March Madness Is Fizzling Out

Okay, I still haven’t done anything significant with my writing. Eventually, I’ll break out of my funk and get back to it, but it is taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I seem to recall Theodore Sturgeon (or was it another famous author from that era?) taking 5 years off from writing at one point, but I don’t think it will be that long for me. Maybe when allergy season is over and I start walking again, I’ll get back into the writing mindset. We’ll find out in a few weeks.

In the meantime, “March Madness” is upon us, but it has fizzled out for me. Ever since CBS gave games to other networks, it has gotten less and less interesting. I don’t have cable, so it’s like watching a single game, usually one I don’t really care much about, and having commercial after commercial followed by the NBA commentators prattling on during halftime. They don’t even have the breakaways to other games like they used to have, and they don’t switch from a blowout to a game that is up for grabs because they are all on different networks. It used to be so exciting to watch the underdogs win, but now they don’t really even show in-game updates on them any more. There are more updates during regular season Saturday games than they have in the tournament, and that says a lot about how bad it’s getting. It’s all about the money, now, not the games, and it’s pretty much destroyed what used to be a very enjoyable sporting event. I remember watching the first week with anticipation, but now I’m not even paying much attention to it because they’ve taken away all the exciting parts. It’s not even really worth having on as background noise when the game that’s on doesn’t hold my interest.

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Poem #9: “The Ovarian Lottery”

Sorry for the delay in posting this poem. I’ve been dealing with my Spring allergies and spent much of the past few days drowsing. I’m also running out of poems to post, since I haven’t written much of anything this year yet. Anyway, if you haven’t heard of “The Ovarian Lottery,” it’s a term coined by Warren Buffet. He says he “won the ovarian lottery” by being born when and where he was and with the mental abilities that made it possible for him to take advantage of it.

The Ovarian Lottery

Born this day, a screaming brat
A boy? A girl? It matters not.
whose life is but a spark of breath
that stretches forward into death.

Will this breath be first and last?
Will a dozen decades pass?
Will a century grow old
before its story has been told?

Will it live a life of joy?
Will its hatred overflow?
Will love come its merry way?
Will it be someone else’s slave?

Will it crave its daily bread?
Will it have a gilded bed?
Will it never suffer want?
Will it sleep beneath a cot?

Will it have a temperament
suited to its environment?
Will its full potential rise
to but a fraction of its size?

Where and when this brat was born
determines much of what will come;
the rest results from DNA
and all the things that come its way.

Some have luck and win it all.
Some have none and drown in toil.
But none of them is in control
of when and where they have been born.

© 2018, all rights reserved.

Poem #8: “Flashback”

Flashback

It is an old cardboard box,
dark brown and pitted by age,
topped by a dusty, misshapen lid.
I haven’t opened it—haven’t even
seen it—in decades, and now
it sits there accusing me of neglect.
It was an old fossil my mom
discovered in her garage,
and she wanted it gone.
“It’s yours,” she told me.
“Take it with you.”

I lift the lid and the ancient
glue gives way. A side flap
pops loose, but the other
three hold their shape.

A Dungeons and Dragons
boxed set stares up at me,
bringing back a few happy
memories of sword play
and magic spells. I lift it
and find the silver-gray
graduation cap, flattened
by time and long-forgotten.

I cringe and force back
the unpleasant memories.

Geek.
Nerd.
Muskrat.

Yes, that was what they
used to call me: Muskrat.

I can still feel the cold, hard
concrete floor of my father’s
fur shed; the piles of muskrats
stacked like cordwood next to
the skinning chair; the short
brown fur nestled in my palm;
the smell of tainted flesh and
clingy little balls of excrement
squeezed from the naked carcasses;
the blood caked on my fingers
after hours and hours of skinning….

I had buried that in the past
to collect dust and mildew,
and now it’s back again….

Why did I keep that cap?
Why do I still keep it?
And the graduation program?
The tassels?
The prom night catastrophe?
The diploma was the
only thing that mattered to me,
and I keep it with my college diplomas.

Then come the little knick-knacks:
Christmas ornaments from my grandma
that I never used, an ashtray I made
that looks like a rumpled fez, a package
of men’s handkerchiefs I never opened.
I never missed any of those,
but I still can’t throw them out.

A stack of letters to add to the
box of correspondence I’ve kept
in my closet for years.

Bank receipts I’ll have to shred,
even though I haven’t banked there
since the 1990s.

Nestled in among them
like a dagger from the past
is the Survival Knife.

I smile.
My dad bought it for me, and—
as gifts go—it was poorly chosen,
and I had forgotten about it.

He wanted me to be like him—
a hunter, a trapper, a man’s man—
but I wasn’t, and I never would be.
I was bound for college—eventually—
to become the “educated idiot”
he always dreaded I would be.

I never used that Survival Knife,
and I always thought it was a waste
of money, just like the ornaments
and handkerchiefs.

Until it saved my life.

It happened about six years
after I wore that cap and gown.
I have always struggled with depression,
and I was deeply entrenched in one at the time.
It was the first—and only—time I thought of suicide.

Oh, I had thought about
being dead before, about
who would miss me, about
who would be at my funeral,
but I never really wanted to die.

Until then.

I could not live
the way I was, and as
I lay there contemplating
how to kill myself, I thought
about that Survival Knife.

Immersed in that unfeeling stupor,
unable to lift my head from the pillow,
unable to move my arms and legs,
I smiled—weakly—and almost
laughed aloud.

The irony of ending my life
with a Survival Knife saved me.

If I could still laugh, I realized,
then I could still live.

Was that why
I buried that relic
in my mom’s garage,
hoping it would never be
rediscovered?

© 2018, all rights reserved.

Poem #7: “A Child”

A month and a half into the new year, and I haven’t accomplished squat with my writing. I also don’t really feel very guilty about it, which is somewhat of a surprise. Maybe next week? Maybe not? We’ll see.

A Child

Cake batter
on her nose.

© 2018, all rights reserved.

Poem #5: “Bits and Pieces”

Unfortunately, nothing much to report again. I’m still fairly apathetic toward my writing, and I’m not sure why. Anyway, here’s another poem.

Bits and Pieces

The road…
The road…
The frost-bitten road…
The wood…
The wood…
The snow-laden wood…
The word…
The word…
The rhyme-fitted word…
The board…
The board…
The fence-mending board…
The road. The wood. The word. The board…

Now, where is the poem?

© 2018, all rights reserved.

 

Poem #4: “Discourteous”

I’m still sorting through things as I clean and rearrange my apartment, and one of the boxes contained printouts of some stories I wrote about 30 years ago. I’m going to go through them this weekend or next week to see if any are worth retyping or publishing. I also proofread my poetry collection, but I haven’t quite taken the next step of publishing it. I’m not sure why I haven’t, either, but every time I think about formatting it for the different e-book retailers, I get deflated and shy away from doing it. It’s a bit strange; I’m cleaning far more than I generally do and writing far less. Usually, I detest cleaning (which is why I generally don’t make messes). I have written a few poems, though, and three of them (brevettes) were published by Whispers as part of the January Activity. “Discourteous” is one of the others I’ve written this year.

Discourteous

Darkness before me,
behind me, to the left,
and to the right.

My car climbs the hill
like a snail on tranquilizers
trudging along, heedless
of the slimy trail it
leaves behind.

A dim funnel of light
spreads out before me
like a luminescent shadow
stretching into the night sky.

It fans out, forming
a diffuse canopy, and I
hit the dimmer switch
and wait for him
to do the same.

The pool of light
blossoms into a pair
of brilliant, piercing
haloes that stare me
down as if we are
playing chicken.

I squint into the
blinding glare and
flash the brights.

I shield my eyes and
flash them again.

He is close, now,
so close I could see
the whites of his eyes,
but my vision has been
consumed by those
blazing orbs.

He passes, and I am
thrust back into darkness.

I feel the vibration
from the rumble of my
tires skirting the edge of
the shoulder, and I ease
my car back onto the road.

My eyes adjust
just in time to see
a funnel of light
piercing the sky
above the next hill.

I cringe.

© 2018, all rights reserved.