Thursday, April 30, 2020

Poetry Month #30: Wolf Creek Pass by CW McCall

It seems only fitting that we should end this poetic adventure with a bit of humor from CW McCall ... only problem there isn't any CW McCall ... he was the invention of an advertising guy named William Dale Fries, Jr., who, theoretically, still lives somewhere in Iowa. Fries wrote the lyrics and sang while Chip Davis, later of Mannheim Steamroller, wrote the music.

Back when the girls were young, we drove from California to Missouri to visit my parents. To entertain us along the way, I made a mix tape (long before playlists) of story songs, some funny, some sad, some just down right silly. This one was a favorite especially since we drove over the real Wolf Creek Pass.

Somewhere along the line I memorized it and I love it when a conversation opens up and I can say with a sorta straight face ...

did I ever tell you about the time that me and Earl 
was haulin' chickens on a flatbed out of Wiggins ...

It's a fun song ... hope you enjoy it ... and hope we're all around next year when Poetry Month rolls around again. And thank you Mr. Fries ... or CW ... your music has given us a lot of fun.

The real wolf creek pass -- click here for the song
[Verse 1]
Me and Earl was haulin' chickens
On the flatbed out of Wiggins
And we'd spent all night on the uphill side
Of 37 miles of hell called Wolf Creek Pass
Which is up on the Great Divide

[Verse 2]
We was sittin' there suckin' toothpicks
Drinkin' Nehis and onion soup mix
And I says, "Earl, let's mail a card to mother
And then send them chickens on down the other side
Yeah, let's give 'em a ride"

[Chorus]
Wolf Creek Pass
Way up on the Great Divide
Truckin' on down the other side


[Verse 3]
Well, Earl put down his bottle
Mashed his foot down on the throttle
And then a couple of boobs with a thousand cubes
In a 1948 Peterbilt screamed to life
We woke up the chickens


[Verse 4]
We roared up off of that shoulder
Spraying pine cones, rocks, and boulders
And put four hundred head of them Rhode Island Reds
And a couple of burnt-out roosters on the line
Look out below 'cause here we go

[Chorus]
Wolf Creek Pass
Way up on the Great Divide
Truckin' on down the other side


[Verse 5]
Well, we commenced to truckin'
And them hens commenced to cluckin'
And Earl took out a match and scratched his pants
And lit up the unused half of a dollar cigar and took a puff
Says, "My, ain't this pretty up here"

[Verse 6]
I says, "Earl, this hill can spill us
You better slow down, you gon' kill us
Just make one mistake and it's the pearly gates
For them 85 crates of USDA-approved cluckers
You wanna hit second?"

[Chorus]
Wolf Creek Pass
Way up on the Great Divide
Truckin' on down the other side


[Verse 7]
Well, Earl grabbed on the shifter
And he stabbed 'er into fifth gear
And then the chromium-plated
Fully-illuminated genuine accessory shift knob
Come right off in his hand
I says, "You wanna screw that thing back on, Earl?"

[Verse 8]
He was tryin' to thread it on there
When the fire fell off of his cigar
And dropped on down, sorta rolled around
And then lit the cuff of Earl's pants
And burned a hole in his sock
Yeah, sorta set him right on fire

[Verse 9]
I looked on out of the window
And I started countin' phone poles
Going by at the rate of four to the seventh power
Well, I put two and two together
And added twelve and carried five
Come up with twenty two thousand telephone poles an hour

[Verse 10]
I looked at Earl and his eyes was wide
His lip was curled and his leg was fried
And his hand was froze to the wheel
Like a tongue to a sled in the middle of a blizzard

[Verse 11]
I says, "Earl, I'm not the type to complain
But the time has come for me to explain
That if you don't apply some brake real soon
They're going to have to pick us up with a stick and a spoon"

[Verse 12]
Well, Earl rared back, cocked his leg, stepped down as hard as he could on the brake
And the pedal went clear to the floor and stayed right there on the floor
He says it's sorta like steppin' on a plum

[Verse 13]
Well, from there on down it just wasn't real pretty
It was hairpin county and switchback city
One of 'em looked like a can full of worms
Another one looked like malaria germs

[Verse 14]
Right in the middle of the whole damn show
Was a real nice tunnel, now wouldn't you know
Sign says clearance to the twelve foot line
But the chickens was stacked to thirteen nine

[Verse 15]
Well, we shot that tunnel at a hundred and ten
Like gas through a funnel and eggs through a hen
We took that top row of chickens off slicker than the scum off a Louisiana swamp

[Verse 16]
Went down and around, around and down
And we run out of ground at the edge of town
Bashed into the side of the feed store
Downtown Pagosa Springs

[Chorus]
Wolf Creek Pass
Way up on the Great Divide
Truckin' on down the other side
Wolf Creek Pass
Way up on the Great Divide
Truckin' on down the other side

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Corona Gift: Virtual Movies


Trailer photo: The Woman Who Loves Giraffes
Maureen Doallas posted on Facebook about a new film: The Booksellers. Following that link, I found a list of virtual theaters offering movies and trailers. It reminded me that recently  Brené Brown talked on a podcast about her “movie nights” where she only watches trailers because they are designed to deliver an emotional punch.

When I started exploring this link, I found a list of virtual movie theaters all across the US, each offering several movies and their trailers. I had just decided to sign up for amazon prime or Netflix but wasn’t thrilled by their offerings. Since the list did not include a theater in Reno, I clicked on Denver and found a trailer for The Woman Who Loves Giraffes. I happen to love giraffes also (who doesn’t?) so I watched the trailer and weeped … a sure sign I’ll have to rent the movie tonight.

The movie is offered by the DenverFilm.org with this info: For over 40 years, Denver Film has focused on building a rich community through the art of film. During this temporary closure of our home at the Sie FilmCenter, we have partnered with distributors to bring you theatrical releases of films that were set to open at the theater, right to your home, with part of the proceeds going to your favorite arthouse.

I quickly realized two things:
  1. I’d much rather have my money go to these local cultural organizations than the biggies like prime or Netflix.
  2. I love going to the movies and sitting in the dark with a group of unknown people who all laugh at the same lines and weep at the same sorrows. However, it has become increasingly hard for me to find movies that call to me. (Probably a function of age and having seen so many already.) Anyway, after looking at the 20-some odd movies offered by the Denver Film group, there were only 2 that didn't sound fascinating. 
 This is going to be an adventure and I will document what I find in this space and would love to have you come along with me. Popcorn optional.



Poetry Month #29: Untitled by Yanyi

Three poems of this poetry month celebration were recommended by people who truly know poetry: the folks at Seattle's Open Books: A Poem Emporium who generously helped me fill out the schedule.

Imagine reading in a comfy chair in a tiny, inviting space brimming with over 10,000 new, used, and out-of-print books ... all poetry. In fact, Open Books is one of only two or three poetry-only book stores in the country and offers a wide variety of readings and other poetry-oriented events. Of course, right now, you can't do that because the store is closed because of the coronavirus.

When owner Billie Swift had to close the store, it was clear that she needed to start selling books online. However, she knew she wanted to maintain some of the look and service offered to people who came into the store. She didn't want just a fulfillment warehouse so she kept all the staff and designed a process that would replicate as closely as possible the store experience. Email questions are encouraged and staff picks showcase new and important work.
Online store has a bookish look and is simple to use.
Here's the third recommendation from Open Books as described by bookseller Jeric Swift: The Year of Blue Water by Yanyi, winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets. This untitled poem is a short prose poem that I find myself wondering about a lot, while we're all inside social distancing from everybody we love. We're all kind of forced to stick with ourselves (for good reason) and, for me, I'm trying to figure out how I'd like to emerge from this moment. It's going to take self-reflection, rest, for sure, and at some point I'm going to have to reckon with the systems I find myself beholden to in "regular" pre-covid-19 life.

