Monday, April 30, 2012

April is Poetry #30

 The orange truck moves from block to block.  Sometimes, kids watch.  A cat slinks by.  During the next storm, we'll be glad of the branches trimmed to limits.  But sometimes, I want to tear down the signs that go up overnight: No Parking. Tree Service. Monday 8-5.

Last day; last haiku
A tree dies in sawdust smoke
Who will I tell now?

---Sara Lewis Holmes

Thank you to all my friends who wrote beside me, and to those who commented here.  You made April poetry.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April is Poetry: #28 and #29 (Citizen Science)

Oh, April is speeding by!  This weekend was gone in a flash, but that's because any time I have with the fabulous Loree Griffin Burns is always too short. Loree was in town for the USA Science and Engineering Fair, and I caught her presentation on Citizen Science.  After writing about scientists who track trash and scientists who investigate honeybees, Loree decided to write about something powerful and simple: how any human being with alert senses and a willing heart can participate in the grand adventure of scientific discovery.

Citizen Scientists
by Loree Griffin Burns
photographs by Ellen Harasimonwicz

From listening to frog calls to hunting for lost ladybugs, each citizen scientist is asked only to be an expert in their own local community, and to observe and share the data he or she collects.  It's a bit like Twitter science.  (I hope Loree won't object to that description!)  Just like Twitter has enabled millions of people to be on-the-spot reporters, observing and relaying what they see and hear, citizen science empowers kids, families, scout troops, classrooms, 4-H clubs, nearly anyone--- to take what they see and hear in the small square of their backyards and add that knowledge to the vast earth-wide pursuit of scientific knowledge.

Cool, huh?  You can read more about citizen science and Loree's fascinating path to writing the book here.

Loree and I also talked about haiku----since she knew I was writing some for Poetry Month--and because she believes science and haiku have a lot in common. By focusing on the very small and the very particular, we gain access to the profound.  She even recommended a poetry book to me that I can't wait to find: Seeds From a Birch Tree. For now, though, I'm paying attention only to what I heard and saw and learned from Loree today.

Shh! I'm listening
Spring peepers caught on iphone
shared sound grows louder

Red binoculars
Held breath, sharp eyes, open ears
One sky; many wings

Friday, April 27, 2012

Poetry Friday: A Love Song

This has been a week of singing.  My fledgling efforts to learn a single song have been alternately giddy and frustrating.  For one thing, I've discovered that I'm completely unused to singing to music.

Ha!  That's not really a joke.  To Mike's horror, I told him the accompanying chords he was so lovingly playing for me were a distraction.  I know. Awful.  But I've always sung with a crowd, and for me, what I listened to was them, their voices, so I wouldn't screech off-course.  I had no idea what to do when the only thing I could hear was a steady beat of chords.  What I really needed was to SEE how my voice was supposed to compete with lovingly entwine with that.

To help, my husband laid down a guitar track in Garage Band.  Now the measures click by and the sound waves pulse in and out. I can see it.  It's helping.

But it's also incorruptible. Tying to sing with music is thrilling in a way that trying to jump on a spinning carousel is fun.  I keep mis-timing my leaps and winding up in the dirt. But the lights! Those prancing steeds!  The hypnotizing spell of the notes pouring out and up and down and around and around...

Which brings me to the poem for today.  It's one that's I've shared on Poetry Friday before, back in 2009. But I love it for how it can gush without being mush. How everything spins and stays hyper-still at the same time. And it's so much about timing.  Love often is.

A Love Song
by William Carlos Williams

What have I to say to you
When we shall meet?
I lie here thinking of you.

The stain of love
Is upon the world.
Yellow, yellow, yellow,
It eats into the leaves,
Smears with saffron
The horned branches that lean
Against a smooth purple sky.

There is no light—
Only a honey-thick stain
That drips from leaf to leaf
And limb to limb
Spoiling the colours
Of the whole world.

I am alone.
The weight of love
Has buoyed me up
Till my head
Knocks against the sky.

See me!
My hair is dripping with nectar—
Starlings carry it
On their black wings.
See, at last
My arms and my hands
Are lying idle.

How can I tell
If I shall ever love you again
As I do now?

Listen to this poem read aloud.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Tabitha Yeatts.

P. S. The poetry haiku daisy-chaining project I alluded to yesterday? Stay tuned for it next week!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

April is Poetry #26

Poetry with friends
Interlacing daisy chains
Forgot yoga class

Ah, well. My head was in the poetry clouds. Working on a new group poetry project for tomorrow! Hint: it's haiku and it's the Poetry Seven.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April is Poetry #25

Every morning on the back patio, my dog, paws delicately crossed, keeps watch like a stone lion  for the neighbor's cat.  At least, so she says. What really happens is that she leaps for the first available squirrel.

Statuesque canine
daily seeks SBS*
To uncross my paws

*Single Brown Squirrel

Are you tired of haiku about my dog yet? I find her more interesting than flower blossoms.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April is Poetry #23 and #24

Last night, my dear husband and his age-mellowed guitar took it upon themselves to help me begin to learn to sing a song. A single song.  ONE.

We aren't going for "teaching me to sing." No. This is going to be like those beauty pageant contestants who create the illusion of vast talent by pouring tens of thousands of practice hours into three minutes.  At least that's what Mike says.  It can be done.

I have no idea what can be done. I don't even know what my real singing voice is because it's always throttled by fear.  I do best when I'm surrounded by deep, true voices in church, voices that I can lean on and hide behind.  Singing on my own is like being lost in a vast, foreign city---I can't read the signs, I only know I've made a wrong turn somewhere, and everyone is politely looking away from the panic in my eyes.

The song is Kasey Chamber's "If I Were You." The occasion is that I'm forty-nine today. Don't you think forty-nine is a fine age to finally learn to sing one song?

Fingers shift on frets
you easily hold my gaze
I am deaf to fear

Forty-nine reasons
to sing louder and longer
than each year before

I wish each of you love today, and a reason to sing.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

April is Poetry #22: Open House at the Folger Shakespeare Library


Happiness reigned.

For some.

I think the little one in the pink bow is saying: This is SO not my century.

But again: check out how regal that girl in blue behind her looks!

I wonder which one Shakespeare would've written about.

What would the bard do?
Praise blue bird of happiness
Or ensoul a pout?

There was also this highly uncomfortable looking chair.
Perhaps that would make someone, even a princess, unhappy.

My favorite reading nook

Shelves of folios

The famous Seven Ages of Man window

You could roast a moose in there.

Emerson Fireplace

I looked up the quote in Barteby's online, which says these lines are from Emerson's  “Solution,” lines 35–42, Poems, p. 222 (1918).

England’s genius filled all measure
Of heart and soul, of strength and pleasure,
Gave to the mind its emperor,
And life was larger than before:
Nor sequent centuries could hit
Orbit and sum of Shakespeare’s wit.
The men who lived with him became
Poets, for the air was fame.

Ah, well, then. I would've liked to breathe that air. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

April is Poetry #21

I wrote about the dog park earlier.  One of the nicest things is how well the dogs get along, even with my grumpy pet, a miniature Australian shepherd.  Naturally territorial and excessively protective, she makes me crazy at home. But at the dog park? She's Miss Social.  She sniffs and greets and meets and generally schmoozes like she's at some fancy fund-raiser.

 But nothing gives her more happiness than an escapee. Once, a small dog kept running off from its owner, and my dog kept zipping after it, grinning with glee when she blockaded his mad dashes for the grass on the far side.  The other day, she had wild romp with a rescue dog from Mexico, which she was sure was making a break for his homeland, thousands of miles away.

blue-eyed cattle dog
sunlight and torn rubber ball
my dog shepherds all

---Sara Lewis Holmes

Here's a short video of her, herding a remote-control helicopter:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Poetry Friday: Postcards from Poets

Postcards from Poets: advice to young poets, gathered from "old" poets, at the 2012 AWP Conference.

by Heather Christle

"Read beyond that which
immediately pleases you,
please."  ---Heather Christie

I resist this advice.  I want to follow my nose in choosing what to read, and in poetry, especially.  But I notice that the poet simply said read BEYOND.  She didn't recommend replacing pleasure. Only swimming out a few yards more.

Here's one that I had to swim for.

A Bird in Hand  
by Amber Flora Thomas

I’ve memorized its heart pounding into my thumb.
Breath buoys out. My fingers know how to kill,
closing on the bird’s slippery head.

I don’t remember. Was it that beak bit my chin?
Was it a claw cut my wrist? I blow feathers
away from its chest, smelling pennies and rain.

the rest is here.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Diane at Random Noodling.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

April is Poetry #19

Running through the Capitol Building grounds is like being in a movie. No matter how many times I do it, it still feels a bit unreal, as if suddenly dancers are going to emerge and begin singing about democracy.  This is especially true after hours when the the plaza seems huge in its emptiness.

During the day, though, people are snapping pictures EVERYWHERE and it’s useless to dodge them.  I try not to cross in front, of course, but when I cut across the main steps, I have to accept I’m going to be a blur in a few dozen photos.  (Not a fast blur, mind you, although I do pick up my feet to get past in a hurry.)  I wonder where my pixels end up, in digital land?

Mobs in matching shirts
Capitol crowds poke and pry
I am deep background

---Sara Lewis Holmes

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April is Poetry #18

It's always a good time at the dog park.  Dogs know how to make fun out of nothing.

dried puddle and dog
ecstatic flailing backstroke
dust shakes off in sparks

---Sara Lewis Holmes

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April is Poetry #17

There were pictures all over Facebook.  People lined the highways.  I just happened to see it out my car window as we drove over the 14th Street Bridge.

Cars pulled off the road
White humpback whale in the sky
Ah, rubberneckers.

          ---Sara Lewis Holmes

Monday, April 16, 2012

April is Poetry #16

Using creative math, I've now caught up the post title (#16) with the actual date (April 16.)  This was to cover some lapses in my daily output, some double posts, and some uncounted poetry Fridays.  

In general, I like math. I think of it as another language, one that's fun to learn, and capable of saying some amazing things.  But as much as I'm impressed by writers who adhere to strict word counts, with flashy online gadgets that tick over the daily output, I don't want to know such stuff. *

Let others count days
All is relative to me
Am I writing now?

----Sara Lewis Holmes

* I might do better if said gadgets plunked out M&Ms; five or so per line.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

April is Poetry 14 and 15

I believe I owe you two haiku.

It was my husband's birthday this past week. We celebrated aboard a military jet, with a group of wonderful folks singing to him in Hebrew, a first for him.  (We were escorting Israeli guests around the U.S. on an adventure I can hardly believe was real now that we're back home.) But I didn't get to cook for him, so tonight, I made up for it. Almost.  

coffee-rubbed rib-eyes
homemade coleslaw and cold beer
Cake: sweet IOU

Also, last night, we went to see Eugene O'Neil's A Long Day's Journey into Night, which isn't for the faint-hearted.  We nearly forgot we had tickets; I remembered over dinner, and we had to scramble to make curtain.  But it was completely worth the rush and bother.  Wow.

But for some, it was too much.

Production notes read
Oh, it's about family!
Intermission: gone.

I'll try to keep the daily in daily haiku next week...

Friday, April 13, 2012

Poetry Friday: Book with Wings

Anselm Kiefer
Book with Wings, 1992–94
Lead, tin, and steel
74 3/4 x 208 5/8 x 43 3/8 inches (189.9 x 529.9 x 110.2 cm)
Collection of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth,
Museum purchase, Sid W. Richardson Foundation Endowment Fund
Acquired in 2000

Prose, soaring? Muse flash?
Poem as hymn, hosannah high?
Lopsided wings flap.

           ---Sara Lewis Holmes

I woke up today, glad to be home from a week of travel, and was suddenly aware it was Poetry Friday.  No need to panic. My iPhone held this photo of a sculpture from the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, where we spent an hour trying to understand the questions modern art flings at us. Not nearly enough time, of course.

But I have you guys, and this day of poetry, and lots of time now to think about it all. Happy Poetry Friday!

The host today is Booktalking.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

April is Poetry #10

My sister's in the house today, with a haiku inspired by her studies in clinical psychology. Yes, poetry IS everywhere.


flower voices plotting to
insinuate Spring.

       ----Ruth C. Lewis

Inspired by this quote from a clinical personality assessment true/false item:

“The flowers talk to me and tell me of their secret plans.”

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April is Poetry #9

Slipping in under the wire here...

I was fortunate enough to be in the front row of a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier today at Arlington National Cemetery. I'm speechless at the hours that went into the perfection of those few minutes. Also, I want the voice of the sergeant-who-must-be-obeyed; when he instructed the crowd to stay standing and quiet, there was nary a cell phone beep or a whispered comment. I need him to ride herd on SO many places.

But the best was when the honor guard marched by so closely that I could count the moles on their cheeks.  The unknown soldier was suddenly known. It was him and him and her and him and her...


hat brims slant; pitched roofs
one like one like one like one
underneath, all eyes

----Sara Lewis Holmes

Monday, April 9, 2012

April is Poetry #8

Last night, I had an appetizer I've never had before:

white bread on white plate
pale square of butter and knife
oysters tucked inside

----Sara Lewis Holmes

More daily haiku at Liz's place.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

April is Poetry #7

on the oldest grave
cold stories told before dawn
then light, light, light, light

It’s Easter.  And oh yes, I love me some jelly beans.  Big, fat, pink ones especially.

But I also love deep, ancient church services filled with lovely theatrical tellings of our stories.

Especially when those stories are told in graveyards.

A church in New England that we belonged to once was lucky enough to have an adjacent cemetery, which meant a century or more of dead souls surrounded them. Easter sunrise service began at the oldest gravestone, where the story of Genesis was told in the complete darkness before dawn.

Then a torch was lit, and the congregation processed toward the church, stopping to tell more of the Easter story through the Old Testament and into the New, until they reached the sanctuary, where the lights there were thrown on, and everyone marched in, singing and lit from within.

It was pretty spectacular.  As are pink jellybeans, little boys in Easter suits, eggs hidden within easy reach, and being part of a story that goes so far back that you need lots of people tell it.

More daily haiku at Liz's place.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

April is Poetry #6

One of our favorite Saturday rituals is walking with the dog to Peregrine Coffee, near Eastern Market.  When I go inside the shop, the dog, leashed outside with my husband, lets loose howls that no one wants to hear that early in the morning. She is happier when it's me, waiting on the bench, while my husband buys a mocha, a pour-through for himself, and usually, a bag of freshly-roasted beans.  We are spoiled.

On the way home, we buy a Street Sense newspaper from the Cat in the Hat guy, who cheerfully hawks his own story "on page 8."  I remember that I have promised to write, too, even on Saturdays.


Saturday morning
peppered bacon; walnut toast
coffee beans rattle

Friday, April 6, 2012

Poetry Friday: Poetry Forgives

[Flickr: Robyn Gallagher]

Poetry Forgives

I can’t believe I left
you at the market
lost you to a shiny eggplant

so smooth you could read
by its reflection, as if purple
were a midnight lake

and you a word dropped in;
illuminating a thousand nests, dark
from dark, along the thistled shore

while I went home 
plastic bags of groceries 
on my arms, low-hanging fruit

dumped to the tiled floor
while I ran back, calling
loon-like, in hunger 

to the eggplant, 
singing now with oiled
throaty pleasure

---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

A friend and I were discussing how I'd let this blog and my poetry fall idle.  After he gently scolded me for that, I said, thank goodness, poetry forgives.  

I believe that. Poetry forgives a reader's first attempts to hold it, awkwardly like a baby. It forgives the insults and slander we hurl at it at times. It overlooks how ridiculously we pose it, in a velour track suit, on a pedestal, then ignore its musty gaze.  It  even forgives our insecure, pretentious stabs when we take sharpened pencil in hand and poke holes in the paper of our lives to see what bleeds. 

All we need do is return.  Poetry is nothing if not a way home. 

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Robyn at Read, Write Howl. The full schedule is at A Year of Reading, here

Thursday, April 5, 2012

April is Poetry #4

pine-thick rosemary
pressed deep in foccacia
still leaves child-height fence

----Sara Lewis Holmes

This is my neighbor's rosemary bush. She generously shares with me. For Christmas, I took several branches and placed one over the hall mirror, a row along my mantle with a string of tiny jingle bells, and one in a white stocking on the door.

I have yet to make focaccia from it, but I plan to, using this recipe from Handle the Heat.

More daily haiku from Liz.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April is Poetry #2

Caught by cracked sidewalk
white blooms darken underfoot
branch into fault lines

---Sara Lewis Holmes

Monday, April 2, 2012

April is Poetry

My dear friend Liz is offering one haiku a day for the month of April.  Won't you join her?

Here's mine for today.

I love to pause and look out my window while I eat lunch:

two wrist snaps of wind
sting of blooms reddens window
sticky fork idles

---Sara Lewis Holmes