Poem-a-Day 2016 Writer’s Digest Challenge #30. Theme: Dead End


Till the Last Cul-De-Sac

“It is a long road spiked with thorns and briars and pitfalls and problems.”  (Spencer W. Kimball, the Twelfth Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on “the road of repentance”)

It took three dead end jobs,
to gain experience for The Career.
It took following two dead end relationships,
to reach The One.
It took the burying of one well,
before another could be built.

Life is a trek, culminating in a cul-de-sac,
until that last stop,
when Death—
like a Gentleman Caller—
comes knocking at the last house on the end.
Your temple is that house.
He comes to take you where you will be most comfortable,
be it North or South.
Your path will be vertical,
and it will have been determined,
at the last twinkling of your eye.

Your life is a roadmap,
drawn by you,
and it is how,
be it Freyja or Odin,
or any little ambulance chaser,
finds you.

Roads of repentance with its sandspurs
and all manner of sharp things,
in which you may travel on barefoot and in sackcloth,
with the taste of cigarette ash on the tongue,
will run through like blue, veiny rivers—
like deoxygenated blood.

The roads not taken will mostly disappear,
for one decision can slice through an artery,
making such a backtrack impassable—
just as one murder can erase an entire bloodline.
Be prepared that certain roads will be known
only through memory as “If Only When”.

Railroad tracks will stamp their way through,
(sometimes underneath the skin via tunnels),
like stiches keeping it all together.
You must look both ways before crossing over,
but often, in a hurry to get where you’re going,
you won’t look side to side,
only ahead,
and you will miss out on the important things
that God has placed in your path.

Sometimes you will travel in the wrong clothes,
at the wrong times,
through dark waters,
over which the Prince of Perdition has limited powers.
Sometimes you’ll feel like you’re drowning,
but if you stop fighting the forces
that are beyond your control,
you will find a way out.

There are shortcuts that aren’t short,
detours that take you where you don’t want to go,
and freeways with too many exits.
There are highways where we have to keep up,
or be steamrolled.
That is when we take the backroads,
unpaved, grassy,
with weeds growing like wildflowers,
is where we take our time to reflect on where we’re going,
but remember that you will finally run out of gas.

Walking through deserts will make you thirst,
and breezing through beaches will make you complacent.
Be content, but always hunger,
always thirst,
just a little bit.

Mountains will form in your path
like doors that are stuck,
and you will have to pray for strength—
not for the door to move elsewhere,
but for the fortitude to be able to get through it.
Sometimes you’ll tire and want to go back down,
but if you keep your eye single to the glory—
if you will endure to the end—
you will reach the summit.
Your perspective will change,
for you will be able to see as far as the curve of the Earth—
the closest to Heaven you will ever be—
far from the maddening crowds.

When you reach your destination,
when you climb down toward something you want,
or think you want,
the wind at your back,
you will be on the other side.
You will either be changed
or you will change yourself,
because you will have come too far.




Poem-a-Day 2016 Writer’s Digest Challenge #29. Theme: Haphazard


Life with Griff

Dollars into dimes,
fast food made slow,
pots and pans instead of
plates and bowls.
That was life with Griff.

Random lunchbox items—
Almond Joys and Handi-Snacks—
and dinner often burned,
which even the dogs spurned.
That was life with Griff.

Mixing flat Coke with fresh,
the creator of the 10-second rule,
showing up at school in high-water shorts
and black knee-socks, all out of sorts.
That was life with Griff.

Matching sheets, an unnecessity,
clocks that didn’t synchronize
were not a problem for him,
for time was often improvised.
That was life with Griff.

Flipping out when a car got behind him,
taking the road not meant to be taken,
but always managing to “recover his fumble”,
with Mom hollering, “Hells bells, Griff Graff!”
That was life with Griff.

Trips to the Wag to do number two,
when the toilets were on the blink,
throwing whites in with darks,
all coming out motley, wrinkly,
and somewhat less stinky.
That was life with Griff.

The endless making us guess,
making everything a test,
the telling of a joke,
only to forget the punchline,
leaving us all in a poke.
That was life with Griff.

Mopping without first a-sweeping,
CPAP mask while a-sleeping,
every scrap of junk-mail a-keeping,
and long trips to the loo
with a binder or two.
That was life with Griff.


Poem-a-Day 2016 Writer’s Digest Challenge #28. Theme: Important (blank)


Important Relationships

From my father,
I learned a man could be just as happy
with a daughter, as with a son.

From my mother,
I learned a woman could have a career and family,
with a husband’s help at home.

From my brother,
I learned to share the love of Mom and Dad—
that love received from one does not take it from the other.

From my husband,
I’m learning to share my life,
even as we build one together.

From my daughter,
I’ve learned that one can teach themselves patience,
because of the love they have for the one who tests it.

From my friends,
I am learning to open up,
like the Lavender “Provence Blue”.

From my Lord,
I’m learning still, everything I need
to help these other relationships succeed.


Poem-a-Day 2016 Writer’s Digest Challenge #26. Theme: Love or Anti-Love


Love, Love Not

He loves me for my mind;
He loves not when I use words
he doesn’t know during a row.

He loves me for my heart;
he loves not the times it hardens
against him,
or beats only to mine own drum.

He loves me for my hands,
for the earthly nurture
of the divine nature
of our little one;
He loves not when I use them
to make his meatloaf too spicy,
spoiling his appetite.


Poem-a-Day 2016 Writer’s Digest Challenge #25. Theme: Exercise



running when my daughter is quiet,
to see what she is doing
running when she is making noise,
to see what she is undoing
running to catch up with her
as she runs toward something
running to catch my husband
before he leaves for work,
to tell him something I’d forgotten
running to bring in my summer read
before it storms and soaks the pages
running to get the cookies out of oven
before they burn, cycling out as dog puckies
running to make it to the store before it closes,
running to keep up with all my daily demands,
never running for running’s sake;
and I have to ask myself,
am I running my life,
or is my life running me?


Poem-a-Day 2016 Writer’s Digest Challenge #24. Theme: Lost and Regained


One Woman:  Three Stories

She’d prayed for him to come home
from the desert,
but when that prayer, that plea—
that form of collective bargaining
that went on amongst the Marine wives—
was fulfilled,
she realized though he was returned to her,
broken and missing parts,
she would not return him,
for he was lost in himself,
even as he was found.

She’d prayed for her daughter,
that the Master Physician would make her whole,
but He swallowed up the sting of death,
taking what felt like half of herself.
Then the Gentleman Triumphant
gave her a second chance at motherhood
through a son—
the son a daughter had to die,
so that he would be born.

She’d prayed for Death—
a reprieve from the pain—
but it was through suffering that she wrote
“Marjorie’s Theme”, her last sonata.
She prayed that every time it was played,
the notes would carry up into the heavens
where her daughter was waiting for her,
along with the husband who was no longer lost,
but found by the One who had made him.