This poem is about a problem–my problem. My office, writing space, is also my would-be art studio. And here’s the problem. I’m a perfectionist (borderline OCD?) and can’t write in a chaotic environment. I long to paint, but can’t endure the mess.
Today for dVerse Poetics, Grace prompts us to write to the amazing photographic display/art of Emily Blincoe. Her arrangements appeal to me for their organization, color, implied texture and pattern. In response, I share with you my (not-too-poetic) dilemma.
Art is Messy
I uncap each tube,
inhale deeply, feeling creativity
seep into my body
through the sense of smell.
Lay them out, then,
and all the shades
tight, tight-tighter yet.
Drop cloth, easel,
Thank you, Emily, for sharing your beautiful work.
The kitchen counter’s sticky, Handprints on the refrigerator door, And white fuzz on the hardwood floor. No matter how often I clean, try to Keep our home perfect, I can’t. For these small things, however, I’m grateful. Unless you know I have a husband who Loves to cook for me, Little white dogs who want to cuddle, You’ll wonder why I feel so blessed.
Sparky–Photo: D. Slotto
Today is Thanksgiving in the USA and as I meditated all I could notice was white dog hair all over my newly cleaned house. Then, when I went to the kitchen, everything I touched was sticky as my husband has thrown himself into creating culinary delights. I’m helplessly perfectionistic, but couldn’t help but realize these very things are among the many things for which I’m grateful–someone who cares enough to prepare a special lactose-free pumpkin pie using my special milk that he had to dehydrate, and my two beautiful dogs who teach me all about unconditional love.
Over at dVerse, the challenge for today is to write an acrostic poem centering on gratitude. My offering is not “perfect” poetry, but here it is anyway. We hope you’ll take a few moments to reflect on giving thanks, no matter where you are, or how imperfect your day may be.
A Perfect Family lived next door—perfect mother and father—three perfect children—two boys and a girl.
They went to church every Sunday as we slept in—Bible Study on Thursday evenings while we drank beer and watched football.
They didn’t yell or curse like we did—like the couple on the other side of us—Their lawn was perfectly manicured.
The oldest son went off to college and was an honor student—my son went to work after high school at an auto repair shop.
The middle daughter was the star of the soccer team—she played the violin and practiced for hours in the evening and on Saturday.
The mother didn’t work because she cared for the toddler—and began home schooling when he was five years old.
On summer evenings the father would come home from work and change into his Ralph Lauren polo shirt and barbecue steaks or ribs.
The aroma invaded the neighborhood as the rest of us sat on our porches eating hot dogs with potato salad and baked beans.
One such evening my son was smoking a Marlboro and drinking a Bud—my daughter was pregnant and I wasn’t sure where my husband had gone.
Fireflies danced in the dusk before the shots rang out – five of them.
My dogs skittered into the house through the dog door as I grabbed the phone to call 911.
They called it a murder-suicide—the weight of perfection—too heavy to bear I guess. Everybody said so.
Today, over at dVerse Poets’ Pub, I have the honor of hosting Meeting the Bar. I’m discussing an important aspect of fiction/non-fiction writing with an eye to how it can be applied to poetry–that is, characterization.
In this poem, written years ago, I’m including snapshots of two families with the hope that the brief descriptions paint a picture of the tenor of both. Please bear in mind that I have the mind of a fiction writer and much of my poetry is fiction, as this one is. Sometimes people in my past (or present), newspaper articles and other snippets of news serve as a source of inspiration, so that something factual may be borrowed and embroidered.
I hope you will join us at the pub to read some incredible poetry and, hopefully, to offer up something of your own. The doors open in forty-five minutes (1500 EDT). I look forward to reading your work.
The day wind felled a weary oak,
we donned work aprons, boots,
took pails and spades in hand
and ventured out into the brumey cold
to scoop red clay, harvesting Earth.
That night we sat around a fire.
Flickering flames of warmth dispelled
the cold that seeped through dense
gray stone—walls caching sacred
secrets of a century and more.
We worked the clay that night, extracting
grit and stones, Gaia’s grainy
cells that would, ignored, destroy
our own creative efforts. Each night
thereafter, tediously, we toiled for perfection.
And when the day arrived to mold
and fashion terra-cotta worlds,
figures formed of toil and imagination,
clods of mud clung to our hands
that we discarded as extraneous.
Yet now and then we’d find a pebble.
Another proof that life eludes
the quest for flawless execution.
In the early 70’s I lived in a monastic setting at the Motherhouse of Les Petites Soeurs des Pauvres in St. Pern, Brittany, France. The above story is true. I am submitting this poem to Gay Cannon’s prompt at dVerse Poet’s Pub, as a metaphorical twist on life. I’m also linking it to my own prompt for this week’s Write2Day. The muse actually crawled out from under the covers this morning!