Aiming Peanuts At The Moon

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When I was 54 years old my Mother died.  She who read to me from Mother Goose, The Elves & Fairies, The Little Engine That Could, Hans Christian Andersen; she who encouraged education and reading books was gone.

The world still feels parched without her.  But my feelings about her have been and will always be confusing.  Her stubborn, Taurus nature was crazy-making.

When I summon her, the words of Dylan Thomas’ poem Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night surface:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
old age should burn and rave at close of day;
rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Did he know Mother personally?  Her death at age ninety-three after soldiering on in a nursing home for eight years was combative, to say the least.  She wandered into the rooms of comatose residents and unplugged television cords.  My sister had to move her to a different nursing home.

We joked that that at least Mother’s cord-pulling was not someone’s life support.

There were other incidents:  She bit a nurse trying to give her a pill.  She hurled bottles of nail polish across the room, set off Emergency Door Alarms. Once, I found her gripping her roommate’s Infant of Prague statue in her bony hand.  The roommate was blind and Mother had pocketed it.  How not to laugh at that irony?

Was the Infant of Prague caper Mother’s attempt to find spirituality?

Having lived her youth in the 1920’s Prohibition era with its gangsters and flappers, she refused to be defined by any institution or person other than herself.

Was she a narcissist?  I think so.

Prohibition did not stop her from getting sick on uncut grain alcohol one night when a shadowy man offered whiskey to her and her sister.  They had been frolicking at the Chicago World’s Fair of 1932.  Luckily, they both made it home to my grandmother’s flat in the morning, grandmother not at all happy to nurse their hangovers.

Later, in the 1960’s, her soapbox deliveries of opinions and stories not only reverberated in my echo chamber but those of the small town of Mundelein, Illinois.  She wrote a newspaper column, Brickbats and Bouquets, for the local newspaper.  Her subjects ranged from her opinions on suburban strip malls, to the divorce of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez, to her praise of bird-watchers.

She encouraged me to write with her when I was a girl.  This snip still rattles in my head:

Hair in curlers, cream on face;
no resemblance, human race.

I picture her slathered in Ponds cold crème, her black hair woven into an antennae of curlers looking like a martian.

It is over a decade since her passing.  I have seen her rage against the dying of the light at an institution that tried to contain her spirit.  I have seen her rage at me and my sister.

She has shown up only a few times in my dreams, but I believe that instead of curses, she blesses me now with fierce tears.

I aim peanuts at the moon.  She would be happy to know just how unforgettable she is.

 

Clay

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Every picture tells a story.  Or does it?

 

Spooked

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Well rattle my bones and shiver my spine,
‘tis Halloween and the witches are flyin’.
They cackle and hasten to mount their brooms,
ride high over rooftops and leaning old tombs.

Ghosts haunt at night and jack o’lanterns wink,
bats fly by radar, watchful owls never blink.
Werewolves and mummies and even giraffes
trick-or-treat on doorsteps; costumed kids have laughs.

But who’s to say, when the full moon beams bright,
that vampires don’t search for a neck to bite.
So please listen up if you hear a wolf howl,
it could be Count Dracula out on the prowl.

If I’ve scared you, I’m sorry, but it’s All Hallow’s Eve,
when souls rise from graves to tug at your sleeve.
For when I was young, my basket filled with treats,
goblins clamored to grab me for a dance on their street.

Bird Whisperer

 

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Fickle, you flit from one bloom to the next,

sucking nectar
oblivious
of tomorrows or yesterdays
and I wonder who is feeding whom.

My heart is grounded in this moment by your

Morse code chirps,
sassy chatter,

and aerial displays.

What is it you whisper to the flowers?

 

 

The Scream

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Humane crows in our lovely Lincoln Park

Two crows mourn on a wire;
they caw from their perch in the sky.

They emit shrill cries —
wings beat rancor, grief
at the sight of the fallen third,
road kill left behind by squealing tires.

One wing of the dead crow points to the lost freedom of the sky.

In death, does the crow’s wing beckon its clan to remember their connection?
Logic diminishes my whimsy as cars speed by and further crush the bird.

The two mourners fly and flap from one wire to another.
Drivers, oblivious of the crow funeral, move headlong to their lives
as I, too, enter my vehicle on the way to an appointment.

The crow screams are lost, muffled as news blares from the radio:
Mass shooting At A Texas Walmart —
and I ponder humanity’s numbness towards death.

Bird Eats Cat

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In the garden, a chickadee pecks at you,
kisses the ground nourished by your ashes.

Whiskers,
paws, emerald eyes —

now burned to a chickadee prize.

The tangerine poppies have turned blood orange;
they sway

like lit Oriental lanterns
as we look for you

in nature’s patterns.

Is the bird’s song sharper from feeding on you?
Have you fertilized flowers to a deeper hue?

Cattails rise like questions in the morning dew.

How The Rain Feels To The Leaves

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Like a velveteen hand smoothing fronds with April tears.

Like paint splatters on canvas dripping summer suns, autumn rusts, winter oxblood, spring pinks.

Like the blade of an ice skate slashing its veins in winter wind.

Like the lead weight of a mirror reflecting physical beauty which ends.

Like the sparkle of crystals from an overturned sugar bowl.

The rain chuckles and asks:  “Did Leif Erickson turn over a new leaf?”

Then the rain goes psycho, pals with the wind and blows leaves hither and non.

Leaves twist and turn in the rain, shout to each other:  “Is this the winter of our discontent?”

Leaves cling fierce but lose family members.

Do leaves mourn?

I hear leaves waltz with the rain at night, patter a child to sleep,

fragrance dreams with velveteen prayer.

Like a gentle hand April rains return to soothe.

 

 

 

 

Venetian Fairy Tale

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Felt inspired to make a collage.  I call this Venetian Fairy Tale.  Hand-painted paper background. 

The trip to Venice still lingers in memory.  Luckily, we were not flooded.  La Serenissima floods 1/3 of the year.  It is a regular practice for them to set up ramps and you are advised to bring tall boots. 

Here’s one of my unearthed poems:

Venezia leans and lists,
an ornamented, lacey, Byzantine eccentric
caught in the lagoons.

She is a jilted bride –
Miss Havisham in a yellowed wedding dress,
her Adriatic stanchions
rotting away
as rats nibble at the cake.

But Venezia refuses to stop the clock.
Her Bell Tower rings – cracked but hopeful.

In a café, the Italian slurps his zuppe di cozze,
downs another grappa,
sets fire to his brain as a musical strain
echoes from canals,
the boats of gondoliers.

I imagine the fire of his dream:
Venetian maids of yore
lie supine on the shore,
tresses fanning out in hues of gold, orange, blue.

Their siren songs set him aflame.

Until he returns to the 21st century,
spots a woman flocked by pigeons
at St. Mark’s Square.

And here’s YT, being flocked:

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