PROMPT #356 – LEFT OF CENTER, RIGHT?

Write one. A left poem, a center or middle poem or a right poem. Left Out to Dry. Stuck in the middle. Right Kind of Wrong. You know where to take it and make it sing.

MARIE’S POEM:

ALL I HAVE LEFT

To say I’m right-dominant’s right.
My left side is nowhere in sight.
It’s like it went missing.
I’m left reminiscing. 
I have nothing left.  It’s my plight.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

WALT’S POEM:

PICKLED IN THE MIDDLE

Drinking to excess
is not considered a success
if you can still stand,
or still stand still.
The difference between
falling and staying erect,
is just failing at being erect.
In the middle you're suspended
until you're upended.
Then the drink's on you!

(C) Walter J Wojtanik 
Marie will be in the middle of nowhere this week as she and hubby Keith embark on their annual trek to their personal Mecca, the cabin in Hocking Hills. She may join us, internet connection permitting. Her escape is well deserved.

99 thoughts on “PROMPT #356 – LEFT OF CENTER, RIGHT?

  1. CLUMSY IS JUST MY WAY

    My mother said clumsy was just my way;
    with two big, floppy, incompetent feet.
    Running and tripping—or was it tripping
    and running? Whichever came first.

    They say don’t let the right hand know
    what the left hand is doing. Well, I’m not
    sure if that’s quite literal, but that right hand
    was left in the dark, and the left was in no
    sharing mood.

    My mother said clumsy was just my way,
    with two big clodhopper, cumbersome feet.
    Them boys were so big, well—running was just incomplete. Running and tripping, tripping and skinning my knees—on that old crooked sidewalk.
    Nobody told me the sidewalk was clumsy too!

    The right hand and the left weren’t talking.
    The left was stingy as ever, never lent a hand.
    Sometimes the right hand had nothing to do.
    Still not sure if my left eye was on my right,
    or was it the left? Whichever feels right I
    suppose. Clumsy is just my way.

    Benjamin Thomas

  2. THE ADORNMENT OF THE RIGHT HAND

    I didn’t know
    how to fight against a
    Wolverine.

    The jagged claws
    were thicker than
    sin.

    She wasn’t shy,
    about using them
    again.

    My heart rattled
    in its cage, like a bat out of
    hell.

    I didn’t know…
    Loved ones could be so
    fierce.

    I didn’t know Mother’s
    claws—would pierce so
    deep.

    Until the third,
    fourth, or fifth,
    blow?

    I didn’t know,
    If I were a child, or a
    Black sheep.

    I couldn’t speak.

    But I would keep,
    weep—and wear those
    scars.

    Of the right hand,
    and the backhand.

    Benjamin Thomas

  3. LEFT WITH SCARS

    No one should have to wear their scars.
    Carry the weight of their story over the years.

    But not all scars are visible to the naked eye.
    They are hidden stitches, concealed wounds
    of slow, slow healing.

    No one knows they are even there, except for those who made them. Then, they’re revealing.

    Benjamin Thomas

  4. JUST CENTER THE BAT ON THE BALL

    There was once a shortstop named Will Wright
    whose ball-handling left fans in a fright,
    but he left no great jitters
    with opposing teams’ hitters;
    when in doubt, they all hit it to Wright.

      • He was a news broadcaster in Rochester too, before he went to Buffalo, I think. Luke Easter, on the other hand, travelled in the other direction: he played for the Red Wings after starring with the Bisons:

        LUUUUUKE

        When Easter stepped up to the plate,
        all the fans had a tale to relate:
        it was a cinch that the ball
        would fly over the wall
        and thereafter would clear the whole state.

  5. GOLFING IN AUTUMN

    On the left, you could hook into leaves;
    on the right, you could fade into sheaves.
    Just be fit as a fiddle:
    hit it straight down the middle
    whilst the leaves and the sheaves get reprieves.

