Monday, February 19, 2018

Poems of the Week ~ by Mary, Wendy and Kathleen

This week, my friends, we are contemplating poems written by Mary, who blogs at In the Corner of My Eye, Wendy, of Words and Words and Whatnot,  and Kathleen Everett, of The Course of Our Seasons. Each poem seems, to me, to be a wonderful response to the darkness of the news we are taking in these days. Each poet has a unique response and, taken together, I hope they uplift your heart and help you keep your balance as we move through troubled times. Let's take a look.

We are Ready

We are ready to dance
not the slow cheek to cheek dance
not the sensual melodic tango
but the we-will-fight-through-the-night dance
the we-won't-ever-give-up (take that!) waltz
where we clench teeth and raise our arms
we shake fists in the face of injustice.

We are ready to dance
not the sumptuous sexy samba
not the kick the heels kind of jive
but the don't-you-dare-mess-with-me dance
you can't fool us with your lies
we put no stock in your twisted words
we shake fists in the face of injustice.

We are ready to dance
not the hate and-racial-discrimination dance
not the stomp-on-gay-and-immigrant-rights dance
but the fight-for-life-and-do-it-now dance
you can't trample the ones we love
we will rise again before too long
we shake fists in the face of injustice.

We are ready to dance!

Sherry: I love the liveliness, fire and determination in this poem. We will not only Overcome, we will sing and dance while doing so! I loved this, Mary!

Mary: In this poem, I wanted to express, in a unique way, a sense of being empowered to take action. So I thought about different types of dances and how they could be used to express what I wanted to portray. I was actually quite pleased with how it turned out, and each time I read it again I can feel my adrenalin flowing (LOL), so I feel I succeeded in accomplishing my goal.

Sherry: I feel you did, too. Wonderfully!

burden of ancients

I had expected
I would be more at peace
at this place in my life, for ...
I have sought it
these many years,
in my way

I carry the weighty woes
of this planet,
like a big bass drum,
to the fragile heartbeat
of our earth

to know
what it is, to live …
is to know,
that survival is precarious and hard

perhaps, ancients
are not meant
to find peace
in bearing witness to
failure to exist harmoniously
and with diligence

perhaps, it is part of the price we pay,
for the gift of long life –
the burden of owning
the state of the world
we will leave behind, at passing

“We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit. … We have to recall the image of the planet from outer space: a single entity in which air, water, and continents are interconnected. That is our home.” – David Suzuki: Canadian environmentalist, scientist, and writer.

Sherry: I so feel the weight of it, Wendy, the burden of the world we are passing along to our children and grandchildren. Worse at this moment than we ever could have foreseen.

Wendy: The theme of ‘burden of ancients’ is climate change – but, more than that, it is about humankind’s utter ineptitude to come to terms with it.  The staggering arrogance and ignorance of the ‘powers that be’ who could and should put in place, a strategy for combatting the truly frightening planetary changes, we are facing, is shocking.  The possibility of world leaders arriving at a consensus of basic, common sense initiatives, that might, at the very least, slow the decline (while innovative scientific and technological solutions are sought) seems – at this point in time – further out of reach, than ever.  For those of us who care about life on this planet – who care about the quality of life we are leaving to our children – it is a constant heartache.   That is probably why, I find my way to this theme again and again – even when I don’t set out in that particular direction.  It is very much on my mind. 

I have mentioned the findings of the 2007, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change before, but it bears repeating.  That panel (of 2,500 scientists in 130 countries overseen by the United Nations and the World Meteorological Organization) warned that millions of human lives and nearly a third of the planet's wildlife and plant species could be wiped out if global temperatures rise as little as 1.5 to 2.5 degrees Celsius.  The Panel predicted a rise of between 1.8 and 4 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, if measures are not put in place to reverse the current trend.  Needless to say, the earth will be feeling the effects of global warming long before the end of this century.  Indeed, it already is.  Climate change is real.  We see the effects of it, virtually every day, on our nightly news.   

