A Series of Poems I’ve Written, Ed. 3: “Winter Hike in the Mountains”

Winter is technically over, but really. I live in Seattle, where winter wears out its welcome well into May and June.

People around here know that, if we aren’t willing to go play outside when it’s raining, we will be spending a lot of time indoors. (Like, maybe, all of it.) This poem is in honor of the majestic mountain hikes of the Seattle area, which provide reasons to get out of the house.

 

Winter Hike in the Mountains

 

This was a logging road, once,

a surgical incision, raw scar tissue of forest.

Now it provides growing space for

this intrusion of scotch broom, aggression of blackberry,

invasion of ivy and assault of holly,

all imported to prune and plant the wild into submission:

a tidy garden.

 

The road is in decline, however.

All scars fade with time, and

native trees live long and grow tall.

When once the sun no longer reaches here,

all trespassers wither in shadow,

this once-road known only as

the quickest way to water

for the passing hooves of deer.

 

 

Photo by Leslie Seaton from Seattle, WA, USA – Yesler Trail, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33880997

A Series of Poems I’ve Written, Ed 2: On Crows

As a sort of prayer that Things That Were Lost will find the right agent (rather soon, while we’re at it), for the second edition of our series I’m sharing a poem about that most intelligent of birds, the crow.

 

Perception

 

 

My husband finds rocks in our gutters, sometimes,

and I wonder about recent weather patterns.

 

We hear tapping, insistent hammering,

and our brains make the leap from annoying birds

 

to brilliant innovators,

the rock a tool, a snail the prize.

 

The windshield wiper of imagination

replaces an image of pebbles

 

rattling down from cirrus clouds

to this crow, rooftop engineer,

 

visionary and inventor,

cracking the shell, designing the catapult,

 

colonizing the moon.

 

 

Photo by Rod Waddington from Kergunyah, Australia (Thick-Billed Raven, Simien Mtns, Ethiopia) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Poetry for Dummies (Like Me, or at Least, By Me)

I remember when it was my turn to suggest a title for book club, and I thought we should read some poetry.

“Bwa-hahahaha!” laughed my friends from where they had slid onto the floor. “We might as well read a novel in Swahili!”

And, okay, so I can see their point. I took a few poetry classes in college, and while I loved the idea that each stanza, each line, no, each word was chosen for a specific purposes, or better yet, many purposes, so that the whole thing fit together like a puzzle, and it was only by taking the whole poem apart with both machete and scalpel that we could recognize the hidden meaning…well, that was intellectually fun, but in the same way that solving derivatives is fun. Or taking apart the toaster and then trying to quick! put it back together before Dad gets home!

Reading poetry should not feel like the written version of an Escape Room.

Thank goodness for poets like William Carlos Williams, and Gary Soto, and Mary Oliver, and Rumi, and Gwendolyn Brooks, and Carl Sandburg, and Langston Hughes, and Sandra Cisneros, and Billy Collins, who saved poetry for people like me–aka, People Who Want to Enjoy a Poem Without Having to Slit Their Wrists First, or After. (By the way, check out those poet links! It’s not to their Wikipedia page–who cares? It’s to just one great, easy-to-understand, wonderful, lovely poem by each. Think of it as a primer in poetry for us real actual people!)

So, in honor of this line of thinking (aka, the middle ground between Shel Silverstein and T. S.Eliot), I’ve decided to run a series of poems I’ve written, called “A Series of Poems I’ve Written”. Partly this is so I will no longer stalk around the house Thursday wondering what the heck I’m going to write for my blog tomorrow, and partly because I’ve finally (finally) confessed to myself that I don’t actually write the kind of poems that most editors are publishing.

So, in honor of this momentous occasion and to kick off our series with a poem that was clearly never going to see the light of day otherwise, I present you (double-spaced because I don’t know how to turn off that feature in this program) with:

 

A Small Rebellion

 

This doesn’t have enough depth, I read in the margins

in scratchy red script.

 

Why do writers have to be so theatrical?

Why can’t we write about something

cheerful,

friendly,

the soft radiator of a bunny’s ear or

the rhythmic swing of a hammock?

 

Children’s poems do this.  They rhyme

with wild disregard for grammar, choosing instead

exuberance:

The pouncing kittens growling like mittens,

The warm brownies smiling like clownies.

 

The thing is, this is how I was feeling.

The thing is, I was capturing the truth of a moment.

 

At any rate,

I like the raw crackly joy of it

and

I am not going to change it.

 

Photo credit: Alan Levine from Strawberry, United States – Honest is the Best PoetryUploaded by clusternote, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28095342

 

2-4-6-8! Who is it Fun to Hate? An Online Survey

My whole life I’ve been on this journey of learning when I’m right…and when I’m not. Let’s face it: it’s so gratifying to be right! And self-righteous! So, let’s dive right in! *Rubs hands together in an evil fashion.* Who do you secretly hate?

I know how we all love Facebook surveys (“What kind of facial hair would you have if you were a pirate?” “What five people in your life are most likely to pee in your shower?” “What breed would you be if you were a dog?”), so here’s a handy, computer generated1 list!

People I Might Love to Secretly Hate2

  1. Muslims
  2. Jews
  3. Catholics
  4. All Christians, not just Catholics; I’m kinda equal opportunity
  5. Atheists
  6. People who stick their old gum under tables where I will accidentally touch it
  7. Pro-abortion murderers
  8. Pro-life misogynists
  9. Gays
  10. Transgender folks
  11. Women
  12. Men
  13. Fat people
  14. Jocks
  15. Famous people
  16. Rich people
  17. Poor people
  18. Homeless people
  19. Addicts
  20. Idiots who throw trash out their car window right next to you at a stop sign and then flip you off when you yell at them3
  21. Jerks who take up two spots in the parking lot
  22. Other jerks who pull into your spot after you’ve been patiently waiting for it for ten minutes (although come to think of it, they may be the same as #21)
  23. Slow drivers
  24. Drivers who cut you off on the freeway
  25. People who text while driving (see #24)
  26. Nasty children who teach your own innocent kids dirty jokes
  27. Bullies
  28. People who wear pink pussy hats
  29. People who wear “Make American Great Again” hats
  30. Black Lives Matter protestors
  31. The “Free Hugs” guy (okay, who am I kidding? His superpower is being impervious to hatred)
  32. Asians
  33. Blacks
  34. Natives
  35. Latinos
  36. Whites
  37. Arabs (hey! Did you know they are technically white? Weird huh? But that’s okay…we don’t have to let that stop us!)
  38. Scary white dudes with lots of tattoos, piercings, and funky-colored mohawks
  39. Big guys wearing black hoodies and black jeans and hey, even their skin is black; in fact, why don’t we speed this up and just refer to them as thugs? Thugs
  40. Rappers
  41. Country music lovers
  42. Old people; also known as Polka lovers
  43. White parents who adopt kids of different races
  44. Kids
  45. Parents who don’t keep their kids under control at the grocery store
  46. People with mental illnesses
  47. Loud people
  48. Shy people
  49. Annoying people (admittedly a bit of a catch-all, so if you circle this one, give yourself like a thousand points)
  50. People with obvious disabilities, like being in a wheelchair or having no facial control so they maybe drool or something, because this makes us so uncomfortable that we don’t know where to look
  51. Republicans
  52. Democrats
  53. Hilary Clinton and everyone who voted for her
  54. Donald Trump and everyone who voted for him
  55. Betsy Devos
  56. Jeff Sessions
  57. In fact, let’s make this easier and just put: politicians
  58. People who stick their noses in other people’s business in blog posts (although, admittedly, these people are rare)
  59. Gun control sissy commies
  60. Gun-toting inbred honkies
  61. People who like Obamacare
  62. People who want to dismantle Obamacare
  63. Hey! Obama! How on earth did he escape this list till now?
  64. (Don’t see yours here? Insert as many extra lines as needed.)

Phew! Wasn’t that fun?

Add up all your points. If you scored 0, congratulate yourself on being either a) God or b) a liar. (Hey! “Liars” can be #65! That’s a better number for a list anyway.)

Okay, okay, you’ve made your point, lady. Lay off!

The thing is, I’m realizing that how I think about people is a good Hate-Meter. (Or Love-Meter if you’re an optimist like me.) The Hate-Meter/Love-Meter measures the words we use when we’re thinking about people.

Hate-Meter Spectrum

Hate                                                                                                  Love


Jerk                                                                                                            Loved

Idiot                                                                                                           Important

Fool                                                                                                           Valuable

Unwanted                                                                                                Wanted

It turns out, there are certain individuals, and certain groups, where I tend to land on the far left of this continuum. Jesus was always on the other side.

I want to be where Jesus is.

Now, I will say: if we don’t have Jesus living in us, it’s pretty much impossible to “Love our enemies.” So, there is that. But, I have no excuse. So I’m taking my list of people, the ones I secretly hate? Maybe so secretly that even I don’t know it most of the time?

Those people. And I’m going to pray for them. I’m going to serve them if it’s within my power. I’m going to treat them the way I’d like to be treated—heck, the way I want my kids to be treated.

So that’s our homework, people. (Wait! This comes with homework? Who does this girl think she is???)

Today’s HW: Apologize to God for hating people that He loves. Then, ask God what it looks like to love someone. (Hint: it should be pretty similar to how you like to be shown love.)

Due every day for the rest of your life.

Next week, for anyone who hasn’t unfollowed/unfriended me and still feels interested in reading things I post, I’ll share a few examples of #reallifepeople #livingthedream #dointheyHW

Meanwhile, go find out who you hate! And become excellent at loving them!

  1. Only in the most general sense. As in, I used a computer. To type.
  2. Wildly, grossly, negligently simplistic and incomplete.
  3. Yes this is a true story, although the true story is actually worse.

 

Photo credit: Copyright All rights reserved by evsmitty