jillypoet: mom trying to write

Each day I wish I had invented waterproof sticky notes (for shower inspiration) or pen-friendly diapers to get down all my quirky thoughts that I am sure are relevant and publishable. And so God (actually another writer-mommy) sent me The Blog.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Cook with me and be my love...

This week's topic at Poetry Thursday is synaesthesia. It's the intermingling of our senses, an ability — or gift — some people have. I totally agree that writing with the senses is the key to good writing. I also love the idea of the senses co-mingling. If you can drink in beauty, taste and smell fear, peel your eyes (one of my son's favorite things to do), taste the rainbow (oops, Skittles commercial), wear your heart on your sleeve, then why not smell your delight? Why not hear the love? Touch your disbelief? Why not run your fingers up the sleeve of caution? Take a risk. Look regret in the eye. Write a poem. And so, in no reference whatsoever to my own marriage (really!) here is my synaesthetic offering...

Why It's Important to Cook a Meal Together

They say you can feel the unraveling
of a marriage as surely as a blind man reads Braille.
You will see it coming in the way your fingertips
no longer brush, hear how even your knives
and spoons refuse to clash in the sink, smell
how one pair of underwear accepts
the fresh breeze of fabric softener,
one, still clinging, embraces
static, denies scent altogether.

A cooling union makes no sound.
The end will be soft and raw,
surprising, like a fork sliding into a risen muffin,
pulling roughly out, covered in batter.

In your white dress, in your black
tails and tie, stinking of new love, clean
kisses, you have no idea how sense
will betray you. It will not be so obvious
as apple pie without sugar,
macaroni and cheese with no elbows.
No. The spoiling of a marriage tastes
more like meatloaf without the bread
crumbs holding it together.
The egg, beaten, is there. The meat, mashed
into shape, is there. It is the loaf crumbling
off your fork, falling all over your plate,
missing your mouth completely
that lets you know you’re hungry.

So tell me, ladies, gentlemen,
what are you serving for dinner tonight?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Not June Cleaver

I've said it before, I'll say it again. I am not the pearls and apron type. Thing is, if given my druthers (and what are druthers, anyway?) if given 15 minutes and a blank sheet of paper, nine (maybe 8) times out of ten, I'll write about food, or housewifery (is that a word) or June Cleaver, or some sort of dirge on the topic. Could be all the feminist training in college. Could be the build up and subsequent let down of getting married and finding that my husband didn't really care if I used fine china and cloth napkins, served homemade macaroni and cheese or Kraft, or quite frankly, if I cooked at all.

This is my voice. The voice of the girl never allowed to cook with her mother (too messy). Never allowed to set the table (too slow). To be honest, I don't recall wanting to do any of those "girly" things. I just like to rib my mom about it now. But, there is some part of me, or my muse, who longs to be June Cleaver. Who longs to prop my husband's feet up on an ottoman, fetch his pipe and martini, and whip up coq au vin in a lace apron and pearls. Yeah, right!

In my on-line poetry class we had to pick a place name at random, NOT "google" it, and come up with a place poem. I envisioned a casserole-laden utopia. Here's my offering for this week's Poetry Thursday prompt...in my own, very non-June Cleaver voice!

Patsy Canyon

You might think it’s a deep, deep well,
plummeting between two towering rock mountains,
but what it is, really,
is a little town in a medium state,
just off-center of these United States.
It’s a place where all the wives go
when they need a cup of sugar.
The town to visit when you’ve got that song
whining and humming,
stuck in your head.
People running,
running from, running to,
often stop here.
There are doilies on every sofa arm. It is not a stretch
to say, if you look closely, you might even see
a davenport or two, hidden under a pair
of neatly pressed polyester slacks and a see-through plastic cover.
The casseroles all come out at seven
in Patsy Canyon. Problem is, the husbands
haven’t shown up for years. No sign.
The casseroles are piling up, tuna noodle,
shepherd’s pie, chicken cacciatore.
There’s a shortage of Pyrex.
The Amanas and the Kenmores are overheating.
Some have quit throwing heat for good.
It’s the revenge of the abandoned ovens
in Patsy Canyon. Cocktails at six.

Monday, September 18, 2006

How to Mary Oliver the Trees

One red maple tree
stands alone among late green.
It's good to be you.

Gray lake in autumn,
seven white sailboats drift past.
Silent floating ghosts.

Three gray squirrels fight;
an acorn, a girl, a nest?
one red leaf stops them.

Morning comes darker,
children sleep later, rise well.
Summer's heat is gone.

This week's http://www.onedeepbreath.blogspot.com prompt is autumn haiku. Such an important season, such portent, such pressure to capture it just perfectly, as perfect as autumn is!

I love autumn. It is by far, my favorite season. September always feels like a new year, like a new chance to make a fresh start. In my college days it was the clean notebooks, new highlighters, sharp tipped pencils, the smell of brand new textbooks (I would spend the $70 for a new book, rather than $25 for used, just to have that smell), the assigments I knew I'd get done on time, and, as an art student, the new, pointy tipped crayolas (of course I didn't need them for class, I just couldn't resist!) that I loved! Now, I still love looking at shiny notebooks and folders in stores. I was so excited to go school supply shopping for my son. I don't know how a kindergartner will ever use 27 multi-colored folders and 15 one-subject notebooks, but hey, it was fun!

Fall. Then there's the trees. And the leaves. And the smells. Growing up in the Adirondacks, I practically lived haiku. That is in retrospect, of course. As a teen, it was the maroon and gold of haircolor, lipstick and sweaters that I was concerned with, not the leaves. But now...but now. Now, the trees on the highway leading north, home to the mountains, leave me wanting. Wanting to capture their colors in word and sound. For those of you who know the poet Mary Oliver's work, you may relate: I want to Mary Oliver them!

Oh, the pressure. I hope I did autumn justice. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Still-life Speaks

As soon as I read the prompt for this week's Poetry Thursday post, I knew I had a blue poem. Cheating, I know. I should write, write, write a new blue poem! But this one was near and dear to my heart long ago when I wrote it. I was a young feminist, fresh out of grad school. Ah, memories... I actually had a plan to create an entire book of poems based on Renoir's women. Maybe it's already been done. The irony is, now I teach little kids, young artists, how to spackle themselves into being. Although, there is definitely NO spackle involved. And NO oil. Good God! Too messy! Anyway, here it is. Thanks for reading!

Therese Berard, Oil on Canvas: A Still-life Speaks

I am painted in darkest blue.
I am Therese Berard.
I am an oil on canvas.

I am one of Renoir's women.
His name in the corner, demure.
My face in front, displayed.

We hang together from
museum walls, these women
and I. Still-lives, suspended.

His hands framed us.

Created. His hands
and a whorl of midnight

oils bathe my portrait,
my presence, binding me to
the page. Oil on canvas.

It seals me. I am a royal study.
Navy brush strokes fold
over me, catch my shoulders, press

me onto the page. They
stain the creases of my starched
sailor dress, leave my lace a pale,

shapeless gray, leave my eyes
a pair of dead Forget-me-nots.
I am darkened.

I am darkness.
Closer, beneath the shadow
of my blues, you can see how

I was spackled into being.
I am his Therese.
I am oil on canvas.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Solitude: Where Can a Mom Find It?

Oh, I didn’t think I would have anything to contribute to this week’s http://www.onedeepbreath.blogspot.com prompt. The reasons are many and varied.

My husband just had a week off…at home. Am I alone in feeling less than relaxed, relieved, rejuvenated? It was like having another kid visiting for the week. A kid who cooks and does laundry, but a kid all the same. Add to this the constant mommy dread I feel at the prospect of my first born going off to all-day kindergarten, and the ever-present, "two weeks until classes start again, will I have enough students? do I have enough exciting art lessons?," and you have quite simply—the reluctant writer.

Solitude is just something I don't have anymore. Even once the kids are in bed, I have a hard time getting to solitude, traveling past the dishes waiting, the books waiting, the cats waiting, so much waiting, even the waiting is wailing.

However, my muse is good. So good. She never fails me. She always shows up when I least expect her. And I have some haiku! Maybe not great haiku, but haiku nonetheless. I am going to work on this topic all week.

Now, if only the new kitten will let me type this. (Friends and family who know me, and fear it is only my husband and children keeping me from achieving crazy cat lady status, please avert your eyes. It is true. We have another cat!)

On to the haiku…

Knife through strawberry
music of child picking fruit.
Sharp blade makes no noise.

Only in the car
snap of twin seatbelts, doors slam.
Mother’s muse can sing.

Loud yellow school bus
lumbers up, swallows first son.
Such silence pains me.

In the shower, soap.
In the garden, ladybugs.
Where is the silence?

Solitude, one soul.
One banana hangs, browning.
The bread is not made.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Fortune Favors the Brave

Finally, I am able to scribble in response to a Sunday Scribbling! After my online poetry course which is doing everything BUT inspire me, I am thankful for the good fortune to have found this tiny white piece of poem somewhere in the cluttered pocketbook of my mind. Too much, too much. I know! Does anyone else feel like if they don't eat their whole fortune cookie the fortune won't come true?

Fortune Favors the Brave

There once was a girl who saved every fortune cookie
fortune she ever received. She did not save them in the usual

places: pocketbook, novel spine, crease of wallet,
top of refrigerator, bottom of junk drawer, ten years

in the pocket of a favorite sweater. Instead, her bedroom
walls were papered with the tiny revelations

the way some people hang wallpaper.
Behind each bright white strip

a note, a memo regarding her misfortune
or fortune. Yes. Has come to pass.

Still waiting. Doubtful. Hopeful.
Would that this were true.
Each tiny note

her own haiku of memory, a handwritten record of luck
bestowed and forsaken. She grew flowers

from her fingertips the night the fortune
read: You are a beautiful soul. Clouds ringed

her head all day following this lunchtime prophecy:
The wonders of nature surround you.

Soon, she would not rise from bed, breathe
a morning breath, without consulting her paper tarot.

She rode her luck on these thin white steeds,
catching dollar bills as they fell from trees,

lining her pockets with wit and charm,
warming her heart with tall, dark strangers.

Until, one morning she woke to strips spread
across her body slick as oil on canvas. Fortune tattoos

blanching her arms, her legs, her eyes. Bravely, blindly
she wrapped herself tightly in her quilt, waited to open.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Pinch, tickle, walk away

Sophie, 15 months, Sends a Message

My daughter bends down to tickle me
as I sit in a chair writing
but grabs instead a roll of mommy
fat, inching over the waist of my pants.
Not so much of a roll as to warrant a muumuu,
say, or a frumpy, flouncy skirted bathing suit,
but enough to pinch with short, chubby fingers.
She is delighted with her find,
pinches, tickles, walks away.
This is my new diet,
my new therapy,
my new writing prompt
to beat the dreaded block:
pinch, tickle, walk away.