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