Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Poetry Thursday. The last post

There is a lovely optional prompt available at Poetry Thursday this week: "an open window". I will use it sometime, I'm sure, but today, what I have to offer is not what I'd intended. I thought I might find something celebratory, something sweet, something light and joyful when I went to my file of poems written and not yet posted/published/workshopped. What I found was this:


She might go searching
for the name of the thing
that makes him what he is.

She might be thinking
that label fits, and what that doctor
on the radio said, that made sense;

and the cousin whose son
turned on them all, when the voices said he should,
that sounded familiar;

and she might think that having a name for it
will make the way he tortures her
somehow more bearable,

but I doubt her sleep will be any easier
for that word; doubt she’ll let his threats
leave her mind; doubt the name will matter when
what does is the lump in her throat,
the fear in her heart
when she hears his key in the door.


Not celebratory at all, and yet, it's an indicator of the power of Poetry Thursday that at some time I wrote this piece, put it in a file on my laptop, and forgot I'd written it. It sat there, having taken something away for me, having allowed me to distil a memory into something small, something that relieved what had sat in my gut or my heart.

I say "the power of Poetry Thursday" rather than simply "the power of Poetry" because I know that Poetry Thursday has been the thread that has kept me most in touch with poetry over the past year and more. It has been the regular pulse of poetry in my life, more than journals and magazines that have arrived in the post; more, even, some of the time, than being at meetings of my writers' groups. There have been times I made it to meetings, times I didn't, and I know there have been times I have been absent (as in not posting, when I've been away) from Poetry Thursday, but I've checked in on return to see what prompts I'd missed, to read a smattering of the contributions.

Yes, I think it fits that this poem is not about Poetry Thursday, and that it has nothing to do with this week's prompt, because it is one of the little fruits of Poetry Thursday that has made it such a remarkable endeavour.

There was no special formala applied to the creation of Poetry Thursday other than love of poetry. That was the ingredient it began with. To their love, Liz and Dana added enthusiasm, encouragement, openness, humour, respect for all participants. I think what they did was a shining example of going with an impulse. At some point, one of them wondered "What if...?" and didn't dismiss the idea. They inspire me to listen to ideas with more willingness to follow them through, wherever they may lead.

So many of the participants here have expressed good wishes for Liz and Dana. I want to say again that I know I cannot express my thanks adequately for what they have done, nor can I say how much I wish them well in everything they do, in every new venture they take on.

Namaste, my friends.
Postscript: (Added Friday). Two things: In some comments, I gather people are thinking the poem is autobiographical. Happily, I can tell you it is not. The "memory" is of having spent time with a woman for whom this was a real experience.

... And, for some reason, I haven't been able to post comments that include permalinks on the Poetry Thursday site, so my response to the last, last post - Liz Elayne's request that we nominate one of our archived posts, is in my Why I Love Poetry post from January last. I want to share it with you again because it DOES have the celebratory air I thought this final post should have had, and because I will never publish it in print - except to distribute it in random acts of Guerrilla poetry! ( I think I just might occasionally feel the urge to "poem-bomb" somewhere, having overcome my initial fears of the idea!)

... I'm sure I will meet many of you via the new project, but for now, I want to say to all the people I've encountered here via Poetry Thursday: Thanks to all of you for visiting, for commenting, for your encouragement, for your own poems, and for your friendship.



I have a friend who is due for surgery tomorrow. I have a friend who will return home tomorrow after 9 weeks away visiting her family. I have a friend with whom I've had a misunderstanding. I have a friend whose life is right now in one of those golden, full-of-great-and-little-blessings phases. I have a friend who told me today she's been 8 months off the cigarettes. I have a friend who is selling up and moving away. I have a friend with more than her share of family worries. I have a friend I might have offended. I have a friend who's given up guilt. I have a friend who lights candles for us all.

I have been blessed in my life with the friends who have come my way. Tonight, I give thanks for all of them, and for all of you, who I count as friends, my cyber-pals.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Travelling Haiku

There you are, my dear.
I've been waiting all morning
to come say "hello"

Here on the shady porch
My heart and soul are restored.
I breathe in, breathe out

The sound of the falls
absent. The trees whisper though:
Sister stone, don't weep.

