Viral Dailies, Day 7

National Poetry Month.

Holy Tuesday.

COVID-19.

Social Distancing.

Kinda writes itself, doesn’t it?

Nah, we can do better. Instead, here’s a glorious piece by everyone’s favourite poet, Mary Oliver, God rest her. In this poem, she uses the ever-changing image of a swan to indicate the changes life imposes, coaxes, and expects from us. Who will we become as we drift and swim and soar through its days?

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The Swan

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?

Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –

An armful of white blossoms,

A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned

into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,

Biting the air with its black beak?

Did you hear it, fluting and whistling

A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall

Knifing down the black ledges?

And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –

A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet

Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?

And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?

And have you changed your life?

Viral Dailies, Day 6

Holy Week continues, as does National Poetry Month…as does our shared quarantine. I think it is the perfect day to feature again Anneliese Myers. She is a talented, young poet who is also a friend and colleague with whom I served at Yakima Covenant Church. The breezy, whimsical quality of her work is easily matched by its heft. I hope you enjoy this as much as I.

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10,000 Reasons

So, I’ve written

10,000 words this week –

give or take.

It took thirty-eight-twenty-nine

to critique maps

hanging in dusty classroom 178.

 

Nine-eighty-one

summarized articles

about dead people and

outdated techniques;

forty-two-sixty-three

proposed research that,

once I get my degree,

no one will see.

 

The other –

thousandish? –

replied to a fraction

of e-mails received.

So, I thought, maybe now

I could write a word

 

to You.

But I’m tired,

uninspired,

and can write nothing new.

If only You gave deadlines

or promised feedback.

If only my heart moved against

the courage I lack.

 

-©Anneliese Myers

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Anneliese Myers is a wife and graduate student in Yakima, WA. While pursuing a Master’s degree in Biology, she still finds time to write, looking for inspiration in her faith, family, and the beautiful Cascade mountains where her field work takes place. 

Viral Dailies, Day 5

Today, National Poetry Month, my Viral Dailies poetry features and Holy Week converge. As such, this entire week will feature poetry that helps us turn our attentions in that direction. Palm Sunday of course recognizes that day when Jesus enters Jerusalem, riding the back of a donkey. It was an act of subversion, reversal, theology; it was, ultimately, an act of peace. On Palm Sunday, God in Jesus says ‘no’ to empire and ‘yes’ to the communion of the lost-and-found. In this act, Jesus pictures himself ruling not as dictator or caesar, but as Prince of Peace.

Today, I give you an older poem suitable to the day. Let’s have a blessed Holy Week together, sharing sacred thought and memory, and swallowing whole the hope it brings as we huddle in our homes, hiding from the COVID-19 scourge.

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search

the stones know something we do not

their tears now stain a palm-laden street

and cries reserved for a different day

burst out

unsettled

unstoppable

unreserved

for today only the stones understand

who rides upon them

 

(c)Robert Alan Rife, 4/13/14

Image found here

Viral Dailies, Day 4

Few poets have the ability to paint such big pictures economically and simply as does Pablo Neruda. My friend Nancy Kelly recently posted this to my Facebook wall and it was a reminder of the impact of well-conceived, well-sung verse to lift and illuminate and proclaim.

For today’s Viral Dailies in celebration of National Poetry Month in isolation, let’s read this together, and just…breathe.

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Poetry

And it was at that age . . . poetry arrived
in search of me. I don’t know, I don’t know where
it came from, from winter or a river.
I don’t know how or when,
no, they were not voices, they were not
words, not silence,
but from a street it called me,
from the branches of night,
abruptly from the others,
among raging fires
or returning alone,
there it was, without a face,
and it touched me.

I didn’t know what to say, my mouth
had no way
with names,
my eyes were blind.
Something knocked in my soul,
fever or forgotten wings,
and I made my own way,
deciphering
that fire,
and I wrote the first, faint line,
faint, without substance, pure
nonsense,
pure wisdom
of someone who knows nothing;
and suddenly I saw
the heavens
unfastened
and open,
planets,
palpitating plantations,
the darkness perforated,
riddled
with arrows, fire, and flowers,
the overpowering night, the universe.

And I, tiny being,
drunk with the great starry
void,
likeness, image of
mystery,
felt myself a pure part
of the abyss.
I wheeled with the stars.
My heart broke loose with the wind.

Pablo Neruda
(1904—1973)

Viral Dailies, Day 3

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Today, I’m featuring someone who’s become a good friend and favourite contemporary poet, specifically her short form works. Lately, she’s been collaborating with other poets, visual artists, and photographers. In so doing, magic has emerged.

She writes about today’s collaboration: “Tom Darin Liskey was born in Missouri but spent nearly a decade working as a journalist in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. His poetry, fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The Red Truck Review, Deep South, Driftwood Press, Biostories, Spelk, Heartwood among others. His narrative and documentary photography has been published in The Museum of Americana, Change 7, The Blue Mountain Review, Cowboy Jamboree, Literary Life and Midwestern Gothic, among others. He lives in Texas. Connect with him on Instagram at tomdarin.l and https://www.tomdarinphoto.com/.”

I could make a stumbling attempt to recreate the magic here. But, alas, I think it better to simply send you directly to her wonderful poetry blog, All Nine Muses, where that collaboration sings a truer tune.

Happy National Poetry Month!

Viral Dailies – Day 2

I’ve been looking forward to National Poetry Month. It’s one more thing to do in isolation! But, not just anything – something meaningful and hopefully, moving. I shared a new piece yesterday as we kicked off our month of poetic goodness together. Since then I’ve been reaching out to various poets and have invited them to share some of their best work with me so I, in turn, can share it with you.

Lesley-Anne Evans is a dear friend, fellow mystic and poet who has won numerous awards for her writing. Follow her on Instagram. Day 2 is a collage of short, refrigerator magnet poems entitled simply, “She Said.”

Enjoy.

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Viral Dailies – Day 1

We are, all of us, in a coup of sorts. The forced injustice of disease stomping its boots on our collective heads. It’s one of the unknown dangers of our diverse lives lived frantically, furiously, frenetically in close quarters.

But, there can be light in dark places. People are finding it all the time. And, serendipitously, April brings with it the hope of poetry: National Poetry Month. Into this current of shared shared beauty I would cautiously but willingly wade. 

A poem a day. Sometimes my own. Often the works of others, both new and historic. I pray you’ll take this wordish journey with me as we cry out our voices against the melée and toward our healing and the comforts of physical community again.

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We write so many poems 

We write so many poems.

Some, like bones, protrude through thinner skin

of vulnerability and loss.

Others meander in slow-drift brooks

of thought-filled cadence.

Still others jostle, ruffians of heart, reminding

us we still have memory and expectation,

angels and devils of our days to contend with.

But, all the time, as words spill out

they grow us up, closer to the stars – 

and the old light.