Today’s prompt was based on the aisling, a poetic form that developed in Ireland. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it.
Today’s challenge was to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which I live.
We shall see how this goes today. We shall see what form my dream-visitor takes.
Our Lady of the Garden
In the garden a tiny, perfect bird landed on my shoulder.
Jewel-toned and stunning, the bird morphed into a beautiful woman right before my eyes.
The trumpet vines flashing brilliant orange flowers shone in the sun like a halo around her head.
My angel with her flaming crown, and delicate hands, she felt born of spirit, born of dream.
Sing, she told me Sing of the Universe. Sing of the beauty of the earth.
In my dream-state I sing her song.
I see in her the land and sky; she connects me to water and earth. The waves roll in her laughter; the plants flourish under her hands.
From my heart I sing of us.
We become a tapestry, woven together— garden and bird, woman and earth.
When I wake, it is daylight. I look out my window and see a hummingbird— wings whirling without resting— sipping nectar from flaming goblets shaped like trumpet flowers.
The prompt for today was to write a poem . . . in the form of a poetry prompt. If that sounds silly, well, maybe it is! But it’s not without precedent.
The poet Mathias Svalina has been writing surrealist prompt-poems for quite a while, posting them to Instagram. You can find examples here, and here, and here.
And as always, you can read my spin on it below.
An Ode To Writing Prompts for Spring 2022
1. Come to the garden gate 2. And lie down in the patch of hydrangeas. 3. Write your name in the earth; 4. Remember how it belongs only to you. 5. Count the plants and name the blossoms; 6. Write their names in the sky like clouds. 7. Choose the most brilliant blue to mark this sacred place 8. and choose to remember (do not be fooled: this is the hardest part)— 9. Choose to remember where you alone have been.
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.
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.
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 bubbling champagne one sugar cube Santé!
Three frothy fronds of dill one fresh cucumber a splash of gin Skål!
One yellow pineapple amber rum a squeeze of orange Salud!
Red bell peppers a handful of cilantro Don Julio Blanco Tequila ¡Al centro!
Valentine vodka a bit of ginger beer one squeeze of lime Prost!
A few drops of Angostura bitters rich ruby port a dash of orange curaçao Saluti!
A wee bit of superfine sugar two ounces of cachaca freshly squeezed lime juice Saúde!
Dark black coffee a tip of Teeling Whiskey fresh whipping cream Sláinte!