Friday, April 30, 2010

NaPoWriMo Poem #30: Bridge to Heaven

Our dear friends' daughter passed into heaven yesterday, and I couldn't help expressing my sorrow for C's passing in poesy.

Bridge to Heaven
For C.--

A breath she is--
a beloved household presence
gone, yet remaining with us,
bridging earth and heaven.
She gathers her loved ones
into the Palm of His Hand--
precious shells and stones
she collects from seashores
too beautiful for earth-bound
minds to comprehend.

Brush in one hand and
palette in the other,
she paints heavenly landscapes
too brilliant for our earthly eyes--
every brushstroke praising her Creator,
every painting pure worship.

Our earth-tethered hearts ache,
throb with missing her.
Lovingly she sends us His Comfort,
enveloping us in His Love--
the Love in which she will rejoice

NaPoWriMo Poems #25, #26, #27, #28, #29

Okay, okay. Yes, today is the last day of National Poetry Month and the last day of my NaPoWriMo challenge of writing 30 poems in 30 days. I had hoped not to stoop to writing a bunch of haiku to squeak under the deadline by writing a handful of haiku, but with the difficulties inherent in this month, I had to write several spring haiku to take me to the finish line. So here are five haiku--all about the lovely and renewing season of spring.

Haiku on Spring

The apple blossoms
unfurl from the ancient tree,
white centered, pink edged.

The sun on my face
warms to my very marrow--
melting wintry heart.

Fingers dig deeply
into the winter-cooled earth--
part of warming spring.

Sitting on front porch,
fragrance of newly-turned earth
begs me to greet spring.

Irises royal,
purple sentinels glory
in spring flower beds.

NaPoWriMo Poem #24

Haiku for C.

Pain forever gone,
in new body she dances
with heavenly host.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Poem in Your Pocket Day

Today is National Poem in Your Pocket Day, part of the celebration of National Poetry Month. (And yes, I know I am going to have to write a BUNCH of poems tomorrow to catch up and complete my 30 poems in 30 days. Don't remind me.)

Today was also Class Day, our homeschool group's co-op classes. I teach two classes, my usual high school college prep expository writing course, and, for the first time this year, an elementary-level poetry class. With today being National Poem in Your Pocket Day, I quickly printed up the page from for my class--along with my favorite poem which I folded and slipped into my jacket pocket. And, of course, shared with my class.

And here it is--"in Just--" by e.e. cummings:

in Just-
spring..........when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles..........far..........and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and


(May 1920)

So I wish you all a wonderful National Poem in Your Pocket Day! Share a poem today...or any day!

Monday, April 26, 2010

NaPoWriMo #23

One of my most favorite paintings in the world is a simple one, one I first saw at the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in Pasadena. Mary Cassatt is one of my favorite artists, and when I first saw the print of "Breakfast in Bed," I fell in love with it. The original is not large--and the brush strokes are almost distracting in their dimensionality.

I have a print hanging over my piano in our living room, between prints of "The Shepherd Girl" and a Jan Van Huysum still life of flowers. The little girl in the painting reminds me of a neighbor's child when I was a young mom of only one--although the mother in the painting reminds me more of myself as a young mother, curled up in bed with my little one on a Saturday morning--with no need to rush.

So my 23rd poem for the month will be a meditation on Cassatt's lovely painting.

"Breakfast in Bed"
Squirming against me,
she fists a morsel of raisin toast,
her eyes on my forbidden
cup of tea, now cool.
I lean forward, inhaling her
baby-shampooed hair, her talcumed
warmth, her sweet babyish scent,
enhanced by wake-rumpled curls.
Her rounded cheeks, pinked
by morning sleepiness,
curve as she speaks, granting
words her own meaning
as only toddlers do--a gift
we poets seek for the
remainder of our years.

Wrapping my arms around her
warm wriggliness, my fingers
brushing against her chubby thighs,
I relax back into cool pillows,
lavender gently enveloping us.
Watching her eager brown eyes,
I know her bright mind flashes
from one thing to another--
always faster than I can follow.

