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Mustard

We had a snow day on Sunday. No church. No walk. (Superbowl for hubby, though – the TV wasn’t snowed in.)

I used the gift of those extra hours to tidy up my gmail and in the process came across a poetry prompt that I couldn’t resist. So I also wrote a poem.

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Mustard

Seeds the size of faith
ground and added to young wine
became the fiery condiment
must-ardens*

Sauce as ancient as Indus and Rome,
modern French’s, dyed paprika and turmeric,
drips from every summer hotdog
stains every childhood shirt.

Hulled or whole-grained, sophisticated mustard
mixes congenially with vinegar, wine, water
lemon juice, whiskey, beer; remains
a wholesome but tart foil to ham, chicken, cheese.

Bavarian or Dijon, sweet or hot
honeyed, spiced, fruited, or Poupon
yellow to brown this world citizen
is welcome at tables on every continent.

A jar of French’s still lives in my Canadian fridge—
faithful standby for sausages, wieners, mayonnaise
parson at the emulsification nuptials of oil and vinegar
and a spread for a 5-year-old’s favorite sandwich.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

* How it came to be called “mustard”:

The first element is ultimately from Latin mustum, (“must,” young wine) – the condiment was originally prepared by making the ground seeds into a paste with must. The second element comes also from Latin ardens (hot, flaming).

Source: Wikipedia.

The post that contains the prompt: “Eating and Drinking Poems: Barbara Crooker’s ‘Ode to Olive Oil’“ quotes Barbara Crooker’s wonderful poem in full.

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Poetry Friday LogoThis post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Katy at her blog The Logonauts.

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Posted by on February 10, 2017 in Objects, Poetry Friday

 

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7

Happy eve of New Year’s Eve!

Everywhere I tune in these days I hear people talking about what a terrible year 2016 has been and good riddance to it.

I don’t feel that way at all. For me 2016 has been a wonderful year. Hubby and I are still living together in peace, we visited our distant kids three times, had a fabulous summer holiday, welcomed another beautiful granddaughter, and were spared major illnesses, accidents, falls, fires, earthquakes, storms, and floods.

Poetry-wise it hasn’t been bad either. The number of poems I wrote this year is 97 and the number of times I participated in Poetry Friday is 37.

What’s with all the 7s?

I know! Seven seems to be my little buddy (in addition to those two, there are a total of eight 7s in our address and two phone numbers). Thus when I read the prompt “Write a number poem” in Diane Lockward’s The Crafty Poet II (a wonderful book for poetry craft and prompts, by the way) I had to choose seven. The threshold of 2017 seems the right time to share it.

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Image: Pixabay

7

It’s not that it is a prime
number of perfection
the completion of an entire week
or that it’s the address of heavenly bliss.

And though its association
with itch and deadly sins fascinate
the reason I fall for 7
is how often it has fallen for me…

so often in address and phone number
I fear one day to find myself
at 6s and 7s to remember
where all those 7s belong.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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What number would you choose for a number poem?

And now I’d like to wish all my Poetry Friday Friends a 2017 so 7-perfect it deserves a 10!
PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Donna (the BOLD) at Mainely Write.

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2016 in Objects, Personal, Poetry Friday

 

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Just an ordinary walk


In the last few weeks my walking partner, dear hubby, has been finding it more and more painful to walk. Then the doctor told him, no more long walks until you’re better. So for now I am walking on my own.

When I took solitary walks in the past I experienced a wonderful loosening of words and ideas. And it’s happening again, if I’m alert to it.

To help with that, I carry a little notebook and pen to write down words, turns of phrase, and images that I don’t want to forget. Or I hold them in my head. That’s what I did for the poem below. When I got home I free-wrote like crazy to capture everything in prose. Later I worked some of my ideas into …

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“I am a long skinny shadow now, walking down a golden street” (Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly)

Just an ordinary walk

On this cold morning I am soft wax
feeling intimidated by impatient cars
swishing, swooshing
swirling beside me.

One turns right in front
of my WALK light, almost clips my toes.
Even in moments of still, distant traffic hums
a far off siren screams.

City birds above me chirp, warble
sing their own bustle, swoop down (peck, peck),
flutter away. They are nonchalant, daring,
savvy to the rhythm of feet and tires (hop, hop).

My nose tests wind gusts, smells
gasoline, diesel, vanilla, a passerby’s peppery
perfume,  chocolate, cinnamon
(something good is baking at Safeway).

I am a long  skinny shadow now walking down a golden street
past a lady in a taupe coat with her silky dog in red
and a grey couple smoking on a bench.
They pull their Lhasa Apso close so I can pass.

I can’t find the book drop at the library.
The security guard points me to it’s green-light lips
“You scan it.” He shows me which bar-code
and the slot sucks the book from my hand.

As I turn toward home, the sun stares
into my eyes, brash. I shade them
with hands balled into gloves, fingers
squeezing warmth from palms.

A kid with a black-and-white backpack strides by
black arms bare under short black sleeves
black jeans, white shoes—so cool
but how can he not feel so cold?

I climb stairs, twist key in the lock—
happy to be home.
It was just an ordinary walk
but forever engraved in this poem.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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PF-2This post is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by the queen of poetic forms, Tricia at her blog Miss Rumphius Effect.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2016 in Objects, People, Personal, Poetry Friday, Writing

 

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I Remember … (NPM ’16-Day 30)

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Story time with Aunt Helen

I Remember…

I remember the holes in the green roll-down blinds
and how they looked like a starry sky.

I remember caramel-colored fly paper
hanging twisty from the ceiling
dotted with black.

I remember making cakes and cookies
when we got to play with water in the sandbox.

I remember lying sick on the couch
and how the flowers in the living room curtains
became faces.

I remember story time with Aunt Helen.

I remember angel food cake
and strawberries with whipped cream
for every birthday.

I remember licking the beaters.

I remember Saturday work
and how much I hated it.

I remember washing the cream separator last
and how slimy the dishcloth got
in old soap and lukewarm water.

I remember early wash day mornings
with the sounds of the chugging machine
and daddy playing quartet records
while he waited for another load
to hang on the line.

I remember starting the fire in the sleigh—
the smell of kerosene and smoke
and how one side of my leg
would soon be sunburn-hot.

I remember grape juice and pop—
our Christmas dinner “wine.”

I remember frosty spring mornings
and cracking crystal ice.

I remember spring evenings
full of the drone and ribbet of frogs.

I remember the smell of earth
and the wind holding its breath
just before a summer rain.

I remember the gentle sound of grazing chickens
on summer holiday mornings.

I remember how prickly nervous I got
gathering eggs from nesting hens.

I remember the smell of the kitchen
when Mom made pickles.

I remember the smell of wheat
in the fall when Dad was combining.

I remember the sweet-sour caramel crab-apples
Mom made for fall picnics.

I remember reading
till 2:00 or 3:00 a.m.
and wishing Anne of Green Gables
was my friend.

©2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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I decided to take the April 29th NaPoWriMo challenge of writing an “I remember’ poem:

“… write a poem based on things you remember. Try to focus on specific details, and don’t worry about whether the memories are of important events, or are connected to each other.”

I discovered, once I got started, it was hard to stop! The poem contains only a few of my memories. Are they anything like yours?

And with that I come to the end of  poem-a-day National Poetry Month 2016! It was fun posting a new poem every day, even though sometimes a little hectic. Of the 30 poems I published this April, 28 were newly written this month. Thanks for all who came by to read and leave a comment!

I’ll now get back to my usual about twice-a-week posting schedule.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2016 in People, Personal

 

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Wild Rose Roundabout (NPM ’16-Day 29)

Wild Rose Roundabout

I unfurl my face to you—
now that it’s almost May.
It was a juicy April
with lots of wet-root days.
To January and February’s sparrows and chickadees
my shriveled red ancestors were food.
Leaves paled and lost their grip
driven crazy by November’s gales.
Ripening in August heat,
hard green hips blushed.
It was a May ago
my forbears smiled their last on you.

My forbears smiled their last on you—
it was a May ago.
Hard green hips blushed,
ripening in August heat.
Driven crazy by November’s gales
leaves paled and lost their grip.
My shriveled red ancestors were food
to January and February’s sparrows and chickadees.
With lots of wet-root days
it was a juicy April.
Now that it’s almost May
I unfurl my face to you.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)

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The April 28th prompt at NaPoWriMo was to write a story poem—backwards. We saw the first wild rose blossoms on our walk yesterday morning, roses were on my mind, so I decided to write a wild rose story.

The challenge to write a Reverso poem (a poem in which the lines are reversed bottom to top, making a second stanza or an entirely new poem) has also been circulating around the Poetry Friday network. So I tinkered with my story until it worked as a Reverso poem of sorts.

However, there is at least one aspect of a Reverso that my poem doesn’t satisfy. In a genuine Reverso, the meaning changes when you change directions. I know I have not achieved that.

 

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Form poems, Nature, Objects

 

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Nicomekl Nightlife (NPM ’16-Day 26)

My poetry buddy, Laurel, and I walk different sections of the same path—a gravel and asphalt trail that follows Nicomekl Creek. Her yesterday’s poem, “Nicomekl’s Regulars,” about the people that walk the path,  was pitch-perfect.

But the path—at least the section of it that my husband and I walk—has another  cast of characters with another life, a night life. Though we’ve never walked it at night, we’re left with lots of clues of nighttime activity.

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The jettisoned mattress – Photo © 2016 by V. Nesdoly

Nicomekl Nightlife

After dark the trail’s dog-walkers
spandex-joggers, stroller-mothers and duck-feeders
give way to Nicomekl nightlife.

Hoodie-clad gangs with aerosol cans,
attracted by fresh paint and the already-graffiti’d
bridge underbelly, leave their mark.

Lean, weathered man rattles cart
over gravel to sheltered spot, jettisons mattress,
unrolls sleeping bag, curls up for the night.

Metal-hungry scrounger drags TV prey
under the bridge to eviscerate.
Leaves skeleton and innards for dead.

Roving tribe of tent-dwellers appear—one night
on the stream-bank, the next almost hidden
in new-leafed shrubs, the next under spreading oak.

Night ladies leave a trail of boots, pink bags, frilly tops,
night men—jeans, ball caps, jackets, undershirts.
Somehow a shopping cart lands in the stream.

A plank on the wooden bridge greets morning
black-charred. Across the creek
a blanket-nest lies abandoned.

Restless night segues too soon
to birdsong-raucous day.
Path, exhausted, dozes under returning

and happily predictable dog-walkers,
spandex-joggers, stroller-mothers, and a greying pair
that stride along every morning between 8 and 9.

© 2016 by Violet Nesdoly (All rights reserved)
 
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Posted by on April 26, 2016 in People

 

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National Poetry Month #eatingpoetry

Welcome to April and National Poetry month! What are you planning to do to celebrate poetry this month?

  • Attend a poetry reading?
    If you’re in the Vancouver area / Lower Mainland, you’re invited to ours. The Fraser Valley Poets Society‘s April event is a Blue Moon Reading, April 13th (6:30-8:30 p.m. Clearbrook Library, 32320 George Ferguson Way, Abbotsford, B.C.).

Yours truly is the featured reader that evening. I’ll be reading from Borrowed Gardens, the anthology that three friends and I published in December 2014. (There’s a small sampling of the poems in the book here.)

There will also be an open mic following the Blue Moon feature, so bring a several of your own poems to read.

Poetry Month Poster - League of Canadian Poets

Fragment of the League of Canadian Poets Poetry Month Poster – 2015 (click on image to enlarge)

The League of Canadian Poets has suggested the wonderful theme of FOOD for this month’s poetry. To go with that theme, here is a poem about one of my favourite childhood treats:

 

Puffed Wheat

Puffed Wheat—my generation’s Cheerios
for baby’s highchair tray.
Wheat grains magically blown up
beige-speckled, quarter inch
elongated puffs, tiny bums.

I didn’t like them as cereal
that I had to eat in a rush
before they shrunk small, slimy
and sticking to teeth when I sipped
the sweet speckled milk dregs
from the bottom of the bowl.

But a concoction of butter, cocoa
sugar and syrup cooked
hot enough to brand skin
poured over 8 cups in Mom’s enamel roaster
mixed frantically with a wooden spoon
before the sticky mass congealed to stiffness
then warm-pressed into a buttered pan
made the best birthday cake
in the world!

© 2015 by Violet Nesdoly (all rights reserved)

Share your food poems with other Canadian poets using the hashtags #eatingpoetry and #NPM15

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in Objects

 

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