poems

Staying in Focus: Signs of Spring, and Poetry

 

No matter how cold and dreary the weather is, there is something in the air that hints of spring. Maybe it is that one day a week when the temperatures  creep past 70 and we decide to take a walk. As we travel through our neighborhood,  I see changes all around. From the crocus and daffodils that encircle the tree mounds. to the pink blossoms on a Japanese cherry tree,and  the full out white blossoms of the Bradford pear trees, it is obvious that spring is fighting to vanquish old man winter. We pass a weeping willow tree covered with tiny green leaves and  notice new growth appearing on our knock out roses. The yellow of forsythia helps to draw the eye away from the still sleeping Bermuda grass. The sky is blue and the sun shines brightly and hope that we are nearing the end of this long, cold winter grows stronger every day.

I have two favorite spring poems I would like to share with you. The first is by ee cummings:

Spring

when all the world is mudluscious…

when the world is puddle-wonderful.

–  ee cummings

I love the words mudluscious and puddle-wonderful!

 

My other favorite poem is Spring Morning by A.A . Milne

Spring Morning

Where am I going? I don’t quite know.poems

,Down to the stream here the king cups grow –

Up on the hill where the pine trees blow –

Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.

 

Where am I going? The clouds sail by,

Little ones, baby ones, over the sky.

Where am I going? The shadows pass

Little ones, baby ones, over the grass.

 

If you were a cloud, and sailed up there,

You’d sail on water as blue as air,

And you’d see me here in the fields and say:

“Doesn’t the sky look green today?”

 

Where am I going? The high rooks call:

“It’s awful fun to be born at all.”

Where am I going? The ring doves coo;

“We do have beautiful things to do.”

 

If you were a bird, and lived on high,

You’d lean on the wind when the wind came by,

You’d say to the wind when it took you away:

That’s where I wanted to go today.

 

Where am I going? I don’t quite know.

What does it matter where people go?

Down to the wood where the blue bells grow –

Anywhere, anywhere. I don’t know.

– A. A. Milne

I love the imagery in the first poem – spring and mud and puddles become mudluscious and wonderful to the writer. The second one speaks to me of childhood. A windy Saturday morning, nowhere you have to be, walking along, finding flowers and listening to the birds, imagining being a cloud or a bird flying by- it doesn’t matter where you are going, the important part is the journey.

 

To a child, it matters not if the sun is shining or rain is pouring from the sky. Both offer opportunity for discovery and fun. One of my boys loved to stomp his boots in puddles, He could not pass them by without  a splash. Certainly not to put myself in the above august company, but I also wrote  a spring poem many years ago. I actually sold the poem to a children’s magazine, but unfortunately the magazine suspended publication before my poem was published.

Puddles

I like to walk out in the rain,

along the road and through the trees

I like to stomp in puddles then,

my pants get wet right to my knees

The water splashes all about

My new red  boots go squishy-squish

when I get home , my mom will say,

“You should have been a fish!”

-pc 1988

 

Wecome Spring!

Advertisements

Focus On: The Winds of March

March

with nature poised to reawaken
I taste anticipation in the air
but harshly blow the winds of march
and still snowflakes may fall
until the iron grip relaxes
and I shake loose from winter’s thrall.
and as the long night gives way to day
I bask in the light and celebrate life.
– pc 2013

It seems as if this has been a long, cold, dark winter despite the fact that we had a few really warm, sunny days sprinkled in, here and there. I think what has colored our perception this year in particular has been the wind. I can take the cold of winter, if the night air is still, but add that wind and I’m shivering from head to toe.  For the most part, wind is a mystery. We can’t actually see it, but we can hear it. A few times this winter it literally howled outside my window, a beast loosed in the night. And we can see the paths it travels by the devastation it can leave behind.  Should it form a tornado, its power is magnified and it is potential is deadly. Wind is a force to be reckoned with, but one associated with the return of spring. As the news informs us, keep an eye on the weather and be prepared.

In a recent poetry class, we worked on simile and metaphor and I searched out a poem I had written previously and revised it: With March roaring in like a lion, I thought it was topical:

The Storm

she watches,,

as the wind rages
a beast, unleashed,
like a total solar eclipse
consumes the light in its hunger,
until darkness rules the day;

at the window she stands
behind her fragile barrier
the power fascinates, the wind
a wolf howling its challenge
as it races toward her

she wonders…

will the beast eat hungrily
leaving nothing behind
save piles of broken boards
scattered like fractured bones?

or will it leap, release the light
and like a horse, now gentled
flow like a mere breeze
brushing by her face
on a spring day?

she waits…

I am trying to live in the moment and just enjoy these last days of cold weather. I know in August, I’ll remember them fondly. But I can’t help looking forward to welcoming that gentle lamb which March is supposed to emulate by month’s end. And although spring can be a volatile season of tornadoes and destruction, it is also the season of hope and of life renewed as the trees and flowers wake from their slumber.  Don’t let the season go by without seeing ,smelling and feeling it.  Enjoy the bright green of new leaves ,the saucy yellow of the daffodils, the scent of fresh, newly planted earth, the warmth of the sun on your shoulders.Take a walk, Feed the pansies. Use that wind to your advantage and go fly a kite. Tour the seed catalogs and plan your garden.  Practice being in the moment. Remember to:. Pay attention. Be astonished!

Focus On: Smiles

    a smile is a special gift
   to share with one another
   to do so gives your day a lift
   and makes the world look kinder
   when you see your smile reflected
  on the faces of people passing by
  you’ll know they’ve been infected
  by the twinkle in their eye
  and the smiles swiftly spread
 to others through the day
 and all because you had one
 to kindly give away
          – pc 2012

The other day, while going through some photographs, I spied one of my grandson that I just adore.  And although I think he is  the cutest little boy in the world, it’s his smile that captivates me in this picture.

And I thought about how easily children share their smiles with others, and in doing so, brighten up our day.  Just because we are grown-ups now and busy doing serious things, doesn’t mean we can’t take the time to share a smile with someone we encounter as we dash about.  And smiling is infectious.  When a person passing  by flashes you a big smile, it’s difficult not to return in kind. I’m a lucky one.  Between Evelyn and Gavin, I’m surrounded by smiles that light up their faces whenever they see me.  Talk about the power of a smile.  Nothing finer!

My mother is a great example of this.  She has weathered her share of difficult times in her 89 years of life, but she is always has a smile on her face when she greets other people and everyone she meets  is immediately taken with her.  I think a big part of this is her friendly personality, and a big part of that is her smile.  It makes people feel good to be around people with a smile on their face.

This brings to mind my favorite scene in the movie City Slickers.  Billy Crystal plays the role of a man somewhat dissatisfied with his life.  His pals give him a birthday trip to herd cattle at a ranch out west.  His wife, aware of his state of mind, encourages him to go.  Needless to say, all three of the pals experience revelations about their lives as they face  many challenges.  But when Billy Crystal arrives home, and his wife greets him at the airport he says, pointing to his smile, “Look what I found.”  She asks, “Where was it?” And he replies,”In Colorado.  It’s always in the last place you look.” Funny, but so true.  Sometimes we simply don’t know where or when we lost our smile, but there are ways to find it.

If you come to a point in your life when you cannot muster a smile, you have work to do.  Meditation can help this, as Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist teacher and author, writes in his book, Peace is Every Step. Meditation can help, for the source of a true smile is an awakened mind. Meditation  can help us deal with matters that may be the cause of our unhappiness. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests  we practice smiling by doing so when we first wake up in the morning.  A smile, he writes, affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy.  Let the singing of the birds or the slant of sunlight streaming through your window remind you to smile.

Marion Tripp,  a friend of Thich Nhat Hanh, wrote “The Dandelion Poem”, which he includes in his book, Peace is Every Step:

I have lost my smile,
but don’t worry.
The dandelion has it

As long as you can recognize that your smile is somewhere, all is not lost .Open yourself to the help and support of those around you and your smile will return.

Once you have it safely in place on your face, share it with others, and watch the happiness you spread grow and infect the rest of the world.  Who knows, maybe something as simple a s a smile can save us all. At the very least, it can save me and you!

.