  6. Stay On the Road

    When I venture forth,
    out on the highway,
    I can hear the Lord
    discreetly say,
    Don’t go to the left
    or the right,
    but stay on the road.
    and drive in the light.

    I’ll get you there safely.
    That is the plan.
    Trust Me as your strength
    and do what you can.
    Don’t go to the left
    or the right,
    but stay on the road
    and drive in the light.

    It’s the same thing, though,
    while I’m at home.
    I depend on Him
    whether I stay or I roam.
    I don’t go to the left
    or the right,
    but stay on the road
    and drive in the light.

  7. To the Left of the Country Road

    a faded barn
    leans to one side

    a door on hinges
    opens to winds

    swallows fly in and out
    of the loft

    as if the barn breathes
    bearing time

    swallows dance with clouds
    heavens sought

    they sweep a fresh coat of pavement
    dodging cars death defied

    workers lay new pavement
    a dream reborn

    passages made
    the road torn from land

    newly placed powerlines glisten
    a lineman’s dream

    weeds in a ditch
    sway to the winds

    pasture stilled
    the moon fades in sky

    a cat on the shoulder
    lives its many lives

  8. Marie I understand your poem completely. Walt I get that one also…. part of my youth and why I never want to relive those days.. It was short lived anyway… I don’t like being drunk… But you have both sent my dyslexic brain spinning…the words left and right do not register in my brain but this and that does… But I will comply and use them

  9. Learning to play the piano….

    Ma said that a lady had to play
    The piano, and I could tell
    She dreamed of sitting proudly
    Me playing the upright piano
    She bought for me.

    A young woman who liked my brother
    Offered to be my first teacher.
    As long as I was playing one hand,
    I played beautifully…
    After I memorized the tune…
    The notes on the page
    Confused me.
    My teacher was amazed…
    But didn’t know I had a crazy memory.

    But she had to go to school,
    And my brother had a girlfriend.
    I would walk from class once a week
    To the woman who held a ruler
    In her hand, and when I missed a note…
    A whack I would get.
    I was hit so much that I became an expert
    Of removing my fingers
    Begore the ruler hit them.
    The hand I wrote with moved faster,
    And the one that I didn’t was always behind.
    I fell behind, and when I had a recital,
    Ma attended disappointed.
    She never attended another recital,

    But we moved and had a new teacher.
    She was a nice lady whit purplish hair.
    Ma refused to go to my recital.
    I walked to it by myself, and
    Walked home alone in the dark.
    The next year was the same.
    Every song I could play,
    I memorized.
    The third year I told Ma,
    If you don’t go to my recital,
    I am quitting piano lessons.
    She didn’t go and I quit.

    Ma saved face with her sisters
    Because the new principal at our school,
    Didn’t allow outside people to teach piano.
    I heard my mother tell her sister
    That it was such a shame
    I could not take piano lessons anymore.
    My eyes got wide for Ma had lied.
    I knew better than to say it to her,
    But later I said, “You know the reason
    I stopped going.”
    She said, “I do, but we don’t have to tell
    Everyone that reason.”
    I knew the real reason
    Was because
    I never could play the piano.

    Years later, my mother gave
    That awful piano to my cousin
    For his daughter to play piano.
    From there that piano
    Went to our preacher,
    And traveled across the country.
    It became a prized possession,
    And I was glad because
    It was never prized by me.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    October 17, 2021

  10. ON this Night my life changed…

    I was nineteen years old.
    My heart was broken.
    My soul wept.
    My mind was angry,
    And I did not believe in God.

    I had made fun of those
    Who believed.
    I was better than they.
    No one could make me
    Believe there was a God…

    Except God.

    My eyes opened
    To my inner soul,
    And there I saw
    I was dead and decaying.
    I wanted to run away,
    And simply become
    What my soul was that night.

    I found a friend in a stairwell,
    And he talked to me…
    I wasn’t alive, but
    I was hearing.

