Patricia Franz is hosting Spiritual Journey Thursday today. I am here on my phone, with so much joy about the theme of “Life at the Speed of Grace.” We took a little trip to the mountains and just got back from a hike–six miles round trip, but it seems like 12! Now we’re off to eat Mexican food.
I took a beautiful striking line from Patricia’s post to write a Golden Shovel poem about today: “I am learning to live life at the speed of Grace, letting God catch me, surprise me, love me, right where I am.” Thank you, Patricia, for the wonderful inspiration.
I won’t be in such a hurry, because I am here now in this moment. If I am learning anything, it is to be present in this gift of Grace, to live in Hope today because life isn’t promised tomorrow. Hiking at San Jacinto Wilderness today with the four of us 60-somethings, turtle speed at times, we were hikers of sore knees, fall risks, and only Grace to make it 6 miles up and down, letting me know to thank God for tiny big miracles that catch me off guard. Dazzling me with no twisted joints, but surprise and pinecones. Finding me in love with life and lizards. Me, who am I right here where God can Grace me? I am a grateful child caught by Grace.
Now during the last couple days, I’ve gotten even more inspirational mileage from this event. As I read and comment on poems of other participants, I’m getting more ideas. I modeled this poem for my Slice of Life after a similar one someone wrote. Here’s a taste of my tender week:
Ten for Tenderness
Keith squeezes and says
“I’m holding Denise Reed in
the desert,” then sighs.
I loved meeting sweet, Blessen LaFleur, written by
Amber cuts my hair
the soft touch of scissors and
comb makes me tingle
Lori brings a box
of treasures from the sale, things
she knew I would love
Lotion plumps my skin
with “overnight Retinol
therapy” for dryness
The Hilary storm
helped a tall cactus send a
late bloom for the world
Move the couch in place
Popcorn and movie ready
watching in his arms
Funny joke, Milo!
“Jabber, jabber, jabber,” laughs
like a kookaburra
Three meals lovingly
made Saturday while I wrote
Then he did dishes
Sonny comes running
to get his treat then lies down
for a belly rub
Our journey on this sphere is limited in
time. Cliché, yes, but true. I think so much about life
and its ending now that I
am old enough for a senior discount. Some say–
“I won’t write to her, let
our sister be alone. She made her choices,” but me,
I can’t. I’ll keep reaching out and come
to the end, hopefully more healed and closer.
What happens in those in-between odd and even
years that breaks relationships? if
we knew would we fix it?
It is bitterness and apathy that kills
not forgiveness and love, which I choose for me
Commission of a
in Fulton County,
in violation of
O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4(b)
Contrary to the laws–
The good order
I gasped at the vastness,
it seemed as large as
the parking lot at Walmart.
Only there was
no pavement and
no painted lines and
no RVs free camping and
no shopping carts running amuck and
no conspiracy theories.
In fact, there was no solid ground,
except under my feet,
and the view was breathtaking
and reminded me to stop
before I fell into oblivion.
Daylight beckons me
spilling out of darkness
the day begins with
breezes of breath
tears of joy
crags of a life
The birds are
humming their songs
but always authentic.
Oh, to be like a bird
on the wing of this new day.
Inspired by Max Richter – “On the Nature of Daylight”
so much depends upon
the teal and cinnamon cruisers
with their elk-antler handlebars elbowed in on the cobblestone bridge
with the row houses jacketing the street
and our satisfied tremors of delight
as we clamber up onto the bikes.
I wish I had a photo of the little holes in the closet wall in our den when I was a child. After removing the rag bag and iron and spray water bottle and what-have-you, I could crawl up on the shelf into my closet; it was at about waist high to an adult. There were some decorative holes on the back of a curio shelf on the other side of the wall. They were perfectly situated for me. When I was sitting on my closet shelf, it was a perfect secret agent perch to look out at the goings-on of my family. I was the captain of a ship peering through the spyglass. I was taking detective notes. I was making subtle noises to try to get family members to wonder what they heard. It was my closet and no one could have convinced me otherwise.
Maybe I should make a new
sign for tomorrow. Today
I got enough dog food
and water to last awhile.
(Actually, how am I going to carry this bag of dogfood
when the store closes and I have to go “home”?)
She looked at me
and saw my sign,
“Need dog food and water”
and the dogfood and water
that someone bought me earlier.
She kept walking. I
do need another sign,
but what if she stopped and talked to me?
It’s pretty hot out here, I know.
She just got out of her A/Ced
car and she went into Von’s–
they have A/C too.
It’s hot out here.
