Thursday, March 23, 2023

Poetry Friday: "Revival" by Luci Shaw

"What makes a poet a poet? 
The slender antenna of awareness 
combing the air for messages." 

In "Revival" Luci Shaw anticipates spring and, like Shaw, I'm here for it. 

by Luci Shaw

March. I am beginning
to anticipate a thaw. Early mornings
the earth, old unbeliever, is still crusted with frost
where the moles have nosed up their
cold castings, and the ground cover
in shadow under the cedars hasn't softened
for months, fogs layering their slow, complicated ice
around foliage and stem
night by night,
(Read the rest here.) 


Friday, March 17, 2023

Poetry Friday: "Emily Dickinson's To-Do List" by Andrea Carlisle

I've shared this one before but I have such affection for it that I felt compelled to share it again. Because who doesn't want to speculate about Emily's deliciously original brain? 

What will you wear, bake, or hide today? (Oooh, I sense a poetry prompt here.)

Emily Dickinson's To-Do List
by Andrea Carlisle

Figure out what to wear—white dress?
Put hair in bun
Bake gingerbread for Sue
Peer out window at passersby
Write poem
Hide poem

White dress? Off-white dress?

(Read the rest here, and find out more about Andrea Carlisle here.) 


Be sure to visit Laura Purdie Salas for this week's Poetry Friday round-up

Thursday, March 09, 2023

Poetry Friday: Jane Hirshfield's "Mathematics"

Jane Hirshfield asks intriguing questions: 

Does a poem enlarge the world, 
or only our idea of the world? 

by Jane Hirshfield

I have envied those
who make something
useful, sturdy—
a chair, a pair of boots.

Even a soup,
rich with potatoes and cream.

Or those who fix, perhaps,
a leaking window:
strip out the old cracked putty,
lay down cleanly the line of the new.

You could learn,


Heidi Mordhorst is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup this week 
at My Juicy Little Universe

Thursday, March 02, 2023

Poetry Friday: "Days" by Billy Collins

Just a bit of poignant beauty from Billy Collins today. 

by Billy Collins 

Each one is a gift, no doubt, 
mysteriously placed in your waking hand 
or set upon your forehead 
moments before you open your eyes. 

Today begins cold and bright, 
the ground heavy with snow 
and the thick masonry of ice, 
the sun glinting off the turrets of clouds. 

Through the calm eye of the window 
everything is in its place 
but so precariously 
this day might be resting somehow 

on the one before it, 


Photo courtesy of Nico Becker at Pexels

Friday, February 24, 2023

Poetry Friday: Two Ways of Looking at February

February is my least favorite month. 

By February, I'm weary of our Nebraska winter. I'm tired of thinking about negative numbers. I'm annoyed by lashing winds and I'd like to file snow shovels under "Never again." 

So when I came across "February" by Bill Christopherson, I had to share it. (Read it here, at the Poetry Foundation.) The whole poem is only fourteen lines, so I can't share much without violating copyright, but it begins: 

by Bill Christopherson 

The cold grows colder, even as the days
grow longer, 

and ends: 

and hope's a reptile waiting for the sun.

Oh, Bill. 

Oh, Bill, I can relate. 

I want to both laugh and cry at this poem, at that line. The bleakness of it delights me and keeps me from taking my February doldrums too seriously. Christopherson's February is a monster from the deep, a demon dragging us into the underworld. Hope has been lying dormant so long that we wonder: is revival possible? 

Every year, I think, "This is it. I'm going to die in this never-ending, sub-zero weather when a pipe bursts and I drown and freeze at the same time. Because: February." 

And yet, it always ends — February, winter, sub-zero temps, my whining. They all go away. But in the depths of February, I like keeping company with pessimistic poets. They feed my melancholy soul. 

However, for those who prefer something less bleak (and to assure you that I'm actually hanging in there and have even had some lovely days and nights this month), I am including a second poem. Sara Teasdale is, shall we say, a bit more optimistic? Her February is no ravenous monster, but rather a sparkling and inviting spirit: 

February Twilight 
by Sara Teasdale 

I stood beside a hill
Smooth with new-laid snow,
A single star looked out
From the cold evening glow.

There was no other creature
That saw what I could see—
I stood and watched the evening star
As long as it watched me.

If you've never felt Christopherson's anxieties, insomnia, or nightmares, Sara may be your cup of February tea. I wish I could be a Sara all the time, but it's more accurate to say that I'm a combo of Bill and Sara, a messy conglomeration of anxiety and appreciation. 

Most of the time, I'm okay with that. 

Except in February. 


The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted this week by the incomparable Tabatha at The Opposite of Indifference

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Lent approaches (and socks still annoy her)

Lent approaches, and I sometimes really miss these kinds of conversations. (Ramona was 5, Betsy was 11, and Anne-with-an-e was 14.) 

Ramona: "I'm going to give up hanging off the kitchen cupboard door."

Betsy: "Wait a minute — I thought you were going to give up whining."

Ramona: "No. I gave up whining when I have to put socks on. But that was this morning. Now I'm giving up hanging off the cupboard."

Anne-with-an-e: "It's not fair to God if you keep changing what you're giving up."

Ramona: "Well, I won't change it anymore. I'm giving up hanging off cupboards, and every time I feel like doing it, but don't, I get to put a bean in the jar."*

(Why don't I remember her hanging off the cupboard? It seems like something I would have loudly said NO to.)

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and I'm going to try to make it a bean-filled Lent. Okay, sure, there are no actual beans anymore and no actual jar. My girls grew up and the jar-filling stopped happening, and their sacrifices became more personal and I had far less material for my blog. But the intent remains and I can still shoot for it: Every time I feel like doing it, but don't...

"As the world must be redeemed in a few men to begin with,
so the soul is redeemed in a few of its thoughts, 
and works, and ways to begin with:
it takes a long time to finish 
the new creation of this redemption."

~ George MacDonald

And so, once again, it begins. 


*Beans in the "Sacrifice Jar": 

There are different versions of this all over the place, but here's what we did when the girls were little: We put out an empty jar and a bowl of dried beans. For every act of kindness, prayer, or sacrifice, the kids put a bean in the jar. On Easter morning they found the beans had been replaced by an overflowing supply of M&Ms. (God's goodness knows no bounds and He will always give us more M&Ms than we deserve.) 

Thursday, February 09, 2023

Poetry Friday: "To Winter" by Claude McKay

I am a big Claude McKay fan. However, I must admit I don't normally share the sentiment in this particular poem. I never really want the "season of calm love and soulful snows" to stay. Well, I'm all for a soulful snow, but our snows rarely feel like soulful snows. They mostly feel like big interruptions to plans and postponements of road trips. My (not very) poetic sentiment is usually: 

Go away, Winter.  
I don't 
like you. 
Leave us. 

And yet, and yet. McKay crafts such a tender plea, and offers such a poignant contrast to his homeland of Jamaica that he actually makes me long for winter, to feel grateful for the gifts it brings. 

Oh, Claude, you "ease my heart of its impassioned woe" of winter complaint and make me appreciate the unique loveliness of the season. 

Such is the gift of the poet. 

To Winter

by Claude McKay

Stay, season of calm love and soulful snows!
There is a subtle sweetness in the sun,
The ripples on the stream's breast gaily run,
The wind more boisterously by me blows,
And each succeeding day now longer grows.
The birds a gladder music have begun,
The squirrel, full of mischief and of fun,
From maples' topmost branch the brown twig throws.
I read these pregnant signs, know what they mean:
I know that thou art making ready to go.
Oh stay! I fled a land where fields are green
Always, and palms wave gently to and fro,
And winds are balmy, blue brooks ever sheen,
To ease my heart of its impassioned woe. 