Copyright 2010 by Susanne Barrett

Quotation of the Week: On Literature

Sarah Orne Jewett has long been one of my favorite 19th century American writers. One of the "local color" women writers of the late 1800s which includes Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (New England) and Willa Cather (Midwest), Jewett wrote about her beloved Maine: the place, the people, the mindset. Her most well-known novel, The Country of the Pointed Firs, has been a favorite book of mine since my introduction to her in graduate school.

My Quotation for the Week was written by Sarah Orne Jewett, and it's a lovely little thing about the value of the writer and of capital "L" Literature (you know, the "real" stuff):

"The thing that teases the mind over and over for years, and at last gets itself put down rightly on paper--whether little or great, it belongs to Literature."

--Sarah Orne Jewett
I find this little gem valuable as my plans for a book on the value of liturgy and ancient church practice for a modern evangelical audience keeps teasing my brain. I have no time to pursue it now, but I allow it to circle, strengthening with each revolution through my mind. I hope that something comes of it--something worthy--or at least worthwhile.

Only time shall tell, as the old cliche goes.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

NaPoWriMo Poem #22: A Psalm

Today I skipped church--something I rarely ever do. But my work was piling up and I've simply been exhausted after the worrisome events of this past week. So upstairs I went to have my own worship service. After hauling up my prayer journal, 1928 Book of Common Prayer, Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime, and my iPod, I lit my pillar candle and slipped the iPod into the player, switching on soft strains of Gregorian Chant before opening the prayer books to start my time with the Lord. I spent an hour in His Presence, praying His Word, especially from Psalm 119--my favorite Psalm.

Wikipedia informs us of the etymology of the word "Psalms": "The word psalms is derived from the Greek ψαλμοί (psalmoi), perhaps originally meaning 'songs sung to a harp,' from psallein 'play on a stringed instrument.'"

So in the spirit of the Psalms, especially Psalm 119: a Psalm of Susanne.

I sing Your praise,
O Lord Almighty,
for my soul longs
for Your Holy Presence.
For Your Word
is Truth,
the path to holiness,
the path to joy.

For I drink of Your Spirit,
drinking deeply of the depths
which envelop me in Your Spirit,
leading me along
lovely pathways, oak-shaded,
against edges of towering cliffs,
through valleys rife with danger,
atop cragged peaks where
I lift arms, as Moses,
supported by Your strength.

I soar above the mountains,
Your wings bearing my weight
silently, effortlessly.
Even if I am prey
pursued by the hunter
of my soul,
I am safe in You,
for You are
my deliverer,
my protector and defender,
my salvation--
both now
and evermore.

Meditation for a Quiet Sunday

Some day I am going to have my creative and wonderful husband (you are reading this, Dearest?) build me a prie dieu for private prayer. Father Acker has one in his prayer corner, and I think that kneeling before the Lord is the best way to pray--for me at least. Yes, I love kneelers, but I love the position more--worshiping Him with my body as well as with mind, soul, and strength--and this looks much more comfortable than kneeling on the floor--even with carpet.

So, join me in kneeling before the Lord on this beautiful Sunday morning while I share a meditation I received yesterday from High Calling Blogs. Psalm 117 is the shortest Psalm, and it's one of my favorites--after Psalm 119, that is--the longest Psalm. Written by Mark D. Roberts, it's just the reminder I need after a busy and worrisome week. I hope that you enjoy it, too. If you would prefer reading it on the website rather than here, you may do so: Reflection of Psalm 117.

Psalm 117 is a simple, short call to worship. It is directed, not only at the people of Israel, but at “all you nations” (117:1). It calls all people on earth to worship and then provides the reason for this summons: “For [the Lord] loves us with an unfailing love; the LORD’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the LORD!” (117:2).