    A cried on a friend’s shoulder,
    And said that I was worthless.
    She told me I was worthy…
    And God’s love could heal me.
    I listened…

    A third friend
    Gave me a cardboard card
    That he made
    Saying Jesus is the answer…
    I heard,
    But did not know what to do…
    He never knew I kept that card
    Tacked to my bulletin board in my room…
    A reminder of the night to come.

    I had not planned to go back
    To listen to that preacher…
    But my roommate asked me
    To go with her.

    On that field
    I heard the voice
    I tired for years not to hear…
    Say simply, “Come to me.”
    I whispered in my mind,
    “I can’t go alone.”
    And that roommate tapped my arm,
    And asked, “Will you go down with me.”

    The first prayer I prayed
    In eight years, and
    I was answered.
    I felt lighter than air, and
    A friend said I was glowing.

    The year was 1971,
    And the date was October seventeenth.
    I had been on the wrong path…
    On this day…
    I was reborn
    And stepped onto the path
    I am now traveling…
    It was the right path for me.

    October 17, 2021

  11. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT

    In the middle of the night—
    In the middle of vespertine stillness,
    I lie in the midst of silenced whispers.

    The birdsong has ceased,
    the zealous violin of male crickets has eased,
    and the chorus of the day has vanished.

    The soft quiet reigns without a sound,
    the peace of echoless shadows do abound,
    and the night streams calm, shy moonlight.

    Benjamin Thomas

  12. Giving directions…

    In my job I had to give directions
    To a place I had been…
    I would tell the person asking
    “I can draw a map.”
    But no they always wanted me
    To do a word map
    With turn left and turn right…

    I would get a piece of paper
    And say this is Clemson Boulevard…
    We all knew that road…
    Go towards town…
    I gave landmarks to direct the way…
    When I go somewhere
    Those landmarks are important.
    Just past this restaurant
    (And I would look down at my hands…
    In my head I would say
    Two rings right hand,
    One ring left hand.)
    I would write turn left.
    At the second road, and
    I would look down again-
    Turn right…

    And that is how I would
    With every turn
    Translate how my brain worked
    Which was different from theirs.
    If I didn’t take the time,
    I would send them in the wrong direction…
    Drawing maps was easier-
    I just had to visualize
    The landmarks and the turns
    As I retraced my steps.

    I got teased about this,
    And one supervisor
    Never believed
    And often got me confused
    When she told me the wrong way
    When I knew from my virtual map
    That I would soon be lost.
    She would then tell everyone
    I was not dyslexic, but
    They knew that I was.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    October 18, 2021

  13. Getting Lost

    I heard the girl
    I worked with tell the new boy
    “She always gets lost.
    Don’t worry.
    She always gets there.”

    I smiled for it was true.
    I did the first time,
    And sometimes
    After that the wrong turn
    I made was mapped in my brain,
    And I had to make that wrong turn
    To find my way back to the right way.
    I visited one home two years
    And twenty-four times
    I made the same wrong turn…

    Why did I do that, you ask…
    Simple a landmark was placed in my brain,
    And without it… I was lost…
    And I would panic
    For everything becomes confused.

    Once I went to visit a friend,
    And I made a wrong turn and then another…
    The streets changed with new houses…
    And I was lost and, in a panic,
    I could not recognize anything-
    Everything was scrambled, and
    The roads were a maze.
    I began to cry
    For I didn’t think
    I could find my way home.
    Going home was the only way,
    I could release my terror…
    And it took me ten miles
    Before I got my bearings.
    I called my friends
    And told my problem.
    They gave me better directions.
    But they didn’t understand.
    I arrived and felt the barbs of humor
    And I felt the pain of being less…

    It should be a simple thing
    Following directions,
    But for those like me…
    A nightmare of panic
    When I cannot find my way
    For I fear it is a labyrinth
    Which has no way out…
    And I will be lost forever.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    October 18, 2021

  14. Pingback: The Bird And the Truth – eastelmhurst.a.go.go

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  16. I wrote this while driving home from Georgia early this evening… then fell asleep but the thought stuck… there is a song I love by Enya called anywhere is… One I used to love to dance to from time to time… anyway this is my poem… using this for right and that for left..

