Late Summer Evening

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Thanks to Vincent van Zalinge @vincentvanzalinge for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/CchPqypO8nE

The backyard has been a minefield of mud for the entire spring and summer months. The contractor we hired the end of April has used very excuse you can imagine as to why the work wasn’t complete.

As a teacher, I have heard many an excuse in my day as to why work wasn’t finished, why books weren’t brought to class, and why one child needed to insult another child. Often I have reminded students to simply stand tall and own their truth, even if they think they might “get in trouble” for it.

In my own life I have found that honest self reflection leads to growth.

Unfortunately, this contractor wasn’t interested in self reflection or growth. He was a poor communicator and gave excuses instead of owning his truth. Nearly four months later, he finally poured our patio. All the roots still aren’t trimmed around the edges of the patio, and the attention to finish details simply aren’t anywhere to be seen there, but we have a poured patio.

For now this is enough.

After the concrete patio was set, we hired these young men (with better communication skills, respect, and follow through than the older contractor) to build the gazebo kit we bought. They communicated clearly the dates they were available (all within the week’s time) and showed up right on time. When they finished there wasn’t so much as a scrap of paper lying about the yard. The job was finished above and beyond our expectations.
The work ethic and follow through of these young men restored my hope in builders.

Tonight Trace, Ev, and I sat out on the patio with our dear friend Jen, listening to the thrum of cicadas and watching the dragonflies dance in the evening sky.

Peaceful rest is what Jen called it, and I quite agree.

In those moments, I rediscovered my muse; it was the magic of the late summer garden at sunset.

Late Summer

Swarming dragonflies,
honking geese heading south—
they left me wondering how
the summer waned into fall
without word or warning.
All I did was blink.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Fourth of July

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There’s this girl, you see, born on the Fourth of July. She erupted on the scene at a military base and grew to love all things military precision-like—minimalistic living and spartan saving with exacting expectations of herself—yet exploding with all the vibrant color of a rainbow. She’s an out of the box thinker—MacGyver’s met his match in her.

This girl, you see, is a firecracker, whip smart, and loud about things that matter like injustice, inequality, and freedom for all. She’s the yang to my yin, the bang for my buck, my soul sister, twin flame, and best friend. Happy Birthday, Tracy Jo! 🥰🎉🎊 💥

4th of July

It is hard to say when or where
Although why is not quite as hard
(synchronous orbits)to declare
that mysterious tidal heat
where in wonder science we meet.
Life whisks away what’s not needed,
brings the ebb and flow, completed
we move while the stars stand their guard.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Mama

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Mama
Mama

Leaning on my momma
used to be
as comforting
as slipping
into a good story
(and hers were the best)

like the time
she took a train
across Czechoslovakia
in 1956—-a wide-eyed
young bride boldly

braving new worlds,
baring her teeth
at armed guards
who dared dump
her unmentionables,

changing a tire
at 12,000 feet—
even the Alps
didn’t scare mama;

now little mama
leans on me,
her fragility
a reckoning of age,

and so we measure
this middle
in the luxury
of not rushing.

I see
our new season,
as one of priceless pause;
this time demands us
to rest
in the beauty
of now.

—A draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

The Dreamers

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Photo Credit: Thanks and shoutout to Dan Smedley

Lately I have been reading through the Poetry Foundation website like a novel. Sometimes I search a theme, sometimes I just read through the site recommendations.

By doing this, I have discovered some amazing poets who were previously unknown to me, and I have also discovered some interesting forms of rhyme and meter.

I experimented today with a rather unusual rhyme scheme in an eight line stanza. It’s been so refreshing to take time each day and write. I’ll tell you, it does something good for my soul.

Never stop dreaming big dreams, friends—it’s the only way you’ll ever attain them.

Dreamers

On small boats, through the long canals, they came
settling in the lowlands, digging ditches
building dykes and drains, trying hard to tame
the water running uphill. They resolved
to change their thinking; new habits evolved
and soon sleek dwellings began to appear
great in hope and greater in scope than fear
until the gleaming wheat claimed their riches.

Tell me why it is that hordes of locust
love to swarm in the warm, wet month of May.
Sudden rain like the mind keenly focused,
calls and corrals a throng of living things.
And so folks lived like paupers on shoe strings
eating barley grass and growing green beans
while listening to the constant humming
of water flowing and tymbal thrumming.
None too soon, the greedy beasts flew away.

And then more dreamers came, some in sleek boats
skimming through the canals, seeking reprieve
from the mundane and stale in hull-less oats;
some carting a lifetime of hopes and dreams
in broken barges with leaking seams.
But come they did with courageous fervor,
to be farmer, builder, and observer—
full of faith, hope, and the power to believe.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Magic In The Ordinary

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Photo Credit: Thanks 🙌 and shoutout to ShengGeng Lin.

Ok so… my dearest Tracy Jo told me that my writing has been rather dark lately. It’s entirely possible. I write to lay the darkness down in the light, and once the light hits it, it’s no longer darkness.

I dunno, though.

Maybe she’s right about too much, even if I do consider it a good thing.

Maybe I just need some magic in my ordinary days. A little “boost” in the form of a beverage. A little boost in the form of being with friends and family. Don’t we all need that kind of boosting after the crazy year we’ve had?

I’m hoping to have a summer filled with little boosts from family and friends. Maybe I’ll even follow some of the recipes in this poem to boost the magic the extra mile.


Magic in the Ordinary

Two ripe strawberries on the vine
bubbling champagne
one sugar cube
Santé!

Three frothy fronds of dill
one fresh cucumber
a splash of gin
Skål!

One yellow pineapple
amber rum
a squeeze of orange
Salud!

Red bell peppers
a handful of cilantro
Don Julio Blanco Tequila
¡Al centro!

Valentine vodka
a bit of ginger beer
one squeeze of lime
Prost!

A few drops of Angostura bitters
rich ruby port
a dash of orange curaçao
Saluti!

A wee bit of superfine sugar
two ounces of cachaca
freshly squeezed lime juice
Saúde!

Dark black coffee
a tip of Teeling Whiskey
fresh whipping cream
Sláinte!

—Carla Picklo Jordan

The Gathering

Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/photos/vzFTmxTl0DQ/

Being completely accepted and loved is something that most humans desire. When you find that person who gathers you in, who pulls you together when the world is pulling you apart, you hold on to them.

If you haven’t found your person, my hope is that you do. And if you already know who your special person is, reach out and gather him or her to yourself.

Maybe it’s a sibling or parent, maybe it’s a friend or spouse. Whoever it is, hold on to them tightly.

Tell them how much you appreciate them.

Remind them how grateful you are for their presence in your life.

The Gathering

You gather all the pieces of me—
You gather all the dark places,
You gather all the light places,
You gather my fears and beliefs.

You weave them together and prove
our souls are made of the same cloth.
Let’s not forget this, You and me,
we find beauty in one another.

When the quiet crumbling comes
(and it always comes) we simply
move in closer to each other;
we gather our single-soul cloth

and drape it to cover us both.
We gather underneath the weight—
we gather all of our pieces—
and we hide in one another.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

A Pantoum For My Pops

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My Pops

Happy Father’s Day to all the Pops, Dads, Daddies, Papas, Papis, Babas, Role Models, Mentors, and Step Wonders!

Today is Father’s Day, and so naturally I wanted to honor my dad. My Pops was hands-down the best dad on this planet for me.

I chose a new-to-me form called a “pantoum” (a Malay form from Indonesia) because pantoums are about memory and usually compare the present to the past in some way.

Pantoums are made of quatrains of any meter (though syllables are typically regular between stanzas), have no set rhyme scheme, and are really dependent on their repetition of whole lines.

The repetition looks like this: 
The first stanza
A
B
C
D

Second stanza
B
E
D
F

Third stanza
E
G
F
H

Fourth stanza
A
I
C
J

The pantoum carries this continuous pattern until, typically, it ends with lines A and C repeated in the last stanza. (For my pantoum this was the fourth stanza)

Here are some good examples: “Pantoum of the Great Depression” (Justice), “She Put on Her Lipstick in the Dark” (Dischell)

For Pops

Pops loved the simple things in life;
he loved God, his family, his wife.
Music was part of his being—
healthy, whole, and utterly free.

He loved God, his family, his wife—
walking alongside with kindness,
healthy, whole, and utterly free—
a man of solid conviction.

Walking alongside with kindness,
he had a gentle demeanor—
a man of solid conviction
and eyes with a hint of mischief.

Pops loved the simple things in life—
a lake, a dock, his fishing pole.
Music was part of his being—
my life the refrain for his song.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Lady Godiva

Thanks to Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian @foodess for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁

I haven’t felt much like cooking since Trace went into the hospital, Lizi had emergency surgery, and Uncle E left to stay with her for a bit and help out with Little E.

At first I didn’t want to cook because it was just too hot, and now, it seems I’ve lost my mood altogether. That seems an impossible and improbable situation given what I know about my own love for cooking, but it is absolutely true.

I think life just caught up with me, and I pooped out. What can I say? 🤷🏼‍♀️ It happens to the best of us.

However, my adoration for all things sweet has not abated one iota; so today, I found a prompt based on one of Lauren Russell’s collaborative poetry exercises. The exercise required that I write a poem based on a secret shame, or a secret pleasure.

I think perhaps I had as much fun trying to think of a guilty pleasure as I did writing this sultry, smoking hot ode to my true love.

What is your secret guilty pleasure?

lady godiva 

can i taste
your sweet succulence,
your crisp-cookie,
your bark without a bite,
your gooey caramel pull,
your coconut cream,
and your milk chocolate chew
melting in my mouth?

can i taste
your dark chocolate,
your milky way wonder,
your sea salt sprinkles
that tease the tongue?

meet me
in my bed;
slip into
my mouth
and melt away
the sorrows.

meet me
in the dark
where we can
change the world,
or at least
the moment.

last night
your siren song bewitched
and i succumbed.

this morning
i looked both ways
before returning
your golden box
to the cupboard
and slipping silently
back into bed.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Bop BeBop

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Thanks to Alec Douglas @alecthenomad for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/iuC9fvq63J8

The prompt for the day: the Bop. The invention of poet Afaa Michael Weaver, the Bop is a kind of combination sonnet + song.

Like a Shakespearan sonnet, it introduces, discusses, and then solves (or fails to solve) a problem. Like a song, it relies on refrains and repetition. In the basic Bop poem, a six-line stanza introduces the problem, and is followed by a one-line refrain.

The next, eight-line stanza discusses and develops the problem, and is again followed by the one-line refrain. Then, another six-line stanza resolves or concludes the problem, and is again followed by the refrain.

Well, I’ve never written a “bop” before, but I’ve listened to bebop. (Maybe that will help me…) Here is my first (very rough) attempt.

at the intersection

the bus line passed right in front
of her window every morning--
a new opportunity
and a lost hope for breaking free.
the dying happens slowly,
she mutters into the glass pane.

the fear of death is a powerful aphrodisiac.

he bundles up to ward off
cold days and even longer nights.
the gnawing hunger never
waning; any sort of food will do.
traversing alleys, seeking,
always longing for the next door.
yellow lights flicker inside
the neighbor's kitchen reflecting...

the fear of death is a powerful aphrodisiac.

...a table full of food, scents wafting--
oh for once to not be hungry!
catching her eye he smiles
stomach growling, indecisive.
death is a friend to no one,
he thinks, and slowly turns the knob.

the fear of death is a powerful aphrodisiac.


—a poem in progress by Carla Picklo Jordan

It’s Ok To Not Be Ok

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Little E

Well, life has certainly been full of surprises these past two weeks.

Lizi had a successful appendectomy late last night and was still hospitalized until this evening because she had trapped gas in her abdomen.

So at this point, it’s still a waiting game—for healing, for recovery, and for a semblance of normalcy to return.

The biggest stakeholder in this waiting game is sweet Little E. He is adjusting marvelously to life at Nana’s—learning how life works in our rehab center. I had to mud wrestle him to convince him that a nap is really what he wanted, but Nana won out in the end.

I always do, kid. You might as well get used to it.

Life is always ha-rd. There is no such thing as “harder”. We all struggle, we all deal with hard, and it’s ok to not be ok.

Little by little my sweet little mama bear is healing. Her little darling missed her terribly, but he accepted us as a (poor) substitute.

Now they are finally reunited and the look on his face when he saw his mama was priceless! The two are happily recovering with Uncle E helping out wherever needed.

Trace is overcoming obstacle after obstacle in this recovery. I am amazed at how far she’s progressed since Day One when she was struggling with simply getting on top of pain management.

Resilient.

All of us.

You, too.

It’s ok to not be ok. (https://youtu.be/RH6G_fWfBPs ) You can sit in that hard place, in that pain (physical or emotional), and you can move through it, survive, and even thrive on the other side of it.

June Nights

Venus danced and dazzled,
leading the way for sister stars
to join in the chorus.

As mosquitoes buzzed by,
we toasted to the sultry night
and the twinkling heavens.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan