November #OpenWrite

Today’s prompt, “Heal” included the invitation to go back to another prompt I didn’t write before. I went back to April 1, 2019, both prompts from Sarah Donovan.

What is Good?”

Good Work

Good work–
Work, purposeful work,
Work that builds,
Not diminishes
I work with all I am–
Never just punching a clock
But I pour myself into the work

Good work–
Work, created especially for me
Good work assigned
Work and care for Eden, Adam
That was God’s directive
That is God’s directive to me

Good work–
Work, more than you did
Yesterday
Take care of the earth
Work to heal
To bring Her
Back from defilement
Take care of people
Work for justice
Repent
Plant peace–
Seeds of peace, that have
Not been planted–
Yet

Good work–
Work good
Get ready
Do good work
And get into
Good trouble

breath with Sarah Donovan

Brokenness and heartbreak, loss of job
Bickering teachers overwhelmed
Safety protocol mistakes
Covid deaths and counting
White House renegade
Friend triangles
Knotted neck
Breathe out
Breathe
Breathe in
Peace and hope
Healthy dinner
Thanksgiving (really)
Strolling along the shore
Cooperating with Truth
Foaming bubble bath to my neck
Leaning on the everlasting arms

receiving with Sarah Donovan

I couldn’t seem to do this prompt today, so I will use my Death poem I wrote this morning for The Isolation Journals.

giving with Sarah Donovan

Giving Learning

What I say to students:

Yes, yes you can!
I love your work.
I’m such a fan.

Do you know?
I don’t.
Let’s give it a go.

Please do.
I am not sure.
Yes to you
and you
and you.

thanks with Sarah Donovan

thanks

seeing my phone
slip from my hands into
the hearty
tomato saucy
goodness of
Amy’s Organic
Vegetarian
Baked Beans
in the microwavable
bowl

Was like watching
a phone
tumble over the railing
on the upper floor
at the mall but
Instead of smashing
on the tile
below, it
slipped
sidled
slunk
slithered
stole
shrinkingly
into the sauce
so smoothly
so stealthily

My first reaction
was to pull it up from
its shallow bath
It only took a half-inch dip
My phone barely waded in
Hardly got its feet wet
I don’t know beans about
how to save a phone
in a cooking calamity

So
It will be fine
I told myself
I took a quick lick
across the bottom
where the speaker
and charge port sit
because the slits were
looking crimson
and congested

I gave the whole phone
a once-over with the dish cloth
I sucked on the end to
extract more tomato sauce
Just to be sure
Then I promptly forgot about it

The phone worked fine all day
But on seeing the
15% battery warning.
I went to plug it in

Nothing
No power
No lightning bolt
I checked the plug for
electricity
I wiggled the cords
Beans!
Oh yeah, the beans

As my husband and I sat
through the rest of the Zoom
meeting, I thought about telling
him. (Our mic was muted.)
No, I better wait.

When we finished, I nonchalantly said,
I dropped my phone into the beans at lunch.
He said, You need a new phone anyway.
What? I said. No I don’t. THIS is my phone.
I just need it to charge.
He plugged it in and
I switched the cord
to a different outlet.
It worked.
It’s up to 83% now,
so I think the beans are history.

#Gratiku

Today’s Slice of Life at TwoWritingTeachers.org

Last Tuesday I read about #gratiku poetry on Erika Victor’s blog.

Gratitude + haiku = gratiku. I thought gratitude was an important thing to have these days. Take time to be grateful. That’s what I will be doing each day in November.

30

Always just on-time
Now God arrives again–though
Waiting’s not easy

29

Spicy karak chai
Rich milky goodness for me
Grace in a teapot

28

Mashed potatoes and
Gravy for dinner will do
Tasty comfort food

27

Petrichor sweetness
Rains have arrived in Bahrain
Greetings, third water

26

25

Early Thanksgiving
Fried chicken and pumpkin bread
Welcome gifts from friends

24

I thank you God for
the dancing tingly cool breeze
and green that bests gray

23

Welcome breath of God
swelling our sails to get us
to the other shore

22

Yes, leadership and
learning are vitally joined
How else can one lead?

