my birthday present

my birthday present
My awesome birthday present 1/26/11 (see story under my first post)

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Feeding the Fire

if what you do and how you live does not feed the fire
in your heart and blossom into poems,
leave, quit, do not turn back,

I have been thinking about this, not just for my life, but for those who surround me, who, like me, are running out of time. Those like me, who keep waiting for the right time to get assertive and make choices to improve their life. Today is the day, now is the time. Baca tells us this with a great deal of passion. A long poem, but well worth the time to take it in.  A link at the bottome takes you to a page introducing you to this incredible Native American writer.Enjoy.


Jimmy Santiago Baca

If it does not feed the fire
of your creativity, then leave it.
If people and things do not
inspire your heart to dream,
then leave them.
If you are not crazily in love
and making a stupid fool of yourself,
then step closer to the edge
of your heart and climb
where you've been forbidden to go.
Debts, accusations, assaults by enemies
mean nothing,
go where the fire feeds you.
Turn your attention to the magic of whores,
grief, addicts and drunks, until you stumble upon
that shining halo surrounding your heart
that will allow you to violate every fear happily,
be where you're not supposed to be,
the love of an angel who's caught your blood on fire
again, who's gulped all of you in one breath
to mix in her soul, to explode your brooding
and again, your words rush from the stones
like a river coursing down
from some motherly mountain source,
and if your life doesn't spill forth
unabashedly, recklessly, randomly
rushing in wonder at life,
then change, leave, quit, silence the idle chatter
and do away with useless acquaintances
who have forgotten how to dream,
bitch rudely in your dark mood at the mediocrity
of scholars who meddle in whimsy for academic trifles—
let you be their object of scorn,
let you be their object of mockery,
let you be their chilling symbol
of what they never had the courage to do, to complete, to follow,
let you be the flaming faith that makes them shield their eyes
as you burn from all sides,
taking a harmless topic and making of it a burning galaxy
or shooting stars in the dark of their souls,
illuminating your sadness, your aching joy for life,
your famished insistence for God and all that is creative
to attend you as a witness to your struggle,
let the useless banter and quick pleasures
belong to others, the merchants, computer analysts
and government workers;
        you haven't been afraid
        of rapture among thieves,
        bloody duels in drunken brawls,
        denying yourself
        the essence of your soul work
        as poems rusted while you scratched
        at your heart to see if it was a diamond
        and not cheap pane glass,
now, then, after returning from one more poet's journey
in the heart of the bear, the teeth of the wolf,
the legs of the wild horse,
sense what your experience tells you,
your ears ringing with deception and lies and foul tastes,
now that your memory is riddled with blank loss,
tyrants who wielded their boastful threats
to the sleeping dogs and old trees in the yards,
now that you've returned from men and women
who've abandoned their dreams and sit around
like corpses in the grave moldering with regret,
steady your heart now, my friend, with fortitude
long-lasting enduring hope, and hail the early dawn
like a ship off coast that's come for you,
spent and ragged and beggared,
if what you do and how you live does not feed the fire
in your heart and blossom into poems,
leave, quit, do not turn back,
move fast away from that which would mold your gift,
break it, disrespect it, kill it.
Guard it, nurture it, take your full-flung honorable
heart and plunge it into the fire
into the stars, into the trees, into the hearts of others
sorrow and love and restore the dream
by writing of its again-discovered wild beauty.

from Healing Earthquakes, Book V, "Rebirth"
for more poems by Baca:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mary Bragg, whose poems I have had the pleasure of posting in the past, responded to the poetry on silence with one of her own. She had written it before she read my post, which is all the more serendipitous. (Hope that is a real word). In any case, I like Mary's best. She captures the multiplicidous (now that word I did make up, which is rather fun)  meaning of silence in her poem in a way even Billy Collins did not. Thanks for sharing Mary! (Make up your own word of the day!)


