Friday, February 5, 2016


Photo by Don Berquist

Reply to the Question: "How can You Become a Poet?"
by Eve Merriam

    take the leaf of a tree
    trace its exact shape
    the outside edges
    and inner lines
    memorize the way it is fastened to the twig
    (and how the twig arches from the branch)
    how it springs forth in April
    how it is panoplied in July

    by late August
    crumple it in your hand
    so that you smell its end-of-summer sadness

    chew its woody stem

    listen to its autumn rattle

    watch it as it atomizes in the November air

    then in winter
    when there is no leaf left

    invent one

Tricia hosts the Round up today at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

When Tabatha recently suggested we consider matching a song to one of the Poetry Friday poets' original poem, she asked if we had a way for readers to find our original poems posted on our blog. My answer was a resounding negative. In fact, I had just spent quite a long time the week before searching for a poem that I was certain I had posted on my blog. I did finally find it, but only after scrolling through about seven years of blog posts. Even then, it didn't occur to me to connect the poems and their blog post links. Duh.

The whole process did give me some insight into my own process and the confidence I have gained in posting my work. Some of it has been revised since it was posted. Some of it probably should have remained hidden in a closet somewhere. But a lot of it, I like.

So here is my list, more for my sake than yours! and thank you for your listening ears.

Wind Warning
Sinking Ship
Composing Life
The Ship Speaks
missing things
First to the Pole
Hungry Caterpillar
Sky Celebration
Martha's Choice
Nonet at Dawn
Snow Day
Conversion Chart for My Husband
Mechanics of Sound
Tortoise or Hare
Cancelled Flight
What My Mother Taught Me
Stanley Remembers

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Persuaded of Sunrise

Today is Thursday, when I participate with a group of bloggers talking about our Spiritual Journey (Thursday)! This week our focus is Justin Stygles's word, FAITH. While we understand that the essence of faith is confidence in something that we cannot see, I believe God gives us plenty of opportunities to see him in everything around us. I've been going through a lovely devotional book compiled by Sarah Arthur, called Light upon Light. This week I've been stuck on a beautiful prose poem by Walter Wangerin, Jr. Here are some excerpts.

from A Psalm at the Sunrise

...I cannot look steadfastly at the sun and not go blind. Holiness exceeds my sight--

Thou art above all created things. To everything made, thou art the Other. Greater than Thee there is no world...

Lux Mundi!
But in thy mercy thou shinest down upon the things that thou hast made. They brighten in thy light. Every morning they reflect thee. I wake to an effulgence of mirrors, and lo: I see.

For my sake, for my poor fleshly sight, thou changest thy terrible holiness here before me into glory--the visible light...

Deus, incommutabilis virtus, lumen aeternum!
From thee to me it is a might diminution: ever the same, thou makest thy presence manifest in things that are both mutable and common. But from me to thee it is epiphany: gazing at things most common, suddenly I see thy light, thy glory, and thy face.

Deo gratias!
For the sun, when it breaks at the horizon, transfigures everything. And this is a gift to me. For the transfiguration itself persuades my soul of sunrise.

I am persuaded of sunrise! Read more on the OLW at Holly's blog.

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Shard of Moonlight

Photo by McD22

Pain is inevitable in this here and now living. Though we do everything we can to throw it off as quickly as possible into someone else's hands, like a game of hot potato, don't let it land here. And if it does, there must be someone to blame. Over the last week or so I sat with a friend whose father died only a few weeks before her two-month-old son was born. Another friend lost her vibrant, lovely twenty-year-old son. I grieve for the numberless children poisoned by lead-laden water. I want to close my ears to the debacle of our political system. The world is a mess and it hurts. I wish I had answers for all this grief or reasons to explain it, but I have known grief and I know there are no quick fixes, no easy answers. When I stumbled upon this lovely poem by Mary Pratt, I felt my heart warm, the sadness lessen. Perhaps it will do that for you, too.

by Mary Pratt

~after David Weinstock

If you won’t tell how I cried,
I won’t tell how you left.
You won’t tell my raging, either,
how I blamed you for everything:
my sister’s dying, the terrorists,
war, cancer and pain, blindness,

So you won’t tell
how I slammed doors, broke goblets,
made a fool of myself every time
I remembered. And I won’t tell how
quiet you were, how you wouldn’t
turn back when I called.

I won’t tell
of the blank, the emptiness
of the faceless winter sky
with its perfect stillness of stars,
the hollowness of the laughter
at feasts, the blandness of Rilke
and Bach.
You mocked me
with happinesses, with sunrises
and hymns, but I won’t tell.
You won’t tell how I tried,
and later, how I stopped trying,
believing as fervently in your absence,
and I won’t tell

how it amazes me
that people still fall in love,
that somebody in that shabby
brown house practices Beethoven’s
piano sonatas with all the windows open,
that strangers dig through the rubble
with bare hands, over and over,
trying to pull strangers back to life.
And especially I won’t tell

how you returned,
how the stories went on,
how the grass grew
green again and again after the snows,
the days lengthened, the chicks hatched
and the moon rose in a thin
white shard.

Catherine hosts the roundup this week at Reading to the Core.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Selah: Pause and Think about That

My poetic friend, Irene Latham, invited me to join a group of bloggers for Spiritual Journey Thurday. The object is to reflect on some aspect of my spiritual journey in relationship to another blogger's "One Little Word" for this year. Holly Mueller hosts the posts at Reading, Teaching, Learning. Today we're exploring One Grateful Teacher, Michelle Hasseltine's choice of "Selah."

As Michelle mentions in her post, no one is certain what the word actually means, but it is found mostly in the Psalms. It's related to music and often a transition of thought in the lyrics. I like to think of it as a pause, a place to reflect on what was just said or what just happened, and perhaps that reflection will cause my next move to be different than it might have been without that pause. 

from Psalm 3
3 But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
4 I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. Selah

It's easy to settle into our fast-food culture spiritually, to say my prayers, check off my intercessions, ask for my needs and move on to the next thing in my day. But if I pause, Selah, and think about the fact that the Lord answers me from his holy mountain, I don't want to move away so quickly. I want to learn to stop long enough to listen, to hear his answer. That only happens in the pause.

I teach yoga. At the end of each class, we settle into a pose called savasana (sha-voh-sun-uh). Literally translated that means corpse pose. I know it sounds a little funny, but sometimes it takes a small death to my to do list in order to stop long enough to listen. At the end of a yoga class, the pause allows time for the body to settle and the mind to assimilate what was practiced before moving on into the day. I watch people who aren't used to this fidget and squirm. Then as they continue coming to class, they begin to settle into this pause, they begin to understand how important it is. It's a quiet place, a place to rest, a place to listen to whatever God is speaking at that moment. Sometimes it's an answer, sometimes it's a sweet affirmation, sometimes it's just a holy quietness like that moment when you're having coffee with a friend and the conversations are over, but you sit still, enjoying the presence of the other.

I try to cultivate that pause into my life. It's not always easy, but it's important.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

My One Little Word for 2016

It's the middle of January! Did you know it was the middle of January? I suppose I must have known. I wrote the date on my sign in sheet for every yoga class I taught during the last two weeks.

 I did manage to get all the linens washed, folded, and almost all put away. The Christmas tablecloth is still folded on top of my dryer. There is still a high chair in my dining room and a car seat in the back seat of my car. But those errant reminders of Christmas past will be remedied this weekend.

And finally I can turn my mind purposefully toward the year ahead. My one little word for 2016 is SHINE. Just because I was a little late rising and shining in January, I'm still planning to explore that word this year. At first I wasn't sure, but the idea kept shimmering in the back of my head. Then one day last week, I walked into the bank and was greeted at the door by this sign.

And if that wasn't enough to seal the deal, I visited poet and friend, Jeannine Atkins' Views from a Window Seat and found this quote from Kevin Larimer, editor of Poets and Writers.

 “Whether thousands, hundreds, or dozens of people might read what we’ve written, or even if we reach just one single soul, we are being given an opportunity to create something bright in all this darkness. Shine.”

Lovely, huh?

My OLW for last year was RESOLUTION. You can revisit that post here. As I look back, it truly was a year of resolution. My youngest daughter was married to a lovely man. Now all four of my children are happily settled with wonderful mates. That's definitely a strong chord resolution. I completed my advanced yoga training and am now a 500-hr Registered Yoga Teacher. It was a wonderful, challenging, satisfying, healing journey.

So now I'm ready to shine, sparkle, glow, glisten. So many excellent choices. I'm sure there will be places where I need to rub off some tarnish, but that's in the definition, too.

No poem this week, but you may have seen this quote written in part as a found poem around the web. It comes from Marianne Williamson's book, A Return to Love.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Come and visit. I might take a shine to you!

Stop by KeriRecommends for today's roundup.

Monday, January 11, 2016

This One Stays

I have been reading this poem for about two weeks now. It's entitled "Staying Power" and it has stayed with me. I keep coming back to it--the visceral images, the deeper meaning. There are some poems that remain. This is one for me. 

Photo by Solarbotics
excerpt from "Staying Power" 
by Jeanne Murray Walker

God, I say as my heart turns inside out.
Pick up any language by the scruff of its neck,

wipe its face, set it down on the lawn,
and I bet it will toddle right into the godfire
again, which—though they say it doesn't
exist—can send you straight to the burn unit.

Oh, we have only so many words to think with.
Say God's not fire, say anything, say God's
a phone, maybe. You know you didn't order a phone,
but there it is. It rings.

Read the full poem here

More about Ms. Walker at her website.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Not Quite Ready for the New Year

Photo by Julie Falk
Friday holidays play havoc with my brain. For two weeks, I haven't had a clue what day it was. I unattached myself from my phone and forgot a few things that I probably should have remembered. Someone fed all the wandering children and grandchildren that floated in and out of my house. I played, colored, read books, and went to the (very warm, indoor) pool. I sat and talked, took walks and talked, went for coffee and talked, and hid occasionally in search of no talking.

By Monday afternoon the out-of-town crew was all gone. Yesterday the remaining in-town children departed for Arizona for a month with work.

The silence is golden. Golden, I tell you.

I jumped right back into my routine and haven't yet had my fill of this wonderful lack of words. I haven't had time yet to do my normal beginning of the year sit down with my old calendar and my old journal. I have been thinking about my "one little word" for the year, but I'm not ready to share it yet. Give me another week or two of introverted silence and I'll be ready.

For today, enjoy this excerpt.

from "Frost at Midnight" 
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

     Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothe the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

You can read the full poem here.

Tabatha hosts today's roundup at The Opposite of Indifference.