    Anywhere Is

    I am here, and you are there…
    Trying to find my way…
    I turn this way, and
    Wonder if I will get lost and
    I backtrack to that way.
    I find I am still lost…
    I turn to go backwards, and
    Find that the road that way is blocked,
    And there is no way to go backwards…
    I take a step forward, and
    Here I am always beginning over
    Or am I starting over,
    Or am I lost again
    In the maze of my life…
    Made up of missteps
    And mishaps…
    With a bit of wonder
    And lots of beauty,
    There have been
    Dark roads I have taken…
    But all I see is light
    Before me,
    And maybe
    I don’t know where
    I am going,
    But I like the steps
    I am taking…
    A little two step
    And maybe a quick step
    Here and there…
    If I turn this way…
    It will be where I am heading,
    And if I skip that that way…
    All I know is that I am finding
    My way along this crazy journey
    I am on and maybe one day
    You will join in my journey…
    I just know somewhere
    There will be a stairway…
    But that is not for a while…
    Come two step with me…
    Come laugh as we watch the stars,
    And hear the wind blowing…
    While wading in a cold stream…
    I don’t know if it will take us this way
    Or maybe it will take us that way…
    Just know that this journey of life
    Is filled with light and mystery…

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    October 19, 2021

  17. JUST LEFT OF CENTER

    Just left of center,
    a truck veered off its path;
    entered my consciousness,
    invading my frame of mind.

    It was too late.
    A split second was all it took
    for forty tons of weight,
    to pulverize my peace.

    It was too late to take back
    those seconds of fleeting breath;
    where time stood in the stillness,
    demanded an account of my life.

    Sometimes life flashes before your
    eyes, in rapid frame by frame snapshots.
    In those precious moments you see
    the things that truly matter.

    Life can hit you like a Mack truck;
    bearing a full load of cruel circumstance,
    smashing you with all the weight
    of misfortune—at top speed.

    Benjamin Thomas

  18. WHICH WILL BE LEFT?*

    When a Baldwin meets up with a Mack,
    there’s no telling which one’s gonna crack;
    though the Baldwin has pluck,
    the big Mack is one truck
    that can knock a whole train off the track.

    * In their day, Baldwin locomotives had the same big and tough reputation that Mack trucks later enjoyed.

  19. THE CENTER OF THE WOMB OF DAWN

    The defiant chords of night have been
    severed by the rising sword of dawn.

    Slow slivers of Australian swan black,
    dissipate like the fleeing exodus of smoke.

    Strewn shadow particles slink away into the nether realms where night retreats.

    The day’s unborn child lie expectant
    in the fresh, warm womb of the morn.

    Steady screams of straying sunlight
    echoes the pangs of an early childbirth.

    The red flamed robins unearth their praise
    with a high pitched, outstanding chorus.

    The buoyant infancy of day is delivered
    full of promise, full of new possibilities.

    Benjamin Thomas

  20. Moderation

    There is but one thing
    that calls me to excess,
    which leads my heart to sing,
    easily above the rest,
    and that thing is gratitude.
    Grateful for my life, my wife,
    my friends, the time to make amends,
    the reading that I’ve done,
    the Spirit with which I’m one.
    Thankful for each day,
    grateful I still may
    pursue the Middle Way.

  21. The Wrong Turn in Life…

    I saw a child’s face
    Just before she died…
    Fear was etched in that photograph…
    Knowing there was nothing
    She could do to stop
    The monster who was to take her life.

    It was a photo from the Holocaust.
    Her picture was taken
    Just before a monster took her life.
    His picture was not taken, but
    I think I see him drooling
    Over the fear in her eyes.

