Friday, September 01, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write Ekphrastic Poems

This month's challenge was to write a poem inspired by a photo Sara shared. She took it while staying at the Highlight Foundation retreat center near Honesdale, PA.
I had a tough time with this one. I started and abandoned numerous drafts. I put the picture away for a while, and then pulled it back out a few days ago. When I looked again, I found my way to a few new ideas. Here are my poems.

Ephemera

This small frayed basket holds
buttons, coins, small stones,
other ephemera
reminders of people, places,
events and experiences
a life in trinkets
each one a tiny TARDIS

Thread the string between your fingers
to bring back childhood
(though you can't play Cat's Cradle alone)

Hold tight the wooden nickel,
rubbed nearly smooth as you
remember Niagara's spray

Flick the top, watch it spin
then flip over to show
the Knoxville World's Fair logo

Balance the small stones from Tibet
into a mini cairn, as you dream
of Lhasa and the bluest sky

Grab the Wade turtle and duck,
set them by the saucer as you sip
your not Red Rose tea, toasting your grandmother

Worry the gray stone engraved
with the word PEACE
that no longer sits with the other
bits and bobs
but lives as a prayer in your pocket


Since the word wish figured so prominently in the image, I decided to try a triolet or two focused on wishes. Here are two untitled poems.

Wish Triolet 1

It’s absurd to wish upon a stone
that will weather, crack, and break
other rituals aren’t unknown
it’s absurd to wish upon a stone
instead blow out candles on your cake
let shooting stars keep you awake
It’s absurd to wish upon a stone
that will weather, crack, and break

Wish Triolet 2

Send your wish into the world
for love and truth and peace
on dandelions, blown and twirled
send your wish into the world
on stars your prayers release
or a fountain’s worth increase
Send your wish into the world
for love and truth and peace

Poems ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. And Andi's back! She's back!
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Kathryn Apel. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write About Statues in the Park

The challenge the poetry sisters took up this month was to write a poem with the title "Statues in the Park." Beyond this simple directive, the rest of the prompt was wide open.

When I first began brainstorming, I couldn't get past freeze tag and the image of children as statues in the park. That's where I started writing my first poem, but when I chose to write a pantoum, the form took my poem in a different direction.

Statues in the Park

Around the statues in the park
scores of children run and play
it’s only quiet after dark
when the day’s been put away

Scores of children run and play
under watchful eyes of stone
when the day’s been put away
the statutes still are not alone

Under watchful eyes of stone
rabbits turn to watch the sky
in the park they’re not alone
there’s an owl flying by

Rabbits turn to watch the sky
there’s more than quiet in dark
when an owl’s flying by
they freeze like statues in the park

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

In case you're wondering, there are animals that freeze in defense. (In regards to this poem, rabbits are not actually nocturnal, but rather are crepuscular, or most active in the twilight hours of sunrise and sunset.)

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. Andi may not be poem-ing right now, but she's still in our hearts and keeping up with us as time allows.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Donna at Mainely Write. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Conference on Teaching Race in the Classroom - Part 2

In Part 1 of this series of posts I provided an introduction to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the site of the professional learning event I attended last week entitled Let's Talk: Teaching Race in the Classroom.

Why attend an event like this? I suppose I'd respond by asking, "Why NOT?" Why don't more educators think deeply about issues of race and racism and how they impact classroom practice, the development of racial identity, and the health and well-being of children?

On our first day, after brief introductions, we worked together to develop some ground rules and group norms.
After we agreed to these norms, we spent the morning and early afternoon getting to know one another. This was painful for me and many of the other introverts in the room. These are just not activities I enjoy doing, but I understand the necessity for learning about one another, honoring our similarities and differences, making connections, and developing a level of comfort with others that allows us to view the classroom as not just a safe space, but a brave one. After this we did some active listening activities and then got into small groups to define and discuss race and racism. The small group then broke into pairs and we shared personal stories. When all the groups came back together we took some time to do a quick written reflection, and then shared one word that described how we were feeling.

We ended at 4 pm and I had the opportunity to spend the rest of the afternoon in the museum. I took advantage of the lack of a line to hit the history galleries and spent all my time on Concourse 3, reading and taking in all that I could.

On the second day we began with a gallery exploration before the museum opened. What a change from my time in the gallery the prior afternoon! I can't tell you what a gift it was to have so much time in the museum, but even more so, to have time to explore before the crowds descended was incredible. We broke into groups and participated in the Zinn Education Project activity entitled The Color Line. Each group was responsible for making a series of predictions before we entered the gallery. Here are the questions we tackled.
  • Predict the measures that were taken to keep Indians and blacks from uniting, or that may have even made them to feel hostile toward one another.
  • Predict laws or policies adopted to discourage white indentured servants and black slaves from running away together.
  • Predict how poor whites and white indentured servants were taught to believe that they were superior to and didn’t have anything in common with blacks.
  • Predict how blacks and whites were kept separate, so that whites would not even imagine getting together with blacks.
  • Predict the measures adopted to ensure that on every plantation there were enough white overseers in relation to black slaves.
After our walk through the gallery it was clear that numerous colonial laws were enacted to create division and inequality based on race. The roots of race as a social construct were planted here. In examining this history it is possible to understand the origins of racism in the United States and who benefits from it.

