Saturday, April 28, 2018

hillside crocus

Riding, then walking, we see
brown grass, sea gulls sailing
geese coming in low
juniper with purple berries covering the hill
and tumbling over the hillside
moon rising
ice drifting down river.

Walking and then bending low, we see
brown grass, grey sage, one purple blossom
mostly closed and pointing upward
surrounded by a family of fuzzy stalks not yet opened
and once we have seen one
the hillside erupts into purple sunlit song.

Have I always been blind to this
purple song on a barely spring hillside,

or did I never walk on a high bluff
while the snow still melted from the river bank
and the pelicans and sea gulls
celebrated their return
to my Saskatoon shores?



Friday, April 20, 2018

looking for crocuses

we went looking for crocuses
 
we were not expecting
   herons standing in the river
   coyote hunting for gophers
   geese debating nesting grounds
   a beaver pup running along
      the river bank,

we went looking for crocuses
   and found fuzzy patches
   sage and thistles greening

everything is coming up for air
   ready to live
   under the warming sun

we went looking for crocuses
   laughed at cormorants on a wire
   at things taken too seriously

ice jams
beaver dams
laughter slams
into shadows, who scramble
back into their
wintry caves








Saturday, February 24, 2018

Saturday morning limericks


Words for this week: word, dwell, glory, born, receive, grace

Things I was not prepared for:
-ways that a form lays me bare.  In Monday's quatern there is a line that moves from the 1st line in the 1st verse to the 2nd line in the 2nd verse ... down to the last line in the 4th verse.  My repeating line was "first words emerge out of chaos" ... and that repeating refrain reached deeply into chaos.

-a struggle with meaning and words.  Each form requires a number of syllables, or a certain rhyming scheme ... so they force sounds to be considered before meaning.  When I write a line, and the last word is "received", the next thing I do is write a list of words that rhyme:  cleave, leave, reprieve, peeve, weave, achieve, believe, retrieve, beneath(?), grieve, heave.  Sick.  "Received."  I cannot do that with "Weaved".  or "leaved".  It has to be "wove", "left".  Nope.  Can I make it singular?  so that I can use weave and leave?  But now the last line wants to be something else and weaves lands earlier in the last line.  And limericks just want to be funny regardless of the words they hold. 

-and it seems that I will have to study sonnets.  I will read some good ones by Keats and Shakespeare.  I don't get them.  I mechanically work the rhyming scheme and the number of syllables but the cadence is off and they are wooden.


My grandsons and I had fun with Wednesday's Haynaku.  I read the words for the week to them, and explained the rhythm (1 word in the 1st line, 2 words in the second, and 3 in the third). This is what happened:

born                                             Jesus
God rose                                      was risen
from the dead                               from the dead

I                                                    We
had a                                              went to
very good day                                to Grandma's house

I                                                   
like to
explore the forest


child                                             child
glory contained                            glory contained
glee spilling over                         grace spilling over

And the limericks - which I do not quite feel like owning.  But I wanted to use the words "dwell" and "receive" ... so this is what happened. 
    
We struggle to relive the glory
He was born - we oft hear the story
Among us to dwell
Our flesh - not a shell
Holding treasure, t'was more like a quarry.

This word is a gift we receive;
not something that we can achieve.
Though constant our struggle,
understanding through trouble,
grace weaves through our lives a reprieve.

take 2:
This Word is a gift we receive;
Once spoken, the Father would weave
from beginning of time
his actions like mime
renewal of life to conceive.

And now I have to get on with other Saturday things.  Blessings in this wintry February season. 


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Saturday, February 17, 2018

playing with form (limited by form)

The short program in figure skating has never been my favorite.  The demands seem huge, and constraining, with little room for freedom of expression.  Within 2 minutes and 50 seconds, they must complete 7 specified elements of jumps, spins and sequences. It often feels much more mechanical than the free skate.

I am watching a lot of Olympics these days, and this specified limitation of form interests me.  There are timing or weight or clothing restrictions, space markers, boundaries, specified orders of operations. Things that matter to within tenths or hundredths of seconds or grams or millimeters in any one of the events.

This limitation of form intrigues me, partly because I do not like constraints, do not like limiting my options.  And partly because my faith is in One who stepped into a very limited and restricted form to live a life like mine.  And that continues to stagger my mind and heart.  And to defy logic.

So I am going to explore poetic writing forms for this season of Lent.  To see what artificial constraints of rhythm and rhyme do with words and thoughts.  How does form restrict meaning, or shape meaning?  or enhance meaning?!  Oh, how it restricts!  There are strict rhyming schemes in some.  So I search for a word that rhymes with an end of a thought.  And nothing comes, so I walk to the river, talking out loud with rhyming words.  (I am not crazy.)  And when I find a word that rhymes, try to construct a thought that fits.  That is so different than just writing what I want regardless of length of line and sound of words.  Or a short poetry form like Haiku where you do not use metaphor or simile or title.  Or a Landay (Thursday's form) sung more than written, likely originates in the region of Afghanistan/Pakistan, often a way of communicating among isolated women.  Edgy.  Specializing in themes of war, separation, homeland, grief, war,  Or a limerick ... which can't help but be a bit funny.  How can form do all of these things?

One more layer to add to this - each week I am choosing six words from a section of the Gospel of John that can be a focus or theme or just a word inserted.  Six elements.  Changing each week.  After only a partial week, it seems that sonnets may be my downfall.  Rhyming feels just so artificial when I MUST do it.

So I'll share some of my attempts - even when I know they fall short - because this imposition of form is the thing I am wrestling with.  How does form affect meaning?

The letter to the Philippians (2:6-7)  gives us a hint of this ...
Though he was God (or "being in the form of God")
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges (or "emptied himself")
he took the humble position of a slave ("took the form of a slave")
and was born as a human being.
when he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God...

I did some research and found some new-to-me poetic forms at www.writersdigest.com.  Decided on the following constraints:

Mondays - Quatern
Tuesdays - Nonet
Wednesday - Haynaku
Thursday - Sonnet
Fridays - Landay
Saturdays - Limerick or Haiku

And an any day substitution - Sestina
And let's be honest.  Though points may be deducted for incomplete sequences I may just switch out a limerick when a sonnet refuses to be written.

So the elements for this first short week (words from the first verses of the gospel of John)
beginning, word, made, life, light, darkness, gives

On your mark, get set ...

Wednesday (Haynaku)
beginning
soil frozen
still fast asleep

Thursday (Landay)
rivers know the way water must flow
but we wander, wonder, carving the land with our words

Friday (Sonnet ...  incomplete and in need of revision but Friday came to an end and this was all I could do!!)

And so the world spoken by a word spins
not so that we become dizzy with speed;
water, wind, earth, fire as he begins
to speak, to breathe life into (each living seed) [don't like this ending]

Whispers of wind run through the dark shadow
grass long dried along the riverbank gives
voice in the silence, for how can you know
One who spoke words into spaces, and lives.

The spinning the living the dying the watching
for One who breathes life and who utters a word
 ......                                                        catching
.......                                                        blurred

What do I want to say?
Or must words first be allowed to play?

Saturday (Haiku)
1.
light interrupts dark
and a word betrays silence
a flicker of life

2.
sunlight reflecting
water shimmering, flowing
ducks share winter ice

    Thursday, February 8, 2018

    falls like rain













    snow fell thick 
    every morning 
    balancing on the wires
    stacked on the fence posts
    covering tracks from the previous day

    temperatures play around freezing
    dropping moisture like snow 
    for throwing and building
    dropping moisture like rain

    we play with the children 
    (children bring that gift) 
    peek a boo 
    laughing while making silly animal noises
    running through the snow
    making paths where there were none
    jumping into snow banks 
    building snowmen and sliding on the paths

    conversations circle
    warily
    land
    frequently
    on the missing one
    settle intentionally and look him in the face
    paging through the photos
    remembering the pieces of a life
    finding pieces left behind
    knowing he won't walk through the door
    dropping moisture like tears

    and the snow falls silently all around
    as we drive away

    the sun breaks through the clouds 
    for a moment
    lighting the tops of the mountains



    Friday, December 29, 2017

    what this is not

    This is not just surprise and pleasure.
    This is not just beauty sometimes
      too hot to touch.
    This is not a blessing with a beginning and an end.
    This is not just a wild summer.
    This is not conditional.

    ... discovered in Mary Oliver's book of poems Felicity

    We marked 26 years together yesterday

    a day that has bent with the weight of
    joys and sorrows for others in our lives

    a day that has thickened with years of
    walking and
    remembering and
    gathering and
    blizzards and
    travelling and
    celebrating

    a day that has shimmered with colors of
    our children and their wonderful life partners
    and grandchildren
    and friendships

    we are grateful.