I Wish I could Undo…

"Broken Mirror" by Edward Van Helgen @ deviantart.com

“Broken Mirror” by Edward Van Helgen @ deviantart.com

For quite a few years now, one of my favorite poetry sites online has been POETSONLINE (see http://poetsonline.org). This site introduced me to presenting poetry online for others to read and it also taught me what fun it can be to write to a specific prompt. The site’s administrator, Ken Ronkowitz, has several blogs, several of which focus on poetry. His prompts are always very well thought out, amply illustrated with poetic examples, they never fail to offer a good challenge to both an experienced writer or someone new to writing poetry. This past summer, Ken presented an interesting prompt that began with Carl Sandburg’s poem, “Mag”:

“The prompt this time out was to write a poem about a negative wish (or wishes) – a wish to undo, wishes that change the past. Those are the wishes that pull you right back to the present and have you thinking about the future.”

The poems written in response to the prompt were published this fall. I wanted to share mine here on my own poetry blog to reach a broader audience. I think the problem is poor self-esteem and distorted sense of self-worth isn’t uncommon in women in America. I struggled with it all my life and just when I think I’m in control, something might happen and make me backslide. I’d say that 97% of the time, my rational self is in control and keeps that negative thinking in check. I do regret having wasted so much of my life feeling inadequate or not worthy of being valued in so many ways. I know I’m not alone. I hope any person reading this poem will think about it and someone they know who struggles with this issue and perhaps, do something to help her (or him) learn to embrace their own self-worth.

Self-portrait in colored pencil

Self-portrait in colored pencil

 

If you’d like to listen to the poem, click on the link below and wait a few seconds for the audio to begin.

 

I Wish I Could Undo…

All the time
I wasted waiting for life to happen,
As if there would be a perfect moment
When the stars aligned just so,
Or my sails swiftly caught the wind,
And the ivory moon was full.

I thought it would just happen.

All the time
I wasted loathing who I am:
Never good enough, smart enough,
Thin enough, clever enough,
And if that weren’t already enough,
I somehow felt that if I said it enough,
I really might be transformed,
Emerging a butterfly and not a moth.

I would be smarter, beautiful, wittier,
And I’d dance with agile grace.
At last it became quite apparent:
I would never be ‘enough’ for me.

All that time
I wasted wishing myself away.
If only I could undo all of that,
And take back time…and use it well.
I’d whisper a simple incantation
To my younger self:

You were enough, more than enough
In your very own way.

Apple in Mirror

Apple in Mirror

First published on PoetsOnline.org under “Negative Wishes,” August 2014


“I Wish I Could Undo…” (c) 2014, Mary Kendall

Donut Dog ~ a Visual Poem

Katy, my donut dog, deep in sleep.

Katy, my donut dog, deep in sleep.

One of the great joys in life is owning a dog you absolutely adore. For me that is my sweet seven year old yellow Labrador retriever, Katy. We got Katy as a one year old rescue dog from the wonderful rescue group, Saving Grace, in North Carolina. She surprised us by chewing just about everything including more than one down-filled pillow. (Did you know that a down pillow contains a million and a half down feathers? Neither did I until I had to clean up the ‘snow filled’ house on several occasions.) Seriously, we quickly found out that this bundle of energy needed really long, hard exercise. For Katy, this came in the activity of fetching. Even today she still runs so fast that people comment on it. And she fetches until you stop throwing the tennis ball. My neighbors are used to dropping off bags of used tennis balls, all for Katy’s pleasure. She definitely has her fans. Who can resist a lovely, very silly dog who won’t live without her beloved tennis ball?

This poem is my tribute to my dear Katy. As you can see from the picture above, she loves to curl up like a donut (what dog doesn’t love this position?).

Donut Dog by Mary Kendall

Donut Dog by Mary Kendall

Eye on the prize!

Eye on the prize!

A ball is always close by.

A ball is always close by.

Even old tennis balls need a nap.

Even old tennis balls need a nap.

The Broken Promise: Orpheus and Eurydice, poem by Mary Kendall (Mythic Poetry Series)

A second poem of mine in the Silver Birch Press Mythic Poetry Series! I’m delighted they selected this one.

I’ve done an audio clip of me reading this poem. Click below if you care to listen.

 

Silver Birch Press

orpheus-returns-from-the-pursuit-of-eurydice
The Broken Promise: Orpheus and Eurydice
by Mary Kendall

If only he had kept his promise, she’d be there.
All it took was one glance, a quick turn,
a meeting of the eyes and then she vanished.

How long did he stand there staring at where she had been?
When did he realize that she was lost to him forever?

How sad the stars were that night,
tumbling through the black sky
in mournful arcs;
even the moon turned its face away.

As he lead her out toward the ledge,
did she gasp at her unsure footing?
She with her snake-born limp,
trying hard to keep pace through dark tunnels
winding up to the craggy precipice?
Was this what tempted him to look?

His glance came so naturally,
that of the husband who worried
his wife might stumble and fall.
His trust in her never wavered and yet
he looked…

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The End of Autumn

Red Leaves

                                                                                     “In my End is my Beginning”

The End of Autumn

How could we pass through autumn
without thinking about life.

