Poem a Day: 3

Today’s two prompts were Blossoms and Follow ______.

I’m not really happy with this one. I got caught on the hook of the rhythm and I couldn’t tear myself loose, so I followed the trail. I followed the blossoms, I guess.

Follow the Blossoms
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Step, Golden Child, onto the pathway:
follow the blossoms strewn on the pebbles.
Pink-flowering trees and golden-bloomed bushes
line the trail that calls you to wander.

Follow the blossoms wherever they lead you.
Heed only the call of aroma and color
as your feet take the rocky trail into the wild-lands,
away from the village, away from the hearth-fires.

The stories will tell of your innocent spirit,
naive, how you trusted the universe,
never believing that anything
out in the wildwood could harm you.

But you, like the Fool, have kept your eyes open.
You know of the risks, you know of the shadows,
but something else calls you to step beyond boundaries
out to the wildwood, where dangers await you.

Ahead of you, waiting around every bend in the pathway,
are challengers, riddles and questions to answer,
witches to work for and riders to follow.
Now you will have come to the edge of your trial.

Step, Golden Child, into the clearing.
Now you are nearing the challenge you came for.
This is the moment you’ve trained your whole life for,
to follow the blossoms to where they may lead you.

Gained In Translation, Again

Three years ago, I ran a couple of my short poems through Google Translate to see what would happen. From English to Pashto and back again. From English to Pashto to Hindi to Javanese and back again. How does meaning become fractured through the algorithmic translation process? Last week, I tried it again. I started with:

Long have I longed for
and dreaded
this moment
of darkness,
belonging to silence,
sure of my shadows.

Then I ran it through
Sinhala —> Tajik —> Swahili —> Malayalam —> Pashto —> back to English

Here is what happened. Look how it pulled a rhyme in there for me (afraid/shade), and the meaning has definitely shifted, but I’m really happy with it. I added punctuation at the end for clarification. I actually like it better than my original.
I’ve been waiting a long time.
Don’t be afraid.
At this point:
Dark,
In silence,
I believe in shade.


Then I tried Mr. McConnell’s famous Truth: Nevertheless she persisted.
Ran it through Punjabi —> Bangla —> Hmong —> Kyrgyz —> Tamil —> English
Ended up with: The reality is, however, there is more.
This changes the meaning a little more than I really want to, but it is an interesting end.


I tried a third, another of my tiny poems. This time, that fifth line changed anger to sex. Hmmm.
Take a deep breath.
Find the place inside you
that remembers how truth feels;
remember that there
are kinds of anger
that are more effective
than blind outrage.

Tamil —> Javanese —> Cebuano —> Hindi —> Kazakh —> English

Take a deep breath.
Find a place in your stomach
The cruelty of truth is considered;
Remember
Sex is scary
It was very effective
Especially the blind.


Ah, well. I like putting the essence of meaning outside of my control for a moment and seeing what happens.

In Creative Writing classes, many of the exercises I have students do are to encourage us to move behind that space in our brain that controls the meanings. Part of the reason for this is that is helps us to discover hidden wells and springs of words and ideas within ourselves that we didn’t know were there, like finding the secret room in your house in the dream. At a basic level, it helps us learn that there are a thousand ways to say a thing, a thousand hues of meaning. Giving up control in the immediate moment, as with an exercise like this, helps us learn to take control, to refine and define our meanings.


Gratitude List:
1. Singing in the pit for our school’s musical. It’s a rather big commitment, but I love it.
2. Yesterday after I dropped a Big Boy off for tech prep for the play, I had a couple hours just to be by myself. I went shopping, of all things. Hit the Goodwill pay-by-the-pound bins, and A.C. Moore’s going out of business sale. I bought Small Boy a stack of canvases for painting–half price.
3. The Small Boy hasn’t painted for months, but at the moment he is creating a marvelous abstract cloud-like scene with watercolors. Hmm. Now he is adding some acrylics on top of that. Experiment, Kid!
4. Silver hair. When I see photos of myself now, my first awareness is of a middle-aged, grey-haired, gnome-like woman. I’m okay with that. No, I’m actually happy with that. I like being middle-aged, and I like having unicorn hair.
5. The way the sun casts shadows in the bosque across the road when it slides up and over the opposite ridge in the mornings. All those tree-shadows!

May we walk in Beauty!

Mist, Moon, Mist

Poem from a year or so ago:
Prayers and Rage
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

What can we give besides our prayers and rage?
And what will that avail?
Send out the story on October winds.
Fling it high, where crows are flying.
Send the message echoing into earth
with every pounding step you take.

Listen.
Let the shells of your ears gather the story.
Reel in the gossamer strands of the tale
and weave them into the veil you wear.
Listen for the stories of those who weep,
those who rage, those who only speak
with the shrug of a shoulder,
with a sigh, with a shudder.

Listen, too, to those who walk right in,
who step into your circle without invitation.
Listen to the voices that are hard to hear.
Offer only the bread that is yours to give.
Be like the old gods, with the raven Wisdom
on one shoulder and Memory on the other,
and Reason perched upon your hat.

Offer what is yours:
your rage,
your prayer,
your watchful quiet heart.


And another, more thematically whimsical:
Duck, duck, goose.
Goose, goose, wren.
Mist, moon, mist.
October.


Gratitude List:
1. Finding my way again to deep breath.
2. Chilly autumn rain. Yes, really. The melancholy of a rainy fall day can be satisfying even for sanguine personalities.
3. While I have never been a big fan of the cold season, I love wearing layers and leggings, and that season has returned, and so I feel much more comfortable in clothing.
4. This full-spectrum lamp that Jon bought to help boost us through the coming winter. Light-bathing.
5. The distinctly autumn sounds of the calls of geese and jays and crows. I feel my animal self more distinctly in these days, pulling between the longing to migrate and the longing to hunker down and burrow in.

Much love. Blessings on your Day!

Loving What Is Mine

The little conch shell dreams of the ocean.

Today’s Poetic Asides prompt is to write a poem on the subject of jealousy. I don’t know that I experience that particular emotion much. Perhaps I am not being honest with myself?

Though I would love to defy gravity with the grace
of an acrobat or ballerina, how can I be jealous?
For jealousy fogs the windows of appreciation,
and pulls my soul’s feet downward just as surely
as my physical body rests solidly on earth,
and I want to let my spirit fly with those who can.

And how can I be jealous of the artist whose line
is so eloquent that a single curve or bend
can draw me to tears? I long to place my truths
within the webs of line and color as great artists do,
but jealousy would push me off the ladder
I am climbing toward them in their lofty realms.

Sometimes I read a line of perfect thought
in poetry or prose and think, “I wish I’d written that!”
But even that distracts me from the beauty of the word,
and pulls me out of that co-creative space wherein
the writer tosses out a thread of meaning
and the reader reels it in, and both are necessary
for the literary process to be complete.

Oh, I get jealous of other people’s tidy spaces,
their immaculate houses that never break down,
their ability to get everything done in timely ways.
But would I trade my life for theirs? Would I then
be satisfied? Or would I ride out of that upgrade
into the next, never learning to be content?

May I always remain unsettled enough
that I continue seeking better ways,
but may my days be filled not with wishing
for another train, but with loving what is mine,
and treasuring the marvelous gifts that others
have and know and do.

After All

Today’s prompt on Poetic Asides is to write a Poem titled, “After ______.”

After All
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

After all is said and done,
when you’ve won the battle,
when you catch your breath
and stretch your fingers to the sun,

will you still believe in all the words
and songs that led you to your path?
Will you remember all the guides
who walked beside you in the lonesome days?

Will you praise the small coincidences
of the wayside trees that brought you comfort,
and the sort of incidental shining stones
that made a trail for you to follow?

After the dust has settled,
after the room has stopped spinning,
after the dice have rolled the magic number,
will you stumble onward blindly

in the noonday glare, or will you pause
and rest a moment, give a knowing glance
toward the river and the willows, the pebbles
and the flaming trees of spring?

Will you sing a grateful poem to the day?
Will you kneel? Will you build an altar?
Will you dance? Will you pray?


Gratitude List:
1. Phoebe calling
2. Bluebird muttering
3. Fixing things
4. Water
5. Poeming

May we walk in Beauty!

I Stole This Poem

I drew this back at the end of February, when I finally began to feel that awful weight of winter shifting just the lightest bit.

Today’s prompt on Poetic Asides is to write a stolen poem. Here’s my attempt:

Poetry Prompt: Write a Stolen Poem

I stole this poem years ago, actually,
from a shelf in a corner of that old book shop
on a quiet street down by the river.
Dust motes twinkled in shafts of sun
which slanted through the windows.

I eased the leather-clad book from a high shelf.
I thought I heard it whispering.
My fingers tingled with its electric pull.

I knew it would contain treasures:
words like glisten and linger,
like numinous, mellow, meringue.
I thought it might glow on the page,
hum my name, offer me words to ponder:
tendril, exquisite, winsome, wander.
And words strong and feral,
like flame, wild, and bramble,
courageous, incarnate, sycamore.

I thought it might tell me how not to be afraid,
how to not put so much stake in other people’s opinions,
how not to trust the lure of the the easiest road.

It did not disappoint.
I’ve kept it, concealed,
waiting for the moment,
the right invitation,
to reveal it.

Scenarios

Brewer’s prompt for the second day of National Poetry Month is a two-fer: Write a best case/worst case scenario poem. I can’t get Dickens out of my head on this one. I want to do a best of times/worst of times sort of thing. It’s only the second day, and I have left my poem until it’s almost too late to think.

Scenarios

There could be snow. There could be sun.
We could all live to a ripe old age,
or be mowed down by disease or accident
in our youth, or our prime, or our golden years.

There could be an extra cup of coffee tomorrow,
or no time for the necessary drug of the second cup.
We could change our ways and turn it all around,
or keep racing pell mell toward certain destruction.

We could save each other from our worst impulses
or we could drive each other into bad decisions.
We could choose at least the process of our fate
instead of letting it rule us and wreck us.


Whom Shall We Trust?

During the season of Lent, the worship materials for the Mennonite Church suggest a more ritualized confession time, not particularly about confessing sin, but expanding it to confess what we believe. As part of the ritual, a few people each week are asked to come forward and bring their confessions in the form of a poem or a piece of art or a story or a reflection of some sort. Today, I have been asked to be part of the ritual, answering the question: “Who will trust in God today?” Here’s my poem:

Whom shall we trust?
When hurricanes and charlatans
destroy the weak?
When the meek are set
to inherit a world laid waste by greed?
When human need bats last,
long after lust for money, sex, and power?
Whom shall we trust
in this hour when so much has been lost?
When the cost seems too high
for such a simple thing
as resting in belief
that the Holy One has time
for grief about our trials and tribulations.

The pillars of the past no longer hold.
They’ve had feet of clay all along,
and wrong upon wrong upon wrong
has brought the ancient houses down.
There’s no more room here for illusion.

How, then, shall we trust?
Shall we just ignore the lancing fear
that tears our sense of safety from its moorings?
That bears us outward into territories
we’ve not known before?

Perhaps it’s not a matter
of ignoring what we face,
but rather an attempt
to place our anxious thoughts
within the context of the Greater Power.

I will put my trust in Mystery,
in that ineffable presence we call God,
in the Knowable Unknowing,
and in the One
who put on shoes like us
and trod the roads we walk,
and spoke as one who knew
the course of human suffering.
I’ll trust us to the Holy Wind of Spirit,
who hears our songs and knows our fears,
who causes us to rise, though we resist;
in our resistance fills our sails,
the wind that pulls against the kite
and makes us rise to higher height.

Perhaps nothing can be truly known,
no comfortable future gardens
sown with seeds of certainty.
But we can trust the certainty of seed,
the trusty breeze of Spirit
and the rains of the Creator
on these fields we bear within us.


Gratitude List:
1. The Little Sisters buzzing for pollen among the crocus and anemones
2. A fun afternoon of pond play yesterday with my kid
3. This man who makes the most amazing birthday cakes
4. The opportunities for my soon-to-be-teenager to learn to do the tech things he loves
5. Summer break is on its way

May we walk in Beauty!