It’s another April. This year, grades were due at 8 a.m. on April first, so I didn’t even consider Poem-a-Day until after I’d muddled my way through the day, taken a nap, and eaten supper. But here I am. It’s a strange compulsion, this drive to write a daily poem, knowing that the next four weeks will have their own share of other stresses, that there will come a day, mid-month, when I will hate the way poetry is holding the whip above my head, when I will write a grocery list and call it a poem, just to get through the day. But now, on the first day of the month, everything seems bright and shiny, and I feel up for anything.

Brewer’s prompt today is to write a morning poem. I worked up a photo of this morning’s magenta cloud in a blue sky to go with it.

Finishing the Grades

The battle cry of yesterday’s ghost
startled me into morning
at precisely 4:38 according to the clock,
and as I couldn’t wrestle the monster
back into oblivion, I strapped on the day
like a rusty sword and went downstairs
in the chilly dark, to coffee and a blue screen,
to the silent dread of numbers on a page,
and the certainty of this day’s wave of work
receding, while the pull of the next wave
began its undertow toward the rising sun.

Making Family

A year ago today, Jon and I went to the Walters Museum in Baltimore. It is now one of my favorite museums. This is a filter-altered photo of a marble lion in the Egyptian antiquities section.

Today’s Prompt is to write a poem about family.

Sometimes it all comes ready-made,
like seeds, like sunshine, like rain.
But sometimes you make it yourself.
Take a little clay, a palmful of water,
sculpt and carve, shift and caress,
with great care and concentration.

And sometimes it all just gets
tossed in your direction,
bits and pieces scattered on the wind,
and you take the threads into your hands
and begin to weave. And you chant,
and you dance, and then it happens.

There’s no single formula for family,
no direction manual, no guide.
Blood’s one sacred element, certainly,
but water will do it, or wind,
whatever hold the souls together,
like laughter, like tears.

Gratitude List:
1. Celebrating Chester’s 100th birthday. Harmonica, singing, family, trees, stories, and a picture of Sarah Jane. She was there, of course. I know she was there.
2. Grades are all done and marked ready to submit, and it isn’t even midnight!
3. Reading Susan Cooper’s books with the boys. I love when they get so into the reading of a book that they stand up and start to pace, and talk back to the book.
4. Little bits of tidiness.
5. The warm times are coming. The birds tell me so every morning. I can wait.

May we walk in Beauty!

Back Again


I am back after a bit of a media hiatus. My intention was to give myself a little more breathing room to get my end-of-semester grading done. The news barrage fed on itself and sent me into a cycle of needing more news, more information, as though somehow knowing more would help to quell my anxieties. I did maintain a connection to some news sources in the past week, but it was helpful have a bit of a fast.

Gratitude List:
1. That feeling when the semester grades are in. Suddenly the wave has passed, the weight is lifted, the light end of the tunnel is reached–I’ll shove in all the metaphors I can manage here. I feel so much better. And voila, the slate is blank again, and I am starting this semester just one notch closer to my goals of remaining organized.
2. All the people who are standing in the gap. Did you see the footage of protesters at airports all across the country? Spontaneous support for those who are harmed by the refugee ban. I am grateful for people who just go out and do the good thing. Love is indeed our resistance.
3. All those songs about peace and comfort yesterday at church. Truly, I need to keep my inner house in order if I am going to help get the outer house in order. Ending the service with the song of blessing from the Navajo tradition: Peace before us, peace behind us, peace under our feet. Peace within us, peace over us. Let all around us be peace.
4. Friends. Isn’t it nice to have friends? People who keep track of each other, who listen, who advise, who hold the space.
5. The way the snow makes visible the sleeping bodies of the wooded hills and ridges, outlining their sinuous forms through the trees.

May we walk in Beauty!


Because today’s poem is about claustrophobic passages, I am posting this photo of my favorite weeping beech tree, and a passage to the light.

Today’s Poetry Prompt is to write about a Phobia.

by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Perhaps I have always been afraid to be born,
unable to bear the tunnel passage,
the sudden loss of air, of light,
the moment just before emergence.

In the dreams I am always
stuck in the opening,
caught between worlds
unable to go forward or go back.

There came a day when I shed those brick walls,
left the constrictor’s coils behind me,
raced across the open field like a deer
suddenly freed from the snare.

That day when I bounded to freedom
I let god out of her golden cage, too,
and she roared–a mighty wind–
across the meadows.

Gratitude List:
1. Orange leaves, like bits of flame, slipping through the sky.
2. Orange fox, like a small brush fire, sauntering through the grasses.
3. This has been such a season of training of the love muscle as someone said somewhere in a random internet post today. I keep not passing the test. I keep giving in to the Panicky Raging Maniac in my brain. Today, and tomorrow, and Tuesday, and then especially on Wednesday, I am going to see if I can pass the Love ALL Your Neighbors test.  All of ’em, Sweetheart. You’ve got to love. All. Of. Them.
4. Encouragement from the peanut gallery. This evening, I said to Jon (about the grading stack), “I can finally see the light at the end of this tunnel. I think I am going to make it.”  From the other side of the room, one of the munchkins started to chant, “You can do it! You can do it!”
5. That hurdle has been leapt. Grades are marked ready for the Registrar.

Don’t forget to smile at each other today.

Watching and Being Watched

I came across these old photos yesterday, three random photos of different years tucked together into an envelope. Top: 2000, Middle: 2014, Bottom: 2006 (Bumblebee boots).

Day 4 of All the Things I Wish I Had Said (While You Were Still Here)
The Prompt is to write a couplet.  I am balking, but perhaps I should try.
Like a great oak tree, within your leafy heart
I see how you protectively conceal
your secret griefs. You stand apart
and only partially reveal

the aches and losses that have brought you low.
Be strong, my friend.  Some day you’ll let them go.

It’s hard to put things into rhyme, but satisfying, too.  I couldn’t find my way to a couplet until I hit those last two lines, and I feel as though the poem sounds more like an accusation than it is intended.  It is meant to be simply a way of saying, “I see that you are carrying your past pain with great determination.”  At first, I typed: “the aches and losses that have brought you down. / You wear them like a martyr’s crown,” which I think is poetically stronger than this, but it didn’t say what I wanted to say at all.

I want to keep working with couplets and rhymes.  I do not usually actively rhyme in my poetry, but I try to pay attention to the internal assonance and consonance within the lines, and trying to form a poem around a rhyme is a helpful exercise. I think it opens new processing pathways in the brain.

Gratitude List:
1. (Who did you see?) That soft-eyed curious doe who stood on Oriole Bluff behind the house and watched us watching her through the dining room window.  We did not climb the hill to see, but I have a hunch that she may have hidden a dappled child of shadow in the tall grasses up there.
2. (What was magical?) Fireflies like sparks, like stars, twinkling all around us.
3. (What was satisfying?) Making fire with the children, roasting marshmallows and hot dogs.  (This was the first that I have really craved meat in the past year, but Jon had bought some vegetarian “sausages” that were mostly sufficient to the moment.)
4. (What is energizing?) I will be finished with my grading by the evening.  It was hard, so hard, to get into it yesterday, and I fought it off by organizing papers and stacks from the year.  And now, those stacks are organized, and I am also almost finished with the grades.
5. (What do you anticipate?) Continuing to find the rhythms of summer.  I have a Teachers as Scholars seminar at Messiah College this week, so I cannot quite set up the new patterns, but I want to give parts of each day to preparing for the fall and to working on some writing projects.

May we walk in Beauty!