Not-so Little Wonder
He came into the world
with ink stains on his fingers—
an artist with ancient visions,
reborn and reconnected—
a hero, a maker, a sage.
He sees the world
as a blank canvas
his pen and paper
the mode and medium
for his wisdom.
He seems to know the end
is different from the beginning—
is a journey of sky and earth,
of water and fire. His
fingers find the framework
for setting things right,
for sensing the needs,
for seeing peace to fruition.
Joy keeps him grounded;
compassion owns his soul.
Many have tried to claim him, but you cannot tame tenderness.
He does not dally
in the dimness of dusk
but delights in the dawn.
Sometimes I catch myself staring
at his ink stained fingers
and remembering the sugar sand
of Emerald Coast beaches,
the shape of shells carved
by the singular focus of the sea.
He pays attention to all of it—
the dazzle of daffodil,
the modulation of melody,
the whisper of willows in wind.
What right have I
to lay claim
on any part of his spirit?
What right have I
to harness the wind?
Category Archives: all we need is love
NaPoWriMo 2023 Day 12
The prompt for today was from the archives of NaPoWriMo. They challenged me to write a poem that addresses itself or some aspect of its self (i.e., “Dear Poem,” or “what are my quatrains up to?”; “Couplet, come with me . . .”)
I have to agree with the prompt in this regard: It did seem a little “meta” at first, and even kind of cheesy. But it also helped me interrogate my own writing process.
I’d love to hear your poem. Why don’t you give writing poetry a try. This is the month to do it.
You fail me.
I come expecting,
holding my baited breath
for that shiver of…
shiver of chagrin?
shiver of shimmering shells? I…
Oh, forget it.
I feel forlorn
so very fragile.
Like fine china
fit for fancy
I need to fucking function.
Instead, I sit here in silence
a simmering-shimmering shell… a sliver of a simmering-shimmering shell
shocked at where she’s settled.
the sea salty on her lips,
burning the breath from her lungs.
give me some help here.
Grant me some clarity.
The Wordless Wonder
NaPoWriMo Day 10
I went against the grain today. The prompt was outside the realm of my time frame , so I simply wrote a poem without a prompt. Imagine that!
To keep writing is the key this month, so I am doing my part for poetry and my soul.
Thanks for hanging with me and reading my offerings as I move along through this journey.
strong hands calloused
not from plow or rake
(raking bow and string
with rhythmic pluck)
clear blue eyes
glinting with a twinkle
(guiding stars full
of the joy of life)
not from foraging forays
by bold baton)
the lump in my throat unhinges
as I eye the shimmering
of his sky moving like a river
through my children.
the same water twice,
the moments fit into my soul
(hand and eyes and arm),
dry stacked stone
snug and strong.
NaPoWriMo 2022 Day 30 Grief In Four Parts
The final prompt of NaPoWriMo was a challenge to write a cento. This is a poem that is made up of lines taken from other poems. If you’ve never heard of one before, join the club. I hadn’t either.
Here is an example from John Ashbery: “The Dong with the Luminous Nose,” and here it is again, fully annotated to show where every line originated. A cento might seem like a complex undertaking – and one that requires you to have umpteen poetry books at your fingertips for reference – but according to the folks at NaPoWriMo, I didn’t have to write a long one.
In spite of “tips” to help me “jump-start the process”, this was a considerable bigger undertaking than I originally thought.
Because my friend lost her daughter (and my Lizi’s best friend) on this date, I often write a poem dedicated to her on the last day of NaPoWriMo. This poem is in memory of Jacy Lynn Dettloff and in honor of my friends, Susan, Steve, and Mick Dettloff who lost their beloved daughter and sister 21 years ago today.
This year (in August) Jacy would have been 30 years old. I know this because she and my son Aaron were born just a few days apart.
The grief tears at my heart as well.
