PROMPT #351 – THE DAY AFTER

Today is September 12th. Twenty years after The Day After. We’re writing “The Day After” poems. You decide what day you are referencing and write that poem. “The Day After Tomorrow”, “The Day After I Lost My First Tooth”, “The Day After The Earth Stopped”… Let’s revisit that day. The day after.

MARIE’S EXAMPLE:

The Day After

If it comes,
the day after
holds no guarantee.
No absolute assurance.
No perpetual protection.

The day after
comes with promise.
With lessons.
With knowledge.
With newness.

It is ours 
To perceive.
To learn.
To discern.
To embrace.

The day after
is a gift.
Be thankful
if it comes.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

WALT’S EXAMPLE:

THE DAY AFTER I’M GONE

There will come a day 
when I'll no longer be.
I'll be free of this mortal coil
and foil anything that would spoil
the world I leave behind.
The day after I'm gone
music will still play on,
filling every ear with a clear vision
of all that it conveys.
The love I feel for those that stay
behind will be kind and long lasting,
casting little doubt of what my heart was about.
My poetry would be a decree
of all my heart was able to see,
a gift from me to all who find that my words
touched their hearts deeply.
On that day, the day after I'm gone,
the sun will still rise though my eyes
will not see it. The birds will sing brightly,
the stars will shine nightly and memories
will be rightly held close to heart.
It will all start the day after I'm gone.

© Walter J Wojtanik - 2021

232 thoughts on “PROMPT #351 – THE DAY AFTER

  1. Another great beginning to a new week! Splendid work. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you guys hosting this site. The prompts, etc. have been a real encouragement to me in my toughest years. Today begins a new week. Here’s to one more! 🥂

  2. THE DAY AFTER THE RAIN

    The day after the rain
    is never the same.

    It brings about a change,
    hidden from view.

    Having no pride or boast,
    but it makes things new.

    The waters from above
    are like champagne.

    That the earth celebrates,
    drinks deeply.

    It brings about a cleansing
    of the wild, like wine.

    Showing no favor or style,
    upon those below.

    Showering the just and
    the unjust alike.

    It has no mind of its own,
    will or emotion.

    Timeless, yet having no sense
    of time.

    But you can see the effect,
    power of its devotion.

    Its abundant supply is
    never powerless.

    To the inhabitants of the earth,
    constantly in motion.

    The day after the rain
    is never the same.

    For it must descend,
    drain from above.

    And do the work—
    of change.

    Benjamin Thomas

  3. THE DAY AFTER THE NEXT

    The day after
    the next.

    Are like dominoes,
    in effect.

    That run.
    Crash.

    Trip,
    into the next.

    Wrecked.

    By the
    inevitability…

    Of things
    set—

    in motion.

    Things out
    of control.

    Out of our
    control.

    But on a
    roll.

    By the
    pull.

    Towards the
    power—

    Of gravity.

    In the wrong
    direction.

    But there’s
    nothing.

    You can
    do.

    To stop,
    or avoid.

    The in—
    evitable

    Conclusion.

    Of life’s
    destination.

    Benjamin Thomas

  4. THE DAY AFTER TODAY

    The day after today
    is not apparent.

    Directly out of our
    grasp.

    Beyond our sense
    of comprehension.

    The day after today
    is not apparent.

    To our sense of
    continuity.

    The pangs of
    anxiety.

    Deepen for what
    we do not know.

    What is after—
    the now.

    Just beyond our
    reach.

    Into the future
    of tomorrow.

    For the sake
    of today’s—

    Proposed wisdom
    of the matter.

    For no one
    can reach—

    Into the
    morrow.

    Or into
    the muck.

    Or presumed
    treasures.

    For no one
    can even dab—

    Into the future
    of today.

    Benjamin Thomas

  5. I’m going off-script here, but wanted to offer these:

    PAEAN TO A POET

    When in the course of human events
    A poet arises,
    Looses to all his humor and wisdom,
    Truths and surprises,

    We who receive his words
    Or hear his voice
    Joyfully proclaiming or declaiming sorrowfully
    The events of our daily lives
    And times both prosaic and momentous,
    Never should take his gifts for granted, but
    Instead should ponder all he offers and has done,
    Knowing we have been blessed with his presence.

    MEG

    She sometimes offers a wisp of a sonnet
    or a bit of sunshine with a rainbow on it;
    she doesn’t mess much with in-betweeners
    but is fond of writing seventeeners;
    from her part of Ohio she will often partake
    of banter from her chum across the lake
    and join with him to encourage all bloomers
    to write poems that are more than idle rumors.
    How to sum up our dear friend Marie?
    How’s this for a bit of repartee:

    she has a pixieish sort of wit,
    and that’s the long
    and short of it.

  6. A Day Later

    After the Apocalypse,
    the skinny people will die first,
    the Nutrasystem people,
    the Weight Watchers and joggers.
    After Armageddon,
    it won’t be all bad.
    There’ll be no more ads
    for breast augmentation,
    e-mails for penis enlargement,
    no calls for dental implants, or
    teeth whitening.
    Cataclysm will chase away
    the need to get your belly
    toned, tucked and tightened,
    the desire for skin resurfacing,
    the non-surgical solutions! to
    thinning hair and poor eyesight.
    The Day of Reckoning means
    an end to rhinoplasty – creating
    beauty one face at a time!
    No sales taxes, no drowning in debt,
    no DUI’s, no parking meters and no
    meter maids. No more Craigslist,
    and, after the Last Day, no need
    for Suzy’s Coupons.
    Depression? Normal.
    Migraines? Everyone gets a few.
    Smokers? Go ahead.
    High blood pressure? You kidding?
    Of course there’s the little matter of
    Judgement.
    But, hey, it’s the End of Times,
    Not Eden.

  7. Graduation Day

    On the day after
    my “final” session,
    my “last” day with
    my brilliant PTSD therapist,
    I mostly gnashed my teeth,
    tried to get some sleep,
    still felt the pain beneath,
    tamped down the urge to weep.
    Even with helpful friends,
    a patient and adoring wife,
    I knew that graduation day
    left me with more work to do,
    as the sentence was for life.
    It was time to stand tall,
    shoulders back,
    not focus on the lack,
    behave like a Marine,
    treat myself like
    someone who can ask for
    deserved help,
    whenever madness or
    panic attacks returned
    to my daily scene.
    Years later now,
    life goes on,
    as I live it with
    bold common sense,
    aggressive simplicity,
    and my version of faith.
    And poetry, let’s not forget,
    and always, a cat to pet.

  8. Walt. you poem was a lovely eulogy to yourself… how perfect …. at my father’s funeral we had several of his poem read.. I hope for all of us who love you that is a long way off…

  9. The Day After I was born

    I was considered a keeper,
    Though at the end of her life
    Ma deemed me her most difficult child.
    It made me laugh
    For I knew I was.

    But on that day after,
    I began to crawl,
    Then walk, then run,
    Then stumble, and fall
    Then get up again,
    To walk slower
    Towards that day
    That would be my last day.

    Whether it will be considered
    A good life or not
    Will reside between those two days.

    I would like to think
    My days as good days,
    But there are those days
    I stumbled and fell.
    They were not so good days.
    I will admit
    I have much to repent.
    But those days
    Led me to a better me.

    Here is to the next days
    That lay before me.
    Let me rejoice,
    And be glad…
    For the sun shines,
    And the moon glows,
    And there are flowers
    To stop and enjoy.
    Life is a gift and a dance,
    And I plan to enjoy those next days
    Until that last one.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    September 12, 2021

  10. The Day After Salvation

    The day is long spent, our backs to the sea,
    the thunder of hooves advance from a far
    Clouds of Dust and loud clacking
    of wheels on the sand
    Thousands of soldiers
    with swords in their hand
    We’re slaves without weapons, no bow and no spear,
    we ponder our death, our last evening star.

    In the depths of the night a pillar of fire
    cast long shadows across the dry sea.
    Mountains of water
    on the left and the right;
    Marching towards darkness
    the shore out of sight.
    What we witnessed this morning, a sea of dead soldiers,
    to be saved without conflict we could not foresee.

    “We’re all here” father shouted, as heads he was counting,
    “How we made it I still do not know”
    “I thought sure they would catch us
    as we hurried our flight;
    I surely discounted
    God’s mercy and His might”.
    “We’re slaves nevermore, safe on this shore,
    witnessed God horse and rider overthrow.”

    Through the LORD’S mercies
    we are not consumed,
    His compassions are sure,
    never fail
    They are new every morning;
    Great is Your faithfulness.
    Renewed this great morning;
    Great is Your faithfulness.
    Salvation behind us, enemy vanquished,
    a new hope has risen, we finally exhale…

    Exodus 14:26-29 (NKJV) Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.” And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

  11. The day after I was first molested…

    My innocence was stolen,
    And I knew darker secrets
    That could not be spoken
    On threat of more…
    Except I would learn
    There was more
    It was not an empty threat.

    My trust was shattered
    Into a thousand pieces…
    Then thrown into the wind
    And down into wells,
    A jagged edge jigsaw puzzle.
    Finding those lost pieces
    Were the ones I needed
    To complete the puzzle
    Took years to find.

    Anger, hate, revenge
    Were in my heart…
    It would take the great Healer
    To pull those chards
    From my beating heart.

    In once instance,
    My life changed.
    My abuser’s life continued
    Without even a scratch,
    And when he saw me
    He held me in his view
    Grinning that he still owned
    A part of me…
    Until he died.

    The day after he died,
    I was freed…
    It was not up to me
    Where he went next.
    I had forgiven him
    Years before…
    My freedom was
    I never had to look upon his face
    In this life again.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    September 12, 2021

  12. This is the subject matter I wanted to write about for this prompt, but did not write it until just now. Looking forward to coming back here to read all your offerings!

    Woman, Why Do You Weep?

    How do I respond
    to such an oblivious
    question of this man?

    Why, sir, do I weep??
    I have been weeping nonstop
    for the last two days.

    What I lived Friday
    I can never unlive, nor
    ever put to rights.

    And then, yesterday,
    the loss began to sink in.
    I could not face it.

    Now, today, even
    His buried body is gone,
    and my life, with it.

    You ask why I weep?
    What kind of question is that?
    How can I not weep?

    But I don’t say that.
    All I can muster is, “Where,
    sir, have you laid Him?”

    Compassionately,
    almost playfully, this Man
    says only my name.

    I nearly collapse.
    Only one Man has kept my
    name safe on His lips.

    The tears continue,
    but they are no longer the
    tears of yesterday.

    © Marie Elena Good, 2021

    “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” ~ John 20:15

  13. The Day After the Day Before

    The day after the day before
    With the shock of it all still felt
    Our nation had changed forever
    Or so we were being told by many
    Who lived on the dividing line

    There were calls for us all to unite
    As they stood on the Capitol steps
    Singing “God Bless America” in tune
    All promising to work as one once more
    On that day after the day before

    But the unity quickly faded
    That’s what always happens in DC
    ‘Cause they’re not there for you and me
    And they couldn’t care less about unity
    However……

    On the day after the day before
    The Heart of America kicked back in
    The people felt the pulse once more
    A pulse that had almost gone silent
    Was renewed on the day before

    One the day after 20 years added
    The divide is even worse in DC
    But the Heart of America still beats
    And the people are much more awake

    Soon there will come a day after
    When the people will right the ship
    I hope I’m around to see that day after
    When America rises from the ashes again

  14. When the Storm Came to Town

    the sun came out the day
    after
    as if mocking us for fearing
    the storm
    It shone its usual yellow shine, while
    people,
    here below, shoveled mud from basements and
    had hope
    the overflowing creeks would soon recede
    once more

    #waltmarie poetic form

  15. The Day After the Hearing…

    I had sat waiting in the courtroom
    For me to testify…
    It was a hearing to dissolve
    the parents from the children,
    and amputate the children
    from their parents…

    They call it the death penalty
    case in family court.
    It was my first hearing
    of this kind…

    The father did not come;
    he was drunk.
    As I sat in the witness stand,
    the mother’s eyes slid
    tears down her face.
    I wept within….

    The next morning
    I was escaping
    to my mountains.
    As I rode into the mountains,
    and stopped to feel the mist
    upon my face…
    it felt like a thousand tears
    that mother cried
    knowing her children
    were lost to her.

    I rested in my room,
    but it was marred by the sorrow
    I had brought to this woman.
    Logically, I understood
    that it was not caused by me,
    but in my heart, I felt her tears
    gully-wash her pain
    into my soul.

    No one would understand
    my need to grieve
    a loss that I did not cause,
    but someone had to grieve
    the loss
    of what should have been
    a family bound by love,
    but was bound by pain and fear.

    The scars to my soul
    began that day after
    and built scar upon scar
    until I could bear no more.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    September 12, 2021

  16. The Day After I retired….

    The work that been my purpose
    Was behind me, and
    I had a luncheon
    To prove that it was over.
    Most thought I would die at my desk…
    They didn’t know me…
    I dreamed of a life
    Beyond that job…

    The next morning
    My friend from Alabama
    Gave me a hug
    And went on her way back home.
    I looked and Ma, and
    Felt the world crashing
    Down on me…
    I was no one special,
    And those scars
    Were needing to be healed…

    I slept almost three days…
    I was that exhausted.
    I didn’t second guess myself…
    When I rose from
    My slumber…
    Life was still ahead of me,
    And I was more than that job.

    It was the right thing for me to do.
    If I had stayed,
    They might have been right…
    The job might have stolen me
    From whom I am today.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    September 12, 2021

  17. AS OUR DAYS WALKED ON

    Even as we held hands
    Sunlight danced in your hair
    Feeling our feet on the sands
    I knew the day after, I’d still care

    Your laughter at dinner
    Toasting one more sunset
    We both felt like the winner
    The day after, not one regret

    Tirelessly you edited my work
    Your reassurance resonating through
    You applauded with that little smirk
    The day after, I always knew

    Your lovely deep voice
    Saying with love my name
    When it came to loving you, no choice
    The next day was always the same

    Our lifetime of build up
    Set the winning stage
    For an endless array, a full cup
    As we grew and would eventually age

    The day after you took your last breath
    I knew I would love you forever
    I’d seen you through unto death
    Will this love ever end, never

    (c) Janet Rice Carnahan 2021

  18. WHY DIDN’T I KNOW BEFORE?

    Did I miss the sound of the drums?
    Not knowing that day, our last
    Just like tomorrow comes
    That moment went too fast

    Why didn’t I have an inkling
    To step outside with you
    To watch those stars twinkling
    Holding hands like we do

    Why did I falsely assume?
    There’d be so much more time
    Maybe too much time in the next room
    Too tired to make the climb

    Every time I kissed you
    Why didn’t I think that would be it?
    Now that you’re gone, I’ve missed you
    All our hours, our days, each minute.

    How can we know when the end is coming?
    How can we brace for that truth?
    Do we just keep singing and humming?
    Much like we did in our youth

    Or do we just let go
    Knowing we did our best
    Surrender what we know
    Feeling grateful for all the rest

    (c) Janet Rice Carnahan 2021

  19. Pingback: This one’s About September 12, 1971 – eastelmhurst.a.go.go

  20. Hangover

    I don’t drink.
    I never have.
    But I think I know what a hangover feels like.
    Headache
    Foggy brain
    Sluggishness
    Like you wish someone would stop the world
    and let you off.
    That’s how I feel the morning after I eat ice cream
    or some other sweet just before bed.
    One evening, my nephew and I
    bought giant homemade ice cream sandwiches.
    They were delicious.
    We each ate a whole one.
    We both had headaches the entire next day.
    Just another reason not to drink alcohol.
    Sweets are bad enough.

  21. The Day after Karaoke

    remnants of song linger
    the beatles and badfinger

    my mind plays lyrics sung
    rhythms now tapped with my finger

    a night of spirits and music
    memories of song linger

    lyrics and melodies made my own
    the night I am a singer

    a new friend made that night
    a hug I bring her

    I listen to the notes of a morning breeze
    remnants of song linger

  22. The tornado hit and was gone…

    There was no light.
    There was no water.
    There was no power…
    But we were alive.

    In the pitch black
    Water dripped everywhere
    We stepped out
    Climbing over
    And under the downed trees,
    They would no longer live…
    We cried for all that was lost
    And what we almost lost,
    But we were alive.

    The next morning…
    The sun threw out her fronds of light
    Shedding light on the damage
    I climbed over and under
    Forty-one downed trees…
    There were no birds
    Making bird noises-
    Huge trees clung
    To other trees
    Waiting for a high wind
    To bring them down,
    But that was for another day.
    When I got out to the end of my drive,
    I cried that I had escaped, and
    Today we were alive.

    I roamed my forest.
    I saw a giant oak
    Split in half
    By a giant sweet gum
    Both with new leaves of spring
    Would not have fall leaves
    And I felt my tears
    On my face,
    But I would see fall
    For we were alive.

    After that night,
    Tessa, my dog, feared storms,
    And ate our house
    If I did not sit with her…
    And many a sleepless night
    I sat with a flashlight reading
    With an odd thought
    To how that storm
    Had wrecked carnage
    All around us…
    Leaving poor Tessa
    Afraid of lightening
    And storms.
    We were still alive.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    September 12, 2021

  23. Through the Centuries

    The day after the war was started…
    Mothers wept for their sons…
    Fathers put on a stern face…
    And pretended they were not worried.
    Sweethearts tried to be brave
    But failed.
    Little siblings
    Played games of war…
    Not knowing death was permanent.
    People would gather
    To cheer the young men,
    But would not be there
    When they returned
    Busted, broken, and plagued
    By nightmares that never ended.
    While the old men
    Plotted their lives
    With toy soldiers
    Far away from the battles.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    September 13, 2021

  24. The Day after Neon Dreams

    time whispers
    the sun colors
    the trunk of the tree
    gold
    leaves turning yellow
    about to fall
    the tree
    living and dying
    and dreams linger
    of songs I sing
    one night
    neon lights
    in the bar
    when I
    was onstage
    accolades
    when I take
    the persona
    of paul mccartney
    making dreams real
    the new bartender watches
    losing herself
    for measures
    a hug
    a new friend
    through song
    now this morning
    softness of a breeze
    through window
    and resonance
    of memories

  25. THE DAY AFTER THEY’RE GONE

    Sometimes we take life for granted,
    until it’s gone like the wind.

    You feel the power of its presence,
    beautifully, until it slips past your fingers.

    But we should live our life just as it is,
    one breath at a time.

    You inhale the beauty of a loved one,
    in one solid breath, taking them in.

    Then they are gone within the next,
    exhaled, expelled like carbon dioxide.

    Perhaps, they join the ranks of the mysterious
    ephemeral parade of the wind.

    Perhaps they become part of the tease
    of breezes, for us to feel time and again.

    Benjamin Thomas

  26. THE DAY AFTER THE LAST BREATH

    The day after the last breath
    was a test of what I believed.

    If I truly believed that she was
    gone—my mother.

    It’s such an oddity to witness
    the final breath of a parent.

    The person who brought you
    into this world of whirlwinds.

    Who witnessed your first breath,
    languished in the genesis of life.

    To see them devoid of that same
    essence when the tables are turned.

    It’s such a tragedy to see them take,
    the very last breath.

    To see them close the final chapter
    on life, while you begin the next.

    To witness the exodus from their body,
    to a place called paradise.

    Benjamin Thomas

  27. THE DAY AFTER HER HEART STOPPED

    CPR for forty minutes—
    before her heart would cooperate,
    trickling a pulse.

    Forty minutes.
    Without the heart pounding,
    pumping, precious life-oxygen.

    Forty minutes.
    Of a brain starved, robbed
    of precious blood.

    Forty minutes.
    In limbo—is it life?
    or is it death?

    Her heart would beat again,
    but not willingly, under its
    own volition, in the shadow of death.

    Her heart would beat again,
    mechanically, by way of
    a ventilator.

    Her heart would beat again,
    blood flowing once again;
    but the brain refused to cooperate.

    Her heart would stop again.
    Chest rising and falling the last time.
    No more life to demonstrate.

    Benjamin Thomas

  28. THE DAY THE SUN DESPISES

    In that fateful day, when the sun
    closes her eyes, despises her ray.

    When men tremble, hiding their faces
    from him who sits on the throne.

    When men realize the universe
    was never— ever truly alone.

    When men feel the deep darkness
    of their own regret.

    When the time to repent is over,
    and judgement is set.

    When the time of day stalls, already
    barren of light.

    When the time comes, and they
    see the sight—of him.

    Benjamin Thomas

  29. THE DAY AFTER YESTERDAY

    Who can live yesterday’s pain?
    Only the scarred warriors, who’s
    wounds lie just beneath—still remain.

    Whose scabbed souls bear witness
    to timeless, unseen injury, branded
    by betrayal and broken trust.

    Who can sing the woes of yesterday’s
    sorrow? The written hymns inscribed
    by the stain of brokenness—they must.

    Whose song has become the melodious
    healing concert to the ears of the weary,
    a symphony of tears—a masterpiece.

    They have become priceless instruments,
    constructed by the surgical pangs of darkness;
    striking a chord in the hearts of the many.

    Benjamin Thomas

  30. THE DAY AFTER IS IRRELEVANT

    Time is a continual, flowing state of now;
    like a vigorous, dominant tidal wave.

    It is high, and it is awesome.
    Sweeping away everything within its current.

    The wave is now.
    The current— is now.

    Now is.
    Yesterday’s now is history.

    The future is irrelevant,
    because the future is now.

    The now is immediate.
    Primal.

    It is a magnificent state of being,
    in the present.

    Always flowing.
    And never final.

    It is—the moment.
    Every, moment.

    It is a state of
    being.

    Existing.
    Living.

    Forever
    freeing.

    Truly
    seeing.

    One
    moment.

    At.

    A.

    Time.

    Now.

    Benjamin Thomas

  31. The Decision was made…

    The choices were
    Ma would have the surgery
    With less than a quarter
    Chance she would survive
    Or
    No surgery
    And she would die
    A painful death
    That no painkiller
    Could reduce the pain.
    I asked one question
    “Could I think on it
    For one night?”

    My heart was heavy.
    I called no one
    For I needed
    To pray in stillness,
    And a story
    Came to mind
    Of a father telling his son
    He wanted to be worthy of Rest.

    Ma was worthy of rest…
    She had lived longer
    Than anyone in her family.
    I asked one thing
    In my prayers that night…
    That she lived
    Long enough to see the dogwoods bloom.

    She loved their blooms,
    And before she left this earth
    I asked for this one last gift to her life.

    Our lives are just eyeblinks…
    In the timeline of history…
    And Ma’s blink had been a long one.
    For her to see those dogwoods bloom…
    I had to trust that she would survive
    The surgery… and so I made my decision
    And the next morning I signed the papers
    Knowing that she might not survive.

    I was accused of taking her life
    More than once, but I know
    That night as I prayed
    It was not for me I prayed
    But for her to be granted
    One last spring to see
    What she loved so much
    But
    To get there
    I had to let her go
    And agree to the surgery.
    The barbs I heard
    Hurt.
    In the end
    I knew I had made
    The right choice,
    And gave her
    A gift of love
    From the One that heard my prayer.

    Spring came early that spring,
    And she picked a bouquet of flowers…
    I took a picture of those flowers,
    And cherish it for it reminds me
    Not only of Ma,
    But
    Of the love she was given.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    September 14, 2021

    • This poem was about Ma and one specific dogwood… which lived about 150 years…

      Perfect, Just Perfect

      The old dogwood had stood a hundred summers,
      Even summers with little rain.
      Its bark a jigsaw of perfectly fitted pieces.
      In Spring its flowers greeted all travelers
      Who happened down this dirt road
      To the house in the woods.

      But part of it died
      And fifteen years ago
      That part was removed
      In hopes that the old dogwood
      Would have a few more blooms.

      The woman who lived here
      Came in her early sixties…
      She loved the dogwoods…
      Each spring she watched for the emerging buds
      Of the flowers that made
      Clouds of billowing white
      Floating through the forest.
      She saw them bloom
      One last time the spring
      She turned ninety-three.
      As she touched each bloom…
      She said, “Perfect, just perfect.”

      There were draughts after the woman left;
      The old dogwood began to weaken.
      In its last spring its blossoms
      Floated on the air,
      And the wind seemed to whisper,
      “Perfect, Just perfect.”

      In the fall, the old tree
      Let its last leaves drift
      To the ground…
      A circle of crimson
      Like the red berry crown
      It wore each winter
      Where the flowers of spring
      Had once been.

      Mary Elizabeth Todd
      2016
      from the book on grief “The Time I did not Dance” not published…

      • this is one of those poems which is actually two… the odd verses are about me and even ones about Ma… I call it dueling poems… they should be staggered but I have never been able to transfer correctly

        The Dogwood Bloom

        I dream of springtime
        In the mountains
        Soon after the leaves begin to show.
        The white clouds begin in the valley
        Flowing thru the coves and hollows
        Of the woodlands
        Finally floating up the mountainside.

        Ma loved the dogwood tree.
        If there was a symbol of her
        It would be the dogwood flower.
        I can see her looking
        Down into the hollow
        Trying to sight the first sign of blooms.

        There is something different
        About springtime in the mountains.
        Spring in the deep south
        Changes in one day to summer,
        But in the mountains
        Springtime lingers
        With nights almost cold as winter,
        And days that hint of summer.

        I do not remember a house
        That I lived in without a dogwood tree.
        If there was not one,
        Ma would plant one.
        Ma hated winter,
        Each year she watched
        For spring to come back again.

        I loved winter
        With the cold crisp air
        And stars so bright and close.
        But this year,
        I dreamed of springtime in the mountains
        With the white cloud floating up the mountainside.

        Her last autumn, Ma came close to dying.
        I knew the surgery
        Could take the days left to her,
        And yet without it her days left would be pain filled.
        I asked for her one last spring.
        One last time to see the dogwoods bloom.

        I had been in a long winter-
        In a dark and cold place
        With no end in sight.
        I needed a change of seasons.
        I needed the springtime
        In the mountains to linger in my heart.

        Ma came through her illness
        Only to go backwards to a place I could not go.
        Spring came early that year
        As if, just for her-
        For her days were at an end.
        She had one last time
        To touch a dogwood blossom
        To wonder at their perfect blooms

        And springtime in the mountains
        Has come late for me,
        But I see the buds of the dogwood
        Begin to open green.
        The green will spread to white blossoms.
        I will have a change of seasons
        That I have this long winter dreamed would come.

