NPM Day Thirteen: Apology

April Poetry Prompts: Day Thirteen

Today, write an apology poem. Get it off your chest. Ask for forgiveness. Say you’re sorry. Apologize for something you did or didn’t do. Apologize to your parents, or to your children, or to the Earth, or to the librarian for that book you never returned.


Gratitude List:
1. The sense of smell–the heady perfume of rose, the tang or peppermint, the redolence of supper cooking
2. Layers of flavor, and how texture and sweet/salty/sour make up the experience of taste
3. Rest, even when I don’t feel like it. My body says REST, and I must comply, so I do
4. Teaching poetry. I try to design my classes that have poetry components to have poetry during April, so this is a happy month for me
5. Talking it through

May we walk in Beauty!


“I pray to the birds. I pray to the birds because I believe they will carry the messages of my heart upward. I pray to them because I believe in their existence, the way their songs begin and end each day—the invocations and benedictions of Earth. I pray to the birds because they remind me of what I love rather than what I fear. And at the end of my prayers, they teach me how to listen.” ―Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place


“Until we are all free, we are none of us free.” ―Emma Lazarus


“Live the full life of the mind, exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the unusual.” ―Ernest Hemingway


“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” ―Robert Frost


“What I have seen is the totality recapitulated as One,
Received not in essence but by participation.
It is just as if you lit a flame from a live flame:
It is the entire flame you receive.”
―St. Symeon the New Theologian (949-1022)


“We love the things we love for what they are.” ―Robert Frost


“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts.” ―Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet


“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” ―Sarah Williams


“Resist much, obey little.” ―Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass


“Unbeing dead isn’t being alive.” ―e. e. cummings


“If we do not mean that God is male when we use masculine pronouns and imagery, then why should there be any objections to using female imagery and pronouns as well?” ―Carol P. Christ


“Subversive language, however, must be constantly reinvented, because it is continually being co-opted by the powerful.” ―Carol P. Christ

NPM Day Twelve: Embody an Animal

Embody an animal in a poem today.
Sit still for a moment and call an animal into your mind’s eye.
Feel within yourself what it feels like to have wings, flipper, tail, claws.
Write a poem from inside the perspective of that animal.
Be mythical, if you like.


Gratitude List:
Tabula Rasa, again. Starting fresh. New chances to succeed.


I called through your door,
“The mystics are gathering in the street. Come out!”
“Leave me alone. I’m sick.”
“I don’t care if you’re dead!
Jesus is here, and he wants to resurrect somebody!” —Rumi


“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” ―Rumi


“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” ―Buddha


Some words on my River, from Robert Louis Stevenson:
“I have been changed from what I was before;
and drunk too deep perchance the lotus of the air,
Beside the Susquehanna and along the Delaware.”
―Robert Louis Stevenson


“. . .and as I saw, one after another, pleasant villages, carts upon the highway and fishers by the stream, and heard cockcrows and cheery voices in the distance, and beheld the sun, no longer shining blankly on the plains of ocean, but striking among shapely hills and his light dispersed and coloured by a thousand accidents of form and surface, I began to exult with myself upon this rise in life like a man who had come into a rich estate. And when I had asked the name of a river from the brakesman, and heard that it was called the Susquehanna, the beauty of the name seemed to be part and parcel of the beauty of the land. As when Adam with divine fitness named the creatures, so this word Susquehanna was at once accepted by the fancy. That was the name, as no other could be, for that shining river and desirable valley.” ―Robert Louis Stevenson


“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” ―Elie Wiesel


Rob Brezsny:
Plato said God was a geometer who created an ordered universe imbued with mathematical principles. Through the ages, scientists who’ve dared to speak of a Supreme Being have sounded the same theme. Galileo wrote, “To understand the universe, you must know the language in which it is written. And that language is mathematics.”
Modern physicist Stephen Hawking says that by using mathematical theories to comprehend the nature of the cosmos, we’re trying to know “the mind of God.”
But philosopher Richard Tarnas proposes a different model. In his book “Cosmos and Psyche,” he suggests that God is an artist—more in the mold of Shakespeare than Einstein.
For myself―as I converse with God every day―I find Her equally at home as a mathematician and artist.

NPM Day Eleven: Make a List

Here is a visual list of five varieties of daffodils on Goldfinch Farm.

Write a list poem.
When I first began writing Gratitude Lists, I quickly became aware of the fact that each one is really a little poem, that the seemingly unconnected items on the list spoke to and informed each other, created a magic in the randomness. And some days I would order them so they would either flow or crunch up against each other, intentionally poeming. I took up the discipline of gratitude lists at the same time I took up poetry as a discipline, and the two paths began to teach each other and to become intermingled.

In a list poem, what happens if “buy red ink for the printer” sits next to “write an apology to X for yelling at them” or next to “seek World Peace”? I’m fond of to-do lists as poems, but you can make a grocery list, a gratitude list, a vengeance list, a how-to-solve-the-problems-of-the-world list. Try a list of your favorite things, or things you see out your window.

Here’s mine, spontaneously:
April

is violet grape hyacinth
bluebells we called them
purple deadnettle
gill on the ground or the grass
violet myrtle

is golden forsythia flaming
in every hedgerow
yellow teeth of the lion
dotting the lawn and
a dozen kinds of daffodil

is pink skirts of cherry trees
whirling in breezes
rosy magnolia stately queen
pink orchards preparing
the fruits of the summer

is green almost glowing
life force in everything
growing new life
emerald grasses and new tender shoots
green vines weaving the season to come.


Gratitude List:
1. Purples and violets
2. Pinks, roses, and fuschias
3. Greens, emeralds, and viridians
4. Blues, ceruleans, and indigos
5. All that carries color

May we walk in Beauty!


“We have all hurt someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. We have all loved someone tremendously, whether by intent or accident. it is an intrinsic human trait, and a deep responsibility, I think, to be an organ and a blade. But, learning to forgive ourselves and others because we have not chosen wisely is what makes us most human. We make horrible mistakes. It’s how we learn. We breathe love. It’s how we learn. And it is inevitable.” —Nayyira Waheed


“To me, it’s all right if you look at a tree, as the Hindus do, and say the tree has a spirit. It’s a mystery, and mysteries don’t compromise themselves—we’re never gonna know. I think about the spiritual a great deal. I like to think of myself as a praise poet.” —Mary Oliver


“When you hold a child in your arms, or hug your mother, or your husband, or your friend, if you breathe in and out three times, your happiness will be multiplied at least tenfold.” —Thich Nhat Hanh


“I stuck my head out the window this morning, and spring kissed me BANG in the face.” —Langston Hughes


“In the morning, wonder and be generous like the sun.
In the evening, meditate and be kind like the moon.”
—Debasish Mridha


“There is a huge silence inside each of us that beckons us into itself, and the recovery of our own silence can begin to teach us the language of heaven.” —Meister Eckhart


“Every spring is the only spring—a perpetual astonishment.” —Ellis Peters

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

NPM Day Nine: Random Words

For today’s prompt, write a poem which uses at least five of the following words,
which I got from randomwordgenerator.com:
guard
thaw
crash
grounds
empire
manager
surgeon
ankle


“Our task is to take this earth so deeply and wholly into ourselves that it will resurrect within our being.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“We have no symbolic life, and we are all badly in need of the symbolic life. Only the symbolic life can express the need of the soul – the daily need of the soul, mind you! And because people have no such thing, they can never step out of this mill – this awful, banal, grinding life in which they are “nothing but.” —C. G. Jung


Listen
by Shel Silverstein
Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child,
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS,
the IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES,
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child,
Anything can be.


If you are a dreamer
by Shel Silverstein
If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!


“It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.”
—Mary Oliver


“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” —Once-ler, in Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax


“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” ―Nelson Mandela

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.


Gratitudes:
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

NPM Day Seven: Mondo

Poetry Prompt for Day Seven of National Poetry Month

Grab a friend and make a Mondo. According to Robert Lee Brewer of Poetry Digest, a mondo is a
question and answer poem. Write a question (can be three lines of 5-7-7 syllables, but doesn’t have to
be). Your friend writes the answer.

My students and I have decided that there’s a certain cosmic significance to a random answer,
written without reading the question. Sometimes it’s hilariously disconnected, but occasionally a
sweet synchronicity occurs and a random answer actually applies to the question.

Here. I’ll start with the question. Feel free to respond with an answer, and then poem a question
of your own:

How do you see me,
when I hide myself behind
this shadowy mask?


Gratitude List:
1. Resolutions
2. Revolutions
3. Revelations
4. Resolutions
5. New Beginnings

May we walk in Beauty!


“Dear friends, look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people; rather, they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others.” —Pope Francis


“Remember, the ugly, old woman/witch
is the invention of dominant cultures.
The beauty of crones is legendary:
old women are satined-skinned,
softly wrinkled, silver-haired, and awe-inspiring
in their truth and dignity.” —Susun Weed


“God invites everyone to the House of Peace.” —The Holy Quran


“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” —George Orwell


“What a pity that so hard on the heels of Christ came the Christians.”
—Annie Dillard


“The arc of history is long, and what we’re here to do is make a mark. . . . You do the work because you’re slowly moving the needle. There are times in history when we feel like we’re going backward, but that’s part of the growth.” —Barack Obama


“Each moment from all sides rushes to us the call to love.” —Rumi


“You are a co-creator of love in this world.” —Richard Rohr


“Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


“When we let ourselves respond to poetry, to music, to pictures, we are clearing out a space where new stories can root; in effect we are clearing a space for new stories about ourselves.”
—Jeanette Winterson


“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.” —Eden Ahbez


“Dear friends, look at the real heroes who come to light in these days: they are not famous, rich and successful people; rather, they are those who are giving themselves in order to serve others.” —Pope Francis


