If you’ve been following ARHtistic License for a while, you’ve probably noticed that I love challenges. Every October I participate in two—OctPoWriMo (October: Poetry Writing Month, not to be confused with April, National Poetry Month) and Inktober, a drawing challenge.
Now, you probably also know that I’m my husband’s caretaker, and his needs come first. If I miss a daily blog post, it’s either because Greg needed me, or I was exhausted by daily life and took a nap instead. I know my limitations, so I will not commit to producing 31 poems and 31 drawings in October. My goal is to write a poem on most odd-numbered days and make a drawing (or maybe a Zentangle—I’ve missed doing those) on most even-numbered days. If I end up doing 14 of each, I’ll be super pleased with myself.
I’m a little concerned about OctPoWriMo; I went to the website early this afternoon and it looked like it was in suspended animation. There isn’t any pre-OctPoWriMo buzz on it yet, but the header does say OctPoWriMo 2021. I may just go ahead and write poems anyway.
I’d like to extend the challenges to you, too! If you’ve been meaning to add a little creative art to your life, join in on one or both of the challenges. You are not obligated to do something every single day of the month, but it is a good discipline. If you’re going to try, let us know in the comments below. And each day in October, if you post your challenge offering on your blog or social media, add a link to the comments on one of my posts so we can all come and take a look at what you’ve done. I hope to hear from you soon!
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Train ride to Flemington
when the kids were little
we didn’t have much money
I remember one summer outing
I drove the oldest three kids to Ringoes
and we took the train to Flemington
I think it was their very first train ride
now, Flemington had once been
a recreation of a colonial town
with costumed weavers and glassblowers
and the Stangl pottery factory
but by then it was only a quaint village with shops
I remember we rode in an open air car
we chugged along fields of goldenrod and Queen Anne’s lace
and our allergies kicked in
we didn’t have much money
but I gave each kid a dollar
I don’t remember what the girls bought
but Matt, age 6, got 10 monster finger puppets with wiggly arms
he called them the Boogie Brothers
they were hilarious
when we got home
Greg admired Matt’s puppets and gave them all silly names
Matt calmly told him he was wrong
Greg held up each puppet one by one
and said, “What’s this one’s name?”
and for each one Matt answered in all seriousness “Matt”
while I laughed until tears rolled down my cheeks
experimenting with anarchy
stretching the limits
breaking all the rules
transitioning into chaos
today I will not brush my teeth
I will exceed the speed limit
and not come to a complete stop at the stop sign
nor engage my parking brake
I will leave off the period at the end of my sentence
and not capitalize arizona
I will skip my vegetables
and eat dessert first
my rebellion has a time limit
disobedience makes me anxious
back to normal tomorrow
In All CircumstancesGive thanks in all circumstances;for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV).
All right, God. Because You say so.
Thanks a lot for this scourge that has killed hundreds of thousands
of people worldwide.
I can sincerely thank You for the people
who call their elderly neighbors and say
“Is there anything you need?”
I thank You also for the doctors and nurses and orderlies
who work long hours caring for the sick.
For the grocery clerks who stock the shelves
and who gather customer’s orders.
For the people who conscientiously wash their hands
and wear their masks.
For the people who lost their jobs
and don’t know where their next meal will come from.
For the people who don’t know how they will pay their rent.
For the children who can’t go to school.
Thank You also for the people who died alone,
whose loved ones wanted to be there to comfort them,
but weren’t allowed.
You see my tears and You know I am devastated for them
and angry at You for letting this happen.
But I know there are also blessings that I can’t see.
So I thank You for Your invisible movement through this valley.
I thank You that out of pain and death
You can make life and beauty,
even if I can’t see it now.
But I trust You.
And I thank You.
Even though I don’t know why.
my husband gets ready for bed
I hear him snap his hearing aids into the charger
the water runs
he spits toothpaste into the sink
I hear the dryer’s signal
I still have work to do
I’m tired, too
my day’s been long
with chores and errands
I want to sleep until I wake refreshed
but we have an early appointment
his, not mine
but he can’t do anything alone anymore
our days are logistics problems to be solved
nothing is easy
we don’t know when things will be “normal” again
I remember a different time
when I was sleep deprived
caring for our five children
never a dull moment
laughter and tears
the days seemed endless
but their childhood was over in a blink
Dancing with the dog
the dog wants out
and I dance around the pool
weighed down with an extra 10 pounds
the result of staying at home
it used to be I’d dance for three hours every Tuesday night
now we don’t gather
so I’m limited to a few minutes under the stars
and music only I can hear
I sway right and left
touch heel and toe
one foot crosses over the other
and my fingers snap in rhythm
slowly I make my way around the pool
then slip into the backdoor
the dog prancing in behind me
don’t take us out of the box
we’re happy here, brand new
as perfect as we’ll ever be
don’t violate us with your stinky feet
don’t destroy our perfect twinness
we are each other’s ideal partner
if you put mileage on us
we’ll wear out, no longer new
no more new shoe fragrance
this is war
we will fight you
we’ll pinch you and blister you
but treat us gently and we’ll hug you
we’ll give you height
we’ll let you dance
or we’ll trip you up
you’ll never know which
until it happens
better yet, leave us in the box
put us on the top shelf of the closet
forget about us
let us rest in our perfection forever
o spirit of rhyme and rhythm
amuse me, muse
now tickle my imagination
with whistles of whimsy and whit
make the words flow from my pen
and paint pictures with their cadences
I am merely the stenographer who
captures the images and
mounts them on the page
you gave me this gift, this curse
now have your way with me
make me fertile with verse
don’t sit me here with an idle pen
and ideas that drift away like smoke
what do you have for me today
what little bit of cleverness
what wordplay what syllabic art
what chorus of rhyme and rhythm
what little ditty will you hum to me today