Lavender and Lemon

I think it might be lavender
mixed with a little lemon zest.
The memory of how you smell
still lingers in me. Who’d have guessed?

Perhaps you. Certainly not I,
my memories now are hidden.
I think I lost them in the dust
of the desert years I’ve ridden.

All by myself, but not alone,
Imagination rode there, too.
A third shadow sometimes appeared,
so suspiciously shaped like you.

When it cast itself on the sand
the desert would begin to bloom.
Instead of the dust and dried sage,
the air was filled with your perfume.

At least that’s what I could recall
as each sundown you rode away.
Even sleep would leave me alone
all night as I daydreamed you’d stay.

Now I’m old, and rely upon
your grace for any second chance
to leave loneliness just once more,
and between us its vast expanse. 

That’s all I ask, just to get close,
close enough to finally see
if lavender and lemon were
what you wore, or hopeful fantasy.

Since I’m a day behind, I combined two prompts today -- a second chance poem and one using the sense of smell. 

My Wishes Look Brighter By the Light of Yesterday

Sitting in the car 
just around the corner.
Street light beaming through 
a foggy windshield, 
illuminating my hands, 
my chest, my mouth. 
But not my mind, 
groping in the dark 
for its best answer. 
Do I? (Sure.)
Should I? (Why not?)
Can I? (Of course.)
What if? (I think it would make you happy.)
But what about…you know? 
(Yeah…and? You want me to fight dirty?)
I’m just sayin’…
(It’d be best for everyone.) Everyone?
(Especially you.) Mmmmaybe, but…
(Always “but.” What’re you 
afraid of this time?) The usual.
(It’s right there around the corner.
What you wished for.)
Maybe tomorrow. 
And before I could hear the reply, 
I started my car and pulled away. 
No headlights, straight down the 
street, past one corner's dim streetlight 
to the next. Occasionally I looked back 
at the lights on the yesterday corners 
not taken and wondered why they 
always looked so much brighter 
than those on the tomorrows.

For Day 2's Poem-A-Day effort, I combined the NaPoWriMo prompt with Writer's Digest's. The former asked for a poem about the writer's "road not taken" and how it might've affected his/her life. While WD's asked for a poem about our idea of what our futures hold and to use that idea in the title. Competing ideas, I know. Boom! 

Allow You to Introduce Myself

Would you be so kind as to 
introduce myself to me.
I’ve forgotten exactly
who I’m supposed to be.
Am I the friend you wish for
who understands your sorrows
as you lie there in your bed
on those long almost-tomorrows?
Or am I simply, you know, 
the one who might be That Guy, 
the incidental poet,
who has sometimes made you cry?
It really doesn’t matter,
on this dreary April day.
I just might be someone else
when the calendar strikes May.
On second thought, never mind,
I don’t really need to know.
We’re probably all better off
if you just said, “Joe, meet Joe.”

Day 1's effort (and I mean EFFORT) for my quest of thirty poems over the thirty days of National Poetry Writing Month - NaPoWriMo. Writer's Digest suggested an "introduction" poem. Hard to do when you either don't know who you are and others probably don't know the real you. I wrote three poems, none of which satisfied me (stupid rhymes, ya know?). This is the least worse of a bad bunch.

Almost, But Not Quite…Yet

The old brass ring, 
the Great White Whale,
just out of reach, 
each an epic fail.
Perhaps you’ve stretched
with all your might,
come up empty
gave up the fight.
What if you tried
just one more reach,
like old Prufrock’s
bite at that peach?
I, myself, had
many such miss,
I failed and failed
but tell you this…
I’ll not stop reaching,
what’s one more trial?
All I want is
to see you smile.

On my countdown to my poem-a-day effort in April's National (Global) Poetry Writing Month, I was asked to write a poem with the title "Almost (Something)." I had to fill in the blank and try, try again.

Always a Question of Time(s)

I know I screwed up the last time,
 and the time before and before that.
 And I promised myself I’d never
 put you through a next time,
 replete with alarm bells and 
 go-to-hells, so I just sat.
 Now here I am between that last time
 and my time’s-running-out next.
 Which leaves me with only this time
 to say hello or goodbye to something 
 that never needed be so complex. 
 But you’re the only one
 who ever listened to my music, 
 and at least occasionally 
 grinned or cried at my verse.
 It'd be sweet to share some words
 again some time, but I’d likely only 
 turn things from bad to worse.


Engraved In the Alloys of Praise

It’s not that I sought my name on the wall,
yet seeking it was what I found myself doing
one afternoon. I just never sought my name
on the wall while I was doing what allegedly put it there.
I’m just past the middle of the big varnished board,
in the school entrance hall, gold letters engraved
in now-tarnishing brass. And while I’m surrounded
by others who didn’t seek praise, to me,
their names shine brighter than mine.
At home I have more planks on my wall, each with
my name spelled correctly on their plates of praise.
I don’t look at them much. They’re just part of the wall
on most days, covering nail holes that’ll need replastering.
Though, yes, I am honored somebody thought enough
of something I did to recognize it one night
with a nice piece of wall decor.

I’ve learned that this hardware kind of praise is a lot like
somebody’s wake when they die.
More for the living than the dead.
More for that moment of giving than the day after receiving.
More for the engraving than the dusting off.
Better remembered for the day you crushed your thumb
with a hammer than on the day they take your name down.
You cannot capture praise in an alloy of copper and zinc.
Praise is an expression of the moment, an alloy of love
and respect. It’s the warmth of a hand on the shoulder,
the melding of my fist with yours, a hug.
Brass accepts heat like that, too. But it gets cold faster.
You can’t hang a hug on the wall, though. Much the pity.

On this rainy last day of NaPoWriMo Poem-a-Day April 2020, I was tasked with writing a “praise” poem.  All hail to the poets who brought so many poems to ground over the past 30 days. I’d give you all a hug, but you’ll have to settle for this room temperature video screen. 

Total Recall

I remember once when
my memory worked, how you
looked on the day that we met.
Well, we actually didn’t meet
since you were busy with them
and I was idle with me.
But my eyes met you.
I recall you in black and white,
which I’m not sure if you wore
or that’s just how my old
memories conflate with newer ones.
Do you remember when we met,
or have the years smeared
that picture with the tears
I’ve caused you because
eventually we did? Perhaps
I didn’t make that big a dent
in your mind as you did in mine.
Or maybe you’ve lost that memory
because it was for the best.
If they’re there, I can’t find
all the pieces in the corners
of my mind, scattered by fears
that a perfect memory would be
too true for my imperfect fantasy.
But its all here in black and white.

There! I think this might be better. Do you remember when I would write one of these lickety-split over a ten-minute break? Well, maybe it was 15. I don’t remember such things so well anymore. But, like I said, there it is in black and white.

Total Failure

Where humans are concerned,
there’s no such thing as perfect,
no total either. The problem is,
most of us are totally convinced
there is.
Maybe that’s why we love all
to express the notion of “all.”
“I’m with you 110%,”
said the eager beaver, who’s
0% a beaver but is,
allegedly, totally invested
in whatever he’s with you about.
Am I sure? Not 110%, not even 90%,
but I’m fairly sure.

When someone says they’re
totally in love with another
someone, (You know, “She’s
perfect!”) that’s really
a manifestation of
a pheromone-besotted brain
(honest, the heart’s part in this
is a poetic construct).
But isn’t it nice to think
of “total” in this context
rather than such affronts
to word nerds as:
“totally destroyed,” “sum total,”
or that singular affirmation
of a bygone era “Totally!”?

So why do we use a word having
such little basis in actuality?
Maybe it’s because we humans
would like things to be total.
Some word has to capture life
filled to the brim, Nature
abhorring a vacuum and all.
I’d like to think my love
is total for those closest to me.
As is their’s for me.
But we’re humans, pretty much
incapable of certainty or
perfection, so there’s going
to be some wiggle room.
The smaller the better, though.
I’m sorry. I’ve totally wasted
your time with this total failure
of a poem. Rest assured, friend,
I’m totally done now…

No, now that I’ve totaled
250 words I am.

Day 29 of April’s poem-a-day caravan. Today’s effort had to take the word “total,” add something to it to make a title and then write something to that title. And I do consider this spew a failure, so I’ll try again this afternoon.

The Way of The World

My way out ahead is so, so foggy,
in a handful of steps I might meet a wall.
But, my steps these days are so, so wobbly,
before I hit any bricks, I’d probably fall.

Yet behind me, the path is no clearer,
blurred by time, broken walls, and ghosts of sighs.
Backward’s too much like a look in a mirror,
It’s fogged, too, but mostly by all my lies.

So what do I do? Look forward or back?
Seems each way is its own bad direction.
I guess I could stand here with my jaw slack,
and claim I’ve reined in for some reflection.

But I know the truth. Maybe you do, too.
Life’s just a foggy game of hide and seek.
If you must move on, here’s advice for you:
The Way ain’t forward or back. It’s oblique.

Day 28 of NaPoWriMo/Poem-a-Day called for a “look back” or “don’t look back” poem. I kind of chose both.

As Big As That, As Small As This

When I close my eyes,
I can see you clearly.
Not from a distance, like
from all these years away,
but as if you were standing
right in front of me.
And if you really were here,
I’d still not see you,
not as you are, since
I’d be looking through
my glass with the rosy hue.
The one that magnified everything
about you into massive things.
Colossal, monumental, unrealistic.
That’s obsession for you.

I always thought you saw me
through that glass, too,
only from the other end,
where I looked so small.
Diminutive, unimpressive, quixotic.
I never did see you as you are,
a deep and complex forest,
rather than an array of pretty trees.
Too bad I believed the trees,
who saw a pesky weed.
You never were as really big as that,
and I never really as small as this.
So we never really were, were we?

Day 27 called for a “massive” poem. I don’t have the wherewithal today to put together some Homeric monster epic. Nor even an abridged version. And you don’t have the time to devote to reading it. Wait for my book. So here’s an equally fictive piece about how we can blow the normal up out of proportion, as well as diminish it into a gnat. Get rid of that rosy glass, y’all. Left out in the sun, it’ll burn everything down.