Friday, December 30, 2022

resurfacing; boxes

Greetings, Poetry Friday friends.  I'm on Day 5 of a COVID infection that I had hoped magically to escape forever, and although I have felt pretty crappy, honestly what feels worst is no longer being able to say, "Unbelievably I've never had it!"  Guess what, guys: I'm not special.😝 But today my head feels more normal, anyway.

I'm also on Day 10 in the new house and thus surrounded by boxes we didn't get to unpacking before illness struck.  As Mary Lee demonstrates so richly in her post, "Box is such a rich topic."  Indeed the Inklings addressed it back in 2019, and that post harks back to previous boxy posts--yet that does not stop me from going around again, because RICH.

So let's see if I can wake up my poetry heart again, which has been on hiatus, and take on the Carroll square form too.


How Much Is Too Much?

We fit it all into boxes,
fit more boxes than we need.
It boxes us in ever, more
all than in wisdom we'd allow,
into--we ever-- we'd never not!
Boxes, need more! Allow, not refuse!

old house: the moment at which my best intentions gave way
Oh my heavens, what a mess that poem is--a mess that perfectly captures the efforts I made to be organized and circumspect about reducing our STUFF down to neatly packed and labeled boxes of Not Too Much!  It started out great, but as the days passed and our Decision and Discernment muscles fatigued, it became harder to leave things behind...and now I'm surrounded by stuff that never should have come, and which I'll be unpacking directly from moving boxes into giveaway boxes. *sighhhhh*  

I do like how the poem's lines grow longer as resolve weakens, as it becomes harder to determine what's essential, what's sensible. And huzzah for the power of punctuation, right?

Thanks to the #PoetryPals/Poetry Sisters for sharing their December challenge, and thanks to Patricia for hosting us this last Poetry Friday of the year at her blog.  I agree about the blessings, and wish you all the brightest of New Year beginnings!

Friday, December 16, 2022

the three Rs


It's Climate Friday here at my juicy little universe, and at my house we are deep in the throes of packing to move into a very different set of spaces. The moving van comes on December 20! 

The process is challenging: this is not a matter of picking up what we have and setting it down again 🎵 as it was ; instead, each room, each function, each priority of our new (mostly) empty-nested and self-employed lives must be rethought and reimagined.  And each of these tangles must be solved with a recommitment to The Whole Point: to land more lightly on the planet.

Some of that is accomplished by the simple location of the new place: with deep pleasure the other evening, I left our leafy neighborhood street on foot, crossed into the blinking, gritty urban downtown, arrived at the Sherwin Williams paint store to pick up sample quarts, and was back at home within 30 minutes. On foot! Along the way I could have had many haircuts or manicures, eaten many Ethiopian or Caribbean meals, visited art galleries or makerspaces, and caught a fleet of buses to anywhere, including a Greyhound.

The three Rs used to be Readin', wRitin' and aRithmetic--always a kind of misconception of learning, a kind of fib. Currently you'll hear in schools and all over the place that  we should Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle, which remains true but perhaps doesn't go far enough. I know that not everyone has the luxury of upping and wholesale moving to reach their climate rescue goals, but what if we made a habit of thinking bigger?  What if the Three Rs were Rethink, Reimagine, Recommit?

Every small way of life is an opportunity to recommit to the goal, to rethink and reimagine what we use and how.  I suffered a paroxysm of guilt the other day when I began to excavate my fabric stash, which has continued to accumulate since 2007 (because I LOVED those pajamas that skirt those pants even if I couldn't wear them anymore), which is the last time I did any actual quilting. Then this past week, preparing an eco-holiday lesson for Sunday school, I (re)discovered the concept of  furoshiki.

Reimagining the uses of my beloved fabrics has allowed me to let go of just about all the accumulated paper gift wrapping materials stored in another part of the house (no more tape, no more ribbon!), and to know that with a pair of pinking shears I can repurpose my fabrics and use them again and again--and they are STILL available for quilting if I get around to that again.
Again: small things reimagined as we pack and plan for our smaller space--with breaks for World Cup soccer matches, of course!  Here's an article to help us practice Rethinking, Reimagining and Recommitting about a much BIGGER THING: the entire World Cup.
And now, because this is a poetry blog, a poem from Ada Limón, about hoping, allowing, helping the world to come back... but "you know it's not the same as it was."