“Remember, the ugly, old woman/witch
is the invention of dominant cultures.
The beauty of crones is legendary:
old women are satined-skinned,
softly wrinkled, silver-haired, and awe-inspiring
in their truth and dignity.” —Susun Weed


“God invites everyone to the House of Peace.” —The Holy Quran


“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” —George Orwell


“What a pity that so hard on the heels of Christ came the Christians.”
—Annie Dillard


“The arc of history is long, and what we’re here to do is make a mark. . . . You do the work because you’re slowly moving the needle. There are times in history when we feel like we’re going backward, but that’s part of the growth.” —Barack Obama


“Each moment from all sides rushes to us the call to love.” —Rumi


“You are a co-creator of love in this world.” —Richard Rohr


“Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson


“When we let ourselves respond to poetry, to music, to pictures, we are clearing out a space where new stories can root; in effect we are clearing a space for new stories about ourselves.”
—Jeanette Winterson


“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn
Is just to love and be loved in return.” —Eden Ahbez

NPM Day Six: Ode to the Librarian

Today is National Librarian Day. Really.
Write an ode to your librarian.
Or to your library.
Or to the Ancient Library of Alexandria.
Odes are formal, song-like praise poems in honor of a person, an event, or an idea.
Set it to music, maybe?
Get your guitar and go sing to your librarian.

Here’s a rather free-verse ode to my librarian friends:

You are my favorite subversives,
sneaking about in the racks of books,
stalking the readers, eyes a-gleam:
“This one, I think, might interest you,”
knowing full well that you just may
have altered the course of a life.


Gratitude List:
1. My colleagues. They’re such good folk. Such good folk.
2. Sunshine
3. Yellow flowers
4. Sunshine
5. Sunshine (Oh, did I say that one already?)
6. Sunshine

May you walk in Beauty!


The Happy Virus
by Hafez

I caught the happy virus last night
When I was out singing beneath the stars.
It is remarkably contagious –
So kiss me.


“It is our mind, and that alone,
that chains us or sets us free.” —Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche


“Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind.” —George Orwell


“We must live from the center.” —Bahauddin, father of Rumi


“Some days I am more wolf than woman and I am still learning how to stop apologising for my wild.” —Nikita Gill


“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.” —Albert Einstein


“Writer’s block results from
too much head. Cut off your head.
Pegasus, poetry, was born of Medusa
when her head was cut off.
You have to be reckless when writing.
Be as crazy as your conscience allows.”
—Joseph Campbell


“Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world.” —Annie Lennox

NPM Day 5: Fib!

This photo is a fib. Can you spot it?

Gratitudes:

Time with the family. Leftovers. Baked goods. The color yellow. Rest.

May we walk in Beauty!


“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


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

NPM Day 4: Loss and Redemption

I offered this as a short story prompt on my FB page the other day, and the results were compelling and moving. Let’s make it into a poem for today.

Write a three- to five-line poem in which you tell a story of loss and redemption.

The veil is torn.
“Why are you weeping?”
Tell me where they’ve taken his body.
“Mary.”
Morning dawns.


I love that Easter happens so often right near the beginning of April. although he is many archetypes–healer, teacher, revolutionary, dying god, redemptive force–one of my favorites is the Sacred Fool, and I never cease to be moved at the way the story plays this out in Easter and its aftermath, in the stories of Mary in the garden, Thomas the skeptic, Peter the shamed, and the travelers on the road to Emmaus. Each time, hope and relief burst in upon the devastation and despair.

The first one is with Mary in the garden. He approaches he and lets the truth of the story dawn on her in her time, lets the surprise flood in to her devastated heart without trying to push the discovery. And how does she hear the truth that he is alive? When he says her name.

It is my hope that, no matter what your spiritual story, that you will know you are Beloved, that you will be truly named.

Here is a Mary poem I wrote in 2017:

Turning the Wheel
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

it can be that quick
the change from one state to another
there’s that moment of devastating awareness
the kick in the gut and the tumble into the terrible truth
then the cold crypt of devastation
the going numb

but there’s that moment when you turn your face
away from the shadows and into the glare
and you don’t know yet who is it you see
but there’s something in the stance
something about the voice
the why are you weeping
and you don’t dare to hope
but then you hear your own name
and it all falls away
and the wheel has turned
and Love is there


Gratitude List:
1. How the light shines in
2. Holy surprises
3. Stories that bring hope to life
4. So many circles of care
5. Love

May we walk in Love!


“‘Kindness’ covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.” —Roger Ebert


In a mist of light
falling with the rain
I walk this ground
of which dead men
and women I have loved
are part, as they
are part of me. In earth,
in blood, in mind,
the dead and living
into each other pass,
as the living pass
in and out of loves
as stepping to a song.
The way I go is
marriage to this place,
grace beyond chance,
love’s braided dance
covering the world.
—Wendell Berry
(The Wheel)


”You have to begin to tell the story of your life as you now want it to be, and discontinue the tales of how it has been or of how it is.” —Esther Hicks