National Poetry Month 2011

Yes, National Poetry Month, and I'm a little late getting started, but I'm going to challenge myself to write one poem a day.  Today is the sixth day of April, so I'm spending a little time catching up.  I've got three to share with you so far (it's only 1:45 pm) and the other three will come later today.  All three poems were inspired by photos created by the talented Greenville (SC) photographer, Ian Curcio, who spoke recently at TEDxGreenville about letting go of the desire for technical perfection in photography and just taking the photos or capturing a feeling.

Here I am, all naked and trusting that some of you will like them, offering the first three of my thirty poems of April 2011.

1.  I am a man

I stand tall
and feel the grass
my properly shined shoes;

I walk
among buildings
touched by history,
built with integrity
but scarred
by insanity
of mere mortals;

I feel strong,
and I look the part
(a success story)
but my heart

is not in this suit,
is not in this place,
is not in this time.

I am a boy
on the grass
and the sun shines
building freckles,
one by one,
on my happy face

Photo, copyright 2011 Ian Curcio
Poem, copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

2.  I am a Bride

I am a bride
in modern white
among the cherry blossoms.
I am wed
to independence
to humanity
to being
and all that I can be.

 I bloom
in my time
and I am beautiful;
I am strong
and built to last

 for the sake
     of the future
for the sake
     of the past
(built to last)
but soft to the touch.

 I am the cherry tree
in the early Spring
through the danger
of frost
and the hardship
of late Winter.

Photo:  Copyright 2011 Ian Curcio
Poem:  Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

3.  I’m Breaking Free

It’s not much
to the eye
of the untrained
(the uninformed).

It’s not the glass ceiling,
the typical mystery.
It’s the glass walls,
that perpetuate
the feeling of freedom,
and the lie
that we are free.

When you live
in a tree,
you are free! Not
when you live
for the ‘me’.

 I have let go,
opened my arms
and set this act
in motion

 to be
more than I am told
and bigger
than I see.

I’m breaking free!

Photo:  Copyright 2011 Ian Curcio
Poem:  Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

It's 4:35 on April 6th and I continue to find inspiration in Ian Curcio's photography.

4.  Fig.Figure.Transfigure


Go figure
Go fight

Fantastic orange mango

Give me five
and twenty blackbirds
baked into a pie
go well
a fig.

Go figure
Father figure
Just a jigger
of fun!

Photo:  Copyright 2010 Ian Curcio
Poem:  Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

5.  What Exactly?

What Exactly
is it you see
in my eyes,
wish to see
in my future?

Are you hoping that my math skills
will help me to rise
like cream
to the top of the heap
of my generation’s dropouts,
flunkies and
skateboard monkeys?

Do you find
that my candor
wakes your anger
and makes you wish
you hadn’t
--you know—
had me? You do

know that there’s
no place I go
that my mind
doesn’t race
with ideas and energy? Don’t you
get it? Now

and then
I want to roam
and climb, then fall
to see what it feels like
when I fail.

Are you
to understand
that joy is exploding
inside my heart,
all the colors inside: red,
purple, orange,
lemon yellow and insect green.

Don’t you see
(in me)
all the Technicolor feelings,
all the possibilities
that make ideas grow
into box cameras,
spiders, frogs,
Lincoln Logs,
pretzels and mustard,
cheeseburgers without ketchup,
train rides
and apple pie?

Loud music,
screeching and yelling,
running through woods
not knowing what comes next

and flying—that’s it, flying! That’s
how it feels
to be
How high can I fly?

What exactly
are you missing?

Photo:  Copyright 2010 Ian Curcio
Poem:  Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

On the last weekend of April, my husband and I head to Wilkesboro, North Carolina, for one of the most wonderful music festivals in the country, MerleFest, which honors the memory and musical accomplishments of Doc Watson’s son Merle Watson. This year, any day now, Lyle Lovett will be heading to Wilkesboro to perform at MerleFest. I wondered what it might be like, the day he comes to town.

If you’re not familiar with his musical style, you may want to watch this video of Lyle Lovett singing, “That’s Right, You’re Not from Texas”.

6.  The Day Lyle Lovett Came to Town

It was an ordinary day,
different in no noticeable way,
with clouds running around
in a Spring wanting-to-be late-summer sky,
on their way
to the careless dark of evening.

It was hard to say
who might have seen him
and wondered who he was
wondered what he wanted
on his eggs
with grits
that morning.

There was no welcoming
with a banner and the mayor
and Miss. Festival Queen
or a parade;
no mariachi band playing,
gospel choir singing,
collards-cooking judging
apple pie tasting;
same as always. But
it wasn’t—as it isn’t—
in the getting ready
for the festival days.

Though no one
changed their ways
or got up earlier,
finished the ironing sooner
and the dishes faster
or even flew the Texas state flag,
in the air
a thin white man
with a guitar in his hand
hooked up the band
and took over
to announce that
Texas wants you, anyway!*

All’s I want to say
is welcome,
you Texas boys;
go on and
carry us away!

*from the Lyle Lovett song, “That’s Right, You’re Not from Texas”

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

It is the 10th day and I am posting the 7th poem.  A little behind, but I am writing and I am catching up.

7.  Friend Lost

in one another
and in the comfort
of knowing, not judging,
and understanding;
for each other’s
work, endeavors
always reaching out
to each other
soon, if not first;
to find the words
where there are none,
the missing link
when there is one
and always (always!)
and comfort
one another.
Friend lost
over and over.
Sadness ensues
when the sun rises
on the realization.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

A fun workout on a golfing theme on the day of the 75th Masters Golf Tournament, April 10, 2011.

8. The Masters

No Rubens or Rembrandt.
No conductors of symphonies
or composers of worth.
In a garden
where skill is not enough
and experience is no help
to pressures building
and the mind playing
chiseling away at the ego,
stroke by stroke,

Only winners allowed.
Only men
with tremendous courage
and daring,
enough for the game.

The club allows
no fear,
no room for error—
no terror—as you putt,
and, certainly,
no doubt (at all)!

Those who know
how to hold steady
through traps
and hazards,
bunkers galore,
take a confident strike
against a small white ball;
they swing and
a loud “fore”!

Only masters allowed.
Only winners
need apply.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

9.  What Is It About the Phone?

What is it about the phone, about the way
we hold it close to our ear and whisper
sweet nothings, instructions, and

What is it about the phone that makes us
feel powerless when it’s not powered up and clipped
to our belt or nestled in a special pocket of our
bags? Why do we feel rejected and neglected
when we aren’t firing away madly into
the microphone—the mouthpiece--of our
toted traveling communication device?

What is it about the phone that makes us
feel so loved and comforted by the vibrating
alarm--the silent ringing--of incoming calls,
facebook apps, LinkedIn updates and
the tweeting of the twitterati?

What is it, indeed, I ask
and why is it, I ponder. Why?

What, then, IS it
about the phone, eh?

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

10.  Trap and Dance

that’s the part that he plays
in this dance.
Being trapped,
that’s my role
in our strange romance—
a dance
where he’s leading

that’s what I feel
in this taking (from me)
but not giving (back)
on this

one-way journey
that one person
is enjoying,
while the other

the exit signs
and hopes
that there will
be time
to turn
and into…

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

10.  Compost

Is it a grave?
Is it the end
of a living thing
and that’s it?
Is it grace?
Is it the elegant
growing of new life
laid on top
of an ending one,
lasagna style?

It is my life
the grounds of early mornings
with too many cups of hot coffee
adoringly consumed by open mouth
and grateful sinus cavities, too many
thoughts to contain
coming to rest between a pen
and a page;

the peelings of organic carrots roasted for dinner,
the stalks cut from beets
sitting like royal rubies, in all their glorious glistening,
on a plain white plate, which offers them to admiring diners;

yesterday’s afternoon paper,
crossword done,
cartoons long ago enjoyed and forgotten and
breaking news now buried among withered leaves of oak trees;
egg shells, tomato skins and onion wrappings—whispers
of a formula for my husband’s perfect omelet and the first step
of a day of burdening responsibilities;

the flowers
cut by a loving friend from the garden
where she spends her time
in hiding
from the pain of her loss; where she trims
the hydrangeas, mulches the gardenias and fertilizes the roses, which
filled the vase of my ten days of
scented beauty.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

11.  Beautiful

The most beautiful sound is
the garage door opening
at the end of the day, because it means
that my love is home.
The most beautiful touch is
my lover’s fingers
brushing my cheek,
as they reach to sweep
a few stray hairs from my eyes,
while I’m cooking
a simple pot of soup.
The most beautiful taste is
my sweetheart’s lips
as the press to mine
in a gentle reminder
of our love.
The most beautiful sight is
my husband’s eyes
looking into
my own, reaching
into my pain
and stroking
the sadness away.

The most beautiful sound is
the laughter
of my children playing,
hiding and ducking, tossing and catching
on the vibrant grassy green
of a summer
in our back yard.
The most beautiful touch is
my father’s hand, trembling and dotted
with time’s aging freckles,
reaching for mine
as he struggles
to get out of his cold, starched bed.
The most beautiful taste is
the first meal
that my children cook
and bring to me in bed,
on a tray with a linen napkin,
a paper cup of wildflowers
and my very own
hand-made card, which is enough
to raise the spirits
of any grey day.
The most beautiful sight is
the peace
in my mother’s face
lying effortlessly
in her final resting place,
wrapped in freedom
from hardship, turmoil and pain.

The most beautiful sound is
the lively chatter
of birds
in the waking of each new day
The most beautiful touch is
the cooling dew
between the grass
and my bare feet
as I run
to the lake
with my partner
holding my hand,
love in my heart;
joy lightly settled, like an apple blossom, on my face.
The most beautiful taste is
a fresh cherry,
a ripe watermelon;
a juicy tomato
on a hot day.
The most beautiful sight is
any place
that feeds your soul.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

This is my best effort (after many) at attempting to write a symmetrical poem in the style of Lewis Carroll. Not as easy as it looks.  Go ahead, try one of your own.

12.  Symmetrical & Strange

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

In the early part of our South Carolina Spring, we enjoy showers of flowers.  It's a beautiful display.  Eventually, these petals of cherry blossoms, Lady Banks Roses and tree pollen mingle, dance and mingle in various forms on our deck and on the stone patio.

13.  Spring Air Dance

I see
the free-form
flower petal pizza
on the deck.

I see
the way
that the pink
cherry blossoms
I see them

from the mother ship
on their
free-fall journey
through the air—

I see them
smiling, feeling
weightless for what
must have seemed
a joyful eternity.

I see them
almost landing,
nearing their destination
and fearing
their end, then
trying to slow it all,
their fall.

I see
how many
followed, danced
and fell
to gather with
the other wasted,
now lifeless, fairies.

I see
the tree pollen
hover over them
then join the mass
of pink paralysis
like dots on the letter i .

I see
the dainty
pale yellow Banks roses shed--
petal by petite petal—
and fly
down then upwards,
sideways, around,
up, along
and gently settle,
gusts of wind
encouraging them
into the dance of spent beauty,
looking like a free-form
flower petal pizza
on the deck.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

14.  CURRICULUM VITAE: course of life

Personal Details
  • Female
  • Adoring mother and spouse
  • Poet, Non-Fiction Writer, Social Media Coach and many other things.
  • Enjoy gardening and feeding people. Mostly, I just enjoy people and it brings me tremendous pleasure and joy to help people. Sometimes I help by offering my hand and sometimes by cooking a meal to enjoy in the back yard under a sunshiny day of lost responsibilities and hardships shed at my door.
Over 50 years of learning how to be, how to let go of the right things and hold on to the right things; years of being embarrassed, being angry, being confused and feeling just not good enough, then waking to a clear sky, a clear understanding and a clearer path. That was a great day, almost like an effortless birth—perhaps similar to a bud on a flowering tree, which one day opens completely and shares its beauty and its perfume with anyone who cares to enjoy it all.

Perhaps that is exactly what the course of life is: the first birth is a bud, the second birth is the opening of the flower and the third birth is death, the shriveling up and falling off the tree (job done, purpose fulfilled) to be recycled back into the earth as nourishment for future trees.

Work Experience
Boy, do I have that!

I have received it and I have given it:  Books, teachers, newspapers, other people, strangers, nature, animals, history, old people, little children, mistakes and time.

Mastery of quieting crying children, pacifying aging parents and supporting a loving spouse. Ability to manage many things at one time and to offer comfort and love to strangers, friends, family and faithful pets.

Personal References available upon request.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

It is Day 18 and I am posting my 15th poem.  This poem is not G-rated.  Last week I watched a documentary about air burials, the Buddhist ritual of burying the dead in such high mountain terrain where digging in the ground is not easy to do and where there is precious little wood to use as fuel, so that the typical Buddhist cremation cannot be practiced.  The air burial is performed 2 ½ hours away (on foot), in the highest possible part of the mountain and requires the services of a non-Buddhist undertaker who prepares the body for consumption by the vultures who live at that altitude.  It is unusual, difficult to imagine, but practical.  It is no less difficult to do this with the empty vessel of a loved one than interment or cremation, which are sacred rituals that we are comfortable with.

