Showing posts with label Poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poetry. Show all posts

Friday, February 5, 2016

Alpha Male and Grace

photo by Jack Heniford (1947-2015)


It comes when you’re not looking. Has been there
Before you noticed. Blazes forth between
The hickory’s new leaves, their tender green
Massy above you flopped into a chair,
Hot from the garden, with an aching back.
Two phoebes flit from tree to eave to tree
Feeding the tyrant nestlings you can’t see;
You watch them labor, mind and body slack

Then among bobbing boughs a flick of red!
Binoculars have leapt into your hand,
Swept the green shapes and fixed an active blur
That moves—moves—lights in focus as the wind
Pushes, and full sun strikes him breast and head.
It flares, it flames out. Scarlet tanager.

"Grace" by Judith Moffett from Tarzan in Kentucky. © David Robert Books, 2015

photo by Jack Heniford (1947-2015)

Post Script:

Julie is back at the manor and doing very, very well.  Thank you for all your prayers.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Short Testament

A Short Testament
by Anne Porter

Whatever harm I may have done
In all my life in all your wide creation
If I cannot repair it
I beg you to repair it,

And then there are all the wounded
The poor the deaf the lonely and the old
Whom I have roughly dismissed
As if I were not one of them.
Where I have wronged them by it
And cannot make amends
I ask you
To comfort them to overflowing,

And where there are lives I may have withered around me,
Or lives of strangers far or near
That I’ve destroyed in blind complicity,
And if I cannot find them
Or have no way to serve them,

Remember them. I beg you to remember them

When winter is over
And all your unimaginable promises
Burst into song on death’s bare branches.

Photo Credit: Mike Sewell

"A Short Testament" by Anne Porter from Living Things, Zoland Books, 2006.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Only the Necessary

Going through my closet, discarding clothing and deciding that I need only a dress or two, a funeral dress or a party dress, for both are indeed the same, decisions were made.  Good Will received a portion, but the garbage pile also took on am embarrassingly large accretion of tee shirts.  Today's wardrobe, for me, consists of pants, long in winter, cropped in summer, and long flowing tops of linen or cotton.

So why on earth did I still hang on to that suit jacket from 15 years ago?  I will never again have an office job, nor will I ever don that expensive wool suit, for I am not of that generation, although time and age is creeping me onward.
A man who has at length found something to do will not need to get a new suit to do it in; for him the old will do, that has lain dusty in the garret for an indeterminate period.[....] I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit? If you have any enterprise before you, try it in your old clothes. All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather something to be ... Henry David Thoreau
For I have found something to do, something to love, something to look forward to and some place to be in my old and comfortable clothing.  Gardening, volunteering, reading, writing and painting need only replacement items.

Even our dead wood and other debris placed on our front curb, set out for the annual "Fresh as A Daisy" pickup by the city, funded by tax dollars, was eschewed by several clunker type bashed up pickups.  This was after the old wrought iron paraphernalia and plastics were previously snatched by recyclers seeing gold in our discards.

One decision made last summer regarding our garden was that I would never purchase an accessory for the outside that was not made from natural materials: iron, clay, stone, rock, wood are all acceptable.  Look what I found yesterday while clearing off fallen leaves from our cottonwoods.  It is a tree stump hollowed out over the years by little ants (carpenter ants?) that turned the wood into "frass," something that looks like sawdust.  When I moved the stump and turned it over, the bottom portion turned out half eaten and decayed, a perfect place for planting pansies.  How fortunate when turned upside down, a lucky benevolence!

And now nary a piece of plastic to show in the wildflower garden!

This week a friend whose husband recently passed away gave me a polished rock from his collection.  He was a lapidarist with a massive collection of rocks and equipment that she donated to Ft. Lewis College in Durango where he taught for over two decades.  

This rock has snails embedded in the fossil.  I looked it up and found it is called an "ammonite" and the snails could have lived as long as 415 million years ago.  I am wearing it today and thinking of her and her lovely garden.

