{pf: poetry peeps try to byr a thoddaid}

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of July! Here’s the scoop: We’re each taking an empowering and inimitable line from Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise,” and from them creating acrostic poems. Each of those forty+ lines are available to poets to create something memorable – grounding, empowering and expansive – of their own. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on July 29th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

Well, first off, you pronounce it beer ah TOE-thy’d, which won’t really help you write one, but hey, The More You Know.🌠 Second, once you get into the byr a thoddaid form, they’re… complicated? But, not actually HARD. I’ve decided that byr a thoddaid are like …long division. You might run out of attention before you finish all the steps (shout-out to my former students), but it is nothing that you cannot handle (Insert authoritative teacher-voice.).

That being said, let’s acknowledge: this seemed like a LOT of steps.

Mistakes were made. Repeatedly.

My process, when dealing with an unfamiliar form, is usually to read a ton of examples. Are there a ton of examples online that I like? No. Would I need to read them in Welsh or something to find a bunch of great ones? Probably. Did I spend more time faffing about on Google than I ought to have? Definitely. I kept thinking I HAD it, when it turned out I was forgetting the near rhyme and just concentrating on the end rhyme. At one point, I rhymed everything to the first stanza, which …could be done, I guess, but wasn’t one of the options listed. I finally pulled off a tiny one, but like that long division, it took longer than I felt it should have:

The season spills a thousand scents,

As summer twilight, liquescent

Shimmers, igniting dreams undreamt. Such light

Sparkles through stars at night.

So, that felt… like a good start, but then I heard people were making two stanza poems from their stanzas, I felt I ought to step up a bit. Also, it was time to pull out the Canva and make-believe I knew what I was doing…

Full disclosure, these are from my backyard nectarine and plum trees, but one of the loveliest things about this area is the many, many sidewalk fruit trees, and of an evening, you will see families – small children, whole rafts of folks in the national clothing of their home countries – with boxes, bags, little red wagons and step-stools, all out to get stone fruit for jam, for eating out of hand, to dry it, and more. It’s …it makes me feel like SOMETHING is going right in the world. Friends, I will gladly take this one thing.

Want to see the attempts of the peeps who also assayed this adventure? Tricia’s is here. Sara’s is here. Laura got inspired here, and Liz’s link is here. Cousin Mary Lee’s is here. Michelle K.’s poem is here. More Poetry Peeps will be added as the weekend progresses, so check back later for the full round-up.

Meanwhile, Poetry Friday is hosted by Catherine, at Reading to the Core. Thanks, Catherine!

And here it is, the end of a week, when just days – or hours – or months ago, you never thought you’d get here. See how much you’ve done with what you’ve got? Remember — like long division, life is nothing that you cannot handle. Take that deep breath of summer sweet, and hold fast. Happy Weekend.

{poetry friday: p7 string, rope, thread, chain…*}

I set up this post Tuesday morning, trying for an upbeat tone despite still processing the hate crimes shootings on May 14 and 15 in Buffalo and Southern California. By Tuesday night, I couldn’t face writing something else – I have no words. Today is for poetry, not tragedy, so I’m posting what I have. Perhaps other words will come later; right now there is only… a soul-deep heaviness.

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of June! Here’s the scoop: We’re doing byr a thoddaid! Yes, it is INDEED a Welsh form, good guess. It’s got more than a few rules, so buckle up, Buttercup: 1.) A byr a thoddaid is a quatrain or series of quartrains, divided into two combined couplets. 2.) One couplet contains 8 syllables for each line with an aa end rhyme. The other couplet contains 10 syllables in the first line and 6 syllables in the second. 3.) The 10-syllable line of this other couplet has an end rhyme near the end of the line (but not AT the end). 4.) The 6-syllable line of this other couplet has a link (either rhyme, alliteration, etc.) to the end word of the 10-syllable line and then an end rhyme. 5.) Additionally, the couplets can appear in alternating orders like a traditional quatrain. WHEW. Are you in? (Are you scared?! I am, not gonna lie.) You’ve got a month to study up on the rules and craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on June 24th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

Since my last post, I have packed for and gone on a vacation which required an airplane (and many hours with a mask. MANY hours. But, it worked), crashed my computer (which gave me some panicky moments with three Works In Progress, let me say), then crashed Himself’s computer because we connected it to MY drive (oops). Additionally, I’ve been juggling two volunteer projects, and the micro-managing director makes me regret every moment, plus I got one of my best friends involved, and she’s suffering through the micro-managing too. Ugh. Can we still blame the pandemic for everything? Y’know what? I’m just going to do so. I have been at the end of my rope, people, and I’m not even kidding. So, when I remembered our poetry theme this month was just a poem using the word “string, rope, thread, or chain,” I snickered, wondering if I was being tied up, tripped, or hanging on.

