Hey yourself

A fox walked through our backyard this evening. I was like, “Hey.” And the fox was like, “Hey yourself.”

Whatever happened to “Hey / Hey yourself” conversations? Simple, short acknowledgments — I should start having more of those because this morning I blew it.

I was mowing the lawn and a woman walked by with her two dogs. I stopped mowing because I didn’t want to scare the dogs or run the risk of grass hitting them or whatever. For years, people have cut the mower when I walk by and I’ve always thought, “Now this is what modern civilization looks like.” But today, when I cut the mower a giant hush fell over Rockford and probably all of Illinois. It was eerily quiet for a full second before I broke that god-awful silence.

“Good morning,” I said with a big, dumb smile. “How are you?”

“Morning,” she said back to me. “How are you?”

I could tell she just wanted to walk her dogs in peace, but I wasn’t having it.

“Not bad, not bad,” I said as I wiped imaginary perspiration from my brow. “Figured I’d mow before it got too hot.”

“Good idea.”

“What beautiful dogs!”

“Thanks,” she said. “How are you?”

“Not bad, not bad.”

“Well, have a good one.”

“You too!” Then I looked at her dogs and said, “Stay cool!”

A simple “Hey / Hey yourself” would have sufficed. I’ll get there one day. Gotta work on it. Until then, a poem.

mastering the art
of polite conversation
would mean no more war


Thanks for reading my late night blog. -Connie

I’m just going to listen to your heart

I had a doctor appointment today so I wrote a haiku sequence. Also, I don’t have a picture from my appointment so I’m using this 2016 photograph of my husband pretending to be doctor. I believe the character’s name was “Dr. Douche.” Anyway, it’s poem time.

1.
i like the light touch 
of the stethoscope on my
chest and back, each tap

2.
a gentle chill 
going to the doctor can 
be nice if you just...

3.
take a deep breath  
i'm just going to listen 
to your heart and lungs

4.
i overdo it
inhale a good five seconds
longer than i should

5.
and hold it in for
far too long before i dra-
matically exhale!

6.
just breathe in and out
he says, breathe normally now
i've forgotten how

Thank you for reading my blog. Writing it is as easy as breathing in and out. -Connie

Day and night

Here’s some haiku poetry about our backyard. I wrote it today because last night I woke to the sounds of screeching raccoons scaling my neighbor’s tree.

Hear my poem.
Day

a choir of tulips
turns to the sun and opens
wide to sing and shine

Dusk

flowers fold their
fingers neatly
into their laps

Night

close your eyes
disappear
into yourself


3:00 a.m.

raccoons hunt for mice
instead come face to
face with a fox

3:01 a.m.

lungs and eyes
screech and scream as they
scale a tree to safety

3:05 a.m.

fox flees and
the family descends the tree
slower going down than up

3:06 a.m.
i close the window and turn
my back to nature
hide under my pillow

Thanks for reading my blog and / or listening to my podcast. -Connie

Editor’s Note: Haiku is not limited to the 5-7-5 syllable structure.

For Nerds Only: Hear raw audio of the raccoons in my yard!

As I lay wafting

I hit a pothole and popped my front tire. My mechanic recommended I go to Marvin’s Tire Shop to replace it so I did. I called them to make an appointment but the receptionist said I didn’t need one.

“Come anytime,” she said.

“Wow, thanks.” I said. “I’ll be there in ten.”

I grabbed a book (Morning Haiku by Sonia Sanchez) and headed over there. I figured I’d have to wait for at least an hour.

I figured wrong. You don’t even get out of your car!

When you pull into the lot, someone comes up to your window like the roller-skating waitresses on Happy Days. In my case, it was a man and he was wearing sensible shoes. Anyway, I didn’t know this sort of customer service still existed. When he appeared carside, I was so startled that I forgot how to roll down my windows. I ended up opening my car door to communicate because I’m an idiot.

By the time I figured out how to speak to another human, he already saw the spare and knew why I was there. He directed me to pull into the garage and one of the mechanics got to work.

He jacked up the car — this next part is important — with me in it.

I was mortified! With each pump, I felt things jiggle that I had never before felt jiggle. The new sensation triggered my doubts and insecurities.

Oh my god. Was I supposed to get out? Is the man going to die from the extra weight?

I looked ahead to the car in front of me and saw that the driver was still inside.

Phew! Phew, phew, phew!

Once my initial shock wore off, I cracked open my book but quickly realized I was too excited to concentrate on literature, especially the corny-ass forward.

From the moment i opened the book and read the first haiku, i slid onto the floor and cried and was changed. i had found me. -Sonia Sanchez

Good for you, but I don’t want to read this book now.

I looked up and found the poetry my soul was craving.

I saw another mechanic lift and dip a dusty old tire into a big tub of what looked like a warm, sudsy solution. When he pulled it out, the tire was as shiny as a seal.

Then another vehicle pulled up behind me and I saw another mechanic jack up that car with the driver still in it. I know it’s rude to stare, but I had to watch. I turned around in my seat and observed the driver jiggle with each pump. It is the most satisfying thing I have ever seen.

When I turned back around, my mechanic was already done! He released the jack. The van and I wafted down to the ground. It was the first time I have ever wafted. And as I wafted, I felt all of my cares and worries drift away. Bliss.

Until today, I had never been inside a professional garage. Jiffy Lube, sure, but nothing like this. I’ve always been sent to a boring waiting area or if it was at K-Mart or Wal*Mart, they’ve told me to “go shop.” This was so much better.

Thank you for reading my blog. If you’re local, I hope if and when you get a flat tire you head over to Marvin’s! -Connie

I don’t know what it is, but I like it

It was a beautiful day in Rockford. I know this because I looked out the window once or twice. For the most part, however, my eyes were glued to my manuscript and my buttocks were firmly planted in my seat; the same seat I am sitting in right now.

Connie: Buttocks, don’t be rude. Say hello!

Buttocks: Hellooooo!

Connie: Thank you, Buttocks. Dismissed.

Buttocks are confused and stay put. Connie changes subject.

I hope you like the picture. I took it yesterday at Rock Cut State Park. I’m using it for today’s blog entry because it’s a visual metaphor of my writing. Other than it being a dead tree, I don’t really know what I’m looking at, but I do like its shape and textures.

Writing all day isn’t a new sensation, but there is a special shame that accompanies me when a deadline is involved. That’s because other things get ignored in the process. Things like my chores and hydrating. My children. But the good news is I checked Facebook 14,097 times so at least I’m caught up there.

In case you are wondering what I’m writing: I am sharing scenes 3 and 4 of my full length drama Nothing Could Be Finer Than To Be In Southwest China at Tuesdays@9. I’m introducing a new character, Shan, with these scenes.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the peek into my process (and negligence). I suppose a haiku would have been a more economic approach.

guilt is worse than pain
when you spend the day writing
buttocks stuck to seat
 

That’s the long and short of it. Thank you for reading my blog. Inside or out, I hope you had a decent weekend. -Connie

Rock Cut State Park – haiku and tanka poems

get up! car's coming!
white pines stand at attention
welcome to rock cut

when in the forest
don't look where you are going
look everywhere else
on our way home sam
said to pull over because
the lake had something 
to say to him. i tried but
i couldn't hear anything
when we got home he
was holding an aldi bag - 
they thought "yaye! cheesecake!"
but it was a sack of rocks
a treat only sam could love

Thanks for reading my nature poems and Happy National Poetry Month! -Connie

Repetition replaces rhyme

Sam holds the sibling mourning dove shells.

When I was walking Willow this morning, I found an “empty” mourning dove eggshell and brought it home. I told Sam about it when I picked him up after Track this evening. He said, “Oh, I saw it on my way to the bus this morning.” When we got to our neighborhood, he asked me to pull over. He got out of the car and retrieved “his” shell. When we got to our backyard, I showed him “my” shell. I’m pretty sure they are sibling shells.

I decided to write a sestina about the mourning dove massacre. A sestina is six stanzas with six lines followed by a 7th three-line stanza. Instead of rhyming, the last words of each stanza are repeated uniquely in the following stanza. The concluding stanza has to incorporate all six words in three lines. Iambic pentameter and repetition replaces rhyme in this kind of poem and the effect is supposed to be soothing and haunting. I’ll admit I got a little “creative” with the iambs.

Good Mourning
Mr. Grackle broke and entered the nest
and the unborn doves never had a chance.
He ate the sleeping siblings for breakfast.
They say it's part of the life cycle
but it makes me sad for Mother Nature
though i'm not the only one in mourning

When the unborn doves were asleep in their nest
they had recurring dreams about eternal mourning.
Father felt them trembling beneath him at breakfast
while mother stole seeds scattered by wind's chance.
When she flew back he told her about the eggs' nature
and they both smiled and said this was a good cycle.

Predators won't accept birdseed for breakfast.
They say it goes against their nature
so they watch over someone else's nest
and secretly wait for their chance
to remind the world they're not morning doves, they're mourning
their doves, forever swept away in a gluttonous cycle.

One month later she laid another two eggs after breakfast.
This time they are leaving nothing to chance.
Father added a fresh border of twigs around the nest, 
says it will protect them from the evils of nature.
He's feeling confident about this new cycle
but mother still spends her mornings mourning.

This morning the garbage trucks made their clamorous cycle
through the neighborhood, waking them up before breakfast.
She swears she'll poop on their heads when she gets the chance.
He smiles because he knows that's not in her nature;
her feathers ruffle but she's not going to leave that nest
until her world is filled with the coos of two new doves mourning 

She's cranky because this is a frigid spring cycle.
Every morning they wake up to snow and ice in their nest
and neither of them want to go get breakfast
but she knows she needs it and being healthy is her only chance
to fulfill her true calling, her true nature
until then she is truly mourning, truly mourning... 

Morning, she says, will never come. This is a terrible cycle!
She is tired and sore and he is bargaining with Mother Nature.
Please, he begs the goddess, give us another chance!
Let them live and I'll never skip breakfast
again and I'll always protect the nest.
Please protect us from eternal mourning.

Night cycles into morning and guess who is in the nest?
Little doves with mouths wide open expressing their mournful nature
Mother and Father say it's time for family breakfast

If you’re not up for a sestina, there are some shorties below that I wrote in between my parent-teacher conferences.

An untitled tanka.

the teachers and i
talked on the phone to discuss
my kids' potential
for achieving true success --
or were we just killing time?
An untitled haiku.

free education's
a constitutional right
fourteenth amendment

An untitled senryu.

constitution says
a free education is
yours for mis-taking
Here's a tanka about some (bad) advice I was given about how my kids should stay and 'give back' to Rockford. 

Give Back
who benefits most
when the next generation
never leaves home and
lives a manufactured life
cut from someone else's dreams 

Here's a tanka about a local scholarship called The Rockford Promise.

A Promise or a Threat
Rockford promises 
kids who maintain a three-point-
oh! free tuition!
if they matriculate at
a local institution

Thanks for reading! Did I mention it’s National Poetry Month? -Connie