by Susan L. Lipson
To help them flower and spread,
I add to the seeds of my ideas
figurative fertilizer for nurturing full color,
and empowering light after germination.
And then I weed,
ripping out random growths
that strangle their laconic beauty,
detract from their tones,
cover their distinctive petals and leaves,
and clutter their well-aligned lines
with verbose foliage.
I try to resist clipping a bloom
or forming a bouquet to share
until each flower's growth has peaked,
to avoid publishing prematurely harvested blooms,
which will wilt in the shadows of disappointment.
In verbal vases
I present the bounty,
hoping that you see Beauty and Truth.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Monday, May 5, 2014
I shared my daughter's latest YouTube music video (she's a singer known on YouTube, as well as an actress on TV and in films) with my 86-year-old father via email, and when I called him to hear what he thought of it, his questions about the song and her collaborator hilariously exemplify the generation gap in the music world. First, watch, and then I'll tell you his response….
"I don't know…. I didn't like that guy in the video. I don't why she needed him standing there. He was distracting, and he wasn't even singing along with her--I watched his lips! He didn't even know the words! And he wasn't even playing the background music with her, so what was his purpose?"
Trying not to laugh, I replied, "Dad, he was beat-boxing, not singing."
Before I could explain what beat-boxing is, he asked, "What do you mean he wasn't singing? I saw him moving his lips, but he didn't get the words right."
"No, Dad, he was making the beat sounds in the background with his mouth. All those drum sounds you heard were coming from him. That's what made the song so cool."
"What do you mean?"
"Are you listening? There wasn't any instrumental music in the video, only percussion sounds that he was making with his mouth while Lainey was singing a cappella."
"Well, I don't know that song, I only know that I didn't like this one because of that guy making weird expressions and keeping me from hearing the music."
Sighing, I conclude, "Okay, Dad, maybe you'll like her next one better."
Thinking about that conversation now reminds me of a "text fail"--the kind I'd save on my phone just to laugh over it later. That's why I wrote this post, to save this "phone fail."
Friday, May 2, 2014
For #NationalPoetryWritingMonth2014 (a.k.a. #NaPoWriMo14), I tried to compose a new poem, or revise an old poem, to post on Facebook every day. I confess I missed three days. Here’s my almost-a-month’s-worth of poems (one is a revised poem that is too long to post among these short ones). Please let me know which are your favorites! If you have trouble leaving comments here on my blog, leave them on Google+, please. I’d love to hear from you.
If I weren't stretching on the floor right now,
I wouldn't see the sunlit leaves through the half-raised blinds;
Sometimes when you're down,
you see more than when you're up:
The beauty of a grounded point-of-view.
My blind dog
Looks as if he sees,
While sitting and staring at me,
Silently conversing as I rub his neck.
Seems guided by radar
Until he walks into a piece of furniture, out of place,
Then pivots and reroutes
Like a robotic, self-propelled vacuum cleaner,
Without even so much as a whimper.
My blind dog
Helps me see
How adaptation and positivity
Enable rerouting to roads less traveled.
He is my leader dog.
Before turning on the shower,
I hear the trash truck outside,
And smile because my neighborhood
And I are both about to get cleaner.
Maybe I will be editing
When the recycling truck comes by.
Fox Sniffing a Flower
Relishing Nature's perfume,
he thrusts his furry nose among yellow petals,
showing us that "joie de vivre" is not just a fancy French phrase,
but an attitude possessed by all blessed animals.
The Power of Innocence
Tiny hands with dimples where knuckles will be
have incredible power to
fade worry lines
elicit silly faces and high-pitched voices,
and to loosen tight shoulders
by pulling burdens down our sleeves
to be shaken out
as we bounce babies in our arms.
Who Can Write a Poem
If you can listen and sway and dream to music
You can write a poem
If you can clap a beat or play a tune
You can write a poem
If you photograph an image that captures eyes and awe
You can write a poem
If you use a brush and paint to awaken scenes like a magic wand
You can write a poem
If you give new life to clay or wood or stone, to dirt with seeds and plants and love
You can write a poem
If you can remove yourself from the world long enough to see the world, the whole world, in a moment—long enough to feel a realization,
You can write a poem.
Yes, you can write a poem.
Ripples in a pond
overlap, blend, create currents,
spread themselves outward to touch more of the shore,
without pushing each other aside--
no egos involved in maintaining the power of their circles.
Unlike many ego-driven "philanthropists."
Give and let give.
Poem About a Poem
My child’s old poem,
“Rolling with Laughter,”
a poem she wrote at 12 years old
to celebrate the various sounds of our mirthful family,
translates in today’s language to:
“LOL,” or “ROTFL,” or “LMAO,”
in a world where laughter is not heard as much as it is read,
because people spend more time texting and “messaging”
than they do speaking
or laughing together.
The shoes I’ve worn since childhood,
Have been patched and polished
To conceal old scuffs,
Have been re-soled
To keep me balanced and stepping forward;
Yet they still cause blisters
Whenever I walk too close to “home,”
And they still make me trip
If I don’t watch my steps on old territory.
Why do I even keep them in my closet?
When will I throw them, once and for all, in the trash?
Maybe after I type the period at the end of this poem
Teaching to prepare for tests—
At best, I call that “training”;
Teaching means igniting thoughts,
Not pouring facts, then draining.
Writing is an art, a skill,
One not quantifiable,
Rated best by knowing nods,
Feedback that’s reliable;
Questions that elicit thoughts,
Encourage their revisions,
Coaching that enables them
To make their own decisions.
