NPM Day Eight: Introductions

National Poetry Month: Day Eight–Introductions

Here’s another prompt inspired by a Facebook game. Look up the meanings of your names, and introduce yourself formally, using the meanings, as a poem. Don’t like your name or its meaning? Make up something grand sounding. Give yourself a new name. Create a whole identity. Begin “I am. . .”

Loosely working with the definitions of my names,

I am the Oath of the Holy One,
I am the Graceful Eagle,
I am the Creator of Tapestries,
I am the One Who Clear the Land for Farming.

1. Driving down Ducktown, into the open, suddenly there is a sea of pink blossoms as Flinchbaugh’s Orchards spread out in front of you.
2. Across the road from the orchards, several frilly weeping cherries twirl their dresses in the wind.
3. At the bottom of Ducktown, a row of flaming forsythia sets the tree row aflame.
4. Turn right onto Lincoln Highway and a grand magnolia is beginning to explode into bloom.
5. Turn left onto Burg’s Lane, and a tapestry of richly saturated purple dead nettle calls for your attention.

May we walk in Color!

“On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.” —Annie Dillard in Teaching a Stone to Talk

“For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.” ―Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“Where there’s life there’s hope, and need of vittles.” ―JRR Tolkien

“We are the ones we have been waiting for.” ―June Jordan

“Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” ―Albert Einstein

“We are all the leaves of one tree.
We are all the waves of one sea.” ―Thich Nhat Hanh

“It is respectable to have no illusions―and safe―and profitable and dull.” ―Joseph Conrad

“I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” ―Rainer Maria Rilke

“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether they are worthy.” —Thomas Merton

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.


It is time for another poem about breathing:
How you draw the air into your lungs,
so deeply, you feel it ready to escape
the bruised soles of your feet.

In-spire–draw the spirit inside you,
the breathing living breath, invite
breath, that wanderer, into your being,
feel it lapping at the southerly shores
of your lungs, filling the balloon of your belly.

The secret of breathing is the letting go.
You must never hoard inspiration. It dies
the moment it is chained or kept.
Let go. Breathe out. Breathe in again.

Find your fire tomorrow, Fool. What burns within you? What passion ignites your spirit?

Gratitude List:
1. Wednesdays must be Osprey and Eagle days. This afternoon’s spectacle was on the way home from Liza’s house: An adult and a juvenile eagle, two ospreys, and a red-tailed hawk. Feels like portents and omens.
2. Deadnettle is still purpling the fields and the willows are getting jiggy.
3. Redbuds bursting into bloom
4. Watching Mama goose watching Papa Cardinal in the green bush
5. Ferns are unfurling. I think I might also be unfurling. Maybe you are unfurling, too?

May we walk in Beauty!


This one is perhaps too didactic, too prosey. I think I’ll try again to do another poem about the deadnettle as the teacher. This will stand for today, however.

The Fool stands long and silently
upon the flagstones before knocking.
She raises her hand to the knocker
and listens, as though afraid to fill
the vast and thoughtful silence.

Before she can raise the iron ring,
the door opens quietly inward.
An ancient one stands within,
welcoming the Fool with a gesture
and eyes that bid her enter.

Settling on the parlor couch
which the Teacher prepares tea,
the Fool spreads her belongings:
a notebook, a fuzzy pink hat,
and a book of angry poems.

“I need you to teach me how
to start a revolution,” she begs.
The old one raises a bushy eyebrow
and turns to the window,
gesturing out to a spring field,
purple with deadnettle, henbit,
and Gill-over-the-ground.

“There,” says the old one,
“is your revolution. Bloom.
Be medicine, for the earth
and medicine for the people.
Draw out the toxins from your soil.
Spread beauty, and beauty will spread.
Though you know you are for the plow,
bloom anyway, and prepare
to nourish the soil when you go under.”

Tomorrow the Fool encounters the balance of the Lovers. Animus and Anima find each other and sense the ideal of their union. The secret inner self makes itself known, and she finds that what she has been running from is what she has been most longing for. Desire, attraction, the aching need to belong, to be understood, to be complete–all belong to the realm of the Lovers. Tomorrow, the Fool encounters the Lovers.

Gratitude List:
1. Another osprey, this morning.
2. Green
3. Weekend
4. Watching Babe with the kids.
5. A traveling day tomorrow.

May we walk in Beauty!