The stunning prediction by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was issued 10 years ago.  Since then, very little – in terms of what is required to stem this looming disaster – has been enacted.  In fact, it could be argued, that we are moving backwards.  In a move, many experts deemed: catastrophic, the United States (under the leadership of President Trump) opted to pull out of the Paris Climate Accord in June of 2017, denouncing it as a violation of U.S. sovereignty.  I find that terrifying:  not for myself (I have lived my life); I find it terrifying for the children of this earth and for all life on this planet.  It is a burden, I fear, I will carry with me to my grave … as will my fellow ‘ancients’ of conscience. 

Sherry: As will I, my friend. Thank you for these wise words. 

Kathleen and her mother,
whom she sadly lost last year

an invitation

"Into this world,
this demented inn,
where there is absolutely no room for him at all,
Christ comes, uninvited."
- Thomas Merton

Turning off the news

(Suffering world)

I walk down the path to the waters edge

(Despairing angels weep at every fence post)

The cold wind whips the water into a froth against 
the gray stony bank

(Where is He in all of this?)

Autumn's landscape has changed to winter

(Pray for us now)

The world, hard and cold, in its fallow season

(And at the hour of our death)

I toss pieces of bread to the small wild ducks

(Peace be with you)

As they sail away,

(and also with you)

I turn toward home.

Sherry: So sorrowful, so beautiful, Kathleen.

Kathleen: This poem was written a few years ago at the beginning of the Advent season after another mass shooting in our country. The saddest part of that statement is that I can't tell you which one.

 I had run across the quote and, adding that to the season of the year and the news of another tragedy, the poem came together in a kind of call and response. 

Using religious imagery and scenes of the natural world that I find outside my door, this poem became quieter and more prayerful- an invitation, an invocation.

Sherry: One feels the prayerfulness, reading your beautiful words, Kathleen. Thank you for sharing the beauty and peace of this poem with us. You give us a place to go for comfort when the news is just too dark – out into the beauty of the world, waiting so patiently for humankind to awaken.

[My friends, Kathleen wanted me to tell you she has had a computer crash and may not be able to come in and respond to comments, as she only has her tiny phone. But she will read and be most appreciative of your words, nevertheless.]

Thank you, Mary, Wendy and Kathleen, for your beautiful, uplifting and inspiring words.  We hope these poems helped add something positive to your day, my friends. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!


  1. I love the defiant repetition in Mary's poem and the different kinds of dance, some of which I've never tried but look interesting.
    Wendy's poem had a different tone and different approach. I too expected
    I would be more at peace at this place in my life, but I'm just as worried and determined as ever. I love the simile:
    'like a big bass drum,
    to the fragile heartbeat
    of our earth'.
    I was struck by the use of parentheses in Kathleen's poem and the way the internal thoughts and prayer are expressed in the landscape:
    'I walk down the path to the waters edge
    (Despairing angels weep at every fence post)
    The cold wind whips the water into a froth against
    the gray stony bank
    (Where is He in all of this?)'

    Thank you Sherry, Mary, Wendy and Kathleen for sharing.

    1. And thank YOU, Kim, for your depthful comments.

  2. Thank you, Sherry, for this feature & for including my poem alongside such talented poets as Wendy and Kathleen.

    I feel the same as Wendy when she says she thought she would be more at peace at this time of life. I thought I would say to myself that the world is in good hands and the future will be secure. Not so these days. Caring about the life on this planet, I don't understand how so many in this country can deny global warming and backslide by taking away some of the protections that were so caringly put in place. It is sad & also angers me. And I feel powerless to do anything but hope 'climate change deniers' are given the boot so this country can get back on track.

    I enjoyed the alternating lines in Kathleen's poem - the prayerfulness and nature observations. Very nicely done. Gives me a sense of peacefulness as I read!

  3. Yes, what wonderful poems, each in its unique way and arranged by you, Sherry, in a perfect progression.

    Mary, your poem is so full of verve, it makes me want tio jump up and start dancing – in a fiery, defiant kind of way – immediately.

    Wendy, next weekend I am planning to read a piece of mine in the "open section" at an event called Love Poems for the Earth (and I will be mentioning climate change). I don't know if there will be time to read more than one thing, but if so yours here would be a perfect addition. The Suzuki quote is perfect too ... more's the pity.

    Kathleen, the beauty of your poem is very moving, and its deep reflectiveness. And the Merton quote is another which is too sadly apt. As Mary and Sherry have both said, your poem conveys some sense of peace and comfort, which can be derived from both prayer and Nature – not to diminish the sorrows and horrors, but enough to enable us to keep going in the face of them.

    A superb feature, Sherry, and a beautiful start to my day. It has me a bit weepy, which is only appropriate really. It also makes me feel strengthened.

    1. If you get the opportunity, it would be lovely to be included in 'Love Poems for the Earth', though I know, time is everything at these events. Thank you, Rosemary, for thinking of me.

  4. Wow, my friends, I am so pleased you take away so much from these wonderful poems. Each of them seems to offer a way through towards what will hopefully be a better tomorrow. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Rosemary, I am touched they made you weepy, as they do me, as well.

  5. Thank you for putting together this very timely feature, Sherry. I believe that whenever we can shine a light in the darkness ... that clearly, has begun to fall upon our beloved planet earth ... THAT LIGHT MUST BE SHONE. The worldwide passivity that continues to greet dangerous, distressing, repressive and ignorant blows against our world, is terrifying.

    The pieces highlighted here, speak to various aspects that surround coming to terms with the complicated state of our world. My piece centers on climate change - and by extension, the feeling that we have failed in sustaining the world we inherited, for our children. Mary's gives us her response to the social inequities we see all around us. And Kathleen's emphasizes the spiritual.

    Thus far - as humankind grapples with this particularly dark and, seemingly, directionless period - it has felt to me, that we have been moving through something akin to the stages of grief. That is, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

    My poem, I think, speaks to - if not acceptance - certainly, acknowledgement ... this is where we are: 'the burden of owning the state of the world we will leave behind, at passing'.

    Kathleen's, which, as she mentions is rather prayerful - an invitation, an invocation - for me, confers hope: 'I toss pieces of bread to the small wild ducks (Peace be with you) As they sail away, (and also with you)'

    And then Mary's poem - which is so glorious. In a voice of defiance (which we so need NOW) she proclaims a rallying call: 'we will rise again before too long we shake fists in the face of injustice. We are ready to dance!' ... Wonderful words!

    I very much enjoyed participating in - and reading - the final collaborative article. Thank you all!

    1. Wendy, I like how you have summed up our poems here, Wendy! You are a stellar poet & commenter. Smiles.

  6. Wonderfully said, Wendy. Yes, we must shine our light, resist, face where we are - and demand and move towards a better world. I like your point about the stages of grief. I think the scales have dropped from our eyes. I do see, in response to the last shooting, that many are feeling enough is enough. In the marches planned in the weeks ahead, and especially in voting booths, may we move towards a more equitable and sustainable world.

  7. I have been fighting tears these last few days. After reading these poems tears flow freely. My feelings are mixed. I feel defiant, angry, sad fearful. But I also feel a joy at knowing there are others like myself and that makes me hopeful.
    Thank you- all three of you for these inspirational poems.
    And thank you, Sherry for selecting them .

    1. Yes, Myrna, it is definitely nice to know others who feel the same way!

  8. I love the very different visions about this suffering world in these three poems by Mary, Wendy and Kathleen. Thank you poets. The overwhelming sadness, the grit to rise above and the prayerful meditative tone fill every empty space of the heart with a new look for this world. Thank you Sherry for this wonderful post.

  9. Mixed emotions, indeed. Pain for the unfathomable things that are happening, faith in the goodness of humankind which we pray will prevail, and hope for better times than these. I am inspired by the young people who are tired of waiting for us to fix this world, who are rising up with strength.

  10. Sherry, thanks again for putting this feature together. You always are good at connecting dots & seeking out the best from each of us.

    1. My pleasure, as always, Mary. Thank you for your poem, which was the inspiration for this feature. Smiles.

  11. The knowledge of some hopes for the battered world is a consolation. Wonderful poems from all three stalwarts!


  12. yes, these are all very powerful voices in their own unique style. these three poets care, and they dare to write about what is so wrong today. Sherry has put it so perfectly, that each poem is "a wonderful response to the darkness of the news we are taking in these days."

  13. These were special...such strength of word and voice...thanks for sharing Sherry, Mary, Wendy and Kathleen!


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