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Saturday, April 30, 2011

I Never Knew

How appropriate for the last day of the write-a-poem-a-day month: the
one forming in my mind is a retrospective look -- based on a poignant
remark made by a gentleman I visited during a neighborhood survey.

What the Widower Said

by Shirley Smith Franklin

She's gone, he said.  We were
married forty six years,
but she's been gone for six weeks now.
Forty six years we lived together,
slept together, ate together...
We had three children together.
I went to work, while she kept house.
Raised our children all by herself,
but they've all grown up and left us.
Now she's gone and left me, too.
I never noticed all the things she did,
that needed to be done around the house.
The sugar bowl's empty.  I never noticed
that somebody had to fill the sugar bowl.

Friday, April 29, 2011

napowrimo poem-a-day month, day 29 and still determined!

Song for a Family
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Praise to the dad
who doth bring home
the bread and the bacon.
Praise to the mom
who doth all the same
plus the cooking and baking.
Cherish their children
who brighten their lives
with talent and mischief and glee.
Cherish grandparents
who relieve mom and dad,
from time to time setting them free.
Relish the going
and coming together
of child, parent, grandparent, spouse,
through illness and health,
in all kinds of weather,
for living makes home of a house.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Sometimes the news overwhelms me

Hence, today's poem.  My knee-jerk reaction, after reading it, was to apologize
for bringing the bad news.  But, let's face it.  It's true.  And what does that mean
I should do?  And what does it mean for you???

Today, Someone
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Today you awoke early, had a snack, then went for a nap, on the sofa.
Yesterday, a tubercular teenager died in Nepal.
Today you had breakfast, juice, mushroom omelette, and toast with
                                                                                  raspberry jam.
Today a smiling child is dying of AIDS in Botswana.
Today, for a lark, you served your husband his breakfast in front
                                                                                          of the t.v.
Today a child in Syria holds a rifle in his hands for the very first time.
Today you cooked on a glass stove top in a fully electrified kitchen.
Today a woman in Sudan fans a small fire which she fans to keep it
Today you sigh over too many advertisements in your virtual and real
while somewhere a soldier's mother learns she will never get another
                                                                             letter from her son.
Tomorrow a young commoner will become a princess,
while a young servant girl in India is being raped.
Did you ever stop to think, Someone, that everyday, somewhere,
that every day, everywhere, humanity is dying.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kitchen Inventory

Kitchen Inventory
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Cupboard doors and inaccessible corners: I'll clean them next week.
Aging Formica counters, though nicked, still shine when buffed twice over,
The dented stainless, double sink  is still my favorite place,
vantage point for shenanigans in lives of backyard birds.
Washing dishes allows me time to meditate on words.  
The sprayer sometimes sticks, but never, well, hardly ever, leaks.
Cupboard with oatmeal, oil and rice.  Lazy susan, cupboard of spice.
Stove is new; a point of pride is a window, so I can peek inside.
Lower cupboard for pots and pans; upper shelves: trays, liquor, and bags.;
Irregular doors hide shelves of canned food, spices and more
one pulls out, one snaps in, flanking the frig and its supply.
Basement door, covered with paper: dates, calendar, grandchild's pictures.
More cupboards for coffee, recipe books, drawers for phone books, stuff.
Lonely too-small counter piles up, near large shelves, large bin of rice.
Oh there's mail on the table, old and new, family pictures, a note for you.
Gone shopping to restock the cupboard and frig, I'll be back                TBR, greatly!!
 to puzzle out how these figure in a poem.    Meanwhile, stay home!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Riddle

My black-streaked, white fingers
reach toward the sky.
Take a ride: I sway and
bend...  What am I?
Clothed in summer,
in winter, bare,
torn into scrolls,
tear by tear.

Who am I?
                         (a white birch tree)

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Whole New World

An attempt at a riff  i.e. a clever 'take', on Emily Dickinson's poem,
"I'm Nobody, Who Are You?" combined with yesterday's challenge
to write a biographical sort of poem.  It came out as a somewhat-
rhymed prose poem...I'm interested to see if it 'works'...I'm not
very enchanted with it so far...but it's the poem I eked out for today...

A Whole New World
by Shirley Smith Franklin

In my day it was all right to be an ordinary nobody, while in my children's,
it's important to be 'somebody,' be a special 'you.'  They hoot, strut, and
tweet, go casual, tease their peers and elders too, while 'ladies' once
wore hats and  gloves to church in case somebody looked at us, covered
our legs with cotton stockings, demurely secured by hidden garters, 'cause
whether we'd blend in, not stand out, was all that we wanted to know. They
compare and change their personae in cyberspace and fact, announcing
every detail in  their e-lists and their chat.  For us, feet and cycling were
common ways to go, but their feet stand still on skateboards; where to
find the car keys is more  important to know.  Chanting paeans of praise
to singers who bray like monsoon frogs, their milieu is strangely different
from the simple one we knew.  Oh friend, do you ever feel forsaken in
this new world blog bog, too?!

End Story

Today I'll write a bit of imaginary overheard conversation.  Tomorrow the
autobiographical's constantly on the back burner!

End Story
imagined overheard late in the week after Easter

'Guess that's the last we'll hear of that story.
After all that angst, hype, falderal,and glory,
not to mention all the gossip and  rumors,
outright lies and and in-group humor.
To think that crowds flocked out to buy
the trumped-up popularity of the guy.
Why, anyone with a head on his shoulders could make
a pretty good guess that the guy was a fake.
And, did you hear, he bragged of sleeping on the sod!
Why, he'd even --what's that?--back in town again?
                                                             Oh, my God!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Today, a word play.

Following the Specs
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Aspect bespectacled.
Circumspect, despicable
expectations fractured.
Guache hatch
justify, know, love                        
operate perspectives
quiescent, respect
transect unction,
vexation, wax
exact, yet zen.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

OK, I took the napowrimo suggestion to write a cento...a poem using
(variations on) lines drawn entirely from other people's poems...a weird
premise, if you ask me, but, considering it a challenge, I took it on. 
The lines for this contest (which will award, to each of  three prize winners,
twelve books of poetry by poets I've never heard of...and  admittedly that's
not saying much for my knowledge of contemporary poetry...from among
the thirty five volunteer judges of the contest!) are all selected by the poet,
Danielle Profunda, who initiated the challenge.  Entries are being accepted
through the 23rd, so if you're interested, check napowrimo's day 21 post. 

A Matter of Perspective
by Shirley Smith Franklin

Unveil the cathedral.
Open the purple clothed neck.
I lift my eyes in glee
to drink in each appearance.
But, love, let silence open
your mocha jewel-toned mouth.
Now I hear the clock:
how incidental it seems,
because I have needed you.
Just stay now, and share my room.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ghazal Number One

Today, a ghazal.  I take the hints from, and decide to go for five or more autonomous couplets, the first and last containing my 'signature' (what is this??)and have end-rhyming lines, every verse echoing the rhyme at the end of the second line only.

Ghazal Number One
by Shirley Smith Franklin

I take, oh love, your shadow,
unbidden, know your echo.

Today, there's frost on the field,
and blackbird's forlorn echo.

Introspective, Finnish folk
chant tales of nature's echoes.

At the corner of our street,
loud children's voices echo.

Should Shirley take your advice,
would memories still echo?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

But what???

Let me have my say, poetically, and maybe I'll try writing a ghazal 
tomorrow.  My understanding of that form is that it expresses the distilled 
idea or emotion, i.e. has a haiku like quality, as well as implied or overt 
teasing, and riddles may be included. But, for today:

It's snowing again.
I'm supposed to write a poem today.
My pen is poised
but I've no idea...What to say?

For discipline,
it's good for practice, this poem a day.
Helps wake the brain.
But my only thought is a refrain:

But, but, BUT... 
(But WHAT?!)

Monday, April 18, 2011

On that limbo of a mother whose last child is leaving the nest

He's leaving, or, more
accurately, he
has already left.
After so many years,
his study finished,
he left his notes as though
I'd read or play them,
hear ostinatos
under the silent
symphony he means
I must learn to play.
Gone without the stuffed toys
he maintained until
college.  Gone after
bright shiny new toys,
new friends, new pursuits,
saving precious few. 
Hardly seeing how,
I lean on whom I trust.
Yes.  Pillar and cloud.
Led... by a pillar...
of fire or of cloud..
Thank you, Lord, for these.

If I Were a Bird Today

by Shirley Smith Franklin

If I were a bird, of soaring I'd be fond,
over the house, from this noisy town away,
find peace and some solitude near a still pond,
(near plenty of food and feathered friends, I pray).
I would sing my heart out whenever I pleased,
twittering all kinds of love songs to the breeze,
or,  if I pleased,  repeat frustrated questions
again, again, though answers be suggestions
or outright rejections.  I would want to build
a comforting nest of rambling proportions
with nooks and crannies filled with delicious snacks
and a variety of books--paperbacks.
I wouldn't care about what the other birds said
about ruffled appearance or unmade bed.
I'd humbly (but proudly, probably) reply
in honest, brash poetry:  I'm a Magpie!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taking the "Erasing Poem" Challenge

Okay, let's see whether I got this one right:  Take some writing, a paragraph,
say, and re-write it as a new poem, using the words in any order and erasing
or adding new words ad lib.  Hmm...isn't that how I write a poem anyway,
sifting, blending and kneading thoughts that occur to me?!  I recorded
these first-thoughts in my journal this morning, describing what I observed
from my study window:

"This morning - the bold whistle and boastful twittering of a cardinal.
The sunlight falling on my desk."

The poem:

My Desk Calls
by Shirley Smith Franklin

My desk, awash in sunlight,
computer silent, fingers still,
itching for a dance on the keys,
all conspire to turn my head
toward the window this fine morning.
Outside, spring makes her first call.
Cardinal whoops or whistles,
utters wild, boastful twittering,
calling sunshine to shine on his mate.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Attempting the opposite

What leads a person
to prefer one hand or foot
over another, to choose sweet
over sour,  black over blue?
What leads a person's eyes to see
near or far, voices, sing high or low?
Who can tell which, of many ways,
blind luck is going to go?
Is it the same as what leads from solution,
versus that way which is from woe.
What leads a person, or do I
really need to know?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Whee, Three (napowrimo poem) Days in One

I was too busy to keep up the challenge earlier this week,
but here are three new poems by me, Shirley Smith Franklin.
Enjoy:  word play (meeting the challenge of a '5 Minute Poem'
head-on), a romantic thought, and an April nature report!

Day 13, The Five Minute Poem

Five, I've just five minutes.
I've minutes to write a mini-poem.
Fine.  Minimum five lines of poetry
Minim.  (Stop to look that up:  It's either
one sixtieth of a fluid dram, or,
in music, one half of one whole note.)
I like that idea...half a note.
Noting this poem is half done.
five minutes are half done, too.
Minutiae.  Minimum.
How many words can you make
from letters in "Five Minute Poem"?
Way over sixty, in three minutes flat,
and I like that.

Day 14,  Thinking of You

"Have I told you lately that I love you?"
An old song; an oldie, but a goodie.
Come to think, haven't heard it lately, too.
(Odd word, 'either,' why not just repeat 'too'?)
Haven't heard on "American Idol,"
on T.V., or on radio, too.  But
runs through my mind a lot.  Oh, I love you.

Day 15, April, After a Hard Winter

Young birches sway, white-flagging the wind.
Old Oak turns gray, dry creaking branch snaps.
Maple leaves break out, splitting red buds.
Blue sky oversees ways of being
in a brand new world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Forty Line, One Sentence Challenge

Here's a rhyme
told in time,
time and again
same at the end
in sound,
in sight,
coming round,
taking flight,
flight of me,
fancy free,
tale of you,
tale that's true,
tale of sadness,
tale of life,
may be gladness,
may be strife,
fresh, new-minted,
subtle, hinted,
shades of anger,
or cliff-hanger,
at first writing,
with compulsion,
though if biting,
with revulsion,
poets, authors,
teachers, mothers,
fathers, brothers,
sisters, others,
everyone can write,
whoever tries,
though it be trite,
or full of lies,
though it excites,
saddens, delights,
writing can smooth,
writing can soothe,
so try your hand,
you'll be surprised
you're better than
you first surmised.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Getting ahead of myself...with 'The Shortest Verse'

I'll post this prose poem prompted by today's Gospel Lesson from John 11, even though it's the second poem today, because I know I'll be more than busy tomorrow...Can you distinguish the various characters' voices, even though I didn't use quotation marks??
The Shortest Verse

Jesus wept.   John 11:35

Lord, if you had only been here!
   It's okay he says in reply,
   everything will be all right.
How's that again?!  It comes out
as a retort, though she'd planned
to keep her cool.
He's been dead for four whole days!
   Where have you laid him,
   he asks, partly to divert attention.
(They are attracting a crowd.)
Leading the way, quieting her sniffles,
I know you can do anything, she adds,
a palliative afterthought -- or
is it but another, not-so-veiled, barb?
A challenge to show, not tell.
It was only a short walk to their brother's tomb.
Nobody had been able to persuade them
to let their brother rest at greater distance
from their hearts and from their home.
   He turns his head aside,
   lest his anguish become audible to the crowd,
   who understand well enough; but he hesitates,
   hot, salty tears, or is it sweat,
   coursing down his cheeks. Hesitates long enough to hear,
If only you had come, this, from the younger one,
she who had shown such promise.
   Now open it, he says, indicating that they
   should roll away the stone.  Is he thinking
   Oh God, is this how you will shut me in,
   who've lived three years on this earth, under sky
 Four days!!, the elder repeats,  But it will stink!
   Does he sigh, then, or draw a mighty breath?
   He calls in a mighty voice, Come forth!!
And the dead man comes walking.  Of course.
   He can do anything.  But they've forced his hand.

   Does he weep because his friend has died?
   Does he weep because he knows what his heart wants,
   and that he is capable of doing it?
   Or does he weep because, despite their words,
   he knows they still do not believe, or,
   believing, still do not understand?

Meeting the challenge of day nine on day ten

Which was, to write a mirror poem, last line first.  I extract a word or two
from our napowrimo's fearlessleader, vis "Congress did not shut down.'  
OK, here goes...

We, the People

Not many can
understand politics,
or elect those
who really do.
Despite loopholes and gain,
they say, the rich
want no new tax.
Where are their fine morals?
They sun in Spain
while I pay tax.
Sometimes I feel as though
rich and famous
are anti-folk.
Times are hard right now.
I am so glad.
Congress did not shut down.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Wait, wait!

It may be 12: 38 a.m., but, to me, it's still Saturday, the 9th.
It was a great day, dear neighbors for lunch, cooking before
and dishes, and dishes (!) after, a short walk, a good nap,
relatives come to debrief, interpolated with a call from our
son...We try to clarify a few plans concerning his upcoming
wedding.  Perhaps this poem flows from all that busyness
(for which the Telugu word, hadaavady, is so much more apt),
with its attendant/fleeting opporunities to really communicate...

If you want to make a point
don't use abbreviations or
contractions.  Make eye contact.
Talk slow.  Wait for the
appropriate moment.
Adjust for understanding,
or lack of it.  Be ever so honest
and intentional.  Make it
exceedingly evident
that you are
when you making a
   o                                            ? tbr?!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Hoping for a Better Day

This morning, a graying overcast dulled the promise of a rosey dawn,
and I tried to capture it in this poem, with its hint of teenage angst,
and political-like overtones.


Sullen rose shrugs off tender blue-gray in the east.  Scrawny oleander,
set out on the desk for the sake of spring sunshine, huddles against
the deck door, lest frost come again in the night.  Everywhere, neglected
twigs and leaves no foot has trodden black, no hand has raked, since
that sudden storm last fall.  But in drowsy flower beds, new life's astir.

Lone, erant duck wings across my line of sight, to join its migrating flock.
Darker clouds advance from the side of the receding night.  It appears
that the west is winning.

Bent on breakfast, my hand brushes a money plant on the table.  I am
rewarded by a single dew-drop, unexpected, a silver coin upon my  hand.
I'm savouring it, saving it, saving it up for a better day.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Take Two, They're Small

You're right, I missed yesterday.  The muse came and left
when she saw I was busy-busy...but it was a good day to have,
for which I am glad, and I hope to write two short poems,
perhaps prose poems, today...The first is inspired by the
juxtaposition of today's Godpause from Luther Seminary, and
the view from our kitchen window.

A Muse

Mr. Mallard treads gently
checking out a clearing
in the clump of birch
behind our house.  A squirrel
runs after him, perhaps
chattering that
a nearby remnant of snow
is just that, not a pond.

Mr. Mallard moves on,
unperturbed.  I wonder
whether Mrs. Mallard
is nearby, if she watches
with that uncertainty
mixed with hope
which you and I might call faith.
Increase, dear Lord, my faith.

And the second is no more than a 'beater,' I fear, compared
to thoughts I'd wished to express...but that should still be ok,
a poem a day can leave room for improvement...we'll put it
out there, for the sake of the discipline of the month!

Last Words

First word I want to hear on that day is 'rise.'
Rise, like sun, newborn, on a summer morn.
Rise, like shoots of green where cold snow has been.
And the second word I hope to hear is 'shine.'
Shine, like children, dressed in their Sunday best.
Shine, like a small, but warm, bright candle in a storm.
Shine until the penultimate word.  That would be 'grace.'
From then on, there's just one word:  'glory.'
And it goes on forever.  Glory, glory, glory, glory,
glory, glory, glory.......

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Sanctuary, continued

That is, I'd intended to extend 'Star Sanctuary' (see yesterday's poem)
but got distracted, and the thought evaporated before I got it on paper.
Today's prompt was to use Serendipitous Oxymoron Maker (online) to generate
a random, oxymoronic pair of words upon which to base a poem.  My words
were Blissful and Depression.  My poem is but a comment on the plethora of
blogs, sites, and poems that I would love to peruse, were there only more TIME...

Your poem is so keen,
I know just what you mean;
thanks for reading mine.
The prompts are divine,
though I want to read more,
there's someone at the door,
I need to wash clothes,
cook dinner, wipe my nose.
I want to read more,
but, after digression,
barely write my own
midst blissful depression.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Star Sanctuary

I've been reading Native American poetry today.  Many of the poems are exceedingly simple.  Many are chants.  All seem to be songs.  This neo-sonnet came to me this evening, after I read "The sky loves to hear me."  A Friendly Song, by Mabezic, tr. from the Chippewa by Frances Densmore (tbc)  Before I could write it down, and while I was still thinking up a title, a friend emailed that she was planning a trip to New Zealand, to a star sanctuary.  I've never heard of such a place, but the words struck a beautiful counterpoint to the thought in my poem, that although, sometimes, the poet's intended audience is not inclined to listen, still, there is satisfaction in expression for expression's sake, in simple but heartfelt thoughts sent out into the universe, 'to the stars,' to God.  (tbr)  The last line of both stanzas can be read  in two ways: either as invitation for another to express feelings, or, as complaint.

The sky loves to hear me,
hears my story,
hears my song.
The sky loves to hear me,
hears my sorrow,
hears my joy.
The sky loves to hear me,
hears my gladness,
my complaint.
Why not you?

The sky loves to hear me,
so I will tell my story,
I will sing my song
to the stars.  Why not you?
                             -- Shirley Smith Franklin, April 4, 2011

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Under the Stars

Look up, said mother.
Isn't it beautiful!
I was young.
I didn't see, then,
sky full of diamonds,
sparkling on velvet.

Black, freshly turned earth
in an April garden
seemed pretty,
but the sky, that night,
was simply night sky,
darkness, not quite black.

Why didn't I see
what everyone else saw,
bright comets
and constellations?
Soon after that night
I was wearing glasses.

Sometimes I still wish
for ignorant evenings,
not to see
some ways of this world.
But, rosy or not,
these days, I wear glasses.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

How about just two?

Today's <>'s poem-a-day challenge is to write a poem incorporating the titles of two of the books in your house.  Misremembering the number, I used the names of just two.  (Halfway to Harmony is a gentle, somewhat laconic portrait of an imaginary town called Harmony, as narrated by fictitious pastor who takes the idiosyncracies seriously.  Under a Wing is the memoir of  Charles Lindbergh's  family by his younger daughter.)
Surprisingly, the message of the poem serves to describe both of the books!  Serendipity?!

Evening in Duckville

Halfway to harmony
a pair of ducks
waddles along
the pebble path
from the pond,
hearing the argument
of their children,
little peeps
and louder ones,
fuzzy ducklings
vying for their places
in the family
pecking order.
Now the parents
come into view.
Ducklings shriek, fall, push,
clambering up
on each other,
or being pushed,
til suddenly,
under a wing, they’re home.

Friday, April 1, 2011

No fooling, this is the first one

All right, this is my first poem as I attempt the one-a-day
National Poetry Writing Month ( challenge.
Day one's specific challenge is to write a poem incorporating
the titles of three books in my house...but let me meditate
on that for awhile, see what might emerge for tomorrow. 
For today:

Sometimes I Notice

Poems are little
               Shirley Smith Franklin, 4/1/11