St. Francis

Basilica of St. Francis, Assisi, Italy

 

In the month of October we remember Francis of Assisi, the saint who answered Christ’s call to “repair my church.” Above all, St. Francis stands as one who … boldly challenged a world obsessed with power and status, and a church that conformed to such values. Those today who pursue the cause of peace, who stand with the poor, who engage in respectful dialogue with other faiths, or defend the Earth and its creatures, are following in Francis’ path … a way of kindness, gentleness, and humility that could truly repair our world, which is evidently falling into ruin.

This appeared in my inbox this morning from Orbis Books, the publisher of HEAR ME, SEE ME: Incarcerated Women Write which I co-edited in 2013. By coincidence, earlier this week I received a copy of Colere, A Journal of Cultural Exploration published annually by Coe College. They just published my poem, ‘The Tomb of St. Francis.’

Tomb of St. Francis of Assisi at the Basilica

The Tomb of St. Francis
Assisi, Italy

They come, pilgrims of every shade
in bright red-orange prints, with canes
their grayed heads bound in matching cloth
eyes encased in winkled brown.

Dread-locked youth, his lengths spilling
over dirty blond pack as he kneels,
falls to the stone step marking
the edge of adoration for the deceased.

A lanky dark-haired youth
in plain white tee and tattered jeans
pulls the iron grate tight to heaving chest
entwines hand, arm, head bowed in prayer;

then rises, damp-eyed, whispers, croons,
his body speaking anguish, joy
at this momentous meeting
faith and love lived large

as his beloved Saint before him,
example of the living word
that permeates the air, the bones
of ancient-walled Assisi.

‘The Tomb of St. Francis’ by Sarah W. Bartlett, in Colere Journal of Cultural Exploration, Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA, 2018

new poem acceptance

Aside

Dos Gatos Press is releasing its third POETRY OF THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST anthology early in 2018. Each poem in this new collection is precisely 100 words long. And they accepted my “Lonesome Boy-Cow,” inspired by our spring trip to Taos and a breath-taking sunset drive toward the mountains.

In accepting the poem, one of the editors wrote: “Sarah, we LOVE THE DESERT SCENE HERE.’

Moreover, following a brief interaction resulting in a modest tweak of the title and one word, he wrote “It is such a pleasure to work with writers who don’t get defensive (and aggressive) with an editor.”

Gotta say, I don’t generally get this kind of feedback from editors. You can imagine I was equally appreciative in my responses. A feel-good day all around.

portrait of a morning

credit – jim hester

Although today is sunny, bright and breezy – even coolish with essentially no humidity – I am sharing a poem written yesterday during the Poetry Marathon. As you’ll see from the certificate, I signed up for and duly completed the Half Marathon. Twelve poems in 12 hours. I think the 24-hour version must be utterly grueling, because I’ll admit, there were hours (a new prompt is posted every hour on the hour and you create/post your response within that hour) – well, two or three – when I didn’t feel tired so much as devoid of words. And yet, there are 12 entries on my page!

The prompt for this poem was to write a four-stanza poem, using a line from the first in each of the others. For starters, it was great fun to see how people interpreted this prompt differently. As for my own experience, I loved the challenge of the structure to bring the poem full circle – and have it make sense!

The slow drizzle of gray-turned-rain
laps gently on the canvas covered deck
tapping its own rhythm to the quiet continuo
of Corinthian chimes muting the wind

the slow drizzle of gray-turned-rain
sliding off branch and rail, soaking
the thirsty ground as yellow finches
and the occasional hummer in search of food

lap gently on the canvas covered deck,
the day’s rhythms of hunger and its filing
marking the passage of hours, staging
the shape of a day. Downhill the new house rises

tapping its own rhythm to the quiet continuo
of our life here, its shape and pace
undisturbed by change, though
change unfolds all around us.

swb

soil

WordPress Daily Prompt for July 18, 2017:

I spent much of the last two days with my hands in dirt. This is the kind of thing  only someone with obsessive tendencies, extreme motivation, or who is retired, would undertake. Yesterday it was pulling weeds – read grass, dandelions, and other assorted volunteers – which persist in populating the loose-stone-covered parking pull-out. Today it was multiple seasons’ worth of snow-plowed stone from the drive, layered and hiding in deep pockets in the ragged grass.

Now, this is a simple summer place. I have no opinion about the merits of grass in the rocks where I park my car, per se. But I AM highly motivated to prevent another mouse infestation in any part of the car whatever. [We’ll need to wait for a relevant WP Prompt to hear this tale.] And our ‘lawn’ is neither manicured nor fully grass. However, I do take umbrage at the shift of stone from drive to yard, on principle.

So yesterday was spent in the incredibly tedious task of pulling up small and large clumps of grass, one at a finger-pinched time, to ensure that all roots were fully removed. Masses of them covering just about every parkable inch of space available to my car. Today, it was the even more tedious task of liberating stone – ultimately, two wheelbarrow loads – from the grassy depths where it had piled and gathered over too many years. Each summer the vague notion of reuniting this errant collection of stone with its foundational partners has occurred to me. THIS year I acted upon it. Continue reading

gratitudes

Last week I ‘officially’ launched SLOW BLOOMING GRATITUDES with a lovely event held at colleague Teresa Davis’ fabulous studio. [If you live in the Burlington VT area and are not yet familiar with her offerings, you MUST visit. In addition to fabulous art classes for children and adults, she runs a lovely pre-school and Starving Artist’s Cafe … check out their brunch!!] Teresa and I started our businesses about the same time and have in the past shared space. All this brought an extra layer of meaning to holding my launch in her beautifully and tastefully renovated permanent building.

Thanks again to my friend Anne-Marie Littenberg for permission to use her lovely photograph for the cover of my collection; and to my friend Anne Averyt for capturing the launch with hers (all photos on this page courtesy of Anne).

I greatly appreciate those who have read (and raved!) about the collection; and those who have chosen to leave their comments on the bottom of the Amazon page. In addition I am collecting feedback on my book page.

To entice you into reading the collection, let me share here the opening poem, which sets the tone for the pages to follow:

MILKWEED

Like milkweed seeds
with their parachutes of silk,
may my words settle
into your heart

their landing unnoticed
‘til they root, emerge
into service and sense – thus

I want my words to spread
beauty and use, healing surprise
to calm your breath, your fevered stress,
to purify what circles within

that feeling and thought might open you
to beauty and nurture against bitterness
that would divide; like milkweed,

weave a silken cord connecting
head and heart – yours,
mine and ours.