Monday, May 12, 2014

One Day

This post is for my fellow sojourners in this military life.

We will one day settle down,
not our hearts - for those are set
but to a place, a town.

One day we will have our fill
of checkerboard moves,
revolving views,
and neighbors we wave to
on weekends, as we fetch 
the Sunday paper.

We will settle down one day.
We will linger with our neighbors,
and bemoan the somber news
of Sunday's headlines, and 
children we pray
will find their way.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Thousand Gifts

Thanks to the poets at Tweetspeak Poetry and Maria Popova at Brain Pickings, I've developed a full-blown obsession with bookspine poetry.  Bookspine Poetry is like crossword puzzles for poets - you make words fit in the appropriate spaces - the only difference is that the words all have to make sense when they come together. At Tweetspeak this month, the challenge is to write a poem with the theme of rain and water using the titles on your bookshelves.

This poem is inspired by Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. Voskamp encourages us to see the holy in all things, to find freedom through gratitude in the small things.

the night I fell from the sky,
the dog star shone on a
temple of trees; dovekeepers,
they came from a lineage of grace.

where the red fern grows,
wild apples lay on leaves of grass;
a deer hears rumors of water,
and follows the stone crossings home.

over the sounds and silences,
the last coyote calls the 
song of the blood orange moons
to the princes of the Milky Way~

the Good Earth is a holy mount,
where every bush is burning.
it is a moveable feast of
bread and ashes,
the thistle and the rose,
and dawns mistaken for dusk.

the night I fell from the sky,
the dog star shone on a
temple of trees; dovekeepers,
they came from a lineage of grace.

as I lay dying beneath 
a blossom rain, 
tender is the night.

from across the ancient waters
comes the weight of glory
and the allure of hope,
necessary endings
and final beginnings.

Grand Weaver,
whisper my name,
of you my heart has spoken.

One Thousand Gifts (Ann Voskamp) The Night I Fell  from the Sky (me); The Dog Star (Peter Heller); A Temple of Trees (Suzanne Hudson MacAdam); A Lineage of Grace (Francine Rivers);Where the Red Fern Grows (Wilson Rawls); Wild Apples (Henry David Thoreau); Leaves of Grass (Walt Whitman); Rumors of Water (L.L. Barkat); Stone Crossings (L.L. Barkat); The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd); An Elegant Gathering of White Snows (Kris Radish); The Sounds and Silences (Poetry Anthology by Richard Peck); The Last Coyote (Michael Connelly); The Song of the Orange Moons (Lori Ann Stephens); Princes of the Milky Way (me); The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck); Every Bush is Burning (Joan Puls); A Moveable Feast (Ernest Hemingway); The Thistle and the Rose (Jean Plaidy); The Dawn Mistaken for Dusk (Leonard Sweet); As I lay Dying (William Faulkner); Beneath Blossom Rain (Kevin Grange); Tender is the Night (F. Scott Fitzgerald); From Across the Ancient Waters (Michael Phillips); The Weight of Glory (C.S. Lewis); The Allure of Hope (Jan Meyers, John Eldredge); Necessary Endings (Henry Cloud); Final Beginnings (John Edward); Grand Weaver (Ravi Zacharias); Whisper My Name (Jane Eagland ); Of You my Heart has Spoken (J. Peter Sartain)

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Farewell to Arms

This is another bit of "bookspine poetry," a writing game in which you borrow titles from your bookshelf and cobble them together to make a poem. If you make minor modifications to the titles or add words for transition (as I have in a few places) it's considered a 'found poem.' The possibilities are endless in this type of exercise -- stories materialize before your eyes as you peruse your books. 

The folks at Tweetspeak Poetry and Every Day Poems provide an endless stream of prompts to inspire the writer in you. This month the theme is rain and water at and the challenge is to write a bookspine poem in keeping with the theme.

As to the subject of my poem, I could have called it "The Art of Diplomacy," or the "Importance of Being Earnest," two phrases I fear are foreign to too many of us in this hour. The culture war that played out over chicken this summer left me with heartburn. As I look ahead to three months of mud and politics I may just turn off the TV.

I am reminded of Gail Hawthorn from The Hunger Games who says to the heroine, Katniss, "What if no one watched?" 

Indeed. What if all of us decided not to watch? What if we elected to vote but not to play in the theater of politics? What if politicians were required to write a three page summary of their positions on issues and the only coverage news outlets could provide was a copy of that summary? What if you couldn't get a driver's license unless you voted and you couldn't vote until you passed a test to ensure you understood the candidates' views?

More importantly, what if we fought FOR our ideas and ideals and not AGAINST the people we disagree with? What might happen if love broke out and we convinced the people on the other side of the aisle or ideological spectrum that even if we disagree, we're on the same team?

What will happen if we don't?

In our time, night falls 
on the customs of our country, 
on the life of the Beloved, and 
the story of the world repeats.

Down these mean streets,
reputations are blood sport, and
 the lovely bones of lovingkindness 
litter the killing fields.

In this kind of war, 
wounded healers pray for 'all is grace,' 
 and the courage to be a different drum;
good soldiers fight the zero game.

How now shall we live?

As bees in honey drown,
should we drown in feathered sleep, 
dreaming of water, our memories of water,
while Rome burns?

Should we eat, pray, love
the good life, the taste of bread?
Should we mark this book of hours
another year of magical thinking?

Dreamer beware, when water burns
how late it is, how idle are
the people of the lie -- they are 
the beautiful and the damned.

Heaven waits for us 
to wake our slumbering spirits and 
see the fault in our stars, 
to feed our better angels, and
starve the hungry stones.

In our time, the sun also rises for those
who practice the presence of God,
but move beyond opinion
to begin the pilgrimage to compassion.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bookspine Poetry

The folks at Tweetspeak Poetry and Brainpickings issued a challenge to create poems using titles from your bookshelf . The exercise had me scouring my shelves and then the library when my selections fell short . Given how much thought goes into choosing a phrase that summarizes an entire book , titles provide a glorious resevoir of words . It's more difficult to find titles with verbs .

Much to my surprise , I found that a cohesive poem could be made from an author salad that mixed Dickens , Poe , Wharton and C.S. Lewis with newbies like James Patterson , Wally Lamb and James Frey. It was a delight to make room for one of my favorite current authors , Leonard Sweet . His title , Strong in the Broken Places , could be a life motto (or might read well on a tombstone , hmm , I'll ponder that) . Thanks, Tweetspeak! I haven't had this much fun in a long time.

A Grief Observed

bleak house born of silence
the age of innocence
a heart of darkness
  spectacular sins
    a plague of secrets

now you see her
a descent into the maelstrom
avowals and denials
  she's come undone
    a million little pieces

now you see her
up from the blue
choosing to see
  a distant memory
    the wolf at the door

now you see her
bring up the bodies
salvage the bones
strong in the broken places
fly away home

Title authors:

C.S. Lewis

Charles Dickens/Sherrilyn Kenyon
Edith Wharton
Joseph Conrad
John Piper
John Lescroat

James Patterson
Edgar Allen Poe
G. K. Chesterton
Wally Lamb
James Frey

James Patterson
Susan Henderson
Marybeth Chapman
Traci Depree
Jack Higgins

James Patterson
Hilary Mantel
Jesmyn Ward
Leonard Sweet
Jennifer Weiner

Friday, June 8, 2012


She is bent now
like a tree that leans
paying homage to the earth.

She spins yarns of days
on Colorado plains.
She rode fierce on a horse
putting cattle in their place.

She loved a preacher
in a time when a woman,
stood by her man
like a dress in the door.

She was the stronger,
of that he was sure
and we, too.

She doesn't say 
but we know she is ready. 
Her body betrays her, 
and hurts.

She'll leave us adrift
and we'll wonder
if there's life
beyond the leaning tree.
Tree photo by Luke Andrew Scowen Creative Commons via flickr

"She" was my grandmother, a towering tree till she died.

In response to an Every Day Poems prompt to write a poem using
the phrase "beyond the leaning tree"

Monday, June 4, 2012

The Gravity of Redemption

I'm a firm believer that the Event in the garden back in the beginning could've ended another way. That the dice weren't loaded in the Snake's direction. But the girl eats the apple and Eden is lost. 

From where we sit, it looks like the Snake wins. We are bent, we are fractured, we are crushed in this life. But Love finds a way.

in the place where light began
the Event was not inevitable
horizon was birth,
not a final death 

a black hole bends all light
around an event horizon
a final luminous ellipse
mocks all light and life

gravity crushes
and swallows whole
angles of radiance
from infinite distances
on the other side of darkness
the un-real faces Real
darkness cannot extinguish the light
and Love will not be mocked

Love bends the light
and gathers strands
fractured by the
weight of us

all that has gone before
all traces of the former
are crushed and
swallowed whole

variegated threads
of shimmering light
converge into a brilliant

angels of radiance 
from infinite distances
are redeemed

Thursday, May 31, 2012


The Kattegat is a sea to the west of Sweden. It is north enough that the water never warms. In the long days of summer the sun sets well after eleven. The sea lights with plankton as you move through the water. 

There are hundreds of tiny islands dotting the Kattegat. In 2002, Mike and I stayed in a farmhouse with no electricity on a biscuit private isle. The Swedes are made of sterner stuff - each island has a dock with a sauna. It is customary to heat the sauna to temperatures just shy of surface-of- the-sun hot. At which point you'll do anything to escape the burn, including jumping into what feels like Artic waters. And so the cycle goes...

in August we swam at midnight
with seaweed that lit the Kattegat
and caressed our undraped bodies
wet sparks winking code to the moon.

we laid out a sailor's feast
amid a cityscape of candles
and a feverish sauna 
that singed our lungs
and spurred our plunge
into the boreal sea.

we wasted need,
 radiant heat
flickers turned to fire.
we hindered dawn one golden night
on a star-drenched Swedish isle.