Poetry Friday – Tree Love and a Mad Lib Poem

When I am among the trees,
especially the willows and the honey locust,
equally the beech, the oaks and the pines,
they give off such hints of gladness.
I would almost say that they save me, and daily…
~Mary Oliver

I read this lovely poem by Mary Oliver for the first time today at Sharing Our Stories Magic blog, and it reminded me of the book I’m reading, The Overstory, which is a magnificent 500-page love letter to trees. Have you read it?

Read Oliver’s full poem “When I am Among the Trees” here.

On another note…

Who I Am

I was born in the year of the red security sweater.
My mother was an elegant upright piano
And my father, an unfiltered Camel cigarette.
Is it any wonder I grew up to be a kind of amusing
cross between a shy Daffy Duck and a stoic puffin bird?
Take a fluttering look at me—
I’m aloofly friendly, hope-filled, and wearing out.
Is it any wonder that at night
I have nightmares about
my sweet retirement life crumbling before it begins?

I wrote the poem above from a prompt shared by Taylor Mali–It is a fun foldable called Slam Poem Mad Lib. Did you see Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice are on sale right now for teachers for $8 instead of $20? (Thanks, Karen E.)

Today’s Poetry Friday roundup is with Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core. Today she has written and shared a beautiful poetry primer with A to Z loveliness!

Poetry Friday – Mary Oliver

Today is Poetry Friday. Thank you to Christie Wyman for hosting us today at her Wondering and Wandering blog. Be sure to read the community poem she compiled called “Poetry Is…”

This week I’ve been reading Mary Oliver.

I’m finding that poets are among those I want to keep company with. You, Poetry Friday friends, “who say, ‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment and bow your heads.” Thank you for helping me see the wonder.

I love that poem, “Mysteries, Yes” by Mary Oliver in her book Evidence (2009). This week, I read her collection, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver.

I’m not two weeks late for the #theSealyChallenge to read a poetry book a day in August. I didn’t even try to do the challenge. However, Margaret Simon has been inspiring me this month, so I thought I would read at least a couple of poetry books in August. I have 3-4 that idly and open-heartedly wait for me on my Kindle. This week it was Mary Oliver. Her collection is filled with beautiful hope, faith, love and nature. What could be better?

I went through my notes and wrote out some of the highlighted lines in my favorite poems. (I didn’t get very far into my favorite lines because of the sheer volume of them). I chose about twenty, cut them apart, and then arranged them in order until I was pleased. The results are a cento poem exclusively made with Mary Oliver’s words.

A Cento of Gratitude for Mary Oliver

Joy is not made to be a crumb.
Love yourself. Then forget it. Then love the world.
It’s giving until the giving feels like receiving

Is this the place?
What would do for you?
And have you changed your life?

You have a life–just imagine that.
That the gift has been given–
Yes, yes, we are the lucky ones

to dance for the world,
all that glorious, temporary stuff
of this gritty earth gift.

You don’t hear such voices in an hour a day
Sometimes I want to sum up and give thanks,
and so, no doubt, can you, and you.


Sources for each line (in order)

      1. Don’t Hesitate
      2. To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
      3. To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
      4. I Wake Close to Morning
      5. Evidence
      6. Swan
      7. To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
      8. The Gift (from Felicity, 2014)
      9. I Know Someone
      10. Prayer
      11. On Meditating, Sort Of
      12. To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
      13. At the River Clarion
      14. That Little Beast
      15. The Poet Compares Human Nature to the Ocean From Which We Came

Oliver, Mary. Devotions. Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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.