GloPoWriMo: Day 16


Magic Bean Coffee

Letters danced between the lines,
rearranging themselves into words:

Mast uri nut, nasturtium–
Cutter pub, buttercup.

Mansion drops, the boss scowls soon–
Scissors, spoons, bowls and the moon.

The writer’s pen draws petals
falling, ponds resting
and a frog

At the chessboard,
the Ruy Lopez swirls
into the Nimzo-Indian,
While the Gruenfeld stands
off against the Caro-Kann.

“What’s in this coffee?”
the chess player calls into the kitchen.
Another sip. The Queen winks.

The writer thinks back
to the fixing.
While the kettle heated,
she’d looked out to the garden,
where morning doves
spread wings under the
sprinkler in the squash bed.

Spiny lizards pounced
after dragonflies.
A white-patched skipper
drank deep from the verbena
then soared in crazy drunk circles.

She ground the beans,
breathing in the brandy
mesquite graham cocoa cider
sweetness of it all.

“What did you say was in the coffee?”
called the chess player again.

“Nothing,” said the writer,

“Oh. That explains it.”
And he moved his rook up the file.

Daily Prompt: “Write a poem that prominently features the idea of play,” from the Na/GloPoWriMo site.

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Forgotten Art: Meadow – Kaitlin 10

A reply to: A letter from Kaitlin


Dear Kaitlin,

Thanks so much for your words of kindness! You know what it’s like to be a busy working mom–sometimes we’re moving so fast that we don’t even get a chance to stop and appreciate all we do each day! Your kind thoughts helped me pause for gratitude!

Jasper believes that gifts are to be shared–I’ve always known when he’s said that that he’s referring not just to the traits and talents we’ve been blessed with, but to our privilege.

You’ve got a big, loving heart, so you share it with all your kids and grandkids, and with Leroy. I’ve got a nice house and plenty of resources–and I used to have time!–so I share those with Jena, and now with Mizuki Suzuki.


I don’t have much free time anymore, with going back to school. But it’s a three-day weekend, so that brings me leisure to write to you!

I’m so glad you find Ira inspiring. I do, too. She’s kind of a nut, actually. Well, she’s a great match for my nutty brother. Do you know they both still play with toys? It’s funny, but why not? It makes them happy. They’ve created this entire imaginary universe that they populate with characters based on their favorite toys. You’d think that Aari, Ira’s daughter, would be part of that, right? But she’s far too practical. She just rolls her eyes and lets her parents talk about Miss Meowness’s adventures and the llamacorn’s escapades.


It works for them. I’ve been reading a lot about play therapy. Most of the research is on play and children, but, especially with someone as childlike as my brother, I can imagine that the findings transfer.

Landreth (2002) notes that “play relieves feelings of stress and boredom, connects us to people in a positive way, stimulates creative thinking and exploration, regulates our emotions, and boosts our ego” (as ctd. by Lilly, et al. 2016).

Ira and Norman seem to use it as a tool for communication and bonding: they can say things through play that they might not be able to approach in a more direct fashion, and this shared communication style connects them in a healthy way.


Mizuki Suzuki is big into play, too! With her, I think it’s how she relieves stress and boredom. She’s taken on the house-cleaning chores while I’m in school, but really, I think this is just an excuse for her to “pick up the toys,” which is her code for “let’s play with all of Jena’s stuff!”


Jena does a great job of playing with me, Jasper, and Mizuki Suzuki, but she has yet to learn how to play with kids her own age! Well, that’s what preschool is for, right?

The other day, one of her little friends came home with her. Immediately she started asking him, “So, what do you want to be?” When he didn’t answer right away, she shot out all these suggestions: “A panda bear? An abominable snowman? A sloth? You could be a sloth! And I’ll be an aardvark!”


He just looked at her, confused.

She’ll learn to leave space for other people’s ideas, right?

Speaking of space, it sounds like you could use a little space in your life. So many things happening! So many connections between all the people you care about, and even between those you’re trying not to care about!

But I know you: Even those people you’ve had challenging relationships with–even those people you don’t want in your life anymore–you still care about them.


And when we care, that’s when the tangles can happen. Your situation sounds complicated now–family complications, legal complications, professional complications, romantic complications.

It must have been a real shock to run into Newt. I can see why it felt like a betrayal that you hadn’t been told he was in town. You didn’t have a chance to prepare yourself.


You know what? I’m glad you took a few weeks’ break from Leroy and Dr. Shea after all of that. I can understand the jealousy. I wonder, too, if there was a feeling of lack of control: It seems that they were making all the decisions for you, rather than sharing information with you so that you could make your own decisions for yourself and your kids.

That must have been hard. And even though you had a break from Leroy, you still had all the kids to care for, so I’m sure you felt like you had to keep it together.

Through all this, do you ever get time for you, where you can slow down to feel your own heart beat? Maybe you find your heart as it beats for others.


I have faith that everything will work out. Things are messy now, but things don’t stay perpetually messy, do they? Or rather, new messes come to take the place of the old ones that get cleaned out!

I’m so sorry to hear about Reid. That must challenging, especially for Ben. When someone we care about is in trouble, it can feel so devastating. I can imagine that Ben is feeling that way about Reid, and now you’re feeling that way about Ben. I wonder if it would help him to know how much it hurts you to see him feeling unhappy and worried. He’s pushing you away right now, but maybe it’s because he really needs you, and this feeling has him scared, especially when so many other people, big and little, need you, too.

It sounds like you’ve thought through your situation with Dr. Shea. You have such good intuition that if you feel she’s your best choice, then I’m sure she is!

Do you know that Jena has decided that her favorite game is “Therapist”? I guess it’s like how some kids play doctor. She knows that I’m studying to be a therapist, and when she asked what a therapist was, I told her that it’s someone who guides people to find their strength, especially when they’re feeling scared.

So when we play dolls, she has her doll be the therapist.

“Are you scared now?” Her doll asks mine.

“Oh, yes!” Mine replies. “Very!”


She giggles at that, and then we talk through all the things that might make a little doll scared, which, coincidentally, are all the things which make her feel scared.

Right now, her biggest fear is the Void Monster which comes out of the kitchen faucet in the middle of the night, when the water is turned off.

The Void Monster’s kryptonite are bubbles. So when she does the dishes, she feels safe all night.


When I told Jena tonight that it was a three-day weekend, which meant an extra day at home and extra time to play, she said we should have Ira and Norman come over.


“That way,” she said, “if we run out of things to play, they can give us new ideas!”

So I guess Sunday will be a big Family Play Day. I’m hoping Jasper will come, too. He said he picked up some kites in the Spice District, and I think Jena’s almost old enough to learn how to fly a kite.

Amazing, Kaitlin! Remember when we first started writing, and both our daughters were such little things? I really owe it to you to helping me through those confusing early days! You’ve been such a great role model and such a great Mom coach!

Sending you lots of love–I know you’ve got so much strength already, so instead of sending strength, I’ll send peace.

So much peace,


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Septemus 4

Dear Sept,

I’m so glad you like the dolls I got for you.

I had to search all over town to find the one with blue skin.

“Here you go,” I said when I handed her to you. “Bizaabgotojo.”

“Bizaabgotojo,” you said. “Oooh, squeegeee.”


I played with the brown-skinned doll.

It was fun listening to you humming. Your little song told the story of a day–all the moods of waking and cooking and cleaning and playing.


Your song stopped and you turned to me.

“Bizaabgotojo?” you said, handing me the blue-skinned doll.

You looked at the brown-skinned doll in my other hand and smiled. I gave it to you.

“Sebastion!” you said. You said my name. And you snuggled the brown-skinned doll close to you, laughing like a tiny cave river, sparkling in the moonlight.


“Sebation ista moostomi bizaabgotojo,” you said. And you smiled and I felt something split wide open inside me. And I don’t think I will ever be the same again.


Your bizaabgotojo,


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Septemus 3

Dear Septemus,

I wish I could make things easier for you.


I don’t know why you wake up mad and why you fall into rages. Are you mad at me? Are you upset about being here? What are you missing?


You look at me sometimes as if I should understand.


They told me at the agency that you didn’t remember anything–none of you did. They said that the impact of the landing erased all memory.

But I think they were lying.

When I read to you last night, you looked up at me and asked, “Bizaabgotojo?”

The strangest thing happened as you said that–I saw a flash of blue. A hand. A blue woman’s hand. Was that your mother? I felt intense sadness. You remember it all, don’t you? You miss them.


You woke me early the next morning with your tears.

I don’t know where she is. I don’t know where your brothers and sisters are. I know you miss them.


Grilled cheese helps, doesn’t it? It’s my favorite, too.


We ate breakfast together. You surprised me by laughing. I don’t know what story it is you told–I don’t know what “stipooo kiya cocinoxitopo stipoo” means, but it sounds funny and as you said it, I saw in my mind a flash of a blue man walking on his hands backwards. Is that a “cocinoxitopo”?


But you were sad again after we washed the dishes. It’s Saturday, but first thing Monday morning, as soon as they open, I’ll call the agency and talk with Ms. Snyder. She’ll know where your brothers and sisters are. Maybe if you can see them, you’ll feel less lonely.


When you’re older, I’ll tell you what happened to the pale blue woman who was on the ship with you–your bizaabgotojo.

But I have a feeling that you already know what happened.


I guess that’s what makes it hard to accept me. I am not a substitute. My skin is brown and my hands are rough and my voice is low and it doesn’t echo like water in a cave river.


You seem to like people with softer voices better, like Miko and Darling.

You lit up like a firefly when Darling came by this afternoon. You laughed and birds sang and the sun shone and it was Saturday afternoon like Saturday should be.


“You should try playing with him more,” Darling said to me.

“I’m not sure he wants anything to do with me,” I replied.

“Nonsense!” Darling said. “He’s crazy about you! Any fool can see! Just don’t be so sad and worried and serious all the time. Play a little!”

So I twirled you around and we flew like a double-decker airplane.

“Woot! That’s what I’m talking about!” Darling shouted. And you laughed like a river.


We danced before bed. I put on Coltrane, and we got mellow, and you hummed like a little bird, and the pictures I saw in my mind were peaceful and flowing, just the swirling colors of a sleepy imagination.


You’re sleeping now, and if I close my eyes, I can still see those colors, and I feel something, too. I don’t feel my heart breaking for you. I feel the beginning stirrings of happy.

Your pal,


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