Our day continued with two outstanding presentations. The first, Bias in Childhood: When Does it Emerge and How Do We Reduce It? was delivered by Melanie Killen of the University of Maryland at College Park. She shared the fascinating results of the work she and her graduate students have been conducting. I learned so much from this presentation. I was struck by some of the misconceptions people hold about bias in childhood. These include:
  • Children are colorblind.
  • Children only learn prejudice from adults.
  • Children are not selfish and do not care about fairness and equality.
Melanie shared the results of a study she led that was commissioned by CNN. In this study, a group of 145 African-American and Caucasian children, ages 6 and 13, from six schools across three states were shown images that were designed to be ambiguous and asked the following questions:
  • "What's happening in this picture?"
  • "Are these two children friends?" 
  • "Would their parents like it if they were friends?" 
The study explored how children’s interpretations of the images changed when the races of the characters were switched and found differences between the races as young as age 6. You can learn a bit about that study in this introductory video.
You can view the remaining segments on this research in Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture Part 2 and Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture Part 3.

The results were astounding and frankly, a bit depressing. We did learn that school diversity reduces implicit bias and boosts expectations for inter-racial friendships in school. We also learned that there is NO RESEARCH to suggest that a colorblind approach is effective. What we do know is that:
  • We do not create bias by talking about it.
  • Children already have opinions about race.
  • Teachers can give children the tools to notice and reject bias and discrimination.
The second presentation of the day, Middle Childhood & Teens: Cognitive Development, Racial Identity Development, and Talking About Race, was delivered by Erin Winkler of the University of Wisconsin. Through the lens of Piaget and Vygotsky, we looked at how racial identity and bias develop. Once incredibly discouraging note from this presentation was the cyclical nature of bias. We know that society primes us for implicit bias, and implicit bias reinforces inequality in society. So, the question becomes, how do you break this cycle?

Erin shared a lot of good information about the development of racial identity for African Americans (Cross' model) and White Americans (Helms' model). We learned that taking a colorblind approach backfires because racism and bias cannot be addressed if we fail to recognize it. Children exposed to a colorblind approach often have trouble recognizing not only subtle racism and racial bias, but also explicit racism. Ultimately, colorblind language renders structural racism invisible. Let that one sink in for a moment ... This means we must get comfortable talking about race, racism, and inequality. We must normalize talking about race in the classroom.

After taking all this in, we ended our day in small groups based on grade-level affinity (I went with the elementary folks) and continued to process what we were learning in the context of the issues we face at our own institutions.

I learned so much in these first two days that I was a bit overwhelmed. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about how to share this information with preservice teachers. We teach human growth and development in our program, but I'm not sure that the formation of racial identity is something that is even addressed. You can bet this is something I'll be lobbying for.

This was just the beginning of my journey during this incredible week of learning. Stay tuned for more. I'll be back tomorrow to share the content of the conference from days 3 and 4.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Conference On Teaching Race in the Classroom - Part 1

Last week I had the privilege of and honor of spending the entire week at the National Museum of African American History and Culture for a professional learning event entitled Let's Talk: Teaching Race in the Classroom. Here is the description that led me to register for this experience:
Race is an aspect of our American culture that is often ignored, glossed over or mishandled. Additionally, to succeed in promoting equity, tolerance, and justice, childhood is the time to address these issues by understanding children’s development and encouraging positive feelings about their racial and cultural identity, as well as others’.  Working with youth makes it incumbent that educators are prepared to address issues of race whenever they surface such as in history or social studies lessons or when current events brings them forward such as events in our recent history.
Through presentations from researchers in the field, small group discussions, and reflective exercises participants will engage in conversations about race/racism, explore ways to address issues and topics that will meet students where they are in their racial development, and practice techniques for creating safe space for difficult discussions.
I walked to and from the museum each day, giving myself time to reflect and think about what I was learning. Even after a long train ride home, and a weekend to further reflect, I still have much to process. I don't think I've ever learned as much at a conference or workshop before this, and after 29 years in education, that's really saying something.

We met in the education classrooms of the museum for our sessions, but we had time each day to wander through the exhibits. Even after 5 days, I didn't get to see everything the museum had to offer.
The layout of the museum is both inspirational and metaphorical. To get to the history galleries, you descend in an elevator, moving back through time.
When the doors open on the third concourse level, it is dark and cramped, and your exploration begins with the transatlantic slave trade. This level, Slavery and Freedom, covers the years 1400-1877.
When you reach the end, you wind your way up a ramp into another time period. This level, Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation, covers the years 1876-1968.
When you reach the end of this level, you once again walk up a winding ramp, slowly moving out of darkness into the light. This level, A Changing America, covers the years 1968 and beyond.
Once you leave the history galleries, visitors can enter the "Contemplative Court" for a bit of quiet reflection. In this large open space, water cascades down from the Oculus, a glass circle on the north side of the building that allows natural light to filter down into the center of the waterfall.

The upper floors are comprised of an interactive gallery, Community galleries (L3), and Culture galleries (L4).
Being in this place, this space, was so important to understanding issues of race. In the previous years this workshop was taught, participants did not have the benefit of spending their time in the space that is the museum. I am grateful to have had this opportunity as a member of the 4th cohort.

I was struck by so many things while here, but experiencing the history in this way laid a strong foundation for the ideas I had to grapple with during the week. During our time in the exhibit spaces we were encouraged to find artifacts and stories that could serve as entry points into conversations on race. Here are a few that struck me.
Ticket stub for Washington, DC to Montgomery, AL for Selma-Montgomery March.
Denim vest worn by Joan Mulholland during Civil Rights Movement.
Straw hat worn during the 1966 March Against Fear.
Bust of Maggie Walker.
Desks, sign, and wood-burning stove from the Hope School.
Quilt made from suiting samples with embroidered flower details.

Dress designed by Anne Lowe.
Shards of stained glass from the 16th Street Baptist Church.

This is just the beginning of the story of my week. Stay tuned for more. I'll be back tomorrow to flesh out some of the content of the conference.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Poetry Sisters Emulate Lord Byron

This month's challenge was set by Kelly and it was to write in the style of Byron’s poem, She Walks In Beauty, Like the Night. You can read the poem at Bartleby.

The form this poem takes is three sestets in iambic tetrameter. THAT I can do. But the theme? Oy ... I tried mightily, I really did. I wrestled with poems on teachers and refugees, as well as one on sisters. Nothing really worked. However, a theme that's been on my mind lately kept coming back, so I had to go where the poem took me. This one is untitled.

She climbs this hill awash in grief
the weight of loss so sharp, so new
most days she cries in disbelief
does all she can to make it through
the minutes, hours, moments brief
when all her thoughts have turned to you.

Such little things bring laughs and tears
some photos, medals, written notes
the story of your too few years
compiled among these anecdotes
she’d trade them all, these souvenirs
to wrap you up and hold you close.

But now she holds you in her heart
remembers you and all you loved
with joy a bitter counterpart
to grief that comes in waves and floods.
There is no map for how to start
your life without your most beloved.

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. Andi may not be poem-ing right now, but she's still in our hearts and keeping up with us as time allows.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Carol at Beyond Literacy Link. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write Golden Shovels

The challenge we undertook this month was to write a Golden Shovel poem. This form was invented by Terrance Hayes. Most Golden Shovels are written in homage to Gwendolyn Brooks, though it is possible to write one to another poet's poem. In writing a golden shovel, the writer must first borrow a favorite line or lines from a poem to create their own. The words from this line become the end words of the new poem. You can read more about this form in the Poetry Foundation piece entitled Introduction: The Golden Shovel.

The poem we chose our lines from was Pied Beauty by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I have highlighted the line that comprises the end words I used.

Pied Beauty 
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things –  
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough; 
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

In December I wrote my first love poem when we wrote ekphrastic poems for an image selected by Andi. It was a complete surprise when that poem went the way it did. When this one went in the same direction, I was befuddled, as I am not particularly romantic or sentimental. Despite this fact, I have a soft spot in my heart for this one. Maybe it's because our 23rd anniversary is on June 4th. In any case, here is my poem.

Love's Beauty
     after Gerard Manley Hopkins

In the landscape
of my heart, you are plotted
like a ship’s course, straight and
true. You are stitched, pieced,
glued, affixed on every fold.
My love will not grow fallow.
You are my yes and
always. Onward, together we will plough.

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. Sara drove to New Mexico with her daughter, so she'll be posting in a few days. Look for her poem after she's had a chance to regroup. We're missing Andi and holding her in our hearts as she deals with the loss of her beloved son. Please keep her in your thoughts, prayers, and hearts as well. 
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Buffy Silverman at Buffy's Blog. Happy poetry Friday friends.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch - Rictameter

Created in 1990 by two cousins, rictameter is a nine line poetry form in which the 1st and last lines are the same. The syllable count is 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2.

You can learn more about this relatively young form at Wikipedia, or read some examples at Shadow Poetry.

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a poem in the form of rictameter. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch On a Tuesday - Abhanga

I don't think I've ever tried a poetic form from India, so I thought this would be a good week to try one. The abhanga is form that originates in Marathi, one of the major languages of India. The form is stanzaic, written in any number of quatrains. Here are the guidelines:

  • stanzas are syllabic, with 6/6/6/4 syllables each
  • lines 2 and 3 are rhymed, with lines 1 and 3 unrhymed (x a a x)
  • internal rhyme is often used

That's it! I hope you'll join me in writing and abhanga this week. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch on a Tuesday

Exams have ended, graduation is over, and summer school has already begun. Apparently, there is no rest for the weary.

I am heartbroken for a friend who has lost her son and have been struggling to find the right words. I suppose in times of loss there are no words that are "right," but hopefully there are words that express the depth of my sorrow for her and the support I am sending across the miles.

Form feels a bit restrictive this week, so I'm thinking poems of love and light would be good. I hope you'll join me in writing this week. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Poetry Sisters Write "Things to Do" Poems

The Poetry Sisters are back this month writing "Things to Do" poems. Laura chose this month and gave us the added task of writing to a month or season. When I sat down to brainstorm, I kept thinking about winter in Buffalo, but decided I wanted to write about something a bit more cheery, so I decided to focus on spring. Little did I know that my second round of brainstorming would take me to May and a month that brings me both great joy and great sadness. The poem wrote itself on a run one morning. I actually cut it a bit short to get home and write the words down. It doesn't follow the "rules" at all, but I'm in the midst of grading and graduation and just haven't had time to revisit.

Today, my father would have been 91 years old. On Sunday as the graduates walk across the stage, I'll quietly mark the 8 years since his passing. Then on the 10th, my mother will recall the nearly 57 years they had together, as she marks what would have been their 65th wedding anniversary. I tried to find a picture of them together to share, but couldn't find many because dad was always behind the camera. Here's one I took of them with William from the summer of 2008.

Here's my poem for this month's challenge, offered up today for my dad.

Things to do in May …

Bittersweet this month’s refrain
with joy and laughter, tears and pain

Send graduates into the world
watch April flowers come unfurled

Observe the world with life renewed
as geese and ducks corral their broods

Honor our mothers for all that they do
and those without children who mother us too

Commemorate troops strong and brave
place flags upon their silent graves

Celebrate my father’s birth
mourn his passing from this earth

Before May passes into June
spend some time one afternoon
remembering all that’s good and true
the happy, the sad, the me and you.

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.


You can read the poems 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 Jama Rattigan at Jama's Alphabet Soup. Happy poetry Friday friends!

Monday, April 24, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Twenty-Four: Dog Music

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Sometimes when I read a poem or a passage in a book, Pam pops into my head. I'm always startled by these happy occasions to remember her, sometimes feeling as though she's reaching across the ether, reminding me not to forget her. The first time I read this poem, I immediately thought of her and her love for dogs and music. It made me a laugh a bit to think of her singing with a dog, and the dog singing back.

Dog Music 
by Paul Zimmer

Amongst dogs are listeners and singers.
My big dog sang with me so purely,
puckering her ruffled lips into an O,
beginning with small, swallowing sounds
like Coltrane musing, then rising to power
and resonance, gulping air to continue—
her passion and sense of flawless form—
singing not with me, but for the art of dogs.
We joined in many fine songs—"Stardust,"
"Naima," "The Trout," "My Rosary," "Perdido."
She was a great master and died young,
leaving me with unrelieved grief,
her talents known to only a few.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
A dog reflects the family life. Whoever saw a frisky dog in a gloomy family, or a sad dog in a happy one? Snarling people have snarling dogs, dangerous people have dangerous ones. ― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Monday Poetry Stretch - Shadorma

The shadorma is a Spanish poetic form consisting of six lines (a sestet) written in syllabic form. The syllable count is 3/5/3/3/7/5. A shadorma may consist of one stanza, or an unlimited number of stanzas.

That's it! Easy-peasy, right? I hope you'll join me this week in writing a shadorma. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Twenty-Three: Dog

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam loved animals of all sorts, particularly those that were down on their luck, homeless, helpless, and unloved. Her heart seemed to expand with every new creature she took in. The first dog she took in was Pungo, named for the place where he was found. He was a sweet dog, made more affectionate by all the love heaped upon him.

Dog 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The dog trots freely in the street
and sees reality
and the things he sees
are bigger than himself
and the things he sees
are his reality
Drunks in doorways
Moons on trees
The dog trots freely thru the street
and the things he sees
are smaller than himself

Read the poem in its entirety.

I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring—it was peace. ― Milan Kundera
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Twenty-Two: Evening Hawk

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam had a fascination with hawks. I often wondered what it was she loved, and if in part she was longing for the freedom of flight and the perspective one gets from a bird's-eye view of the world. Just a few weeks ago on her birthday, I arrived at church to find a hawk perched atop a car in the parking lot. It stayed long enough for me to snap a couple of photographs before it moved on.

Evening Hawk 
by Robert Penn Warren

From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak's black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
In many traditions, hawks are sacred: Apollo's messengers for the Greeks, sun symbols for the ancient Egyptians and, in the case of the Lakota Sioux, embodiments of clear vision, speed and single-minded dedication. — John Burnside
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Poetry Friday: School

Today is the last day of the semester. Soon we'll be sending a new crop of teachers off into the world. It's bittersweet really. I'm always ready for the end of the year, but I will be sad to see them go. This poem is for all my students who will soon be leading students of their own.

School 
by Daniel J. Langton

I was sent home the first day
with a note: Danny needs a ruler.
My father nodded, nothing seemed so apt.
School is for rules, countries need rulers,
graphs need graphing, the world is straight ahead.

Read the poem in its entirety.


In addition to this post, you may want to take a few minutes to read my National Poetry Month post(s). This year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love. Here are the posts I've shared to this week.
I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference. Happy poetry Friday friends!

NPM 2017 Day Twenty-One: At the Galleria Shopping Mall

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
I once made the mistake of going clothes shopping with Pam. I tried on more clothes in that one trip than ever before or since. She had to twist my arm to get me to agree to put things on, and even once they were on I was reluctant to step out of the dressing room so she could see them. I really hate shopping, but Pam was an enthusiastic supporter, and tried desperately to enliven my wardrobe.

At the Galleria Shopping Mall 
by Tony Hoagland

Just past the bin of pastel baby socks and underwear,
there are some 49-dollar Chinese-made TVs;

one of them singing news about a far-off war,
one comparing the breast size of an actress from Hollywood

to the breast size of an actress from Bollywood.
And here is my niece Lucinda,

who is nine and a true daughter of Texas,
who has developed the flounce of a pedigreed blonde

and declares that her favorite sport is shopping.
Today is the day she embarks upon her journey,

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
For some, shopping is an art; for others, it's a sport. It can be a vice and it can be a cause. Some love it. Some hate it. Rarely is someone indifferent. ― Pamela Klaffke
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Twenty: The Blue Scarf

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
I've mentioned that Pam liked to buy gifts for people. Quite often she bought me clothes. I know she meant well, trying to add a dash of color to my monochromatic wardrobe, but I am a fashion disaster and no amount of well-intended effort on Pam's part was able to coax me to adopt her more audacious style of dress. I do have one very bright, very loud scarf she gave me that I pull out from time to time. I'll admit to feeling a bit bolder when I wear it.

The Blue Scarf 
by Amy Lowell

Pale, with the blue of high zeniths, shimmered over with silver, brocaded
In smooth, running patterns, a soft stuff, with dark knotted fringes, it lies there,
Warm from a woman’s soft shoulders, and my fingers close on it, caressing.
Where is she, the woman who wore it? The scent of her lingers and drugs me.
A languor, fire-shotted, runs through me, and I crush the scarf down on my face,
And gulp in the warmth and the blueness, and my eyes swim in cool-tinted heavens.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
A scarf has to be the most beautiful thing ever invented to wear! It's a winding, a continuity, an infinity! — Sonia Rykiel
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Nineteen: Brewing Green Tea in a Glass ...

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Many of the intimate conversations with Pam, at the kitchen table, or curled on opposite ends of the couch, were over tea. I could always count on Pam to have something delicious, though I was not too fond of the numerous herbal and fruity varieties.

Brewing Green Tea in a Glass 
Percolator After the Regular
Brown Teapot Has Broken
by Molly Tenenbaum

These leaves don't spin like black
tea in a dark tornado,
but swing light as dragonfly-wings

though you wouldn't want dragonfly-wings
in your tea, allowed amount
of rat-droppings in cornflakes—

but that transparency, that iridescence—
wings, clearly,
with their dark tiny veins.

To start a pot of floating greenery
says the right thing
about the day, I think, that no one knows


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment. ― Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Eighteen: These Are The Gifts

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam was a gift giver. She never arrived for a visit without a housewarming fit of some sort. As someone who collects teapots, I have a number of small tokens from Pam that recognized this love. One is a small kitchen towel hook with an antique-looking teapot photo. There is also the teapot ornament that hangs on our Christmas tree. What I always appreciated about these gifts is that they weren't generic to a household, they demonstrated that Pam really knew who you were and what you would appreciate. And while the gifts were always nice, Pam was the real gift.

These Are The Gifts
          For my daughter, 2 1/2
by Gregory Djanikian

They are her signature:
Sea shells in our boots and slippers,
Barrettes under each of our pillows,
Marbles and flecks of clay
In the deep mines of our pockets.

Some we find quickly, others
Are lost to us for weeks or months,
And when we come upon them
In our daily disorder, we are struck
By her industry, this extravagance
Which secretly replenished
Our cupboards, baskets and drawers
With gifts from the heart.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Maybe some people just aren't meant to be in our lives forever. Maybe some people are just passing through. It's like some people just come through our lives to bring us something: a gift, a blessing, a lesson we need to learn. And that's why they're here. You'll have that gift forever. ― Danielle Steel, The Gift
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Progressive Poem - Line 17!

I've been watching this poem develop and I'm happy to be right in the thick of it.
This amazing project is organized by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. During National Poetry Month,  30 poets each add one line to a poem, making it progressively longer. This year, the only instruction was that this poem should be written for children. Below you'll find the previous 16 lines and my contribution, as well as links to all the participants in the progressive poem party. Here we go!

I’m fidget, friction, ragged edges—
I sprout stories that frazzle-dazzle,
stories of castles, of fires that crackle,
with dragonwords that smoke and sizzle.

But edges sometimes need sandpaper,
like swords need stone and clouds need vapour.
So I shimmy out of my spurs and armour
facing the day as my fickle, freckled self.

I thread the crowd, wear freedom in my smile,
and warm to the coals of conversation.
Enticed to the stage by strands of story,
I skip up the stairs in anticipation.

Flip around, face the crowd, and freeze!
Shiver me. Look who’s here. Must I disappear?
By hook or by crook, I deserve a second look!
I cheer. Please, have no fear. Find the book.

But wait! I'll share the lines I know by heart.


Progressive Poem Links
1 Heidi at my juicy little universe
2 Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference
3 Doraine at Dori Reads
4 Michelle at Today's Little Ditty
5 Diane at Random Noodling
6 Kat at Kat's Whiskers
7 Irene at Live Your Poem
8 Mary Lee at A Year of Reading
9 Linda at TeacherDance
10 Penny at a penny and her jots
11 Ramona at Pleasures from the Page
12 Janet F. at Live Your Poem
13 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche
14 Jan at Bookseedstudio
15 Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales
16 Joy at Poetry for Kids Joy
17 Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect
18 Buffy at Buffy's Blog
19 Pat at Writer on a Horse
20 BJ at Blue Window
21 Donna at Mainely Write
22 Jone at Jone Ruch MacCulloch
23 Ruth at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town
24 Amy at The Poem Farm
25 Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge
26 Renee at No Water River
27 Matt at Radio, Rhythm and Rhyme
28 Michelle at Michelle Kogan
29 Charles at Poetry Time
30 Laura Purdie Salas at Writing the World for Kids

Buffy, you're up! Can't wait to see where you take this.

Monday Poetry Stretch - Toddaid

The toddaid is a Welsh poetic form written in any number of quatrains. The lines alternate between 10 and 9 syllables (10/9/10/9). A syllable towards the end of the first line rhymes with one in the middle of the second line. This also holds for lines three and four. The end words for lines two and four also rhyme. Here’s what the rhyme scheme looks like. The rhyme can fall in any of the underlined syllables:

x x x x x x x b x x
x x x x b x x x a
x x x x x x x c x x
x x x x c x x x a

I hope you'll join me this week in writing a toddaid. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

NPM 2017 Day Seventeen: Home Cooking

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
On the last Thanksgiving morning Pam and I spoke, we were both up early prepping pieces of the evening meal and anticipating company. She mentioned she was a bit nervous about the day because she was including her ex-husband's girlfriend in the celebration. I remember her laughing and being quite gracious about the situation. I don't know that I would have been as generous. We hung up wishing each other a happy day, and I left immediately to find a poem. I called her back and read it to her and told her to think about it while she was cooking. We laughed together and then both went about our days. That poem is below.

Home Cooking
by Mary Ann Waters

Didn't you ever wonder about her passion
for cooking? The wooden spoons, the spatula,
the whisk, the way she slides her hands

over the smooth grain of the rolling pin?
All the jellies, the oils, the fragrance,
the abundance from her warm oven?

The little bottles with their corked mouths?
Why she flexes her thighs as she stirs
knowing you're there behind her,

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
There is no greater sorrow than to recall a happy time when miserable. ― Dante Alighieri
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Sixteen: Kitchen Fable

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam and I had a tradition of speaking early on the morning of holidays, particularly Easter and Thanksgiving. We'd talk while we were in the kitchen getting ready for the day. Sometimes those conversations were serious, but at times they were downright silly. I miss those stolen moments and still think of her in those early morning hours as I prepare for guests and the day to come.

Kitchen Fable 
by Eleanor Ross Taylor

The fork lived with the knife
     and found it hard — for years
took nicks and scratches,
     not to mention cuts.

She who took tedium by the ears:
     nonforthcoming pickles,
defiant stretched-out lettuce,
     sauce-gooed particles.

Read the poem in its entirety. (And listen to it too!)


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Do a loony-goony dance   
'Cross the kitchen floor,  
Put something silly in the world  
That ain't been there before. 
― Shel Silverstein, A Light in the Attic
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Fifteen: A Parting Guest

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exudedempathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

Pam was the most gracious host. Guests would descend and wreak havoc in her ordered world, yet she didn't bat an eye. I would have been off in a corner pulling my hair out, but Pam simply smiled through it all. She offered everything she had and more to make her guests comfortable and at home.

A Parting Guest
by James Whitcomb Riley

What delightful hosts are they --
 Life and Love!
Lingeringly I turn away,
 This late hour, yet glad enough
They have not withheld from me
 Their high hospitality.

So, with face lit with delight
 And all gratitude, I stay
 Yet to press their hands and say,
"Thanks.
 -- So fine a time! Good night."


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
True hospitality is marked by an open response to the dignity of each and every person. Henri Nouwen has described it as receiving the stranger on his own terms, and asserts that it can be offered only by those who 'have found the center of their lives in their own hearts'. ― Kathleen Norris, Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Poetry Friday - She Runs

Back in October of 2013, the Poetry Sisters wrote pantoums. The only requirement was the form and that we use the line “I’ve got better things to do than survive,” from Ani DiFranco’s song Swandive.

Here's the introduction I wrote to the poem.
I wish I could explain in some eloquent manner how this poem came to be. It actually began to form while I was walking to work and watching the many people jogging past me. I started thinking about how much I despise running and how sometimes in life it's a struggle to finish the course I've set for myself. With the song lyric in mind, a desire to make the poem rhyme and move a bit like a runner, this is what I came up with. I did take some liberties with the lyric, but you can still see a bit of it in here.
I've been thinking about that poem a lot lately, particularly because I became a runner this year. On December 31st I signed up to run a 10K and joined a training team. On January 21st I made my first run (1 mile) and thought I'd never make it. Over time I slowly added miles to my training, and on April 1st I ran.
It was an effort on many days to get out and run, but I did it. And today, I'm still running. In fact, I've signed up to run a half-marathon in November. This isn't about a love for running (I'm not there yet), but about pushing myself mentally and physically.

As I embrace the runner in me, this seems like a good time to share this poem again.

She Runs

This day I am alive
up and racing with the sun
I’ll do better than survive
though I’ve only just begun

Up and racing with the sun
breathing morning’s sweet bouquet
I’ve only just begun
to watch the pavement slip away

Breathing morning’s sweet bouquet
clock the miles beneath my feet
watching pavement slip away
down a sleepy, city street

Clock the miles beneath my feet
breathing hard and fading fast
down a sleepy, city street
more mile markers passed

Breathing hard and fading fast
I’ll do better than survive
last mile marker passed
this day I am alive!

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2013. All rights reserved.

In addition to this post, you may want to take a few minutes to read my National Poetry Month post(s). This year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love. Here are the posts I've shared to this week.
4-9: To a Cat
4-11: Couture

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Doraine Bennett at Dori Reads. Happy poetry Friday friends!

NPM 2017 Day Fourteen: House: Some Instructions

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
When I married in 1994, my husband's sister was in the process of moving from an apartment in Virginia Beach to a new home. In the years that I knew her she packed, moved, and set up house at least 5 times. The first move was to Maryland, then Georgia, then Connecticut. No matter where she went, Pam had a knack for making a house feel like home in a very short span of time.

House: Some Instructions
by Grace Paley

If you have a house
you must think about it all the time
as you reside in the house so
it must be a home in your mind

you must ask yourself (wherever you are)
have I closed the front door

and the back door is often forgotten
not against thieves necessarily

but the wind   oh   if it blows
either door open   then the heat

the heat you’ve carefully nurtured
with layers of dry hardwood

and a couple of opposing green
brought in to slow the fire

as well as the little pilot light
in the convenient gas backup

all of that care will be mocked because
you have not kept the house on your mind

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Homemaking is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, mines, cars, government, etc. exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? The homemaker’s job is one for which all other’s exist. ― C.S. Lewis 
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Thirteen: The Gift to Sing

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam and I shared a love for a number of things. One was our love for song. On visits to Pam I could hear her singing in the kitchen as she prepared meals and later cleaned up.

The Gift to Sing
by James Weldon Johnson

Sometimes the mist overhangs my path,
And blackening clouds about me cling;
But, oh, I have a magic way
To turn the gloom to cheerful day—
      I softly sing.

And if the way grows darker still,
Shadowed by Sorrow’s somber wing,
With glad defiance in my throat,
I pierce the darkness with a note,
       And sing, and sing.

I brood not over the broken past,
Nor dread whatever time may bring;
No nights are dark, no days are long,
While in my heart there swells a song,
       And I can sing.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. ― Plato
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Twelve: Warning: When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
Pam lived in the moment and was not afraid to embrace who she was. She did not wait for old age to dress and do as she liked. She knew who she was and was gloriously herself.

Warning: When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
by Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
What a noise we'll make among the drab and dull, how we'll...wait, I want more green. I hope I did not imply I only wanted your colors. We can't turn a cold shoulder to green, and blue, and purple, for the sake of all ordered things, how can you dismiss purple? Call [him] back and tell him of my need of purple! ― Shannon Hale, River Secrets
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Eleven: Couture

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****
My closet is filled with black, gray, and navy. There's not a lot of color in it. Pam was my polar opposite in this regard. Her closet reflected her personality. It was vibrant, colorful, and sometimes a bit crazy. You could count on Pam to wear orange, fuchsia, red, and other bright colors. She also like paisley and floral prints and was always impeccably dressed, a trait she got from her mother.

Couture
by Mark Doty

Peony silks,
in wax-light:
that petal-sheen,

gold or apricot or rose
candled into-
what to call it,

lumina, aurora, aureole?
About gowns,
the Old Masters,


were they ever wrong?
This penitent Magdalen’s
wrapped in a yellow

so voluptuous
she seems to wear
all she’s renounced;

this boy angel
isn’t touching the ground,
but his billow

of yardage refers
not to heaven
but to pleasure’s

textures, the tactile
sheers and voiles
and tulles

which weren’t made
to adorn the soul.
Eternity’s plainly nude;

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Clothes as text, clothes as narration, clothes as a story. Clothes as the story of our lives. And if you were to gather all the clothes you have ever owned in all your life, each baby shoe and winter coat and wedding dress, you would have your autobiography. ― Linda Grant, The Thoughtful Dresser: The Art of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Poetry Stretch - Blank Verse

Blank verse poems are not rhymed, but they are metered in iambic pentameter. Here are some examples of blank verse.
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.

From Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare (Act III, Scene ii)


It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

From Ulysses by Alfred Lord Tennyson


Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more a house

From Directive by Robert Frost
I hope you'll join me this week in writing blank verse. Please share a link to your poem or the poem itself in the comments.

NPM 2017 Day Ten: Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

When Nana Balch died, the grand piano made its way from Texas to Pam. In all the years I knew her, I never once saw her play it, but I know it held great comfort and many memories for her.

Thanking My Mother for Piano Lessons 
by Diane Wakoski

The relief of putting your fingers on the keyboard,
as if you were walking on the beach
and found a diamond
as big as a shoe;

as if
you had just built a wooden table
and the smell of sawdust was in the air,
your hands dry and woody;

as if
you had eluded
the man in the dark hat who had been following you
all week;

the relief
of putting your fingers on the keyboard,
playing the chords of
Beethoven,
Bach,
Chopin
         in an afternoon when I had no one to talk to,
         when the magazine advertisement forms of soft sweaters
         and clean shining Republican middle-class hair
         walked into carpeted houses
         and left me alone
         with bare floors and a few books

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
Pianos, unlike people, sing when you give them your every growl. They know how to dive into the pit of your stomach and harmonize with your roars when you’ve split yourself open. And when they see you, guts shining, brain pulsing, heart right there exposed in a rhythm that beats need need, need need, need need, pianos do not run. And so she plays. – Francesca Lia Block
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Nine: To a Cat

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

A number of years ago we stopped in Connecticut to stay with Pam overnight before heading to a family reunion in Rhode Island. The cat scared the every living daylights out of William, who was 8 at the time. Pam couldn't stop apologizing for the cat. I dismissed her apologies, knowing that's just who Shadow was. I knew William would get over it. Still, I wondered what it was she saw in that cat. I couldn't sleep that night, so I decided to quietly make my way to the kitchen for tea. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I saw Pam sitting on the couch in a dimly lit room, whispering quietly to the cat on her lap. This poem helps me understand her love for that darn cat.

To a Cat 
by Algernon Charles Swinburne

I
Stately, kindly, lordly friend,
      Condescend
Here to sit by me, and turn
Glorious eyes that smile and burn,
Golden eyes, love's lustrous meed,
On the golden page I read.

All your wondrous wealth of hair,
      Dark and fair,
Silken-shaggy, soft and bright
As the clouds and beams of night,
Pays my reverent hand's caress
Back with friendlier gentleness.

Dogs may fawn on all and some
      As they come;
You, a friend of loftier mind,
Answer friends alone in kind.
Just your foot upon my hand
Softly bids it understand.

Read the poem in its entirety.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
There are two means of refuge from the misery of life — music and cats. ― Albert Schweitzer
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

NPM 2017 Day Eight: Milk for the Cat

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

Pam had a fondness for animals, particularly those that seemed most unwanted and unloved. She had a cat the scared the living daylights out of everyone. I don't think I've ever met a meaner cat, but Pam loved Shadow, and Shadow loved her back. I've never been a cat person, but when I see a scruffy cat wandering through the neighborhood, I wonder if it has a home, and I think of Pam opening hers to all manner of downtrodden creature.

Milk for the Cat
by Harold Monro

When the tea is brought at five o'clock,
And all the neat curtains are drawn with care,
The little black cat with bright green eyes
Is suddenly purring there.

At first she pretends, having nothing to do,
She has come in merely to blink by the grate,
But, though tea may be late or the milk may be sour,
She is never late.

And presently her agate eyes
Take a soft large milky haze,
And her independent casual glance
Becomes a stiff, hard gaze.

Then she stamps her claws or lifts her ears,
Or twists her tail and begins to stir,
Till suddenly all her lithe body becomes
One breathing, trembling purr.

The children eat and wriggle and laugh;
The two old ladies stroke their silk:
But the cat is grown small and thin with desire,
Transformed to a creeping lust for milk.

The white saucer like some full moon descends
At last from the clouds of the table above;
She sighs and dreams and thrills and glows,
Transfigured with love.

She nestles over the shining rim,
Buries her chin in the creamy sea;
Her tail hangs loose; each drowsy paw
Is doubled under each bending knee.

A long, dim ecstasy holds her life;
Her world is an infinite shapeless white,
Till her tongue has curled the last holy drop,
Then she sinks back into the night,

Draws and dips her body to heap
Her sleepy nerves in the great arm-chair,
Lies defeated and buried deep
Three or four hours unconscious there.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
It is a difficult matter to gain the affection of a cat. He is a philosophical, methodical animal, tenacious of his own habits, fond of order and neatness, and disinclined to extravagant sentiment. He will be your friend, if he finds you worthy of friendship, but not your slave. — Theophile Gautier
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Poetry Sisters Talk Back to a Poem

The Poetry Sisters are back this month writing to a prompt created up by Sara (though she gives credit to for the idea to Laura, who mentioned it when we were brainstorming challenges for the year). April's challenge was to "talk back" to a poem. Sara chose this poem, found in Rilke's Book of Hours: Love Poems to God by Anita Barrows and Joanna Marie Macy.

The Night
by Rainer Maria Rilke

You, darkness, of whom I am born–

I love you more that the flame
that limits the world
to the circle it illuminates
and excludes all the rest.

But the dark embraces everything:
shapes and shadows, creatures and me,
people, nations–just as they are.

It lets me imagine
a great presence stirring beside me.

I believe in the night.


I wrote a number of poems for this challenge, but I couldn't get away from the idea of a letter. I'm not sure why I was stuck on an epistle, but that's where every draft went, even when I tried to write to form. After a number of drafts, this is the one I finally settled on.

Letter to Rainer Maria Rilke

Dear Rainer,
Somehow your poem was no surprise
knowing you as I do
but I cannot concur

You love darkness, believe in night
I love brightness, believe in light

You say darkness embraces all
without regard to any feature
I fear it harms the small, the weak
diminishes every lonely creature

There is no comfort in the night
no refuge, peace, nor sacred psalm
It’s in the sun, its warmth and light
my heart, my soul find sweetest balm

I cannot love the darkness
I won’t embrace the night
we must agree to disagree
over this we shouldn't fight

You can have the dark, my friend
but for me I’ll bathe in light

Poem ©Tricia Stohr-Hunt, 2017. All rights reserved.

You can read the poems written by my poetry sisters at the links below. 
In addition to this post, you may want to take a few minutes to read my National Poetry Month post(s). This year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love. Here are the posts I've shared to date.
4-1: Kindness
4-2: The Kindness
4-3: A Jack Kerouac Poem
4-4: When I Am In the Kitchen
4-5: Stay Out Of My Kitchen
4-6: Perhaps the World Ends Here
4-7: The Neat One

I do hope you'll take some time to check out all the wonderful poetic things being shared and collected today by Irene Latham at Live Your Poem. Happy poetry Friday friends!

NPM 2017 Day Seven: The Neat One

For National Poetry Month this year I am sharing poetry that celebrates my late sister-in-law and what it means to be human. These daily posts focus on traits that Pam exuded—empathy, kindness, caring, friendship, gentleness and love.

*****

The first Christmas gathering Pam hosted was in 1994. The house was new and unfinished, but we were all together. I was newly married and spending my first holiday away from my family, so I'm sure my sadness was palpable. Pam worked so hard to make everyone happy. My fondest memory of that visit, and the one memory of Pam that still makes me laugh out loud, is the lunch the women shared one afternoon. Nana Balch was there, the matriarch of the family. She was in her 80s and sharply dressed. As we ate and talked, I could see Pam twitching over the mess we were making. (She was a bit of neat freak!) Nana in particular was scattering crumbs everywhere. Close to the end of the meal, Pam couldn't take it anymore, so she got out the Dustbuster and vacuumed the table and floor around Nana, and then proceeded to vacuum Nana's lap! I can still see everyone's stunned faces. I tried so hard not to laugh. This poem about neatness reminds me of that day.

The Neat One
by Violet Alleyn Storey 
(Poetry Magazine, 1925)

When others throw newspapers down,
   She lays them in smooth piles;
When index cards lie on the desk,
   She places them in files.

  “The neat one,” they have called her long—
   It’s strange they never knew
She dreamed once of toy-littered rooms
   With children running through.


I'll leave you today with this parting shot.
... there can be no real beauty without neatness and order. — Julia McNair Wright
Thank you for reading. I hope to see you here again tomorrow.