Write a Love/Anti-Love Poem.  I am struggling with my lack of love for the purveyors of violent and xenophobic rhetoric, so that’s where I went today.

To practice lovingkindness
includes that tiny word
that stops me up every time.
Most, perhaps.
But all?

I can love the tangerine sunset
glowing upward onto aquamarine cloud.
I can love the orange orb as it falls
below the hills to my west,
and its ghostly echo the moon,
sailing behind a bank of gray to east.
The curling wisteria I can love,
and the earnest eyes of the fox kit.
My heart reaches upward, fiercely loving
the starlings in their whirling dance.

But so many layers lie between me
and love for the leering buffoon.
See, the language, even,
has to peel away,
and then anxiety’s rising tide
that eats away at the beach
of compassion.

Turn the next page, and everything
is colored by impotent rage.
How can I cast the line out of this tangle?


Today’s prompt is a Two-fer: Write a Love Poem/write an Anti-Love Poem.  I am going to take the prompt with me on the journey today and write the poem later.

Gratitude List:
1, Getting the work done.
2. Anticipating the break.
3. Knitting.  Knotting.  Holding it all together.
4. Lovely words:  Radiance.  Brilliance.  Cozy.  Meandering.  Love
6. Abundance.  I didn’t know what I was going to write on this one until I accidentally numbered it 6.  Abundance.

May your day be Brilliant.


Brewer’s prompt for today is to write an apology poem.  My friend Natasha, who writes the blog The Year of Black Clothing, introduced me to the Ho’oponopono, a traditional Hawaiian ritual of forgiveness. There are four sentences in the process, sentences which are meant to transform the person speaking as well as to bring healing to the situation.

Apology to the World

I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Thank you.

For taking more than my share.
For closing my eyes and my ears.
For talking over your pain.
For telling you how it should be.
For assuming you were my enemy.
For ignoring your story.
For belaboring the point.
For walking away.
For becoming helpless with worry.
I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I love you.
Thank you.

Gratitude List:
1. Dawn and sunset.
2. Yesterday’s stories.  Dreams.  Mystery.  Healing.
3. Yesterday’s songs.
4. Yesterday’s work.
5. Today’s possibilities.

May we walk in Beauty!

Today’s prompt is to write a poem titled: “Waiting for (blank).”  I don’t want this to be inevitable.  I am writing out of my anxiety tonight.

Waiting for History

Waiting for History to repeat herself
is turning me into a statue of salt.

She sits next to me in the cafe,
stirs a load of sugar into her brew:
“It takes the edge off the inevitability,”
she tells me.  “Inevitability is bitter, Girl.
It twists my gut into knots.”

She pours the cream,
sloshing it all over the counter,
and grabs a scone from her plate.
Her elbow sends the coffee mug
careening to the counter’s edge.

“I knew that would happen,”
she says, waving her butter knife
a little too close to my face.

I want to grab her, yell,
“Slow down a minute, Hon.
Relax.  Take your time to settle in.
Concentrate on what you’re doing
right here in this moment,”

but she seems to be reading my mind.
“Impossible,” she blurts,
scattering crumbs across the counter top.
A dollop of jelly plops off her scone
and into her coffee.  “I can’t slow down,
can’t settle, can’t give you time
to catch your breath on this one, Babe.”

Outside, snow curls out of the mist,
and voices call out sharply.
I’ve heard them all before:
Protect the Fatherland.
Eliminate the immigrants.
This is the time to show our
strength, to flex our iron arm.

“It’s beginning,” says History,
one elbow in the puddle of coffee,
the other in the wayward jam.
“I’ve heard it all before, Girl.
It’s the same damn grind,
over and over again.”

I sip my coffee black.
“Inevitability, Sister.”
She draw out the syllables
and hands me the cream.

Another day to wait until the prompt comes.  Here is a photo that one of my boys took last summer.

Gratitude List:
1. The hymn sing at Freiman Stoltzfus’s Gallery last night.  We sat on wooden benches like in a Mennonite meetinghouse.  The music was palpable; I think I could taste it, smell it, see the colors of it washing against the walls catching the rich brilliance of Freiman’s paintings.  It is still clinging to me this morning.  All those voices, harmonies. Strangers and friends giving our voices to each other.  I don’t know how to explain why this is so, but it seemed like a healing act, like sound therapy for a hurting world, pushing back the vicious shadow.
2. All the humming that happens in my house.  Yesterday, Jon was changing laundry in the basement, and I could hear him humming through the floorboards.  At the same time, a boy was humming to himself while he read back issues of This Old House.  The other boy was making a fanciful helicopter of Legos, and humming a third thing to himself.
3. The twin red maples near that one industrial plant on Route 30.  Every day I pass them twice.  All the other trees have either dropped their leaves completely, or left the season of brilliance behind.  Not these folks.  Their shades of scarlet and orange pulse and shimmer, especially in these grey days. The dryads seem to have something to tell us.
4. Yesterday I read about a woman–an American–who gathered baby carriers and took them to Macedonia, where she waits for the ferry from Lesbos and fits them on families with babies and toddlers.  She spoke of the relief in the eyes of parents who now had free hands to care for their older children, of the father who could not stop kissing the tiny head now tucked safely beneath his chin.  Bless the helpers.
5. The peacemakers are rising.

Join hands.  Rise up.  Walk in Love.

Solomon Shandy

Write a strange poem, he says.  Sort of inspired by the hype and hip of Sharon Bryan’s “Sweater Weather: A Love Song to Language.”  (I am stopping before I feel this poem is really finished–I am stuck in the web of the poem and I think that I have learned from it what I wanted to learn.)

High upon the dream scene,
water golden, meadow green,
shadows calling, day is falling,
where you wander unseen.

From the inky shadows ooze
spectres that you did not choose
wraiths are creeping, nightmares leaping
into dreamtime’s twisting blues.

In the maze you race and blunder,
running from the sound of thunder.
Heart is pounding, rest confounding,
caught within the spell you’re under.

I can’t seem to get out of this poem–I guess that’s how the nightmares roll.  But I need to get on with my day, so I am going to just stop here.  I did love the way the rhythm and the rhyme scheme sort of defined themselves as I wrote.

Gratitude List:
1. Labyrinths.  I have been under a compulsion again lately to doodle them.  After an experience last week in which I felt like someone was trying to stuff me into a claustrophobic little box, I think my default was to head into the labyrinth for safety.
2. Sitting on the chair in the sun this morning, with a small person reading to me.
3. Fall veggies.
4. Generosity.  Local folks gave over six million dollars yesterday to organizations that offer care and hope to the world.  I am proud of this community.  My shaken faith in humanity is being rebuilt.
5. Breathing love into the wounds.

May we walk in Beauty!

Today’s prompt is to use at least three of these words in a poem: lagoon, plunder, artifact, wobble, relent, horrendous.  I love these.  They pull me out of my ruts.

After the relentless storm and plunder,
after the horrendous calm,
she searches the silent pools,
she scours the quiet caves of the lagoon,
she watches the gulls winging down the beach,

seeking for surviving artifacts
shining fragments that glint in the sunlight,
pearls scattered in the glistening sands.

The hunt for the missing pieces
occupies her haggard attention
and draws her thoughts away from the loss.

Salvage becomes her salvation.



eat veggies

Gratitude List:
1. Giving.  Today is Lancaster’s Extraordinary Give, a community celebration of local groups and organizations that do good work in the world.  Here is the link to my school’s page.  If you click on the title at the top of the page, you can see the other organizations involved.  You can also see that since the giving opened at midnight 6 hours ago, already over half a million dollars has been donated to helpful organizations.
2. My friend Daryl Snider’s chapel presentation at school yesterday.  Open-hearted and thoughtful–the kids were engaged.  And I woke up this morning with his song in my head, “Yours are the eyes I see in the mirror.  Yours are the cries I hear in my sleep.  <I can’t pull out the words to the next bit>  Because you are I and I am you.”  We are all connected.
3. The helpers.  These people often find their way onto my list.  I can imagine nothing more hopeful and sustaining in the face of that which angers and terrifies us than the quiet and powerful work of those who simply step up and into the breach, reaching out their hands.  People in many places will try to use our fear and rage and despair to distract us, but the helpers are ignoring the fear-mongers and getting down to work.  And if our own stories or fears or needs keep us from stepping right up to the front line with the helpers, we can still reach out our hands to hold them, to make a net of support for the work that they do.
4. The coming break.  Fall is a bit of a long stretch for teachers, with fewer natural breaks than the spring.  The challenge is important, but it’s nice to see the end of this tunnel.
5. Late fall crops.  I got home yesterday, and Jon and the crew had set up the market room for the first of our fall pick-ups: broccoli, cauliflower, arugula, radishes, spinach, sweet potatoes. . .  Time to feast.

May we walk in Love.

Today’s prompt is to follow William Carlos Williams’ thought, “No ideas but in things,” and write a thing-poem. I have no wheelbarrow, no jar in Tennessee, no plums in the icebox.  I am obsessed with bowls.

Is it the way the light shines
on the concave surface of the blue bowl,
or the way the shadows gather
underneath its curving belly?

Or is it, rather, about the beach pebbles
and the shell with its iridescent green
resting in its sheltered slopes?

Perhaps it is the memory of wet clay,
the hands that scooped and stretched,
that shaped and fashioned its elegant contours.

How it settles, how it breathes in the lamplight,
how it speaks my name when I pass by.

No prompt again this morning.  I can forgive him–I am sometimes a little behind, too.

Here’s a Gratitude List:
1. The helpers, people who dive in to rescue the refugees from their boats, who help to resettle people here, who offer a bottle of water, a piece of fruit, an encouraging word.
2. The rising clamor of voices calling for peaceful solutions and responses.  The peacemakers are rising.
3. The student who came to me for help in redrafting her college entrance exam–she wants to become a nurse so she can have skills to offer in places around the world where people are suffering.
4. Love.  It casts out fear.
5. Again, that fantastic formation of starlings that wheels and swirls above the hollow.  We can create a beautiful dance, too, when we fly together.

Let’s raise our voices in the name of Compassion, Beauty, and Peace.


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