Poem a Day: 19

One of today’s Prompts is Month. The other is to use these six words in a sentence: bump, embrace, fixture, howl, lonely, resolve (all created by Shakespeare).

Song for a New Way
a sestina of Shakespearean words
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Coyote is something of a fixture
in the myth of the landscape, a lonely
figure trotting atop the ridge. A howl
echoes into the hollow, an embrace
of wildness and winsome, where we bump
against our own internal resolve

to enter wildness, our stout resolve
to live less burdened by the fixtures
of modern existence, in the bump
and whirl of the rat race, this lonely
place in the crowd. Today we embrace
our freedom from form with a wild howl.

Set free from the commute, the howl
of the markets that weakened our resolve
to fight the forces that tempted us to embrace
acquisition and consumerism, that fixture
of capitalism that is the root of our lonely
longing for stuff that stops us, a bump

on the road to enlightenment. We bump
into the stuff, the stuff, the stuff. We howl
with the frustration, knowing we’d be less lonely
if we could only find our inner resolve
and let our inner existence be the fixture
that would lead us to a stronger embrace

of what matters. For example, we would embrace
kindness and empathy, the places where we bump
against each other would be the fixture
of our ideals. We’d learn to how to howl
our deep longings and we would resolve
to make each other less lonely.

Only in the search for connection will our lonely
lust for power be ended. When we embrace
all beings as siblings, and resolve
to avoid the stumble and bump
of collecting more trophies. The howl
of lost enchantment no longer a fixture.

We can resolve that we will no longer be lonely.
The fixture of our new story will be the embrace.
We’ll bump fists and hips, and howl.

A Sestina for All Saints (2 of 2)

I plan to write a poem a day again this November, following the prompts from Robert Lee Brewer’s Poetic Asides blog. Today’s prompt is to write a new day poem. I decided to try another sestina, using new and day as two of the six words, and creating a little end rhyme. It may make it a little too bouncy, and a sestina is a little ambitious for my falling-asleep brain, but it’s all in the name of experimentation.

All Saints Day
a sestina
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

As the veil closes on this day,
day between days when I–and you–
go seeking guides and saints, seeking the way
our dear beloveds have wandered through
the parted curtain: Listen, can you hear them say
the names of all the souls they knew

when their own days were green and new?
Now we ourselves slip from behind the curtain of this day
to follow their singing, to hear them say
our own names. Can you feel how they long for you?
How they seek your attention through
this veil that obscures the way?

How silently they guide you when you lose your way?
Our memories are vast pools they bathe in. They renew
their lives within the waters of the dreams we threw
away. Their memories are thin as cobweb, flashing like a day,
then gone. All they have to hold them here is you–
and me–so we must be careful what we say

about the dead, about the ones who’ve gone before. We say
they’re just a vapor, just a mist, a feather that will weigh
less than a living soul. But we know, me and you,
how light is heavy, how old is new,
how they continue to exist beyond their days,
and how the weight of our own memories brings them through.

And so we speak the names of saints and our beloveds, through
the long nights of the Hallowed Days, we say
their names, we keep them real, we mark the days
and help them through the veil to find their way
back to our joyful tables, set with bread and wine and new
candles. Look how they glow and hover around you.

I will keep this night along with you
and listen as the music whispers through
the mists that rise across the veil, new
pathways drawn between us. We can say
that finally we have found our way
between the curtains and into a new day.

Tomorrow you will step into another day,
find the way between, the way through, find your way
into a new dawn, full of light. You’ll have new names to say.

I needed a brain diversion today, and so I pulled up two Rilke autumn poems and translated them into English. I had forgotten how satisfying translation is.

An Autumn day (Herbsttag)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by E. A. Weaver-Kreider

Lord: it is time. The summer was so long.
Lay your shadow upon the sundials,
and set the winds loose upon the fields.

Command the final fruits to ripen;
give them yet two southerly days,
urge them to fullness and coax
the last sweetness into the earnest wine.

Whoever has no home, has now no time to build.
Whoever is alone, will stay alone a while,
will awaken, read, write long epistles
and in the alleys here and there
will wander, while the leaves drift by.

Fall (Herbst)
by Rainer Maria Rilke
translation by E. A. Weaver-Kreider

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far away,
as if they’ve withered in the distant gardens of the heavens;
they are falling in the gesture of denial.

