May Poems – Siblings: One Line, More or Less

Today is Poetry Friday, and Buffy Silverman is hosting with photos and a three-act drama mask poem about a hognose snake. 

In May I’ll be writing daily poems about my siblings, one line, more or less. I came from a family of seven siblings. Now there are only four of us left. In 2012, my oldest brother died, then in 2018, my oldest sister died, and last Sunday, I lost another sister. All have died without warning or illness. Judi just went in her sleep, and I am so sad. I’m going to spend this month updating this post each day with another poem remembering and honoring my siblings.

This one line, more or less process was inspired by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. See the description of her month-long one line, more or less poems here. and all her crow poems are here. Diane Anderson joined Amy’s challenge and wrote a daily poem about robins in April. Here are Diane’s poems at newtreemom.

I

Small house, six siblings, steady shenanigans


II

Five girls between boy bookends
Full house of playmate dividends

couplet


III

Rick, Lynne, Chris, Judi, Lori
Then came me, followed by Keith
Mom laughed with great joy (and fear)

septercet


IV

Additions came, each nephew/niece contained
great hope and sustenance. Years of joyful gain.
Now I ponder losses; the inescapable pain
as I accede to this birth-to-death rhythm ordained.

quatrain


V

Home
Sisters and brothers abound
grow, move away,
still love
Family

elfchen


VI

after all night shifts, she slept on the beach
we swam in the ocean; just
once I needed saving

my young lifesaver, wanting a reward,

(I guess) woke her up and told
the tale. “Thank you,” she said.

kimo


VII

flying east
following love
“Do you want a return ticket?
Just in case?” my surrogate father
asked me.
big brother
love stays.

trinet


VIII

Happy you
laughing through
thoughts of time
together
glad to claim
not so tame
share the name
bellwether

snam suad


IX

Statin talk after dinner of steak
makes us think about the soundness
of our arteries. Loved ones
gone too quickly remind
us of life’s risk here
on earth. Playing
Balderdash
distracts
us

nonet


X

Sweet
eldest
sister, more
obligations
than one should endure.
Swimming upstream alone
surviving abuse, widowed,
raising boys alone, losing dreams,
abusing alcohol. Lifelong rise
up to recover for one more dear day.

etheree


XI

We’re dropping like flies,
we have been known to say
around here. My heart has sunk
into a deep wetland of tears and
sadness. Clearing the distant
memories, bridges between
earth and heaven. Thoughts of
you explode into this book
of your hidden life, endless
treasures of love continuing.
Your silent star shines.

Poetry Sparks


XII
Sisters and brothers love’s boon
Life together as one invite
Argue or delight?
Both were normal
No thought of the mournful
end of the seven of us quite
Sisters and brothers

We didn’t always play in tune
but the bond stayed tight
and all seemed right
wondered I of death immune
Sisters and brothers

Rondeau Prime


XIII

You Were Always My Favorite

  • You painted my fingernails
  • You taught me to read using Go Dog Go
  • You and Ken came to my softball games
  • You worked as a telephone operator
  • We had matching dresses once
  • You brought K.C. into our lives
  • Your daughter Amy’s middle name is Denise
  • I got your room when you got married
  • My daughter Maria’s middle name is Christine
  • You would have been my kids’ guardian if we died

When You Weren’t

  • I cut my foot and you said, “You better not have picked a scab.”
  • You hit my head with the bristles when you brushed my hair.
  • You wouldn’t accept that my use of “Hilary’s word” deplorable
    could be a legitimate criticism of your candidate’s actions.

List poem


XIV

Rick was the father I didn’t know
Wedding day he walked me down the aisle.
Lynne married young and bestowed
Gifts like a rich Santa Claus–that style!

Chris is a sister so frank and refreshing
Now lives in Pennsylvania Dutch country.
Judi was a quiet, deep, book-loving blessing
She loved and valued others so humbly.

Lori is now my neighbor and friend
skillfully helped us remodel our dwelling.
Keith is the one on whom we depend
Loves to travel, in family ties excelling.

Six siblings had always been there for me
Three remain–relish each other, I plea.

sonnet


XV

She was born
in Gaza–
tiny spit
of land in
Israel–
an at “home”
alien.
And I have
the birthright
to mourn the
loss of one
elder while
she loses
everything
everyone?


XVI

I remember just one family vacation
we took with my dad and mom and
six of us kids. (My older brother
was in the service, I think.)
We went to the Grand Canyon.
There were a few tiny
photographs of our trip:
Attending a pow wow.
Looking over the edge of the canyon.
Staying in a hotel with a pool.
Going out to a restaurant.
Then I remember I bought
two polished stones
at the gift shop.
When I was getting my hair brushed,
I dropped one and picked it up with my toes.


Where I start writing one less line each day…

XVII

My dad bought the little house
for my mom. Two bedrooms
in the suburbs. She wasn’t happy.
She had a son and two daughters
and one more on the way.
By the time I came along,
they had built another bedroom.
Eventually they pieced together
more bedrooms by transforming
the garage and laundry room
into two more. I remember a time
when all siblings were home
and rooms burst their seams.
As they married, we played musical
bedrooms, filling in the gaps.


XVIII

Pink sky morning brings chirping
Warming liberates reptiles
emerging from winter cold

Hope in this new day will stay
lifetime bow of family
ties up love like rose-tinged clouds

Queue up the crescendo
dulcet and devout playing
on this blooming day in May

Life is a bouquet of kin
to rejuvenate the soul

septercet sonnet


XIX

We watch the quail as they
are ready for the first hatching.
Gleaners gathering seeds and also us
who watch them, noticing their
fill of the allurement of
the living. No need for a
barn or coop to raise their young.
For the green light of
the fragments of consequence, we
winter on through loss and ends.
That is why what
comes next is all a gift
on this magnetic mansion of creation.

golden shovel

From Jack Gilbert’s poem “Moreover” this striking line: “We are gleaners who fill the barn for the winter that comes on.”


XX

This journey is full and sweet
Thanks to those brothers and sisters
who shine in our life-creating, as
the abounding world glitters

stories of memory
stories of faith and joy
stories of unease
stories of safe convoys

We are finer for having had years–
years and days and moments
Together stronger, together better
Full with beloved proponents

Patrol Poem

Slice of Life – I’m Just Very Fearful

May 2, 2023 TwoWritingTeachers.org

“I’m just very fearful,” the white woman said at a school board meeting. (See video at the end.)

Actually, I’m not very fearful. My white privilege has put me in a position where I don’t have to fear living in my skin. I have two amazing daughters who have their own families now. And, bonus: this week my younger daughter and her dear husband are working from our home. Their  offices have been moving around our place based on several factors–whether or not they are in a meeting, which porch has the perfect sunniness, where the wind shelters them, and today they’ve moved indoors because of the cold morning.

I get to spoil my cubs with good cooking like this morning’s breakfast of Lemon-Blueberry Dutch Baby.

On a more serious note, “I’m just very fearful” about the people who are so afraid of losing their position of white supremacy that they are killing others.

I remember when my kids were little there was a report, likely after a census, that predicted when the number of non-white people in America would surpass the number of white people. It was going to be by the year 20?? (I forget). It hasn’t happened yet, but lately I have noticed the impending change has cemented the culture of “white supremacy,” proving it is alive and sick in America. The fear that white supremacy might come undone seems to feed the ubiquitous gun culture too. This fear has gripped the lives of so many that now they are shooting neighbors and innocent travelers, not just nefarious intruders. Racism, white supremacy, religious fundamentalism, the history of the second amendment, and guns–they are all eternally entwined.

The following poem is written in the voice of a member of Moms for Liberty. (Watch the video below in Kenny Akers’ tweet. The quote “I’m just very fearful” comes from her statement at the school board meeting.

I’m just very fearful
Impossible to be cheerful
Replacement makes me tearful

I’m just very fearful
My white children will feel too awful
if you tell them their history is bad-full

I’m just very fearful
Do I worry he will grow up to pull
the trigger? — I’m just very fearful

A Tritina

I learned about a tritina poetry form on Friday from Liz Garton Scanlon’s Poetry Friday post. I tried it on this last day of May for my final #MayPoems.

Bread Fed Us

Satisfied with warm bread
Baked freshly we are fed
Nourishes and keeps us

Second manna for us
God’s Word, the daily bread
With Good News we are fed

How many folks are fed?
Blessed feast for all of us
Spread fish and loaves of bread

Bread of Life has fed us

An Ovillejo Poem About the Pandemic

Today I wrote an Ovillejo poem about the pandemic, as our numbers here is Bahrain are skyrocketing and strict new bans and lockdowns began this weekend.

Case numbers have escalated
Hope deflated
Businesses and malls are all closed
So exposed
Vaccination sites ramping up
Don’t let up
Immunity rate speeding up
Battling new variants, a quest
From the hands of cold death to wrest
Hope deflated, so exposed. Don’t let up!

A Triolet

This triolet is inspired by Buffy Silverman, who wrote one about the periodic cicadas for Poetry Friday. A triolet is an eight-line poem with ABaAabAB pattern.

Help Going Deep

In order to become complete
I must be seen deep in the Truth
Fear and sorrow attempt to greet
In order to become complete
Appearance on the mercy seat
Rendering my past snafus soothed
In order to become complete
I must be seen deep in the Truth

Carrying Home and #MayPoems for Poetry Friday

Things We Carry on the Sea
By Wang Ping

We carry tears in our eyes: good-bye father, good-bye mother
We carry soil in small bags: may home never fade in our hearts
We carry names, stories, memories of our villages, fields, boats
We carry scars from proxy wars of greed
continue…

I have never had to carry things as heavy as Ping describes here, things which refugees throughout history and today have to bear. This poem is heartbreaking and inspires empathy, and hopefully it will inspire me to take action. Please read the rest of her words, along with a lesson plan to teach it, at Poets.org: Teach This Poem: “Things We Carry on the Sea”.

We will be carrying some things home when we leave Bahrain, but chances are good because of our privilege we will fly in a jet across the ocean with a few suitcases of our special possessions to bring home. My May Poem for today is about my present and future homes inspired by Michelle Kogan. I love the words she creates and chooses, as she did on this post (rose-tipped and gypsy-stemmed), this post (cone-wove and beak-fluff), this post (ginger-spice-edged) and this comment (flicker-orange and tee-root). And on today’s post (poppiness and banana boats and strawberry spice). Such sweet words!

Because of Michelle, I wanted to try words with hyphens and also paint my own picture for today. I drew and painted a Kingdom of Bahrain door leading to my “magical” place inspired by the guided imagery on this episode of Art Date with Miss Kate.

When drawing with Kate, I thought of our home in Joshua Tree, California, where we will hopefully move at the end of 2021. Here is my painting and related poem. (I’m not sure if mine is considered an ekphrastic poem because I didn’t really describe the painting, but it surely inspired my words.)

Into the Door

The here-to-there Door
Where we will say our
Teary-faced, hug-full
Ma Salama مع السلامه
To two-Waters warmth,
Our hospitable Haven,
Uncovering our
Marhaba مرحبا
To sweet-hope Home
Wide open to where
Whispers-from-God Joshuas
Point to Life-drenched Promise

I decided on May 1 to write some #MayPoems, not knowing if I would do it for three days or further into the month. Well, so far I have written and posted each day in May with a different prompt, inspiration, or a response to some treasure I found while reading or observing. This Poetry Friday community has encouraged me and provided nourishment as you have read and commented on some of my May Poems. Thank you.

Here are each day’s posts in one index:

Today’s Poetry Friday roundup is hosted by Michelle Kogan at her blog. Happy birthday and thank you, Michelle!

Desert scene in California with Joshua trees
Our backyard

Remember What it Was to be Me

Journeying

The inspiration for today’s poem is from a quote in the Isolation Journals Prompt #121 (from last December). Of her reason for keeping a notebook, Joan Didion writes, “Remember what it was to be me: that is always the point.”

Anger Cloud

I remember when I was so angry
I saw only darkness–
the light emptied from my eyes.
I refused to back out of an argument;
I had to win it.
Fear had deep roots in me
and it spoke with the voice of
backed-into-a-corner rage.

But then Love knocked
on my door.
It seized me softly,
cradled me solidly,
and held my fear-turned-anger
in the palm of its hand–
a little bit away from me–
so I could get a
different perspective.
Then it blew it gently
into the good wind
and gave me instead
Life.

“Breathe deeply,” Love said.
“I know. I’m here.”

Today’s Poem of a Photo

Today’s inspiration came from Margaret Simon’s “This Photo Wants to Be A Poem.” Margaret shared this Instagram photo by Hope Dublin:

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by @hopesview2021

Our final rest is
elsewhere, but
among the dandelions
and wanderers
you are welcome,
where lichen
makes its home
on our headstones.
Sit here with them a while.
Read your magic, but also
study their history.
Listen to their hush.
They have stories to tell.