You tell me that the old you is dead. I am also not who I used
to be. The revolution is emotional. I found a reason to not fear
death. I found more reasons to live, reasons to change what is
living inside me and around me. The revolution is that I care
about my own safety, that I believe my life is valuable and worth
pursuing. As in, I am worth the work of transformations. As in, I
do not fear how I will emerge from myself, or how many times.

            ––Yanyi, from The Year of Blue Water (Yale)


 

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Poetry Month #28: Make Rice by No'u Revilla

Three poems of this poetry month celebration were recommended by people who truly know poetry: the folks at Seattle's Open Books: A Poem Emporium who generously helped me fill out the schedule.

Imagine reading in a comfy chair in a tiny, inviting space brimming with over 10,000 new, used, and out-of-print books ... all poetry. In fact, Open Books is one of only two or three poetry-only book stores in the country and offers a wide variety of readings and other poetry-oriented events. Of course, right now, you can't do that because the store is closed because of the coronavirus.

When owner Billie Swift had to close the store, it was clear that she needed to start selling books online. However, she knew she wanted to maintain some of the look and service offered to people who came into the store. She didn't want just a fulfillment warehouse so she kept all the staff and designed a process that would replicate as closely as possible the store experience. Email questions are encouraged and staff picks showcase new and important work.
Online store has a bookish look and is simple to use.
Here's the second recommendation from Open Books as described by bookseller Jeric Swift: No'u Revilla, who is a queer Indigenous poet and educator of Hawai'ian and Tahitian descent. She was born and raised on the island of Maui and has performed all over the world in places like Papua New Guinea, Canada, and at the United Nations. 

The making of the rice, the washing of the grains in preparation of feeding her family, and how the running of water over the grains somehow find its way running over the bodies of children... The speaker is reminded of children escaping through fences, alluding to the treacherous journeys immigrants and refugees, at times, are forced to undertake when leaving home. The dread of raising a daughter seeping into this simple and domestic act of washing the rice is startling.

Make Rice

I rinse fists of brown grain with
water that comes from the faucet and
even if I can’t afford it, I take
the time to watch hard pellets
squeeze through my fingers
like hard brown children are squeezed
out of holes
in fences
on private property.
Pouring dirty water out,
shooting faucet water in.
But I never lose a piece of rice
because that could be my daughter.

            ––No’u Revilla, from Effigies III: Permission to Make Digging Sounds (Salt Publishing)

Monday, April 27, 2020

Poetry Month #27 "We Aren’t the Only Species" by Craig Santos Perez

The next three poems of this poetry month celebration were recommended by people who truly know poetry: the folks at Seattle's Open Books: A Poem Emporium who generously helped me fill out the schedule.

Imagine reading in a comfy chair in a tiny, inviting space brimming with over 10,000 new, used, and out-of-print books ... all poetry. In fact, Open Books is one of only two or three poetry-only book stores in the country and offers a wide variety of readings and other poetry-oriented events. Of course, right now, you can't do that because the store is closed because of the coronavirus.

When owner Billie Swift had to close the store, it was clear that she needed to start selling books online. However, she knew she wanted to maintain some of the look and service offered to people who came into the store. She didn't want just a fulfillment warehouse so she kept all the staff and designed a process that would replicate as closely as possible the store experience. Email questions are encouraged and staff picks showcase new and important work.
Online store has a bookish look and is simple to use.
So, here's the first recommendation from Open Books: Craig Santos Perez, whose book Habitat Threshold just came out this month from Omnidawn. One of the gifts of this pandemic has been a healing of the planet, even if temporary.

Jeric Swift who made this recommendation stated: "Perez has always been a champion for the environment and for Pacific and Indigenous communities. This poem of his speaks to me because of the way it reads, its repetition actually changing the way I breathe while reading it. It's such a poignant reminder of the breath, the air, we share with all species."

 We Aren’t the Only Species
who age who change who language who pain who play who pray who
save who mate who native who take who break who invade who claim
who taste who want who talk who crawl who walk who yawn who trauma
who laugh who care who hear who fear who steal who heal who friend
who remember who sex who nest who settle who smell who help who eat
who feed who greed who sleep who see who need who belong who bleed
who speak who breathe who breathe who breathe who think who drink
who sing who thirst who birth who kill who smile who lick who listen
who kiss who give who sick who piss who shit who swim who migrate
who die who fight who cry who hide who sign who mourn who mourn
who mourn who work who school who tool who colonize who bond who 
protect who hope who lose who love who lonely who touch who moan
who drown who hurt who hunt who run who hunger who nurse who
suffer who build who trust who bury who future who house who house
who house on this our only 

––Craig Santos Perez, from Habitat Threshold (Omnidawn Press)

Here is a video of Perez reading "Praise Song For Oceania":
Click here to listen.
And here are the Open Book's last two virtual readings for Poetry Month:
>Tuesday, April 28 8:00pm
Instagram Live Reading with Kaveh Akbar, Paige Lewis, Rachael Allen, Ella Rimmer & Memoona Zahid
>Thursday, April 30 7:30pm
 Shelter in Poems: A Virtual Poetry Reading

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Poetry Month #26: "Remember" by Joy Harjo

Joy Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and was named the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States in 2019.

Her website offers us this information:

Born in Tul­sa, Okla­homa, she left home to attend high school at the inno­v­a­tive Insti­tute of Amer­i­can Indi­an Arts, which was then a Bureau of Indi­an Affairs school. Har­jo began writ­ing poet­ry as a mem­ber of the Uni­ver­si­ty of New Mexico’s Native stu­dent orga­ni­za­tion, the Kiva Club, in response to Native empow­er­ment move­ments. She went on to earn her MFA at the Iowa Writ­ers’ Work­shop and teach Eng­lish, Cre­ative Writ­ing, and Amer­i­can Indi­an Stud­ies at Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia-Los Ange­les, Uni­ver­si­ty of New Mex­i­co, Uni­ver­si­ty of Ari­zona, Ari­zona State, Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois, Uni­ver­si­ty of Col­orado, Uni­ver­si­ty of Hawai’i, Insti­tute of Amer­i­can Indi­an Arts, and Uni­ver­si­ty of Ten­nessee, while per­form­ing music and poet­ry nation­al­ly and internationally.


by Joy Harjo
 
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away tonight.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
are you.
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Remember.


Saturday, April 25, 2020

Poetry Month #25: "The Power of Collaboration" by George the Poet

Click here to hear George the Poet on the Power of Collaboration
George The Poet reflects on the Power of Collaboration during the time of #Covid19 and recorded this poem for this years' virtual Skoll World Forum for Social Entrepreneurship. George "The Poet" Mpanga is a London-born spoken word performer of Ugandan heritage. 
His innovative brand of musical poetry has won him critical acclaim both as a recording artist and a social commentator. He hosts BBC Sounds 'Have You Heard George's Podcast?' and has won a string of awards and nominations, including the BRIT Awards Critics' Choice Award, BET's Best International Act, 2020 NME Award for Best Podcast, audioBoom's coveted "Podcast of the Year" and the BBC's Sound of 2015.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Poetry Month #24: "Some late night writing" by Cory Booker

Cory Booker, Senator and poet
Another unexpected source of poetry and wisdom: Senator Cory Booker. Apparently the Senator has been quoting (and writing) poetry for years.

The Cut tells the story of this poem:
On Sunday night, Booker got on Instagram and posted a brief poem about social distancing, accompanied by the caption, “Sharing some late night writing and one of my favorite quotes: ‘In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.’”

