{embrace the weirdness: poetry friday…}

…even if you’ve got your head in the clouds, you won’t want to miss the fun. The metaphor generator, Perchance is full of… weird and wonderful phrases, and after having sister poet Laura Salas throw hers for me, I’ve discovered that metaphor dice are possibly even weirder! So, look forward to some thoughtful, random, and possibly offbeat poetry – see you Friday!

{#winterlight: country of freedom}

I’ve run out of words.

Fortunately, there’s poetry.

Poetry Friday today is hosted by Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children. Thank you, Sylvia.

Country of Freedom

Country of freedom, be free in thy heart:
Free from the shackles of poisoning pride,
Free from the liar’s contemptible art,
Free from allurements that tempt thee aside,
Free from the crafty and treacherous guide,
Free from the ravening greed of the mart,
Free from the snares that in opulence hide, —
Country of freedom be free in thy heart.

— Amos Russel Wells (1863-1933)

{#winterlight: poetry friday, early in the year}

This is going to be a year absolutely packed with literature.

It’s going to be a year of taking risks with writing, including no longer dipping a toe into fantasy and fairy tales, but diving in, and also… taking my poetry writing seriously. I’m not fond of calling myself a writer, much less a poet… somehow the idea of A Poet seems much more deep and knowledgeable and serious than my iamb-counting, form-conforming, rule-bound, doggerel scribbling self. How do people become poets, anyway? In the same way that we become writers – by doing the thing, I’m told. So, I will be doing the thing, taking serious study with a textbook and instructors and all, and with scheduled practice time.

It’s… a little terrifying, honestly. But, it’s also very hopeful and anticipatory – much like the 365 neat, blank squares marching importantly through our calendars. So many things cluster close to our imaginations, tugging on our fine hairs, breathing into our ears, “Maybe this year! Maybe this year!”

Well? Maybe it is all going to happen this year. But, how will we find out if we don’t start?

Poetry Friday is hosted by Ruth, all the way from Haiti, at There Is No Such Thing As A God-Forsaken Town. Have a lovely, restful weekend – because Monday’s the day we jump in and make it all happen!

{#winterlight: exercises}

I know that the title to this poem specifies that these are exercises for a nature writer, but I think they’re worth being revisited in this liminal space at the New Year. Dress for the weather. Ruminate. Hold your boundaries and walk your fence lines. Work through what is troubling you through serving something else. Make space for life to slip through.

I don’t bother with many things – making resolutions being one of them, as it tends to be about making myself “better” based on a set of external guidelines rather than the interior work of self-investment which pays dividends that the world cannot always see. Yes, one could always make better habits, take up decluttering, eat more veg, or lose a pound or two, perhaps, but I categorically refuse to allow that to be your business when it’s my own, and certainly not during the month of January when people demanding others change are most obstreperous and vocal. I believe it a useful exercise to anticipate growth – not to pretzel oneself into growing into the expectations of others’ – so I will set my mind on that tomorrow, perhaps. However you complete this page of the calendar, I hope you do it warmly ensconced and centered in your own heart. Happy New Year.

{#winterlight: wistful pf poetry peeps}

I loved history in school – it seemed an endlessly wonderful story of All These People doing All These Interesting Things! My sophomore year in high school, however, Dave Reedy was my teacher. Mr. Reedy was (IS) a hippie who was caustic about the government, outspoken about “History Is Written By The Winner” and made us students realize – way back even in the mid/late eighties – that what we were being taught wasn’t exactly inclusive, thus it wasn’t wholly factual. It was from Mr. Reedy that I learned to engage history critically, to think of it with my whole mind and not just passively accept what the text said.

Thus, it was from Mr. Reedy I learned that I Would Not Want To Visit History. History has a smell that is stomach turning, and a texture that would make me want to wash my hands – repeatedly. History has soap that is made of lye and tallow, and not much else. History’s water is cold, unless I boil it over an open flame. Dry skin, toasted front and frozen back, scratchy wool and fleas – I’m…certain I’d want to avoid History at all costs.

…Which is why it’s so funny to me that our last Poetry Peeps prompt of the year is mine (also the date was wrong further indication of my involvement): Theme is Wish I’d Been There, or an historical event that incites wistfulness. Wistfulness! But, do I really wish I’d been there?

love lies lying

“I wish I’d been there,”
The kindest sort of falsehoods
told by introverts,
the chronically booked, and those
sparing of tender feelings.

not to mention the lack of modern dentistry

Nits, pease porridge, fleas
Creaky whalebone, bloomers, wigs
Tanners, tallow, smoke and coal –
Grimed with sweaty industry, the
Grubby march of history.

Um… no. No, I don’t wish I’d been there. But, it’s nice to pretend I bound into adventure, unbothered by oh, slavery, bug bites, rodents of plague-passing sizes, stepping unshod (or shod, for that matter), in scat, or eating dubious food like lark’s tongues or tripe. It’s nice to imagine, but let’s be real: I only wish I’d been there because the outfits look so interesting in paintings and pictures. Oh, well.

If you’d like to see what the other wistful Poetry Peeps poetry closes out the year, Kelly is back with a wistful haiku. Laura is here, while Tricia is here. Sara is here, and Cousin Mary Lee is here. Stay tuned for more Poetry Peeps checking in throughout the day. Poetry Friday today is ably hosted by the poet Irene Latham – thanks Irene! Happy Christmas, if you celebrate! Warm hearths, cozy reading nooks, and historically anachronistic comforts to you.

{pf: poetry peeps in hindsight}

Whew.

Thankfully, we made it! November has been a CHALLENGING month, but here we are, at the finish line of the final Friday, well-rested (in theory), full of leftovers (hopefully) and ready to celebrate the season with some more poetry.

Our theme this month was the last of our hindsight/foresight poems where we were meant to either revise an older poem, or respond to one, and …well. I tried really hard to actually write something to theme AND something positive and hindsight-y at the same time. I wholly missed the theme, but you’ll have to judge how well I did with the rest. I find that this year it has been ESPECIALLY hard to keep an upbeat tone when looking back – I can look back and see so many mistakes! – but I’m still standing. We’re still here. That’s worth gratitude, is it not?

So, as this bittersweet celebration weekend continues, I’m looking back over 2020, and remembering how it all began…

new year’s eve

the neighborhood awash in crashing booms
(we midnight sleepers sighing at the sound)
a new year – 2020 – on the loom
as Fate took a fresh thread and looped it ’round

the strutting idiot frets into the light
and bloviates while Nero’s fiddles play
“If we had known” and knowing that first night,
What act could change the outcome of today?

for here we stand – in ashes of the blaze
so many gone and countless lost to fear
not helpless – science battles this malaise
hold fast to faith – that we will persevere.

Gathered apart, our courage battle-scarred
With hard-won grace, with hope our honor guard.


Writing this Thanksgiving morning, I’ve been texting back and forth with my sisters, getting snaps of what they’re cooking, a bittersweet echo of our usual tradition. Thanksgiving has always been THE Davis Family holiday. We don’t really bother with any other holiday the same way the whole year ’round. And yet, a holiday, which we’ve been socialized to believe is about family and gratitude, has dark, bloodstained roots in normalizing indigenous genocide, pain and loss – which is obviously not to be celebrated. And yet – joy is a defiance of tragedy and days of peace and rest must be taken where they can be found. Every year we seek out more ways to bring this into balance – a history of tragedy and a present of loss, offset by family feasting. It’s a process, to be sure. May you, as you navigate what celebration, and what this particular celebration means to you and yours, find a way to put out the joy into the world that it needs while doing the right your heart – and this world – needs as well.

Want more poetry? Check out how Laura’s looking back. Sara’s wordsmithing is here, and here’s Liz’s. Find Michelle’s poem here, find Carol’s here, and here’s Tricia, too. Stay tuned for more Poetry Peeps checking in with their links. Meanwhile, Poetry Friday is hosted today at Carol’s Corner – with gratitude to book-talker and teacher, Carol!