Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

My daughter's Facebook post this morning! It was a lovely Christmas time.

Signs no one under the age of 27 is in the house this Christmas: The entire household sleeps in, sits around leisurely, reads the paper, drinks three pots of coffee, trims a few branches in the yard, gets the turkey in the oven, makes and eats breakfast, drinks mimosas, cleans the kitchen and finally around 10:45 someone remembers that there are presents under the tree.
Like ·  · 

Wishing you a Merry Christmas! May you know the promise, the miracle, the gift of God with us.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Talking Turkey

Several folks asked me to let them know what I thought of the In the Kingdom of Ice. I blogged about it here earlier this week. 

Becky hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today over at Tapestry of Words. Stop by for lots of pre-Thanksgiving lyricism. 

I'm looking toward Thanksgiving and lots of cooking and lots of eating and lots of hugs. But all that turkey talk can be stressful on the body. Here is one of my favorite, fast ways to recover, even in the middle of baking pumpkin pie. 

Take a simple ten-minute break and restore your mind, your body and your spirit! 

Lie on the floor, knees bent, feet in line with your hip sockets about 12-16 inches from your buttocks, hands on your front hips. There is no work here, no pressing, just letting your bones sink down into the floor. Ten minutes. That's all. Your spine will begin to relax. Your nervous system will calm.

Just be still. Be conscious of God's presence. Let gravity and stillness work to restore balance and peace. Be grateful, breathe, listen.
Liz Koch in the constructive rest position, for releasing and renewing the psoas muscle
Liz Koch in Constructive Rest Position

And now, poetry. This is the last stanza of John Greenleaf Whittier's "The Pumpkin." Read the entire poem here.

Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter! 
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine, 
Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine! 
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express, 
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less, 
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below, 
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow, 
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky 
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!

Enjoy your week. Enjoy your family. Carry a grateful heart with you through every moment. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In the Kingdom of Ice--Reprise

Reprise, because I talked about this book in my last post. But at that point, I had just picked up the book. Now that the reading is done, I must tell you about this adventure.
USS Jeanette in Le Havre, France
I began slowly, reading in my free moments, relishing the deftness of Hampton Sides as he introduced the remarkable characters behind the USS Jeanette expedition to the Arctic Circle. George Washington DeLong, our captain, and his wife Emma; James Gordon Bennett, Jr., owner of the New York Herald and financier of the expedition; John Muir, environmentalist; August Petermann, noted German mapmaker and geographer.

He sets us firmly in the culture of a nation only a decade out of the Civil War, bursting with new technology, giant steam engines, prototypes of Edison's arc lamps and Bell's telephone, delighted with new tastes like Heinz ketchup and the strange new fruit called a banana, filled with a generation of young men men longing to prove themselves like their fathers and brothers had in the war.

By the end of the first section, we have a clear understanding of the current knowledge, or lack thereof, concerning the north pole and the arctic sea. From the mind-boggling assumptions of Symmes Hole to the concept of a warm, open polar sea.

By the time the expedition begins, as a reader, I am fully invested in the cast of characters, and even though I know something of the outcome, I'm committed for the ride.

Then I began finding time to read that wasn't free. I read over meals, between yoga classes, carried the book with me in the car when I left the house in hopes of catching a few moments to follow this incredible sea journey. It's a remarkable telling. Without ever dipping into subjectivity, Sides manages to make me feel like I'm in the heads of these characters. And I read desperately to understand the end, the struggle for survival, the international search and rescue of the men who survived.

One of the blurbs on the back of the book from Ian Frazier says: Read this book in two ways--fast, for the hair-raising excitement of what happens to the brave men of the Jeanette, and then slowly, to take in the clarity of the writing and the unshowy elegance of the structure. He's right! I was aware of the structure throughout, aware of the finesse and elegance of this telling, but I was reading fast. Now it's time to go back and look a little more closely at the technique.

A beautiful book, beautifully written. Read it.

Drawing of the Jeannette cairn in Siberia

Friday, November 7, 2014

In the Kingdom of Ice

I picked up a copy of Booktalk in the library this week and found the blurb for Hampton Sides' new book, In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette. And, hooray, my library had a copy in, so I grabbed it off the shelf and tucked it under my arm, slightly surprised that everyone else in the library that day weren't flocking to read another gruesome story of icy death. I can't wait to sit down and read.

The front pages of the book include this poem, "The Sinking of the Jeannette" by Joachim Ringelnatz.

In the kingdom of ice, far from the world,
    lamentations rise from the ship,
As she battles the slabs and the growling swirls,
    and writhes in their throttling grip.
The crusted floes crack in fits and in sprees,
    and in fury flog her planked hide,
Spent sailors fall upon supplicant knees,
    yearning for kith and hearthside.
The hungry ice clutches more tightly,
    to check the flight of its prey,
The captain's command rings forthrightly,
    "All hands quit while ye may!"
See how the rough men pine and weep,
    as she falters and slips,
High in the masts, the haunted winds whine,
    a dirge to the truest of ships
That bore them so long, yet now in the murk,
    the proud boat twists to her bed,
And when the day hath ended its work,
    Northern Lights paint her grave purple-red.

Ringelnatz was the pen name for German writer, Hans Böttiche.

Here is a humorous poem written by Ringelnatz in German.

Die Ameisen

In Hamburg lebten zwei Ameisen
die wollten nach Australien reisen.
Bei Altona auf der Chaussee
Da taten ihnen die Beine weh.
Und da verzichteten sie weise
Dann auf den letzten Teil der Reise.

Translated as a limerick:

The Ants

There once were two ants in Westphalia
Who wanted to go to Australia.
But cursing their feet
In a Belgian street
They gave up the trip as a failya.

This one reminds me of "The Ant Explorer," posted here

Explore more Poetry Friday with Diane at Random Noodling.

Friday, October 31, 2014


I'm feeling like a little silliness today. Something to lighten the darkness of the week and make us smile. Enjoy!

The ever-so-lovely Linda Baie hosts the round up today at TeacherDance.
Hopscotch to Oblivion by Andy Wright, Sheffield, UK

The Termite 
by Ogden Nash

Some primal termite knocked on wood
   And tasted it, and found it good,
And that is why your Cousin May
   Fell through the parlor floor today.

The Ceiling
by Theodore Roethke

Suppose the Ceiling went Outside
And then caught Col and Up and Died?
The only Thing we'd have for Proof
That he was Gone, would be the Roof;
I think it would be Most Revealing
To find out how the Ceiling's Feeling.

And one for Halloween:

Knitted Things
by Karla Kuskin

There was a witch who knitted things:
Elephants and playground swings.
She knitted rain,
She knitted night,
But nothing really came out right.
The elephants had just one tusk
And night looked more
Like dawn or dusk.
The rain was snow
And when she tried
To knit an egg
It came out fried.
She knitted birds
With buttonholes
And twenty rubber butter rolls.
She knitted blue angora trees.
She purl stitched countless purple fleas.
She knitted a palace in need of a darn.
She knitted a battle and ran out of yarn.
She drew out a strand
Of her gleaming, green hair
And knitted a lawn
Till she just wasn't there.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Live the Questions

from Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.

Live the questions.
Live into the answers.

I Am Much Too Alone in This World, Yet Not Alone
by  Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875 - 1926
I am much too alone in this world, yet not alone
to truly consecrate the hour.
I am much too small in this world, yet not small
to be to you just object and thing,
dark and smart.
I want my free will and want it accompanying
the path which leads to action;
and want during times that beg questions,
where something is up,
to be among those in the know,
or else be alone.

I want to mirror your image to its fullest perfection,
never be blind or too old
to uphold your weighty wavering reflection.
I want to unfold.

Read the rest here.

And stop by Merely Day By Day for the Poetry Friday Roundup.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Georgia Project Wet

Michelle hosts the Poetry Friday Roundup today at My Little Ditty.

Flat Rock Park, Columbus, Georgia.  (Photo by Dr. Dorothy Jelagat Cheruiyot)

I walked into the library this week to pick up some easy readers for a project. At the back of the room, a display wall had been set up. I wandered over and discovered some wonderful artwork and poetry by Georgia students.

Each year the Georgia EPA sponsors a program for teachers and students in the state, Georgia River of Words: Connecting Kids to their Watershed. The website says, "The River of Words Project is designed to help youth explore the natural and cultural history of the place they live. After studying a watershed in their own environment, students express, through poetry and art what they discover." See the exhibit here.

One very creative student started her poem called "Fish" with these words: I dreamed/ I was a fern/

The national grand prize winner was a third grade student from Atlanta who wrote a beautiful haiku called "Dawn."

One of my favorites was "Tumble Down," in which the writer managed to describe her love/hate relationship to poetry with the image of falling water. She begins, " I'm the one who is writing this poem..."  In the stanza on stanzas, she says, "...they rush down like a waterfall,/ Like water droplets,/ My words fall like rain,/ Couplets gathering in a puddle below"

Such a great project. I hope you'll take a moment at the website. Especially if you're a teacher and haven't seen the project before.

Friday, October 10, 2014

It Tastes Like Dirt

Yes, that's what I said. Since I'm teaching five yoga classes each week, I'm expending lots of energy. My personal trainer daughter says I have to increase my calorie intake. I've been experimenting with different protein powder supplements. I like the healthier ones without additives, but most of them are sweetened with stevia. While it gives you sweetness without adding sugar, it leaves me with an aftertaste I don't care for. I'm not a big fan of sweet drinks anyway. I drink my coffee black and avoid soda altogether. This week my husband came home with a new one. Ugh! It tastes like dirt. Not sweet, which is nice, but it really does taste like dirt. So on with the search. I'm open to suggestions.

In the meantime, I came upon Alice Schertle's "Invitation from a Mole" as the perfect poem to go with my dirtful week.

Be sure to stop by the Poetry Friday Roundup at Miss Rumphius Effect where you can dig up lots more poetry today.

File:Close-up of mole.jpg

Invitation from a Mole

come on down

live among worms awhile
taste dirt
           on the tip of your tongue

           the sweet damp feet of mushrooms
listen to roots
press your cheek against
the cold face of a stone

wear the earth like a glove
close     your     eyes
wrap yourself in darkness


what you're missing

               ---from A Lucky Thing by Alice Schertle, c 1999, Harcourt Brace & Co.

Friday, October 3, 2014

End of the Month Accounting

This is just how I feel about arithmetic and balancing checkbooks and figuring out how many yoga students showed up in class this month and whether the rain drenching the front yard means I have to add more eggs to the grocery list.

File:Mmm...fried egg and ham (5075522458).jpg

by Carl Sandburg

Arithmetic is where numbers fly like pigeons in and out of your head,
Arithmetic tells you how many you lose or win if you know how
    many you had before you lost or won.
Arithmetic is seven eleven all good children go to heaven--or five six
    bundle of sticks.
Arithmetic is numbers you squeeze from you head to your hand to
    your pencil to your paper till you get the answer.
Arithmetic is where the answer is right and everything is nice
    and you can look out of the window and see the blue sky--or the answer
    is wrong and you have to start all over and try again and see how it comes
    out this time.
If you take a number and double it and double it again and then
    double it a few more times, the number gets bigger and bigger and goes
    higher and higher and only arithmetic can tell you what the number is when
    you decide to quit doubling.
Arithmetic is where you have to multiply--and you carry the multiplication
    table in your head and hope you won't lose it.
If you have two animal crackers, one good and one bad, and you eat one
    and a striped zebra with streaks all over him eats the other, how many
    animal crackers will you have if somebody offers you five six seven
    and you say No no no and you say Nay nay nay and you say Nix nix nix?
If you ask you mother for one fried egg for breakfast and she gives you
    two fried eggs and you eat both of them, who is better in arithmetic,
    you or your mother?

from Poetry for Young People: Carl Sandburg

Stop by Jama's Alphabet Soup for the Poetry Friday Roundup today.

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Ship Speaks

It felt good to come back to poetry this week, to pull a project off the back burner and fire it up with a little creative energy.

The Fram under sail, picture courtesy NOAA
The Fram under sail, picture courtesy NOAA  in: "The South Pole," by Roald Amundsen. 

From the Fram's Standpoint

I am not handsome.
My bow is blunt,
my stern the same.
I do not move
with speed or grace,
but I am crafty.
My round hull slips
the grip of frozen waves,
evades the ice
like a cherry seed
when squeezed
between thumb and finger
pops into the air.
I rise above the ice.

They think they have
reason to boast--
Fridtjof Nansen,
Roadl Amundsen--
Norwegian names
laying claim
to farthest, fastest,
but most credit
comes to me.

Without me
they would be
waiting for hull
to crack,
for polar water
to swallow them whole
like whaling ships
more comely than me,
but without
my cunning ways.

© 2014 Doraine Bennett

Laura Purdie Salas hosts Poetry Friday today at Writing the World for Kids.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Kiss the Wind

Wherever you are today and whatever adventure stands just beyond your doorway, may you sail with the wind!

blessing the boats
(at St. Mary's)

by Lucille Clifton

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love you back   may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

Click here for An interview with Lucille Clifton by Grace Cavalieri.

Sail over to Amy's Poem Farm for today's Poetry Roundup.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Where I've Been and Why

One day nearly fifteen years ago, I tied on my tennis shoes, threw my gym bag into the back of our white Toyota van, and drove myself into town for an exercise class. My favorite teacher was  a free-spirited, large-boned, loud, young woman who seemed to care not a whit that there were holes in her gym shorts. She commanded us through stretches, leg lifts, and arm strengtheners, led step routines with the joy of a drill sergeant about to go on holiday, and was delighted when we flopped on the floor in complete exhaustion. On this particular day she decided to experiment on us with her new, self-taught knowledge of yoga. I was totally hooked. I could tell these stretches with the strange names were accomplishing something in my body that nothing else had done.

That was the beginning of my yoga journey. Since then, I've moved around from studio to studio, enjoying the different styles, creating muscle memories that lasted longer than some of my mental ones, especially the last place I laid my keys or my phone.

Then something very startling happened. My yoga teacher began prompting me to think about opening my own studio as she was leaving town. It had not been in my plans, wasn't something I particularly yearned to do, but I sensed a change coming in this season. Hey, my one little word for this year was "anticipation."

Remarkably, a series of doors began to open like they sensed my approaching presence. I found a yoga training school that meshed with my belief system and my yoga mentality.  I found a room in a good location that worked for my practically nonexistent budget. I picked up my feet and put them down again, trusting that it was God opening these doors.

So for the last four months, I have been absorbed with this baby yoga business, nurturing it like the small, growing thing it is. An infant of any sort is all-consuming, at least for a while. I hope I'm beginning to reach the stage where there is room in my life again for the other things I love, like writing and poetry and long walks.

