The Unseen

sunlit butterfly
and airborne Cottonwood fluff
revealing the air

Usually when I write a haiku, my thought are focused on the moment, and maybe a memory or connection to reference. But this time my mind wandered, off and on during the day. So I decided to share the journey.

This is how it began:

White butterfly
(Fluttering in the sun amid the wildflowers)
Cottonwood fluff
(Drifting sporadically in unanticipated ways)
Revealing the air
(Unseen gusts, gentle wafts, stillness)

And where my mind went:

The butterfly exerts pressure affecting the air around it.
The fluff is passive being moved by the air.
The butterfly affects the fluff, but the fluff doesn’t affect the butterfly, unless it’s in the way.
Or does the movement of the fluff through the air also affect the air?
We talk about how we can’t see the wind, only that which is affected by it.
We talk about not being able to see the Holy Spirit, but how we can see the fruit of the Spirit, how people are affected by the Spirit.
So, the butterfly and the fluff. Are they a window to the wind only? Or also a window to themselves? To something else, like our human journey through life? Sometimes we row and sometimes we drift? Sometimes we are in control and sometimes we are a victim or a slave or a puppet.
If some watches me, will they see what moves me?
When I speak, with others hear what feeds my thinking? What I read? What I watch or listen to? Which news show? Which church?
Can they see when I’m flapping my wings and when I’m drifting on the currents?
Has that which I’ve taken in affected me, changed me, or had no affect? Does it enter and leave without a trace?
Does the fluff leave a trace?
Does the butterfly make a difference?
Is the fluff changed by the wind?
Is the butterfly?
Does the butterfly change the air?
Does the fluff?
Are some of us like migratory birds, motivated by purpose, acting with intention?
And some of us are like birds that stay put all year, satisfied with their place in life, doing what comes natural without much thought?
Can we be one and then the other?
Is retirement a time of rest or an opportunity to explore? To do what one didn’t have the opportunity to do before? Resting, playing, sleeping, reading, studying?
Are both resting and doing ok?
Why do I ask that?
Isn’t it enough to just watch the butterfly and the fluff?

And feel the magic?

Am I an artist?

This was prompted by a question posed on Facebook in an art group: At what point does one call themself an artist? I mean, I am a person who does various types of art… but I wouldn’t feel comfortable telling someone I am an artist because really I only dabble and play. What do you think?

Here is my response, written in the spur of the moment.

My 4th grade art teacher encouraged me and gave me special attention.

In 5th grade we made portraits of a classmate with pastels. Mine was the one most identifiable in the whole class.

I collected quotes starting in high school.

I wish I had time in high school to take art classes.

I envied the artists at the craft shows in college.

I envisioned the future when I would dress like at artist with creative fabric and swishy skirts and scarves and coats.

I wrote poems and songs.

I learned calligraphy and made birthday gifts.

I created banners for church of my own design.

I designed artistic bulletin covers for church.

I wrote devotionals. I was asked to share some with a writing group.

My husband affirmed my talent over and over again, but I didn’t believe him, being a perfectionist.

Age 55 I began writing haiku. I participated in NanoWrimo writing daily for 1 month.

I joined a small writing group.

During the pandemic I joined a couple haiku groups on Facebook, occasionally posting my own haiku.

At age 65 I began to crave making art.

I just completed the 100dayproject. My goal: create art everyday and post it on social media, whether I like it or not, whether anyone else likes it or not. Each one included a haiku.

I participated in NaPoWriMo writing one poem everyday for a month. I posted them on my blog.

I joined Sketchbook Revival.

Today, I was explaining to a relative why I’ve been making art, taking online classes, and posting them. My answer, besides my stated goal above, I heard myself saying: because I want to be seen by others the way I see myself. I realized I see myself as an artist, no matter the quality of the product.

Epilogue: I’ve been learning to not be a perfectionist and to accept my creations for what they are.

This timely question made me document this for myself. Thanks for the prompt Doris and thanks anyone who read this far.

NaPoWriMo 2022

Day 30 Prompt: And now – our final (but still optional!) prompt. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a cento. This is a poem that is made up of lines taken from other poems. If you’d like to dig into an in-depth example, here’s John Ashbery’s cento “The Dong with the Luminous Nose,” and here it is again, fully annotated to show where every line originated. A cento might seem like a complex undertaking – and one that requires you to have umpteen poetry books at your fingertips for reference – but you don’t have to write a long one. And a good way to jump-start the process is to find an online curation of poems about a particular topic (or in a particular style), and then mine the poems for good lines to string together. You might look at the Poetry Foundation’s collection of love poems, or its collection of poems by British romantic poets, or even its surprisingly expansive collection of poems about (American) football.