And through this night the heavy Earth is falling
away from all the stars in lonely space.

We all are falling. This hand falls.
And look at the other one: falling is in everything.

And yet there is One who holds all this falling
in infinitely tender hands.

Following the Pack


Today’s prompt is to write a poem which includes the words band, logic, pack, web froth,  and clean.  I’ll try a quick sestina. There really should be no such thing as a quick sestina–they take lots of work, so the free-association of this one is a little sloppy. I like the formal rules of it, but I always have trouble moving the ideas along because of the way the words that end the lines keep bringing me back. I think a brilliant sestina re-interprets the words much more ably than I can do in the few minutes I have.

Troubled Sestina
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

You’ve got to hand it to the band.
It takes a lot of guts to twist the logic
to coax the sheep to follow the pack
of howling wolves, to cast that web
of lies, of fluff and froth.
They’ll never get their hands clean.

Like Lady MacBeth trying to clean
her hands of that damned spot, the band
will soak and soap their hands in a froth
but they can never wash off that illogic,
never extricate themselves from the web,
never free themselves from the howling pack.

Because when you’ve joined the pack
you’ll never get your soul clean
or cut the cords of that binding web,
the strands that tighten like a band
about your throat. No logic
can pull you free of the poisonous froth.

The wolves are rabid, frothing
at the mouth, infecting the pack
with their bitter illogic.
Everything is utterly unclean
and decency has simply been banned,
the bonds of friendship lost in the web.

Find yourself in the center of the web
of prayers that surround you like a froth
of apple blossom, listen for the band
that plays a different melody, a pack
that will keep its hopeful music clean
and seek the source of logic.

Trust your heart’s logic.
Cast your prayers and spin your web.
If you want to keep your soul clean,
close your ears to the bitter froth
and the howling of the pack.
Follow a more ancient band.

This band will follow heart-logic.
This pack will spin a new web.
The froth of a new spring will make you clean.

*Oy. I am sick of that word “froth.” Ick. And “clean” settles the poem too much into a religious experience, and the whole thing feels a little high and mighty now that I am done. Still, I love writing sestinas. I think I’ll have my Creative Writing crew do sestinas next semester.

Gratitude List:
1. Zootopia–We watched it at Wrightsville Elementary tonight. It was a little hard to hear because the kids in the back of the gym kept up a bit of a ruckus. But a good movie with a bit of a pointed point to it.
2. Music chapel. Always incredible. We sometimes have professional musicians in chapel, and they’re sometimes pretty good, but I don’t think anyone enjoys them as much as we do when our own students are creating music. I think the proper terminology to describe Ben’s guitar-playing was “serious shredding.” It was fantastic. I sometimes feel like I am at an arts school.
3. Sometimes things happen in class that you just don’t plan for. Today in one class of struggling readers, a fairly incidental character appeared in the book we’re reading and a student wanted to stop and talk about him, so we talked about how the Mexican farm workers felt safer going to Mr. Yakuta’s market. “Just like Donald Woods,” said the student. I thought it was a wild leap, but I asked him to explain. “They felt safe with Mr.Yakuta, like Biko felt safe with Donald Woods.” Wow.  “Yeah,” said another student, “and like that coach in the movie Radio. Radio felt safe with the coach.” And suddenly we were into a conversation about safe people, about how we want to be the safe people, like Mr. Yakuta, and Donald Woods and the coach. They made the connections. Powerfully.
4. Experimenting with words
5. Chocolate.

May we walk in Beauty!


Faerie Tree

Today’s prompt is to write a settled poem.  Thought I would try a sestina today. This is in honor of all those who will be protesting at the Lancaster County government offices tomorrow, protesting the proposed pipeline that will cut through Lancaster County, dangerously close to the Susquehanna River and through wildflower preserves and wildlands and the beautiful Tucquan Glen.

This morning, a single shaft of sun
settles on an opening curl of fern.
A hermit thrush yodels, breaking the silence;
a salamander lays her eggs in a vernal pool;
trout lilies, may apple, and trillium come alive in the breeze;
and a gravid squirrel prepares her birthing nest.

Spring has settled into this glen, this nest
of a valley dappled with sun
where a dread new word is whispered on the breeze:
“Pipeline.” Listen to me, seed and egg and fern.
Hear me. Let the message sink into the pools
and the shadows in these hollows.  It shatters our silence.

The time is past for us to be settled and silent.
Safety will no longer be found nestled
in these hills, in these pools.
The trees will be torn out, your secrets open to the sun,
the yellow machines will crush the ferns,
and diesel fumes will waft on the breeze.

Tell it far.  Let it float on the wild winds and breezes:
We must not stay silent!
Awake and rise up like the unfurling fern!
Un-settle yourselves to protect the wildness.
Be fierce and penetrating as the sun.
Let action ripple outward like circles in a disturbed pool.

We must work together, pull together, pool
our energies.  Tell it to the breeze.
Marshall the forces of our hearts, our will, our reason.
Protect and preserve the settled silence.
Make it safe for the den, the perch, the nest,
for the spider, the swallow, the fern.

We want no pipeline, only the gentle swaying of the fern.
Tell them No.  We want to see the salamanders in the pools
in the glen, the intricate basket of oriole’s nest,
the wild honeybees, the lady slipper, the melodious breeze.
Tell them a firm and settled No. We seek the solitude and silence
of the unscarred valley dappled by the sun.

Gratitude List:
1. The snow of blossoms from the pear tree outside the window
2. The sound of rain on the roof
3. Sun salutations
4. There are always more choices
5. Taking action

May we walk in Beauty!

Wisdom from the Stone Mother, completed

This one is for Nicki Larue.  I found most of the first stanza in her words on Friday.  Oh my, I have just pooped out on this.  It’s a daunting task.  I think that I will write more of these, many more, but giving myself more than a day or two to finish. 

It’s all one big pool.
One fountain, one single source.
Only take what’s yours for today.
Connect yourself to Earth and Sky and spread your wings.
Listen through the words, for the word that gets overlooked;
that one word could hold the whole story.

You are the Teller of your own story.
Don’t be afraid to dive into the pool,
but remember not to leap before you’ve looked
and swim against the current, to your source
where you will rise from the waters, find your wings
and fly into the dawning of the day.

And it’s your new day,
each moment a new story,
the minutes winging
swiftly past, pooling
into hours, whirling into the source,
a mirror into which you look,

like an open book, you look
each blossoming day
into that source
for clues to your story,
you look into that pool
and see your reflection, with wings,

dusted with color, like butterfly wings
and you turn to look
behind you, to where a pool
of shadow heralds the ending of day,
closing another chapter in your history,
another truth drawn from your source.

Darkness descends, the source
of light extinguished, you fold your wings,
pause in the telling of the story,
listen for that one word which you have overlooked.
Watch how the night overcomes the day,
how darkness spreads outward like a pool.


Heidi Kindon suggested a poem on Nourishment.  I love it.  It’s time to step out of the form a little while and hit up a theme.  Who will join me?

Gratitude List

1.  Seven happy hens
2.  A brown egg, a beige egg, and a double-yolked blue egg
3.  Homemade doughnuts for supper!
4.  Watching Here Comes Santa Claus with the family–my favorite Christmas movie.  Yes, and nearly a month late. . .
5.  Malachite

May we walk in beauty.

All That I Have Ever Been Redux

Back to that phrase that came into my brain in a dream last week, in a rondel, and in a single crazy twisting sentence.

All that I have ever been
is compounded by what I am now,
by all I can avow or disavow
and by all that I have ever seen,

the fields of past folded upward by the plow
of Time into this moment, between
all that I have ever been–
compounded by what I am now–

into the turning future, which will allow
this interweaving, scene to scene,
the colors shifting: red to gold to green,
all times overlaid as one, somehow
a part of all that I have ever been.


Friday Prompt
Becky and Dakota White suggested a sestina.  Even though today was a form experiment, I am going to try a sestina tomorrow because this excites me, and because the rondel was fun and satisfying.  Care to join me?  Here’s the Sestina Form description from poets.org.


Gratitude List

1.  Suzy was not badly hurt in the accident today.  Hold your friends close.
2.  The thrill of writing in a poetic form.
3.  That tasty wild blueberry granola from Miller’s.
4.  Reading with the kids.
5.  Hawks along the highway and gulls on the lights of the old bridge.

May we walk in Beauty.