Monday, May 25, 2020

Kelli's Tree House (Suite)

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Kelli's Tree House (Suite)



I. Prologue / Burn Permit (Sonnet)


At the start of the day, the coast was clear.
First impressions, all you want when you please.
Closing credits have an anthem, to share,
called, "Can I See the Forest for the Trees?"

Covered bridge needs murky water to flank.
Hayloft needs block and tackle to pull through.
Morning fog needs a sun to drain the tank.
A slow boat needs an inland to float to.

This park bench compels you to come and sit;
unintended consequence, a sprawl.
King County requires written burn permit.
Allow me to usher a curtain call.

Comfort zones allow for fall and forget,
but even Rumpelstiltskin had a net.



II. Climb


Second Centennial, walk in the park, Seattle in Seventy-Six
Kelli gazes at the big kids, fulfilling tree climbing fix.
For a second grader to have and hold aspirations so high,
she might as well settle a scale and seize a path to fly.
Deduction: not all is measured by hand rulers and yardsticks.

Kelli wanders over, observes limbs and leaves, unsupervised, 
until finally, between shade and shadow, perfect angle sized.
Points of light fixed, then it clicks; these things take time.
Sounds of this playground lend to the symmetry of the climb,
her climb of the centuries, imagined, some day to be realized.



III. Merge (Acrostic)


Knowledge is the key to power. The key to a kite is string and tail.
Electricity to a kite is less of a foregone conclusion, more a rumor.
Lyrics do not compensate for harmony, when moments call for a dirge.

Left to our own devices, more often than not, we can carry the mail.
In case of a sudden panic (pressure), display a way to dispel rumor;
rail on reckless surmise, keep the surprise; as for the rest, purge.

Unless we are under cloudless skies, we cannot appreciate contrail.
So often, we overlook the obvious currents, in haste to reach shore,
Setting sail in search of certainty, failing to pave for the surge.

Equal parts give and take, in that order, will most often prevail.
Love and honor land sentience, guaranteed leap of faith in store,
landing on your feet, on the precipice, on time, in time, emerge.

After all of the on-the-run is said and done, look behind the veil.
Garner a horde, get into the game; leave a mark, stone-set in lore,
or stand on the sidelines, biding your time, until time to merge.

Did you know, there are those who find safe haven beyond The Pale?
Often, we confine our options to a definitive method: either/or,
not rationalizing, there is middle ground, where chances converge.



IV. Tree House


"Congratulations! You're the twenty-third caller in our contest."
She was put on hold, while the radio Dee Jay got another finalist.
When the jock came back to Kelli, also on the line, was Stan,
a steam fitter from Vashon Island, who Kelli was now playing.

"Between Sun Tzu and Niccolo Machiavelli who held the most might?
In other words, all things being equal, who'd win a fair fight?"
Stan was out of sorts, clearing his throat, asking for a clue;
Dee Jay, mistakenly said, "Articles of War. Kelli how about you?"

Kelli knew from literary training, Machiavellian was reprobate.
She offered an enthusiastic "Sun Tzu" then waited on her fate.
"That is correct, Kelli, and you are our grand prize victor.
Stan, if you will hold, I will reward your secondary score."

Not long after, Kelli was given three options which to choose;
a tree shed, cookware, or a trip to the Anaheim House of Blues.
Kelli jumped for joy at the thought of a tree house, or shed,
which is that the radio guy offered. That is what the man said.

Weeks later, crates arrived, from the architect hardware store,
and to boot, the deliverers assembled, "Because A&H Does More!"
Kelli came home later to find the biggest back yard surprise...
She saw a storage building, grounded and settled, with no highs.

She called the local radio station to offer a sincere protest.
They referred her to the A&H mercantile, to get her to arrest.
Those people assured her, the mistake did not fall in their lap.
When everything was said and done, it was the Dee Jay's mishap.

To Kelli's ever lasting credit, she embraced the new station,
turning it into an office, but she could not ignore frustration.
Kelli was the proud owner of a tree house without a tree where
sun in the window was all glare, without limbs and leaves there.

