Robyn Hood Black - children's author, poet, artist









Hannah enjoying poetry workshop


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Hanging with fellow Georgia writers (from top, l-r) Tracy Walker, Heather Kolich, Donna Bowman, (bottom, middle) Janice Hardy and Paula Puckett
photo by Steve Kolich

Susan Rosson Spain, Robyn Hood Black, Elizabeth Dulemba, and Myra Meade at the Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville, Ga.
photo by Mel Hornsby

Southern Breeze Kudos Kites 09 - Donna, Robyn, Heather, Sarah, and Peggy

Robyn with Kathleen Duey, author extraordinaire http://www.kathleenduey.com

Robyn with Alaska Nature Writer Debbie Miller http://www.debbiemilleralaska.com

photo by Robyn Hood Black
Paul B. Janeczko http://www.paulbjaneczko.com

Copyright 2005-2016 ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved. Please ask permission before using any text or images on this website, except for reproducible
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Life on the Deckle Edge

Poetry Friday - Haiku Old and New (Anthologies)

October 12, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, haiku, anthologies, HSA, Chiyo-Ni



Happy Poetry Friday the 13th!

Are you a fan of Dover Publications? I seem to have a few in various bookshelves and stacks, including some at my studio with such titles as Masterpieces of Illuminated Letters and Borders and Florid Victorian Ornament, among others. While online recently, I came across a Dover Thrift Editions volume titled THE CLASSIC TRADITION OF HAIKU – An Anthology, edited by Faubion Bowers. At just $3 for a new copy, I couldn’t pass it up! I’m not sure how it had evaded my haiku shelves before.

Originally published in 1996, it includes a short foreword with a bit of history and explanation, and then more than 150 poems written between 1488 and 1902 by Japanese poets, with translations into English by more than 40 scholars. Often more than one translation is provided for a poem.

I am enjoying making my way through this slim volume!

Here is an autumn poem, translated by Patricia Donegan and Yoshie Ishibashi:

akikaze no / yama o mawaru ya / kane no koe

the autumn wind
resounds in the mountain –
temple bell


Chiyo-ni (1703-1775), one of the few female haiku master poets of her time


You can find this paperback collection at Dover Publications or on Amazon , with online versions free or nearly free as well.

Speaking of anthologies, I’m also enjoying the new Haiku Society of America Members’ Anthology for 2017, on down the road, edited by LeRoy Gorman. I don’t always have my act together to submit on time, but I did this year.
(Our own Jone Rush MacCulloch has a beautiful haiku in this collection as well.)

My poem seems timely right about now, so here you are:


sea fog
the ghost story
I almost remember


©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


Speaking of ghosts, in my studio I’m conjuring up several pieces of haunted jewelry and slowly getting them listed in my Etsy shop this Friday the 13th. Mwah haaa haaa. (Update - I made a separate little "haunted jewelry" section this weekend - Click here if you'd like to see!)

And one more thing about haiku anthologies - The Living Haiku Anthology is an ambitious, online project seeking to collect and present "all styles and approaches to haiku ... from a global perspective, for the benefit of those able to discern those true gems assurgent in the current foment," as described by Dr. Richard Gilbert, Professor, Graduate School of Social and Cultural Sciences, Kumamoto University, Japan, in his introduction at the LHA site. He adds, "Please reach out to other poets and let them know the LHA extends an open invitation to published haiku poets of all countries wishing to be presented and represented." I submitted several poems and my page was added this week. :0)

For all kinds of Friday the 13th fun, please visit our Irrepressible and Iridescent Irene, who is bravely rounding up this week!

Poetry Friday - Poe and Unexpected Gifts

October 5, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Poe, ponderings, artsyletters, Etsy


October Greetings, Poetry Peeps! I do love this month so.

At the moment, various projects with a spooky bent are strewn around my studio. I’ve been acquiring vintage or literary-themed postage stamps lately, and when I stumbled upon this recent 2009 image above celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Edgar Allen Poe, well – more on that in a minute. The 42-cent stamp features a portrait by Michael J. Deas, who, according to the USPS web page about the stamp, is also an expert on portraits and daguerreotypes of the mysterious author and poet.

Even in miniscule form, I find Deas’s portrait haunting and full of life… the eyes really do follow you! I also recently discovered a wholesale supplier of hearty pewter shepherd’s hook bookmarks, ready for the addition of charms or oddities. And I found a wonderful pewter raven charm. Somehow I knew these things all needed to come together, so I placed the stamp on a vintage-y cardstock background (re-purposed from part of an old promotional postcard I’d had printed a few years ago) and made a magnet, then made a bookmark with a few links of black chain and the pewter components, and combined these with a pack of my raven note cards. Voilŕ – a Raven-Poe Gift Pack. (I’ve gone a little crazy with new gift packs to add to my regulars – other new ones pictured above, all made in a similar fashion, include a Bird Lover’s Pack, a Cat Lover’s Pack, A Book Lover’s Pack, and an additional Teacher Gift Pack.)

Back to Poe - Here are two excerpts from Poe’s 1850 poem, “The Bells”


                     The Bells
           by Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

                            I

      Hear the sledges with the bells-
            Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
      How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
      While the stars that oversprinkle
      All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
      Keeping time, time, time,
      In a sort of Runic rhyme,
    To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
      From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
            Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.


                            IV

          Hear the tolling of the bells-
              Iron Bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
      In the silence of the night,
      How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
      For every sound that floats
      From the rust within their throats
              Is a groan. …



For the poem its in entirety, click here.


Speaking of stamps, a Poetry Friday friend emailed to see if I ever used vintage stamps? And here I was, with little piles all around.

And speaking of gifts, I learned a new-to-me word on the subject this week, and I must share it with fellow wordsmiths. We had dinner with another couple Wednesday night, and my very dear friend pulled something from her purse and said, “Here – a sursy for you.”

“A what?” I asked, eyeing the fetching little box of pumpkin spice caramels.

“Sursy,” she said. “A little gift.” Well, I went crazy over the caramels AND the word, and was surprised I didn’t know it.

My friend’s husband started Googling and quickly determined that it didn’t share the same spelling with the goddess Circe – it’s just “s-u-r-s-y.” He found this definition in the Urban Dictionary: “A term commonly used in the South to denote a small, unexpected gift.”

Why didn't I know this word? – I am a Southerner after all, but – okay, perhaps growing up in Florida was not quite the same as growing up in the Carolinas. (A debate for another day.)

I told my friend that I had just received a lovely fall note in the mail from a far-away poetry friend, and it had a little Pumpkin Spice teabag enclosed. I guess it was a sursy?! And wouldn’t it be perfect to sip a cup of that tea with one of those caramels?

I’m grateful to these friends for unexpected gifts. Especially this week, when the horror has not been of the tingly Poe variety, but has seared our hearts.

Poetry Friday, for me, is always restorative. One soul-filling sursy after another. Enjoy each treasure today with our beautiful Violet, gathering all in the Roundup this week.

Poetry Friday - Some Golden Laughs... "Detention Hour"

September 28, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, 19th Century, children's literature, poetry, school poem, Golden Days, Detention Hour


September is tossing us a few hot-potato days here in the Southeast as we stand on the brink of October… but cooler temps are promised for coming days. In my slightly toasty studio, I decided to pull out some copies of GOLDEN DAYS – a newspaper/magazine “for girls and boys” published in the late 1800s (Philadelphia: James Elverson, Publisher) to see if I had any September issues. Voilŕ! I found one dated September 11, 1897.

Any poems inside? Well, yes - a couple.

This one made me laugh, so perhaps it can tide us over until the SNL season premiere Saturday night.



            DETENTION HOUR
                by John W. Ellis


The golden sunlight floods the room,
      The flies wheel to and fro,
And throught he open window comes
      A hum of life below.
Three boys, before a battered desk,
      Survey with hopeless gaze
a page of algebra bestrewn
      With x’s, b’s and a’s.

Before a blackboard scribbled o’er,
      In quite a careless way,
with scraps of knowledge gathered from
      The labors of the day,
The master sits with pencil blue,
      And marks without a blench
The erring sum, the misspelt word,
      The French that is not French.

All silent sit the prisoned ones,
      Save when a far-off shout
Brings visions to their restless minds
      Of merry scenes without.
Then inky hands grasp tumbled hair,
      And, like a distant sea,
A murmuring rises through the room
      Of mystic formulae.

And so, throughout a tedious hour,
      The loud clock ticks apace,
Each youth intent upon his book
      With studious, frowning face,
remembering on yester eve
      How simple seemed each rule,
When some inviting game obscured
      The coming morrow’s school.

And now at length the captives rise,
      Each gazing on his book,
And sidle to their jailer’s seat
      Snatching one furtive look.
They stumble through the dreaded task,
      Then cast their books aside,
And speed through the deserted school
      To the glad world outside.

And now the creeping hour is past,
      The silent striving done.
Rebellious z and stubborn y
      Fly with the sinking sun;
And to the east with satchels full,
      Three scholars march with glee,
While westward, with a sober step,
      Departs the dominie.




I couldn’t find any information about this poem online. The only historical John W. Ellis I came across was the pro-slavery governor of North Carolina who lived from 1820-1861. Did he write humorous poetry that an editor would pluck up a few decades later? Hmmm. Somehow that doesn’t seem plausible, but I’m not sure.

An Edward Sylvester Ellis (1840 –1916) was an American author who did write for young readers and had many different pen names! He was also a teacher, school administrator and journalist, according to Wikipedia.

Well, if anyone knows, I’m happy to be enlightened.

I did look up a couple of words in this poem – “blench” means to shrink or flinch; a “dominie” is a schoolmaster.

Perhaps the helplessness before algebra got me, or the line that tickled me the most, “The French that is not French.” (Le français qui n'est pas français?) Ha!

Merci for visiting, and be sure to sashay over to Writing the World for Kids, where lovely Laura has this week’s Roundup.

Poetry Friday - Happy Fall, Y'all.... with Haiku

September 21, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, artsyletters, autumn, fall, equinox


Happy Autumnal Equinox!

My favorite season, Fall - and I recall it's a favorite of many Poetry Friday-ers. I went hunting for some fall haiku written by yours truly and was surprised to discover I had far more from winter, spring, and summer. Maybe because fall always seems to be the busiest season?

I did make a fall-friendly note card for sale in my artsyletters shop on Etsy, featuring a poem by Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) translated by poet and scholar Dr. David G. Lanoue, who kindly agreed to let me use it:


traveling geese
the human heart, too,
wanders


Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue.


And I discovered that one of my earliest published haiku was a fall one:


autumn breeze
escorted to the mailbox
by an acorn



Notes from the Gean, Dec. 2011 (No longer publishing.)


I also found another I wrote as a kind of "desk haiku" - not my usual, but it came about as I was describing 'process' for a blog post a while back, now an essay on my Haiku page. [The link is the second PDF under "FOR WRITERS" - (the 5-page one)!] Anyway, here's the finished sample haiku:


burning leaves
a V of geese
regroups



Poems ©Robyn Hood Black. All rights reserved.


I hope your fall is full of all your favorite things - colorful maple leaves, woodsmoke, hot chocolate perhaps? Acorns and squirrel chatter? Holiday planning? By the way, which do you usually say - 'autumn' or 'fall'? :0)

Whatever you call it, it's a great season to visit a farm - especially a Poem Farm. Thanks to Amy for hosting the Round Up today! When you stop by, be sure to congratulate her on her brand new wonderful book, READ, READ, READ just released from Wordsong! (CONGRATS, Amy!)

Poetry Friday - The Poems I Swapped this Summer

September 14, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, poetry, Summer Poem Swap, cats, haiku, found poems, found poetry


Thank Goodness it’s Poetry Friday – after quite a week.

I hope you and yours are safe and sound. We made it through Irma’s visit to the Lowcountry, though Monday here was wild and woolly. (Our house is on high ground. Unfortunately, some downtown businesses flooded, and there was so much damage to our local state park beach, Hunting Island, that after just barely opening after Hurricane Matthew’s devastation last October, it’s now closed for the rest of the year because of Irma’s destruction.)

With almost all of our family in Florida and North Georgia, we were glued to The Weather Channel and the cell phones. Evacuation here was not mandatory, and any friends and family we were originally planning to escape to ended up in Irma’s path! Most have power back now, though not all, and we are grateful for no injuries or serious property damage for our folks. Thoughts and prayers for so many who cannot say that this week, and for those in the Caribbean whose lives have been altered beyond recognition, and for those in Texas still reeling from Harvey.

Hurricane Season continues, but the calendar tells me we’re almost to fall. Today I’m sharing peeks of the three Summer Poem Swap poems I sent out. I’ve been so distracted this summer, I don’t think I took any pictures of the last two matted or framed! Pretend they're finished in the pictures. ;0)

For Joy Acey, I made a found poem taken from a wonderful vintage book she had given me a while back for my artistic pillaging, MARVELS OF ANIMAL LIFE by Charles Frederick Holder (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1885).


light givers,

like

moon

ripples of molten silver

appear

to

romancers of the pen in

words



I topped off the text with acrylic washes and a pearlized button, metal heart, pen nib, and watch face with patina – all vintage.

For Tabatha – Founding Mother of and Inspiration for our wonderful Poem Swaps (!) – I found myself wanting to do something with her “Poetry Monster” from a while back, after playing around with some old typewriter levers and feeling like they were some kind of fanciful creatures disguised in metal.

So on an actual 1909 map of Maryland that I clipped from an old atlas, I arranged elements from her blog, making a kind of found poem from a page posted three years ago:


Subscribe To
Wider Thoughts

Tabatha

your

Poetry
Art
Music

give us

life



(I took my ‘signature’name from that page too, from the comments!)

For fun, I arranged my fanciful creature – a magical horse? Dragon? – so that its head would arc right over Tabatha’s home town on the map.

Finally, for Amy , a haiku that came to me as spring began to fold itself into summer, while we were visiting family in Georgia. We happened upon a nest of robins in a hanging basket just outside my in-laws’ back door, about the time the babies were ready to go. Amy was in my heart as I thought of her sending her firstborn off to college.


approaching solstice
fledgling at the edge
of the nest



[Poems ©Robyn Hood Black.]


I matted the poem and sent it along. For an extra gift, in light of all the kitties Amy and her family have adopted and fostered and found homes for, I sent a new gift pack from my Etsy shop – for Cat Lovers! It includes a pack of my yin/yang – cats-on-a-rug note cards, a pewter bookmark with cats carousing from end to end, to which I’ve dangled another pewter cat charm (which is itself dangling a wee little mousie by its tail), and a magnet featuring a vintage cats US postage stamp.

A little poignant for me this week, as our beautiful Lance who photo-bombed my post a couple of weeks ago got some news that none of us wanted from the vet. He is acting okay for now, but he has cancer. He has had a good, long life and we will give him all the TLC and tuna he wants as we enter this bittersweet season with him.

Many thanks again to Tabatha for dreaming up and organizing the Summer (& Winter) Poem Swaps, and to all in this special community. If you missed any of the treasures I received from Joy, Margaret, or Michelle Kogan, just scroll back to recent summer posts!

Our magnificent Michelle Heidenrich Barnes has today’s Roundup at Today’s Little Ditty, and I’m thankful she and others in our Florida Poetry Family made it through the hurricane as well.

Poetry Friday - Evacuation Time (Or, Hunker Down Time...)

September 7, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, hurricane


[UPDATE - We're actually staying put for time being though hubby's work will update plans Sat. We can leave quickly and head out backroads this weekend if Irma changes her mind and heads this direction. Thanks for all the good wishes!]

Greetings from the Coast... Well, not for long. We are knee-deep in hurricane evacuation preparations, so I will only be able to join Poetry Friday in spirit this week! (& maybe next week....)
Prayers for all those who have experienced Irma's devastation, and for those in her path, and for those still recovering from Harvey.

Please visit Matt at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme for the Roundup! https://mattforrest.wordpress.com/
(And congratulate him on Flashlight Night!)

Poetry Friday - Summer Poem Swap Splendor from Michelle Kogan

August 28, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, Poem Swap, Michelle Kogan, art


**[POETRY FRIDAY is such a wonderful way to fill our baskets with what feeds the soul. This week, I know we are all keeping those in Texas and Louisiana foremost in our thoughts, hearts, and prayers. There are no adequate words to offer, but I'm grateful for the selfless actions of those brave neighbors and first responders, and outreach of present and future help from across the country.]**


What a delight to receive a colorful package in the mail, open it, and find more color spilling out in every direction.

Today I'm happy to share my generous Summer Poem Swap goodies from Michelle Kogan.

I arranged the contents on our dining room table to take a picture of the whole lot, and, as you see, our kitty, Lance (Lancelot), photo-bombed it. But since Michelle is such an animal lover, as I am, I thought a live animal was actually an appropriate addition!

I received an oh-so-cheery collection of cards made from Michelle's paintings, including a beautiful notecard, a sampling of haiku/art cards in such an intriguing size and narrow shape, and a gallery show postcard. PLUS, the "August Fairy and Luna Moth" card showcased above had a lovely personal note to me on the back. The card features art originally created with watercolor, watercolor pencil, and pen, and an original poem by Michelle:


lovely luna, my
august fairy heart skips a
beat for your beauty...


©2017 Michelle Kogan. All rights reserved.

I've always loved Luna moths! And how delightful to consider each one of us can have a personal "fairy heart."

To see more of Michelle's art and read more of her poetry, flutter on over to her website and blog. Michelle also did the cover art for Michelle Heidenrich Barnes's The Best of Today's Little Ditty 2014-15 anthology, published last November.

Michelle is also a fellow Etsy shop owner! Check out her watercolor paintings, prints, cards and other irresistible items for sale here.

Etsy has invited sellers to participate in its first ever Labor Day Sale, which you can enjoy in Michelle's shop right now.

[I'm running a Labor Day Weekend sale as well, in my artsyletters shop. Enjoy!]

Many thanks to Michelle for these beautiful treasures, and for letting me share them with you this week. For more inspiring poetry, just flap those fairy wings and fly all the way to Australia, where the purrrrfectly enchanting (& VERY busy these days) Kat Apel, has September's first Roundup.

Poetry Friday - Deep Thoughts, Deep Space, & a Dose of Blake

August 24, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, Eclipse, Space, William Blake, ponderings, Voyager, The Farthest on PBS

Detail - William Blake, 1757–1827, British, Jerusalem, Plate 78, "The Spectres of...", 1804 to 1820, Relief etching printed in orange with pen and black ink and watercolor, Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection


To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour…


William Blake (1757-1827), from “Auguries of Innocence.” Subsequent verses are also excerpted from this poem.

Such a week. On Monday, despite the drenching deluge between back door and car, I set out to chase the eclipse. I only needed to go about 65 miles to be safely inside the edge of the Path of Totality. All single-lanes; no crowded interstates for me. I stopped halfway at a wonderful little café/antique shop for some iced tea to go, and my margin of scheduling safety was quickly eaten up by the friendly chatter of the proprietors. In addition to the drink, I left with two tiny framed Victorian miniatures for $5 apiece and some miniature homemade beignets.

Through more rain and breaks of sun, I tooled along woodsy back roads, listening to eclipse coverage across the country via NPR. I stopped just shy of my target point because there was a nice paved spot with an older couple and their equipment set up, and room for a couple more cars. I turned around and joined Mike and Marlene, who had driven up from Jacksonville.

Between our cars, another whipped in – a family from Beaufort, like myself, with two older elementary/young teen-aged kids. They tumbled out from the back seat - the daughter immediately noticing a dead butterfly on the ground, fragile and beautiful. The son, eager for the sky show, negotiated regular glasses and eclipse glasses. (The butterfly was an Eastern Black Swallowtail - it looked just like the one in Brenda's post today.)

Conditions were cloudy, but with our special glasses, we were able to see the crescent of sun and moon. Lightning flashed on one part of the horizon, while sunset hues materialized behind us. The temperature dipped. Crickets chirped. Day quickly turned to night. For totality, we took off our glasses and gazed, amazed at the circle and corona visible to the naked eye even through a veil of cloud. A magical moment of wonder, shared with fellow curious earthlings.

If the Sun & Moon should Doubt
Theyd immediately Go out
To be in a Passion you Good may Do
But no Good if a Passion is in you …


On Tuesday evening, I paused in front of the TV to catch the beginning of the President’s speech in Arizona, before heading to the shower. I didn’t make it to the shower until midnight. I felt like I was driving by an accident scene on a highway – not wanting to look, but unable to avert my gaze. “Unhinged” is the word that kept floating in my mind. Divisive speech, dangerous ideas. I truly felt distressed.

We are led to Believe a Lie
When we see not Thro the Eye
Which was Born in a Night to perish in a Night


On Wednesday night, after catching part of an interview on NPR, I tuned in to a two-hour special on PBS, “THE FARTHEST – Voyager in Space.” I expected to be amazed; I didn’t know I would be moved to tears more than once. Through contemporary interviews with scientists who made it happen and vintage footage, the documentary portrays four decades of discovery, from planning stages to weak signals now received from interstellar space beyond our own galaxy. The interviews got me - those serious-minded men and women who devoted energies and brilliant intellects to such a gamble couldn’t talk about it without occasionally getting misty. How could you? The Voyager images give us not only wonder, but perspective. What a little speck we live and die on, love and fight on.

Each Voyager (I & II) contains a “golden record” – literally a metal record designed to last a billion or two years at least – with images of people and nature and sounds (such as Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and salutations in dozens of languages), and pictorial instructions on how to play it on an enclosed phonograph - 1977 technology. The grooves of the record only had room for 100 pictures. When the generators of the small crafts finally do fail, they will be time capsules floating around with this greeting from our planet, which may or may not itself be around at the time the golden record is discovered, if it ever is.

I paused my DVR to write down these words from golden record designer Jon Lomberg: “It was a process of distillation. You can’t describe the earth in 100 pictures. You can’t describe the earth in 1,000 pictures. But what art is about is taking something small, but can represent the whole.”

Isn’t that a perfect description of poetry?

Spoiler alert – the last image in the film is of our home planet, a minute mote caught in a sunbeam and caught on camera one last time before Voyager sailed farther and farther away. Such a tender, tiny thing.
Worth saving.

When the Soul Slept in Beams of Light
God Appears & God is Light
To those poor Souls who dwell in Night
But does a Human Form Display
To those who Dwell in Realms of day


[An encore presentation of “THE FARTHEST” is scheduled for Wed., Sept. 13, at 9 Eastern/8 Central on PBS, or catch the streaming version. For the complete Blake poem, click here , and for more of Blake’s art, click here and here. ]

The always curious and caring Jone at Check it Out is hosting the Poetry Friday Roundup today – Enjoy!

Poetry Friday - Seeking Solace in Old Poetry

August 17, 2017

Tags: Words or phrases to categorize this post for the tags section


Greetings, Friends. I had another idea brewing for today, but this week…

In times of trouble I often take comfort in words left behind by others, even centuries ago.
I dove into my studio stash of vintage poetry books, and thought I might find something in one for children – so I thumbed through THE YOUNG FOLKS’ SHELF OF BOOKS, THE JUNIOR CLASSICS 10 – Poetry, Reading Guide, Indexes, part of The Junior Classics Series by Collier.

It was published in 1938, the year my mother was born, and features everything from riddles and nursery rhymes to Shakespeare.

1938 – the year of Kristallnacht, “Night of Broken Glass.”

I was born in 1963 – the year a bomb ripped through 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, killing four precious girls.

I suppose this past week has reminded me that we can’t just rest, settle, and assume the worst of all that is behind us in this country (or any country). In the mid-1980s, my husband and I, as a young married couple, joined most of a small town in North Carolina in a street-lined protest of marching KKK members. At first those marching thought the crowds had turned out to support them, but then their faces changed as they realized we were all standing calmly, singing I think?, to counter their message of hate that day. I wouldn’t have dreamed then that the headlines would be what they are today, late in the second decade of the 21st Century.

This poem by Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) though likely about the journey of life and a spiritual journey particularly, spoke to me somehow in the midst of these heavy days.


UP-HILL

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
      Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
      From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
      A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
      You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
      Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
      They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
      Of labor you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
      Yea, beds for all who come.




I was heartened this week, when on a rare check of my Facebook feed, I saw two posts show up by friends who are also kidlit people, both in Georgia. The posts were back to back, and strangely both were about small acts of civility and warmth in grocery stores. The folks involved were black, Hispanic, white… looking out for the needs of others – strangers – and offering a cup of kindness.

This next poem reminded me of staying grounded in the midst of chaos. Four hundred years have passed since it was written, but the words still ring fresh to me. This one is by Thomas Campion (1567-1620).



INTEGER VITAE

The man of life
     Whose guiltless heart is free
From all dishonest deeds,
      Or thought of vanity;

The man whose silent days
      In harmless joys are spent,
Whom hopes cannot delude,
      Nor sorrow discontent;

That man needs neither towers
      Nor armor for defense,
Nor secret vaults to fly
      From thunder’s violence;

He only can behold
      With unaffrighted eyes
The horrors of the deep
      And terrors of the skies;

Thus, scorning all the cares
      That fate or fortune brings,
He makes the heaven his book,
      His wisdom heavenly things;

Good thoughts his only friends,
      His wealth a well-spent age,
The earth his sober inn
      And quiet pilgrimage.



Note: I didn't really absorb the similar "inn" symbolism in both poems until posting them here... I'll ponder and sleep on that.

{ Prayers for all who are oppressed or grieving this day, and prayers for peaceful days ahead. }

Many thanks to Kay at A Journey Through the Pages for Rounding Up today - her first time hosting! She, and I’m guessing many of us, are all on a similar path this week, seeking the solace and light of poetry.

Poetry Friday - A Big Black Boot & Bottle Rockets Press (Haiku)

August 10, 2017

Tags: Poetry Friday, haiku, poetry, bottle rockets press




Greetings, Summer Poetry Friends!

I hope your season has brought fun in the sun and freedom to linger over late sunsets.

We've had a good summer over here on the coast, with a week of vacationing at the beach late last month with our visiting kids (& their dogs). I missed long walks on the beach, though, and proper frolics in the waves, as I've been trying to keep my Achilles tendon (what's left of it) in one piece since early June. It's the one I ruptured seven years ago, and for all those years until now its been fine - until an "overuse" injury sent me to my neuromuscular massage therapist/PT. (I still have to see her because of a neck injury three years ago, but that's another story.)

Anyway, she suggested the dreaded black boot. I evidently tossed the one I had before when we moved, so I had to go purchase one. I'm not in it every waking moment; I also wear an ankle brace when I have to drive, etc. - but it's been a couple of months of soaking in Epsom salts and icing and such. Soft sand is the worst for tendons and muscles, so I wore the boot clunking down the boardwalk and onto the beach, with one kitchen-sized trash bag inside as a liner and two on the outside. That actually worked to keep out sand, by the way.

One reason I'm recounting all this is because it was inspiration, as it were, for a haiku just published in the brand new issue of bottle rockets:


years later
my Achilles heel
still just that



bottle rockets, #37, Vol. 19, No. 1

If you don't know bottle rockets, it's a well respected print journal of haiku, senryu, & short verse published by Stanford M. Forrester, whom you've met here before! In addition to the journal, he also offers specialty letterpress printing services through Wooden Nickel Press. (His books are gorgeous.) Click here for more information about both.

Now, it's hard missing a big black boot, and I've actually high-fived similarly attired perfect strangers on the street in recent weeks, or at least exchanged knowing nods. Not all challenges are front and center like that, however. Did you read Tabatha's thoughtful, kind post about "invisible illnesses"? Here's the link if you missed it. I was also touched by the comments, including Margaret's, who reminds us that you might meet a cancer patient and not know it from that person's appearance.

My own wonderful mom starts chemo for colon cancer next week, after a successful but intensive surgery last month. Her attitude and faith are strong - I don't know if I could be so positive myself in her shoes! She's taking everything as it comes and responding in inspiring ways. My folks live in Orlando, and most of the rest of my family members live in neighboring counties.

I want to drive down and be with her for some of those treatment weeks (she's scheduled for a six-month course), so I've extricated myself from some volunteering, namely, the Regional Coordinator position for the Haiku Society of America. I'll still be a supportive cast member in the wings. I'm grateful that one of our generous members and oh-so-talented poets, Michael Henry Lee, has stepped up to take over.

And I'm grateful for Tabatha's insights, reminders, and open heart.

And speaking of Margaret, I just clicked to see that she is rounding up Poetry Friday today at Reflections on the Teche! Thanks, Margaret. I do love this community so!

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