Patina Means It’s Timeworn, by Debi Swim

Patina Means it’s Timeworn
by Debi Swim

Old age is a greened penny
minted with a long ago date
that then was bright shiny copper
worth more then than now
now it won’t be picked up from
the hot asphalt of a parking lot

but soon it will be polished up
shine once again and placed
upon satin in a box and people
will come by and remember
all that penny used to be worth
then close the lid and bury it

with only a label etched in stone
what was will never be again. Amen

Process notes
My father-in-law is dying in quiet indignity at the age of 95. I came across the poem “To Waken an Old Lady” by William Carlos Williams and that led to this.

Debi Swim writes poetry in West Virginia, mostly to fabulous prompts. Blog: https://poetrybydebi.wordpress.com/

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To All the Dogs on the Bank, by Debi Swim

To All the Dogs on the Bank
by Debi Swim

There’s a dog howling
I walk through the house
looking out windows
trying to see where it is
I can’t pin down its direction
silence
I relax
then the howling begins again
somewhere in the trees
but the trees are all around
and I can’t decide if it is
from the housing development
on the hill behind poplars
or the house to the right
hidden by maples and pines
where a dog is kept tied up
or behind the house
where sometimes
dogs chase after the deer
through the trees and underbrush
baying and howling
like the hounds of hell
then I remember
the dogs
buried on the hillside
and across the road
beloved little dogs
life cut short by cars
one by illness
one by my permission
eighteen years old
with so many things wrong
but all I can see are brown eyes
that loved me, trusted me,
and he lies in a favorite
blanket, snug, turning
back into dust
maybe that was goodbye
or a howl of outrage
or a greeting to the other dogs
that romp and run these woods
on phantom paws
and I wish I could be buried
on a bank between the woods
and howl my delight
or outrage
and run on phantom feet
through the woods and underbrush.

Process notes: “A Dog Has Died”, By Pablo Neruda
The last dog we will probably ever have died in Dec 2018. He, and other dogs we have loved, are buried on our property. I love that they are near.

Debi Swim writes poetry in West Virginia, mostly to fabulous prompts. Blog: https://poetrybydebi.wordpress.com/

Flat, by Debi Swim

Flat
by Debi Swim

I’ve lost a good portion
of taste, of smell, the textures
of life that rough up the edges
like corduroy, like wool,
that feels itchy, scratchy,
a little bit dangerous.

Blame it on aging but it began
before I was old though maybe
I got old early. Maybe it was
the corduroy roads, bumpy,
jarring, uneven pavement or the
irritating scrape of wool emotions.

But what has that to do
with taste? With smell?
I’ve lost the savory of life.
The MSG additive, spice,
that fifth sense, that enhances
all the senses.

I remember the savor of being
when I was young. I think, then,
it was the mystery of life
all the things yet to be experienced.
And now? What’s left except
the mystery of death?

I’ve loved, deeply, unwisely, wisely
I’ve suffered bitter slings and arrows
and the exquisite lightness, sweetness.
The saltiness of sweat, labor,
a sea of buoyance, near drowning
in emotion, passion, fire,

spirit and soul of life but maybe
those neural pathways are singed,
insensitive, used up, atrophied.
Remembering isn’t enough.
I want to feel again, see again,
taste again, smell again, hear again…

‘not fall into my grave like an old dog.’

“I don’t say he’s a great man. Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog. Attention, attention must be finally paid to such a person.” Quote from The Death of a Salesman

Debi Swim writes poetry in West Virginia, mostly to fabulous prompts. Blog: https://poetrybydebi.wordpress.com/

The Electric Grandmother, by Debi Swim

The Electric Grandmother
by Debi Swim

She should have green eyes. No, blue. Why not brown?
And her nose a button nose. No, Greek. No, aquiline.
White hair caught in a bun. Salt and pepper! Mousy brown.
Grandmothers come in varieties
pick the one you want
and so we did
but eventually outgrew her
and her usefulness.
Then she sat alone with
other grandmothers
telling each other
about their grandkids.

Seems a bit of a waste
of grandmothers though
the real ones end up in a cemetery
and ours, oh, ours, came back
when we were old
and combed our hair
calmed our fusses
and took care of us until
we ended up in the cemetery.

Oh, I wish I could have
a forever grandmother, too.

Process notes: My favorite movie of all time is a sweet, nostalgic one called The Electric Grandmother, TV movie, 1982, based on Ray Bradbury’s “I Sing the Body Electric”. A trio of children and their father, get a very special robot grandmother to assist them.

Written in response to red wolf prompt 433.

Debi Swim writes poetry in West Virginia, mostly to fabulous prompts.

Blue Sleeved Time, by Debi Swim

Blue Sleeved Time
by Debi Swim

Later I caught him, Time hurrying by, by
the blue sleeve, and I harangued him
For his impertinence of rushing me along
For letting me think there was a measure ahead
not noticing the bulk was behind

I berated his poor proffered gift
that he shoved in my face on a golden
platter. Memories of tender moments…
and what good are they? I ranted

Where is the touch, scent, substance?
Nothing to grasp, to cling to, dust,
it is all just fairy dust, all sparkle
no heft. I scolded his second rate
offering as cheap. A trinket. Carny trick.

