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.

none

Joanna 

I love it – yesterday’s Daily Prompt Challenge word was NONE. For one obvious thing, my writing output yesterday was … NONE. For another, NONE could summarize my presence here during the month of April. That’s about where it ends. For NONE could NOT summarize my activity over the past several weeks since my last post, ‘An Ordinary Day.’

I know I have a pass of the most compassionate kind. April was the month that ended with the interment of my sister’s ashes and the formal funeral service that celebrated her life. Which therefore means, the month that led up to those events filled with details and lots of communication back and forth among us four major planners.

None would have been more delighted than my sister herself at the results of all those weeks. It was a bursting-with-warmth-and-blossoms spring day. The entire extended family was in attendance – including grandchildren, grand-nieces and -nephews, and even the newest puppy among us. She would especially have loved that.

And none would be loved the choices of readings, music, food and pictures more. None would more have appreciated the convergence of classmates from high school, neighbors from our childhood, caretaker and clergy from her far-distant most recent three years. Above all, none will ever forget her.

an ordinary day

Thanks to the Daily Challenge for the invitation to share this writing:

AN ORDINARY DAY

For ten days I lived the learning curve
of diabetes, partnering with my beloved son
to help his through maternal leave,
given the grace of time to relish
each extraordinary moment.

The first hour’s sing-song babbling
lifts from crib to giggled hugs and undercover
hide-and-seek en route to the day’s first blood glucose test
followed by calculations of insulin and carbs,
breakfast planned to even out
the hours to come.

This child, so gentle and joyful of spirit
accepts each poked finger and prodded thigh
with grace, a lesson I cannot fail to notice sets
the warp of our day through which we weave
our patterned way, each hour
a new adventure.

From Grandma’s blocks we build
to hold what he loved at the aquarium –
octopus by the elevator climbing glass walls,
his giant purple sac blowing up bigger then smaller
carefully reconstructed through his two-year
old imprint, giant tank within winding
ramp, sea lions sunning beyond.

He recalls with pride how he placed his hand
in the pool where flat rays swam shallow circles
requiring him to dip, lean and shriek with surprise
when the flappy gray surface floated beneath
outstretched fingers, feeling like velvet
fleet and brief, tickling his hand
again and again.

We chant the trains that took us there —
‘one train, two train, three train, blue train’
and back – ‘one train, two train, red train, bed train’
to test, insulin, lunch and rest. Later, we’ll
relive the adventure with Brio trains,
tunnels and bridges arcing us
back to the present.

Past supper the day’s reduced
to favorite books, moonlight and song
stories lingering among the family
of bears lining his crib, a round
of Dona Nobis Pacem circling
him in love’s embrace.

How the layers unfold like
an origami crane in flight; then settle
back to nest, each hour building bridges
between love and need, grace wrapping
itself around this wondrous gift
of an ordinary winter day.
swb ©2017

she just wants

source unknown – but I do wish I could have drawn this!

SHE JUST WANTS

She does not want to fit into anyone’s box.
She just wants to love the earth, her fingers deep in spring soil; to remain strong
and engaged; to let her words spill onto the page.
She doesn’t want a product to justify her day, or to defend or explain herself.
She just wants a walk by the lake, creativity in process, evening wine; to snuggle in front of a winter fire with a good book and her dog by her side.

She does not want to go forth into tumultuous throngs.
She just wants to touch the hearts of those few she calls friend, or to whom
she extends the pen of discovery.
She does not want to listen to discord or chaos.
She just wants to live simply, choose silence or animated conversation
or Bach cello suites.

She does not want additives, modifications, directives or exclusions.
She just wants to ensure the health and well-being of living earth and her creatures.
She does not want to see the world collapse around her offspring.
She just wants to speak up for what she believes, for what is morally right and just.

She does not want 50 years of social progress burned in one moment of fevered frenzy.
She just wants people to listen to/treat/learn from one another with respect.
She does not want self-serving skeptics to destroy natural connections.
She wants us to re-member our humanity and shared responsibility toward our world.

She does not want to live in division, hate, falsehood.
She just wants to lift up what is beautiful and true with.

She does not want it to end quite yet.

3.7.17 fastwrite in ‘writing outside’ group, prompted by ‘Employed,’
by Beverly Rollwagen, from She Just Wants. Nodin Press, 2004

at the crossroads

hecate-1

‘Hecate’ by Claudia Olivos, olivosartstudio.com

For the past six weeks, I participated in an on-line course with Mary Pierce Brosmer about making meaning of our post-election world. Accordingly, I suspended my plan for a multi-part ‘divided we fall’ series here. Instead, I have spent the intervening weeks reading a wide range of texts including but not limited to John McCain’s February 17th remarks at the Munich Security Conference; selections from Leonard Cruz and Steven Buser’s A Clear and Present Danger, Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark, and Ken Wilber’s Trump and a Post-Truth World, among others.

We spent six weeks reading, sharing remarkably relevant poems written long since, writing and sharing our words, discussing, questioning, opening our hearts to difference and our minds to ‘what next.’ During this same six weeks, I traveled twice to southwestern PA to be with my sister in her final days; welcomed my third grandchild into a family filled with February birthdays; and sat with several of ‘my’ prison writers through unimaginable trauma and personal tragedy.

Clearly, this has been a time rich with change on so many levels, transformations both anticipated and not. Above all, it has been a time to open up, expand information sources, broaden opinions and challenge my role in the larger world. While a continuing work in progress, I did not want to remain silent any longer on this page. As a result, I share here my final writing for that life-questioning course of words and ideas – and intentions for going forward. Next time I will return to ‘divided we fall – 2.’

Thank you for reading. And as always, I welcome – no, encourage! – your thoughtful responses to what you read here.

AT the CROSSROADS
That November crossroads stemmed from the tangle of tarnished truths
but I was slow to go there, lost as I was in the thicket of win-lose
when the multi-faceted is what I believe. Now we are offered
loyalty or disdain, history or ignorance, hope or despair.

How can this be our only choice? We have arrived at a crossroads
of morality. And though multiply manifest, it is the voice
of truth that must prevail, the voice of compassion
for us all – earth, sea, sky, collective spirit and soul.

I knew the night birth and death converged that we are in
for deep transformation, needing not to ‘get over’ or past
but to spell truth – yours, mine, ours. A time to speak out
past the divide and into the void, to speak without ceasing.

Thus am I pulled to provide all that I can – insight
and light to help guide the lost from personal hells,
reunite torn-apart mothers with daughters, guarding
ground and reason until mutual respect shall

in deed reign, parting the darkness of derision and disgust.
We must persevere until light seeps through every crack,
shattering false divisions to reveal the common bedrock
of our shared humanity.
swb (c) 2017