Nurture–dVerse Poetics

The ants rush toward sweetness. I take away the melon, but first I spill a little melon juice on the counter.
Mary Oliver
Sand Dabs, Eight


A drop of Buddhist grace seeps in my core.
I hesitate then spray to check those ants
but guilt ensues, weighs heavily in my soul,
Yet, should spider dare invade, I squash.

Last week I wept—a neighbor’s trees chopped down.
I wept for feathers scattered in our yard,
for eggs unhatched, abandoned in their nest,
for grazing cows and sheep, doomed to be slain.

And do we know for sure grain feels no pain?
That brainless lobsters know no suffering
when dropped in boiling pots for our delight?
Does life exist to feed on other lives?

But soon enough I, too, shall go away—
my life snuffed out much like a candle’s flame.
And so the cycle’s endless rhythm flows,
as well it must make room for seedling’s growth.

Photo: Teri Herzog

Photo: Teri Herzog

A second offering for Mary’s prompt at dVerse Poetics–to write poetry inspired by a quotation.


Depouillement–Monday Meanderings

Photo: V. Slotto

Photo: V. Slotto

In French, the verb depouiller means to strip or to skin. It’s a harsh word. For me it conjures up images of bleeding or, at the very least, nakedness. It’s the word used to describe what happened to Jesus when they tore his clothes from his body before crucifying him.

That word came to me this morning when, during my quiet time. I sat facing the window, watching as a gentle breeze tore, one-by-one, the leaves from “my” tree. At this moment, the wind has become bitter and that same tree (now the upper branches outside my office window) is letting go of its leaves rapidly. It is being stripped.

I cannot but think of the Buddhist teaching of detachment, a teaching which seems to traverse all philosophies and religions–a concept that faces each of us as we age, begin to lose loved ones, strength, beauty, health, material and physical independence, perhaps even mental acuity. Life is, indeed a series of letting go’s.

I’m not Buddhist, but have always been drawn to many aspects of Buddhist practice. Today I came to understand with a bit more clarity, the importance of non-attachment. I’ve been struggling with an issue that I’ve perceived as a threat to my security and to something I hold dear. It dawned upon me that my attachment to that “something” was impairing my ability to enjoy the happiness of the moment and was messing, not only with my serenity, but also with my sleep. I made the intention to return to the present moment and its many joys. When the moment comes to let go, I hope to be like that tree, allowing the leaves to return to earth and nourish it.

I’m no longer young…or even, by most people’s estimation, middle-aged (though I don’t feel old). It’s time to accept those things in life that must leave us. I know myself well enough to realize that this won’t be the end of my wanting to hold on. But, perhaps, if I let go of the things I cling to, it won’t be quite so painful. Maybe I won’t even bleed.

Have a lovely week. Now I’m on my way outside to rake up some of those leaves.

Jacaranda Rain

Jacaranda Rain

Sonnet, with Liberties Taken

I am the Sun that slips through blinds half-closed,
imprinting saffron stripes on textured walls.
I am a ball of fire that slashes clouds,
that singes trees on rugged mountain tops.

I am the spreading branch of Piñon Pine,
or Mullbr’y broad umbrella leaf of green.
I offer shade in sweltering summer time,
and home for mockingbirds, the songs they bring.

I am the dance of light upon the moon,
behind the palm tree fronds my passion plays
a tempting game—I kiss the darkest gloom
who yields to me at last, in hues of gray.

May I return in showers of purple blooms—
a Jacaranda rain on grassy dew?

Jacaranda trees in Montagu Ave, Salisbury, Rho...

Jacaranda trees in Montagu Ave, Salisbury, Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) in 1975 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jacaranda Rain

Free Verse

I am
the sun that slips
through blinds, half-closed.
Painting saffron strips
on adobe walls.

I am
a bolt of fire
lighting up the skies,
singeing trees on mountain tops,
splitting limbs.

I am
the sheltered branches of Mulberry tree.
Broad leaf umbrella
shading you at noontime.

I am
the dance of light upon the moon,
hiding my passion behind
swaying palms,
kissing night in unseen places.

I am
the empty flute
the flautist left behind.
I await the breath of God
to fill the void.

Though I must leave,
I’ll come to you again—
a shower of purple petals
upon dew-covered sod.

Progress Note: Yesterday during my walk I watched the petals of Jacaranda trees fall in the breeze like purple rain. The thought crossed my mind: If it’s true, as Buddhism suggests, that we shall return in nature, I’d like to be a part of this.

The first write of this was in free form, during the night. When I awakened, I saw a copy I’d made of instructions (from Luke Prater) on the stress sonnet form. I don’t have the courage yet to try that complex undertaking so I thought I’d better master the pure sonnet first and work up to it. Then when I read Gay Cannon’s challenge on dVerse Meeting the Bar, I knew I couldn’t eke out another near-sonnet today, so I thought I’d go ahead an share this at the pub. I encourage everyone to meet up there. Perhaps by the time OLN rolls around, I’ll have a Frame Sonnet poem to submit. Have fun everyone.

I Am Haiku–Response to Monday Morning Writing Prompt

Branch of Flowering White Jasmine

Image via Wikipedia

For the Monday Morning Writing Prompt I challenged us to write a poem that personified an object. Then on Wordsmith Wednesday, we reflected on Haiku. That post submerged me once again in Jane Hirschfield’s exquisite book on poetry: Nine Gates–Entering the Mind of Poetry. And so follows my response.

I Am Haiku

I am your poem
holding this moment in time
jasmine’s sweet fragrance

If you haven’t already read Wednesday’s post, perhaps you will find it useful. If nothing else, may it tempt you to read Hirschfield’s book.

Here’s a short quote from the chapter The Myriad Leaves of Words: “…(haiku’s) brevity reminds us of the nature of time and our relationship to it, but their strong roots in the particular clarify that our fleeting lives do not simply happen and vanish, they take place in the physical world; take place in the current of lived events; take place within a consciousness of interconnected being that is deeply Buddhist and within a sense of permeating aliveness fundamentally Shinto. ” Jane Hirschfield, Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry