with thanks to Stacey Joy, who shared the monotetra form this morning on Ethical ELA’s Open Write: quatrains ending in monorhyme, lines of eight syllables.
On this dark morning, falling snow fills the spirit with candleglow the bliss-blessed silence, calling so: Hush. Take it slow. Hush. Take it slow. Claim the quiet for your healing be free as the hawk, a-wheeling your crystal-scoured heart revealing wounds are sealing, wounds are sealing.
For now, nature’s red tooth and claw newly blanketed, without flaw is still, peace-covered, filled with awe. Time to withdraw, time to withdraw.
with thanks to Kim Johnson, who recently reminded me of the word…
It really is a hug that you give yourself perhaps on darkest days in the dead of winter
when forecasts of snow and ice fill the news or maybe you already hear tiny frozen pellets striking the windows
but inside you have a little crackling fire jars of dancing candlelight wafting balsam and spice a bunch of fleecy blankets a few brand-new books and bookmarks and maybe soft new slippers (mine say “Sleeps with Dogs” with fancy scrollwork. They are blissfully snug)
maybe your Christmas tree is still up (like mine) or at least your strings of lights outside, sparkling in the bitter cold where the faint sound of windchimes drifts in from a distance
with your favorite brew brewing knowing you don’t have to be going anywhere or doing anything except savoring the now with a slothful-as-you-please slowness
go ahead now, give yourself a hygge.
Dennis the dachshund is a master at hygge (pronounced hue-gah).
Originating (or at least perfected) in Denmark, hygge is the act of intentionally creating an atmosphere of warmth, coziness, and well-being, however it works for you, regardless of whatever is raging beyond your own walls.
We are getting reports here that the ice may cometh soon. Dennis clearly has his hygge on. I am preparing for it…got my new books and and my slippers ready.
On the last Monday of October I drive to work in pre-dawn darkness as deep as midnight. Rounding bends on deserted backroads past unlit houses, gaping stubbled fields, hulking shapes of farm equipment, shadowed barns, patches of woods, when off in the distance, through silhouetted tree trunks—fire.
A bonfire. Tall flames, bright orange against the blackness, undulating skyward. Startling. So Halloween-esque. Hauntingly beautiful in its way except….I can’t tell what’s burning. Probably trash. The fire seems large for that, and before sunrise? I am too far away to see anything but the fire itself. I cannot see smoke or smell it. No screaming sirens. No alarms. Only silence, stillness…should I investigate to be sure? The road twists and turns, demanding my attention, and as I reach a tricky intersection where a few sets of headlights from opposite directions approach and pass, I realize: I’ve lost sight of the fire now. I am not sure of its location. Somewhere close by it’s burning, consuming, destroying, I hope nothing precious, nothing of value… and so I cross the intersection, praying it is controlled until extinguished.
On I drive in the darkness, shivering.
I think of anger.
Fire, anger. The contrast of being controlled, purifying, and righteous, or uncontrolled to the point of destroying, intentionally or not, what is precious, valued, and loved. Thinking of that fire throughout the day yesterday—there were no reports of damage—reminded me of a poem I wrote last week:
Why I Pray
In the absence of peace, I pray.
When my mind cannot fathom or even form questions, I pray.
When I am weary of injustice, of sifting truth and lies, when my inner well has run dry, I pray.
I pray for power beyond my own.
To overcome the red-hot dagger of fury, that I should not wield it, thereby scarring others and myself. To knit words of healing instead, one by one, like snowflakes falling to form a blanket of blessing, a holy hush.
Freeing myself by forgiving myself as well as others, feeling the weight drop away.
That quickening sense of awe, for even if I cannot call fire from Heaven (thankfully), I can move mountains of ice in my own heart.
Because, as long as I live, I will battle need, loss, and fear, trusting that love conquers all —its beating wings in my heart, forever my reason to pray again.
with thanks to Andy Schoenborn for the “Embrace your why” prompt and the mentor poem written by a student, shared on Ethical ELA’s Open Write last week.
and to Two Writing Teachers for the weekly Slice of Life Story Writing Challenge, always encouraging “a world of reflective writers”—so needed.
National Poetry Month has ended, and I miss it. While I may not be posting every day for a while, I continue to write.
The last prompt on Ethical ELA’s #VerseLove was on fear. Articulating it, facing it…perhaps conquering it.
This got me thinking how facing a thing for what it really is = the first step in conquering. There’s a lot of extreme anxiety in the world today. A lot of hatred. Sometimes we just don’t see things for what they are…including our own thoughts.
And so this poem was born.
Courage, peace, and wellness to you, Friends.Whatever it is…you can overcome.
My Fear Haiku
I once read a book where people’s eyes turned inward. They died from seeing
what’s inside their minds. I trembled to take a look at what lurks in mine.
Now I remember what Granddaddy once told me regarding black snakes:
don’t ever kill them. See, black snakes eat rats and mice; they’re good. We need them.
I think fear’s like that snaking along, with purpose something quite useful
so I never try to kill it. Let it consume the uglier parts
of my thoughts, and go its way leaving me with a clean peace and a better mind
so that all I fear, in the end, is forgetting memories of love.
Path of peace. The view after turning off the highway to visit my grandparents. The house is my grandmother’s homeplace, where she and her eight siblings were born in the early 1900s. Just ahead, around the bend on the left, stood my grandparents’ home where my dad and his sisters grew up in the 1940s-50s, and where I spent many childhood summers.
with thanks to Karen Workun who invited a quick write today for #verselove at Ethical ELA. The idea is to brainstorm “secret areas of expertise,” choosing one to spin into a poem.
This is dedicated to Dennis. Again.
For Day Twenty-Seven of National Poetry Month
Lapland they say is an icy enchanted region where the northern lights color-play in the sky and where the only official Santa actually lives but here in my house I am Lapland to a ten-pound cream-coated chocolate-nosed dachshund who will NOT stop hopping by my chair until he successfully springs into my lap or until I scoop him up whichever comes first and where he settles in to snooze with blissful rhythmic surprisingly loud dog-snores for as long as I’ll let him which is usually until my leg goes completely numb from his tiny deadweight yet still I sit absorbing his mighty warmth like a recharging of life for the day and should I have to get up and walk to get the blood flowing again in my poor numb leg he trails me with glistening brown doe-eyes beseeching the reappearance of his cozy enchanted Lapland for the sweet dreaming of his little dog dreams
with thanks to Brooke, Bailey and Ryan at #verselove on Ethical ELA yesterday. They challenged poets to create duality poems: “Alternative italics is where a poem is written with two meanings. The first meaning is the poem as a whole, and the second meaning is given to it through the italics. Most commonly, the two themes are fundamentally (or, at least, seemingly) opposed. Take two opposed ideas or concepts and make one the base. The other idea will be repeated throughout the poem and written in italics.”
Here is my take on the dual nature of the human heart…
For Day Twenty-One of National Poetry Month
What the Human Heart Craves
Peace sweet peace drifting earthward as prayers float heavenward
Peace enveloping souls like winter coats pulled from a magic wardrobe thwarting winter’s chill
Peace seeping inward warms the heart dwarfing all fear
Peace is hardly for cowards. It is its own reward.
A little plane, sailing serenely past the clouds, fuselage glowing gold in the waning sunlight.
My first thought: I can’t hear it. And it can’t hear me.
Then: How peacefulit must be to transcend Earth’s noise and strife...
Reminds me of a favorite poem:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings; Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there, I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung My eager craft through footless halls of air….
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace. Where never lark, or even eagle flew — And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod The high untrespassed sanctity of space, – Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr., Pilot Officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force, wrote the verse in the summer of 1941. He would die in a plane collision four months later. He was nineteen.
High in the sunlit silence…with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod/The high untrespassed sanctity of space… that is exactly the sense I get while watching this little aircraft. A taste of sun-split cloud, a breath of whipping wind in the delirious blue, the holy hush…
But the plane vanishes, almost like a mirage. I am left standing here on the ground.
My son and I walk on, although we feel a little lighter for having seen it.
The poem High Flight has been memorized through the years by cadets at the United States Air Force Academy; its lines adorn many headstones at Arlington. In my house it graces a plaque beside my father’s photo. Daddy joined the USAF at nineteen. Although he wasn’t a pilot or career serviceman, he always loved planes and is buried in a veterans cemetery by a military base where the jets go screaming over every day.
He chose the spot for this reason.
Tomorrow is Veterans Day; I am grateful for those who serve my country.
I can’t help noting that there is nothing new under the sun: this observance first began with Armistice Day in 1918…in the throes of a pandemic.
And that healing begins with ceasefire, whether with weapons or words.
High in the sunlit silence…with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod/The high untrespassed sanctity of space… even if that space is within my own mind, a sanctuary without parameters, where my spirit is free to keep reaching far beyond Earth, believing.
From the pen—um, keyboard, rather—of a favorite guest paw-thor who has his own category here on Lit Bits and Pieces…
Dear, Dear Readers,
It has been far too long since we last communed.
So much has changed.
Where to begin?
Nearly one year ago, my Him ushered Me to a new home with new—how shall I say it?— Beings. A new Her. And a little Her. And two dogs, imagine.
Predictions were made. It was said by Some that I wouldn’t be happy. That I wouldn’t adapt. That I might lash out, because, Some stated, it is the nature of My kind, for We cannot be trusted…
That is where Some make the fatal error, see.
They commit assumicide.
They do not walk in My paws. They do not see with My eyes, do not feel the rhythms of My heart.
Sure, I am—I confess—a bit of a worrier who needs a dab of reassurance here and there.
—Okay, okay, My Him says “constant” reassurance, but.
I have reached a place of peace. A higher state of being.
—Right? I know you’re asking how that’s even possible, with My obvious preexisting highness! But it is true.
This, Dear, Dear Readers, is My secret.
It isn’t found in chasing rabbits. Trust Me, there are too many to catch. More will come to taunt you tomorrow. Not worth it…
It isn’t in staying in the same comfortable place ad infinitum, but in trusting, even when it leads you to somewhere very different.
It is always, always in People, even a small One who moves quite erratically and unnervingly yet drapes Herself around Your neck whilst murmuring “I love you” (I think of Her as my living necklace. My medal of honor. I wear Her with pride. Even as I tolerate Her plunking on a ukulele in excruciating proximity. Whatever happened to lyres, I ask You—?).
It is in learning to tolerate—nay, make friends with!—creatures that breathe the same air and share the same space… it is easier than Some might think. In fact, when all the Two-Leggers are out, those dogs and I have free rein (I prefer ‘reign’) over the dwelling. My old crate, My old safe place, has been disassembled. I need it no more, for now I am never alone, and accordingly feel no need to be “destructive” (although I occasionally recall the flavor of a good book cover with much fondness. Alas.).
Above all, this higher state is achieved in spending every possible moment with The One You Love Best (in My case, Him) which I have done more than ever since last spring, these moments, these days, the joy of My existence.
I wish it to last forever and ever, Amen.
But for now I will simply bask in it for as long as I can, togetherness.
So, from My perch here on the new couch I’ve claimed as My own personal seat of dominion, right beside Him’s desk where He works, I leave you, Dear, Dear Readers, with My perfect picture of peace.
May such be upon you and yours as well.
(Henry Rollins Haley)
To sleep, perchance to dream… of more love to give on waking. Noble beast, Pit sublime, in his state of bliss.
Many thanks to Two Writing Teachers for the Tuesday Slice of Life Story Challenge honoring writers, writing, perspective, and voice.
I’m a relative newcomer to Poetry Friday. First let me thank Irene Latham for hosting today’s Roundup and Carol Varsalona for extending the invitation on social media to come and honor author Nikki Grimes.
Carol created a lovely rose-adorned Buncee card which reads: “Nikki Grimes—Do more of what makes your soul shine, because you inspire others to write.”
Those words, soul shine, beckoned me to ask … what makes one’s soul shine?
Nikki’s soul certainly shines through her poetry as well as through her faith and her literary contribution to children. I’ve read that her favorite color is purple and it got me thinking that our souls shine with all that we love, all that is most precious to us. I still consider myself mostly a storyteller with poetic leanings, but I thought I’d try capturing this idea of “soul shine” by exploring what our favorite colors might represent in a form that Nikki uses, tanka:
Your soul shines purple with creative energy imparting faith, calm, stability and passion for people, stories, and words.
My soul shines rose-gold, a fusion of alloyed strength: Copper for healing in gold of faith, hope, and love for people, stories, and words.
I often think about writing as a means of healing. Today I contemplate writing poetry as a striving to grasp what is just beyond our reach—whether the parameters and inner workings of nature, the universe, or own souls. Sometimes it comes as an anguished cry, other times quiet awe or wonder, a celebratory outpouring of joy, always an embrace of the nearly-inexpressible, real and ethereal, images of life and the living of it. What does the soul crave most? Beauty? Truth? Understanding? Freedom? Peace? It may change as we change.
Whatever the answer … poetry beckons the soul to shine.
Peace is the lofty landing place Of our souls’ storm-torn flight. Exhausted, expended Transcending Rising still to shine— Your soul and mine.
Thank you, all Poetry Friday Friends, for being the wellspring of inspiration that you are.