Source Poems:

Sonnet LXI by William Shakespeare

Dreams by Langston Hughes

Magic Carpet by Shel Silverstein

Walden by Henry David Thoreau

The Road not Taken by Robert Frost

~~~~~~

For thee watch I, whilst thou dost wake elsewhere,
Hold fast to dreams
You have a magic carpet
Let him step to the music he hears
And that has made all the difference

NaPoWriMo 2022

Day 29 Prompt: In certain versions of the classic fairytale Sleeping Beauty, various fairies or witches are invited to a princess’s christening, and bring her gifts. One fairy/witch, however, is not invited, and in revenge for the insult, lays a curse on the princess. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in which you muse on the gifts you received at birth — whether they are actual presents, like a teddy bear, or talents – like a good singing voice – or circumstances – like a kind older brother, as well as a “curse” you’ve lived with (your grandmother’s insistence on giving you a new and completely creepy porcelain doll for every birthday, a bad singing voice, etc.). I hope you find this to be an inspiring avenue for poetic and self-exploration.

Which is Which?

I was born with abundance
I was born with absence
Abundance of good things
Abundance of bad things
Absence of good things
Absence of bad things
Good times
Bad times
Good years
Bad years
Good friends
Bad friends
Good jobs
Bad jobs
But the blessing?
The blessing would be the appreciation of the abundance of good things
And the ability to overcome the abundance of bad things.
Did I get an abundance of appreciation?
Did I get an abundance of overcoming?
That’s debatable.
But I did receive a “culp”
A quilt that I loved so much
It was shreds in the end.
It obviously loved me back.
I was blessed.

NaPoWriMo 2022

Day 28 Prompt: Today’s (optional) prompt is to write a concrete poem. Like acrostic poems, concrete poems are a favorite for grade-school writing assignments, so this may not be your first time at the concrete-poem rodeo. In brief, a concrete poem is one in which the lines are shaped in a way that mimics the topic of the poem. For example, May Swenson’s poem “Women” mimics curves, reinforcing the poem’s references to motion, rocking horses, and even the shape of a woman’s body. George Starbuck’s “Sonnet in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree” is – you guessed it – a sonnet in the shape of a potted Christmas tree. Your concrete poem could be complexly-shaped, but relatively simple strategies can also be “concrete” — like a poem involving a staircase where the length of the lines grows or shrinks over time, like an ascending (or descending) set of stairs.

The format is not coming through. It’s a tv screen. The words Bad News is in the center of the screen. “That is the ?” Are the sides of the tv.

To turn it on or not to turn it on
That Bad is
the News ?
Good programming is everything

NaPoWriMo 2022

Day 27 Prompt: Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “duplex.” A “duplex” is a variation on the sonnet, developed by the poet Jericho Brown. Here’s one of his first “Duplex” poems, and here is a duplex written by the poet I.S. Jones. Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines. It’s organized into seven, two-line stanzas. The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza, the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza, and so on. The last line of the poem is the same as the first.

The Kiss

The lights were off but the candles were lit
Glowing romance shadowed the walls

Flickering images adorned the walls
Revealing two heads bowed together

Their gaze drew their faces together
Close enough to feel the heat

Desire flushed their cheeks with heat
Setting in motion their first kiss

No words could describe their first kiss
They would remember it as fire

The new romance was on fire
Luring them into a secluded corner

They sought privacy in a secluded corner
The lights were off but the candles were lit

NaPoWriMo 2022

Day 26 Prompt: A couple of days ago, we played around with hard-boiled similes. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that contains at least one of a different kind of simile – an epic simile. Also known as Homeric similes, these are basically extended similes that develop over multiple lines. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they have mainly been used in epic poems, typically as decorative elements that emphasize the dramatic nature of the subject (see, by way of illustration, this example from Milton’s Paradise Lost). But you could write a complete poem that is just one lengthy, epic simile, relying on the surprising comparison of unlike things to carry the poem across. And if you’re feeling especially cheeky, you could even write a poem in which the epic simile spends lines heroically and dramatically describing something that turns out to be quite prosaic. Whatever you decide to compare, I hope you have fun extending your simile(s) to epic lengths.

