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Saturday, September 19, 2015

Loss At Summer's End

for Courtney

The sirens called to villages all around.
"Send your fire trucks!  We've got
lives to save!  A house is ablaze!"
Brave men in yellow with oxygen masks and tanks
could do little except cool the cinders and cry.

As we struggled to accept this we said,
"...a good young woman."  "...a selfless soul."
"...died trying to save her grandmother."  "...so like her."
Her life ended with so much
for her to experience.

And the news reports say:
"Tragedy," "Loss," and
"Courtney Fischer, 19..."
And lots has been said about being shocked,
and lots has been thought about her absense.

As a high school student she often said,
"But Mr. Lentz, what if..." "I can't get it done?,"
or "I forget it?," or "I don't understand?," or "I get it wrong?"
The world will still be here for you tomorrow
to try again, to make it right.

Grieve as we must, we also must live.
"How lucky you were to know her. 
How sad for those who will not."
If we cannot revel in being alive on this day,
then we will likely never find a day to be happy.
Go here to read Courtney's obituary:  http://juneaumessenger.com/2015/08/12/courtney-helen-marie-fischer-age-19-of-lyndon-station/
And here to read her grandmother's obituary:  http://juneaumessenger.com/2015/08/12/judy-fischer-age-68-of-lyndon-station/ 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Missy Marie

I always had the sense that Missy was seeing things we
humans couldn't see and that she couldn't understand.

In 13 years you never hissed
or bared your teeth, peace kitty.
And only in your last
days did you cry in pain.

As a kitten you had large,
rabbit legs (one of which
was orange and apparently
stolen from another cat).

The laser pointer was okay,
but you obsessed over plastic,
Coke-bottle caps.  Hand targeted
head-butts continued until you

had gotten enough attention
or resorted to a loud,
endearing mew.  You interrupted
when I least wanted, but most needed,

to set aside what I was working on.
And it was the rare minute that
passed in 13 years without your purr,
sometimes audible across a room.

As patient as you were demanding,
I could hold you when I cried and
you insisted on sitting with/on me
when I wasn't feeling well, doctor kitty.

You snuck onto the deck
a few days before you died
even though you never liked
being outside.  What did you

think of the sunshine that day?
Of the birds at the feeder?
Life is brief, philosopher kitty.
Your "goodbye" to the world?

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Song Remembers When: A One Scene Play.

NPR's "A Life Story In 6 Songs" (http://www.npr.org/blogs/theprotojournalist/2014/02/22/263352268/a-life-story-in-6-songs-part-1) reminded me of this short drama I wrote for my creative writing class in college.


Business Man, a 90's businessman. He carries a cell phone and briefcase. He wears an expensive suit (that still doesn't quite fit him right).
Waitress, She suits her surroundings. Dressed in a waitress outfit, hairstyle, and make-up that matches the era of the diner itself. She is very plain-Jane but charming none the less.
Future Man, he is approximately 50 years old and he looks a lot like Business Man but his clothes do not match any recognizable nation or time period. He lives some time in the future.
The entire stage will be decorated to resemble a diner. The decor should be from the late 1950's /early 1960's. Stage right, almost parallel to the front of the stage is a counter with stools bolted to the ground in front of it. Behind the counter is a wall with a serving window. A wheel hangs from one side of the opening with green order slips clipped to it. The middle of the stage contain six tables with chairs. Stage left there is a jukebox.
[The Curtain opens. The scene is dark and everybody is freeze-framed. Business Man is sitting at the counter on the middle stool. Waitress is caught in mid motion as she wipes tables up stage. Future Man is sitting at one of the tables down stage. A spotlight focuses on the jukebox and its lights turn on. Music comes up in the background--"R-E-S-P-E-C-T"---and a spotlight comes up on gentleman. The spotlight dims on the jukebox. Music fades but continues to play as Business Man talks. We also hear the chatter and clatter of other diners but we do not see them (these sounds will be present only when the Business Man is in the spot light alone). The spotlight comes up on Business Man and everyone else remains frozen as he speaks.]
Business Man
[Talking into a cell phone]
... what...What! Quit bringing all these bogus investments to me. I'm sick of you throwing my money around. Wait a minute, I'll have to call you from a pay phone I think my battery is going dead.
[He stuffs the phone into an inside pocket. He picks up a menu and looks at it a second, he then turns to his left and says]
Hey, Jim, have you ever tried the meat loaf platter? [He listens for a moment.]
No, I haven't been brave enough to either. I guess I'll go with my usual. [A bell rings indicating that someone has entered the diner. Business Man turns to his left to see who it is but he stops and seems to focus his attention on Waitress instead.]
Business Man
[Not looking back]
Sam, why did you take down my grandmother's picture from the corner over there. I know you don't like the fact that your grandfater chose her to marry after your grandmother's death bothers you but come on, what would the old man say? John was a good man. And she was a good woman. Don't disrespect them.
[Waitress, while still motionless and in darkness, and Business Man seem to be looking into each other's eyes. The light on Business Man fades and Waitress is now in a spotlight. Business Man freezes with hand on counter. The jukebox lights flash and Elvis is now heard singing "Love me Tender"]
Love me tender. Love me true... [Stops singing and listens for a moment]
Very funny John. I don't plan on quitting my day job. [She hums along to a few more lines.]
No, he was simply an animal. The first date; and he expected... Well, he certainly wasn't worth that. [Listens for a moment.]
No, I've given up trying. There might be more fish in the sea but they all stink. [Listens, thinks, laughs briefly. As she finishes wiping the table most upstage she sets the chairs upside down on the table. She moves to a space where there is no table and acts as if she is wiping a table, putting up chairs...]
Yeah, Gerald was the only man I ever thought was worth anything. You know that I kept his name. I tell everybody it is for little Gerald's sake but it is really for me. [Listens...]
I keep thinking...Well that is why I still wear the ring. [By this time she has reached the table that Future Man is sitting at. She continues to wipe and set chairs on the table. She pulls the chair right out from under Future Man; he remains sitting and motionless.]
I know...I know. I should really think about moving on. It has been five years. But...I still wonder some times. And to be honest John, you've been the only one who seems to understand. [She stops wiping a minute and brushes her face as if to wipe away a tear but there is no tear on her cheek. She sighs, takes the towel she was wiping the table with and walks over to the counter and begins wiping. Singing all the way to cover the pain. She starts as far upstage as possible and quickly works her way to the middle of the counter. Her hand rests on Gent's hand and the spotlight fades. Jukebox lights flash again and "Love Me Tender" starts over.]

Sunday, February 16, 2014

She Said Yes - new poem "Victoria"

The reading went very well.  There was one poem, however, I didn't include in my earlier post.  Here is the poem I ended my reading set with.
Victoria's ring was made by Sarah DeAngelo.

One day I walked into a store.
I wasn't buying; I was selling my bad poetry.
I left a book and left without much hope.

But I am the luckiest man you will ever meet;
I have had two loving relationships in my life.
And you, Victoria, aren't second; you are now.

What I didn't know is that this shop keeper
and I had things in common. Like,
we had both been looking for belonging.

Your life changed for the better.
And when we met again, you asked if I
would like to "chat about business;" I wasn't sure.

In a follow-up email you mentioned possibly
meeting for a "social thing." So, I
asked you to a movie; I still wasn't sure.

What I didn't know is that this marketing expert
and I had so much in common. Like,
we had both been looking and longing.

Two introverts on a date, yet
we found so much to talk about.
That one night would never be enough.

Neither was it enough when we "happened"
to meet the next evening; sometimes chosen
encounters are better than chance meetings.

What I didn't know is that this intelligent, brown-eyed,
nerdy, funny beauty and I had a lot in common. Like,
we had both been looking for the other.

Now, not only can I tell you that I love you;
I am telling you that I want to marry you.
Victoria, will you marry me?

Winter Festival of Poetry - Reading Selections

Today I will be taking part in one of the Winter Festival of Poetry readings.  Each Sunday in January and February the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets organizes a reading to showcase Wisconsin poets.

This is the first time I have ever taken part in anything like this.  I'm excited and nervous.  I'm looking forward to hearing a lot of poetry that will make me fell ashamed to be calling myself a poet.  But I also know that I will learn from this experience and make connections with others who appreciate good writing and storytelling.

I am the last to read today so that is even more intimidating.  Reading before me are:  Marilyn Taylor, Lori Lipsky, Gary Powell, Shoshauna Shy, and Dave Scheler.  If you clicked on any of the links, it is clear that I am out of my league.  But I am honored to be even the least amongst them.

Below are the selections I will be reading.
Excerpts from “Colleen

Colleen was the most unanticipated person
in my life.

Having given up on love years before,
I had no hope of finding someone
I did not want to live without.

I often just wanted to watch her because
she was so graceful and deliberate.
I came to love her when I realized that
most of her life was approached
with that same style, dedication, and insight.

Colleen never gave up on people.
She was friendly in the most stubborn way possible.
She greeted every person, every day.
If someone snubbed her, she made a point
of being friendly to them until they cracked;
sometimes it was just a warm smile, but she had changed a life.
People I would not have given a second thought to,
she saw the value in being kind to.
It wasn't a game or a matter of pride;
she knew that everyone was worthy
of a kind word and a smile;
those who cannot reciprocate need it even more.

Colleen did not mind hurting, suffering, and sacrificing.
At times holding her hands hurt her.
And so many nights I feel asleep holding her hand.
My love was honest unless it would hurt someone else;
I never knew how much she hurt or for how long.
On a Saturday afternoon in May, the doctors explained the situation:
An infection
they could not adequately treat had developed.
(and Colleen was always afraid of dying from an infection)

Aren't I too young to make this decision?
Aren't I too young to have to make it?
Isn't the doctor too young to know for sure?
"Will treatment cause her more pain?"
"Yes, it will cause her more pain;
though it might prolong her life slightly.
She is too weak to respond well.

Colleen likely has brain damage."

Colleen likely has brain damage?

Yes, you will have to push a button every 15 minutes
to help ease her pain,
you will have to tell her
it is okay "to go" and
"I will be okay"
The last thing you hear her say (yell) will be
"Oh, God make it stop!"

In a few days you will have to hold her close

as her last breath is taken,

you will have to sit with
her dead body to wait for her lifelong friend
to come and say goodbye,

you will watch
as her blood settles and her skin turns alabaster,
you will be haunted by all you have seen,
you will often be alone now,
you will have to endure the "knowing" glances of everyone who knows
and the "ignorant" remarks of those who don't,

you will sometimes find yourself wandering around your
home looking for
something you can never find,

you will die some day too but you will be
far less afraid of death. 
How Do I Look?

I make it
through the day
without my morning
blessing, "You look

am never handsome
but I believed;
all that mattered
was what you

I make it
through the day
knowing you are
not waiting for
me to come

I make it
through the day
without anticipation of
reward, returning home
for your love?
I guess I
"muddle through somehow"
as the lyric

The Mother Of Certainty

In Mother's home
there will always
be a hot
kettle for tea
on the stove
(or iced tea
in the fridge),
a peanut butter
jar on the
table, and dishes
of baked goods.

It may be
unwise to take
comfort in certainty
when life is
so unsure. What
else drowns out
our death clock's
ticking, winding down?

Grief stricken and
wallowing Mom said,
"Now you have
only to do
what Carney wants.
You have to
figure out what
you really want."
Wisdom mixed with
love, sadness, anticipation...

Mom's message is:
life is to
be enjoyed, beloved
are to be
held close, truth
is to be
accepted as a
vital first step,
choices are to
be doubted even
while moving on;
life is to
be lived so
it is always
worth being remembered.

Cleaning List

clear out junk cupboard
dump out catch-all drawer
give away poor fitting clothes
throw ratty sneakers
sell lonely guitar on Craigslist
cash in gold with jeweler
give away rock collection

You might find room for the unexpected.

burn old greeting cards
donate a box of random
isolate photos in one box
toss wilted bouquet
fling musty blankets
put empty vases aside
bundle papers for pulp

You might find room for the unexpected.
Life expands to fill every void.

un-bury secrets near tree roots
air dirty laundry
shake lose unseen pests
walk skeletons out of closet
sweep cobwebs everywhere
open doors for breeze
show fears the sun

You might find room for the unexpected.
Life expands to fill every void.
Anticipate all the newness to come.

One Who Loves Me Must...
idolize my ugliness
and be turned off by my vanities.

tolerate my gloominess,
remembering my smiles.

be fulfilled in us
though made vulnerable by sharing.

admire my focus
while ignoring my stubborn ways.

despise my distant moments,
seeking renewal in my affections.

love me
as much as one could loathe me.

To reverse any
above would make
hate, not love.

Too Right To Be Scared

The last woman in
my arms was dying.
Now, your response
to my touch reawakened
the joys of mingled flesh.

I feel vulnerable, but I'm crying
happy tears.
I want so much, but I thought
I had quit trying.

Met you months ago and
never thought we'd be here.
Now, being in each others'
arms seems inevitable. How
lucky to have this chance.

I feel exhausted, and I'm writing
weepy poetry.
I want so much, but I thought
I had quit trying.

That you are possible and real
is why I stayed up all night.
Now, I have memories of
you trying to sleep and of
how close we can be.

I feel anticipation, and I'm saying
"Thank You."
I want so much, but I thought
I had quit trying.