Monday Giggles

I owe a lot of my attempts at poetry, especially initially, to the poet Shel Silverstein.  I remember sharing a lot of laughs with my parents over his goofy rhymes that tickled your brain and your heart in all the right places.

I received my very own copy of one of his books from my dad on my eighth birthday.  My dad was out to sea and couldn’t make it back to celebrate, but his inscription on the inside cover, and the poems within, made him feel a lot closer to home.  Isn’t it a kind of amazing that books and words can do that sometimes?

Anyway, here is a short piece I wrote in the attempt to emulate his style a bit.  The event was taken from life. I hope it gives you a giggle this Monday.

Tommy is a pest to me,
he never ever plays fair.
And when he wins,
he jokes on me,
“You’ve got a bug inside your hair!”
I go to look and nothing’s there.

Tommy is a pest to me,
he’s never ever nice.
And when he is,
you’d better watch out!
“You’re standing by some mice!
Ha! Made you look!”
Tommy got me twice.

Written June 9, 2008

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Time Traveler

I spent a day in the past today.

For me, history has always been fascinating. Allowing me to see the inventive ways people approached problems, the evolution in society’s thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, and giving me the chance to learn from mistakes made through the years. There have been plenty of those…

I always thought I would jump at the chance to time travel to the past, if only for a while, but you know what they say…’Careful what you wish for.’

Today we took my cousins to the Holocaust museum in Washington D.C. They had been learning about the subject in school the past year and were curious to know more about what happened. I remember my initial shock and confusion when I first discovered this devastating moment of time, but watching it register in the eyes of young girls was a completely different experience.

I think sometimes history tells us stories so that we can learn and grow as humans. Sometimes history recounts events that allow us to grow closer together as we recognize similarities and those universal traits we all share. And sometimes, history provides us with events so confusing, heart wrenching, and unbelievable that they make us pause. They make us think about our behavior towards one another. They make us consider what is really important in life. Some of us may only pause for a moment…some of us may carry the thoughts, lessons, or echoes of past voices with us for an especially hard day.  Others for the rest of their lives…

The following poem was a college writing assignment. We had to write a poem from the point of view of a famous person. Can you guess whose perspective I wrote from?

*

This place is not a home,

but a home it has to be.

A few rooms behind a bookshelf

on the stair,

where we live as ghosts.

*

We left everything behind,

our clothes, our books, our friends.

We left the old life quickly.

We brought only our silence.

Now we wait in these cramped quarters

for the day we can return.

*

While I wait, I dream.

I dream in red, and white

and black.

I dream in the twisted branches of the old chestnut out back.

How lucky is he,

stroked by the sun’s golden fingers,

shivering at the icy chill of raindrops down his trunk.

*

I spend hours at my cracked and tiny window

watching the ferries glide on glassy black water,

rusty bicycles rattle along the cracked and suffering pavement.

Starless shoulders fill the streets.

Ik kijk en wacht voor de vreiheid.*

*

Written Spring 2010

*I wait and watch for freedom.

City Living

*This is one of those word game poems I posted about earlier.  Someone gives me the first three words they can think of and I have to use them in the poem.  The words I was given are in capitals.*

I could never feel at ease
in this solid slate grey place,
where everything is a battle,
a constant fight for space.

Where buildings flaunt their height,
where silence is unknown,
where the world never knows night,
and shadows haunt for space to roam.

Outside my window ledge and down,
there is such a shadow on my street,
from a weak and starving sapling,
one of twelve spaced every twenty feet.

Down below the shadow dances
as the day begins to grow,
clinging to the CONCRETE,
shyly bathing in a sunny glow.

The movements of the wind are EMBELLISHED in
the PIROUETTING leaves and branches
that quake, and stretch, and bend, before taking a final bow,
as the sun retires and street lamps fizzle in.

A moment then of beauty here,
But I could never feel at home
Where the trees are shy in their dancing,
and shadows haunt for space to roam.

Thoughts From the Land of the Freeway and Home of the Brake

I watched my life flash before my eyes.

I mean I had plenty of time to re-play the whole thing in real time if I had really wanted to. I hadn’t moved from my sorry little spot of asphalt in 20 minutes. I had studied my surroundings several times over in an effort to distract myself from the clock in my car that began to eat away at my lunch hour…and then as I continued to practice patience started to gobble up my leave time. Again.

I guess that’s just life when you live in the land of the freeway and the home of the brake, where the clock always reminds you that you should have left for wherever you are headed 15 minutes ago and your GPS always tries to offer multiple routes to get you to where you need to be.

On this lovely summer afternoon, as the sun baked me to perfection on only one side of my body, my GPS tried to be especially helpful by offering me two ways to get to my job 47 miles away. The helpful little navigator chirped a cheerful beep and asked me if I would prefer to drive or walk to my destination.

‘Walk?’ I thought… ‘Surely this is a mistake.’

The mistake grew more and more plausible by the moment, especially after I calculated that I had traveled an impressive 0.2 miles in twelve minutes. I must confess…for just a moment I thought about trying to find a parking space somewhere and finishing the journey on foot.

While this is at the very least a weekly occurance for me I’m sure we are all going to run into congested chaos on the roads this summer. We are all going to encounter those mysterious traffic jams that leave us wondering long after we’ve moved on what the problem was. You know the ones I’m talking about… Where you’ve been waiting in traffic and then suddenly pass a point in the road where everyone discovers the gas pedal again and the speed nearly instantaneously matches the suggestion posted on the little white signs near the side of the road.

We are all going to be trapped, at least momentarily, behind a vehicle that wants to travel at a speed where the driver is able to admire every leaf on every tree, and every reflective marker painted on the road.

We are all going to find ourselves playing traffic leapfrog, cursing our very helpful, math loving (recalculating) GPS systems, and turning up the radio and singing at the top of our lungs into the steering wheel. We are all at some point going to be stuck when all we want to do is keep moving forward.

The best advice I can give as a daily commuter and an expert in traffic congestion is to breathe and make the time count as best you can. I’ll admit, this might be easy for the first ten minutes but as the time wears on it will get harder and harder. You can do it. Listen to the radio, have a conversation, think out things that might be bothering you, listen to an audiobook or podcast, have a singing competition. If all else fails, get an idea for and begin writing a blog post.

Just remember…we’re all in this together.

Anyways, I have to go. I probably should have left 15 minutes ago…

Most Certainly Uncertain

Certainty, I think,
Is something only children know.
That fades with every passing day
as suns set and children grow.

For once upon a time
I knew just who I would be,
but when I face my own reflection,
that’s not the person that I see.

Certainty eludes me now,
like shifting shadows in the light,
and I’m never really certain,
if I’m wrong or if I’m right.

Written February 8, 2013

Castles in the Trees

image

Image Copyright: Kati Bergman 2014

Last night I paid a visit
to the place we used to be,
where swing sets turned to airplanes
and castles hung in every tree.
I saw the route around our house,
the rooms, the yard, the long dark hall…
I saw the sunsets and the lightning bugs,
and the people who aren’t there,
and each of us was laughing
in this memory made of air.

Then in a rainbow rush of wind
I saw the time fly by.
Our castles in the trees
came tumbling from the sky.
I watched the magic seem to fade
from all our favorite places,
the laughter into whispers,
the shadows, barely traces.
Now anytime I’m lost
and want to know where I should be,
I think I need only to remember
our castles in the trees.

Written March 11, 2013