Blueberry

I Have Your Back. Acrylic on watercolor paper. #lexleonardartist

Blueberry

  1. Take a handful of blueberries, toss them one by one, her attention, the prize awarded.
  2. They shatter, those berry blue words, like bullet splatter behind her back.
  3. Let their juices flow between the cellophane wall separating you from her with her cherry berry dyed hair.
  4. Draw your berry blue bloodied finger along the line of demarcation, a line for which you shall never pass.
  5. Let her know even though she will not turn to hear, twist to look, let her know you have her back, will you always have her back if she returns.
  6. You will have her back at the slightest drop of a single berry blue rolling its escape from the clamshell carton on the kitchen counter, remind her it was a mistake.
  7. Your hands stained, guilty for there is no excuse, no words to make amends in the blue puddle of berries gone.
  8. Your berry blue words streak sad, speak your words, this be your poem, your truth without remorse, your bloody berry blue words without regret, your poem to her, and to every blueberry lost.

………

Author’s Note..

I am drawn to surrealism and find this writing exploration unsettling. This image I painted has always bothered me and I didn’t know where it fit. I think it fits here with today’s prompt. A good practice piece again to push boundaries, experiment.

From NaPoWriMo:

‘Finally, here’s our optional prompt! Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem . . . in the form of a poetry prompt. If that sounds silly, well, maybe it is! But it’s not without precedent. The poet Mathias Svalina has been writing surrealist prompt-poems for quite a while, posting them to Instagram. You can find examples here, and here, and here.”

Beginning With Light

Beginning With Light…

Beginning With Light. Acrylic on watercolor paper. #lexleonardartist

Beginning with light,
without it there can be no life on 
top of this plain
where feet, toes curled
tickle dry brown 
interspeckled with tender green 
answering back, 
listening, and yet, too cool 
for bare arms, she accedes —— it is there
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –

Back and forth, black wings
from nest to Source
and back again. Dark night
sustenance, a treacherous stillness
unwelcome — but 
a required embrasure 
a grace miscalculated
a path toward light 
That perches in the soul –

In her room a tiny brass box
with lid open spins — en pointe
balanced confidently
a mantram rhythm bound to Self
but free knowing
her purpose, 
her path,
And sings the tune without the words –

She reaches down 
fingers brush dry and green —
it is spring
and turns the wheel to the new 
from dark night, to the light,
the constant springs
And never stops – at all –

……….

Author’s Note

From the kind folks at NaPoWriMo:

“And now for our (optional) prompt. This one is a bit complex, so I saved it for a Sunday. It’s a Spanish form called a “glosa” – literally a poem that glosses, or explains, or in some way responds to another poem. The idea is to take a quatrain from a poem that you like, and then write a four-stanza poem that explains or responds to each line of the quatrain, with each of the quatrain’s four lines in turn forming the last line of each stanza. Traditionally, each stanza has ten lines, but don’t feel obligated to hold yourself to that! Here’s a nice summary of the glosa form to help you get started.”

While I was still teaching, I always shared this video with my first graders during National Poetry Month. It is beauty and grace in words and action. They understood and it was magic watching them moving their arms and hands in concert with the girl even though no one knew her language. We watched it many times.

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/video/77372/hope-is-the-thing-with-feathers

A Villanelle for Benny

Day 2: NaPoWriMo

A Villanelle for Benny

I taught him how to shake.
Now when he yearns, I get the paw.
I will give him no reason for escape.

Oh, what an ally to ease my ache
to be loved, giving me one to kiddle.
I taught him how to shake

in his middle-doghood shape.
No longer a pup, but a handsome soul,
I will give him no reason for escape.

The Bean will never mistake
my fierce affection.
I taught him how to shake.

In our oneness, how can I forsake
those eyes and heavy paw?
I will give him no reason for escape.

He came to me, I the remake,
his third home to care.
I taught him how to shake
and there will be no reason for him to escape.

…..

“Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem based on a word featured in a tweet from Haggard Hawks, an account devoted to obscure and interesting English words. Will you choose a word like “aprosexia,” which means ‘an inability to concentrate’?”

I chose Haggard Hawks Word of the Day: KIDDLE (v.) to embrace warmly, to caress. https://twitter.com/HaggardHawks

And I decided to work through Tania Runyan’s How To Write A Form Poem becuase writing a poem a day for a month isn’t difficult enough…🙄😂😉https://www.amazon.com/Tania-Runyan/e/B0073Z3IDQ…

So, here is my first try at a villanelle. Don’t judge. I’ll get better. 😂

Tania actually does a beautiful job leading you through the process. If you teach poetic forms, I highly recommend this book. And she’s funny.

For The Sake of Mitigation

NaPoWriMo

For The Sake of Mitigation

He said begin each day proclaiming, “Today is going to be a great day.” My knee protested. We walked to the open space, our refuge, the Bean and I. Labored. He was patient. He knows. They cleared away bushes, trees. “For the sake of mitigation.” To keep us safe from fire. Fire that burns from indifference, not from within that quickens marrow. I wonder about Fox who follows us weaving within the woods rose and willow. Raven registers displeasure, a loss of camouflage against Hawk. “I’m sorry,” my offering against sadness. Maybe tomorrow.

Junk Drawer

I rattle the box.

An Altoids tin.
A jangle collection of screw heads
I didn’t know was there.

Birthday candles.

So many shapes and colors
to light celebrations
I no longer have.
And when I do,
I forget,
and buy more.

Much like the years that pass each May.
Collections I forget were there.

But I can’t buy more years
when I can’t find the memories,

lost possibilities.

I can’t keep them in an Altoids tin.

And even if I did,
would I remember?

.

.

.

Author’s Note.

Day 10 of Na/GloPoWriMo and an interesting exercise.

Journey

Journey. Acrylic on watercolor paper. 24″ X 18″. Lex Leonard.

There are doorways

not made of wood
or stone

or branches of trees
crossing their arms
twining together

But liminal space

A place unknown
where steps decide trajectory

define what is to be

Space where nothing resides
else it be blocked
unusable
un-purposed

Yet a place
where eternity
kisses your cheek

takes your hand
and whispers

“Welcome.”

.

.

.

Authors Note:

Day Two of Na/GloPoWritMo.

Today’s inspiration: The Road Less Taken by Robert Frost.

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

Pandemic

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Pandemic.19

I don’t know your slipping away.
I don’t know you but numbers grow
With your decrease. We are afraid,
I don’t know your slipping away
While loved ones mourn. I just stay
Home, my only purpose, to sew.
I don’t know your slipping away.
I don’t know you, but numbers grow.

 

Author’s Note:

Today a triolet: – a poem of eight lines, typically of eight syllables each, rhyming abaaabab and so structured that the first line recurs as the fourth and seventh and the second as the eighth.

From Na/GloPoWriMo;

For today’s prompt (optional, as always), I’d like to challenge you to write a triolet. These eight-line poems involve repeating lines and a tight rhyme scheme. The repetitions and rhymes can lend themselves to humorous poems, as well as to poems expressing dramatic or sorrowful moods. And sometimes the repetitions can be used in deceptive ways, by splitting the words in a given line into different sentences, and making subtle changes, as in this powerful triolet by Sandra McPherson.