sailing on uncharted seas

will those still waters
fail to depart after all?
this center—in my ignorance–
drops me in
amidst a multitude of mirrors–
will I drift away
before even beginning to move
beyond uncertainty?
mind closed,
immobilized by the guilt
of experience, held captive
by that
which always leads back
to this

I used Lucille Clifton’s “blessing the boats” for the Day 5 NaPoWriMo prompt, and decided to revisit the poem for the April 6 dVerse prompt from Jade (Lisa) to choose one of your favorite poems by another poet and flip the meaning on it. I’ve been working on this on and off for awhile–it’s far different than my original attempt, and probably not finished still.

I’ve done similar exercises in the past, but never tried to be so literally opposite. It’s not easy.

Grow NYC

On the run, in retreat,
empty lots, dirty streets–
take the land, make it green–
thumbs and hearts, community.

Food to eat, flowers, herbs,
trees with branches full of birds–
an oasis filled with life–
lost then found, death defied.

I’ve been thinking about the earthweal challenge for Earth Day–what postitive steps have been taken locally to improve the environment?

NYC was in serious decline in the 70s–hence the famous headline, from 1975, below. Everything was falling apart, and there were vacant lots and abandoned properties everywhere.

Ford new york city drop dead

Organizations like GrowNYC, Greenthumb, and OasisNYC began to foster community gardens in abandoned lots, renovated by volunteers from the surrounding area. Today there are nearly 600 such gardens in the city–everywhere you walk, you’ll stumble upon one. Managed by neighborhood residents, they grow all kinds of things, both edible and simply beautiful. They foster new and experienced gardeners, young and old. They sponsor art displays and performances, and act as community centers.

I used Bjorn’s prompt, at dVerse, to compose my poem for Earth Day in Anapestic Tetrameter.

On Rambling/City Streets

Under concrete still lies the earth.
Am I bridged?  Do I travel on or over?
The air takes my thoughts and plays with them,
embroiders them, suspends them between.

Am I bridged?  do I travel on or over?
My fingers want to hold the windwhispers–
embroider them, suspend them between
the bare branches of the trees.

My fingers want to hold the windwhispers
that touch the moon on her journey
through the bare branches of the trees
into the fullness of the reflected light.

I want to touch the moon on her journey.
My own face is shadowed with uncertainty,
backlit by the fullness of reflected light.
My own hands are empty, unthreaded.

My own face is shadowed with uncertainty,
a landscape I too often inhabit.
My own hands are empty, unthreaded.
I keep trying to rearrange what isn’t there–

a landscape I too often inhabit.
I look for birds.  I want to ask them their secrets.
I keep trying to rearrange what isn’t there–
how to be someone that is also everything.

I look for birds.  I want to ask them their secrets.
How to dance across the invisible threads.
How to be someone that is also everything,
crisscrossing land sea sky stars.

How to dance across the invisible threads
that hold both concrete and earth,
crosscrossing land sea sky stars–
(the air takes my thoughts and plays with them)

This pantoum is definitely a work in progress. For NaPoWriMo day 15, and the earthweal weekly challenge: Toward an Ecopoetry.

Also linking to dVerse OLN, hosted by Sanaa.

shorebirds converge with the edge of the sea

moving the water
with my feet
I float on currents,
my shadow following
each intersection with light

not thinking
who or where
I am–
cocooned in myself
and threaded to the aliveness
of what passes me
passing

crossing waves tracks
of lines and circles
forming patterns–
greeting me meeting
myself, transiting

throwing time into the wind
and not waiting for it–
wandering
in place

Kim at dVerse asks us today to write a poem in the first person that compares some trait of ours with something animal. In addition, the title should be the animal thing,

rampant grace

“You were once wild here.  Don’t let them tame you.”
–Isadora Duncan

presence, breath,
the mystery of
the body–
here and now,
never once upon a time–
wild eternity

full of what
is—translating and
transforming
each step through
the labyrinth that is you–
synchronal, alive

This is a Kick-About prompt (the quote from Isadora Duncan) that I never posted. I had an idea to do collage illustrations, but the photos of Isadora dancing made me want to try to capture them in gestural drawings.

I haven’t used pastels in a long time, but I can see why Degas chose them so often to render his dancers. The body becomes transformed by dance, lighter and more transparent. Otherworldly.

For NaPoWriMo, and also linking to the dVerse prompt from Grace, The Body & Poetry.

transposed by all that has taken both place and time

the reflection absorbs me–
torn pieces of rainbows,
all those things left undone
turning the inside out–

windows with no edges,
mirrors of light waves,
disintegration–
the reflection absorbs me–

don’t fence me in you say–
your words pile up in layers
that turn into
pieces of rainbows—

I am suspended between,
my replies tangled up
with the silence of the dead–
all those things left undone

all those unsent messages–
castaways held captive
on ships without a shore—
turning us inside out

Jade, at dVerse, has us considering edges.

Art from the archives with a cascade poem.

Already Dead

We have written our words all
over the land, constructed cages
to contain what we can’t
control.  We have put a price
on all the things that can’t
be bought or sold, raised
our voices until we are all
deaf.  We have invented gods
of fear instead of harmony,
raped and discarded what could be
raped and discarded, left
bloody sorrow to fertilize
anything mistakenly overlooked.
We long ago sold our souls,
and our hollowness is so vast
no one can measure it.  And still
we look for more more more–
because what can ever satisfy
the absence of what was
never there?

2-gone-silent-s

For Brendan’s earthweal challenge, already dead. The art is a postcard fiction from 2017, but it seemed appropriate to both the theme and my thoughts.

4-empty-handed-s

You have to become empty in order to begin to fill up again. Perhaps we can learn to choose more wisely this time.

Linking to dVerse OLN, hosted by Bjorn.

Phoenix

There is no drama in most moments, but the accumulation becomes a story.  One day you wake up, or you think you wake up.  But something burns—you can smell it in the air.  Ashes of yesterday are falling from the sky.  You thought the past was dead, but it has only rearranged itself into today, or is it already tomorrow? 

And what happened yesterday anyway?

I went out to the hazel wood because a fire was in my head.  I walked and walked and walked until I came to a pool of water, still and deep.  I sat beside it, watching my reflection smolder, waiting for something to be revealed.  The light scattered on the liquid surface held me and gave me a different life, turned me inside out.

Now I am only flames, or was that yesterday?  Which side am I on?

For the dVerse Prosery prompt from Kim, some inspiration from Yeats: ‘I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head’.

The art is from a series of constellation poems I did for Pure Haiku. Freya’s current theme is Unfurling–you can submit until February 28.

Headline Haiku: War Is Not Healthy (for children and other living things)

war is not healthy haiku s

memory fails to
stop enduring grief
daily
farewell
face death alone

war is not healthy s

In 2015, when this post originally appeared, the New York Times published a chart explaining some of the ways civilians have died in the Syrian War.  A little research online shows that in modern warfare it is estimated that 85-90% of all casualties are civilians (June 2014 American Journal of Public Health).  War also wreaks havoc on the environment, leading to more death.

A Hard Rain

has fallen shadowed
by endless endings, ghosts both
multiplied and lost

Some estimates of civilians killed in recent and ongoing conflicts:
Sudan-Darfur  200,000
Iraq  170,000
Syria  200, 000
Congo  60,000
Afghanistan  45,000
Pakistan  35,000
Mexico  50,000
Libya  30,000
Chechnya  100,000
Eritrea-Ethiopia  70,000
Sierra Leone  70,000

These numbers have only increased since 2015.

in which endings are both lost and multiplied close up s
war is not healthy poster s

There are not enough tears to encompass all this sorrow.

Bjorn at dVerse asked us to write poems of war. I decided to repost some of my headline haiku embroideries–I did a number of them from 2015-2017 when war was in the headlines every day. Now we’ve moved on to other things, but lest we forget, civilians and soldiers are still losing both their lives and homes every single day all over the world

aleppo-close-up-s

Silence weeps
and eyes refuse sight.
No questions
can be posed,
nor answers given. Light is
erased. Dust and blood.