and pasted her picture prompt below, with her permission:

img_7595-2sm

So now, here’s my poem, with apologies to poet William Carlos Williams. (Be sure to read his famous poem, The Red Wheelbarrow.)

THE RED GATE LATCH

So much depends
upon

a bright red
gate latch

decorated with mouse
droppings

beside the
tall trees

for instance:

if it had been blue
or even green

would the mice have
picnicked there?

and if it had been
v
e
r
t
i
c
a
l

instead of F  L  A  T

where would they have put
their cheese?

and what about the
mouse music?

where would they have
sung their squeaky songs

and danced all night
to mini-violins

if not upon the flat red
dance floor?

where would they have
spun their partners?

twirled their tails?
and twitched their whiskers?

I like to think they
used the gate latch

as a stage, their
little crescent ears

casting furry shadows
on the bears and foxes

who watched them in
the moonlight.

 

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A Lizard’s Tale

Yesterday, I met with my writer’s critique group at a local coffee shop. I was the first to arrive. The second to arrive was a woman I’d never met before. She introduced herself as “Liz” before excusing herself and walking toward the coffee counter.

For some strange reason, I decided I’d remember her name by associating it with a lizard. She in no way resembles a lizard. It was just the first thing that popped into my mind when she said, “Liz.”

Another writer — Elaine — arrived and joined me at our table. While awaiting Liz’s return, I told Elaine that I’d just met Liz, and confessed that I was associating her name (not her!) with a lizard. The weird thing is that a second later I realized that Elaine is another Liz. Her nickname is “Liz Lady” because of the work she does with reptiles.

Liz returned to the table and introduced herself to Elaine.

“I’m Liz,” she said, “but my real name’s Roberta. I go by Liz because of a lizard …”

I was too stunned to listen to the rest of her explanation. I’ll have to ask her more about it next time I see her. But while I was sitting there, in between two lizards, I remembered this photo I’d taken once.

lizard-2

Did you know that lizards sing the blues, and that they also like acronyms? To prove it, here’s a blues song written by my friend in the photograph.

DSL Blues

Oh, I’m a desert spiny lizard, but you can call me DSL
I’m a desert spiny lizard, but you can call me DSL
My life is hot and dusty, all this crawlin’ in the desert is hell.

Well, I’m strong and I’m fast, and my scales are a colorful sight
Yeah, I’m strong and I’m fast, and my scales are a colorful sight (that’s right!)
But when people see me comin’ I always give ’em such a fright.

Well, they scream and they holler, they run away and hide
It makes me feel bad, it hurts my pride
I wish they would stay, but instead they just go
I think they are so wrong, IMHO

Now, you may be wondering what I mean by IMHO
Yeah, I’ll bet you never heard a lizard say IMHO
It means “In My Handsome Opinion,” so there you are, and now you know.

And the acronym LOL was a lizard’s invention, I won’t lie
Uh-huh, the acronym LOL was a lizard’s invention, I won’t lie (or bat an eye)
It stands for Lizards On Lunchbreak, now it’s time for me to go and catch some flies … Bye bye!

— DSL

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The Phantom

This week, Colleen Chesebro‘s challenge was to write a poem in one of the formats she lists (haiku, senryu, haibun, etheree, etc.). It was time for me to try a haibun, which is a titled piece written in first person singular, present tense, minimal words, which combines prose and poetry. (To learn more about haibun, see the link to Colleen’s site above.) Also, this week’s writing had to include synonyms for the words “ghost” and “hollow.” I chose the words “phantom” and “empty.”

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The Phantom

Something’s rattling around downstairs. I can hear it from up here. I creep silently along the long, dark, empty hallway toward the open window. I’ll squeeze through it and onto the roof, drop to the ground, and run away. There’s no other way. I’m sweating as I reach the window. I feel a gust of wind behind me. I turn and see a phantom grinning in the shadows, as it moves swiftly toward me.

full moon
howling wind
shadows pointed
like batons
frenzied rhythm
then a hush
time’s up

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