sunday morning–dVerse Quadrille

Caption: Victoria Slotto

sunday morning
(in the manner of Chinese wilderness poets)

snow dusts silent earth
branches bow beneath its touch
cedar wax wings descend to berry filled trees

moon drops behind Sierra
morning sun stretches lazily
paints sky in hues of rose

frozen grass crunches beneath feet
distant train signals crossing
hope hides in shadows

Welcome to dVerse Poets Quadrille this week–my favorite prompt! Today De is asking us to write our poem of 44 words, no more, no less (excluding title) within which we will include the word “crunch.” I’ve just begun reading “Mountain Home: The Wilderness Poetry of Ancient China,” translated by David Hinton.  I suspect that, little as I grasp of it, there will be some influence in my writing. Do you feel a sense of emptiness?

Please join us at the pub with your 44-word crunchy poem. The doors swing open Monday at 3 PM EST.

this is not a poem about a dream

Photo: V. Slotto

Photo: V. Slotto

this is not a poem about a dream

when, at night, the wind howls
and branches of a dead oak scratch the skin
of our world,

when rain puddles on the brick path,
in smeared reflections of an other
-worldly moon,

when screaming silence drips
steadily, steadily
in the gutter, on the roof,

and the old neighbor-dog howls in the distance
conjuring up an image of
grandmother’s banshee

and the rhythmic cadence of real-time fear
beats, beats, beats
on the window

when beating still
in a desperate soul who’s
alone in the darken corner his room,

alone in the chill
of a sweat-drenched bed,
alone in the bleakness of
an empty life

that’s thrumming,
thrumming, thrumming
to its hollow demise

then (i tell you this—)
this is not a poem about a dream
though it could be.)

The title and the final two lines of the poem are from Mary Oliver’s poem Five AM in the Pinewoods, published in House of Light.

Linked to dVerse Meeting the Bar where Bryan Ens is guest-hosting. He asks us to explain our choice of poetic form. I enjoy form poetry, though I most often turn to free verse because it allows my thoughts, that come from who-knows-where, to flow quickly. I chose a couple of poetic devices in this to create intensity:

  • Repetition
  • Onomatopoeia

I also omitted use of Upper Case, also to promote a sense of stream-of-consciousness thinking. When I’ve fallen out of the rhythm of writing daily–in this case, due to other responsibilities which are slowly easing–I turn to other poets for inspiration. I selected a quote from a Mary Oliver poem to set this one in motion–without any idea of where it would propel me. Erasure poetry is also a great way to jump-start the inner poet.

Dark December Days–Monday Meanderings

Today is dreary. My meditation time was drearier. I look out the window and the branches are bare. The few leaves that remain hang listlessly. There is no breeze to stir up some action. Not a bird shows up to feed on the fruit that remains on the ornamental pear tree. Everything is still, empty.

Photo Credit: David Slotto

Photo Credit: David Slotto

I’m in concert with nature until I remember that it’s the first Sunday of Advent. Celebrated in Christian communities, Advent marks the four Sundays leading up to Christmas—the arbitrary date chosen to commemorate the birth of Jesus.

The word Advent is derived from the Latin word for “coming.” It denotes an attitude of anticipation, expectation, hope, waiting—much like that of the early Jewish people who lived in expectation of a political Messiah who would deliver them from the tyranny of the Roman occupation of Israel.

Understood from the Christian perspective, which views Jesus as the Messiah, this deliverance is spiritual rather than political. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” In this sense, I find that the spirit of Advent offers a message for people of all spiritual traditions.

We are attuned to the seasons of the year. We mirror them in our own lives. When nature sleeps, we may experience our own emptiness and know innately that there must be more than decorations and shopping and whatever else we turn to in order to dispel the darkness within.

Advent is the season for the child inside of each of us. It a time to be excited about what is yet to come, to believe in a spiritual Santa Claus who will appear in his own time to fill those empty spaces in our heart and spirit. When we are surrounded by barren landscape, those gifts will fall gently into our lives like pure snow. We await beauty. We hope for peace.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

This image is that of an Advent Wreath. In Christian churches and homes, a candle is lit on Saturday Eve each week to open the vigil of Sunday’s observance. Usually the candles are purple to make that sense of emptiness however, on the Third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, a pink candle promises joy. Gaudete means joy in Latin–the first word of the reading from Isaiah–Rejoice, Israel. Your salvation is drawing near (my paraphrase).

Written on Sunday for Monday Meanderings. The sun decided to show up and the birds are having a great time in our pear trees.

For more indepth reflections on Advent, shared by writers and poets of many spiritual traditions, I invite you to check out Into the Bardo, an interdenominational site that will post an Advent-related essay or poem every day until Christmas. One of the things I appreciate most about this site is that it highlighst similarities, rather than differences between many diverse spiritual points of view, showcasing, somehow, they most often converge into a whole. Differences are respected and teach us new ways of understanding mystery. It is sites such as Into the Bardo that will, we hope, bring us closer to one another. Into the Bardo is hosted by poet/author Jamie Dedes with the help of contributing authors. I am honored to be one of them.

Running on Empty

Photo Credit: Earl Leatherberry

Photo Credit: Earl Leatherberry

Days of stone heart and emptiness
hang over the valley like a pall
until the artisan’s arrow of tranquility
pierces dreamtime, urges seekers
to climb out of the morass they created,
to carve hope from a sacred mountain,
to find time alone, to bathe in tears,
to cleave to unseen sources of joy
that flow beneath desert sand
from the brush of the artist.

Linked to dVerse Poets’ Open Link Night

Photo: Bureau of Land Management

Photo: Bureau of Land Management

Beverly Hills Dying



On Tuesday, I revisited the day you died
alone in your penthouse suite,
surrounded by eggs of Fabergé
and crystal flooding the room with rainbows.

That afternoon, rain obscured the sun.
Darkness wove through your world,
sucked the last vestige of strength
from you and your diseased cells.

Outside the window by your bed sat
a scrawny crow, rooted on the ledge
sixteen stories above the city that had
abolished all memory of you.

Leave,you told me, in a whispery voice. Leave.
(One shouldn’t have to face the inevitable alone,)
But, slowly I backed away, recalled how your word
always struck fear. That day, I wasn’t scared—just sad.

Outside, I waited in the courtyard beneath
a swaying palm tree, swathed by tropical vegetation.
I stood in the downpour and watched,
until the crow flew away.

Linked to Sunday Whirl where Brenda offers us a dozen words to whip into a poem or  short story. This is a fictional account!

In case you’re here for the etheree prompt, it’s an old link:  


Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

She wraps her frail form in cashmere
loneliness, dreams dreams of days
spent wallowing in beauty, immersed
in worlds of aromatic cassia, luxuriating
in a hammock, strung, perhaps, between
two willows by the water.

These days she languishes within the
prison of her penthouse.

People she used have gone ahead, and
those who turned to her for gifts moved on,
forget. The room is cast in darkest quiet—
a tomb, expectant. I watch her finger
the fringe of loneliness, not seeing, there
before her, the rutilant sweetness of another
setting sun.

These days she languishes within the
prison of an angry mind.

I’m linking this to dVerse Poets Open Link Night. Please join us in the poetry pub where we gather to share our work and support one another. The doors swing open at 3:00 PM EDT.