Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013n First draft poem: Joanne


Part I:

My shopping cart is filled to the brim
with desires and fancies:
sourdough slices, shaved parmesan
root beer and Kettle chips
raspberries and plums
goat cheese, granola
I grab Advil and Tums.

Bisquik and Nestles Quik
brown eggs and sea salt
Free ranging chickens  
peppercorns to be ground
I grab a sweet treat as I’m standing in line
If I walk away from these bags, nothing changes for me
I still will be fine

Part II:

Joanne’s shopping cart holds her worldly belongings
Full, overflowing, and yet nothing much in tow
Folded cardboard, a sweater
three rough but clean blankets
sheets of plastic and tarps for the wind and the rain
A gallon of water and a few magazines
Recyclables gathered until enough to reclaim

A box full of what
she really must carry
from hard bench to alley or on a good day, 
an alcove with shade and a breeze
but she still wears a cap and a jacket
though it’s eighty degrees

Part III:

Each Sunday she makes her home
in the same garden courtyard
at my office building
she lies in the sun, reading,
her sunglasses stay on so I can’t see her eyes
Her unlined face mocha, could be 40 or 65
humming a low tune I can’t recognize

I am ashamed to be surprised she is lucid, well-spoken
possessed of a quiet dignity and grace
that allows me small kindnesses -
a key to the bathroom
and pillows, which she returns to my suite
with a thank you note - and though she gets food stamps
I wonder when she next will eat

I give her some chocolate and my Sunday paper
and later I ask what she’s reading about
The new health care law, she says
she still can’t afford it
hopes she won’t get in trouble, that no one will tell
she’ll just do without doctors
and try to stay well


Joanne has no home.

But Joanne has a name.

Joanne is my sister.

And Joanne is my shame.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 10, 2013 A Politically Incorrect Poem

So I was in the butcher shop the other day and both amused and horrified myself with the thought:  I am tired of the same old meat.  Thus the inspiration for this poem/punk song.  With a nod to Jonathan Swift.  To all my vegan/ish friends:  please forgive me this silliness and I hope it does not offend you.  I admire your values greatly in this regard, and find myself woefully lacking, hence the self-mockery.

The Politically Incorrect Paean to Meat

My friends have all gone vegan,
gluten- free, no GMO’s
but I feed my addiction
with those hint of lime Tostitos

They all eat kale and quinoa,
whatever the fuck that is
but me I want some onion rings,  
and gimme gooey cheez whiz

         But the thing that I like best of all is meat, yeah I said it, meat
         The only trouble is there’s just not enough of it to eat
         Flesh from cows and pigs and chickens is all I ever see
         There’s a whole wide world of animals,
         Just waiting for a fricasee

Yeah, I love tritips, breasts and thighs
I like my burgers rare and thick
Can sink my teeth into a pork chop
Enjoy that corn dog on a stick

But I’m tired of the same old thing
I want something new to masticate
An emu, or a leopard
Put a panda on my plate

Let me deep fry up a dingo
Add a lemur to my stew
And on my shishkabob
I’d like a meerkat, maybe two

       Yeah the thing that I like best of all is meat, I said it , meat

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26, 2013

It has been four months since I have posted.  I have not been writing much but getting back in the swing.  I did write some blues lyrics that now have been given music, but since I have a collaborator (thank you John Barron) I better check before I put it out there.  I have to say that was a very cool experience, and I am motivated to write more.

But here is the current draft of a poem I have been working on a couple of days.  For lack of a better title at the moment I am calling it Screen Saver since that was the impetus for what followed:

Screen Saver

I can’t quite sleep.
Still awake with some disquiet,  
a search for words begins
when my gaze lands upon the screen:
rectangles, splayed
and overlaid,
the pictures of my life;
fossil fragments
of the years
but in no order
of meaning or time,
random, without story line.

But mind and ego wish it so
to tell the tale of who we are
and so collect the snapshots.
As if, like scattered breadcrumbs,
they could lead us
home again
to that beyond reach,
all that came before,
and in that shuttered moment
relive again. 
Toss death and loss into a void
and Then, etched always in the Now, remains.

Yet all things arise
then fall away.
The succor and curse
of memory hold sway
in the here and now, and what’s to come.
I stand upon a swinging bridge
and peering in between the slats
into that space, the future,
where there is both abyss and wish
and always pause,
hopeful of what might be next
and afraid of falling through.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A short story

The sun is just about to splash into the turquoise.  

It is that moment where the last glowing sliver disappears, leaving a sky streaked with coral and golden hues.  I hear the waves hit, and the see the sparkling foam fanning out upon the sand, the gulls skittering upon the surface.  I want to paint this picture so vividly in my mind’s eye that I can not forget it.  I want to hold the moment, to keep this small perfect picture indelible, and retrievable.  Because in this time around the wheel, it seems that much of my sojourn has already been forgotten, never to return...and there is no one to ask.

My husband has many holders of his history.  We are surfside, sitting at a dinner with friends of his childhood, their parents, his own parents.  I am surrounded by their love and laughter, I am embraced and lifted up by it, and yet I am an outsider to all these stories.  Like watching a favorite movie, it is familiar and heartwarming, but it is not my story, and a slice of me sits in abject sorrow and loneliness, for I have no one who can tell me about myself as a girl.

How pathetic and narcissistic to allow this barbed coil of wretchedness any place in my awareness.   Yet there it is.   It is a truth, and I feel less whole because of it.  

No brother or sister, parents dead, never really close with extended family,  a childhood of Air Force relocations, acquaintances remembered, but no lasting friends from those years.   Yes, I have rediscovered on Facebook some friend from high school days.  But the parts of my life that can be shared and remembered in any meaningful way start in college.  If I can’t recall some detail, Teidi or Kelly or Lisa or David will.  I can salvage those parts of my self through their collective net of consciousness, and I cherish those enduring bonds.  

But what I can’t remember from when I was 5 or 9,  12 or 16, when we lived in Oklahoma or Germany or North Carolina, these pieces of me have fallen into a space that, like an anchor laid down at the bottom of the sea, remains unreachable, unfathomable.  Alone, I can not hoist that ballast, or beckon back memories obscured by the tides of time.

Feeling at once forlorn and foolish, I rise from the table before the tears are seen and find my way to the restroom.   I gaze into green eyes, noting with some chagrin the creases of my crows feet, moist as I struggle with this pain. 

Stop it. 

No, don’t stop it. 

Breathe into it.

Feel it for what it is and let the knowing move through you. 

How interesting, this grasping at the past, this idea that what came before is so vital.  The experience and remembrance of a Me through time feels so necessary  to knowing who I am now, to being my authentic self.

But is it really that important after all? 

As a psychotherapist, day after day I hear the life stories of others.  I bear witness to the pain and struggle.  I accept, validate, and ultimately try to help my clients move beyond their self-limiting beliefs and habits, to transform the sadness, fear and anger that keeps them mired in the past, or paralyzed by fear of the future.  

In essence, healing happens in the moment of release from the often-told life story and the endless editorializing and criticizing.  Freedom lies in the ability to be fully alive to the present moment, accepting it as it is without expectation or judgment.  Well-being exists in embracing the process of mindful awareness of here-and-now.  We grow in connectedness to others and feel the evolutionary impulse when we move beyond the constraints of ego -  me, my history, my story - and instead notice what is shared and essential in the experience of humanity.

I walk back to the table and feel connected once again.  We all were children once.  As were our parents, and theirs before them, and further, and beyond to the differentiation of species, and all the way back to the creatures crawling from water to land, farther back to only water, the changed yet same water now holding the hiding sun until it begins its arc again across the brightening sky.

All I really need to know is known.  If I have breath when the sun rises, I will have all I need.




Friday, April 12, 2013

A Facebook Tale

I begin today feeling as big as the universe and as essential as those string theory threads.   I feel that for you too.  Let me tell you the story.

I am part of a  small group on Facebook participating in National Poetry Month by posting poems.  They are mostly original works (and some crackingly good ones!), and occasionally someone will post a work by some other published author.  Marcia, a woman I have never met except through Facebook, posted this by a poet of the 1800's:

Who Has Seen The Wind? 
  by Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?    
Neither I nor you:            
But when the leaves hang trembling,     
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?   
Neither you nor I:    
But when the trees bow down their heads,  
The wind is passing by.  

I felt inspired by this piece, and wrote the following as a sort of homage and extension:

I Have Seen the Wind.
  by Katherine Hamilton

I have seen the wind
It is just behind my eyes
Creating space for landscapes,
A place for lover’s sighs

You have seen the wind.
It is just behind my eyes
Creating gusts of discontent
And room for love’s demise

And then Marcia posts the following:  
"Katherine, it's interesting how a little something I read in a daily devotional email caused me                                  to think of that one line, "Who has seen the wind?"  Then I felt like posting the poem here, and you  composed a poem which sums up the twelve-year relationship with my ex-beau which I ended last September."

We are all the wind, and the wind connects us all.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Poem of the Day

So April is National Poetry Month, and I have been participating in a Facebook page of submitting a poem a day.  Today I submitted one that I just wrote, so thought I would share it here.  It is about spiders but doesn't have a title yet.  Maybe the first line?

The spider is my totem.

I used to kill her, you know,
before I was ready to let in her meaning.

She comes to me often now,
startling me
from lassitude and complacency.

Delicate, (dangerous?)
Maya, Arachne.
Gentle grandmother,
weaver of illusion and infinity.

The thread of generations
is spun from her belly--
a web of sorrows and wishes
wrought in the night.

Reminding me, yes, that all is connected
the past and time passed
is the pattern we live.

As she is the keeper of soul’s hidden language
of dream, and of poem

So she moves me to write.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Retooling a Poem

Sometimes the universe conspires in our favor if we allow it, note it and take advantage of it.  

There was supposed to be a small group of us from my writer's group meeting in my office today for a read and critique session.  When one of the four of us, a woman whose poetry I admire and whose incisive feedback I very much appreciate cancelled due to her child being sick, I had a sense of dread.  I had not yet met the other two who said they were coming, both young men, one of them only 19 and whose profile stated he was the member of 177 other MeetUp groups.  Right.  I bet he has 800 Facebook friends too.   

I was thinking maybe I could pretend I wasn't there, like when the Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses knock on my door.  

As I sat there, waiting, I was also feeling badly that I had not been giving any time to reading and writing lately. How can I say I am a writer if I do not, in fact, write?

As it turns out, The Year of the Snake started out quite well with neither of the gentlemen showing up, allowing me the quiet of my consulting room to work on my word-craft.  And I did.  

This new lunar year I aim to molt my tired meters and shed my over-reliance on rhyme, and get down to the essence.  I will read more and write more.  I will blog more often as practice.  

So this is the one I worked on.  Currently untitled, I originally called it "What My Hot Flashes Teach Me" and then "Morning Mirror",  neither of which I like.   And it isn't done yet, nor abandoned.

The previous version was posted here in December, as a Poem for Turning 55.

Domain without dominion,                                                

this body as I age.                                                           

I startle at my reflection,                                                

in recognition of                                                           

a “me-ness” that abides within that cage                       

no longer new.                                                           

A breath-stopping moment of

shock and silence; aware

that memories now stretch longer than

the days which lie ahead. 

Exhaling, holding my own gaze, I stare:

no longer young.    

My passions long neglected

require now a choice.

Ancient desire sparks nascent fire,

and inchoate, arise,

seek form, and clamor to be given voice,

no longer mute.

Sight will dim and sinew thin.

This hutch will rust and bend,

of little use or consequence.

I need but this breath to

sing the poem of pulse beyond body’s end:

no longer caged.