WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? – PROMPT # 66

The opening of Frank P. Thomas’ book “How to Write the Story of Your Life” (Publisher: Writer’s Digest Book, an imprint of F+W Publications) reads as such:

“HOW DO YOU VIEW your life?

Far too modestly perhaps. Yet your life is important. It is as unique as your fingerprints. It is a precious piece of time that should not be forgotten. There has only been one life lived like yours in all time, and only you can leave an accurate account of it.”

So? How do you view your life? In the first of a twenty part series of prompts, we will see just who you think you are. When finished, we will have written a memoir in poetry.

PART I – WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

This week Marie and I ask you to write the poem as an acrostic, using your full name as the subject. The title of your poem should be “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, (Your Name Here)?”

Your poem should touch on your life, or some aspect of it until now. Remember, the focus is you! Tell us. Who do you think you are?

MARIE ELENA’S INSIGHT:

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, MARIE ELENA GOOD?

Merciful.  She finds it easy to be merciful, as she experiences daily the mercy of her God.

Approachable. Welcoming eyes and ready smile … not peculiar enough to frighten, nor so lovely as to intimidate.

Redeemed.  Sinner-deemed-sinless, a debt she can’t pay.

Indebted.  Humbly and deeply thankful for parents who taught much, and loved regardless; an abundance of encouraging, uplifting, loyal friends and extended family; and mostly her Creator, whose unyielding love, grace, and mercy breathe her very existence.

Enthusiastic. Taught by her father that “Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm.”

 

Enthralled.  Captivated by life, love, and words.

Lazy.  Often rising with the sun to walk the beach in Naples three decades ago, she now lazily hits the snooze three or four or six times rather than rise to take a short morning walk.   

Encourager.  “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up.”  1 Thessalonians 5:11 

Nonna.  Her favorite vocation, hands down. 

Athletic.   …and sometimes, she blatantly lies. 😉

 

Gullible.  Too quick to say, “Really? Wow!” then later slap forehead with the all-too-familiar, “Oh. Duh.” 

Observant.  Truly, about as observant as she is athletic. (Read, “Blatantly lies.”)

Oldfashioned.  Dreams of returning to days when morals were more than just folklore. 

Dandelion lover.  … but only in poetry and fields.  Not in her yard. 😉

© Marie Elena Good – 2012

MY WALTER EGO:

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, WALTER WOJTANIK?

Wildly weird and wonderful,
Another in a
Long line of like named gents.
Taught to respect his elders and teach his children.
Even when he is at a loss for words, he’ll
Regale you with his verbosity.

Who is this monstrosity of poet prowess to think he could
Overpower the world of metered rhyme by his sheer numbers?
Just put it this way,
The day he is silenced is the day
Another Walt has been relegated to dust.
Never faint of heart; he can’t start to explain
It. But to name it, his style would elicit a smile and make you think of the
Kinetic poetics he spews. Then you might have him pegged!

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2012

P.S.  CORRECTION: The acrostic form  is a requirement of the prompt.  There is a method to Walt’s madness that sometimes my partner doesn’t even understand at first.  A little discipline never hurts!

I stand (actually sit) corrected! 😀  ~ meg

Oh, stand up and take a bow! My madness ebbs and flows!

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT #65

Marie had proposed the idea for this prompt based on the concerns of her friend who awaited a diagnosis of her illness. Thankfully, the outcome was positive. But, we all deal with betrayal/disappointments in our lives, and all of our poets have risen to the occasion with such moving and powerful poems. Thank you for your honesty and strength.

 MARIE ELENA’S PICK:

There are several regular contributors here at Poetic Bloomings whose work is “Bloom” quality on any given week.  Janet Martin is one of them.  From her title of “Only the Temporal Betrays” to her final “steadfast grace,” Janet’s words flow flawlessly. After reading the poem in its entirety, I encourage all to peruse each and every line individually, as each is superbly penned and contains a nugget of its own.   Thank you, Janet, for displaying your lovely and wise heart with each visit here.

Only the Temporal Betrays… by Janet Martin

We may be betrayed by our strongest desires
Our wants may lure us to sundry heartaches
So-called friends may gather like vultures
To feast on the carcass of our mistakes
Oh, tis a wretched and raw, ruthless scalpel
As we weep ‘neath the knife of bitter betrayal

We may be betrayed by the words we have spoken
Or by the words of a trusted friend
I’ve stood at both points of a promise broken
There is no honor at either end
Betrayal is galling spittle in our face
But oh, we are never betrayed by grace

We are not creatures of casual coincidence
Though faith-leaps may seem like ash-heaps of trust
We are not bound by cold, calloused consequence
Pain, horror, grief are the torments of dust
Oh, blessed truth we reach to embrace
For we will never be betrayed by grace

By grace we are saved; betrayal’s damnation
Can never reach into the arms of the One
Who gave His Only for our salvation
His One and Only belov-ed Son
Betrayal tests faith as it points to a place
Where we grasp the assurance of His steadfast grace

© Janet Martin

WALT’S CHOICE:

Betrayal is the ultimate moment on one exuding power over  someone/something else. But the betrayal affects many who surround the person betrayed, especially when it is the body so afflicted. We always laughed at our mother at Christmas time when she would have a glass of wine and fall asleep under (near) the Christmas tree. When she died on Christmas Eve, it was the ultimate betrayal. On title alone, I’d take note of Mark Windham‘s poem. The content has that power and compassion that a poet wields as only a poet can. Thank you Mark, for this piece, which earns my Bloom.

