It’s been that kind of a week. Try to guess which one of the these things did not happen to me:
1. A black bear runs past at top speed in a deer-fenced in area about 50’ away.
2. “Blow Joe” is on my caller ID landline phone.
3. Two tiny, probably copperhead, snakes coil and try to strike after I lift the black garden tarp where they were napping. (I cannot blame them really).
4. The BOGS mud shoes that I ordered fit perfectly, and I wore them anyway on a dry day.
5. A radiant handmade fabric bowl was delivered and dropped off at my doorstep, much to my delight.
6. I painted a flamboyant selfie in the manor of Frida Kahlo.
If you guessed #4 you are correct. I could hardly get my toe into the mud shoes that they described as being “a true fit.” The snakes were babies, but something to think about later in the season before poking under rocks in my usual oblivious fashion; “Joe Blow” did pop up on caller ID (who would answer this nom de plume?); the black bear went by in a flash before anyone was spooked; thank you to Susan for the handmade fabric bowl with delivery service and for donating all the proceeds to our local soup kitchen; and finally, if you haven’t noticed the colorful mixed media piece above, a group of us were challenged to paint or collage our likeness a la Frida, whose 55 self-portraits were her means to expressing her feelings, usually without restraint and with a lot of drama. She was in tremendous pain most of her life, both physically and emotionally, and still she persevered and painted through it all, and continues to inspire many of us on many levels. Thank you Frida and Joe Blow for adding some much needed spark to an otherwise dull work week.
Susan Leslie Moore has captured my heart with her words in her poem,
I Have Tried Hard to Have Appropriate Feelings.
It is personal and honest, and at the same time casts a poetic spell in the very best way poetry zings to the soul and spirit of life itself. Yes–zing and sing. Her line about the polar bears touched a deep chord, and reminds me that I/we are connected to all life, and that tears are meant to heal us.
The highest compliment that I can give another poet is, “I wish that I wrote this very poem.” They are few and far between, but oh so satisfying when they grace our being.
This poem was selected by Naomi Shihab Nye and published in the NYT Magazine section. The poem is from Ms. Moore’s (book),
That Place Where You Opened Your Hands
I Have Tried Hard to Have Appropriate Feelings
By Susan Leslie Moore
I have folded them away like sweaters.
Kept my distance from the moon, visited the sick.
I am proud of the life in my head. Nobody knows
the garden I’ve seen. I am tender with the suburb.
Some days even the ceiling worries me, the way
it keeps the roof on.
I only cry when the polar bears get to me.
The ones stranded on the melting ice.
Otherwise I’m kept in line by the steady curve
of my driveway, the tight fists of the roses. I can easily
about the sweet peas and our eventual disintegration.
The sky has more to say to me than I could
ever hear, given the restricted space between
houses. Frogs sing at night and the whine of the train.
This poem, by a Pittsburgh poet who lost his wife to the corona virus, really struck me hard. It is both personal and universal. The poem is by Bart Solarczyk and is published in his poetry book: Tilted World.
on a sofa
in a big
we will never
be the sky.
A Pantoum: The pantoum is a poem of any length, composed of four-line stanzas in which the second and fourth lines of each stanza serve as the first and third lines of the next stanza. The last line of a pantoum is often the same as the first.
O Oh and OOOOOOOH
O a letter; a symbol; a sound; a poem;
swells to fullness on pursed lips: moon.
Climaxes to the oh oh oh oh oh OOOOOOOH moan
and softens – in the tender of “oh, I didn’t know.”
Curves to fullness on lips of moon.
Sets our limits — our boundaries with NO — not good!
Listens in the tender of “oh, I didn’t know”
quickly politicizes when “in the hood.”
Sets our limits — our boundaries in NO — not good!
Vibrates and honors the breath of OM.
Quickly politicizes when “in the hood”
O chorals God; Hours; Ovaries; Our Own.
Vibrates and honors the breath of OM
O a letter; a symbol; a sound; a poem.
O chorals God; Hours; Ovaries; Our Own.
Orgasms in the oh oh oh oh oh OOOOOOOH birthing moan.
ag ~ December 2016
~ revised May 2020
A few snippets that I came across reading the NYT this week.
“If we’re all inside, might as well
jump on the couch and have a good time.”
“I’m reading some poetry
not for solace, but for understanding.”
“Seasons will not be still,
filled with migrations of birds.”
“I actually have a crush on someone,
and I used the time to write to them.”
“If you look at a moment like this,
you realize it’s a mere blip in time.”
“We hear the woodpecker at work on
the chimney. There is news everywhere.”
More or Less
More foxtails on the run,
less contrails blocking the sun.
More stars brighter in the sky,
less cars passing by.
More community chipping in,
less immunity near friend and kin.
More recipes than able cooks,
less crime and story-book crooks.
More coffee at home to taste,
less plastic cups go to waste.
~ ~ ~
Less junkmail, and trips to the mall,
more dog walks and real phone calls.
Less to complain about “before,”
more consideration at our core.
Less of what others perceive,
more of what we actually need.
Less noise and throwing stones,
more of stardust in our bones.
Less contrails blocking the sun,
more foxtails on the run.
ag ~ 2020
April is Poetry Month, and for this I am always grateful, but especially during isolation. Poetry and art connect and converse soul to soul to soul. It is the language that I turn to try to understand our human-ness in relation to all of nature. It has been said (by A. O. Scott, and I paraphrase) that poetry and all forms of art “Shows us something we didn’t know we needed to (hear and) see.” It is also an antidote to political-speak.
The New York Times (thankfully) prints a poem by a published poet every week in their Magazine section, and each poem is chosen by a national or regional poet laureate. The poem sits quietly but squarely between pages of recipes, science articles, ethical questions, current events and the renowned crossword puzzle. I do not enjoy every poem, however the ones that speak to me inspire and ignite my own writing and kindle awe.
The poem Songs and Stones by Jacqueline Saphra was published on
October 27, 2019 and chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye,
the 2019-21 Young People’s Poet Laureate of the Poetry Foundation, Chicago.
Songs and Stones
by Jacqueline Saphra
This head is heavy
with irreconcilable weights.
These worlds: how to balance
the scales, how to bear the ache.
Love stuns and buds in the bone,
terrors rattle the skull.
Sleep flickers and lifts the lids.
This neck is a buckled pillar.
From one eye, tears of rage;
from the other, tears of blessing.
These sobs are stones,
these sobs are songs.
How do I free these oppositions
from my throat?
I no longer know which one
is making it so hard to swallow.
On Facebook again: a meme posted by my brother (which I usually ignore but decided to play with this time):
(Create your) Dragon Name–(Your name backward), the (current mood). Hoarder of (last thing you ate) and (object to your right).
Aerdna, the pissed-off hoarder of buckwheat pasta and useless china.
Very silly but fun too. Lots of good and interesting answers. You can tell the healthy eaters from the snackers. LOL.
my only wish:
to follow a cloud
ag ~ 2013