three spring poems

image by Jim Marshall

As promised, three poems of mine about spring appeared among nearly 200 pages of both poetry and prose in “Capsule Stories Spring 2021 Edition; In Bloom” (pp. 152- 161). Capsule Stories is a print literary magazine published once each March 1. Copies of this year’s issue are available here.

The journal is set up in an unusual and visually appealing layout, which is sadly not transferrable to this page. The title and author are uniformly provided on the lefthand page, writ large, with the work starting on the right. When the piece spills over to a second page, this is indicated by a >>. And when the piece ends on the lefthand page, the right is blank but for a brief line or two from the piece just concluded, providing a kind of whispered echo of its content. I have included these ‘after words’ for each of the two entries below, because I found it a moving and pleasing presentation in the journal itself.

I hope you enjoy my offering at the turn of this year’s Vernal Equinox. I am reproducing just two of the three poem, as the third appeared in my prior post. And as always, I invite your comments and responses below, perhaps to these questions:
What abundance in your own life are you celebrating this spring?
Where are you finding renewal; or comfort in the familiar?
What is bringing you hope?

Morning Rituals
Sarah W. Bartlett

Each morning, the same standoff
between dog and bunny frozen
watching the other in mutual curiosity,
or dare. My impatience to move along
breaks it up. Each morning
the same.

Each morning, the same peering
into thorned branches of red and amber
raspberries, thumb pressing confirmation
of ripeness; the blues likewise tested
and plucked, too-soon pink or pale green turning
deep purple-blue with time whether on or off
the branch. To the mouth, it’s the same.

Each morning, the same need to release the dogs
to the yard, feed, then run them in the fields—
a pack of fur and feet that fetch what we toss,
return, repeat, swim like otters, roll in the grass;
each morning the white egret standing watch
in the next pond until we pass, tired,
and he returns to his peace. Each morning,
the same needs for action
and stillness.

Each morning, the same pull to the page, words
spilling and rearranging themselves in stanzas,
feelings nudging thoughts eager to find
their shape across the screen.
Each morning, the same.

Each morning, the same waking
to sun-washed sky, eager breeze—
caresses of rest and time conspiring
to create appetite for more.
Each morning, blessedly
the same.

caresses of rest and time conspiring
to create appetite for more

Hope Abundant|
Sarah W. Bartlett

It is our custom to leave the last bouquet
of late summer hydrangea on the table, fading
mauve globe beneath a wave of golden grass s
peaking of passage. Come spring, a green sprig
leafed from withered stalk, nourished
by what water remained within.

In this drawn-out time of drought,
the hydrangea, by day’s end having endured
hot air and rising temperatures, wilts
defeated by the effort to stand tall;
by morning, clusters revived
to face what may come.

The ancient clematis at the deck
was slashed at its husk-like stalk
mistaken by the passing mower
for dead; but adversity only slows
and redirects new growth outward f
rom her withered vines.

The newly installed clematis
already clings to its trellis, turning
to view its new surrounds, a pile
of seed shells gathered and placed there
by the three-year-old hands of my grandson,
unwitting steward of the future.

At Mimi’s memorial I speak
of the necessity to plant gardens
wherever we live, her lesson embedded
beneath my nails, abundance blossoming
from her life to mine,
and far beyond.

abundance blossoming
from her life to mine

gifts of this week

A wide-winged monarch skimming over head along my bike ride

A young fox cavorting in the early dusk meadow

A hummingbird hovering at eye level with me for prolonged moments

A spirit bear of Lake Champlain stone washed to my feet during my morning walk

A lingering sunset turning from soft pink to fuchsia to deep peach across the hour

A peach tree laden with ripening rosy fruit, after a decade without

Row upon row of leafing sprouts just two weeks post-sowing

A hunting hawk winging on the updraft of an August afternoon

Abundant blueberries again and again

A lunch with my children en route to vacation

two sistersMy sister safely moved and settled into her new home

A cool river breeze covering me with a night’s deep sleep

a day without words


Words…. (Photo credit: jah~)

I want to recall that a day without words
is no kind of day – to miss the lilt, light
and lure, the laugh, the languor
of words flowing over, across lines
words sprouting abundant visions
their flavor unmistakable in hands
that savor, turn, weigh, sniff
both heft and determined breadth
of meaning, shape, form, desire –
their feel and song, unique place
in the parade of words stringing themselves
around each pearled moment,
easing into grateful abundance
for all that came before,
will follow.


both . . . and

Fire & Ice

Fire & Ice (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

Robert Frost’s ‘Fire and Ice’ begins, “Some say the world will end in fire, some say in  ice.” I have been thinking about fire lately. A lot. About the paradox of flame, how quickly it can shift from nurture to destruction.

At the extreme fire becomes the negative of what, in moderation, is its best feature. Which makes me understand better, deeper, again the problem with either/or thinking. ‘If you’re not with me, you are against me’ is a simplistic formula for polarization, leaving no room whatever for the very real shades of gray in which we in fact live.

Just because I may not share your opinion does not mean I am going to take action against you. A great illness in our private attitude and public discourse has, in recent years, arisen from this toxic formula for intolerance. It implies enforced homogeneity, an unsettling dismissal of the very melting pot of difference that has kept us strong, innovative, tolerant.

fire and ice

fire and ice (Photo credit: Jasmic)

The conscious feminine offers a simple antidote by holding the paradox of the both/and. This energy – available to men and women alike – says, ‘there is room for your belief AND room for mine.’ Difference does not equal wrong or bad. Difference is not a square extreme trying to fit into an either/or hole. Difference is just difference. If we could hold mutual respect in our hearts for the fact of difference absent judgment and labels, how much more civil our discourse; how much richer our resources of understanding, compassion, creativity. How much fuller our lives lived from abundant goodwill rather than the scarcity of ‘other is wrong/bad.’

where there’s intention there must be ‘no’

‘intention & choice’

Last night my friend reminded me: “No is the first word we learn and the first we forget.” So simple. Like the life I am trying to craft for myself in the midst of more, faster,  bigger. Though not necessarily better. Turns out she and I share an intention to open more space in our lives for our personal writing. It also turns out we share a life orientation to service, stepping up and in to leadership. Not necessarily because we choose to but because there is a need that chooses us.

Which is where NO comes in.  Another wise mentor has told me, more than once: “Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you NEED to.” This can be a challenging concept to someone with multiple interests, a deep reserve of goodwill and curiosity, boundless creativity and a desire to jump in when needed. Equally challenging is taking a moment to step back, reflect and ask: “Is this how I really want to spend my time? Is this going to serve my best interests and therefore those of the call to which I am responding?”

For some, this fine line of discernment runs the risk of sounding self-absorbed, reluctant, or possibly lazy. However, there comes a time when a simple “NO!” may be the best service you can perform. In setting the boundary on too much, you get to live with enough. And enough is the abundance required for a truly giving life – one that gives first to the self and secondly, to others. A lesson gratefully learned in a circle of wise wording women.