{poetry friday: p7 list poems}

Wow, December pounced like a crouching cat; one moment invisible, the next, a lightning fast blur, possibly with claws. We were not prepared. Fortunately, this month, the Poetry Seven are celebrating with a list poem.

I fell in love with list poems in grad school, where I was introduced to the work of Christopher Smart, a man who was remarked upon by Samuel Johnson and others of his day, as brilliant, if mad. Despite the alleged madness, he wrote one of the most beautiful examples of list poetry from the 18th century.

List poems, all beginning with all the same word, have no rhyme or meter requirements. The idea of “making a list, checking it twice,” is an accessible entrance into poetry, and I invite everyone to jump in and try one. Of course, being the Poetry Sisters and closing out our TENTH YEAR of writing poetry together (YOU GUYS. OUR FIRST CROWN SONNET WAS IN 2008), we had to give ourselves (but not you) a few more challenges. Liz challenged us to use two words from this list: paper, stars, messages, promises, dirt, flour, rum, hope. (Yeah, we’re all a little horrified at the dirt rum, too.) Okay! So, you’re ready to jump in?

No? You’re stalling — fine. Go, read a list poem from one of the other sisters. I’ll wait — go on, go see what Laura’s doing. Or Sara. Or Andi. Or Liz. Or Tricia. Or, Kelly. You can even check in with the rest of the poets at the Poetry Friday roundup, hosted today by Elizabeth Steinglass. You’re sure to find a lot to enjoy there.

You’re back? Excellent.

I chose to use the word “at” because a transitional preposition echoes Christopher Smart’s use of “let” and “for” which began the lines of many of his list poems. And, because lately my life has been a series of rehearsals or performances and crashes, I focused on endings.

at evening’s end: a list poem

at last, we sing out Handel’s hallelujah

at this, o faithful (joyful and triumphant) come

at least , we flee – a flurry of good wishes

at best, withdraw before our voice succumbs

at first, trade suits and sleek for tea and flannel

at that, then all is calm, or just less bright;

at home we decompresses with ruminations

at length, compare our stories of the night

at any rate, we, gloriously deshabille

at peace, retreat from glitter’s swirling sway

at times, the evening’s echoes bring us wonder!

at rest, blessedly still, still, still.

If you’re still here at the end of all of my “ats” you get a bonus poem – the one I wrote first. As usual, the minute there’s a Poetry Seven challenge with RULES, my brain produces a poem which flouts them all. So, this isn’t a list poem! But, it does use all the words.

I was thinking about the empty corners of the holidays – when one stands away from the blinking lights and the tinsel, sometimes there is only dark and cold – and weariness. Those are the times I pull out the decorations made from old cards, the photographic card I’ve kept, and remember past good wishes and fond hopes. Intentional celebration seeks out the roots of joy — and that root is the selfless gift of an open heart – whether you believe that’s a divine heart, or merely the heart of family and friends. Celebrate that — whatever else you do this month.

the evidence

the snipped-out shapes of cherubim

from greeting cards amassed

are miscellaneous monuments

to ghosts of christmas past.

from piles of portraits, faces shine

now taller, older, — gone…

scrawled messages of “hope to see!”

– a future counted on.

these heart-bright scraps – these paper stars

in card stock firmament

ignite the night with promises

leaving love’s fingerprint.

{thanksfully: 30}

Steinhart Aquarium 008

Regular readers of this blog know that I am a sucker for water. Not exactly agile on land (#MyNameIsNotGrace), I have always wanted a lake, a beach, a pond, a pool — something which reveals my inner graceful naiad. For now, I’m mostly content with my bathtub, though I keep my flippers handy, and keep hoping…

mermaid

gravity drags down
a weighted anchor mooring,
earthbound, flighty fey.
but slip its surly grasp, brush
free the world above.

{thanksfully: 29}

Thunder and lightning this morning, just in time for errands – but I can’t even be annoyed about it. Sitting in traffic with the rain pattering down is almost meditative, if I’m in the right frame of mind. And, as often as one sits in traffic around here, one gets into the right frame of mind, or gets an ulcer!

traffic

red tail-lights blooming
a garden of impatience
as we stop-and-go
the wiper’s swish, hypnotic
lulls my mind into daydream

{thanksfully: 28}

My little brother’s birthday today… I wish his troubles were as easy as when he was two – a fear of trains, dogs, loud noises, and sitting still. Instead, he’s gone on to other difficulties, and has to plough his way through them, solo. Hard-headed, fuzzy-faced kid.

d-ball

he didn’t want books
basketballs, what he preferred
sheepish, with a smile
turning down my little gifts
going his own stubborn way

{thanksfully: 27}

‘Tis the season for rehearsals every five minutes, and last night I watched my friend A. sing through her piece for our chamber group’s winter concert. Last year, I watched her do the same, heard her perform, saw her husband and boys proudly in the audience. A week later, her husband was dead.

I thought she’d not sing again so soon, yet there she was last night, singing her heart out, letting the sass and joy in her music shine.

A. probably would demur if I told her how much her spine steels my own, but it does. The woman is a phoenix. She has risen from countless blows to keep standing, and to pull her kids up to stand tall, too. Today I’m grateful for the silent examples of resilience we all have in our lives. May today be the day we say “thank you.”

View from Barry's House 26

sing down the sun

the bird sings alone
atop its 3 a.m. perch
nevermind the dark
it knows that dawn is waiting
just over the farthest hill

{thanksfully: 23-25}

Cooking With Scraps 1

with that which remains
abandoned ends and oddlings
we shall richness fĂȘte


I hate to fail. Normally I would have post-dated these posts and gone on with the pristine record of doing a gratitude post every day as I wanted to but… the truth is, I started having a Predator flare the night of the 22nd. I knew I’d be ramping up during Thanksgiving Day. I didn’t realize it would be bad enough that my brain would be filled with static, and I would be unable to get up Friday except to go to the massage table for Tech Boy to loosen my back a bit, and then get right back into bed… but that’s what happened.

my body served up
one more reason to say thanks:
the help of loved ones

I’ve tried to pretend that my autoimmune disorder doesn’t really affect my life that much. It does. I’ve tried to believe that because my labs were normal ten days ago that they’ll stay normal forever, and that the only work ahead is to get back stamina and strength in weakened muscles and body systems.

Nope.

it is what it is –
this, both uncomfortable truth
and quiet comfort

Today I’m grateful for having both a heart and mind – one may rage, but the other overrules and allows me to be patient with my own limitations.

{thanksfully: 22}

Here comes the rain, da-da-da-dah, here comes the rain… This is a retread of last season’s autumnal hymns, and while we can’t see the moon just now – due to either smoke or clouds – it’s nice to know the season is turning, turning, and whirling into the next steps of the dance.

Pleasant Hill463

Autumn Announcement

Contrails streak skylines, white on blue,
Crossing guards heed the avenue,
Breath makes its halo misty cloud
Fog folds the land within its shroud.

Schoolyards burst forth with racous noise
Squirrels scold unheeding girls and boys
Bees labor long on winter’s hoard
While stores display their festive gourds

Landscape takes shades of orange and gold
Ocher and azure, tawny, bold
This serves as notice: time runs on
In this seasonal marathon

Bright as a coin, the harvest moon
Draws down the drapes of afternoon,
Last gasp of summer’s bright caprice,
Leaves pass out autumn’s press release.

{thanksfully: 21}

A company has figured out a way to sort of digitally reconstruct fading British castles. I… don’t love it.

You’d think imagery of restoration would be somehow encouraging, but it looks false, to me. Too tidy, for one thing – in a country where trees grow out from between bricks and moss and grass sprout from the rooftops. But what all the decay and ruins we toured in the UK said to me? We will go on.

Sometimes that’s all we have, that promise, etched into the earth, carved deep into the rings of the trees. Today is terrible. Tomorrow… will arrive. This too shall pass. I’m so grateful for that.

Oban to Inverary D 6

psalm

“we shall not be moved”
promise of an ancient earth
heard by ephemera:
trees with deep-watered roots can
laugh as lichen claims castles

{thanksfully: 19}

2018 Fruitcake 11

It’s fruitcake season

Not like the fruitcake we grew up with – this is moist cake, filled with cardamon and coriander, organic dried fruit (READ: nothing dyed bright red or green), and a buttery flavor which apparently comes from cooking brandy into it. It startles people on a yearly basis who believe they firmly hate fruitcake. I sure did.

holiday baking

reluctant givers
we sort through oven bounty –
“this one’s uneven,
this one’s a little too brown”
learning how to share takes time.