Wednesday, May 28, 2014

First Place in the Poetry Slam

Today's poem is very special and personal.  It was written by a 7th grader at Ecker Hill Middle School on the spur of the moment to enter the school poetry slam.
He won first place and the approval of his English teacher, as well as the admiration of his

This is the time,
The time where the future generation moves on.
Out of the nest,
Learning to fly,
Joining the whole as a true citizen.

Responsibilities will come up
And slap you in the face,
But you just have to get up
And keep moving.

Because life is a test,
A test of character,
A test of responsibility,
A test of who you are.

And that is all life will ever be.

by Will Watkins

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Thanks Come Easily--At Times

My thanks come easily
When my fortunes rise
And my will is King
And all the world seems my estate.

My thanks come easily such times.

But wait...
Today, let me reflect
Upon those thanks I owe
But which I find
Express themselves less fluently.

Today, let me remember to give thanks,
Not only for the sunlight,
But for those darker hours
That teach Fortitude.

Let me profess, today, a grateful heart,
Not merely for successes I may know,
But as truly for those failures
That teach Humility.

Let me express my gratitude
For all those petty, inner conflicts
Which, once resolved, breed new Serenity,
And for those small, distressing fears
That have their ways of building Hope.

Let me breathe appreciation
For all those poignant slights
That teach me Thoughtfulness,
And for each violated trust
That leaves Loyalty as its lesson.

And let me not forget, today
To whisper thanks for these:
The contempt that teaches Pity,
The tear that teaches Joy,
The pain that teaches Mercy,
And the loneliness that teaches Love.

So, now...
Let me reflect upon these thanks I owe...
And let my thanks come easily today.

--Bernard J. Patrick

Friday, February 21, 2014

Clothesline by Marilyn Maciel

those people
wouldn't it be lovely
if one could
in a constant state
of we ?
some of the most
can be some of the biggest
what if there was 
no they ?
what if there was only
if words could be seen
as they float out
of our mouths
would we feel no
as they passed beyond
our lips ?
if we were to string
our words
on a communal clothesline
would we feel proud
as our thoughts
flapped in the
breeze ?

I found this delightful poem in a book by Patti Digh titled
Life is a Verb.  It is very thought-provoking, yes?

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Tribute to Mothers

The Woman with the Wild-Grown Hair 
Relaxes after Another Long Day
by Nita Penfold

After she drives her younger daughter to school, struggling
to get the wheelchair out without running over her foot and
the car stalls for the fifth time as she leaves because of
the cracked distributor cap;

after she meets the new cashier's stare over her food stamps
at the Star Market going to buy soda crackers and soup and
gingerale for another daughter who is home sick after
throwing up her entire dinner in the middle of the night;

after she exchanges babysitting for their rent in the main house
downstairs with the sweet fat/baby and blonde sister who owns
nine Little Ponies in the pink castle and a Pig-Faced Doll
with its very own brass bed;

after she lugs out the deep steel pot to catch the rain dripping
from the skylight and kills the horde of fungus/gnats in the
bathroom with their thin wings splayed against the white walls
like Christmas miniatures of squashed angels;

after she spends an hour with the child psychologist explaining
why she thinks her marriage failed and how it has affected
the children's lives and she wonders aloud if she can take
much more of this and still be able to write poems;

after the dishes, the laundry, the second daughter's throwing-up,
after trying to scrub the permanent ring out of the clawfoot tub 
and fixing the cabinet door so it won't scrape the wall when 
it opens;

after all of this, she soaks in bubbled bathwater and thinks of
Job's unnamed wife, caught between a righteous husband and his
war between God and Satan--how that woman must have tried to
smother the heavenly fire with her mantle as it destroyed their 
sheep and servants, and--fiercely--dug at the stones that killed
her ten children when the great wind breathed from the wilderness
to topple their home, how she tended Job's sores, washing him
gently with cool water, soothing the flame of Satan's tongue,
comforting him, and how she stood alone while he debated his
faith with God, proved himself again worthy to give this wife 
another ten children to raise.

As she rubs her tight thighs with a worn washcloth, she thinks
about the faith of women creating foundations out of their flesh,
becoming the anonymous survivors of daily battles,
that never seem to win the war. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A Billy Collins Favorite


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What is your definition of Kindness?

This poem by Naomi Shihab Nye, is one of my all-time favorites which I like to revisit frequently.  It should be memorized and recited often, IMHO.   I have also been pondering what kindness means to me.  I want to add that kindness is often the little things, like acknowledging emails and texts with small signs, like a happy face, things that let people know you see them, or you hear them, and they matter in your life.  Even a "Like" on a Facebook page, or a simple smile at a stranger can be a moment of kindness.   "Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."  (Robert Brault)  More and more, as I age, kindness seems like the "little things".  This poem also has a generous amount of compassion, which comes through age and experience.  


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

 "Kindness" by Naomi Shihab Nye,
 from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems.
 © Eighth Mountain Press, 1995. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


A new year is always a chance to "Do Over".  We are standing on a threshold of hope.   We don't get that opportunity very often.  We have to be responsible for what we have created based on our choices, and sometimes it's not very pretty. 

Every January 1st we get to review, release and recreate aspects of our selves on our journey of discovery and awakening.  In the musical, Scrooge, there is a song that sums up this determination to be a more intentional human than we have been in the past.   While it is probably not the best poetry, it's meaning is focused and pertinent.   Enjoy your journey of creating the best self you desire as you begin again with renewed hope.

      I'll Begin Again

I'll begin again 
I will build my life 
I will live to know 
I fulfilled my life 
I'll begin today 
Throw away the past 
And the future I build 
Will be something that will last 
I will take the time 
That I have left to live 
And I'll give it all 
That I have left to give 
I will live my days 
For my fellow men 
And I'll live in praise 
Of that moment when 
I was able to begin again 

I'll begin again 
I will change my fate 
I will show the world 
That it is not too late 
I will never stop 
While I still have time 
'Till I stand at the top 
Of the mountain I must climb 
I will start anew 
I will make amends 
And I will make quite certain 
That the story ends 
On a note of hope 
On a strong amen 
And I'll thank the world 
And remember when 
I was able to begin again 
I'll begin again!