Friday, February 01, 2019

Poetry Sisters Write in the Style of "Minor Miracle"

Phew! I thought January would never end, but I hoped for a bit more time before the first Friday of the month to debut these poems. Oh well, it's always something with these challenges. Tanita set our February charge to write“ the style of.” The exact words were "Write a poem in the style of Marilyn Nelson’s “Minor Miracle,” about a small, miraculous thing you have seen or know.

I suppose my problem with this challenge was that Nelson's poem really hit me in the heart and I found myself wondering if the event described actually happened to her. That got me stuck thinking that this poem had to be about something that happened to me. And that assumption made it hard. And I got stuck. And I wrote a sappy/crappy poem. It happens. A LOT! I write crap and revise. It gets better (or not), and I write more. Yes, writing is truly a recursive process.

Funny, but my brain is recursive too. Once I get an idea in my head, sometimes I can't shake it and I come back to it over, and over, and over. I spent a lot of time trying to think about minor miracles I had seen or experienced. I finally hit upon a topic when I was watching a show on Netflix and saw a brief scene that jogged a bittersweet memory. I like this one much better than the first poem I wrote. I hope my sisters do too. And of course, I hope you enjoy it as well. This one's for my dad.

I Saw a Father Kiss the Bride
Which reminds me of my wedding day
and my mother's whispered admonition
to my father as we headed for the car
"You'd better kiss her when you
hand her off."

We stood in the back of the church
silently waiting for the music to begin
He offered his arm
but no compliments
no smiles, no words at all
I should not have been disappointed
I knew he was a man of few words
and fewer gestures

When we reached the altar
he pushed me toward my
future husband, shook his hand
and returned to my mother
Leaving the church we were
greeted by a post-shower sky
sporting a double rainbow
the perfect metaphor for my mood

Years passed
There were the obligatory hugs
(I gave them) when we visited
rare smiles at his grandson
the same dry wit and stubbornness

During my last visit
before he died
he harrumphed every time
I fussed over him
too weak to deny my ministrations
but not too weak to
plant a kiss on my cheek
and say goodbye

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2019. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my poetry sisters at the links below. Kelly's off playing the most favorite auntie, but she'll be back with us soon. And finally, we're thrilled to welcome in Sara's daughter Rebecca to our little ring of poetry for these prompts.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Poetry Friday Is Here!

"But I got saved by poetry. And I got saved by the beauty of the world."
- Mary Oliver

I'm heartbroken at the loss of Mary Oliver. I have so many well-worn volumes of her work. My Yin instructor often reads her poems and essays as we settle into positions for extended periods of time. So many people I know count her as a favorite, myself included. It saddens me to know her voice has fallen silent. In light of her passing, I'm sharing this poem.

In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees
are turning
their own bodies
into pillars

of light,
are giving off the rich
fragrance of cinnamon
and fulfillment,

the long tapers
of cattails
are bursting and floating away over
the blue shoulders

of the ponds,
and every pond,
no matter what its
name is, is

nameless now.
Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it
to let it go.

If you have a chance, take some time to listen to this On Being episode with Mary Oliver. You won't regret it.

I'm rounding things up old-school style, so please leave a comment and I'll add you to the post. Happy poetry Friday all.

Poetry Books and Some History
Laura Purdie Salas introduces us to her new book coming out this springSnowman-Cold=Puddle. Woohoo! Congratulations to Laura!

Renee LaTulippe is sharing the second episode of The History of American Children's Poets with Lee Bennett Hopkins.

Original Poems
Matt Forrest Esenwine is sharing a poem about his step-grandfather, birds, and the Saint who connected them all.

Tabatha Yeatts is sharing an original poem entitled The Fortitude of Eyelashes.

Kathryn Apel is linking to her #MoPoetry2019 Insta-Poems, a lovely marriage of poetry and images.

Sally Murphy is sharing her first Poetry Friday poem for 2019, entitled A Lucky Home.

Michelle Kogan is sharing a golden shovel poem inspired by a line from a Martin Luther King, Jr. quote. Her poem is entitled True Peace.

Kiesha Shepard is honoring Mary Oliver in sharing her poem entitled Delight and inviting us to write with her.

Molly Hogan is sharing an "I am" poem and two storm-related haiku.

Mary Lee Hahn is sharing six ekphrastic haikus with German translation and the story behind them.

Heidi Mordhorst is bringing us smiles as she shares poems written by 2nd graders.

Irene Latham is sharing a continuation of her Butterfly Hours memoir project. Her poem is written to the prompt word "broom" and is named the same.

Liz Steinglass is sharing two senryu she wrote this week for her many friends and neighbors who work for the federal government.

Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is honoring Mary Oliver with her poem entitled Wild and Precious.

Over at Deo Writer, Joan Mccullough shares an original poem inspired by Mary Oliver and a meadowlark.

Carol Labuzzetta shares a color poem of yellow, inspired by the work of Mary O'Neill.

Margaret Simon is sharing a wealth of poems today, including two by Mary Oliver and an original poem entitled A Misty Mary Morning.

Catherine Flynn shares a golden shovel she wrote using the words from the Mary Oliver poem Instructions for A Life.

Poems of Others
Laura Shovan is sharing thoughts about tidying, "stuff" and a poem by Judith Viorst. And there's George Carlin in one of my favorite bits ever!

Linda Kulp Trout is sharing a tribute to Mary Oliver and her poem The Summer Day.

Linda B. is also sharing a remembrance of Mary Oliver and a prose excerpt from her book Upstream.

Over at Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet, Diane Mayr is sharing Moon and Water by Mary Oliver.

Jama Rattigan introduces us to her Blue Bear and shares the poem Joy Soup by William Palmer.

Little Willow is also sharing the Mary Oliver poem A Thousand Mornings.

The folks at Gathering Books are sharing Love Poem by Maggie Smith.

Tanita Davis is sharing her thoughts on Mary Oliver and two poems of hers, Whistling Swans and The Gift.

Ruth is remembering Mary Oliver and sharing past posts that highlighted her work.

Karen Edmisten is sharing an excerpt from the Mary Oliver poem Breakage.

Joan McCullough is sharing an excerpt from Mary Oliver's book Felicity.

Susan Bruck is also sharing Mary Oliver today with her poem The Swan.

Poetry Projects and Exchanges
Linda Mitchell is sharing all the lovely postcard poems she received as part of Jone McCullough's postcard exchange. These cards sport original poems written by the senders.

Kortney Garrison invites us to sign up to join the Peace Poetry Postcard exchange in February.

Carol Varsalona invites us to join her in capturing the sights and sounds of the season and using them to create artistic poetic expressions  for her annual winter gallery challenge.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Ringing in the New Year with My Poetry Sisters

My sisters and I have committed to another year of poetry challenges. We were a bit late on deciding this month's, so I tossed out a few photos from an exhibition on campus and asked folks to write to an image. 

I chose Alphabet Portfolio by James Stroud and Matthew Carter, a series of 26 prints of the letters of the alphabet in different typographical formats.

My poem was inspired by May Swenson's Cardinal Ideograms, one of my favorite poems about numbers and what they resemble.

Linguistic Ideograms, a Dyslexic's Nightmare

a   face in profile sporting
a 50's pompadour

c   the dinner plate between
the bread and drink
(join forefingers to thumbs
and you'll see what I mean)

e    the tip of a pig's tail

f    a tree whose crown is
weighed down with snow

g    crooked 8 written by a hand
touched with Parkinson's

h    holy hell! how many more
of these?

eyes tortured by symbols
on the page
there's a broken ladder, open zipper,
winding garden hose, a camel's back
but ...
no words
no sentences
no sense

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2019. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my poetry sisters at the links below. Andi and Kelly are out this month, but they will be back with us soon.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children. Happy new year and happy poetry Friday friends!

Friday, December 07, 2018

Poetry Friday - Poetry Sisters Write List Poems

When I was a cadet at the USCGA, I received demerits for whistling. I was called out by the company commander who told me whistling was for a boatswain's mate, not an officer in training. As someone who hummed, whistled, and sang to the fill the silences, it was a hard loss to swallow. More than 30 years later, I still think of that rebuke when I catch myself whistling. The only difference is that now I smile and keep right on going.

What does all this have to do with poetry? For some reason, that memory popped into my head when I read the words Liz provided as fodder for our list poems. Here is the list.
  • paper
  • stars
  • messages
  • promises
  • dirt
  • flour
  • rum
  • hope
There is nothing remotely related to whistling here, but the words sparked a number of long forgotten memories and made me think of things that make me happy, so I decided to run with that idea for today's poem.

How I Turned That Frown Upside Down
As a child often left to my own devices
mother admonished me not to sulk
Lost to introspection and loneliness
it was easy to succumb to unhappiness

When the doldrums of dark days
left me frowning and sad
joy came from simple pleasures
     hearing the rhythmic thumping of the dog's tail
        poring over the funny pages of the daily paper
     turning cartwheels across the lawn
        whistling to the music streaming from the kitchen
     gazing at the night sky and countless stars
        hanging upside down from the neighbor's cherry tree
     swinging as high as my pumping legs would take me
        walking barefoot in the creek
     biking to the Town Pump to buy penny candy
        sneaking into the pasture to pet the dairy cows
     chasing and catching all manner of little critters

I think back to these moments
when I need a smile or pick-me-up

I still whistle and read the funny pages
Still love a dog and walking barefoot
Just yesterday I stood on my head
I imagine a cartwheel isn't far behind

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2018. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Liz Steinglass. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Friday, November 02, 2018

Poetry Sisters Write - Anaphora

This month's challenge was set by Tanita, who proposed we write in any form, but using anaphora. Anaphora is the repetition of a word or group of words at the beginning of two or more successive clauses or sentences. The theme she set was gratitude and grace in loss.

I'm not sure I hit the mark exactly on the theme, but I've got the repetition down. Here's my offering this month.

First Tuesday After November 1

On this day I will rise and run
chasing dawn with every footfall
On this day I will marvel at the sunrise
grateful for its slow explosion
of color on the horizon
On this day I will appreciate the swiftness
of sparrows, lifting and reeling
towards the trees
On this day I will relish the wind
in my hair, the rain on my face
On this day I will embrace the stutter,
the loss for words, the inevitable
lapse in memory
On this day I will not lament
unfinished business, lost keys,
or broken promises
On this day I will appreciate
every breath, every heart beat
every bead of sweat
On this day I will stand
in line to cast my vote
grateful to be heard

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2018. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my poetry sisters at the links below. Sara is traveling, but may have something to share with us later.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Jama at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Friday, October 05, 2018

Short Poems with My Poetry Sisters

This month's challenge, set by Laura, was to write a short poem (6 lines or fewer) describing an animal of our choosing using three words: spike, roof, and shadow.

Ok. Hardest. Challenge. Ever. Seriously, I could not make these words fit together. I'm sure my sisters worked some serious magic, but not me. I started and discarded poems on turtles, spiked dinosaurs, hedgehogs, electric eels, and the cutest little Himalayan mouse-hare. I think my problem came because I had a hard time finding meaning beyond the literal for roof. While I could use spike and shadow relatively easily, I couldn't make roof fit, and ALL THREE WORDS were required.


So, while I'm still noodling over this challenge, I only have one measly little poem to share. My offering is about this handsome guy, the Himalayan Monal (or the danphe, as he's known in Nepal).

Photo © Tambako the Jaguar 

In the shadow of the Himalayas
near the roof of the world
the danphe sports a spike of
iridescent feathers on his head

surely he knows a colorful mohawk
attracts all sorts of ladies

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2018. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Friday, September 07, 2018

Writing Centos With My Poetry Sisters

The challenge this month, set by Sara, was to write a cento. Here are the directions we received.
I pick a line of poetry from a poet outside our culture (whatever that means!).  Then to diversify, we each build our centos by choosing a different word from that line. That way, we will have varied poems, but each poem will be unified by its own unique word. 
Say I choose this from the poet Agha Shahid Ali:
     I see Argentina and Paraguay
     under a curfew of glass, their colors
     breaking, like oil. The night in Uruguay 
Then each of us could pick a word from it:  "Argentina" or "Paraguay" (hard!) or "curfew" or "glass" or "colors" or "breaking" or even "see" or "under"  and collage a poem from there. Every subsequent line has to be taken from a different poem and has to have your chosen word somewhere in it, long or short.  Feel free to use as many poems and cultures as you like.  
This has been my favorite challenge so far this year. I collected more than 12 pages of poetry lines containing the word under. I cut the lines apart and moved them around, a lot like magnetic poetry. Here's the first poem I wrote. You can find the source of the lines (and title) below the poem.

words under pressure bleed original sense1

answer, if you hear the words under the words2
under the edge of february3
under the holsteins’ steaming noses4
days below days like a river running under the stars5

remember the sky that you were born under6
under eclipse and the day blotted out7
under a curfew of glass8
crying under the alder9

without trousers and without underpants10
a stranger is peeing ecstatic under the moon11
under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs12

under awnings, under stars13
have sex under the giant philodendron14
and in the ooze under15
no gods remember it, no understanding16

I want to be whole again, so I begin living truthfully under17
every night, under the millions of stars18
heart expanding under the ice19
  1. words under pressure bleed original sense by George Quasha
  2. The Words Under the Words by Naomi Shihab Nye
  3. Under the Edge of February by Jayne Cortez
  4. A Family History by Julia Spicher Kasdorf
  5. The Forgotten Madmen of Ménilmontant by Frank Stanford
  6. Remember by Joy Harjo
  7. The Tower by W. B. Yeats
  8. I See Chile in My Rearview Mirror by Agha Shahid Ali
  9. What the Horses See at Night by Robin Robertson
  10. Lives of the Dead: An Epic: Chapter One by Hanoch Levin, translated by Ata Hadari
  11. Under a Full Moon at Midnight by Merrill Leffler
  12. Chicago by Carl Sandburg
  13. The Shooting of John Dillinger Outside the Biograph Theater, July 22, 1934 by David Wagoner
  14. Dispatches from Devereux Slough by Mark Jarman
  15. Canto XIV by Ezra Pound
  16. Twilights, V by Conrad Aiken
  17. Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances by Elizabeth A.I. Powell
  18. Ruins Under the Stars by Galway Kinnell
  19. Phases by Michael Redhill
I had so much fun writing the first poem that I decided to try a second. I like this one even better than the first. And yes, my dreams are this weird.

Where Dreams Take Me After Reading at Bedtime

our little apartment under the freeway overpass1
under chenille bedspreads2
watching the garden winter under the moon3

under the hooves of a horse4
trampled underfoot5
tossed, knotted and torn under6

by the sea under the yellow and sagging moon7
a beaked ship under sail8
under the arching heavens9

circling a railway underpass10
where badgers undermine the tarred road11
on the underside of the world12

under the gas lamps luring the farm boys13
to have sex under the giant philodendron14
in worn underpants and plastic sandals15

playing in the dirt under a porch16
crawling under the stairs17
under the brown fog of a winter noon18

under the triumphal arch19
the hard sidewalk under my shoes20
a heap of ruins trodden underfoot21

in your “office” under the lean-to22
under the racket of this day’s distractions23
reading the Greeks under a blanket of blue24

screaming under the stairways25
under Grand Central’s tattered vault26
under a curfew of glass27

wherever the human heart beats with terrible throes under its ribs28
under the bedroom floor29
  1. At the Grave of My Guardian Angel: St. Louis Cemetery, New Orleans by Larry Levis
  2. Falling by James Dickey
  3. Phases by Michael Redhill
  4. The Forgotten Madmen of Ménilmontant by Frank Stanford
  5. Your Shakespeare by Marvin Bell
  6. Enter the Void by Juan Felipe Herrera
  7. Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking by Walt Whitman
  8. The Swan by John Gould Fletcher
  9. When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d by Walt Whitman
  10. How to Draw a Perfect Circle by Terrance Hayes
  11. Over the Dead Flatness of the Fens by William Logan
  12.  [I pinch myself hard on the inner arm] by Susan Hampton
  13. Chicago by Carl Sandburg
  14. Dispatches from Devereux Slough by Mark Jarman
  15. Painted Eyes by Henri Cole
  16. The Great Migration by Minnie Bruce Pratt
  17. The Shark’s Parlor by James Dickey
  18. The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot
  19. The Cafe Underground by John Malcolm Brinnin
  20. CXIV by Sonnet L’Abeé 
  21. 1851: A Message to Denmark Hill by Richard Howard
  22. Vertumnal by Stephen Yenser
  23. Morning Voices by Ed Falco
  24. Reading the Greeks Under a Blanket of Blue by William Coleman
  25. Howl, Parts I & II by Allen Ginsberg
  26. Broadway by Mark Doty
  27. I See Chile in My Rearview Mirror by Agha Shahid Ali 
  28. Song of Myself (1892 version) by Walt Whitman
  29. The Shark’s Parlor by James Dickey
Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2018. All rights reserved.

You can read the pieces written by my poetry sisters at the links below. Life has called some sisters away this month, but they'll be back.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link. Happy poetry Friday friends!