New Project: Poetry Prompts, Dec 24 - 30

For the first time in a very long time, I'm having a real vacation. Three weeks of sun, time to look at art and snuggle with dogs and read and cook. And time to get back to making work every day. I set myself a couple of projects for this trip - one I'm still working up to. The other is to visually respond to the poems that arrive in my inbox every day courtesy of poets.org. 

So, let's begin. 

December 24: "The Giver of Stars"
by Amy Lowell

Hold your soul open for my welcoming.
Let the quiet of your spirit bathe me
With its clear and rippled coolness,
That, loose-limbed and weary, I find rest,
Outstretched upon your peace, as on a bed of ivory.

Let the flickering flame of your soul play all about me,
That into my limbs may come the keenness of fire,
The life and joy of tongues of flame,
And, going out from you, tightly strung and in tune,
I may rouse the blear-eyed world,
And pour into it the beauty which you have begotten.

 Somewhere in the middle of the country, on the plane from Portland to Houston.

Somewhere in the middle of the country, on the plane from Portland to Houston.

 

December 25: "Christmas in the Heart"
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

The snow lies deep upon the ground,
And winter’s brightness all around
Decks bravely out the forest sere,
With jewels of the brave old year.
The coasting crowd upon the hill
With some new spirit seems to thrill;
And all the temple bells achime.
Ring out the glee of Christmas time.

In happy homes the brown oak-bough
Vies with the red-gemmed holly now;
And here and there, like pearls, there show
The berries of the mistletoe.
A sprig upon the chandelier
Says to the maidens, “Come not here!”
Even the pauper of the earth
Some kindly gift has cheered to mirth!

Within his chamber, dim and cold,
There sits a grasping miser old.
He has no thought save one of gain,—
To grind and gather and grasp and drain.
A peal of bells, a merry shout
Assail his ear: he gazes out
Upon a world to him all gray,
And snarls, “Why, this is Christmas Day!”

No, man of ice,—for shame, for shame!
For “Christmas Day” is no mere name.
No, not for you this ringing cheer,
This festal season of the year.
And not for you the chime of bells
From holy temple rolls and swells.
In day and deed he has no part—
Who holds not Christmas in his heart!

 Poinsettia after the storm, Gabrielle's garden.

Poinsettia after the storm, Gabrielle's garden.

 

December 26: "A Landscape"
by Carl Dennis

This painting of a barn and barnyard near sundown
May be enough to suggest we don’t have to turn
From the visible world to the invisible
In order to grasp the truth of things.
We don’t always have to distrust appearances.
Not if we’re patient. Not if we’re willing
To wait for the sun to reach the angle
When whatever it touches, however retiring,
Feels invited to step forward
Into a moment that might seem to us
Familiar if we gave ourselves more often
To the task of witnessing. Now to witness
A barn and barnyard on a day of rest
When the usual veil of dust and smoke
Is lifted a moment and things appear
To resemble closely what in fact they are.

 Sunset in the garden. 

Sunset in the garden. 

 

December 27: "I Don't Know What You're Called, I'll Call You by Your Sounds"
by Susan Landers

dew grass a fire shine
mountain a lung
pine cone the bone
tsunami rock hawk jaw
gravity a fall all consuming
a song chirp for sunlight
spine daggers cracking
the sky an ocean paused in its crashing
creature shake trip whistle
rustle nut squirrel swish
stump thunder or thump
thump a swallowing
you beautiful urchin
you rot mound of moss.

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December 28: from "Surge" 
by Etel Adnan

A long night I spent
thinking that reality was the story
of the human species

the vanquished search for the vanquished

Sounds come by, ruffling my soul

I sense space’s elasticity,
go on reading the books she wrote on the
wars she’s seen

Why do seasons who regularly follow
their appointed time, deny their kind of energy
to us?

why is winter followed by a few
more days of winter?

We came to transmit the shimmering
from which we came; to name it

we deal with a permanent voyage,
the becoming of that which itself had
become

 
 Sick in bed, so I'm pulling an image from earlier in the week. (I already have too many photos of bed sheets.) 

Sick in bed, so I'm pulling an image from earlier in the week. (I already have too many photos of bed sheets.) 

 

December 29: "Hive"
by Kevin Young

The honey bees’ exile
     is almost complete.
You can carry

them from hive
     to hive, the child thought
& that is what

he tried, walking
     with them thronging
between his pressed palms.

Let him be right.
     Let the gods look away
as always. Let this boy

who carries the entire
     actual, whirring
world in his calm

unwashed hands,
     barely walking, bear
us all there

buzzing, unstung.

 
 Found in the garden today. 

Found in the garden today. 

December 30: "Barter"
by Sara Teasdale

Life has loveliness to sell,
   All beautiful and splendid things,
Blue waves whitened on a cliff,
   Soaring fire that sways and sings,
And children's faces looking up
Holding wonder in a cup.

Life has loveliness to sell,
   Music like a curve of gold,
Scent of pine trees in the rain,
   Eyes that love you, arms that hold,
And for your spirit's still delight,
Holy thoughts that star the night.

Spend all you have for loveliness,
   Buy it and never count the cost;
For one white singing hour of peace
   Count many a year of strife well lost,
And for a breath of ecstacy
Give all you have been, or could be.

 
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