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.