 
Some late night writing

by Cory Booker

We can't touch
But still we reach out

We hunker down
But still we rise up

Our bodies are attacked
But still we fight back

The enemy is invisible
But so many of our heroes are now seen

Weeks and weeks of isolation
But still infinite and invincible determination

We are distant
But we stand together

And together 
We shall overcome

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Poetry Month #23: "And the people stayed home " by Kitty O'Meara

More about Kitty O'Meara
Oprah Magazine calls Kitty O'Meara the poet laureate of the pandemic, saying:
Her untitled prose poem, which begins with the line, "And the people stayed home," has been shared countless times, on countless backgrounds, with countless fonts, since its first posting. It was most widely popularized by Deepak Chopra, and has since been shared by everyone from Bella Hadid to radio stations in Australia. The poem has become shorthand for a silver-linings perspective during the coronavirus outbreak—the hope that something good can come out of this collective state of "together, apart."
And who is Kitty O'meara? She lives in Madison, WI with her five rescue dogs and her husband. She is a retired chaplain and teacher and now writes as her way of serving in this time of crisis.

I love her description in the interview with O of how this piece went viral:
Immediately after writing, O'Meara shared this poem with her friends on Facebook. "I post stuff like that all the time. I usually don't get a lot of response," O'Meara says. "But this found its niche."
Kitty has given her poem to the world for any non-commercial use and is inspiring dozens of readings, videos and interpretations. Here's one:
Click here to listen to the reading by Heaher Arrington
And the people stayed home
by Kitty O'meara

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Poetry Month #22: Invictus by William Ernest Henley

This may be the poster poem for bravely facing your fate.  The history is interesting. 

When he was 16 years old, Henley had to have his leg amputated due to complications arising from tuberculosis. It was when he was recovering in hospital from multiple surgeries on his other leg that he wrote Invictus. An evocation of Victorian stoicism, of maintaining a stiff upper lip and self-discipline in the face of adversity, Invictus might be too much tough love for some, but for others, it provides the impetus to keep going.

It is said that this was Nelson Mandela's favorite poem and this incredible reading by Morgan Freeman will make you understand why.
Click here to listen.
 Invictus 

by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
       Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Corona Wisdom, gathered glimpses during an unfolding pandemic

Click here for complete magazine version
Title change: curiosity sparked this work and I am still curious about where this pandemic may take us as individuals, a country, and a planet. However, along the way, I believe I have found some wisdom and began actively seeking the wisdom of others. It seems time to change the title.

5/16/2020 Update: when I began this journey, I had been self-quarantined for about ten days following a trip to Florida. Obviously, like everyone else, I had no idea where this journey would take the world or me. On March 30, the United States had 2,601 deaths and was shutting down. This morning 86,571 US citizens are dead, the curve hasn't flattened yet people with assault rifles are protesting in various state capitals.

A couple of days ago, I realized that I am part of the problem, adding to the negativity on social media. So, I've switched gears and will seek wisdom for the rest of the journey. I've also set a stopping point for this work: May 30, 2020. The pandemic will be over, but my gathering of glimpses of it will stop. Who knows what will happen after that.

4/20/2020 Update: this activity has become a major focus that calls me to explore this strange world. Slowly I've come to realize what an amazing time this is. Our parents and grandparents survived two world wars, a major economic depression and some were even around for the 1918-1919 pandemic. From the baby boomers on, we've had it relatively easy, and now we're being tested.

I don't think any of us would have requested this experience, however, it is shaping us in ways we won't understand for some time. Like most major events, it is bringing out the best and the worst in us and every day I learn a little more about the world, my fellow humans and myself. Corona Curiosity gives me a place to put some of what I find. For the current magazine version, click here.

3/30/2020: The main thing that seems to calm my heart and my mind right now is art and writing. From this need Corona Curiosity was born  as I wonder where our world will be when we reach the end of this crisis and what we will learn along the way. I don't know where this is going or what it intends to be. I'm trying to just show up, listen, and record.

I've assumed it will take the shape of a photo essay book since that's where my passion is right now. So, everything is being put together as pages. 3/30/2020: I'm up to 17 pages so I'm putting them into a magazine format and will update it periodically. To see the latest version, go to Corona Curiosity.

