My haiku appears to be a leaf in a lake, but the childhood memory is floating on my back in the pool, oblivious that swimming lessons had ended, deaf to shouts from poolside. Someone had to come in and rouse me from my serene floating. I wrote it for a Ditty Challenge at Today's Little Ditty -- a poem of refuge or solace.
An unsolicited email showed up in my inbox. Rather than spam, it seemed like a message from the universe. Here are the big ideas:
5 Insights for Recording Artists, Performers, and Creatives
1. Make Art for Social Change
2. Channel Your Pain into Art
3. If You See It, Say It, Sing It, or Sculpt It...
4. Be Visible
In a seemingly unrelated email, Carol Wilcox asked if I was planning to write a haiku a day in December again this year.
My creative spirit, who has been sitting out on the porch with her head between her knees for the last couple of weeks, looked up and nodded. Yes, that seems right, she said. A response to the news of the day, shared in the concise metaphorical form of the haiku.
Perhaps a month of haiku won't heal the world, but it may begin the process of healing my spirit. Join in if you'd like, by using the hashtag on Twitter or FaceBook.
Our fifth graders went to Highbanks Metropark last week for a field trip put on by the Ohio River Foundation, a group that works towards "protecting and restoring the Ohio River and its watershed." The Olentangy River, which runs through Highbanks, is a part of the Ohio River watershed. Our students took part in several activities that determined the health of the Olentangy River, and that reinforced the need to conserve our fresh water resources. This poem was inspired by our field trip.
The Ditty of the Month challenge at Today's Little Ditty, issued by Madam Jane Yolen, was to write a septercet, a form she invented in which each verse (as many verses as you want) needs to have three lines, each with seven syllables. It can be rhymed or not. The challenge was also (I just realized) to make your septercet feature reading and/or writing. Oops. Maybe mind is about reading the natural world.
Praise be this morning for waking early,
tree crickets buzzing, the humid air,
the puffy clouds lined with pink first light.
Praise be my morning tea, steaming hot,
the cat underneath my feet,
the caterpillar on the sprig of dill
in a juice glass on the kitchen table.
Praise be these blueberries from Michigan,
this yogurt, thick and creamy,
from a local farm co-op. Praise be the basil,
sturdy and fragrant in the morning light,
and for the tall purple ironweed and the
goldenrod, both on the verge of blooming.
When the poem Gratitude List by Laura Foley showed up in my inbox via The Writer's Almanac, I knew I wanted to use it as a mentor text and paint a picture of a midwestern morning to mirror her ocean beach morning. It was a fun exercise and a good reminder that borrowing from another writer sometimes makes my own writing not just better, but possible on a day when I'm not sure I have anything to write about!
Praise be this morning for sleeping late,
the sandy sheets, the ocean air,
the midnight storm that blew its waters in.
Praise be the morning swim, mid-tide,
the clear sands underneath our feet,
the dogs who leap into the waves,
their fur, sticky with salt,
the ball we throw again and again.
Praise be the green tea with honey,
the bread we dip in finest olive oil,
the eggs we fry. Praise be the reeds,
gold and pink in the summer light,
the sand between our toes,
our swimsuits, flapping in the breeze.
by Laura Foley (used with permission of the author)
That Moment When Summer Arrives, Whether or not the Solstice Has Occurred The peonies are blown. Rain knocked the petals off the last poppy and laid the daisies down on the lawn. The first fireflies sparkle the humid night. You can smell the grass growing.
Why are you crying? Did I do something wrong?
No, Jackie. No, Punkin'. It's not you. We're crying for the bygones. We're remembering Uncle Jack. Grandpa's trumpet was one of the things from home that he took along with him into the war. The trumpet didn't come back, and neither did he. But you're here, so Uncle Jack will live on.
I'm going to miss this family I've invented from random photographs and scraps of my own family's history. I plan to work on giving them a more proper storyline. Or perhaps I'll just collect them into an e-book. Time will tell. It always does, it seems.
It's been a little nerve-wracking to be the 27th poet to add a line to the 2016 Kidlitosphere Progressive Poem. I've peeked in on it a couple times a week since the first of the month, but I didn't want fall in love with the direction it was heading, knowing that the direction would certainly change. (And boy has it!!)
I'm glad I got a spot this year -- the schedule filled up fast! Here's who's added lines so far (and who will add after me):
The poem started off with some gorgeous images of birds and wishes, then the ocean and more wishes. A celebration of spring kept the spirit of the poem light in the third and fourth stanzas. In the fifth stanza, we took a short break from the earthly poem and rode Pegasus to the largest moon of Jupiter. The breeze returned with an offer for our speaker: "I give you flight!" What a gift! But the speaker suddenly gets cold feet in stanza seven, line one, at which point, Renee, in yesterday's line, "pushed her out of the plane."
Here's the poem:
A squall of hawk wings stirs the sky. A hummingbird holds and then hies. If I could fly, I’d choose to be Sailing through a forest of poet-trees.
A cast of crabs engraves the sand Delighting a child’s outstretched hand. If I could breathe under the sea, I’d dive, I’d dip, I’d dance with glee.
A clump of crocuses craves the sun. Kites soar while joyful dogs run. I sing to spring, to budding green, to all of life – seen and unseen.
Wee whispers drift from cloud to ear and finally reach one divining seer who looks up from her perch and beams — West Wind is dreaming May, it seems.
Golden wings open and gleam as I greet the prancing team. Gliding aside with lyrical speed, I’d ride Pegasus to Ganymede.
To a pied pocket, the zephyr returns blowing soft words the seer discerns from earthbound voyage to dreamy night, The time is now. I give you flight!
Yet I fear I am no kite or bird– I lift! The world below me blurred
All right, Pa.
You want me to invent a better story? Youngest son grows up to become the world's first famous ukulele musician. Deprived of violin and trumpet by his older brothers, he discovers a musical passion all his own. Deeply regrets missing out on a life of farm work.
How's that for invention?
The truth will be:
Youngest son inherits farm,
makes agriculture his ambition.
in cattle and crops.
His regrets? None.
the prairie in fall so much brown brown browngold goldbrown gold
the prairie in winter so much white bluegray whitebluegray white
when i cannot bear the monotone palettes any longer i plant drag clay pot from window to window following weak winter sun drip water over dry dirt and wait to feel life life spirit green brush against my fingertips.
A note to my readers: these stories and these characters are works of fiction. With very few exceptions, I have no idea who the people are in these photos. The names of many of the characters come from my ancestors and their friends. Other names are ones I chose to fit the character. The settings are real. My mom is from Denver and my dad grew up on a farm in Eastern Colorado (although some of these photos could be of ancestors/family friends further back who lived in Nebraska and Kansas). If we could sit down together for a cup of tea and a scone, I'd tell you all the little bits of truth I've woven into this fiction. I'd tell you the biggest surprises I've had, and the poems that took the most/fewest drafts. Like Amy LV commented, sometimes I feel like these people are talking through my pencil.
I did not have this all planned out before Poetry Month began, except that I grouped the photos in sets of seven to have ready to load onto the main page for the project. I had no idea I would be telling a story in verse this month. I'm as surprised and thrilled as you are. I expected to be frustrated by the challenge of writing a variety of poems, and instead, I look forward (and often can't stop myself from writing forward) as I discover the story and figure out ways to fill in the gaps. How will it end? No idea. Stay tuned. (If you want to read from the beginning, go back to the poem for April 1, and read forward to today.)
Here at Poetrepository, I have added (with permission) poems that Steve Peterson and Carol Wilcox have written that seem to me to fit with the flow of the story I've got in my mind. Carol Varsalona has also written some fabulous partner poems using these photos. You can find them here.
From here I appear confident self-assured, almost cocky.
If the camera went two inches lower you could see my knees knocking.
(c) Carol Wilcox, 2016
The telegram came
up the lane
in cloud of dust that hot
August day, hadn’t had rain
in weeks, so much
dust my eyes watered
but Ma read: ...REPORT
YOUR SON MISSING
IN ACTION STOP
DOWN OVER SOUTH PACIFIC
ON JULY 29 STOP
SEARCH CREWS UNABLE
TO FIND CREW STOP
The car slowed to a stop
and turned right toward
town, while the dust
hung heavy and my
eyes just wouldn’t
There was a moment,
in ‘42, I think it was –
based on the date
penciled in on the margin –
when the wind did not
rush through the yard
on its way from the
mountains to the east.
Your hair hung straight
over your shoulders
to your waist.
The pine we planted
in the yard was small.
The sun shone on
your young face.
Time stood still.