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, May 28, 2008

After the Surgery

He has traveled from New York to Vermont and back again and the only map he has is the one on his belly. A new route carved over the old one. First surgery, second surgery. He lifts his shirt to show my son. See this road? Follow it all the way to here, take a left and you’ll be in Pennsylvania. We intend to head north when we leave the hospital, head for the hills and the work that must be done to open the lake house for summer. Instead we head east, back to Vermont. This is not home. My husband knows I need to travel, even when I do not. We drive onto the ferry, cross the lake. Should we have paid the ferryman? In the time it takes one cloud to traverse the day’s blue sky, green mountain to green mountain, we are lost. Windows down, each deep breath replaces hospital bleach with spring manure. Refresh, renew. Each cow we see wears one too many black You are here spots. I let my daughter-body drift out of the car, straddle a cow. If we move slowly, I can get home. My father has given me a map I can not read. Tom-tom, tom-tom. If I had an internal positioning system, I would know what to do with the lines, the ones on the road, the ones cutting across his body. Let’s rip the map. You take half. I’ll take half. One of us will know where to go. South, north. East, west. Orwell. Brandon. Vergennes. Middlebury. I drag my finger across the map’s wrinkled remains. Ferry to New York. I have never been sure of the plan. Lost or found?

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Like an Old Bowl of Soup - A Prose Poem in Three Steps

Roller coasters are boring. All you do is go round and round and round like an old bowl of soup.
- Rudy the cartoon mouse on Maggie and the Ferocious Beast

I. Gather Ingredients

Great googly-moogly, mouse. There are worse things than being caught in the downward spiral of day-old chicken noodle. A gazpacho carousel might be nice on a hot sunny day. Would that be a pool filled with blood, or are we talking metaphors? Mouse, aren’t you hungry? I’ll bet dollars to donuts (and wouldn’t you love some of those?), your second cousin, once removed, would have traded her first born to give birth in peace, rather than in pieces, gray baby hanging out of her hindquarters when the local garbage man opened the door of the dumpster. Delivery might well be left a private matter don’t you think?

II. Empty Into Pot

Sometimes even refuse can serve as refuge, and even then, there is no safety in an empty garbage bin. Everything needs to be filled. A bowl of tomato was nothing until someone planted a seed, someone shook a vine, someone cut and diced, delivered the soup to the bowl. The empty woman. The filled virgin. The empty world. The masses filled, with something like soup, hearty, nourishing, the body of a savior, a filler. And then the empty tomb. There’s the mystery. Always the mystery.

III. Name Your Soup

After sixty gallons of funky fish water flooded our floors, we needed a man to deliver salvation to our home, one great rusting heap of nothing. Barren. A wretched womb waiting to be filled. The mouse was just trying to have a baby. Fulfill her obligation to society. And what is it that mice do, exactly? Ruin soup. Some wombs are meant to be filled. Take the dumpster, for instance. Scrape the remnants from someone else’s garbage and you might have soup for a swine. Reuse, recycle. It’s a rollercoaster. Round and round. Stir the soup.


This poem has vexed me for days. It started out as a free verse poem. Then it stalled. Then, just this morning it begged for the prose poem form. And it grew. I just listened to the muse. Not sure if it works in this form. I'm pretty sure it needs editing. Comments/critique welcome!

PS: My 200th post! Wahoo!

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Check these out!

I don't often post anything but poetry anymore. But, I just found this and it is so cool. Blackout poems.

You take a newspaper, black out all the words you don't like or need, and the rest become the poem. Let's try them! I may choose a hot pink Sharpie though.


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy Birthday, Soph!

On the Wing Greetings

The hornet wishes you happy birthday, sends flakes of pinched skin in an envelope. He just doesn’t understand the customs. Do not be afraid of bugs, child. The bees, the honey. The mosquitoes, the bats. Honestly, the world would be a better place without invisible flying pain, small black avengers. I know. But it is my place to distract you from that which you should not be afraid of. My mother taught me. Do not fear. Do not cry over cancer, no-see-um. Say why not me? Say I will take the fish hook in the arm. Just untie the fly, would you, please. Read your fortune in the raised welts scrawling your tender arm. Pink salve will heal the bite. It’s pink, after all. Daddy Longlegs is just mommy’s wayward spouse. Bumble bees are cute. Roly-poly. Someone coined the phrase just for them. Clever, college educated folks designed spectacular beetles, bumbles bees, and lady bugs for your brother’s nursery. Flowers were good enough for you. And here is where I went wrong. Ay. There’s the rub. Flesh-colored roses for the boy. Sensitive. Sultry smiling bugs for the girl. Toughen her up. Sugar and spice. That’s what the bees suck, anyway. The next child will be called Ava. Winged beauty eating bugs. Best wishes without sting.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Things My Mother Taught Me, or: Self-Portrait Not My Own

Ironing is good for wrinkled curtains.
Wrinkled curtains are a sign
of a bad woman.
A bad woman
throws butcher knives,
not at a carnival,
but at her blondest daughter.
Go blond for most of your life.
Go back to your roots
at fifty.
At fifty
get your ears pierced.
If your husband says no
to piercing your child’s ears,
wait until he says yes.
Do not wait until he says yes
to go out and get a job.
Go out and get a job if you want
your own money.
Give your own money
to whomever you please.
The door-to-door
Catholic school kids,
the hitchhiker on the mountain,
the single mother stranded
in her attic by a hurricane.
Pray for hurricane victims.
Pray for your grandparents.
Pray every night.
Now I lay me down to sleep.
Never wait at the window
for your mother to come home.
If the neighbors sent her away
because she was loose
go out and find her.
Do not cry.
Put on an apron,
tighten the strings.


I haven't written much about my mother. She is awesome. Maybe that's why. No pain, no angst. I'm a lucky girl.

We are alot alike. Maybe I've written about her the whole time. Hmmm...

We spent a lot of time together while my dad was in the hospital. She told me many, many stories. I hope I get them all into poems.

Maybe I'll move on to the Mother Diaries.

My dad is on the mend. Hooray! Thank you everyone, for all of your prayers and good thoughts!

I feel kind of at a loss now for poetry fodder. I had never written about my dad, save maybe once or twice, before this. He sure did provide inspiration. Who knew? Too bad he'll never read any of these. Nope. He just wouldn't get it. And that is fine by me.

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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Hospital Diaries - Verse 3

Destruction in Myanmar, Attack in Plattsburgh, Mother's Day is Coming

And the world goes on around you. Your nurse has an earring in her nose. She is so nice. Good hair, too. You're still sharing space with the drug runner. Badges shining up and down the slick halls. We left the baby's milk in the refrigerator. You left your memories back in some other decade. Who are you signaling to? you ask your wife. I know, you answer your own question. Put that in the chart. You're signaling to the engineer. (Get us off this train). Who is that man that walks the tracks? Who is he? Who is he? God damn it, who is he? Nurse. My wife and I would like to know. Who is that man that walks the tracks? Picking up garbage. We look good together, you tell your wife. When my hair is combed. All the while the girl sat by your bed, she knew what you were thinking. It is no surpirse now. Walking. Standing. Eating. Getting out of here. No surprise. If it were only this easy to heal. She might have walked the tracks and picked up a stethoscope long ago. Get well soon. Walk out into the ether of the parking garage. Wonder, who is he?


Seriously. Can this ever be poetry?

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Hospital Diaries - Verse 2

News From the Home Front

How about this for exciting? You’re sharing your intensive care with a drug runner. Imagine, if you will, you are not lying in state, an eighty-year-old man who elected to have a nasty aneurysm repaired, but a twenty-five-year old man, shot in the back while fleeing border patrol agents on an ATV. Now, I know you have walked the straight and narrow. But, drug running is lucrative. Meet a guy in a parked car, a gin joint, maybe on a park bench. Hold the newspaper in front of your face while slipping into your pocket the directions to the abandoned barn where the drugs are bound and packed for shipping. You won’t be walking into the bar guns slinging. You won’t be sitting in a beige surgeon’s office discussing renal failure, nursing homes, living wills, survival rates. You’ll be free-wheeling across farmer’s fields, three hockey duffle bags strapped to the back of your machine, counting up in your head the ways you’ll spend your booty. Pirate. Mule. Bandito. Beats counting sheep. Counting the days, how many is it now? Where am I? Untie my hands. There’s one thing you have in common. You and the fleeing drug suspect. Caught by surgeon’s hands. Wrists bound in soft white wraps. Hey! How about this for exciting? The nurse just untied your restraints. John Wayne, can you hear me?

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Monday, May 05, 2008

The Hospital Diaries - Verse 1

Waiting for the Doctor to Call

A cat’s growl is a fearsome affair. It is so unexpected. It is as if a dog, in a moment of great stress, meowed. And Lama’s growl was like a rolling crescendo of bass drums.
- Derek Tangye

My father does the Jumble every morning. EPKOD. Can you get that one? It’s POKED. That’s the way he sits right now. Poked in at least seven different places, and I’m sure I chose that number, completely on the soft end (soft is a term nurses use for low blood pressure, as a matter of fact) in a respectful nod to Jesus and God, a sort of biblical reference in the hope springs eternal vein. Seven deadly sins. Seven signs heralding the end of the world. Speaking of veins. I understand you repaired the aneurism hassling his kidney veins. What, exactly is the difference between veins and arteries. Major and minor? If you major in surgery, do you minor in humanity? In all fairness, the surgery was a success. If you were playing the lottery, you would have all the numbers, plus the bonus ball. Speaking of lucky numbers, try these for today: 9 -32-37-45-52. Just found these in my father’s pen-scratch on an April 24 square of cat calendar. Bonus number 41. So, you may have heard, a cat’s growl is fearsome. Unexpected. As if a dog, a pug or a Great Dane, in a moment of great stress, meowed. Just a bit of trivia. Do you recall if my father may have growled? I suppose not, what with enough morphine to knock out an elephant. Interesting choice of metaphor, doc. FISHTE. VEALE. They may appear as misspelled items on a fancy menu. Not at all. Not everything is at it appears. Hope springs eternal. Leave me a message. I’ll be waiting for your call. I have the lucky numbers tucked in my pocket.


All is not going as hoped. Today is another day. There is only one thing to do--hope for the best. Believe.

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