The Reluctant Baker

 

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The Reluctant Baker

But you don’t eat bread.

I do now. Thin. Whole wheat. Dave’s.

Do they have it?

I don’t know.

I’ll get some yeast and start making bread again.
I’ve been wanting to do that.

Yay.

.
.
.
.

No toilet paper. No popcorn. No yeast.

You’re kidding?

.
.
.
.

I’m going to make sourdough.

Really?

We need to make a starter.
I can use a bowl but we will need some jars.

I cleaned out the shelves
and the recycling just came.
I got rid of the jars.
I think I have a pickle jar that’s almost empty.

.
.
.
.

I don’t think it’s working. 

It’s cold in the house.
Beer bread is good, too.

I’m going to keep going.

.
.
.
.

It smells sour.

I don’t smell anything.

You can’t smell this?

No.

Can you taste food?

I think so.

Let’s take your temperature just to be sure.

Okay,
but the starter doesn’t look
 like the pictures I’ve seen online.

It’s good. I can smell it.

Okay.

.
.
.
.

It’s not working. 

Do you want me to try?

Sure.

Then you can bake the bread.

Okay.

.
.
.
.

I emptied the pickle jar.
I put the starter in the jar
in the cabinet
near the stove.
It might be warmer up there. 

Okay.

.
.
.
.

It smells sour.

That’s how it’s supposed to smell.

But it smells like pickles.

It’ll be fine.

.
.
.
.

Ooooooooo….looooook.

What?

It has a few bubbles!!!!!

Uh. Huh.

It’s working.
Do you want to see?

When I come downstairs.

Okay.

.
.
.
.
It’s time to make bread!!!
I’m so excited.
When do you want to take over?

How about if you make the bread?

Okay.

.
.
.
.

Benny grunts.

Okay, here is a recipe that calls for lots of stuff.
How did people use to make this without all this stuff?
I just know they didn’t have all these fancy tools
to make bread a long time ago….

Benny sighs.

OMG.
Look at the number of steps.
A loaf of sourdough is going to take days to make.
Well, at least I’m home with little else to do.

Benny whines.

Okay, go chase the squirrel.
I’m going to find something easier.
There has to be something that is more sensible.
I know there must be.
I’m not a baker.
This is Colorado and a high altitude.
My mother always said you must adjust the recipe.
How do I do that?
Days.
It’s going to take days. 

Benny barks.

I’m coming.
Let’s go for a walk.
I need to make a plan.
We’re going for a walk!

Okay.

I’ll work on the bread when we get back.

Great.

“I’m going to make sourdough bread.”
What’s wrong with beer bread?
But noooooo,
it had to be sourdough.

What?

Nothing.
We’ll be back

Okay.

.
.
.
.

Awww, look how fluffy the starter is.
I think it grew!!!!

.
.
.
.

It’s really sticky.  

.
.
.
.

Pull and turn.
Pull and turn.
Pull and turn.
Pull and turn.
Set the timer for 30 minutes.
Repeat for FOUR hours?

.
.
.
.

It’s soooo pretty.
You are such a pretty mound of flour and organisms.
Keep on going.
You can do this.
I know you can!

.
.
.
.

Let rest 6-18 hours.
Place in fridge for at least 12 hours.
Then bake.
You silly little round of nourishment. 

.
.
.
.

Yes.
Release. Patience. Trust.
In the time of virus.

Author’s Note:

The challenge in our writing group was to write dialogue. I tried to keep exclusively dialogue to see what I could bring about in a minimum of words. When it came to Benny my dog I had to rely on stage directions. No too sure how to write his sounds. I’ll work on it.