Focus on: Majestic Mountains

                    

                    mountains                                                      when the pressures of life build to a peak                                                        some people find solace in shorelines and sea                                                        but it’s often the higher ground that I seek                                                         for it’s always been mountains for me

                                                       I stand on a ridge at the top of the world
                                                       from worry and care I am free
                                                       I sing in the sun with my spirit unfurled – 
                                                       it will always be mountains for me                                                      
                                                                                           pc 2003 

One of the things I looked most forward to on our cruise to Alaska was to see the mountains, snow-capped or not, It has been many years since I was among the mountains I love –The Rockies, the Grand Teton, the Sierra Nevada and I have had to reconcile myself to  the mountains here in the southeast.  The Blue Ridge mountains are pretty and I enjoy going out to visit them , but nothing tops those lofty heights of the younger mountains, thrusting their peaks high above the treeline, often still snuggled beneath their snowy blankets deep into summer.

And Alaska did not disappoint. We were excited to see the mountains from the ship as we explored the Inner Passage and a strip of land called Tracy Arm.  This was the most scenic part of the cruise for me and as I  wrote in my journal that evening, “I cannot begin to capture in words the breathtaking beauty that surrounded us today as we explored the Tracy Arm.  The vast panorama of the mountains as the ship slid by them through waters of a green I’ve never seen before was such a delight, my senses were overwhelmed by the vista before me.”

The mountains were snow-capped, with rivers of icy water flowing down their sides to form waterfalls which cascaded into the brilliant green waters of the ocean.  The sun came out (unusual, the crew later told us, as it is often cloudy there) and made the green sea sparkle as the light played across the surface of the water.We saw the South Sawyer glacier, which  I will write about tomorrow .  But for now, perhaps my  photographs have captured what my words cannot express. Enjoy.

the green waters stirred by the ship’s passage

water runs from top of a  mountain and forms a waterfall,which spills into the ocean

our first glimpse of the mountains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mountains capped in ice and snow
sing the waters as they flow
round jagged rock and stony walls
to form the frothy waterfalls
that spill into the ocean green
crystal waters so serene they sparkle in the bright sunlight
Alaska is a pure delight!
pc 2012

Focus on: Alaskan Sunrise and Sunset

Needless to say, Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on this planet.  From its glorious sunrises to its majestic mountains and  abundant wildlife, it  fills your senses with such delight and it is nearly impossible to capture the experience in mere words printed on paper.

The first morning I awoke at 4:30 AM and noticed a hint of light leaking in between the curtains.  I grabbed my camera and spent he next hour watching the light play over the water as the sun appeared on the horizon.  At first, the moon was still visible in a blue and purple painted sky.  Then as the sun rose, the colors changed to a rosy pink and  a vibrant orange. The light began to sparkle on the waters as the sun rose higher in the sky, bringing a glorious dawn to my first sunrise at sea.  The sun paved a path of gold across the water toward me, inviting me to join it in celebrating the beginning of a new day.  My camera did its best to capture the experience for me to share with you, but like the saying goes, you really had to be there to  truly appreciate how beautiful a sunrise at sea can be.  I hope these photos and poem can capture some of what I experienced for you.

as I watch my first sunrise at sea
a gentle peace descends on me
as it casts away the dark of night

the moon still visible in the sky

it fills the sky with soothing light
bands of orange, red and pink
give me pause and make me think
about what matters most to me
and this precious moment on the sea
it paints a path of gold my way
a special gift to start my day
an invitation from the sun
a brand new day has just begun!

the sun appears changing the light to rosy pink and orange

the colors deepen

a path of gold from the sun to me

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the flip side, sunset at this time of year is around ten o’clock.  The mountains darken and the clouds reflect the deep blues and purples of the sky.

purple dominates the sunset

rays of sunlight stream across the water

the sun sets bringing an end to the long Alaskan day

Pictures in Poems, Poems in Pictures

There are pictures in poems and poems in pictures
— Chinese Proverb

My interest in photography began when I received my first camera, a Kodak Brownie, when I was still in elementary school.  My interest in poetry began first with reading poems, then later writing my own.   As a child I enjoyed the poems of Robert Louis Stephenson,

One of my first photos. Christmas 1964. I had a little trouble fitting everyone in the frame!

especially My Shadow, and  those of A.A. Milne : Forgiven, Spring Morning and The End.  I  Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, and the poems of Emily Dickinson and Sara Teasdale remain favorites today.  And Trees by Joyce Kilmer was the first poem I ever memorized.