Grief In Four Parts 1. The River Grief is a river you wade in until you get to the other side. I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless. When grief comes to you as a purple gorilla then maybe—just maybe—the hours will carry you into June, when the roses blow. The air around you fills with butterflies. I do not know how to hold all the beauty and sorrow of my life. The morning air is all awash with angels, and are we supposed to believe she can suddenly talk angel? 2. The Desert Little petal of my heart, I didn’t know where I was going. I was always leaving, I was desolate and lone. 3. The Night If but I could have wrapped you in myself I would I might forget that I am I-- a smile of joy, since I was born. Things change on the morning of the birthday— the hope is in wakening to this your last dream. The shadows of you are around me; the evening shadow has sunk gleaming. So I can come walking into this big silence. 4. Hope A daughter is not a passing cloud, but permanent; she's light and also passage, the glory in my cortex. Dare the deliberately happy to butterfly the gnarled roots of life— Grief dies like joy; the tears upon my cheek— “Hope” is the thing with feathers. --A Cento poem by cjpjordan
Grief in Four Parts (Annotated) Grief is a river you wade in until you get to the other side. Barbara Crooker, “Grief” I tell you, hopeless grief is passionless Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Grief” When grief comes to you as a purple gorilla Matthew Dickman, “Grief” then maybe—just maybe—the hours will carry you into June, when the roses blow. Gottfried Benn, “Last Spring” The air around you fills with butterflies-- Katherine Garrison Chapin, “Butterflies” I do not know how to hold all the beauty and sorrow of my life. Cynthia Zarin, “Flowers” The morning air is all awash with angels Richard Wilbur, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World” and are we supposed to believe she can suddenly talk angel? Mary Sybist, “Girls Overheard While Assembling a Puzzle” Little petal of my heart! Hilda Conkllng, “A Little Girl's Songs” I didn’t know where I was going Robert Vandermolen, “Flowers” I was always leaving, I was Jean Nordhaus, “I Was Always Leaving” Desolate and lone Carl Sandburg, “Lost” If but I could have wrapped you in myself D.H. Lawrence, “Grief” I would I might forget that I am I-- George Santayana, “I would I might Forget that I am I” a smile of joy, since I was born. Emily Bronte, “I Am the Only Being Whose Doom” Things change on the morning of the birthday The hope is in wakening to this your last dream Theodore Holmes, “In Becoming of Age” The shadows of you are around me Kathryn Soniat, “Daughter” the evening shadow has sunk D.H. Lawrence, “Daughter Of the great Man” gleaming. So I can Jennifer Richter, “My Daughter Brings Home Bones” come walking into this big silence Josephine Miles, “Dream” A daughter is not a passing cloud, but permanent; James Lenfestey, “Daughter” she's light and also passage, the glory in my cortex. Carmen Gimenez Smith, “The Daughter” Dare the deliberately happy to butterfly the gnarled roots of life— Amy King, “Butterfly the Gnarled” Grief dies like joy; the tears upon my cheek— Henry Timrod, “Sonnet: Grief Dies” “Hope” is the thing with feathers. Emily Dickinson, ““Hope” is the thing with feathers”
NaPoWriMo 2022 Day 16
Whew! Today’s prompt was a doozy and just what I needed to recharge my brain.
Today we were challenged to write a curtal sonnet. A curtal sonnet is a variation on the classic 14-line sonnet. The curtal sonnet form was developed by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and he used it for what is probably his most famous poem, “Pied Beauty.”
A curtal sonnet has eleven lines, instead of the usual fourteen, and the last line is shorter than the ten that precede it. The rhyme scheme is 11 lines rhyming abcabc dcbdc or abcabc dbcdc with the last line a tail, or half a line.
There is some mathematical formula Hopkins used to precisely curtail the typical sonnet, but the real cog in the works is the sprung rhythm that breaks away from the traditional iambic pentameter of Shakespeare or Dr. Seuss.
To be completely honest, I have no idea at all what I am doing. I researched and read a number of examples, but each one was different from the other in some critical form/stylistic way.
So, I’m not sure if this is really a curtal sonnet or not, but it is my poem for the day. I chose to use 12 syllable lines and the abcabc dcbdc rhyme scheme.
Over all, under and through, the mystery lasts.
Look how I trust and hope even after I rolled
Down the hill with darkness closing in on all sides.
I realize now the truth of how light contrasts
With hope invisible and her friend harrow bold.
Oh the tragedy of how disaster divides!
Loneliness overstays; isolation befriends—
And I am left wondering how the earth provides
For everything missing or lost at the threshold.
Look with wonder at how simplicity amends
and instinct bravely guides.
NaPoWriMo 2022 Day 14
Today’s challenge was an interesting one. I was to write a poem that takes the form of the opening scene of a movie depicting my life.
This year the prompts have all been similar in some ways. There’s not much focus on form. Instead, the focus is just on using words to paint pictures. It’s been a challenge and has tightened my connection with words (or the lack thereof).
I don’t always know where the ideas come from. As I fall asleep, I prick my fingertips and they bleed onto the page. When I wake, the words have formed a poem.
When folks say things like “it’s all about the journey”, believe them. Every word is true.
Here is what I have learned halfway through this month. It is nothing new or even particularly profound, but it is the story of my journey: embrace the past (you can’t escape it), face the future (it’s coming so you might as well face it), and live in the now.
I turn off
and head south—
my hair back,
I can see.
full of lemons
With the heat
not all roads
lead back home.
in the trunk
with the lemons,
Today is my Little Wonder’s crossover birthday. The one where we enter into the teen years.
And here we are.
Little Wonder you continue to amaze and astound me with your keen emotional intelligence and quick wit.
I could only dream of being as brave and genuine as you are at your age. Please never change. You are perfect the way you are.
Time goes by
like whip cream on hot chocolate
melting one into another
until the blend is all that is
Left my soul at your doorstep
the moment I heard your heart
Beat a steady rhythm
your small quick pace
syncing into my slower one
And now I want it all to slow down
I want you to slow down
I want the years to
Not to stop all together
But to slow just long enough
to prolong the precious
Time we have left together.
I love you,
The Holiday Throwdown
The Holiday Throwdown
My heart is full to the brim
of baking with the ancestors,
of cooking with the children;
throwing down laughter
with chutney and roasted salsa.
Ice clinks in glasses as we
sip apple rum and dip
our fries in cashew cream.
A healthy dose of family
with boisterous boys
and bellies full of burgers.
Horseplay and memories
sautéed until golden sweet.
We are channeling the past—
hands guided by the greats
and hearts rooted in love.
Be the Voice of Change
Musings on the International Day of Peace and the first weeks of school:
Here I am teaching in-person for the first time in a year and a half. It seems funny to even use the words “in-person”; I mean, how else do you teach?
But now many of us understand words Ike virtual learning, zoom calls, and home office from firsthand experience. This past year and half we learned the value of hunkering down and staying home to “be safe” and the sheer joy of being able to gather together with friends and family. We found peace and made peace and offered peace where none was given.
We saw conflict, felt tension, and recoiled from verbal combat every time we opened a social media app.
But just like teaching, living in peace with one another is less about relaying information or our point of view and more about building relationships. It’s less about building fences and more about building bridges.
So with these thoughts in mind, I taught the students the song “With Just One Small Voice” this week, and we talked about what it means to use your voice together with others to speak out for or against something. I asked the students what things they would speak out about if given the chance.
A fifth grader said he would speak out against homelessness, another said they would raise awareness about hunger, a third grader said she would want to use her voice to encourage others to clean up the environment, and a second grader raised her hand and shared her heart for the plight of Haitian immigrants so passionately and articulately, I thought I had been transported to middle school.
These are the future peacemakers and bridge builders of our world. These are the thinkers and change makers.
And I get to work with them every day.
I will bind myself willingly to this kind of work–to peacemaking and restoration and love because I believe this is what will ultimately change the world. Respect, cooperation, listening with empathy, being willing to change your mind: these are the heart of hope for our future.
And so with this fullness of hope in my heart, I pray that peace finds its way to you wherever you are and in whatever you do.
We are what the world is becoming, so with one small but collective voice let’s sing so our voice is heard.
#bethechange #peacemakersunite #tryalittlekindnessinstead
Late Summer Evening
The backyard has been a minefield of mud for the entire spring and summer months. The contractor we hired the end of April has used very excuse you can imagine as to why the work wasn’t complete.
As a teacher, I have heard many an excuse in my day as to why work wasn’t finished, why books weren’t brought to class, and why one child needed to insult another child. Often I have reminded students to simply stand tall and own their truth, even if they think they might “get in trouble” for it.
In my own life I have found that honest self reflection leads to growth.
Unfortunately, this contractor wasn’t interested in self reflection or growth. He was a poor communicator and gave excuses instead of owning his truth. Nearly four months later, he finally poured our patio. All the roots still aren’t trimmed around the edges of the patio, and the attention to finish details simply aren’t anywhere to be seen there, but we have a poured patio.
For now this is enough.
After the concrete patio was set, we hired these young men (with better communication skills, respect, and follow through than the older contractor) to build the gazebo kit we bought. They communicated clearly the dates they were available (all within the week’s time) and showed up right on time. When they finished there wasn’t so much as a scrap of paper lying about the yard. The job was finished above and beyond our expectations.
The work ethic and follow through of these young men restored my hope in builders.
Tonight Trace, Ev, and I sat out on the patio with our dear friend Jen, listening to the thrum of cicadas and watching the dragonflies dance in the evening sky.
Peaceful rest is what Jen called it, and I quite agree.
In those moments, I rediscovered my muse; it was the magic of the late summer garden at sunset.
honking geese heading south—
they left me wondering how
the summer waned into fall
without word or warning.
All I did was blink.
—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan