Exquisite Quarantine Poem: DISCONNECTED

 

DISCONNECTED

As I sit at home on day whatever of the quarantine,
Contemplating how many days it takes to use a roll of TP,
I have seemingly endless hours to watch my grey roots grow,
And ponder, “Is it just a matter of choice to feel connected?”

One click to see a face long absent,
Glowing screen a beacon in the dark
Miles traversed in seconds
Intangible strands linking voices.

Phone, phonetic, frantic connection.
Hello? Speak to me.
I’m alone, lonely, bored.
Can’t you feel what I’m feeling?

I’m grateful; peaceful. I’m feeling quite blessed.
I have shelter; food, and a furry nice guest.
He comes every morning, eats, then sits in the sun.
He’s the sweetest companion; the very best one.

He’s the one who watched and waited silently as I shed my hair and picked my nose
and ate the last few crumbs of brittle brownies flung with abandon by angry children locked in high chairs when we grew too tired to chase them.
Shaking skittishly, I realize suspicions of the subtle snobbery of surreptitious scarabs savoring tidbits of that which it was he was.
Wresting the last sweet smell of baked cinnamon buns from that brown, embarrassingly frayed cardigan, I turned toward no one as I start to weep.

* * * * * *

THE POETS
Mindy Wells Hoffbauer is a professional explainer, still trying to figure out what she wants to be when/if she grows up.
Robin Murphy
Kay Ross lives in Hong Kong and is the Head Tour Guide in The Playground of Possibilities. https://playgroundofpossibilities.com.
Allia Zobel Nolan writes about God and cats….in that order.. www.AlliaWrites.com
Michele Manting is the Artistic Director, Vintage Improv Festival www.vintageimprov.com

THE ARTWORK
There were some starts and stalls with the artwork for this poem, so in the end I chose “Operator”, by Jim Croce. It just felt right.

THE POEM
Contributors were asked to write four lines of free verse. The first contributor was given the prompt “Disconnected”; each of the other contributors got to see only the last line of the previous verse.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Exquisite Quarantine Poem: UNMASKED

“The Three Faces” by Daniela Gitlin

UNMASKED

Why do I have to notice everything?
Because acting aimlessly misses the target
If you take off your mask.
Then yellow became my signature color.
I wish I were an Oscar Meyer wiener.

Why do we close our eyes when we kiss?
Because when you don’t raise kids, you can’t mess up their lives.
If one doesn’t nurture their own personal narrative
Then Humpty Dumpty wouldn’t fall.
I wish I had tried harder.

Why do you always have to say that?
Because she put all her eggs in heaven’s basket, she stopped living in the now.
If they didn’t acknowledge me on Mother’s Day, I wouldn’t notice.
Then I would have taken more solid, pure, possibly different actions.
I wish I was a creative genius.

Why do masks make us feel both safer and more alone?
Because there’s always time to get a DeLorean.
If my dog could talk, I’d know the secret to contentment.
Then I would not be a mother.
I wish I was more aware of my personal narrative earlier in life.

Why else would it matter?
Because of that night, we never made it to Saratoga, or the concert.
If this works, we’re going to be rich.
Then maybe all of this would make better sense.
I wish I never gave birth.

Why would anyone else?
Because the collective is the whole.
If Sheila had given ten percent more effort, she would have earned that scholarship.
Then, you won’t believe it, I just got up and walked away.
I wish I had asked my mother how she felt when my brother died.

* * * * * *

THE POETS
Teri Foltz is a playwright (Teri’s Play Date on YouTube) and a poet (Green and Dying on Amazon)
Sara Moore www.hypnohelpcounselingservices.com
Sam Cardamone is a native of Buffalo, NY now living in Rochester and, as of late, desperately trying his hand at improv.
Jason Rugg Instagram: @deviations_in_the_dust
Jenean Roth is lover of words read, written, spoken, dreamt, and arranged in entertaining ways.
Stephanie Lewis is wondering should we be on lockdown or locked up? Onceuponyourprime.com

THE ARTWORK
“The Three Faces” by Daniela Gitlin
Daniela Gitlin’s first book (note the optimism) is available on Amazon: Practice, Practice, Practice: This Psychiatrist’s Life. It’s amazing how much trouble she gets into and still manages to be helpful. danielagitlin.com

THE POEM
This poem was an experiment in a word collage, similar to RESTRUCTURED. Without knowing anything about what the final product would look like – or seeing a prompt or the line before theirs, as with the other poems – six contributors were each asked to provide five unrelated sentences: Continue reading “Exquisite Quarantine Poem: UNMASKED”

Exquisite Quarantine Poem: UNLOCKED

Photograph by Brett McIntosh

UNLOCKED

Such a beautiful, intricately carved wooden door with a window into the out!
Unlocked, but I find myself unable to leave.
Is it what is out there, or in here, that keeps me from leaving?
I reach for the simple brass door knob to exit, but I hesitate, and my hand once again drops to my side.

Sorrow’s sour milk, forksful of pungle and hiss,
I shore up the rickety side of your soul
I lift my hand to open the door
And out pours milk and honey

The universe provides,
if we only ask as we seek,
and remain open to its wonders,
as one who is part of the whole.

Yet I feel so half-hearted,
drawn and quartered…
if my soul must be so truly divided
as I sing eighth notes, I will now drink a fifth!

*     *     *     *     *     *

THE POETS
Judy Weatherbee is an improviser, photographer and poet for the joy of it, physical therapist in the real world
Jennifer Walker Frisinger is a writer of short fiction and corporate story teller
Debbie Miller is a Brooklyn, New York writer who writes magazine articles, plays, humor, and monologues.Visit my website at www.DebbieLMiller.com.
Miriam Lerner is a sign language interpreter, currently working from home, trying not to eat and drink too much…with intermittent success.

THE ARTWORK
Brett McIntosh @bmc5100

THE POEM
The contributors were asked to write four lines of free verse. The first contributor was given the prompt “Unlocked”, and the rest of the contributors were given only the last line of the verse before theirs.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Exquisite Quarantine Poem: CRIMSON WONDER

Photograph by Brett McIntosh

CRIMSON WONDER

Murky waters lap the floating acre of bush no one thought to name.
Its gnarly rock in washed up waste dissed by humans, Kudzu, even English Ivy.
Lanky limbs sign to the crimson cries: bind your ails, ills, and loads into a barge,
Come, bring your crowded isolation, eyes spent online, kids ceaselessly wondering why.

Old gnarled branches reach for the clouds, as if to say ‘take us with you’.
The clouds being fickle, don’t want any part of the branches request.
They just sweep on by.
But the crimson streak brings hope as they shoot across the sky.

And yet I wonder if the crimson means hope.
Since crimson is a red, it symbolizes blood.
And as the numbers rise, and loved ones cry,
How deep will their tears be in the flood?

As the branches of our lives
Dip below, to the unseen,
Our last goodbye
Is tainted by wonder.

*     *     *     *     *     *

THE POETS
Susan Sarver www.susansarver.com
Jan Heverly. Author in waiting.
Justin Rielly is a playwright, theater artist and radio host based in Rochester, New York.
Rick Hughson Oh dear…

THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Brett McIntosh  Find him on Instagram @bmc5100

THE POEM
This poem was the first to use the artwork as the prompt. Each contributor got to see the photo as well as the last line of the contributor before them, and could use either prompt as inspiration for their contribution.

I find it worth noting that only one contributor got to see that the previous person had used the word “crimson”, and yet all four poets included either “crimson” or “wonder”, or both. This is the beautiful thing about this project: total strangers are blindly contributing a piece of themselves, and yet their creating with a group mind.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Five Minutes From The Funny Farm: Are You Good Enough?

A little pep talk, as we drag on during The Covid Pause.

This is what happens when you lock a humor writer/improvisor who doesn’t know how to use a video camera in the house with two dogs and a cat during a pandemic. I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. Or professional.

** You can read the poems here:
https://notesfromthefunnyfarm.wordpress.com/category/exquisite-quarantine-project/

Visit my website http://www.joannebrokaw.com
Follow me on FB @joannebrokawwriter
Check out my latest book, “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv” wherever books are sold. Available in print and ebook editions.

Musings on the pause, reopening, and the children

From NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo’s daily press conference, May 5, 2020.

Let’s get one thing clear, right off the bat: I’m not a scientist, or a doctor, or a politician, or anything even resembling a smarty pants. I’m a writer, artist, and performer who tries to help people push past fear to embrace their creativity. In the grand scheme of the universe, I’m just a dreamer with a pen and a paintbrush who wants us all to get along.

So keep that in mind as you continue reading – and if you can’t, if you’re already preparing to debate anything related to the current pandemic, it’s OK to  stop reading right now and go find something else to do.

Still with me? OK,  here goes.

Continue reading “Musings on the pause, reopening, and the children”

Exquisite Quarantine Poem: PAUSED

This image is from Pixabay contributor AD_Images.

PAUSED

Never before had his health been so good, but when taking a walk around the neighborhood is the highlight of the day, he was more motivated than ever to stretch his atrophied muscles.
“Look at how slim your face looks!” they’d exclaim.

I’m sure that faces masks help the illusion.
Especially those patterned with vertical stripes.

And the sheen on the edges slapped rainbows across the ceiling,
As June slipped wantonly through the sheers on the windows.

Shepherd, seep past conscious desires into some semblance of impermanent bliss
Grasp the shy strings of essence and guide this spirit home.

* * * * * *

THE POEM
The contributors were asked to write two sentences, but to include the letter sequence “s h e” somewhere in their lines. The letters could be part of the same word (ie: sheep) or part of two words (ie: boys heard or push each), as long as those three letters were in sequence.

THE POETS
Sam Cardamone is a native of Buffalo, NY now living in Rochester and, as of late, desperately trying his hand at improv.
Claudia Kasvin is a poet and teller of tales, both tall and true.
Yvonne DiVita https://www.nurturingbigideas.com/about.html
Michele Manting Artistic Director Vintage Improv Festival www.vintageimprov.com

THE ARTWORK
This image is from Pixabay contributor AD_Images.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Exquisite Quarantine Poem: A TRUTH AND A LIE

 

Photo provided by Katie Rae Hayduk.

A TRUTH AND A LIE

While the masses scream their senseless lies
the truth skulks in shadows
waiting for the perfect time to rise.

In hopes truth will open eyes
But stay closed, the head lies
Until someone, somewhere cries.

I said, “I’ll see you soon.” We laughed,
not at the obvious absence of the truth
but the brazen bravado of the lie.

Let the truth be a haven –
Haven’t we given enough of ourselves?
Shelves of misspoken tokens. Let them lie there.

The truth echoes in empty hallways where great minds once gathered.
Hope washes over us, like waves crashing in our living rooms.
We bought the lie, but a new candor begins.

*     *     *     *     *     *

THE POEM
The contributors were instructed to write three lines of free verse, but were asked to include the words “truth” and “lie” somewhere in their contribution. Each contributor got to see only the second sentence of the person who wrote before them.

THE POETS
Sue A. Fairchild is determined to “Yes, and” in all things. Find her at sueafairchild.wordpress.com.
Chris Johnston
Donald Hasselman is just your basic square peg in a round hole.
Jason Rugg Instagram: @deviations_in_the_dust
Coriander Rainbeaux can be found IntheSpiceRack.com.

THE ARTWORK
Katie Rae Hayduk is currently a music education student who enjoys petting her dog. You will often find her listening to fiddle tunes and very poorly cooking up a pot of spaghetti.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Exquisite Quarantine Poem: RESTRUCTURED

Photo courtesy of Lisa David Olson.

RESTRUCTURED

Why not, she thought, sliding her phone in a pocket and locking the door behind her.
Because I want to explore a new way forward.
If I were God, I would act more like a good parent and support and encourage good behavior and give loving correction when improvement is needed.
Then, when it just keeps happening again, I’m forced to use the power of the pen.

Why do we cower in the face of change, instead of embracing it?
Because the clouds separated themselves and scattered, wind at their backs…
If cheese is good, and you like cheese, then you must be good!
Then he tripped over the dog that was lying on the sidewalk and died from drowning after he blacked out with his face in a puddle.

Why do we hide what’s wrong with a lie?
Because like hope, the infant stirred inside her.
If Mom had gone back to Holland after the divorce, I’d have grown up Dutch, married but not my husband, had a child but not my son, had a life, but not this one.
Then if we cannot say anything, is this over?

When I’m God, I’m going to change the rules.
Because if we don’t do it that way, the universe will get confused.
If I could have my wish, we should always remember this.
Then she began her life— the day’s work done and obligations discharged, the children asleep.

Why: Is my openness the answer or the problem?
Because is a good enough reason, if no is a complete sentence.
If could run the world, if we let it.
Then the brilliant sun glancing off the diamond ripples on the lake caused me to pause, reflect.

* * * * * *

THE POEM
This poem was an experiment in a word collage. Without knowing anything about what the final product would look like, five contributors were each asked to provide four unrelated sentences:

One question that began with the word WHY.
One sentence that began with the word BECAUSE.
One sentence that began with the word IF.
One sentence that began with the word THEN.

As they returned their sentences I assigned them a contributor number, and when all of the lines were in, I put them together.

Each stanza of the final poem was put into this format:
WHY question*
BECAUSE sentence
IF sentence
THEN sentence

The contributors’ sentences were arranged in a round robin-type format. For example, for the first stanza, the WHY sentence came from contributor 1; BECAUSE came from contributor 2; IF from contributor 3; THEN from contributor 4.
For the next stanza, WHY came from contributor 5; the BECAUSE from contributor 1; IF from contributor 2; WHEN from contributor 3 – and so on.

I didn’t pick and choose sentences because I thought they went well together. I just followed the pre-planned order and what came out was a weird and wonderful creation that, without trying, is a beautiful poem.

* You’ll notice that one WHY question actually begins with WHEN. I didn’t ask the contributor to change it, because the spirit of this project is to embrace the concept that “there are no mistakes, only happy accidents”. It worked out in the end.

THE POETS
Laura V.N.
Fred Dean Writing gets me to the places I’d rather go when I do not know how else to get there
Curtis Larzelere – Forever a student of comedy
Daniela Gitlin  www.danielagitlin.com.
Kathy Ann Morris – Self-proclaimed poet since age 8

THE ARTWORK
Lisa David Olson is an author, speaker, humorist, creative coach, improv ninja … oh – and she has a camera. www.lisadavidolson.com

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Exquisite Quarantine Poem: MY HEART IS

Image by Katie Rae Hayduk. Used with permission.

MY HEART IS

My heart is deluged with grief–my own and of countless others experiencing losses great and small.
Yet my heart is also flooded with rolling waves of love expressed, received, and witnessed–appreciation, compassion, generosity, and kindness.

My heart is beating out a rhythm.
A staccato jitterbug longing for a waltz.

My heart has a beat, different than the music I hear all around me
My soul, confused, performs choreography known only to the bees.

My heart is captured by the dance, dizzy and exhilarated, but afraid,
And begins to flail, turning around and around, wild to find the light.

My heart is lost, searching for the breadcrumbs I left months ago when I feared the day would come
when the maps would do no good.

*     *     *     *     *     *

THE POEM
The contributors were instructed to write two sentences; the first should begin with “My heart is”. Each contributor got to see only the second sentence of the person who wrote before them.

THE POETS
Crystal Hayduk typically wears many hats while running on the hamster wheel of life. During quarantine, she exchanged a couple of hats for a mask. The wheel slowed down just enough for her to cook lots of comfort food and catch up on sleep.
Lori Davis originates from Dayton, OH
Laura Fleming
Susan Chapel stays as sane as she can in upstate NY, with the help of the
turkeys and deer in her back yard, the laughter of her partner and dear
friends, and the occasional mindful breath.
Teri Foltz is a playwright (Teri’s Play Date on YouTube) and a poet (Green
and Dying on Amazon).

THE ARTWORK
Katie Rae Hayduk is currently a music education student who enjoys petting her dog. You will often find her listening to fiddle tunes and very poorly cooking up a pot of spaghetti.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Exquisite Quarantine Poem: BLIND

ICU Daniela Gitlin Group 4
“ICU” by Daniela Gitlin. Used with permission.

The tabby cat swatted the wooden blinds.
This was his method of waking me daily
The sadistic brother held tightly a stick
with it he calmly scratched just a bit
An aching world breathes the healing charm.
It’s myth to think that we would do no harm
The scared people hoard the vital toilet paper
When will our collective nightmare be over?
The distinguished Gentleman woke the sleepy dog.
“REM sleep is over-rated” he thought.

*     *     *     *     *     *

THE POEM
The contributors were instructed to write two lines of free verse, with the first line following this pattern:
“The (adjective) (noun) (verb) the (adjective) (noun).”
The other contributors got to see only the last line of what the previous writer penned.

THE POETS
Jane
Timothy Shea
Sara Moore www.hypnohelpcounselingservices.com
Elyssa Klein
David Avery is a wild and crazy guy…

THE ARTWORK
“ICU” by Daniela Gitlin
Daniela Gitlin’s first book (note the optimism) is available on Amazon: Practice, Practice, Practice: This Psychiatrist’s Life. It’s amazing how much trouble she gets into and still manages to be helpful. danielagitlin.com

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Five Minutes From The Funny Farm: Exquisite Poems and Folk Songs

It’s been fortyleventeen days since the last Funny Farm update, which included some tears and an update on my gray hair. Today, it’s play time! I introduce viewers to my Exquisite Quarantine Poem project and play a song or two on the recorder. Make sure you have your earplugs handy.

This is what happens when you lock a humor writer/improvisor who doesn’t know how to use a video camera in the house with two dogs and a cat during a pandemic. I warned you it wasn’t going to be pretty. Or professional.

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem.
And here to read the poems.

Visit my website http://www.joannebrokaw.com
Follow me on FB @joannebrokawwriter
Check out my latest book, “Suddenly Stardust: A Memoir (of sorts) About Fear, Freedom & Improv” wherever books are sold. Available in print and ebook editions.

Exquisite Quarantine Poem: JOY

Molly Stevens Joy
“Welcome Sun” by Molly Stevens. Used with permision.

JOY

I laughed out loud with
the sudden knowing,
We all have a heart.’
… Do I tell them?

A secret is important to keep, but in this case,
I feel like it’s somehow written all over my face.
Or could it be telltale cookie crumbs stuck to my lip?
Proof I devoured our quarantine stash—choc chip!

I knew I should have confessed first –
yet we all know the thrill of imagining we can escape undiscovered
I live with the knowledge that if I could turn back time
I’d totally do it again

Except maybe this time I’d wear a disguise.
A detectives hat and a monocle!
It gives the air of authority.
Then maybe I’d get away with it.

*     *     *     *     *     *

THE POEM
The first person was given the prompt JOY as inspiration, and instructed to write four lines of free verse. The other contributors added the same and got to see only the last line of what the previous writer penned.

THE POETS
–  Rick Hughson “Oh dear…”
-Stephanie Lewis is wondering if should we be on lockdown or locked up? Onceuponyourprime.com
– Miriam Lerner is a sign language interpreter, currently working from home, trying not to eat and drink too much…with intermittent success.
– April M. has been practicing isolation since before it was cool and is having adventures at home with her kitty side kick, Inari.

THE PHOTOGRAPHER
Molly Stevens is a retired nurse who has adjusted well to isolation, especially since she adopted a rubber chicken as a pet. https://www.shallowreflections.com

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Exquisite Quarantine Poem: WINGS

Give and Take Tonya Wihelm
“Give and Take”, by fine art and portrait photographer Tonya Wilhelm. This image is part of her Couch Project Series. Used with permission.

WINGS

I don’t know how it happened today.
My feet came off the track!
I was minding my own business.
What are these feathers on my back?

With labored effort, but growing strength
I steel to flex my curious appendages
Slow, stiff, I rise
Past life, loves, and sins now long gone vestiges

What will be there for us to come back to?
What awaits us on the other sides of our walls?
Will the divisive ones remain strong in their ways,
To crumble down the peaceful bridges, once and for all?

To careen and crash across interstates
Careless and proud, angry and a fool
Courting concussions from blunt truth
With abandon and a trickle of drool

If flavor’s your wheelhouse and cravings abound,
Just do what the old canines do,
And salivate so unabashedly, dude,
Like zebras who live in the zoo.

*     *     *     *     *     *

THE POEM
The first person was given the prompt WINGS as inspiration, and instructed to write four lines, with the 2nd and 4th lines rhyming. The other contributors added the same and got to see only the last line of what the previous writer penned.

 THE POETS
– Alyssa is from Twin Cities, MN
– Jenean Roth is a lover of words read, written, spoken, dreamt, and arranged in entertaining ways.
– Justin Rielly is a playwright, theater artist and radio host based in Rochester, New York.
– Ty Gagnon is an improvisor, cook, writer, weirdo.
– Debbie Miller is a Brooklyn, New York writer who writes magazine articles, plays, humor, and monologues.Visit her website at www.DebbieLMiller.com.

THE PHOTOGRAPHER
“Give and Take”. Tonya Wilhelm is a fine art and portrait photographer. This image is part of her Couch Project Series. See them all on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tonyawilhelm.artist/

Click here to learn how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

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Exquisite Quarantine Poem: DAWN

 

frozen wave against sunlight
Photo by Hernan Pauccara on Pexels.com

The first poem in our Exquisite Quarantine series was written in February, just before life came to a screeching halt. It was part of an exercise I did with a group at my monthly creativity workshop.

The instructions for everyone were to write four lines based only on the last line of the person who went before them; I wrote the first line. No rhyme or other structure was required. The first names of the participants are listed at the end of the poem.

Here’s how you can take part in the Exquisite Quarantine Poem project.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

DAWN

Over the hills, the sun appears
Orange delight, aglow with life
Heralding the hope of a fresh start
A new dawn breaks.

And I see it all again
I look forward to night again
It hides all the ugly.

The mask can’t hide it all, though
Some starts to seep out like a
bit of silly putty in a mold and
looks a bit sick.

Love is an affliction!
But best not an addition
I’m not likely to fall again
Said the little red hen.

Life is running away from me,
I cannot reel it in.
What can the future hold,
Oh dear wren?

Wren, oh wren, sweet, sweet wren.
She had a bird-like figure
which explains the name her parents c hose.
But why didn’t they choose Robin? We’ll never know.

All we can do is move on, and look to tomorrow
The night will end when the dawn breaks
The light will shine and the fields sparkle
Morning always brings hope of a better day.

Except Monday mornings
Everybody hates those
When you woke up mourning
Wanting your alarm to enclose.

These people are so quiet
I think they are planning to kill me
There are enough of them
I think they could do it.

Absolute action will lead to satisfaction
Something so simple will never cripple
Calming airs and perfect pairs
Affairs that never cease.

THE POETS
April, Aprille, Chloe, Ian, Jeff, Peg, Curtis, Laura, and Jennifer