I want to spark awe for words,
For clear communication;
I want to teach not for scores,
But for true education.
We’ve always imitated
What Nature has created,
This view makes me elated:
With purple hair—berated
No doubt, by those related
To her, and she has waited
For them to say, “Cool hair!”
Why do we call the eclipsed moon “blood” red,
Not rose red,
Or tomato red,
Or licorice red,
Or wine red,
Or candy apple red,
Or any other red that has no ominous associations?
Could it be that scientists named it so?
Or was it the name coined by media writers,
Hoping to evoke more awe from the public.
As if it weren’t awesome just by being red.
Assembly of free people,
Commemorating enslavement of our ancestors
in stories, songs, prayers, and food metaphors—
Because we CAN.
Erosion creates unique beauty
In bland smoothness,
The way wrinkles etch a face
With evidence of smiles.
In plays, as in life,
an "aside" allows a character
to establish a True Self,
to connect with an observer,
while the other characters remain but
dimly lit players
in the background,
players not meant to hear
shared hushed confidences that
break through fictional walls
long enough to shift and extend spotlights
for a moment of candid communication that
adds depth to a series of acts and scenes.
Trust, in plays, as in life,
may start with a stage whisper
away from the other players,
who feign ignorance
and listen only for their cues.
Celebration of Silence
Silence is the soundtrack of blessed moments,
filling my ears with oft-muted sounds
of my own breathing,
of these words spoken in my head as I transcribe them,
of the birds outside my window conversing with the wind chimes,
of my fingertips clicking the keyboard as I write this poem,
of my little dog’s sweet snoring,
of my oblivion to the bad news surely streaming on TV if I were to turn it on,
of the hum of introspective thoughts brewing softly, like coffee, awaiting sips and sighs and pouring.
Silence carries into the foreground of my mind
a soothing darkness that illuminates the usual din
so that I may see what is worth hearing,
and hear what is worth listening to,
and feel blessed by the silence that elicited these words
Shaded with Light
Shading creates new life
On slices of dead trees—
New life that, off paper,
Seeks the opposite of shading
This shading is enlightening
The badge you wore,
identifying you by your work,
no longer displays your name and role.
You gaze into your mirror, squinting at the empty spot
above your heart
that now reads: “Unemployed.”
Friends ask you how it’s going, and you mutter,
“Out of work,” “laid off,” and “jobless,”
your will draining with each reply,
as your patience is dying.
“Willful words hold the key to healing and rejuvenation,”
prescribes this spin doctor,
injecting positivity into your will-draining replies
and transforming them into
“Between jobs,” “self-marketing,” “free to pursue a new career”—
words uttered (not muttered)
even though at first you don’t believe them.
“The more you practice, the easier it gets,” advises the spin doctor,
and sure enough, your dull eyes spark,
your chin rises,
and your posture lifts your stature.
You no longer look in the mirror for an old badge on your chest.
Now you look at your own eyes and smile,
Preparing to do the same with others.
If social intolerance for minorities
could be modified by enzymes,
like lactose intolerance,
then the verbal diarrhea
spewed by bloated egos
would be mitigated,
and the acid of cramped minds
would not by regurgitated;
then all would feel settled,
and the growling and discomfort would cease.
In the absence of such enzymes, though,
we might try dietary restrictions:
limiting our slanted media consumption
as a first step.
Detour from Laundry Folding
Our thin, white cotton helmets shifted
as we jumped from the spaceship to the moon,
sending piles of sloppily folded clothing into orbit,
and then bounced back without noticing the gravity
as we almost hit the open dresser drawers.
We’d tuck the elastic underwear bands,
meant for thighs,
behind our ears,
to keep the “face window” in place,
garble our voices to sound like radio static,
and took turns playing lookout for the commander,
who would surely abort our mission,
if we didn’t “crack open” our heads first.
Puddles of Wax (for Holocaust Remembrance Day 2014; in memory of Irving Lipson)
A candle flickers in my heart for you;
I symbolize it with a wick just lit,
Commemorating millions also due
For honor as we rise from where we sit
To sing of lives snuffed out before their wicks
Had burned for all the years they should have glowed,
Before they were consumed in flames like sticks,
Or piled in pits and ditches by the road—
A road less traveled by the ones who’ve dug,
Unearthing truths embodied by their bones,
The ones who will not sweep under the rug
The evil echoing in ghostly moans.
The candle flames will end in puddles here,
While yours will burn and shine in every tear.
AN OLD POEM I POSTED SINCE I WAS STILL IN THE SONNET MOOD, AND HAPPENED TO FIND THIS IN A FILE OF PUBLISHED CLIPS FROM THE ‘80s…
Blessing for Anonymous Laborers
Predrilled tiny holes in picture frames
evoked a blessing from me today
for the anonymous hands that helped mine
perfectly place the tiny screws in the hangers
to ease my hanging of the picture
that will now brighten my day
every time I glance at that wall.
And come to think of it, I also bless
the hands that crafted my computer, too,
for allowing me to type and save this poem--
oh, and the hands that cut the slab of granite
upon which my elbows rest as I type--
and the hands that crafted the wooden parts of the chair I sit upon,
parts that I assembled with my hands,
thanks to the mind that wrote the directions for the assembly of those wooden parts--
AND, I can't forget to mention, too, the hands that...
Sorry To Burst Your Bubble, but…
Only Love survives.