Viral Dailies, Day 20

Our National Poetry Month/#poetryinisolation initiative continues apace. Today belongs to Christine Valters-Paintner. Christine is our online abbess at Abbey of the Arts. 

On the Abbey website (which you are hitherto strongly urged to frequent and muck about in!) we read the following:

“The Abbey is a virtual global online monastery offering pilgrimages, online classes & retreats, reflections, and resources which integrate contemplative spiritual practice and creative expression with monastic spirituality. We support you in becoming a monk in the world and an artist in everyday life. We believe in nourishing an earth-cherishing consciousness. We are an open and affirming community and strive to be radically inclusive.”

What follows is a most encouraging piece that gives full-throated praise to those who deserve it most, those who have stood in the gap, and the God whose expansive grace envelopes all, especially during suffering.

Watch. Listen. Pause. Pray. Rinse. Repeat…

Praise Song for the Pandemic

_____________________________________________________________________________

Get to know Christine through the many rich spiritual resources available on her virtual monastery page, including prayer resources for the pandemic.

She has two books out this year. This one.

41yF1SlUxFL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a collection of poems.

Wisdom-of-Wild-Grace-COVER.jpg

Thanks for all you do among us, Christine, to help shape the artist monk within!

Viral Dailies, Day 18

Today’s Viral Dailies comes to us by way of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Still one of my all time favourite poets. He was a Jesuit priest who never totally felt comfortable as a poet.

His earthly work with the pen ensured a better, richer ministry as priest.

As a Jesuit minister of the Gospel, his poems are infused with the breath of heaven.

There is a sadness afoot in the following poem. It seems written from one whose heart longs once again for the passionate, innocent throes of youth but has been forcibly awakened to the fears and disturbance of maturity and “the real world.” What in youth enthralls will soon disappoint.

_______________________________

Spring and Fall

To a young child

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Viral Dailies, Day 17

Life in quarantine has many challenges, not the least of which is motivation. This poem explores impetus, drive, planning and purposefulness; all of it coming from invisible places inside us.

Let us not lose hope or dim our lights when all around us screams at us to do so.

___________________________________________________

What if I told you

 

What if I told you of a man,

who cautiously patents his days, pressed

like flowers in a book?

A man who rolls out his life in hours

like dried tobacco leaves, inhalation of a

hope, seen but never felt.

 

What if I told you there was

a peddler in impatient thoughts?

He travels light but burrows heavily

down, down and down again.

In a parsonage of promises, he stocks

well-peppered seasons of sweat in dreams.

 

What if I told you to mind

the gap between the see-saw

of intention and deflection?

It doesn’t move fast enough to blame

fear or mistrust, but too fast to note

progress or potential.

 

What if I told you there was one

whose animus, stolen or unmoved,

finds no spark for fires even blind men feel?

Is it hibernation or evolution; 

asleep or merely astute, above all these

pestering questions?

 

What if I told you that man was me?

Viral Dailies, Day 16

For National Poetry Month in isolation, we’re going old school. Interesting Literature has this to say about our offering today –

‘I Hear America Singing’ was added to Whitman’s landmark poetry volume, Leaves of Grass, when it was reprinted in 1860 (the original edition had appeared in 1855). The poem offers a chance to observe and analyze Whitmanian free verse in microcosm. In eleven lines, Whitman offers a hymn of praise to the many different people in his nation and the various songs they sing.

Let’s enjoy a few deep breaths of the inimitable Walt Whitman.

Walt_Whitman_-_George_Collins_Cox.jpg

___________________________________________________

I hear America singing

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

Viral Dailies, Day 15

Alas, we reach the midpoint of our celebration of National Poetry Month and communal endurance of responsible isolation. So, the poetry posts continue with added gusto and a hope that clings. Today, we’re hunkering down with America’s greatest poet eco-prophet, Wendell Berry.

This short, concise work at once thrives and pulsates in its minimal affect. Perfect for those of us trying to do the same!

_________________________________________________

What We Need Is Here

Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.

 

Viral Dailies, Day 13

We’re already at day 13 in our daily postings for National Poetry Month! Time passes quickly when one’s mind isn’t just on its passing. 

Here are three more fridge magnet poems by good friend and fellow poet, extraordinaire, Lesley-Anne Evans. You can also follow her on Instagram.

This installment is titled, “Small Prayers.”

Enjoy!

FE684BFB-DBD0-43B6-A2E7-D01A14AB7F8B.jpeg

2311A6AA-B1EA-4D66-BA23-5DDBE84AFA99.jpeg

FB8D261D-09A3-4B74-B21B-AC40BA813ABD.jpeg

 

 

Viral Dailies, Easter…

Easter morning. A triptych of Easter poems I’ve composed over the years, “Morning, breath”, “After the tomb”, and “Death’s death.”

Most of us have heard the story. Now, we must learn again how to breath…

resurrection.jpg

_________________________________

Morning, breath

As morning reaches where only night had been,

dew once more settles on the brittle earth

and breath returns to one,

so all can breathe again.

 

After the tomb

When blood, still damp, soaked through

the sleeves of shrug-shoulder’d men,

did you cry for their laughter?

 

Were your accusers held in sleep

when Mary’s shaking hands

held fast your plundered feet?

 

How long before bewildered men

and doting women find again

their reasons for remonstrance?

 

Will a miracle suffice

to fill the gaps in minds too young

not to lust for proof?

 

Were the angels surprised

to find their silenced songs

reignited for their fittest subject?

 

Did you know these walls would

only remind you of this one, unending breath?

This one effortless act for one so bored of death?

 

Death’s death

Live! Live! Not one minute

more to solemnize the squaring truths

of the dark, exasperating. Exsanguinating.

The probing luminant, juggernaut

of dawn brought down as a quickening

shade of brilliance over the tar-black,

songless night – now gasping out

its own greying reminiscence.

Kicking against the goads, a denouement

of despair, decay’s quietus comes to mock.

But its voice is too dry now for anything more

than the androgynous whisper of a skeleton.

The bones rattle and try in vain to spark, to scare,

to survive the day, already here.

Death, this needy after-thought, this choking

wheeze of duskish, tight-lipp’d groaning –

it can no longer hunt, its legs are

broken, a dislocated shoulder no longer

suited to hefting hopelessness.

Spring! Spring! O antediluvian Spring! How

many are your salted children, lined up

outside your garden wall. Someone

has unchink’d the tangled gate and trodden new

footprints – fresh, ancient and deep – in the Virgin soil.

We come too, having hid ourselves in

the wisp of your blood-colour’d sleeves.

Droughted, now, a tomb and the perfect surprise:

breaths in lungs once shut, re-sighted eyes,

and in the first of all new hours,

Someone has made light work of death.

Viral Dailies, Day 11

Holy Saturday. A day of inexpressible anguish and loss. Far too often, contemporary Christianity seeks to gloss over this day in a mad rush to the Alleluias of Easter. This is unfortunate and weak theology. There is no resurrection without a tomb. There is no tomb without death. In Jesus’ case, an ignominious death. Unceremonial. Reprehensible. 

If ever there was a poem more suited to the dark hopelessness of this day it is the famous “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden.

Read. Sit. Ponder. Enter. Weep. Repeat. cc3c814bbf7430dd989d215c30770cb8.jpg

Viral Dailies, Day 10

Candle.jpg

Good Friday.

Well, not so good for someone. Especially so for the rest of us. This day in history, God absorbed all the hatred, shame, pain, violence, discrimination, sin, and division into himself. Jesus became the great black hole out of which could escape nothing other than love, redemption, hope, and all things new.

As we lean, by faith, into this cosmic narrative, what once was dark can become light again. What once promised fear and undoing, now has potential to unlock a billion answered prayers.

This poem isn’t specifically a Good Friday poem. It is however, in the context of night and sleep, a promise therefrom. 

____________________________________________

nighttime songs our fears erase

a story lived, now story told

we, early young, now later, old

see stranger things than daytime held

but not without our sorrows quelled

____________________________________

we fluff and tuck and yawn and brush

pray God remove all sinning blush

the air now cool in silver glow

what dreams may come we do not know

_____________________________________

divested now of time and chance

we bid adieu and leave the dance

till thricely woven round with grace

the nighttime songs our fears erase

 

(c)Robert Alan Rife, 2013