Monday, February 19, 2018

Not Poetry Thursday

May Perpetual Light Shine
~Patricia Spears Jones

We have encountered storms
Perfect in their drench and wreck

Each of us bears an ornament of grief
A ring, a notebook, a ticket torn, scar
It is how humans know their kind—

What is known as love, what can become
the heart’s food stored away for some future

Love remains a jewel in the hand, guarded
Shared fragments of earth & air   drift & despair.

We ponder what patterns matter other than moons and tides:
musical beats—rumba or waltz or cha cha cha
cosmic waves like batons furiously twirling
colors proclaiming sparkle of darkness
as those we love begin to delight
in the stars embracing

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Not Poetry Thursday

praise poets and their pens
 ~JP Howard

dedicated to my 30/30 crew

praise daily poems in my inbox
how they make me laugh in one stanza,
then break my heart the next
praise how poets hold onto our first loves,
and scent of mama, now gone
praise how we nurture our child self,
gently wrap her around stanzas,
baby girl is resilient
praise our spunk and our sadness,
let our writing heal
at home, at work, in cafés, even in the ICU
praise how we hold our memories up to light,
gentle and cupped in palm of hands
praise our rough and sexy poems,
sometimes that’s all we need
fiyah in the sheets
praise bebop and jazz
how my foot taps when i
speak your poems out loud
praise power of music and mama
who played Nancy Wilson all night long,
crying behind a closed door.
praise how i wrote a new poem this week,
while my sick child laid on my lap,
because everyone needs to heal, especially mamas.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Not Poetry Thursday

Given to Rust
 ~Vievee Francis

Every time I open my mouth my teeth reveal
more than I mean to. I can’t stop tonguing them, my teeth.
Almost giddy to know they’re still there (my mother lost hers)
but I am embarrassed nonetheless that even they aren’t
pretty. Still, I did once like my voice, the way it moved
through the gap in my teeth like birdsong in the morning,
like the slow swirl of a creek at dusk. Just yesterday
a woman closed her eyes as I read aloud, and
said she wanted to sleep in the sound of it, my voice.
I can still sing some. Early cancer didn’t stop the compulsion
to sing but
there’s gravel now. An undercurrent
that also reveals me. Time and disaster. A heavy landslide
down the mountain. When you stopped speaking to me
what you really wanted was for me to stop speaking to you. To
stifle the sound of my voice. I know.
Didn’t want the quicksilver of it in your ear.
What does it mean
to silence another? It means I ruminate on the hit
of rain against the tin roof of childhood, how I could listen
all day until the water rusted its way in. And there I was
putting a pan over here and a pot over there to catch it.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Not Poetry Thursday, buzzing

~Kevin Young

The honey bees’ exile
     is almost complete.
You can carry

them from hive
     to hive, the child thought
& that is what

he tried, walking
     with them thronging
between his pressed palms.

Let him be right.
     Let the gods look away
as always. Let this boy

who carries the entire
     actual, whirring
world in his calm

unwashed hands,
     barely walking, bear
us all there

buzzing, unstung.

About the Bees
~Justin Phillip Reed

I do think of them
from time to time—
just now sucking the pulp

of a tangerine
the taste of which
is mostly texture,

in this spin-drunk season
that seems to forget
—us. —itself.

At the job I lost,
their husk carcasses
with the locust bean’s

cracked brown pods
rustled on the brick steps
leading into the white-walled

hours of computer screen;
their compressed toil
missing from the hives

they left agape in the backyard
of the next-door neighbor
who, recently divorced,

had brought us the jars
of honey I spooned into teas
I sipped in the break room

and watched at the window
as he continued to tend
the needle palm and hydrangea.

In the age of loss there is
the dream of loss
in which, of course, I

am alive at the center—
immobile but no one’s queen—
enveloped (beloved) in bees,

swathed in their wings’
wistful enterprise. They pry
the evolved thin eyelids

behind which I replay
the landscape as last I knew it
(crow feathers netting redder suns),

their empire’s droning edge
mindless in the spirals of
my obsolescing ears.

Beneath my feet
what kind of earth
I’m terrified to break

into sprint across to free
myself, to free them
from the myth they make

of me and then bury
below their dance
of manufactory;

what kind of future
they could die for if
punching into me their stings—

what future without risking
the same; and while, in either body
the buzzards of hunger conspire,

what kind of new
dread animal,
this shape we take?

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Poetry Thursday, Harlem Renaissance

When I Rise Up
 ~Georgia Douglas Johnson

When I rise up above the earth,
And look down on the things that fetter me,
I beat my wings upon the air,
Or tranquil lie,
Surge after surge of potent strength
Like incense comes to me
When I rise up above the earth
And look down upon the things that fetter me.

Dead Leaves
~Georgia Douglas Johnson

The breaking dead leaves ’neath my feet
A plaintive melody repeat,
Recalling shattered hopes that lie
As relics of a bygone sky.

Again I thread the mazy past,
Back where the mounds are scattered fast—
Oh! foolish tears, why do you start,
To break of dead leaves in the heart?

I've Learned to Sing
~Georgia Douglas Johnson

I've learned to sing a song of hope,
I've said goodbye to despair,
I caught the note in a thrush's throat,
I sang---and the world was fair!
I've learned to sing a song of joy
It bends the skies to me,
The song of joy is the song of hope
Grown to maturity.

I've learned to laugh away my tears
As through the dark I go
For love and laughter conquer fears
My heart has come to know.

I've learned a song of happiness
It is a song of love
For love alone is happiness
And happiness is love.

 ~William Stanley Braithwaite

I am glad daylong for the gift of song,
     For time and change and sorrow;
For the sunset wings and the world-end things
     Which hang on the edge of to-morrow.
I am glad for my heart whose gates apart
     Are the entrance-place of wonders,
Where dreams come in from the rush and din
     Like sheep from the rains and thunders.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day 2018 style

For years, I have *celebrated* Valentine's Day only as part of my divorce anniversary.  Truthfully, in the last five years, I have done nothing, as the grief veil barely allowed me to do more than check on others to make sure they were managing. In the last few years, I have added myself to the list of people to check on...yes, it took over three years to figure out I should be on that list.

Grief has been so very engulfing ... but I am trying to break out of it, slowly but surely.

So, in an attempt to stitch more of my heart back together, I am celebrating Valentine's this year - through poetry.

I have never liked poetry -- my initiation into the practice of reading it was like being dunked in cold water. My aversion was thrust upon me by some really terrible teachers. To overcome that aversion, I started collecting quotes ... and poetry, and sharing it here.

It seems fitting, then, to offer that to anyone reading this as well. has a little tool to help you find the perfect love poem. And here is more inspiration from NPR. ENJOY!

Here is the one I am choosing:

How to Love
~January Gill O’Neil

After stepping into the world again,
there is that question of how to love,
how to bundle yourself against the frosted morning—
the crunch of icy grass underfoot, the scrape
of cold wipers along the windshield—
and convert time into distance.

What song to sing down an empty road
as you begin your morning commute?
And is there enough in you to see, really see,
the three wild turkeys crossing the street
with their featherless heads and stilt-like legs
in search of a morning meal? Nothing to do
but hunker down, wait for them to safely cross.

As they amble away, you wonder if they want
to be startled back into this world. Maybe you do, too,
waiting for all this to give way to love itself,
to look into the eyes of another and feel something—
the pleasure of a new lover in the unbroken night,
your wings folded around him, on the other side
of this ragged January, as if a long sleep has ended.

This is the runner up, no less worthy or true:

Love Comes Quietly
~Robert Creeley, 1926 - 2005

Love comes quietly,
finally, drops
about me, on me,
in the old ways.

What did I know
thinking myself
able to go
alone all the way.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Not Poetry Thursday

I keep thinking I will write more here, and then, I don't.

So, for Black History Month, I will post some extra poems. I know, getting a late start on this, too...

Ah, life.