I believe fully that "this, too, shall pass," but my goal is to  come out of this challenge feeling more productive, more creative, and grateful for what I have learned from the experience.

Stay safe and find ways to feed your creative spirit. joyce











Poetry Month #21: In a Time of Distance by Alexander McCall Smith

Click here for the reading
There is such wisdom in this poem about our days in this time of isolation, anxiety, and uncertainty  about what lies ahead of us.

You may know the writer as the British-Zimbabwean creator of the delightful The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.

Interestingly, he is also Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh and a respected expert on medical law and bioethics, serving on British and international committees concerned with these issues.
 
In a Time of Distance

By Alexander McCall Smith

The unexpected always happens in the way
The unexpected has always occurred:
While we are doing something else,
While we are thinking of altogether
Different things – matters that events
Then show to be every bit as unimportant
As our human concerns so often are;
And then, with the unexpected upon us,
We look at one another with a sort of surprise;
How could things possibly turn out this way
When we are so competent, so pleased
With the elaborate systems we’ve created –
Networks and satellites, intelligent machines,
Pills for every eventuality – except this one?
And so we turn again to face one another
And discover those things
We had almost forgotten,
But that, mercifully, are still there:
Love and friendship, not just for those
To whom we are closest, but also for those
Whom we do not know and of whom
Perhaps we have in the past been frightened;
The words brother and sister, powerful still,
Are brought out, dusted down,
Found to be still capable of expressing
What we feel for others, that precise concern;
Joined together in adversity
We discover things we had put aside:
Old board games with obscure rules,
Books we had been meaning to read,
Letters we had intended to write,
Things we had thought we might say
But for which we never found the time;
And from these discoveries of self, of time,
There comes a new realisation
That we have been in too much of hurry,
That we have misused our fragile world,
That we have forgotten the claims of others
Who have been left behind;
We find that out in our seclusion,
In our silence; we commit ourselves afresh,
We look for a few bars of song
That we used to sing together,
A long time ago; we give what we can,
We wait, knowing that when this is over
A lot of us – not all perhaps – but most,
Will be slightly different people,
And our world, though diminished,
Will be much bigger, its beauty revealed afresh.


Monday, April 20, 2020

Repeating the Lesson: Doing what I didn't want to do

If you want to hear the podcast, click here.

My friend Barbara Gaughen-Muller asked me to do something I didn’t want to do. We’ve been friends for almost 30 years and I would do almost anything for her, but I didn’t want to do this. so I resisted for several months.

Barbara is a peace activist and hosts a peace podcast, doing 15-minute interviews with a wide range of luminaries on their views on peace. She wanted me to do an interview with her, but I kept going through all those pesky little mind reasons for resisting ... not knowing what to say, not liking to be on camera, not being familiar with Zoom ... etc. etc. However, Barbara is a hard person to say no to ... she is one of the most positive, encouraging, joyful people I've ever met, however, she's also persistent in the sweetest, most gentle way. So, finally, I thought of something I might talk about and said "yes."

After worrying about and mapping out my presentation that only loosely touched on peace, the morning of the recording, I took a leap and threw it all away. I had awakened with the idea that personal peace is like a two-sided coin ... one side gratitude, one side generosity. I decided that idea was enough to launch us into a conversation. And, it was.
 
We had fun conversation, laughed a lot, and she made it as easy as sitting in her living room. Later that afternoon, I thought: that was so fun I want to do it again.

This isn’t the first time I’ve learned this lesson about doing things I'm resisting, and every time I re-learn it, I think I won’t have to again. However, it doesn’t seem to work that way. This seems to be one of those lessons I guess I’m going to have to repeat until I truly get it. 
 
Thanks, Barbara, for being such a gentle and generous teacher. To see more about Barbara and her podcasts, click here.


