Outer Space, Inner Space

Today’s Prompt on Poetic Asides is to write a Lucky Number poem. My thirteen lines have thirteen syllables each. I might call the form thirteen squared.

Thirteen white pebbles in a woven nettle basket.
Thirteen striped feathers floating on the gentle spring breeze.
Thirteen tiny minnows circling in a shallow creek.

You’ve drawn the Death card, which is also Transformation.
One cycle is ending; another is beginning.

Ouroboros, Jormundgand, and Damballa Wedo:
Whatever you call it, the World Serpent eats its tail,
delineating a universe, shaping a world,
separating the outer space from the inner space.

Don’t take no as your final answer. Don’t give up now.
The hardest push comes just before the moment of birth.
The final moment of surrender to the process
is the moment that the light of the new world shines in.

That Ancient Song

“Our indigenous voice is that ancient song which emanates from our gratitude. It knows no such construct as comparison or exclusion because it is devotional. It sings to keep the stars in the sky and the moon rising in its arc across the night. It sings to all the helpful conditions that are enabling our well-being in every given moment and it recognizes itself as an essential note in that great choir of being.” —Dreamwork with Toko-pa
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“We owe it to ourselves and to the next generation to conserve the environment so that we can bequeath our children a sustainable world that benefits all.” —Wangari Maathai
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Sometimes we have a strong sense of what our destiny is calling us to do, but we don’t feel quite ready or brave enough to answer the call. We need a push, an intervention, a serendipitous stroke—what you might call “fate bait.”

It’s a person or event that awakens our dormant willpower and draws us inexorably toward our necessary destiny; it’s a thunderbolt or siren song or stage whisper that gives us a good excuse to go do what we know we should do.

Do you have any ideas about how to put yourself in the vicinity of your fate bait?”
—Rob Brezsny
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“And death, when he comes
to the door with his own
inimitable calling card
shall find a homestead
resurrected with laughter and dance
and the festival of the meat
of the young lamb and the red porridge
of the new corn”
—Kofi Awoonor


Gratitude List:
1. Magenta
2. Cerulean
3. Viridian
4. Gold
5. Violet

May we walk in Beauty!

Death and Temperance, and the Wall

 

I have hit the poetry wall tonight. I’ve been feeling it coming for a couple days now, the slowing, the resistance in my brain as I approach it. And here, tonight, with Death as the prompt, I don’t know where to go. I want to make it light and fluffy, toss it off without thinking. I don’t have the brain cells for much work tonight, and my will to work is shallow and listless. Then I remind myself that some of the shiniest poems happen at the moment of the wall. Of course, that’s when some of the worst ones happen, too. Sigh.

 

 

No, I think she’s a woman in a red cloak
with gentle brown eyes and midnight skin.
Unlike the ferryman, she asks no token,
no proof of passage or confession of sin.

She carries a sickle instead of a scythe,
appearing in fevered delusions and dreams,
and though you may dread to see her arrive,
you will cherish her presence on the journey.

###
There now. I’ve written something. I honestly can’t tell whether I like it or not. That’s part of the wall, too, the loss of a sense of what works and what doesn’t. Best to just get it down there, and come back to it with a clear head when April is over.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
So much of it is about Balance, isn’t it? Justice, a few days ago. Even Death–there’s always a balance between death and life, between the fear of it and the hope for it. The Lovers–they’re all about balance between the opposite parts of our inner nature. Tomorrow, again, is another sort of balance: Temperance. We’re not talking about periods of US history here, but about the concept. Passion and zeal are important drivers, and they can be great when you need to get the chariot moving, but fokeeping it going straight and steady, you’ve got to find the temperate balance. Can the Fool, in her naive and wandering heart, find the deep meaning of Temperance?

Gratitude List:
1. Pink trees
2. Cool breeze
3. Bees
4. (Ack! Now I need to keep going with this.) Poetries (Don’t judge me.)
5. Cheese (Hey now, I do love it, and we had some mighty fine Pepper Jack for supper.)

May we walk in Beauty!

Odin’s Ordeal

To get at the truth,
you have to get down to the roots,
deep down to the roots,
to the water under the roots.

Suspended between all worlds,
you hang in the air
between death and life,
between heaven and earth,
looking down, looking to water,
to the wells of water beneath the tree.
There’s fire too, fire in the tree,
lightning in the branches of the oak.

After your windy ordeal,
nine nights and nine days,
you look down once more
and behold the secret of language.
The words trickle through your fingers,
singing in the waters that surround you.

TOMORROW’S PROMPT:
Tomorrow the Fool encounters Death. I’ll write a death poem for tomorrow. Last year, I tried writing a poem which personified Death, anthropomorphized her. Perhaps I’ll try to do a version of that for tomorrow. Always remember that the ending which Death represents always create spaces for new beginnings.

Gratitude List:
1. The smell of flowers, everywhere.
2. The guard dogwoods are blooming.
3. The lilacs are blooming.
4. It’s warm enough to hang out outside after school.
5. Power naps.

May we walk in Beauty!

Improvising

cairns
This is from a writing prompt I gave my students in Creative Writing class.  We had studied “Conscientious Objector” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. and I just happened to choose Mary Oliver’s poem “When Death Comes” for yesterday’s daily poem.  I made one of their writing prompt options to write a poem which personifies Death as those poems do.

She’s large, Death is, like a most ancient grandmother,
her gap-toothed grin sparkles with an invitation to dance.
She’s got a baby on one hip and a broom in her free hand.
Her breath is the warmth rising from a freshly plowed field.
You can hear her whisper on a moonlit night
and her cackling laughter rises into the spiraling eddies
of a snowstorm.

There’s a hardness behind her eyes,
like the glitter of diamonds.
She can’t be fooled, Old Death.
She works on contract, and she won’t be denied.
She gathers the last and the lost into her sturdy arms.
I’ve felt her pulling on the other end of the line
as I have held one I didn’t want to let go.

But here and there she comes to the bedside
of a traveler weary of taking a breath,
or the desperate soul about to leap, weary
of the work of the beating heart.

Her cool quiet kiss touches a brow
and her whisper lifts the curtains
like a winsome spring breeze:
“Not yet, my darling.  Now is not your time.”

As she moves off through the veils of destiny,
you hear her thoughtful chuckle,
and smell the dank darkness of a cave.

Gratitude List:
1. Laughing with the kids.  They have recently discovered Kidsnippets and we have occasional family binges.
2. Coffee from Ethiopia.  The father of one of my students recently came to visit and brought me some coffee from the source of coffee.
3. Lights at ends of tunnels
4. The leaf-buds on the sycamore tree are about to burst
5. Improvisation.  It’s good for so much more than Drama class.

May we walk in Beauty!

Dea Ex Machina

Dea Ex Machina

What we speak
we create.
Writing, we make
meaning into existence.

These words, cogs
and gears, shift
meaning to matter:

“Let there be. . .”
And there is.

And it is good.

Gratitude List:
1. The social lives of my children.  Friends.
2. All that dies and decays so that new life may rise and be nourished
3. Chocolate oatmeal cake with caramel icing
4. How words shape meaning
5. Bees

May we walk in Beauty!

Lost Language

Today’s Poem-a-Day Prompt is to write a message poem.

Lost Language

A bark-stripped twig along the path
etched with the burrowers’ runes.

Creekside, the wide webbed prints
of heron’s cuneiform stamp.

Overhead, shifting shapes
of scripts in the migrating flock.

A scatter of leaves on the pavement.
The pattern of bees zipping through sun rays.

When did I unlearn this language?
When did I forget how to read this alphabet?

A message that slips out of memory
just as it reaches the back of my throat.

The last hazy image of a dream.
The world is waiting to be read.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Getting out there.  Deciding.  Starting the search.
2.  I found my old resumes, my portfolio, my syllabi and course schedules from when I taught community college fifteen years ago.  That old me, the younger one, wasn’t too bad.  If she could do that, I think maybe the newer me, the older one, can manage it, too.
3.  A new pair of shoes.  I’m sort of saying that to try to mitigate the sadness that the old ones finally gave up the ghost this morning.  Really, a pair of sturdy, stylish and comfortable shoes that lasts for ten years–there’s some deeper meaning there.
4.  Opening doors for the Universe to pour in.  (Oooops.  I accidentally typed “pout” there.  Heh.)
5.  That poem by Mary Oliver about death, about being married to amazement.

May we walk in Beauty, in Amazement!