Photo credit: Hal Moran, Pexels

Friday, February 03, 2023

Poetry Friday: "Thirty-nine Years" (wishing Atticus a happy anniversary and writing poetry again)

Last week, Atticus and I celebrated our 39th anniversary. 
(Umm, we're as shocked as you are. 
How can two people who are so incredibly young and vibrant 
have been married for thirty-nine years? It's a mystery, I know.) 

Happy anniversary, Atticus. 

Thirty-nine Years
by Karen Edmisten 

He was my first husband.
He is my now-husband,
my last husband, my only husband,
(in case you’re counting.) 

I'm counting.
Thirty-nine years and counting.
Not counting as in,
“I can’t wait for this to be over,”
but counting as in, 
I didn’t know I could count this high
in the category “Years married.”

I’m astonished and delighted by us.
We should win something on Jeopardy: 
“Alex, what is, Tom and Karen defied the odds and lasted?
(Now we have been married so long 
that Alex is gone.)

We married young and discovered 
what it means to weld one’s self to another.
It’s a tricky process, this welding. 
Rife with flame and light and danger
but with a distant goal in sight: 
a finished form, something sturdy and strong, 
a thing to behold. 

We have loved each other, hurt each other, 
lost each other, and found each other. 
We have died and risen again. 
We are each a Phoenix 
who learned to rise from ashes, 
discovering — this man and I —
that ashes are the stuff of life
and that new beginnings
can be shining, iridescent things,
unexpected fuel that will carry us 
on another orbit around the earth. 

Life never stops beginning.
Oh, yes, surely, it’s ending 
every moment it’s beginning 
and it’s beginning 
with each ending.
This is the beauty of the Phoenix, yes?
It keeps rising, flaming, 
swirling, changing, starting again.
It is immortal, like our marriage,
this thing that began as
an amateur piece of welding. 

We are a fusion that is somehow now 
aged and lovely in its flaws, 
sturdy as steel 
and gleaming like precious metal that is 
well-worn and well-loved.


The lovely and delightful Laura Shovan is hosting the round-up this week

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Poetry Friday: "On Gathering Artists"

I enjoyed last week's Alberto Rios poem so much that I decided to share another this week. "On Gathering Artists" is an ode, a celebration, a pondering, a question, and an answer. 

On Gathering Artists
by Alberto Ríos 

Who does a job well, and very well—
These are the artists, those curious

We are cobblers of the song
And barkers of the carnival word,
We are tailors of the light
And framers of the earth.
We fish among the elements
And hunt the elusive green in gray and blue.
We drink forbidden waters
And eat an invisible food.

In this time of electronic-mail and facsimile
Conversation, we send as our voice
The poem, the bridge, the circuit, the cure

Read the rest here, at and revel in these lines from the next stanza: 

How easy to spend a day writing a poem,
How hard to spend a life writing a thousand.


Who knows what to make of us?


... a tip of the hat
To us, as we go about
The drumming of our stars.

Oh, just be sure to go read the whole thing. It's short and you'll be so pleased you did. Especially if you are a "cobbler of the song." 


Jan at Bookseed Studio is hosting the Poetry Friday roundup this week.

Photo credit: Victor Dompablo

Friday, January 20, 2023

Poetry Friday: "Perfect for Any Occasion" by Alberto Rios

I'm back! I always fall off the earth (well, the blogosphere) sometime after Christmas and then feel behind for weeks. While everyone else is recapping the previous year and making resolutions for the new, I'm still gobbling Christmas candy, finding time to read books I love, and — as I look up from a book, wipe chocolate from my mouth, and sigh at the twinkling lights — find myself wondering if the tree will actually come down in February. (I say that as if I have no control over the matter, as if the tree will just fold itself up into a tidy package and trot off to a closet at some point.) 

Anyway, here I am, and I've decided to kick off 2023 with pie. Because, why not? And because Alberto Rios is a treasure. And because ... it's pie. A metaphor for life. Oh, sure, we all feel like mincemeat sometimes, but still. In general, "Pies," as Rios says, "live a life of applause." 

Happy, pie-ful 2023! 

Perfect for Any Occasion

by Alberto Ríos

Pies have a reputation.
And it’s immediate—no talk of potential

Regarding a pie. It’s good
Or it isn’t, but mostly it is—sweet, very sweet

Right then, right there, blue and red.
It can’t go to junior college,

Work hard for the grades,
Work two jobs on the side.

It can’t slowly build a reputation
And a growing client base.

A pie gets one chance
(Read the rest here, at 


Thursday, December 29, 2022

Poetry Friday: "For What Binds Us" by Jane Hirshfield


Like you — I'm guessing, but hey, I think I know you pretty well — I'm stunned that 2022 is coming to a close. Every cliche I've ever heard about age and time is true. Time really does fly, the days really are long while the years actually are short, and time truly is a blur. The fountain of cliches is a fountain of truth.

As this year ends, I'm thinking about the blur that is 2022 and about what holds it together for me. And as I often do, I'm turning to Jane Hirshfield. When I read this one, what I feel down to my bones is persistent, ferocious love. 

This one's for you, Atticus. 

For What Binds Us
by Jane Hirshfield 

There are names for what binds us:
strong forces, weak forces.
Look around, you can see them:
the skin that forms in a half-empty cup,
nails rusting into the places they join,
joints dovetailed on their own weight.
The way things stay so solidly
wherever they've been set down—
(Read the rest here, at 


Join Patricia Franz at Reverie for the final poetry gathering of 2022 and see what binds those of us who love this community. 

Friday, December 23, 2022

Poetry Friday: "Noel" by Anne Porter

This is a lovely and companionably haunting piece by Anne Porter, who did not have her poetry published until she was 83 years old. Her first book of poetry was a finalist for the National Book Award and over the next 17 years, Porter would see her work anthologized and widely featured. She died in 2011, shortly before her 100th birthday. 

Are you an unpublished poet? It's never too late. Wishing you "ragged miracles" and "flowering weeds of poetry" this holiday season. 

by Anne Porter

When snow is shaken
From the balsam trees
And they're cut down
And brought into our houses

When clustered sparks
Of many-colored fire
Appear at night
In ordinary windows

We hear and sing
The customary carols

They bring us ragged miracles
And hay and candles
And flowering weeds of poetry

(Read the rest here, at


Photo credit: Jeswin Thomas as Pexels

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Poetry Friday: I'm hosting!

Photo by Jodi Pelman

Welcome to Poetry Friday! 

If you've never made the rounds, here's an old post from Renée LaTulippe (some links may be out of date) that will tell you about this bloggy, poetic gathering. And here's an older article at the Poetry Foundation from Susan Thomsen of Chicken Spaghetti

Here's another fun (old!)* article from Susan about poetry and homeschoolers, in which she mentioned one of my daughters who, at age four, was enchanted by Emily Dickinson. A funny coincidence about that article: it was written way back in 2008 and Susan also interviewed Julie Bogart, of Brave Writer for that piece. Nine years later, Julie and I would cross paths again. In 2017, when Brave Writer was growing tremendously, I was lucky enough to be hired as one of their writing coaches, a part-time job that I still do and still love. 

On to this week's offerings! 

I think this lovely piece by Michael Blumenthal could alternatively be titled, "Surely the hedgehog" (from lines 21-22) but I'll take "Be Kind" — both as a title and as a life suggestion, motto, and blueprint. 

As Blumenthal exhorts: 

Oh friends, take
whatever kindness you can find
and be profligate in its expenditure...

Here's to poetry and profligate kindness. Happy Poetry Friday! 

*Are all the articles about Poetry Friday old? Do we need to write new ones? Anyone, anyone? 

Be Kind
by Michael Blumenthal 

Not merely because Henry James said
there were but four rules of life—
be kind be kind be kind be kind—but
because it's good for the soul, and,
what's more, for others, it may be
that kindness is our best audition
for a worthier world, and, despite
the vagueness and uncertainty of
its recompense, a bird may yet wander
into a bush before our very houses,
(Read the rest here, at 

Mr. Linky is here to gather the goodness and scatter it throughout the poetic, bloggy neighborhood. Please join us with a link or as a reader — your choice. 

