Saturday, July 15, 2017

When trouble comes

Listening to a story
of muffled drums
while the cedars
collect little birds
I wait for friction’s spark.

Abandoned in winter when
every night is a blues song
I tried to scream but
the moon puts her hand
over my mouth.

I know that when
trouble comes
that I can find solace
in the engineering
of cobwebs
that empty bullets
no longer know
how to kill
that when spring comes
with songbirds and
I can see the stars
I will accept
just a pinch of
the world again.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Rattle Poetry Prize

This morning I entered four poems in the Rattle Poetry Prize contest. The contest costs $20.00, but it gives me a year subscription to the Timothy Green’s fantastic literary journal. So basically, the contest is free, if you look at it that way. I’ve sent a few items to Rattle, but none of them have yet been chosen for inclusion. Darn it! I remain ever hopeful. There’s a weekly prize for Poets Respond(which costs nothing to enter and pays $50.00) and an ekphrastic challenge every month, also no cost and pays $50.00.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

We don't want nightmares (new poem)

We don’t want nightmares
bodies piled in ditches
twitching stinking
Yet some prisoners are true
beliefs in blue stripes on long sleeves

We want the soft warm slippers
we want the comfy worn chair
the reminders of horrors
humans on humans seeping
through our fingers.

We’d much rather think
that what was done
half a century ago   
or half a world away
just doesn’t apply to us
tucked into this safe harbor

The knives and nooses
call us into action
in order to prevent them
from holding their children
in filth and chains
down beneath
the stairs

Monday, July 10, 2017

Most pivotal books

I’m taking a different approach to this topic by describing the two very pivotal books in my life. The first one introduced poetry to me and the second one rocketed me into adult reading.
My introduction to poetry began with the book Piper, Pipe that Song Again: Poems for Boys and Girls published by Random House in 1965. This collection of children’s poems included poets Margaret Wise Brown, Lewis Carroll, Carl Sandburg, Robert Louis Stevenson, Langston Hughes, and A.A. Milne among others. It whet my appetite for more and I’ve never looked back. My collection of poetry books grows every year, just recently adding a new book by William Trowbridge called Vanishing Point and one by Mary Oliver entitled Blue Horses.
When I was young and a beginning reader, Nancy Drew mysteries lined my bookcase. One afternoon while searching the basement for something else to read, I came across my father’s collection of James Michener novels. Most of them were hardback and rather heavy, and I was nine or ten at the time. So I settled on the only paperback I could find entitled The Drifters. What an adventure that was! I’d often wished that I could travel around Europe with four young people, exploring historic areas and having all kinds of adventures. From there, I probably read almost everything Michener has written, with Chesapeake Bay and Alaska among my personal favorites.
I can’t really say that I have a favorite author or single favorite book, but these two are the most pivotal for me, my personal literary crossroads.

Why I write poetry

I remember as a teenager finding my path to poetry. My mother, practical woman that she is, said, “What the hell are you going to do with that?” In other words, don’t quit your day job! After that, for many years, I walked away from poetry. Oh I’d write an occasional poem for someone, but mostly it was my own “dirty little secret.”
Not anymore, and frankly, I’m glad. There are three basic reasons I write poetry: to capture moments, to understand the world and relationships, and to feed my soul.
Besides being a poet, I’m also an avid bird lover and amateur nature photographer. Often times, poems come from the photos I’ve taken or tried to capture; or moments with my children and now my grandchildren. The poems follow the seasons, months, special places I’ve been like the Grand Canyon or the Black Hills, or simple moments like watching fireflies or sunsets, or my grandson play with his trains.
Secondly, there are events in this world that affect us deeply and poetry gives me a method for healing, attempting to understand what’s going on covering diverse subjects from Hurricane Katrina to San Bernardino shootings, from Honduran refugees to Sandy Hook and 9/11. Writing poetry also becomes therapeutic when dealing with broken or difficult relationships. It’s tough to go through divorce, miscarriage and heartbreak without having support. And for me, poetry has given me much support, not only through the act of writing, but also networking with other writers.
     Finally, I’ve learned that just the act of writing feeds my soul. Many times I’ll be walking outdoors or sitting by the lake and poems begin to emerge. Often, I’ll usually just get the first or last line (so frustrating!) and work in the rest later. Capturing those moments or thoughts and seeing the world through a different lens just plain delights me. There is real joy in those fleeting moments. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Poem in Nature Writing

My poem "Early Summer" has been published on Nature Writing, an online journal.
Coneflowers in Sunken Gardens, Lincoln NE