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
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?
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.
—Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
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
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
Two things happened today. First , I think I came across one too many platitudes on social media. I think I’ve grown tired of the same old being labeled as new. I’m just tired of it.
Second, we drove by a church on the way home from school today, and Evan made the unsolicited observation, “So many churches say things about how they ‘love people’, but they don’t really mean it, Mom. What they mean is that they love people who look like them.”
Painful truth out of the mouth of a 12 year old.
I think that this poem came out of my brain processing all these things. I used a long line poetry form—13 syllables in each line and an “aabb” rhyme scheme within each quatrain.
Wind In My Sails
I used to believe in the power of platitude
a well turned phrase spoken with just the right attitude—
a spirit of humility mixed with compassion,
a spark of light with the ability to cash in
despair for hope. But there came a time when I required
more than empty words and broken promises acquired
from someone else’s wisdom. I needed to live in
my own truth, and I needed to refuse to give in—
needed to refuse the bill of goods sold off as truth,
sold off as positive conformity to the youth.
So when I finally stood and shook off the shackles,
I found myself straight-backed, fearless, and without hackles.
Just to be clear, I do still believe in the power
of gratitude, the gift of grace, rest in each hour;
I believe in the unflappable human spirit,
the inner voice of God whether or not I hear it.
I have to live my life and to see things as they are
to walk my own road and fly low under the radar.
Platitudes should go the way of frogs and fairy tales—
when I release them, I feel the full tilt of my sails.
—by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
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,
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
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?
Today’s prompt was based on this poem by Claire Wahmanholm, which transforms the natural world into an unsettled dream-place. One way it does this is by asking questions – literally. The poem not only contains questions, but ends on a question.
The challenge was to write a poem that similarly resists closure by ending on a question, inviting the reader to continue the process of reading (and, in some ways, writing) the poem even after the poem ends.
The Osprey Today was the day, rising early to head to the water. Was that the grasses waving good morning as we drove by? Squinting against the sun shining, who did I hear whistling high-pitched and clear through the sky? What bright sparkling caught my eye? Whose nest was filled with littered bits — brilliant twig jewels in morning light? All at once I saw them coming fast and furious diving downward flight orienting with the wind, floating on air, streaking like lightning hunting by high dive, plucking fish like cherries from the fresh water. Head buried underwater, tucking talons back, gripping their wriggling prey on upward ascent. Tell me, what do you whisper to the wind? --A Draft Poem by Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
What is your favorite memory in nature?