Life and death.

Life and birth.

Birth and death.

The book ends of our existence
with pauses of space in between
waiting for us to write the chapters
that will fill the empty volume
that eventually defines a life.

Golden Leaves

These photos were taken by me at the Duke Hospice at The Meadowlands in Hillsborough, North Carolina. This hospice is set on an old farmstead in rural Orange county. The hospice and grounds are a wonderful gift to all who pass through.

Quotation embroidered by Mary, Queen of Scots

Quotation embroidered and worn by Mary, Queen of Scots

Due North: A Winter Poem

Due North © 2014 by Isotell

Due North © 2014 by Iosatel

There are nights in the winter
once the leaves have fallen away,
when sometimes I wake in the dark,
hearing the distant, plaintive sound

of a single train a few miles away
as it crosses over a country road
or maybe it’s to warn off deer
that pause too long on the track.

The train travels due north,
and in the blackness of the night
the train’s dark sounding
brings back fragmented images
of my childhood life up north.

North, where winter’s silver skies
are layered in clouds most
of the year, and where snow
begins to fall early and deep.

North, where my family lived
in the rust belt of Lake Erie,
where strong winds raced across
the lake with bone-chilling cold.

The lake effect meant snowstorms
that went on for hours, even days
on end. Times when all of us gathered
together happily, knowing school
would be cancelled the next day.
Night was peaceful back then.

In the morning, we’d make our
way through the thigh high snow
and help shovel the walk, leaving
tall tunnels of snow on either side.

Our boots would crunch on frozen
snow, fingers painfully cold, but
that never stopped us from a snowball
fight or playing king of the mountain,
or sledding, tumbling, rolling in snow,

or making lovely snow angels
all over the yard. Those were the
carefree days of childhood, when
we didn’t worry about time or the
future or much of anything.

And for a while the thick snow
continued to fall, covering the tracks
of cars, birds and anything else
that dared to wander outside
on those interminable winter days.

Now, no longer in the north,
I lie in bed remembering such
simple times, times of being together
as we coasted down the snow hills,
all six of us tucked in tightly together

until halfway down when the toboggan
shifted and just after the pull to the left,
we capsized, all of us scattered down the hill,
laughter ringing out so loud as we fell,
each of us ready to give it a go again.

Tobagganing in the Snow

Tobagganing in the Snow

My thanks to the photographer, Iosatel, for use of the photograph, Due North, which appeared on his blog, The Obvious and the Hidden, 03/11/2014

Dining with the Woodpeckers

pileated suet

While visiting my brother and his wife this summer in East Aurora, New York, we experienced a truly wonderful and unexpected visit from three pileated woodpeckers at the suet feeder Jim had filled. His wife, Paulett, said the woodpeckers were frequent visitors to their lovely back garden. This was a first for me. Although I’ve been an on again, off again birdwatcher for most of my adult life, I’ve only seen one pileated woodpecker in person before. Seeing three at the same time was simply brilliant. Watching their acrobatics as they fed on the suet, flew back and forth to peck at a tree, and generally manoeuvered their rather large bodies in amazinglying agile ways was pure delight. After a feeding frenzy, they flew away and it felt amazingly still and empty where they had been. Much like a visit with beloved family and friends, the ‘after’ part comes all too soon and leaves a void in our hearts. This poem is dedicated to Jim and Paulett, two of the kindest and most caring people I know. Thank you for sharing your home, your family and your amazing woodpeckers with us.

pileated 5

Dining with the Woodpeckers

In the late August garden
The quiet afternoon now

Comes to a languorous close.
Out of nowhere, a flash of red,

Bright scarlet crests crowning
Zebra-patterned feathers.

Three Pileated woodpeckers
Begin to feast at the suet feeder,

Fluttering, flying tree to tree,
Tree to feeder, alternately

Pecking at thick maple bark,
Then shifting to soft silky suet.

The youngest, now the size of its parents,
Joins in to grab his share, and father

And mother dutifully give way.
For a few Cirque des Oiseaux moments

All three woodpeckers hang right side up
And upside down, their brilliant red heads

Flash like stop lights in the early evening sun.
We sit around the table eating an early supper

And sipping local wine. Conversation drifts
As we watch in these avian acrobatics.

Just as quickly as they arrived, so soon are
They are gone. More wine is poured,

Seconds of hot buttered corn and fresh
Heirloom garden tomatoes are passed

From one to the other. Like the birds,
We share this meal together, enjoying

The richness of what the day has given.
A light wind blows the leaves outside,

A beautiful evening for us to be together
Knowing that summer will end all too soon.

Picture by Beth Brandkamp

Picture by Beth Brandkamp

Water Song

water_texture2379

Water Song

Water, the color of night,
so very still
not even a wave
breaks the glass surface.

Fear is sometimes
like this, submerged
so far it is hidden
from the conscious self,
safely buried
and unable to rise
to the top again.

Dark thoughts swim
against the current
of common sense, but
they meet no resistance
that far down.