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

Fireflies and Summer Skies

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Photo Credit: Thank you and shoutout to toan phan.
Fireflies

Every evening
as the sun dips
low in the horizon
a calm settles.

Fireflies blink
in dusky
summer skies
while the fire crackles

and laughter
breaks into the night.
If I am brave
and open my widening

eyes to see
into the falling
darkness, I can
picture tomorrow

I can dream
I can feel hope
rising in
my bones—

the kind
of hope
that speaks truth
but lives dreams.

Every evening
as the fireflies dance,
if you know how
to listen for the whispers

of tomorrow,
you can tell yourself
who you want
to become.

—Carla Picklo Jordan

Hostage

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Photo Credit: My dreary backyard
Hostage

The weather
is holding me
hostage;
I’m afraid
I will never recover.

Every summer
it seems
to be something—
slip and fall
pneumonia
broken ribs.

Now this year,
it’s raining
it’s pouring
it’s a muddy mess.

It’s a treeless swamp
where once stood
my beautiful maple
and my favorite
swivel rocker.

Oh Mr. Sun, Sun
Mr. Golden Sun
please shine down
on me.

—by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Yes, I know at least the pool has been installed, but no patio yet, no air yet (tomorrow, hopefully), and no sun…

We’ll talk tomorrow after the air-conditioning is installed.

Tanaga for June 2021

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Two Tanaga for June 2021

1.
June left me feeling beige-dead
One raining gloomy-bleak thread
Mud with ankle deep tire tread
Give me lucent day instead

2.
Anthracite grey wild-storming
Humid sauna air warming
Buzzing mosquitos swarming
Climate change life transforming

-draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

The Tanaga is a type of Filipino poem consisting of four lines with seven syllables in each line. Traditionally, each line ends with the same rhyme; however, sometimes this will be varied.

A Tanaga looks like this:

7-7-7-7 Syllabic verse with an AAAA (traditional), AABB, ABAB, or AAAB (modern) rhyme scheme.

Heatwave

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Photo Credit: Thanks and shoutout to Bryan Hanson 

I’ve been taking some time to regroup after a grueling year and a half-is of teaching. I didn’t think relaxing would be as hard as it has been. I don’t think I realized just how taxing a year of virtual work and life was until I started to slow down.

Given that Trace needed her spinal fusion immediately, her recovery has been our primary concern this summer. We had already booked plans to head down south and camp in Laurel, Mississippi, navigating our way down to Folly Beach and maybe even New Orleans, but we had to cancel all those plans to concentrate on things closer to home.

We found out in the early spring that our beautiful big red maple was causing foundation damage to our home, so out it had to come. This meant tearing up our beautiful wood deck out back. But we had to do what we had to do, so I decided if the deck was getting ripped out anyway that we would replace it with concrete. We would enjoy our summer vacation from the luxury of our own new patio. Win-win!

With the hope that all construction work would be done by the beginning of June, we ripped out the deck and threw tarps down so the dogs could still use the backyard. Well, those of you near us know the massive amounts of torrential rain coupled with brutal heat we have had this summer. Now the back yard is one muddy lake and the dogs have to be walked on leash out in the front in order for them to take care of their business.

And the construction work has yet to begin.

Except now we have an excavator taller than our house in the backyard and the contractor is heading off to vacation next week.

Sigh.

My poem today is in honor of the tiny gold finch bathing in the mud lake that is now our backyard, the late great Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and staycations.

Heatwave

Summer came on steamy winds of spring
the torrid heat belied the month of June;

summer storms raged like May shower
bombs of heat detonating in waves.

All that remained come muggy morning
was the mucky mess of mud called garden

and one tiny goldfinch preening in a puddle
making me wish I had been born a bird instead.

--Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

A Septet of Lines

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Photo Credit: Shoutout to Annie Spratt on social.

The poetry challenge I place before you today this: I’d love for you to try writing a lune.

A lune is a sort of English-language haiku. While the haiku is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count, the lune has two different options.

The first option for a lune is a three-line poem with a 5-3-5 syllable count. The second variant is based on word-count instead of syllable count. This means the poem still has three lines, but the first line has five words, the second line has three words, and the third line has five words again.

