Childhood of A Good Person: Poem by Miriam Sagan

old fruit tree
propped on a crutch
like a legless veteran

drunk
in a doorway

on the temple grounds
line of stone buddhas
expressions
weathered out

I try
to not just be
a tourist—-offer coins
in the box
but pass the beggar
anyway

I can’t tell
if I had the childhood
of a good person
or a less good one
but please
don’t trouble yourself
too much
after all
I’ve come this far
on my own
already.

Exposure by Michael G. Smith

Exposure

Tourists photograph
boys and girls flicking
marbles in the dirt,
skipping a frayed
braided rope,
kicking flat
fùtbols in the street.
Hearts pried open,
eyes focused,
they closely circle
looking for the angle
they would never
see at home,
and from in-your-face
distances across
the wide boulevard
whose traffic
of breakneck scooters,
roofed auto-rickshaws
and walkers laden
with the day’s groceries
never stops
they shoot
a weary mother
and her children
parked on see-through
blankets, soiled hands
stuck wide open.

https://gulfstreamlitmag.com/exposure/

Devon Miller-Duggan Turns 64 and Reflects on That and More

This Week

I turned 64. I like that I have now reached the age when I don’t have to ask my husband “Will you still need me? Will you still feed me when I’m 64?” mostly because I have a year in which I’m a line in a Beatles song. I’m not sure why that amuses me so much, but it does, and I’m not inclined to expend much energy figuring it out. Maybe one of these days, we’ll rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight. If it’s not too dear…

I saw a list on line the other day of Beatles songs John Lennon didn’t like. A handful of my favorites are on the list. Either I have given up on being edgy/with-it, or it’s possible that Lennon and I don’t have to agree. I have friends who know and like my poems who are fondest of poems I think are mediocre, and I know for certain that I have given up fretting about this. Anything I can manage to give up fretting about is a good thing.

And my husband did feed me, in fact. I bought the steaks and peas and potatoes and Boursin (for the potatoes), but he cooked. And, besides, I was doing the weekly grocery shopping for my mother, so I had time to noodle around in the store thinking about whether I wanted steak or king crab. He likes to cook more than I do these days, and he got everything done perfectly.

I don’t particularly like it when my birthday coincides with Mother’s Day. I have mixed feelings about both, and having them happen together just seems like too much to process in one day. So I did the morning routine for my mother (tough to schedule an aide on the holiday), went to church, probably let myself get talked into helping with an internet book club set up between young South African women and young American women, shopped for my mother (who was aware neither of my birthday, nor of Mother’s Day, which was okay with me) took a nap, did some submissions stuff, played Words with Friends, and spent the rest of the day either crocheting or eating and watching TV with my husband. The highlight of the day was probably when I told my 18-month-old-grand-daughter I loved her and she came over and kissed me (a first—she’s plenty affectionate, but this sort of specificity is new, and she chirps/sings as she walks, which is pretty wonderful to live with).

It’s been a complicated semester. I had a kidney stone early on and have never quite felt like I’ve gotten my feet under me. I’m teaching a new course—typically, I came up with a nifty idea about doing imitations of a bunch of poets, but only semi thought it through—this is one of the parts where being an experiential learner doesn’t always work out for the best. The course will be better next time I teach it, but seems to have not been a disaster, as nearly as I can tell, this time ‘round. My other two classes had big, tough issues I’ve never dealt with before, neither of which should go in a blog–one a headbanger, one a heartbreaker. And I lost 30-40 hours at the beginning of the semester to a new Faculty Evaluation System put in place at Pretty Good U that is a total POS (it has, for instance, gone down in the middle of contract renewal system, of course). And I’m pretty ticked that I am going to start having an actual attendance policy in classes (I’ve done quite nicely for years with one that consisted of “You expect me to be here, don’t you? I expect the same.”), but absences have gotten way out of hand. I blame the zeitgeist. Meanwhile, my mother’s slide downward has picked up speed—she’s almost out of language, and has begun to be seriously short of breath. And I have been trying to get her whole home-health-aide situation re-settled since the week between Xmas and New Year’s, when we found out that the coordinating insurer had pulled out of the market, and the new one won’t deal with Home Instead. In the northern of Delaware’s 3 counties. Just the one. Meanwhile, I am trying to coordinate between 4 companies/agencies. Much of this would be resolved by paying home-health-aides living wages, but they’re all for-profit companies, so…

The yard’s a mess, though it’s full of flowers. It’s been a weird, long, cold spring, so some things hung on forever. I’ve never had daffodils still blooming when irises came up. It was pretty. The stripey pale pink azalea has been in bloom for ages. But it got stinky hot just in time to fry the lilacs the day after they bloomed. I haven’t walked the back yard for several weeks. I’m betting there’s some poison ivy out there somewhere. And I think I’ve decided to forgo the fancy wood play-set-with-house-and-climbing-wall that seems to be the suburban standard in favor of an old-fashioned swing set. But the poison ivy will have to be dealt with first.

