Some days feel like the lightning rods of days. Today has been one of those. People attacking people and institutions I love. Attacking me. People working together to answer with love, to hold out our arms, to support each other. Good, hard work–Good Good Work. It’s wearying. And still, there’s the daily and the mundane work to get done in the midst of this other.

I am glad I’ve chosen the path of poetry this month to get me back to the inner work of writing and get me out of my own head.

I don’t know how to withstand the onslaught of the culture wars, especially when they begin so directly to affect me and those I love. Offer love. Offer a hand. Offer a word of wisdom or care. Hold steady. Be the conduit for the Holy One.

My own path, while embracing a wide and universal understanding of the spiritual, is grounded in the Anabaptist Christian tradition. I don’t think I have ever asked myself so frequently, “What would Jesus do?” as I have in the past week, the past months. Is this the moment to turn over tables? Is this the moment to offer stories? Is this the moment to bear witness silently? Is this the moment to ignore the ones who rage and spit, and simply do the Work I am called to do?

Today’s poem form is the mondo. I used this form to try to express some of this inner processing:

Gratitude List:
1. Friends who walk with each other and share the burden.
2. So many kinds of daffodils! (Read that Wordsworth poem over and over and over).
3. Finding center. Holding center.
4. The open-armed ones who welcome all to the table.
5. Writing again. This fog that has held me in the past six months lifts faster as I find my way back to words.
May we walk Justly, in Mercy, and Humbly–in Beauty!

“We write to taste life twice.” —Anais Nin

“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.” —Maya Angelou

“If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform.” —Thich Nhat Hanh

“I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” —Martin Luther King, Jr.

“When we plant trees, we plant the seeds of peace and seeds of hope.” —Wangari Maathai

The Report

Lines in the sand. Wage Peace, drawn in the sandbox and tweaked.

The prompt for today is to write a poem in the form of a report.

The Report

I. On the Attack
The attack (sorry) strike was surgical.
So surgical, in fact, that we can bomb your country
and take out your appendix in one swift, um, surgery.

II. On Yellow
This morning, I planted one hundred daffodils.
The forsythia is on fire with yellow blooms.
I have a feeling that next spring, I am going to need more yellow.

III. On the President’s Lawyer
The president’s lawyer. . .what? Wait.
Didn’t you hear us say that the strikes were surgical?
Refer to point I, above.

IV. On the Poetic Use of Dreams
Last night,
I dreamed that the Universe
held this whole trembling galaxy in her arms
and sang, “Everything is going to be fine.”
(Yes, that was last night’s real dream.
I did not make it up for this poem.)

V. On Casualties of the Attack
It was a strike.
We say “collateral damage.”
In a surgical strike,
there is technically
no collateral damage.

VI. On Deadnettle
The stubbly golden cornfields
are purple with deadnettle
When my nursling baby
tested high for lead,
I drank a witch’s tea
of deadnettle to draw
the poison from his tiny body.

VII. On Collateral Damage
One man’s collateral damage
is a woman’s child.
One man’s collateral damage
is a woman’s lover.
One man’s collateral damage
is a woman’s father.

VIII. On Safety
I have no fear of the airplanes
that fly low over the hollow.
I worry about active shooters
in my children’s schools,
fire, broken bones, and bullies.
A woman in Syria
worries about the dictator,
about the rebel forces,
about the U.S., and France,
and Britain. A woman in Syria
worries that her beloveds
may become collateral damage.
She worries that the strike
will be an attack,
and that it will not be surgical.