The Daylilies on I-64

The car runs a straight line
from Rocky Mount to Raleigh,
or maybe the road runs beneath me.
The pines ahead are playing Chicken,
only to break left and right in a blurry zoom.
And when I exit onto the serpentine
county road, the scene changes
as if I’m breezing through a gallery
of rural landscapes, studies in contrast,
where here sits a McMansion
across from a trailer park.
A strip mall or Food Lion or gas station
breaks up the chain of tobacco field,
corn field, fallow field, pasture, tobacco field…
That’s when I wonder why am I here?
Not on this little trip to Angier,
but on this long journey from childhood
to some ultimate destination.
Perhaps the pines are actually curtains
opening on another moment of unknown to known,
the roadside gallery pages in my book of days.
I slow down for a stretch outside Asheboro
as the other cars rush by me.
I may have reached my destination,
the reason for this trip or wherever I go.
It’s for the daylilies, the bookmarks
that divide each furlong in orange and yellow.
They write each trip as the destination;
they festoon my destiny of wherever
as my somewhere.

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Carolina Blue

Blue Ridge Parkway North Carolina

The sky claims the upper third of the view in the blue that bears its name. The bottom of the scene, the blue-gray roadway, stretches out ahead like the world’s longest pair of jeans, top-stitched in a Pass/No Pass yellow thread. It’s singing the sonorous song of tar strips against this Yankee’s tires. The middle ground belongs to the pines that curtain off everything to the right and left as if the hills had something to hide. This is the Carolina I observe that lies between a family stretched 700 miles apart. The road offers somnolent monotony and even comfort to a brain that whispers and wonders about what it thinks might lie ahead and what lies might’ve been left behind. The Honda reels in another semi and peels around it to clear the screen of clutter beyond the bugs who lost their own race from here to there. And just as you think closing your eyes wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all, a deer wanders from its place behind the curtain, stage right. It’s gray-beige coat gleams like a the head of a haloed saint in the golden hour now chiming on the gong of sun preparing to make its exit on a day you remember only in stops for coffee, gas, tolls and men’s rooms dressed in tiles foreign as Delaware is to Virginia. But then that eagle, big as a retriever, swoops across its Carolina blue highway and settles upon some scurrying critter who will scurry no more, and you realize there is more life going on around you than in all the lives you’ve lived and loved and lied and lusted and outlasted in your head since you started your sojourn. That’s when you realize here’s your exit and your journey is only just beginning.

I thought I’d combine a couple of prompts for Day #27 of my Poem a Day Challenge. The prompt was for a story poem, which used to be my stock in trade. Also, May 1st begins Story a Day May, which I enjoy playing in. Julie Duffy the doyen of Story a Day, suggested we crank out a warmup story of 100-1,000 words. So here is my free-written double-header piece to warm down from April and warm up for may. Not sure if it’s either a story OR a poem, but it’s written and that’s the important part.

April, So Cruel

The rain’s laying
its restorative hands
upon the lands
surrounding my old house.
Our long winter has left
this pillow upon which sets
my only treasure a scratched
and motley patch
of tan, brown and olive.
April’s poetic showers
have only just arrived,
with May a week away.

Poor May, tasked with
completing the work
of two months in its 31 days,
scurrying along April’s
grass shoots, the crocuses
and daffodils, as well as
nursing its own tulips and lilacs.
April’s cold and snowy sloth
has shifted its cruelty
just as an October would
in blowing its leaves
into November’s yard.

This is probably a make-up poem for Day #22 of this month, sliding into the gap caused by my trip to North Carolina. It was supposed to be a “plant” poem, which i guess you could say it is tangentially, but it turned into a mild screed on how this winter has stretched its frozen fingers into a whole lot of the calendar’s Spring. But Nature can’t tell time and that calendar page beginning with A is just more junk for me to rake up this weekend…if it stops raining. Story/poem coming up in a bit for Day #27.

Bugged – A Pair of Cinquains

Spider
Silent harpest
Never plucking your strings
Invite your prey to play their dirge,
Maestro

Skeeter
Buzzing, circling
Lighting only to drink.
Does my vintage meet your standards
Vampire?

A late entry for Day #13 (it figures) of the National Poetry Writing Month PAD Challenge. Supposed to write an insect poem but got stuck on a nasty one and froze in terror. Just before bed, I thought to try something from the old days, a micro poem of sorts, a cinquain. And just like that, along came this spider who sat down beside her. My muse, that is. And frightened my block away.

It Happens Every Spring

The sun came out today like a bear from its winter cave, the air rushing to me fresher than yesterday and the days before that. For a moment or two, I wondered whether the weather had changed or I had. And I asked if you thought I was just another sap running freer in Spring, my coat open and without a hat? Maybe the Sun’s new angle past mere diagonal to the horizon blinded me to reality here at the third point of this seasonal triad?

“But you always get this way in the Spring,” I hear you say. “You get goofy and emotional and see the possibilities in things you want to see, here and there.” I have to admit, as I nod in grudging consent, there’s so much truth in what you’ve always told me, not only today. Then I smile, because, even through it all, deep down I guess you still kinda care.

And I look up to see your face smiling, but it’s in that cloud, up in the tree, in the puddles all around. “There you go again,” I hear, that unspoken tsk in your voice, though there’s no one but me here to make a sound.

Sorry for the delay, folks. I’ve been tied up with things other than writing for the past week. Actually, I was afraid it might be longer than that. Like forever. But I was inspired by a prompt from Julie Duffy at her Story-a-Day blog, which suggested trying to write a flash fiction story in the form of a sonnet. So this is my effort in Shakespearean sonnet form. Did you catch the (non iambic pentameter) abab cdcd ee rhyme scheme to the sentences?

Dribbling Out the Clock

It came and went so swiftly,
the February evening snow
and its morning melt.
You could hear its heartbeat
as it ran down the rainspout
once the sun climbed above
the trees’ skeletal arms.
They shook small fists
newly clenched on their
branch tips, as if protesting
Winter’s next icy incursion.
Such protests never elicit
the preferred end result
while the calendar still
has March to march through.
But I admire these maples’
sanguine rush to get their
life’s blood flowing again
now that it’s sugaring time.
I raised my fists, too,
and shook them until
the blood rose in my cheeks.
Then, I slapped the old maple
on the ass like a teammate
from a dimly recalled basketball
season. My recall of those years
melts as quickly as this snow.
It drip-drip-drips as fast as
the gutter and the sweet sap
of memory dribbled by #44,
Acer Saccharum.

For those of you not hip to the vernacular of basketball, a sport I coached for 30 years, “dribbling out the clock” is the practice a team ahead in the score might use to burn up what’s left of the amount of time left in the game. One or more players will just dribble the ball as the clock runs down, rather than attempt to score any more points. In other words, the game is for all intent and purpose, over, save for that final buzzer. You may read into that bit of between-the-lines (another bit of sports argot) what you will. Oh, and Acer Saccharum is the  scientific name for SugarMaple.

Charon’s SUV Turns Left at Number 57

The snow’s melting
beneath my window, as
small streams form
along the roadside.
They ring the cul-de-sac,
like some suburban River Styx,
circling my little world
nine times before heading
into the Underworld
of the storm drain.
That’s where the waters
gathered as some great
rainbow-topped sea
before dropping into its maw.
This world has fed them
salt, gasoline and other
poisonous potions we ignore
shrug off like a spring shower.
I’m told to drink the Styx
would render the god silent
for nine years. But to taste
these shining waters might render
a songbird voiceless longer.