A GLASS OF WINE by Mark Windham

It is a good day
for a glass of wine –
red –
a sunrise walk
on the beach,
and again at sunset.

A Sunday drive would
suit this day,
a route to nowhere
while exploring everywhere.

Food should be had –
southern in style –
pancakes for breakfast,
raid the ever-full pantry
and fridge for lunch,
enough to feed Cox’s Army
for dinner…chess pie,
banana pudding,
blackberry cobbler…..

Memories will be explored
this day;
grandchildren’s love, screened
porches and rocking chairs,
meals and mountain roads,
pets and the ‘adopted’ kids
children bring home.
Too many to list, too many
to forget.

Holiday’s and vacations,
time around tables
and the kitchen island –
eating while standing –
homemade cheese popcorn,
books everywhere, family
pictures wherever you look.

Short of time, all out of fight,
betrayed by a body, treatment
worse than results…the first
time she was not happy
to see her son. Not ready,
not ready, not ready…..

It is a good day
for a glass of wine.

IN-FORM POET WEDNESDAY – CHOKA

One of the most intricate Japanese Poetry forms is the Choka.   Also referred to as a “Long Poem,” the Choka often tells a story.  It does not rhyme, and offers a choice of syllabic form structure, as follows:

5 – 7 – 7 – 5 – 7 – 7, etc.

~or~

5 – 7 – 5 – 5 – 7 – 5,  etc.

MARIE ELENA’S CHOKA ATTEMPT:

BOWERBIRDS

Sweet crimson berries,
Royal blue flower petals,
Positioned just so
Then repositioned,
And repositioned again
For utmost appeal.
Trimmed and embellished
Avian architecture
To entice females.
Eventually,
The eye of the beholder
Lingers, or takes leave.

© Marie Elena Good – 2012

WALT’S CHOKA EXAMPLE:

THE SAVAGE BREAST

Music doth have charms
and the savage breast is soothed.
There is beauty in its song.
I hear melodies
and my heart is stirred to dance;
a chance to ease into love.
And if music dies,
my soul will carry the tune,
and the words of love you sing
will make me the man
you always want me to be.
The music of life plays on.

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2012

~~~~~~*~~~~~~

At POETIC ASIDES with Robert Lee Brewer, Robert asks us to write a plea poem. Of course, a plea can mean a few different things. First, a plea can be an allegation leveled at someone. Second, a plea can be the defendant’s answer to the accusations (for instance, guilty or not guilty). Third, a plea can be an appeal.

~~~~~~*~~~~~~

And don’t forget that today is “POST YOUR POEM” day at WE WRITE POEMS Prompt #115 – Counting fingers plus two. You were instructed to write a poem using only twelve words: no more, no less.

BETRAYED! – PROMPT # 65

Today’s prompt was inspired by “Jackson” –   a newcomer to Poetic Bloomings, and dear friend of Marie Elena’s, whose harrowing week led to feeling betrayed by her own body.  Thankfully,  a looming malignancy was discovered to be benign.

There are times in every life where things happen that defy logic or go contrary to our sensibilities. There are unexpected events and then there are betrayals. We can be betrayed in many ways: friends turning against each other, a renege of a promise, an untimely discovery, the betrayal perpetrated upon portions of our society, or by blood cells/illnesses upon our bodies.

Write a poem that delves into some kind of betrayal.

MARIE ELENA’S POEM:

A Father’s Love

In a battle for his own life,
Leukemia disassembles his cells,
One by one.
So,
When did counting breaths take precedence
Over counting cells?
When his son’s diseased lungs
Began sucking life
Instead of oxygen.

© Marie Elena Good – 2010

(My apologies for posting an older poem – written in November of 2010. It is about my Uncle Jim and his son “Punk,” who passed from this life to the next within ten weeks of each other. I simply could not have admired them more.)

WALT BETRAYED:

POKER FACE

Cards once held close to the vest
are now worn on my sleeve,
leaving no doubt that life is a fragile game.
Gone are the days of invincibility;
your stamina and agility have seen better days.
You’d be crazy not to play the cards dealt
if you felt you had a winning hand.
But as you stand, others close to your chest
cuddle in before the end of days; not ready
to lose a friend, a lover, a side-kick;
not going to surrender the life of a wife
Sick of losing to this destructive joker so badly;
my poker face remains, sadly. And still no answer
to this ravenous cancer. Just glad to say,
you’re not cashing in your chips today.

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2012

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – PROMPT #64

MARIE ELENA’S BLOOM

Nancy Posey brought up the very heart of this exercise with her comment, “You do realize that this prompt sends me back reading (a joy that has taken my morning!).”   I trust that you all experienced the joy of which Nancy speaks.  I know I did, and do with every visit here.  So many brilliant, beautiful, profound, poetic, comical lines are found among your works.  Thank you, all!

Henrietta Choplin’s Cento took this prompt a step further, as it is woven of lines penned by six brilliant poets (Janet Martin, Sharon Ingraham, Catherine Choi Lee, J. Lynn Sheridan, Jane Shlensky, and Amy Barlow Liberatore).  The result is cohesive, deep, and lovely.  With warm smiles, I offer my Bloom to our resident cheerleader, “Hen.”

