Today’s prompt was one gleaned from the poet Betsy Sholl. This prompt asked me to write a poem in which I first recall someone I used to know closely but are no longer in touch with, then a job I used to have but no longer do, and then a piece of art that I saw once and that has stuck with you over time. Finally, I was to close the poem with an unanswerable question.
Happy writing to me! Happy reading to you!
When the sun is laid to sleep, Darkness drips in desperation The universe shifts and suddenly I become your enemy.
Wordless and wry, my will resolves into Nothing that will matter. But why then does hunger remain? Hunger is hereditary—
I read that once in a poem, At least I think I did. I can’t Seem to separate the silk sails from the flagpole standing still
But my strong knees and stiff back Can carry the weight of my will So all is well. Or is it? When the inky black beckons me
To lie down among the lilies, I resist. I draw all that is good, but the leaves still fall. Tell me why do the leaves insist on falling?
Today the challenge was to write a poem about a mythical person or creature doing something unusual – or at least something that seems unusual in relation to that person/creature.
I tell you the truth, this one threw me. So I turned to my friend Jennifer Kautz, an expert in mythology. She suggested I do a dragon who serves food instead of fear, so all the credit goes to Jen for that brilliant idea.
I used a six line poetry form with an ABABCC rhyme scheme and a meter of 10, 10, 10, 10, 14 and 10. Not sure if it works in the epic way I thought it might before I started, but I wrote, which is always the most important thing for me this month.
The Horse and The Dragon
The horse met up with the dragon one day To discuss her plans for a coffee shop; With a great aplomb (and a rare Beaujolais) Horse methodically let her vision drop. Thus began the legend of their fine collaboration Cloaked in love and honest admiration.
The dragon shifted shapes from salty beast To honest hard-working entrepreneur; Slowly the vision saw steady increase as a conifer cone became a fir— dragon opened up and learned to serve food instead of fear, and shared with horse a miraculous year.
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.
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.
Swarming dragonflies, honking geese heading south— they left me wondering how the summer waned into fall without word or warning. All I did was blink.
The hardest thing about vacation is the preparation. We are trying desperately to get away for our first family trip since last August. That middle of pandemic trip where a fluke fire consumed our truck, camper, and Evan’s bike in a single night.
We were awakened from a deep sleep to a neighbor banging frantically on the doors, walls, and windows of our camper. When we opened the door, the wall of orange flames threw us backward with their heat.
“Get out! Get out! The gas tank might blow!”
Those terrifying words shocked us in to action. We had to wake Ev and get the dogs, before running as far away as we could from the camper.
The whole experience left us shell shocked and bereft of vehicle and camper.
So you can imagine how the memory of that night one year ago drags on us as we pack to leave on our first camping trip since the fire.
I decided to use the triolet with its tight repetitive structure to speak the words we are all feeling.
The list growing by the minute works us hard so we don’t forget; we try harder just to win it. The list growing by the minute has us seeking virtue in it to make sure we do not regret. The list growing by the minute works us hard so we don’t forget.
—Carla Jeanne Jordan
A triolet is a poem of eight lines, typically of eight syllables each, rhyming abaaabab and so structured that the first line recurs as the fourth and seventh and the second as the eighth.
Sounds like some weird crazy poetry torture device, doesn’t it?
Well, I finished off my coffee and found this helpful cheat chart.
Triolet Lines: 1. A 2. B 3. a Rhymes with 1st line. 4. A identical to 1st line. 5. a Rhymes with 1st line. 6. b Rhymes with 2nd line. 7. A Identical to 1st line. 8. B Identical to 2nd line.
People like me belong to the rain— soaking in joy breathing out sorrow, tending to the dark roots and pain— a slow broadening of mossy green spreading wide after the summer storm.
I stay alive in muddy waters when the verdant swaddle of meadow is drowned in brown. It’s there I sought her to teach me the wisdom of the rain and to not be afraid of the dark.
It is with her I learned where I belong and how to navigate in a world reeking with sunshine and sappy song. Bring on the rain, for how else do I stay alive when dusk darkens the light?
—By Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
I read a story this morning about the death of a lovely young Australian woman who was a farmer, ecologist, and inspiration to many on her TikTok.
Her family didn’t give details about her death, but her father said “every day should be ‘R U OK? Day,” a reference to an Australian holiday when people are encouraged to have conversations about mental health and suicide prevention with one another.
I absolutely agree.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are Ok. Don’t be afraid to push a little to encourage them to reach out to a professional.
There is no shame in needing help. Or asking someone if they need help.
It’s ok to not be ok.
How else can we stay alive when the rain comes and dusk darkens the light?
There’s this girl, you see, born on the Fourth of July. She erupted on the scene at a military base and grew to love all things military precision-like—minimalistic living and spartan saving with exacting expectations of herself—yet exploding with all the vibrant color of a rainbow. She’s an out of the box thinker—MacGyver’s met his match in her.
This girl, you see, is a firecracker, whip smart, and loud about things that matter like injustice, inequality, and freedom for all. She’s the yang to my yin, the bang for my buck, my soul sister, twin flame, and best friend. Happy Birthday, Tracy Jo! 🥰🎉🎊 💥
4th of July
It is hard to say when or where Although why is not quite as hard (synchronous orbits)to declare that mysterious tidal heat where in wonder science we meet. Life whisks away what’s not needed, brings the ebb and flow, completed we move while the stars stand their guard.
The poetry challenge I place before you today this: I’d love for you to try writing a lune.
A lune is a sort of English-language haiku. While the haiku is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count, the lune has two different options.
The first option for a lune is a three-line poem with a 5-3-5 syllable count. The second variant is based on word-count instead of syllable count. This means the poem still has three lines, but the first line has five words, the second line has three words, and the third line has five words again.
I chose this latter form to write my poem. Today I give you a Septet of Lunes. Try your hand at it and share it in the comments. I look forward to reading your take on the lune.
dinner on the deck
the cardinals always come-- strutting red coats, snapping seeds in a single crunch.
the dark eyed junco hops tentatively to feed, nervously glancing side to side
the chickadees flit over lightly with great decorum landing lightly on the feeder.
sparrows hide in the bushes waiting their turn, hanging out in patient packs.
the house finch dines together with the others-- sparrows, chickadee, cardinal and junco.
when the blue jay plows in to feed, the sea of birds part;
but the noisy starlings arrival clears everyone out-- iridescent bullies chasing away friends.
Well, life has certainly been full of surprises these past two weeks.
Lizi had a successful appendectomy late last night and was still hospitalized until this evening because she had trapped gas in her abdomen.
So at this point, it’s still a waiting game—for healing, for recovery, and for a semblance of normalcy to return.
The biggest stakeholder in this waiting game is sweet Little E. He is adjusting marvelously to life at Nana’s—learning how life works in our rehab center. I had to mud wrestle him to convince him that a nap is really what he wanted, but Nana won out in the end.
I always do, kid. You might as well get used to it.
Life is always ha-rd. There is no such thing as “harder”. We all struggle, we all deal with hard, and it’s ok to not be ok.
Little by little my sweet little mama bear is healing. Her little darling missed her terribly, but he accepted us as a (poor) substitute.
Now they are finally reunited and the look on his face when he saw his mama was priceless! The two are happily recovering with Uncle E helping out wherever needed.
Trace is overcoming obstacle after obstacle in this recovery. I am amazed at how far she’s progressed since Day One when she was struggling with simply getting on top of pain management.
All of us.
It’s ok to not be ok. (https://youtu.be/RH6G_fWfBPs ) You can sit in that hard place, in that pain (physical or emotional), and you can move through it, survive, and even thrive on the other side of it.
Venus danced and dazzled, leading the way for sister stars to join in the chorus.
As mosquitoes buzzed by, we toasted to the sultry night and the twinkling heavens.