{pf invites poetry peeps to a susurrus of words}

Shhh. Listen to the crunch of leaves underfoot. Listen to the susurrus of leaves dancing with the wind. Hear the shrieking cries of… is that a jay? or some other kind of corvid? It’s cool in here – and despite the fact that dragonfly was the size of a small VW – it’s safe. Here is a place where a person can think. Look up at trees taller than you’ll ever be, and breathe… deep.

Welcome to Poetry Friday, which today is hosted at Karen’s Got A Blog! Today we’re pretending we’re in a deep, cool wood, and not in sunny downtown suburbia. Our woods are closed just now, but I’m imagining them because I have enjoyed discovering what lies beneath their cool branches. Muir Woods, which are the woods closest to my house, is wonderful. I’ve never felt unwelcome there, or awkward, or that I was not in the right space. I’ve been left alone to enjoy it, to give side-eye to the HUGE banana slugs and to wonder if it was the same ground squirrel following me for a half mile (probably not. Maybe?). I was left to myself to be ungainly, awkward, sticky, out of breath, and deep into brush. Unfortunately, not every green space is safe and welcoming to everyone, as has been adequately and dispiritingly displayed in weeks past. It’s an odd thing, that some places seem to belong inherently to some people, and not others…

San Francisco 234

But, today this imaginary wood belongs to everyone, and as you were invited to join our poetry-ing this month, you know the prompt was using the imagery of thick woods and the word “susurrus.” Was that word helpful to you? It wasn’t to me, even though it’s one of my favorites (AND I MADE UP THE PROMPT), but after a lot of revision, I decided to go with what I had – these poetry exercises are meant to encourage us to write, not perfect us as writers.

And, so we carry on.

If you want to hear a “murmur or whisper” – or something about trees – from more from our Poetry Peeps, check out Sara’s post, and Laura’s here. Cousin Mary Lee’s post is here. Liz’s post is here. Don’t miss Tricia post. New poetry peeps include Michelle, and Janice. (As we’re tagged, we’ll point out other folks’ poems along the way – and thanks for joining in, folks!) Remember to visit the blog of Karen Eastlund for more Poetry Friday fun.


stopping by the woods on a summer evening

Up narrow tracks hemmed in with trees
Far from suburban greens
A wilder place is beckoning
Towards places clandestine.

A hushed and restless murmuring –
Mere susurrus of sound –
An invitation from within
To become lost – and Found.

Space here reserved for breathing in
Amidst the buds and leaves,
Expands the soul, Lightens the heart,
And never fails to ease.

Come one and all, to fragrant woods,
Or wander by the sea.
We share these spaces to rejoice
In Earth’s tranquility

Come all – and come courageously.
Take up this space. This prize
To all belongs; the Earth is shared
Your welcome recognize.


Netherlands 2018 1141

I hope you find a green place that welcomes you. It might not be possible right now, but the joy of green spaces is that they remain, as my friend Elle reminded me recently, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, it all goes on, as long as the Earth remains. Never mind what’s going on with us; the woods will be there.

Want to join us again?

{to beauty}

UGH, is it still 2020? It’s been six years!

This morning, Nikki Grimes wondered on Twitter if anyone else needed a reminder of something beautiful in this world, and oh, holy heaven, yes. As she shared a picture of her roses in bloom, so I will share my blooms – and some thoughts on the reasons I stare at my plants when my mind is full.

Sonoma County 236

Despite the fact that I garden, I’m… actually kind of terrible at it. So far this year, the Evil Gopher has eaten two whole plants (although today I saw it ate A WEED. I’m not mad about it), and three have simply failed to thrive. I have no clue what’s up with the leeks and beets, or why they’re not doing anything. There are so many things i should put them on a list and make note that they don’t do well here, so as not to try them again – but I’m more bewildered and sad that they didn’t like me. ☺ Gardening is sometimes a lot about failure – and learning how to face it, breathe through it, and walk on.