EYES THAT SHALL NOW, ALWAYS BE MINE (by Henrietta Choplin)

I’ve held you close to me within a pen
every blank space filled with unwritten words that burst like hearts
in the middle of the night.
Dreaming of those eyes
those fathomless eyes…..
Longing becomes art,
trembles possibility:
Cascade of
waterfalls settling into pools
with
rainbows roofing the sky
and
waves crashing and smoothing a beach at sunset…
Yet,
the fear of depths too deep to see.
Cool, clear water,
how do I “unfeel”
this feeling
too delicate to retrace?

WALT’S BLOOM

The piece I chose was by J. Lynn Sheridan with inspiration from Janet Martin’s A Villanelle. J.Lynn seems to have found balance in her poem.

“. . . the harmony of pleasure and of pain
Sweeps soulfully across the sea and land.” Janet’s “A Villianelle” (June 27)

THE HARMONY OF PLEASURE AND PAIN by J. Lynn Sheridan

The harmony of pleasure
and of pain, sweeps soulfully
across the sea and the land.

The sea may rage and argue
against spring’s thundering
hand and I may ride the rain

like waves of war cutting across
meadowland and dwelling,
with a swelling fear inside

my breast—the pain of height,
the fear of depths too deep
to see. I breathe numb, I stumble

dumb into the message from
one who walked these seas.
Tonight I sleep with my blind

voice, reciting pithy proverbs,
the lore of folk, weak and fruit-
less. I need a strong hand to

stroke in the torrid thunder,
I need a voice to hush the gales,
to awaken my eyes to prayer

and the promises that sweep
soulfully across the sea and
land, a guiding hand to ease

my shorn soul. Tomorrow I’ll
wake to that Voice on the
breeze, singing a simple prayer,

gently brushing love through
the wind in my hair.

IN-FORM POET WEDNESDAY – SYNCHRONICITY

“Synchronicity” defined is the state or fact of being synchronous or simultaneous; synchronism. Coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related.

This form consists of  eight three-line stanzas in a syllable pattern of 8/8/2. This poetry type has no rhyme and is usually written in the first person (variation removes that restriction) with a twist. The twist is to be revealed within the last two stanzas. Created by Debra Gundy.

MARIE ELENA’S ATTEMPT

THE LOVE CHAPTER (Based loosly on 1 Corinthians 13)

 Though I understand mysteries
Though I speak with tongues of men and
angels

 Though I may remove the mountains
Though I give all my goods to feed
the poor

 Though I have prophetic powers
Though I give time freely to those
in need

 Though I listen to those who speak
Though I with gratitude use my
talents

 Though I covet not my neighbor
Though I nurture and encourage
others

 Though I respect the Word of God
Though I delight in hymns and psalms
of praise

 Though I have all manner of faith
Though I strive to honor my God
always

 Though my actions be impressive,
if I lack love, I am nothing
but noise.

© Marie Elena Good – 2012

WALT’S SYNCHRONOUS PATH:

LIVING DAY-TO-DAY

The gentle in and out of life,
fills her lungs with each cautious breath,
she lives

each day as if it were her last.
My hard and fast rule, is this:
find bliss

within every waking moment,
the gift of life is heaven sent.
Feel love

in the people that surround you,
return every heartbeat in kind.
My mind

swims out to the choppy waters
filling this torrent of despair.
Who dares

to deny her the love she craves?
Love saves the broken hearted from,
itself.

~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~

She lives for the moments like this:
a tender kiss and words of love
heart felt.

And we’ll go forward forever.
Never lose sight of the future,
or now!

 

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2012

 

*****

A new feature of the IN-FORM POET WEDNESDAY is rather unexpected, and that is quite fitting.

Since a good majority of us “met” and started posting our poetry with Robert Lee Brewer at Poetic Asides who posts the Wednesday Prompts, we will be including the Poetic Asides prompt here. Please be sure to go over to Poetic Asides and participate there as well. Those of you unfamiliar with this site will be well served to give it a look. Robert provides much in the way of supporting and nurturing poetics: the weekly Wednesday prompt as stated, but also poetic form challenges, the April Poem-A-Day challenge, the November Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge and poet interviews and other features.

 From Robert Lee Brewer: “For this week’s prompt, write a poem about something unexpected. Birthdays are usually expected affairs, but what happens on them could be anyone’s guess. Plus, something unexpected could be a good thing or a bad thing or a thing that seems bad at first but is ultimately good or a thing that seems good at first but is ultimately bad or, well, you get the idea.”

It’s Robert’s birthday today. Give him the gift of poetry. Maybe use the SYNCRONICITY form in an unexpected poem? Get back to supporting the man who had given us the inclination to poem. Give Poetic Asides another look.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-184

“HEY… THAT’S MY LINE, TWO!” – PROMPT #64

One of our most popular prompts was presented during week #38, and we are reprising it for our ever-expanding poet base. The concept was this simple: Take that “I wish I had written that” line from one of the poems posted at Poetic Bloomings, and for the moment, make it your own …  as the title of a totally new poem. But, be sure to credit the poet and poem from which it came.  Have fun!

MARIE ELENA’S BORROWED LINE:

COMMAS DON’T SCARE ME

No hooked little mark
Will catch me off guard.
No comma faux pas
Will, leave my poem marred.