Winter Violets

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Winter Violets – acrylic and pen n watercolor paper – 18′ X 24″ – Lex Loenard

 

I didn’t know they are called winter violets
I know them as johnny jump ups, violas
They don’t bloom here in winter’s bite
They wait for spring to introduce themselves
They tuck in wherever they please
I cannot design their path
A surprise, a nod to independence, survival

                                                         winter violet
                                                         she carries
                                                         a tiny fire
                                                                   – Ami Tanaka

My grandmother grew them in her lawn
Candytuft their partner
Honeyed liquor for bees
Judicious steps for bare feet
A summer’s expedition 

                                                       violets here and there
                                                       in the ruins
                                                       of my burnt house
                                                                      – Chiyo-ni

It is snowing, again
Another kept quarantine
Amid no-contact solitude
Amid numbers piling up
Like snow
Like leaden slats of blighted ruins
Waiting for Phoenix to rise again
Or little purple yellow faces
Peeking out from beneath
A kept quarantine

                                                       no limit to kindness
                                                       winter violets
                                                                       – Mitsu Suzuki

There is a kindness of canvas
An artist’s peace
If just a glance, a moment to dwell
An offering
Rising through depths of piled forfeiture
There is a spark of hope
Purple yellow faces
A cycle not denied

 

Author’s Note –

I was graciously invited to attend an on-line reading of haiku by some amazing poets from the Pacific Northwest and around the world. They read one haiku – their own or another’s – and spoke of the meaning. It was in celebration of International Haiku Poetry Day. The theme was taken from The Poetry Society of America who invited poets to write about “poems they return to in difficult times – to find solace, perspective, or even moment of delight.” Thank you Cj Prince and Victor Ortiz for this brilliant opportunity to learn and grow.

In the short hour, three of the haiku included winter violets. The images stayed with me and deepened as each new winter violet popped its head up to speak.

I took it to the canvas first and played with a different process than I usually do. It is very difficult to photograph this image. It just doesn’t do it justice. You may get a better idea of what it looks like if you do close-ups of the above image.

Then I moved to write with the inspiration of the poets – Mitsu SuzukiChiyo-ni, and Ami Tanaka. Much gratitude.

Iron Rain

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Iron Rain

Iron Rain, acrylic on watercolor paper, 18″ X 24″, Lex Leonard

There is a planet faraway where the rain is made of iron…..

Helen placed her phone down on her lap. Her eyes were tired. The glow made them itch and when she read too long, especially when it was dark in the room, her eyes watered. 

Leaning her head back to rest against the wooden slats of her grandmother’s only remaining dining room chair, she let herself feel the water pool under her narrowed eyelids. And when there was no more room, she squeezed them tighter, shutting out all frivolous possibilities.

And tears ran down her cheeks, under her jaw, and dropped onto the screen of her phone. They puddled there. Not a lot but enough to catch the light of the moon through the attic window. 

Iron. Helen mused. As her eyes cleared she could see the moon glow in each drop, silvery, a bit like iron. And she wondered what iron raindrops sound like…

 

She never cried that hard before
sobs and snot ran down her blouse
she wiped, eyes, nose, blouse
in apology as if that would make a difference

The noise of each teardrop
full of anger, enraged, hot and molten
seized mid-air, became real
plunked onto her cheek then blouse
then to the ground

She shook,
she was cold in her raving madness,
the sound
the iron clinks
and clunks,
did anyone else hear

Why couldn’t anyone else hear

Bent to Earth she touched
each tear, each iron droplet

A memory 

She wanted to collect them
keep them safe
to remember
remember
remember

Why doesn’t anyone else remember

Her finger pressed,
a print
hers mixed with iron rain,
proof
of their existence
a mud, a plaster
a cast of what was 

Helen’s phone glowed at her. She blinked her eyes and wiped the screen on her skirt. The message was from Sarah. 

Want to have coffee.

Yes. Helen wanted coffee.

See you at Cassie’s in about an hour.

Yes. Helen wanted coffee, an iron brew to warm her from the inside.

She stood and walked by memory to the wall. She didn’t need a light to guide her to the switch. 

The light blinded her a bit. She made a note to change the bulb to something softer.  

Helen looked at herself in the mirror, straightened her hair, and noticed a delicate iron sheen on her cheeks.

 

Author’s Note:

I fell behind. Or should I say, I fell into the black hole. 

I’m finding this isolation and the bigger picture a time of many ups and downs.

I am learning not to deride myself for doing “nothing.” In the time of a pandemic simply surviving, taking a breath, opening my eyes, is the most important thing to do every day. 

I am learning to slow down. Pretty much everything is optional. There is not a big script that is my contract. Being is enough and if I chose to watch TV, fine. Cook. Fine. Meditate. Fine. Walk the dog. Fine. If I don’t do any of all that stuff I “should” be doing, ITS FREAKING FINE.

It was snowy and very cold these past two days and we didn’t get our twice a day doggo walks. That is part of the despair, I think.

But yesterday, our monthly writing group met over, wait for it, Zoom. I cancelled last month’s because it was at the very beginning of this pandemic and I just didn’t have a good feeling about bringing together my best friends in a public place to write. Many work in the schools, including myself. I just didn’t have a good feeling about it. I was right. Within the week, we were in self-isolation.

But seeing everyone and hearing their voices and listening to their writing was a joy.

Today I decided to play a bit and paint this to go along with my writing.

Our prompts were taken from headlines and five words. As always, we can use them however we wish. The rule is no rules. Some came from the Na/GloPoWriMo sight or gathered from the Internet:

Delicate. Spontaneous. Frivolous. Enraged. Narrowed.

  1. Hickory, Dickory, Dock, The Tortoise Played The….

  2. Pablo Escobar’s ‘Cocaine Hippos’  May Be Restoring Columbia’s Ecosystem

  3. Researchers Discover Faraway Planet Where The Rain Is Made Of Iron

  4. Family Colors Each Brick Of Their House With Colorful Chalk

Grotto

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Grotto, acrylic and ink on watercolor paper, 18″X24″, Lex Leonard

In the beginning
a cavern gestation
dark, warm, fluid
underwater quiet
a den in which to grow
without worry
a place to become
what I am

Then I emerged
all new and shiny
ready to become more
still me, but more

There is no need for me to fear
This dark
This hollow
This stillness
This solitary space
Imposed

The other time, in three days
here was something new
and shiny
still the same
yet more
not in ways of musts and rules
but a knowing…there is more
and it doesn’t matter what that is
just a reminder
to be me, here and now

I, too, will emerge from this antre
shaking off many things
having been exiled to
dark, still, quiet in
sacred space
knowing there is more

 

Author’s Note:

This is day eleven of the National Poetry Writing Month/Global Writing Month. I didn’t post yesterday’s poem. It is at the bottom of this post. And today I am not writing to the prompt.

I began this painting yesterday. I am several years removed from celebrating the traditions of Holy Week and Easter. I celebrate in another way taking with me a life of of what serves me.

I have no specific religion, but I do believe in Source.

I do believe in holy and wise people who came here to help us realize what gifts we are. To help us realize that we are wonderfully and perfectly and beautifully made. This is our personal gift as well as a gift to all beings. And it is our purpose to share our beautiful selves. Flaws, if you must, and all.

As I painted this on Good Friday, I was in a place in my fear. In darkness. And I knew there was a message for me. I used only bone black and titanium white to begin after having blessed the canvas with the elements and opened the directions. This is my holy practice with my art.

As I sat with this, faces began to emerge from the strokes. Many faces, even a figure. I thought I might just darken a few lines of all the faces, but I stopped at the one that was most obvious. I knew I was going to add the quinacridone crimson. So this face emerge d surround by red, fire, hair. Me. So she stays. I’m posting below several image points along the way as I painted.

I am a certified Intentional Creativity instructor, Red Thread Guide, and poet. Using Intentional Creativity as a spiritual practice is a powerful addition to my other practices – Passage Meditation with the Blue Mountain Center for Meditation and my shamanic practice.

Life, for me, is about weaving together that which serves and sharing the gifts I have been given to help all beings realize their beauty within.

My Process: 1. Blessing the canvas with the elements. 2. Writing the intention. 3. Opening the directions. 4. Faces emerge.

 

NaPoWriMo Day 10

Today’s prompt (optional, as always) is another one from the archives, first suggested to us by long-time Na/GloPoWriMo participant Vince Gotera. It’s the hay(na)ku). Created by the poet Eileen Tabios and named by Vince, the hay(na)ku is a variant on the haiku. A hay(na)ku consists of a three-line stanza, where the first line has one word, the second line has two words, and the third line has three words. You can write just one, or chain several together into a longer poem. For example, you could write a hay(na)ku sonnet, like the one that Vince himself wrote back during NaPoWriMo 2012!

 

Evolution

Paramecium
Swimming obedience
Survival in tedium

Prometheus
Clayed resilience
Sparked life abundance

Bohemian
Soaring avian
Extant not oblivion

Microscopic
Story mythical
Consummate zenithal marrow

Bluejay

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Bluejay, acrylic and ink on watercolor paper, 18″x24″, Lex Leonard

Bluejay

Today is a spiral day the anger and the fear and the hopelessness all coming at once but organized one right after the other they greet me as i open my eyes and start my day i try to organize them for my brain and all they want is each one to be the first in line without exception impertinent little bastards impolite and quite pushy i get mad at the dog i am sharpe with my partner i am angry at myself for the dirty floor and the piles of stuff cluttering from a few weeks ago attempt at clearing out the clutter another failure my office my sacred space for meditating that must be clutter free i am at odds with myself because of those impish grins pushing to be first and most important and what they fucking don’t understand what i can’t seem to make them fucking understand is that they are not important enough to make me feel like shit and i breathe and listen to the birds and write this on watercolor paper to paint on when i am finished to bring healing and i hear the bluejay singing like i have never heard before he is happy at the bird feeder alone right now because all we can get is the cheap seed and the birds are spoiled and don’t like it and it is spring and there are other sources so it is his alone and when this is all over we will always buy the good stuff because that is what is important right now

 

 

Author’s Note:

The days spiral. Today is not such a good day. So it is to the canvas I go with my words. And then paint. Thank the Universe for Intentional Creativity.

From NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo:

Our prompt for the day (optional as always) is inspired by Kaschock’s use of space to organize her poems. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a “concrete” poem – a poem in which the lines and words are organized to take a shape that reflects in some way the theme of the poem. This might seem like a very modernist idea, but poets have been writing concrete poems since the 1600s! Your poem can take a simple shape, like a box or ball, or maybe you’ll have fun trying something more elaborate, like this poem in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Resurrection

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My mother forbade us to walk backwards.
That is how the dead walk, she would say.
Anne Carson bot @carsonbot

 

Do they walk backwards to redo
Do they bump into us on purpose to feel us one more time
Do they do this to stay here and not move on

Or maybe it is our wish
That we could say it over, more nicely a second time around
That we could touch them just once more
That we want them to stay, stay, stay,
With us, not to leave, go away, never kiss us again

Death is keenly at our doorstep
It is not a game of words or politics
Nor a time to blame
Death’s hand is waiting
We need to acknowledge its presence

I will plant two small trees
that were on the sale table
after Christmas, drying needles,
spindly branches, tiny enough to hold one in each palm

A bit of water and light
hope and care, time
it’s always about time
now spring stands at the threshold

I will plant them instead of taking Death’s invitation
I will plant them deep into her nourishing soil
roots to stretch in room to grow
air and sweet breeze to strengthen limbs
promise and hope 

Yes, that’s what I’ll do

 

Author’s Note:

From the folks at NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo:

Today’s poetry resource is a series of twitter accounts that tweet phrases from different poets’ work. The Sylvia Plath Bot, as you might expect, tweets snippets of Plath. @PercyBotShelley tweets Shelley, @ruefle_exe tweets bits of Mary Ruefle’s poems, and @carsonbot and @sikenpoems send into the world small fragments of the work of Anne Carson and Richard Siken.

And if you’re feeling puckish, perhaps you might enjoy (or enjoy the act of not-enjoying) the “poems” created by @VogonB. If you’ve ever read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, you may remember the Vogons as the aggressive aliens who, in addition to destroying the Earth, have an unpleasant habit of reading their poetry – known as the third worst in the entire universe – to their victims.

Our prompt for the day (optional as always) asks you to peruse the work of one or more of these twitter bots, and use a line or two, or a phrase or even a word that stands out to you, as the seed for your own poem. Need an example? Well, there’s actually quite a respectable lineage of poems that start with a line by another poet, such as this poem by Robert Duncan, or this one by Lisa Robertson.

The Hermit

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SPACE 26 February 2020

The space of my desk holds the card
The one that keeps appearing
The one nudging me to rest, burrow,
Go within
A small yet infinite space 

Earth has acquired
a brand new moon
that’s about the size of a car

Truth, a primary pilgrimage
Lit by the simplest of Light
Discernible in dark, no obvious borders
Small enough for a few steps at a time
A time for slowing, introspection 

Our new moon is probably between
1.9 and 3.5 metres across,
making it no match for Earth’s primary moon.

I am an elliptical orbit
Swooping unbalanced
Reaching for certainty
Knowing grace is in the unknowing
Resting and going
Coming back again

It circles our planet
about once every 47 days
on a wide, oval-shaped orbit
that mostly swoops
far outside the larger moon’s path.

I am not stable here planted
Tulips rise
There will be snow and ice
Rabbits delight in buds
Old growth hides snake
All within our orbits
Bumping into one another
Our right relation

The orbit isn’t stable,
so eventually 2020 CD3
will be flung away from Earth.

Will I gently step
When the veils opens
or be flung from this crust

I think I shall choose the flinging

 

Author’s Note:

This is Day Seven of the National Poetry Writing Month/Global Poetry Writing Month challenge of writing a new poem every day.

The Hermit continues to visit me. Often. I need to heed his advice. So melding the optional prompt and his presence gives me words to share today.

And I will have to use the iron rain story, too, sometime. That is just too good a prompt to pass up.

From the folks at NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo:

And speaking of news, today our prompt (optional, of course) is another oldie-but-goodie: a poem based on a news article. Frankly, I understand why you might be avoiding the news lately, but this is a good opportunity to find some “weird” and poetical news stories for inspiration. A few potential candidates:

Earth Has Acquired a Brand New Moon That’s About the Size of a Car,”

Ohio Man Seeks World Record with Beer-Only Lent Diet

Pablo Escobar’s ‘Cocaine Hippos’ May Be Restoring Colombia’s Ecosystem

Researchers Discover Faraway Planet Where the Rain is Made of Iron

Being

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Being

It is not by self we fly

Each to us a gift
One of fur and claw, a fisherbeing
One of beak and wing, a flyingbeing
One of beauty and strength, a motherbeing
One of roots and leaves, a respirebeing
One of song and nest,  a reflectionbeing

Together we take flight

 

 

Author’s note:

Birds, flying, roots of trees on which birds nest…these images from Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights were the inspiration today. Lovely, really.

From the NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo folks:

Today’s (optional) prompt is ekphrastic in nature – but rather particular! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem from the point of view of one person/animal/thing from Hieronymous Bosch’s famous (and famously bizarre) triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. Whether you take the position of a twelve-legged clam, a narwhal with a cocktail olive speared on its horn, a man using an owl as a pool toy, or a backgammon board being carried through a crowd by a fish wearing a tambourine on its head, I hope that you find the experience deliriously amusing. And if the thought of speaking in the voice of a porcupine-as-painted-by-a-man-who-never-saw-one leaves you cold, perhaps you might write from the viewpoint of Bosch himself? Very little is known about him, so there’s plenty of room for invention, embroidery, and imagination.

Peter from St. Petersburg

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The day rolled on
unfolding like the toilet paper
he dropped and couldn’t catch

But he knew he could get it wound
back around without anyone noticing
perfection was his way of being
all of his expeditions capped
themselves in excellence

His slender fingers, smooth and agile
gentled the paper back around
he made no sound
no patterns noticed, no crumpled edges
it was perfection, done

His nose drank in the thick coffee scented air
awaiting his return
he licked his lips, remembering her brew
instead, only salt flavor
from his morning run

His name was Peter
oddly enough
Peter was from St.Petersburg
they met yesterday

Opening the door
the air was fresh
linen and dryer sheets
churning round and around

He forgot
just like the day
to replace the roll
so carefully wound, he returned
to complete his agency

TP never looked so good,
he was proud
he was certain
she would never learn
of his transgression

But once a roll unrolls and rolls
there is no returning to perfection, ever
there will always be telltale signs
scars and scabs, wounds

When are we leaving?
I have a plane to catch later tonight?
He thought Tiger didn’t remember
A child playing with her emotions
she had already ordered the Uber

A modern chariot of escape
for both of them

The TP roll was a brick in his hand
something to throw at her
but it wouldn’t hurt
just frighten, then
he could leave

He could walk out the door
fly home, instead of seats
narrow, too close, no room
yes fly, Peter wanted to fly

Tiger wouldn’t know
miss his departure
unaware of his grace in takeoff
her loss

He will land with ease
and be free of her
cheap toilet paper
too thin, see through

She dropped the viperous coffee pot
losing what small promise of conversation
she had in balance

She would make him leave
Peter from St. Petersburg
telling him it was all his fault
unrolling the facts
not able to take them back

Drbroye utro.
Da, was all she answered.

The coffee shouted
from cracks and corners
seeped and puddled
Leave. Just leave now,
Peter from St. Petersburg.
You are not welcome here.

And Peter from St. Petersburg
rolled out the door.

Author’s Note:

This is what happens when you write after midnight. Of course, toilet paper is on most everyone’s mind in this odd time in our lives.

The prompt from the NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo folks today, or should I say yesterday, was ridiculous in the most delightful way.

I simply went down the list and wrote to each prompt with as just a ridiculous story. Each stanza goes with each prompt in order (except for the name prompt which I used earlier in the poem.) But I like the last two stanzas.

Yes, I do.

Our (optional) prompt for today is one that we have used in past years, but which I love to come back to, because it so often takes me to new and unusual places, and results in fantastic poems. It’s called the “Twenty Little Poetry Projects,” and was originally developed by Jim Simmerman. The challenge is to use/do all of the following in the same poem. Of course,  if you can’t fit all twenty projects into your poem, or a few of them get your poem going, that is just fine too!

  1. Begin the poem with a metaphor.
  2. Say something specific but utterly preposterous.
  3. Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.
  4. Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).
  5. Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.
  6. Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.
  7. Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.
  8. Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.
  9. Use an example of false cause-effect logic.
  10. Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).
  11. Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”
  12. Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.
  13. Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”
  14. Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.
  15. Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.
  16. Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.
  17. Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.
  18. Use a phrase from a language other than English.
  19. Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).
  20. Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

Kitchen Exoskeleton

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Kitchen Exoskeleton, Photograph with PicMonkey, Lex Leonard

I start, I see the primal
hear the bridal roar in denial
a vaginal entrance we all make
to end up here together 

Kitchen vision driven into me
locked with Lycian masks
everywhere I strain to see your faces 

But there is an economy
like a dovekie pitter-patter
an audible homily telling me
what’s right and what may not matter 

In my elemental life, what I
resemble and reassemble

with pencil marks on paper white 

Where coffee rings the page
embodies stroppy space
taking over the gentle poppy
from my brush 

A sweetly water-colored specimen
medicine for the artist
adrenaline
leaving only
my exquisite exoskeleton

Author’s Note:

Day Three of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo

At the last breath I made it. These days are odd in what we do now. Schedules fade into something lifted easily away in breath. I made it, though, I’m here before midnight.

Today’s prompt:

Today’s prompt (optional, as always) asks you to make use of our resource for the day. First, make a list of ten words. You can generate this list however you’d like – pull a book  off the shelf and find ten words you like, name ten things you can see from where you’re sitting, etc. Now, for each word, use Rhymezone to identify two to four similar-sounding or rhyming words. For example, if my word is “salt,” my similar words might be “belt,” “silt,” “sailed,” and “sell-out.”

Once you’ve assembled your complete list, work on writing a poem using your new “word bank.” You don’t have to use every word, of course, but try to play as much with sound as possible, repeating  sounds and echoing back to others using your rhyming and similar words.