The thank you note……

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A simple card – unassuming or complex

Either works – the message assumes the task

“How thoughtful” and its variations

Confirming receipt and appreciation

The giver is fulfilled – a posting in hand that gratifies

No excuses needed  to cloud the meaning

Thank You in its simplest form

All for the price of a 1st Class stamp…

Obligatory Holiday Poem

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Simple Christmas pleasures brought to you by my Hipstamatic iPhone app.

As a child I wished every day was like Christmas.

Enchanted by the magic of tinsel and toys, it was always my favorite time of year, and the tree served as a joyful focal point: I never tired of gazing at it.  A nightly ritual at my house was lighting the tree–well, plugging it in.  I’d then spend a good ten minutes–an eternity for a kid–marveling at what my family and I had decorated.  The holidays were never completely perfect, but, as far as I was concerned, the tree could do no wrong.

While I’m older now and have a much less idealized view of the season in general, I feel fortunate that my boyhood wish has mostly come true.  Life has its ups and downs, but I try to make the most of them.  I’m not completely broke.  I’m not starving.  I still find time for some art.

Every day gives a gift.  Even if it’s small, I try to always be thankful.

And I still practice my mini-evergreen meditations.  Here’s a little poem commemorating the evolution of Christmas in my life.  It’s not much, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

_____

Tannenbaum

 

Today’s plastic tree:

neither sorrows

nor tidings

of great joy glow

from its adornment,

but the sap of electrons

flow vital through

able, outstretched limbs

giving ordinary light.

Alfred Part Two

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Sorry for the wait.  Here’s part two of the storm poem and more iPhone photography.

Alfred, Part Two

Morning reeks of storms.

The sky starts falling heavy by noon,

and soon limbs creak and crack with the white weight.

We watch warily, eyes turning within as the refrain

repeated by chicken-little weathermen blacks out,

and night settles in for some serious slumber . . .

_____

Alfred Part One

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I started winterizing my house the night before the early winter storm that disabled CT for more than a week.  I wrote a poem about it, feeling content after my work was done.  The time that followed was somewhat more trying, but I’ll try to capture those emotions in a follow-up poem or two.  Here’s the first.

Alfred, Part One

Winter crawls cold and earthen from the old forest,

ousting autumn’s sweet rot with the foreboding smell of snow.

I brace for it like the animals and my ancestors.

I stack wood, shutter up tight.

It’s long work: giving up summer, breathing deep,

but going to sleep happy, old fashioned.

___

Just to share, here’s a shot from my iPhone of what happened next.

Creative Limitation Challenge

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Bruce Lee once said regarding the martial arts: “It is not daily increase but daily decrease; hack away the unessential.”  While he was referring to eliminating unnecessary moves to your martial arsenal, the same principle can be applied to writing in all genres–especially poetry.  A teacher once told me “a poem is like a diamond, a perfect crystallized expression of emotion.”  That though always stuck with me, but boy is it hard to turn out a gem!  I always become verbose: in my struggle to pick the right word for each line, I include excess.

One thing that helps me are little exercises in creative limitation.  I borrow them from other writers, but I often make up my own.  Here’s one.  Go to a website regarding a topic that interests you.  It could be about sports, gardening, seaweed–doesn’t matter.  Look at the essential message of the page, and make up some rules to follow while writing a poem.  Then, write a piece that follows those rules.

Many people are turned off by the strict adherence to rhyme or meter that classical forms require.  For this exercise, you get to make up your own form, but, at the same time, the rules you decide limit your creative choices.  This way, you can write something nice and tight without feeling too constrained.

Why not give it a shot?  I picked a website about meditation (Meditation Is Easy).  Not sure why–it just sounded cool.  I knew that the chanting of “OM” is used in Hindu meditation, and I read here that multiples of seven have some significance.  With that, I made up my rules:

1.) Write seven lines

2.) of seven syllables each,

3.) with each line starting with the “OM” sound.

 

Here’s the result.  It may not be the best poem, but it was fun to write.

 

The Sound of Universe

Oh, my meditation will

grow my mind’s design making

so many panics broken

poems in the garden now my

home, a respite for storing

tomes–words scrawled about God, vol-

umes unread when just sitting.

 

Feedback’s cool.  So are your submissions for the exercise.  Try it out, explain your rules, and share your poem.  Post results in the comments, and have fun!

Worship

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Here’s a poem I wrote long ago that kinda jibes with the photograph, “Faith”, I recently posted.

Worship

The dark, divided minds that dreamt those sullen gods we no longer love make us disbelieve the lineage that mirrors the many to the One. Glass fragments litter the floors of mosques and chapels, but they were stained on old Olympus–blown for the Pharaoh from Sumerian sands.

Dying ideas reborn and re-bred: oaken totems. cave paintings. tattoos imbued with divine might. a still-beating heart. your lucky rabbit’s foot. ancestral shrines. science. Untouchables crowd shallow graves, and relics rot under displays. Behind Buddha’s temple, the boulder rolled from the empty tomb lets out the long-lost Sun.

But they can’t pray your thoughts clear like water. They can’t hold a miror to your soul. Your molecular essence flows simple, cold. All your own.

So drink and mind silence. Breathe, breathe. See you are what you seek.

The Joneses

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Little Red walked countless miles with me. We ambled over the smooth, big hill out front and up the back slope, surprisingly steep. We paraded the lawn with pride; none of the neighbors worked so hard outside. I got to wear a dust mask, workboots. And earplugs, headphones. You can probably guess us quite a pair. People always seemed to walk by at cutting time, if only to point or stare.

Yup, we got to know the yard like the back of our hand: all the invisible topographies that can turn an ankle, the tight corners taken on two wheels, how to ride the edge of the flower bed, the way the sun blazes orange just before it sets, the hornet’s nest rebuilt every year beneath the north side of the deck.

That’s why I felt remorse when I tore her busted guts out. Grass wet and thick and overgrown from old snowmelt. Clog. Cuss. Pull. Jam. Smoke. Scream. Snap. Who would have known all her metal organs were strung together with some overworked cabling? Little Red is dead, now buried under the wheelbarrow behind the shed.

I finally broke down and bought new. “That’s one fine ride,” the next-door lady crooned. Her Craftsman sensibilities demand she mows from March to December. She recuts after me, drawing a verdant laser line between her yard and mine. (Yes, the grass is greener on the other side.) And she should know about tractors. She has two.

The guy on the other, other side reminded me how much time will be mine. The second thing he ever told me was, “I know you just moved in, but you’re breedin’ rabbits.” He waited a week and then cut it clear. I can just find other exercise, he now reminds me. “We can ride around and drink some beers.”

It’s strange at first–learning to mow all over again. The engine bumps and burps and smells like Sears. Three weekly hours of sweat are now a few dozen easy turns through the dancehall with Marley. I’ve replaced water breaks with sitting tall in high-back glory to gaze upon my trim, green horizon. My turf is about an acre or an hour, depending on how you measure.

Still, I yawn at the majesty, tired from finally keeping up.

Turbulence; a poem

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TURBULENCE

Cruising serenely at Angels 45 – wind shear – the bottom falls out
Masks deploy – extremities violated- cocktails wasted

Panic ensues –  leveling off – an eerie calm – I-Phone cams clicking – evidence gathered
Litigation for sure – counsel contacted before family

A natural occurrence; equipment malfunction; pilot error?
Terra firma finally – a media frenzy – bodies and minds traumatized

Assaulted by the querying queue – inane questions – no remorse
“How do you feel – will you fly again?” – thousand mile stares; disbelief

Lead story – film@11:00 – global headlines; in scant hours; history
I.E.D.’s kill 9 American G.I.’s  in Kabul; ”How do you feel?”

by Poppa Ernie



Poetry Post: Industrial Park

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Here’s a poem I wrote that “won” a little contest between old friends.  Given all the news about the Stock Market and debt crisis, I think it somewhat apropos.  Take a look and let me know what you think!

__________

Industrial Park

I Sunday drive through acres of their skeletal ambitions; clouds leech
light from above and yellow grasses sleep between the boxes that
became the bones of my bosses.

Old Glory rolls around an abandoned flagpole–stars unseen
waving goodbye.  Its ropes toll against the cold metal, a series of
hollow pings.

Cracked asphalt shows from piles of melting snow, and the breeze
continues to blow.  Two swans swim in a pond of quiet runoff.

It will soon be spring.