Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Poetry Stretch - Prayers and Morning Rituals

Don't ask me where I was last week because I surely won't remember! Work has been crazy busy and I'm feeling like the hole I've dug myself is getting bigger. Perhaps this holiday will afford me some time to catch up.

Even thought I'm going slightly crazy, I still have time to read poetry. These days it's Mary Oliver's work that graces my nightstand. I've been thinking a lot about the poem "I Happen to Be Standing," in which Oliver meditates on her morning ritual with a notebook. The poem begins this way:

I Happened to be Standing

I don't know where prayers go,
   or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
   half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it 
   crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
   growing older every year?

You can hear Oliver talk about this poem and others in this NPR interview.

Do you have a morning ritual? Do you say prayers at night,  in the morning, or whenever the urge hits you? These are the things I'm thinking of and want to write about. Won't you join me? Leave me a note about your poem and I'll share the results in time for Poetry Friday.


  1. Great topic. I was just searching this morning for poems about giving thanks and will enjoy reading whatever follows here this week. Here's a poem inspired by a walk around a condo community my family and I lived in for a year while getting settled in a city I had, until then, not really enjoyed.


    Blessings to you in your soft white kitchen,
    and to you in the next one over,
    synchronized women
    pouring water,
    spreading butter,
    washing hands.

    Blessings to you, shirtless man,
    placing your white, white towel
    on its hook beside two other
    white, white towels.
    I'm sorry you saw me watching,
    but I was walking my dog, looking up,
    and your window shone.

    Blessings to you of the darkened room and
    tall bed shadowed blue with evening

    And to you of the incandescent
    Christmas tree in early November.

    And to you sitting alone at the ornate table.

    Blessings to you of brown couch and bare feet,
    stretched legs mingled with white poodle.
    And to the sleeping poodle, too,


    © 2010 Stephanie Parsley

  2. Not Every Day A Poem: A Prayer

    Not every day a poem, Lord,
    but one good line,
    as we pray for strength
    to do one good deed.
    Not every day a plot, Lord,
    but a strong, solid twist,
    and the will to take one step
    after the next.
    Not every day a story, Lord,
    but the hope things
    will turn out right,
    not happy ever after,
    just happy for today
    and its one new poem.

    © 2012 Jane Yolen all rights reserved

  3. Oh, wow, Stephanie and Jane--lovely stuff!

  4. No Prayer But Human
    By Steven Withrow

    I like to think no other mammals pray:
    masked raccoons and bounding white-tailed deer,
    those luckless ones too often struck at curbs.

    No prayer but the human kind, and not to say
    those creatures sense no source, or feel no fear,
    but rather that their every act disturbs

    the equitable slumbers of the day,
    the blank, unbiased turnings of the year.
    They need not speak—their lives the strongest verbs.

    © 2012 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

  5. Beautiful, Steven. I love "the blank, unbiased turnings of the year."
    Here's my quick first thoughts on my weekday mornings:

    Coffee, coffee, coffee
    Rush, rush, rush,
    Remember to be kind,
    Coffee, coffee, coffee,
    Rush, rush, rush,
    Take a minute to unwind!

  6. I love Mary Oliver, Tricia! Good pick. Happy T-Day to all. Here's my poem:


    I sing in the shower, songs
    I learned as a child in church.
    Words rise with the steam,
    then up through the ceiling,
    past the sky to the ears of God.
    “I think the world is glorious!”
    I sing, my voice made grand
    by the small walls of the shower.
    My day made better because
    I remember who made the day,
    made me, made all.

    —Kate Coombs, 2012
    all rights reserved


    I wake up to being licked
    By Zeus my Persian cat.

    My brother's still asleep
    I say, "Time to get up Matt."

    It's the first day of school
    With my teacher Mr. Kyle.

    I can't help to harness
    My wall to wall smile.

    Because Ame Livingston will
    Now be in my class.

    She's smart, strong, pretty,
    She's a sassy sassafras.

    Soggy sugared cereal
    My favorite thing to eat.

    I hand some to my pug Ramon
    For his breakfast treat.

    Matt says "You go first"
    As we shuffle out the door.

    Which is cool of him,
    He's never been that nice before.

    As we sit in Mom's car, ready
    For the morning drive

    I look outside my window
    Happy to be alive.

    (c) Charles Waters 2012 all rights reserved