© Marie Elena Good – 2012

From Nancy Posey’s Uncertainty poem Within and Beyond my Grasp

WALT’S SECOND CHANCE:

SAVED FOR SOMETIME DREAMS

A vacation in the South of France,
a chance to dance unencumbered
on the Champs-Élysées on a day
so blue we can’t help but be happy.

A day to be illness free; no trick knee,
no blocked artery, just a day…
where dark spots go away from x-rays,
a chance to verbalize emotions that are assumed.

A ticket with every number needed
to exceed my earnings in this lifetime
all in one inspired evening, leaving
everything behind to find my peace of mind.

A home to house this ever-expanding
empty nest, the best place to have raised daughters,
but we ought to lose the excess
and express ourselves more simply.

Success for those daughters to achieve
all which they aspire to and to view
the world through less cynical eyes;
this prize of life so garnished. Untarnished.

The end of conflicts where friends and enemies
stick out a hand and come to understand
what seems too good to be true; to eschew
the terrors of wars; to abhor them.

The opportunity to view these things in a life well lived
and to be forgiven for indiscretions and errors
in judgement, putting priorities in proper perspective,
rejecting all attempts to temp my loving temperament.

A night full of nothing but sleep to foster these dreams,
without the anemic schemes of a torn
and twisted psyche. It might be the greatest wish
on this dish of savory favors saved for sometime.

© Walter J. Wojtanik – 2012

Line culled from Marie Elena Good’s Uncertainty poem – DEMENTIA

BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS – Prompt #63

Life is a mystery, and the best we can do is deal with its uncertainty. This was the task at hand this week. We have gotten another diverse menagerie  of excellent poetry (there’s never an uncertainty in that regard). So let us meet this week’s BEAUTIFUL BLOOMS recipients:

MARIE ELENA’S CHOICE:

As a scratched record repeats, repeats, repeats – so have you heard me say every week (as if it is news) that I struggle to decide which poem to highlight among others equally deserving.  Ugh.  After literally hours of reading and re-reading, I offer this week’s “Bloom” to “Misky” Marilyn Braendeholm for her “really long thingy” which, ironically, is not certain what to call itself.  Call it what you will … it offers many layers of uncertainty,  is well written, engaging, and (yes) poetic.  In my opinion, few have the ability to tell a story quite as poetically as Misk.

NOTHING STOPS THE YOUNG  by Marilyn Braendeholm.

“Yes, that’s right but, please, my friends call me Mac,”
he said, “and I reckon you’re right; the best place to start,
is to start from the start.” He settled into the hard
plastic chair that was molded for everyone’s back
but his own, and scooted the shrieking metal legs
along the floor to give his legs a bit more room.

“For generations this house was a home;
this farm was a family. Six children were born
on to this land, and all six survived. Not everyone
had the Lord’s luck like we did. The children, well,
they had lots of friends: lambs and a calf or two,
cats and dogs, pet spiders that lived in the barn.

We cared for each other, we tended each other.
Fields to sow, acres to plough, first-cut hay
for the animals, second-cut dried and baled,
alfalfa and grass for the cows who gave us
their sweet, richness a demand, bees that cooled
themselves with busy wings as summer heat
fell across us like a woolen blanket. We drank

sweet tea from jam jars on the shaded porch
when the sun warned us off the fields. There
were days when an old hat didn’t give the shade
you’d needed on a crispy hot afternoon. It could
get so hot on the fields that you could hear
the air snap. I actually dream about the scent
of baked dust now and then. Those were good days.
They were happy days when we were all young.”

Nothing stops the young.

Mac took a sip of water, and shifted his discomfort
from this preposterous excuse for a chair.

“And then the children grew up. Year by year each
one made their excuses and left home,” he said.
“None of them wanted a future with callused hands,
knotted muscles, and a lifetime of uncertain weather.
They’d toil their brain elsewhere, they said. Each one
tidied their rooms up nice and then moved to the city.
They’d come back for Christmas, but in truth,
when children leave home they take a part of your
heart and soul with them. I’d lost my children.”

Nothing stops the young.

“The woman and I – she actually hates that I call
her ‘the woman’ – but there’s no doubt that she
was one hell of woman. The best woman for me,
that’s for sure, and I thank the good Lord for her.
Anyway, the woman and I tended and cared
for the farm for a good few more years. We had
some good years together, and I’m grateful.

The woman used to say that too much
of a good thing would kill your spirit. The woman
had a heart attack on one of those hot, baked dusty
days. Right there in the alfalfa field. It killed her.
Maybe I was just too much a good thing for her.
That’s a joke, by the way. I miss her. I really miss her.
She was too young to leave me but…” he shrugged.

Nothing stops the young.

Mac shifted uncomfortably in the chair.

“So, you see things are very uncertain for me.
Don’t know what the future holds.
I lost the children to the city.
I lost my wife to a heart attack.
And last month I lost my hand to baling wire.”

Mac blinked away a puddle of tears.

“So here are the keys to the barn, the house,
the tools storage and front gate.”

The bank manager nodded, “Thank you, Mac.
So what are your plans now?”

“I’m not entirely certain,” Mac said. He extended
his left hand to bid the bank manager goodbye.

