Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Illumination

















Curiosity, the spark that sets us apart
       on our quest for knowledge... 

Common sense is learned in degrees
starting at the knees of our elders.
In their words and stories, we learn about ourselves,
When we finally learn to read, we travel—
floating on a raft down the Mississippi;
chasing an elusive white whale on an endless sea;
joining a group of unlikely companions
on a quest for something ‘larger’ than ourselves.
The world expands, becoming greater than we ever imagined.

The more we absorb, the hungrier we become;
history teaches us, but it’s the stuff outside of the margins
        that holds the real story...
Who wrote this? What guided his thoughts as he lay
in the trenches of the French Revolution
the Civil War, World War I?

So we follow these word paths, penned from the souls
of a thousand, nay, a thousand times ten thousand.
We hold their stories and garner their memories
adhering them to our own.  We are with them
as they climb the path to Mt. Doom,
slip down the rabbit hole,
feel the pendulum brush their skin,
and click their shoes to go home again;
never wanting to leave this secret garden,
this Neverland of dreams and imagination.

Through the words we learn to sort fact from fiction,
weigh guilt from innocence, solve crimes;
discover ordinary heroes rising against extraordinary villains.
Words hold the power to change the world:
willfull ignorance and lies cannot hold up against
those who have learned to recognize truth

The early scribes and monks of old had a daunting task:
they laboured for hours on vellum pages with ink and quill,
 no computers then, nor ballpoint pen...
the process ever slow and tedious.
Is it any wonder when their pens would wander?
That even early on, if given a choice,
they would surrender to their inner voice
        setting free their imagination
to provide not just a story, but illumination.

© Ginny Brannan 2014

Illumination has several definitions, two of which pertain to this:
1) Spiritual or intellectual enlightenment
2) Painting or drawing included in a book, i.e.:medieval manuscripts

For NaPoWriMo #24: using the marginal drawings and artwork known as "illumination" as inspiration.


Yes, even humor could be found in medieval manuscripts!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Last(ing) Impressions

The last time I saw you we were just kids...
your mom was remarried; you had a new dad—
it was summer vacation and we had plans
             things to do;
I was to spend a week with you.

The radio was playing when I awoke
voices in the kitchen, clearly upset...
I heard the news come over the air:
“While visiting her grandparents
   young girl involved in accident…”
At first it didn’t register, but then I knew
  that the ‘young girl’ was you.

You were the daughter my uncle never had
your mom clearly someone that he adored;
I don’t know the reason why they split
maybe because he couldn’t commit.
...but that was for grown-ups, we were just kids.

The last time I saw you the world stood still;
how could the gods take someone so young?
A lasting impression of loss and of pain

 ...my heart still remembers you, now and again.

© Ginny Brannan 2017











Following a friend's lead: Day 23 of NaPoWriMo, writing a story or poem with the word "last" in the title. Just an excerpt from this life on the loss of a friend from my childhood— a memory from 1968,  back in the days when helmets were not required when riding a bike. We'll never know if it would've saved her, but a really good reason and argument for the safety of all. In my memory, she remains just 11 years old...

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Overheard












“We’ll make America great again”
you spoke and set the tone,
while only stirring hate again.

With every bill that you amend
we face a new unknown
to “make America great” again.

We watch you stand there quite content
to deport and rezone,
while generating hate again.

How many folks can you offend
or use as stepping stones
still chanting “we’ll be great again?”

Just what is it you intend
with these seeds you’ve sown
that promote such hate again…

Surrounded by your kith and kin
you constantly bemoan
that you'll “make America Great” again
while only stirring hate again.


© Ginny Brannan 2017

Day 21 NaPoWriMo to write about something we overheard. Yeah, sorry,  a bit of a political rant, just where the words went for the prompt.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Playing for the Win

Image: Wikipedia, Snakes and Ladders

















I’ve never been good at playing games—
I can’t bluff to save my life
all that I feel is written across my face,
so cards are out.
And chess would not be my forte;
I barely have the ability to see one move ahead
much less twelve to the win.
Monopoly, like poker, and chess,
requires certain skills,
none of which I possess.
No, my life is more like Snakes and Ladders
a mix of skill and chance, good and bad
of climbing and slipping back again
How many times have I ended up where I’ve begun
—falling back to square one?
I can only hope when the game is complete
that the virtues will outweigh the sins
and I will find the salvation that awaits
those who persist.


© Ginny Brannan 2017

To learn more about this fascinating game, a pretty good reflection on life itself, check it out at Wikipedia.