Between a box of seeds I collected from a house we rented fifteen years ago (!) and seeds from my friend Elle’s crop last year, we planted LOADS of morning glories in at least four colors around the entire yard. Morning glories… are stubborn sometimes. They CAN grow in poor soil and with tons of neglect, but even when you give them tons of fresh, rich soil, sometimes they just… won’t. Right now, while I have morning glories which are just now stretching up trees and staked on sticks and trying to run up the fence, I have discovered myriad tiny new seedlings which are just now germinating.

We planted them in FEBRUARY.

How is it that seeds I planted months ago in the winter are JUST NOW deciding to germinate? Did their older siblings somehow signal that it was safe? Hanging with my plants reminds me I cannot make anything happen except in its own time. Gardening means relinquishing the idea that you’re in your control. It’s enough to make you scream. It’s also …life. Things happen when they do – and all of our stressing rarely moves the dial. Sometimes what’s needed is patience. Other times, a clipper or a trowel and a new location, or even just fertilizer. You don’t know ’til you get in there.

Sometimes, there’s nothing you can do. (There’s that failure thing again…)

So, you take a breath, and do what you can. You enjoy the blooms that you have.

Irvington 398

Right now, what with the additional plague of “you can’t tell me what to do”-ers infecting the nation, it feels like we might never stop dying of this disease, or gain social closeness again. It feels like authoritarianism continues to invent reasons to eradicate black and brown individuals. It feels like nothing is working, that nothing is worth working for, and that we’ve lived through the winter of our discontent, which is dragging on into an endless summer. It feels – every day, for some – like the end of everything.

It’s a good thing we have this reminder: there are beautiful things in this world. There is rest – even a moment’s surcease from pain. There is hopefulness. Look for it. See.

{a ‘tipping point’?}

belabored

“I have learned that
racism affects African American people
every day of their lives.”

the labors of Sisyphus
were punitive –
just desserts and
fair penance for
underhanded, dirty dog
double-dealing.
an underworld eternity
of useless effort, of
endless blistering frustration

some god must be offended
some Poseidon, a lightning thief
escaping, marked this realm
besting Zeus. we are accursed
with knowledge

understanding is a boulder;
the truth a heavy weight
rolling back to crush us
on repeat

ignorance speaks – and whoosh!
dust flies – that two ton weight rolls on

like mercy hasn’t.
like empathy can’t.
like racism always does

rolling the rock –
straining for uplift
only for its weight to crash down —
crushing.


The other night I tried to write a letter to an acquaintance who wrote a letter with the above statement… I sat with it for two days before I tried to respond and then determined that it’s just… too… much… work. During that time, however, I came up with a metaphor: if a child you loved was bitten by a dog, you would in nowise stand as they wailed, bleeding, telling them of all the breeds of dogs which are Good Dogs, which have not bitten them. You would, I hope, if you possess your humanity, bandage and hold them and grieve with them over this dog, this breach of trust, this theft of innocence, this pain, this bite.

Oh, the difficulty of hearing from someone in a position of trust about “the vast majority” of policemen with “integrity and courage” just now… it is both unnecessary and repellent — the same as grandiosely stating that all lives matter to God, because DUH, but that’s not the point just now.

Why do people find humanity, empathy, and solidarity so hard?

{request}

please stop asking

if i’m okay,
only to offer
how it is with you:

i hear you, but

i have reached capacity.
i will take up your cause
tomorrow

        or maybe never

please stop talking

asking what i know
what i have seen
stop marveling

about yet another murder that should
never

have

been

please stop reaching, don’t

extend greedy hands for

that cookie, wanted

expected, nay, believed

deserved from brown hands
i see you. you do

your good deed. now let it be

between you and your Eternity
with me left
alone

please stop

please
                stop

{tab’s #tiwyk project}

Tabatha Yeatts is an exceptional poet, and often has poetry projects into which she invites others. I am a goof, and a terrible joiner; I often THINK about adding a poem when invited, or I start a poem, and then hate it, and slink away… So, I’m doing justice to her National Poetry Month project called Things I Wish You Knew, where poets examined parts of the self that are deeply personal and generally overlooked. Hidden disabilities and trauma, things which make us ‘other’ – giving voice to these parts of the self that often remain hidden can be cathartic. Do you have an ‘owner’s manual?’ What things do you wish people knew about you?

anxious

these things i wish you knew:
some days the world’s a maze
with trap doors i fall through
land mines left in hallways

silence gets misconstrued –
my anxious brain steals words
i don’t agree with you
but can’t make my voice heard.

there’s nothing you can do –
ignore my sweaty hands
it’s panic’s residue
i hope you understand.

{p7 writes back: the lai}


Upon sitting down to compose my Poetry Friday post, I generally express shock that the month has so passed quickly, but May has been ridiculous — it was the same day for at least fourteen years, and then suddenly we were hurtling toward the first of June. The other day, some wag at the Farmer’s Market wished me a Happy Apocalypse, and …yeah, okay, fine. I’ll take it. Welcome To Your New Abnormal.

A friend mentioned the other day that at times, she finds things as they stand simply unbelievable. And I laughed – in empathy, in commiseration, and in recognition. We’ve been here before, haven’t we? In this society and in our world, so many times we’ve faced the same sweeping sickness, the same financial losses. The same racism, the same violence, the same losses, the same pain. Society lurches from pain to plenty and back again, and it feels like nothing we learn makes any difference. I don’t say this cynically – but sometimes in utter bewilderment, and a sneaking suspicion that we’re incapable…

Our poetry challenge this month was to revisit and revise an old poem, or write one new in conversation. Holding to our anti-2020 theme of foresight, I wandered back through old poems until I found the lai poems from 2017. The theme back then was hope and peace and light… and I wrote then that we “sorely needed it.” Bah. I don’t even remember specifics of the horror of 2017, and today’s self looks back, haggard, at yesterday’s self and sighs, “Girl, please. You don’t know the half of it.”

Hindsight. Foresight.

…since we ONCE AGAIN find ourselves and continually in need of hope, peace, and light, let’s light up another lai, shall we? This French form has a nine-line, “A” and “B” rhyme scheme with A lines being five syllables, and B lines two, with the pattern of AA B AA B AA B. This was difficult to work with, and seemed too short to imbue with meaning. To switch that up a bit, today we’re exploring the Lai Nouveau, which has a similar pattern internally, but falls into two stanzas of sixteen lines with repeating opening lines. I find this helps to tie together the whole:


“recompense”

Fate’s had a field day:
Predator’s turned prey:
Checkmate.
Knowledge can’t outweigh
Chance’s power play.
Stalemate
Forces us to say,
“Try another way.”

Plans still go astray
Every single day.
Irate,
Bigwigs cry “Foul play!”
Scrambling away.
They hate
Feeling like their prey…
Fate’s had a field day.

Who is the predator, and who is the prey? Is fickle chance the only way to upend tradition? Given the chance to change something big, where would you start? While you ponder these points, don’t miss more poetry from the Poetry Peeps: Laura, joined by Rebecca, and Sara, following Tricia, and Liz. And welcome to others who’d like to write along with us!

Still more poetry at Poetry Friday which today is at Cousin Mary Lee’s blog. There might be nothing you can do to predict the way life goes, but I know you can roll with it – just like the rest of us. Be good to yourself, friend, and be well.

{npm: solus 29}

another birthday

Last night, and dreaming –
My brother, in a stairwell,
Paused, smiled, and hugged me,
Resumed his downstairs sprinting.
He’s out of reach, just like time.

(I don’t know why I dreamed of my brother when it was my nephew’s birthday yesterday, but my brain doesn’t make sense; ymmv. Also, I have worry dreams often; my brother works in a store, and I think about him, stocking shelves in a mask and gloves, and sigh.)