Observing a Photograph of My Great-Great-Grandmother

Today’s Prompt is to write a portrait poem. I looked at an old photo of my great-great-grandmother, Catherine Witwer Weaver, who was a midwife.

I took a photo of the photo on the wall, and captured the light from my own room reflected into hers, and there is the room of my own head casting a shadow on the left side of the photo.

Gratitude List:
1. Poeming
2. Grandmothers
3. Kestrel on a wire
4. Dreaming
5. Sleeping

May we walk in Beauty!

Happy Dance

Gratitude List:
1.  Being Fourth Runner Up.  (At the beginning of November, I started this blog as a way to force myself to keep doing the regular exercise of writing a daily poem with Writer’s Digest blogger Robert Brewer’s prompts for the Poem-A-Day Chapbook Challenge.  I gathered the poems from that month, formed them into a chapbook with help from some wonderful women, and submitted it to the contest.  This morning I found out that I am the Fourth Runner Up!  That’s sort of like Sixth Place.  There’s no money or publication or fame attached, but it feels so good.  And the poems of the Winner and the Honorable Mention that Brewer posted this morning–they were really wonderful.  Now to prepare the manuscript to send to Finishing Line Press for their contest–deadline extended to the middle of March.)  Happy dance!
2.  Crows flying across the field in an Ursa Major formation
3.  Jen Brant’s amazing chocolate raspberry flour-less cake deliciousness
4.  Joy, joy, joy
5.  Hugs
May we walk in beauty.

Seize Your Goat!

(with thanks to Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language, Second College Edition, 1982)


get (get)  [< akin to OE. -gietan (see BEGET, FORGET),
G. -gessen in vergessen, forget
< IE. base *ghend-, to seize, get hold of,
whence L. prehendere, to grasp, understand]

1. to come into the state of having; win, gain, obtain, acquire
[Don’t let her get your goat.]
2. to set up communication with, as by radio or telephone
[Ah yes, I see, she got your goat.]

3. to influence or persuade (a person) to do something
[You can get your goat to climb the stairs, but you’ll never get it down again.]
4. to reach; arrive at
[How did you get back downstairs with that goat?]

5. to go and bring
[Go get your goat back, Girl!]
6. to become afflicted with (a disease)
[Oh yes, I’ve gotten goats.  It’s no easy affliction, let me tell you.]

7. to cause to be
[I see you’ve got your goats in a row.]
8. to be sentenced to
[She got your goat.  Now what is she going to do with it?]

9. [Colloq.] to own; possess
[I have got my own goat, thank you.]
10. [Colloq.] to be or become the master of;
to overpower; to have complete control of
[Or has your goat got you?]

11. [Colloq.] to catch the meaning or import of; understand
[Relax.  She really gets your goat.]
12. [Slang] to cause an emotional response in;
irritate, please, thrill, etc.
[Your goat gets me every time.]


Saturday Prompt

I know, I’m supposed to be done and editing, but Tuesday is Brigit, Groundhog’s Day, Imbolc, Candlemas, the Feast of St. Brighid, a luminous day deserving of poetry.  Let’s skip a day and write a poem to honor the occasion on Saturday.  Join me?


Gratitude List:

1.  Cassiopeia, Orion, Pleiades (and spell-check)
2.  Forgiveness
3.  A sun-splattered day and winds that meant it
4.  Did the boys pass an entire day without a single fight?  It’s a miracle.
5.  Editing

May we walk in beauty.

laughing goat
I found this randomly on the web and cannot discover who owns it.  I’ll credit it if someone tells me.

The Bookbinder’s Hands

In memory of my Aunt Elizabeth Weaver, and in honor of the Bookbinder of Water Street, whom I have never met.

The bookbinder’s hands have always been there,
golden in the glow of the lamp light,
curved over the book’s curling skin,
over the cover of an ancient volume
of German poetry, or an Ausbund, perhaps.
Smoothing the pages of a treatise
on divine rights of liberty written
when this was still Penn’s Woods.

The bookbinder sees with fingertips
the miniscule tears, the frayed edge,
the embossment like landscapes,
fingers gently curling like Kwan Yin’s
in a sacred mudra, touching holiness
with tenderness, while the dust
of centuries twinkles in the lamp light
above the bookbinder’s careful hands.


Final Prompt of January

Friends, this has been for me a marvelous month.  Thank you for your kind words and responses and “likes.”  During February, I will weed and edit and cultivate this month’s crop of poems, and some others which I have been hoarding.  Yesterday, my friend Kelsey Myers sent me the link to this poem.  Thematically, it’s a challenging read–breezy on the surface and brutal at the heart.  I love it, and I want to do my own version of a definition poem for my last poem of the month.  Join me for one last romp through the word-meadows?  (Oh, there will be plenty more after I have had my little break.  Meanwhile, I will continue to create poem-fodder in the shape of Gratitude Lists, and write some little poems here and there.)


Gratitude List:

1.  I gave myself a gift–signed up for Flame in the Hand, John Terlazzo’s writer’s workshop.
2.  Serendipity
3.  Synchronicity–I woke up thinking of an Idea, and turned on FB to read a message by a friend asking me whether I had ever considered this Idea.
4.  Face cream and body oil and glasses of water and rain
5.  Muffins

May we walk in beauty.

Marvel and Wonder
Photo by Michelle Johnsen

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!

Ask the Moon

Last night as I fell asleep
I asked the moon–
like a child begging
for a bedtime story–
to tell me a marvelous dream.
I asked for a big cat,
like a lion or a cheetah.
An oak tree, or any tall tree.
A stone of power.
And Lake Victoria.
Suddenly an owl appeared,
so I said, You come too.

I didn’t ask for much.

What I got was a job
as an Administrative Secretary
at a desk in the lobby
of a grand publishing company.
Papers and messages
lay strewn about,
and I knew nothing
about dealing with them.

I sat for a while,
shoved papers around
like Sisyphus pushing that rock.
Tried to plug in the lamps
to get a little more light.
Looked as busy as I could.

When I awoke,
I was snuggled up
with a child
now comforted and warm
after a nosebleed and winter chill.

Some nights I wake up
in a panic, worried
that they will freeze in the night.

Drifting off again, I found myself
in someone’s cottage,
the same child a dream child,
next to me in bed.
I looked outside to see the moon
and a giant shadow passed
across the yard toward
the back door.

My legs were dream-leaden.
I could not rise to rescue
the other child asleep
alone in his dream-room.
Did this go on for hours?

When dawn came,
I awoke between the two,
the flesh-and-blood boys,
the dream child now
forever unrescued.

Next time I ask for a dream,
perhaps I’ll call for a restless job
and a relentless shadow,
and wish secretly
for a leopard in a tree.


Prompt for Tuesday

I was planning to do a found poem for tomorrow, trying to figure out how to come up with five or six totally random phrases to weave into a poem, but this evening before supper, Joss started singing, “Once I was a snake.  Once I was a weasel.”  I have also been wanting to trying creating something with a mythic tone.  So.  Found poem.  Myth poem.  Join me?  I am sure Joss wouldn’t mind sharing his song with you, too.  Or find your own.  Listen to someone speaking tomorrow morning and pull a couple phrases at random.


Gratitude List:

1.  Windshield wiper fluid
2.  Sentinel hawks along the highway
3.  My dental hygienist, who cares so well for my teeth
4.  The prayers and blessings that children give
5.  Ellis, who cut a piece of red paper into the shape of a Y:  “This is a Y, for you, because you are so important to me.”


Begin the Revolution

A poem about the middle, about the anti-polarity.

We have danced so far
toward opposite poles
that we’ve become magnetic,

drawing each other closer
as we pull so frantically apart.
Our rhetoric and plans may seem

so utterly opposed, but
tones and tactics grow
so similar.  At times

they’re indistinguishable.
Today’s most radical,
most Revolutionary route

might be–perhaps–to take a step
towards the center, at least
in tone or tactic,

in the face of opposition
and defiance to throw up
a wall of joy, a flag of heart.


Prompt for Monday

I’ve been wanting to do a dream poem.  Since tonight is the Full Wolf Moon, I thought I might ask that wolf to send me a meaningful dream and use that for my poem tomorrow.  If I don’t retain a dream in the morning, I’ll make something up.  Heh.  Join me?


Gratitude List:

1.  Wolf Moon rising, caught in the branches of the locusts on the ridge
2.  Fiery orange sunset
3.  Sun dogs
4.  Women of the Faire, and roasted garlic, goat cheese, and hot pepper jam
5.  The village who raises our children: Be kind.  Be safe.

Much love.  May we walk in beauty.

Grandma making peanut butter cups:

Gma PB Cups

Breezes and Footprints


It was such a fine powder
that the shovel seemed like overkill
so I pulled out the leaf blower
and tethered myself to the garage
with the long orange extension cord.

In places it blew the fine particles away
from the tiny dimpled pads on a cat’s paw print
like an archaeologist’s brush,
leaving the faint foot print stubbornly intact
beside a stretch of black surface
where the heavily crushed tracks of the car
had flown away in my wind like flocks of white birds.


I can see clear pictures in my head
of things that happened long ago,
like catching crawcrabs in the creek
with my brother and his friends
the year I turned eight.

I can still smell the bullfrogs
that had grown from tadpoles
in my friend Jenelle’s aquarium
the summer I turned nine.

I can still taste the custard apples
we picked from the wild space
behind our house in Shirati when I was six.

I can still hear the hoot of a hyena
way off in the distance
on cool Tanzanian nights when I was five.

I cannot recall what I ate for supper last week,
nor what I told you about my journey
when I saw you at Christmas,
and I cannot remember why
I stood up just now and walked
into the other room.

What forces determine which pieces
will remain frozen to the surface,
and which will be blown away?

Why do some delicate paw prints
of the long-ago past continue
to tiptoe through my memories
while whole chunks
of yesterday’s heavy tire prints
whoosh away on the wind of time?

Yet others encounter opposing breezes
and drift back over time’s winds
to settle back in lacy veils
over the present moment.


What is the substance of memory?
I remember that I first met my grandmother
when I was three years old
just off the plane from Africa.
Is the image in my mind
my memory of that moment?
Or has it been blown there
by the breezes of story
told and retold in my family
of a child who ran into the arms
of a grandmother she had never met?
Perhaps it doesn’t matter.

And where now will it reside in my memory,
now that I have called it up into the present,
I who miss her so, who have a tender three-year-old
of my own, and tears in my eyes?


These stories of memory are gifts
that we give to our children, saying,

You are who you are in this moment,
like this fresh landscape of new-fallen snow.
But also here in this moment you are who you were,
like the grass that stretches up through the powder.
And you are who you will be,
as the winds blow across,
constantly shifting the surface of things.


Prompt for Sunday

Thanks to Jodi Reinhart for the prompt today: Write a poem about the middle, about the anti-polarity.  Oooh!  You know you want to join me on this one.


Gratitude List:

1.  Reiki
2.  Angels everywhere
3.  The delight and focus of a 6-year-old who obsesses on a craft project
4.  Sun to melt the drive and roads to blackness
5. This:   2013 January

May we walk in beauty.

Sing You Gently Joy

A chant poem, inspired by some women I love.

Here in the house of exhaustion
Here in the place of retreat
We’ll sing you gently joy
and hold your heart in hope

Here when your way is weary
Here where your heart is uneasy
We’ll sing you gently joy
and hold your heart in hope

Here when the day closes over you
Here when your sighs bring tears
We’ll sing you gently joy
and hold your heart in hope

Here where the way seems hopeless
Here where the rage overflows
We’ll sing you gently joy
and hold your heart in hope

Here where the No overcomes you
Here where despair abounds
We’ll sing you gently joy
and hold your heart in hope

Here in the birthplace of the fear
Here in the abode of loneliness
We’ll sing you gently joy
and hold your heart in hope


Prompt for Saturday

Well, it’s got to be a snow poem.


Gratitude List:

1.  I know I write the word “Sunrise” a lot in these lists, but really.  This morning’s sunrise glowed magenta like burning coals through the snow-clouds covering the ridge.
2.  The beauty of the Susquehanna when it is iced over, with little channels of running water here and there, and the morning sun sparkling on the surface.
3.  Little birdy footprints in the snow, like cuneiform, like code, like augury.
4.  Joy and the friends who remind me to be joyful.
5.  Gratitude lists.  And Regina Martin’s observation that the spiritual discipline of the gratitude list makes you start to take notice immediately when you wake up–you start to look for what you will put on the list for the day.

May we walk in beauty.

Rose hips in winter (photo taken in 2006)

Hold the Moment

I had intended today’s poem to be a children’s poem.  It’s coming out more like a poem for my children.

I want to snag your memories,
to hold your busy brains and say,
“This.  This is one to hold on to.
Here.  Don’t ever let this moment go.”

Remember that day
when you first sat
in the butterfly swing
up on the hill?
I pushed you
so high
you thought you were flying
above the house
into the clouds.

Remember when we went sledding
down the barn hill
on little plastic sleds
over a bare sprinkle of snow?
“Oh, yay for sledding day!”
you hollered
as you danced
back up the hill
through the powder.

Remember the day
we went to pick up the chicks
and I saw you suddenly change
from one who is cared for
to one who cares for others?
You held the soft down
up to your cheek
and your eyes shone
with the mystery of
sudden love
for the small ones.

Remember when
you first began to read?
How you said,
“You read this one,
please,” but
you couldn’t resist
reading aloud with me
at the good parts.

Our days are constant and comfortable.
The stream of life carries us
moment to moment,
and it would spoil it,
I suppose, to try to grasp it all,
to hold onto every shining treasure.

Oh, but I want to hook these few,
hold them to me like warm quilts
carefully crafted by the grandmothers,
and pass them on to you to treasure.

Prompt for Friday

I think tomorrow I will try a chant-style poem.  Join me?

Gratitude List:

1.  “Yay for sledding day!”–Joss said it and I agree with him.
2.  Making gnomes with Ellis today.  What a delight to watch him make something that he treasures.
3.  The breezeway is clean–thanks, Jon!
4.  Fidelity, loyalty, integrity, being true, garnets.
5.  This:  “Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.” ― Mary Oliver

May we walk in beauty!

2013 January 023

Ellis made the star gnome.

2013 January 018

Four new gnomes.