The Shape of Ideas
Every morning I wake up
stretch my still tired bones
hoping for middle-age creaks
to have magically disappeared
Overnight I dream of sun—
basking my skin in the warmth
twirling in my swivel chair
trying to guess every time
I pass the sun and feel her rays—
my flowers blooming, my grass
greening beneath her glow
and then I wake up to mud
Everywhere the thick black muck
stuck to everything, even
my swivel rocker needed
to be put away and covered
Up to my ankles the mud
rises and enters my soul;
I wonder if, like the lotus,
I will ever emerge to life
From under the mud I begin
to rise and grow; soon I am
wading at the edge of beauty
not thinking about the hard
Hard work has followed me here,
but it’s the mud in my bones
that fortifies, birthing beauty
and wonder from endless rain.
—Carla Picklo Jordan
as the sun dips
low in the horizon
a calm settles.
while the fire crackles
breaks into the night.
If I am brave
and open my widening
eyes to see
into the falling
darkness, I can
I can dream
I can feel hope
that speaks truth
but lives dreams.
as the fireflies dance,
if you know how
to listen for the whispers
you can tell yourself
who you want
—Carla Picklo Jordan
Two Tanaga for June 2021
June left me feeling beige-dead
One raining gloomy-bleak thread
Mud with ankle deep tire tread
Give me lucent day instead
Anthracite grey wild-storming
Humid sauna air warming
Buzzing mosquitos swarming
Climate change life transforming
-draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
The Tanaga is a type of Filipino poem consisting of four lines with seven syllables in each line. Traditionally, each line ends with the same rhyme; however, sometimes this will be varied.
A Tanaga looks like this:
7-7-7-7 Syllabic verse with an AAAA (traditional), AABB, ABAB, or AAAB (modern) rhyme scheme.
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?
I’ve been taking some time to regroup after a grueling year and a half-is of teaching. I didn’t think relaxing would be as hard as it has been. I don’t think I realized just how taxing a year of virtual work and life was until I started to slow down.
Given that Trace needed her spinal fusion immediately, her recovery has been our primary concern this summer. We had already booked plans to head down south and camp in Laurel, Mississippi, navigating our way down to Folly Beach and maybe even New Orleans, but we had to cancel all those plans to concentrate on things closer to home.
We found out in the early spring that our beautiful big red maple was causing foundation damage to our home, so out it had to come. This meant tearing up our beautiful wood deck out back. But we had to do what we had to do, so I decided if the deck was getting ripped out anyway that we would replace it with concrete. We would enjoy our summer vacation from the luxury of our own new patio. Win-win!
With the hope that all construction work would be done by the beginning of June, we ripped out the deck and threw tarps down so the dogs could still use the backyard. Well, those of you near us know the massive amounts of torrential rain coupled with brutal heat we have had this summer. Now the back yard is one muddy lake and the dogs have to be walked on leash out in the front in order for them to take care of their business.
And the construction work has yet to begin.
Except now we have an excavator taller than our house in the backyard and the contractor is heading off to vacation next week.
My poem today is in honor of the tiny gold finch bathing in the mud lake that is now our backyard, the late great Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and staycations.
Heatwave Summer came on steamy winds of spring the torrid heat belied the month of June; summer storms raged like May shower bombs of heat detonating in waves. All that remained come muggy morning was the mucky mess of mud called garden and one tiny goldfinch preening in a puddle making me wish I had been born a bird instead. --Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
Lately I have been reading through the Poetry Foundation website like a novel. Sometimes I search a theme, sometimes I just read through the site recommendations.
By doing this, I have discovered some amazing poets who were previously unknown to me, and I have also discovered some interesting forms of rhyme and meter.
I experimented today with a rather unusual rhyme scheme in an eight line stanza. It’s been so refreshing to take time each day and write. I’ll tell you, it does something good for my soul.
Never stop dreaming big dreams, friends—it’s the only way you’ll ever attain them.
On small boats, through the long canals, they came
settling in the lowlands, digging ditches
building dykes and drains, trying hard to tame
the water running uphill. They resolved
to change their thinking; new habits evolved
and soon sleek dwellings began to appear
great in hope and greater in scope than fear
until the gleaming wheat claimed their riches.
Tell me why it is that hordes of locust
love to swarm in the warm, wet month of May.
Sudden rain like the mind keenly focused,
calls and corrals a throng of living things.
And so folks lived like paupers on shoe strings
eating barley grass and growing green beans
while listening to the constant humming
of water flowing and tymbal thrumming.
None too soon, the greedy beasts flew away.
And then more dreamers came, some in sleek boats
skimming through the canals, seeking reprieve
from the mundane and stale in hull-less oats;
some carting a lifetime of hopes and dreams
in broken barges with leaking seams.
But come they did with courageous fervor,
to be farmer, builder, and observer—
full of faith, hope, and the power to believe.
—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
Ok so… my dearest Tracy Jo told me that my writing has been rather dark lately. It’s entirely possible. I write to lay the darkness down in the light, and once the light hits it, it’s no longer darkness.
I dunno, though.
Maybe she’s right about too much, even if I do consider it a good thing.
Maybe I just need some magic in my ordinary days. A little “boost” in the form of a beverage. A little boost in the form of being with friends and family. Don’t we all need that kind of boosting after the crazy year we’ve had?
I’m hoping to have a summer filled with little boosts from family and friends. Maybe I’ll even follow some of the recipes in this poem to boost the magic the extra mile.
Magic in the Ordinary
Two ripe strawberries on the vine
one sugar cube
Three frothy fronds of dill
one fresh cucumber
a splash of gin
One yellow pineapple
a squeeze of orange
Red bell peppers
a handful of cilantro
Don Julio Blanco Tequila
a bit of ginger beer
one squeeze of lime
A few drops of Angostura bitters
rich ruby port
a dash of orange curaçao
A wee bit of superfine sugar
two ounces of cachaca
freshly squeezed lime juice
Dark black coffee
a tip of Teeling Whiskey
fresh whipping cream
—Carla Picklo Jordan
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.
—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
The world is beginning to dream again and so are we. I see strength returning to Tracy’s spirit, and it does my heart good. She was able to use her walker to walk to the sink, sit down and wash up her face and arms in the sink today. A milestone!
She said it felt so good. She changed into a personal nightgown and felt like a whole new person.
We are hoping to get her into in patient rehab on Monday but it is pending insurance approval. You know how it is…
It is not good enough that doctors, nurses, and Physical and Occupational therapists recommend it. No, the insurance company, not her personal medical team, must approve it first. Please pray with us she can go.
On another note, my dear friend Annelea has launched her website. Trust me, you want to click that hyperlink and check it out; she is a gifted artist.
I am honored to continue a collaborative process Annelea and I began several years ago. I write—she paints.
This poem is the second in our most recent collaboration. I am writing poetry for the paintings on her website.
After this year of pandemic and quarantine and staying home, I am ready for dancing buttercups on a far away shoreline. I hope you are swept away with joy and hope and dreams of summer.
in a field
by the Cape
where salty air
near the rocks
bear the joy
of living again
in this glorious
—a draft of Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
A Saturday offering—a bit of a reflective piece.
Grief Never Dies
I grieved the litter of kittens
who died beneath the mud floor
of the old red barn—
birthed in trying circumstances
with sunday school refrains
playing on the radio,
buried in the garden—
discordant mews silenced
by a rousing gospel chorus;
now the kitties are settled
into the terra firma—
and I am older and wiser—
and still grieving.
—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
May the winds of grief move you forward.