Well, I’ve decided it’s all of the above, though I’m thinking the rope and chains are mostly bent on tripping me. Still, I’ll hang on…(and volunteer for fewer things)

It has been such a blurry, busy month that the Poetry Sisters crew didn’t even get to hang out on our usual Zoom – so I’m super eager to see what everyone’s doing. Make sure you visit Tricia @ The Miss Rumphius Effect, Sara @ Read Write Believe, Kelly @ Art & Words, and Michelle @ More Art 4 All is here with twine, while Carol @ Beyond Literacy Link finds that thread binds us. More Poetry Peeps will check in on this challenge during the weekend, so stay tuned for a full round-up.

Want more? Poetry Friday today is hosted by Linda at A Word Edgewise, and you’ll find lots of other lovely poetry to brighten your Friday there. Thanks, Linda!

Hang in there, friends — even if you feel yourself dangling by a thread… tie a knot, and hold on. And if you have to drop, it’s all right to let go and fall – those who love you have got you.

{npm22: 29~ bloom!}

Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!

You’re invited to our challenge in the month of May! After such a big month for National Poetry Month, we’re taking it easy for now. Our simple task is to write a poem with the theme of string, thread, rope, or chain. Any poetic form, rhymed or unrhymed, but we’re including one of those four items. Plotting? Good! You’ve got a month to string your line(s), then share your offering on May 27th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

This month the Poetry Peeps wrote poems in imitation of Taylor Mali. For Laura, that meant this poem – short(ish) and sweet. Tricia explored her ideas here. Sara’s meta poem ON the poet is here, Cousin Mary Lee enfolded climate greening into her poem, Liz’s project, plus a bonus poem is here, and Andi’s popped in here. More Poetry Peeps may pop in with more words and thoughts as the weekend continues, so stay tuned. I may be very slow doing the roundup (as in finishing it next week), since I’m away from my usual haunts (and time zones) so bear with me.

I started out with the best of intentions to flatter poet Taylor Mali by imitating “Totally Like Whatever, You Know?” Alas, the longer I spent with it, the less I found flattering to say. Published in 2002, soon after the 1998 “Ebonics” conversation the talk show circuit, this poem is reflective of the social critics of that time, which is to say it hasn’t aged well. Mali’s mocking contempt echoes still of American society’s knee-jerk tendencies to mock and belittle the young, especially young girls, for the way that they speak, act, the media they consume, the bands they love, and the clothes they wear. When devaluing fully 51.1% of the population becomes automatic, misogyny persists, and follows girls into adulthood. More importantly, it leaves a mark. And men aren’t the only people who belittle and begrudge the young; it’s an American past time, which is why this poem so needled me.

I remember running into my 8th grade English teacher as a college student. She quizzed me on my activities and my GPA, and then, as I was proudly telling her my news, she interrupted. Reaching forward, she fiddled with my collar, smoothing it. “You know,” she said in a low, confiding voice like she was revealing a secret, “You’d sound so much smarter if you didn’t say ‘um, okay’ quite so often.” Well, that was me told that I wasn’t up to her level! Rather than enjoying my weekend home, I spent the rest of the time listening to myself, wincing at each “um” and “okay” and wondering desperately how people ever learned to change their speech.

I look back on that incident and seethe.*

My NPM project this year was sticky-note proverb poems. They are proverb-based and SHORT, but Taylor Mali doesn’t lend himself to short, so today I’ve creating two poems, first, the freestyle, unrhymed imitation (not my favorite style; feel free to suggest revisions in the comments), using the words of consent and consensus which are so often dismissed, and second, a sticky-note sized distillation. Additionally, today’s poem calls for a new proverb, one I’ve just made up. It is:

“Wisdom celebrates variation; not every difference suggests flaws.”

um, okay

Okay, but have you noticed
how it is somehow A-okay fine
for them to get right in your face
straighten up your collar and say
“right, if you would just -” and
okay, you knew you weren’t up to par –
yeah, you couldn’t pass as perfect
or more than okay, but who is?

Okay, so, have you noticed
the ground between us
is like potholes and mountains,
it’s that uneven, which is like,
fine, whatever
but what makes them think
the place they’re standing is
always the high ground, right?