Easy light storms in through the window, soft
            edges of the world, smudged by mist, a squirrel’s 

            nest rigged high in the maple. I’ve got a bone 
to pick with whomever is in charge. All year, 

I’ve said, You know what’s funny? and then,
            Nothing, nothing is funny. Which makes me laugh

            in an oblivion-is-coming sort of way. A friend
writes the word lover in a note and I am strangely

excited for the word lover to come back. Come back
            lover, come back to the five and dime. I could 

            squeal with the idea of blissful release, oh lover,
what a word, what a world, this gray waiting. In me,

a need to nestle deep into the safe-keeping of sky.
            I am too used to nostalgia now, a sweet escape

            of age. Centuries of pleasure before us and after
us, still right now, a softness like the worn fabric of a nightshirt

and what I do not say is, I trust the world to come back.
            Return like a word, long forgotten and maligned 

            for all its gross tenderness, a joke told in a sun beam,
the world walking in, ready to be ravaged, open for business.

Karen at her Shocking Clever Blog is our host today.  May you all enjoy a December of merry and bright, bringing all your Rs to bear with pleasure!

Thursday, December 1, 2022

whatever you want to know

Greetings on this first day of December!  The Inklings are kicking the month off with a challenge from Molly, who was "enchanted with Amy Ludwig Vanderwater’s recent Poetry Friday post: “Answer an Unasked Question.” She invited readers to Think of something someone might wonder, real or pretend…and then write a poem answering this question. I’m passing along her invitation, one which I think has broad possibilities. Here’s the link so you can read her mentor poem, “Answer”."

 As always, Amy's poem was for a child audience, and I'll get there too...but on the first pass I've ended up with something half-as*ed and half-answered, for adults:


 But Amy's poem really is--it is her gift--charming and immediate and real, everything opposite the slippery speechification of us adults, and so I will go on and use it as a mentor poem.  Thanks, Amy, and thanks, Molly!





I know you didn't ask directly, but here's where you can see the other Inklings' answers...

Mary Lee Hahn @ A(nother) Year of Reading
Molly Hogan @ Nix the Comfort Zone
Linda Mitchell @ A Word Edgewise
Margaret Simon @ Reflections on the Teche

Our host today is none other than Inkling Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core.  Do check in with her  for her unasked question poem, and with all our poetry pals, each one guaranteed to brighten your darkening, shortening days if not to answer all your questions!

Friday, November 25, 2022

catalog of unabashed change

Greetings to all those thankful for poetry.  I know--and I hope you know--that Ross Gay's phenomenal collection is actually called  CATALOG OF UNABASHED GRATITUDE, but today he's going to help me express gratitude for all kinds of change, even the hard ones.


catalog of unabashed change

Friends, bear with me today,

for I am making an experiment

from simple things which are not

the dream of a robin but like a sprawling 

of vines that have invaded but also wind us in with their remarkable vigor,

so many symbols 

telling me 

in no uncertain terms

to tendril forth

a proposition of attention,

a red-light vigilance thrumming behind my eyes

which is also delight within the halo of my ribcage

winding and raveling and reeling me 

into a mission, should I choose to accept it,

with a life-and-death ripening 

explosion of imperfect solutions,

“should I choose”--

and who among us could ignore such

an invitation to complexity?

Hear ye! Hear ye! I am here

to hunker down on my knees in the grass the gutter the gravel

to spell it out for us 

again and again

how the normal passage of

hourly annual geologic time is continuing its rounds

steady as ever with its glowing sunsets

and weathering leaves and twiggy entropy,

so many of the natural things steady 

in the habits that make us gasp

with seasonal joy, 

say in the form of a pumpkin

which makes us want to stay alive even, thank you;

and thank you  

for not letting us forget how how simultaneously

nothing is normal, just look around

at all the bugs that no longer accompany us on the windshield

of our daily driving,

and thank you for giving us children

every day, even the 8 billionth

mercy, mercy, thank you

for the medicine that kept that mother alive

oh thank you thank you

for blooming and burning,

and thank you for what inside those children’s

wonder bursts like a wolf in woodchip facepaint

howling into the world,

likely glittering a long contrail

of invention like one named Miles ought,

or, like one named Aurelia ought,

casting bolts of golden inclusion:

“I’ll miss you, August”--oh

thank you

for the way someone admirable steps

to the mic and announces

they will suffer fools with actual weapons

to represent us 

muster-blustering into the field;

and thank you, friends, when next spring

everything that fell 

spiky or sticky or swollen

will regenerate itself thank you very much

with no help from us

when that translucent hope that maybe

we have not already f*cked everything up

will cause me to 

fall down crying,

when I see that the bee

has pollinated the melon,

and when I see that

Bill 13-22 Electrify New Buildings has passed 

and that glacially

we are rethinking everything,

how we’re trying.

And thank you, too. Thanks for the 

board or the lectern or the page I have put you on.

Here is a statistic. 

Put on these comfy shoes

and take an electrolyte tablet for your 

water bottle, dear one,

for I know this is going to be long, and hard.

I can’t stop

my gratitude, which includes, dear reader,

you, for sticking it out with me,

for puzzling along with my

porcelain berries and the tech logos

and the bruised banana and the cell tower.

Here is a bowl of soup. I have stirred change into it.

And thank you for the shadow of a chance

glancing over these words as I write them,

for the way the unremembered elephant 

in the room keeps arriving garlanded with loops of apple peel

which, oh, might be your one reason

to carry your soapbox all the way down to the orchard,

just that one beauty of apples,

or the simple hand-cranking of an ingenious peeler

(and ask how its components were made).

And thank you, again, for the true kindness

with which you type, patiently,  what a rich post, thanks for the link, 

we’re doing that in my neighborhood too

I appreciate it.

I am excitable, judgmental.

I am sorry.  Mercy oh mercy I am grateful.

I’m putting all my effort into 

holding on more loosely, 

into kneeling quietly in the grass the gutter the gravel,

into just lightly touching your feed

with something teetering 

between process and product,

between purple aster flowers 

and legibility, between digital snips 

and the one I am scared to try,

the six letters poured out in gasoline and lit on literal fire

meaning it’s much worse than we think,

and sooner; to which I say

what do you think all these little placards of art are,

other than loving

what every second goes away?

Slow down, I mean to say. Stay.


I hope I am not too loud.

I hope I am loud enough. 

And thank you.



Click here for the #change album.

Ruth is our host today at There is no such thing as a godforsaken town--more unabashed gratitude!


Friday, November 18, 2022

nine years


Greetings, PF friends. It's the 3rd Friday of the month, which means it's Climate Action Day.  If reading coverage of COP27, which is closing today, makes you want take a few more personal steps right now, check out this list from the Washington Post.  Of course, we know that our individual actions alone don't make a dent in global climate warming, but I like to think of the small actions we do as a string of prayer beads, as a rosary of reminders to stay focused on the Big Moves towards a lighter, less consumptive way of living on the planet. 

For example, each week I think mindfully about how I'm going to get where I need to go each day, and I try to figure out if I need to drive instead of assuming that I'll drive. Even on the days I must use the car, that practice reminds me to consider how I'm arranging my life to reduce driving and what I'm doing to press my local government to support better public transport, bike and electric vehicle infrastructure (ie who do I need to write to today?)

I have time this morning to highlight only one of the Big Moves that a nation can make (and as a Big Nation which has contributed more than our fair share to the Anthropocene Catastrophe, the U.S. has a duty to make the Big Moves). It's special because it's essentially about SHOPPING, an activity I have found fun and rewarding in my life and which I really miss. The U.S. is one of the greediest shoppers on the planet, so President Biden's announcement last Friday at COP about us becoming more mindful shoppers (at 7:35) is a big deal.

This news is special also because my dear friend Holly, one of the many folks I know here who works at the EPA, was on the team who wrote the case that requires every federal contractor to measure and report their greenhouse gas emissions and to set climate impact reduction targets.  You can support the adoption of this new Federal Acquisition Requirement by going here to leave a public comment. We are communicators, so let's communicate!

The poem for today is not about shopping, but it is about water consumption--and I love so many of the poet's turns of phrase, the memories of our shared experiences of water back when most of us didn't realize where we were headed.  Please enjoy Rudy Francisco!

Our host today is Jama at her Alphabet Soup blog, where she's most satisfyingly focusing on Thanksgiving food.  I wonder what we might do to enjoy the feast without overdoing the impact on the planet? My sister-in-law, our host cook, is focusing on indigenous ingredients--a true Three Sisters menu!

Friday, November 11, 2022

the archangel fuel
Greetings, all!  I'm hard at work trying to order an adult poetry manuscript for submission, a new challenge for me (one that makes me think it wouldn't be so bad just to specialize in submitting single poems for the rest of my life).  Because of this project, I'm reading or rereading some of the collections on my bookshelf, and here is one that surprises me (where and when did I acquire this?): ONE BODY by Margaret Gibson (not our good friend Margaret Gibson Simon, a different Margaret Gibson!).

 Published in 2007, I've just read a poem entitled "In January, the Morning After the State of the Union Address, I Go Outside to Stand in Snowfall and Cold Air." But that's not the one I'm sharing with you.  It's the next one, "Fuel," that reaches me here as COP 27 continues in Egypt, as the world tries to quit its addiction to power and money. Fuel.


Fuel | Margaret Gibson
I am, said the voice in the oil spill of rainbow radiance,
the angel of El, from the deserts and gulfs of El.

I looked for a face, flesh and blood I might hold
accountable, a name.  It saw right through me. Uriel,

Eliel, Emmanuel, Fuel, said the angel. Fuel? I replied,
and a human form stood before me, a merchant

who turned to measuring my life as if I were cloth,
judging length and price by the distance between his elbow

and the tip of his middle finger.  The arm wore camouflage
the shade of sand and bone.  You do what suits me,
Fuel smiled. He tossed the dead man's arm aside. Grenade,
he said.  Arched his eyebrows, shrugged. 

And now, for the kids sitting cross-legged in the front row, a definito:


We have Buffy Silverman to thank for hosting our Poetry Friday party this week at her blog. I hope her neck of the woods is still gold-blooming today; here on the East Coast we have the edges of Tropical Storm Nicole drenching us---a late hurricane fueled by climate change.  Maybe don't drive today if you can help it?

Thursday, November 3, 2022

poetry friday roundup & folktale week, folks!


Greetings and welcome, one and all, to this week's Poetry Friday celebration of whatever we darn well feel like! (Poetrywise, that is.)



First, a PSA, not that I think YOU, dear readers, need it, but to remind you of the phenomenon of social contagion.  When you vote, tell everybody you did, loudly, in person and digitally, make a fuss!  It encourages others to do the same, especially if they were wobbling on the fence about whether to bother. As the logo suggests, this is a life-and-death kind of election year.

I'm delighted to be hosting this week even though it's probably my busiest week since the start of my "rewirement." (For those following along, I now have SEVEN minijobs. Right here is a reminder that if you know college applicants who might want coaching on their essays, I'm available on Zoom!

I'm also excited that, since it's already the 1st Friday of November, the Inklings critique group is at another challenge, this one a crossover from the illustrators' Inktober idea, provided by Linda Mitchell (as is the adorable PF star above).


Folktale Week doesn't start until next week, but here we are with 7 front-loaded one-word prompts which sent  us off to "search for your favorite folktales, discover new ones, work on your own amazing art, or even write your own tales" or, of course, poems! 


I seriously considered POTION (of course; who doesn't love the whole idea of potions?) and FOOL (of course; what an intriguing role the fool often plays in our folktales, which are specifically composed to teach us wisdom), but in the end I must go with TREE. (Why? As a hint, I have finally begun putting together a full manuscript of adult poems, 70 of them, and about 20 of them are about a tree in one way or another.)



For me the idea of Trees as Beings of their own--not people enchanted into them against their will, straining to get out--has always been a natural understanding (which, as more and more science is helping us to understand, is truer than the modern Industrial Era would prefer us to believe).  So I offer you this brief rework of another poem:

. . .

Ahem. I WAS going to offer you a brief rework of another poem, but again, it's been a busy week, and no one does a better job of reminding us of the importance of trees in folktales than Stephen Sondheim. I just cannot improve upon the following--and anyway Linda said we could "Find or write a poem in any form of any length" --so here's a video of the Prologue to INTO THE WOODS. Please take 15 minutes to be deeply entertained, and follow along with the lyrics here.


I'm looking forward to see what possibly more organized and dedicated works my fellow Inklings
have come up with, and looking forward to reading around the Kidlitosphere throughout the
 weekend--let the linking begin!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Thursday, October 20, 2022

pray we live long lives/seeking our futures out

 Greetings, poetry people! Did you know it's the Dodge Poetry Festival this year? I'm not in New Jersey, but I did buy a pretty affordable streaming-only ticket. I'm looking forward to Friday morning's session called

Poets Forum: Eco-Poetry and Environmental Justice
Featuring Ellen Bass, Forrest Gander, Joy Harjo

especially because it's the 3rd Friday of the month, and although I haven't been explicit about it for a while, that means it's Climate Friday at mjlu. How nice of Ellen, Forrest and Joy to drop in! 😉


This month I'm teaching one of the four sections of a Climate Reset Workshop at my congregation. It's focused on helping folks who are already doing the basics to learn how to reduce their household carbon emissions even further through "cool lifestyle" changes. (What are the basics?  Things like eating more meatless/plant-based meals each week, keeping thermostat at 68* in winter and 78* in summer, and replacing more car trips each week with more earth-friendly transportation.)