        The dogwoods will bloom.
        This spring I will think of Ma;
        I always will,
        Until my hands become with age
        As gnarled dogwood bark, but until then
        Ma looking for the first dogwood bloom
        Will be forever in my heart.

        Mary Elizabeth Todd
        2012
        From the book “The Time I did not Dance” not published.

  32. The Peacemaker and Her Warrior

    Da had told Ma
    After midnight
    That he could
    No longer fight.
    Ma told him
    We would be fine.
    She was strong like that.

    I was sleeping through this,
    But when I woke…
    I felt the weight of loss
    Upon my heart.

    I closed my eyes
    In an effort
    To put off
    What I knew.
    Da was no longer with us.

    Ma called to me
    “Please come check
    I think Joe is gone.”
    I saw her hugging the wall
    Hoping it would keep her standing…
    Her eyes pleading
    With me to tell her she was wrong.

    As I stepped into the room,
    I felt the emptiness of it.
    But checked him just the same.
    I turned and shook my head.
    I heard Ma wail
    As she clung to that wall.
    I bent over to kiss him goodbye.
    I left Ma with him alone.

    I made the calls I needed to make,
    And thought of this fierce woman,
    My mother.

    She stood up to her family,
    And married my father.
    They told her she would be trash,
    And bought her a coat that didn’t fit.
    She stood her ground
    For she believed in her man.
    She wore that coat
    Until both her parents had passed.
    Da bought her a black coat.
    I never saw that ugly coat again.

    She was the best decision of his life.
    The second best was to let her
    Handle the finances.
    He could have gone either way, but
    With her he reached for the stars
    And captured a few.

    I did not worry that she would fall apart.
    She was made of sterner stuff than her siblings.
    She was a widow but never wore widow’s clothes.
    Life was to be met; life was to be silly.
    Her eyes danced with mirth.
    Her job was to care for her children,
    And show them the way to be strong.
    Her life was to be lived,
    And there was more for her to learn.
    I never doubted that she would.

    When her sister arrived,
    After Da left his home.
    I had a moment to escape…
    To my hill and wailed
    All the feelings I had held in
    To be her strength in those first moments,
    For she taught me to be strong.

    Da was a warrior.
    I am one, too.
    She was the peacemaker
    And it was to her
    We both listened
    Before we chose to battle.

    When I got back
    To the house…
    The family was gathering,
    And my job was to serve.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    September 14, 2021

  33. Most of the Time I Missed a Hangover…

    I could hold my booze,
    And remember once
    I counted the ten glasses of wine
    I drank but stopped then-
    Not drinking the wine but the counting.
    I woke up the next morning with no problem.

    I didn’t like beer, except with Mexican food.
    Wine is for meals, but my favored drink
    Is a whiskey neat, and thrown straight down.
    Most people think I never drink.

    I don’t really drink much anymore.
    One shot and I am through.
    I prefer tea and coffee these days.

    A friend tried to get me drunk.
    We were at the beach, and I drank wine,
    And whiskey and a mixed drink, and
    My friend was on the floor,
    And I was still standing.

    But one time, I got some
    Whiskey, I don’t think was legal,
    And the only hangover
    I ever had was the morning after…
    This dubious friend laughed
    And said, “I finally got you drunk.”
    I told my friend…
    It will be the last time.
    It was.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    September 14, 2021

  34. THE DAY AFTER WE TIED THE KNOT

    That day after we tied that knot,
    our union was strong, or so we thought.

    The young chords of idyllic love had not—
    yet been tested by time and trial.

    Little did we know that in the days
    to come there could be—a weak spot.

    Those chords of love would begin to fray
    under the hidden burdens left between us.

    They would bear the weight of ill circumstance,
    mightily strained taut, by things unforeseen.

    Little did we know, that would only strengthen
    our bonded heart in the midst of the storm.

    Little did we know about the true strength of the
    chords of love, until they were tested from above.

    Benjamin Thomas

    • HOw wonderful for you…. I know that my parents were tested early on but there was a bond…built on that struggle and in how my mother healed my father…. for his childhood I know was a nightmare. Some African American men who were tenant farmers took him under their wing when he was about 12 and also helped in that healing. It was because of what Ma did for my father that I made Sardis be healed by her husband Renald….in my novel series…. it takes time and often the old stuff has to be revisited but each time they grew stronger…

  35. After

    the mowing by the county
    with its big double-bladed growling
    machines
    there is the empty: silence
    no susurrations no sandpaper rubbing
    leaves as giant sunflowers sway
    no pointing the way
    by summer’s last compass plants

    and after that other mowing
    first the nose then the wings
    then finally the tail dropping
    through the smoke and dust
    rising and the screams
    like drawings by a cartoonist
    onto a forever black canvass
    me standing there
    in front of the black and white
    TV just in time to catch/not catch
    it as it all fell then fell again

    after: down the stairs
    to teach English to stunned faces
    whispers filtering through halls
    and this language as if
    it suddenly mattered every note
    in the old lesson plan needing to be
    addressed to fill the void and

    after: leaving time for questions
    that might fill this silence so loud
    we can hear the boilers creaking
    in the furnace room next door
    the drip from the middle fixture
    in the three-spigot water fountain
    the slide of the map on its roller
    that’s unrolling again falling
    the once/before falling into after.

    • It usually won’t allow me to post… I do things like refresh… and sometimes I close my computer down and it is fixed… other than that I don’t know what to tell you… I used FB to log in and it seems to have fewer experiences like that.

  36. After it broke this time…

    The
    Dryer
    Was broke
    Again.

    My home
    Became
    A clothesline.

    I
    Worried
    It couldn’t
    Be fixed.

    I
    Cried
    Because
    Everything
    Was going wrong.

    I
    Cried
    Because
    I felt alone.

    I
    Sighed
    Loudly.

    Another
    Problem
    To face
    Another
    Disappointment
    To bear.

    It
    Was
    Fixed
    Yesterday.

    If
    The repairman
    Had
    Did more
    Than change a fuse,
    This problem
    Would have been
    Behind me
    Six months ago.
    Instead
    My
    Dryer
    Was
    Overheating,
    And
    This morning
    I am thankful
    There wasn’t a fire.

    Mary Elizabeth Tod
    September 15, 2021

  37. For Doug Marlette….

    I met this man
    A political cartoonist.
    He was a gentle man,
    Who talked
    About how lost we all
    Seemed
    After the Challenger’s explosion.
    He drew an eagle
    Looking into space
    With one tear.

    When I heard
    Of his death
    I was sad…
    A man
    I met only once,
    And had
    A delightful
    Conversation
    About the strength
    Of some women.
    He told me I was a strong woman.
    One conversation
    That gave me courage…

    Thank you, Doug Marlette,
    For giving
    Your time
    In a world
    Where many people
    No longer give
    Even those they love
    Their time.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    September 15, 2021

  38. NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT

    The day after yesterday
    is when I’ll begin.
    I’ll take time to play
    the day after yesterday–
    nothing will stand in my way.
    With a giggle and grin,
    the day after yesterday
    is when I’ll begin.

  39. THE DAY AFTER DEFIANCE

    I still savor the sweet nectar of your eyes.
    The slender smart stem of your neck.

    Longing for your dapper green petals,
    as the newborn morning dew is wet.

    I still covet the proximate of your shadow,
    for a chance to bask in your light.

    To grieve your absence amid the meadow,
    catch a glimpse of your peerless sight.

    I aim to parry the fantasies of your kiss,
    combat the fragrance of nigh Pearl skin.

    To set defiance is only meaningless,
    if challenge is to resist—then no man can win.

    Benjamin Thomas

  40. THE DAY AFTER WE MET

    Our chemistry was organic,
    irresistible synergy.
    Our bond is indestructible,
    through seamless affinity.

    The core elements of love—
    is matter that can’t be destroyed.
    When atoms attract their chosen one,
    they can only be enjoyed.

    Benjamin Thomas

  41. I didn’t notice…

    The coyotes moved in,
    And the wild hogs infested,
    The land where I lived.
    One day in those invasions…
    The last whip-poor-will cried,
    And did its last mating dance
    In my forest, and
    I didn’t notice.

    I didn’t notice
    The day after,
    Or next or
    Even the next year,
    But one evening,
    I asked myself
    When was the last time
    I heard the whip-poor-will call?

    The little brown bird
    Who laid her eggs upon the ground,
    Was easy prey for hogs and coyotes.
    I closed my eyes,
    And whistled, “Whip-poor-Will.”
    In memory of that last bird
    That called in my forest.

    Coyotes and wild hogs
    Were brought here by humans
    Thinking they knew better
    Than nature, but they didn’t.
    I was angry for the gain
    Was too low
    When compared to what we lost.

    I hope one day
    A whip-poor will find my woods
    Inviting and raise a family here.
    The wild hogs are gone.
    I do not miss them,
    But I do miss the call
    In the evening
    Of a lone whip-poor-will
    Calling to his lady love.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    September 16, 2021

  42. Pingback: No Time Like the Present | echoes from the silence

Plant your poem or comment here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s