Her Hands – National Poetry Month – April 4th

April is National Poetry Month. I’m going to attempt to write one poem every day this month. Today’s poem: # 4 for April 4th.

Her Hands

I close my eyes
I’m back in her house
In Richland, Mississippi
Sitting at the kitchen table
Surrounded by delicious smells
With a plate full of home grown food
And a large mason jar of unsweetened iced tea

I remember my mammaw’s hands
Slender, with long bony fingers
Hands that had worked hard

In second grade her mom died
She had to leave school
To be a sharecropper with her dad

This amazing woman knew how
To grow food, have an abundant garden
Always two freezers full of frozen vegetables
And a shed full of fresh canned foods

She used her thumb and index finger
To indicate measurements for baking
I remember asking
What does that mean?
A tablespoon, a 1/2 cup?
She wasn’t sure
She only knew the measurement
Of thumb to index finger

My mammaw was a spit fire of a lady
She spoke her mind
She loved her grand kids
Making sure we were fed and full
Was her guiding light

I admire her
I remember how she lay her left hand across her chest
When sitting at the kitchen table
Talking with me, studying me with
Adoring eyes through her glasses
Thinking about it now
I can see the curiosity,
The tenacity,
The strength behind those eyes

The stories she would tell me
That time I went for a visit
long after I became an adult and moved away
I treasure that week long visit
Talking, learning her history,
Listening, soaking her into my heart and mind

I remember the story she told
Of hitting my grandad upside the head
With a mason jar full of tea
When he told her he was leaving her
For another woman

I guess he got hit so hard he forgot
About the other woman
Or
Perhaps he changed his mind

The memories that flood me
At the sight of a mason jar
Fried green tomatoes
Tomato (“mater”) gravy
Biscuits
Collard greens
Black-eyed peas
Butter beans
The sight of honeysuckle vines
Blackberry bushes
Screen doors
Mud and good spoons

I hear her saying,
“Youngins, shut that door, you gone let flies inside.
Camiller, ah Camiller, don’t be using my good spoons in that mud.”

She was a strong ass woman
Opinionated
Kind
Elnor Key Downs
Born in 1919 in Louisiana, Died in 2001 in Mississippi
You, your essence continue to be felt and remembered
by your granddaughter who misses you and your hands.
Camilla Downs 2024

**Prompt: Book title as poem title. I colored outside the lines by changing the book title I liked. Ha!**

https://www.newspapers.com/article/clarion-ledger-obituary-for-elnor-key-do/104910820/

The Pooka of Friendships – National Poetry Month – April 3rd

April is National Poetry Month. I’m going to attempt to write one poem every day this month. Today’s poem: #3 for April 3rd.

The Pooka of Friendships

Harvey, the 6 foot Pooka, is invisible to most
Only seen by
Those amongst us who
Crave connection
Those who have an
Excruciating hunger for meaningful friendships
Those who feel as if they are missing something
Those who feel there is a hole
in the fabric of their soul

It is a craving that catches in the stomach
Raging a storm
A storm of sadness, and longing
for a special connection with others

A hunger for shared laughter
Shared joy
Shared interests
Shared life moments

A biting hunger
Felt in the stomach
In the heart
In the mind
A craving that spreads
Through the nervous system
Down the arms
Into the hands, the fingers
Crawling it’s way into the mouth
Felt in the tongue, the gums
And the throat
Down the legs, into the knees, the calves
Pooling in the ankles, the feet, and the toes

This is a craving so intense
It spills from the corner of the eyes
Dripping into the air
Floating with a determined purpose
Searching for the one who can satisfy this craving

The 6 foot Pooka hunts these cravings
Searching for those drowning in this hunger
Those who feel like they’ve been locked out of having deep and true friendships

Harvey satiates the hunger of the friendless

Appearing only for those
Whose craving and hunger
Sits with an intensity that threatens to consume them

Harvey stays with their human friends
Til the night closes in
Deep in conversation
Sharing drinks
Sharing laughs
Connecting
Dancing together
Reminiscing together
Satisfying the hunger

