Finding Poetry, Part 1

I needed a mental health break. I wasn’t feeling the burn of an emerging poem, but I needed the fix of a poetic experience without having to go deeply into the trance state of poetic midwifing. So I posted a request: I asked my friends to open a nearby book to a random page, put a finger at a random spot, and type in a short sentence or phrase near to where their fingers landed. I took all their lines and crafted a poem. It was playful, whimsical, and deeply satisfying.

Here is the result of the first one I did (yeah, I have done more):

The Impermanence of This Floating World
(A Facebook Crowd-Sourced Found Poem)
by Beth Weaver-Kreider and Friends

Pray for us, O Mary.
Show us the face of your Son.

Then she spoke to me.
“There’s nothing to figure out.
I am who I am.
The way I see it,
all children are our children.
Mature souls are more comfortable being vulnerable—
all feeling is born in the heart.”

I looked up and saw the beauty,
looking upward into its mighty boughs.
Still, we know who’s swaying:
outside there is quiet in the dark.

Sleep is, I know now, impossible when skylarks are in song. . .
Did we fly swiftly toward the stars until our wings tired?
While the vault of heaven rings,
it appeareth about Easter, when Alleluia is sung again,
a drawing together of any kind:
that isn’t sacred?

Jean asked Maxwell not to utter
another word until he heard her side of the story.
So long a journey confirms that work,
his blue figure struggling. . .
Imagine how easy it is for me.
Monitor the type of risks you’re taking,
for this is the Lia Fáil, the stone of destiny—
must need both hands to pick them up.

Pentacles are work, money, and security,
a degree of understanding.
Looking back, she did not regret the making love,
a welcome relief from the daily drudgery of life,
having effected this disguise so completely.

The dermatologist was, in his own eyes, an artist beyond reproach
(g to return to. Excerp t the futhe r he goes, t he smaller t he hallway).
Knowing Hollywood, they probably would
have whitewashed it anyway.
Moral theories are wanted to explain
what makes an action right or a person good
Guilt is another common reaction,
particularly among parents.

The children of your servants shall continue
the duet, flush with possibilities
that produces a continuous pitch;
the most important and familiar among them
is the common Buttercup of the meadows.

Remove the air joints, then the grease line
from the left bearing cap:
fourteen hours of driving ahead.
Nourish faith—
there are many ways to reach the goal.
What we have to eat and drink together,
we usually mean traveling, waves,
ice-cold waves arched up into walls.
The impermanence of this floating world
I feel over and over.
Is sorrow the true wild ?

Again, you’ll have to trust your senses
and be very focused as you use this technique.
The visions are so terribly distinct
that I almost imagine them to be real.
“Most people don’t burn to death,” I said.

Poem a Day: 23

Today’s Prompts were Social _____ and Touch:

Social Medium
by Beth Weaver-Kreider

Tendrils of thought whisper
through ether, through thin
air, through wires which fire
like synapses, brain waves.
The medium notices, raises
awareness, opens her notebook,
types in a rhythm, a patter
of notes, of letters on keyboards.
She knows the byways of
platforms and scaffolds in
digital apps and media, and
touches the stories of others
through digital narratives,
traces the pain she reads
back to its sources. She
wanders through doorways
of future possibilities, opens
new pathways for potential.
She sees you through the
mirror of your screen and
knows the appropriate
application to help you
find your direction.

During the Time of the Exile for the Good of the Realm

Yesterday’s walk: The green hill to the right of the photo is the end of the currently-unused landing strip for our former neighbors’ ultra-light. Just to the left of that, in the break between the trees, is the path onto Goldfinch Farm, down into the holler to home. The green path ahead of me (to the left) winds through the neighbor’s ridge-top fields to their farm. I like to walk partway down those fields and back.

I suppose that technically our self-isolation begins today. No church tomorrow. No school for two weeks. Someone whose handle is @Sarkor posted a lovely social media thing yesterday, encouraging people to think of it not as “self-isolation” but as “Exile for the Good of the Realm.” I am taking that on with gusto, while also keeping an awareness that for many people this is an extremely difficult time.

Now is the time to keep our eyes on our neighbors, to check in with working people whose children must stay home, to check in with elders who will be even more isolated. Such care we must take in these days, such deliberation. We wash our hands and we meditate on hope and on goodness. We check in with those for whom this exile is costly, and we wash our hands again.

My up-the-road neighbor works in healthcare. Maybe I will wash my hands and bake her some break this week and leave it at her door. What about our neighbors whose livelihoods depend on People Showing Up? I was glad to hear one of the speakers in the PA governor’s address yesterday talk about buying gift cards from local small businesses to use when we’re back out in society. Also, we need to eat. We will wash our hands and get as much of our needs from Flinchbaugh’s and Sue’s, the local farmer’s market and small grocery, in the coming days, and to Jillybeans Sweet Shop, a marvelous little bakery in Wrightsville. And then we will wash our hands. I might wash my hands and go get a coffee at The Cycle Works’ coffee shop. I’ll maintain exile and precautions as much as possible, while doing my best to support those around me who depend on People Showing Up.

Also, let’s use this time to make our social media spaces places where people can feel connected and involved, places where we can help each other through our isolation and distance. Let’s share photos and poetry and stories. Let’s manage our anxiety so that we can express our worries without Feeding the Fears. That’s easier for me to say this morning than last night, when I was comparing my feelings of direness to the way I felt on 9/11. That’s a little how it felt: out-of-body unsettled. Let’s keep connecting to the deeper rivers of joy and satisfaction and memory and gratitude that carry us through difficult times, and let’s help each other find those rivers.

And here, on the farm, I will relish the introverted time, the time with the boys, the burgeoning spring, the cat cuddles, the sunrise and the birds calling. As someone who gets wobbly and rudderless without a schedule, the promise of daily school tasks in this work-at-home environment is a welcome diversion. Last night, we saw a daily schedule someone had made for student-people during the Exile. My younger son immediately constructed his own. I am going to make my own, looser, schedule, to include several hours of focused academic work, time exercising and being outside, time for art and making things, tidying time, limits for myself on screen time (while also giving myself a bigger breathing space for blogging/writing).

If you, too, are in Exile for the Good of the Realm, I wish you peace, joyful contemplation, productive work, and moments of satisfying connection with others through computer or phone. Let’s look out for each other. If it gets to be too much, reach out to someone. (If we’re not friends on Facebook, you can look me up there, and check in–I’ll give you a virtual high five and we can help each other to breathe through this.)

Gratitude List:
1. GREEN! The chickweed is up and vibrantly glowing with green life force. The highway medians and fields are shining with verdancy.
2. Blue: The speedwell is up, and parts of the yard are carpeted in blue. And the sky is the shade of a robin’s egg.
3. Coming to Terms. I acknowledge my anxiety. It sits there in the room like a large bear waiting to be acknowledged. (Welcome, Friend. Let’s get to know each other while we are here together in Exile.) If I ignore it, my imagination makes it so much bigger and scarier, but if we sit and have coffee together, we can figure each other out a little bit. This is a time to practice living with that particular friend and learning how to recognize her.
4. While I recognize that this time is really challenging for many people, the truth of the matter is that two weeks of being at home on the farm with the kids and the cats while having structured work to do each day is close to ideal for me. I am grateful.
5. Puzzles. Last weekend after we had brunch at Cafe 301 to celebrate Jon’s birthday, we went down the street to the Re-Uzit shop, where Jon bought several little puzzles. We’ll enjoy putting them together over the next couple of weeks.

May we walk in Beauty! Be safe. Be well. Keep connected.

Some Personal Rules for Posting

Same photo as yesterday. Different filters and tweaking.

It’s getting difficult to wade through the re-posted tweets and memes on social media regarding the presidential race. While I might not get too anxious or flustered in what I used to think of as “normal” times, these days, I am becoming more and more wary of bots and trolls. The thing is, they’re funny. They’re clever. They make acid points. And the thing behind the thing is: Russia is no longer even trying to hide the fact that it is trying to affect our election process through social media.

In light of this, here are some posting rules to consider.
1. No quizzes. I am taking absolutely NO quizzes online. Even if I am pretty sure that this one will tell me that deep down in my soul, I am a mermaid and my personal animal is a unicorn. No quizzes. No take ’em. No post ’em.
2. No re-posting tweets and memes that disparage political candidates. Except Bloomberg. Okay, none. News stories from major outlets, and insightful (as opposed to inciteful) essays from vetted publications are still fair game, in my book.
3. No name calling. No name calling. No name calling. If the candidate is misogynistic and known to insult women, or racist and known to insult people outside his own racial group, it’s still simply never okay to call him names. It might feel delightfully cathartic to insult him back, but I’m still trying to follow Michelle Obama’s encouragement: “When they go low, we go high.” Besides, there’s so much truth that needs to be spoken that mean names dilute the issues.
4. I am struggling with the newcomer to the Democratic field. I have a favorite candidate, and you might be able to guess who she is, and if you ask, I will tell you, but I am trying to stay out of the bloody fight. I dream of a day when a nominee rises to the top in an election moment like this, but without the bruising and bloodying from members of her own party. In that spirit, I will do my best to not disparage any of the others, especially since word came out that Russia is trying to influence this part of the process, too. (Caveat: This newcomer, though. He has a pretty shady past when it comes to treatment of black people and women. I won’t insult him, but I don’t know that anything is gained by ignoring his history of racism and misogyny.)

What else would you put on the list? I need to get ready for school. . .

Gratitude List:
1. Big batch of grading done. I’ve begun using my gratitude lists as my accountability space for keeping up with the grading. Sigh. Right now, it’s got to be a whatever-it-takes proposal. And I am incredibly grateful to have that batch finished.
2. Last night’s dream: I had found an adult-sized pogo stick, and I made enormous leaps around a stage. I was planning to use the pogo stick as a transportation method because it was such a thrill to jump high and far. But I woke up before I could try that.
3. The sun seemed to rise SO early yesterday!
4. Yellow crocus.
5. All the wingfolk in the sky these days.

May we walk in Beauty!