NPM Day 28: Write a Cento

Today is National Great Poetry Reading Day! No, I’m serious! It’s a thing.
Go get you some Angelou, Dickinson or Whitman,
some Baraka, some Stein, some Oliver, and read it out loud.
Read to yourself, to your lover, to your students,
to your sister, to your cat. Read to the wind,
to the apple tree, to the dishwasher, to the dust bunnies.

Dive into those great poems and make yourself a cento, which means “patchwork garment” in Latin, which makes this poem form seem extra special. Really, it’s a glorified found poem. You pull lines from a bunch of different poems and you make a poem from them, sticking them together in ways that seem to connect and complete each other’s thoughts and ideas. Homer did it. So did Virgil. So you can, too. Put an asterisk at the bottom of your page and list the poets you borrowed from.

Gratitude List:
1. May apples
2. Maples
3. Moooon
4. Massage
5. Meditation

May we walk in Beauty!

“The great affair, the love affair with life, is to live as variously as possible, to groom one’s curiosity like a high-spirited thoroughbred, climb aboard, and gallop over the thick, sun-struck hills every day. Where there is no risk, the emotional terrain is flat and unyielding, and, despite all its dimensions, valleys, pinnacles, and detours, life will seem to have none of its magnificent geography, only a length. It began in mystery, and it will end in mystery, but what a savage and beautiful country lies in between.” —Diane Ackerman

“I take literally the statement in the Gospel of John that God loves the world. I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that, insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love. I believe that divine love, incarnate and indwelling in the world, summons the world always toward wholeness, which ultimately is reconciliation and atonement with God.” ―Wendell Berry

“A crone is a woman who has found her voice. She knows that silence is consent. This is a quality that makes older women feared. It is not the innocent voice of a child who says, “the emperor has no clothes,” but the fierce truthfulness of the crone that is the voice of reality. Both the innocent child and the crone are seeing through the illusions, denials, or “spin” to the truth. But the crone knows about the deception and its consequences, and it angers her. Her fierceness springs from the heart, gives her courage, makes her a force to be reckoned with.” —Jean Shinoda Bolen

“Go as far as you can see; when you get there you’ll be able to see farther.” —Thomas Carlyle

“At the end of the day, I’d rather be excluded for who I include than included for who I exclude.” —Eston Williams

“Free me. . .from words, that I may discover the signified, the word unspoken in the darkness.” —Byzantine Prayer

“Father, Mother, God,
Thank you for your presence
during the hard and mean days.
For then we have you to lean upon.
For those who have no voice,
we ask you to speak.
For those who feel unworthy,
we ask you to pour your love out
in waterfalls of tenderness.
For those who live in pain,
we ask you to bathe them
in the river of your healing.
Dear Creator, You, the borderless
sea of substance, we ask you to give to all the
world that which we need most—Peace.”
—Maya Angelou

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”
—Leonard Bernstein

Stillness. One of the doors
into the temple.”
—Mary Oliver

“If you just learn a single trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” —Harper Lee

NPM Day Ten: Find a Poem

Today, Find a Poem.
Finding a poem is kind of like making a quilt, where you take small pieces of fabric and stitch them together to become something beautiful and wholly your own. When you find a poem, you do the same thing with words, taking words and short phrases that catch your fancy like bright pieces of cloth, and then you decide how to stitch them together.

Here are a couple ways to find a poem:
1. Tear out a page from an old magazine or book (yes, really–I keep several on hand just for this purpose). Scan the page for words you like, words that might go well together, either making a certain sense, or simply sounding interesting together. Circle them. Cross out the others. Decorate the page. You can also do this with junk mail, or papers that you are throwing away. (If you’re a student, try one of those essays or term papers.) You can tape the page into your journals, take a photo of the finished process, or type it out.
2. As you listen to conversations today, or scroll through your social media, write down words and short phrases that you see or hear on little pieces of paper. Sit down with a stack of these, and shuffle them around on a flat surface until they resolve themselves into a poem. Tape the pieces together or type it up.

Poetic forms always have their rules, and I am a firm believer in the intellectual process of trying to create something that fits those rules–I think it refines the poet’s capacity for sensing inherent rhythms and sounds. But I also strongly advocate for breaking and revising the rules when they don’t suit you–that’s one of the ways new forms are born. There is one rule in Found Poetry that I recommend following pretty closely: Don’t take too many words in a row. The final poem should be yours. If you simply must take that entire sentence or complete phrase, then make sure to credit your source in your final poem.

Gratitude List:
1. Such fine care from my Beloveds. Hand-me-down clothes, stones to hold, scents to smell, advice for healing, images to meditate upon, reminders to rest. I love you, I love you, I love you.
2. Weekend!
3. The goldfinches are goldening
4. Trees in bud everywhere
5. Poeming saves me. When the world gets either frantic or flat, poeming grounds and centers.

May we walk in Beauty!

“Stay close to anything that makes you glad you are alive.” —Hafiz

“The problem is that you think you are separate from others.” —Richard Rohr

“You have to want a thing enough to reach out for it.” —Lailah Gifty Akita

“To wait within the moment for the coming dawn,
To breathe the single breath of all that lives,
To walk the web on which we all belong,
To face the newborn day with love instead of fear.
To listen for the whisper of the Spirit’s wind,
To feel Creator’s heartbeat in the world around,
To hear the grace of the Beloved in my neighbor’s voice,
To embrace the sacred space between the past and change.”
—Beth Weaver-Kreider

“Hope is a dimension of the soul. . .an orientation of the spirit, an orientation of the heart. It transcends the world that is immediately experienced and is anchored somewhere beyond its horizons. . . .It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out.” —Vaclav Havel

“When time comes for us to again rejoin the infinite stream of water flowing to and from the great timeless ocean, our little droplet of soulful water will once again flow with the endless stream.” —William E. Marks

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.” —Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Healing is not pouring your energy into another, but activating the widening field of possibility around yourself, so the other may glimpse their own majesty forming on the horizon.” —Toko-pa Turner

Finding Poetry, Part 1

I needed a mental health break. I wasn’t feeling the burn of an emerging poem, but I needed the fix of a poetic experience without having to go deeply into the trance state of poetic midwifing. So I posted a request: I asked my friends to open a nearby book to a random page, put a finger at a random spot, and type in a short sentence or phrase near to where their fingers landed. I took all their lines and crafted a poem. It was playful, whimsical, and deeply satisfying.

Here is the result of the first one I did (yeah, I have done more):

The Impermanence of This Floating World
(A Facebook Crowd-Sourced Found Poem)
by Beth Weaver-Kreider and Friends

Pray for us, O Mary.
Show us the face of your Son.

Then she spoke to me.
“There’s nothing to figure out.
I am who I am.
The way I see it,
all children are our children.
Mature souls are more comfortable being vulnerable—
all feeling is born in the heart.”

I looked up and saw the beauty,
looking upward into its mighty boughs.
Still, we know who’s swaying:
outside there is quiet in the dark.

Sleep is, I know now, impossible when skylarks are in song. . .
Did we fly swiftly toward the stars until our wings tired?
While the vault of heaven rings,
it appeareth about Easter, when Alleluia is sung again,
a drawing together of any kind:
that isn’t sacred?

Jean asked Maxwell not to utter
another word until he heard her side of the story.
So long a journey confirms that work,
his blue figure struggling. . .
Imagine how easy it is for me.
Monitor the type of risks you’re taking,
for this is the Lia Fáil, the stone of destiny—
must need both hands to pick them up.

Pentacles are work, money, and security,
a degree of understanding.
Looking back, she did not regret the making love,
a welcome relief from the daily drudgery of life,
having effected this disguise so completely.

The dermatologist was, in his own eyes, an artist beyond reproach
(g to return to. Excerp t the futhe r he goes, t he smaller t he hallway).
Knowing Hollywood, they probably would
have whitewashed it anyway.
Moral theories are wanted to explain
what makes an action right or a person good
Guilt is another common reaction,
particularly among parents.

The children of your servants shall continue
the duet, flush with possibilities
that produces a continuous pitch;
the most important and familiar among them
is the common Buttercup of the meadows.

Remove the air joints, then the grease line
from the left bearing cap:
fourteen hours of driving ahead.
Nourish faith—
there are many ways to reach the goal.
What we have to eat and drink together,
we usually mean traveling, waves,
ice-cold waves arched up into walls.
The impermanence of this floating world
I feel over and over.
Is sorrow the true wild ?

Again, you’ll have to trust your senses
and be very focused as you use this technique.
The visions are so terribly distinct
that I almost imagine them to be real.
“Most people don’t burn to death,” I said.

Gratitude and a Rule for Parenting

Gratitude List:
1. Glorious Lady Magnolia tree on 462 across from the Red Rose. Oh goodness! Can a tree be traumatized from witnessing humans kill each other?
2. I changed the cutting head on the string trimmer all by myself. It took a lot of figuring to get the old one off, but I managed.
3. Open House at my school tonight. Nice to spend time with colleagues, and to get a chance to show off the school to prospective families. It was lovely to see a few students again, too.
4. Baked oatmeal for supper. Comfort food.
5. How doing art makes you see the world differently.

May we walk in Beauty!

A Rule for Parenting:
Never simply say, “Don’t lick your brother’s food.”
You have to also say,
“Don’t tell your brother you licked his food, even if you didn’t. Especially if you didn’t.”
“Don’t lick the packaging that your brother’s food is in.”
“Just don’t lick or talk about licking your brother’s food.”
I probably should have included more permutations, but I was getting just a little cranky (momspeak for VERY GROUCHY). This parenting gig can be hard.

Here’s a found poem. I put it together from strips of paper and glued it to yesterday’s painting. I was loving it, and so I put Mod Podge on it to seal it, but instead it stayed white and gloopy. It was a disaster. I pulled off the pieced and mostly salvaged the painting, but the poem strips were destroyed.

One morning before dawn
in the thick of that month,
the trees still heartrendingly asparkle,
the women’s laughter,
as dark as bitter chocolate,
lodged in the house of
beautiful magnificent wings.

They halted at the woods,

Passage through the wilderness
was not a simple matter
to escape a forest without shade,
We have to ascribe to femaleness
the audacious, the math, the order.

Below, the alligators
are sleeping in the grass
awaiting the rain.

When I look up, you look up,
and we know.


DSCN9103 DSCN9102 DSCN9101
It has been a couple years since I have had the time and energy to maintain a Poet-Tree in the yard, so I made one on my bulletin board.

Today’s poem is a threading together of fragments of Facebook posts from years gone by on this day.  A Facebook Found Fragment poem.

Doozy of a storm.
The poetry is shredded.
I will be such a laundress today
and fix up my tree.
I have a fierce attachment to hope.

Sleep is such a magical elixir. And elderberry.

The trees are taking that last inbreath
before they explode into bloom.
My heart is breaking. And healing. And breaking.

Soak up the energy,
give yourself a break from perfectionism,
sample a bit and see what it tastes like,
become a drop of sunlight
and whisper in on the breeze.

See? There you have it:
Sometimes I feel so awkward
about who to be, how to be.
But that means there is always something to learn,
always a new path to explore.

Gratitude List:
1. Anniversaries.  Our wedding anniversary may be in September, but today is a special anniversary.  Here is how I said it three years ago: “This day, [29] years ago. Pizza, pool, and a penny for good luck. I decided that it was time to tell that cute shy boy how much I liked him. Turns out, he liked me too. He’s still cute, and sort of shy, and I like him a whole, whole lot.”
2. New car!  When you try to run your vehicles just to the point before they become more expensive to maintain than it would be to buy a new one, then the purchase of a new car is a really big deal.  Roxanne Rustbucket has served us well for many years–she’s the only car our children know.  Hopefully, Pippi (yes, as in Longstocking–we were thinking of VillavillaCoola) Prius will haul us safely through another decade.
3. Having a day of lesson plans that just follow simply from yesterday’s lesson plans and don’t need a huge amount of planning.
4. Mary Oliver
5. All the shining eyes of the day–thoughtful, hopeful, tricksy, needing, giving, knowing, compassionate, connecting. . .

So much love!  May we walk in Beauty.

What Gives Rise


Redacted Poem: I pulled the words and phrases from one page in an old copy of National Geographic.  My favorite phrase is “some visionaries face revision.”

What Gives Rise

ancestors             explore a better place
close the circle             completing the journey

yet it hardly ended

we go to Mars             backtrack and regroup
some visionaries face revision
trying to figure out
what gives rise to this “madness”

we’re doing what they did
an urge to explore rises in us

you find people
passionate enough
intrigued enough
curious enough

Gratitude List:
1. One small boy who is seven years old today.  He has a hilarious sense of humor, a well-developed sense of himself, and open-hearted compassion for the people around him.  He is an observer, watching and noticing little details, from the kind of car everyone drives to whether or not someone seems to be having a good or a bad day.  I am so glad that he came to be in this family.
2. The ways in which the body is designed to protect itself and heal itself.  Those minute guard dogs, the white blood cells, are meant to attack scary intruders.  Today I am praying for someone’s white blood cells to be healthfully and speedily replenished.  The body is designed to do that, too.  May it be so.
3. More reconnecting.  Strengthening the web.  Building the form and reconnecting the strands.
4. Making dolls/creatures.  I haven’t made anything with a personality for a while. (I’ve been making hearts and scarves and things.)  I had sort of forgotten the satisfying way that I begin to fall in love with something as soon as it has eyes and it begins to take the shape that it is meant to take.
5. Warm days.  I managed to get through winter without too much whining about the cold (I guess it wasn’t particularly cold for very long).

May we walk in Beauty!

Found Poem

I found this poem on page 40 of the September 2004 issue of Sojourners Magazine.  In an article by Danny Duncan Collum about Michael Moore’s then-new movie Fahrenheit 911I circled some words and blacked out the rest.  Here is the result.  It’s a little more disjointed than I want it to be, but it’s really about playing around, seeing what sense I can make out of seeming nonsense, what happens when half-random words and phrases are created and strung together, what meaning is suggested.


I saw Che Guevara on a day filled with omens
we went to lunch there, on the big screen
he won’t go back

I am troubling the dead
I won’t tell you this again

that didn’t happen
today he is lucky to be rooted
in this great global anthem

I pulled a few interesting quotations directly out of the article:
“The war is not meant to be won.  It is meant to be continuous.”  George Orwell
“If you let the world change you, you can change the world.”  from The Motorcycle Diaries

Gratitude List:
1.  Hearing the story through the voices of young people and children
2.  Visual Poetry
3.  Songs of journey, songs of water–“Wade in the water, children”
4.  Gentle guides through the liminal spaces
5.  Community support for unpacking uncomfortable, anxious and difficult questions, powerful questions

May we walk in Beauty!

Finding Poetry

Found Poem
Source: Joss Weaver-Kreider

I just saw a tree
that had no leaf left


at first I thought
it was a giant feather.

This is an old photo, from December,
but it shows some naked feathery trees.

Gratitude List
1.  Ten Years of Goldfinch Farm.  It has gone by in a flash.  It has been forever.  Happy Birthday, Bright Spot!
2.  Prayer.  Or singing.  Or writing poems.  Or drawing.  Or listening.  Or looking.  Or magic.  Whatever you call it, the energy that is the connective tissue of the Universe, the Multiverse.
3.  Four-part harmony
4.  Standing in the borderlands, looking around, and realizing that I’m ready for the journey.
5.  This contemplative morning time all to myself.

May we walk in Beauty, in Love

11 Borrowed Words: Poetry Prompt for Monday

I love to pull order out of seeming randomness.  It harnesses the magical energy of word-work.  Last year, I was given the prompt to write a poem using five random song titles.  I went to my CD shelves, closed my eyes and chose 5 CDs.  Then I stacked them up, chose the first song from the first CD, the second from the second, and so on.  The randomness of the resulting poem pulled me out of my tendency to sermonize and dogmatize.

For Monday’s poem, I think I’ll base my Randomness Rules on the date.  I’ll choose a book at hand, open to the 13th page (for the year).  For March, I’ll scan down to the 3rd line, and for the day, I’ll choose 11 words, in order beginning somewhere on that line.  (I do offer myself the grace to try a different book, if the first one is unpromising).  Somewhere in my poem I’ll use those 11 words, either as a phrase, or a chant, or even randomly placed–separately–throughout the poem.  I’ll make sure to credit the author of the words I steal.

I’ll post it here on Monday.

Join me?

Once I Was a Snake

“Once I was a snake.  Once I was a weasel.”  –Joss Weaver-Kreider

Once I was a snake.
Once I was a weasel.
Once I was a spider
casting webs to catch
the fire of the sun.

At the dawning,
there were three trees:
walnut, poplar
and sycamore.
Generations of birds
nested in their branches.
Whole cities of small creatures
grew among their roots.
And black snakes carried news
along their highways,
from lofty breezy branches
to deep in the earth
where the the roots
sought underground streams.

Once I was a hawk.
Once I was an otter.
Once I was a grey owl
swooping from behind
the shadow of the moon.

As the first day began,
a small spring ran
from under a rock
off the flank of the ridge,
into a laughing stream
and down to a lazy river.
Families of crayfish
scuttled through the shallows.
Minnows twinkled in and out
of the sun-dappled pools.
A matriarch kingfisher
chortled and dove,
happy in her hunting.

Once I was a grouse.
Once I was a turkey.
Once I was a great elk
who sought my herd
in the valley of the stars.


Prompt for Wednesday

Two more days of January.  Then I take a break from poem-a-day to do some editing.  Let’s see.  What shall we write tomorrow?  I almost tried to fit an image from my morning into today’s poem, but couldn’t make it work.  How about making a poem about a powerful image of some sort?  Choose a painting, or a photo, or a memory with strong visuals.  Mine, I’ve written on my gratitude lists before, and I saw it again this morning: the lamp light shining on the hands of the bookbinder tenderly repairing an ancient book.


Gratitude List:

1.  Jon happened to go outside this evening to discover that the chickens had escaped.  Everyone is safe inside the coop tonight.
2.  Finding lost things
3.  So many shades of green
4.  Chocolate and coffee
5.  Making it myself

May we walk in beauty.

2011 June 199
Veggie mandala–I am looking forward to summer!