I walk among giants
Joyful laughter on the air
Was that me? Laughing!
Sisters of the soul
pilgrims to this special place
No heart in shadow

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Thursday, August 23, 2007

Poetry Thursday: Coming Back

It's Thursday, and especially since these are the last weeks of Poetry Thursday, it seems all the more important that I find something to post here. I don't think I can write something from this week's prompt right away, but I can tweak the idea of this poem - coming back, returning - to sort-of fit with using a last line from another poem to begin a new one.

This is the only poem I wrote during my recent stay in California.


I have come back
across an ocean and a continent,
to claim something -
and not, as I'd thought,
to abandon something.
Not to cast away
that remnant of our nineteen years,
but to claim these five,
and the Me that's in them.

To sit in sunlight
(Can I hear bells? Down the valley
they are ringing bells today!)
To sit in sunlight, quiet enough
to let the deer return,
to await evening and the horned owl's flight,
to say My heart is big as this place.
I have found a place big enough
for my heart.

I wrote it on what would have been my 24th wedding anniversary. I'd wanted to be away, away, away on that date, but when it came, my perspective had shifted. If you'd like to read a little about my travels, that's on my previous post HERE. If you want to see what else is on offer from Poetry Thursday participants, go HERE.

It's so good to be back.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

And where have I been?

Oh, I seem to recall last year not knowing how to find my way back in, having been away from the blog for a while, and there may be something similar here, but I think I just have to drop my bags, yell "I'm home!" and start forcing people to look through my photos. You can skip the photos if you want. It may well be that it will take too long to post them anyway. I wasn't having much success with photos before I went away.

Away... away, with most of my family, to Barcelona, for a 5-day fiesta to celebrate my nephew, Glenn's wedding to Claire. We lunched and dined, we strolled and sight-saw(?)... saw sights! We stopped for cafe con leche or tapas. We sang (well, some of us were the audience!). We clapped. We deepened friendships with a wide circle of family, in-laws, friends of younger and older generations. The cameraderie was wonderful, the togetherness was magic, and the wedding was special indeed. It was a treat to witness everyone's enjoyment of it all, to see people's eyes open to this beautiful city. The whole experience was a blessing for me and for my family.

2 days back home with my Dad, enough time to tidy up my luggage, re-pack and head off again, this time to San Francisco and its environs - the Bay Area, as they say. I was met by the most wonderful caring and kind friend (and her mother), and given such a welcome! They gave me days to just sit on the porch - and I did, watching hummingbirds (Oh, that ruby-throated bird!)and dragonflies. In the early mornings, I would spot deer and a visiting trio of young foxes through my bedroom window. One evening, we went to investigate a racket being created by the jays in the oaks outside, only to find they were trying to evict an intruder from "their" tree. - A magnificent great horned owl (we surmised from the sillhouette and the sheer size of the creature) swooped from branch to branch, but just sat there until HE was good and ready to depart.

Once I was rested, excursions began - down the coast, over to Palo Alto, into Berkeley to see the Hearst museum of anthropology and the museum of art; out for breakfast at little places called Tina's or Millie's, where french toast comes coated in sugar and strawberries. - This to eat with sausages! Culture shock! (But I coped!).

I took off on BART, made my way to the Museum of Asian Art - spent the better part of a day there. There is so much to see. Bus to Golden Gate park to visit the AIDS memorial garden, the Japanese tea garden (jasmine tea and rice crackers), the sculptures around the de Young art gallery. Simply riding the bus through that city - down the hills, I loved looking at the houses - no, not the big fancy ones. The houses on ordinary streets, where ordinary people live. I loved the farmers' markets, yarn shops, the post-office. I loved people's gardens, tiny patches crammed with colour and scent. I didn't spend enough time there. I'll have to go back.

Then there was Yosemite. Oh.... I hired a car, and took off. Of course I took wrong turns. Of course I ended up on roads I wasn't meant to take. I discovered highway 160 - the Delta ("What delta?"I wondered... turns out to be the Sacramento River delta). Levees. I was tickled. We don't have levees. I took my Chevy to the Levee! Drove along a road built up above the river. Water on each side, and an atmosphere of peace and tranquility. I'd set off early in the day, so I had plenty of time for this little detour. A coffee-stop at a boating resort allowed me to check with my map. Oh yes, I'd gone astray, but what a gem I found in that road.