In case you want even more than I post, here is an awesome resource for lessons plans from

We Named You Mercy
 ~Amanda Johnston

              after Gwendolyn Brooks

I count the years after you,
know your would-be ages and remember
the sadness that consumed me with the
bitter sound of you, my almost-children.
Could not conceive in conceiving you
our muted heat and all that got
through heaven’s gate to become that
half-wing that was your soul. Was you.
I saw your face once and, yes, I did
kiss your cheeks and cry for your sweet not-
quite nose, not-quite lips. Would I get
another chance to see you if I held the knife? Cold, the
sterile taker’s tools, my hands, bloody and damp.
In the darkness, I felt your toes bloom small
petals against my ribs. Your closed eyes, pulps
of possibility. Did you see me? The one with
empty arms stretching to embrace a
a silhouette of you? A ghost with little
more than hope for history. Or
did I make that up to keep you with
me a little longer? Did you stay until the no
I set upon your body untangled itself from sprigs of hair
and released you from the softness that tethered you to the
love in our cold mercy? Quieted blues, your singers
whose band tucked away their baritone horns and
my chosen grief. How those little workers
of sadness gathered me up, my heart, that
splintered with your hard stop. I will never
know the joy to have handled
your urgent cries against my chest or thirst for the
almost milk that did not swell, but was light as air.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Poetry Thursday

Whosoever is 
in solitude, 
is either 
a wild beast 
a god. 
― Aristotle

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Poetry Thursday

As you begin 
to walk out 
on the way 
The way 
~ Rumi

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Poetry Thursday

I felt like I was here ... and it reminded me of those walks on the beach with the bees and ladybugs washed up on the sand.

Funeral: For Us His Gold
~Alessandra Lynch
                    after Gerald Stern

The insect was yellow with crumpled-black banded legs
          and shellacked back that would outlast us
          and wistful eyes from what I could discern on that trail between
and we laid him out in the open air under a sky fast-blue with change,
          a leaf beneath his triple-belted belly so he didn’t rest on plain dirt,
          and we placed two cloverblooms by his head and he was old
you said, could tell by how definite the stripes were, how complete
          the patterns bold and dark, almost engraved,
and he was beautiful in that pasture of thirty-three cows and we drank
          milk in the blaring heat and ate the cake you’d made. We were
          the only humans there—unholy-seeming things with two legs,
               dismal histories—
drinking and eating around his elegant husk,
          and from the furze, fellow insects rose, a frenzied static around
               our bodies,
while he remained in situ an unremitting yellow, the color more
          vivid, louder now that he was a remnant. Was color the purpose
Yellow had alerted us to him, and we took care
          with leaf and clover to make his bed.
The insect’s gold our togetherness, its death from which we fed.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Poetry Thursday,

Corpse Flower
~Vanessa Angélica Villarreal

Yesterday, the final petal curled its soft lure into bone.

The flowerhead shed clean, I gathered up your spine

and built you on a dark day. You are still missing

some parts. Each morning, I curl red psalms into the shells

in your chest. I have buried each slow light: cardinal’s yolk, live

my trenza, a piece of my son’s umbilical cord, and still you don’t

A failure fragrant as magic. Ascend the spirit into the design.

My particular chiron: the record that your perfect feet ever graced

this earth. Homing signal adrift among stars, our tender impossible

What have I made of your sacrifice. This bone: it is myself.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Poetry Thursday

In the Light of One Lamp
~Sean Thomas Dougherty

I crawled into bed and closed my eyes and not long after heard the small hooves of the horses, the tiny ones that gallop in our dreams, or are they the dreams of our children, galloping through the black ruins. Everything we do is against the crippling light. To hear them cry at night is to know they are alive. When they are scared they come galloping down the long hall calling your name. Tonight, it is our oldest daughter, the red mare with her fiery mane, she snuggles in between us and falls back to sleep in your arms, to that secret place inside her, she barely moves, crossing over the river, through a grove of alders, through the black ruins, she is the one who once whispered, the grass it knows everything.

I was not sure if I should include this poem in my Poetry Thursday until I read what the poet had to say about this poem: "'My daughters often refuse to sleep in their own beds, emerging in the middle of the night from some dream to climb into bed with us, with their grandparents, with each other. My oldest daughter, when young, could see our dead. She could transition casually between this world and the next. This poem tries to capture some of that.'"

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Poetry Thursday

The Word
~Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Oh, a word is a gem, or a stone, or a song,
   Or a flame, or a two-edged sword;
Or a rose in bloom, or a sweet perfume,
   Or a drop of gall is a word.

You may choose your word like a connoisseur,
   And polish it up with art,
But the word that sways, and stirs, and stays,
   Is the word that comes from the heart.

You may work on your word a thousand weeks,
   But it will not glow like one
That all unsought, leaps forth white hot,
   When the fountains of feeling run.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Rumi, Poetry Thursday

And don’t think 
the garden loses 
its ecstasy 
in winter. 
It’s quiet, 
the roots 
are down there 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Poetry Thursday

These Poems
~June Jordan

These poems
they are things that I do
in the dark
reaching for you
whoever you are
are you ready?

These words
they are stones in the water
running away

These skeletal lines
they are desperate arms for my longing and love.

I am a stranger
learning to worship the strangers
around me

whoever you are
whoever I may become.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Quote Thursday

Be content 
with what you have; 
rejoice in 
the way things are. 
When you realize 
there is nothing lacking, 
the whole world 
belongs to you.
– Lao Tzu

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Poetry Thursday, circles

The Circle
~Hazel Hall

Dreams—and an old, old waking,
An unspent vision gone;
Night, clean with silence, breaking
Into loud dawn.
A wonder that is blurring
The new day’s strange demands,
The indomitable stirring
Of folded hands.
Then only the hours’ pageant
And the drowsing sound of their creep,
Brining at last the vagrant
Dreams of new sleep.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Poetry Thursday, the journey

Rise up nimbly and
go on your strange journey
to the ocean of meanings....
Leave and don’t look away
from the sun as you go,
in whose light
you’re sometimes crescent,
sometimes full.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Poetry Thursday, on gratitude

At times our own light goes out 
and is rekindled by a spark 
from another person. 
Each of us has cause to think 
with deep gratitude of those 
who have lighted the flame 
within us.
~ Albert Schweitzer

Monday, November 20, 2017

not a news round up, just one piece

I have been struggling at my new job with princess, that's what I call her now [first she was the cheerleader, but it became clear that her real identity was princess, mean princess].

She alternates between mean girl and injured bird.

It can be annoying. Sometimes it is entertaining. But when it interferes with my work, it is just frustrating.

I had a knock down drag out with her the other day. I was the only one participating as she did a full body shut down. The look of emptiness in her eyes and closed up shop in her stance were remarkable. I have never known anyone who could shut down all emotion like that. It's almost admirable. Almost.

My final salvo to her (my boss who was supposed to be mediating had barely shown up in person, so I was now ignoring her) was this, stern voice, piercing look, all raw strength: "You need to decide if you want me to be on this team. Let me know because I am happy to start looking for another job."

It was an instinctual response to the complete helplessness I was feeling. In true form, I felt helpless and showed all power and control. No wonder people are baffled by me ...

Afterwards, I worried that it had not been the right move to throw the power in her court. But it turns out, so far, that it was just the right move. With the power, she has no idea how to scheme. She was trying to scheme from the position of aggrieved (no one knows, probably not even her) what she has to be aggrieved about, but there you have it.

Hand her the power and she is both delighted and confused.

She came to work the next day as the perfect coworker and team mate. She invited me to lunch. I decline, but nicely, because I had work to do. Who knows how long it will last.

For now, I am going to bask in this piece because this one made me feel again like it was my fault. And hope someday I will find *more of* those people who are not afraid.

Here you go, to all my strong women friends and family... be yourself:
"You’re not too much. You probably haven’t shown the world nearly enough. We need you to be your strong, imperfect, direct, funny, brash, hilarious, sometimes intimidating self. We need you to surround yourself with people who don’t need to diminish you in order to feel more secure. We need your ideas, your vision, your leadership, your presence… all of it, 120 proof. If we need a chaser after being around you, that’s up to us to figure that out."