Oddments

In search of story


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May 7.22: Coping, but barely

This was me

and this was you,

our wings be-fuzzed,

mysterious, new.

Tipping, toppling,

learning where

we stopped and started,

unaware

of cliffs and quicksand,

Pandora’s box,

we braved the world

of thorns and rocks.

Or so we thought. The really brave

were those close by

who hovered and watched

with wary eye,

letting us learn

from life’s tough classes

even if we fell

on our little

ummm

grasses.

 

Tomorrow is Mothers’ Day here; I am not a fan. I think it’s become a national day of panic. But that does not mean I don’t value mothering. I absolutely do. There are many who mother even if they’ve never given birth, and I salute every one.

Please pardon the quality of the photo, dear reader. You probably, and rightly, guessed that I was hunched down behind Venetian blinds muttering to that baby to HOLD STILL. He didn’t. Mother Goose (so to speak) did not cast a benign eye on me.

 

 


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May 1.22: Coping, but barely

Many the wonder of spring

but the jaw-dropping best of them all

is a flower that never had bloomed

until one redoubtable fall.

A lilac in fall?

What could it portend?

Why in that dismal

tormented year’s end?

Pandemic exhausted,

hostility worn,

with leaves curled in death,

dry and forlorn,

we slumped into autumn

weary of strife,

and here blooms a lilac

with anomalous life.

A lilac in fall —

a thing beyond reason —

would it come back again

in traditional season?

The purpling answer

no nose can resist

nods in affirmative

its resolve to exist.

As fancy a flora

as ever hoorayed

exalts this springtime

in new life arrayed.

 

In my years here, this lilac had never given the slightest indication that it knew how to make a flower. Then, in the last gasps of 2021, it bloomed! An autumn-blooming lilac seemed in keeping with the chaos of the times. But would it bloom in the spring? Now we know!

 

 


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April 30.22: Coping, but barely

Where are the toes

with which we hold

when we reach, teetering,

for the tender goaled?

When life twangs

our bearings like rubber band

and we, poor spitballs,

clawless in foot and hand,

hover on the verge of shot

yet, refusing to be denied,

become the squirrel,

wind and gravity defied,

and clutch that feeble twig,

how do we dare?

Does the soul have claws

that hold us there?

 

 

It seems appropriate, dear reader, to end Poetry Month with a question since I always start it with a question: what is poetry? Still scratching my head on that one.


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April 17.22: Coping, but barely

Old ways,

fragile shell,

human spirit

indomitable.

In tiny line

a testament,

promissory

document.

 

I believe these eggs are Ukrainian pysanky; they were a gift back around 1980 and have moved a lot with me. I am in awe of them and I unpack them every year hoping it won’t be the year I break one. This year more than ever.

Whatever your traditions, dear reader, may there be signs of new life for you, and may your traditions preserve your story. May our species one day prefer peace.

 

 


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April 7.22: Coping, but barely

The thing about time:

it’s never where I’m.

 

Some of you know that my father referred to me as “the late Maureen O’Hern,” that my family said I was insufferably poky. I maintain I was deliberate. Those of us who live deliberately tend to think things over — and over — before we act. Clocks and calendars are annoying.

Thus did I miss that Poetry Month is upon us.

I seem to be in a perpetual state of catching up. Time and I are, and always have been, at odds. Or perhaps it’s just the measurement of time. “Late” is relative only to clocks and calendars, yes? This leads me to think about how we measure time so surgically. The vast amoeba of life cannot be held in tidy sequences. But could it be measured in poetry, which, to me, is anything but tidy?

This time of Now is saturated with blood and tears. Grief and anger are chewing us up. Clocks and calendars cannot measure it. Maybe the measure is taken in a certain kind of written word, in painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, music, maybe even in the ephemera of a garden. If I can ever figure out what poetry is, perhaps I will find that all the above are types of poetry.

I think we seek the timeless. May you find it where you seek, dear reader, especially in Poetry Month.

 

 


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March 26.22: Coping, but barely

You think you’re funny, don’t you,

oh, gods of endless snows?

Your humor leaves me cold (haha)

with frostbite on my nose.

Of this white stuff

I’ve had enough,

Begone! And go away!

It’s time for spring —

quit dawdling!

But come back on Christmas Day.

 

 

Yes, dear reader, on this late March morning,

it’s a white, white world out my window.

Part of me says it’s pretty.

The rest of me has a different opinion.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.

 


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January 27.22: Coping

The baton. The magic wand that transforms a traffic jam of soloists into a country drive of beautiful sound. That is, in a certain hand.

Some years ago, I worked with Rick, an elementary school band director who had that hand. Two days ago, I heard of his death.

I know that I have touched on the subject of music teachers in the past, dear reader, and I bet I do again. There are few things in life we turn to the way we turn to music, and music teachers have had much to do with that.

Have you ever heard the call of the beginning trombonist? Could you take it? Beginning Band is not for the faint of heart or tender-eared. Rick was one of those brave and gifted beings who took the squawks and bleats of those beginners and turned them into real music. By the time those beginners graduated from eighth grade, their sound was good. Really good.

Rick was hilarious, energetic, an entertainer at heart and a teacher in his soul. I think my favorite memory of him was from his summer marching band practices where, out on that hot blacktop, he could be heard in his best martial voice shouting “Your OTHER left! Your OTHER left!” I still laugh.

And every Christmas I think a thank-you to Rick for educating me about Mannheim Steamroller.

If ever anyone lived a life of value, Rick did. May the angels lead you, Rick, and may they lead with the right left.