NPM Day 26: Referential Poetry

National Poetry Month Prompt Day 26:

My friend Keith suggested this one:
A poem with an epigraph begins with a quotation from another literary work.
An “after” poem responds to another poem or work of literature (you include the phrase “after so-and-so after your title)
A bounce, usually at a poetry reading, reminds listeners of a poem they just heard–either because it is similar or in contrast to the previous poet’s work.

People like to do after poems related to William Carlos Williams’ “Red Wheelbarrow” and “This Is Just to Say.” Try writing a poem that refers to another poem, either in style or structure, or in an epigraph. Be sure to quote your original source.


Gratitude List:
1. I slept most of the night last night. I have been struggling for about a week now with intense pain in my shoulder, both in the trapezius muscle and something that feels like nerve pain in the upper arm, and when I wake up at night, I haven’t been able to get back to sleep because of the pain. Last night, I finally figured out the combination of elements (yoga and acetaminophen, mostly) to allow me to get back to sleep when I woke up.
2. Titmouses (titmice?) calling in the dawn
3. Redbud trees in bloom.
4. Ferns unfurling
5. Watching the grass grow through the straw in the places where the diggers dug up the lawn last fall for the new septic system. New growth.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.” —Simone Weil


“You can never leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoe.” —Leymah Gbowee


“God speaks to each of us as [she] makes us, then walks with us silently out of the night. These are the words we dimly hear: You, sent out beyond your recall, go to the limits of your longing. Embody me.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“I do not see a delegation of the four-footed.
I see no seat for the eagles.” —Chief Oren Lyons, Onondaga


“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” —Kurt Vonnegut


“I told them we’re tired of the culture wars, tired of Christianity getting entangled with party politics and power. Millennials want to be known by what we’re for, I said, not just what we’re against. We don’t want to choose between science and religion or between our intellectual integrity and our faith. Instead, we long for our churches to be safe places to doubt, to ask questions, and to tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. We want to talk about the tough stuff—biblical interpretation, religious pluralism, sexuality, racial reconciliation, and social justice—but without predetermined conclusions or simplistic answers. We want to bring our whole selves through the church doors, without leaving our hearts and minds behind, without wearing a mask.” ―Rachel Held Evans


Go deeper.
Past thoughts into silence.
Past silence into stillness.
Past stillness into the heart.
Let love consume all that is left of you.
—Kabir

While You Were Sleeping

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A quickie little tanka this morning:

While you were sleeping,
small birds were calling outside
the sun was knocking
hard on the bedroom windows.
Messages were delivered.

Gratitude List:
1. Rice and Curry.  Anne and Todd’s East African meal last night, and the people who bought seats at the table in order to support my school.  What a lovely group of people.
2. The way the porch light shines through the ostrich ferns in the evenings.
3. The ferns.  One day they’re little fiddle heads, and then I blink, and they’re almost as tall as I am.
4. That moon last night, rising golden above the horizon.
5. Fortitude. Will. Determination. Grit.

May we walk in Beauty!

Don’t Know How to Pray

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When I don’t know how to pray:

What can you see out the windows
of your hospital room?
Clouds scuttling through blue
or raindrops chanting down?
Does a crow saunter down the wind
or a dove whistle through air?

Or there, in the rooms where you wait,
look for that crack in the corner,
the spider missed by the cleaning crew.
Watch for the color orange
in someone’s shoelaces
or an owl brooch on a nurse’s lanyard.

I’m sending you something by wind,
by feather, by stone,
sending you heart and fire,
sending you prayers like rain.

Gratitude List:
1. Having the hard conversations.  They make us better people.  And that’s what we’re here for, eh?  To become better people.
2. Spoken Word Play 14.  We had our dress rehearsal last night.  Dress rehearsal is actually my favorite part–that’s when I get to hear everyone else’s poems and stories.
3. Praying in any way I can.  Being part of the web.  I think I say this one a lot, but it seems to come around a lot.  And I need to acknowledge within myself the anxieties I feel for the people I love, but I don’t want to dwell on those, so it helps to take it to this place, to give the mind the work to do.  Send love.  Send prayer.  Send a mockingbird.
4. Boy walking down the hall yesterday with a red tulip behind his ear.  (Yeah, yeah–he probably shouldn’t have picked it.  Still, it was cute.)
5. My youngest kid is turning into a grammar cop.  I’ll have to catch him before he turns too pedantic, but in the meantime, it’s really fun to have him sit here berating me for beginning sentences with “And. . .”

May we walk in Beauty!