When We Got to Monterey Bay – meditation-poem

https://www.flickr.com/photos/78304397@N00/9599163305/in/photolist-fCfdPB-nozk9d-a1Fo5L-TgnZRU-TAnQ7c-4QmLoR-Tqcf7B-p3T68-Usi2YK-5vErvS-TqcguX-dW7Vas-nnPZHe-qcr8Mp-ryQd5q-dDrrE-oy9aTr-pkxtMZ-pkvKdu-d5xxMb-d5xxXf-aL82yi-tP8n2S-p43m6e-6rrCTb-5zvFLb-6rntCH-5zrp7T-WQob5b-pwwSLo-oasmrJ-98j1hE-d5XWbJ-6Kr23D-kdf4Sc-WQTLf6-d5xwzY-oNx3t2-TqccSg-8icjBW-neTwX1-Gu38oE-ozufbH-ozrEnF-24Y8cb-oZpHSq-neTgE8-8a6n2s-9Bwv87-GDxVuK

Inspiration

https://www.flickr.com/photos/maret1983/7725339780/in/photolist-cLEons-uQnn8N-fLddS7-5U2PRQ-68VYzB-nbkUra-6Uy25V-fGXDWZ-HScZ3w-qCECyF-SxgVQ-og6XaG-2iLzYu-rhSEMG-7x4TqU-9qNWSb-97Qedm-dfZay2-SxdCm-fGYUb2-dfZkZL-SxiA3-9qKVMc-SxreA-9DkBYd-8gxZaT-8gxUbF-c76wHU-68dySY-9DhGVV-6D9P6h-dfZfKd-smJoNK-aczvod-8gBfBA-nKs3q-SzY5n-9qNWA7-fHgwAQ-og72yS-rhTsuW-og7y5F-9qNVTs-2fZnLw-5WtuzA-8gxUKp-qCsf19-5rPsNP-aB7YYE-2fZqYf<a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/"><img alt="Creative Commons License" style="border-width:0" src="https://i.creativecommons.org/l/by/4.0/88x31.png" /></a><br />This work is licensed under a <a rel="license" href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/">Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License</a>.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Do you ever listen to The Writer’s Almanac (Garrison Kiellor)?  If you do, you’ll know that the broadcast includes a poem, and historical and literary notes for the day.  Yesterday’s poem was called “After the Wedding,” by John Daniel. 

After the Wedding
John Daniel

After the white balloons were swept away
on the wind that had swallowed
most of our vows, after the embraces
and tears, the flung rose petals,
after new friends and old friends and aunts
from everywhere, after you tossed
the bouquet, and the cries of the children
raised coyote cries on the rim . . .

As I listened to the Daniel poem, read by Garrison Keillor through earbuds on iTunes, the rhythm of the “afters” caught my imagination.  After the . . . after the . . . after the . . .  Huh!  I thought.  What else could be done in this way?

This morning I sat down at my desk and went over the rhythm in Daniel’s poem.  There was something about hearing it read aloud that really stood out, and I decided to try to write a poem “in the style of” Daniel’s poem “After the Wedding,” something that would capture that sense of time floating by as small things happen, small things that lead to big things.  Here it is.

My take

https://www.flickr.com/photos/78304397@N00/9599163305/in/photolist-fCfdPB-nozk9d-a1Fo5L-TgnZRU-TAnQ7c-4QmLoR-Tqcf7B-p3T68-Usi2YK-5vErvS-TqcguX-dW7Vas-nnPZHe-qcr8Mp-ryQd5q-dDrrE-oy9aTr-pkxtMZ-pkvKdu-d5xxMb-d5xxXf-aL82yi-tP8n2S-p43m6e-6rrCTb-5zvFLb-6rntCH-5zrp7T-WQob5b-pwwSLo-oasmrJ-98j1hE-d5XWbJ-6Kr23D-kdf4Sc-WQTLf6-d5xwzY-oNx3t2-TqccSg-8icjBW-neTwX1-Gu38oE-ozufbH-ozrEnF-24Y8cb-oZpHSq-neTgE8-8a6n2s-9Bwv87-GDxVuK
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

I was away for a few days last week for a lovely visit with family in northern California.  See if you can recognize the things we did, my cousin and I, and how I tried to frame those things in the pattern in “After the Wedding.”