My last writing class in April 28, and I will have some readings to share during May.  And for all you Garrison Keillor fans of "A Prairie Home Companion," Sharon Olds will be on his show tomorrow evening, April 25, live from Town Hall.  We have read some of her work in our writing classes, so I am looking forward to hearing her.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


...for PPF

 (Watercolor on canvas)
My mother always called it a nest, the multi-colored mass harvested from her six daughters' brushes, and handed it to one of us after she had shaped it, as we sat in front of the fire drying our hair. She said some birds steal anything, a strand of spider's web, or horse's mane, the residue of sheep's wool in the grasses near a fold where every summer of her girlhood hundreds nested. Since then I've seen it for myself, their genius— how they transform the useless. I've seen plastics stripped and whittled into a brilliant straw, and newspapers—the dates, the years— supporting the underweavings. As tonight in our bed by the window you brush my hair to help me sleep, and clean the brush as my mother did, offering the nest to the updraft. I'd like to think it will be lifted as far as the river, and catch in some white sycamore, or drift, too light to sink, into the shaded inlets, the bank-moss, where small fish, frogs, and insects lay their eggs. Would this constitute an afterlife? The story goes that sailors, moored for weeks off islands they called paradise, stood in the early sunlight cutting their hair. And the rare birds there, nameless, almost extinct, came down around them and cleaned the decks and disappeared into the trees above the sea.  Darwin's Finches by Deborah Digges
(Close up from watercolor above 5/31/12: NAM)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Beauty, Older Women, Courage, Quotes

An arresting photo of a woman in her late years:
A quilt of unknown origin, size unknown

this from just a portion of a poem well worth the entire read found here called The Invitation:
I want to know if you can see beauty, even when it is not pretty, every day,
And if you can source your own life from its presence.

(A Study -Limbo ID:374 from 2006 Lilly Oncology On Canvas 2006 competition)

The picture above was an award winner in the referenced art competition.  She is a symbol of a woman carrying a burden, but knowing she will survive the battle with courage and victory, no matter the outcome of her health issue. This particular art piece of the introspective woman who has lost her hair from chemotherapy reminds me of  a reference given to me by my husband when we were discussing our daughter's recent photo.

Julie's smile below shows her inner beauty of personal strength and almost continual attitude of optimism.  She, too, is undergoing chemotherapy and has lost her hair.
These preceding photos all tie together with this quote from Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land ( referring to Rodin's sculpture of  "Fallen Caryatid Carrying Her Stone")
... she's a symbol for every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women - this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude until they crumpled under their loads. It's courage... and victory.

Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn't give up... she's still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her... she's all the unsung heroes who couldn't make it but never quit. 
Rodin's plaster of Fallen Caryatid referenced here 1881-1882

1920, Rosa by Walter Grammatte

And finally, one of my favorites:
(from a picture in my study that is over 30 years old with the poem below by Nadin Stair)

If I Had My Life to Live Over
I'd dare to make more mistakes next time.
I'd relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans. 
I would perhaps have more actual troubles,
but I'd have fewer imaginary ones. 
You see, I'm one of those people who live
sensibly and sanely hour after hour,
day after day.

Oh, I've had my moments,
And if I had it to do over again,
I'd have more of them.
In fact, I'd try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead of each day. 
I've been one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat
and a parachute. 
If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds. 
I would pick more daisies.
Nadine Stair, 85 years old

Saturday, July 2, 2011

July Pictures - Summer Poetry

"That beautiful season the Summer!
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
And the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
-  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
With mask, and antique pageantry,
Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream."
-  John Milton, L'Allegro, 1631

"The summer morn is bright and fresh, the birds are darting by
As if they loved to breast the breeze that sweeps the cool clear sky."
-  William C. Bryant

"I know I am but summer to your heart,
And not the full four seasons of the year;
And you must welcome from another part
Such noble moods as are not mine, my dear.
No gracious weight of golden fruits to sell
Have I, nor any wise and wintry thing;
And I have loved you all too long and well
To carry still the high sweet breast of Spring.
Wherefore I say: O love, as summer goes,
I must be gone, steal forth with silent drums,
That you may hail anew the bird and rose
When I come back to you, as summer comes.
Else will you seek, at some not distant time,
Even your summer in another clime."

