Spiritual Journey Thursday – Love

“Welcome to Spiritual Journey Thursday. On the first Thursday of each month we gather to share our insights. This month our focus is on virtues,” from Karen Eastlund at Karen’s Got a Blog!

I’m thinking today about faith expressed in so many different ways, so many different religions. I feel thankful that love is the main virtue. I will keep believing this one fact — that God is love.

“But the fruit of the spirit is LOVE: joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” I John 4:16

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

I used this verse from the love chapter for a golden shovel poem today.

It’s another day and
the muezzin is calling to prayer now
with his minor chord pensive plea, these
adhan come not one, two, or three–
but five times a day and the faithful remain
tuned to hear, exercising their faith,
praying regularly. Me, I don’t always hear, but I hope
in a big God to hear and
understand the hearts of all in Love,
and the wild and grateful prayers I utter. But
I am surely glad I don’t head up the
prayer collection–the greatest
challenge would be to make sense of
the childish, pious, sad, tender, and voiceless prayers–these
appeals go to the one who knows because God is
Love.

Poetry Friday – Earth’s Crammed with Heaven

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,
And daub their natural faces unaware.

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Aurora Lee, seventh book

Earth is crammed with summer heaven in Maine, as Molly so beautifully shows us in her Poetry Friday post today. Be sure to read her “Summer, Ten Times.”

I’ve been reading Elizabeth Barrett Browning this week. The quote above is taken from the seventh of nine books in her epic poem Aurora Lee. I love that passage so much, and I’ve been inspired by it for years. However, before this week, I never remember learning about Aurora Lee (1856), one of the first ever English novels in verse. I wasn’t sure I would be able to get into it, but after reading the first few lines, I was mesmerized:

Of writing many books there is no end;
And I who have written much in prose and verse
For others’ uses, will write now for mine,—

Will write my story for my better self,

As when you paint your portrait for a friend,

Who keeps it in a drawer and looks at it

Long after he has ceased to love you, just

To hold together what he was and is.
I, writing thus, am still what men call young;
I have not so far left the coasts of life

To travel inland, that I cannot hear

That murmur of the outer Infinite

Which unweaned babies smile at in their sleep

When wondered at for smiling; not so far…

Continued here

You can read or download the whole epic poem as a Kindle or EPUB or other format free at Project Gutenburg.

A Golden Shovelful of Heaven

the mystery of sweet earth’s

bliss and beauty is still crammed

full of crude confusion, with

scandalous prayers to heaven

Tomorrow the monthly Ethical ELA Open Write begins. Have you considered joining in, checking out the five prompts for poetry writing each month? On this site, you can listen to an encouraging and welcoming video from teacher-poet Stacey Joy. The prompts will be posted here starting at 7:00 a.m. Central time on Saturday, 17 July and proceeding through Wednesday. See poster below.

Did you remember we’ve been invited to join the dichotomy villanelle challenge with #PoetryPals. It happens in two weeks. Read about it here on Tanita’s blog. I also wanted to share this useful tool again that helps you keep track of all those lines: Villanelle Village – I find it helpful!

Thank you, Molly Hogan, for hosting us today on Poetry Friday. She blogs over at Nix the Comfort Zone.

Poetry Friday – A Golden Shovel and da DUM, da DUMs

Today’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Carol Wilcox. Have you read Carol’s beautiful 30 days of poems about Raising Rooney? During April this year, Carol wrote a poem each day about the service dog she has raised from a puppy–starting with “Beginnings” to when she realized “I’ve Got Rooney All Over Me,” as she had to say goodbye. Each poem tells a story, helps us get to know the ins and outs of raising a service dog, and touched my heart as a reader. This collection will be a lovely gift to the person who is blessed to receive Rooney as their service dog.

