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Category Archives: Learning

Rowing This Boat

Written in response to a River Prompt at Red Wolf Poems.

The instructions are clear:
Row, row, row your boat
gently
down the stream.
Gently, gently
and Merrily—
Sing till you remember how to Row,
how to Change Course Midstream.
Though you’ve grown accustomed to drifting
and admiring the scenery, now you must
Take Hold of the Oars—
Oars dry from disuse, with their
paint crackled or chipped away.
Splinters fill your hands,
hands which grip too tightly.
Remember to breathe.
Remember what you know
of good seamanship:
Sometimes you cannot
Stop
Sometimes you cannot
put the whole thing in dry-dock
and wait for repairs.
Sometimes you are in the
Middle of the River.
Remember what you know.
Later, there may well be time
to sand these oars smooth,
paint them a bright, jaunty yellow.
But for now?
Loosen your Grip
Set your Course
Hold to your oars Firmly
but Gently
gently,
rowing towards merrily
till the end of this particular
Bend in the river.
till the end of this particular
part of the dream.

 

Market Place

“To be detached is to stand in the middle of the marketplace, with all its confusions and noise and to remain present to yourself and all that is.” Judith Lasater

I rush off to follow a delicious scent,
hurry to the vendor of dreams and silk,
linger by the dovekeeper’s stall,
listening to the murmurs of
sleepy doves in gilded cages.

Dozens of languages pass by,
bright as robes of every color tossed over shoulders.
The falafel man’s food is sizzling,
someone in the next aisle of the bazaar is playing music.
The stringed instrument’s notes, soft and low,
slip through the crowds,
below hems, over canopies, through every stall,
Music washing our busy faces.
And what with keeping an eye out for pickpockets,
haggling prices, juggling parcels and dreams and coin purse,
I forget to stand still,
immersed in everyone else’s hectic presence,
Present here in our market place.

How To Untangle

Stress
A tangle
a knot
that tightens
to hold a perfect
Center.
Breathe.
Do it again.
Oh, lift your eyes
Look at the sky
softly snowing
Look at the bare maple
stretching its branches
to gather the snow.
Loosen yourself
Let stress unfurl
its cramped limbs. Let it
become the deep green
leaves, the flower
it dreams of, deep in
the heart of the knot.

Mid-Winter Clearance

January is the month for tidying away,
For clearing the gilt
And boisterous glitter,
Sweeping the floors
Washing the windows
Sipping something warm from a mug
Steam rising to clear our heads
And let us see what remains
What is steady and present
Inside us
When the festive fades.

Watch It Glow

For the new year, this new wardrobe.
Remove all the old travel costumes:
Who I was
Who I thought I should be
Who you thought I should be
Who I feared becoming
Who I dreamed of being.

Done now with all the taking off, all the folding up
and giving away what no longer fits,
walk into the new year awake.
Carry only this woven basket of intentions—
To be gentle to others and myself,
lift my head from my tasks
and look around me as I travel,
rest when it is time to rest,
start a fire, small and steady,
and watch it glow.

Whispering, Rest

So often have I traveled
away
and back
to this room in my heart
where the candles are lit
the cat is sleeping
and from my window
I can watch the snow falling,
so soft and quiet
that I must listen hard
to hear its message.

Turquoise Thoughts

When the yoga teacher tells us
in her calmest voice, Picture
the space between thoughts,
I try. The space is white,
framed by the real show:
Those turquoise thoughts
edging both sides,
unfolding into lines that curl
round themselves like long tails,
patterns intricate and warm with
color, so distinct from the
white quiet between.

Armor For The Morning

It began as such an ordinary day—-
She woke herself reaching, as usual,
for the armor, but pulled her hand back
Empty,
her head and heart suddenly filled
with this Advice, this Certainty:
Pain will always find you,
despite the shield. The armor is heavy,
so cumbersome to carry that you
wake already weary at the prospect
of strapping on all that cold silver
before breakfast.
Today, instead, make oatmeal
and fill yourself with warmth
no protection at all, only comfort.

Ships Across The Sea

At the darkest turn of the year,
choose lightness. Choose to believe in
their capable hands, each steering
the ship of their own life—
sometimes, far off across the sea
sometimes, near enough to signal
sometimes, pausing at your side
where you can watch together
the moon, the whales
and schools of tiny, iridescent fish
darting beneath your hulls,
close enough for you and the one on the other ship
to marvel together —
How the neon fish catch the moonlight
and pull it deep into the sea
far below the waves, into the quiet
where we have never been before.

Peeling A Tangerine

I try to hurry the stubborn skin off
because there’s a poem I want
to write before I forget—

Every day, every minute,
there is so much to notice and
a poem is a tool, like a spoon,
made to scoop up a moment,
to slow and savor
to step outside
the rush of this world.

And I would, I would savor
if this stubborn peel
was off. Instead, it clings
and slows me down.

The Novel Bunch

aka: The Happy Bookers

The Sketchbook

MOSTLY MONTREAL, MOST OF THE TIME

Red Wolf Prompts

I came to where you were living, up a stair. There was no one there.--John Ashberry, "The New Higher"

typewriter rodeo

custom poems on vintage typewriters

A Poet in Time

One Poet's Writing Practice

Writing the Day

A Ronka Poetry Practice Since 2014

Invisible Horse

Living in the moment

leaf and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry