Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

Poetry Month Day 18: Poem

April 18, 2021

Today is a Sunday. Which is traditionally my Sunday Sit-Down day. But it is also April 18. So today, Sunday Sit-down will have to take a proverbial back seat.

Six years ago today, I was with my husband, enjoying a beautiful spring day while working the hostas in the garden. I received a phone call that my brother was in the emergency room in St. Louis, five hours away. Things didn’t look good. I lightening-quick packed a bag and jumped into the car, only to find out he was gone by the time I hit the highway.

After a seemed-like-forever road trip, and after a few heartbreaking hours at my sister-in-law’s house, and a weary, disconsolate landing at my parent’s place, I was alone, silent with my thoughts. Six years ago, on that couch in a darkened living room, I felt myself in the midst of everyone’s else’s grief and sorrow and this poem is what came to me. I’m sharing it again now.


So I heard this story the other day
About a guy
Who saw a lama for his pain.

And the lama
Had trained his heart
To grow big as the sea
So it could shoulder the
Burdens of the suffering
And replace them
With love.

The lama
Asked for the guy’s hands
And took them
Into his
And he asked for the guy’s grief
And took it
Into his heart
And the guy felt better.

I want to do that.

Not to be the guy.

The lama.

Let my heart swell
Limitless
Let love flood.

Place your hands into mine.
I will ask for your pain
And my heart will open wide
Wider
Wider
And swallow your pain
In love.

Poetry Month Day 17: Faking It

April 17, 2021

Here’s another poem I’ve brought out from the dusty corners. I remember when I wrote this, and everything about this writing hummed along until I got. To. One. Line. I worked and reworked and reworked, and put the whole darn thing away because I couldn’t get the right word.

I STILL don’t have the exact right word for that line. Bonus points if you can figure out which one I struggled with.

Who knows? Some day, that right word will come to me and I might, just might, come back and make one last edit to this poem. But until then, as they say, I shall “bless and release.”

In the meantime, it’s also hit me that I started this poem in pre-COVID times. I think it reads differently in today’s context. That’s okay with me too.


Just like the kosher lady
who sneaks pancakes with bacon
I awake into action
Cheerfully rouse the troops
Serve a nutritionally-balanced breakfast
Drop the kids off with a smile
Hi! How are you doing today?
Great! And you?
Just fine.
I greet my colleagues in the same fashion As we
Gather
In important meetings
And sit rapt.
I stop at the store, exchanging
Currency and small talk
Great! And you?
Just fine.

Just fine.
How I want
How I wonder
How I wish

The feeling of
Shrugging off appearance
Sloughing away
Thick skin
Broad shoulders
Heavy heart
A shedding of pretense
Leaving me
At the intersection
Of intent and reality.

Poetry Month Day 16: Seasons

April 16, 2021

Found this poem, incomplete, in my notes. I had started with the seasons and their respective nouns, and I had toyed with the haiku structure but never quite reached satisfaction on the stanzas. Still can’t say that I have, but I’m ready to let this one make its way into the world.

Summer: loosening
A relaxing of long days
Into sun and light

Autumn: a shifting
Into clarity, crispness,
Deepening of hues

Winter: reckoning
Hibernation of spirit,
Our souls in retreat

Spring: Awakening
speaks of cliché yet never
fails to inspire awe

Poetry Month Day 15: Investment

April 15, 2021

When I was ten,
my grandma-from-California
paid for me to have piano lessons
and whenever she came in town she’d
sit me down at the piano bench and say

“Well, let’s hear my investment,”
and I’d play
And most often she would nod and smile
as I played
because I sure did practice
because she needed to get her money’s worth

And then in high school
I learned how to play guitar
on a four-dollar flea market cheapie
and I’d struggle in my room for hours
with guitar chord charts
torturing the life out of
Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Peter, Paul & Mary

until my mom brought me to the guitar store
before I went to camp, saying it was
“to get a better case for you,”
except it was for a new guitar,
a hundred-dollar one,
with a real case
with real fake furry lining
and I thought oh boy
I sure need to practice
because she needed to get her money’s worth

And now that I’m a writer
and I’ve poured myself into words
and I’ve started to understand
that even though I mostly shout into the void
I still have things to say

so I’ve bought myself a real live
domain and a real live plan
which might change the way my soapbox looks
or maybe it might not
but it might be a way to put my money
where my mouth is
where my fingers are
where my heart is
and I deserve to get my money’s worth.

