{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.

{gratitude: last #gratiku}

In 2021, I am thankful for: The word “NO.” Sleep. Petrichor. Compost. Memory. Barriers. Look(ing). Travel. Delete. Endings. Kneeling. Forgiveness. Soup. Order. Deadlines. Enough. Resilience. Community. Stillness. Collaboration. Science. Massage. Circles. Rehearsal. Acquaintances. Recipes. Dentists. And today… poetry.

Wait, what?

Why, yes, it is a bit weird that my ‘thirty days of gratitude poetry in November’ is coming to a close on the second of December. Right now, with my autoimmune sitting on my chest (back? head?), when embroidering makes me tired, late is as good as it gets. And that’s fine.

Why do I do this every year – try and write gratitude poetry for the thirty days of November? Don’t I get enough of this daily practice thing during National Poetry Month? Well, yes. But, I like the lack of Offical Poetry Month pressure and the focus that a daily challenge in November presents – the freedom to write doggerel if that’s what comes out (and in daily challenges, often it does), but the freedom to ignore the excuses and write about gratitude matter what I’m feeling like. I like the constant poking at myself to write the next one better. When the dark is coming down for the close of autumn, and I’m getting ready for my annual trip to “the morbs,” as Victorians flippantly named the more grim and contemplative moods, I need to take stock on the daily, and remind myself of what I have. As a country and as individuals we seem to be losing things – freedoms, civilities, certainties, things we’ve taken for granted – at an alarming rate. I needto remind myself of and give thanks for what remains. And – and this is especially true this month-plus-two-days – I like sitting back with a big whoosh of breath when it’s done.

The truth is – I like poetry. And since I can’t compose song – well, not the music bits, anyway – this is my song, and I’m grateful for it.

poetry is

a bright stitch threading
the taut circle of our days
flashing silver grace