Every now and then, you and I need a basic reminder of why we worship God. To be sure, there are nuances of worship that deserve extensive development. But Psalm 117 brings us back to the center of worship. Why should we praise the Lord? Because his love for us is unfailing and his faithfulness never ends.

Notice that worship is not something that begins with us. It’s not something we rev up in our own souls. Rather, worship begins with God, with his love and faithfulness. Our worship is always a response to God’s initiative and grace. Most of all, it responds to what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. In him we see and experience God’s unfailing love and enduring faithfulness.

Thus, Christian worship is always flavored by the Gospel, the reminder of what God has done in Christ. Whether singing songs of praise, offering prayers, listening to the Word preached, or coming to the Lord’s table, we do so as a grateful response to the love and faithfulness of God in Christ.

When have you experienced God’s unfailing love? When have you experienced his faithfulness? How do the love and faithfulness of God help you to worship?

Gracious God, how wonderful you are to me. I have tasted of your unfailing love, your love that never lets me go. And I have experienced your faithfulness again and again. Yes, indeed, I ought to praise you because you have been so good to me.

Most of all, I praise you for your love and faithfulness given through Christ. How marvelous is your grace, O God! How amazing your love! How rock-solid your faithfulness!

May my worship, whether I’m alone or gathered with others, always be a right response to who you are and what you have done. Amen.
Today's Collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

ALMIGHTY God, who showest to them that are in error the light of thy truth, to the intent that they may return into the way of righteousness; Grant unto all those who are admitted into the fellowship of Christ's Religion, that they may avoid those things that are contrary to their profession, and follow all such things as are agreeable to the same; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
May you be blessed on this Lord's Day, you--my friends--who kindly and ever-so-patiently read my poems, ponderings, and Meditative Meanderings. I am grateful for each and every one of you, this day and always.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

NaPoWriMo Poem #21

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I'm attempting to write a poem a day for the month. It hasn't been easy--especially with the absolutely crazy week I've had--actually an absolutely crazy month, to be precise.

I'm starting this post with no clue as to what I'm going to write--so it's gonna be a complete freewrite. It may totally suck, but it's one more poem toward my total, even if I'm three poems behind for the month. I may resort to snappy little three-lined haiku by the end of the month, but I'm not willing to go there now. YET.

ideas flow--
one after the other,
image following image.
I reach,
fingers outstretched,
trying to capture
a word,
a phrase--
something that encapsulates
that which is ephemeral.

the challenge of the poet
is expressing the unexpressible,
or at least expressing the ordinary
in extraordinary ways
that speak revelation--

the way He whispers His truth
in my ear,
making the impossible
in Him.

Friday, April 23, 2010

NaPoWriMo Poem #20: Earth Day

I've been rather distracted this week with prayer and concern for two special people. On Monday I received the news that a former student from my Advanced Writing course two years ago at our homeschool co-op Class Day had a serious health setback, at only age 20. Married only last Saturday to the brother of another former student, Michelle enjoyed her wedding day thoroughly. But at the hotel Saturday night, she had a stroke. By Tuesday the doctors determined that a benign tumor in her heart was the culprit, so she will be transferred to Scripps La Jolla for open heart surgery in the near future, once she is stabilized after the stroke. I've heard no news since Tuesday, but have continued in prayer for Michelle's complete recovery and for peace for her new husband, Nick, and their families.

On Wednesday afternoon my mother called me from Hawaii. My parents were spending their usual eight weeks in their tiny condo in Waikiki, accompanied by my 12 year old niece. Dad had chest pains for a few days, went to Urgent Care who cleared him after a normal EKG, and finally after three days of pain, my mom talked him into an ER visit. The doctors discovered a blockage and planned to place a stent on Thursday--which was unsuccessful because the artery was too blocked, and they found a second blockage as well. So today, Friday, my dad underwent a double bypass surgery. All three of us "kids" offered to fly over to be there with Mom, but she refused us--unless Dad's condition worsens. The surgery was successful today, and he's in the ICU overnight and will go home from the hospital next Wednesday; he should be well enough to fly home by their planned date of June 7.

