new year poem

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image from web without attribution

I have been struggling with something to write on this first day of 2017. I have found myself reluctant to say ‘Happy’ new year. And now I have found the perfect poem by May Sarton to share.

These are not my words. They are, however, the words that need to be shared, here, now. Please enjoy.

It would be lovely should you choose to leave a comment in the form of quoting a line or two from the poem that especially resonates with you at this time. Thank you. May peace and kindness be your companions along the journey ahead.

Let us step outside for a moment
As the sun breaks through clouds
And shines on wet new fallen snow,
And breathe the new air.

So much has died that had to die this year.
We are dying away from things.
It is a necessity—we have to do it
Or we shall be buried under the magazines,
The too many clothes, the too much food.
We have dragged it all around
Like dung beetles
Who drag piles of dung
Behind them on which to feed,
In which to lay their eggs.

Let us step outside for a moment
Among ocean, clouds, a white field,
Islands floating in the distance.
They have always been there.
But we have not been there.

We are going to drive slowly
And see the small poor farms,
The lovely shapes of leafless trees
Their shadows blue on the snow.
We are going to learn the sharp edge
Of perception after a day’s fast.

There is nothing to fear.
About this revolution…
Though it will change our minds.
Aggression, violence, machismo
Are fading from us
Like old photographs
Faintly ridiculous
(Did a man actually step like a goose
To instill fear?
Does a boy have to kill
To become a man?)

Already there are signs.
Young people plant gardens.
Fathers change their babies’ diapers
And are learning to cook.

Let us step outside for a moment.
It is all there
Only we have been slow to arrive
At a way of seeing it.
Unless the gentle inherit the earth
There will be no earth.

“New Year Poem” by May Sarton from Collected Poems. © Norton, 1993

mash-up

ng-blowing-bubbles-for-paulIt is becoming increasingly clear that I’ll never catch up with all the Daily Post prompts I’ve missed this fall – despite keeping a running list and my best intentions. Instead, I’ll insinuate the first four of December into a single reflection. See if you agree that I’ve hit upon echo, relax, panoply and sacred  – without ever naming any one of these things outright!!

[Full Disclosure: The initial inspiration for my writing came from Gary Johnson’s poem, ‘December:’  my hopes and fears are met/In this small singer holding onto my hand.]

THIS SMALL SINGER

My hopes (and fears) are met
in this small singer
the one snuggled into my neck
begging ‘baby song, baby song!’

and later, sprawled across my lap,
more song, OK’ his nodded approval
wide as any door of hope embracing
the rhythms and modulations of comfort

and blessed joy, myriad notes
running up scale and down, harmonies
and rounds joining the balance of us
in heartfelt song no matter the season.

It is song that holds my hopes
met in this small child, son of my son,
who gently strokes my head,
the ‘ruff’ cast on my arm, his blue eyes

saucer size gazing right into mine
with concern only a toddler can beam
an ancient knowing shared with the dog
to whom he patiently reads ‘Ginger Boy’

helpfully explaining its pictures
in single syllables to the baffled dog,
the young boy charmed at having mastered
the flow of the tale, its lines a music

of its own, rhythm and cadence
lilting through his just-learning-words
speech that rises and falls with his grasp
of a phrase returning from his mouth to the air

among bubbles rising from soapy hands
and the breathy support of elders circled
and circling this golden boy, our hopes
far outweighing our fears.

We’ll stick with the hopes, thanks
to the sweet voice of request and laughter,
the sing-song renditions of spiders and rowboats
an entire world unfolding from A to Z

through song and story by this young singer
holding my hand, and my heart.

swb, 12.1.16

my new chapbook!

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cover photo by anne-marie littenberg, with my gratitude

Finishing Line Press announces pre-publication sales of Slow Blooming Gratitudes by Sarah W. Bartlett, a finalist in the New Women’s Voices Series.

“…This chapbook is that rare combination of heart-mind-soul-intellect—masterfully crafted verse that reaches outward from the page, extending the hand of welcome to each reader.” – Cynthia Brackett-Vincent, publisher and editor, the Aurorean poetry journal

“Sarah Bartlett’s Slow Blooming Gratitudes is near religion in its capacity to offer solace and acceptance in times of adversity… And she does so in language that seeps into the reader like a slow, soft massage… Buy it, read it and keep it close by. – Ellaraine Lockie, award-winning poet, nonfiction author, contest judge, educator

From now through January 20, the book is available for pre-order at Finishing Line Press. Publication depends entirely upon these pre-order sales. The title will not be available on Amazon until after its March 10 release.

You can order the book at https://www.finishinglinepress.com/product/slow-blooming-gratitudes-nwvs-130-by-sarah-w-bartlett/ 

I would appreciate your order, as well as sharing the information with friends who might enjoy giving or receiving it as a holiday gift.

Many thanks. And please do leave me comments after you read some or all of it. I always enjoy hearing how my words affect my readers.

 

coming back

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credit – sonja parfitt

Like many of you, I have been cocooning from public life for many months. It has been hard to figure out what to say. The cross-currents in my head and heart have managed to keep my fingers from the keyboard.

But that is changing, here, now. Time to emerge and start writing. Again. Because this is what I do, and this is what needs to be done. Luckily for me, I have regular gigs writing inside our local women’s prison, which gives me plenty of fodder to jump-start this blog. So here goes – writing done last Thursday to a mixed prompt. You may recognize the first part as being a line from Mary Oliver’s beloved ‘Wild Geese.’ The second part is from Barbara Sher, Refuse to Choose!

Perhaps you, too, have pondered the image of the ‘soft animal of your body’ and considered responding to it in some way. I’d love to see your words.

“Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves… Stick with it. Start now.”

Just who is the soft animal of my body?
Is she the white belly who never sees
light of day, who loves dark chocolate
and feels the quiver of anxiety at the sea change ahead,
that ‘gut brain’ I have come to trust but slowly?

Or is she the soft brain, whose hard shell
holds in protective embrace the myriad thoughts
coursing through the veins of my life, pulsing
alarm while quashing them with the knowing
that I must go on, be strong, reach out, take in.

Perhaps she is the heart of mine that beats
with so much love and compassion for each of you,
for all of us so divided and categorized and walled off
from truth, from feeling, from the very humanity
that will save us all, earth included.

Because my heart does love what she loves
and fiercely – truth, fairness, opportunity,
kindness, compassion, the need to offer my hand
or a hug, to cast beauty
and healing upon these tumultuous times

one circle, one poem, one dream,
one good conversation, one day at a time.

swb
11.10.16

 

 

praise

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credit – unknown

In response to today’s WordPress Daily Post Challenge, I find myself once again (still?) feeling the need to speak out for reason, for truth, for reality. Because for months now I/we have been hammered by an altered reality that bears no resemblance to anything short of a future of utter devastation of all we know, trust, believe in, hold dear.

So many words vie for prominence. Many are now familiar for their endless repetition — though repetition alone can not make truth. What I want to make prominent are words of consequence, of conscience, of connection.

And so, in response to today’s prompt, I offer one of the most inspiring inaugural poems ever written. So many reminders of whence we came and how we might proceed together into the future. Too many favorite phrases to repeat. Just the poem in its entirety, which you can also hear in her own voice here.

Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration 2008, by Elizabeth Alexander

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.