Monday, January 31, 2011

The Estuary

Illustration by Michael Green, The Velveteen Rabbit,
1998, Running Press, Philadelphia, PA
Today I come into the estuary.
River of Stones current
meets the ocean tides.
Today is the last day ---
Is it the end?
Will I drown;
disappearing forever,
or become real
as the skin horse promised.

Tossed out,
dashed against stones,
left on the rubbish heap
behind the fowl house
to be burned.
Hours yet ‘til midnight;
Still time for the magic;
time left to become real.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Stream of Consciousness

Do I need a course in Poetry 101? I’m frustrated. I’m old. Already this is sounding like a poem. I didn’t mean it sorry. What I mean is that I’ve been literally (see) churning out this “poetry” since I found “The River of Stones”. Everything has been turning into poetry! I’m serious; of course that’s pretty obvious when I read what comes out of my head. As I write now I am deliberately writing quickly, sticking with the first words that pop into my head.

But I’m frustrated. I called my “Code” poem an ode having no clue what the technical meaning of an ode was. I looked it up in my old (1961) dictionary and on Wikipedia of course (ha---as a course) ---See! This is what is happening---play on words. Play is good, a serious business for me I guess. Anyway, Wikipedia immediately trips me up with "Ode (from the Ancient Greek ὠδή) is a type of lyrical verse. A classic ode is structured in three major parts: the strophe, the antistrophe, and the epode---", ok, go there--- Whoa, wait a minute, my head is already starting to tighten and ache. At which point I started this questioning, a little depressed, throwing in the “you’re too old for this” stuff. So I’m letting it all flow out into this piece of prose.

It is helpful. For a few minutes I let go of the maddening tendency to say it just right or not at all ---hide unless perfect---perfectionist tendencies. (A lie occurred; I fixed perfectionistic). Point is though do I want to study poetry at the age of 66? And if I want to look further into whether I do want to do that where will I start. I’m too much of a snob to buy poetry for dummies; I tried it once when I taught myself Front-page to create a website; I won’t enroll in another college course. I’m basically a hermit. I am enjoying “The River of Stones” exercise, surprised at what is in my head. Wow, it is really a great discipline to just say what I am thinking as it comes into my mind here in this now too long piece.

So, I’ll fulfill the stones project and figure it out from there. While doing this I have worked on my “novel” very little, believing I have to immerse myself in those thoughts/that world, to make a story come together in a whole. Is there a whole? What is the definition of whole? Clearly---obviously I mean cloudily---that is the question. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Willow Dance

Motes of dust rise round
in ragtime tap of dancing words;
floating on a zephyr out
a window, over willows,
to pleasant mountains
on no man’s island.
Bell of the Ball:
a neat award.

Inspired by Tess Kincaid's "ring my bell" at Life at Willow Manor

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Old Truths

Tired today;
snowing heavily.
Weight of snow

Decades of word flakes:
black and white.
Old bells still chime their
warning of gray fog.

Past truths emerge
swirling into lies.
Old truths tossed
inside then out.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tapestry of Voices

Sea Tongue
The last line of yesterday’s post read: “she wove the tear asunder into new mystery” ---a phrase blown out of a brainstorm ---

Follow the link below to listen to a marvelous, haunting video of Kevin Crossley-Holland’s poem, Sea Tongue. This circular tale of a warning bell and the old woman, who faithfully rings it, is mesmerizing. The poem is included in the book entitled The Outsiders.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tears to Patch

My laundress is in her workroom
looking at tears to patch.
I see her there and wonder
why she won't throw up the latch
to bolt away from the dirty duds
and suds and floods of mud.

Emily at the age of three,
loves rhymes of the nur-ser-y.
To her I read this very week,
Cecily Par-sl-ey
A stone therein I think is found,
a step to my novel in play?

The bunny lass a bar maid was
I wonder why she ran
away from the gentlemen in Pen Inn;
whatever was her plan?
She brought her baggage in a cart
and carried a mystery in her heart.

Inspiration is a fascination;
Beatrix Potter, who’d have thought so?
My laundress might have done the same
if inclined to such she’d been so,
but apparently not says her history;
she was faithful to her lot.

Something there was though
that made up a puzzle
as she washed and patched the tears.
Passing her shuttle through the weave
to make a new tapestry,
she wove the tear asunder into new mystery.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Elements of Discomfort

The campaign to close mouseholes
in our cellars is never-ending.
For years we've puzzled
over how they get in;
Traps set every season.
Many bagged.

Last year neighboring citizens
united to bring in some fat cats.
Turns out the vermin tunneled in
through a mousehole in the earth
outside, beneath our foundation,
undermining the wellspring.

Capping mouseholes, and high cost
of financing the means of attack
being a common cause, a patch is
under scrutiny to close the matter for good.
Whoa --- look at those Cheshire smiles---
Impressive cache of varmints ---

NPR News, January 21, 2011

There is a great Campaign Finance timeline on the NPR website spanning the years 1907 through 2010. It is well worth taking a look. Below are a few quotes from their article, which inspired the above stepping stone. Mice in our cellar have been a big issue for the past few years so when I heard the news item on the radio yesterday, the loophole/mousehole connection came to mind.

Timeline Introduction

“From soft money to attack ads, the U.S. campaign finance landscape has been littered with loopholes, controversy – and efforts toward reform. Here, a look at key players and events in the evolution of campaign finance law.”
Source: CQ Guide To Congress, Kurt Hohenstein's Coining Corruption: The Making of the American Campaign Finance System, Center for Responsive Politics. Credit: Reported by Peter Overby; edited by Maria Godoy; produced by Rose Raymond / NPR

Quote by Ellen Weintraub:
"Promoting transparency in American elections is central to the commission's mission, and this transparency in turn is essential to the success of this, the world's oldest democracy," said Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Elements of Comfort

Water cascading over my body
warms in a cleansing caress.
Swirling steam succumbs to
spinning pinwheel of air – exhausted.

A force of water flows in circles
of conduit bearing its gift of heat
to rooms chilled by winter wind,
tinkling like sleigh bells on the way.

Fire hidden below stairs
in deep recesses of the house,
within the earth, dances to the turn
of a thermostat.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Freely blessed,
we live daily amid riches
invisible to us until their silent statement
of absence demands our attention.
My faucets were dry today
while the well tank was repaired.
I thought of the millions of people
in our world for whom pure running water
would be a miracle of wealth.
I give thanks as I suffer pangs
of guilt for a blessing

As I looked back at yesterday’s “stepping stone”, I intended to choose one or two words to tie a thread to today’s meditation. There are several choices but I settled on water. Although the word is not specifically stated it is the overarching element, as it has been in the past three meditations (albeit frozen in snow or as ocean in Maine). Today we had a new well tank installed in our basement, so water moved to center stage as a result of its absence in my household.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Silver Flakes

Memories of warmth tumble over and down
like the Eiders on Eggemoggin Reach
in Maine last summer;
they danced for their mussels
off the shining silver ledges
of flaking schist. 

Monday, January 17, 2011



What a delight to spy
on Dark-eyed Juncos
through a skylight
in the snow covered azalea
beneath my window;
nervous maneuvers to and from
tunnels under the low branches.
Winter eider down on the azalea
mimics its pure white
spring blossoms.

The purpose of Fiona Robyn’s “A River of Stones” project is to create/write a “small stone” each day of January, 2011, after thoughtful observation of something. I missed yesterday’s writing (Sunday with family and more snow shoveling to be done), but I thought a lot about the stones. I like the idea, the word, the concept, and not least the pressure of a deadline (I have always loved assignments - a nerd at heart if you will). Nevertheless, my grade for the day was F. Good intentions were my paving stones ---

Early in the morning I watched the little Dark-eyed Juncos busily flitting from their shelter in the azalea bush against the house to a plastic storage bin lid --- a temporary tray on a snow bank near the back door. The snow is eighteen inches deep so the path to the bird feeder (forty feet from the house) was last on the list of priorities in “shoveling out”.

A view from the second floor window looked right into gaps in the snow cover on the azalea bush below. What a delight to spy on the juncos through those portholes as they scurried in and out of the cozy shelter through snow tunnels near the ground. I later discovered that they had a second home under the huge, spreading euonymus bush on the north side of the house. Both home sites took best advantage of the improvised dining table I had set out in the deep snow; hence, my “stone” for yesterday, which appears above as Eider.

Perhaps I’ll try to imagine my way along stepping stones through the water, in tune with the music of the river’s flow. Why not write the lyrics of the river song with every step --- words echoing the click of small stones tumbled along by the water, bouncing off one another, plowing the earth deeper on their way to the sea: not unlike the windswept snowflakes whose unique patterns yield to the warm sun, melting into earth, to rivers, to the sea---

Saturday, January 15, 2011


Still imaginings of life suspended
beyond this hard shell of walls at dawn.
A pure white world lies without
warm eider down within.

A rumble and a growl intrude
to pierce the peace, to force a pass
as plow plunders the sleep of beauty
in her mantle of white.

Then echoes from the labyrinth:
the clang of sword as plowshares
does it forge to plunge in turn the
sphere of earth awakened under snow.

Friday, January 14, 2011


Snowbound behind bars,
glow within, glory beyond
a moment suspended.

My thanks to Fiona Robyn for creation of "The River of Stones" , which inspired 
my writing for the project this month.
This photo was taken through my dining room windows.