Time jerked the blue sleeve from my grip
and whispered, what more do I owe you?
You took every second I gave and if you
didn’t understand the repercussions…
He smoothed his cuff, smirked and said,
well, do you want your money back?

Source Note:

Rhapsody, Mary Oliver
“Later I caught him, Time hurrying by, by
the blue sleeve, and I harangued him’

Written in response to prompt 426.

Debi Swim writes poetry in West Virginia, mostly to fabulous prompts.

April Fool, by Debi Swim

April Fool
by Debi Swim

I have a vivid recollection of it
the night was comfortably cool
the exhibitionist moon a jewel,
the perfect setting, I admit.

The night was comfortably cool
as I recall, hand on fevered brow
spring breeze tickling a bough
and I, as I think of it, an April fool.

The exhibitionist moon, a jewel
mounted like a diamond solitaire
seemed to be offered to me, I swear
I never knew he could be that cruel.

The perfect setting, I admit
but I was just a naïve girl
my head in a love sick whirl
I couldn’t recognize counterfeit.

I have a vivid recollection of it
the night was comfortably cool
the exhibitionist moon a jewel,
the perfect setting, I admit.

Process notes:
Poem form: catena rondo
First line from “I Have A Vivid Recollection of It” by Jimmy Roberts found in the poetry anthology, The Traveler’s Vade Mecum, edited by Helen Klein Ross.

Written in response to prompt 432.

Debi Swim poems in West Virginia mostly to prompts from around the net. She blogs at https://poetrybydebi.wordpress.com/

A Whiter Shade Of Pale, by Debi Swim

A Whiter Shade of Pale
by Debi Swim

Waiting for the end of day
waiting for the dreams to come
waiting for I don’t know what
everything is going
slowly going
everything is going
away
And is this the way my world ends
one losing at a time
one giving up at a time
one concession
one desire
one usefulness
after another
waiting for that
whiter shade of pale
Someone tell me
what has it all been for
the striving
the trying
the working
the playing
the cursing
the praying…
the opening of my eyes
the closing at the end
what was all that
in between?

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet. Blog: https://poetrybydebi.wordpress.com/

Alzheimer Dreams, by Debi Swim

Alzheimer Dreams
by Debi Swim

Her mind goes back
and further back
to days of long ago
to things of which
she is fond
June bugs, fireflies
pollywogs in the pond
grass tickling her toes
screen door slams
homemade jams
and wildflowers
picked for mom
climbing trees
summers free
her childhood
over and over again
This is where she lives
till her mind gives out
her body gives in
and existing is finally done

Process notes: Watching my mother-in-law wither away.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet. Blog: https://georgeplaceblog.wordpress.com/

Death of a Poet, by Debi Swim

Death of a Poet
by Debi Swim

I have become an empty cistern
A dry river bed, bleached bones
Have forgotten the smell of rain

I am words stuck in the throat
A horse without a whisperer
A pot untended, boiled away

I am parched, athirst, panting
Where is the well that I may sip
Where is my Erato?

Am I singing my swan song?

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.

It is the Nature of the Beast, by Debi Swim

It is the Nature of the Beast
by Debi Swim

See the wisteria’s jumbled limbs? Their tightly clasped leaves just beginning to unfurl makes a green lacy pattern against a clear sky. Soon it will be a jungle, a maze of hidey holes and perches for the birds. The feeder hangs from a low branch. All day juncos, grackles, jays, cardinals and their cousins dash and jostle, scrabble and fuss for a place on the ledge. A woodpecker swoops in, hangs by its claws, half its body underneath dangling like an acrobat. The nuthatches fling seed hither and yon – picky eaters – while below on the ground heavy, clumsy doves clean up their mess. Turkeys come early morning and late evening scratching the spot beneath the feeder for leftovers furrowing a patch that will become a muddy mess with the next rain.
Marvel at the chipmunk as he climbs the thick, twining base and gracefully, agilely jumps to the feeder, the squirrel, too. Deer come, mostly fall and winter and butt the feeder with their heads, then munch on the splatter at their leisure.

                In every season the feeder an oasis, a cheery café.

And yet, this happy scene is marred by an ominous shadow. A circling hawk is attracted by the activity below. His keen eyes on the prize, he waits for his chance, sees a careless chipmunk scampering across the lawn and with a noiseless plunge scoops his prey in deathly grip of talons and carries the limp bundle away. Imagine the calamity of it on a peaceful, ordinary day. The swiftness of the attack, the scurrying of the creatures and then the waiting, with trembling and skipping hearts till one brave bird dares the feeder again and all becomes normal again.
It is the way of nature and of the world. But, at least nature is not malicious. It does not attack out of hate and erroneous ideology. It is only survival. Let man take notice.

                Greed, terrorism, hate, ways of the human order, nature’s greatest foe.

Debi Swim writes primarily to prompts. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and persistent WV poet.