POETIC BLOOMINGS

POETIC BLOOMINGS is a Phoenix Rising Poetry Guild site established in May 2011 to nurture and inspire the creative spirit.

I HOPE I HAVE LEARNED SOMETHING by Linda Swenski

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

PART ONE: Home, Family, and Friends

AVON LAKE……………………………………………………………….1

LESSONS LEARNED……………………………………………………2

WHAT’S IN A NAME……………………………………………………..3

ALWAYS THERE…………………………………………………………4

LIFE COMPANIONS……………………………………………………..5

UNAPPRECIATED WISDOM…………………………………………..6

PROPPED UP…………………………………………………………….7

PART TWO: Lessons Learned

PUT DOWN THE CELL PHONE……………………………………….8

SLOW DOWN…………………………………………………………….9

When YOU were ALIVE?……………………………………………….10

REVELATION……………………………………………………………11

PERFECTION……………………………………………………………12

LOVE IS NOT LIKE DISNEY…………………………………………..13

IF I WERE YOU………………………………………………………….14

GOOD-BYE………………………………………………………………15

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PART 1:

Home, Family and Friends

AVON LAKE

Little town
With big dreams:
It seems the only way.
Small minds
With big ideas
Lure me far away.
But family
And great friends
Make me want to stay.

-1-

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LESSONS LEARNED

Seven people in a tiny house;
One bathroom, five women and two men.
Compromises needed to be made;
We learned consideration.

I slept in a triple bunk bed.
I was at the top,
so near the ceiling
that rolling over was risky.

Seven people in a tiny house
brought us closer,
made us aware that
what we do affects others.

We are older today,
but we still live the lessons
we learned from each other
being seven in a tiny house.

-2-

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WHAT IS IN A NAME?

I was born Bahen, a name unique.
I was told it was Irish, but even Ireland
said it could not be so.
I still claimed to be Irish.

I was 55 before I discovered
that it had been changed at Ellis Island
from Behan, definitely Irish.
Someone could not spell.

A research project in grade school
showed my real heritage:
Irish-German-French-
Scotch-English-Canadian.

More concisely, I am American.
We Americans are a mix
of all the wonderful cultures
this planet has produced over its lifetime.

The strength and richness of America
comes from this diverse mixture.
Though it has not always been smooth
we are who we are because of it.

Now my last name is Polish,
and my children can add
Polish, Slovak and Russian
to their American heritage.

I hope that the wealth of our ancestry
continues to add diversity,
for the more we include
the richer our family becomes.

-3-

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ALWAYS THERE

You were always there
when I came home from school,
when I had a problem,
when I just needed to talk.

You were always there
to make me do my homework,
to comfort me in illness,
to teach me difficult tasks.

You were always there
for kissing me goodnight,
for correction when needed,
for moral guidance.

You were always there
writing me letters in college,
giving advice in child rearing,
holding hope when things were tough.

You are always there
even though you have left this world behind,
you are in my thoughts, in my heart,
in my actions, and in my soul.

-4-

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LIFE COMPANIONS

Four siblings,
all different but all the same.
Different faces, same smile.
Different personalities, same values.
Different dispositions, same temper.
Different lives, same dedication.
Different jobs, same work ethic.
Nature or nurture?
Some of both, but all raised in love,
and all devoted in love
to each other and their families.
How empty my life would be
without any one of my
Four siblings!

-5-

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UNAPPRECIATED WISDOM

My Father’s voice, so deep and resonant,
stays with me in my heart, my ears, my mind.
That is probably because it carried with it
the wisdom that I will always carry with me.

I used to think him such a fool
when he threw words at me.
The old man just didn’t understand.
He couldn’t know what my life was like.

He said things like:
“Friends come and go, but your family is forever.”
“If you never work for anything, you will appreciate nothing.”
“If you can’t be happy with what you have, you will never be happy.”

Cliches from a dinosaur, I thought.
But as I have lived my life, I have discovered
that these are beacon truths in this world.
This is the knowledge gained by experience and a loving heart.

I found myself throwing the same words at my children.
I am sure they though that I, too, was a fool.
But I also know that their lives will be guided
by my father’s unappreciated wisdom.

-6-

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PROPPED UP

I met her shortly after I got married.
She knows all my secrets,
and still loves me.

She was there when I was pregnant,
and all my single friends fell away.
She understood my loneliness.

She threw a baby shower for my second child,
something I never had for my first,
and gave me such joy.

My children cherish her,
my husband likes her,
I can’t be happy without her.

She has been my analyst,
my companion, my sounding board,
my entertainment, and my friend.

Together we have solved the world’s problems,
and our own.
She gives me hope.

Our lives have all been richer
because she is with us.
I hope she always will be.

-7-

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PART 2:

Lessons Learned

PUT DOWN THE CELL PHONE!

It seems that when your cell phone
is in your ear or even in your hand,
you cannot see your daughter jumping rope,
your sister is sitting beside you,
your car is veering off course.
You cannot participate in real life
because you are in a virtual one.
Put the cell phone down.
Turn the damn thing off.
It will still be there later when I am not,
when others are not, when life is not.
Use your ears, eyes, nose, and hands
to experience what life is giving you,
not to mess with the cell phone.
When your cell phone is on
you don’t even notice that you have a life.
If one died, which would you miss?