There were no steps to climb, there wasn't a pennon to hoist;
there was no dizzying height, and that is what she missed most.
The "Tree House Diaries" project blog would have to be scrapped.
Quietly letting that deal slide, a new directive would be mapped.

All things considered, innocent little office was just a shell,
and the desire of a tree house, was just an errantly cast spell.
While across town, Vashon holds suspense, fire truck on the scene.
Stan's pressure cooker lid, through the roof! It got away clean.



V. Articles


Kelli is a master of many trades. Editor, author, and avid poet;
eyes forward, always on the future, building an impressive resume.
But, truth be told, there remains one crash and burn to acquit,
which led to her writing a new book, one called "Articles Aweigh!"

You see, after reading Sun Tsu's "Art of War" to see what it was,
she got all caught up in strategy, and how to counter a next move.
Soon she was active in gaming, then book sales was her next cause.
She was constantly in search of culprits and theories to disprove.

Her math improved to where she was involved in the baseball scene.
She created a brand new level of saber metrics, for contact skills.
One night, while singing the anthem before the game, unforeseen,
she had an epiphany, at "free and brave" proclaiming "Speed Kills."

She left the Seattle stadium during their seventh inning stretch,
muttering about articles, and how they cost her a house in a tree.
Finally, with her epiphany, the equation made sense, just one catch;
the literary world would be better without them, "a, an and the."

Colleagues, casual acquaintances, tried to head her off at the pass.
Critics and antagonists, went to great lengths to prove her wrong.
Three printings in, and Kelli was now in demand to teach the class.
Gone were dissenters who urged her to go along just to get along.

Her next volume "What Morse Means to Me" invoking Morse Code style,
went to the top of the coastal best seller lists, a hit parade.
Her poems now read by mathematicians, her stats on the prose dial,
her greatest literary triumph encompassed all, titled "Like I Said."

One cannot submit too many entries. That includes books and manuals.
With a stroke of luck, and equal amount of effort, Kelli went bank.
When the votes were cast and tallied, she cashed the crown jewels,
winning the Wallace Stevens Award. Question now, who would she thank?

(A) gracious winner, will always recall where she came from and how.
(An) independent thinker, will acknowledge, others paved the way.
(The) manner in which one gives and takes, affects the here and now.
(Articles) have their place, in the Bi-Centennial, back in the day!



VI. Walk in the Park


A ribbon cutting ceremony in Seward Park is cause for celebration.
To some, this will be a time to display dismay and bring contention.
Kelli paid what was due, for permits and fees, and seized the park.
Well, not all, but a choice area was hers from daylight 'til dark.
By end of day, not a person would doubt her novel noble intentions.

Three prime, choice trees were now housed, strategically encased.
Not a single nail was driven or barked scraped, as brackets placed
with pulleys and braces, block and tackle, made from iron and steel,
scrap from a failed bridge, which Kelli paid to move. Her plan ideal,
waterways were freed, and much needed tree houses planted in haste.

These tree houses were all code approved, with attendants on site
to help those whose balance might be impaired, or others who might
have other issues, or who might just need a little special attending,
because sometimes it gets lonely at home, when alone, nothing pending.
Everyone was happy, except for the protesters, who gave up the fight.

Just before our host could step aboard personally designed Tree One,
she heard a car horn, and saw the Green Miata. "Oh my, time to run!"
She was met by her chauffeur, Tyler Myrth, who said, "We're late."
Spying Jay Sole running, car stopped. Waving, he said, "We'll wait."
Jay was running in a 2K Run sponsored by Kelli, just for added fun.

Next stop, a personal appearance at the local Washington State Fair;
they wanted Kelli as a judge. Everyone who was anyone would be there.
Dave Schrader was in from Minnesota, to capture moments on film disc.
The pickle judging was a drag, but the turkey roping event was brisk.
Kelli chose winners, with no rebuke, then asked Tyler, "Now to where?"

She had gotten so caught up in the whirlwind, she forgot Glastonbury
of the West Coast, Capitol Hill Block Party Spoken Word where she
was set to duet with Melissa, her accomplice from Texas, Southwest,
where everything is bigger, and sometimes even better than the rest.
Kelli took the stage, and saw the crowd... such a sight to see...



VII. Epilogue / For Good Measure (Sonnet)


Waking from a noon nap, eased in her chair,
she draws a blank, not knowing where she is.
This new office needing conditioned air;
that is for a future analyses.

It appears she may be overdoing.
Best case, she is far too dedicated.
She always goes all out when pursuing,
though sometimes endeavors are ill fated.

Her focus now, strictly on quarantine.
Her day dreams drift away and betray her.
She cannot recall how long it has been.
Uncounted days, weeks pass by in a blur.

Some day she will count, bounty of treasure.
'Til then, she'll dream on, just for good measure.



Entire Set written for Kelli Russell Agodon


Michael Todd (2020)


Including Cameo Appearances by...

Tyler Myrth, Jay Sole, Dave Schrader & Melissa Studdard

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The Wicker Will Weave

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The Wicker Will Weave
 
 
If you ask how I'm doing... not very well;
just getting by, as far as I can or will tell;
Going down for the count, on a count of one,
on account of, you're done; I had barely begun.
 
I am merely a glass of water, you an artesian well;
Choice was mine, circle the drain, or break your spell.
Gaze at a different mountain, climb a different cloud,
Hang up a different veil, lift a different shroud.
 
Don't bother with details, burden of proof is on me;
Dispelling rumors, debunking myths; I hold that key.
I never listened when she implied I give up my boyish ways,
Now swept away; recalling what she decreed our end of days...
 
 
when she said...
 
“I wonder what lengths you might go, to keep me close,
when I begin to drift away, as I will inevitably will do.
Dropping my guard along the way, you got closer than most.
Did it ever occur to you, I was just passing through?
 
Somewhere in the process, you relaxed, dropped defenses.
Does this implied epiphany really catch you off guard?
Either way, don't beat yourself up for taking chances.
When silence settles, does it matter who had the last word?”
 
 
I readily admit, when that hammer fell, I was ill equipped;
It was a hard pill to swallow when I saw how far I'd slipped;
Time wasted like excess sap on the side of a maple tree,
Waters that were tried and true and tread, swept from me.
 
Find me now, sitting on a park bench, in search of clues;
Past the stage of mourning, no ready breath left to accuse.
Outsourcing emotion is a bad habit, one hard to kick;
Surely it is possible to teach an old dog one new trick.
 
Why get back up on that pony, with no finish line in sight?
Because I did not give up or give in without a fair fight?
She sure seemed happy, for one caught in throws of divorce,
When she laid down her law to me, in her matter of course...
 
 
as she said...
 
“Relationships tiered, on multiple levels, assembled in stages;
When the clock says closing time, one degree of separation;
Hold on to a renegade mood with all your might, read gauges;
My eyes reflect no measure of shared guilt or explanation.
 
Take at face value, merely my way of offering fair warning;
Reference material, should you go back and look for clues.
It is your choice, should you choose a lifetime of mourning.
It is my choice to break the ties that bind, as I now choose.
 
 
So here I dwell, in search of some alternative solution.
And, I really do believe in the healing power of absolution.
And, I know she spoke the truth, saying I have a choice.
When all is said and heard, the answers come from my voice.
 
When the lights go down and truth comes out, as I perceive;
My toe dipping in the water, too close to the edge to leave;
As postcards from a vacation conjure solace, grant reprieve,
The only voice I hear now is mine, and I am geared to receive.
 
For all said and done, I'd still meet her halfway, I believe,
I will always keep her in my heart and wear it on my sleeve.
But until such amend, I will no longer be found to bereave;
The curtain will come to call, and the wicker will weave.
 
 
Michael Todd (2014)

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Are You Dying?

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Are You Dying?


Call it a thoughtful moment, one perhaps long overdue;
I saw her out and about, and spoke in turn, as if on cue,
"If you don't mind me saying, you are looking nice tonight."
She stopped dead in her tracks, asked if she'd heard me right?

I suppose a compliment coming from me seemed out of place,
and this was not the first time I'd noticed her pretty face.
Granted, for an instant I felt empowered; I cast a smile,
I was expecting one in return. She said, "Not your style."

Normally, I would back up. I just asked what she was implying.
She ruined the entire mood, asking me, "Hey, are you dying?
Seriously, if something is wrong, tell me. I need to hear.
As much as you annoy me, I don't want to see you disappear."


I shook my head from side to side, and quietly walked away.
For all intents and purposes, it should have ended that day,
but I could not get those words she said, out of my head;
I was in the best health of my life, no thoughts of being dead.

For years, I had prided myself on being cynical, as intended;
while it is considered part of my charm, some get offended,
but really, all they need do is chill, and consider the source.
I was comfortable in my sarcastic skin, for better or worse.

It took her little time to share her viewpoint, so slanted;
soon, our small circle of friends feared I would be planted.
Phone calls and text, social media remarks, coming my way,
mostly beating around the bush, wondering how I felt today?


"What's the matter," "Have you seen a doctor?" "How do you feel?"
Honest to goodness, this couldn't be happening, but it was real.
No matter at the efforts I expended, I was not able to deflect.
I treated each one with kid gloves, showing nothing but respect.

My smart ass persona fell by the wayside, as if put in reverse.
Wouldn't you know, that only served to make the situation terse.
Now each was witnessing my "transformation" in person, firsthand,
at how conciliatory I had become, though this was not planned.

Eventually, the sad tidings brought about a negative effect.
I began to ponder the eventual outcome of my real health neglect.
It was a good thing I had insurance, and a decent pharmacy deal;
two visits to a doctor, a sniffle and a physical; spin the wheel.


I stopped taking calls and messages, setting my sites to "away,"
putting my social life on hold, going straight home at end of day,
opting to sit in the dark and dwell, or cast a mirror a glance;
became a bonafide germaphobe, not about to take a chance.

With no one available, I turned to the mirror to plead my case.
"On the verge of pushing up daisies, can you see it on my face?
Am I about to check out in the near future? Look into my eyes!
Tell me what I need to know, and be straight; tell me no lies."

We worked it out, that glass and me. I'd fallen prey to a ruse,
and it was up to me to turn it all around; I just had to choose.
Determined to get my feet on, not under, solid ground, but how,
was yet to be determined. I needed a believable way to disavow.


I put my master plan together, one that was cunning and bold.
She stepped forward with a revelation that put my move on hold.
She said, "If anyone should sense sarcasm, it was you the most.
That line about you dying was a joke, about giving up the ghost."

This startling revelation she brought, left me dead in my stance.
Was she conciliatory, ridding herself of guilt perhaps by chance,
or was she cleverly spinning my dial, to yet another station,
to leave me further bewildered, toward a deeper resignation?

We eventually worked it out, that girl, the mirror and me.
I found an acceptable attitudinal ground, for all to see.
I still see the girl on weekends, when our schedules allow,
so all things considered, at least I'm not dead to her now.


Michael Todd (2017)

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Swimming With the Sharks (for Lainey)

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Swimming With the Sharks (for Lainey)


Swimming with the sharks, what an adventure,
when time comes to finally run a race;
a brief respite for those without a cure;
apples not oranges, footing not sure,
a time to redefine goal of first place.

A lesson in charades, for those static,
gladly given up. They know from the start,
all are not measured by the same yardstick;
will make sure today is less traumatic;
swimming with the sharks, worthy counterpart.

A moment to compete, not hide away,
on top of the world, season to define;
to enter in the game, come out and play;
daring to move, keeping the wolves at bay,
ground beneath, showing way to finish line.

When swimming with the sharks, choose to swim deep,
disregarding conventional rule sets.
There are arenas which welcome black sheep,
where the losers rejoice and victors weep.
Provided, this is a good as it gets.

Michael Todd (2017)

Disclaimer: The prompt for this poem was given to me by Lainey. I asked her for an idea. She responded with "swimming with the sharks." Not long after, I saw a video of several instances where people who were physically or mentally challenged, were taking part in athletic endeavors.

There was one where a basketball player got a rebound, and went the length of the court, and on the third try, hit a shot. Players from both teams gave him time and space. When that shot went in, players from both teams celebrated, along with the crowd. It was a magical moment in time.

There were several other defining moments in the video, but the one that got to me was when a player scored a goal in a soccer game, and immediately ran across the field, removed his team jersey, and gave it to a fan, confined to a wheel chair. I had great respect for that player. I have great respect for all of the individuals I saw in the video. I have tremendous respect for those who are impeded and cannot compete on an apples to apples level, but still give it their best.

And as for those who encourage them, I have no proper words to describe, other than to say, to me, they are the finest people, and worthy of acclaim, but odds are good, they don't want or need that.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Friend of My Father (for David McLansky)

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Friend of My Father (for David McLansky)


A friend of my Father, is a friend of mine.
Stealth in the shadows, until time to shine,
They would put me in the spotlight, all to see,
Allowing me to join in their camaraderie;
Now past and gone, let this be their shrine.


A friend of my Mother, someone I hold dear;
When I see them now, it is as if she is here.
Envision patchwork quilt, each holds a square,
Catalogued, documented, recall time to share,
Some memories faded, while others shine clear.


A friend of my children will always be welcome.
Even with offspring scattered, not under thumb,
Speaking freely from my side shown, of agnation,
They are free to find solace about this station;
Let them always consider this as a second home.


A friend of my friend, such is David McLansky.
I am grateful, Lainey introduced him to me,
Providing me with a show of strength mentor;
Tried and true, with a wicked sense of humor.
I share this, gratitude from a humble devotee.


Michael Todd (2016)


To read the works of David McLansky, visit his poetry page...


http://www.poemhunter.com/david-mclansky/

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Aoife O'Donovan Fiddle Camp

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Aoife O'Donovan Fiddle Camp


Welcome to the 2016 event of the Minnesota music season;
El Rancho Manana was booked, but not Duluth. The reason
for all the excitement, not seen before here or since is,
Annual Aoife O'Donovan Fiddle Camp is about to commence.


Friday night was set aside for a staged contest for locals,
A talent contest of sorts, to showcase pickers with vocals.
Several bands shone like new money, but still did not win.
The St. Louis County crowd stuffed the ballots once again.


Bertram Haversham and the Bayfront Ramblers took the vote;
with no consolation for second place, that's all she wrote.
For their efforts, the boys will take the stage, authorized
to perform a tune alongside Aoife. Won't she be surprised?


She arrived Friday night, no one knew she was in proximity,
their rented tour bus affording her a measure of anonymity.
Her entourage, Steve, Anthony, and Carl, driver of the bus,
step out, wearing tee shirts proclaiming, "She's With Us."


Saturday morning workshops start promptly at nine, or ten.
Anthony's tutorial on playing mandola is the first to begin.
At another tent, Steve instructs students on Celtic Drums,
Aoife nods in approval, silently rendering Gaelic hums...


At high noon, she takes the stage, fielding random queries.
No question is repeated, until well into the third series,
She explains, moonshine does not come from a crooked still.
Aoife fills in anecdotes of her ride on the music treadmill.


This is the first festival season that she has done solos,
so cannot defer quiz models designed for Thile or Jarosz,
but she is a master of spinning toward her own expertise.
When it comes to song suggestions, "Try a few of these..."


So as to not interrupt, notes are placed at edge of stage.
"Why don't you play a Martin? When did you quit The Rage?"
"Do you know Rabbit in a Log?" (Seems someone is dyslexic.)
"How do you play your guitar so clean without using a pick?"


The game of twenty-plus questions is scattered yet seamless;
most she knows the answers, the rest she hazards a guess.
Shy and unassuming, this girl to the patrons, comes alive,
closing, to their mutual chagrin, "See you back at five!"


After the session, the group leisurely strolls the grounds,
Stopping along the way to sample foods, on their rounds.
The line was long at the Luke's Lutefisk on a Stick stand.
Too bad they ran out of lemonade. This was not well planned.


Five o'clock, the air is filled with an eerie mournful sound
of lawn chairs taking weight, those not sitting on the ground.
Bertram is introduced to Aoife, they step to a microphone;
as soon as his banjo rings, she wishes she was onstage alone.


It seems, "Hot Corn, Cold Corn" was the only song both knew.
Fare you well, Uncle Bert, see you never, when this is through.
As bad as he sang, even to point of misinterpreting a verse,
The Bayfront Ramblers, by any comparison, were even worse.


As the contest winners exited to applause, did a sound linger?
Aoife turned to see Bertram, tuning his banjo, near the singer.
"What key is your next one, little lady?" his question her way.
"If you don't leave, I will kick your shins. You cannot stay."


Ever the consummate professional, she regained her composure,
and navigated through her set. It was truly a magical hour;
her compositions, Irish tunes, sampling Joni and Emmylou,
with an encore sing along of "Oh Mama" and she was through.


At dusk we find Aoife and merry band, walking along the groves,
as parking lot pickers, strength in numbers, gather in droves.
Surrounded by amateur aficionados here in the Land of Prince,
there was one familiar out of tune banjo. That made her wince.


She was approached by a man with a camera, about next year.
Dave, along with committee members, Lia and Deanna, made clear,
come next season, the festival would have a new theme in play.
When revealed, polka was in the offing, Aoife turned away.


She found herself eye to eye with a stranger. In his zeal,
he sounded the news, "She is here. Aoife O'Donovan is here."
As her band mates and bus driver watched in mock disbelief,
Aoife turned and scribbled her name, then gave him relief.


"Yes, I met her, and asked for an autograph. She gave me two.
It is only right that I keep one, and give the other to you."
The mentally challenged fellow meant no harm, and as such,
prized possession in his hand warranted, "Thank you so much!"


That night, she mused, there is a song here, to be found,
and write she did, on the way to Boston, in that Greyhound.
She envisioned Mystic River, fourteen hundred miles to arrive,
thinking, "Hope we don't get lowed bridged on Storrow Drive."


A wake up call from the desk, all is not as it might seem.
Here in Hollywood, California, Aoife awoke from her dream.
At his final Prairie Home Companion, Garrison's reprieve,
She says to Keillor, "I've a story, even you won't believe."


Michael Todd (2016)


Disclaimer: Aoife O'Donovan is a favorite singer of mine. I saw a video of her, and in it, Sarah Jarosz mentioned the song she was about to perform was one she learned from Aoife, early in her career, at a workshop. Aoife responded with something along the lines of "Y'all come to fiddle camp." Well, she probably did not say "Y'all" but you know I tend to embellish. Anyway, that is where I got the idea for this poem. As for the rest, it just all fell into place. 

Aoife was onstage with Garrison Keillor, for his final Prairie Home Companion appearance, in July. That part is real. Also real, is her website, which can be found here...

http://www.aoifeodonovan.com/

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Petition (Sonnet for Heather)

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Petition (Sonnet for Heather)


How can it be, on the surface perceive,
easy to forgive a perfect stranger,
and so hard to forgive a friend? Reprieve
therein lies, estranged; in truth a danger.

Heavy is a heart, predisposed to grieve.
Elusive bonds, chronicled, and as such,
resigned to resort to wear heart on sleeve,
missing motions, glances she once could clutch.

Bury the stillness of a starless eve,
recalling a place in time, he wasn't here;
afford measure of solace, side bereave;
gone, seldom forgotten; dim what was clear.

Extent of waiver, granted final, pure,
relies on her buying in, steadfast, sure.


Michael Todd (2016)


Sonnet written for Heather Brager.

Acrostic written to Heather M. Brager.

You can find Heather at her site, Touching The Art ...

heatherbrager.blogspot.com