Friday, September 4, 2015

First Yoga Lesson

I brought home a stack of books from the library last week, a stack so tall I pinched the skin of my arm somewhere in the middle of the pile. Ouch! But a mostly lovely day of reading. (I won't mention the one I wanted to throw across the room.) Ouch!

This one was one of my favorites. I have always loved Mary Oliver's poetry, but this book was like having a conversation with the poet. It is a beautiful book that you should read, even if it pinches your skin. 

I love this poem from the book. These excerpts are from the beginning and the end. Click here to hear Garrison Keilor read the entire poem on The Writer's Almanac.

Photo courtesy PDPics

from First Yoga Lesson
by Mary Oliver

"Be a lotus in the pond," she said, "opening

"Feel your quadriceps stretching?" she asked.
Well, something was certainly stretching

I lay on the floor, exhausted.
But to be a lotus in the pond
opening slowly, and very slowly rising--
that I could do.

Wishing you moments of slow, gentle opening, rising, being.

Be sure to visit Linda at TeacherDance for today's roundup.

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Frog Poem

The frogs are still singing. Still hot around here for a while longer.

The Frog
by Hillaire Belloc

Be kind and tender to the Frog,
And do not call him names,
As "Slimy-skin," or "Polly-wog,"
or likewise, "Uncle James,"

Or "Gape-a-grin,' or Toad-gone-wrong,"
or "Billy Bandy-knees":
The frog is justly sensitive
To epithets like these.

No animal will more repay
A treatment kind and fair,
At least so lonely people say
Who keep a Frog (and, by the way,
They are extremely rare).

Heidi hosts Poetry Friday at my juicy little universe.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Poetry of the Body

File:A ship at night Wellcome L0049053.jpg

 I stumbled upon this poem in a Rodney Yee book, called Poetry of the Body, purchased for one dollar at the Friends of the Library book sale last weekend. Some days are delightful in their convergence.

Once Only almost at the equator almost at the equinox exactly at midnight from a ship the full moon in the center of the sky.
Gary Snyder
Sappa Creek near Singapore
March 1958

Ardha Chandrasana, officially it's only "half moon pose," and this is definitely modified, but still such fun.

May all the things you love converge today!

Tabatha Yeatts hosts Poetry Friday at The Opposite of Indifference.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Summer Lets Down Her Hair

Summer Lets Down Her Hair

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Here, Earth-born, over the lilt of the water,
Lisping its music and bearing a burden of light,
Bosoming day as a laughing and radiant daughter...
Here we may whisper unheard, unafraid of the night.
Walking alone ... was it splendor, or what, we were bound with?
Deep in the time when summer lets down her hair?
Shadows we loved and the patterns they covered the ground with
Tapestries, mystical, faint in the breathless air.

Summer has let down her hair at my house. July has been a month of pause, like the small delay at the end of a long slow inhale before your breath naturally turns around and rises to the chest. I've taken time in this pause to look back over the last six months and simmer in the juices of intention. Resolution was my one little word for the year. Am I moving toward resolution as I had hoped? I like making this little evaluation before fall whisks me into a swirl of activity. I want a few more slow, easy breaths before I move on. 

Wishing you the lilt of water, radiant dreams, and the chance to be unafraid as you move forward into whatever lies ahead. Take a deep breath and visit Margaret at Reflections on the Teche for today's Roundup. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Know When A Reader Opens Your E-Mail

It's Poetry Friday and I have mail on the brain this week.

You've submitted a manuscript, recorded it in your log, closed the file on the computer, but somewhere in the back of your brain, that file stays open attached to a hidden stop watch ticking off the days, weeks, months, until it ticks itself out and you finally open the computer file and type in "no response." You sigh and move on. Or maybe you grumble that it sure would be nice if those recipients would at least acknowledge that you exist. 

Fast forward three years. Out of the cloudy blue sky, an email drops in your inbox. Someone stumbled over your manuscript pages. Maybe they fell in the floor when some clerk rushed past on her way to the coffee pot. Who knows what happens in those houses?

Revise? Sure. 

Resubmit? Sure. 

Wait again? 

Hmm. Is there a semi-solution to this not knowing madness?

So it's only a semi-solution, but I'm loving Sidekick by Hubspot. This app does a lot of cool things on your email server. But the one I love the most? It tells me when an email has been opened. AND when an attached file has been opened. I still can't read anyone's mind. I still close the file and turn on the stop watch. 

But, I'm right there with Mr. Auden. For who can bear to feel himself forgotten? 

Night Mail 
by W. H. Auden

This is the Night Mail crossing the border, 
Bringing the cheque and the postal order, 
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor, 
The shop at the corner and the girl next door. 
Pulling up Beattock, a steady climb: 
The gradient's against her, but she's on time. 
Past cotton-grass and moorland boulder 
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder, 
Snorting noisily as she passes 
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses. 

Birds turn their heads as she approaches, 
Stare from the bushes at her blank-faced coaches. 
Sheep-dogs cannot turn her course; 
They slumber on with paws across. 
In the farm she passes no one wakes, 
But a jug in the bedroom gently shakes. 

Dawn freshens, the climb is done. 
Down towards Glasgow she descends 
Towards the steam tugs yelping down the glade of cranes, 
Towards the fields of apparatus, the furnaces 
Set on the dark plain like gigantic chessmen. 
All Scotland waits for her: 
In the dark glens, beside the pale-green sea lochs 
Men long for news. 

Letters of thanks, letters from banks, 
Letters of joy from the girl and the boy, 
Receipted bills and invitations 
To inspect new stock or visit relations, 
And applications for situations 
And timid lovers' declarations 
And gossip, gossip from all the nations, 
News circumstantial, news financial, 
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled in the margin, 
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France, 
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands 
Notes from overseas to Hebrides 
Written on paper of every hue, 
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue, 
The chatty, the catty, the boring, adoring, 
The cold and official and the heart's outpouring, 
Clever, stupid, short and long, 
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong. 

Thousands are still asleep 
Dreaming of terrifying monsters,
Or of friendly tea beside the band at Cranston's or Crawford's: 
Asleep in working Glasgow, asleep in well-set Edinburgh,
Asleep in granite Aberdeen, 
They continue their dreams, 
And shall wake soon and long for letters, 
And none will hear the postman's knock 
Without a quickening of the heart, 
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten? 

Listen here for an absolutely delightful reading of the poem by Auden himself.

Katie is our Poetry Friday host over at the Logonauts. Stop in for lots more poetry.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ice on a Hot Poetry Friday

It's hot here these days, so I'm thinking about cool, icy places again. Enjoy!

Visit Buffy's Blog for today's roundup.

by Dennis Webster (shared on the Antarctic-Circle)

The penguin is an awkward bird.
At least, that's what I've always heard.
     It swims and waddles, never flies,
     When other birds act otherwise.

Its workday outfit seems so formal
And that, I think, is hardly normal.
     It keeps its egg upon its feet
     Which doesn't sound so very neat.

Still, I guess the penguin does its best
To raise a child without a nest.
     It's not exactly Paradise
     Living on a slab of ice.

But this will make you think twice about those tuxedo-clad birds!

How did they do that? It's here.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Under the Freedom Tree

Finding an unknown bit of history is fascinating to me, especially when I realize I have even a small personal connection to it. As a teenager, I spent several summers with my aunt and uncle at Fort Monroe, Virginia. One of my most vivid recollections was the way all traffic stopped, both automotive and pedestrian, at the sound of the five o'clock reveille bugle. If you were in a car, you stopped in the middle of the road, opened your door, got out and stood at attention (hand over your heart if you were a civillian like me) until the bugler's call was done. Then life went on as usual. 

I recently read Susan Van Hecke's Under the Freedom Tree. It's a beautiful book, illustrated by London Ladd, published by Charlesbridge last year. Susan's lyrical picture book uses dramatic free verse to tell the story of three slaves who escaped a Confederate work team to cross the river to Fort Monroe. The author explains details of the story that couldn't be included in the short poem in her author's note. General Benjamin Butler, the Union commander, refused to return the three slaves to their Virginia masters because the state had seceeded from the Union just days before and declared them contraband of war. Others followed. Many others. They built the Grand Contraband Camp near what is today Hampton, Virginia. A missionary teacher, a free black from the North, came to the camp and taught the former slaves to read beneath a large, spreading oak tree. The celebration is contagious when a newly literate contraband reads the Emancipation Proclamation to the community. 

An excerpt from the book:

Days are for Union work,


Nights, they fall,
spent and hungry,
on cold dirt floors.

But here at Slabtown,
here at the Camp,
they are not
what they once were.

Matt Forest hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme.