Spinning plates

I don’t want the plates to spin:
I want to admire their porcelain filigree’d edges
and exquisite painted details.

Some are very old with gold leaf highlighting the lacework
and dark pink roses just before the rim.

Some are entirely made by me,
made with silver
and the figures are white on white on white
and I can see them perfectly.

On One Short-Sleep Night in August

I breathe in Peace,
I breathe out Gratitude.
I breathe in Peace,
I breathe out Generosity.
I breathe in Peace,
I breathe out Love of more Love.
I breathe in Peace,
I breathe out a blanket of touch or of snow to still the inner voice.
I breathe in Peace,
I breathe out Self-Reliance.
I breathe in Peace,
I breathe out Open-Handedness.
I breathe in Peace,

This is gonna take more than breathing.

Every Other Monday Morning

is trash and recycling day,
and it’s quite early,
and I am the only one obligated to be up by a certain time but not out the door,
so the trash and recycling are my job.

I cheat and drive the bins up the steep drive.

But going outdoors means that the dogs wish to get involved,
but usually the car is too packed with bins for them to be inside the car,
but I would be frozen with worry that they were too close to the car to safely run along beside it,
but this week there was room.

What I am trying to say is that Sgiobalta knows that she can no longer jump up into the back seat and she waits patiently for me to lift her.
What I am trying to say is that she even knows that she can no longer hop down from the back seat
and she waited for me to lift her,
and I scooped up by the rough and the hips.

She laid her head trustingly on my shoulder and sighed a memory-filled sigh of resignation.

There are pretty words,

she said,
and then there’s poetry.

There are pretty words which capture intense feeling exquisitely,

and then there’s poetry.

I suppose that I am a child of the seventies, still believing that my words are worth writing down and calling poetry.

They make sense in my head. They make sense when I hear them aloud in my head. The pretty words give voice to pieces of my heart that I can’t show otherwise and I thought that was poetry but perhaps it is just journaling. In public. Hmmm. If I threw in some random line breaks, that wouldn’t help either.

It’s true. I am someone’s great aunt.
And great aunts who write poetry are definitely a thing.
And the poetry of great aunts is cringe worthy
(and out of sync with the world, but that’s all right).
Fact: my great-niblings are truly delightful people whom I am glad to know and whom I am glad to count as mine.

Conclusion: it is a privilege to write great-aunt-poetry
and to put the pretty words in an order that pleases me
and shows a little of my heart.

Not too early

At our house, we call it First Ups.
I got First Ups, I will say, and waking the house is as sacred as putting it to bed:

Dogs out, thoroughly patted, fed;
Good morning, sweet Taigh — good morning coffee;
Sometimes there’s needful recovery from the day before, so dishes, trash out;
This morning, it’s trash all the way to the road.

Sometimes First Ups is too early, and I’ve striven too much before light and I go back for Second Sleep.

And then one of the others thinks that they have First Ups and the sacred quiet of that time,
and the dogs get Second Breakfast.

Good will and an excavator

a tiny stretch of road,
a filled trench
lumps and bumps of construction materials worked into the now gentle landscape,

Most of all, two footers,
two posts,
beams delivered in their natural state.

And amid all of that, they took a moment
to make something lovely for me.

Received a very dear email today

From a poet who didn’t believe in herself. I replied. Maybe that reply can help or inspire you, too.

Let me tell you a few ideas I have about developing your poetry – first, it can be hard just to make the *time* to do it!  Do you have a regular Poetry Moment in your daily routine?  For serious simply keeping doing it is the best way to get where you want to be with your writing.

I do have a cute little informal, free, made of real people writing drop-in group on line.  If you’d ever like to drop in, please do.  The links and schedule for the different meetings are here: www.birchislandbooks.com/writerspace/

So, grammar.  English is a branch of the German language family on a Celtic language structure with a ton of Latin-derived vocabulary, adapted to be closer to Norse, with words made up and carried in by new friends in every century.  In the 1400s, the guy with the first English printing press said “I’m going to standardize spelling the way it is in the most formal, long-established documents” at the exact same time that the entire population of England underwent a massive shift in how they pronounced things.  In the 1800s, women trying to teach in the very most rural of frontier prairie schools tried like the absolute dickens to write up rules of grammar which looked like Latin because they had heard that Latin was the ultimate, perfect language.  Thus was born the American Academic dialect of English.

Here’s what I want you to know:  your first draft is for you.  It is impossible to make a mistake on a first draft because that’s the purpose of the first draft, to get the poetry out of your head and onto the paper, regardless of someone else’s idea of “correct”.

Later, if you wish to make a second draft which would communicate clearly to other people, great!  My method for turning a first draft into a second draft includes coffee and talking out loud.  If I read a sentence or a line of poetry out loud, in my native dialect of my native language, as the words come out of my mouth I can hear if they are the right way around and I can try different ways of saying the same thing until it sounds right.  If I then have to translate into the American Academic dialect, that’s later.  First I make sure it sounds like real sentences.

February 22nd

Yesterday I reached for a seldom-used notebook –

it’s pretty, you see, so it is hard to be sure that it’s for me –

and I turned a few pages to find that I had made a star map. I had been struck by a morning so lovely as to record it in pen and ink in the pretty notebook (the silver one which is for magical things).

There I had set old friends, Scorpius and Serpens caput, and the moon just so, and the bare branched trees before them.

This morning, I am up in the first touch of dawnlight to velvet blackness.

There they are.

A Magical Education

I will be speaking today at Signum University’s New England Moot, a reflection on twenty years as a religious educator. Specifically, I will address how the finest schools of magic influenced my work.

Here’s a link to my slides!

And this is the non-exhaustive list of books which I’ve been known to recommend on the general topic of ethical development:

Riddle Master of Hed (and sequels) by Patricia McKillip

Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin

everything by Ursula K. LeGuin

Snow Treasure by Marie McSwiggan

Number the Stars

Matty Doolin

Jenny Nimmo’s Snow Spider Trilogy

The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan

Tamora Pierce, Song of the Lioness Quartet 

Star Wars.  Episodes 4, 5, and 6 

Howard Pyle:

Robin Hood.

Men of Iron.

Otto of the Silver Hand.

the Sherlock Holmes corpus, 

Frankenstein, Lewis Carroll, 

Swiss Family Robinson, 

Treasure Island! 

Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engel

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen

In the Sea There Are Crocodiles: Based on the True Story of Enaiatollah Akbari by Fabio Geda.  

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley 

“ABCs in Zero G” a short story by Elizabeth Moon; 

Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold)

 Everything by Lois McMaster Bujold

Star Trek. 

Little Fuzzy by H. Beam Piper.  

“Omnilingual” by H. Beam Piper.  

“Nodsaunce” by H. Beam Piper – 

Life As We Knew It & The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer.   

everything Joss Whedon ever produced

The Curse of Chalion and especially its sequel, Paladin of Souls, by Lois McMaster Bujold. 

The Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold.

The Darwath Series, by Barbara Hambly

The Ladies of Mandrigyn, by Barbara Hambly

“The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin

“The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. LeGuin.

The Little Prince

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente 

Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle

Speaker for the Dead  by Orson Scott Card

everything by Agatha Christie, but especially the mysteries solved by that strong female protagonist Miss Jane Marple