Today’s prompt was to write an action poem. I chose rooting as my action. I am really weary, and this feels like half a poem, and raw at that, but I need to get to bed.
Spread your roots
Breathe into your roots.
Put your feet in the earth.
Root into the deep soil of a poem,
seeking the truffles and treasures
that lie in hidden caverns of sound
and rhythm and image.
Root through the fertile ground
of a conversation to find the seeds
a new ideas, the gemstones of an open mind.
Send your taproot down,
where the soil nourishes
your burgeoning green.
“Each moment from all sides rushes to us the call to love.” -―Rumi
“The ancient rhythms of the earth have insinuated themselves
into the rhythms of the human heart.
The earth is not outside us; it is within:
the clay from where the tree of the body grows.”
“There were far worse strategies in life than to try to make each aspect of one’s existence a minor work of art.”
―Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline
“The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better. Just go ahead and live positively; go to the side and do it differently. Don’t waste time with oppositional energy.” ―Richard Rohr, writing about the thinking of Dom Helder Camara
“The heart of faith is the call to love one another. . .” ―Avis Crowe
by Denise Levertov
Just when you seem to yourself
nothing but a flimsy web
of questions, you are given
the questions of others to hold
in the emptiness of your hands,
songbird eggs that can still hatch
if you keep them warm,
butterflies opening and closing themselves
in your cupped palms, trusting you not to injure
their scintillant fur, their dust.
You are given the questions of others
as if they were answers
to all you ask. Yes, perhaps
this gift is your answer.
1. A tiny cow and a little mouse who were entranced by the big kitty in my trunk during Trunk or Treat. Ellis was a wild panther we had caught, and he pushed candy through his cage bars to the children. Mouse and Cow kept coming back just to stare, open-mouthed, at him. Finally, after fifteen minutes of gazing, Little Mouse opened his mouth and belly laughed. Cow joined him, giggling.
2. Fun, friendly community events that get people out and talking to each other, and blessing each others’ children.
3. The tender hearts of certain teenage boys. They may present as goofy and crusty, but they’re as sensitive as anyone.
4. Getting it done
5. Playing dress-up–Happy Halloween!
May we walk in Beauty!
“It is often said that the first sound we hear in the womb is our mother’s heartbeat. Actually, the first sound to vibrate our newly developed hearing apparatus is the pulse of our mother’s blood through her veins and arteries. We vibrate to that primordial rhythm even before we have ears to hear. Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mother’s ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother. This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. Each of us spent five months in our grandmother’s womb and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother. We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother’s blood before she herself is born. And this pulse is the thread of blood that runs all the way back through the grandmothers to the first mother. We all share the blood of the first mother – we are truly children of one blood.”
“For it is the function of consciousness not only to recognize and assimilate the external world through the gateway of the senses, but to translate into visible reality the world within us.”
~ Carl G. Jung
The Call Away
by Robert Bly
A cold wind flows over the cornfields;
Fleets of blackbirds ride that ocean.
I want to be out of here, go out,
Outdoors, anywhere in wind.
My back against a shed wall, I settle
Down where no one can find me.
I stare out at the box-elder leaves
Moving frond-like in that mysterious water.
What is it that I want? Not money,
Not a large desk, not a house with ten rooms.
This is what I want to do: to sit here,
To take no part, to be called away by wind.
I want to go the new way, build a shack
With one door, sit against the door frame.
After twenty years, you will see on my face
The same expression you see in the grass.
“On this day, the Autumn Equinox, we are in perfect balance between light and dark. As we straddle this threshold time, you may be experiencing both an expanded sense of self alongside some painful contractions into a familiar darkness.
It may help to remember that sometimes we are plummeted into our darkest depths precisely because we have elevated our ceilings on Love. Our demons appear most ferociously when they feel threatened by a new attitude.
So please consider your contractions are actually validations of where you are bravely digging into your own substrate to unearth those limiting patterns and, in releasing them, revealing a greater capacity for belonging and joy.
Keep going,” Toko-pa Turner
1. Holding paradoxes. Leaning into ambiguity. (I stole this from last year’s list, but it’s apt.)
2. Tiny Toad
3. The village–fun and play, and support when things get tough
4. People who know what to do in a crisis
5. Cool evenings
May we walk in Beauty!
I heard someone speak today about the “re-” words, about how they’re so often really positive: rejuvenate, reconciliation, resolve, resolution, recreation, recharge. . . I like that, and I love looking at the probable root words: juvenate, conciliation, solve, solution, creation, charge. . . I agree that they’re positive, but part of their brightness lies in their shadows. If you are re-conciling, there’s a suggestion that the first “conciliation” didn’t quite work out. If you need to re-solve an issue, perhaps it was left un-solved, or it dis-solved somewhere along the line.
I don’t think that makes them less perky or positive, however. Perhaps more so. To know the willful comfort of a re-solution when the first solution didn’t take. To understand the depth of peace in deliberate re-creation which takes me back to a sense of the wholeness of creation.
I suppose it’s become a truism that people only deeply appreciate something when they know how easily it can be lost, but that’s probably because it’s so true. There’s a wonder and a joy in the initial birth of a thing, but the deep appreciation and gratitude for what we have often comes in the awareness of how easily it is lost.
I have been disdainful of the term New Year’s Resolution because of the flippant and glib ways in which we discuss and create New Year’s Resolutions in our culture. Perhaps if I consider (or re-consider) them as re-solutions, they might make more sense to me. In what ways have my past solutions not been sufficient? How can I re-solve my challenges? And in the process, can I offer my past self a little more compassion, knowing how easy it can be to lose sight of my original intentions?
1. Listening to a man whistling and a boy harmonizing with him on a hum
2. Getting back into the rhythm
3. Preparing a short story for submission–I don’t think I’ve ever submitted a short story before
4. Re-solving, re-storing, re-creating, re-conciling. Re-
5. Sleep and dreams
May we walk in Beauty!
Today’s prompt is to write a poem titled “Play _Blank_”
Play Me for a Fool
by Beth Weaver-Kreider
Play me for a fool and I may seek for wisdom
Play my secret songs and I will hear your voice
Play the wind against my hair and I might sigh with pleasure
Play the tired longings of a thousand hearts
Play the ancient rhythms of the forest
Play the wild music of the stars
Play the quiet dreamings of a toad in summer rain
Play the simple melody of childhood’s happy hours
Feels like it needs another stanza with a shift in rhythm and a last word, but I am falling asleep.
May we walk in Beauty!
A quick trick rock stack.
For the month of November, I have decided to move my writing time to the time before bed. I will use my more wakeful mornings for the tasks of grading, use my more reflective evenings for writing and gratitude lists, and use the whole day to consider the poetry prompts at Robert Lee Brewer’s blog for the Writer’s Digest.
Today’s prompt is to write either a come or a go poem, or both. Here’s my attempt, trying to get at some of the tension I feel when overwhelmed by lots of work, and unable to give the rest of my life the attention it requires. Composed in the shower.
I go, I come.
I’m gone, then home.
I’m home, My Dear!
Not there, not here.
My restless soul
I try to rhyme.
The words won’t come.
There isn’t time.
My brain is numb.
I want to stay.
I want to roam.
I come, I’m gone.
I go, I’m home.
1. All the colors of the maples. The fires of autumn.
2. Shifting habits and rhythms and rituals. Changing it up to shake it up.
3. That sandalwood soap, so richly-scented and lathery and heartening.
4. Blessings. The real kind that people pass to each other.
5. Clear water from the spring, with lemon and lime.
May we walk in Beauty!
Sea glass: the transformative power of water
Here is to wakeful, cooler days, to that crisp feeling in the air, to a watery slant of sunlight through the atmosphere, to sweaters, to the shushing of leaves, to the preparation for the dreamtime of winter.
1. Back to the regular rhythm, even if I am not quite prepared
5. All the shades of blue
May we walk in Beauty!
1. Back to the rhythm, with lots of extra prep time under my belt.
2. The words of Rumi. Today: “Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone’s soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd.”
3. The helpers
4. That wren out there, welcoming in the morning
5. Onions and mushrooms sauteéd in butter
May we walk in Beauty! Beauty all around.
Reading The Lorax to the children at The March
Against Monsanto in Lancaster yesterday. Photo by
Now for a very random poem. I am opening up this ninth grade literature book at random pages and pulling out lines to weave together for a tanka:
trunk in the attic
they heard the the goddess Circe
a stillness greatens
from the heresy of rain
stop to look fear in the face
It turned out a little ominous, I think. Perhaps it has to do with the youthy angst of writing which is chosen for teens. I did not spend a lot of time sorting and choosing and arranging. I like to play with random poetic constructions sometimes, to break out of some of my own typical patterns and images. Exercises like this help me see new possibilities for juxtapositions, new ways to fracture sentences to open up new meanings, new sound and rhythm connections.
line 1: Truman Capote, “A Christmas Memory”
line 2: Homer, “The Odyssey”
line 3: Richard Wilbur, “The Writer”
line 4: James Hurst, “The Scarlet Ibis”
line 5: Eleanor Roosevelt
1. Pianos in the city. If you want to add fun and liveliness to your city, what better way than to get people to paint a bunch of upright pianos in wild and beautiful designs, and then place them in protected nooks around the city. Spontaneous parties and songfests arise. Way to go, Lancaster! That’s delightful community-building.
2. The March Against Monsanto. The good, hopeful energy. Reading The Lorax to the kids. Selling tomato plants and talking healthy food with people. The Amish buggy next to my stand with “Say No to GMO” cahled on its side. The voice of the people. Knowing our march was one of many around the world.
3. Rhythm. Daily, seasonal, poetic, musical. . .
4. Books. I am overwhelmed by all the reading I want to do and should be doing, especially with a house to clean and acres to mow and children to tend and a farm to run. But I love wading into the stacks of books and opening up a poem or a short story. The novel I am reading at the moment is Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I recommend it.
5. The deep red/purple of the Japanese maple on the back hill. It’s just about big enough now to be a little fort this summer for small people.
May we walk in Beauty.
Poem about Nourishment, following Heidi Kindon’s prompt. I feel like this is part of something I have been working to say for years, and it feels like it still needs a lot of finessing, but I am so grateful for the prompt that caused me to put it down:
Let me savor
the pith and the pulp
of a fresh garden tomato.
You can talk to me
and that will make me
But the names
have their own kind
Tiny little golden orbs,
and great juicy giants,
crimson and scarlet,
and deep midnight purple.
Talk to me about
the sun, how each tomato
is born of the light,
how the mother plant
spins those rays
and weaves them,
and the tiny crystals
that it draws from
how it weaves them all together
into one magical bundle
to feed me.
Prompt for today (Monday):
I finished last night’s poem this morning, so the prompt is for today. Stephanie White suggested the theme of Lost and Found. What do you think? Care to join me? I am thinking of a couple of tankas or something similarly terse. . . We’ll see where it goes.
1. Rich conversations with friends: seeds and secrets, ancestors and our children. All woven together.
2. Two boys snuggling with each other on the recliner chair (30 seconds–I’ll take it)
3. Rain and fog and mist
May we walk in beauty.