Okay, but had you noticed
how they steal your words when they
crush your voice, grind words into pulp,
when they smother your spark
had you noticed why? they silence you –
like you’re just a piece of work
right, but if they would just,
back off, you could work out
making the pieces
whole, right?

Okay, so you had noticed
that consensus creates strength, that two heads
are better than one? so, okay you seek approval –
yeah, sometimes you ask permission –
So? you don’t know if you’re allowed
to take up space, to speak
aloud, so you rehearse
your sounds, right?
and you check your strengths
’til you know them
by heart.

Okay, so had you noticed
your flex, your stretch, how strong
you’ve grown? they did not, which is like,
fine, whatever –
you’ve blown past their

so, it’s your space
send roots into the earth
shout “I’ve arrived! make here the place
you grow

Want more poetry? Poetry Friday is hosted today at Jone’s place.. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

*I taught school, too. I recognize that for some, the job is changing the world through their students. But, I’d really rather leave the world unchanged than be remembered for the kind of casual cruelty that implies someone sounds/is stupid.

{npm22: 22 ~ idle hands}

Thanks to Ye Olden Tymes or the Middle Ages, there are a ton of proverbs and sayings about the devil. Most people feared the forest, the dark, and the unknown beasties within it, and helpful religious leaders identified any fearful unknown as the devil and capitalized on the idea of toeing the line to avoid being fed to it. When the average person began to read and consider arguments, truths and opinions for themselves, those fears didn’t diminish – rather they shifted. Though a literal devil might have taken a backseat, the fear of social hell took precedence…

Therefore, to avoid being thought of as indolent or ignorant, everyone wanted to be thrifty, clean, and reverent, so enter the idea of keeping busy. Or at least looking busy. This idea is so old that the first mention of this proverb is way back in the fourth century. The first finding of this phrase in (Middle) English comes from Chaucer in 1405 saying, “Dooth somme goode dedes, that the deuel, which is oure enemy, ne fynde yow nat vnocupied.” Do some good deeds, so that the Devil, which is our enemy, won’t find you unoccupied.

There are myriad variations of this proverb. My sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Martin, told us that “Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop” which I always found confusing and unlikely. My father told us that idle hands were the Devil’s playthings – which seemed less unlikely, and to my literal mind, definitely more worrying. To keep things clear, we’ll go with the earliest, not the most popular version of this proverb:

“The devil makes work for idle hands.”

A Puritan person would say
“Idle hands will lead children astray.”
Now that I’d dispute –
To give kids their salute,
They’ll cause chaos hogtied – that’s their way.

Just kidding, kids. This is just what my parents believed, for reasons best known to themselves and having nothing AT ALL whatsoever to do with me. *cough*

More poetry? Poetry Friday is hosted today at Reflections on the Teche.

{npm22: 8 ~ one word}

My sixth grade teacher ADORED this proverb, verbum sapienti sat est… If she’d said it in Latin, it would at least have sounded cooler, perhaps. The number of times she repeated it per day this shows she didn’t quite believe it to be true, however – we unwise were given MANY words, alas, but they were never enough. That phrase was a good heads up that you were about to get your name on the board, though…

The Dictionary of Clichés (©2013, Christine Ammer) first finds usage of this phrase in English from a Ben Jonson play in 1600. That single “word” given to the wise implies, you’re smart, I don’t have to belabor this. Somehow, as my mind wandered, to an idea to illustrate this poetically, I thought of … giant sequoias. They don’t need much, only a seed, a cutting, a stump or root sprout – and suddenly you’re provided a whole new system of trees. Just a hint – a tiny jump start – is sufficient.

“A word to the wise is sufficient.” – A Roman Proverb

one composed of all:
redwood forests spring to life
from single stump sprouts

I like the idea of something being composed of compost, too, and sequoias make a lot of that.

Can you believe it’s Friday? The poetry round-up is being handled by Janice at Salt City Verse. Have a lovely weekend.

{npm22: thoughts that breathe, words that burn}

It’s National Poetry Month!

If we recall that a national poetry celebration was only officially launched in 1996, it seems ludicrous. Surely this celebrating has been going on forever! National Poetry Month has certainly gone from strength to strength; more than ever, people are reading poetry, students in schools are studying poetry, and more and more it’s being proven that poetry is good for our heads, good for our hearts, and feeds our souls. Here’s to the joy of a few pithy, provocative, clever, or amusing words to keep us going this month.

This year’s official poster from the Academy of American Poets features a line from an Amanda Gorman. There’s a poem in this place, the poster proclaims, and set within the chaos of crumpled newspapers, blaring headlines, and multiple mouths speaking, it appears that the poet has plenty of fodder for inspiration. Though my brain isn’t quite ready for digging through chaos to discover a month of poetry (WHY does April always seem to just …appear!?), smarter people than I have brought out their stars and prepared, so I’m hitching my wagon to a couple of bright ones:

Amy @ the Poetry Farm gave me the idea of creating poems inspired by proverbs. I’m using less familiar British and American proverbs primarily, but will grab any others which spark a thought. (Proverbicals.com and Phrases.org are two great reference sites.) Poetry Princess Laura, whose preference for short poetry is well-documented, is doing post-it note poems – and I think that’s a worthy length limit for me as well. I look forward to the exercise of trying to come up with short poems on conventional wisdom. Should be easy-peasy, right?

“After all is said and done, more is said than done.”


The roadside sign is boasting
men in orange weave week-long knots

CALTRANS – short for the California Deptartment of Transportation – are the slow men in orange. They’re awfully fond of crowing that they’re working our tax dollars. Ironically, most of them seem employed to supervise…

Poetry Friday is posted by my second cousin, Heidi, who is determined to save the planet and bring us together, one poem at a time. Jama-j is rounding up everyone this National Poetry Month over on Alphabet Soup, so do check back to her big list throughout the month. Here’s to Thomas’s Grey’s belief in poetry being words that burn, and thoughts that breathe. Here’s to becoming those who breathe fire.

{pf: p7 make exquisite corpses! er…}

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of March! Here’s the scoop: We’re doing an ekphrastic dodoitsu! The humorous dodoitsu form has four lines with a 7-7-7-5 syllabic pattern, and its topics are usually love or work. There’s lots to riff on wryly about love and work, right? Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to a.) find an image for ekphrastic inspiration, and b.) craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on March 25th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

Yes, poetry peeps we will indeed make exquisite corpses! Eventually. Wow, that’s just not a sentence a well-placed comma will save, is it? Oh, well…

This exquisite corpse challenge was one I wasn’t quite sure about to begin with — I’ve tried writing exquisite corpse short stories before, and it’s like the worst sort of Mad Libs. Our group has a bunch of rule followers in it (*raises both hands*) so we tend to try to counteract that by being light on the rules. We didn’t try for patterns or anything – each writer was responsible for a single line, and that was that.

The Poetry Sisters came up with an order of operations – who starts, who finishes, do we want a topic or a pattern, or how are we doing this? – and then the texts begin to fly.

Liz: Okay, here’s my line. Wait… I might want to shorten it, if you haven’t started yours or sent it on…?

Me: Oops, too late.

EC Group Draft

This month, odd one out, running short on days and sleep,
This month, past meets pride, roots ripped from native soil still somehow grow.
The once-bright future dims. Shadows grow
But there, near canyon rim, in broken light
the yearling hawk shrieked in futile fury
and the steel-edged clouds looked away
trees bow and bend on a blustery day
that rattles old oak leaves down the street.

The imagery is stunning – broken light through canyon rims, yearling hawks, steel-edged clouds and trees bowing and bending. A rattle of leaves on asphalt finishes us – and we’re moving out and away from where we began.

This month, Liz begins, and then gathers images of time and light and rest — things from the natural world as well as things which are impacted during this winter month. I echoed the same two words as I began my line, because I am all about the pattern and though we had decided against sticking strictly to one, I couldn’t help myself. I also assembled elements from the natural world as well as adding symbolic elements from February – the Lunar New Year, celebrated largely by Asian communities, and Black History Month.

…And then I passed my line on…

… to Kelly who is Anarchy with aquamarine hair. She was not here to follow my lead – and I honestly, I couldn’t expect her to be. For those following along, the whole point of the exercise is Different lines, even though I was clinging with my teeth and my fingernails to Same.


This comes up time after time after time. Some of us are deeply uncomfortable with things like blank verse, unrhymed verse, long or prose poems, and a lack of guardrails in the form of meter and syllabic requirements… and the rest of us like to construct our plane while it’s taking off. It often makes collaborating on a single poem very difficult (witness that we haven’t attempted that since…2018?), but it also often gives us unexpectedly strong results when doing something wholly off-the-cuff and new… like this.

And helpfully (?) the second step in our exercise was to… revise and resubmit. Rotate, wring, and repeat – and snip these phrases free like decoupage. Take this cloth and from it cut a whole new dress… Yes, I think we’ve exhausted our metaphors, but look how awesomely we did it! – Laura’s version is here, and Liz came up with this. Sara’s variation is here, and Cousin Mary Lee took a whole new direction. Andi‘s variation is here, and Kelly’s edited us here. Michelle K joins the fun and even brings a band. Carol V. worked in another variation on a Corpse and played along as well. Finally, Tricia’s poem is here, and she’s hosting the rest of the Poetry Friday crew this week, probably (hopefully?) sans additional corpses. More Poetry Peeps may post throughout the day – I truly can’t wait to see where else this project takes my fellow poets – so check back as we round up all the …um, corpses. (Cue lines from Monty Python: Bring out your dead…!)

We had a great group of words, to begin with, but it took a while to feel comfortable cutting anyone’s lines – even though we all agreed that we were wholly free to fold, spindle, and mutilate the original. Eventually, I came up with an initial stanza:


It’s this month – odd one out,
Running short on days and light and sleep,
All this month, past meets pride,
Roots ripped from native soil still grow by leaps,
And rising, shriek defiance like a hawk,
That dervished by the wind, still grips its rock.

(It was brassy-loud and bold, and I liked it – but a few of us had talked about writing a new draft another day, to see how the lines and words moved us in a new moment… so, I waited. Sure enough, Wednesday, I didn’t feel like that bright and brassy winner, so wrote a new stanza:)

As this month’s brightness fails,
Emergent beauty stripped to steel-edged gray,
Shadows, grown bolder now
Erode late winter’s crisply bright display…
As sabers rattle, we get Cold War chills,
In broken light sift scraps to find goodwill.

Not the most… upbeat conclusion. Here, the fresh wind doesn’t rattle us and turn us around. The emergence of brightness has shifted to steel-edged gray. But, even broken, the light persists.

San Francisco Zoo 21

Now more than ever, when things feel like a tsunami about to break over our heads, we needs the world of words to warm us, nourish us, and keep us going. So friends, as always, tell your stories. Write your poems. Say your piece, and sing your songs. Be well, and do well. Stay warm, in this last gasp of winter, and find the peace and beauty in this world – and as always, don’t forget to share it. Happy Weekend.

{pf: poetry peeps eavesdropped & overheard}

Poetry Peeps! You’re invited to our challenge in the month of February! Here’s the scoop: We’re doing Exquisite Corpse poetry. These collaborative poems necessarily involve yourself and at least one other passing lines or stanzas along, so now’s the time to start choosing compatriots. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on February 25th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

Seeing as I’ve stayed in lately, I was fully prepared to use the random conversations the neighbor has with the postman for my “eavesdropped and overheard” when I overheard something wholly unintentionally. The Boy was on a work Zoom with a coworker that turned personal. A young female in a male-dominated field, she was desperate for advice over what to me seemed a clear case of workplace harassment. I won’t recount details, but a single line I couldn’t erase from memory. She said, “I don’t want to ruin his life forever.”

You can imagine the angst and dread in her voice as she said it, and my chills as I heard it. “Ruin” is the same hyperbole used in the 2016 California court case when a judge handed down a six month sentence to a man who assaulted an unconscious woman. As his whole life shouldn’t be ruined, he was given six months – of which he served three. “Ruin” is a word used for thousand year old civilization remains, for catastrophic damage after a tsunami, not for a person being confronted with the consequences of their actions. I wanted to tell my husband’s young coworker this and so many, many other things… but it was neither my conversation nor my business, so I poured the words into a poem.

(Thank goodness for poetry.)

I searched first for a form that had repetition, and the pantoum lent itself neatly, as the thoughts I had bounced around in different order, sometimes making sense, other times making new ideas. I suspect all the reasons, defenses, excuses and facts bounced through this woman’s head as well. I’m not sure I like all the lines equally… I’m not sure that I wouldn’t, a day or two later, want to say something else, but this is a pantoum written in a single, heated, emotional moment. It’s all I have to bring today— This, and my heart beside—

NO: A Choice in Two Voices

Does a single choice shape every endeavor?
(Without your consent NO still means no.)
“I don’t want to ruin his life forever.”
(Your choice belongs solely to you, you know.)

Without your consent, NO still means NO –
No negotiation, this two letter word.
Your choice belongs solely to you. You know
If you change your mind, your “no” will still be heard.

No negotiation, this two-letter word –
No need to ever defend those letters.
If you change your mind, your “no” will still be heard
You choose, so you’re still the pace-setter.

