Friday, August 27, 2021

Poetry Friday: Deeper Wisdom Poems

August's poetry challenge is so simple that it beckons you to come play: Write a poem in the style of Jane Yolen's What the Bear Knows.  

If you click on the link, you'll see that Jane's poem is direct and profound. It features short lines that rhyme, every other one. Lovely. 

Alternatively, Joyce Sidman offers us another model for this kind of poem. In hers, she asks: What Does the _______ Know? before each of two stanzas, answering the question in three rhyming lines. She calls these Deeper Wisdom poems.  

I decided to try both models, and opted out of rhyme for the first one. Each is based on my experience last weekend helping a refugee family who had fled with nothing but each other. Our group offered them what we had brought by U-Haul, SUV, and small cars: a sturdy brown couch, Disney-themed sheets for the three girls, a first-aid kit, trash cans, a laptop, kitchen chairs, a roasting pan, Tupperware, cell phones, a tool kit, and much more. One woman brought a child-sized umbrella, which the littlest girl popped over her head immediately, making us all smile. Another woman brought orange roses. And why not?

What do orange roses know?
     Not everything needs assembly. 
     Roses aren't just for lovers.
     A bloom is a seed, shared. 

What do orange roses know? 
     Saying tangerine makes you smile. 
     A stem is sturdiest near the thorns.
     Flames of friendship start small.
                    ---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved) 

My own daughter, long ago, with her umbrella

What the Umbrella Knows 

You can’t stop the rain.
Open gifts now.
Nothing falls in vain.
The world needs little yellow ducks,
brave in a hurricane.
                ---Sara Lewis Holmes (all rights reserved)

If you have interest in sponsoring a family,  Lutheran Family Services offers support, as well as many other organizations. 

My sister poets are having fun with this form, too:


P.S. If you'd like to play along for September's challenge, here it is:  

Choose a poem by someone in the Poetry Friday universe and write a tanka in response or inspired by or in conversation with that poem.  Kelly offers a great introduction to the tanka here. 

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Elizabeth at Unexpected Intersections. 


  1. The back story makes these all the more poignant. This line: "A stem is sturdiest near the thorns." So much packed into that. And the wise, wise umbrella who knows "Nothing falls in vain."

  2. Ohhhh, the stem is sturdiest near the thorns. You may bleed, but you will also stand strong. After all, you can't stop the rain, but you can be a brave little duck in a hurricane. What a benediction and a blessing, Sara. The thorns and the rain are already here, but you all have helped them stand strong.

    And how ADORABLE that a mini-Rebecca is on the way, that you can look back and see all the cuteness to come!

  3. Those little yellow ducks brave in a hurricane make me swoon a bit. Love love love this.

  4. I read the poems first - and then went and read the backstory. So I loved them - and then loved them more. Those yellow ducks were precious. As too the flames of friendship.

  5. Both of these are just beautiful. There is a lyrical simplicity to these forms that I love. By distilling a thing into it's essence, we're invited to pause and contemplate it - very welcome in this world we're living in.

  6. Sara, I love how the umbrella poem works very effectively even if you don't know the backstory--and even better when you do. Open gifts now. Both are lovely, and I appreciate how the form encourages brevity--the distillation Elisabeth mentions.

  7. "A stem is sturdiest near the thorn" -- Oh, Sara. My heart.
    These are both so moving and so beautiful and you did your experience justice.

  8. Sara, I know you often write beautiful, complex, longer poems, but these two, both of them, are two of my favorites you've ever written. You pack so much heart and insinuation and wisdom into these few lines. Thank you for sharing your poems, your generosity, and your daughter--cute as can be!

  9. Both of these are beyond lovely. I echo the props for the line, "A stem is sturdiest near the thorns" - wow. :)

  10. Thanks for your stirring emotions in your orange roses poem. There's so much joy and care wrapped in these lines,
    "Saying tangerine makes you smile." and
    "Flames of friendship start small."
    And I definitely agree, I think, "The world needs little yellow ducks," —wise umbrella…

  11. These poems are magical, Sara, in light of your amazing backstory. I am gathering image poems for my upcoming Nurturing Our Summer Souls Gallery collection online. I have been showcasing galleries on my site for numbers of years and hope you would be interested in sharing this poem of yours. All I need is your consent to add it to the collection.

    1. Hi, Carol! Could you email me about the gallery? Thank you!

  12. Love, especially those flames of friendship.


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