9:00 p.m. Hour 16
to create confidence
to whisper creativity
to meet and bless a worldwide poetry community
to climb expectations
as in We’ve been Poetry Marathoning for 15 hours so far.
1. a chapbook full of admirable achievements Bring on the Poetry Marathon!
2. a day of hope in the life of a poet It’s been a Poetry Marathon day.
They arrived at dusk.
It was light
enough to see them gather
and crowd in along
the electrical wiring
above the ancient
When the little old woman
fell, they swooped in on her doing
what carrion crows do, even
she’s yet to die
and begin the rotting process.
Midnight Hour 19
It’s an eerie chromatic primary land
where red are trees and yellow is sand
1:00 a.m. Hour 20
Going to bed every night is such a treat
I lotion up my body, floss and brushes
Then jump in bed, nestle up to sleep
But today, every hour my alarm rushes
2:00 a.m. Hour 21
for cover :
into the ground :
around in circles :
running a temp : a foul :
a tab : hot and cold :
on empty : wild :
out the clock :
3:00 a.m. Hour 22
Appian Way Pizza
Not to be confused with the road in Italy,
this Appian Way came in a box.
Not a pizza box, but a box right on the pantry shelf.
“Make your own for only 55¢” was their slogan.
It was always a special night
if our parents were going out
and we got to make our own pizza.
4:00 a.m. Hour 23
A World Away
The soldiers rally on, working to defeat the intruders.
After a late night invasion, the attack is doubled.
The forces surround the invaders, like skin tight around a sphere
The capture are conquer, divide, and dismember
They are sent out to do the bidding of King Acid.
In the world of Stomach, battles fire up, then cool.
something I always write about.
In fact, in a quick search, I used hope in
three poems in the last 24 hours: here and here and here
(And seven times the last time I did a Poetry Marathon.
And, on my blog, don’t get me counting. I seem to include
Hope more than anything else.) Hope is here,
the perfect little handful of a word.
A perfect world-full remedy to heal our brokenness.
If we lose hope, we’ll fall out of the sky,
plucked like Emily’s thing without the feathers.
It’s Poetry Friday and the host today is Ramona at Pleasures from the Page, with some back to school poetry goodness. Thank you for hosting, Ramona.
This summer I got a new Bananagrams game. I play with other people as often as I can, but I also have a brain-game hobby to play an almost daily game of solitaire Bananagrams. First, I choose 21 tiles and use them up in a grid, just like in the real game. Then, I choose 7 more and use them all, continuing to take 7 at a time until they are gone. (If needed, I also allow myself to “dump” one tile and pick 3 different ones, which is one of the rules in the real game.)
One time I played making all “Rotten Banana” words. Silly, I know, but the words are fun to read.
Needing some more creativity, I guess, I thought to try some Bananagrams poetry. Here’s what I do:
Choose 15 tiles and create a word or two or three.
Commit to one or more of those words as a topic or part of a poem.
Then the whole pile of letters are available face up to create a short poem on the topic.
If there is more than one person participating, first come on the letters remaining.
Here are my first attempts with the caption telling the words I first saw in my 15-tile start.
Then I got the tiles out when my family came for dinner. There were five of us, and it was the first time I had ever asked them to “think poetically,” so it was awkward and the results were mostly silly. However, look at this beauty my sister-in-law created called “Hummingbird.”
What other guidelines might you make for Bananagrams Poetry?
And just like that we’re finishing up the Sealey Challenge. The month went quickly, and I loved reading poetry each day. I hope I will continue reading more poetry. Hopefully it is becoming a habit.
August 25 – One Last Word: Wisdom from The Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes
Have you read this book? Nikki Grimes takes poems from the Harlem Renaissance and creates golden shovel poems for them. Here are the first two stanzas of her poem based on the first two lines of “We Wear the Mask” by Paul Laurence Dunbar. I needed to read some poetry like this when I was in junior high:
August 26 – A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood lyrics by Fred Rogers
August 27 – Library of Small Catastrophes by Alison C. Rollins – Though every poem is not related to Rollins being a librarian, there is so much she taught me about history and the world. Teacher-librarians and others, you will want to read this one, if you haven’t already.
August 28 – American Faith by Maya C. Popa
August 29 – Ellington Was Not A Street by Ntozake Shange – This is a beautiful book about the musicians and activists who visited the family home of the author as she grew up.
August 30 – Hey, You! Poems to Skyscrapers, Mosquitos, and Other Fun Things selected by Paul B. Janeczko
This was a delightful surprise of children’s poems from so many greats. The surprise started on page 1 with this beauty by George Ella Lyon.
What a sweet picture book by Laura! Here’s one of my favorite sections. After a full day of over-stimulation, Clover, melts down when a tail gets brushed in her face. “Clover spit. She bit. She threw a fur-flying hissy fit. ‘I quit!’ Clover fled.” The illustrations by Hiroe Nakata are precious. It’s a perfect book for a child who gets overwhelmed with sensory overload, or for friends of children who do. And bonus: the book is still on sale this week.
“Argh, Lori! Look at the water!” I shouted to my sister, as I ran the noodle pan to the living room to show her the brown gunk that just came out of the tap. We were fixing Thai food for my sister, my brother and his wife on Sunday night. “We got a load of water on Thursday! How can it be out already!?”
Oh, yeah. My sister had warned us that this almost-forty-year-old tank was vulnerable because it was about the same age as a tank that was leaking at one of her houses. We didn’t do anything about it until today, when we were forced to. We were almost finished preparing a six-pot dinner (we definitely would have had a different menu if we knew this was coming), but now we were committed. We all ran out to check the water tank, feeling the side of the tank for the water level. Unlike the usual phenomenon, of the bare metal in the sun being very much hotter than the metal with water behind it, now the whole tank was hot! And empty. My brother left to buy some gallons of drinking water. My sister went and got ten gallons of water for flushing toilets. Then we proceeded with our meal (and games even). Afterwards, I washed a bazillion dishes camping-style, while my husband went to buy and fill some clean five-gallon buckets.
My husband and I were musing about what we would have done if we didn’t live close to these desert rat relative-friends. They have helped us navigate so many difficulties. We probably would have packed up and moved into town many times over the past two years. This time with having the water go out, even with their support, we are still on edge, feeling the vulnerability everyone on the planet feels when water is not easily accessible.
On Monday morning, we called Underground Economy Tank and Supply, who was recommended by the water hauler. Mike said he could bring a new tank out in the afternoon. What? Wow! But we had to put it off for at least a day The former tank, which was metal and now giving us rusty sludge, was set down on gravel. The new plastic tank will need to sit on a smoother surface, like sand.
So Monday evening, my brother came over to help us remove the old tank. He attached it to his truck with a cable and pulled it over pretty easily. I didn’t have my camera out when it toppled over because I was holding my sister’s dog. (The future of that water tank on its side in our yard is still in question.) It was obvious from the rust and pressure on the gravel below that there had been a leak for sometime, which caused a little stream through the gravel.
My sister came to help us haul sand from the intersection where cars get stuck, and we dumped it and leveled it in the frame. Now it’s ready for the new water tank to be delivered in the morning.
Thank you, Water, for your cleansing, life-giving presence.
Next, I swapped poems with Linda Mitchell; she sent this beautiful handcrafted junk journal.
What is a junk journal, you might ask? She explains in her poem:
Some of the ephemera she included:
Another sweet poem about what a prompt can be:
Thanks to the prompts at the Open Write at Ethical ELA this week, there are five more of my poems that wouldn’t have otherwise been birthed. In the process of writing and research, I learned about myself, my style, Emily Dickinson, nineteenth century history, and Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party.” All thanks to prompts that educators shared on the site. Thank you, Linda, for this poem that reminds us of the power of prompts.
Linda told me to use it and “don’t be precious with it.” So, I’m going to do just that and think of her when I hold its sweetness and add my own touches to her artwork.
A Nestling for Linda after “…Junk Journal”
pages into pages
you make new treasures
Finally, here are Sealey Challenge books I read this week, along with a found nestling poem from each of my favorite passages.
August 18 – They Call Me Güero, A Border Kid’s Poems by David Bowles
My nestling from a portion of “Ms. Wong & the Rabbit” in They Call Me Güero
Language has night birds
viewing world poetry
floating in the sky
August 19 – I’m the Big One Now! Poems about Growing Up by Marilyn Singer
My Big One Now! Nestling
doesn’t show how far
that wide world
August 20 – It’s Not Magic Poems by Jon Sands (Selected and Foreword by Richard Blanco)
My nestling (based on words found in all five stanzas of “Decoded” by Jon Sands)
August 21 – Underneath My Bed List Poems by Brian P. Cleary
My Nestling of Hopes after Brian P. Cleary
Fluorescent cheese that does world peace
August 22 – The World Began with Yes Poems by Erica Jong
My Nestling after “From the Danish Poet” by Erica Jong
for-edge see clearly
August 23 – Nervous System Poems by Rosalie Moffett
This was a difficult (and touching) read. Rosalie Moffett’s mother was a scientist and fell at the beach while studying snails. She had a traumatic brain injury, and Moffett’s relationship with her sick mother is the backdrop of this book of poems. One quote on page 42 shows the complicated nature of their connection after her accident: “The mother I know is the mother who hit her head or who suffers from something that’ll come for me.” The following is a passage from one of my favorite pages:
My Nestling from two stanzas on page 51
make a difference
ones I love
Lakshmi Bhat at her blog, Mukhamani, recently shared how during a busy time she made time to finish reading a novel. About The Covenant of Water, by Abraham Verghese, she said, “It is one of the best books I have read in recent times.” I wanted a book that I could say the same about, so right away I went to my Libby app and was able to check out the audio book. The 30-hour novel was narrated by the author, who had amazing voices for all his characters–English in all kinds of dialects–Scottish, British, Indian. Some Malayalam too, and probably other languages (I forget). From the beginning, his wonderful voice kept me enthralled, and then I started falling in love with a young bride named Mariamma and her patient and kind husband; and in Part 2, at first I was disappointed to leave the couple in Kerala, but when the story moved to Scotland, I quickly fell in love with a new character, an aspiring surgeon named Digby.
Taking time to listen to the story each day during the last two weeks was a highlight. I would highly recommend The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese. As Oprah said when she chose it for her book club book, “One of the best books I’ve read in my entire life. It’s epic. It’s transportive . . . It was unputdownable!”
I finished the book on Saturday, which was also the day we started watching for Hurricane Hilary (or tropical storm Hilary). She was coming through our area with predictions of up to six inches of rain. (Our annual total rainfall is about eight inches.) We had some thunder, lightning, and showers on Friday evening, then a bit more on Saturday and Sunday morning. We expected it to be crazy winds and rains; I don’t know why we kept watching for it earlier than they said (which was Sunday afternoon), but we did. It was so long in waiting for it, that we began to think it was not going be so bad.
But by Sunday afternoon, just on schedule, the rain poured, and the wind finally blew. (We had battened down the hatches, shored up our little tree, and put everything away that would have blown to the next town.) We lost power for a while. Then we went to bed and slept. The storm passed sometime in the night, and Monday morning was sunny. We had a total of four inches of rain over the weekend. It was quite uneventful, but thankfully the weather service prepared us and we followed the advice and stayed home so we didn’t get in on the flash flooding roads.
Schools were closed on Monday, as there were many roads closed. We took a bike ride later on Monday afternoon. On our bike ride, we saw just one uprooted tree, and lots of sand and dirt covered roads. There wasn’t as much damage in our area as there was in the lower desert, like Palm Springs.
Shuffle 53 papers (3 haven’t turned theirs in yet)
Pour cold cereal for dinner again
Pump air as they move rapidly to my next class
Take notes in meetings (sometimes one after another)
Key boatloads of emails (while poetry sinks before starting)
Grade and record assignments (regardless of what I really believe about grading)
Strive to stay human to nurture connections with my students
Yesterday’s hands sacrifice in the name of indispensability
They always keep moving, spinning plates that threaten to drop
Yesterday’s hands produce, juggle, contribute, spill, repeat…
Hold a cup of tea, patiently
pausing as I watch the leaves steep.
Steeping is a slow word
and today’s hands take time.
Today’s hands pause the book and wait
while that idea steeps deep inside.
Today’s hands crochet a baby’s toy,
turn to the next page in their daily poetry book,
and make seedy peanut butter sandwiches for the birds.
Today’s hands hold, thrive, create, make, wonder.
In 1881, a lot happened—like,
Tunisia became our French protectorate.
And the Statue of Liberty got its first rivet.
And Hubertine Auclert started La Citoyenne because, yes,
of course, women are French citizens,
and we should have the vote.
And we posed for Pierre-Auguste outside of Paris.
In the U.S. in 1881, the President was shot and later died.
Barnum and Bailey joined forces, and
Booker T. started Tuskegee Institute.
And we sat at the Maison Fournaise Restaurant
holding still, pretending to party.
Do you see our smiles and the
eyes we’re making at those men?
It’s all staged.
In my line of sight I had to watch Aline eyeing that little pup.
She never tired of kissing him right on the nose.
And he may have licked her too.
That boor, Charles, thought he was all that.
I was sitting behind him,
but I could hear every word of his pompous talk.
I couldn’t get my wine glass full often enough.
I had to hold it up for hours, it seemed.
At least the wine was real.
And we never even went out on the boat.
And don’t get me started on the fact that
a “luncheon” should have more to it
than grapes and wine.
The next year Pierre sold our painting,
without so much as asking our permission.
Years later he married dog breath Aline.
And now we’re all helter-skelter,
spending most every one of our hours
in a triangular box in the game cupboard.