Silence has multiple personality disorder

stony-faced, opaque, aloof, unyielding

weapon forged from resentment and anger

serene, calm, transparent, still

comfort zone between friends

ear alert to the cosmic beat

timeless mystery concealed in music

meditative dwelling

--Mary Carvell Bragg, rev. 8/14

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thoughts on Silence

I like to listen to slam poetry on occasion and I thought this one was particularly good. 

Smith portrays silence as a very negative thing. Of course it can be beautiful and necessary too. Billy Collins reminds us of many silences we may never consider. I like the end when silence piles up like snow. 


Billy Collins

There is the sudden silence of the crowd
above a player not moving on the field,
and the silence of the orchid.

The silence of the falling vase
before it strikes the floor,
the silence of the belt when it is not striking the child.

The stillness of the cup and the water in it,
the silence of the moon
and the quiet of the day far from the roar of the sun.

The silence when I hold you to my chest,
the silence of the window above us,
and the silence when you rise and turn away.

And there is the silence of this morning
which I have broken with my pen,
a silence that had piled up all night

like snow falling in the darkness of the house—
the silence before I wrote a word
and the poorer silence now.

Source: Poetry (April 2005).

Monday, August 11, 2014

One Art

Lisa read Still Life with a Balloon,  the post from Sunday,  and was reminded of this poem by Elizabeth Bishop. I believe I posted it earlier, but it is certainly worth revisiting. Perhaps you too will make connections between the two poems.

One Art

Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979.
Copyright © 1979, 1983

Who Can Say?

My cousin Brenda was reading this blog and was reminded of this song by Enya. It is a beautiful song and here is a link to a nice You Tube version with photos. Thanks for sending the lyrics Brenda. It has been years since I heard it.

Who Can Say? link


"Only Time"

Who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only time
And who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose, only time

Who can say why your heart sighs
As your love flies, only time
And who can say why your heart cries
When your love lies, only time

Who can say when the roads meet
That love might be in your heart
And who can say when the day sleeps
If the night keeps all your heart
Night keeps all your heart

Who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose
- Only time
And who can say where the road goes
Where the day flows, only time

Who knows? Only time

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Still Life with a Balloon
Wislawa Szymborska

Returning memories?
No, at the time of death
I’d like to see lost objects
return instead.

Avalanches of gloves,
coats, suitcases, umbrellas
come, and I’ll say at last:
what good’s all this?

Safety pins, two odd combs,
a paper rose, a knife,
some string — come, and I’ll say
at last: I haven’t missed you.

Please turn up, key, come out,
wherever you’ve been hiding,
in time for me to say
You’ve gotten rusty, friend!
Downpours of affidavits,
permits and questionnaires,
rain down and I will say:
I see the sun behind you.

My watch, dropped in a river,
bob up and let me seize you —
then, face to face, I’ll say:
Your so-called time is up.

And lastly, toy balloon
once kidnapped by the wind—
come home, and I will say:
there are no children here.

Fly out the open window
and into the wide world;
let someone else shout “Look!”
and I will cry.

We adjust to loss and learn to move on without that which we imagined we could not live without. But once we come to that realization, there is a certain satisfaction in confronting that reality and acknowleding our triumph over loss.  And yet there is a sadness that still remains. That's my take on this poem.

Sunday, August 3, 2014


 I was looking through earlier posts, something I have not done in years. I ran across these two poems I had posted together in April 2011. It is ironic to read these now, having made the decision to end my marriage of 37 years. At that point, I would not have guessed I'd have the courage to make that change. This is why poetry is so valuable to me. The same poem, read years later from a whole new place takes on different meaning. I considered the poems powerful and relevant then, but now these speak volumes to me. If you remember reading them before, do these poems have new meaning for you too?

For a New Beginning

In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life's desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

~ John O'Donohue ~

(To Bless the Space Between Us)

The Journey
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save.
Mary Oliver

(Dream Work & New and Selected Poems Vol. 1)