15.  Sacred Recycling Ritual

In the mountains, where one
life depends on another,
whether vulture or human,
where resources are precious
and scarce,

where home is among
the clouds and air is thin,
one living being sustains

As the tiny fox feeds a family
and warms their backs,
in time, so the human life
will expire, the soul will fly
and the vessel, which
contained it, will be recycled
into vulture.

So the prayer wheel turns
as the air burial begins
and one life is recycled
into the nourishment of another.

Soul flies into the universe.
Prayers fly to comfort the soul.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

16.  History Comes Out of Nowhere

History comes out of nowhere.  Who
said that?  Well, doesn't matter,
does it?  Not now.

Our history--it's going nowhere.  Who
cares, anyway?  Do you?

Our history--our time together.  We meet,
we hang out, we "like" each other--and
I don't mean as on facebook land--
we come, go, mingle, exchange, change
and grow into one another.

Life is good, as the t-shirt says, so
what happened?

When did our loving each other
and sharing--when did our caring--
not matter anymore?

When did you dread my coming home?
When did I begin to drift
from longing for you?  When
did you stop loving
the sound of my voice, and why
did I no longer yearn
to look into your deep brown eyes?

When did I learn to disguise
my disapproval of everything you say
and why did you let me?

History comes out of nowhere.  It
goes nowhere, too, I suppose.  Lost.
Lost in space.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

17.  God is a Dog

Come on! You’re kidding!

Are you crazy? What is that
all about? You’ve been alone
too long.

Think about it, he said, GOD
spelled backwards is DOG. I
have found comfort in God,
and I have found great comfort
in having my Dog with me,
since my wife passed away.

We walk in the woods;
he walks on through the brush and
looks for something to chase
and I clear my head, praying for
strength and comfort in my days.

I walk, praying for love and companionship
and for that lonesome feeling late at
night, when it seems as if there is no
other being on earth, nothing else
out there but me and the stars, yes,
praying for that feeling to disappear
and for my hollow heart to find
warmth to fill the empty space.

Prayers answered: God, it seems,
works through my Dog. He provides
all that I’ve prayed for. Why, then,
wouldn’t I think that God is a Dog?

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

18.  Just the Coffee

the cup
with hot coffee,
freshly ground,
freshly brewed.

The coffee,
just the coffee,
the essence
of a bean
from lands
you haven't seen.

A berry
rich with flavors
from the dirt,
from the leaves fallen
and years rotting,
from light rains
on hot earth;
a blue snake sliding
around rocks--
brown, red,
and moss covered--
a big
down below
where the roots
and from
sun shining.

the coffee,
just the coffee.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

19.  Purple Patch

On a drive
of exploration
with two young girls,
I go, WOW, and point
at a pale purple patch
of wildflowers on
a grassy field.
Looks like a big
purple blanket,
doesn't it, I say.  NO,
counters Olivia.
It's like purple grass, she exclaims
with authentic enthusiasm.

Does it make you
want to go out there
and lie in it?

Yes! she bubbles
with anticipation.

It's poisonous! Corley
raises the alarm.
NO, it's not,
Olivia corrects her, Daddy
told me so!

A big and hairy
his business--
is raised to new heights.

Mr. Hairy
walks and walks
up one of Olivia's arms,
to her hand
and then
to Corley's.  Gently,
I recommend,
that I will not
be invited
to this dance.

I am concerned
for the caterpillar,
but these girls
pick him up
with confidence
and a gentle touch,
kind enough and
to suit a surgeon's hands.

With love, appreciation
and respect (although
they are not conscious of
their feelings in this setting),
they consider
the caterpillar,
as they move him
from arm to hand
to arm to another arm
and carefully place him
on the ground
and say,

Copyright, 2011, Despina Panagakos Yeargin

This poem has inspired others, which I'm hopeful will culminate in a book called, My Travels With Corley and Olivia:  Life lessons through the eyes of nine-year-old and five-year-old girls.  Stay tuned!

20.  Wine Tasting

Journey of discovery
with a pop!,
a single sound,
which, to conditioned ears,
is an igniting
of the senses:

Brain: awake, alert;
Eyes: wide open, clear, fresh;
Nose:  anticipation, flexing muscles;
Mouth:  lips puckered then
relaxed, back and forth
in preparation, tongue
ready with expectation,
taste buds perky, standing
(like soldiers) at attention.

A fine and elegant cascade
settles into the crystal,
softens and lingers,
laps around like velvet;

flowers blossom, fresh
cut grasses jump
into the dance;

currants, berries, peaches,
and join
this spicy romance.

The seduction begins.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

21.  Caffeine

a magazine
of power, popping
from a rifle
in rapid succession,

my senses,
waking and alerting
my brain

over and over
again, reviving
my mind

the after-shave
my father
was slapping
on his cheeks

back in the days
when all I needed
to come alive
was the gentle
of my mother's

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

22.  Life of Purpose

Wasted now, spent,
all the goodness
squeezed ou and poured
into someone's cup

(or, maybe, mug
used for so long that
the lip is chipped away
in several places)

and set aside.  What
a ride
that was!  Little green

leaves, picked, cut,
chopped and toasted;
with the fragrance of
bergamot--citrus from
exotic lands--and
gathered into pre-determined
quantities to fill such
a delicate bag
with a tail and a tab,
used to aid in
softly into a hot water
bath, until the transformation
occurs.  Tea...

"Would you like
lemon or milk
with that?"

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

23.  Accidental Symmetry

A mess o' weeds
on I-85 is
a rose between
the thorny
perils of high-speed traffic.

A mess o' weeds
among tall grass,
left unmown--
wild, but
beautiful sight
of pink and yellow,
purple, blue,
lilac and green

peering cautiously at
whooshing cars,
they look to be
in careless abandon,
and yet (in some sort of
accidental symmetry)
also like
properly placed
Cabbage Patch Kids.

They wave,
they shine,
they blow
in the wind,
and then they're done.

All that's left
are withered stems
and dry seedheads
positioned to paint
next Spring's
accidental symmetry.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

The following poem is dedicated to sipping coffee on the back porch of Jack and Pia's welcoming home in North Carolina.

24.  Meditation on Early Morning

windchime dancing,
just above
the waking Saturday traffic
down the street.

A great grey
canopy of clouds
creeps along
through the air,
while gusts of wind
move, billowing
through trees
of velvet greenness,
causing lush,
green movement
--the twiching
and rustling of
of little bits of goodness.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

25.   24-Hour Tragedy Online

Always prepared, but
never ready
for the fall,
the disaster to befall

Kind of makes you
wonder, doesn't it,
what all the fear is for.

Do we need
to know
and worry
about the devastation,
the raping
of earth and man and woman,
so that we can--what?--
all the time?

24-hour tragedy online,
all the time, reporting,
so you know.  Deaden
your senses,
in order to survive
the onslaught
of information and regulation
and situation
of amazing cruelty.

Care?  Do not,
to the 24-hour
tragedy online,
all the time
so you know,
you know?

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

26.   Cardinal Rule

There he is,
red--bright red--no,
insanely red!

Cardinal rule is
to stand
your ground,
holding on to ivy
(brilliantly green)
which is wrapping
itself, still,
on the aging trunk
of a Pin Oak

with roots
for centuries,
flowing above ground
at times,
obstacles and
development of man.

Cardinal rule--
stand your ground,
hold on.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

27.   A, B, C (See)

A is for...

All that
I am, seeking
Absolve me,
Absolve me!

B is for...
Back then
Behind me, oh,
Beneath me,
Bah, humbug,
Barely knowing
I was
   growing, indeed.

C is for...
   into the
   and knowing,
Coming of age, walking

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

28.   Into the New

Walk confidently
into the new
with abundant love
in your heart,
kindness showing
spilling out
to others
who are waiting
for a sign.

their sign
and sing, Amen!
Thank you!
for the opportunity.

Hold hands
with others,
show patience,
express love
and offer

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

29.  Snake Tactics

I honor and respect
s-shaped king of
and scaring
out of my skin!

I marvel
at your skin, too,
when I find it
hanging from my pine tree
like a skeleton
that I've found
in your closet.

This land is your land,
this land is my land,
but how do we
and do our work,
live out our purpose
without wondering
when the other
will scare
out of our skin?

Slide away,
slip off into
the darkness of
your underground labirynth
of tunnels made by creatures
you adore
to have for dinner.

keep your ground
and I
will keep mine,
surrounded by
your cautionary warning signs--
the multitude of entrances
to your dark, earthen home.

Copyright 2011 Despina Panagakos Yeargin

30.  Movement

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