-8-

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SLOW DOWN

We worry and scurry and hurry
until all that we do becomes blurry.
We must take time to see
what a real life can be
when we quit living in such a flurry.

-9-

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When YOU were ALIVE?

It was Martin Luther King Day,
back when schools still had class
on such a holiday, in 1989.
My 9 year old son had returned from school.

I asked him if they had talked
about Dr. King in school that day.
He said they had an announcement
But that was all. Why is it important?

So I tried to explain a large concept
to a small child in words he could grasp.
“Things have changed because of Dr. King.
When I was a child, things were different.”

When I was growing up:
Black people could not marry white people,
Blacks and whites had to use different bathrooms,
different drinking fountains, different hotels,
different restaurants, even different schools.
Black people had trouble getting jobs,
getting an education, getting justice.

Black people were angry,
and white people were afraid.
Dr King wanted change,
but he also wanted peace.

He helped to change America
by advocating peaceful change,
passive resistance, reasonable discourse.
And things are much better now.

My boy then said, “Those things
happened when YOU were ALIVE?”
It was not a .question,
It was an accusation.

I felt guilt and shame as never before,
Even though I was a child at the time,
and I had worked for the change,
I have never gotten over the shame.

-10-

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REVELATION

Busy day,
long shopping line,
what’s the hold up?
Old people,
short of cash,
too many groceries.
How much?
$26.84.
Just put it on my credit card.
Thank you so much.
We will pay you back.
No need.
Pay it forward,
it will come back to me.
At dinner later at Big Boy,
The waitress is embarrassed.
It was an accident.
Our bill combined with others.
Someone else paid it.
Please don’t report it,
her job was in danger.
How much?
A little over $26.
There are no words.
Lesson learned.

-11-

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PERFECTION

I resent that I couldn’t be perfect,
I regret that I thought I should be.
What made me think that perfection
was a state that was suited for me?
I tried it when I was a child;
believed I’d find it when I’d grown.
I failed miserably,
as it surely must be,
but could not face my flaws as my own.

My life would have been more accomplished
if I had much earlier known
that lessons are learned from each failure.
That’s how true progress is shown.
So now I’ve accepted my weakness
as part of my humanity.
But I wasted my time
thinking faults were a crime
and denying them only hurt me.

-12-

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LOVE IS NOT LIKE DISNEY

It was not like Disney,
with the handsome prince
and the white horse
and the happily ever after.

It was embarrassment
and confusion
and a lack of understanding
and perhaps mild obsession.

When he was around
I couldn’t speak,
I couldn’t think,
I could barely remain upright.

I thought of little else
for nearly two years.
I watched him from afar
and ached inside.

He thought about me too—never.
didn’t know I existed.
didn’t know I cared.
still doesn’t.

-13-

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IF I WERE YOU

If I were you
I would write down how I am feeling today:
the anger and fear of knowing that the end is so certain and so near.

If I were you
I might keep writing every day
so that others who must travel the same path will know that they do not walk alone.

If I were you
I would hold a magnifying glass to my faith
finding and taking every comfort that it was designed to give.

If I were you
I would find joy in each task I undertake,
because if I am taking the time to do it, it must be worthwhile.

If I were you
I would spend hours every day doing the things I have always wanted to do.
I would lunch with friends, sit in the park, read fabulous books, and take long fragrant baths.

If I were you
I would find something small to do that I know would make a difference,
so I could be sure that the world is a better place because I was here than it would have been without me.

If I were you
I would burn the concept of a Bucket List.
Joy is found, not in the huge events, but in the very small ones.

If I were you
I would go to sleep each night recalling my accomplishments,
since I have never had time to consider them as they occurred.

If I were you
I would remind my loved ones that I will always be with them.
My actions, words, and thoughts will come back to them unbidden whenever they are needed.

If I were you
I would not spend one second thinking about what I will miss or regret,
but instead spend every minute embracing the wonderful things I experienced and enjoyed.

But I am you.
My journey is growing shorter every day with certainty,
though I have not yet been notified of my final flight or destination.

Because of you
I am going to change the journey I take
and do these things that I should have done my whole life.

-14-

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GOOD-BYE

There is no easy way to say good-bye.
I want to hug and hold you, not to cry.
But mixed with happy memories I had before
I feel the fear that I can’t bear them anymore.

Though friends and neighbors offer their support,
my total grief does my faulty smile distort.
For with you, something in us all will die—
There is no easy way to say good-bye.

And so together we should face our grief at home,
For in the end our fear is being left alone.
We will never heal our hearts, and yet we try—
There is no easy way to say good-bye.

I know that there were times we fought with rage.
My memory scrapbook doesn’t seem to have that page.
No consoling words erase the need to cry.
There is no easy way to say good-bye.

There is a part of you that lives on too—
A treasure chest of memories that I shared with you.
These loving thoughts will help me to get by.
There is no easy way to say good-bye.

So through my sorrow I must face another day.
So soft shoulder serves to take the pain away.
And though my heart is breaking, my eyes are dry—
There is no easy way to say good-bye.

If to us a thousand lifetimes more were left,
The final end would leave me still bereft.
So with prayer or song or quiet or tear-filled eye,
There is no easy way to say good-bye.

-15-

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