When We Got to Monterey Bay
Theresa Barker

After John Daniel
For Diana

After the garlic farmlands of Gilroy
swept by along the filmstrip of our
car windows, after the heaviness of
90-degree August breath, after cousin
and aunt and borrowed family
from San Jose, after you told
stories of your childhood
and college and I told
stories of first marriage
and adulthood, after the Fishwife
lunch across the street from Asilomar,
the last meandering along 17-mile drive
and coffee in cozy Carmel,
how good it is
to find us staring across
Monterey Bay
a brown seal head
popping up, curious
not 40 feet away
seeking company
like us.

Your thoughts?

Do you ever try to write-photograph-draw something creative by mimicking another artist’s work?  It is a long tradition by fine artists to copy works of the masters, to learn the brushstrokes, study the color choices and composition techniques; I find doing the same thing with literary arts can be hugely creative and satisfying.  If you have not, consider giving it a try!  Thanks for reading!

Sixteen uses for a lamp – meditation-poem

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hinkelstone/2765597758/in/photolist-5dopRY-6HHyRg-dKEvR8-4aASrS-4M3Rft-991VRs-eV2f7C-QBtxho-grnuUr-UobiU1-HHWonJ-Tuqq3Q-ox9A2y-5iTFqQ-efkd6e-6RQh4p-egTEFK-9Jtr7i-odC8jZ-Tp7GWs-U3iU6w-6mWe3c-nA4cnK-pMaifB-5LDsTX-91pMJZ-7xwY2n-U1SDYx-fkZicc-nY63cV-2RZoXU-mTUQCg-priy-ndC5ti-dAwWvH-qSfNTw-aGbdoz-HkQAM-4xSKzt-9zYg7v-Rzzc3W-n9rwfr-5pmbHC-ebNNqZ-7URWTK-TY1XQC-dDcVzh-djnQaw-gs2RSw-5u18Ud

Inspiration

Back in the 1980s, writer Marion Winik wrote an unusual essay about her relationship with her father.  It’s called “Sixteen Pictures of My Father.”  It’s a memoir essay told through sixteen individual scenes or pictures.  We read this essay last week at my conference.  Below is a excerpt; click on the title to read the full essay.  I’ll wait!

Sixteen Pictures of My Father (Marion Winik, Chicago Reader)

1. A small, square, black-and-white photograph with a scalloped white edge on which the date, May 1959, is printed in small type. I am the curly-headed baby in a white party dress sitting up on Daddy’s shoulder eating a strawberry. Boyishly handsome in his crew-neck sweater and grown-out GI haircut, he smiles up at me, squinting into the sun. He is 30, I am one, we are in love.

2. Twenty-five years later. My father and I at my younger sister’s wedding, a beautiful summer day at the golf club. . . .

Are you back?  Great!

My take

Sketch by Theresa Barker.

This week I took my one of my “sketch-a-day” projects – to draw a lamp – and I combined it with ideas from Winik’s “Sixteen Pictures” essay to create a new meditation-poem.  Here it is.

Sixteen Uses for a Lamp

  1.  To shoo away the darkness.

  2. To light the pages of a book in the corner of your living room when a storm is raging outside.

  3. To show you where the scars are.

  4. To find an honest one.

  5. To prove that inventions are possible.

  6. To hold down the newspaper when the windows are open and it might fly away.

  7. To warm a face.

  8. To be the last thing that is turned off at night and the first thing that is turned on in the morning.

  9. To help you look into your lover’s eyes.

  10. To keep monsters in the closet in a child’s room.

  11. To be the light of the party.

  12. To illuminate the wrinkles of wisdom in a loved one’s face.

  13. To be part of an easy spelling list.

  14. To use up electricity so that the electrical meter will spin faster.

  15. To show a film.

  16. To make one glad there is light in the world.

  17. (bonus – surreal/zen) Because the orange is tardy.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hinkelstone/2765597758/in/photolist-5dopRY-6HHyRg-dKEvR8-4aASrS-4M3Rft-991VRs-eV2f7C-QBtxho-grnuUr-UobiU1-HHWonJ-Tuqq3Q-ox9A2y-5iTFqQ-efkd6e-6RQh4p-egTEFK-9Jtr7i-odC8jZ-Tp7GWs-U3iU6w-6mWe3c-nA4cnK-pMaifB-5LDsTX-91pMJZ-7xwY2n-U1SDYx-fkZicc-nY63cV-2RZoXU-mTUQCg-priy-ndC5ti-dAwWvH-qSfNTw-aGbdoz-HkQAM-4xSKzt-9zYg7v-Rzzc3W-n9rwfr-5pmbHC-ebNNqZ-7URWTK-TY1XQC-dDcVzh-djnQaw-gs2RSw-5u18Ud
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Your thoughts?

If you’re a writer, photographer, textile artist, I’m sure you must be inspired by certain other writer or artists . . . thanks for looking at my thoughts today!

poem and poem iv

https://www.flickr.com/photos/41563740@N02/8894717141/in/photolist-exZKw6-4xKaUS-raMdDq-GxLtV-8bKk69-4taSaG-68YX39-5sFm8j-8jsn22-UHZ7wz-5EmCvN-B54VF-7Ai3g5-eFuK2S-5tgzg-9Le7ar-7AZpB6-ybtgL-bHnTu2-7jV1tA-qPzG3-oYBS4-8HThRz-aAryyz-62srzy-oh73dw-kpawBM-amV61e-4gkwW1-99ZDCL-4MaE7R-a2mz7X-Au3Lm-aJNLb-9AdVpu-7DZ58V-dRUefC-cLr1zN-2A6U6v-4rhkxP-4iQ5va-4EAHe2-dmdqj-9P451-5P1ELE-5MG8sP-8jPgwr-39KSEN-qBC2-63fMiP

Did you know you can subscribe to a “poem of the day” at the Poetry Foundation website?  Every morning I get a new poem in my email, and I store them up like saving gift chocolates for a special occasion.  When I write, I like to open a recent “poem of the day” and pick a line that catches my imagination.  So many intriguing ideas or phrases have come out of this poetic exploration.

For instance, one of my stories that I wrote recently starts: “These eyes have never been enslaved.”  Where did that line come from?  Any guesses?  I’ll bet some of my poet-friends will know.  . . . .

. . . Lucille Clifton’s “Homage to My Hips.”  <- (Click on this link to read it.)  Do you know it?

. . . these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do. . . .

My story is about a young woman whose brother has “sold his eyes” to a gang-like organization to raise some quick money.  Her family worries about her brother, who is becoming more distant and disturbed by the things he has to watch through his “enslaved eyes.”  She says she would never sell her eyes, but she worries about her brother and what will happen to him.  (It will be coming out soon on a UK science fiction journal e-publication …)

There is a poem by Nikki Giovanni called “A Poem on the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy” that goes, in part:

Trees are never felled . . . in summer . . . Not when the fruit . . .
is yet to be borne . . . Never before the promise . . . is fulfilled . . .
Not when their cooling shade . . . has yet to comfort . . .

 

Today I opened the children’s book of poetry by Kwame Alexander that I picked up last April, Out of Wonder.  The poems in this book are written “to celebrate” other famous poets’s poems.  In the book, Chris Colderley, one of the editors with Kwame Alexander, wrote a poem (“Snapshots”) celebrating Nikki Giovanni, which reads in part:

people forget . . . poetry is not just words on a page . . it is . . .a snowflake on your tongue . . a tattoo on the inside of your arm . . . a dashiki and a kaftan . . . tripping down the streets of Lincoln Heights . . . shouting from the hills of Knoxville, Tennessee . . .

 

Here is my poem after Nikki Giovanni’s poem.

When You Come in After Midnight

Parents are never silent . . . in life . . . not when you make . . . a mistake . . . Never “That’s all right,” . . . instead it’s . . . “I told you so.”

“You never listen,” . . . they say, frowned . . . or its twin . . . “You never learn” . . . when . . . what you need is . . . “I did that too,” . . . or “I understand.”

Everyone else’s parents . . . wore the understanding . . . faces . . .gave the . . . “I love you” . . . embraces . . . like the delicate brush. . . of a sun’s daylight kiss

With my own children . . . I try to be different . . . I listen . . . to their  solo songs . . . to celebrate . . . their triumphs and their struggles . . . with  compassion . . .  and try not to say too much . . . or too little

– Theresa Barker

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/41563740@N02/8894717141/in/photolist-exZKw6-4xKaUS-raMdDq-GxLtV-8bKk69-4taSaG-68YX39-5sFm8j-8jsn22-UHZ7wz-5EmCvN-B54VF-7Ai3g5-eFuK2S-5tgzg-9Le7ar-7AZpB6-ybtgL-bHnTu2-7jV1tA-qPzG3-oYBS4-8HThRz-aAryyz-62srzy-oh73dw-kpawBM-amV61e-4gkwW1-99ZDCL-4MaE7R-a2mz7X-Au3Lm-aJNLb-9AdVpu-7DZ58V-dRUefC-cLr1zN-2A6U6v-4rhkxP-4iQ5va-4EAHe2-dmdqj-9P451-5P1ELE-5MG8sP-8jPgwr-39KSEN-qBC2-63fMiP
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Pen up, pen down | a poem after Maya Angelou

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kartikaysahay/5491175036/in/photolist-9neH2E-69aELa-pkfrj4-4NaXFP-gTJUjT-2x5B2t-4Nf9W7-pk26hs-4NaXqt-o1Zzcz-pZwWd3-7wKhNL-7wKhB3-pZsmju-pZAd4x-Ugd9DW-7wFuoP-qgQc4X-puYwrN-gTF8PC-bDtFmi-91it7T-qB4NGF-4ptjLF-6A5bjK-6ZrFio-SkVRvU-dPR949-7XowcR-b4nAfa-ptxAWS-bwfpcA-gW1h3w-8ZskX-svFf2i-qhavkg-pZDm72-61ZXRg-98Z8SQ-qsJPeU-abxg9L-qeNz7f-8zMMjS-5Dwyf9-mVuVBj-qh2uPW-ebNFok-7PpNYb-bonEUG-878gGR
Angelou, Maya., Wilson, Edwin Graves, and Lagarrigue, Jerome. Maya Angelou. Poetry for Young People. New York: Sterling, 2007.

 

Pen up, pen down
Theresa Barker
After Maya Angelou

Pen up, pen down
Pen scratching all around.
Another page, another story
In the endless seek of glory.
In the air, now both eyes down.
Since you write, don’t put the pen down.
Chores not done, the writing lags
Curse and cry and write those blogging tags.
All the people out of words
Make lives the same as flocks of birds.
Cross the line, they make you wait
Cross the line, they make you hate.
Both hands flat, the writing’s done.
Now comes the time to have some fun.
They think I’m mad,
I think I’m crazy.

#

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kartikaysahay/5491175036/in/photolist-9neH2E-69aELa-pkfrj4-4NaXFP-gTJUjT-2x5B2t-4Nf9W7-pk26hs-4NaXqt-o1Zzcz-pZwWd3-7wKhNL-7wKhB3-pZsmju-pZAd4x-Ugd9DW-7wFuoP-qgQc4X-puYwrN-gTF8PC-bDtFmi-91it7T-qB4NGF-4ptjLF-6A5bjK-6ZrFio-SkVRvU-dPR949-7XowcR-b4nAfa-ptxAWS-bwfpcA-gW1h3w-8ZskX-svFf2i-qhavkg-pZDm72-61ZXRg-98Z8SQ-qsJPeU-abxg9L-qeNz7f-8zMMjS-5Dwyf9-mVuVBj-qh2uPW-ebNFok-7PpNYb-bonEUG-878gGR
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Have you read Maya Angelou’s “Harlem Hopscotch”?  It’s a very powerful poem about what it’s like to be part of a black community in the mid-twentieth century; my poem is only about writing and the struggle to write each day.  I’m grateful to Angelou for her inspiration, and I hope that my poem is not taken, in any way, as disrespectful to her original.

In my poem I take a half-serious, half-whimsical approach to describe what it means to write.  The scratching pen, the blogging tags … but then if you cross the line, you may learn to wait, you may learn to hate.  And, sometimes I think I must be crazy, to keep writing.  It’s such an uphill thing to do.

#

What makes you write?  Why do you keep going?  What is the most thrilling or meaningful writing that you have done lately?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Villanelle poem – Once Upon a Time

https://www.flickr.com/photos/allaboutgeorge/3698515185/in/photolist-6CPRHc-9DyLq6-9T7H7-a42r8h-a3Yspn-6eYayq-6s9rKv-n2YKox-5MS67a-4zzczj-bzDRM8-5c5EAg-dNY6Tj-a42kgs-a9MJ2Q-cSKug3-a3YzTR-dwmMdo-7DVPgU-a3YzgK-eftpYW-a3YsTn-a42rHd-71MaGJ-a3YsCV-dN3Eci-8kfCWE-4iMrBA-hGvmB-a42soE-ekJdg-Ebh3v-auZJwT-6MwWid-4CioW-wPFYdz-HYtVCq-6bAJYJ-dMPSD2-8S5F5D-uiUvKh-rfUY9P-bwuFGi-boGBFN-bgVMU8-JGQj3x-ef56pA-dSmf1j-93vvDu-dS5X5e
https://www.flickr.com/photos/siberianluck/3279284792/in/photolist-gYdh6R-4D7v5e-5pkmUt-74UQzx-7LBnV2-6V1iQJ-qRi9Ft-9VCuzx-6cnLQ8-5ZMc7Y-7omZws-8UUrrK-7oi5cM-7oi5D2-6UWeaR-56PAhy-71q58-6YdDcu-qx7DvR-4DbL7q-e1M8US-b543fa-bcSjAv-7zMmj5-bcShyn-QH8GFD-ocwhPn-qyT7Vf-AFEXi-bEZqW-bcSgXR-qpsm41-iCVCo8-aiHrV1-4KouJZ-7HfK6k-5oZa2V-bEZ1N-bcSj9v-qrER6u-bcSi2K-6wqYgf-82y4zK-3goqJL-7UCEey-qtLb-56KBc2-5t5wN4-9mj15J-T8TEXR
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Once Upon a Time
Theresa Barker
In honor of the Dakota Access Pipeline Resisters

Once upon a time
There was a girl
In the Black Hills

The girl who called coyotes
and hunted turquoise eyes
once upon a time.

She came to the prairie
in the middle of winter
in the Black Hills.

She built a hut of thorns
with bloodied fingers
once upon a time.

With her emerald-fire eyes
she made kin with crows
in the Black Hills.

The forest consumed her
and she gave birth to the trees,

Once upon a time
in the Black Hills.

#

https://www.flickr.com/photos/allaboutgeorge/3698515185/in/photolist-6CPRHc-9DyLq6-9T7H7-a42r8h-a3Yspn-6eYayq-6s9rKv-n2YKox-5MS67a-4zzczj-bzDRM8-5c5EAg-dNY6Tj-a42kgs-a9MJ2Q-cSKug3-a3YzTR-dwmMdo-7DVPgU-a3YzgK-eftpYW-a3YsTn-a42rHd-71MaGJ-a3YsCV-dN3Eci-8kfCWE-4iMrBA-hGvmB-a42soE-ekJdg-Ebh3v-auZJwT-6MwWid-4CioW-wPFYdz-HYtVCq-6bAJYJ-dMPSD2-8S5F5D-uiUvKh-rfUY9P-bwuFGi-boGBFN-bgVMU8-JGQj3x-ef56pA-dSmf1j-93vvDu-dS5X5e
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

I wrote this villanelle last week as a writing exercise for myself. Today I was talking with my writing friend and blogger Miriam of Showers of Blessings blog, who stretched herself and wrote a Pantoum this week.  She said she’d like to try a villanelle! So, I’m sharing this poem as an example.

What is a villanelle?  You poets out there already know this, but it’s a form that repeats certain lines – line 1 and line 3 in the first stanza become the ending lines in each of the following stanzas, alternating stanza by stanza.  The last two lines in the poem are just those two lines.

Click here for an explanation of how to write the villanelle.  Don’t forget, you can slightly alter the repeated lines to fit how you want the poem to be.

One of my favorite villanelles is Theodore Roethke’s “The Waking.”  It is so lovely.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go. . . .

If you have never read Roethke’s poem, you should!  Click on this link.

Happy poeming!