Poetry Month Day 14: What They Wrote

April 14, 2021

Want to write? i said
Want a space where you’re read? i said
Then come with me i said
You can blog like me i said
Here are some ideas i said
You can take them or do other things i said

And then they came
They blogged
They took some ideas
And they did other things like:

  1. A journaling of a day, gone by too fast.
  2. An ode to flowers
  3. A poem demanding us to look, just look, at the wonder around us
  4. A treatise on nostalgia
  5. A heart-wrenching poetic series that tells of our inner conflict between our positive and negative selves
  6. Stories about trampolines
  7. Deep dives into all those weird questions that keep us awake at night
  8. A poem that hangs heavy with the unfairness of life
  9. A COVID parody on “12 Days of Christmas”
  10. Soapboxes on humans and our treatment of animals
  11. Stories that they start the first installment of, then the stories that they switch to because why not take a chance and share some writing that isn’t quite your favorite but you’re still working on and want to just put out into the world and see what happens
  12. The latest installments on the Minecraft Saga, on Chokis and Fott’s new adventures, the New Life story, the tale of Test Subject 99,823, all somehow miraculously, magically written with correctly-punctuated dialogue and paragraphing and description and narration because miraculously, magically, they realize that other people are reading their work

This is good, i think
They’re figuring things out, i think
And they’re taking it, i think
And running, i think
And it’s hard to keep up, i think

And there are some problems
That are good problems to have.

All of this since the beginning of April. Whew!

Poetry Month Day 12: Why There’s No Poem Today

April 12, 2021

I was way too tired at the end of the day
from running around as the human pawn
in a Nintendo game,
and I AIN’T FEELIN’ IT.

I ran out of good words to string
together by ten a.m. and
ran on fumes ever since then,
so I AIN’T FEELIN’ IT.

I know that writing is the best way
to express all of those things
bubbling up in and around my heart
but I AIN’T FEELIN’ IT.

There are times when writing
just feels like another burden to shoulder,
something else I’m President of,
so I AIN’T FEELIN’ IT.

And if you ask me why I’ve written
neither stanza nor line,
just know that I’m skipping my poem
’cause I AIN’T FEELIN’ IT.

Sunday Sit-Down #13: All The World

April 11, 2021

Each Sunday, I’m working my way through my experiences with race. I’ll share stories and memories from throughout my life. I know I’ll encounter moments of growth that I wish I could relive. I’ll also have to think back on choices that I wish I could remake. Come join me each week.


All the world is a very narrow bridge*

between the world as I know it
and the one too many others live

between power of identity
and the insistent tug of justice

between guilt for sins of fathers and mothers
and the compelling urge to act, to do

between apologies for who I am, what I represent
and the abiding sense of right and wrong

between my moral compass
and true north, shifting beneath my feet

between the self I am
and the one this world needs me to be

the important part is not to be afraid


*Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav

Poetry Month Day 10: The Work is Great

April 10, 2021

Today, I had the privilege of working again with other leaders from my Just Schools Cohort. Together, we’re working across districts to advance equity and justice in schools. This team of professionals…they’re amazing. And even on days where I feel discouraged about my own work, and my own progress, they are there to remind me that building a more just society is HARD. That we have a LOT of work to do. But that we can – and MUST – do it together. They inspire me.

It brings to mind a line from Pirkei Avot, a collection of Jewish teachings. Rabbi Tarfon said: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.” This Golden Shovel poem is my tribute to the incredible efforts of my colleagues.

Cathedral Rocks by Albert Bierstadt

When you stand at the base of a mountain, you
can’t ever see the top. Your feet are
just plunking down one after the other, not
knowing when-how-if they’ll arrive. They just know they’re obligated
by faith to
get you to a place where the work is complete
and whole and holy. The
temptation to be solitary in your work
is great, but
you know this journey is neither
easy nor short. So you are
going to need others with you,
others who know the only way to be free
is to
be strong, be strong, that our strength never allows us to desist
from the lifedream of reaching that mountain top, or from
the struggle of climbing it.

Poetry Month Day 9: Humor, Badly Timed

April 9, 2021

Humor.
It’s all timing and audience.

The feeling of having a joke
that is absolutely
hysterical
but having to one to tell it to
well that’s rough.

I mean, I know
what I’m saying is
WILDLY inappropriate.
Maybe even dark.
It’s also
really
freakin’
FUNNY.

And I can’t even laugh as loud as I would if I heard that joke myself because who laughs out loud at a time like this anyway, I mean board meetings and Yom Kippur services and brother’s funerals are all NOT laughing matters and how dare I laugh right now but I can’t escape the humor of some things so I swallow it down and half hope my face conceals the laughter below and half hope that someone will ask me why I’m almost smiling and half hope they’re a person who’d get it if I told them.

But just know.
if you see an certain expression on my face,
you don’t actually want to know what I’m thinking.
but if you’re the sort who would,
you asked for it.
Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Poetry Month Day 8: On Cockroaches

April 8, 2021

When you get down to it,
We really should like
Cockroaches
More than we do.
They are evolution’s rock stars,
Shining beacons of
Persistence and carrying on
And all that jazz.

I should offer nothing but respect
But
The very thought of them scuttling
(I can’t picture them doing anything but scuttling)
On floors
Over counters
In
My
PANTRY
Is enough to send me
Past the heebies
Into the full-on jeebies

And
I know this says something about me
And my lack of humanity, that
It is a metaphor for
Tolerance and compassion

And
Call me a monster
If you will
But
There is satisfaction
In a well-timed
Crack and
Squish.