Poem – Gentleman Doctor

After reading MEDICINE by Tony Hoagland.

I was not in love

with my gentleman doctor,

even though he always wore a suit and tie,

and had honest-to-gods leather elbow patches

on his tweed jacket that was hung neatly on a hanger

on the coat rack in his office.

Even though he called me Mrs Patrice,

which was nice,

him thinking I was married

when I wasn’t, and when I was,

and was a Ms.

Even though his tone,

when he called me,

was the same one I use for my dear little dog

when I’m asking him to ‘Come along, Puppington J. Puppy,

my little wee man’.

Even though he has a medical degree

and is one of those people who

‘know a thing or two,

and don’t imagine pain’.

My doctor had no drawings his children made

on the white walls of his surgery –

quite rightly keeping his private life private.

Instead, enlarged photos of every trip

he’d ever taken were framed

and placed five inches apart

on those walls,

but high enough so that only tall men,

like him,

could see them well.

Even though he sat through our consultations

with a slight Pan Am smile on his face,

and a finger across his lips,

in case he tell me how much I was amusing him.

He was very polite to not say that.

Even though he refused some blood tests,

because curiosity, and crying from exhaustion

weren’t enough,

he said, and he knew, after all,

because he was the doctor.

He was right –

he was the one with the qualifications,

and my puny degree in Arts,

and another long study of being in my body,

were fun coupons to clip out of advertising material.

I wasn’t in love with my gentleman doctor,

and I don’t think he ever understood why.

*****

That was an unexpected poem. Never say you don’t have something to write about. That dickhead doctor probably deserves a whole suite of poems on his dickheadedness, but frankly, I don’t want to give him the airspace.

“This is just a fishing expedition,” he said, looking at the list of tests my naturopath wanted me to have. “If you look, you’ll find something. Those of us who have an education can hone in on what the problem is. I’ll order iron studies, and a thyroid screen.”

Turns out, my iron was fine. My thyroid was all but dead (“a little under average, here’s thyroxine”), my auto-immune system had turned on my thyroid, my inflammatory markers were off the chart, I had arthritis in my left shoulder creeping down my arm, little to no ‘juice’ left in my knees, and and and. It took a female doctor, a naturopath, and two specialists to start sorting me out.

I didn’t pay my male doctor’s last bill. I told him to go fuck himself instead.

Poem: Why I Write Free Verse

I pinched this via Ron’s blog. Ron participates in the dVerse poetry group. It’s a poetic form unfamiliar to me.

The Origins:
Zéjel is a Spanish form with Arabic influence related to the Qasida and adopted by the Spanish troubadours of 15th century.

The Big Picture:
The Zéjel is distinguished by linking rhyme established in the opening mudanza (strophe in which the theme is established in a mono-rhymed triplet).

The Details
>> Syllabic, most often written in 8 syllable lines.
>> Stanzaic, opening with a mono-rhymed triplet followed by any number of quatrains.
>> Rhymed, the rhyme of the opening mudanza establishes a linking rhyme with the end line of the succeeding quatrains. Rhyme scheme: aaa bbba ccca etc.

*****

Form ain’t my thing, don’t make me sing,

to the table I rarely bring

structured poems. I want to take wing.

Stuffing words into sockets hard,

shoving meter around like lard.

Kidding myself I am a bard?

Into the sea this poem I fling?

*****

And now we see why, dear readers, I’m a free-verser. That was more painful than pulling teeth.

Poem: Skating On Words

Next Wednesday, Magaly will ask us to write poetry or prose which includes one (or all 3) of the following phrases: 1. “Happy and strange words are my home.” 2. “I see you.” 3. “Reason is music to a jaded heart.” – Poetry and Storytellers United newsletter.

It’s not Wednesday yet, but as I’m contemplating an insane move to open up new writing in myself(a 6 week course in lyric hybrid essays, bc I am totally unfamiliar), I thought I’d calm my farm a little by poeming here.

Happy and strange words are my home,

but they march in ordered ranks,

the usual configurations

with no ice skating backflip Biellmann axels.

Unhappy words are what I skim across.

I don’t invite them in,

but they seem to have wild card entries

to all events.

Humourous essays turn dark,

too personal for my own good,

and are banned to the sidelines,

told to be quiet and let the experts

do their Olympic thing.

To take words and make them slant,

zigzag, salchow, and Shoot-The-Duck

would be to be someone else

whose mind flows,

not lives in a padded box

made for skates.

How I Read A Tarot Card – instructional

Good morning to my (day late) tarot instructional. I’m using the Children of Litha tarot, which doesn’t get enough of an outing with me. I’ve been very conscious of Ostara coming up, the Quickening of the Melbourne landscape, and the warmer days and nights. I tossed out a handful of native wildflower seeds on the weekend, and they were hammered into the soil by rain over the next two days. I’m hoping the sympathetic magic will spill over into writing success. I’m entering several competitions this week. The Moon’s waxing, so a good time to sow the seeds of what’s to come. Building energy.

So, the question I have this morning….you know, I first was going to ask if doing these weekly instructionals on how I read tarot are of any use to anyone. But I decided the answer might be too disheartening. I’m aware my blog has a small reach, and even though I share the link to FaceBook, very few take the time to read the entry.

Instead, I’m going to ask what dividends my current effort in sending my writing to competitions to journals will have, if any. Yes, I’m feeling all-over disheartened today. I slept in AGAIN, and feel soggy and overslept. Lockdown symptoms, I think.

What is the outcome of my current effort in sending my writing to competitions and journals? It’s a complex question, so I’m going to draw three cards.

Okay, it’s suddenly a five card spread, because I had three cards leap out together for my last shuffle(when doing multi-card spreads, I shuffle for each draw, which is a new habit for me, and one I’ve found to be super-effective. It re-hones my mind on the question.).

King of Cups: Cups suit is that of Water emotions, feelings, intuition. The King here is decked out in gold and black, with a hint of purple echoing the purple, or violet, of the walrus. He is the King of intuition, feeling, someone who is creative but not naive. I know full well that I am a good writer, but one who needs a bit more discipline and reining in on her whimsy. Latent ADHD has come out in the past eight years or so, and makes following a theme through to the end more of a difficulty. Thus, I need to edit my writing more carefully. This card tells me that I know full well that, even though I’m a good writer, I might not be the best, or appeal to certain editors. I know the odds, but won’t give up hope.

The Magician: an elvish creature with multiple arms and legs, wielding all four elements(pentacles, cups, swords, wands). To me, the Magician represents someone who is only just beginning to realise their own power. It’s a card that comes fairly early on in the journey of the Major Arcana and speaks to power and magic, but an immaturity, or lack of confidence also. I know this is not the usual Magician interpretation. The card speaks of gaining experience, and reading the booklet that comes with the deck, I can now see that the man is fused with a spider. Dexterity, skill, doing multiple thing at once. And yes, I do write on many fronts at once. I am currently working with creative non-fiction and poetry. But I feel this poetry phase is on the wane, and soon, another aspect of my writing will come forth. I hope it’s short story. This card tells me that I am possibly spreading myself too thin on too many fronts, but that I have the skill and dexterity needed to succeed. I am re-learning the discipline of concurrently writing, rewriting and editing, offering things to journals and competitions, and keeping track of those offerings, and doing market research. If I am careful with my energy, there is no reason why continuing to do this is not a path for me.

Queen of Cups: a woman of lush curves is accompanied by a seal, again with plenty of intuitional colours violet and purple(crown chakra, our connection to the cosmos). A crescent moon is behind her. The Queen is someone of strong emotional attachments. Am I fully prepared to endure the rough and tumble of the writing marketplace? Not at the level I dream of. I am no Angela Slatter, Stephen King, Marge Piercy. I need to work at the level I feel comfortable with. I know I am not the robust writer I used to be, so this card comes up to say ‘take it at the pace you can cope with’. Also a remark that taking a look at what I want from publication and competition winnings would help refine what it is I’m doing. Right now I’m using the splatter gun approach. Sending stuff out on the off-chance. The Moon hints that perhaps using Her energies, and some magic might not go astray.

Two of Cups: two seahorses face each other, their tails entwined. Two cups are superimposed on them. They are surrounded by pink and purple seaweeds. A card of companionship, love, harmony, union. Yes, I am married to writing for life. It’s a positive card, very much so, so is there perhaps a hint of ‘good will come of this’?

Seven of Swords: Two galahs sit on a branch, looking at each other, while down below, a black snake steals their eggs. This card indicates that I could be ignoring things that should be priorities. Well, yes, I’ve had several months to prepare something to submit to EYE TO THE TELESCOPE, and today’s the last day. I’ve created unnecessary pressure on myself. It’s also an admonition to perhaps curate my offerings a little better, instead of mostly submitting to small markets. I once told off MotorCycleMan for selling his work to the lowest bidders, and now here I am, doing the same. I am being a bit of a galah, to use a very Australian phrase. It means I’m being an idiot. (The booklet says these are love birds. They look like galahs to me.) And the snake has a red-belly. Red-bellied black snakes are venomous, but shy, slithering away from people. They are deadly to the even more venomous brown snakes, and kill and eat them. They are a necessary part of a balanced Australian eco-system. They keep the brown snake populations in check. But yes, they also eat eggs.

Ace of Wands: A fiery fairy creature looks out of the card, wand clutched in her hands. The skull of a carnivore is in her arms. Birds of Paradise flowers surround her. This card talks of a primal surge of creativity, inspiration, power, ambition, motivation. I have my creativity, but it’s feeling muted at the moment. It sounds like some magical energy is needed to kick things up to the next level. I half-laughingly note that, some years ago, I wrote a poem about a writers’ conference, where I likened it to climbing into a cage of cheetahs and other big cats. All the predators prowling around each other, being nicey-nice on the surface, but underneath, all killers. Is this card telling me I need to develop a bit more of that fiery, energetic instinct and start prowling myself, hunting down opportunities?

Have I had my question answered? It’s spoken more to my inner workings than to the actual question of results of current journal and competition offerings, so I’m going to insist on one more card that really speaks to the question. Please Children of Litha card, cough up.

7 of Pentacles: a young yak contemplates a flower rising out of what looks like snow. The season is turning, and the Quickening is in more than just the land around me. It’s in me, too, and my work. The yak knows if he eats the new shoot, the plant will never grow. Best to invest in a longer term future of burgeoning plants. The seeds I’ve sown with my writing will have, in the short term, small results, but given time, I can resurrect my career at a pace I can cope with. Perseverance, vision of the future. Small results for now, but slow and stead endurance is key.

Thankyou, tarot deck, for this clear final message.

I hope this reading helps you on your tarot journey. It’s an example of the tarot addressing issues around the issue, and when pushed, answering the darned question. Yes, it’s absolutely okay to pull qualifier cards if the spread isn’t answering what you asked. Mind you, if the qualifier card doesn’t clear things up, then either you’re not meant to know, or it’s best to pay attention to what the cards are actually saying, and attend to those issues.

Moar patience, discipline, and all those Capricornian things I have in my Sun, Mercury and Mars, but that my Venus in Aquarius, and Scorpio Moon think are a real drag.

Until next week, tarot fans, by which time, I will have sent writing to two competitions, and one journal, and have a piece of creative non-fiction underway for KNOT LITERARY JOURNAL, who are so very kind to request something for each issue.

By the way, people, my piece in KNOT, The Fog Thins, is nominated for a Pushcart Award. Just sayin’.

Poem – Tombstone

“I ain’t afraid to love a man. I ain’t afraid to shoot him either.” – Annie Oakley.

Thumbelina rides into town

on the back of a blackbird.

One single hedgehog quill dipped in virus.

No need even to scratch a man’s ankle

in the Oriental Saloon.

Just drop that spike into the water barrel,

and watch the big ‘uns die.

Only the small things will live –

birds, mice, insects a-plenty.

She sits in the Sherriff’s office,

comfortable in a walnut shell,

booted legs swinging.

She will wait –

the others of her kind will come.

When they do,

they will live without fear

of a single finger flick.

*****

A half-hearted attempt at a mash-up idea I found in an old journal. What to make of ‘Thumbelina rides into town on her virus, carrying nano-vaccines and blackmail notices’? When did this idea strike? What was behind it? Why place Thumbelina in Tombstone? Well, why not? She’s not often written about.

This little oddity is the serendipity of me clearing out some old journals on a decluttering day, and a prompt from Poets and Storytellers United to mine an old journal for something.

Poem: Pennies

A penny saved is a penny earned.

I earned not a single one of the large box of pennies

found in the room under the stairs

in this house we rent.

Big Australian copper pennies,

some dating back to 1919.

A few have a red kangaroo on the front.

Rare one fetch up to fifty dollars.

A couple of minutes in salt and vinegar

and they come up shiny as new pennies,

if we still had pennies,

instead of faux-silver five cent pieces.

I’m saving them for the day

we escape lockdown,

and I can find a numismatist.

Money for old pennies,

money burning a hole in my pocket.

Money for the next lockdown –

must buy all the toilet paper.

*****

A frippery poem based on a Poetic Asides prompt to write about an adage. A penny saved is a penny earned had me wander through how odd that adage really is, my cat Penny, and then the box of pennies under the stairs.

Poem – Spring Bloom

Early Spring, and already a fine crop of lawn mowers

are showing in neighbour’s yards.

Yellow daisies self seeded from last year

are whipper-snippered away by new growth scythes and clippers.

Four streets away, the tall sunflower reach of a crane

sways alongside a woodchipper.

My two trowels are looking hardy, sprouted

amongst some empty terracotta pots.

A white cabbage butterfly perches

on newly-grown tomato stakes.

The Quickening – we all rush into our gardens

while the weather’s good.

*****

A random prompt from Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides blog was ‘write a Spring poem’. I’m sitting here on my green couch, having just planted some seeds, and several streets over is the noise of a woodchipper, and a crane. Some old, old trees are coming down. Yesterday, three neighbours were out with lawn mowers and whipper snippers. The sounds of Spring – petrol-driven motors, a big crop.

Poem – War of the Worlds

Sound waves do not die out. They travel forever and forever. All our sentences are immortal. Our useless bleatings circle the universe for all eternity.” – Fay Weldon.  

Voyager, forever sailing outwards.

It carries a sampling of humanity,

including nudes, and directions to our house.

Typical humans, thinking we want to see that

jacked-up tedium.

As if we haven’t enough of their nonsense,

from their first ‘ooga chaka ooga ooga’

as they showed off their latest lizard kill.

The first art critic shaking their head at Lascaux,

saying the mammoth wasn’t in keeping

with Crog’s other work.

Earth’s sound waves hitting the edge of the universe

and bouncing back again and again,

until there’s nothing to do but invade,

with fancy ray guns,

and shut those yapping creatures up forever.

*****

This poem came from reading the Poets and Storytellers United, where my BFF snakypoet placed this Fay Weldon quote. I get mighty riled when my next door neighbour uses any sunny, pleasant afternoon to mow his lawn yet again. I think he’s using it as distraction from Lockdown 6, week whatever. Or maybe I’m home more to notice his mowing obsession.

I got to thinking that if I’m peeved with that noise twice a week or so, then, if it’s true that Earth’s sound waves never die, how cheesed off are our alien neighbours at the constant yammer of our planet? From the first ‘meep’ of an amphibian dragging itself onto land, right up to the latest hit from Cardi B – the endless NOISE of us. Is it any wonder Dr Who is non-stop alien invasion of Earth? I’ve often wondered what made our planet so darned interesting to aliens. Now I know.

Trans Cranial Magnetic Stimulation Therapy – update 28/8/21

I’m privileged enough to be able to say, same old, same old. Many people are waiting for the first round of TMS to be on the Medicare rebate system. That comes due in November 2021. That will make TMS accessible for many more. If I wasn’t married to PizzaBoy, I doubt I’d be in a position to afford treatment.

I had my treatment on Tuesday afternoon, and today is Saturday. I’m a few days behind in updating. Thursday was a wipe out day. I barely moved at all. Tired. Not because of TMS, or depression. I’d simply had a busy start to the week, and a bucket of appointments on Wednesday. Thus, Thursday was lie low day.

Yesterday and today, house painting has been the theme. Look, this wouldn’t have been possible before TMS. I would not have thought to up and change the paint scheme, and challenge the status quo our landlady has in place. But what’s the good of living in a house where you hate the colour scheme, and if the landlady won’t update the 70’s decor? So, I’ve gone ahead and started painting things white. Window frames, skirting boards, door frames – out with mission brown, and in with warm white. It’s lifting my mood in the house when not faced with dark brown everywhere (yes, I believe in the power of colour), and it’s a big lockdown project to keep me sane. Last year, I spent the 11 week lockdown doing Paint By Numbers. I doubt we’re coming out of lockdown any time soon, so it’s house painting this time.

Another thing to come out of better brain is my writing. All of a sudden, I am in Power Poetry mode, and good poems are pouring forth at the twinkle of a prompt. Not a lot is coming spontaneously, but give me a prompt, and I’ll give you the poem.

I’m even able to write more like Billy Collins and let that more playful side of me out. Again, six months ago, this would not have happened. I would have taken every topic to a darker place. Sometimes, I still go there, when the topic warrants, but more and more, I’m allowing myself to stay lighter.

I’m getting better at remembering things without a list, too. Not great, not yet, but better.

I still get a mild headache after TMS, but a glass of water and a cup of tea usually fix it.

My next step is approaching weight loss. Now, I know my anti-depressant contributes to my weight. As does menopause, and my absolute addiction to chocolate covered raspberries as a way to deal with any boredom, and other stresses. However, I’ve discovered that I can eat less, I can exercise more, and all I get is increased body inflammation from the Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis(another weight issue). My GP also works for Alevia, a weight solutions group, so I’m approaching her through that company to see if I can’t get back to 55kg from 72kg. At 157cm, I’m too heavy for my frame. Not hugely heavy, but enough so that I’m unhappy with how I look in the mirror and in photos. I don’t want super model, but I do want superbly healthy for a long life.

Now there’s something I couldn’t say six months ago. Aiming for a long life without feeling like it would be a burden.

Poem – First and Last

In a strange burst of newly-married enthusiasm,

I first cooked for you.

Homemade champagne pastry for an apple pie,

using fresh apples.

I’d never done anything like that before.

Or since.

It was the last time I cooked for you.

No matter what I did,

I would always be the girl who took your preferred son away.

What I didn’t tell you was the cat walked on the pastry

before it was cooked.

The wrinkles in the crust hid any soft paw prints.

The heat killed any bacteria,

I suppose.

We’re still linked through my children,

although my marriage to your son is done with.

You could have had him back,

but by then, even you realised

how truly odd he is.

The last time I served you a cup of tea

was your husband’s funeral.

You didn’t drink it.

Your grief was years old,

having lost him to dementia four years past.

I can only presume my efforts

were not up to your English tea standards.

Or maybe it was me

who didn’t fill your cup.

*****

A little prompt from Poets and Storytellers United. ‘The last time.’ I ranged over a number of topics until something about my ex-mother-in-law rang a tiny bell.