Last week Ruth Hersey’s post was so bittersweet and beautiful. I’ve been thinking of it all week. It inspired me to notice the birds (and people) here in Bahrain all week long. Thank you, Ruth, for the inspiration. Using a Maya Angelou quote that has been on my mind, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better”, I wrote a Golden Shovel poem:

Pigeons Well-Tended

we have birds here, like they do
in detroit and haiti and all over the
world. we know birds are best
in their wild brilliance and you
will do well to realize these birds can
exist in this blasted heat, up until
their feet melt into the pavement. you
can measure this desert against what you know,
thinking your birds are better,
but linger here, savoring their coos and vision. then
take your cue from the birds who know when
and how their next meal will come. Do you?
they don’t farm or collect salaries, but they know
their father in heaven better
than I often do.
rain of mercy, fall on us so we receive better

After I wrote a rambling “narrative” sestina, I wanted to try to learn more about meter, so I went to Bruce Lansky. He’s the king of da-DUM-da-DUMs, in my opinion, as he really knows how to write in that sing-song rhythm:

Confession
By Bruce Lansky
I have a brief confession
that I would like to make.
If I don’t get it off my chest
I’m sure my heart will break.
continued…

Many years ago, I would teach this lesson from Bruce Lansky–“New Version of Shel Silverstein’s ‘Sick'”–to junior highers. For a while during those years I understood meter much better, so this week I revisited this lesson. (Even though I had to go to the Way Back Machine archives to do so.)

I began to collect lists of words, seeing which syllable in the word is stressed. I’m not sure why I made these lists–perhaps looking for support, inspiration, patterns, or what-have-you. This week I’ve played a bit with using the words to make  equations, a menu of sorts, perusing the lists and thinking of better words. (e.g., da DUM da + DUM da + DUM da + DUM + da DUM = iambic pentameter.) Is that right? I have been playing with rhythm in my waking and sleeping. I’m not sure how successfully. Here is a sampler of couplet sizes I tried out this week.

Iambic dimeter (2 iambs)
Beyond all hope
Afraid to cope

Iambic trimeter (3 iambs)
The Light of God aglow
And Evil takes a blow

Iambic tetrameter (4 iambs) (Inspired by a real conversation I had with a student this week after we watched this video.)
We have a pup and no hedgehog,
but not no more; she’s now a dog.

Iambic pentameter (5 iambs) (Pigeons on my window sill)
Their cooing comes in waves of ease and whim
Alive and free, no cage can stop their hymn

Iambic hexameter (6 iambs)
I am alive in sweet embrace, a lovely scene
Of morning quiet during spring, so fresh, so clean

Iambic heptameter (7 iambs) (Two lines rewritten from my sestina)
We battle systems over people, country’s soul is near;
Our hope portrayed in Kamala brightens every dappled fear.

Do you have additional suggestions for writing iambs? I would welcome any advice!

I Was Given a Golden Shovel Today

Day 28
A hopeful Golden Shovel from September 2021 using Biden’s Build Back Better slogan.

Thank you for the challenge and passing on the Golden Shovel to us today, Fran Haley. I saw your post this morning, and I thought it was a great day to write another Golden Shovel poem.  I’ve been thinking about it and doing a little mental digging throughout my day.

Because it’s Palm Sunday, I made that the topic for my poem using William Carlos Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow” poem.

So Much Depends Upon Jesus
Hosanna in the Highest, so
very many Hosannas! It seems there is much
joy filling Jerusalem today, but it depends
ultimately upon
your perspective. It’s not all hosannas…We sense a
burst of red
hot anger–religious leaders reinventing the wheel
of hatred, building a barrow
above the tombs, glazed
sepulchers of envy, with
little hope of Hosannas to rain
peace and justice on the earth. Beside
Jesus’s little donkey, the
fickle crowds also heave their temporary praise, white
hot and later we will all become chickens

A year ago this week, I wrote another Golden Shovel poem using a Williams’ poem, “This is Just to Say

It’s A Good Friday Just to Say
This week started with a parade I
Witnessed. Shouting and waving my palm branches have
Given me hope. Too often I’ve eaten
Of this desire, dreams for the
Future, broken again. Grapes and plums
Crushed into sour wine that
Is poured out and wasted. Were
You informed of this in
Heaven before you agreed to the
Plan? Heaven must have been an icebox
The moment the plan was devised and
Executed. Which
Brings us back to you
Here now getting lead-studded lashes. Were
You tempted to split the earth and let them fall in? Probably.
Crown of thorns, ‘My God” groaning, but saving
Some bit of hope after the forsaking for
A fish-laden breakfast
On the beach. All to forgive
Us, the world, villains, sinners, trespassers, me.
Sour sponge dripping vinegar they
Gave to relieve your pounded nails, pounding head? Were
You aware that your forsaken cries would become delicious
Victory over the grave, so
We would be able to say, ‘It’s Friday, but sweet
Sunday’s coming,’ and
Our scarlet sins could become so
Clean like fire and snowy cold

By Laurie Avocado, CC By 2.0