Y – Yolonda, To Our Life (NaPoWriMo #28)

Yesterday was Yolonda’s birthday. I wrote this poem for her, to her, and about us. Lordy, we were so young the day we married; a long time ago on a planet far, far away.

 

Age 19

 

To Our Life
by Bill Reynolds

You’re at the core of my life, the blood of my love.
Together for years, we performed so many acts
With so many roles we’ve held as a pair, line upon line,
We’ve both been there, one with the other,
searching for truth.

Unknowing what another play might’ve been,
We know what this was; and now we see what it is
Like pearls on a string, between two people in love
Our years remain, foundations of that same love,
And discovery of truth.

We built this world, one moment at a time.
Moments we recall; and some too long forgotten,
Our time together, creations of a living world,
The past is our present, our present the future.
And pacing our life, acting on truth.

Burdens of life did task our endurance
As humanity’s frailty tested our love.
All while building great passion and strength,
Nothing in the future can bring change to our past.
Stumbling on stones, finding more truth.

Love is not work, not a great task
While true work of the universe, it just might be,
Not as a choice we make, nor a feeling we have,
Love is just that, love is simply love.
Love never dies, nor shall this truth.

Happy Birthday, My Love; blessings to you,
A toast to your life, how happy you’ve made me
By being my wife. I’m glad I found ya.
We all love you., my dearest Yolonda.
A love discovered is finding a truth.

Road Trip Ready

 

Live long, love well, seek truth and happiness. Keep looking both ways, and mind the dangers lurking in the gaps.

T – Tercet: In Real Time (NoPoWriMo #24)

The tercet is a poetic stanza of three lines with a rhyme. While there is no specific rhyme scheme necessary and some even venture into free verse, I prefer to not to dig in unplowed turf. However, I did play with this and came up with rhyming lines one and two in each stanza, and using mid and end line rhymes in line three: aab2, bbc2, etc.

***

In Real Time
By Bill Reynolds

Not to be seen, heard, or specifically smelt.
We know it’s there, cuz experiences felt,
No gods can stop it, no power to quit.

Some sew it wisely, while others just wait.
The outcome’s the same, we share the same fate.
Fight back as we may; that is only delay.

Wind we can feel, the rain we may taste.
But the passage of time, we have little to waste.
Let’s consider the past; make choices that last.

Perpetually running, it passes in silence;
Everything changes, nothing is timeless.
Reality speaks loudly, but time passes proudly.

***

Thinking of time, be looking both ways.
While minding the gaps, watch only today’s.

Tuesday’s A-to-Z Update

Tuesday’s A-to-Z Update

I have not posted in over a week, since my A-Z Reveal. I want to post a brief update because my reveal plan is morphing, if only slightly. Things are not going as planned.

I hoped to include words provided by others in the poems. In writing my first few little ditties, I now realize that writing any poem is a sufficient challenge, especially for a rookie. Adding complex, unfamiliar words to a poem may detract from any bits of quality in the piece. However, I have discovered a different approach.

My son, Steven, suggested onomatopoeia. It is an interesting, six-syllable word that means the name of a thing or action from a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it, such as buzz or hiss. Onomatopoeia in poetry refers to a word that phonetically mimics or resembles the sound of the thing it describes. Shell Silverstein’s work provides excellent examples. Like this one.

Joey Joey took a stone
And knocked
Down
The
Sun!
And Whoosh! It swizzled
Down so hard.
And bloomp! It bounced
In his backyard.
And glunk! It landed
On his toe!
And the world was dark,
And the corn wouldn’t grow!
And the wind wouldn’t blow!
And the *bleep* wouldn’t crow!
And it always was Night,
Night,
Night.

All because
Of a stone
And Joe. ~ Shel Silverstein

I decided that I would use poetic forms, or literary devices, or types of poems, or methods of writing as the subjects. In other cases, it may be the title or the topic of the poem.

Where I can, I’ll still make use of the words for the letter of the day within the poem or poems. But if it wonks up the piece, the word goes the way of defenestration (yes, that’s one).

My first poem, Abilene, will publish in my blog on Saturday, April 1st (no fooling). Saturday also marks my completion of two years in (laughable) retirement. I have learned that being retired truly means that I am no long paid for my work – not less work It does not mean idleness, luxury, or boredom. However, I do get to call my own shots, pretty much (wife, children, grand kids, friends, and many others get their share).

Look both ways and mind those damn gaps.

A-to-Z Reveal (2017): Poetry of Words

A-to-Z Reveal (2017): Poetry of Words

I like dictionaries. Did you ever look for dirty words in a dictionary? I am not sure kids still do that. Everything is on line. I still use some of those words; but not today, not in my blog. At least, not those words. I plan to find new (to me) words for this challenge. You may find them interesting. I need one per day. Toss some my way, if ya be so inclined.

Words are the bits, pieces, and colors writers use to craft the art. When we tell it as the writer, we use words. We may enhance words with pictures or sounds, but we write with words.

During April, I want to immerse myself in poetry. I want to read more poetry, learn about writing poems, and discover my inner (wannabe) poet. I want to do that by writing them – to piffle out one poem each day for the month. I’m not (yet) a poet. I’ve never finished a poem that I considered ready for others to read or hear.

To that end, and in typical self-abusive fashion, I’ll write as many poems in April as I’m able. I will then post them for all to see. My goal is one a day for the month. To further ensure my personal embarrassment and pain, I am asking you for feedback – “Don’t quit your day job.” This may backfire, but I want (by example) to encourage others to put their work out there, to take the risk, to allow us to share in their efforts.

For each letter of the alphabet, I’ll attempt to use a word within a poem, or make it the subject of a poem, or I will somehow engage the word with the poem. I’ll create a piece that involves my chosen word (maybe more than one), and then proceed in alphabetical order, beginning on April 1st (Oh dear me, the fool’s day).

I will post every day. I plan to piggyback this A-to-Z challenge with the National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo) challenge. NaPo requires posting all 30 days. I welcome your suggestions. For both challenges, a poem will be posted to my blog and linked to the challenges.

I tend to have logophilia, an emotional attachment to words. My vocabulary is no larger than average, but it should be. My spelling should also be better. I’m not much of an orthographer, but some of my readers are correctors of spelling and grammar, especially mine. Feel free to pile on with them to highlight my blunders so that we learn (my poetic license is up to date).

I want to use this opportunity to learn more about poetry. Will you help me? If you provide feedback comments, other readers see your comments, and thereby grow poetically. I’m willing to hang it out there. You can tell me about it, and we can all learn from the experience — if you share your poetic wisdom with us in the blogosphere.

“A poem should not mean/But be.” ~ Archibald MacLeish

NaNoWriMo, NaMeWriMo, or NaPoWriMo?

Next Tuesday, 1 November 2016, begins another 30-day challenge to write 50-thousand words toward the authorship of a book. The challenge is called National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, or just Nano).

nanowrimo1Since 1999, Nano has grown in popularity and is now international. Novels are fiction, but participants sometimes write in other genres. I wrote a historical novel my first year. Others have written memoirs (National Memoir Writing, NaMeWriMo?) or other non-fiction, and poetry (National Poetry, NaPoWriMo? It’s in April.).

Nano is difficult. Last year was my first large scale fiction project. I learned how challenging it is. The math works out so that I need to average about 1,700 words a day to “win” the 50k-word challenge on November 30th. There are no days off.

Because Nano gets more difficult as weeks pass, and life has a way of interfering with writing, I want to produce over 2,000 words a day for the first week or two. Getting ahead in the word count is recommended, and I know why. This is no writing sprint; it’s a marathon. After about ten days, I’ll be looking in the mirror asking, “WTF were you thinking?” But I did it in 2015, and I will in 2016.

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Online support, other writers, and attending motivating write-ins, make this challenge doable. Following the helpful suggestions in No Plot, No Problem, such as keeping my inner editor at bay, I’ll manage to keep writing.

Last year, I struggled with being new to fiction writing and not having a plan. Creating the story as I wrote was difficult. Writing to develop characters, scenes, and plot was work, but fun under pressure.

This year, I have an outline and I’m a slightly more seasoned writer. My introduction to blogging was during the A-to-Z Blog Challenge in April. Nano is like A-to-Z in that it’s a learning through immersion experience. It will be challenging again this year because I’ll write in a nonfiction genre new to me.

I’ve decided to write a memoir for the 2016 Nano. I’ve never written one. Technically, that qualifies me as a Nano Rebel. I don’t feel rebellious because there is ample precedent for memoir and I still need the same number of words. Since I have been kicking my biographical tin-can down the road for years, I’ve decided it’s time.

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I was raised in a religious environment, but I’ve concluded that atheism is correct. I plan to document that spiritual journey. The memoir will be spiritually thematic and family oriented, but not suitable for young children. I’ll write about specific periods and events in my life when religion or spiritual issues were more prominent, or should have been.

I’ve been researching people, places, and events to reconstruct those times. I’ll be busy with this until December. Only then will I set my inner editor free to deal with the 50K-word first draft, pile of tangled dribble I will have created.nanowrimo4

I’ve been posting on this blog twice per week. During November, I’ll post once per week to provide a brief summary of my Nano experience, and information relevant to my project. Adding news of any other participants that I find interesting would be fun — so do tell.

I’ve been reading about writing memoir. It is different, of course. But since I did this Nano gig one time, I know that I’ll have little time to work on this blog.

nanowrimo3If you have any interest in NanoWriMo, the web page is http://nanowrimo.org. Join us.

If you are jumping into the Nano challenge also, I’d like to know.

Have fun. I hope to be able to hold my head up enough to resume blogging on the twice a week rhythm again in December.

As Natalie Goldberg says in Writing Down the Bones, “In the center of chaos, make one definitive act. Just write. Say yes, stay alive, be awake. Just write. Just write. Just write.”

Look both ways and mind the gap.

DEATH

The inevitable & unavoidable conclusion to life.

The inevitable & unavoidable conclusion to life.

During late October many cultures begin preparing for the first days of November. They remember the dead, acknowledge the end of harvest, and prepare for the dark days of winter. It begins with Halloween, then All Souls’ or All Saints’ Day, The Day of the Dead, and Samhain. Many believe it’s the time of year when we’re closest to the other world and death itself. The Fairy Tree story that ends this blog tells a wee bit more.

death6

It’s our only certainty—we die. Beliefs about what follows the end of human life range from nothing to Paradise and 72 virgins or reincarnation. Let’s not forget the whole Dante’s Inferno thing. Our beliefs about an after life affect our choices while living.

While no one has told of their experience following permanent death (we have near death accounts), there are stories with bits of information. Little of it is dependable or useful. Theories abound, but the database of the deceased is void of demonstrable facts. Only the dead know, and they’re not talking.

Efforts to resist death seem logical, but are eventually fruitless. While many consider death a condition leading to afterlife, most people (not all) avoid dying as long as possible. An exception is when living prolongs a life of hopeless suffering. Others choose death through martyrdom. We disagree about our right to die (whole other blog) and we normally work hard to keep living.

death4In the United States, more than two-million people die each year. The CDC reports the top four causes as heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, and accidents. I say, smoking, smoking, smoking, and driving plus illicit drugs because they are the major producers or triggers of those four “causes.” The root cause of most preventable premature deaths in the USA is smoking (so quit).

It can be difficult to determine the difference between a still living or recently deceased person. Without more information, we can only define death as an absence of life. Our legal descriptions require a physician to certify the time and cause of death. While absence of all brain activity normally defines death, court cases fog the legal definition. When there are uncertainties, we gain information through autopsy.

death3

While we’re fascinated with death, many of us avoid serious discussion of it and find it morbidly unpleasant. The death of friends, loved ones, and people we hold in high esteem represent the ultimate, painful loss. Our own death signals loss and aloneness, which is sometimes comforted by religious beliefs.

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Yet, we sing of death, we write about death, and we (should) discuss it. We often honor death’s inevitability with both art and science.

Since first hearing it, I’ve liked Ralph Stanley’s (died, June 2016) rendition of the song, Oh, Death, which is a plea with the Grim Reaper for another year of life. It was made famous in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? Hear a short version by clicking here.

From a list of ten poems about death, I selected two by famous poets. All ten can be found here.

“Death” by Rainer Maria Rilke (died 1926)

Before us great Death stands
Our fate held close within his quiet hands.
When with proud joy we lift Life’s red wine
To drink deep of the mystic shining cup
And ecstasy through all our being leaps—
Death bows his head and weeps.

From Queen Mab, by Percy Bysshe Shelley (became famous after his death in 1822)

How wonderful is Death,
Death, and his brother Sleep!
One, pale as yonder waning moon
With lips of lurid blue;
The other, rosy as the morn
When throned on ocean’s wave
It blushes o’er the world;
Yet both so passing wonderful!

death1Life is the time made precious by our inevitable death. May we fully enjoy the many pleasures and loves discovered and experienced while living. And may we all “…lift Life’s red wine to drink deep of the mystic shining cup…” because death is next for each of us.

Life is uncertain, look both ways.

Spiritual Poetry

I love the spiritual nature of this poem.

rainyday1

      The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

       ——-By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Longfellow invokes the value of our dark days and the transient nature of life for each of us.

What does his poem say to you?

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