Oddments

In search of story


29 Comments

January 19.23: Coping, but barely

If you were light

and could play on a rose,

would you slide,

do you suppose,

down velvet hill,

where shadow splash

marks your soft plop

with grinned panache?

Then would you climb back up,

find that shy frill,

and pirouette there

in lucent trill?

Would you leap tip-to-tip

with weightless toes,

like drunken sprite

in perfumed throes?

Under, behind

each vale and peak,

would you dodge and dive

in hide-and-seek?

Would you stop perhaps

and oly-oly-ocean-free

to bask in the stillness

of unfurling reverie?

 

There is mystery here, dear reader. Apparently some call “olly-olly-oxen-free.” I was intrigued to see that some people who were kids in the Chicago area called “oly-oly-ocean-free” because that’s where I was a kid and that was our cry. So, oxen or ocean, nobody knows, though I did like the suggestion that olly/oly came from all-ye as a call at the end of the farm day to put everything, including the oxen, away for the night.

I remember it as inviolable. Once called, nobody could be tagged. Non-negotiable.

 

Many thanks to Susan Rushton for the beautiful photo!

 


21 Comments

December 31.22: Coping, but barely

The table is set,

pristine and inviting,

the menu unknown

as of this writing.

I wish you, dear reader,

a stew of your choice:

a toothsome concoction

for palate and voice,

words for your writing,

health for your soul,

a generous helping

of vision and goal.

May loved ones and muses

fill all the seats,

your fingers and spirit

be ever sticky from sweets.

 

 

Thanks yet again to photographer S.W. Berg,

and kudos to The Baker’s Wife Bistro,

Hampton, VA, for the ambience.

I wish you a good year next, dear reader, with my thanks for your presence here, and I dig down to the very last remnants of depleted optimism to express some small hope for peace in our future. I do find our little corners of blogdom are places for peace. Plus a few laughs. Some nostalgia. A touch of snark. Communal sighs. The occasional coffee-spit on the keyboard. Thus is peace had, and I’m most grateful for it. Thank you for helping me bungle through 2022!

Maureen

 


18 Comments

December 29.22: Coping, but barely

Jeweled confection —

how dare we bite in? —

so perfect a morsel,

toothmarks would be sin.

The art of the little,

meticulous craft,

we must linger over,

admire, fore and aft.

From various angles

its magnificence savored,

the eyes are the palate

to guess at how flavored.

To taste with the eye

is the manner of some,

while others prefer

to taste with the thumb.

To find telltale hole,

the proof of the borer,

causes mannered among us

to recoil in horror.

What weaselly ways,

what etiquette lack,

to know what’s inside

and then put it back!

 

You may recall, dear reader, the indignities of my youth, with blue jeans not allowed. Not proper, said my mother. And yet — and yet! — there were the Fannie May or Mrs. See’s chocolates all pristine in the aerial view, but — what’s this? — a hole in the bottom? A hole which just happens to be the exact same size as my mother’s thumb? This is proper?

Thus did I learn that proper is a relative concept. My mother being the closest of relatives.

 

More thanks to photographer S.W. Berg.


19 Comments

December 24.22: Coping, but barely

The perfect world

isn’t real

except in goo

of warm pinwheel.

Perfection twice:

Christmas then,

and today rich air

savored again.

My wish, dear reader,

whatever your feast:

may memory and hope

be your yeast.

 

The other day I had the privilege of teaching my grandchildren about yeast dough and sticky buns, closely related to the brown sugar rolls Grandma O’Hern used to make, and also the Christmas breakfast of their dad’s childhood. Once again the kitchen was crowded, not just with teenagers, but with ghosts happily looking on. (They were happy because they didn’t have to clean up. Sticky buns are so named because of the state of the kitchen.)

I don’t think I look for a perfect world, though I think I’d like it; I do, however, look for a world with some sanity, and that seems completely elusive most days. Then comes a day to bake with grandchildren and I see perfect order in the universe.

There are many beautiful traditions at this time of year; whichever ones you treasure, dear reader, may they bring a moment of peace and wonder to your heart.


13 Comments

December 17.22: Coping, but barely

My tree is still in pieces,

the cookies are unbaked,

my cards still in the box,

Christmas mood cannot be faked.

I’m tired and feeling old,

I can’t pretend I’m jolly.

I’d like to arm myself

with Scrooge’s stake of holly.

Crazed, near-sighted drivers,

shoppers all phone-zoned,

news of inhumanities,

life bewailed, bemoaned

tarnish all the tinsel,

make carolers sing flat;

I need to find a rabbit

to pull out of my hat,

something made of magic

that laughs along with me

even though to others

we’re total mystery.

Aha! It’s just the thing

to make the dismals better:

  from my haute couture collection,

 a rousing Christmas sweater!

When I was in junior high, I wanted blue jeans. The in-crowd wore them. My mother would have none of it: blue jeans were not what proper girls wore. Wait. Did I say I wanted to be proper? I wanted to be cool! Mom and I had this divergence of opinion all the time, and thus did I learn to live with not being cool. Therein lies the explanation for my bewilderment at why Christmas sweaters are so much maligned. They are deemed ugly, uncool.  I like my Christmas Duck sweater! It’s my mother’s fault.

One may argue for a goose, and I grudgingly concede this might indeed be a Christmas goose, but you know my feelings about geese, dear reader. Ergo, it’s a duck.

 

With thanks to Susan Rushton for the photo of my mood!

 


14 Comments

December 8.22: Coping, but barely

It has been said —

and I think that it’s true —

for a writer to finish

it always takes two:

the writer declares

“I call it a day,”

but then someone else

must yank her away.

DONE is a word

that’s hard to pronounce

when you invest in your work

to the last little ounce.

So DONE is a laurel

that others bestow,

to help the imaginer

pack up and go

to the next inner road,

or mountain, or sea,

that summons our spirits

by endless decree.

Whether mural or poem,

ballad or quilt,

“done” can be said

without quitter’s guilt.

 

A writer can spend an idiotic amount of time on one sentence, one phrase, one word. That living, breathing language remains stubbornly imperfect. We don’t want to be quitters in our own eyes, so we keep at it. There’s always something that could be better.

I suspect that can be true for all creative endeavor. The artist, whether writer, muralist, quilter, musician, woodworker, can have a problem saying “it’s done.” But Dathan has said just that, and here, above and below, is the finished mural.

More thanks to photographer and reporter S.W. Berg.


14 Comments

December 6.22: Coping, but barely

An ordinary window,

an ordinary day,

an ordinary glimpse,

then mental tour jeté.

A camera must be had!

Indecorous dash ensued,

then, breathless, stealthy, sly,

I engaged in conduct crude.

In blushless want of manners,

intrusive imposition,

brutally dismissive

of my need to get permission,

I zoomed in on his person,

with brain and camera focus

on this feathered fisherman

and his wintry bare-branched locus.

He appeared a bit put out

at what the flower said,

which made his handsome feathers

stand up atop his head.

I wish I could have heard

but this is all I got;

I could sneak clandestine photo,

but eavesdrop I could not.

And thus the common day,

as if by magic word,

was instantly transformed

by a Merlin of a bird.

It was because of Walt Kelly’s brilliant Pogo illustrations that I knew this was a kingfisher. It was the Internet that told me it was a Belted Kingfisher. Why it isn’t a Collared Kingfisher I do not know. The Internet also told me that it is common in central Indiana. I think not. This little guy was a first for me.

I stood in the middle of my living room, far back from the window. This fine specimen was on a tree across the pond. All hail the power of the zoom!


16 Comments

November 13.22: Coping, but barely

“The Last Rose of Summer,”

that plaintive Irish keen,

sang itself inside me,

soaring yet terrene.

This brilliant ruby voice

of color ‘mid the browned

insisted that its smallness

was yet a mighty sound.

November madrigal,

enrobed in regal satins,

sleeps now in quiet earth

awaiting springtime matins.

 

 

Some will tsk and say that a moss rose is not a rose, that Portulaca and Rosa have nary a botanical thing in common. But you know what Shakespeare said, dear reader: “a rose by any other name.” If my grandma called it a moss rose, then it’s a rose. Grandmas rule.

 

With thanks to Irish poet Thomas Moore.


24 Comments

November 7.22: Coping, but barely

Brown birds,

brown leaves,

crackles, crumbles,

webs in eaves.

The glossy crow

in polished black

perpetual

melancholiac.

Pallid sky,

 sunlight void,

droops a greyness

ichthyoid.

Pond of slate,

grass turned rubble,

wind that moans

of toil and trouble.

The year grows weary,

needs to sleep,

gardens snuggle

in winter’s keep.

Beshawled and flanneled,

I watch the earth

beshawl itself

with color dearth.

 

 

With apologies to Shakespeare.