#Micropoetry Monday: #Thanatology

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She spent part of her holiday
scrapbooking her memories,
knowing
there would be more of them;
the other she spent
memorializing another’s memories,
knowing
there wouldn’t be
any more of them,
yet both books
were a celebration of life
& the people who lived it.

The friends she’d had during the best of times
were her friends for a season,
& were wonderful in their time,
but the friends who were there for her
during the worst of times
were her friends for all seasons—
sunbeams that warmed the grieving rain.

She put smiley-faced notes in her children’s lunch bags,
left lovey-dovey Post-Its for her husband on the kitchen counter,
& texted silly jokes to her mother when she couldn’t reach her.
She left a paper trail that stretched for miles,
so that when she was suddenly gone,
her family was left to pick up the scraps
that couldn’t even begin to tell the story
of how much they’d meant to her.

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Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #474: Gift

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A Series of Fortunate Encounters

The day was young,
the night was long,
that date of March 4th–
the date Sydney breezed into the Reedsy Bluesy Cafe
where Tammy O’Shanter told her that Adelaide
(called Addie)
was the only one who had ever ordered chocolate milk (never coffee)
and a truffle brownie drenched in caramel syrup
every morning for breakfast
while she completed her morning crossword,
leaving behind more questions than answers.
Sydney waltzed into the Pence State College library
where Addie was always on the waiting list
for the newest installment of the Chocoholics Anonymous,
even as she was always late returning it,
leaving behind a Dove candy wrapper like a pressed flower,
which she had used for a bookmark.
Sydney ran into the man to whom Addie had been “practically engaged,”
into Addie’s best friend with whom she had shared the part of her life
her sister hadn’t seen,
and the mother they’d shared a space with–
a woman who had known Addie in a completely different way.
This all happened on her way to her Celebration of Life
(which they called funerals now),
with Addie as the guest of honor,
but the celebration had begun early
as Sydney retraced the steps Addie had taken every morning–
to gather the memories she would take out like holiday keepsakes–
memories she would take out when it only seemed
that she had run out of her own.

https://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-474

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #456: Tragic

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Losing Sam

No one ever died in the South—
they simply passed away.
Her son hadn’t been killed,
but rather,
she had lost him in an accident.
When she wished him away from Heaven
and back to Earth,
it was only hope she experienced—
the hem of his coat as he went out the door,
the sound of his footsteps in the hall after a night out,
the smell of Axe that lingered in his bedroom.
In every sense but the physical,
he was there,
but the tragedy was that his memory
lived on in the form of a shadow
in which her daughter lived.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/wednesday-poetry-prompts-456

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

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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,
possibly,
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.

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http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2016-april-pad-challenge-day-30

Poem-a-Day 2016 Writer’s Digest Challenge #3. Theme: Three (blank)

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Three Prayers for Maren Coates

Maren’s mother prayed for her to live,
as did the mother of Jeffrey pray for him,
though it was Jeffrey’s heart that saved Maren.

Maren prayed for Richard to choose her,
Tim prayed for Maren to choose him,
even as Richard prayed for them both.

Maren prayed to die even as
Charles prayed for her to live,
but only one could have their wish.

http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/2016-april-pad-challenge-day-3

 

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #323, Theme: Hesitation or Hesitant

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The Last Will and Testament of Mary Andrews

I hesitate to write what I will someday no longer be able to say.
A writer always wishes to live on through their words,
for even though their lives and loves will pass away,
their words will not pass away.
Like Poe, Frost, or Dickinson,
they seek to achieve everlasting life through their good works.
Faith will help me move on,
even while all the inspiration that has yet to be revealed
tries to get me to hold on.

I write to my husband John, a letter—
trying to tell him a lifetime’s worth in a thousand words—
the length of flash fiction;
for when I got the diagnosis,
it was like my life was over in a flash.

I ask him to take care of golden Katja,
who was one of the best parts of myself
I brought into the marriage.

Read to our daughter every day that I am not with her:
the stories I loved,
the stories I have written,
the stories that have yet to be written.

Teach Lara how to make cabbage rolls,
fill the house with the smell of them,
for it will be then that you can close your eyes
and just imagine.
Give her the list of the books I loved,
for through them,
perhaps even loving what I loved,
she will come to know me.

There is a box containing ten books—
a book for each for my closest friends.
Send them,
for I hope that the words of others’
I pass on…
matter.

Whatever loose ends there are,
tie them up in a pretty little bow.

Keep up my blog for me:
Every week, post one of my thousand and one poems,
in the sequence I describe.
By doing that, you will have extended my life on this earth
another twenty years.
By then, I will have grown vague in your mind,
but my words will be fresh as daisies in the springtime.

Publish all of my books online for the price of a coffee,
so that they may never wither away,
so that they have a chance someday
to become known as something great.

Leave my Facebook page open,
for someday, I may leave a message for you,
and it will be as if I am alive.

In a safe deposit box,
paid up for eighteen years,
there is a batch of letters tied with a lavender ribbon—
a letter for Lara,
every year on her birthday.
A P.S., I Love You type of thing.
Every year, every letter,
will reveal a new memory
she didn’t know we shared.
There will be a DVD for each one,
and just maybe,
someday,
she will remember for real.
I would spread them out forever if I could.
I would have recorded more memories had I known.

Because of you,
people will someday know my name.
You are my hands, my eyes,
my heart, my voice,
my intercessor on Earth.

I ask all of this from you because I am not ready to let go of this life,
for the day will come that all those who remembered me
will be gone,
and all that will be left are my words on a page,
on a screen,
floating like stars across the blogosphere—
tiny pinpricks of light shining across the virtual globe.

When the summer rains come down,
think of them as my tears,
baptizing you with my blessing to live—
to finish what we started together:
our Lara.

When it is lightning,
think of me playing with fireworks
with the sister I never got to know.

When it thunders,
think of me atop my old horse, Seccy—
of the happy reunion we must have had,
the winds of Heaven blowing through our manes
as we jump over the rainbows and
race through the crowds—
a fantastic chariot race,
an exhilarating steeplechase.

When the sun shines on you,
think of my warmth,
and the shade,
my shadow—
both covering you completely.

When you smell the gardenias,
and taste the strawberries that grow
around the white arbor in our garden,
know that I have just been there.
You couldn’t quite catch me,
but I will be near,
just beyond the trellis,
to that place where the woodbine twineth.

And if you ever do fall in love again,
and I so hesitate to say,
for I am not losing you,
you are losing me…
Put my picture away
for only you to see.
The flowers on my grave
need only be freshened once a year,
for even the most important deaths,
like Easter,
are remembered but once a year,
and am I not so much lesser than that?

Someday, Lara will be grown,
and I will become real to you all over again.
She will be standing under the lattice,
the sunlight reflecting off of her strawberry blond head,
so like mine.
Her face will be shadowed.
She will be at the very age I was when I passed away,
and you will be struck with the awe and wonder
that is my greatest legacy.
For that second,
you will be given a glimpse back in time.
I have seen in my dream what it will take you years to see.
It was the last gift God gave me.

She will not remember,
but she will see
through our lovely technology,
how much I did love her.
She will know that she brought us back together,
that we tried for her,
and stayed for ourselves.

I am so happy now,
when I think I won’t ever really be gone—
just simply somewhere else
in another dimension,
where time flows in a different direction.