I suppose I am a woman out of time as I prefer rhymed verse to free verse, which is more popular now.  I have written some free verse, but most often my muse comes to me in rhyme and as to where the muse comes from remains a mystery to me, I question it not, and write as I am instructed!  I think what draws me to both poetry and photography is the opportunity to paint a picture of my world, be it with words or with the lens of my camera..  And they work so well together!  Sometimes I take a picture that inspires a poem, other times I’ve written a poem and looking through my viewfinder, see the poem reflected in the image in the frame.  In this case, the picture preceded the poem:

Harbor Sunset

liquid drops of sunlight
sparkle in the bay
and reflect a sky awash in sunset hue
the trees along the shoreline
form a silhouette in gray
and the clouds amass in shades of dusky blue
suspended for the moment
between darkness and the day
I pause to fill my senses and renew
and with deep appreciation
I continue on my way
as the sunset in the harbor fades from view.

Poetry and photography are my “go – to” coping tools.  I can lose myself  for hours  composing a poem  or in trying to get the best exposure for a picture. and worries and concerns just drift away. Best of all,  both of them can be done outside, sitting in a pretty park or while hiking in the mountains..  Back at home I use the pictures and poems in greeting cards, scrapbooks and journals.  I’ve made beautiful books on http://www.snapfish.com

On a more personal level, I explore my feelings and improve my state of mind by writing poems reflecting my journey with Parkinson’s Disease.  Somehow, writing both prose and poetry help to transfer the fears and concerns from me to the paper.  I gladly let it absorb  the worries, and help me to stay in focus on more important things. ( More about this in my next post.)

So grab a notebook, pen and a camera and have some fun!

If you’ve haven’t explored writing poetry yet, here are a few helpful guides:

The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser
How to Write Poetry  published by Spark Publishing (www.sparknotes.com)
Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan
The Describer’s Dictionary by David Grambs

For photography I recommend taking a class at a local community college.  It’s the best way to learn how to use your camera, especially if you are venturing into using a digital SLR. for the first time. All the buttons and knobs and settings on these cameras can be overwhelming.

Poetry, Photography and Fresh Perspectives

I recently discovered a wonderful website/blog called Every Day Poems(Tweetspeak Poetry).http://www.tweetspeakpoetry.com/blog/every-day-poems/ Their philosophy is that by reading a poem a day we become better writers.  And they provide a place for us to share our words with others on their on Facebook Pages http://www.facebook.com/tspoetry  http://www.facebook.com/everydaypoems

Every Day Poems is  a wonderful haven for aspiring poets.  A prompt is given each day, most often a photo, but sometimes a video or a quote, and from that prompt, we write a poem., placing it in the comment box.  It is amazing to read the different interpretations and responses this community of poets provide.  There is interaction, inspiration and support among the writers.  I turn on my computer each morning, eager to see what Every Day Poems  has chosen for the prompt of the day.  If you are a poet, or aspire to be one, and are looking for a supportive community, this is the place for you.

One recent prompt was “…on a poem walk”.  From that tidbit of inspiration I wrote:

  • take your grandchildren on a poem walk
  • and see the world through their eyes
  • as they skip in perfect rhythm
  • as they chant in perfect rhyme
  • the birds we hear are lyrical
  • as they sing their morning song
  • and we listen to the meter
  • as we travel all along
  • a small white rock yields inspiration
  • a bug begs close examination
  • their sheer delight in all they see
  • evokes in me a fresh perspective
  • and I am most grateful that
  • these masters of imagination
  • choose to share their gifts with me.

Fairy Lanterns

There’s no better way to stay in focus than to see the world through the eyes of a child.  Your camera can capture this change in perspective if you’re willing to work from their point of view.  Stop and shoot that pretty rock, clasped in that tiny palm . Admire that bug and use your skill with a macro lens to get a great exposure of  the tiny creature..  Be prepared to photograph fairy lanterns, spiderman webs or a collection of leaves and stems to brew a  special potion or a monster soup. Lay on your back in a grassy meadow and try to capture the cloud castles, the unicorns and the islands in the sky as they shift and change before your eyes. Then assemble an album  of Fresh Perspectives.  The children love a photo log of their expeditions, too.  The next time you use your camera, you’ll see things a bit differently.  And maybe you’ll be inspired to write a poem.  If you are, join us at Every Day Poems.!