#gratiku #JFK #berlinwall

21

Heaven comes to earth
Go further up, further in
Renewing this world

20

Mr. President,
Full of gratitude today
Love, the U.S.A.

@JoeBiden @POTUS

19

all are created
equal–great task remaining
before us–new birth

#GettysburgAddress

18

17

16
clicking send before
sleep causes me to wonder
how will you reply?

15

14
Prayer freedom washed
Competition relaxes
Fear becomes mercy

13
Open write with friends
Ethical ELA starts
Anticipation!

12

11
Education, yes
Wanted: critical thinking
More education

10

9
Holding your hand at
Night after hearing bad news
Love always trumps fear

8

7

6

5
Knowing life goes on
I’m just one replaceable
Rung in a fine wheel

4
Thankful for counting
Calculate the election
Every single vote

3
Nadia praying
Guiding us through voting day
Centering on God

2
Afternoon naps with
A blanket on my cold feet
After that, iced tea

1
Pausing and thanking
When I forget all the good
Help me refocus

Celebrating democracy when the race was called for Biden on Saturday

I’ve Looked at Both Sides Now

Rows and flows of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

Joni Mitchell

Be cute and quiet, Dad’s anger will cease
Go outside, don’t stir up trouble, please
We called peace where there was no peace
I looked at peace that way
But now, “No justice, no peace,” I know
The arc is bending slowly, though
Let justice roll down and freedom flow
I’ve looked at peace from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
Peace’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know peace at all

Husband and wife, the man’s in charge
He brings home the bacon, his power’s large
Patriarchy’s rules discharged
I looked at marriage that way
But now he weds he or she marries she
Marriage is an act of love, I see
It’s not just my experience for love to be
I’ve looked at marriage from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
Marriage’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know marriage at all

God said it, I believe it, that settles it.
Deny the times you’ve been in the pit.
No questions asked, fake it with grit.
I looked at faith that way
But now I have a faith that stays
God’s with me even when I stray
I have the amount I need just for today
I’ve looked at faith from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s faith’s illusions I recall
I really don’t know faith at all

Prompt #115
Write about a time you encountered someone from your past after many years. How did it feel to be suddenly reacquainted with this person? What did it reveal to you–about who you were and who you are now?

The Isolation Journals prompt today is by Alex Gaertner. It inspired my poem in a roundabout way. This Joni Mitchell prompt is one I didn’t write last April when Susan gave us the prompt to use “Both Sides Now.” Alex’s prompt inspired me to consider my developing beliefs and attitudes over decades. I was reminded of my cousin in a same-sex relationship. There were a few years when I didn’t see her and didn’t know. Because I didn’t see her in those young adult years before I read a life-changing book called Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, I don’t have to know what the encounter might have revealed about me.

October Open Write with Ethical ELA

Ways of Looking with Susan Ahlbrand

Ten Ways of Looking at Time

I
When it began

My childhood prayer
growing up in a
“Thief in the Night” church:
Jesus, please don’t return
until I grow up and
get to have my own family.

II
When it’s focused

Softball practice in the park,
softball games every Saturday
and one evening a week,
playing catch in the street until even
the streetlights didn’t make it
safe enough to continue.
Ironing, (yes ironing!) my
Bobby Sox Softball uniform,
getting it ready for tomorrow.
Begging someone to play catch again.

III
When it’s squandered

We never found the time
to sit together regularly and
talk about faith and life
and the Bible
like we always planned to.
What happened?
Now those high school years are gone.

IV
When it’s lingering

That falling asleep time being held in your arms
after we make love is the best sleep of all.

V
When it’s not enough

Saying goodbye to my Mom in 2010,
a brother in 2012, a sister
and sister-in-law in 2018. No
more “see you laters.”

VI
When it’s unsettled
Covid-19 in 2020, 2021? 2022?
What does the future hold?

VII
When it ends

Will I be ready?

Tritina with Susan Ahlbrand

Reading

Do I choose or am I chosen by reading?
Sometimes I am lifted out of myself, with a stab
To my heart. Unexpected riches that grieve.