No need to ever defend those letters,
“I don’t want to ruin his life forever…”
You choose, so you’re still the pace-setter
This single choice could shape every endeavor.

There’s an awful lot of poetic scuttlebutt being passed on the interwebs today. Laura’s poem is here. Cousin Mary Lee is over hearing over here, while Sara is here listening. Liz is is right here. Miss Andi’s beautiful tribute is here. Here’s Michelle’s artful and art-filled post, and here’s Carol V’s. More Poetry Peeps may yet be stopping by, so stay tuned.

Need more? Poetry Friday today is hosted by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Thanks, Irene!

Happy Weekend – it’s sometimes a cold, hard world out there as we all know. Keep warm, keep well, and keep going, friends. You’ve got this.

{psst! poetry peeps!}

Happy January, Poetry Peeps!

How’s the listening in and overhearing going? Don’t forget your “eavesdropped” conversation doesn’t have to be hearing Actual People (TM) since many of us are avoiding them just now – hearing a radio DJ in someone else’s car, taking the words from a billboard or a sign in front of a building where you’re not going – those all count, too. You’ve got time left to craft your creation(s) in any form, then share your offering with the rest of us on January 28 in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals. See you then!

{p7 ring in the new year on pf}

Poetry Peeps! Thank you for poetry-ing along with us in 2021. You’re invited to our revels in the new year! Here’s the scoop for January: We’re stickybeaks and earwigs. We’re listening in, and overhearing. This month, we’re writing the poetry of Eavesdropped & Overheard. In tribute to the overheard poetry of longtime Poetry Friday maven Susan Thomsen @Chicken Spaghetti, we’re taking what we hear and using it…somehow. Are you in? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering with the rest of us on January 28 in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.

Vallejo 111

It’s new year’s eve… evening, after dark, and I’m just now posting. In my defense, I attended a memorial service yesterday, and it somehow wiped my entire brain. A few of us are beginning the new year in a more thoughtful frame of mind than we expected, but though I am late, I hope you still didn’t miss Sara’s ringing out the year poem. Kelly’s bell poem is here, and Laura’s jingles along here. Tricia’s is here, and Cousin Mary Lee’s poem (sadly not a rage acrostic) is here. Poetry Friday is ably hosted at Carol’s Corner and we’re all keeping Carol in our thoughts as she opens her home to her neighbors. More Poetry Peeps are ringing in – Michelle K and Carol V. are all sleigh bells and sound waves. My newest relative, Heidi, is blitzing in, along with Janice. More Poetry Peeps may yet be ringing in, so stay tuned.

One of the questions I asked whilst trying to compose a poem this month was why. Why bells? What are they for? What do they do? Why am I one of those people who has to stop, turn, triangulate and figure out where they’re coming from? (Granted, I do that with particularly loud birds, too, but stay with me here.) One of the other poetry sisters mentioned that she lives near an historical carillon that she has often heard, but never paid much attention to – which is bewildering to me. How could she not know every little thing about the bells in her neck of the woods? We determined that in her historic town, there are bells everywhere. Here on the decidedly late-to-American-history West Coast…? Not so much.

And yet, this has been a season of bells. Tiny silver ones were played on Christmas Eve. At the memorial service yesterday, the carillon played through the keyboard of the organ. The Boy’s chimes are bells of a sort, made of titanium rods. Why do I love bells? Because to me, they sing.

sounding joy

silver made sound
stills commonplace clamor
burnishes the fleeting moment
and sings

I had so many reasons I like bells that Mary Lee suggested I write a list poem. Whenever I think of joy in poetic form, I always go back to Christopher Smart’s “Jubilate Agno”, which is to me the most joyous list poem in the world. So, with a nod to my favorite Christoper and Jeoffry, I will consider bells.

canticum campanarum

for I will consider the ring of bells
for they are both legion and legend
for they denote both curve and clarity,
for they peal out times and seasons,
for they bless unions and get us started,
for they resound alarms and herald change
for they knell a death, and muffled, toll of absence
for their tongues herald both law and declaration,
for they symbolize a liberty both damaged, yet resilient,
for when your bell is rung, you are done,
for they apocryphally ring on angel’s wings
for they arrive with us, on us

for in their peal is laughter
for they cry pax

Alarms, warnings, joys, sorrows, meeting, parting – all voiced in song of bells. They’re kind of neat, when you think about it.

So, that’s it from me for 2021 – which feels so weird to write, because the last twelve months seem like some bizarre fever dream. It’s been a joy to write with you. Happy Hogmanay, and health, joy, and hearth wishes to you.