So, needless to say, I've been a bit distracted, and I slid into the wooden chair in the dining room of Victoria House with a sigh of relief, desperately needing the little oasis of the Anglican Morning Prayer, Healing Service, and Holy Eucharist. Father was running a few minutes late, so we managed to not miss a single second of the service today--a real blessing as we prayed from the 1928 Book of Commom Prayer, prayed Psalms, read Scripture, prayed for Michelle, my dad, and others who need the healing grace of God as well as for the many doctors, nurses, and health care workers who treat and tend the sick on a regular basis. The Nicene Creed brought peace to my heart, as did the Confession and the Collects for Peace and Grace. I felt tension ease in my neck and shoulders as I relaxed into His Word, taking solace in the Word of God prayed through the Book of Common Prayer.

After the service while J took his guitar lesson from Father, I pulled out a small pad of lined paper and jotted the first words that came to mind. I don't know if they make a good poem--I rather doubt it, in fact. But they are the words that flowed from me in this time of release after the service, when I allowed thought to come and find a place to nestle in, make itself at home.

Earth Day (A Day Late)
As Isaiah envisioned the Lord,
seated on His throne,
surrounded by worshiping heavenly host,
so I see Him, too--
enthroned atop snowy mountains,
strewn with rounded boulders
and shaded in hazy purple-gray.
His world greens with the new life
of spring--
enfruiting blossoms flutter on apple trees,
ruby Eucharist cups of tulips in bloom.

Every day is Earth Day here,
created for our joy and our remembrance
of Him who lovingly placed each star
against blue-black skies--
who hold our spinning planet
between His careful palms,
gently breathing breezes
across its beloved surface:
.....His tears our seas,
.....His anger our storms,
.....His sighs our winds,
.....His joys our rainbows--
reminders of His promise
to our human race millenia ago.
Copyright 2010 by Susanne Barrett
April 23, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NaPoWriMo Poem #19: Late April Snowfall

(our front yard, under a thin blanket of snow)

On Wednesday morning we woke to huge flakes of snow falling, the latest snow we've experienced in our almost nine years in the Southern California mountains. This morning we woke to a near-blizzard, with snow sticking on the very wet landscape. Driving in the snow wasn't easy this morning, although the snowy landscape was simply lovely to behold.

So with Southern California snow falling this week, so very late in April, a poem was definitely in the making:

Late April Snowfall
Spiraling down
through menacing grey skies,
the flakes,
like dancers,
float and twirl,
seemingly weightless.
A late April surprise,
this snowfall--
which usually ceases
its visits by mid-March--
this spring
the wintry snow chose to spend
an extended holiday
in Southern California,
swirling to the valley floor
and alighting on my potted blue pansies,
now drooping under the snow's
icy touch.

Copyright 2010 by Susanne Barrett

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NaPoWriMo Poems 17 & 18: Cinquains

(composing poems with my favorite fountain pen)

I spent time yesterday prepping for my Poetry Class at our homeschool co-op Class Days. I'll be teaching my 4th-6th graders how to write cinquains and diamantes, some fun Visual Poems. As I wrote my lesson, I composed two cinquains as examples. Since I'm so overwhelmed with work right now, I'm going to unashamedly post my very elementary shape poems, but I'll take what I can get as I wend my way to 30 poems for National Poetry Month....

Poem #17: Poetry Cinquain
Clever, crafty
Writing, composing, describing
Best words, best order

Poem #18: Spring Cinquain
Green, beautiful
Growing, budding, blooming
Always makes me joyful

I hope to compose some more sophisticated work soon...when I somehow come out from under my rock (or rather, laptop) as soon as I get my online work under control--not likely soon, I might add....

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Poems Composed at Retreat: Sunday (Poem #16)

"I rejoice at Your Word, as one who finds great treasure." --Psalm 119:162

The theme of our Lake Murray Women's Retreat is "Treasures." The word "treasured" popped up in both Friday and Saturday's Retreat poems, and as our speaker, Ernestene Clemmons, spoke for the last time on Sunday morning, I composed the final poem at retreat.