Keeping the Monster at Bay

Slowly it seems inside each passing day
with barely a nod as we function and breath,
comes a new symptom that’s barely perceived
as the outer shell ages and starts to betray.

First to be noticed: the silver and gray
scattered amidst the red, brown or black;
blondes, a bit lighter, may fend this attack
yet with nary a blink, we survey.

Then subtle “crows feet,” or smile lines they say,
appear ‘round the eyes nose and mouth
and all that was once trim and perky goes south
as bowing to time, they obey.

Shortly thereafter pain starts to convey
the bones turning brittle and thin,
then brown spots appear on pale parchment skin
as the mind starts to wander and stray

Exacting his toll is this Reaper’s forte
and we are but pawns in his game
Will you slip blindly or fight to remain,
invoking your right to belay
while keeping the monster at bay.


© Ginny Brannan 2017


Monday, April 17, 2017

Optical Illusions, Dreams, and Delusions

We watch as moon ascends the eastern sky
a massive disc now peeking over fence—
an optical illusion on the rise
appearing ever larger to our eyes
than any image captured through a lens.

And what we see and what the mind imprints
border between concrete and surreal;
we tuck away to pull out and reprise,
but should we find delusion has dispensed
we search to understand what was revealed.

Same could be said for all the pain we feel,
whether caused by physical distress
or mental anguish covert and disguised—
setting off alarms and raising shields,
then leaving us despondent and depressed.

Hope rises like the moon in pale nightdress
her whisper carried soft among the stars—
and even earthen mother can surmise
that if trials and tribulations are the test;
then blessings and endowments are our prize.

© Ginny Brannan 2017

















Day 17 NaPoWriMo, to write a Nocturne, a night poem. Not the same as a Nocturna which is specific to nine lines,  a nocturne in music is a composition meant to be played at night, in poetry it seems to translate to a night poem with a soft cadence in reading. No specific length or meter. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Address Unknown, Please Forward

My dearest friend, 

I do not know wherein you sleep
there is no marker for the spot
 nor stone that bears an epitaph...

Still I have flowers to be shared
and time to spend in warm repast–
pink roses for appreciation
a thank you for your gentle heart,
for the grace you held in passing;
then red for courage and for passion,
the beauty shining from within—
I know you’d laugh at me for saying
 —so humble even to the end.
There’s yellow ones for friendship shared
and promises of new beginnings…
I bring eleven stems to you,
the meaning hidden in the number
for you were loved more than you knew.

I do not know wherein you rest
so we converse through time and thought
please know your legacy lives on
as more than ashes in some box.

Always, 
     Me

© Ginny Brannan 2017

**Eleven roses assure the recipient they are truly and deeply loved ...

Day 16, NaPoWriMo: Compose a letter to someone. Your poem can be in the form of a letter to a person, place, or thing, or in the form of a back-and-forth correspondence.  (Sorry, I cheated a bit and pulled this from my Works In Progress/ Unpublished file. I wrote a long time ago, but never knew just how to share it. As a letter actually works.)

Second Star to the Right, and Straight on till Morning....












Between the darkness and the dawn
between the morning and the night
between the moment I was born
until there’s no more will to fight
between my youth and middle age
— or a little past that stage—
amid the chaos and the calm
I reflect who I’ve become.
Amid life’s trials and its struggles
any pain of yesterday
all the joy and the smiles
and the many roles I’ve played,
I know each road I’ve journeyed
every hill and every turn
the detours that I’ve followed
and each new pathway learned
the potholes and the pitfalls
yeah, there’s surely been a few—
but any road that I have travelled
would be poorer without you.


©Ginny Brannan 2017

Day 15, the halfway point... suggestion: to write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something. The poem could be about being on a journey and stopping for a break, or the gap between something half-done and all-done. Let your mind wander into the middle distance, betwixt the beginning of things and the end. 

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Wee Bit of "Frost"ing













The poet Frost
was never really lost
as he commenced
to mending all his broken fences.

© Ginny Brannan

This is a slightly whimsical tribute to my favorite poet, Robert Frost, and plays reference to his poem "Mending Wall"

This form is called a Clerihew.
A clerihew has the following properties:
  • It is biographical and usually whimsical, showing the subject from an unusual point of view; it mostly pokes fun at famous people
  • It has four lines of irregular length and metre (for comic effect)
  • The rhyme structure is AABB; the subject matter and wording are often humorously contrived in order to achieve a rhyme, including the use of phrases in Latin, French and other non-English languages
  • The first line contains, and may consist solely of, the subject's name. According to a letter in the Spectator in the 1960s, Bentley said that a true clerihew has to have the name "at the end of the first line", as the whole point was the skill in rhyming awkward names.
Clerihews are not satirical or abusive, but they target famous individuals and reposition them in an absurd, anachronistic or commonplace setting, often giving them an over-simplified and slightly garbled description 

This Just "Don't Fly" with Me...