-  Edna St. Vincent Millay, I Know I am But Summer to Your Heart

Friday, November 5, 2010

Dylan Thomas and a few Pictures from Laugharne, Wales

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) Poet
Hometown: Laugharne, Wales

Thirty-one Craftlit fans (thank you, Heather Ordover found here and here and here and here and thank you, Holiday Tour Guide Dianne Read-Jackson) saw Dylan Thomas' hometown, house, and boathouse in Laugharne, Wales.  His boathouse was where he wrote and spent the better part of his days.

A bit about Thomas:
Dylan Thomas, often described as a "classic Welsh writer", never actually learned the Welsh language himself. Though he achieved much notoriety during his short life, he received little financial gain. It was only after his death that his work truly began to be appreciated. There is no doubt, however, that he is one of the great English (language) poets of the twentieth century, arguably the greatest poet of our time. Dylan Thomas' incredible use of metaphor, meter, and a comic wit, allows his work to stand alone, balancing a reckless neo-Romantic sensuality against the more staid Puritanism of his time and culture. Thomas' lust for life and love of drink may well have contributed to his premature demise, yet his work remains, a testament to both his skill and mastery of The Word.
Are you familiar with this?  It is a quick reading by Dylan Thomas himself of one of his more notable works:

Dylan Thomas - Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
Uploaded by poetictouch. - Watch original web videos.

The stage play, Under Milkwood, was a mystery to me when I was first assigned it as a class project in a 20th century literature class.  So I bought the CD (an original New York recording from 1953 which Thomas narrates himself).  His voice is unique (yes, an understatement) and I get lost in his voice, but with a little concentration, it becomes more understandable with its mischievous use of language.


Peter Ffrench, tour guide extraordinaire, gives a blessing to Craftlit travelers at the end of our journey. Peter is a retired actor with a flair for the dramatic.  He was knowledgeable, friendly and a true extrovert who was thoroughly loved by all of us.

This 30 second mp3 file is definitely worth a listen, although it was recorded on a noisy tour bus.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vegetable Love Poem by Barbara Crooker

by Barbara Crooker

Feel a tomato, heft its weight in your palm,
think of buttocks, breasts, this plump pulp.
And carrots, mud clinging to the root,
gold mined from the earth's tight purse.
And asparagus, that push their heads up,
rise to meet the returning sun,
and zucchini, green torpedoes
lurking in the Sargasso depths
of their raspy stalks and scratchy leaves.
And peppers, thick walls of cool jade, a green hush.
Secret caves. Sanctuary.
And beets, the dark blood of the earth.
And all the lettuces: bibb, flame, oak leaf, butter-
crunch, black-seeded Simpson, chicory, cos.
Elizabethan ruffs, crisp verbiage.
And spinach, the dark green
of northern forests, savoyed, ruffled,
hidden folds and clefts.
And basil, sweet basil, nuzzled
by fumbling bees drunk on the sun.

And cucumbers, crisp, cool white ice
in the heart of August, month of fire.
And peas in their delicate slippers,
little green boats, a string of beads,
repeating, repeating.
And sunflowers, nodding at night,
then rising to shout hallelujah! at noon.

All over the garden, the whisper of leaves
passing secrets and gossip, making assignations.
All of the vegetables bask in the sun,
languorous as lizards.
Quick, before the frost puts out
its green light, praise these vegetables,
earth's voluptuaries,
praise what comes from the dirt.

"Vegetable Love" by Barbara Crooker, from Radiance. © Word Press, 2005.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Lorica, A Poem by St. Patrick (c. 377 A.D.)

Today is my father's 90th birthday. He is celebrating it with all his family and friends in north Texas. Needless to say, Dad has seen much change occur in his life since 1919, the year he was born.

He has self published his memoirs in two booklet forms over the past ten years, with the help of his wife, Pat, and my brother John. His stories range in length from one page to several pages of typed information, and he loves to regale his audiences with sagas from the past.

Upon my return home after the birthday festivities, I will publish some of his stories on my blog. He might like to see some of his writing on the world wide web, an unimagined possibility at the time of his birth almost a century ago. And a few of his memories just might be interesting to readers!

One thing that has not changed in Dad's life is his Christian faith, and his belief in an enduring life after death. My grandmother, an old time prayer warrior, made sure he had a Biblical grounding.

In honor of his birthday and as he goes toward the century mark, here is the incantation Lorica, especially dedicated to him. It can be found on the internet at Christianity Today. It was a prayer written by Saint Patrick (ca. 377 A.D.) over 1,600 years ago, but is as timely now as it was then.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

(Picture courtesy of Lilly Oncology On Canvas, 2008 competition.)

Happy Birthday, Charles W. McCarroll, Patriarch of the McCarroll clan!
(More information about St. Patrick can be found at Catholic Organization.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mud Time: Robert Frost

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day.
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
a cloud come over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.

- Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time, 1926

This is just the middle portion of Frost's poem that can be read in its completion here. It seems appropriate for this first week of a cool and wet Colorado April.

Frost's entire work of Two Tramps in Mud Time can be downloaded for your listening pleasure here.

Daffodils, crocuses and grape hyacinths are coming up in our garden patch. It snowed in the mountains just 45 minutes from our town over the past two days, but spring really is in the air.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Life is But a Weaving (by Grant Colfax Tullar); A Crown as a Visual Aid

Through an exciting exchange of emails beginning in October with Lynda Jones, a lovely young Christian mother living in Ireland, I was introduced to Pam Rosewell Moore, a Christian author of five books, artist, and public speaker. Lynda found me through a prior blog posting and asked that I create a new visual aid for Pam Moore's Christian ministry.

Please visit Moore's website at PamRosewellMoore to read more about her background in the UK and caring for Corrie ten Boom during the last years of her life when she lived in the Netherlands. Moore's current ministry, book excerpts and a calendar of her speaking tours are also found at Pam Rosewell Moore's website.

Mrs. Moore, in a recent email, asked me to create a similar work of an embroidered crown as a visual aid to be used when she provides a testimonial and speaks about her experiences as companion to Corrie ten Boom. (Mrs. Moore as a companion and care giver to Corrie ten Boom during the last seven years of ten Boom's life.)

In part, Moore's email said:
Tante Corrie used the visual aid (of an embroidered crown to great effect ... it is not a tapestry, but a soft pliable, able-to-be-folded embroidery.

I am sending to you ... small pictures which depict the crown embroidery which Corrie used at the end of her speaking days. She had travelled all over the world for more than three decades and this was not the only crown used. She wore the embroideries out, I am sure!
The back of the crown, as you will see on the picture, is a muddle of threads, made even more muddled by Corrie who when she received the crown from whoever had undertaken to embroider one for her, would add extra threads to make the visual picture as confusing as possible … so that the upper side was given the more clarity. Corrie turned the embroidery several times from upper to underside as she quoted the poem “My life is but a weaving…”
Here is the original wording of the poem, supplied by Moore:
The Weaver

My Life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me;
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.
Oft times He weaveth sorrow
And I, in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
And I the underside.

Not 'til the loom is silent
And the shuttles cease to fly,
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.
The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand,
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

He knows, He loves, He cares,
Nothing this truth can dim.
He gives His very best to those
Who choose to walk with Him. (Grant Colfax Tullar)

These are pictures of the process I undertook to make a replica of a crown embroidered piece which Pam Rosewell Moore can use in her current speaking ministry:

1) The project starting with an antique, hand made, crocheted, heirloom doily with cream color tatting. I only wish I could give credit to the creator of this fine piece of handwork, but it came to me through a friend who did not know its origin;

2) And then adding a few supplies of yarns, threads, buttons, beads, threads and other embellishments and needlework, the work began;

3) I completed an embroidered crown, complete with beading and shiny glass embellishments on the top side of the visual aid, along with a tangled web of gold and silver threads on the underside, symbolic of the poem and God's unrevealed plan for those who choose to walk with Him.

This finished visual aid shown below will be sent to Pam Rosewell Moore.

The project was a bit daunting at first, but quickly completed once the ideas jelled. It will hopefully be what Mrs. Moore requested.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Legend: Bone Woman

The following was written by Isabel Hoskins. She writes thoughtfully speaking through her poetry. You learn that she has come through a life changing battle with cancer. See her blog at Beyond the Map. This is Isabel's writing of BONE WOMAN:
This is the story, the legend, of La Loba, also known as the Bone Woman.

La Loba is an old woman who lives secluded in the desert mountains, a recluse who is fat and hairy and when she speaks she makes sounds like that of an animal more than human words. She keeps to herself and wanders around, waiting for lost people to come and seek her.

LaLabo’s work is to collect bones, mostly the collecting and preserving of bones that might otherwise be lost to the world. Her cave contains the bones of all kinds of desert creatures but it is the bones of the wolf she loves the most. She wanders about the mountains looking for her wolf bones and once she has the complete skeleton, she lays them all out on her cave floor, and sitting by her fire she begins to wait for the song to be birthed in her.

When La Loba is certain the song has come she stands over the bones, raises her arms in a dance and begins singing. As she sings the bones of the wolf begin to join together and grow flesh. She sings, as the animal inhabits fur and she sings, as the tail curls upwards and the wolf creature begins to breathe. She sings as the desert floor shakes and the wolf opens its eyes to life and with a leap, runs out of the cave and out into the desert canyon, howling its way through the mountains.

At some point in the wolf’s running, whether the splash of water from the river spraying over her or the glint of moonlight that comes to rest on the wolf’s fur, the bones that became the living wolf are transformed into a laughing woman who goes running towards the horizon.

And it has been said that if you are lost and wandering across a desert and it’s nearing sundown when the sun melts into the sky, that if you are lucky, La Loba may make herself known, revealing to you something long forgotten, something of your soul.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Poetry Contest (Prarie Home Companion Radio)

While listening to Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion radio show on Saturday, I learned about a free poetry contest. This contest is to be written in iambic pentameter, must be 14 lines in length, and must be a topical love poem. To refresh my memory, I had to look at the definition of “iambic pentameter” and searched here:
Iambic Pentameter

Iambic pentameter is a type of meter that is used in poetry and drama. It describes a particular rhythm that the words establish in each line. That rhythm is measured in small groups of syllables; these small groups of syllables are called 'feet'. The word 'iambic' describes the type of foot that is used. The word 'pentameter' indicates that a line has five of these 'feet'.... In English, the rhythm is created through the use of stress, alternating between unstressed and stressed syllables. An English unstressed syllable is equivalent to a classical short syllable, while an English stressed syllable is equivalent to a classical long syllable.

Eager to try my hand at this contest, here is my submission on love (in iambic pentameter, and 14 lines in length):

If only love could always be just so
That when you listened to my yam’ring heart
With all its boring tales of sad, sad woe
And still could look into my soul with like,
Then I’d consider you my great hero.

But since you won’t share my small thoughts with glee
But do indeed share our bed with dog Jo,
How could I not appreciate you when
Although the animal listens just so
Much more, while you, my dear, don’t give a whit,
And on wintry morns when the cold winds blow,
You mostly disregard my rambling thoughts;

Yet you fetch me coffee at temp zero.
So all in all, you ARE my great hero.
----by nancy mccarroll

To look at all the guidelines for this contest, here is a link to PHC: Guidelines

Good luck to contestants!