Trying to Be Found


Here are three tiny poems from my Creative Writing journal. (I usually wrote along with the students on the writing prompts).

Each day
a new story
of finding my way.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Once there was a little girl
who was trying to be found.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bluebird on a wire
muttering a gentle question.
No one answers but the hawk.


“I like sitting at the piano. I like the idea that there are things coming in through the window and through you and then down to the piano and out the window on the other side. If you want to catch songs you gotta start thinking like one, and making yourself an interesting place for them to land like birds or insects. Once you get two or three tunes together, wherever three or more are gathered, then others come.” -Tom Waits
*
“The poem, I’ve always felt, is an opportunity for me to create an integrated whole from so many broken shards.” –Rafael Campo
*
“Which came first, the fear or the gun? The broken heart or the bleeding one? The impulse toward death or the desperate reach for love?” –Mark Morford
*
“A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.”
–John O’Donohue


Gratitude List:
1. I think I am homing in on the nest of Our Lady of the Flowers. I sat on the porch for a while last evening and watched. She seems to return to the same general area of the tree. It’s located at a less convenient spot for gazing this year, hidden higher up and further from the house.
2. Weaving stories together. Listening to people tell their stories and talk about who they want to be in the world.
3. How a good stretch that wakes up the spine wakes up the body
4. The people who do good. I get so tied up in knots about the stupid, greedy, and cruel things that the powerful people are doing. It really helps to balance my heart to keep remembering all the good and wise and compassionate things that you and the others are doing. Thank you.
5. Pesto

May we walk in Beauty!

Coyotes and Goats


Someone was walking through the snow beside the porch today, taking the Coyote Road.

Gratitude List:
1. Petting two-day-old goats at Sonya’s today. Precious babies.
2. Afternoon nap
3. Charcoal. Slow, controlled burn.
4. Blue Heron sighting. I always feel a blessing when one flies above.
5. The satisfaction of submitting poems for publication.

May we walk in Beauty!

Time to Re-Envision and Revise

bridemusic
Another picture of my brother and me, singing yesterday at a celebration for Bridge of Hope National. 

I really like to work with extremely short poetry. There’s an imagist within me, I suppose, wanting to capture an image like a photograph, to hold it in words, to take the thing that I see and recreate it in such as way that you will see it, too. But I can never seem to leave it only at the image, because everything means something to me. It’s all messages.  Here is one from 2014:

yellow walnut leaves
twist and twirl silently earthward
lavishly giving themselves to breeze, to breath
prodigal as love

I wonder how it would affect the poem were I to change “breath” to “death”?  I’d lose the “r” sound that follows “earth” so nicely, for one thing.  And I like that repeated initial “br.” Maybe I will keep it. I am in revisions mode now, so every word is on the table for possible change and transformation. (Like that “twist.” I like the alliteration “twist and twirl,” but that seems a little bit of an obvious one.  Hmm.)

Gratitude List:
1. The people who do good work in the world, not because of some sense of wanting to feel better about themselves because they do charity, but because they know their future is bound up in the future of all, that we’re all one people, and we must survive together.
2. Organizations like Bridge of Hope and Samara, that work to support families in crisis, to give children a safer and healthier childhood.
3. I didn’t get it all done, but I got a lot of it done, and that feels at least a little satisfying.
4. In the midst of all the daily work, I managed to get my next poetry manuscript onto a single document in the betweeny moments. This week I will print it out, and I’ll start the revising and editing in the next raft of betweeny moments. A friend once told me the story of a wizard who never got wet in the rain because he just walked between the raindrops.  That’s going to be me and this manuscript, working between the raindrops of the daily.
5. Waking up the spine. Stretching. Breathing. The long, slow uncurling into the day’s work.

May we walk in Beauty!

St. John’s Eve

Tea
And here is the tea I made using the three roots I harvested, along with a few others I had in my cupboard, and some slices of ginger root as well.  Roots teas are simmered rather than steeped, and my kitchen smelled earthy and wholesome during the process.

I am going to slip out of poetry-writing mode for a little while now, as I begin the summer process of compiling and editing, sorting and weeding the writings that I have now.  Today is St. John’s Eve, the day before the feast day of St. John the Baptist.  Throughout time and cultural spaces, this celebration has changed and shifted, collected some of the meanings of the Solstice which has passed only days ago.

Midsummer marks the moment in the northern hemisphere when the sun begins to lose its power (though we don’t feel it for many months yet).  St. John’s Day carries with it the transformative weight of the symbolic gift of baptism that St. John created, so the dying light is also representative of our own dying lights and our own transformative resurrections throughout our lives.  The cycles continue.  Change is not only possible, not only inevitable, but welcome.

Paradoxically, while the Sun-king is overthrown as the days begin to shorten, his power continues strong, and flares up for the next season.  I think this is the time for me to take the words that I have written and subject them to a baptism, watch them transform.  I have read that in some celebrations of St. John’s Day, a snake is one of the primary symbols, the creature who sheds its skin, leaving its dead self behind, while the living part continues on, sleek and shining, transformed.  That is what I seek for my words in this season.  I will continue to write gratitude lists for daily practice, and occasional poems and ramblings as the Muse speaks.

I found this traditional St. John’s Day poem:
Green is gold
Fire is wet
Future’s told
Dragon’s met.

May you meet your dragon with courage and aplomb in this season as you step into your future.

Gratitude List:
1. Date night was wonderful last night.  Friends gave us a gift certificate to the Accomac.  I don’t know that I have ever sat down in a restaurant and said to myself that I could order whatever I wanted, with no limits, but this is precisely what we did last night.  Jon had a Wild Boar Bibimbap with kimchi for appetizer, and a Petit Mignon with herbed potatoes and scorched asparagus with preserved lemon.  I had Chilled Sweet Pea Soup with lotus pods (like Odysseus’s crew members I might have chosen to stay in that land of the lotus forever) and Blackened Swordfish with summer squash and herb sauce, along with the asparagus.  For dessert, he had an Accomac version of a hot fudge sundae and I had Bananas Foster (though they don’t flambee it tableside on the wooden porch).  We shared a cosmopolitan made with cranberry juice and jalapeno-infused vodka.  I think I will be infusing some jalapenos this summer–it seems like such a medicinal thing to use for a fancy drink, but I love that heat.
2. All the adults who care for and offer attention to my children.  I grew up in such a nest as well, with wise and friendly and funny adults who took time for me, and I am incredibly grateful for the adults who create the same protected space for my own children.  I am thinking right now of Sandra, in particular, who has been their summertime companion for years now.  Now when they are probably old enough to be required to entertain themselves on farm days, they cannot do without her, and this is as it should be.
3. Cool winds announcing rain.  The plink of raindrops on leaves.
4. Cycles and changes. Transformation.  Leaving the old skin behind to live in the new and tender and shining skin.
5. Layers of sound in the distance and nearby in the morning.  Birdsong mingled with the human sounds of the day’s beginning.

May we walk in Beauty!

Language Event

A friend of mine gave me a book of poetry a few months ago. Titled Shaking the Pumpkin, it is a rich and careful compendium of traditional poems from Native North Americans, edited by Jerome Rothenberg.

Several of the poems are simply rituals recorded verbatim and translated into English. They appear almost more as linguistic research than actual poems, and magically, it is in this almost lab-like recording of the words that they begin to take on some of their poetic power for me.  Here, for instance, are selected lines from my favorite poem in the book:

Language Event 1
Eskimo

Use the language of shamans.

Say 	the leash				& mean	the father
“ 	a road 					“ 	the wind
“ 	soup 					“	a seal
“ 	Big Louse 				“	a caribou
“ 	what makes me dive in headfirst 	“	a dream
“ 	what cracks your ears 			“	a gun
“	a jumping thing 			“	a trout
“	what keeps me standing 			“	your clothes
“	the person with a belly 		“	the weather
“	the person with a belly getting up 	“	the morning
“	the person with a belly goes to bed	“	it's nightfall
“	the little walker 			“	a fox
“	walker with his head down 		“	a dog
“	a person smoke surrounds		”	a live one
“	a floating one 				“	an island
“	a flat one 				“	a wolf
“	a shadow 				“	a white man
“	another kind of shadow 			“	a person
“	the shadow-maker 			“	the shaman
“	he turned my mind around 		“	he told me something

I had planned to write my own this morning before the children woke up, but it’s too late for that now, because I took so much time trying to figure out how to format the poem. Meanwhile, I learned a tiny little thing or two about HTML formatting, so there’s that, and I’ll work on my Language Event poem another day.

Gratitude List:
1. I just found out that the monarchs are on the move in Mexico.  Spring is on its way, and the cycles of life continue for this year again at least.  We’ll set the table with all the local milkweed we can manage.
2. Labyrinths
3. Messengers, guides, crows
4. Markers, maps, cairns
5. Lent, the contemplative season

May we walk in Sunshine.

Birthday Poems

Gratitude List:
1.  The birthday poems.  Thank you, my friends.  What an amazing day of words it has been.  I am bee-drunk on the flowers of your poems.  (I asked my Facebook friends to send me poems for my birthday, and the result was an ocean tide of poetry.  I am adrift in the most marvelous sea of words.)
2.  Ice cream at Sweet Willows.  Two dips: Salted Caramel Praline Pecan and Whatever She Wants
3.  Zentangling with Ellis.  What a marvel to watch how the images and the lines drew him into his imaginative dream-world.  “Mom, the gnomes taught me the language of the trees.  It’s mostly body language.  The tallest ones are the most talkative.”  And, referring to one of the pictures we were drawing, “Mom. did I tell you who is the fairy?  You are.  The gnomes use inventions and the fairies use magic.”
4.  Growing older, growing up
5.  A tender and gentle little birthday party with the people who brought me into this world, the people whom I brought into this world, and Jon Weaver-Kreider.

May we walk in Beauty.  Oh, so much, so much Beauty!

The Milk of Heaven

Poem-A-Day Prompt 30: Write about Milk.  This is the last prompt of the month.  I might take off a day or two before I get back into a poem-a-day groove, this time with my own prompts, perhaps.

Somewhere in the world, the milk is falling,
raining in great drops from benevolent heaven.

Cup your hands into a bowl.
Feel it splatter into your palms
and trickle through your fingers.

Wash your face in it.
Splash it over your eyes and you will see again.
Anoint your forehead and see further.

Pour it into the gaping wounds
where the frenzied creatures
of habit and risk, of anxiety and anger and hate
have gnawed at your insides.

Drink it in great gulps
and feel it soothe your weary voice.
Take it in, breathe it,
bathe in it.

Then lie back like a new babe,
and let it dribble from the corners of your mouth.
There will always be enough.

Ebb and Flow

Day 15 Prompt: Write a tradeoff poem.  Swap.  Exchange.

I’ll trade you the crumbling stone wall with a little green snake
for your treeful of orange birds.  My crescent moon seashell
for your sycamore branch shaped like a flying fish.

Will you swap my word scalawag for your flibbertigibbet?
Your dream of a journey through underwater caves
for mine of flying over the green mountains
with a flock of a thousand white birds?

I have always admired that way you have, of making people laugh
by raising your eyebrows just so.  You could have your pick
of my peccadilloes for that one.  Take two or three.

Though I am loathe to part from it, you would be welcome
to the view looking east over hills to my River, if I could have
your big lonesome prairie and marsh.  For just a little while, at least.

I’d take your bucket of tears for just a little while
if you’d hold on to this bundle of rage.  You could keep
the hearth with crackling fire if I could have the gypsy wind.

How about I give you a poem for every apple you share?
If you’re not using that magic wand, I’ll trade it to you for my broom.
And if you have a little extra motivation, I’ll take it
for an old morale boost I have lying around somewhere.

     This is my favorite way to work a poem, to pile up apparently unrelated images and words into a loose structure, and let the meaning arise out of their juxtaposition.  I wouldn’t call myself an Imagist, really, because I do intend for the final structure to gather some sort of meaning or import or weight, but I like when a poem comes together by the sewing together of images.

How to Get Out of a Rut

Day 14 Prompt:  Write a stuck poem.  This one is sort of a place-holder.  I know what I want to do with it, but I need to let it percolate a while.  Let’s call this Draft #1.

Order the frog legs.
Turn off the television.
Choose a secret name.
Knit yourself a nightcap.
Put on white gloves
and a pillbox hat to go to the grocers.
Plant your lawn in potatoes.

Dream in the daytime, not just at night.
Take apart your broken toaster
to see what makes it work.
Become an artist.  Create something every day.
Wear a cravat.
Befriend a wild creature.
Live out of doors for an entire week.
Memorize a sonnet by Shakespeare.
Recite it every night before bed.

Shoo Fly

Day 13 Prompt:  Write two poems in one.  Write a recipe poem.  Write a letter poem.

Dear Grandma,

I never could get it just right,
that flaky crust, and the perfect
balance of corn syrup and molasses.
Wet bottom, surely, but not so soggy
it mucks up the bottom of the pie dish.

The thing is, the only thing Dutch
about my mother-in-law
is the family she married in to,
the blood that flows downriver,
in her sons and grandsons.
But her fingers know the secrets.
She can bake a shoo-fly pie to rival those
that Sadie Stoltzfus sells
along the Lincoln Highway.

And me, I’m so inbred
I’m my own eighth cousin
at least once, and I couldn’t
bake a shoo-fly pie to save my soul.

I’ll just have to put
the whole wheat flour out of reach,
buy myself a bottle of corn syrup,
and get out the rolling pin again.