Husband: Some Haiku Poetry About Love

Husband: Some Haiku Poetry About Love

In honor of my 14th anniversary with my husband, I’m sharing some haikus I’ve written about him.

Because, after 14 years, he’s still the one I’d choose. (I love you, Ben.)

Husband, Exhibit A

He loves listening
to Christmas music year round.
Our house is merry.

Husband, Exhibit B

He listens, comforts,
believes, helps, loves, gives. He is
my favorite friend.

Husband, Exhibit C

One look in his eyes
one touch of his hand and I
am pulled back to life.

Husband, a Love Letter to My

A long hug from you
is all I need for the world
to feel right again.

Husband, a Spicy Letter to My

Who is this stealing
into my mind, looking fine?
I see it is you.

These are excerpts from Life: A Definition of Terms, a book of haiku poetry. For more of Rachel’s poems, visit her Reader Library page, where you can get a couple of volumes for free.

An Engrossing Memoir that Shares Life in the ‘Good Old Days’

An Engrossing Memoir that Shares Life in the ‘Good Old Days’

One of the most entertaining memoirs I’ve read in a while is Tobias Wolff’s This Boy’s Life. Wolff provides such a clear picture of a boy’s life during the 1950s that I found I couldn’t put this book down. He lived his childhood during the time my grandmother would have lived hers, and as he shared more about the beliefs, customs, and intricacies of the period, I found myself understanding more about my grandmother.

This is the power of reading.

Wolff has a way with the pen; he creates such a vivid picture of his life that a reader feels they are right there, even if they weren’t even born yet. Take the opening section, for example:

Our car boiled over again just after my mother and I crossed the Continental Divide. While we were waiting for it to cool we heard, from somewhere above us, the bawling of an airhorn. The sound got louder and then a big truck came around the corner and shot past us into the next curve, its trailer shimmying wildly. We started after it. ‘Oh, Toby,’ my mother said, ‘he’s lost his brakes.’

Not only is this a vivid description of place and situation, but it’s also an amazing use of tension. What’s going to happen to the driver who lost his brakes? Well, you’ll have to read it to find out.

Here are three things I enjoyed most about this book:

1. The characterization. Wolff is an expert in characterizing the people in his life, proving that he was a master of observation and human nature. Some of the characters were so extreme that, for a second, I doubted them, but then he’d introduce specifics, and it was impossible not to believe him.

Here’s his description of his stepfather, which is both slightly disturbing and sad:

Dwight drove in a sullen reverie. When I spoke he answered curtly or not at all. Now and then his expression changed, and he grunted as if to claim some point of argument. He kept a Camel burning on his lower lip. Just the other side of Concrete he pulled the car hard to the left and hit a beaver that was crossing the road. Dwight said he had swerved to miss the beaver, but that wasn’t true. He had gone out of his way to run over it. He stopped the car on the shoulder of the road and backed up to where the beaver lay.

We got out and looked at it. I saw no blood.The beaver was on its back with its eyes open and its curved yellow teeth bared. Dwight prodded it with his foot. “Dead,” he said.

It was dead all right.

There’s much more to this scene, but it’s worth reading to discover the delight of Wolff’s characterization.

2. The insight into a young boy’s life. Wolff was not shy about sharing the antics, the crazy thoughts, the wild things he did and the reasons—or lack of reasons—he did what he did. I found this especially engaging, considering I’m the mother of a tribe of boys.

3. The cultural time period. Wolff was a kid who was not wealthy (but longed to be), growing up in a world where women did not have much. He had a single mom, and her only real option was to stay with a man who isn’t good to her, at least until her son left home. It was a different time altogether, but one that should not be forgotten.

Probably my favorite part of this book were the last lines. It doesn’t really count as a spoiler, so I’ll share them:

“The air grew clearer as we climbed, and colder. The curves followed fast on one another as the road took the snaky shape of the river. We could see the moon now, a thin silver moon swinging between the black treetops overhead. Chuck kept losing the radio station.Finally he turned off the radio, and we sang Buddy Holly songs for a while. When we got tired of those, we sang hymns. First we sang, ‘I Walk to the Garden Alone’ and ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ and a few other quiet ones, just to find our range and get in the spirit. Then we sang the roof-raisers. We sang them with respect and we sang them hard, swaying from side to side and dipping our shoulders in counterpoint. Between hymns we drank from the bottle. Our voices were strong. It was a good night to sing and we sang for all we were worth, as if we’d been saved.”

The book mentioned above has an affiliate link attached to it, which means I’ll get a small kick-back if you click on it and purchase. But I only recommend books I enjoy reading myself. Actually, I don’t even talk about books I didn’t enjoy. I’d rather forget I ever wasted time reading them. (But if you’re curious whether I’ve read something and what I thought about it, don’t hesitate to ask.)

A Crash Course on Living With a Man

A Crash Course on Living With a Man

I did not live with a man before I married Husband. It’s true that I shared a house with messy roommates all during my college years, and I did my fair share of complaining about living with those messy females. (My mom would just laugh when I complained. I know it’s because she thought I deserved those messy roommates because I hadn’t exactly been a tidy teenager. I know this because when I think about my boys one day complaining about their own messy roommates—if they even notice, that is—I think I’ll probably laugh with glee, too).

But those roommates were nothing compared to living with a man.

When Husband and I moved in together after our honeymoon days at Disney World, I was not prepared for all the ways we would do things differently. I guess it was good practice for raising six boys, but it sure was an awakening experience, to say the least.

He squeezed toothpaste from the bottom.

Maddening. Everyone knows that squeezing a toothpaste container from the top is what you’re supposed to do, so when you’re only left with a little bit in the tube, you can roll it up and feel much more satisfaction for getting something out of it and onto your toothbrush. If you’re constantly squeezing the tube from the bottom and roll as you go, you don’t have that same exquisite pleasure that there’s still some left and you bought yourself another day. There’s no surprise to it at all. Lame.

He didn’t hang up his clothes after laundry day.

Before we had kids, Husband and I lived in tiny little apartments with closets that were about the size of our rooms. We thought we were so lucky to have those walk-in closets—until I realized what Husband was going to use them for. That’s right. He used them for piling his clothes inside. Not hanging them up. Piling.

I couldn’t walk in a walk-in closet for years without stepping on clean clothes. “I’ll put them away tomorrow,” he always said. Tomorrow came and went. I still walked on a clothes carpet.

Over the years this has evolved. It began in our closet, and then we finally had The Talk, because I had to use the closet, too, and I didn’t like stepping over clothes all the time just to find something I could wear. I’m not the most graceful person in the world, and I was a runner. I didn’t want to sprain my ankle on something as silly as a mountain of clothes and not be able to run for six weeks. So the piles moved to a wing chair in our bedroom. And then they moved to his side of the bed, which means that come bedtime, they move to his side of the floor.

He’s the one tasked with helping the boys put away the laundry, since I do all the actual washing and folding, and all they really have to do is make sure they get their clothes in the dirty clothes hampers (which is apparently a really hard thing to do), but I’m starting to think that maybe this wasn’t the wisest plan, since most of the time all that laundry gets stacked and left out on banisters instead.

He walked out of his shoes and left them there.

If I had a dollar for every time I got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night and tripped over one of his gigantic clodhoppers, we wouldn’t have driven an old Honda Civic for the first five years of our marriage.

He left his plate in the sink without rinsing it off.

This wouldn’t have been a huge deal. The problem was really that he liked to eat ranch dressing with everything. Have you ever smelled ranch dressing when it’s been sitting on a plate for a few hours? Disgusting. I couldn’t stand the smell, which perpetuated the problem, because once something got to where I couldn’t stand the smell, I wouldn’t rinse it off, either, which means the ranch dressing would make itself comfortable, hardening and inviting its moldy friends to come around and play.

Husband, of course, would turn a blind eye to the dishes with ranch dressing piling up on the sink, even though I’d done three loads in the dishwasher since the ranch had solidified. We used paper plates for a while after that, especially when I got pregnant with our first son and projectile vomited every time I came in contact with ranch dressing.

He put the detergent in after he started the washing machine.

Um. No. This little “master technique,” which is what he called it, left all sorts of streaks on our black clothes. He couldn’t figure out why, and then one day I watched him dump in the powder after the washing machine was filled with water. Novice error.

He didn’t close the door even in the middle of the summer if he was going “right back out.”

The problem is that “right back out” is very loosely defined in the world of a man. Husband would come in with the intent of grabbing something and going “right back out,” and then he would get distracted by something I was doing—because he’s a good guy who likes to help—and that door would stay open for ten minutes or more. Our air conditioner would try to cool the entire world, but we live in Texas, and it’s nearly impossible to cool just the house in the middle of summer.

“I’ll do it later” didn’t necessarily mean tonight.

“I’ll do it later” meant a variety of things. It could be later tonight, it could be in a week, it could be next year. Later is on a sliding scale of priority—not defined by me, but defined by Husband.

Tidying up meant stacking things into piles.

Don’t worry about putting it away, just simply stack it. Save yourself a little time and effort. It’s taken him a while to break this habit, but I did a pretty fine job helping him break it when I fell down our stairs carrying laundry while trying to dodge a pile he’d left on the third step from the bottom. I broke my foot in that fall, and he paid the price. We had six kids, and I could no longer run after them. One man down in a house of six boys is like a suicide mission.

No more piles.

All this changed, for the most part, when we had children—and not because he finally got tired of my nagging. I finally shut up. And he realized this house would be a sinking ship without his contribution.

So thanks, babe, for stepping up your game.

This is an excerpt from This Life With Boys, the third book in the Crash Test Parents series. To get access to some all-new, never-before-published humor essays in two hilarious Crash Test Parents guides, visit the Crash Test Parents Reader Library page.

The Unfamiliar Song I Know: a Reflection

The Unfamiliar Song I Know: a Reflection

The birds are singing just outside my window, some of them insistent, like they have something important to say, some of them relaxed in a way that speaks of family and maybe new chicks living in their nests among the rafters of my house. I watch how they dart about, a black blot in the morning sky. The chatter breaks the silence of sleep.

I am alone for now. It’s always good to be alone and yet know and understand that you are not alone, because something beautiful awaits just outside your window.

Here is the melody of their song:

  1. It is a beautiful day to be alive.
  2. I am here.
  3. Hear me sing.

They are singing a song I don’t understand, but it is a song I know.

Dance Off, Magical, Strong-Willed: Three Haikus

Dance Off, Magical, Strong-Willed: Three Haikus

Dance Off

Sometimes all it takes
to make the world bright again
is a good dance off.

Magical

My favorite time with
children is the magical
hour of stories.

Strong-Willed

He doesn’t ever
ever quit, which is great unless
you’re his parent.

These are excerpts from Life: A Definition of Terms, a book of haiku poetry. For more of Rachel’s poems, visit her Reader Library page, where you can get a couple of volumes for free.