WALT’S BLOOM:

It’s hard enough finding your feet on your own turf. But put yourself on foreign soil and the uncertainty sets in. That is captured well in Sharon Ingraham’s piece, NIGH TIME.

nigh time by Sharon Ingraham

the clock in the piazza is fixed
at the same hour it was when
last I saw it
as I pulled away
from the train station
bound for Roma …
almost one year ago

puzzled, I spend long moments
many – watching time,
waiting futilely for a change,
a sign
and in my mind I hear
a voice –
Ferlinghetti’s insolent
chattering gets louder

his has been in the background
of all the voices for months
maybe longer
he orders up insurgency
without which he
warns, the end of things
is nigh –

he points to the clock
stopped long ago;
one more example
of certainty
in an uncertain world
you wanted to bear witness?
he is mocking me, I know…
bear this

S.E.Ingraham©

POET INTERVIEW – DANIEL PAICOPULOS

DANIEL PAICOPULOS

Sometimes people enter our lives in unconventional ways, and touch us deeply.  Daniel Paicopulos is one such person.  He is yet another poet Walt and I met in 2009 at Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides April P.A.D. Challenge.  We share a great admiration of his work, but it goes beyond that. We hold Daniel in high regard as an exceptional human being.

 Well, hang on to your hat, Walt.  Your admiration is about to heighten.

On the sixteenth day of the 2009 challenge, while I was feeling quite intimated to be sharing my words with the talent Robert Brewer draws to his site, I suddenly discovered a poem that was written to me, about me.  Daniel had written the following, which made me laugh, and swept me off my feet.

 Clearly Marie Elena

Marie Elena,
that is so you,
“generously sharing light”,
with your see-through hue.

No Vivid Tangerine,
no gaudy Screamin’ Green,
no Purple Pizzazz,
who needs that jazz.

Poet, reader, fan
requires not even Tan,
our Marie Elena dear,
the one most clearly Clear.

 (C) Daniel Paicopulos

This was penned in response to the “Clear” poem I had written for the Color Prompt for that day.  It still humbles me beyond belief and, naturally, is one of my favorites of his.  As with most poets, Daniel often reveals who he is through his poetry.  I like who I see in his “A Missing Touch.”

A Missing Touch

What ever happened
to touching?
A grandmother’s caress,
patting a fuzzy cheek,
straightening
a wayword curl;
young (and old) lovers,
hand in hand;
gate-blocking
airport hugs;
all so very public,
all so very sincere.

Well, 9/11 happened,
and AIDS happened, and
sexual harassment
happened, and any number
of repressive
ideas happened.

So, let’s fight back,
resist the fear,
reject the nonsense,
get off that computer,
be back in love,
hug our neighbors,
kiss our spouse,
wrestle with children,
shake with both hands.

This touching thing,
too good to miss.

  (C) Daniel Paicopulos

 MARIE ELENA: Daniel, you are a true poet’s poet. What draws you to poetry?

DANIEL: My first love of poetry came very early in life, from listening as a child to the Torch Hour, with Franklyn MacCormack, on WGN and WBBM out of Chicago. He opened each show with his trademark, “How do I love you, let me count the ways. I love you not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you.” This led me to Ms. Browning, then to Mr. Browning, and eventually to other Victorian and Elizabethan poets. You could get records with poetry readings and I would get all that the library had. Our home was always filled with books and magazines, so reading came easy to me. My dad was also a music fan, and I think that some of the lyrics from the 1940’s were as poetic as anything from the great masters. In my late teens and young adulthood, there was the pop work of Rod McKuen, who was never fully appreciated for bringing young people to poetry, also to Jacques Brel and the like.  In my post-Vietnam War years, I was actually somewhat aphasiac, and writing was my most comfortable means of expression, and now, as an older man, while I still take a stab at personal essays and the occasional short story, poetry remains my love, the vehicle through which I can say what I mean, in a way that my dearest friends refer to as blushingly honest and open.

MARIE ELENA:  Rod McKuen.  Wow.  It’s been a long time since I’ve thought of him or read his poetry.  I agree with you about him never being fully appreciated for bringing young people to poetry.  Your admiration of his work “fits” you, Daniel  “It doesn’t matter who you love, or how you love, but that you love.” Yes, quite fitting.

Getting back to your own writing, do you have any publications “out there” for our perusal (poetry or otherwise)?

DANIEL:  There’s not much to speak of, poetry-wise. I was born in 1944, and when I was in college at Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Milwaukee, I submitted a hundred or so poems to regional and national magazines, and maybe two of them were accepted for publication. When I find some old notebooks or journals and read what I write back then, I am amazed at even that height of success. I have always written, but usually for my own amusement, but I made an art form of personal letters and letters to newspaper editors during my 18-50 years. Additionally, my work required an inordinate amount of writing, usually begging for money via grants, and that spent a large part of my energies. After 50, I acquired a writing mentor, and she guided me in short story writing, but we soon discovered that I was more suited to personal essays, two of which were published in “Mature Living” and “Life After 50.” You can find them here:

http://www.heizer.com/ohs62/classdirectory2/PaicopulosD.html

http://daniellivingpoet.blogspot.com/2012/03/natalie-calls.html

I have many drafts gathering mold and mouse bites in drawers and binders, but I found the submission process to be so distasteful that I have never sent in a lot of what I write.

MARIE ELENA:  The submission process is distasteful to me as well.  Downright intimidating, really.  So then do you write simply for the pleasure?  Or do you wish to conquer the odious process to earn an income as a writer?

