Brewer’s Prompt today is to write a panel poem. I don’t think he was thinking about the panels of comics and graphic stories, but I can’t get that out of my head. One of my colleagues is really articulate about the role of graphic novels in developing literacy, especially for reluctant readers and readers with learning challenges. I was reading one of the graphic novels in our library the other day, about creating your own comics, and the author wrote about the way an artist must design the panels on the page so that the reader’s eye flows across the page, from left to right, and top to bottom, making the direction of the story obvious in the flow of the page. This, too, is a basic literacy concept, that we read left to right and top to bottom as we decode the story.

I’ve written today’s poem as an ekphrastic poem based on the six panels of a piece of AI generated artwork, trying to create a sense of story in the seemingly random images.

Cloud-dragons scatter,
fleeing the pursuing wind
in the sky of memory,
and scarlet-tipped grasses
bow their heads in the chill morning.
The story beckons. Go!

On the rim of a canyon,
a massive boulder, exquisitely balanced
stands witness to centuries
of changelessness and change.
You are the canyon, the wind,
and the sentinel stone.

In the valley ahead,
the storm clouds are lifting.
Mist rises above the lake
as dusk falls, and you
have many miles to go
before you can rest.

Do you fear to enter
the woods at dusk,
or do you long
for that adventure?

When you have crossed the sea,
you will meet an old woman
between two trees on a low hill.
She will ask you three questions,
and you must answer truthfully.

Listen to me, bright spirit!
The journey you make will not be
the journey you embarked upon.
But it will be the one you need.

Gratitude List:
1. Maple cookies
2. Vanilla moonshine
3. The moon in all her phases
4. Story-weaving
5. How the journey you make becomes the one you need.
May we walk in Beauty!

“Expressing our vulnerability can help resolve conflicts.” —Marshall B. Rosenberg

“Our original instructions are to listen to the cloud floating by and the wind blowing by. That’s poetry and prose in English, but it is wakahan in the Lakotan language. It means to consciously apply mystery to everything. Everything is alive and has its own consciousness.” —Lakota elder Tiokasin Ghosthorse

James Baldwin: “To be sensual is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the breaking of bread.”

“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.” —Samwise Gamgee

“When you hit a wrong note, it’s the next note that you play that determines if it’s good or bad.” —Miles Davis

“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” —Frida Kahlo

A little story by Amrita Nadi:
At the end of a talk someone from the audience asked the Dalai Lama, “Why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese?”
The Dalai Lama looked down, swung his feet just a bit, then looked back up at us and said with a gentle smile, “Well, war is obsolete, you know.”
Then, after a few moments, his face grave, he added, “Of course the mind can rationalize fighting back. . .but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”

“There are moments when I feel like giving up or giving in, but I soon rally again and do my duty as I see it: to keep the spark of life inside me ablaze.” —Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life

“Always there is something worth saying
about glory, about gratitude.”
—Mary Oliver, What Do We Know

Do your little bit of good where you are;
its those little bits of good put together,
that overwhelm the world.
—Desmond Tutu

“You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.” —Jeannette Rankin

When we see the Beloved in each person,
it’s like walking through a garden,
watching flowers bloom all around us. —Ram Dass

“You came into this world as a radiant bundle of exuberant riddles. You slipped into this dimension as a shimmering burst of spiral hallelujahs. You blasted into this realm as a lush explosion of ecstatic gratitude. And it is your birthright to fulfill those promises.
I’m not pandering to your egotism by telling you these things. When I say, “Be yourself,” I don’t mean you should be the self that wants to win every game and use up every resource and stand alone at the end of time on top of a Mt. Everest-sized pile of pretty garbage.
When I say, “Be yourself,” I mean the self that says “Thank you!” to the wild irises and the windy rain and the people who grow your food. I mean the rebel creator who’s longing to make the whole universe your home and sanctuary. I mean the dissident bodhisattva who’s joyfully struggling to germinate the seeds of divine love that are packed inside every moment.
When I say, “Be yourself,” I mean the spiritual freedom fighter who’s scrambling and finagling and conspiring to relieve your fellow messiahs from their suffering and shower them with rowdy blessings.” —Rob Brezsny

“The root of joy is gratefulness…It is not joy that makes us grateful; it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” ―Brother David Steindl-Rast

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