Friday, May 31, 2019

Poems I wrote in April #4

A poem about numbers


42 skirts with typewriters, 7 rows of 6
Nylons, blusher, lipstick, coiffed hair
Numbered lumber forms with carbons
A razor blade for our mistakes

Living for lunch and the crossword puzzle
Living for breaks and a Hostess Twinkie

Mad men around the edges
Loose ties after lunch
Whiskey breath, nicotine fingers
Our only names Honey and Sweetheart

Not sure how I survived all summer
But I learned what we do for money

Friday, May 24, 2019

Poems I wrote last month #3

One assignment was to write a poem about something we had just experienced.


What does she want
the ancient bird of a woman
crippled into her wheelchair
trying to sort out
the bills in the plastic cup
with her clawed fingers?

Does she want complicated things
like meaning and authenticity
or a warm drink and a sandwich
with the 10 and the 20
that we add to the cup?

Does she want absolution or forgiveness
for something the Other has long forgotten
or does she want us to listen
to how she got there outside Peet’s
on a sunny Easter afternoon?

Does she yearn for our generosity
or for resurrection of her body?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Poems I wrote last month #2

I wrote this with Notre Dame tragedy on my mind.


Esmeralda’s fingers were 9 years old
but too small to circumnavigate the globe
so she perched it on her palm and shook her hand
and snow fell on Notre Dame de Paris

She’d stolen the world
from an open bag on the Metro
the dwarf asleep
his huge head slumped forward
and his backpack behind him
beneath his coat

The priest across the aisle
In the place réservée aux invalides
Hadn’t seen her
All gypsies are invisible to priests
Nana had told her
but don’t steal from them
they work for le Diable

She slipped the round ball of church
Into the big pocket of her skirt
Where it crowded in with four small coins
Two cigarettes
And a half-eaten croissant for her brother

It was a useless thing
That globe with its tiny flakes falling on the tiny cathedral
It wouldn’t buy a crêpe au sucre
Or a paper cone of marrons
But she knew it had a story to tell her
If not now, maybe later

Jill Kelly
2019

Friday, May 10, 2019

Poems I wrote last month #1

During April I participated in Sage Cohen's wonderful Poem-a-Day class. In this month's blog post, I'll be sharing some of my favorites.


Where does your time go?
Mine slips down the drain
with the last of the dishwater
slithers away with one
more game of Wordscapes
thumbs its nose at me
as I wait for the slow freight
on Division Street

Mondays the account is full
a temporal pay day
and my mind tucks that full wallet
into my back pocket
but then suddenly it’s Sunday
and I’m a week closer
to permanent penury

It’s only when I turn
to the fat wad
of the moment
the windfall
of the now
that the slipping and slithering cease
and I inhabit time rather than spend it

Jill Kelly
2019

Friday, May 3, 2019

A helpful way to look at choices

At the center of psychologist James Hollis's ideas is this: an authentic, meaningful life is available to anyone who is willing to risk and stretch and grow. At each crossroads, at each decision, at each choice we can ask: Will this enlarge my life or diminish it?

At first glance that may seem like a hard question to answer. But I'm coming to realize that we know the answer deep down almost every time from small question to large. Should I order the burger and fries or the salad? Should I finish the book I'm reading or watch TV? Should I get more sleep or stay up and surf the Internet? Should I work extra hours or go to my kid's recital? Should I buy that gadget or send the money to the food bank? Should I take an art class or goof off on Saturdays? Should I stay in my job or start my own business or take a year off?

None of the answers are wrong. It depends on what we want for ourselves in this one precious life we have. However, Hollis suggests that the path of least effort is seldom the most satisfying. That choosing things that are a stretch--learning something new, going out of our way to do something challenging--are a glorious way to be human rather than playing it small and safe.

The larger life isn't necessarily a public life though it may be so for a few of us. No, the larger life is the one with fascination and curiosity and challenge at its core. I'm intrigued by these ideas.