DANIEL:  Since I am an amateur in every sense of the word, I have no wish to be paid for what I write. To that end, I self-published 3 poetry chapbooks, “One Peace At A Time,” Background Check,” and “What A Wonderful Day It Has Been,” but they are currently out of print, due to a computer crash. I had to do them at home because I do not sell them. I give them away, to anyone who is interested, having gone so far as to slip some into the stacks at Barnes & Noble, marked “free,” this from my former membership in Bookfinders, a group which left books in various places for someone –anyone – to find and read. Way fun to do. My family and friends are on me to recreate the three chapbooks, and to put some more together. As soon as we sell our two homes and settle in to our “forever home,” I’ll see about that.

MARIE ELENA:  I’ll second the sentiment of your “family and friends!”   And thank you for my copies.  Oh my goodness, so wonderful, all!  It’s such a cool idea to slip the chapbooks into the “free” stacks at Barnes & Noble.  What else do you do to propagate the pleasure and future of poetry?

DANIEL: I know that there are an uncountable number of poetry blogs out there, and in my mind, too much is still not enough.

MARIE ELENA: “… too much is still not enough.” What a great line!

DANIEL:  If you write poetry, or write a daily journal, I suggest a blog as a means of communicating with the world…it is amazing who finds you, and even more astounding that some of them actually like what you write. Blogs are also a great place to stash your work, so when one has the eventual computer crash and one does not have a 10-year old handy to remind them to back up their work, some of it, at least, can be retrieved. I also recommend another earlier invention, now becoming quite quaint, and that is the “letter.” I enjoy the thought that something I write and send will actually be in someone’s hands, smelling of me, maybe with a catsup stain or a tear, (or a tear). As I do with one of my favorite essays, “Natalie Calls,” I invite my friends and family to steal whatever I give them, make it available to people I do not know, and let me know the feedback, if any. One other thought is that we should all be supporters of young poets, and we can do that by attending poetry slams.

MARIE ELENA:  Forgive my un-hip self, but will you please clue me in on “poetry slams?”

DANIEL:  Poetry slams are like performance art, or similar to open microphone nights, in some instances.  In other cases, they are well-regulated contests, where individuals and teams read to an audience in competition. I became intimate about them when I previewed a film for our big festival:

http://dvd.netflix.com/Movie/Louder-than-a-Bomb/70184134?strkid=1638334442_0_0&strackid=5b15f229ad897550_0_srl&trkid=222336

This is a great film, about people and youth and poetry, and I highly recommend it to you.

Keep your eyes open … I am sure that there are slams around Toledo.  Where there are schools, there are slams.  Careful, though, as some of the readings are quite angry, others sophomoric and vulgar … but, hey, it is poetry and who am I to censor?

MARIE ELENA: Thank you, Daniel.  It is actually just as it sounds … “poetry slam.”

“I enjoy the thought that something I write and send will actually be in someone’s hands, smelling of me, maybe with a catsup stain or a tear, (or a tear).”

How unprofessional is it to keep repeating my guest? So many quotable lines on which to meditate … how can I help myself?  I can try changing the subject. 😉  I happen to know you are unreservedly and eternally in love.  Tell me about Barbara.  I bet you can make me fall in love with her as well.

WHO IS THIS MODEL YOU ARE WOOING?

DANIEL WITH HIS LOVES

STILL THE HANDSOME COUPLE!

DANIEL: I am a man of many words, but none of them are good enough to tell you how I really feel about her. We have been together for more than 43 years, and, like swans, we have mated for life. On my bad days, she might call it a life sentence, but that is part of her beauty, and she makes an art form of how she lives her life. She is a gifted artist, in so many media: bronze and clay sculpture, oil and acrylic painting, jewelry and beadwork, fabric and sewing. She is a cat whisperer as well, and I swear she can do things in the dark of night to tame wild animals. In my career, I worked obsessively, and she kept me fed, even while working.  Her most wonderful attribute, however, is her ability to soothe the savage beast, which includes waiting for me to calm after moments of temporary insanity. Here is my hope:

Valentines Card, 2010

Hoping we’ll be old coots,
walking hand in hand,
less so from affection than
to help each other stand.

Hoping we grow old together,
sharing aches and ague,
passing gas without apology,
couldn’t hear that, could you?

Hoping we’re the ancients we love now,
some sagging, gravity the king,
my hair white, yours still red,
some vanity still reigning.

Hoping we’re the elders,
wise and otherwise.
Time remaining all that matters,
all arguments small-sized.

If that future’s not ours,
these days must fit our plans.
Let’s use them up completely,
in every way we can.

Let’s eat unwisely, sometimes
and drink more than is fair.
We’re not rich but we can act so,
at least one day each year.

Today’s that day, for certain.
Which other would we choose?
You’ll always be my Valentine.
You’ll always be my muse.

(C) Daniel Paicopulos

MARIE ELENA:  Barbara is positively stunning, and apparently her beauty radiates to “soothe the savage beast.”  In this world of egocentrics, it is refreshing to see the selfless, generous dedication and commitment the two of you share.

Some people’s spirits just shine so brilliantly, and yours is definitely one of them, Daniel.  Do you see yourself in this light?

DANIEL:  It would be pretty to think so, but I am enlightened enough to know better. It is true that the focus of my life now is more spiritual than ever, probably reflected in what I write. The truth is that I need to consciously focus on that path, since it does not come automatically to me. There are demons in me which remain, for a variety of reasons, and they percolate to the surface more often than I would wish. Since there are mirrors in our house, I know how I am, but moments of madness get redirected to good work as soon as I am able. It is an axiom, I think, that the best way to stop feeling sorry for yourself or upset about some nonsense or other, is to take care of someone else in need, so this I do. In everything I do, including poetry, I justifiably have a beginner’s mind. The problems of the world are so large and vastly flung that, to me, there is only one thing that everyone can do, and that is to light your own candle and hope that others do the same. I know that writer whose name I have forgotten wrote that “the sum of the lights” is all the good we have and all that we need. My 68th birthday is due soon, and too many of my lifelong friends are dying, and if that won’t lead you down a spiritual path, nothing will.  I am grateful for the fact that there has been time with most of them to say what we need and want to say, to be with each other. Something I wrote comes from this:

Friends

One of us will die first, one left behind.
One of us will remain, it’s just the kind
of trap we’ve woven for ourselves, this spin
of the wheel, however we feel, it’s in
understanding this we can have the best
of our lives, this friendship thing, the real test
not in who dies first, in who longer lives,
but in the now moment, this is what gives
joy to the two of us, the daily win,
not in waiting for our lives to begin.

(C) Daniel Paicopulos

YOUNG DANIEL WITH FRIEND WILL

MARIE ELENA:  “I vowed to never let friendship slide, to never let love go unspoken, not for a day, not even for an hour. Life today is filled with means of instant communication – cell phones, the Internet, faxes – excuses need not apply.” ~ Daniel Paicopulos

I have been a blessed recipient of this vow, as have many others “out here” who have never met you personally.  Is there a story behind it?

DANIEL:  That is from the piece I referred to earlier, “Natalie Calls.” Natalie was our neighbor and we enjoyed each other, but did not rearrange our busy lives to create a loving friendship. When we finally had made the time for a get-together, it was on the day when she suddenly and unexpectedly died, and after being upset for awhile, I decided to memorialize her in the simplest of ways. Whenever I think of or speak of a friend or family member, I realize that the one who needs to hear that I am thinking kind thoughts of them is not present. I also know that I can’t wait, since tomorrow is a fantasy. So I call, immediately if possible, or write or e-mail or visit. It is amazing how often they tell me that they were just thinking about me, and I have done this for so long now that they usually ask me, “is this a Natalie Call?”  I have sent many people the original essay, and they have passed it along, and the stories I hear about other people’s Natalie Calls just fill my heart with joy, even the ones where sadness is reported.

MARIE ELENA:  See?  Selfless, charitable devotion spills and fulfills.   This is the almost-68 Daniel.  Can you give us a glimpse into the young Daniel?

DANIEL:  You know my Wisconsin connection. I had a Huck Finn childhood, in a small village on a lake, 30 miles west of Milwaukee. We had the IGA grocery store, so we knew everyone, and everyone knew me. We were all poor, but we didn’t know it. At 14, my mother dropped dead in front of me, literally scaring herself to death, She had had rheumatic fever as a child and always feared a heart attack. When it came, she only made it worse. It was not my first connection to death, but it lasted in its effect, and I was angry for a long time. Still am, in fact.

MARIE ELENA: I simply cannot fathom watching my mother die at any time, let alone as a 14-year-old.  How did you cope?  Who did you lean on for help?  You say you were angry for a long time, and still are.  I imagine so.  Is there something you do to help you work through it?  Is writing at all therapeutic, even in a small way?

DANIEL:  Because my favorite type of writing is personal, it comes from reflection and meditation, so yes, it has therapeutic value. That might just be the entire reason that I write at all. In truth, I prefer reading to writing, and the world of poetry has much to offer in that regard – Ted Kooser, Kay Ryan, Mary Oliver, to name a few. On this board, there’s the magnificence of Nancy Posey, the imagination of De Jackson, and Hannah Gosselin, whose dictionary apparently has no ugly words.  In fact, there is no one at Poetic Bloomings whom I do not enjoy. Back to your question, small town Wisconsin was filled with helpers, and I survived well enough, but death has been a frequent visitor in my life. Of course, there was Vietnam, where it might be expected, but there have been many such occasions in the past 40 years, too many. The positive I find in it all is that I am now comfortable with the process, and a good friend to have when hospice is a part of one’s reality.

MARIE ELENA:  Death and dying cannot be avoided, and is a part of everyone on this God-given planet. But oh, if only we could all be “comfortable with the process,” and a “good friend to have when hospice is a part of one’s reality.” This is no small gift, Daniel.

One could only hope that witnessing your own mother’s death at such a tender age would be the only horrific experience in your life.  Unfortunately, that is far from the case.

“On October 27, 1967 I met with my mother. She’d been dead since September 30, 1959. At 8:00 P.M. local time, Con Thien, Vietnam, as artillery shells landed within inches of my position with the Third Marines, my world, my body and my mind explosively turned upside down and inside out.” ~ Daniel Paicopulos

DANIEL:  We were in an area where we were simply targets, and we suffered 90% casualties over four years, so it was only a matter of when, not if, and whether we would be wounded or killed. This was long before the writings of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, who reported the similarities of near-death experiences for thousands of people, so when I found myself facing a tunnel of light and seeing my mother, it was not something real in my comprehension. Then she sent me back, and I found myself “floating” above the battle, seeing my body and those of others. Then the pain began, as a 19-year old corpsman pulled me to safety, and did what he had to do to keep me alive. Six operations, a year in a variety of hospitals, and three years of learning to walk and talk again, and voila, the poet you are interviewing today was reborn. There is no question in my mind that I am a better person and have had a richer, more useful life because of these experiences, so you’ll hear no whining from me about any of it. Had these things not occurred, there would have been no Barbara in my life, no work which made a difference, and, probably, no exposure to you and this fabulous collection of poets from around the world.

MARIE ELENA:  The initial experience and all that surround it are simply staggering. I am in awe of your expression of how this experience shaped who you are today.  I’d love to hear more, including what you have done with the life God so graciously spared.

DANIEL:  Because of my own experiences, my Master’s work was in Rehabilitation Counseling, and I did that type of thing that for 30 years, working with every group you can imagine, from institutionalized felons to the children of immigrants. I was pretty good at getting funding and getting disparate groups to work together to serve those who needed serving, and I understood the political process and played that game fairly well. Since retiring at 55, as my old injuries became arthritis and other gifts which keep on giving, I have spent my time in volunteer work, on the boards and committees where I live, and screening films which are submitted for a couple of international film festivals in Palm Springs. Mostly, though, I do everything I can to support Barbara, in her real estate appraisal business…she’s a real pro at that as well. So, I shop and cook and clean…thank God for the Food Network. We split time now between Palm Springs and San Diego. We’ll settle and consolidate in San Diego, eventually.

MARIE ELENA:  I’m certain I don’t speak only for myself when I say thank you for your service, both in Viet Nam and back home again.  That sounds so petty, but is achingly sincere.

Now, if there was only one thing we could know about you, what would you tell us, and why?

DANIEL:  I want you all to know how grateful I am for life as it is, and my gratitude is exponentially enhanced by the beautiful words, phrases and thoughts, rhyming or not, of all of the poets on this board – so open, so willing to share, so honest, like purple Sara in Portland and Patricia in Eau Claire, and Iain – well, wherever he is – and everyone else who is so supportive and generous with their loving kindness. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You are a blessing.

You also asked me to share a favorite poem of my own, why I chose it, how it represents me. That’s a tough one, and the answer would change, depending on the day and mood. I like poetry that is to the point, based in personal experience, not necessarily driven by form or rhyme scheme – though I do like slanted rhyme or near-rhyme. My favorite poems are small descriptions of what I see, or reflections of my life, recent or in the distant past. Of late, that has been from a gentler me, so I picked this one:

Please Give

If it please God,
let it be less about me
and more about them,
the ones without.

If it please God,
let my wishes go,
except the dreams of peace,
the ones with hope.

If it please God,
let my goals not matter,
but for the sharing with
the ones who need.

If it please God,
let me be smaller
but have the gifts be great,
the ones from the heart.

If it please God,
let my days run no longer
than I am useful and caring,
the ones filled with kindness.

(C) Daniel Paicopulos

MARIE ELENA: Another one of my favorites of yours. I’m so glad you decided to share it.

When I told Walt to hang on to his hat, I was completely serious. Daniel, with all you have been through, your outlook on life is nothing short of astounding.  I would love nothing more than to sit down face-to-face to listen to your stories for hours.  God willing, perhaps someday.

Who knows? Maybe we could even share some Buckeye/Badger football.  I’m game if you are. 😉

 

IN-FORM POET – SKELTONIC POETRY

Skeltonic verse is named after the poet John Skelton (1460-1529).   It consists of short rhyming lines that just sort of flow on from one rhyme to the next for however long one chooses.  Skeltonic verse generally averages less than six words per line.  The challenge is to keep short rhymes moving down the page, in an energetic and engaging way.  Have fun with it!

MARIE ELENA’S VERSE:

SEALED WITH A KISS

We met to reminisce
but then he stole a kiss,
and my-oh-my the bliss!
He coaxed me from my shell –
I felt all fear dispel,
and fell under his spell.
Then, what was that – his cell!?
“A conference … clientele …”
Oh great, I thought.  Just swell.
Oh well.
I guess I’ll sit a spell.
But I could not foretell
he’d drone on for an hour,
his spell would lose its power,
and leave me feeling dour.
My pride, I admit,
took a hit,
so I split,
and that’s it.

Now some will react,
“Is this fiction, or fact?!”
Though the pen I may wield,
My lips? They are sealed. 😉

 © Marie Elena – 2012

WALT’S MEAN WIDDLE POEM:

A RED SKELTONIC POEM

I find whenever I’ve the time
I sit with pad and pen in rhyme
penning proses quite sublime
a feat completed in my time.
I have a love affair with words;
be they rhythmic or absurd,
the grandest poems ever heard
take flight like flitting feathered birds
and reach for heights yet unachieved.
When poets ponder, I believe
they write their thoughts as they’ve perceived
and when they’re done are quite relieved
to know their points were made.
And no matter how their thoughts pervade,
ideas insinuate; invade,
evoking emotions (some delayed)
and some are never quite displayed.
Back to the poem, I digress,
this sample skeltonic mess.
I could erase, resume, I guess,
but I won’t. I think I’ll leave it as it is
you’ll think me a poetic wiz,
a poet that pops, plop-plop, fizz-fizz,
I’m done! (Oh, what a relief it is!)

© Walt Wojtanik – 2012