Summer Weather

Predicting the weather, especially in the early days of summer in the south, is always the pursuit of a moving target.  Air pressure rises and falls, fronts move, winds shift, and water vapor collects in white masses that turn to gray then turn to black. Temperatures drop ten degrees in a matter of minutes and the trees wave back and forth, welcoming the lashing they are to take.  Nature holds on.

warm turns to cool
clouds roll in from the west
we brace for what’s next

Don’t Read the Comments

I have an opinion, and a way to get it out there
…….I can share it, so I will
What’s an “informed opinion?” I don’t care — this one is mine
…….And that’s what matters
I see that you have an opinion as well, your own point of view
…….Even though it’s flawed
As easily as I can share my opinion, I could do some reading
…….That doesn’t matter
I have no time for nuance, as there are other battles to be fought
…….I have an opinion
You’ll try to scroll on by, but you’ll probably see it, this opinion of mine
…….I can share it, so I will


Tim Gels, Draft

Please note: This is not an autobiographical poem!

Out of State Plates

The driver ahead of me hesitated
physically straddling the line between turning or not
as one does when a decision is uncertain.

It was a small car, road-dirty with out-of-state plates
and a single occupant, a man whose greying hair 
was visible in the early morning light.

As I would too, he pulled through the light in the turn lane
and it was curiosity, I confess, that soon had me alongside him 
for just a moment before pulling ahead.

Perhaps mid-60s, needing a shave but not a haircut.
A look of concentration with his left hand on the wheel
and his right clutching a sheet of paper.

A few moments later I looked for him in the mirror, but he was gone. 
Where was he going, this far from home?  
Where was I going, this close to home?

Shaking the thought, I slowed once more 
dutifully put on my signal 
and made a turn into the rising sun.

Picnic Table

A picnic table sits beneath a spreading white oak tree
just outside the building where I spend many of my days 
extending an unspoken invitation to all who walk past it.

Perched on a slight incline, it is bathed in deep, cool shade, and 
a breeze has, more often than not, accepted the invitation
and it, in turn, entreats passersby to do the same.

Were it not for the heavy chain tethering the table so close 
that the tree itself takes two of the end seats 
that haven on the hill would be perfect.

Enjoy the table, but don’t steal it.  Things are complicated.

Draft, May 2021

Black Locust


“How do you know it’s a black locust?”

It was a sincere question
and
honestly
I had to think
for a few seconds 
before I answered.

The easy answer
the one I didn’t give
was it couldn’t be anything else.

With those compound leaves
it wasn’t any of the oaks
or maples
redbud was out of the question
as was beech
and tulip poplar.

With those leaflets
as small and numerous as they were
ash, hickory
box elder
buckeye and even pecan
were off the list.

But on that late April morning
it was more than just 
seeing what it wasn’t

It was seeing what it had to be.

With those dangling clusters 
of wondrous white flowers
laden with nectar, pollen,
and bumble bees

It had to be a black locust.
It couldn’t be anything else.

“It’s the flowers,”
I said with a smile.


Just a note:

I know and understand that most people don’t know how to identify the trees around them.  Or the flowers, shrubs, and grasses.  There are so many I don’t know . . . lots more than I do. 

In the early grades, we often use what’s known as “environmental print” to help students to read.  Environmental print is helpful because almost everyone, even children at a young age, can recognize it — it’s ubiquitous and you know it at a glance.  

When I learn with people — especially young people — outdoors, it’s my hope that they would develop a familiarity with the world around them.  Much like recognizing the M that is the golden arches, it would be great if, at a glance, we could recognize the plants and animals around us.  

To paraphrase Aldo Leopold, we can’t love what we don’t know.

Conflict

Man vs. nature
I would write in the margins
back when I was made
to do such things

I remember that
along with man vs. man 
and man vs. self
— conflict

Now, some forty years later
as I walk the trails
and see 
what I see

I wonder why
I never wrote
nature vs. man
I wonder why

back when I was made
to do such things

—–

Just a note: I understand we more-accurately say character instead of man these days.  This poem takes me back to the 70s.  A lot of things were different back then. (And a lot of things weren’t.)

2021 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem


It’s the 26th of April*, and the 2021 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem is down to its last few days. I’m excited to be a part of the effort this year, and it’s been great to watch this grow as the days and weeks have gone by. Thank you, Margaret Simon of Reflections on the Teche, for your organizational efforts!

The poem started back on the 1st of April and has progressed through 25 poets so far (the list is in the sidebar). Its last stop was with Shari Daniels at Islands of My Soul, and she left me with two lines from which to choose. In her blog post, she gave some insight into her thinking as she wrote them: “This poem is nearing the end, with a possible one stanza left and perhaps a closing line that leaves the reader lingering in wonderment. So, this last stanza feels like it must take a bend or pivot in some way.”

I certainly agree! Here’s the poem so far, with the two choices she’s giving me at the end.


I’m a case of kindness – come and catch me if you can!
Easily contagious – sharing smiles is my plan.
I’ll spread my joy both far and wide
As a force of nature, I’ll be undenied.

Words like, “how can I help?” will bloom in the street.
A new girl alone on the playground – let’s meet, let’s meet!
We can jump-skip together in a double-dutch round.
Over, under, jump and wonder, touch the ground.

Friends can be found when you open a door.
Side by side, let’s walk through, there’s a world to explore.
We’ll hike through a forest of towering trees.
Find a stream we can follow while we bask in the breeze.

Pull off our shoes and socks, dip our toes in the icy spring water
When you’re with friends, there’s no have to or oughter.
What could we make with leaves and litter
Let’s find pine needles, turn into vine knitters.

We’ll lie on our backs and find shapes in the sky.
We giggle together: See the bird! Now we fly?
Inspired by nature, our imaginations soar.
Follow that humpback! Here, take an oar.

Ahh! Here comes a wave — let’s hold on tight,
splashing and laughing, let’s play until night!
When the Milky Way sparkles, and the moon’s overhead,
we make a pretend campfire and tell stories we’ve read.


Here are the two choices she’s written:

You tell me yours, and I’ll tell you mine.

and

Some stories are true and some myths of our time.

I’m going with her second choice! Here is her line with the two that I’ve written.

Some stories are true and some myths of our time.
Now let’s write our own — maybe prose, maybe rhyme!

or

Some stories are true and some myths of our time.
I love all of them, but my favorite ones rhyme!

I’m excited to see where Rebecca Newman takes this stanza, and how the poem comes to an end — just four more days!


* As I understand things from her website, Rebecca is actually bringing her 26th of April to an end down under in Australia as mine is just getting started in north Alabama. I know, I know . . . she still has the same 24 hours, but I’m publishing this early to give her some daylight before it’s her 27th!