In the meantime, this quote from Mother Theresa has resonated with me in the last week, so I'm sharing with you today. It's not exactly a poem, but I have broken the sentences up into lines, the way I would like to read them to my friends.

“May today there be peace within.

May you trust that you are

exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget

the infinite possibilities

that are born of faith in yourself and others.

May you use the gifts that you have received,

and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content with yourself

just the way you are.

Let this knowledge settle into your bones,

and allow your soul the freedom to sing,

dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.”

- Mother Teresa
Renee La Tulippe hosts Poetry Friday today at No Water River. Stop by and visit.  

Friday, August 22, 2014

Missing Poetry Friday!

Ha! It's Poetry Friday and I've missed so many this summer. I've missed you all! So taking my cue from our lovely substitute rounder-upperer, Irene Latham, I'm thinking about missing things as my last set of grands set out for Minnesota this afternoon.

missing things

three sets of keys lost in pockets
one pink croc
two garden spades
Mr. Potato Head's feet
the crash of block towers tumbling down
Dr. Seuss and Goodnight Moon
apple juice and swim suits
car seats, afternoon treats
arguments to arbitrate
the sudden, unanticipated
I love you, Dori.

Pop and Dori and all the Grands!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Break

If it wasn't obvious already, I'm taking a break from blogging, but I'll be back sometime in August. Enjoy your summer.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Poetry Friday: A Few Explorer Poems

Iceberg off of Snow Hill Island
Iceberg off Snow Hill Island. Photo by Frank Krahmer/Corbis.

I've been working on a collection of explorer poems for some time now. This week I re-read Elizabeth Bradfield's marvelous collection, Approaching Ice. It's a beautiful book about explorers throughout history who have ventured toward polar ice. Here are a few excerpts to whet your appetite for more.

from "Polar Explorer Ernest Shackleton (1922)"

     We all have unexplained rhythms
and echoes inside the still-mysterious landscape 
of our chests. The heart's slight variations of tick and tock.

That smooth ticking of reels, regular
     and anticipated, unlike
the unrhythms slap of halyards or
of the snap of a hull's planks and ribs
                                within a clench of ice.

from "Why They Went"

Frost bitten. Snow blind. Hungry. Craving
fresh pie and hot toddies, a whole roasted
unflippered thing to carve. Craving a bed
that had, an hour before entering,
been warmed with a stone from the hearth.

from "Bowditch as First Discovery, First Exloration"

I turned always to the star charts:
White scatter on a dark blue circle.
Transparent sheets to story

the scatter with lines. 

Check in with Jone at Check it Out for more Poetry Friday and enjoy.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Movie Monday: #TFIOS

On Saturday, I went to see the movie adaptation of John Green's The Fault in our Stars. Green is an extraordinary writer. The screenplay writers did a great job with the movie version. They followed the details of the book very well and I didn't feel like the plot was compromised, as I do in many movies made from books. Do I think the book was better? Yes. And I'll tell you why.

When I gave my ticket to the girl at the entrance of the theater, she directed me down the hallway and asked if I had tissues. " Seriously," she said. "Everybody that comes out of there is bawling. Look at them." She pointed toward the people exiting the second theater showing the movie.

I had read the book I knew what was coming. So yes, I did stop at the bathroom and grab a handful of toilet paper. Just to be prepared. And although I wasn't reduced to wracking sobs, like the teen girls down the row from me, I was glad I had it.

When the movie was over, I watched a grown man exiting the theater wipe tears from his eyes. Someone exited the theater through the fire door and light flooded the rows of weeping girls. One young lady burst out, "Turn it off! Nobody needs to see me crying." A woman in the row behind us answered, "It's all right, honey. Everybody in here's crying."

Yes it was a good story. Yes there was a lot of truth in it. But, I have to admit, I felt like the movie was emotionally manipulative. I don't think that was John Green's intention. And I certainly did not feel that way in the book. Although it was emotional and touching and very sad, Green never dipped into maudlin sentimentality. I know that the book was written out of the author's experience of working with terminally ill patients. And I know it took him a long time to find a way to tell this story. Even with the sadness in the book, I did not feel myself being emotionally manipulated.

So I've been asking myself what was the difference. Spoiler alert.

And what I've come up with is that the book gave me hints along the way. I knew what was coming before Hazel knew. Green let me see a moment of anger between Gus and his mother, an argument questioning his decision to go to Amsterdam. He showed me moments in Amsterdam when when his face screwed up with pain that Hazel did not see. So that when Gus told Hazel about his diagnosis, Green had prepared me, as a reader.

In the movie it was just an emotional jolt. And then a roller coaster ride to the end.

Should you go see the movie? Absolutely. Take your Kleenex, cry your eyes out. Then like the girl down the tow from me said, "Now I have to go home and read the book!"

Only I suggest you read the book first.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Poetry Friday...or not

I spent a wonderful month of May with Renee learning her lyrical tricks of the trade. But now it's June and life resumes. I've opened a yoga studio. I'm reassessing priorities, re-ordering hours, rearranging rooms. I will return to Poetry Friday. I will. I will. I will! But not today.

There are oodles of poetry offerings over at Carol's Corner today. Stop in and enjoy.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Double Dactyl

It's Poetry Friday and Elizabeth Steinglass hosts the roundup today.

The double dactyl is one of the craziest forms of poetry I've every tried to write, but it's lots of fun.

Rules for writing a double dactyl:

1. Two stanzas of four lines each.

2. All lines except 4 and 8 are dactylic metrical feet. A dactyl has a stressed beat followed by two unstressed beats.

3. The first line is rhyming dactylic nonsense, like Higgledy, piggledy.

4. The second line introduces the topic of the poem, usually a person or a place. It helps if the name is naturally dactylic, like Hans Christian Anderson.

5. The second line of the second stanza is a six-syllable, double dactylic word, like parliamentarian.

6. Lines four and eight have one dactyl and one stressed syllable.

7. Lines four and eight rhyme.

Frontispiece portrait of Roald Amundsen, 1872-1928. In: "The South Pole", Volume II, Treasures of the NOAA Library Collection, by Mr. Steve Nicklas.

First to the Pole

Lickety splickety
Roald E. Amundsen
hitched up his huskies and
raced for the goal.

Finishing first, his team
raised Norway's flag as they
claimed the South Pole.

© Doraine Bennett

Friday, May 9, 2014

Lyrical Language

File:Caterpillar-Both-02 crop.JPG

Happy Poetry Friday. Stop by Jama's Alphabet Soup for this week's roundup.

I have just completed the first full week of Renée LaTulippe's Lyrical Language Lab and I'm having such fun! It's a one month course Renée teaches online. I suggest you rush right over to No Water River and sign up immediately for the next open slot on her schedule whether you write poetry, picture books or prose.

The class operates on a closed Facebook page. I have taken online classes that use email and listserve options for feedback. Honestly none of them are hastle free. The closed Facebook option seems to work well. Of course, Facebook is right there and you know it can suck you right down its throat into the belly of your second cousin's nephew's toddler's antics. But that's not Renée's fault. Right?

Seriously, this is a wonderful class with lots of interaction and helpful feedback. It's well worth taking a month to focus on lyrical language.

My trochee poem from class. Why, oh why do I have such a hard time coming up with titles?

Hungry, hungry caterpillar,
you have one last chance.
Mother doesn't like you chewing
all her garden plants.

Wriggle, wriggle, caterpillar,
climb up this sweet pea.
Find one leafy hiding place
Mother will not see.

Hurry, hurry, caterpillar,
spin your silk cocoon.
Do your morphing, your transforming.
She will be here soon!

© Doraine Bennett

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My New Office Space

Three partial weeks of traveling with only a few days home in between has me craving quiet. Hubs put the finishing touches on our new sunroom while I was gone and moved some furniture in. I love watching squirrels race around oak trunks and chipunks scrounging through the pinestraw. Yesterday I watched the the blue heron who comes regularly swoop in, pick his way over the rocks in the creek, then lift himself up and soar down the channel of air above the creek.

I've started moving my writing paraphernalia to the new sunroom. I bought a library chair with a swinging arm table last fall when I was at the Georgia librarians' conference.  One of my fellow vendors agreed to sell me his demo model for a good price. And I've jerry-rigged myself a standing desk, so that I can move from chair to table often. It's not good for writers to sit in one position for too long. Such a hard fact to make peace with! I don't know about you, but sometimes I get so intent on what I'm doing, I can look up and realize I've been in the same position for hours. It has taken a lot of discipline and some creativity to get myself a little more mobile. Achy backs, stiff necks, and headaches are not a pleasant alternative.

I'm taking Renee La Tulippe's Lyrical Language Lab online class the month of May. It's a great class! Here is my first poem from the lesson on iambs. No title yet. Suggestions?

We all release our strings at once.
Balloons rise from the crowd.
They turn to yummy lollipops
for children made of cloud.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Choosing Cinquains

I meant to post this yesterday, but life got in the way. After taking a hiatus to be with my grandchildren, I did want to return with at least one final cinquain. I've enjoyed this challenge I set for myself, even though I didn't make it every day of the month. Thanks for following along with me. Happy National Poetry Month!

File:Johannes (Jan) Vermeer - Christ in the House of Martha and Mary - Google Art Project.jpg
Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Johannes Vermeer

Martha's Choice

fretted over
boiled lamb and stuffed olives,
fumed and muttered while doling bowls
of stew,

that Mary sat
and did nothing to help,
unable to understand how

hands could
please Jesus when
so much depended on
a table filled with bread and wine
for him. 

© Doraine Bennett

Friday, April 25, 2014

Cinquains Interrupted

By jokes with Joseph and
Books with David and games with grand

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Corps of Cinquains 5

The Great Falls in Montana. National Park Service photo, courtesy of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial National Historic Site.

Great Falls

I wished
for the pencil
of masters, that I might
depict the infinite beauty--
these falls.

© Doraine Bennett

Monday, April 21, 2014

Corps of Cinquains 4

Photo from Floyd River Wildlife Complex.

Floyd's River

Floyd's body on
the bluff. Gave the river
his name. Returned to our boats and
pressed on.

© Doraine Bennett

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Allelulia! He Is Risen!

by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

My mother woke us that Sunday – her voice

a bell proclaiming spring. We rose

diving into our clothes, newly bought.

We took turns standing before mirrors,

combing, staring at our new selves.

Sinless from forty days of desert,

sinless from good confessions, we

drove to church in a red pickup, bright

and red and waxed for the special

occasion. Clean, polished as apples,

the yellow-dressed girls in front

with Mom and Dad; the boys in back,

our hair blowing free in the warming

wind. Winter gone away. At Mass,

the choir singing loud: ragged

notes from ragged angel’s voices;

ancient hymns sung in crooked Latin.

The priest, white robed, raised his palms

toward God, opened his mouth in awe:

“Alleluia!” The unspoken word of Lent

let loose in flight. Alleluia and incense

rising, my mother wiping her tears

from words she’d heard; my brother and I

whispering names of statues lining

the walls of the church. Bells ringing,

Mass ending, we running to the truck,

shiny as shoes going dancing. Dad

driving us to see my grandmother. There,

at her house, I asked about the new word

I’d heard: resurrection. “Death,

death,” she said, her hands moving downward,

“the cross – that is death.” And then she

laughed: “The dead will rise.” Her upturned

palms moved skyward as she spoke. “The dead

will rise.” She moved her hands toward me,

wrapped my face with touches, and

laughed again. The dead will rise.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Corps of Cinquains 3

bodmer's view of blackbird's grave

Black Bird's Grave

Made land
at Black Bird's grave, 
chief slain with four hundred 
of his Omaha nation by

the hill we watch
the river meander
for miles, distance itself from
such sorrow. 

© Doraine Bennett

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Corps of Cinquains 2

White Pirogue on the way to Omaha
Lewis and Clark reenactors on the way to Omaha. Photo from Lewis and Clark Boat House and Nature Center.

The White Pirogue

What new
comes, what evil genie
sails with the white pirogue on this

© Doraine Bennett

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Corps of Cinquains

Corps of Discovery

men, hand-picked, by
two captains navigate
upstream, keelboat, pirogues, canoes
poled or

pulled, towed
against currents,
shifting sandbars, dead tree
snags hidden on river bottoms,

north and west to
unknown Pacific shores,
forged by trials, hardened, strong to
the core.

© Doraine Bennett

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Cinquain Erodes

Erosion has caused polygonal rock faces to form in the sandstone and shale along the
Photo by Mike Neilson, Encyclopedia of Alabama

Water Takes the Mountain

I seep
into the sand-
stone cap, eat through weakened
rock, drip, drive, devour until I
break through

the softer shale,
unprotected now. I
ravage its folded anticlines.
The shale

sandstone topples
onto the valley floor,
the mountain is mine to plunder
and raze.

© Doraine Bennett

Monday, April 14, 2014

Kon-tiki Cinquain

Kon-tiki at Sea


the Pacific
in a balsa-log raft,
one forms a friendly partnership
with sea,

wind, sky.
Ocean waves crash
upon us, run through our 
roped frame, lift us atop the crest

© Doraine Bennett

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cinquains of Joy

A Psalm of Joy

My frame
will not contain
the joy a mother feels
when her children find their way home
at last.

to prayers prayed in
silent pain for their pain
seemed so long coming, I asked did
God hear?

And then,
as if He had
stored them up, kept them safe--
babes and answers--until their hearts
could hold

the stars,
moon, sun, answers
came spiraling, entire
galaxies, indisputably

and I
am filled with awe,
with wonder, with joy, here
where morning dawns, and evening fades
in song.

© Doraine Bennett

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Maize Cinquain

File:Inside a corn maze near Christchurch, New Zealand.JPG

Corn Maze

I have
entered doors that
led to corn mazes too
complicated for peaceful thought,

why I
took this turn when
another would have led
me home, carried my dreams over

immune to pain,
but my route ran counter
to those paths, and I found treasure

the stalks of corn
that another might have
missed, and I am richer because
of it.

© Doraine Bennett

Today's Little Ditty has Poetry Friday round-up today.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Photo by Graham Crumb

After Naps

She wakes,
nuzzles her curls
against my cheek, fearless,
commanding assurance she is

© Doraine Bennett

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Stormy Cinquain

File:Bobbin rolling thunder.JPG


The storm
will not relent,
rages against the roof,
banging, spitting, screaming for its
own way.

© Doraine Bennett

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Timely Cinquain

File:Stopwatch A.jpg

When time
runs out and slams
the door like a spoiled child,
there's nothing you can do except
breathe and...

© Doraine Bennett

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Found Cinquain

I'm stretching the rules of the cinqauin today. Counting words rather than syllables, and fudging just a bit.

Mary Kingsley lived among the Fang tribe in West Africa, a fierce people known to be cannibals. She traipsed across Africa in a high-collared, long Victorian dress. She firmly believed a respectable woman had "no right to go about in Africa in things you would be ashamed to be seen in at home." She promptly told London feminists that she would rather have "perished on a public scaffold" than be seen in trousers. In fact, her long skirts probably saved her life when she fell into a pit dug by lion hunters. Her dress deflected the spikes intended to wound a captive lion. Mary traveled light and approached the Africans as a trader. The following "found poem" are her thoughts on African public relations.

File:Portrait of Mary Kingsley.jpg
Portrait of Mary Kingsley, circa 1900.
Mary Kingsley, African Explorer
A Found Cinquain

When you
first appear among people
who have never seen anything like
you before, they naturally regard you as
a devil.

But when
you buy or sell
something with them, they recognize
there is something reasonable and human about you
and that

if you
show yourself
an intelligent trader who knows
the price of things, they treat you
with respect.

© Doraine Bennett

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Things One Finds in the Creek

I have chosen to write a cinquain a day for National Poetry Month. I have also been reading Poem Making by Myra Cohn Livingston. She talks about using the dramatic voice in poetry, as opposed to the lyrical voice or the narrative voice. Apostrophe is one form of the dramatic voice. In it the poet addresses something that cannot answer. Livingston says that this voice is best used for "wondering, asking questions, or giving a bit of advice!" So I thought I would make my cinquain for the day an apostrophe.

There is a lovely creek in my backyard, and when it rains, strange and wonderful things float downstream to be caught on the rocks that span the water. After a recent three-day deluge, we spotted what looked like a door on the far bank. Once the creek went down enough to cross over, we discovered it wasn't a door at all. It was a piano keyboard! I've been pondering that keyboard for a few weeks now. It seemed the perfect subject for my apostrophe.

Cinquain for a Broken Piano

once pounded your keys,
played "Hey, Jude" or a Bach
prelude. Maybe they crooned a melody

for one
beautiful face
too haunting to forget.
But who dismantled you and cast
your bed

of keys
into the creek
somewhere upstream to drift
down to the rocks behind my house,
leave me

to grieve
the unfinished
song, wonder what note came
next,  and why your hammered strings are

© Doraine Bennett

Friday, April 4, 2014

Desert Cinquain

Today is Poetry Friday and Amy hosts the roundup at The Poem Farm. Stop by and enjoy all the exciting stops for this first Friday of National Poetry Month. My goal for the month is to write a cinquain each day. Here is the next installment.
File:Kalahari PICT0036 .JPG
Photo by Winfried Bruenken

Kalahari Crossing

by tsetse flies,
plagued by malaria,
bedeviled by hunger and thirst,
I sit

my small shade and
wait, bone-weary, wasting,
as a tyrant sun strolls across
the sky.

© Doraine Bennett

File:Lion and baboon 1.jpg
Photo by Charles J. Sharp

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Xanadu Cinquain

Illustration by Patten Wilson, 1898.
Xanadu drawn by Patten Wilson for a hardcover edition of Coleridge's poetry by Longmans Green, London, in 1898.

Dinner at Xanadu

He lifts
his glass, musicians
play, six thousand guests bow
their knees while the magnificent
Khan drinks.

© Doraine Bennett

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Cinquain for Stanley and Livingstone

"Recontre de Livingstone," from the French translation of 
How I Found Livingstone by Henry Morton Stanley, 1876

Stanley Remembers

It was
a foolish way
to greet the man I sought
across half the dark continent.
When I

to dance and shout,
instead in quiet awe
I said, "Doctor Livingstone, I

he would reject
any jubilation,
I hid in the formality
of words.

© Doraine Bennett

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

National Poetry Month

There is so much going on in the Kidslitosphere this month. Fortunately the delicious Jama Rattigan is keeping up with it all. So stop over at Jama's Alphabet Soup to explore all the poetic possibilities.

I have been an armchair poet the last few Aprils, not fully trusting myself to make a commitment to post a poem every single day of the month. But this year, I've decided to dive in. As I have explored poetry forms lately, I found myself enjoying the very simple cinquain and all the possibilities it holds. See this post for a lovely example from Myra Cohn Livingston.

I'm going to be kind to myself if I don't manage to get one written every single day, but I'm trying not to leave myself too much wiggle room either! So let's get started with my first cinquain of the month.


Five lines
carry the thought,
counting syllables--two,
four, six, eight, two--creating one

© Doraine Bennett

Friday, March 28, 2014

Poetry Friday: Cinquains

 I've been experimenting with writing in forms recently and found that I like the very simple cinquain.

A cinquain is a five line poem with syllable count in each line of 2, 4, 6, 8, 2. Paul Janeczko, in his book, A Kick in the Head, says that "a good cinquain will flow from beginning to end rather than sounding like five separate lines."
While Fat Tuesday is long gone and we are well into the Lenten Season, I want to share this poem, "Mardi Gras," from Myra Cohn Livingston today. It comes from her book, Celebrations, which has several poems written in cinquain form. I like this one especially because of the repeating phrase that shows up in variations in each stanza.

Mardi Gras
by Myra Cohn Livingston

Throw me
something, Mister, 
I shout to the krewes on
their floats, rolling down Bourbon Street.
Throw me

from behind your
mask, a string of glass beads,
purple beads for justice, beads of green
for faith

of bright gold for
power. Throw me something
now that it's Fat Tuesday and its's
time for

dancing, singing,
and you, Mister, on your
float reaching for something you can
throw me--

Mary Lee hosts the roundup today at A Year of Reading.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Poetry Friday: Dear March -

Oh, Spring, where art thou?  Winter was long and hard. The snowdrops and phlox are blooming and today it was almost 80 degrees. Please no, Spring, do not leave so soon. Give us a little time to enjoy your fragrant blooms! Summer leave off for just a little while. 

Dear March - Come in –
By Emily Dickinson

Dear March - Come in -    
How glad I am -
I hoped for you before -
Put down your Hat -         
You must have walked -
How out of Breath you are -          
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest -
Did you leave Nature well -
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me -
I have so much to tell -

I got your Letter, and the Birds -    
The Maples never knew that you were coming -
I declare - how Red their Faces grew -                
But March, forgive me -   
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue -    
There was no Purple suitable -       
You took it all with you -           
Who knocks? That April -
Lock the Door -
I will not be pursued -
He stayed away a Year to call        
When I am occupied -              
But trifles look so trivial    
As soon as you have come
That blame is just as dear as Praise

And Praise as mere as Blame -

More Poetry Friday with Julie at the Drift Record.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Poetry Friday Perhaps

My one little word/thought/phrase for this year was a sense of expectation that something new, some kind of change was in the air. It seems to be the case. And while new exciting changes can be wonderful, they also come with challenges. 

This poem from E.E. Cummings captures my mood as spring steadily approaches. 

Spring is like a perhaps hand
by E. E. Cummings


Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window

Read the rest here.

Kara hosts the Roundup at Rogue Anthropologist today. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Celebrating Black History Month

Today for Poetry Friday, I'm celebrating the wonderful contributions people of color have brought to our culture.

Stop over at Karen Edmiston's blog for oodles of poetic words as she hosts the round up.

I have loved reading, yet again, Marilyn Nelson's Carver: A Life in Poems. I think he is on my list of people I'd like to sit down with in heaven and have a long conversation.

File:George Washington Carver c1910.jpg

From Nelson's poem, "Veil-Raisers," on the relationship between Carver and Booker T. Washington.

You saw them sometimes
if you were sneaking in past curfew,
after a tête-à-tête on a town girls porch:
shoulder to shoulder
and dream to dream,
two veil-raisers.
Walking our people
into history.

One of the books in my stack from the library is The Great Migration: Journey to the North by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist.

Greenfield was only three months old when her father took a train north looking for a better life. Like so many other black families, the Greenfield and her mother and siblings followed when he had found a job and a place to live.

I love the way Greenfield has organized this book. In the first section, mask poems express the hopes and fears of individuals caught up in the great migration. In my favorite page spread, illustrator Jan Gilchrist, uses a photograph of a real child's face in her striking illustrations.

The middle section tells the story of the journey by rail in narrative poetry. As the end of the journey and the end of the book near, part four asks the question in every mind.

from "IV. Question"

Will I make a good life
for my family,
for myself?
The wheels are singing,
"Yes, you will,
you will, you will!"

Greenfield ends the collection with a free verse narrative poem about her story, her family: "We were one family/ among the many thousands."

A beautiful book, published in 2011, by Amistad (Harper Collins imprint).

This is a poem I wrote, a sort of tribute to Joyce, a sweet African American friend I made in Chautauqua, 2007, who tried her best to teach me to dance!


images rock step, cha-cha-cha
words heel click and slide
heartbeats ball change in my chest
light  moonwalks behind my eyes

it isn’t the hips gyrating
a pirouette on pointed toes
it isn’t in my feet
the way Joyce can jive and sway
it isn’t from the knees

when I dance

           © Doraine Bennett

And finally this. These girls are the Divine Praise Dancers of Los Angeles. I just love the freedom!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Strangers on the Street

I went for a walk this afternoon, one of my normal routes around the neighborhood, through the woods to the park, around the lake, and back down the connector street to my neighborhood. On the last leg going slightly downhill, I noticed a little boy and his mom in one of the yards, a car parked at the curb.
Photo by Vinnie Ahuja
The little guy looked up and saw me coming, he headed for the street. As I neared, he stepped from the curb, grabbed my hand began shaking it.

"Hi," he said.

"Hello there," I returned as his mom approached.

"We're going to his first t-ball game," she informed me.

"Really? Are you excited?" I asked this outgoing four-year old.

"Do you want to come and watch me?"

"Oh, I have to go home and cook supper," I said.

He slapped his palm to his forehead. "You should come watch me instead."

Would I like to write a book for that little guy? You bet your t-ball I would!

The perfect audience. I'll keep that one tucked away.