Monday, November 6, 2017

Poems of the Week ~ by Marja, Colleen and Susan

This week, my friends, we are contemplating poems of strength and hope, much needed in this year of one disastrous event after another. Marja Blom, of  A Dutch Corner in New Zealand    , Colleen Redman , of Loose Leaf Notes, and Susan Chast, of  Susan's Poetry,  have each written a poem that will lift your hearts, and affirm your beliefs, so pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of tea, and enjoy.




INVITATION TO PEACE

Lay down in the long tall grass
in the dimness of dawn
Watch your thoughts
Watch your inner self
afraid of scarcity
Watch your need
for control
Watch and let go
Let go of expectations
Let go of limitations
Let go of attachment
Let nothing owe you
Just be

Lay down in the long tall grass
in the dimness of dawn
Watch the sun rise
See, it playfully paints the earth
Feel it warms the wondrous world
Scattering its dazzling rays freely
on the banker and the homeless man
on the Christian and the Muslim
The sun is sapient
as it shines on everyone
as it knows no borders
as it is and let things
just be

Lay down in the long tall grass
in the dimness of dawn
watch the sky turn into chaos
The sun doesn’t compete with it
but will tenderly perch
through the dark veil
to reach you
to guide you
to inner peace
shining on this untamed place
it invites you to pass it like a torch
to show how to
just be


Sherry: Just Be. Such a wise message. I love this beautiful poem, Marja.

Marja: My poem is for me a framework on which my beliefs are builtI learned from poets, writers and life itself that peace starts within yourself. It starts with awareness of oneself and one another. Awareness that, for example, if you are attached to something and you lose it, you experience grief, loss, anger etc.  Of course, we are attached to our loved ones and as Queen Elizabeth II said "Grief is the price we pay for love."

We are, however, also attached to things we don't need. We are made to believe that we need all these things, like big houses, the newest iPhone, and become attached to a life of gathering. If we are aware that we don't need these things, we don't have to waste our time on it.

Having said that, we should be able to develop in our own way and in our own time. Within relationships peace is possible when people receive the space to be and become themselves. When you expect someone to become what you want them to be, both suffer.

Furthermore, if you start living from a feeling of abundance, that there is enough for everyone, and live in non-attachment, it would enable you to share.  Besides that, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link; we could start focusing on the weakest link in the community, country, world. Every link is important to make the chain strong and if that link is someone who differs from you a lot, then focus on what you have in common, as we are all human beings.

In summary, just let things come into your life, enjoy when they are there and let go. Just like the tides. Like in the animal world, just use what you need, not what you want and let go. Let everything just be. Accept life as it is and move forwards by trying to improve it from there, and take responsibility for it. If we all would take time to become aware of what really matters, then personal and collective peace will increase.

I could extend,  but I love the framework of the poem so everyone has the freedom to build their own ideas from it.

Sherry: Very wise reflections, Marja. In my grandmother's day, they lived frugally, no excess, no waste. It was a better way, I think. Perhaps these times will teach us to live more simply, put less strain on the planet. I hope so.

Thank you so much for sharing this poem and your thoughts. Colleen is sharing a poem that brings such peace in its reading that I caught my breath. It reads like a meditation, and I thought we could all use some peacefulness in our lives right now. Let's look:




Counterpoint


After the nightly news
comes the wood thrush
the monks of the forest
sing a sundown service
buried like jewels
in canopy cathedrals
their clarity of truth
shines with good news
and rises above all falsehood


Sherry: This falls into my heart like rain, Colleen. I drank in the peace and beauty of this poem like cool water on a parched throat. It is just so beautiful! I became one of the monks, as I read.

Colleen: Birdsong is a portal that opens my heart and brings me back to the innocence of my childhood.  I especially love the song of the wood thrush. This summer I spent evenings on the hammock letting their song cut through the chatter and divisions of the world and bring be to a deeper reality.  I began to think of the wood thrush as nature’s counterpoint to the man-made chaos reported on the nightly news, which I also listen to.  I never see them but hear them calling from the wild of the woods.  I feel encouraged, knowing they are there, doing what they were made to, without an agenda.

Sherry: The birds give me peace, too, Colleen. They live so simply, and so sweetly, eating, singing, spreading joy. They have much to teach us about how to live. Thank you for this beauty of a poem. 

Recently, Susan wrote an uplifting poem about the joy, sweetness and love of animals - another source of comfort for us in trying times. Let's take a peek.




OUR EYES HOLD THANKS


            1.

We don’t worry about the animals
who have stewards so much as those who don’t.

I’ve brought orphan kittens home to clean up
and feed, trying hard not to fall in love.

Stuffing, a calico puffball, grew old
downstairs, purring into her steward’s ears.

The human Stuffing cared for needed warmth,
companionship and reminders to pause.

Blackie, a horse I knew, found friendly pasture
where a horse mate kissed and nuzzled her.

They stewarded the humans who brought them 
apples and straw and sugar cubes and smiles.

            2.

Mom’s cat Mimi is horrified that I
sit near her evening spot on the couch back.

She glares wild-eyed at me, then Mom, then me,
until I offer to trade seats with Mom.

Mom comes to sit near me, and Mimi leaps
bravely between us to her cushioned perch.

She won’t blink in response to me, but stares
as if in shock that I dared displace her.

Bad enough that I have Mom’s attention,
but the couch, too?  What was I thinking?

            3.

Carcasses dot two-hundred miles of road
between their house and mine.  Road kill, it’s called.

Crushed deer and skunk, squirrels and cats confront
me, shake me up, resound against my eyes.

There is not a human among them. Have 
traffic agents lifted human remains?

            4.

Rescue kitties, twin girls, stay behind when
I travel.  I worry that they'll forget me.

They worry that I'll forget them, but I 
don't and they don't.  We forgive each other.

I hope they don't prefer the cat sitter.
They sniff me thoroughly, reading the news.

I've been with someone else, so they'll postpone
their certain welcome.  They make me wait a bit.


5.

We hug us, we're animals together.
We hold us close, grateful to be alive

Soft light and warmth diffuses our wonder
at finding safety here within our house.

We may never leave home again—unless
earthquakes and floods and fire threaten, beckon.

Then we’ll traverse the path with care, offer
a hand to animal friends and strangers.


           
Sherry: How I love this poem full of animals! I'm sad about the roadkill. It is always so distressing to see how our being in the world has impacted the wild creatures. And I love the reminder that humans are animals too. We hold ourselves so high, forgetting we are but one species among millions.


Susan: I was thinking about how we forget that humans are animals, and that only when animals' lives matter will we think of the littlest of us in all countries. The more I thought about it, the more this meant that we had to think of ourselves as being taken care of -- not just humans caring for animals. Stewardship is not one-way. 

As I began writing, I saw that vivid examples spoke more impressively than philosophies. I ended up taking away all the verses that moralized, and leaving experiences that might resonate, experiences that helped me grow my own soul and spirit. Left alone, we have easier lives in some ways, but without the gratitude that shows us our place. There, I have started moralizing again! I prefer poetry. I am beyond delighted that you have chosen my poem.

Sherry: It is true - animals care for us as much as we do for them - and more selflessly. They have such true, devoted hearts. I remember Marge Piercy advising you to try to make the reader feel the experience, rather than telling them how you felt during the experience. You have done so wonderfully in this poem. 

Thank you so much, Marja, Colleen and Susan, for your wonderfully uplifting poems. We poets help keep the discussion positive, as we voice the yearnings most of the population feels for unity and peace. Thank you for reminding us of the abundant beauty and love that surrounds us still.

We hope you enjoyed these poems, my friends, and that your hearts are lifted and encouraged by them. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!

18 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for the honour Sherry and I am really inspired by the beautiful poems from Colleen and Susan. Susan I feel you are right that it is better to use examples or stories instead of philosophies. I really want to focus on that now Thanks

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  2. My goodness, little did I know just how badly our hearts would need a reminder of the beauty of life today, with the unthinkable event that occured in Texas. How many times can our hearts break? When will gun control prohibit the sale of assault weapons to the public? Why is this world so ill? I read these words, in pain, and they do remind me that people are still good, birds still sing sweetly, and life is still good, even while terrible things are happening everywhere. Thank you to each of these fine poets. We didn't know how much we would need you today until this moment.

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    1. I know, Sherry! I'm scattered as if the bottom dropped out of the car I'm driving. And I called a friend in Texas thinking she'd be frightened, but found that she expects more and more massacres every day! She was surprised I was surprised and shaken. I'm not there yet. These poems are paths to follow.

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  3. You are right, Sherry – each of these lovely poems is peace-inducing. Many thanks to you, and to Marja, Colleen and Susan.

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  4. Thank you for linking all three poems, Sherry. Marja's made me feel like a sinuous snake safely sloughing off old skin inside and out. And then I heard the thrush, little monks in the woodland canopy. No matter what the news, when we stop separating ourselves from nature (if only for a while), we realize its embrace. These moments make the rest possible. Thank you poets and master anthologist. This has been a treat.

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  5. A little birdie told me these poems were up and uplifting here today. Thanks, Sherry!

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  6. Oh these poems were balm for my soul...thank you Sherry for bringing them to us....and ladies, I not only loved your poems but your philosophy of life. Thank you!

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  7. I am happy these poems are singing - like little birds themselves - through these hours, in counterpoint to the darkness some humans create for others. Thank heavens, there are many more beings of light than darkness on the globe. May they all shine more brightly than ever before.

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  8. An awesome post! The poems selected are wonderful and wise - and a pleasure to read ... as was the commentary. I so agree: birdsong and the presence of beloved pets do confer a simple, unfettered peace upon our - often - busy lives. We must be aware of the things that bring us peace and also be open to changes in relationships, in our choices and in our ways of proceeding through our days, if we find that piece in alluding us. Peace is fundamental to the quality of life. Great job on this, poets!

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  9. What a peaceful way to start my day! Such gems of words by our dear poets & how the engaging conversation lifts the mind! Thank you, Marja, Colleen, Susan and Sherry. As I was reading the poems my ears caught the thrilling notes of our everyday birds.

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  10. A real tonic for these darkening winter days.. Truly uplifting to read each poem

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  11. These were a delight and a welcome break from all the darkness of the times.

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  12. What a wonderful feature! Marja, I enjoyed both your poem AND your comments. You are such a wise woman...and deep! We do look for that inner peace!

    Colleen, beautiful poem - I read it at a deep level, a bit of a comment on the world's situation but yet giving a feeling of peace.

    Susan, I loved your poem when I saw it in your blog the other day. Indeed we have to hug one another - we animals of all species....in gratitude for being alive.

    Such a rich post today, Sherry, featuring such inspirational poets and their poetry! Thanks to you all!

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  13. I've been away for a bit, and it was wonderful to return to these poems of peace, hope and love ... like a drink of cool, clear water after long thirst! My thanks to all.

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  14. What a balm to the soul these poems are. Thank you Sherry for posting and to Marja, Colleen, and Susan for writing them.

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  15. As always, it is my pleasure, friends. We do need these words of balm......

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  16. Susan, Colleen, Marja - always a pleasure to read your poems. Thanks Sherry for bringing this together.

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  17. Thank you Maria, Colleen and Susan. You have all written poems that soothe the soul, like comfort food. What a delight to read thes.
    Sherry, once again your selections are perfect.

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