Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: NAME

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above. 

This month's prompts include: mail, moon, mouse, moving, museum, music, music lesson, name, necklace, neighbor, nightgown.

NAME

I've written here before about my name.  So today I will share with you two name-related things:

1. Each year I download the audibooks offered for free as part of the summer SYNC program. This week I listened to BECOMING KAREEM by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld, performed by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The whole book is framed around Kareem's name-change and how this was how he "became" himself, instead of allowing himself to be defined/named by others. I LOVE this book. It's one of those I'd probably never have read, if not for SYNC. And isn't that the beauty of a program like this? Accessibility, availability... it matters.

2. I've been kind of obsessed with one Alexander von Humboldt ever since last year when I read THE INVENTION OF NATURE by Andrea Wulf. More things in the world are named after Humboldt than any other human... and yet many people have never heard of him! If you haven't heard of him, do pick up this book! You'll be fascinated by Humboldt's adventures and discoveries... and now there's a also a (giant!) graphic novel that offers an account of his 1799-1804 expedition to South America. Check it out!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: MUSEUM


For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above. 

This month's prompts include: mail, moon, mouse, moving, museum, music, music lesson, name, necklace, neighbor, nightgown.

MUSEUM

Irene & Lynn
laughing and learning
with a big mirror
this past fall
at a museum gift shop :)
The earliest memory I have of going to a museum on my own was as a 16 year old new driver on my first road trip with my sister Lynn from Birmingham, AL to Port St. Joe, FL to visit our grandparents. I'm a little horrified and impressed when I think about us jumping into the car for a 7 hour trip with no parents, no cell phones, no gps. We knew the way, because we've gone so many times before. And if we got turned around, we had a road atlas. We'd be fine. “Call us when you get there,” my mother instructed. And off we went! 

First we stopped in at the Pioneer Museum in Troy, Alabama – which is about half-way. The Pioneer has a locomotive out front, several old buildings, like a school and a church. Inside there's old farm equipment and a printing press – stuff like that. Aside: This past week when I drove past the Pioneer I saw that it has a bright new sign. I'm glad to see the place is still thriving. Maybe I'll stop in sometime soon.

While we were in Port St. Joe, Lynn and I decided to visit the Constitution Convention Museum State Park.  Which must have pleased my father very much! (My father and I shared, among many things, a museum habit.) I remember wandering through the grounds and exhibit hall, reading signs about 1830s life, laughing, and learning. Lynn and I did a lot of that together. We still do! :)

Friday, July 19, 2019

Sneak Peek: FINDING TREASURE by Michelle Schaub


Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Carol at Carol's Corner for Roundup. 

I've had a lovely time this week with my turning-11 adopted little sister ... we've been busy swimming and playing piano and shopping and making funny videos... the one of her teaching Paul to do the floss dance is pretty hysterical! :)

In poetry news, today I am happy to welcome to the blog Michelle Schaub, to talk about her new poetry book Finding Treasure: A Collection of Collections, illustrations by Carmen Saldaña, coming September 17, 2019 from the good folks at Charlesbridge. I met Michelle at WWU Poetry Camp in 2016, just after my farmers' market collection had been released, and just before hers would be released! So we've known for a while we have things in common. :) Which is why I wasn't surprised to learn her newest poetry book is about something else near and dear to my heart: collections! 
Michelle's farmers' market book,
illustration by Amy Huntington -
who also illustrated one of my
forthcoming 2020 books,
NINE: A Book of Nonet Poems.
my farmers' market book,
illustrated by Mique Moriuchi
About FINDING TREASURE: When her class is assigned to bring in favorite collections for show and tell, our young narrator panics. She doesn’t have a collection! In search of inspiration, she turns to family and friends. Mom collects buttons. Grandpa collects coins. Even the mailman has a collection. Is there time to start a new collection? Or find an abandoned one in the attic? Join the treasure hunt in this story told through poems.

And now, here's Michelle, responding to a few simple prompts:

The difficult:

MS: When I started brainstorming different types of collections to include in Finding Treasure, some obvious ones popped into my mind: coins, rocks, shells, baseball cards. I definitely wanted to represent time-honored forms of collecting, but I also wanted to include surprises. I did some research and found several unique collections.
Some I decided to include, like snow globes, but others were just a little too strange for a children’s book. So, I forced myself to think outside the box. Would it be possible to collect something intangible? This led to the poem “My Mail Carrier’s Cache” about a postal worker who collects smiles. Do scientists collect anything? This led to the poem “The Gist of Collecting.” (By the way, getting scientific names like “dipterologist” to fit the poem’s meter presented its own difficulty.) I was also challenged to have the protagonist come up with a collection that fit her personality, was different from the other collections in the book, and came as a bit of a surprise. Read the final poem “My Treasure Found” to see if I accomplished this!

The delicious:

MS: As a poet, I love the challenge of shaping my words and ideas into specific poetry forms. Finding the right word and rhythm to meet specific parameters is as satisfying as fitting an elusive piece into a puzzle.
see complete vanity plate poem below!
To that end, I played with many different poetry forms in
Finding Treasure, from double dactyl to rondeau. But the form I found most delicious is one I made up: a vanity plate poem. (Note from Irene: this makes me think of Donna, who collects - ! - interesting vanity plates via her camera.) I knew I wanted to include a poem about someone who collects license plates because this is something my grandfather did. One entire wall in his garage was covered with old plates. While my grandfather’s license plates were just random combinations of numbers and letters, I wanted the poem I wrote to be about a collection of vanity plates. Who doesn’t love decoding those secret messages when cruising down the highway? So, I composed the poem with each line as a different vanity plate. I hope readers have as much fun solving the license plate puzzles as I did inventing them.


The unexpected:

MS: The biggest, and most pleasant surprise I had with Finding Treasure is seeing how much Carmen Saldaña’s illustrations enriched my poems.
When I set out to write a new poetry collection, I try to include a narrative arc so that my poems tell a story as they progress. I did this with Fresh-Picked Poetry by structuring my poems to show a day at the market unfolding, from farmers’ early morning harvest to venders finally taking down their tents at dusk. I wanted to do this in Finding Treasure also. In the opening poem, I set up the skeleton of a story: a child needs to bring in a collection for a school assignment, but she doesn’t collect anything. Without Carmen’s amazing illustrations, the child’s quest would not have been developed as clearly. Carmen gave the child a personality. She put her in relationship with the different characters who share their collections along the way. She created an entire community of collectors and brought depth and life to the book.

Anything else:

MS: To gear up for the launch of Finding Treasure, I’ll be running a social media campaign called “Countdown to Collection” in which I feature different people’s collections. If you collect something you’d like me to share on twitter and IG, please send a picture of it (with our without yourself in the picture) to shellschaub (at) hotmail.com. Note from Irene: I sent Michelle a picture of one of my newest collections. I hope you will, too.:)

I hope Finding Treasure inspires both collectors and those who have not yet started a collection to discover their own treasures!

Find out more about Michelle Schaub and her books at www.michelleschaub.com

Thank you, Michelle, for sharing with all of us... congratulations on FINDING TREASURE! xo

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: MOVING (poem)


For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above. 

This month's prompts include: mail, moon, mouse, moving, museum, music, music lesson, name, necklace, neighbor, nightgown.

MOVING

Our family moved A LOT. The year I turned 14 my father decided (or someone decided for him) that it was time to change jobs – a decision that would require my 9th move. (My father worked in hospital administration, and due to politics and personality conflicts and power grabs, those jobs are notoriously short-lived.) It came down to two possibilities: Birmingham, Alabama or Bangor, Maine. Although what I really wanted was to stay in Folsom where I was (at-last!) secure (I even arranged with a friend's family for me to live with them, but of course my parents didn't go for that!), I was rooting for Maine. (Like my father, I have an appreciation and fascination for extreme locations.) But, for whatever reasons, the decision was made for Birmingham. And so my life was made – or, so I made my life. I don't have any regrets, of course. I love my life. But I do wonder: who might I have become if our family had moved instead to Maine? I think I'll write a book about it. :)

Moving Day

Mama packs
us into the van

as Papa's camera
clicks one last picture
of the house –

say goodbye,
Mama instructs.

But how do you
say goodbye
to the sky?

- Irene Latham

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: MOUSE (poem)

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above. 

This month's prompts include: mail, moon, mouse, moving, museum, music, music lesson, name, necklace, neighbor, nightgown.

MOUSE

My first thought when I hear the word “mouse” is THE Mouse, as in Mickey Mouse of Walt Disney fame. Disney has been a big part of my life – not Mickey so much as the mice dressing Cinderella and THE RESCUERS. Other mice of my life: STUART LITTLE, MRS. FRISBY AND THE RATS OF NIMH, THE CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE, THE TALE OF DESPEREAUX. As a college student I earned a Mouster's Degree (by far my favorite degree!) at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

Real-life mice experiences are few – most recently, using a mouse box to catch and release a family of mice that had made a home of our kitchen cabinets; feeding frozen mice to our son's pet snake; our young son Daniel being horrified by all the mouse droppings in the boat we kept in the basement; being on a poetry retreat, and first trying to catch mice (using a pillow case) from a friend's room, and then offering the friend refuge in my room when the mice kept coming.

When I mentioned this prompt yesterday to my mom, she asked me if I remembered this: when we went overseas, my mom packed shoes in boxes for us to grow into. When the time came to get the shoes out, when she opened the boxes she found a mouse nest (complete with teeny mice babies) in one of the shoes!

Here's a poem:

Give Me a Mouse Story

If you've ever watched a mouse
put on a blouse
you know how tiny
sleeves can be

and how the seams
once so sweet and even
can snag,
zig-zag
when caught on thorn,
nail or teeth.

You can't resist a smile
and a warm flush of tenderness
for those the world calls “pest”

if you've ever watched a mouse
put on a blouse.

- Irene Latham

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: MUSIC LESSONS

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above. 

This month's prompts include: mail, moon, mouse, moving, museum, music, music lesson, name, necklace, neighbor, nightgown.


MUSIC LESSON



You can read an ARTSPEAK! "Music Lesson" poem here. Another one called "The Guitarist" here. And a "Cello Love" poem here.
Irene as a young pianist :)

I've had a number of music teachers over the years: Judy Bruce, who was the church pianist at our church in Louisiana, and taught me and my sister in her home. For whatever reason, I remember my sister as being her favorite, and that's about all I remember!

Next up was Vona B. Gay, who was an elderly church organist in Birmingham, and also taught me in her home. I remember how she would endorse and scrawl “for deposit only” as soon as I gave her my mom's check – and then she would tuck it in a little box that sat on top of the upright piano. For a while a cute boy from another school took lessons right after me, and we planned a duet for the coming recital. I can't for the life of me remember the piece we played, but I do remember how nervous I was about sitting and playing next to this boy! Interestingly I can't remember what the boy looked like or what his name was... probably was so self-conscious... or I've hardwiped that awkward memory. I stayed with Vona until the end of high school.

Andrew and Eric
at piano recital
And then, after marriage and motherhood... I spent a lot of time taking my KIDS to music lessons. Andrew and Eric started on piano with Rosamund Black, who was – you guessed it! – a church pianist! My boys even played a duet for a recital, which still warms my heart to recall. Then Eric started drum, percussion, xylophone, guitar, voice, insert-name-of-instrument-here lessons. His most consistent teacher was Jay Burnham, percussionist for Alabama Symphony Orchestra. They had a lot of fun together, and I'm so grateful for impact Jay had on Eric's life. He also was hugely impacted by Laura Doss, then-choir director at ASFA. She's the one who convinced Eric that he could sing!

Daniel on cello
Somewhere in there Daniel took a couple of years of cello lessons from Craig Hultgren, who was then part of ASO. So many times I was just in the other room, writing a poem and halfway listening to the lesson. So I heard a lot about cello long before I ever decided to pick it up and play it myself.

When I did finally decide to play an instrument, I started on violin. The instructor I picked (off the internet) was not a good fit for me, and neither was the violin, though it's portability was a big reason I chose it. After just a few months I switched to the moody, more introverted cello. I took my first lesson with Craig Hultgren. It was terrifying! His studio was located at the back of the house, kind of like a porch area. It had a tiled floor and tall ceilings – there was a loft up there as well, and sometimes I'd wait there for another student to finish before my lesson would start. (Craig was so generous with his time! I remember our half-hour lessons often stretching to an hour. He never charged me a penny more – he was just that kind of guy.)

The most intimidating thing about Craig's studio was the wood platform stage in the center of the room, at the end of which was a giant mirror. (Seeing oneself play can really help identify solutions to cello problems!) The comforting thing was how Craig's black lab retriever would stretch out and sleep through the whole lesson. :)

I've written A LOT about my first lessons with Craig, because they kind of changed my life. And so many of the lessons I've learned through cello have impacted other areas of my life. For a while I was pursuing publication of this work, but have since abandoned it.

Which brings me to my current teacher Laura Usiskin. I started lessons with her about 4 years ago, when Craig moved away from Alabama. She's currently on maternity leave, and I think a great testament to how much I've learned from her is that I've been teacherless now for 2 ½ months, and I am still managing to work and learn new pieces on my own. I can hear Laura's voice, and I have an arsenal of tools and techniques to help get through the trouble spots. I am quite excited, however, to get her back! Though of course she is doing THE most important work of her life right now with that brand new baby girl. What a sweet time! Her studio is intimidating in a different way. There's a plush carpet (great for cello end-pins) and a gorgeous baby grand piano. Laura sits across from me during the lesson, her eagle eyes and ears catching all the goofs. She's an amazing teacher, and keeps things encouraging and positive. I'm so grateful to have landed in such good hands!

I'm the cellist just below and right
of the conductor Joe Lee
I've also benefitted from group music lessons – Laura does an adult-student group, and for the past couple of years I've participated in the Adult Strings Weekend in Tuscaloosa. This past spring I participated in an ensemble workshop, and this summer I joined a string orchestra. The music director has a great way of explaining things and working with us. Our concert is coming up in a couple of weeks. I'm excited. :)

Friday, July 12, 2019

Talking SOCCERVERSE with Liz Steinglass

Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Jone at Deo Writer for Roundup.

So I kind of live a quiet life, and I deliberately do not invite a lot of news into it. I did, however, learn about the US Women Team's amazing 4th FIFA World Cup victory. Yay! And it gives me the perfect segue into Elizabeth Steinglass' new (first!) book: SOCCERVERSE: Poems about Soccer, with illustrations by Edson Ikê, brought to us by the good folks at Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mill and Kane.

Lucky me, I met Liz (and even presented with her about how poet's use  metaphor) at WWU's Poetry Camp back in 2016. She's every bit as brilliant and gentle in person as is her poetry on the page. And this book has been a long time in process... so what joy to see it finally on the shelves!

Here's Liz to tell us a little more about her experience.

The difficult: My challenge as a writer is to slow down and take my time. I always feel a strong internal rush to finish. I think it’s because I’m in a hurry to get past the uncomfortable uncertainty. I have to remind myself to take my time every step of the way--finding a topic, finding an approach, finding a form. I have to remind myself to stay open as long as possible to different options, to different creative possibilities. I also have to remind myself to take my time revising. Leaving my work in a drawer is an important part of the process. It enables me to see it with fresh eyes when I come back to it. I also have to remind myself that it’s okay if I don’t write, and I go for a walk or go to a museum or read a book instead because all of these are also part of the writing process. Instead of rushing to the finish line, I need to give the process a good long chance to unfold.
 
The delicious and the unexpected: I’m combining these because for me the unexpected IS the delicious. I absolutely love it when the process takes over, and I find myself writing something that surprises me. This happens when I let go of my plan, allow myself to get swept up in the writing, and give my brain room to make whatever strange connections it happens to make. What if a soccer field was a man with a beard? What if the game was in the hands of a giant who moved the ball by tipping the field back and forth?



 Anything else: Another delicious and unexpected aspect of the process was seeing Edson Ikê’s gorgeous illustrations for the first time. I absolutely adore the bold images and colors and the creativity. The illustrations give each poem additional layers of interest and feeling. I love the older man watching the kids play on his thick green beard, and the giantess holding the game in her hand.
She has a vine growing out of her sleeve which to me suggests that soccer is just as natural a part of life on earth as the plants. I think my favorite illustration is the red hand with the snorting bull on the page with the poem “Apology.” Yep, that feels like the hot, angry move that will earn you a red card. But what I love most of all is that the people in the book reflect the beautiful diversity of our world.


Congratulations, Liz, on a lovely debut!!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: MUSIC

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above. 



This month's prompts include: mail, moon, mouse, moving, museum, music, music lesson, name, necklace, neighbor, nightgown.

MUSIC


This prompt is coming a day after I listened to Matthew Winner's latest Children's Book Podcast about OPERATIC by Kyo Maclear, illustrations by Byron Eggenschwiler– which, among other things talks about “the soundtrack of our lives.” So this has been on my mind!

Music has always been a vital part of my life. From my father singing to me "Good Night Irene" or the family listening to the Goofy Gold albums (which contains some really racist songs)... Most memorable from my childhood, probably, are church hymns -- “The Servant Song” still has the power to complete wreck me. Also, church musicals: THE MUSIC MACHINE or DOWN BY THE CREEKBANK. I can remember blasting the stereo with this “Good Morning” song from BULLFROGS AND BUTTERFLIES to wake my parents on Saturday mornings. My mother's favorites like "Amazing Grace" and  “Morning Has Broken” were big influences. She was also a big fan of my piano recital song “Homecoming” by Hagood Hardy (which I can still play from memory). Then there were the boys in 8th grade singing to me "Come On, Irene" to the tune of "Come On, Eileen" and my early teen obsessions with Prince. :) Also Christian artists like Carmen, Sandy Patti, Amy Grant... When I was a senior in high school “The Time of Our Lives” from DIRTY DANCING was the prom theme. Later, songs from PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, movie soundtracks... when I met Paul “Where've You Been” by Kathy Mattea (one of the sweetest love songs ever). How we had the harpist play “Ode to Joy” instead of the traditional wedding march might show my love of Beethoven's Ninth. (This love also shows up in one of my 2020 books... more on this soon!)

These days, I love the music my son Eric makes and also my Spotify playlists. Paul and I love going to concerts together -- I recently shared about Bob Seger. Also, I'm into Bach's cello suites and whatever song I happen to be learning on the cello at the moment... today, Bach's Fugue in C, for our summer string orchestra concert (coming up in just a few weeks)! This post really could be endless!

And, this year, as part of my daily reading, I picked up YEAR OF WONDER by Clemency Burton-Hill. The July 8 piece is Joplin's “Gladiolus Rag,” which is new to me. I am learning so much about composers, and music, and also finding new favorites along the way.

In my next Butterfly Hours post, I will turn this lens to music lessons, of which I've had a few -- but not nearly enough. :)

Monday, July 8, 2019

Movie Monday: The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project - MOVIE


-->
How's this for timing?! Today's prompt is "movie" and it falls on a Monday... and I have a new movie to share as a "Movie Monday" post. :) Read on!

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above. 



This month's prompts include: mail, moon, mouse, moving, museum, music, music lesson, name, necklace, neighbor, nightgown.

MOVIE

I have so many movie memories! Watching THE TEN COMMANDMENTS over and over again with my siblings... also MARY POPPINS (and using umbrellas to try and "fly" off the back of the couch), THE SOUND OF MUSIC, THE HOBBIT... My mom taking me – just me – to see THE BLACK STALLION.
in a funny coincidence,
we are playing
the E.T. theme as part
 of my summer string
orchestra concert!
Seeing E.T. as a family (all 7 of us at a small theater in historic downtown Covington, LA). Waiting in line for to see STAR WARS (somewhere in central Florida. I was young!). Seeing DIRTY DANCING (and many other movies like RAMBO and ROCKY) with church friends... and also with my father (at either Roebuck or Irondale theaters which no longer exist)!

Then there's our weekly date night tradition throughout our marriage, which started with DRIVING MISS DAISY on our first date (1990) and has brought us to many many movies... including our yearly tradition of watching IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. These days our adult sons often accompany us to the movies.

And now: Movie Monday! Most recently we did a TOY STORY marathon before going to the theater to see TOY STORY 4 (Trussville – our new “home” theater). So much fun! I love this series and can relate to those fears of being set aside, forgotten, outgrown... and also to the desire to do my job for my kid... and the pangs we all feel about growing up... and of course I have not just the child-me lens, but the parent-me lens. We were talking about which was our favorite TOY STORY movie, and I think for me it's 3 (though how can you not pick 1, when it started it all?!). And 4 is pretty awesome. I love how Woody was able to reinvent himself at the end... to every thing there is a season. There are many ways to love... beautiful and funny and tender, all!

One final memory: Our oldest son Daniel, who had some speech issues early on pronounced Toy Story “Tee Stee.” Adorable!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Poems Inspired by THE LOST WORDS



Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for Roundup. A few weeks ago Mary Lee was gushing about THE LOST WORDS by Robert Macfarlane, art by Jackie Morris -- a book I also love! (You can read my blog post here.) Mary Lee also shared that Spell Songs, a (magical, gorgeous!) musical companion to THE LOST WORDS will be released soon. I can't wait! And it inspired me to share with all of you a few LOST WORDS -inspired poems I wrote last summer -- a couple of them for others, as part of Tabatha's Summer Poem Swap. Enjoy!


Skunk


Stealthy as moonlight (and as predictable),
you saunter past blackberry brambles,
all regal swagger and peaceful gaze

Keeper of night,
you wear your stripe like a scar –
just part of who you are

Unfazed by fox, you rough your fluff,
release a warning scent
before lifting your tail in a blaze of battle –

No need to spray when wily fox turns tail,
leaps to safety (anything to avoid being musked)
while you forage for frogs and mushrooms

Kingdom of kudzu awaits your return,
soon welcomes you back to greentree hollow
where you curl into a furrow to nap away daylight hours
- Irene Latham


OWL
– for Tabatha


O heart-keeper, night sweeper,
sing to me of forestmoon
and joystruck mice --

Wing me to a world of leaves and summerlight,
     where words are starstorms dappled by sweet breezes.

Love me with your abiding SwapMama magic,
     swaddle me forever in your poem-feathered nest.

- Irene Latham


MONARCH
- for Michelle

Mother of summer, you belong
in a Grimm museum:

Only you carry both
fireball sun and inky

Night in the gossamer stitch
of your wings. Only you

Arc dizzily from milkweed to
milkweed, across three thousand

Roiling green oceans, your feet
coated in sweetdust to power you

Home to Mexico – before frost turns
you tipsy, transforms you to stone.

- Irene Latham

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Butterfly Hours Memoir Project: MOON

For 2019 I'm running a year-long series on my blog in which I share my responses to the writing assignment prompts found in THE BUTTERLY HOURS by Patty Dann.

I welcome you to join me, if you like! I've divided the prompts by month, and the plan is to respond to 3 (or so) a week. For some of these I may write poems, for others prose. The important thing is to mine my memory. Who knows where this exploration will lead?

For links to the prompts I've written on so far this year, please click on The Butterfly Hours tab above. 



This month's prompts include: mail, moon, mouse, moving, museum, music, music lesson, name, necklace, neighbor, nightgown.

MOON

full moon over our lake
(when we were out
night fishing)
No clear memories are coming to me for this one... but a LOT of fragmented bits. So I've decided to share a most recent "moon" bit. Paul and I have seen Bob Seger in concert a number of times, and one lyric that always always stands out to us is from "Shame on the Moon."

"oh, blame it on midnight
ooh shame on the moon"

I mean, who says that? The moon is generally portrayed as wise and gentle and all-seeing... and then... THIS. Turns out the song was originally written and recorded by Rodney Crowell, whose storytelling-song style reminds me of Johnny Cash. I love the way this music make me feel. I mean, the moon has secrets, right? She is an enchantress...I am enchanted.