Evicted

My house is where I find
The most comfortable bed
The softest blanket
The cushiest pillow;
The people who love me
Who listen to me
Who enjoy me.
It is where I am protected
And nurtured
And accepted.
Being with you used to feel like being home.

But now my house has been ransacked!
The bed has been slashed to shreds
Filled with sand.
The sheets are all twisted
Tangled
They grab at my feet.
The blanket! Oh the blanket that once eased all the tension out of my body
Now sends electric impulses
Frying my nerves.
It’s agony.
The pillow has been replaced with a log.
It’s a bed I never want to climb into.
Ever
Again.

Being with you now is like being surrounded by hungry wolves threatening to devour me. Their mouths are gaping with jagged teeth to shred me to pieces and drool betrays their appetite to kill what they hate.
They only want to listen to my heartbeat slow down
And
Stop
So they can enjoy what’s left of me
After my essence is gone.

It is no haven.
The doors are broken in.
The windows have shattered.
Shards of glass cushion the floor.
The cold wind and rain have moved in
For good.
There is no food in the fridge.
There is no one to cook delicious meals that help my body and soul thrive.
There is only rotten moldy bread and rock hard cheese.
Nothing to eat here.
The welcome mat is in the trash.
The phone has been disconnected.
The mail has been forwarded.
To nowhere.

It’s like I’m invisible.
It’s like I always was.
Was I ever real?
Were you?

NaPoWriMo 2022

Day 25 Prompt: Today’s (optional) prompt is based on the aisling, a poetic form that developed in Ireland. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which you live. Perhaps she will be the Madonna of the Traffic Lights, or the Mysterious Spirit of Bus Stops. Or maybe you will be addressed by the Lost Lady of the Stony Coves. Whatever form your dream-visitor takes, happy writing!

The Fountain Aisling

Sitting under the night sky
Sensing the slowing of rhythm
My senses thrill to the awakening
Feeling the softness of the air blanket
Breathing the scent of dew in the making
Noticing the hum of those asleep
Nocturnal evidence of activity
Bat wings fluttering and whipping the wind
Raccoons splashing in the pond
Geese honking together as they fly
A distant rumbling and vibration of the stereo travel of a long train echoing through the open spaces of lakes and prairies and parking lots.

I await the wonder of revelations
Long-buried ideas blossoming into being
Interred emotions breaking out into freedom
Memories being released as muscles relax
Tears, smiles and shivers standing ready
Presenting their invitation to a live performance of kaleidoscope life.

She appears, rising in droplets from the fountain spray coalescing into a cascading mane of flowing hair and mermaid scales.
She tells me her name
It’s a melodious ephemeral song that leaves me feeling woozy as it dissolves into mist.
Her gaze meets mine and I’m drifting lifting sifting with the detritus raining down and the gold within me soaring higher and higher.
She beckons with tendrils of oneness calling me to join her to see us hear us
Be us.

“This land,” she says, “welcomes you gives you safe harbor feeds your gnawing hunger for…
This water seeps up from the ground to carry you to refresh you to quench your deep thirst for…
This air fills you with life-living caresses you with tenderness calms the gasping you feel for…”

She knows.

We are weaving ourselves into the landscape
We are infusing ourselves into the elixir
We are diffusing ourselves into the atmosphere
We are We.

I can’t see her in the fountain anymore
I don’t hear her song in the water droplets
Even so she is here.
The idea of her is colorful
The feeling of her is belonging
The memory of her is enticing.
She is We are I am
Sitting under the night sky.

NaPoWriMo 2022

Day 24

Out My Window

Afternoon hijinks
Noisy neighborhood
Raucous chorus of soloists
Each vying for the lead
But the winner pulled the short straw
Becoming It
Hide-n-Seek
Suddenly quiet
The street is still
It seeking Gang
Here, There, and Everywhere
Aha! Found!
Broken rules
Game changes
Still It
Follow-the Leader
In
Out
Up
Down
Through the middle
Dodging twig and branch
From one end to the other
Forsythia bushes
House Sparrows!

NaPoWriMo 2022

Day 23 Prompt: Today I’d like to challenge you to write a poem in the style of Kay Ryan, whose poems tend to be short and snappy – with a lot of rhyme and soundplay. They also have a deceptive simplicity about them, like proverbs or aphorisms. Once you’ve read a few, you’ll see what I mean. Here’s her “Token Loss,” “Blue China Doorknob,” “Houdini,” and “Crustacean Island.”

Are You There?

Yes here I am!
Don’t you feel me?
Can’t you hear me? I’m
always begging for your
attention and you never
Ever
Ever
Give it to me
Why is that Are you busy Do
you not care?
I am always
Always
Always
Here for you.
I love you because you are wonderful.
You are me.