Our cello prof tends to favor 20th/21st c. music, so I don’t often go hear him (I’m fond of some, especially of the elegiac sort, but often feel like I’m wearing uncomfortable underwear when listening to much of it), but he did a 2-night recital of Bach’s Unaccompanied Cello Suites several weeks back. It was imperfect and glorious and made me so goofily happy that I email fan-girl-ed him. We’re going to try to have coffee. There’s much too little cross-departmental conversation around here, just because depts. are so big and we’re all so separate, so that’s kind of nice.

Last day of class tomorrow. Mostly, my students will be reciting the poems they’ve chosen to memorize. That’s nice, too. And it’s looking like I’ll survive to teach another semester. The summer’s big projects include reading all the books of poetry I haven’t gotten to all year and re-organizing the bookshelves. Could definitely be worse, which, these days, is saying a lot.

THE 80/20 RULE: Omer Poem by Ya’el Chaikind

THE 80/20 RULE

If I have to admit it
my life’s foundation
is built upon saying
YES, even when I’m

scared, even when
I have no idea what
I’m doing, and you
must have heard

the saying – on a wing
and a prayer – so
I’m not the only one
jumping into the

abyss, praying that
the eighty-twenty
rule applies, that
eighty percent of

the time I’ll land
safely, maybe out
of breath yet awed
by the power of

my prayers to bring
me safely to a new
place, a pretty high
scoreboard, and twenty

percent of the time,
well it’s not so pretty,
banged and bruised
against the sharp

stones along my way-
too-fast descent
when suddenly wings
appear to slow my

fall and soften the
blow of defeat, oh
hell, who am I kidding,
it’s all prayers, even
the wings.

Ya’el Chaikind
5.3.18
Omer Day 34:
Yesod Shebe Hod
Foundation within Awe, Humility, & Glory

This Week’s Omer Poem by Ya’el Chaikind

ENDLESS FLAME

Life is short and love
is awaiting before
our eyes, an unlit

match full of potential
spark ready to shine
a light in the dark

dampness where fear
molders, carving its own
terrible beauty into

the walls of our heart,
yet fear only adds
volume to love’s song,

where harmonizing
opposites can ignite
an endless flame.

Ya’el Chaikind

4.14.18

Omer Day 15:

Chesed Shebe Tiferet

Lovingkindness within Harmony, Beauty, and Balance

Counting the Omer by Ya’el Chaikind

Miriam’s Well will present this special feature weekly during this period of Counting the Omer.

***

Counting the Omer
by Ya’el Chaikind, MPH, MA, LMHC
4.6.18

The inspiration for my poetry is an ancient Jewish custom called “Counting the Omer,” where each spring you intentionally immerse in the spiritual qualities of lovingkindness, boundaries, harmony, endurance, awe, foundation, and dignity for 49 days. The 50th day corresponds to the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people, also known as a time of revelation.

Traditionally counting the Omer begins on the second night of Passover. Passover is a Jewish holiday that celebrates freedom from slavery. Could it be that we need to free ourselves from old stories, beliefs, or habits that enslave us in order to receive these revelatory teachings? With the freedom of seven weeks to
intentionally interact with these spiritual qualities, what new insights and perspectives would be revealed on the 50th day?

For the past five years, I have explored these questions by writing a poem each day for 49 days, without editing and within thirty minutes. It’s been a creative practice, an annual challenge to my perfectionism, and a mystical, fun, and spiritual exploration. My book, Revelations of the Heart: A 49-Day Journey of Poems and Prompts to Write Your Way to Revelation, is both a writing guide and a poetry book to help others develop their own practice. Email yaelchaikindcounseling@gmail.com for more information.

SOFT EYES

I walked past a tree buzzing
ferociously, laden with hundreds
of green buds, yet did not see

a single bee, and I stared through
a square of branched sky
hoping for a glimpse, puzzled,

because this was a Very
Loud Tree, and while I watched
and waited and wondered,

suddenly my eyes softened
and the tree erupted into focus with the flit
and flight of dozens

of yellowjackets ablaze with their loving
task, and I pondered the other
marvels I might miss when I

am blinded by my goals instead of
yielding to what is
right in front of my eyes.

Ya’el Chaikind
4.4.18

Omer Day 5:
Hod Shebe Chesed
Awe and Humility within Lovingkindness

Armarolla Issue One is Out–based in Cyprus and Prague

And I’m glad to be included! This is part of a long sequence written last summer about the solar eclipse.

astronomers call the eclipse
a cosmic coincidence
how our satellite
can blot out the star of our sun

I’ve held my thumb up
to cover many things
I didn’t want
to see

is it coincidence
I hold you in my arms
in this bed
held you long ago
and always will?

http://armarolla.com/one/