Riches that turn into empathy as I grieve
The axe for the frozen sea within is my reading
As Kafka wisely said books are to stab

Not to make me happy, but to stab.
Books to affect me, allow me to deeply grieve
It is not for the faint of heart, this reading.

Quick pain of the stab and subsequent grief comes from reading.

Take a Word for a Walk with Anna J. Small Roseboro

Hope
Is Hope a winged bird perched
Or flying? Hope who owns nothing–
Makes room for Hope, love, grace–
She’s able to soar, Hope filling
the heavens. God, please more Hope

Allusion with Anna J. Small Roseboro

Rights attacked
Racists backed

Covid fear
What a year

Vote them out
Make it a rout

Good Jesus
He sees us

Swamped boats fill
“Peace, be still”

Calms the storm
Hearts transform

True Jesus
He frees us…

“Don’t fear the deep
I’m not asleep”

Bodies in Motion with Sarah Donovan

Each of us scrambles to borrow a bicycle. Not that many years
Ago I would hop on my own bike and pedal to the start
Of the Go Pink ride. I am in a new time and place, though, so I
Borrow one.
Sorry, there’s only one gear that works, my friend tells me.
We ram the old broken thing in my van and drive it
Home.
It needs a new seat, says my husband. Ride it down
The street to the shop on the corner, and we’ll see if he has one.
 He
Walks along, I ride. The crank arm breaks
On the two-block ride.
Two, three or three-and-a-half for the saddle;
Five for the gear shifters, ten for the crank, five for the
Derailleur. Why not take
A new one? Only 45 BD, 
the shop keeper says.
OK, says my husband.
This one is foldable, good for the car, the little man says, as we
Wheel it out of the shop. Back home,
We put it in our car. I set my alarm for
4:00 a.m. The alarm goes off, I stumble and
Pull on my pink tee-shirt backwards, extra wide shoes to
Alleviate pain from Morton’s neuroma, eat a banana and drive
To the Cycling Bees shop. Bahrain
is flat, the trip is ten
Kilometers, the seat is wide and cushy, my borrowed helmet is too big. I
manage to finish, in all my out-of-shape glory, at the end of the pack.
Thoughts of coronavirus
Haunt me as we talk, sometimes too close–them without
Masks. This is the first bicycle ride of my
Sixties. I remember rides in my
Twenties a bit differently. I devour
Huge plates of pasta at the campsite in Half Moon Bay,
Gorge on ice cream in Monterey—so much more gratifying
to fuel up on a bicycle than in a
Fossil-fueled vehicle. We pedal up
Hills, race down, and try to avoid semis through Big Sur,
80 to 100 miles a day. We do it all
Again the next day.

That was fun! The Cycling Bees have another ride next
week, how about it? The route looks charming,
 my friend says.

Nah, I’m OK.

The Isolation Journals – Magic 9

Today is Saturday, Day 214 in Bahrain’s Coronavirus time, and Prompt #110 in The Isolation Journals by Suleika Jaouad. This week’s prompt was written by Rachel Schwartzmann. It is about sitting quietly and seeing what thoughts come.

  • Set the timer for 5 minutes.
  • Stare at the wall or nothing.
  • Enjoy the slowness and stillness.
  • Write the thoughts and questions of those moment.

Last week at the Ethical ELA Open Write, we wrote Magic-9 poems. Two of the participants wrote about the stillness that Rachel talked about in her prompt.

I was reminded of The Isolation Journals prompt while I read their poems. Sharon wrote one called “Soulspeak” inspired by the quote: “Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak,” by Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavatiand. Susan wrote a poem called “Behind Eyelids” inspired by a quote from Paul Gauguin: ”I shut my eyes in order to see.”

Their poems inspired me to write my own Magic-9 poem about what I heard during my quiet reflection.

Hope

In blindness I grope
Hope is a winged bird
My parched soul longs to cope
To cling to this good news
The world is a kaleidoscope
Of centurions and servants
Each at the end of their rope
A still small voice I heard
“Never give up Hope”

What came to mind during my five-minute quiet was this first stanza of a poem by Emily Dickinson:

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

Another thing that has been on my mind is a Bible story about the centurion’s faith in Jesus to heal his beloved servant in Matthew 8:5-13.