Others look at them as if they’ve lost their mind
They’re right
They have lost their mind
They’ve lost their minds to one another
Sharing thoughts
Like only good friends can do

Their fondness for one another
Escaping from their laughter
Rising into the night sky
Taking a place amongst the twinkling night stars

Harvey
The 6 foot Pooka
Satisfies this hunger
Keeps their human warm
Stays with them
Until they meet human friends
Creating bonds
Growing deep friendships
With roots that anchor to the soil
Anchoring even further into the core of Earth

This is when
Harvey knows they have served their purpose
The 6 foot Pooka
becomes invisible to the one whose hunger has been satisfied

Harvey begins his hunt anew
Moving on to the next
Starving human
On and on into the future
Back to the past
And back again to the present moments of life.
Camilla Downs 2024

The below is a condensed version of today’s prompt:

Write about hunger, starving for something.

A cryptic with a craving should appear at least once, either literal or metaphor.

See if you can allow the hungry animal in your poem to stand for your own hunger, and in turn, for everyone’s. Write about that hunger so sincerely that it makes very reader hungry for something.

I combined it with another prompt:

Condensed: Write a poem that recounts the plot or part of the plot of a book.

I tend to color outside the lines so I shifted the first prompt to fit what I wanted to write about, and for the second prompt, I wrote about a character in a movie. Can you guess which movie?

Dear Music – National Poetry Month – April 2nd

April is National Poetry Month. I’m going to attempt to write one poem every day this month. #2 – April 2nd.

Dear Music

I love you
Let me try to tell you
Just how very much I love you

You make me feel like I can do anything,
be anything, have anything
You move me
You inspire me

I am Gen X
I cannot separate myself from you
You are my soul mate

As a young girl I dreamed of dancing,
Of being a Rockette
And that has never left me,
Watching Solid Gold and Soul Train
Every Saturday
I have felt your touch in every fiber of my being

The instruments
The lyrics
The musician behind it all
The atmosphere created when these come together
Lifts me

Your vibes help me to remember
Your groove gets me high on life

You console me
You stream into my ears
Enlightening me from head to toe

You are magical and mystical
You help me travel back in time

I’m 9 years old
With my record player
With my 45 of “Hang on Sloopy”
In the living room
With all the blankets we owned
Building forts

I’m 15 years old
Living in Houma, Louisiana
In school at Oaklawn Junior High
I’m anxious, I’ve got butterflies in my stomach
I’m trying out for the drill team
I’m chosen
I’m a Tarponette now
I’m performing for the school pep rallies
I’m performing with the school band during football half-times
I’m marching and dancing in the parade during Mardi Gras

I’m 22 years old
Living in Seattle, Washington
Hitting the dance clubs
Every weekend, being wild
Dancing til the early morning

I’m in Reno
Back in the 12 years of financial struggle
Raising my kids alone
Having dance parties with my kids
Listening to music while I cook dinner
The three of us dancing in the living room

I’m taking them on adventures
Listening to music in the car
Adventures of driving to the park
Driving to Geiger Way Lookout
Driving to get dollar ice cream cones

You have meant the world to me
You gave me life
You gave me hope
You helped me cope
You kept me in touch with myself

You take hold of my hand
You give me love
You give me peace
You comfort me
You wrap me in your delicious embrace
You are always there for me

You bring tears
You bring a smile
You bring laughter
You light up my life
You mean so very much to me

At this point in my life
I let myself be moved by you no matter where I am
I don’t care who sees our overt display of love

I am the one you see dancing and singing in the car
I am the one you see dancing down the grocery store aisle
I am the one you see dancing while she’s out for walk

For, my love, I can no longer hide the way I feel about you
I want the world to know how fucking much I love you
You are gorgeous
You are handsome
You are sexy
You give and give of yourself,
Never asking for anything in return
You treat me like a goddess
You speak to me like no one ever has

Thank you for everything, music

Forever yours,
Camilla

Camilla Downs 2024

What is Poetry – National Poetry Month – April 1st

April is National Poetry Month. I’m going to attempt to write one poem every day this month. Poem: #1 for April 1st

What is poetry?

Poetry is the feel of the breeze
as it brushes against your skin,
through your hair

It’s the soft touch of another
as they hold your hand,
press their lips against yours

It’s the loving hug of another
Two warm bodies pressed together
Letting them both know they are loved

It’s the sounds of the birdsong,
the song of the crickets,
the purrs of a beloved cat

Poetry is the words of another
Felt in the depths of your soul

Poetry is
The words that move you
Words that take you by the hand and heart
Words that bring a smile or a laugh
Words that take your breath away
Words that enter your heart and
exit your body through the liquid love of your eyes,

Poetry is the blood that drips
From the wounds of brokenness
Poetry is fertilizer
From the shit show of life
Poetry is the forest that grows
From the fire of a burned heart
Poetry is the flower garden
That grows from the love of another

Poetry is art
Poetry is soft
Poetry is harsh
Poetry is funny
Poetry is sad
Poetry speaks all languages
Poetry reaches across
Man made borders
Drifting from the page and mouth
To the eyes and ears
Of those who open themselves
To receive what is offered

Poetry is the the language of the broken hearted
It’s the language of love, activism, advocacy
It’s the language of nature, soaked into our souls,
mixed with our experiences,
and released from our body through words.

Poetry is art
Poetry is pain
Poetry is love
Poetry is a path to sharing,
feeling and healing

Poetry is an unbreakable golden thread of sunshine
That connects us, binds us
And let’s us know we’re not alone

Poetry is home
Poetry is fast
Poetry is slow

Poetry is alive
The heartbeat of the human race
Thumping in tune with the passing of time slipping through our fingers
Poetry is magic
Poetry is witchy

Poetry is not in a hurry
Poetry lets it all go
Poetry is powerful

Poetry extracts the pain, the love,
the advocacy, the activism
From the mind, the heart, the mouth
Pouring and releasing it into the winds of time
To work it’s witchy magic
On all who read or hear it.

Poetry makes my heart beat faster
Poetry makes my lower stomach tingle
Poetry makes everything else melt away
Poetry is the absolute fucking best!

Camilla Downs 2024

Monday Night Poetry – Unquietness

March 9 2024

We had a guest last Monday Night Poetry. Ashley Vargas, Ms. AyeVee, from Vegas. She and her poetry are fire! ❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥❤️‍🔥 It was such a fabulous night.

Unquietness

Silence

The absence of sound
Censorship of oneself
Staying quiet

In searching for a quote about silence
I was reminded of the multifaceted nature of silence

Depending on the context,
Silence can offer welcome respite from the
Noise of life
Silence can be used against someone
As punishment
Silence can allow space to focus
And be mindful
Silence can be used as a
Form of protection
Silence can be welcome relief to one who has
Difficulty quieting the mind

Early in my life
I learned that silence
Was a way to reject attention

I learned to censor myself
My brain became the staging ground
For deciding which thoughts to release
And which thoughts weren’t allowed to leave

Staying silent meant safety
When I disagreed
When I had input on a topic
Silence was my knight in shining armor

I didn’t have to worry about others disagreeing with me
Disagreements brought forth an immediate learned response
Within me that I was wrong, that I was being stupid

I didn’t have to worry about others thinking
I was weird
Silence was the shield that protected me
From others thinking this about me

This shield was my instinctive response
When as a teenager I naively got myself into a bad situation
Of being alone in a car with someone I did not know
I thought we were going to someone’s house

As the car entered a wooded area, I begin to think
This was going to be the night I died
I guess I was lucky because he didn’t kill me
Instead, he raped me

I feared for my life
Thought if I fought back
If I screamed
I would die

So I used my shield of silence
Along with something else I learned as a child
I disassociated from what was happening

A similar scenario as this came into my life
Two additional times in my late teens

I never told anyone
I stayed silent
I mean, what would people think about me if I told them
I had been raped
Once
Twice
Three times

I buried that shit deep, telling no one.

Until my silence was broken
In the year 2017
With the sexual assault allegations against Harvey Weinstein
Thrusting the 2006 Me too movement into popularity

I was motivated, uplifted, and inspired by
Other brave humans
To break my silence

I shared on social media
That I was also part of this movement

I no longer remain silent
About this or any topic I am moved to speak about
I replaced my shield of silence with a shield
Of unquietness

For there is power in the many voices
Who decide to stay silent no longer

For those of us who stayed silent
For fear of what they would think about us
Fear of them saying it was our fault
Fear of not being believed
Fear of attention being drawn
To those who would shrink and wither
under the weight of this attention

I moved forward, using all my strength
The silence of my decade long spiritual journey
Empowered me to break a different type of silence in 2017

No longer being silent
When voices need to be heard
By those who have built walls of ignorance,
turned deaf ears,
To events, to fellow humans
They have deemed less than

The silence is broken
Never to be quieted again.
Camilla Downs

**Please note. I do not need comforting, nor sorrow about this. These events happened over 30 years ago. After doing my own internal work, and working with an EMDR therapist, it’s just something that happened. And I think we should talk and share about these things.

This is simply the poem that came forth to our prompt of, Broken Silence.**

This is simply the poem that came forth to our prompt of, Broken Silence. At the conclusion of Monday Night Poetry a much younger participant came up to me, thanking me, and telling me my poem meant very much to her. That’s reason enough to have shared this poem.**

Camilla’s Birthday Party – My Heart is Full

March 8 2024

Jesse, Rachel and Alex, Isis, Joelle and friends, Schae, Iain, Thomas, Gigi, Amy, Nico, Paolo, Anthony, Ashley, Gene, Vernon, and anyone who I may have missed.

Thank you so much for coming to my party last night. I understand how valuable everyone’s time is these days. Thank you for the hugs, the dancing, for buying me drinks, for sharing in my joy. I appreciate all of you so very much.

That some of you took time to not only write a poem, with a couple of you speaking an impromptu poem, meant the absolute fucking world to me. I learned that one of the qualities that everyone unanimously loves about me are my hugs. It was hard not to let my eyes leak liquid love. I cherish these relationships.

Ashley was amazing with her sick DJ’ing! Love what she did with the playlist I gave her! And thank you to Anthony for the ride home! My heart is so full today.

Thank you Black Rabbit Mead Company, and their bartenders for being so awesome!❤️❤️❤️

This birthday is landing differently.

I feel free, uninhibited, ready to let loose.

I feel on the other side of a part of my life that was monumental.

I am fully emerging from the Team TLC cocoon of the past 12 or so years.

Those years were quiet, solitary, meditative, reflective. I’m no longer in that space.

Time for the next phase of life.

Yes, to the fun, the dancing, the music, the poetry, and more. All the things that set me on fire.

Me

I am a person who analyzes everything and hasn’t owned a television since 2008.
I wonder what my life would have been like if I had not been taught to conform, if I had not believed that by a certain age I needed to be married and have kids.
I hear poetry in music lyrics, and in conversation with others.
I see the way people feel about me between the words they speak, and the words that silently leave their eyes and enter mine.
I want politicians, religious zealots to fucking leave the transgender community the hell alone.
I am a Gen X woman who is questioning and exploring her sexuality.

I pretend not to be bothered when like-minded people don’t want to be friends.
I feel words in my entire body; they puncture my skin, drip into my veins, spread throughout my body, exiting through movement, tears, smiles, laughs, and raindrops.
I touch my silky soft hair, shoving it into my face, inhaling the scent and enjoying the feel.
I worry about my disabled daughter’s life once I no longer walk amongst the living.
I cry for the lives lost due to the rabid hate and lies spread by a portion of our society.
I am having the time of my life learning about myself, free of the shackles of conformity.

I understand that my neurospicy-ness is misunderstood by some, causing them to feel I am too much, too loud, too self-absorbed; that I share too much, that I always share the long version.
I say things that make absolutely no fucking sense sometimes
I dream of taking dance lessons and dancing professionally in front of an audience, at least once
I try to avoid people I know sometimes, if I see them in the grocery store, I will turn around, and go down an aisle I just left
I hope that we successfully make it through this next election cycle with our democracy in tact, and that those trying to take us backwards feel defeated enough to go the fuck away
I am living the second half of my life with eyes wide open, speaking up, and advocating like a fly who is determined to land on those damn fried green tomatoes.

Lillian’s two poems for me:

The mermaids of the sea bow down
To the queen of the oceans
Bravely dancing

In the seas of love and the heart of kindness
Dances the braveness of the mermaid
Of my heart of friendliness

Swimming into the dancing sea of stars
The mermaid dances to the song
Of life bravely and free
To the mermaids of sea
Lillian Darnell 2024

C – Creative Minds of A Mermaid
A – Adventures of A Mermaid
M – Mermaids Of the Ocean
I – Imaginative Mermaids
L – Land of the Mermaids
L – Light-hearted Mermaids
A – A Mermaid of the Sea
Lillian Darnell 2024

Throwback Post: The Way They Show They Love You

**THROWBACK POST**

October 3 2013:

Thomas asked me earlier what time I went to bed last night. I told him and we went about our business. A little bit later he came over and helped me wash the dishes and then cleaned the stove and told me he wanted to help so I could go to bed earlier.

I am blessed times 500 million and beyond that I get to be this little person’s Mama!! xoxo

Throwback Post: Sibshops and Birthdays with Library Days

**THROWBACK POST**

October 3 2015:

Sibshop time for Thomas! Super big plus: Don Meyer is facilitating this one as it’s a demonstration Sibshop. I went through Sibshop training with Don facilitating a few years ago at UNR. I know Thomas is having a ball! He was sitting next to Don when I left. Oceans of gratitude to Diana Beeghly Rovetti and Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities for putting this together. This is Thomas’ 4th one and he loves being a part of them!!!

Happy Happy Happy Birthday to my Momma, Patty!! Being your daughter is one of my greatest treasures and one of my biggest opportunities for learning and growing. Love, Love, Love YOU! Hope you and Frank are having FUN!!! We miss having y’all just around the corner!! xoxo

Extra cool library day! We went to a library we’ve never visited!! So awesome, beautiful view, and we didn’t even get to look through all the books and movies. The lighting or something inside made Lillian sick to her stomach. Had to go really fast! She felt better once we got outside and headed home. We’ll have to go back and try again!

October 3 2012

You are a special woman like no other … I thank you with all my soul and being for ALWAYS being there for me and doing the best darn job you could in raising me! I LOVE YOU!!! Love, Camilla

Adventures in Happiness and Gratitude … Thomas and I are making Sicilian meatloaf, listening to jazz and blues …. Just simply enjoying life ….

October 3 2010:

Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday Dear Momma, Happy Birthday to You, And Many Moreeee!!!!!!!!!!! Today is my Momma’s Bday, Patty Romano. I’m truly blessed that you are my Mom and more grateful than I can even express for all your support and wisdom throughout my life and especially these past 4 years! Love you!

Throwback Post: Bedtime Rituals with Lillian

**THROWBACK POST**

October 1 2013:

Just about every night when I tuck Lillian into bed she wants to hear a “Life Story” from me. I share little nuggets about whatever comes to mind from my childhood.

Tonight I shared how my best friend from Oaklawn Jr High, Lillie Powell Salsberry, and I would sometimes go to the mall and hang out all day. We’d make a schedule of all the shops we wanted to visit.

Including the arcade, the card shop (Hallmark), lunch, maybe a movie, and the music store. Explained how we would look at all the new records and albums. Oh wait! What are those? HA! Had to describe them and what a record player is.

She says, “Oh, I’ve heard of those.” Hahaha!!! Lillie’s spitfire of a Mama absolutely hated us doing this! We were in Jr High though and we knew what the heck we were doing! HA! I loved thinking about this memory tonight!

Thank you Lillian for not letting me get away with skipping the “Life Story” ritual … I’m remembering things I haven’t thought about in years … and it’s fun …. xoxoxo