{#npm: 12 – potential}

Was thinking the other day of the glib frothiness with which we infuse Spring metaphor – all that talk about rebirth, depicted with peaceful pastels, fluffy chicks and quivering-nosed bunnies. Never having given birth, that still seems a bit suspect. I remember my sister after the nephews – both times she looked like she’d gone 12-rounds with a prizefighter. Not a lot of fluffy pastel peace to be had there. Birth – and rebirth alike – seems a messy, chaotic and overwhelming battle, from my observation. I suspect Springtime also contains such tension in its bunched buds…

“blessed event?” all
clenched and knotted buds, boding
bloom-rich eruptions

{#npm: 11 – duty}

When I was a kid, I remember the Target ad which played The Most Wonderful Time of the Year…in September, advertising back-to-school sales. Tons of people think Christmas – or Spring – or September – is the most wonderful time of year, but for myself, I’m a shoulder season person – late Autumn into early Winter. Late Winter before Spring. Or now, that sweet spot time of year when it’s nippy cold outside in the morning and in the evening, but right around noon is the perfect time to take lunch outside and just bask in the beauty. Ah…

an April Sunday
as blooms in backyard beds preen.
darn these dumb taxes.

Sigh. May your Sunday be filled with song, naps, and strawberries in cream, and not W-2’s and 1099’s.

{#npm: 9 – twalig}

On April 1, Tabatha announced her intention to celebrate short poetry in translation this month. She, as I did, took the pandemic as a little poke in the bum to dive deeper into language. While she chose Scottish Gaelic and French, I finally decided to seriously study Spanish, as I live in a state which boasts that as its first language. I also chose Dutch, since *ik hou van mijn Nederlandse vrienden, and their quirky, unique land and culture. Now, these language combos might sound a little hinkey, but when you’re in it, at least for me, tandem language studies are sometimes helpful. •Mi español ayuda a mi holandés, y vice versa. (Sometimes. Other days it seems I’m equally stupid all languages, as the w sounds like v or sometimes f and the ch/g-sounds-like-guttural h of Dutch invades my rolled r, ñ-laden, b-sounds-like-v Spanish. It gets wild.) I’m nearly to having studied one language or another for nine hundred contiguous days, though, so I’m hopeful, at least, that routinely cudgeling my little gray cells into greater activity is doing something for me.

In Dutch, twalig means bilingual. No handy mnemonic, but I remember it by thinking of twa (the Glaswegian Scots word for two – I know, don’t @ me, I *did* live in/near Glasgow for five years! You could also use twee for two in Dutch) and taal (the Dutch word for language). I love how Dutch builds on itself, such that the compound taalkundige is literally language + skilled. Language skilled. Linguist. Something in that – and in the number of idioms relating to the tongue – speaks to me.

I, serenaded
succumb, yield to silver-tongues –
into wordplay, plunge
*taal! •¡idioma!
*mijn hoofd ik moet gebruik!
•¡déjame solo!

in the word garden
languages spring up like weeds
loved like hothouse blooms

Poetry Friday is ably hosted today by Tabatha Yeatts-Lonske at The Opposite of Indifference. Tapadh leibh, Tabatha!

As always, there’s poetry all around – don’t miss thing, including: Robyn Hood Black’s Friday explorations of Issa’s haiku in translation – a beautiful project. ♣ Did you know The Global Vaccine Poem project, a collaboration between the University of Arizona Poetry Center and Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University, is inviting EVERYONE to share their voices and promote COVID-19 vaccination? We’ll be adding a stanza to a poem by The Naomi (Shihab Nye)! How cool is that??? ♣ Less cool is Linguicism – or linguistic bias and discrimination, which spills over into the workplace – and into the classroom. ♣ This piece from Kevin Simmonds in Poetry Magazine focuses charmingly on how our voices and words shapeshift and morph to mark or obscure identity – and how both music and voice inhabit poetry. Some good stuff.

Fijn weekend, feliz fin de semana, & Happy weekend! May language sing sweetly to you.

*I love my Dutch friends. Language. I have to use my head!* • My Spanish helps my Dutch. Language! Leave me to myself.•

{#npm: 8 – contagious}

In the earliest days of the vaccine, people danced – and cried – to hear that it was both viable and available soon. Many of our state’s vaccine centers have soundtracks playing as people come in to receive their inoculations. Many of them dance out – overjoyed and singing along to “Happy” or some other catchy, cheerful tune. The Moscone Center in SF actually publicized their playlist, because people wanted it for Spotify to play at home. I love this contagious joy – it’s a nice change from just having a wildly contagious virus.

flower to flower
bees, wearing pollen jodhpurs
hope. spring, eternal

Did you know that now the New York Times wants your poetry, too – on the theme of renewal? Not a lot of ordinary people get their work into the NYT for any reason, so you might want to take advantage! Meanwhile poet Amanda Gorman, whom European publishers are struggling to translate, is going to be on the cover of TWO issues of Vogue in late Spring. Poetry is making its mark on the public in some surprising ways.

{#npm: 7 – unearthed}

I utterly adored the title of the book The Girl Who Looked Under Rocks. Peering under rocks sounds so adventurous and genuinely dangerous, yet honestly appealing. I loved poking around under rocks when I was a kid — with a stick, however, as both parents had their experiences with stinging caterpillars and biting gopher snakes, and admonished me accordingly! From this we learned, however, that not everything one finds under a rock is something willing to be found…

it’s unspoiled nature
no matter how many legs
leave no stone unturned

{#npm: 6 – scattered}

Several times today I’ve already asked myself where my head’s at… It’s just one of those days with too much to do. My laptop screen is flickering, I’m carrying things in my brain to add to a grocery list, I have packages to go to the post office… on and on it piles up.

I believe the greatest triumph of the human mind is the ability to organize ourselves from running in seventy different directions with the simple words “I’ll get to it.” And despite everything, I will… eventually.

windblown confetti
petals in a fractious wind
scattered like my thoughts

Laura writes so much poetry I missed that she’s writing equation poetry this month! Check it out! • West Coast folk (or those with neighbors who won’t mind them singing late into the night) are invited to join a Music Memo project… since music is poetry set alight. • And don’t miss the interview with Tasha Spillett-Sumner & Michela Goade for I Sang You Down from the Stars which is both a picture book and a poem.

{#npm: 5 – early}

Apparently no one told the weather that after Passover and Easter it was meant to be all clear skies, baby chicks, and tulips until Memorial Day. It’s swaddling fog today – I just repurposed that verb – and it was forty-two at half eight. The seed packet I read the other day made dire mutterings about not planting before all danger of frost is past – well, I’m pretty sure we’ve passed that worry, but there is certainly no soil warmed to 65° as my lemongrass would prefer. I mentioned just the other day that it’s usually colder indoors than out…? So, how is it that every year I’m beguiled into turning off the heater at the beginning of April??

too soon wool socks shunned –
breezes brush against bare legs,
gilded with goosebumps

Did you know that you can now can the saga of Star Wars like you would Beowulf, or any other narrative poetry? The whole plot has been done over as epic poetry – which, given the “long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away” conceit works perfectly. I’ve enjoyed revisiting the Icelandic sagas since visiting Iceland, and while I don’t normally love long poetry, I’m kind of intrigued by this project.

The Shelf Stuff on Instagram is honoring Beverly Cleary ahead of her 105th birthday next month. Share why you loved her work, and where it resonated with you.

Don’t forget to check the National Poetry Month children’s lit blogger roundup! And, for goodness sakes, stay warm…

{#npm4: illumined}

Happy Easter, if you celebrate today!

Still more words of shine and dazzle and blaze, even with a foggy start to the day…Once started, I can’t seem to stop the flow of light and contrast everywhere.

Incidentally, this picture was snapped in a church courtyard almost ten years ago – the little person now a much older person who probably wouldn’t be caught dead in a poufy dress Mama liked. But I loved how she danced, both she and silhouette, a lively pas de deux of shadow-sprite and sunbeam.

May you go out and do your own dancing today!