Friday, December 09, 2022

Poetry Friday: Hope

It's Advent — a season of hope — so I thought a little Emily Dickinson was in order. The photo is of an ornament that my dear friend Danae gave me a couple of Decembers ago. It seems like both yesterday and a thousand years ago that my parents were so sick with Covid. There was so much going on, so many medical questions, decisions to be made every day. Danae brought me a Care package one afternoon and this ornament was in it. Every time I look at it (Hope! The cardinal!)I remember feeling both alone and very loved and surrounded during that time. 

The felt ornament to the right is one I've had for years. That one was a gift from my friend Jenn. We've never met in person but we connected online in what seems like another era: the early days of blogging, when lots of us blogging moms somehow made the time to both blog and visit other blogs. One year, a handful of us did a Christmas ornament exchange. I was the lucky recipient of Jenn's beautiful hand-embroidered work. A coffee cup, no less! She gets me! Jenn and I are still in touch and my Jenn Coffee Cup always gives me hope, too — the internet may be a cesspool, but it has brought me people from across the country, across the ocean, and across time and space. It's TARDIS-y that way and has always delivered traveling companions of the highest caliber into my life. 

(Poetry Friday, anyone? Another beautiful example of connections and friendships I cherish. Carry on, internet! Keep connecting me with the highest caliber. I'm forever grateful.) 

The quote is from a Mary Englebreit page-a-day calendar (gorgeous illustration) that Atticus and the girls gave me. I found this page torn off the calendar and left on my desk. ❤️  I'd have to blog for days to cover all the ways that Atticus and Anne-with-an-e, Betsy Ray, and Ramona have given me hope over the years. Endless, bottomless hope and courage.  

What's giving you hope this season? 

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

by Emily Dickinson

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops - at all -

And sweetest - in the Gale - is heard -
And sore must be the storm -
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm -

I’ve heard it in the chillest land -
And on the strangest Sea -
Yet - never - in Extremity,
It asked a crumb - of me.


 Michelle Kogan has the round-up this week

Wishing you a hopeful third week of Advent! 

Friday, December 02, 2022

Poetry Friday: December Poem-a-Day (curated by Arthur Sze) and "Prayer" by Jorie Graham

Three weeks ago, I shared Arthur Sze's "The Shapes of Leaves" and now, serendipitously, I see that Sze is the December guest editor for Poem-a-Day at Lovely! 

Here's their interview with him about his curation process and his own poetry. In that interview, they asked what poem in the collection he would send readers to: ... If you could direct readers to one poem in our collection at that you haven’t curated, what would it be and why?

Sze: I would direct readers to the poem “Prayer” by Jorie Graham. And it’s a short poem; it’s a marvelous poem that begins with observing a stream of minnows. And I love how it moves from the visible to the invisible world; how, in its syntax, it enacts a swaying and large, deep, generous vision of life. And she gets to say really large, fundamentally powerful things that are harnessed, that come by surprise through looking again at this stream of minnows. And I find it a marvelous poem, so I want to send readers to that.

Upon that recommendation, I offer you Jorie Graham's "Prayer." Some of my favorite lines from the poem are: 

Nobody gets
what they want. Never again are you the same. The longing
is to be pure. What you get is to be changed. 


Over a dock railing, I watch the minnows, thousands, swirl
themselves, each a minuscule muscle, but also, without the
way to create current, making of their unison (turning, re-
entering and exiting their own unison in unison) making of themselves a
visual current, one that cannot freight or sway by
minutest fractions the water’s downdrafts and upswirls, the
dockside cycles of finally-arriving boat-wakes, there where
they hit deeper resistance, water that seems to burst into
itself (it has those layers) a real current though mostly
invisible sending into the visible (minnows) arrowing
                         motion that forces change—

(Read the rest here, at 


And don't forget to sign up, if you haven't already, for "Poem-a-Day." 

(Photo credit: Suzy Hazelwood at Pexels.)