back to the future

San Marino, California My home town

San Marino, California–Photo: Melvin Hale
My home town

Back to the Future

were I to tell you of those years,
a canvas washed in yellow joy, the only
years in my lifetime

that we knew peace

you would believe me
delusional, a liar, just-plain-nuts

those years when crisis
meant sharing mom’s 55 buick
“The War of the Keys”
with a sis-
ter older than I by
7 months

or how she
ran with the popular kids
while I read Flaubert and
Greek trage-
dies (irae)
with other eggheads.

we’d fill the tank on
dad’s credit line
at twenty-
five cents a gallon

have groceries delivered
from Tipton’s meat market
by a pimple-faced kid
(I had the crush but
he wanted her)

yellow summer uniforms
and
wool plaid in California
cold—saddle oxfords
or white bucks, socks rolled
down and duck tails.

the fire escape,
the fire drills
that birthed our fear of heights
the school (building now condemned)

walk to the Copa
after school for cherry
cokes
and boys
from San Marino High.

now gas is $3.73 a gallon
here,
i’m still afraid of heights,
my hair is should be gray,
sun shines golden on the snow
and Cris is gone.

Ramona Convent Secondary School as it was back then.

Ramona Convent Secondary School
as it was back then.

My widowed mom married a widower with a daughter my age in 1952 when we were 7 years old. To say our relationship was challenged is putting it mildly since we were in the same grade in the same school throughout. Thankfully, as adults, the competition evaporated and we were friends. Sadly, I lost Cris in 2004, age 61, to pancreatic cancer.

This is in response to Amy’s guest prompt for dVerse meeting the bar where we are writing free verse, timing ourselves for 9 minutes only, about a period of time in our lives. I chose my teen years, late 50’s, very early 60’s.

I’m more comfortable with a bit of poetic structure, so this is a bit awkward. But it should be fun to read everyone’s mini-memoirs. Most will be, no doubt, a lot more exciting than mine. The 50’s were, well, pretty tame but we didn’t know any better.

Hubris

Artist: Cheryl Nelson Used with permission

Artist: Cheryl Nelson Kellar
Used with permission

Daedalus, on these wings you wrought,
I dare take flight, rising as though spirit-borne,
but no. The power within it is
that lifts me closer to Apollo, closer to the gods
than I, mere man, should dare aspire.

Hold close your human lot, my son,
for surely, though you may transcend
the earth, your soul still lingers
in the Labyrinth of pride,
let not this lifting dupe you.

Oh, father, know you not
this gift you fashioned,
made for flight, for freedom, for escape?
Through this I shall embrace the sun,
for this you brought me forth,
you formed these wings.

It’s true—this is my offering,
so that you may ascend to liberty
through choices etched in wisdom.
Do not aspire too high; accept
your truth and linger close to me,
lowly though it may now seem to you.

The fire calls to me, enticing.

Thus, I go.

And thus, you die.

Written to a prompt offered by Grace at dVerse Poetics in which we may use the beautiful art of Cheryl Nelson Kellar. For a wonderful experience, visit her website and browse her work. And even better, choose one of her painting to inspire your own poem and bring it to dVerse.

Jacaranda Rain–an Experiment in Line and Meter

Photo: David Slotto All Rights Reserved

Photo: David Slotto
All Rights Reserved

Jacaranda Rain–Free Verse

I am
the sun that slips
through blinds, half-closed.
Painting saffron stripes
on adobe walls.

I am
a bolt of fire
lighting up the skies,
singeing trees on mountain tops,
splitting limbs.

I am
the sheltered branches of Mulberry tree.
Broad leaf umbrella
shading you at noontime.

I am
the dance of light upon the moon,
hiding my passion behind
swaying palms,
kissing night in unseen places.

I am
the empty flute
the flautist left behind.
I await the breath of God
to fill the void.

Though I must leave,
I’ll come to you again—
a shower of purple petals
upon dew-covered sod.

Jacaranda Rain–Sonnet, Iambic Pentameter

I am the Sun that slips through blinds half-closed,
imprinting saffron stripes on textured walls.
I am a ball of fire that slashes clouds,
that singes trees on rugged mountain tops.

I am the spreading branch of Piñon Pine,
or Mullbr’y broad umbrella, leafy green.
I offer shade in sweltering summer time,
and home for mockingbirds’ delight in spring.

I am the dance of light upon the moon,
behind the palm tree fronds my passion plays
a tempting game—I kiss the darkest gloom
who yields to me at last, in hues of gray.

I am the flute the flautist left behind,
awaiting God’s own breath to fill the void.
I’m music whipped to life by restless wind
as nature’s sound, an echoing of joy.

May I return in showers of purple blooms—
a Jacaranda rain on grassy dew?

Thanks to Gay at dVerse Form for All for a comprehensive explanation of meter. She suggests taking a free verse poem you’ve already written and putting it into one of a number of meters that she describes.

This poem is the title poem of my soon-to-be published collection of poetry on Kindle. I also hope to have it available through Create Space. I would love your feedback–do you prefer the Sonnet or the Free Verse? 

By the way, my article, “Beating the Odds–Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia,” is available for free on Kindle through August 9th–that’s tomorrow, or perhaps today for many of you.

Jacaranda Rain

Jacaranda Rain

Sonnet, with Liberties Taken

I am the Sun that slips through blinds half-closed,
imprinting saffron stripes on textured walls.
I am a ball of fire that slashes clouds,
that singes trees on rugged mountain tops.

I am the spreading branch of Piñon Pine,
or Mullbr’y broad umbrella leaf of green.
I offer shade in sweltering summer time,
and home for mockingbirds, the songs they bring.

I am the dance of light upon the moon,
behind the palm tree fronds my passion plays
a tempting game—I kiss the darkest gloom
who yields to me at last, in hues of gray.

May I return in showers of purple blooms—
a Jacaranda rain on grassy dew?

Jacaranda trees in Montagu Ave, Salisbury, Rho...

Jacaranda trees in Montagu Ave, Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) in 1975 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jacaranda Rain

Free Verse

I am
the sun that slips
through blinds, half-closed.
Painting saffron strips
on adobe walls.

I am
a bolt of fire
lighting up the skies,
singeing trees on mountain tops,
splitting limbs.

I am
the sheltered branches of Mulberry tree.
Broad leaf umbrella
shading you at noontime.

I am
the dance of light upon the moon,
hiding my passion behind
swaying palms,
kissing night in unseen places.

I am
the empty flute
the flautist left behind.
I await the breath of God
to fill the void.

Though I must leave,
I’ll come to you again—
a shower of purple petals
upon dew-covered sod.

Progress Note: Yesterday during my walk I watched the petals of Jacaranda trees fall in the breeze like purple rain. The thought crossed my mind: If it’s true, as Buddhism suggests, that we shall return in nature, I’d like to be a part of this.

The first write of this was in free form, during the night. When I awakened, I saw a copy I’d made of instructions (from Luke Prater) on the stress sonnet form. I don’t have the courage yet to try that complex undertaking so I thought I’d better master the pure sonnet first and work up to it. Then when I read Gay Cannon’s challenge on dVerse Meeting the Bar, I knew I couldn’t eke out another near-sonnet today, so I thought I’d go ahead an share this at the pub. I encourage everyone to meet up there. Perhaps by the time OLN rolls around, I’ll have a Frame Sonnet poem to submit. Have fun everyone.

Quantum Leap

Quantum Leap Energy

Image via Wikipedia

Submitted to Poetry Potluck: http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/  This week’s theme is Cartoons, Sci-Fi and Superpowers.

Quantum Leap

I dreamt
I flew among the stars
   skirted between planets
   cracked open doors
   to distant worlds.

                                       I dreamt
                                       I plunged into the deep
                                          touched ocean floors
                                          sifted through sand
                                          for hidden treasure.

I dreamt
I tunneled to earth’s core
midst roiling, writhing magma
set free the Watchers* waiting
for redemption.

                                         I woke
                                         I drifted toward the sun
                                            and grasped a ray
                                            to turn back time
                                            into my dreams.

*Watchers: From Biblical Apocrypha:

In the Book of Enoch, the watchers are angels dispatched to Earth to watch over the humans.

They soon begin to lust for human women, and at the prodding of their leader Samyaza, they defect en masse to illicitly instruct and procreate among humanity. The offspring of these unions are the Nephilim, savage giants who pillage the earth and endanger humanity. Samyaza and associates further taught their human charges arts and technologies such as weaponry, cosmetics, mirrors, sorcery, and other techniques that would otherwise be discovered gradually over time by humans, not foisted upon them all at once. The Greek myth of Prometheus revealing fire-making to humans without Zeus’s permission is likely a variant of the same ancient legend, and it is possible also that ancient legends among many cultures about cannibalistic giants and pervasive implementation of magical powers (such as in the tale Jack and the Beanstalk) arise from the same ancient mythology that came to inspire the Books of Enoch. Eventually God allows a Great Flood to rid the earth of the Nephilim, but first sends Uriel to warn Noah so as not to eradicate the human race. While Genesis says that the Nephilim remained “on the earth” even after the Great Flood, Jude says that the Watchers themselves are bound “in the valleys of the Earth” until Judgment Day. (Excerpt from Wikipedia)

Sunday 160–“Railroad Crossing”

A block away
the Truckee flows.
On the far side
of the river,
a train calls.
Warning us
Take care!
Or, perhaps inviting us.
Abandon
the myopic
boundaries
you have created.

Submitted to Monkey Man’s Sunday 160 http://petzoldspracticalprose.blogspot.com/