    For I have sat across from monsters
    And have seen that same face of fear…
    In their children as they have clung to my legs
    Wanting me to stay close… for they know
    Better than I ever did what it was like
    To live in the house with a monster-
    The eyes locked on their eyes…
    As I felt the child want to merge into me
    For I could keep them safe.
    I never forgot that look…

    I faced my own monster…
    And saw those eyes smiling
    In some sick desire that I have never understood.
    When I looked in the mirror
    My eyes were branded
    With that same look of fear.
    It is why I don’t like photos of me…
    Because somehow the photo captures…
    The fear that is hidden within them…
    That never quite goes away.

    I have wondered
    What happened to the monsters
    In this life… why some
    Who have such pain heaped upon them
    Become a person of kindness and
    Others become monsters.
    I wanted to find the place
    They took on those took the wrong turn,
    While others took the right one.
    Maybe then, we could stop
    The monsters from being
    Belched forth from the darkness
    That encompasses their soul.

    Maybe then there would be
    No more monsters.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    October 20, 2021

    • This shook my heart and had me in tears this morning. I know those monsters and am ever grateful to the ones who rise up to take them on, to give those who live in fear a refuge in the storm. Thank you. For finding the place to take on the monsters. ❤️

      • Any time I had to face one, afterwards I was worn out. and on a couple of occasions was exhausted…This is stop Domestic violence month…. and thank you and I am sorry for your experience.

  22. His silver band
    graces my left hand,
    Declaring his love, his promise,
    A covenant that his life, his heart
    This side of heaven
    From me will never depart

  23. Hole

    The world shifted a bit
    to the left by your leaving

    management finds you
    in your bed covers pulled up
    your sleep endless

    my father’s recliner still
    draped with the shirts
    our daughter bought you
    for Father’s Day

    I stumble through
    another house opening blinds
    turning on lights right and left
    that do not pierce this darkness

    wonder at passing
    traffic on the highway
    so early in the morning
    as they go right to the power plant
    as other shifts begin

    the hands of clock and
    anxious cats announcing
    another day

    Our daughter finds every card
    I ever sent you noted
    in your accounting script

    her voice breaking as
    she says they’re all mine
    now, Moma
    and together

    we grab another breath
    of air tasting like absence

    and the sun rises blood red
    through a hole punched in the sky.

  24. E.M.D. R.

    Left, right, left, right,
    my eyes follow the light
    like a ping pong ball bounces
    till my eyes fill with tears
    and my heart is engulfed
    with yesteryear’s memories and fears

    Left, right, left, right
    My eyes follow the light
    As my soul is taunted
    By lies spoken in hatred
    And crimes against me unspoken
    Through my childhood years.

    “Breathe” she says
    as she shuts off the flashing lights
    “Don’t hold your breath
    Your body won’t know it’s alright.”

    “Breathe” she says once again
    As I throw up in her trash
    “You aren’t the first,
    and sadly won’t be the last
    to sit in my office
    haunted by such a hard past.”

    Left, right, left, right
    The tappers buzz in my hand
    As memories wash over me
    Memories I thought were deep buried
    Found merely hiding in shifting sand
    As I relive the horrors of
    A man’s sinful demands.

    Left, right, left, right,
    the buzzers buzz in my ears.
    “Open your eyes!” her voice commands
    “You are safe here with me”
    Safe? I don’t know
    Caught in the past, in panic I flee.

    Left, right, left, right,
    My feet pound as I run
    But I can’t outdistance
    The wreckage and broken memories
    that live inside of me.

    Left, right, left, right,
    I return to her office and let the tappers tap,
    Hoping to unburden my soul
    Of a painful past.

    Left, right, left, right,
    Tapping, buzzing, lights flash
    A whole year and more through
    Praying, crying, embracing
    The truth of the past.

    Left, right, left, right,
    Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
    Set me free to live
    in the present at last!

    Left, right, left, right,
    Thank You, Author of Life,
    For healing my heart
    And freeing my soul
    Teaching me to live fully and free!

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