We're using the data-based CoolClimate Calculator devised by UCBerkeley and you might like to try it out also--I got a ton of surprises, even from the very first 3-item questionnaire. (Guess what?  My zip code is just shy of being among the greatest emitters in the US.  Turns out the wealthier you are, the larger your carbon footprint--even if you can afford to pay the higher cost of consuming responsibly--in many cases just due to heating and cooling the square footage of your likely larger home.)

The workshop is practical, but it's spiritual too. I opened the first session with this quote and my comment on how it salves climate grief. (The widely shared quote is from "Natural Resources" in The Dream of a Common Language (1978) but I can't find the whole poem online.)


Art is an action too. When we make poems, make music, make images, we are making change, inside us and around us. So along with a plant-based recipe that we've been loving, I have this poem which is actually lyrics to a song which is a small masterpiece by Jelani Aryeh, a young musician from San Diego. Definitely play the video to hear how the words and the music create a space for revival.



Playing your stereo loud
Flaunting your taste
Blazing the space around you
With love, light and marigold sounds
Pray we live long lives
Seeking our futures out

Solaris, young lion
Being of the sun
Come brighten

You're the talk of the town
Prince of the pride, Titan of mighty sound
My highness, will you come down?
Getting a hold of you is like clutching a cloud
But none do surround when you come around
This bearer of lights wearing beams for a crown
Bringing life to the biomes where beings are brown
Sending pockets of solace in equal amounts

You're freeing us from cold seasons
There wasn't even a hum round my place
I'm feeling a rush, a beating, a punch
The heat of the sun in my face

Good god
My head feels hella tall
With dilated awe
Watch all of you
With eight ball eyes
Your maple light

Playing your stereo loud
Flaunting your taste
Blazing the space around you
With love, light and marigold sounds
Pray we live long lives
Seeking our futures out

When the world is still hollow of sound
Permeate the sky, pilot your light
And lay it down where the landscape allows
Blanketing the forest, waking up the world around

You're freeing us from cold seasons
There wasn't even a hum round my place
I'm feeling a rush, a beating, a punch
The heat of the sun in my veins

Good god
What you be about?
What you be about?
What you be about?
What you be about?
Good god

Waking up the morning with this lucid feeling
Hold it in your heart before you lose it
Keep it moving in your solitude steadily breathing
Knowing who you are and what you're seeking
Meet me in the marigold garden shining
Sovereign in the head with your senses heightened
Yellow soul, you are so mellow-minded
Walking through and talking to these little lions

Playing your stereo loud
Flaunting your taste
Blazing the space around you
With love, light and marigold sounds
Pray we live long lives
Seeking our futures out

Playing your stereo loud
Flaunting your taste
Blazing the space around you 

"Getting a hold of you is like clutching a cloud"--what a line. Take a walk with that to blaze your space and move you to action!  Our host this week is Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones where the 10.10 Poetry Palooza is still going on. You know what else is action? (Thanks, Michelle K!)
 And now for the recipe...

"Marigold" Moroccan Stew

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, gently smashed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon each paprika and cumin
  • ½ teaspoon each ground coriander, ground turmeric, and ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon each ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper
  • salt and ground black pepper
Saute all that in a large pot on medium low about 10 minutes while you work on the vegetables.
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium acorn or butternut squash, peeled and cubed (pumpkin chunks would also work!)
Add in the sweet potato and squash and saute about 5 minutes more.  Deglaze the pot with the red wine, add the remaining ingredients except lemon juice, and bring to a simmer.  Cook until vegetables are tender, 15-20 minutes longer.
  • splash of red wine  
  • 2  15-ounce cans chickpeas, with liquid
  • 1  15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh cilantro & parsley plus more for garnish
  • juice of 1/2 large lemon 
Stir in the lemon juice off the heat before serving with chopped herbs on top, over couscous, of course. Good right away and even better the next day!