 
 

Poetry Month #20: The Tent by Rumi

Click here to listen.
A lifetime ago (January, 2011), I spent a blog month honoring two men separated by centuries: the poet Rumi and the translator Coleman Barks. Each transcendental in their own ways.

The words of Rumi and the voice of Coleman Barks combine into a mystical experience that never grows old. Almost a decade later, one of the poems in that series is still the most popular post on this blog. (What was said to the rose)


This poem, however, was not included in that series and I was shocked to discover its almost eerie understanding of this time of crisis. While it is not read by Barks, it is a good reading with lovely images accompanying a powerful message for this time.

 The Tent 
by Rumi

Outside, the freezing desert night,
This other night inside grows warm, kindling.
Let the landscape be covered with thorny crust.
We have a soft garden in here.

The continents blasted,
cities and little towns, everything
become a scorched, blackened ball.

The news we hear is full of grief for that future,
but the real news inside here
is there's no news at all.

Friend, our closeness is this:
anywhere you put your foot, feel me
in the firmness under you.

How is it with this love,
I see your world and not you?

Listen to presences inside poems,
Let them take you where they will.

Follow those private hints,
and never leave the premises.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Poetry Month #19: Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community by Pádraig Ó Tuama

Love in the Time of Corona offers a beautiful prayer from the Corrymeela Community which draws on the spiritual practices of Northern Ireland's longest established peace and reconciliation organisation. 

For over fifty years, Corrymeela has been bringing fractured communities together and resourcing others in the work of healing conflict.

Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet and theologian and in this collection, he brings the lens of poetry to prayer, particularly exploring the ancient form of “Collect”. He highlights how form can be a collecting place for the human condition. In a sonnet, one can find the depth to contain uncontainable sentiment. In the form of Collect, with its five steps, one can find a structure to contain hope. 


Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community by Pádraig Ó Tuama

It is in the shelter of each other that people live.
It is in the shadow of each other that people live.
We know that sometimes we are alone and sometimes we are in community.
Sometimes we are in shadow and sometimes we are surrounded by shelter;
Sometimes we feel like exiles in our land and in our language and in our bodies,
and sometimes we feel surrounded by welcome.
As we seek to be human together,
may we share the things that do not fade:
generosity, truth telling, silence, respect and love.
And may the power we share be for the good of all.
We honor the source of this rich life 
And we honor each other, storyful and lovely
whether in our shadow or in our shelter.
May we live well and fully with each other.
Amen

Corrymeela A Legacy of Peacemaking Trinity Wall St Church

About: Corrymeela was begun in 1965 by Ray Davey, a former chaplain in World War II, and a group of students from Queens University. During the war, Ray was captured and incarcerated in a prisoner of war camp in Dresden and there bore witness to the bombing of that city. This experience profoundly changed him.

He returned to work as a chaplain in Belfast and became concerned at the tensions brewing between people of different political, religious and ideological differences in Northern Ireland. Corrymeela grew out of this concern. It began before “The Troubles and continues on after “The Troubles,” promoting tolerance between people of differing backgrounds and beliefs. Corrymeela offers space for an analysis of the underlying dynamics of conflict, fracture, scapegoating and violence that we see across so many spheres of our world today.



Saturday, April 18, 2020

Poetry Month #18: "Let's Be Silent" by Pablo Neruda

The Seer
Today, on the 18th day of Poetry Month for 2020, I've decided to dedicate the rest of the month to poetry in the time of corona and actually found an entire program doing just that:
Love In The Time of Corona: Poetry for our times

One stanza of this poem stunned me as it seemed to call for a time just like the one we're in: a time of quieting and slowing down, of contemplating our world and what's truly important.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Click here to listen
Neruda was a Nobel Prize winning Chilean poet-diplomat and politician. Neruda became known as a poet when he was 13 years old, and wrote in a variety of styles, including surrealist poems, historical epics, overtly political manifestos, a prose autobiography, and passionate love poem. (Wikipedia)

Let's Be Silent (Keeping Quiet)

by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.