sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

The Poetic Muselings have a few things in process behind the scenes to work on this summer, individually and as a group.

So, we are officially on Summer Hiatus until after Labor Day.

We hope you’ll browse through some of the previous posts, get some ideas for your own writing exercises, and drop us a comment about what you’d like us to explore in the future.

Be well, be safe, be happy, and keep writing!

 

 

 

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Too Many Choices

note: a bit of fixing to this post was needed, and done today:

Today, I cleared off or covered up SEVEN of the NINE white boards in my office area. (Sigh — not a typo.) Why? Great chunks of time are already spoken for during the next few months — some travel, probably cataract surgeries, incoming visitors, a week-long sewing retreat, plus “just life”.

A few years ago, I discovered the KANBAN METHOD of project management, and love it.

I studied my individual boards, decided what is doable, and what I want to spend time on through mid-summer. Those notes and tasks were pulled off their own boards, and incorporated onto the Monthly (or More) Planning Board, described below.

Here’s what I’m surrounded by in my space:

Seven active project boards with task lists, deadlines, things to remember, addenda, ideas, etc., held in place with magnets, Post-It notes, clips, and surrounded by encouraging “You Go, Girl!” sayings.

Health and personal goals and activities fill one board, the Poetic Muselings has its own. A thousand questions I’ve been working through with a wonderful young woman who’s helping me with computer issues filled one large and one smaller board. Two different book projects eat up their own boards.

One is a Backlog/”Broken Windows” board with unfinished little things, from a note to take my allergy test info to my dermatologist, to remind my husband to pick up nobs for my three-year-old file cabinet that drives me nuts with the way to it needs to be opened from the bottom side of the drawers, and to follow up on a letter for a donation last year. I think there are about a hundred little pieces of paper on this one. Every week, I pull a few from this board and on “Frenzied Friday”, handle a batch.

The “Broken Windows” concept says when people stop paying attention to, and don’t fix what’s broken around them, more things fall apart. If I leave clothes lying around in the bedroom, I’m less likely to stop and make the bed, or clear off my sink area. Dirty dishes beget more dirty dishes. And, when I don’t write it down and put it someplace I’m at least possibly likely to look, I remember things in the middle of the night instead of when they are doable. Nagging, deadline-less little stuff lives here

The last two are actual planning boards — for the month (or so), and for the week. Part of what I’ve paid attention to lately is me — how I think, react, respond to various cues, and what happens when I suddenly get up and start doing something instead of thinking about it.

Too many choices, too many options, drown me with inaction because I don’t know what to pick up first. This led me to the monthly and weekly planning boards. I’ve finished several projects that surprised me.

I started meditating over a month ago, with a friend who’s 600 miles away; we connect by phone every morning and spend twenty minutes or more sitting there, like little kids, connected but quiet. When the timer goes off, we both hear it, and then chat.

What’s most important has been bubbling up to the top because of the boards. For the next couple of months, I’m rethinking my resources, energy, time, interest, and gut-feelings about what’s surrounding me.

Right now, covering or clearing has created an uncomfortably not-quite-Zen touch to my writer’s garret. I must live with this for a while to let the stillness, the quiet of the walls, seep into my psyche.

This little ditty came up as I was rehanging a board that didn’t like being treated roughly to get rid of the set-in markers and sticky notes.

Too Many Choices

Too many choices
too much to handle
too much tsuris*
too much to mangle

Can’t believe it’s May —
what happened to the year?
Once again a headache
from the shouting in my ear

Does it ever happen,
will I someday learn
secrets of “adulting”, or is there
more I have to earn?

Shiny things attract me
ideas grab my mind.
All I TRULY need to master is how,
to myself, be kind

MICHELE

*tsuris =  a Yiddish phrase for worries, stress or hassle … less existential than angst … variously defined as troubles, worries, aggravation, woes, suffering, grief or heartache. ( paraphrased from https://www.momentmag.com/jewish-word-tsuris/)

 

 

 

For some reason, yesterday I was thinking about recognizing a piece of music, and I realized that there are a goodly number of opera arias that I would have no trouble identifying, including many from Madam Butterfly, Rigoletto, Il Trovatore, and Aida, to name a few.

Yes, I like opera, but, more to the point, my mother was a huge opera fan. Mom and Dad had a subscription to the Metropolitan Opera. Sometimes Dad would beg off for one reason or another and then Mom would take me instead. I check around my extremely large stash of poems – I keep them on Google Drive – and turned up the two below.

Mom’s favorite opera composer was Wagner; mine was – and is – Verdi. The Metropolitan Opera website has videos.

http://www.metopera.org/Discover/video/

Here’s one of the Anvil Chorus from Il Trovatore:

http://www.metopera.org/discover/video/?videoName=il-trovatore-vedi-le-fosche-anvil-chorus&videoId=1472543314001

About Metropolitan Opera

The poem below is about one time when Mom took me instead of Dad. The opera was one of the Wagner Ring series; I believe it was Die Valkerie. I wish I could bring up detailed memories of the whole thing, but all that’s left are bits and pieces.

Metropolitan Opera

I wanted to capture
the entire performance,
each soaring voice,
scenery and costumes,
the story of Alberich’s ring,
made from Rhine gold,

but all that remains
is a darkened
auditorium,
the conductor
haloed in a
bright spot,
and Brunhilde
trumpeting,

Yo, Ho, Yo, Ho.

About A Night at the Met

 

Mom was far more of a fan of both opera and classical music than Dad was. Dad thought of the opera as a nice place for a nap. At least he was quiet. <grin>

A Night at the Met

A nice place for a nap,
a spot someone else chooses
The whole evening’s a trap,
a land mine of excuses.

A nice way to torture
to the clamor of trumpets
I dream of departure
and piles of fine crumpets.

Why am I here
when I could be in bed,
or at home watching Gunsmoke
or even unwed?

Here I am, stuck
until curtain comes down
pretending to listen
with nary a frown.

Drink a toast to Yo Ho
when freedom will ring.
My imprisonment’s over
when the Valkyries sing.

This week is National Library Week. This year I can say that I not only frequent the library, I work in one. I worked in a library right after high school, and always wanted to get back to one. Goal finally achieved. I am a shelver at Taylorsville Library. I am really enjoying my coworkers and the library itself. And I come home with a lot of books. So it’s a good thing I work at a library, not a bookstore. It’s wonderful being surrounded with books, working with books. And I get to help people on a topic I am passionate about, not some generic customer service that drains me.

Here are a few of my poems that express what the library means to me.

Brink of Chaos
The Great Escape
Gateways
Haven

 

My Second Home

The library was my first love
perfect for a book-a-holic,
no budget could sustain my obsession.

A sacred space filled with treasures;
fingers trail on book spines…
so many choices
each one a new adventure–
Do I read an author tried and true?
or experience something new?

Some days I come
not for the books
but the atmosphere.

Sit back in an armchair
wrapped in hushed air,
soak in the rich love of words
infused between these walls,
let it inspire me…
flow through my fingertips
to fill the pages of my notebook.

A monthly poetry, performance and literary event —
with featured authors and an open mic
Presented by The Eugene Poetry Foundation in conjunction with
Barnes & Noble Bookstore
Sunday, April 9, 2017, from 3-5 PM @ Eugene Barnes & Noble
Website: http://www.wordsongs.com/burnindownthebarnes
Barnes & Noble Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/events/258294591266050/

— This is a family friendly event —
Hosted by C. Steven Blue & Charles Castle

 

I’m a Featured Reader at this month’s Barnes & Noble Bookstore /  Eugene Poetry Foundation  “BURNIN’ DOWN THE BARNES !!” event. My co-reader is a brilliant high school freshman I’ve had the pleasure and honor of mentoring a bit over the past couple of years.

Decisions about what poems to read, arranging them in a good flow, balancing the deep and the funny ones, are a bigger task than the actual on-stage time. I’ve taught poetry classes, coached others on how to read aloud, emotion and emoting. Each time I’m involved in an event like this, I go back to Step 1 myself and take a deep breath.

We’ll each have half an hour to present our own work, followed by an hour of “open mic” time, where the audience can read their own poems. I’ve invited several shy poetic friends to attend, and consider reading.

It’s a terrific way to wade into the stream of sharing, and Eugene has one of the most amazing, supportive collection of people who listen well, encourage new poets (of all ages), and appreciate everyone’s efforts.

I love the writing relationship we have as the Poetic Muselings: the synergy, energy, creativity, aha! moments, insights, and fun. As I pull my collection together, I always ask each of my Sister Muselings for a poem to read. Our approaches to life are reflected in the material they contribute.

This year, in addition to her own poem, Anne sent me one that I’m going to lead with — reflecting a universal I wish I’d written.

It’s too good to keep to myself, and I want the world to learn about the poet, read her blog, and laugh at:

An Ode To The Overwhelmed

And as you stand there
Late again
Because you forgot to allow time to park
And the elevator was slow
And you left 10 minutes late to begin with

With your shoes that pinch
And your pants that are a little too small
Since you started eating white bread again

And as you paw through your bag
Looking for the suite number
That you’re not sure you wrote down to
begin with

Let us now praise you.

You, the untidy.
You, the careless.
You, the easily distracted by sparkly things.

The money you spend on late fees alone
Could feed a family in Africa – Which
reminds you that you meant to send in the
kids’ Unicef money and
Forgot.

And that despite your best efforts,
You rarely eat a square meal,
You almost never get enough sleep
And exercise seems like a word that
magazines have developed
Just to make you feel bad about yourself.

But you are good and brave.
You, flying by the seat of your pants
Making it work
Putting out fires
Saying your prayers
And dancing your dance of now and later and
maybe and
I’ll-have-to-call-you-back-on-that-could-you-
send-me-an-email-to-remind-me-to-call-you-
back-on-that?

As innocent as each morning’s sunrise,
You are a fount of good intentions.
Your good humor is as graceful as a baby
giraffe,
Even if that joke you were trying to make to
the hotel clerk fell flat
And your toast at the wedding came out
sounding a little…funny.

But you have gifts that no one knows about.

You have the strength to bend in the wind

You have the joyful spirit that loves a good
belly laugh,

You have the wisdom to understand that
everything will all come out all right in the
end and

You have the faith to light a candle rather
than curse the darkness.

That is, if you could find the book of
matches from that romantic restaurant that
you went to for your anniversary but since
you didn’t have a reservation they made you
wait at the bar for half an hour during which
you had two appletinis and the rest of the
night is a bit of a blur.

So much for the overpriced lingerie.

You are beautiful.

You are beautiful.

Frazzled and overworked and underpaid
You are the one who forgot your wallet
And forgot your receipt for the dry cleaners
And forgot your keys which you just set
down five seconds ago, so where could they
possibly have gone?

But you never forget to say, “I love you”

And you never forget to give a big smile to
that nice parking guy

And you never fail to show endless patience
when the
Too-tightly wrapped and overly-
conscientious start to offer their
Oh-so-helpful suggestions about how you
might feel better if you would just learn to
alphabetize your spice rack.

You are beautiful.

So, wear the lingerie on Monday for no
reason.
And why not just refuse to participate in the
bake sale this year?
And give yourself a compliment for
something you did well today.

Because you are the most beautiful person
I’ve ever known.

© 2014 Samantha Bennett
…. excerpted from her remarkably popular book: By The Way, You Look Really Great Today: Selected Poems by Samantha Bennett

Dive, don’t surf, her blog:  TheOrganizedArtistCompany.com.

Caveat: prepare to add your own verse to her poem, because, inevitably, you WILL end up missing something else going on in your life, but you’ll have an ever-so-good-reason-for-why . . .

Michele

 

 

 

 

Political Poetry

Poets write poems about anything and everything.  Here are a couple of poems I wrote during election season, November 2016:

Grab That

If Trump wins
nothing will be the same.

I’ll lose my healthcare
and have to beg on corners
for insulin
and anti-depressants.

We’ll go to war
with everyone.

And no one will be safe.

Especially kitties
and other pussies.

Day 8: nothing will be the same/nothing will ever change
November 8, 2016

Say Something Political

Like I have to ask,
everyone has their opinion
and they all want to wave
it in your face.

Like hanging with folks
dressed in trench coats,
ready to expose themselves
at the slightest provocation.

The jackets fly open
and I see your Hilary or Sanders
sticker. You proudly show off Stein.
Yes, your Trump sticker’s bigger
than all the rest.

Excuse me, but I like those
who play their cards closer
to the vest, who won’t reveal
who they voted for, who believe
in the privacy of the voting booth.

Not that I know any.

Day 7
November 7, 2016

It’s almost supper time and I’m hungry, which got me thinking about my father and his ability to pick restaurants.

 Out to Lunch

One of the things about my father that always impressed me was his ability to pick out good restaurants on the fly. He would look around, sniff a few times, take a look at the menu and make a decision. I don’t ever remember having a bad meal when we ate together.

We lived in Manhattan and though we ate out quite a lot on Sunday nights it was always at the same few restaurants. One of them was Tony’s Italian Kitchen on West 79th street. It was owned by the chef and the maitre d’, I learned later, and according to my father this was one of the secrets of its success. In any case, they had one of the best antipastos I have ever eaten in any Italian restaurant. It had marinated peppers, mushrooms, olives, Italian salami and provolone and much more. I was floored when, after coming to Boston for the first time, I ordered antipasto and was served what was basically a large salad.

It was on a summer trip through England and France, however, when this ability came to the fore. We never had a bad meal even in London, which at the time had a reputation for dull food.

But it was in France that he impressed us most. We were in Paris and were walking around Montmartre when supper time rolled around. As we strolled down the hill, my father pointed to a restaurant close to the top of the hill, La Mere Catherine.

“Let’s try that one,” he suggested. I never did find out why he picked it.

I had coq au vin for supper. It is now many, many years later and I still remember the meal and the savory flavor of the chicken in red wine. I later looked the restaurant up in the famous Guide Michelin and discovered that it had an impressive one star. Trust me, one star is an amazing achievement. The thing is, though, that my father picked it out without consulting the guide book

Later that same trip I stumbled across what I remember as one of my first experiences of culture shock. We were in a restaurant in the French countryside ordering lunch, in French, which we all spoke. I was ordering a croque monsieur, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. The conversation, which for convenience I’ll render mostly in English, went something like this:

“And what kind of cheese would you like?” the waitress asked.

“Fromage Suisse” (Swiss cheese) I replied.

“And what kind of Swiss cheese?” she responded.

I was floored. I never knew there was more than one. Ever on the ball, however, I came back with “what kinds do you have?” They had emmental and gruyere. I picked gruyere, mostly because it sounded familiar.

In case you ever face this dilemma, however, I’ll add that our imported Swiss cheese is in fact emmental. Gruyere is more like domestic Swiss.

Though I never figured out all of how my father did it, I did learn at least one of his secrets one day when I met him for dinner. He had spent the day at the courthouse in lower Manhattan, so we decided to go to Chinatown for dinner.

We were standing in line at the place he picked out when I asked rather plaintively, “Why not that place over there? There’s no line.”

Exactly,” he replied.

Dinner was delicious.

 

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