Treasures in heaven I gather and store,
pressing them with care into the shabby trunk
into which I pack my legacy.

Into this weathered trunk I lovingly place
my words--
in journals, notes, letters, and poems--
and prayers whispered deep past midnight.
I harvest His joy--
compressed into phrase and
inked into permanence,
carefully tucked into the corners
of the time-worn trunk.

I crease into fragile tissue paper
the unworded and unwordable treasures
of faith, tradition, courage, hope--
boxed away in the dim recesses
of an old attic,
waiting to be rediscovered.

I crush these my treasures to my heart,
press a kiss to them deeply,
then pack them away--
to be unfolded, slightly yellowed,
shaken out, and honored
by the generations to come.

April 18, 2010
Copyright 2010 by Susanne Barrett

Poems Composed at Retreat: Saturday (Poem #15)

(View of Pine Valley from Sunrise Highway)

On our second day of Lake Murray Community Church's annual Women's Retreat at the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center, we spent over an hour of the morning in Quiet Time--off by ourselves with God. Definitely the most precious time of retreat for me, I sat outside in the sun until I became too hot, then settled on my bunk in the dorm alone, reveling in the silence and solitude that enabled me to really listen.

So Saturday's NaPoWriMo effort:

In the Silence
We hear Him in the silence--
that rare commodity,
set aside for Him,
eagerly gathered to heart
like a child's shiny pennies.

We hear Him in the quiet--
disturbed only by the
wind-whispering pines overhead,
His Spirit speaking to ours,
far outside confines of sound, place, time.

His merest murmurs
so easily muffled
by worry, noise, busyness--
but audible this day, right now:
treasured lovingly
if we wholemindedly listen.
April 17, 2010
Copyright 2010 by Susanne Barrett

Poems Composed at Retreat: Friday (Poem #14)

(photo from 2009 retreat)

Each spring the women of Lake Murray Community Church trek up the mountain to my own neck o' the woods for our Women's Retreat at the Pine Valley Bible Conference Center (a mere two miles from our home and my daughter's employer). We start on Friday night with dinner together and games, enjoy a speaker, an extended quiet time, and much craft and free time on Saturday, and a lovely worship service and Communion on Sunday before packing up at noon and often meeting for lunch at Major's Diner in our town before the rest of the women wend their way back down the mountain and I remain atop the mountain, wishing the retreat lasted at least a full week.

Usually we retreat in March, but this year an early Easter moved us into April, and thus I was jotting NaPoWriMo poems while listening to the speaker. I'll share Friday night's offering here, and the other day's poems in subsequent posts. I'm still behind in my goal of composing a poem a day--but only by four poems or so (although the cinquain I just composed as an example for my 4th-6th grade poetry class lesson may help make up the difference).

So here's Friday's effort, written as the women gathered to eat salad and sandwiches for dinner and as we started the lovely women's worship--which I think sounds positively angelic as we sing.

Retreat 2010
The chatter of women
rise in laughter,
drop to near-whisper
in more private conversations.

Greetings spring across the hall--
joyous echoes as friends
welcome and are welcomed,
both old and new--
"one is silver and the other gold,"
as the childhood song goes.

Arms encircle,
holding each other close to our hearts.
His Love weaves lives together,
warp and weft entwined--

Voices harmonize in worship,
song of sopranos and altos swirling upward--
like curls of incense rising to heaven,
seamlessly blending with the holy chorus
of the angels.
April 16, 2010
Copyright Susanne Barrett

Thursday, April 15, 2010

NaPoWriMo Poem #13

Life is simply usual for this writer/poet, homeschool teacher, online educator/cheerleader, co-op poetry and expository writing instructor, former university professor, etc. My online class is taking up so much of my time as it's a class I'm writing as I go as well as responding to the students' analysis of the short stories. And it's definitely getting in the way of my writing daily poems during National Poetry Month. And in the way of my keeping up on reading other's blogs which which I usually keep up.

