Saturday, October 22, 2011

“The Hidden Jalapeño”

         My list of aging’s disadvantages winds a mile long. Often, it wraps around my feet and trips me up, like it did the other night.
         At first, changes in my body subtly appeared:  a little softening, a little graying, a little character wrinkling. Nothing that bothered me. Unlike many women, I don’t view aging as a battleground where it’s me against my own body. I fight for fitness and good health and don’t worry about fitting into petite sizes like some of my peers. I will admit to slathering lotions on my face and form mornings and nights. I color my hair to disguise the gray, too. Unlike other friends, though, I don’t consider liposuction, Botox injections, or butt-boob-face lifts. I listened to two friends strategize over dinner one night on their attack maneuvers as they confront aging with a combination of denial and plastic surgery.
         My main complaint with aging doesn’t come from what my body’s doing on the outside, but from what’s going on inside. With great dismay, I have to turn my back on wonderful raw onions and all hot sauces except for the most mild. Imagine not jazzing up your tacos by drizzling hot sauce over the top. My nachos? Now they are raw onion and pepper free. When we head of our favorite Mexican food restaurant, La Fonda, I must avoid their free flowing salsa and find satisfaction with butter or guacamole on my chips.

         A stray pepper in my food spells disaster. My stomach twists and knots, churns and turns in unbelievable pain. The first few times this happened, I found that if I diluted the peppers with a deluge of water, I’d feel normal by the next morning. Then, I had to resort to Tums to untie my stomach. Now, I have to take out the big guns like Prilosec OTC if I want to venture into the hot zone. A few days ago, we ate at a new restaurant where I ordered red bean and rice with my hamburger instead of the traditional fries. With my first bite, I notice a little kick to the mixture and murmured that the chef must have laced the dish with cayenne, a spice that I can still eat without any problems. It wasn’t until I reached the bottom of the small cup that I spied a sliver of jalapeño hiding under the last red bean.
         Alarms sounded! Immediately, I started chugging my raspberry tea. Two glasses later, I practically floated from the booth to our car. But it was too little, too late. I took the OTC medication, doubting whether it would combat the spices swirling in my stomach. In the middle of the night, my own digestive system turned on me! Not a pretty picture. By daybreak, my taunt abdominal muscles screamed if I ate anything more than popsicles. By nightfall, I downed popcorn with jubilant celebration.
         No one warned me about this silent part of aging—the things we can no longer eat. I prepared for my body to slow down a little. I knew my hips would widen while my hair possibly thinned. That I could shrug off without complaint. But giving up entire food groups just isn’t fair at all!

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman 

Friday, October 21, 2011


His ambition
fascinated her—a reflection
of her own drive
for ultimate
control in answering only to
her own wishes.

He drew her in
with his passionate promises
whispered in bed
while her husband
and children slept in innocence
and ignorance.
On moon filled nights
she pledged her bright future to him,

clinging to him.
Crumbling her disillusionment
within her fist.
Wagering all
against a bid for happiness
with a new life

centered on him.
She counted on his commitment
to her—for them,

to bind old wounds
and invent a life together
without heartache.

Year drifts to year
as her love grows, but his wavers
and then retreats

back to control
of his own life and ambitions.
He abandons
her for himself.
His selfishness now a mirror
for her sorrow.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, October 20, 2011


As the first frost neared, the water overflowed   
with reflected color of summer’s demise   
High in the wind, a remnant of warm days fell—   
alone—floating, turning, then softly at home   
Autumn silently ran among the towers,   
forcing the windowpanes to lose their fastened grasps   
In shimmering glory they cascaded down,   
shattering to rest at the tree roots below   
There, at last, by the river and on the curb,   
the vestiges of yesterday piled together   
They shift in the wind and await the first snow,   
wait to be buried in a blanket of cold.   

Copyright 1975 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


           buried under smiles   
                     as innocent as childhood   
           hidden by energy   
                     that eats the inner core   
           enveloped with laughter   
                     tinged by hysteria   
           where no one can see, or touch, or feel   
                     the infinite coldness   
           surrounded by darkness   
                     like a corpse in the grave   
           clamped down by a vise   
                     whose claws rip and tear   
           forced into submission   
                     until no one’s looking   
           deep down in the well of pitch, and stagnation, and fear   
                     the infinite coldness   
           revealed at last in the eyes   
                     through condemnation and indignation   
           recognized by the putrid stench   
                     of pettiness and intolerance   
           exposed in each word and act   
                     through acid hatred   
           an eruption of vomitus bile—black and caustic   
                     the infinite coldness   
Copyright 1997 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Unfortunately, many of us experience relationships with individuals who are toxic to our lives. Often, they hide their nature under smiles and hugs, so sometimes it takes years to realize just how much they damage you with their poison.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


reflecting on glossy screen   
delving into the mirrored universe   
holding onto reality through voyeurism   
crawling through a web in search of just-the-right-word   
looking through the window-or   
stepping through the doorway   
choosing motion over inertia   
fearing stillness’s unbearable pain   
losing myself within eternal bytes   
entrapping my soul within the glass   

Copyright 2010 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, October 17, 2011

"Greedy Little Men"

Greedy Little Men   
Like slithering serpents in the Garden of Eden   
twisting the world with their lines   
constricting around our minds   
sucking us dry of laughter, warmth, desire, love   
biting with the sharpened fangs of need   
poisoning the world with their avarice    
Greedy Little Men   

Copyright 1997 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

The more things change, the more they stay the same. This poem, written in response to the political climate fourteen years ago, still applies to today's world.

"Goblin" by David Chapman

Sunday, October 16, 2011

"Haiku Experiment"

The Experiment   
distilling daily dreams—thoughts   
one drop at a time   
July 4   
Morning view outside   
velvet red upon green stalks   
symmetrical rose   
July 4   
Daily poetry   
huge mountains of words to climb   
an endless challenge   
July 13   
Twelve days of poems   
forcing creativity   
through the sieve of words   
July 14   
Impatience is gone   
vanishing within a smile   
the mood shifts again   
July 23   
Happiness and joy  
are acorns planted in fall   
and rooted in time   
July 27   
The poetry helps   
by healing my tattered soul   
bandaging worries   
August 2   
Plunge into a book   
evade all-consuming thoughts   
escape tomorrow   
August 3   
Night’s muffled sighs sound   
distant humming of autos   
gentle songs of sleep   
August 5   
Today’s words are forced   
curbed and restrained emotions   
cotton wraps my mind   
August 8   
Retreat into sleep   
play out other worlds and lives   
leave yourself behind   
August 8   
Hold onto sunshine   
gently cup it in your hands   
optimistic thoughts   
August 16   
Sleepy Saturday   
singing soft lullabies   
snoozing silently   
September 11   

Copyright 1999 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

For a six month period in 1999, I challenged myself to make my journal entries through some form of poetry. Often, the day's events seemed best expressed through haiku. These are just a few entries from my experiment.