{pf: the poetry peeps nab a naani}

HAPPY OCTOBER’S END!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

It’s the time of vivid skies and shaded leaves and the sharpest fading of the light, leading to long-blooming mornings and gray blue twilight that snuffs out sharply into deepest dark. It’s the time of low fogs and high winds and swirling leaves caught up and crunching underfoot… and being tracked into the house… starting off the cycle of more vacuuming and dusting and sweeping and giant spiders from who knows where just SHOWING UP and taking over your house, and also, who invited all the earwigs this year!?!?

Ahem.Irvington 709

Right. Wonderful. We were focusing on WONDERFUL.

No matter the pumpkin spiced nonsense that comes with, Autumn is A Good Time, and it seems we Poetry Peeps decided, in our infinite 2019 wisdom, that October was going to be a good time to explore a new type of poetry – new to me, at least. The name naani is a word in a Dravidian language of the ethno-linguistic Indian people of Telugu, who live predominantly in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh. Naani sounds playful and brief, and I like the idea of a poem whose name is defined as, and which addresses “of one and all.” That means our random meanderings are welcome here – as long as we keep them from 20 to 25 syllables. This is an accessible form for most of my Poetry Peeps – check out what Liz did with it. Laura‘s is here. Tricia‘s is here, Michelle’s naani is here, and Sara’s is here, and here’s Elle’s Poetry Peeps debut. Stay tuned for more links here as other Poetry Peeps check in.

Unlike the haiku form, this poetry isn’t going to be necessarily nature-inspired, but it’s more a poetry form for what catch-all topics cross the mind – housekeeping. Earwigs. Moods. In my case this month it’s …mail. Specifically, junk mail. Political mail. I’m quite ready to be done with it.

mailbox

pen pal’s promise

(longer letter later) keeps me

through ads, bills & junk

hope holds on

circular

each clamors

slick-bright pages loud

with entreaty: see me! believe me!

unheeding, I file.

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(Yes, that title and last line work together to create a pun on “circular file.” You’re welcome.)

In this neighborhood we have teensy tiny porch mailboxes, the flat kind with the little lid, which means there’s limited space in there for nonsense, and each day this week the box has been simply crammed. Between the door-to-door candidates who just slip something under the door mat, and the newspaper inserts and the mail, there’s so much paper trash, all of it yammering at me for my attention and my vote. 100% of it goes into the recycle bin, 99% of it without even meeting my eyes. Surely there’s a better use of politicians’ time? I know there’s certainly a better use of MINE – not to mention our poor mail carrier’s!

But, we’re nearly there, my friends. In just days the time changes, the election will finally be over, and we’ll be free to actually enjoy these blustery autumn days – light our candles instead of just leaving them to look pretty on the hearth, drink our tea, instead of just getting it as gifts, to take the moment we’re in and fully inhabit it for joy, before the next round of minor irritations and major worries gather to bracket our days. Breathe. Be.

Even more poetry today is brought to you by Linda at Teacher Dance, who is helpfully hosting our Poetry Friday with memories of Halloween past.

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This kind of mail I can get behind.

{we did it! don’t miss the announcement of the 2021 Neustadt NSK Laureate!}


Laurel Snyder ♦ Cynthia Leitich Smith ♦ Mitali Perkins ♦ Laurie Halse Anderson ♦ Jason Reynolds ♦ Alex Wheatle ♦ Meg Medina ♦ Eric Gansworth ♦ Linda Sue Park

The discussions were tough – passionate, emotional, and meaningful. There wasn’t a way we could have made a bad choice — and you’ll find out tonight where we ended up. I was gratified and moved to serve with such brilliant writers – and I’m thrilled with our recipient. Tune in to the Neustadt Lit Fest for closing ceremonies to hear the announcement, or check it out on LitHub. Make sure you pick up a book from any of these brilliant authors – especially those who may be new to you.

Now, excuse me while I lie down.

{pf: latent possibilities}

Last week, Cousin Mary invited responses to a brief haiku by Issa which seemed to describe the moment before something happens – or, at least that’s how it came across to me.

if it’s a bow
its string is pulled taut…
summer field

弓と弦なら弓を引け夏の原
yumi [to] tsuru nara yumi wo hike natsu no hara

I loved archery as a kid/teen/collegiate person. My someday dream is to have enough property to safely shoot in my own backyard. I love the stillness required, the strength bound up in pulling back the weighted string, the skill in the aiming, waiting to be certain… and letting go.

a transformation
from stinging tension to flight
all is potential

Poetry Friday is hosted this week by the very busy Laura Salas! May this final month of summer – both fraught with tension and rife with possibility – fly us swiftly where we’re meant to go. Happy Weekend.

{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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

{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 24 – p7 gets the skinny again}

As long as March seemed to last, I find it astounding indeed that the end of April seems to just abruptly have been thrust upon us. How is it the end of the month already!? What a long, strange trip it’s…being. Maybe it has something to do with it being a leap year… time is flinging us into a future we cannot imagine, and it keeps catching us off guard…

Meanwhile, Laura reminded us of our poetry meet-up this month a little earlier, and I’m grateful – most of us right now are having a hard time keeping track of what time of day it is, and whether or not we’ve bathed and eaten, much less trivial things like calendars and plans. My Poetry Peeps joining us this month are Andi, Laura, Tricia, Liz, Sara, and Rebecca. We wave hello to Kelly and John, who are elsewhere, deep in the quarantine outback, the requisite six states apart. (Or, something like that. Whatever works, you guys.)

Now more than ever, it seems we were prescient with this year’s poetry forays – seeing as our goal was EASY and “more refuge than challenge.” Oh, how we all need a refuge just now. We’re back this month with The Skinny – the eleven line form first invented in 2005 by poet Truth Thomas. You’ll recall the first and eleventh lines can be any length, and use the same words, in the same order or rearranged. The second, sixth, and tenth lines are identical. (Skinnys have a linked form, which would be amazing to play with if any of us had spare brain cells – this year, we do not.) And all other lines but the first and last are a single word – thus the name of “skinny,” as they appear rather narrow. (Fiddling with the font helps this appearance as well.)

…if we define essential, what is it? Is it what drags us upright in the morning? What brings us to our feet, instead of slumped in our seats, staring out at the rain (or snow – that was a shock for some this week)? Is it what extends our arms with care – or with coffee – for another? What defines essential? What underpins our routine, our neighborhoods, our society?

What it is that gets us up in the morning?

              

…how quickly might we learn to live without it?


To hit pause on those deep (or disquieting) questions, amble over to Wondering & Wandering, where Poetry Friday today is hosted by Christie Wyman. This weekend, friends, gather what is essential to you… and share it.