So here's a short poem to "hold me over" for tonight (it's after 11PM), and I hope to have time to compose a poem before leaving for Lake Murray's annual women's retreat at Pine Valley Bible Conference Center (a mere two miles from our house).

My Grandmother's Clock
The mantel clock clicks its rhythm,
counting the minutes, hours, days, years--
a household god in its pagoda,
centered over the rising heat of our stone hearth.
Its antique face smoke-kissed by home fires
and my grandparents' thousands of cigarettes
when it settled atop their family room bookcase
over their droning television--
their god, worshipped day and night--
beside World War II commendations and photographs.
This clock still marks passing time
as surely now as then,
watching over us with impassive face,
not judging--just absorbing everything
with beautiful, ancient eyes.
Copyright 2010 by Susanne Barrett

NaPoWriMo Poem #12: Blank Page

Blank Page
The allure of a blank page--
my fingers twitching with desire
to sully the sheer whiteness,
to impose my will upon its untarnished purity.

I want my words to rain there,
Rivulets of phrases dripping,
dropping down the white sheen
in even rhythm,
thoughts contained
by faint blue lines,

I want to scrawl thoughts,
make them real by
transcribing that which is trapped
in my head,
slipping from idea
into words,
no longer defying expression.

I want to triumph over
this blank page--
declaring it as mine
the way bold explorers claimed
the New World
centuries ago.

Copyright 2010 by Susanne Barrett

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Yes, a Wee Bit Behind.... and Spring!

Yes, I'm four poems behind on National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo)--four poems behind on writing a poem a day for a month. Busy-ness has rudely taken over, wringing all poesy from my soul with its work-roughened hands. So rather than jotting four rushed haiku poems and calling all "GOOD," I'm going to write two poems a day for the next four days, including today.

Tonight I shared one of my NaPoWriMo poems with our local writing workshop: An Easter Life. A few changes were suggested by the group, and I've already implemented the suggestions as they were all "spot on" -- small word shifts like "sterilized" to "sterile" and "unhinged" to "yielded." Little improvements can make a marked difference in flow and mood, and I'm unspeakably grateful to our little group o' seven souls willing to listen, read, ponder, and comment, as we nudge one another toward powerful and true writing.

So another poem tonight. I asked my 4th-6th grade poetry class to compose acrostics for homework, so I may as well share one I jotted down with them and have since revised--a fitting little thing after planting Pansies and Sweet Williams in my porch posy-pots this weekend:

Spring comes calling,
Peeking around corner of
Rain, wind, storm
Into greening warmth.
No further frost, snow, or ice--
Gardens may birth their beauty.
Copyright 2010 by Susanne Barrett

A Favorite Painting Inspires a Poem

Keith and I purchased this print from the San Diego Museum of Art back in our honeymoon days (we're celebrating our silver anniversary this June)--it's long been my favorite piece in the SDMA's permanent collection. SDMA posted a TwitPic image of "The Young Shepherdess" by Bourguereau today, and I just had to write about it today as part of National Poetry Writing Month--NaPoWriMo.

The Young Shepherdess
Her calloused feet
pad silently
down the dirt paths
daily, hourly--
her way worn to softness
beneath bare heels,
care for the sheep
bowing her young shoulders.

Beneath curling wisps
of wind-tossed hair,
a hint of disdain
in the set of her mouth
tells the tale
of a mind wandering,
dreaming of different days
far from hill-strewn fields.

The sheep know her voice--
dim eyes rolling,
they stumble toward her call,
knowing safety under her
wary gaze and guarding crook.

Her pensive brown eyes
whisper secrets warm
as her soft voice
carries the call
among the autumn-browning hills
she has always known.

Copyright 2010 by Susanne Barrett

Monday, April 12, 2010

Attempting Gratitude amid Weariness

It's been a difficult week for several reasons, so today I'm trying to bring forth those thankful feelings I know I should have but currently don't. I'm rather worn out from my new class at Brave Writer and several other items on my to-do list, demanding my attention, my flagging energy. "Weary" would be a better word than "worn out," actually.

Seeking hope in the midst of drugdery, I turned to the wisdom seeping from the edges of my humble quotation journal, and several phrases from Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest are calming heart and mind, bringing with them much-needed peace:

"One of the most amazing revelations of God comes when we learn that it is in the commonplace things that the Deity of Jesus Christ is realized" (February 7).

"As God to keep the eyes of your spirit open to the Risen Christ, and it will be impossible for drudgery to damp you" (March 6).
So I now join Ann Voskamp's wonderful Gratitude Community at Holy Experience, working my way ever-so-trudgingly towards One Thousand Gifts....

So this week, I bow in thankfulness for...

151. ...digging into soil on Saturday, blue pansies now cheering my front porch.

152. ... our porch remaining winterized with stacks of wood and kindling--still needing warmth and flickering light of fire on these cold spring nights.

153. sparkling in wan morning sunshine, a reminder of blessed coolness as we head toward the unwelcome, uncomfortable heat of summer.

154. ...wisdom to postpone the beginning of school from today to tomorrow as too many needs cluttered my mind and day.

155. ...resting yesterday after church when body and mind were too sore to continue checking "done" items off mental list of pressing needs.

156. ...boys who (mostly) cheerfully scrub and sweep, vacuum and dust, cleaning the house for me today. (They'll gladly tackle cleaning rather than algebra any day.)

157. ...possibility of new beginnings for us, after much prayer and work--and much prayer and work still ahead--but glimmerings of new hope motivate us.

158. ...a friend quietly slipping a $100 WalMart gift card into my hand yesterday after church--the gift of a family who wishes to remain anonymous. Benjamin needs shoes and the others need additional items. Sigh of relief and joy--and learning well the lesson of receiving graciously as well as giving generously.

159. of poems raining about me this April: National Poetry Month.

160. of celebrating Elizabeth's 18th birthday this last week with her choice of activity: a "Girls' Day Out" with me, rather than party of non-slumbering friends overnighting or large gathering of family and friends.

161. ...Easter hymns sung heartily on Resurrection Sunday, a welcome change from usual rock 'n' roll music at church as we attended "blended" service rather than "contemporary" on Easter Sunday.

162. ...anticipation of our annual women's retreat with wonderful women of Lake Murray Community Church--at the Bible Camp a mere two miles from our home.

163. ...two weeks' worth of gratitude building up (as I celebrated Holy Week), refreshing strength, mind, spirit.

164. ...candlelight and soft chant music in background of Noon Prayers during lunch hour this afternoon--peace and hope and joy in speaking prayers low and sweet.

165. ...much-needed rain slaking thirst of mountains, still trembling now and then as plates adjust.

166. little damage here from the 7.2 earthquake a mere 80 miles from our home--just many items to pick up that fell over: books, CDs, DVDs, candles, knick-knacks, lamps. Only casualty: my antique bed lamp, already broken, was broken anew. Aftershocks remind us of grace of "Easter Miracle"--only two dead as quake occurred at 3:30 on Easter afternoon rather than when schools, offices, stores, etc, were full.

167. of gardening returning with spring--greening earth greets me with winsome smile and beckoning finger.

168. flowing across pages bringing shy joys as thoughts stumble over themselves, eager to be expressed. Words as sculpting tools bring form and suggest motion and emotion.

169. ...boys who still sit on my lap with little invitation, despite two of the three edging tall over me.

170. ...eager students--at home, at co-op, in forums--searching for treasures in literature, proudly displaying rough-cut diamonds of revelation and Truth in palms of their hands.

holy experience

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Remember Me

It's a very good thing that I posted extra tanka poems earlier this week--so I've still published ten poems in ten days for NaPoWriMo.

