Friday, May 06, 2022

Poetry Friday: Billy Collins reads Lawrence Raab

On Wednesday's Poetry Broadcast, Billy Collins read a short poem called "One of the Ways We Talk to Each Other" by Lawrence Raab. (I can't find that one in print online, but you can hear Collins read it here, starting at the 29:00 minute mark.) As someone who's been married for 38 years, I appreciated the genuine peek into a moment of communication gone wrong, then set right. 

I also appreciated the introduction to Raab — I wasn't familiar with him at all — and it made me want to buy his latest collection, April at the Ruins. Poetry Foundation says, "Conversational yet precise, Raab’s lyrical meditations trace human fallibility and doubt." 

Ah, a few of my favorite things. 

Here's another one: 


by Lawrence Raab

Years later they find themselves talking
about chances, moments when their lives
might have swerved off
for the smallest reason.
(Read the rest of this short one here, at Poetry Foundation.)

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Poetry Friday: "The Poet" by Jane Hirshfield

On the eve of the last day of National Poetry Month, I give you this gem from the marvelous poet Jane Hirshfield

The Poet 
by Jane Hirshfield

She is working now, in a room
not unlike this one,
the one where I write, or you read.
Her table is covered with paper.
The light of the lamp would be
tempered by a shade, where the bulb's
single harshness might dissolve,
but it is not; she has taken it off.

(Read the rest here, at The Atlantic.) 

Friday, April 08, 2022

Poetry Friday: It's National Poetry Month and I've got the Poetry Month Blues

It happens every year. April is a busy time for me. The reasons vary, but the fact remains the same. I never ever tackle National Poetry Month with the verve I intend and desire. (Past lamentation posts here.) 

Case in point: four years ago, I wrote this poem near the end of NPM. In keeping with today's theme of "I'm too busy, I'm too busy!" I haven't even written a new poem about National Poetry Month. I'm simply re-running this old one.  🙂

But, as the poem declares, that's okay. Every week is Poetry Week (well, except last week, when I was too busy to post. Arrgh!) 

Enough. The past is the past. Onward! 

Happy National Poetry Month! And for more about what's happening with KidLit bloggers everywhere, check out Jama Rattigan's comprehensive post. Thanks, Jama! 

Poetry Month Blues 
Karen Edmisten 

Another April — Poetry Month! —
slipping through my fingers.
Failed plans, lack of sharing ...
Oh, the guilt in me lingers.

"Next year will be different!"
I shout out with conviction.
Really? Inner Me sneers,
that's a doubtful prediction. 

Who knows? Should I worry?
I think not, you see. 
Every Friday's poetry day.
That's just Weekly Me.


Janice has the roundup this week at Salt City Verse

Friday, March 25, 2022

Poetry Friday: Gerard Manley Hopkins


The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Feast! Today is the Solemnity of the Annunciation. I've been running behind on everything this week, including getting a Poetry Friday post together, but this morning Atticus suggested "The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe" by Gerard Manley Hopkins. 

Ah. Yes. Perfect. 

Hopkins has always fascinated me. From Poetry Foundation

Gerard Manley Hopkins is considered to be one of the greatest poets of the Victorian era. However, because his style was so radically different from that of his contemporaries, his best poems were not accepted for publication during his lifetime, and his achievement was not fully recognized until after World War I. Hopkins’s family encouraged his artistic talents when he was a youth in Essex, England. However, Hopkins became estranged from his Protestant family when he converted to Roman Catholicism. Upon deciding to become a priest, he burned all of his poems and did not write again for many years. His work was not published until 30 years after his death when his friend Robert Bridges edited the volume Poems.

That entry includes an extensive bio of Hopkins — it's long but well worth your time. As a melancholic/INFJ/Enneagram 4/Questioner/all-around-party-killer myself, I've always been intrigued by Hopkins, who wrote one of my most beloved poems about grief, "No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief."  I love that piece for its brutal honesty, the way it confronts the devastation of loss and acknowledges that no matter how deeply one believes in God, we are gutted when we lose someone we love. There is no denying our humanity: "Comforter, where, where is your comforting?/Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?" 

The Poetry Foundation says: 

According to his own testimony Hopkins was subject to melancholy all his life, but his “terrible pathos,” as Dixon called it, is most obvious in these late sonnets. Following Saint Ignatius, Hopkins defined “spiritual sloth” or “desolation” as “darkness and confusion of soul ... diffidence without hope and without love, so that [the soul] finds itself altogether slothful, tepid, sad, and as it were separated from its Creator and Lord.” Called acedia in Latin, this sin is differentiated from physical sloth by the fact that the victim realizes his predicament, worries about it, and tries to overcome it.

The sense of coldness, impotence, and wastefulness evident in Hopkins’s religious poetry of the 1860s is an important feature of acedia, but by far the most important is “world sorrow,” the predicament lamented in Hopkins’s “No worst, there is none” (1885). 

See? I told you I was a party killer. 

Because today is not about death and grief, but about life and a particular kind of celebration, so it's time to switch gears a bit. At the Annunciation, Mary was asked if she would say yes to the incomprehensible. (I do feel compelled to point out that this was, in its way, a kind of death, the death of the life Mary had known but hey, we melancholics can relate everything to death. It's a talent.) The Annunciation was also a turning point and a model for us: Mary said yes to a staggering request. What am I asked to say yes to? When God asks the incomprehensible of me, do I remember Gabriel's words to Mary: "Do not be afraid"? On a good day, I both say yes and am not afraid. Not every day is a good day but today I'm shaking off my melancholic tendencies and party-killing ways and I will celebrate accordingly. I will not be afraid, I will say yes, I will take comfort in the Comforter and find relief in Mary's ways. 

Here are some excerpts from Hopkins's beautiful poem, "The Blessed Virgin Compared to the Air We Breathe": 

This air, which, by life’s law,
My lung must draw and draw
Now but to breathe its praise,
Minds me in many ways
Of her who not only
Gave God’s infinity
Dwindled to infancy
Welcome in womb and breast,
Birth, milk, and all the rest
But mothers each new grace
That does now reach our race—


Again, look overhead
How air is azurèd;
O how! nay do but stand
Where you can lift your hand
Skywards: rich, rich it laps
Round the four fingergaps.
Yet such a sapphire-shot,
Charged, steepèd sky will not
Stain light.   Yea, mark you this:
It does no prejudice.
The glass-blue days are those
When every colour glows,
Each shape and shadow shows.
Blue be it: this blue heaven
The seven or seven times seven
Hued sunbeam will transmit
Perfect, not alter it.

(Read the whole thing here, at the website of the International Hopkins Association.) 


Amy Ludwig Vanderwater has the round-up at The Poem Farm

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Poetry Friday: "Time" by Laura Landis Laedlein

I went looking for a poem about time because, as we are all painfully aware, this week is our first week on Daylight Saving Time. 

(Not "Daylight Savings Time," because it is, as Kent of VEEP so helpfully points out, "neither plural nor possessive.") 

Daylight Saving Time provokes all manner of thought and emotion in me. I get tired, I rail and rage against this attempt to harness and control the uncontrollable. After a day or two of (exhausting) railing and raging, I collapse. I nap. Then I ponder time and the endless ways we reflect on it. My hunt for "poems about time" led me to this one in the 1923 issue of Poetry Magazine and also left me wondering who Laura Landis Laedlein was. All I could find out about her was this brief bio in the magazine: "Miss Laura Landis Laedlein is a business woman in Williamsport, Pa." 


I hope that Laura Landis Laedlein made the most of her time in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I hope she had the time of her life writing poetry and that she spent time rejoicing when this one was published in Poetry magazine. I hope her time as a business woman was successful and that perhaps she saw a kindred spirit in Wallace Stevens, he of insurance/poetry fame. I hope she knows she did what poets do: she touched eternity in a small, human way — she reached out, hand stretched across so many decades, and handed me this poem, a hundred years after its publication, on a day when I was thinking about time and its odd and poignant hold on us. 

Thank you, Miss Laura Landis Laedlein, for taking the time to write a poem. Thank you for setting aside time to submit your poem to Poetry magazine. Thank you for whatever else you did in Williamsport, Pennsylvania and I hope that your time on this earth was, as Mary Oliver would want it to be for you, wild and precious. 


by Laura Landis Laedlein 

I see the procession of the hours...
Across the day:
Hand-linked they run, and light-footed;
Swift-footed alway.

I see the procession of the years
Across life's plain:
Masked, they lean forward, and press onward,
A marching train. 

