Category Archives: photography

Poem for Spring About Acceptance

7:15 PM

You don’t criticize a bud
because it is not yet a flower
or judge the speed of its opening
as too slow.
It is a bud,
nature in motion,
life in process.

And when petals first unfurl,
you don’t heap harsh words
on those virgin petals.
You wait with awe
and anticipation
that should all progress
according to design,
without harshness of influence
or environment—no early
frost or late freeze,
no fire or pest or disease—
that with one invisible push,
the mature bloom opens revealing
the hidden heart in all its glory.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2004

From Letting Go and New Beginnings: A Mother’s Poetic Journey

Multi-color Tulip by M D Mikus, Copyright 2013

My Lawrence Ferlinghetti Story, part 2

Some poems insist on being sent to the one who inspired them. I try to follow that impulse, but sometimes I lose track. My poem, “Ferlinghetti Speaks,” was one of those. It was written in 2002, but I didn’t send it to him until 2014.

The push to send it was his 95th birthday and the sense that time was running out to do it. Probably urged by my voice teacher, Kip, I emailed City Lights Booksellers (begun years back by Ferlinghetti in San Francisco) to see if that was the best address to send my poems inspired by him. The staff got back to me in 1 1/2 days: “Yes, if you send them c/o the store, they will be passed on to him. Thanks.”

Encouraged, I wrote a short letter and mailed it with the two poems (the one below included). I did not hear back, but that wasn’t the point. I did what I felt strongly I wanted / needed to do and that was enough. I wanted to tell someone that they inspired me, that who they were or what they did or wrote mattered, enough to take my time to tell them.

I felt so strongly about this, wanting to avoid regrets, as alluded to in this poem, because of previous experiences when I waited too long. So here is the second poem I sent to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, part of my honoring his passing.

3/25/14

Someone Posted on Facebook

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is 95 today
and I never did send him that poem he inspired
by his inspired reading in Chicago that day
that turned the compass needle sideways and
the streets in the Loop ran in perpendicular directions

no lie
until things settled down out of the long shadows
out back in the sun, back in touch
with the ground and the somewhere blue sky.

I considered sending him the poem
considered writing the back story
even tracked down the San Francisco address
of City Lights Booksellers
but each time I talked myself out of it

intimidated maybe
or not high enough on the crowded list
or waves of life knocking me flat sometimes.
You would think I’d learned after Vonnegut’s death,
and Susannah’s, how the good ideas, the kindnesses
left undone are the things later that haunt you
not every day, but sometimes.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2014

From Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine

The poem, “Ferlinghetti Speaks” is in My Ferlinghetti Story, part 1

Steep Street to the Bridge, San Francisco, Copyright 2007, Margaret Dubay Mikus

My Lawrence Ferlinghetti Story, part 1

The time: Evening, Autumn, 2002
The Setting: A reading sponsored by The Poetry Center of Chicago in an elegant building, downtown.

The facts of that day are actual, not just metaphorical. Here is my poem inspired by Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s reading, which seemed to temporarily disrupt geography among other things, posted now in honor of his passing, at age 101, last week.

Let me tell you a story…

10/18/02

Ferlinghetti Speaks

Traffic is thick, but smooth.
Rain, not sleet, falls from mid-October sky,
trees reluctantly flame.
All directions lead to Rome.
Building disguised with scaffolding,
I walk past unnoticing and have to backtrack.
Remaining front row seats reserved
for important people, few do not come.
A woman, whose daughter is in a wheelchair,
removes her raincoat and umbrella from a prime chair,
offering it to me. I accept gladly.

Welcome. Introductions set the scene.
Gilded room filled and beyond.
Audience willing to be amused and amazed
with sharp use of language.
Ferlinghetti, blindfolded, steps groping onto the stage,
reading his first poem as if blind, but “cheats,”
turning pages as he reads. Or does not cheat,
reading from memory, turning pages for effect.
The crowd laughs, delighted at the ruse.

He continues, eyes uncovered now, twinkling,
having a good time—
born in 1919, still in mental prime.
About Willie Mays and Tito Fuentes,
about a dog who wants communion,
about peace and Prague, and painting with light.
Rapt faces of the audience upturned:
an unlined earnest Greek god face,
another face framed by fuchsia hair,
the faces of matrons, students,
artists, poets, professors, insiders, outsiders.
Now and then a camera flashes as he speaks,
hands clap after most every poem.
In expressive sing/song he reads eighty minutes,
stopping briefly for small sips of water from a sport bottle.

The poet dons aviator goggles and leather cap,
ending with “A History of Airplanes”
from Wright brothers and Lindy to 9/11.
He stops with a smile—pleased.
Admirers line up to get a piece of him to take home.
I consider the long line and turn to go. Outside on the street,
a dollar in a cup for an invisible newspaper.
Leaving in rain to meet husband waiting at train.
Parking garage machine will not take my card—
three times it denies me before letting me leave.
When I emerge, driving north,
the streets of Chicago no longer run in their previous directions.
Confused, I drive south on an east/west street
and keep circling to find my way until
I decide to go with what I know.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2002

From my poetic journal.

Tomorrow part 2, what happened next (well, more than a decade later).
My Ferlinghetti Story, part 2

From Across Michigan Avenue, Copyright 2012 by MD Mikus

Prompted by Blake’s Question

4/5/20

Prompted by Blake’s Question

in this time of mandatory stay at home

For Stephen

We do what we can
to laugh, to love
to live another day.

And when we learn better
hopefully we do better.
How have you and I stayed

together 48+ years—still friends?
Once the question is out there
I’ve been thinking back

to the roller coaster
our constant notes written and left
to find, funny, sometimes thoughtful

sometimes informative, touching base.
The times we might have split
but worked through it

the relentless medical challenges
job stresses, raising two kids
personal growth, changing, not always

in perfect parallel aligned
“and if I fall behind, wait for me.”
But here we are together

almost half a century after that first January
when we sat side by side in the front row
the first day of a college literature class

had our first conversation of countless many.
Here we are still interested
still laughing, watching out for each other

still loving.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2020

From my poetic journal, a reminder that this week (Jan 17, 1972) is celebrating 49 years together. The quote is a reference to a Bruce Springsteen song.

Unexpected Wave, CA Beach, by M D Mikus, Copyright 2013

After the Wave, taken by Stephen Mikus 2013

After Midge and Catching Up on the News

After Midge and
Catching Up on the News

Every day now
an endurance test
how much can I stand
before I fall
Despair though understandable
is not my friend
No going back to then
ahead the only direction
what we do with
what was broken
maybe always has been
To know enough
but not too much
to buckle the knees in sorrow
unrelenting, unresisting
No, I say again, No
I did not come for this
I did not endure up to now
for this
yet here we are
and yes we did.

Margaret Dubay Mikus
© 2018

Chicago O’Hare International Airport by M D Mikus, Copyright 2010