Friday, July 31, 2015

Poetry Friday - Repelling Skunk

I missed a whole month of Poetry Fridays!  I am back home now, ready to enjoy the last few days of summer before I go back to work.  The summer did not go exactly as I had imagined.  For one thing, I had a rather unpleasant experience about which I wrote two poems.  The first one was called "Biopsy," but thankfully the second was called "I Don't Have Cancer Day."

I'm not going to share those poems today, but I did want to share an original one.  I wrote this one several years ago, but the friend who had told me the story felt shy about me posting it.  This summer the same friend had an encounter with a raccoon, and that got us talking about the earlier encounter and the poem, and I ended up getting his permission to make the poem public.  I'm glad, because I very much enjoyed writing this one, and I hope my PF buddies like it too.

(By the way, writers, how do you deal with this?  A lot of my poems are written for someone.  In cases like that, I always feel I need the person's permission to share the piece, even if it's a less, well, intimate subject than this one.  Do you feel the same?  Or are you more of the Anne Lamott persuasion, that whatever you experience or hear about is fair game for your writing?   Anne says, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”  Well, this one isn't about bad behavior, and it didn't exactly happen to me, but I am still curious to know your experiences with this aspect of writing, if you'd like to share in the comments.)

Repelling Skunk

The black and white unwelcome visitor
Poked around on the back porch,
And got up on hind legs to peer in the door.

Internet research turned up some useful information:
Pee repels skunks.
So Paul, early morning groggy,
Staggered out back
To do the necessary.

At first he felt self-conscious;
What if neighbors were watching?
But when he started to pee with a purpose,
He couldn't help enjoying it,
Outside, in the morning,
In the chilly September air.

He had plenty of pee,
So he kept on going and going,
Feeling free and like a kid again.
The word "whizzing" came to mind
And he wondered when he'd last used that one.
He thought about traveling as a boy,
A twelve-hour trip with no rest stops except bushes.
He thought about camping trips in the woods.
He thought about winter and yellow snow.

He felt briefly invincible
Summoning the mighty powers of pee,
Considered making the rounds of the neighborhood,
Ensuring a skunk-free environment for all.
But then he remembered his age and
Position in the community
And went back indoors instead.

The black and white unwelcome visitor
Only stayed briefly the next time
Before ambling off;
Was it the pee that repelled the skunk?
Paul likes to think so.

Ruth, from

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

(By the way, as though to remind me that I am home in Haiti, there was a long time between the beginning of this post and the end.  Our backup batteries died, and I had to wait to get the generator going.  It's going now, and I'm going to publish...)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Two Missed Weeks of Poetry Friday!

This has turned out to be a more eventful summer than anticipated.  Here are the links to the last two Poetry Friday roundups.  I'll be back posting regularly soon. 

July 10th

July 17th

Hope you're having a good summer!

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Poetry Saturday

I completely missed that yesterday was Friday.  Such is a teacher's summer.  Here is yesterday's roundup, since apparently some people knew what day it was.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Poetry Friday: Adlestrop

I shared this poem once before back in 2008. I love how specific it is, and how it places us in one unrepeatable moment.


Edward Thomas

Yes, I remember Adlestrop –
The name because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.
The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
No one left and no one came
On the bare platform. What I saw
Was Adlestrop – only the name

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.

And for that minute a blackbird sang
Close by, and round him, mistier,
Farther and farther, all the birds
Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Here's today's roundup.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Reading Update

Book #35 was Handle with Care and #36 was Plain Truth, both by Jodi Picoult.  These aren't great literature, but they are absorbing stories with courtroom dramas at the heart of them.

Book #37 was Flora, by Gail Godwin, a story set at the end of World War Two and involving regret and remorse.

Book #38 was The King's Curse, by Philippa Gregory.  This is the unremittingly awful story of Margaret Pole, who lived in the time of Henry VIII and managed, like so many others, to fall afoul of him.  Pole was from the Plantagenet family, rivals to the Tudors.  She spent years as the governess of Henry's daughter Mary (later called Bloody Mary). 

After these four rather dark books, I really need to find something more cheerful to read!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Poetry Friday: The Art of Losing

I guess this must be one of my favorite poems, since this is the third time I have posted it on my blog.  I shared it in May 2010 and again in May 2013.  The art of losing and the art of living are almost synonymous.  When I posted this in 2013, Mary Lee (who is hosting today's roundup - check it out!) commented: "So why do we need to PRACTICE loss, Ms. Bishop? Why can't we focus on shoring ourselves up for loss with loves (both large and small)?"  She's right.  Love is what shores us up.  But it's also why loss hurts so much.

Thinking about Mary Lee's question, I came to this conclusion: having experienced many losses in the past teaches us that life does go on.  It teaches us that we can survive losses we didn't think were survivable.  In that sense, maybe we make a little progress towards the art of losing.

But I think Elizabeth Bishop is trying to convince herself here.  She is facing a loss that feels like disaster to her.  She is facing it, bravely, not turning away.  She isn't numbing it or pretending it isn't there.  "Write it!" she urges herself.  In saying the art of losing isn't too hard to master, she's saying that it is terribly hard, the hardest.  Frankly, I often want to stop the loving because the losing hurts so much.  I don't want to reach out and attach and care.  But if I didn't, I wouldn't be mastering the art of living.

It's all one.

One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

- Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like a disaster.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Poetry Friday: Hafiz

Even though school's been out for a couple of weeks now, I was on campus yesterday looking for a particular book.  I found it, and then on my way home I found a whole stack of books that looked as though someone was throwing them away.  One of them was a book of Hafiz's poetry, and I grabbed that and brought it home for safekeeping.

Here are some poems from the book that I especially liked:

Here's another Hafiz poem I posted back in 2013.

The amazing Jama has the roundup today, and the results are sure to be delicious!