Oddments

In search of story


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November 18.21: Coping

I’m lonely;

I’ll make me a world,

God said.

Now comes the echo,

in winter wind

— loneliest sound —

that lifts dead leaves

like empty chalices,

a last offering

before ice that freezes

even loneliness,

and the moldering carpet

woven by the wind

becomes blanket

for wiggly unseens.

And yet

I’m lonely

lingers:

each of us,

after all,

only one.

 

With thanks to James Weldon Johnson for his poem “The Creation,”

and to the anonymous student

in a high school speech meet many years ago

who put it in my head.

 


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November 16.21: Coping

I’d like to introduce you

to Basil P. Raccoon,

my resident philosopher,

inscrutable as rune.

Stoic and implacable,

frugal in his speech,

he’s ever thinking thoughts

beyond my humble reach.

The tilting of his head

seems question never ending,

whose answer seems to need

continual amending.

He isn’t one for talking;

I think that’s in his plan:

words cannot always teach

what quiet watching can.

 

 

To be exact, dear reader, this is Basil St. John Philip Raccoon, a gift from old friends Bill and Donna, and named after Philip St. John Basil Rathbone, but I couldn’t tell you why.

Basil Rathbone was a voice from my childhood, most especially in an oft-played recording (think 78 RPM) of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf.” Later, I read “The Complete Sherlock Holmes” to tatters, and I think I always pictured Holmes as Rathbone’s character. There must be something in the raccoon’s aspect that called that to mind. The brain is weird — well, at least mine is.

As you can see from this daytime photo, November’s dark side is upon us and it’s time for candles in the windows. Basil approves. He is always looking for light in the dark.

 


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November 10.21: Coping

How it sizzles,

this maple,

brazen in the sunset,

each blazing leaf

a crackle

like the fire in a hearth

spitting embers,

bodaciously sassing the sun.

 

 

A note, dear reader: many years ago, oh, so many, I was advised never to use a series of sibilant sounds. Which, as you can tell, is a rule that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I thought of it as I wrote that last line and reveled in my rebellion. It sounds like a leaky tire, but I like it.

 

 


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October 30.21: Coping

My muse sent me this. Very funny.

What is it with writing? Why do the words  jump up and down and clamor to be heard in my head sometimes, and other times they are dead silent in some black hole?

I had a wonderful instructor once who said that when we hit a writer’s block it means we’re avoiding what we should be writing about. But writing is always avoidance, it seems to me. When I’m trying to write, I am not reading the news, cleaning the kitchen, or driving among our homicidal species. Isn’t that avoidance? How do I know what I’m avoiding if writing helps me avoid so much?

At the same time, I know that writing often pulls us into places we’d rather avoid. I get that. But it doesn’t help.

There is only one letter difference between writing and writhing. It’s close no matter how you look at it. I’ve been writhing mentally for days with no writing to show for it. A word will float up in my head like some defunct alewife on Lake Michigan, then another, another, and suddenly I’m up to my keyboard in lifeless words.

I am thinking that this intentionally blank paper will be the perfect gift-wrap for the lump of coal a certain muse might get this Christmas.

 

 


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October 13.21: Coping

R-e-v-e-n-g-e!

This is gardener’s smuggery:

hoorah of zinnia frillery

despite cotton-tailed skullduggery.

 

(Apologies to Aretha.)

Yes, dear reader, this is that poor chomped zinnia that I mourned a while back. It recovered and set itself to showing those rabbits a thing or two about resolve. I might not have the zinnia patch I’d planned and dreamed of last March, but I sure got a brilliant pink sneer at the rabbits.


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October 11.21: Coping

In the worn path of the daily

I walked. Bedroom to kitchen,

like yesterday and the day before,

when,

in this moment of the ordinary,

something,

some clanging silence,

stopped me,

stopped my breath.

Under pallid sky

as tired leaves let go their holds

on life,

spring!

Four years have we lived together,

this lilac and I,

but never a flower

until now,

this discouraged, bleak Now.

What forced its bloom?

Anger? Fear? Despair?

Why spring

on the doorstep of winter?

Is this tender-petal’d spire

telling me that

maybe

I don’t know everything?