Yesterday we celebrated Elizabeth's 18th birthday with a day of shopping and seeing Remember Me, starring one of my favorite actors, Pierce Brosnan, and one of her favorite actors, Robert Pattinson. The only thing that I didn't like about the movie was hearing two superb British actors speaking in broad New York City accents. Especially Pierce.

The story was incredibly sad--at the beginning, the middle, and the end. And the few times happiness tried to peek around the corner, something else heartbreaking happened. The end of the movie required two Kleenexes--both Elizabeth and I were crying by the end, even though we knew the ending ahead of time. In fact, I think knowing made it even more sad.

But the dynamics among the characters was mesmerizing--how people in pain learn to survive, to live and love, to be struck down again, and to live and love again anyway. Two young people with tragic pasts still manage to be idealists--to want what is right and good and true. And they still get struck down by further tragedy.

Yet it was not hard to watch--well, only at times was it hard to watch. The gentle unraveling of the scars each character carried was intriguing--I was never bored. And there were moments of joy and revelation dotted between the tragic and violent--just as there is in real life. The film was beautifully and powerfully acted--and every character was memorable. The screenplay was stunning and ever so poignant.

Remember Me is leaving the theaters in our area; in fact, it was only playing at two theaters in the entire Sam Diego area, and both were late night showings. By next week it will most likely be gone. But when it comes out on DVD, I highly recommend seeing Remember Me. But it's cathartic--a great movie if you want to (or need to) cry. Just make sure you have a box of Kleenex at your elbow; you're gonna need it.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

NaPoWriMo #8: More Tanka

I've recently been teaching my 4th-6th grade poetry class at our homeschool group's Class Days about writing haiku and tanka poems.

Being a rather verbose writer with a weak self-editing streak, I tend to prefer the tanka as I have two more lines (and 14 more syllables) to work with in the tanka versus the haiku. Plus tanka are about relationships (supposedly)--about the subjective--while haiku are stubbornly objective.

I prefer subjective.

So here's another tanka--also because I couldn't wrap my head around ReadWritePoem's new prompt and have been working with my literary analysis class's assessment of Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" at Brave Writer all day, so I haven't much working brain left.

But I can count syllables.

I think.

And focus on the tea towel pinned to my pantry door, glimpsing there a love-affair of sorts:

home I've never seen
nestling green in Irish Sea,
an amoeba-shape
undulating southward--a
distant affair: Isle of Man.
Original version before reading RWP prompt again:

home I've never seen
nestling green in Irish Sea,
an amoeba-shape
undulating southward--
an ancient berth: Isle of Man

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

NaPoWriMo Day 7: Tanka

ReadWritePoem gives us our Day 7 prompt: write a tanka on a humorous love situation. I think I'll use the tanka form (which I had seriously considered writing before I read the prompt) to tell a story from my own marriage--the premiere April Fools' Day joke my husband ever played on me:

he reveals his love
by stringing wire around
the edge of their bed
to switch bedlamp off, on, off--
teasing her for April Fools.
And a bonus tanka for spring:
fluttering, spring comes
revealing faith, hope, and love
in brimming puddle
and in budding daffodil--
yellow as a May sunset.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

NaPoWriMo Day #6: Thoughtful

("Fazio's Mistress" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1863)

Day #6 prompt at ReadWritePoem involves writing about images. I chose one image, definitely among my Pre-Raphaelite collection of postcards from the showing of their work at the San Diego Museum of Art.

She thinks slowly,
thought plodding after thought,
queuing through artery and vein.
And her thoughts dissipate,
melting into images,
stiff portraits of him--
shoulders back, eyes haunted
as he speaks his truth,
opens his pain,
and walks away.

She stanches her wounds,
hoping the bleeding
will slow,
knowing that her scabbed heart
will continue to seep
through gauzy bandages--
healing as gradually,
as ponderously,
as her thoughts.

Copyright 2010 by Susanne Barrett


Blog Widget by LinkWithin