This is what I realise I love about travelling somewhere new. When it's new, everything is interesting, so getting lost isn't a problem. I still get to see something I haven't seen before. But I did want to find Yosemite, so I sorted out my route, adjusted my heading, (so to speak), and made my way to Sonora for the night. I didn't stay in the park, as I'd left it to the last minute to try to organise accommodation (the downside of being spontaneous), but I liked the towns I stayed in. And I liked the travelling to them, and from them. When I saw there was a town called Mariposa, I just knew I had to go there, and go there I did. So, I spent a couple of days exploring Yosemite. I'm not a hiker, though. I'm a stroller. I was in sandals with no backs. I took the easy trails. The ones being followed by people with children in pushchairs. What's wonderful is that there's still so much to see. I did go up to Glacier point and Bridalveil falls. I felt a sense of bereavement when I got to Yosemite falls to find there was no water. Dry, dry, dry. It seemed wrong, somehow. I loved that there were huge numbers of people there, and that yet, it was so big, you could be alone, you could have quiet.

On my last afternoon, just before 5, I found my way to Mariposa Grove, and the last tour of the day was about to set off through the redwoods. Wow. Those noble trees. I can't say much about them, but that hour driving through there was really something special for me. There are a lot of lessons for me in the Redwoods. They need to survive fire to grow, to be healthy. When they have a strong enough root system and sap-building layer, they can even survive the loss of their heartwood.

Going 'home' to my hosts again, I felt I'd been away for weeks. I'd been somewhere wild and new, along mountain roads higher than anything in Ireland. I don't want to start sounding preachy (if anyone is actually reading this far), but I want to tell you if you are American, you are a trustee of something very special in Yosemite. You all have a responsibility to look after it for the rest of us. That's what I became aware of when I was there. Responsibility.

My trip didn't end there, but I think this post has to end here! It's too long, too long. I haven't managed to get a photo in. They all need to be resized. I'm going to put something about the final few days - the SoulCollage facilitators conference near Santa Cruz on my SoulFragments blog. It was magic. It was community and connection. It was a time of confirmation. I'm not crazy to be taking off on these excursions. This is the right thing to be doing now in my life. I couldn't have chosen a better place to go. Thank you to California for opening her arms and welcoming me. Now I'm home!

And while I was gone:

Dana and Liz of Poetry Thursday announced that they are shutting up shop at the end of the month. I'll be so sorry to see it go. There are moves afoot to do something else, so the poetry community will still be active, but I just want to say here how much I have appreciated the initiative that these two amazing women took and the results of it have been absolutely astounding to me. It was a lifeline for me - when I thought I wasn't writing anything at all, to find that, actually, I'd done a little something for Poetry Thursday. And the range of poets that it attracted was something else! Everybody welcome, everybody finding their niche! Magic. I wish every blessing on whatever they take on in the future, because they deserve it. Namaste.

And also while I was gone:

Tinker nominated me for a Blogger Reflection award. I'm highly honoured. It means something I've been doing here has "inspired her with my creative spirit through my blogging". If you frequent Tinker's blog, you know what creative spirit really looks like. She is a wonderful soul, and it's really made me feel special to think she'd nominate me. .... And then Kara at Spiritdoll did me the honour of nominating me for my SoulFragments blog, and again, there's someone whose spirit and creativity inspire me all the time, so I am really delighted with that. Now, i get the pleasant task of nominating five bloggers who inspire me. Oh. I've been away, I haven't been reading, and it will take me a month to catch up, so maybe everybody has already been nominated, but I would like to mention some of the bloggers who have meant so much to me over the journey since I began my blog with the Artist's Way group in January 2006, so I will be nominating Fran at Sacred Ordinary. Wenda at Daring to Write, Kathryn at A Mindful Life (who is expecting her first baby in 4 days time!). Then there's Theresa Williams and (oooh, this is hard. I love and am inspired by ALL my blog-friends), but I don't think a lot of the people who come here also go visit THIS blogging Mommy. Go see. They are wonderful.

The task, as explained by Kara, is for each of them to

"nominate 5 bloggers that are an encouragement, a source of love,impact me in some way and who has provided a Godly example. In otherwords, five cherished bloggers whom, when you reflect upon them, you are filled with a sense of pride and joy"

I'm sorry, it's been so long since I've done this I don't know how to post the relevant badge here. There's one on Kara's blog HERE. Hope you can use it.

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