I chose this latter form to write my poem. Today I give you a Septet of Lunes. Try your hand at it and share it in the comments. I look forward to reading your take on the lune.

dinner on the deck

the cardinals always come--
strutting red coats,
snapping seeds in a single crunch.

the dark eyed junco hops
tentatively to feed,
nervously glancing side to side

the chickadees flit over lightly
with great decorum
landing lightly on the feeder.

sparrows hide in the bushes
waiting their turn,
hanging out in patient packs.

the house finch dines together
with the others--
sparrows, chickadee, cardinal and junco.

when the blue jay plows
in to feed,
the sea of birds part;

but the noisy starlings arrival
clears everyone out--
iridescent bullies chasing away friends.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

I Reckon The End Will Come


Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash

A poem for the earth…

I Reckon The End Will Come

I reckon that the end will come
one summer day for all of us
sooner than we can imagine—
but who will be left here to care?

I reckon the once vibrant seas
will overflow with the carnage,
that is sadly vacant of life,
but who will be here to care?

I reckon no longer will we pass
our heirloom treasures on to those
generations who come after—-
but who will be here to care?

I reckon decay will someday
over take us, who are scattered
by the reckless without regard,
but who will be here to care?

I reckon when the last tall tree
is felled by careless apathy,
then the forests will lie barren,
but who will be here to care?

I reckon the poison of greed
will birth the realization
that life is not grown with money,
but who will be here to care?

--a draft by cjpjordan

Dancing Buttercups

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Artist credit: Annelea

The world is beginning to dream again and so are we. I see strength returning to Tracy’s spirit, and it does my heart good. She was able to use her walker to walk to the sink, sit down and wash up her face and arms in the sink today. A milestone!

She said it felt so good. She changed into a personal nightgown and felt like a whole new person.

We are hoping to get her into in patient rehab on Monday but it is pending insurance approval. You know how it is…

It is not good enough that doctors, nurses, and Physical and Occupational therapists recommend it. No, the insurance company, not her personal medical team, must approve it first. Please pray with us she can go.

On another note, my dear friend Annelea has launched her website. Trust me, you want to click that hyperlink and check it out; she is a gifted artist.

I am honored to continue a collaborative process Annelea and I began several years ago. I write—she paints.

This poem is the second in our most recent collaboration. I am writing poetry for the paintings on her website.

After this year of pandemic and quarantine and staying home, I am ready for dancing buttercups on a far away shoreline. I hope you are swept away with joy and hope and dreams of summer.

Buttercup Dreams

I slept
in a field
of buttercups

down
by the Cape
where salty air

and shipwrecks
drift together
near the rocks

buttercups
with orange-tip
butterflies nestled

finally free
once again
to dream

How
shall I
bear the joy

of living again
in this glorious
invincible summer?

—a draft of Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Nguni Cattle

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This painting is by the artist Annelea. She has many beautiful pieces on her brand new website. Check her work out here.

One of the great privileges I have enjoyed is travel. Beginning with an opportunity to teach in China when I was in my early twenties, I’ve experienced teaching many different countries and cultures through the years.

On one of those journeys, I made a lifelong friend, a South African girl who was heading to Croatia/Bosnia to do humanitarian work. Through the years, Annelea has travelled and lived all over the world, and we have remained fast friends.

Annelea has been painting for many years. In different countries she has taken classes, made community connections, and grown as an artist. She has finally launched her website and has many beautiful pieces and prints for sale. She’s one of a kind, and her work is as delightful as she is!

This poem highlights one of Annelea’s paintings. I hope you visit her website and enjoy the beauty and movement of her paintings.

Nguni Cattle

They move with the wind heavy
feet plodding as dust rises—
to them there is no today
and there is no tomorrow;

there is only now and grass
and eating and digesting.
So the days move day to night,
only in their dreams they move

beyond the roaring fire,
beyond the crystal clear night
beyond all the shining stars
to the magic of the moon.

I wonder if other worlds
like this one exist —- worlds where
people and creature alike
remain unfettered by time.

—by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Of Trees and Song

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Thanks to Michael Bryant @purplesulfurstudio for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/g6Pir20bEo0

Today’s prompt honors one of my favorites, Mary Oliver. I was challenged to write a poem based on the natural world: it could be about a particular plant, animal, or a particular landscape. I needed to try to incorporate specific details while also stating why I found the chosen place or plant/animal meaningful.

Remembering our lovely day spent among the redwoods, I wrote about them because I will never forget the size of the trees, the wonder walking among them, the nail-biting drive up and down and around hairpin turns, and the stunning beauty brought with the rounding of the bends in the road.

of trees and song

sprawling, mossy overgrowth
living velvet green
reaching, knobby redwoods
house romantic clandestine

whispering, spider and fly
meet in secretive coves
praying, tranquility
hinged on majestic groves

breathing, peace settles
as songbird melodies rise
laughing, i throw my head back
and join the chorus reprise.

—by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan