NPM Day 30: Doors

Student poetry on my white board. Both poems are apt messages for standing in the doorway to May.

Today is the last day of Poetry Prompts for April. I might take a break from the blog for a few days when this is done.

Today, as we stand in the doorway to May, write a poem about doorways and doors. Doors can be portals from one world to another, the symbol of the step of faith we take from one stage to the next. Doors can also be symbolic of the space between ourselves and others. What doors keep us apart or invite us in? Or write about the doors of your town.

Doorways are about liminal spaces. Write about thresholds, about standing poised between one thing and the next. What holds you in the past? What pushes you into the future? What are the spiritual lessons you learn from standing in the in-between? Or write about the doorway to another world.

Who or what is on the other side of that door?


Today is May Day Eve, one of those special moments in the solar calendar, situated between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice. We’ve watched the riot of spring creeping over the gardens and fields, delighted in the shining colors of flowers and the tender greening of leaves, paid attention to what is hatching within us.

May Day, or Beltane, is about celebrating the freedom from that egg, about jumping into the green of the season, feet first, taking risks, whooping with joy. Dust off your wild barbaric yawp. Wanton is the word of this season. We’re stripping off the constricting cloaks and coats and scarves of winter, and running through the fields, barefoot and maybe naked (some of us keep that purely in the realm of metaphor).

What do you need to release and let go of in this season? What are the names of the items of clothing you drop in your wake as you run to the fields? What is the name of the green field before you, the thing you give yourself to with every ounce of your passion?

As we enter the season of Beltane, consider all that has kept you from living fully and joyfully and passionately into your purpose. Name the habits and boxes and dogmas that keep you from living in the world with you Whole Heart. Drop them. And run for the fields.


Gratitude List:
1. That phoebe, calling his name into the dawn.
2. The oriole who called from the sycamore trees yesterday as we left school.
3. Although I was disappointed that opening night of the school play was cancelled because of the rain, our whole family needed the rest of being cozy together in our house last evening.
4. Living by the seasons means that every year has its reminders and rituals of letting go, paying attention, living fully, resting, growing. On the threshold of May, I commit to ditching the constricting habits that keep me from living joyfully.
5. The dawn keeps coming earlier and the twilight comes later, even when the day is cloudy and grey.

May we walk in Beauty!


“Things aren’t so tangible and sayable as people would have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are world of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.” —Rainer Maria Rilke


“We don’t think ourselves into a new way of living. We live ourselves into t anew way of thinking.” —Richard Rohr


“To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.” —Georgia O’Keeffe


“Hope is not a lottery ticket you can sit on the sofa and clutch, feeling lucky. It is an axe you break down doors with in an emergency. Hope should shove you out the door, because it will take everything you have to steer the future away from endless war, from the annihilation of the earth’s treasures and the grinding down of the poor and marginal… To hope is to give yourself to the future – and that commitment to the future is what makes the present inhabitable.” ―Rebecca Solnit


“The child’s hand
Folding these wings
Wins no wars and ends them all. “
―Thomas Merton

Season of Revisions

Now we come to the Season of Revisions. I am not only speaking of poetry here; I am speaking poetically. I have habits of mind and habits of space and movement to revise and to refine. I have thoughts and ideas, plans and intentions to revise and to renovate. Perhaps my poetic revisions can be like a wave that will help me in other areas to continue to move always in the direction I want to move, to break the stasis, to step out of the rut, to live–as US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera says, “in a flourishing way.”

Earlier in the month of April, I tossed out this poem one evening:

Message from the Empress

In the orchard over the ridge
the trees have broken into a riot of pink,
lascivious against the rain-wet grass beneath.

Let us riot too.

Let us spread
our blooming fingers to the sky,
opening our mouths and our hearts,
meeting destruction with bloom,
with green, with simple beauty,
with overpowering fragrance.

Let us waft.
Let us be wanton.

Last week I subjected it to a several-step revision process that I asked my Creative Writing students to engage in:

Step One:
Change up the line lengths. Consider tossing in some tabs to change the shape of the poem on the page. Or center. Or right-justify.

Step Two:
Find six interesting words in your poem. Using an online thesaurus, your own head, or the help of a friend, write three+ synonyms for each word, and substitute them for the words in your poem.

Step Three:
Go back to Step Two. Retype those six words, or choose six more. Find three+ rhymes for each of those words, using an online rhyming dictionary, or the help of a friend or your own head. Can you tuck any of these words into your poem? Also, listen for words with similar sounds–vowels and consonants–even if they don’t rhyme. Can you add or substitute any of those words in your poem?

Step Four:
Rewrite your poem, using rhythm and rhyme. This one may feel like the most complicated one, but see if you can feel a sense of the rhythm of your words. (I have revised my revision process: originally I had steps three and four in opposite order. They make much more sense when you transpose them.)

Step Five:
Read through all your versions. Is there one that stands out as the strongest to you? Are there parts of different ones that you like? Mix and match. Choose your favorite version so far and type that one in.

I ended up with this:

Message from the Empress

In the grove over the ridge, the trees
have broken into a flourish of pink,
lascivious against the rain-wet green,
a thousand mouths seeking a drink.

Let us riot too.
     Let us fill our thirst.

Let us spread our blooming fingers,
opening our mouths and hearts, dancing
away ruin with bloom, lingering
with simple beauty, with aching fragrance.

Let us waft.
     Let us be wanton.

***
I’m still not sure that this is my best version, but I feel a real satisfaction. I hope my students can feel a little measure of that satisfaction with their own poems.

Gratitude List:
1. Wise and open-hearted colleagues
2. Sharing food
3. Revising, renewing, renovating, reactivating
4. Yellow feathers, yellow flowers
5. Breath. Inspiration. Breath.

May we walk in Beauty!

Wanton

For instance, the crocus and anemone
have leaked past the bricks
that line the edge of the bed.

For instance, the wind.

For instance, those people
blew in through the door,
climbed all those flights of stairs,
and sat down to tell me their stories.

For instance, it has taken me
three days to clear my yard of branches.

For instance, this joy
wanders into the house
even when the doors are closed
against the last blast of winter.

 

Gratitude List:
1.  Sometimes it seems like you have to get attached to Plan B in order for the tricksy Universe to commit to making Plan A happen.  I am grateful for today’s full schedule (Plan A), and a project to do another day (Plan B).  I don’t mean to disparage the Universe by this–it keeps one on one’s toes, eh?
2.  Crocus and anemone leaking all over the yard.
3.  Hey, that snow was pretty!  No, I never thought I would use those two words in a sentence again, either.  At least not this soon.
4.  Reiki tomorrow
5.  The web of interconnection.  How the cards you draw have messages for me, too.

May we walk in Beauty!