I see the backward path centuries have come
To where I stand;
And, holding the present, touching eternities
With my hand.


Thursday, March 10, 2022

Poetry Friday: The Traveling Onion by Naomi Shihab Nye

Head straight to Poetry for Children today as Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong talk food and poetry and share a sneak peek at their book, Things We Eat. This new anthology features an all-star cast of poets and eaters and you won't want to miss it. All the proceeds from this book will go to the IBBY Children in Crisis Fund

In keeping with our hosts' food theme, I'm sharing this one from Naomi Shihab Nye. It's about onions but, of course, it's not really about onions. Or perhaps I should say it's not only about onions. Peel away its layers and see what you think. 

The Traveling Onion

by Naomi Shihab Nye 

“It is believed that the onion originally came from India. In Egypt it was an object of worship —why I haven’t been able to find out. From Egypt the onion entered Greece and on to Italy, thence into all of Europe.” — Better Living Cookbook

When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
all small forgotten miracles,
crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,
pearly layers in smooth agreement,

(Read the rest here, at 

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Poetry Friday: Dear March—Come in by Emily Dickinson

I'm welcoming March with my beloved Emily because, well, isn't this simply what one does? 

Dear March—Come in
by Emily Dickinson 

Dear March—Come in—
How glad I am—
I hoped for you before—
Put down your Hat—
You must have walked—
How out of Breath you are—
Dear March, how are you, and the Rest—
Did you leave Nature well—
Oh March, Come right upstairs with me—
I have so much to tell—

I got your Letter, and the Birds—
The Maples never knew that you were coming—
I declare - how Red their Faces grew—
But March, forgive me—
And all those Hills you left for me to Hue—
There was no Purple suitable—
You took it all with you—

Who knocks? That April—
Lock the Door—
I will not be pursued—
He stayed away a Year to call
When I am occupied—
But trifles look so trivial
As soon as you have come

That blame is just as dear as Praise
And Praise as mere as Blame—

(This poem is in the public domain.)


Kathryn Apel has the roundup (not to mention a new book — congratulations, Kat!) 
Visit her here for all the poetic goodness. 

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

A Meaningful Lent: The Monstrously Long Post

Ready to head into the desert? You'll find ideas in my newest book, The Companion Book of Catholic Days: A Guide to Feasts, Saints, Holy Days, and Seasons. (You can find it here, at The Word Among Us, and here, on Amazon.) 

And to revisit a past series of posts go here, to A Meaningful Lent: The Monstrously Long Post

Friday, February 25, 2022

Poetry Friday: Wild Gratitude

Today I'm sharing Edward Hirsch's "Wild Gratitude" because I keep learning and relearning what it means to offer praise and thanksgiving. Gratitude doesn't look the same from year to year, month to month, day to day, or even minute to minute. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the gifts that have made their way into my life and other days I'm holding on to gratitude as if it's a gossamer strand I could lose if I blink. Those are the days I most need to sit down with my journal and simpy write, Thank you, thank you, thank you. Oh, and most of all? Thank you. 

 Wild Gratitude

by Edward Hirsch

Tonight when I knelt down next to our cat, Zooey,
And put my fingers into her clean cat’s mouth,
And rubbed her swollen belly that will never know kittens,
And watched her wriggle onto her side, pawing the air,
And listened to her solemn little squeals of delight,
I was thinking about the poet, Christopher Smart,
Who wanted to kneel down and pray without ceasing
In every one of the splintered London streets,

(Read the whole poem at Edward Hirsch's website.)


She and the Poetry Sisters have been up to their usual Amazing-ness. 
Thank you, Poetry Sisters. Thank you, thank you, thank you. 

Friday, February 11, 2022

Poetry Friday: Billy Collins again (not because I forgot, but because he deserves it)

It's Billy Collins again. 

I could lie and say that I forgot I shared a Billy Collins poem last week, but that's not true. I just can't get enough of Billy Collins (that's always been true). 

So, not because I've forgotten, but rather because I love "Forgetfulness" (and can relate), here it is: 


by Billy Collins

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

(Read the rest here, at 

And as long as we're on the subject of fading memories, we might need this today too: 



 Don't forget to visit Linda Baie, who has the roundup at TeacherDance

Friday, February 04, 2022

Poetry Friday: "Days" by Billy Collins

It's been far too long since I shared anything by Billy Collins. It's time, people, it's time! Days are precious and every day without Billy Collins is a day with a hole in it. 

I love the way this poem delicately walks the line between gratitude and sheer, existential terror. 

And, in case you didn't know, here's a thing you should know: 

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.

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, 
all the days of the past stacked high
like the impossible tower of dishes 
entertainers used to build on stage. 

(Read the whole thing here, at The Poetry Foundation.


 Elisabeth has the round-up at Unexpected Intersections

Friday, January 28, 2022

Poetry Friday: Happy anniversary, Atticus!

Atticus and I have been married for thirty-eight years. (Yes, those-of-you-who-are-young and young-ish, numbers do take on a frightening, other-worldly quality as you grow older. How are these numbers real?) 

What we count as "the beautiful" has changed a lot over the course of thirty-eight years, but some things never change: my husband is kind, funny, intelligent, has an astounding memory for all things important, sentimental and trivial, has fabulous taste in music, is an amazing father, keeps everything afloat, and I love his cooking. 

Happy anniversary, Atticus. If I live as long as Betty White did, we'll be celebrating another 38. I know you'll still be cooking. ❤️

The Beautiful Changes
by Richard Wilbur 

One wading a Fall meadow finds on all sides
The Queen Anne’s Lace lying like lilies
On water; it glides
So from the walker, it turns

Your hands hold roses always in a way that says
They are not only yours; the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things’ selves for a second finding, to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to wonder.

(Read the whole thing here, at The Poetry Foundation.) 


The Poetry Friday roundup this week is being hosted by Irene Latham

Friday, January 21, 2022

Poetry Friday: Jane Hirshfield's "I Wanted to Be Surprised"

This one by Jane Hirshfield was published in The New Yorker in 2019. I'm sure it's safe to say that we've all been surprised by a number of things since then. 

What I like about this one is the way it feels true to any time — any time in which humans are living, surprising, disappointing, and reassuring each other. As Hirshfield says: 

Also, the stubborn, courteous persistence.
That even today please means please,
good morning is still understood as good morning,
and that when I wake up,
the window’s distant mountain remains a mountain,
the borrowed city around me is still a city, and standing.

I Wanted to Be Surprised
by Jane Hirshfield 

To such a request, the world is obliging.

Just in the past week, a rotund porcupine,
who seemed equally startled by me.

What should not have been so surprising:
my error after error, recognized when appearing on the faces of others.

What did not surprise enough:
my daily expectation that anything would continue,
and then that so much did continue, when so much did not.


Read the whole thing here


The round up this week is hosted by Tabatha Yeatts at The Opposite of Indifference

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

I did a thing! I wrote a new book!

I did a thing. I wrote a new book! 

Whoosh, not gonna lie, I wondered for a while if it would ever happen again. The last few years have included some major challenges for our family, including some health crises that made me want to do nothing but retreat. But I've been working with The Word Among Us Press and now my latest book is available. (Both the publisher and Amazon are showing it as in stock. Yay!) It's called The Companion Book of Catholic Days: A Guide to Feasts, Saints, Holy Days, and Seasons

Here's the link to the book at The Word Among Us, and here's an Amazon link. And here's a link to, which helps you support local and independent bookstores. 

I'm grateful to The Word Among Us for all their support, for creating such a beautiful cover, and a lovely color interior. And, as always, I'm so grateful to my editor, Cindy Cavnar, who always makes me a better writer. 

I'm so proud of this book, and I hope you like it.

Friday, January 07, 2022

Poetry Friday: "The Year"

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear, 
And that's the burden of the year. 

Well, Ella, you've summed it up rather nicely. Although I'd add that it's both the burden and the gift of time that it does what it does: it plods on, and we plod with it. 

I have no predictions about 2022. I don't know if it will be better, worse, or the same as 2021 and 2020, both of which passed through my consciousness as if I were in a fugue state. 

I won't say, "2022 has to be better than 2021, right?" because sometimes things get worse. On the other hand, sometimes things do get better, right? (Right?!) Sometimes they do.

And some things never change. I've laughed, wept, hoped, and feared for a goodly number of years now. I think it's called being human. Why should 2022 be any different? 

Happy new year, friends. 

The Year
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

What can be said in New Year rhymes,
That's not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our brides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that's the burden of the year.


Carol Varsalona has the round-up at Beyond LiteracyLink