They pulled him off the plane pre-flight,
would not let him remain on flight—

They’d asked for a show of hands
for volunteers to de-plane the flight.

Seems everyone had plans,
they all chose to sustain the flight.

So attendants chose four off-hand
because seats aren’t pre-ordained on flight.

Three went with the plan;
the fourth tried to explain his flight.

They wouldn’t understand
why doc could not abstain from flight.

And though he took a stand,
would not let him remain on flight.

We watched the shit hit the fan,
when they dragged him with disdain from flight.

Their apologies were scant
for all news that pertained to flight.

We heard them spin their slant,
as their CEO ascertained the flight.

Now when travelers see their brand
they’ll think twice on restraint from flight.

If I ever fly again—
United won’t attain my flight.

 © Ginny Brannan 2017

Image: Jayse David/Twitter










This format is called a Ghazal, which is formed of couplets, each of which is a complete statement. Both lines of the first couplet end with the same phrase or end word, and that end word is also repeated at the end of each couplet. If you’re really feeling inspired, you can also attempt to incorporate internal rhymes and a reference to yourself or your own name in the final couplet.

In the News: United Airlines overbooks flight, pulls four from seats, drags man off who paid for ticket. 


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Watching the River Run
















We hear the steady drip, drip, drips
as melting snow turns to rivulets
racing down the mountainside
chasing along road’s edge in steady stream
to join the roaring river below.

What was once a quiet estuary
turns into churning white water
crashing over rocks and boulders
combining with larger waterways
on their quest to mesh with the sea.

We view the rising river
filling inlets and backwashes,
observe scores of riverbank trees
submerged to their knees
awaiting runoff to slow
and surge to recede.

There’s comfort found days like this
in the knowledge that somehow
no matter how much things change
some still remain the same.

© Ginny Brannan 2017

Day 12 NaPoWriMo Challenge was to use Rhetorical Devices of Assonance and Alliteration:
Assonance is a resemblance of sound, particularly vowel sounds, occurring in words of close proximity: i.e. trees, knees, recede
Alliteration: the repetition of a sound, especially a consonant, for rhetorical or poetic effect: i.e. rivulets racing, roaring river, steady stream.
Not too heavy on either, but a small sampling of both.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

To the You I Barely Knew...

I never really knew you, except in the long ago;
...lipstick on…nails just so,
soft leather handbag, Tabu cologne—
you smoked Chesterfield Kings
    I remember these things.

And you would bake…
  oatmeal cookies, cream puffs
coconut pies with perfect crust
—a taste I would die for
would that I could taste once more.

It’s hard to live up to the memory
of  the you I barely knew—
shorter than five foot nothin’
yet a force to be reckoned with.
With these less-than-perfect hands
and broken nails, I favor
the crafter, the woodworker,
the other half that molded my existence.
But I have your eyes, and when I look in the mirror
   it’s you I see looking back at me.

So I carry all your stories in my heart,
told by the ones who knew you best
living on the memories we never had
           
…we could have been such good friends.


© Ginny Brannan 2017

Circa 1962 Franconia Notch, N.H.

















In loving memory of Clementine "Tina" Mary Donzello, 1921 - 1963

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Just Another Day





















We waken in the darkness before dawn,
to psych ourselves before we face the fray
as day arrives, another night absconds.

While trapped inside of routines that are rote,
how quickly now the time just slips away
while we’re left struggling, trying to keep afloat.

Still, as the sun slips mountains to the west,
and to the moon and stars now cedes the day,
I breathe the stillness, gratitude professed.

© Ginny Brannan 2017 

The Nocturna is basically a nine line poetry form based on the nocturne (night) theme containing three, three-line lessons recited during the night. The subject must be nocturnal and it consists of three couplets linked by the rhyme of the centre line;  a. b. a. c. b. c. d. b. d. Not sure that I got it right, but there's a first time for everything!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Was It Love?

Was it love, actually, that stole your heart—
…or just a promise of a new beginning?
Was it love that whispered: “This one is different;”
the connection made on a cerebral level,
or found in the effortless banter,
the instant smile, the easy laughter…
Was it love that captured the day,
hastened your heart beat, swept you away,
made your palms sweat, kept you from sleeping?
Did you pass it off as some sort of illness
   perhaps the flu?
Or was it love, actually,
that brought you to this place…
this sacred space,
   I share with you.

© Ginny Brannan 2017












The suggestion for Day 8 of NaPoWriMo suggested composing a poem that relies on repetition. 

Unknowns
















Who will I be when I grow old…
will I sit and babble nonsense rhyme
old poems and remnants left behind—
when those final years take hold.

Will past and present merge as one,
as mind relinquishes control;
or stay alert, my thoughts left whole
while body starts to come undone.

No gypsy fortune-tellers, we...
what lies before us, undefined;
should favor nod as we decline
perhaps we'll keep our sanity.

Yes, all things acquiesce to time…
we only hope the years are kind.

© Ginny Brannan 2017

Thursday, April 6, 2017

There, Beyond the Stars...

I’ll never know the sound a rocket ship makes,
nor the courage it takes to  go
“Where no man has gone before…”
but I do know the magic of a moonlit night
and can still imagine the footprints that remain
in the dust of a billion stars on a small satellite
orbiting the third planet from the sun

In a world before fake news we had real heroes:
ordinary men who did extraordinary things
Science was expanding and the stars were in our grasp.

And we dreamed, and we believed

Dreams are smaller now—
hopes dashed by the small-minded and clueless
in positions they don’t deserve
making decisions no one can fathom.

But this day we remember the first human
who  slipped the surly bonds of earth,’
and a time when the whole universe
lay before us…
         …just waiting

Godspeed, John Glenn

© Ginny Brannan 2017

Military Portrait of John Glenn, Wikipedia

















July 18th, 1921 to December 8th, 2016
Interred at Arlington National Cemetary on April 6, 2017
Among his many accomplishments he was the first man to orbit the Earth, February 20th, 1962, for the Friendship 7 mission.

*"slipped the surly bonds of Earth" Excerpt from the poem "High Flight by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Shackled

Image: Google Images










I watch you enter - eyes downcast
uneven gait, carrying a weight
too heavy for one so young.
What brought you to this place —
happenstance; circumstances
beyond your control?
Was it a conscious choice,
what played a roll?
Who where your role models
and where will you go from here?
Each one of us judged on what we take or leave behind
or where we place the blame.
Will you be remembered for a future that you wasted
    or the past you overcame?


© Ginny Brannan 2017

Whether good or bad, we all have a past, and a choice to make on what we'd like our future to be. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

April Showers

Image: G. Brannan













The rain falls soft upon the grass
erasing signs of winter passed,
it calls out to the barren trees
“Release your buds now, spread your leaves!”

The stage is set, the players cast
as soft rain falls upon the grass;
the robins have come out to play,
to chase their worms in light of day.

It seemed that winter wouldn’t end,
just days ago watched snow descend.
Now soft rain falls upon the grass…
—a change is in the forecast.

We hope indeed that Spring has come
to lift us from this winter slump;
as April slowly lifts her mask,
the rain falls soft upon the grass.


© Ginny Brannan 2017

Monday, April 3, 2017

Where Were You in '62?















I grew up in the Viet Nam era,
the Cold War hovering over my shoulders…
fears and innuendo; living on the edge.
At work would sometimes wonder
Could I get home? Would there be time?
At least be with the ones I love
should “The Bomb” be launched?

…then I’d chastise myself for thinking a fool’s thoughts.

It’s a bad habit I have, pondering worse case scenarios —
  those particular fears had all but disappeared;
  turning into background noise over the years.

It’s funny how things creep back from the past…
with nothing good in the news these days,
and world leaders upping the ante on crazy...
 is it any wonder that the ghosts of fears long gone
       are coming ‘round to haunt again?

© Ginny Brannan 2017

In ’62 I was in second grade in small town VT. I do not remember ever crawling under my desk for bomb drills, but my husband, who lived on Long Island, does. I do remember the Cold War though, the ever-present shadow of communism throughout my youth and teens, and into adulthood.  

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Carpe Diem














The dawn arrives with painted sky.
where Master’s stroke once more renews
our weary souls from winter grey.
Too long we’ve tarried, overdue,
while promises of spring accrue.


The sky suffused in pastel hues
of lemon crème and peach sorbet
now casts its light o’er sleeping plain
and beckons to us once again
to rise, to shine—to seize this day!

© Ginny Brannan 2017


Inspired by image taken by my friend Kyra near Amarillo, Texas.
Image: Kyra Lija Ferrigan Brown, shared with permission.