Live With Gusto

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Photo Credit: Thanks 🙌
and a great big shoutout to Chilli Charlie

This particular writing challenge was to write a poem that stretches my comfort zone with line breaks. Well, this poem stretched my comfort level with many things.

At first I thought perhaps I’d write a poem with very long lines, or maybe one with very short lines. Or a poem that blends the two? Who knows what that might look like? I vacillated between all of these ideas.

Maybe breaking apart lines to emphasize (or de-emphasize) sounds or rhymes, or creating a moment of hesitation in the middle of a thought might be the way to go.

My method was to read several different poems, and then I began to write. Every poem and its process brings out some different part of myself. Even the story poems that are outside of my personal experience have a piece of me woven into them.

Before posting this poem, I was reading the story of a sweet friend who has deconstructed and reconstructed the faith and religion of her youth. I could totally connect with all that she shared.

For each one of us the process is different, but I hope for each one of you that you love and live near the edge of the world with gusto.

Dry Bones

She loved

near the edge of the world
with gusto
if not lunacy.
she chose unity
with herself.

She lost her vision
from living in the darkness—
the rose colored glasses
foggy from flashes
of light.

A ray of hope
in no man’s land
she teetered on the edge
of the cliff. The sedge
a sign

of her dry bones.
the moon rose
unbidden,
nearly hidden
by love.

She loved
wild and reckless—
in the light
no danger of flight—
I think.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Life In The Middle

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Thanks to Damian Patkowski @damianpatkowski for making this photo available freely on Unsplash 🎁 https://unsplash.com/photos/T-LfvX-7IVg

Watching the first episode of the Netflix Original “High on the Hog”, listening to the news stories of the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and reflecting on the documentary of the Holocaust in Hungary, my heart became weighted down.

The grief was real. And heavy.

But I know the importance of wading through the ugly parts of history. We must know where we’ve went been to know where we are going.

We remember the past, so that we don’t make the same mistakes again.

Life In The Middle

A story has no beginning
and it has no end, which leaves me
living somewhere in the middle.
Though I’m not one who came before,

I’ve no breath without the exhale
of my ancestors. I come home
to the place they left; I hold on
so that place is not forgotten.

We must know where we have been,
and where we are in order to
understand where we are going;
if we choose to ignore the past,

we ignore a part of ourselves.
Light shines in the dark, and sunshine
chases away the dim shadows,
but where do the memories hide?

Where does the past leave the present?
In the stillness of the night skies,
there lives the anguish in our blood—
fragments of a lost memory.

If we don’t valorize the past,
who will? I’m not the beginning
of the story, and I am not
the end. I sit here with you in

this moment, knowing who we are,
understanding our connection,
convening with our ancestry—
and choosing never to forget.

—by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Fair Chaps Beware

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Photo Credit: Carla Jeanne

Today’s challenge was to write a poem that reacts both to photography and to words in a language not your own. I had to begin with a photograph, and then find a poem in a language I didn’t know. My mission was to start translating the poem into English, with the idea that the poem was actually “about” my photograph.

I chose a poem in Irish (Gaelic) and used a photo I took at the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. First is the poem in its original language, and following is my “translation”.

Faoi Chabáistí is Ríonacha 
By Celia de Fréine

In ionad bláthanna a bhronnadh ar a bhean
agus é i mbun tochmhairc,
d’fhrasaigh Risteard
bronntanais ar a máthair. I dtosach
tháinig na málaí plaisteacha, ansin na saic,
iad lán le glasraí a d'fhás sé féin
a is a athair.
Leasaithe go nádúrtha. Uiscithe faoi scáth
hoíche i rith an triomaigh.
Turnapaí ar aon mhéid le do chloigeann.
Prátaí Rí Éadbhard as ar deineadh
na sceallóga ba shúmhaire. Cabáistí
sách leathan le ceathrairíní a cheilt.
Ní raibh bean Risteaird ag súil le ceathrairíní –
iníon a leanbh sise, í tugtha go mór
do fhrithbhualadh na glúine, ar nós a máthar.

**************

Fair Chaps Beware

Over eons the base
of the bastions
blossomed, ageless
and immune to time

like a resilient band
of brothers. I searched
those majestic rolling plains
atop the pounding sea,

and under my gaze
their angel hair
frolicked in the wind.
Let no man go adventuring,

unless he find the path;
for high and wide
the tumultuous treachery
hidden below the churning sea.

Yes, pounding against
and pounding beneath,
the salacious sea sings
her song. Come, she sings,

lay your head on my chest.
No radiant beams shine
more resiliently than I,
she croons; from here,

I lovingly rise to greet
the moon. So lest you frivolous
and foolish be, go no more
near the edge of the sea.

—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What your favorite place to visit?

The Daughter

Photo by Colin Watts on Unsplash

The prompt for today was to write a fourteener. Fourteeners can have any number of lines, but each line should have fourteen syllables. Traditionally, each line consists of seven iambic feet (i.e., an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable, times seven). The fourteener was popular in 16th and 17th century England, where it was particular common in ballads.

My brain was tired and fourteens didn’t come easily today. Actually, not much came easily today; so instead, I wrote my fourteener in two lines of 8 and 6, and then I strung them together and shaped them into quatrains. Since the lines also equal fourteen, I’m going to call this a win.

It’s not exactly the prompt, but I still had fun writing it. The visuals were taken from my memories of traveling to places that looked just like this one in the picture.

The Daughter

The full moon watched from western sky as stars began to fade, 
and ghosts rose from the water smooth and danced within the glade. 
The wispy trails of dancing tails hung low beneath the trees 
and disappeared into the sun who smiled with rapturous ease. 

The glass that looked like honey comb glowed rosy in the light, 
the dawn breathed a collective breath preparing to ignite. 
For past and present intertwined to weave their tapestry—
a strand of golden thread shone through glinting with majesty.

And hope was whispered on the breeze so boisterous the mirth, 
the favored queen now labored hard anticipating birth. 
Just as morning broke into day the princess graced the land. 
born to rule with joy and wisdom— compassion now at hand. 

And so the kingdom all rejoiced with grateful dignity;
peace settled deep within their bones: Welcome sweet Charity. 

-A Draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

May your day be filled with anticipation, joy, and sweet charity.

The Red Maple

Photo Credit: Photo by Gorrin Bel on Unsplash

After talking with my poetry buddy today, I was challenged to write a tanka. The tanka is described as the form of poetry that comprised the majority of Japanese poetry from the ninth to the nineteenth century. In fact, several sources list it as possibly the central genre in Japanese literature. According to one website, the tanka has “prototypes in communal song, in oral literature dating back to the seventh century, or earlier.”

A tanka is structured much like a haiku with each line containing a certain number of syllables. There is no rhyming and no end punctuation used in this form, however, it does make use of a “pivot” or “turning point” line. The third line is the pivot that divides the tanka into two different sections that are joined in the middle in order to tell the whole story.

The syllable breakdown for the five lines looks like this: 5 – 7 – 5 – 7 – 7

Lately I’ve really been pining for my red maple. It’s my favorite tree, and Monday it must come down. In full disclosure, this may not be my last Red-Maple-Inspired Poem. I will be pining the loss of it for years to come.

vast red towering
gnarled trunk with knotty whorls
a testimony
to holy righteous living
today we fell it

Short and bittersweet…

Mama‘s Big Day

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Today was my little mama’s 86th birthday. In the past we have celebrated Mother’s Day and her birthday all at one time. But this year, I felt like something different was in order.

So we had Mother’s Day dinner on Sunday, and today we picked up mama for cookout birthday dinner.

On the menu: 
BBQ cauliflower
Southern potato salad
Corn on the cob
Roasted Asparagus

An old fashioned menu for one sweet old gal.

But the real star of the show were the cookies we ordered from Kelsey—gorgeous AND delicious.

Happy Birthday, Mama!

Mama

Leaning on my momma
used to be comforting
as slipping into a good story
and hers were the best.

Like the time she took a train
across Czechoslovakia—
a wide eyed new bride
braving new worlds

shaking her fist at armed guards
who dared dump her suitcase;
changing a tire at 12,000 feet
even the Alps didn’t scare mama.

Now little mama leans on me—
her fragility a reckoning of age;
And so we measure this middle
in the luxury of not rushing

a season of priceless pause
washes over our time
and demands us to rest
in the beauty of now.


—a draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Sacred Circle of Trees

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Photo Credit: Mike Ross

The poetry writing prompt I found for today asked me to write a poem in which mysterious and magical things occur. Immediately my mind drifted to our trip to Ireland in 2018.

One of the best parts of our trip to Ireland was the driver we hired as a guide. Having been a guide for many years, Tim knew some of the most interesting, out of the ordinary places to see. He tapped in to the stories I had heard or read as a girl.

Faery Stories were always my favorite. I loved the stories of magical wee folk, whether cute or capricious, bringing joy or sorrow to those around them. When Tim told us we were close to a “faerie ring”, you can imagine my joy.

Our driver explained that the faerie ring is any free-standing circle of trees. He said that farmers will not cut down the trees even if they are in the middle of field.

Superstitions are strong in Ireland.

Sometimes you get a Wishing Trees inside of a faerie circle. A Wishing Tree is a hawthorn tree where people tie ribbons to ask blessings from the local saints (or from the wee folk). The story is told that if you go into these forests today and tie a string to the trunk of the tree in the center, you will be able to “hear beyond”.

We did visit a sacred circle of trees with a wishing tree in it, and I found it eerily peaceful. This poem pays homage to that visit.

The Circle of Trees

They called and I came,
the circle enfolding me
in silence.

Listen to the hum
of the ancient rhythm.
Listen to the rumble
of wisdom.

They called again and I heard,
like whispers floating down
from the trees.

Do you know
that churches
do not house God?

We are the keepers
of all things
wise and wonderful.

We are
the storehouse
for memory.

Did you hear that?
Did you hear the whisper?

But the only voice
I hear is my own
echoing back to me;

until there on the tree,

I see my string
flickering
on the breath
of the wind.

—A Draft by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

What would you wish on a hawthorne tree?

NaPoWriMo2021 Day 12

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Valens Flavius on a Roman Gold Coin

The prompt was called “Past and Future.” This prompt challenged me to write a poem using at least one word/concept/idea from each of two specialty dictionaries: Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.

I learned some interesting history and some lessons for the present day. Hopefully you will, too.

Time to Pay Attention

Valens should have heeded
the advice of the wise Mary Oliver:
He should have paid attention.

The Goths of old deserved
no lenity; they were as savage
and insidious as the Imperial army.

Marching behind a facade
of obsequiousness, they
bewildered and bewitched.

It was Valens who encouraged
them to make depredations
on the good people of Thrace—

to appease them in some way. So
perhaps he deserved what happened.
Alas, his eyes were opened—

too late. His men tried to hide him,
but Valens’ cave was found.
The Dirty Goths burned him alive.

The Force no longer covered
the likes of Valens; though fierce,
he was no longer impenetrable.

He should have listened
to wise Mary’s instructions
on living a life.

He should have paid attention.

-a draft poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan

Let me know what you think in the comments below. Share the love, write a poem, appreciate a good friend. Each moment is a new beginning.

Day #27.5

I had another photo calling for a poem yesterday, so I obliged the photo with this small poem. This small city, Csesky Krumlov, is nestled in the arms of a river and remains one of my favorite city-places on earth. From the moment you enter her gates, Csesky Krumlov begs you to listen to her stories.

stone stories

listen! lift your head, open your eyes, uncover the ears of your imagination!

the hooves of warrior horses gallop over cobble stone roads
creating security, stirring fear
with every clack clack clacking thunder.

oh, the stories the stones could tell!

of the treacheries of friends and the declarations of lovers whispered in secret places;
of the bravado(trueorfalse) and regales of battles fought and won;
of the newborn cries and the mourner laments mingled with sighs of joy and relief;
of the discordant songs of drunkards and the glorious melody of cathedral choirs vying for attention;
of sizzling meat in fireplace pits and beggars looking for a morsel.

imagine! imagine! imagine the stories of the stones!

the streets of the ancient city still resound with hoary myths of history and hooves of warrior horses clack clack clacking thunder.

throw back your head! toss away your measured imagination! and listen to the voices on the wind.

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