No words Wednesday

I got no words this Wednesday because I spent all of Tuesday night working on some words to share Saturday. Which is really because I got all puffed up/jacked up on the idea of broadcasting my Voice last January, which is when it seemed like a really good idea to sign up for this:

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Now, from the vantage point of February, that’s not seeming like such a great idea. Especially because the piece I want to audition with is about twice as long to read as the time limit. Which I didn’t realize until tonight because:  procrastination (foil of perfectionists and those who are scared crapless).

I’ll let you know how it goes. I might be scared (and unprepared), but I’m not chicken.

Wednesday Words 2.10.16

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When You Are Old

William Butler Yeats

When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

I guess this is my idea of a love poem? What can I say–I like ’em on the sad side. I don’t know why, but this poem haunted me in my younger years. I found it again looking for some Valentine poetry. If you’re in the market for some, I suggest this page from Poetry Foundation. A great mix of work.

I found this particular poem in the article “Poems to Send the Person You’re Crushing On.”I had great fun looking for just the right image. You can find images with a creative commons license here. Many of them allow you to remix or adapt the images. I’ve always been interested in the juxtaposition of word and image–the reason for this little Wednesday series.

So tell me:  What are your favorite love poems?

Photo: “Couple Walking Away on a Dirt Road” by simpleinsomnia via Flickr with a creative commons license. http://bit.ly/20UIc7V

Wednesday Words 2.3.16

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When I love a man, I will climb on the back of his scooter on a balmy summer night wearing only a t-shirt and a thin cotton skirt.

There are things I won’t say:
Where are we going? Or, It might get cold, or, Maybe I should stay home and work.

Because he loves me, he will stop before the road turns up the mountain, rub a palm across my knee, and he will say, Are you OK?

What he means is, Are you warm enough? Are you sure you want to go further?

When I love a man, I will rest my hands loosely on the bones of his hips, hooking my thumbs through his belt loops. I will lean forward and tell him,
It’s going to be a beautiful evening.

He will know that what I mean is,
Let’s wring as much wonderful as we can out of the twilight of our lives.

*********

Last February, I began making a Valentine, which I talked about here and here. Because February 2015 was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad month, I didn’t finish it. When I came across it in July  or so, I tossed it. It hurt too much to think of finishing it. But I thought of it the other day and went looking for the poem fragment, which I knew was different from the last version recorded here. I think I will not try to revive this card for February 2016. I need something all new. But I wanted to get this version into my notebook.

Wednesday Words 1.27.16

"Libraries raised me."
 --Ray Bradbury

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Photos taken from the ground-floor lobby of the magnificent public library in Vancouver (WA).

Let’s talk about libraries. Do you have a favorite one? Do you have a good library story? A favorite quotation about libraries? What do libraries mean to you?

Wednesday Words 1.20.16: A creative recipe

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Take bits and pieces of one poem (“For You, Friend,”) from a favorite book:

Ted Kooser's Valentine

Add a favorite photo:

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And a stir with a set of thrift-store letter stamps:

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The photo is of my grandmother.  Of course, I never knew her when she looked like this–and yet, this image is as iconic to me as any I’ve seen of Bowie or Rickman in the past week. Something to remember, I think, as we collectively mourn:  That we are surrounded by those who stroll along on the outside of time. They don’t have to be famous for us to bask in their light.

Wednesday Words 1.13.16:

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I.
Most days seem little more than furious treading,
all arms and legs churning just to stay afloat,
but there are moments when I am able, briefly,
to stop kicking, kicking, kicking my way through.

Body still in an amniotic calm, eyes open
to the balm of sky and light, I recognize the sea
of these years as the place I have spent
my whole life swimming toward, from the time

I was little more than a seed tethered
by one gnarled root, and all I want is to float here
forever, feel the waters of these days with every inch
of skin, my spirit buoyed and rocked by them.

But now, as then, my head turns to the shadow
of the coming shore. As I measure the distance
between myself and that inevitable coast,
unable to deny the currents of time or the futility

of treading, the lilting waves rise into swells
of sweet pain, salt flooding the gates
of my eyes, breaching the barrier of my lips,
and my animal limbs begin their windmilling once again.

II.
We swim above boulders of loss,
our bodies sliding through
the mute shadows they cast.

I once thought we might move beyond
them, but I now suspect
they stretch to the opposite shore.

I remember a time
when this sea was a playground
and we frolicked with abandon.

Now it is an open plain we must cross;
vast fields of water
that mirror the sky’s infinite tides.

Too often we are caught
in separate currents, but still
we swim here together,

our children a tiny school of trailing fish.

III.
Sometimes I think my love
for them might drown me, my body
slowly sinking beneath the weight of it,
bulky as a box I cannot get my arms around.

Sometimes I imagine letting go of it,
setting it upon the roll of a wave
and watching it drift until it looks no
bigger than a ball, a bottle, a doll.

Sometimes I wish I were a mighty ship,
with a sharp bow that could slice neatly through
these waters that constantly surprise me,
my steel hull an impenetrable hold
in which to store it.

But sometimes I know
this love is not something I carry
but something I am, and I am more
the water I swim in than anything else,
more than flesh or blood or bone,
more than dream or memory or desire,
and my skin is more membrane than wall,
and the sea around me, within me, stretches
as far as I can see, and I can see
that it cannot be contained or diminished,
this body that holds me, holds me holding my burdens,
the precious cargo of my existence,
and I know that what holds me will not drown me.

******

This morning I was looking in a book for a poem I might share here today, and I found this one tucked into its pages. I wrote it years ago, when in the thick of mothering, but I’d forgotten all about it. I know there are other poems I’ve lost. Perhaps I’ll find them again. Perhaps not. I’m sharing it here because this is my notebook, and this is one I’d like to keep.

I’m feeling a bit full of thoughts about writing these days, and about what creative work I do and why. My windmilling is winding down; my babies turn 18 in weeks, and in months they will graduate from high school. When they were born, I had roughly 6, 752 days to spend raising them. Now I have fewer than 200. I cannot believe we are so close to the shore that was only a shadow when I wrote this poem. So many days now, it feels like all I can see. I wonder what will fill my days (mind, heart) when I finally land there.

Wednesday Words 12.16.15

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December 14, 1969

From “Snow-bound: A Winter Idyl” by John Greenleaf Whittier

What matter how the night behaved?
What matter how the north-wind raved?
Blow high, blow low, not all its snow
Could quench our hearth-fire’s ruddy glow.
O Time and Change!—with hair as gray
As was my sire’s that winter day,
How strange it seems, with so much gone
Of life and love, to still live on!
Ah, brother! only I and thou
Are left of all that circle now,—
The dear home faces whereupon
That fitful firelight paled and shone.
Henceforward, listen as we will,
The voices of that hearth are still;
Look where we may, the wide earth o’er,
Those lighted faces smile no more.
We tread the paths their feet have worn,
      We sit beneath their orchard trees,
      We hear, like them, the hum of bees
And rustle of the bladed corn;
We turn the pages that they read,
      Their written words we linger o’er,
But in the sun they cast no shade,
No voice is heard, no sign is made,
      No step is on the conscious floor!
Yet Love will dream, and Faith will trust,
(Since He who knows our need is just,)
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.
Alas for him who never sees
The stars shine through his cypress-trees!
Who, hopeless, lays his dead away,
Nor looks to see the breaking day
Across the mournful marbles play!
Who hath not learned, in hours of faith,
      The truth to flesh and sense unknown,
That Life is ever lord of Death,
      And Love can never lose its own!

Wednesday Words 11.25.15: Give thanks

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Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.

Trouble no one about his religion.

Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.

Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.

Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.

Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.

When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.

Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.

If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.

• Tecumseh, Shawnee •

I’ve borrowed these words from Seth Godin’s The Thanksgiving Reader. If you are celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow, I hope you have a good one.

Image via http://southof64.cdale.biz/the-shawnee-forest/tecumseh-chief-of-the-shawnee/

Wednesday Words 11.18: Storybird Play

Last week I went to a seminar on instructional technology, and for part of the session we were presented with a list of online tools and told to use 30 minutes to explore and have fun with one of them.

There were others on the list with far more practical application to my work than the one I chose, Storybird. I thought that there might be some way to connect it to what I do in my job, but within minutes I realized it wouldn’t provide much (if any) clear value to the work I do in schools. (If I were still a language arts teacher or worked much on curriculum with ELA teachers, yes. But I don’t.)

The directions, however, were to “have fun,” and I decided that that’s what I’d do.

I made poems by selecting a Storybird image, and then playing with a palette of words provided by the tool. It’s like having a big digital box of word magnets.

At first I chafed against the limitations; it was when I surrendered to them that I began having fun. Limitations always lead to new kinds of creativity we wouldn’t otherwise discover.

If you need permission to play with words, consider it granted. Go have some fun.