Buttoned Up

While sipping

the last of the pinon coffee,

and wondering when

my order for more would arrive,

I recalled my grandmother

saving coffee grounds

as nourishment for her garden.

 

She saved

everything.

 

She reused

the tin fruit cake container

as a button collection canister.

 

“My button box,” she called it.

 

I see 

myself reverently empty the contents  

onto her bedroom rug, sit cross-legged,

carefully considering each button:

celluloid, mother of pearl, glass

bone, silver, ivory, brass

 

I wondered

what they had held together

like memories and imaginings

now fastening me securely---

past relinquished---- future forming,

buttoned up in my center,

safely sealed together  

in my soul.


—Judy Myers

Training Wheels

 Training wheels cradle my ride

breaking my fall as I pump & glide

rocking from side to side, glide,

side to side, glide.

 

I put these wheels back on again

seeing how I was about to spin

out into fantasy land where I’d

fallen before and scraped my

shin, red ripped my skin, not

quite getting the art in my story,

falling apart. 


Just when I thought this gradient

was stable and I wise, more than

able, then gears, cogs and bolts

went into a wobble. It was only

an illusion I’d cobbled from my

imagination, “if only” enabled.


Old view looking for new, expanding

horizon, while looking inward, inward,

inward, too. Perfect timing, with Covid

and all, to see what I can get to stick

to my future self wall. Not too late to learn

a new language … “Brute, et tu?”


—Martha Koock Ward

Ran

To "Ran" by Kim Mosley

It is not what we see
in the bright shapes of the day--
a crinkled gold of sunshine
on flowers and steps,
a pond we walk by catching the sky
a watered lawn the right green.

These are there, of course,
and true in their way,
as is the gray of concrete,
rainy morning duty
where we rise with not enough sleep
and drink our coffee, shake our arms,
our shoulders, to rouse ourselves.
Look at the sunshine creeping
under the blinds, we say,
You can do this—get out there!

But behind all that—the sun catching
rainbow on the drops from the sprinkler,
the paper we draw from our briefcases—
lies an ocean that sun and paper
float in, a dark they rise out of, like islands.

An antelope runs the plain.
It leaps the absence,
the gap,
the lightless fjords between the known.
Its body—not-body—is a black possibility,
a night that turns into the face of day

that turns into so many things—faces
and oranges and isthmuses,
crowded onto our mainland of the real.

Beyond it float fragments and wires
of the ungraspable,

an island of fog
where the unnamed and the unnameable
rub against each other in the mist

and the broad water beyond it all,
the deep below things and their names,
the black of everythingalltogether
not yet born
ready to rise.

Sarah Webb, 11/16/20

Meteor

To Kim Mosley’s “Meteor” on the Eve of the Election

Ooh, coming right at us
the slam!

It
hurls us upside
down
and sideways
splashes a thousand
ponds
into the clouds

steams us
wrings us

topples
buildings to house-
shapes
under the sand
walls
the archaeologists can puzzle over—
why?

Oh, why not?
mutter lava
and melted coins

A tree stands here and a
segment of
brook

Maybe a mountain range
can make it through
a child
a deer
or two.

Sarah Webb 11-2-20

Teeth

To Kim Mosley's “Teeth” 

Lively, happy, the Earth. 

But, no, a screaming face 
a furry man with an extra arm sending out waves of energy
a gaping whale and a gaping ghost.

Near them, coming up and out, a camel 
a man-phoenix 
a slug, a horn, the numerals 2 2 7.

Reality in all its ways—real and unreal,
spinning into numbers and dunes
breakfast and the phantasmagoria of the mind.

Out of the movement of water 
a whole that lasts a moment or a day.

Passage

            “who will weave a nest for all the birds of passage?”
                        Dilruba Amedq, “Bring Now the Angels”
 
Vultures, blackly elegant, glide across the lake,
making their way home along alleys of cloud.
We swivel below, craning to see their loose ranks pass over.
So many!
Where have they come from
in the far trees, the dark beyond the water?
where are they headed?
 
And do they leave us soon?
Is that why they have gathered in their great flock
finding each other for comfort in a long journey?
 
We see the birds above us, starting
south or deep, or simply fading,
the air holding their imprint for a while.
A day or so ago we watched a skein of white
a V that unraveled and re-formed
against the pale, blue-white of sky,
the rubbed stain of cloud.
We stilled to watch them as they passed.
 
Leaving, so many are leaving,
the warmth and movement of their mutual bodies
holding them aloft, giving them strength:
pines drying on mountain slopes, long
ranks turning red and then gray,
teeming water turned turbid and still
and schools of silver fled out in currents
that lead them who knows where.
It is said the skies of the continent
filled and darkened with the passage of birds,
the ground shook with running hooves.
Where are they going, our great ones,
our innocents?
 
A bird hops over the flagstones outside my screen door,
his tail perked high.
Will you go too, little one?
And can you ever return? 

The Dream

                           
We tuck our dreams into broken
walls. Each seeds a prayer, sprouts like
a moonbeam, vining toward outposts
for the living.
 
Bring the healer, the howler, the
listening ear, to break the spell
keeping us here, wreckage on
the path to hell.
 
Weave a nest spinning gold
for all the birds of passage.
The shuttle waits to bear us away from
the pain of disdain, and sword-eaters
who swallow fire, show us a new flame.
 
We test our pulse as we sleep.
Dreams bring divine messengers
who summon the grace needed to
transform those buried, burnt,
tied to stones, to be bound
hence forth by love alone.
 
No longer slaves, we embark
beyond this grave where hatred,
fear & lies held sway.
We rise, rise & sing, joyously sing,
wisely, remembering everything.

—Martha Koock Ward

Angels Among Us

Angels on this earth
   We wish to see.
Angels all, we yearn to be.
And when we look
  Both near and far,
We find that some
  Already are.

—Paul Casey

Did the Angels Ever Come?

When all is said and done
   Who will be left standing?
When the sun sets for the last time on humanity,
   Who will grieve for our loss?
Who will be left to tell our story?
   And will the angels remember what we've done?

—Paul Casey

My Butterfly Song

My world began inside an egg.
I was growing and changing.
Sometimes I had to struggle to adapt
to my changing size and shape, my wants and needs.
The changes seemed natural.
Some happened outside of my control.
Limitations of money, of location, of mobility, of age,
could all be overcome or shape my adaptations.
I slumbered, nourished and protected.

When I entered the world of the caterpillar everything changed.
I had changed.
Now danger and death had become part of my world.
There was no way to go back to sleep again
and expect to wake up where I was before.
There was no “do over.”
My responsibilities were to survive and manage
the changing challenges of each new day.
To meet each new revelation:
inequality, systemic racism, selfishness, corruption.
I have no map or time table for my journey.
My brain and my body must find my path;
I am in survival mode.

Who could have imagined this new life?
Who could have prepared us?
We need a whole new set of skills as we adapt.
Reading and listening,
Now must include finding and evaluating the sources of information.
Mathematics
Now must include evaluating how the numbers are being manipulated
to spin the conclusions.
History
Now must include recognizing “the facts” which are included and excluded...
Social Studies
Now must include an understanding of the assumptions
about people, justice, freedom and happiness
on which they are based.
The Arts
Now must have a valued role in everyday life.
I approach this new feast as a guest.
I will be moderate and grateful
as I visit each flower
trying out my new wings.

—Laura A. Smith

Dancer

Kim Mosley

Pulse 

The pulsing sounds of color
reverberate 
in kaleidoscopic bits 
that scatter in 
pieces of beat, 
strands of band, 
shards of bard, 
high vibes, 
low tones, 
that burst onto 
the scene in shouting 
shades of boom, 
a syncopated wheel 
of reeling shapes, 
radiant madcap whirls— 
a world unto itself, 
a sounding board 
for a vibrant 
dervish 
that dances 
and dreams
in living color. 

—Marilyn Duncan 
ODD Monday Prompt Poem 
9-7-20

+++++

I kicked up a storm of leaves
indigo, black, orange—green.
The wind whirled and swirled
clothing me in their disarray, until
I was literally swept away on
a gust and a Go! that gustled me
here in to this rather cramped
glass globe.

It can’t be a snowball, the colors
aren’t right. I pray no more shake
ups—until I can get my head on
tight. How will I appease the god
of leaves, gain freedom, or is this
just a real wacky dream? Images
of me lined on black flying squares.
Jeez, I’m neither here nor all there.

I am down in the dumps these Covid
nights, I toss and turn, as REMs
flicker faster, and give me a fright.
Perhaps it’s that egg salad I ate or was
it potato, tossing my tummy at my mind’s
gate? What’s to become of all these pieces
of me? O, sweet Morning, break open
this dream! Release me to whatever
the “real world” seems. 

—Martha Ward
Kim’s ODD Prompt 9.7.20

+++++

Dancer

At the center a figure 
dances. Around him the 
bubble of the world spins.

Fragments float and fall,
reflections and objects:
gate, lightbulb, plant and bird.

A foot raises, a mouth gapes.
Cornets and lines of crops
moon launches and petroglyphs.

Dancing the world into being, dancing 
the end.  Continuous beginning 
out of continuous decay.

Exhausting, exhilarating, 
exhausting, creating order
out of a chaos of sticks and gravel.

Juggler, the man keeps the world 
in the air, will not let it crash
will not let it sling into chaos.

The mind tires, the body falters.
Who can keep a world alive,
keep a world from breaking?

What man can do it?
Dancers stumble and lose hold.
Their mouths go slack.

Turn then to the one inside the man 
who speaks from the dancer
through a hidden ordering

who shapes his dance

—Sarah Webb, 9/7/20

+++++

The boy faces west. Or south.

Or left. Kicking about in his

unconscious orb. His friends

cavort around him while

leaf fragments of September

source sun prisms, jewel

pigments for a bluegreenred

home. Music is in him. Dance

surrounds him. Sound escapes

into the ether. Now the boy

gallops through his egg-shaped

world. Do his friends run with

him? Are they imaginary mates

or figments of his own story, his

own magical mind? Here…a

toast, Skole, Cin-Cin, Bottoms

Up….to all the dancing boys.

May they never grow into the

men who lose their song, their

dance and their vibrant, 

secret sphere.

—Beverly Voss
09-07-20
Moth poems

H.E.R.O.N

 Today I swam, silent, behind my daughter

through cool water, the wind a touch,

riding low waves, green and silver,

following the signs she is teaching me

in my new deafness:  H.e.r.o.n.  D.o.c.k.  Come.

 

Her head bobbed, a dark seal, past Jean's dock

and submerged rocks, out onto the open lake

and the rougher waters of the drowned river channel,

Tim's pier then and the neighbors' past, and there, See.

A gray shape under the silver Xs of the pipes,

stilt-legged, slow. The heron.

 

And my daughter tracking him.

She turned to point and I bobbed my fist to say, Yes.

Yes, I see him. Yes, I see you. You have led me to a good place.

 

She raised her camera in its pouch,

head and camera blending in the bright of the water.

He stepped along the shore, and she followed.

Brown against brown, I saw her take her shot,

shadow stepping into light, the jab for fish,

then, tall against blue and cloud, head lifted,

iconic bird of water and rock and sky.

 

Heron and girl fixed in my gaze.

I saw her glide to the bird through the silver, close,

so close she looked up to see him and I marveled he did not take flight.

And I took my own picture, having no instrument but my heart

to say, Look and remember: here is the one I have loved in this life

learning to see, learning to live. 


—Sarah Webb



—Heron by Amanda Webb


Pondering plant viruses and self-knowledge

Stretching myself, scapula peeled back like the sky:

Knowing and not knowing, so not writing down

the nascent, subsoil milky specks at night

(and more twinkle out if you look longer).

To calm the rods in the eyes of the dandelions,

this I have learned by eating all the UV rays

and casting skin of my poems,

hiding convex in

curled-toe honeydews,

whether parasamgate pairs

     of aphids

     are to be spoken, their

velvet skin, the most unnatural neons, seeming like

garbhas of seaweed

and barnacled pupils lapping

     without dimension…

Is this what is to be learned?

Is this all that I have learned

in the past murky warp of a year?

      that I am too surrealistically snotty

and too wildly naturalistic to enjoy Hart Crane and T.S. Eliot anymore?

too obsessed with Taoist and Zen hermits to enjoy Shakespeare anymore?

      or is the real lesson the unwhispered waters of wonder,

that the sweetgum glow hazel

     in August on earth pure lands

with or without ontology,

     their seeds home to unimaginable Buddha lands,

capillaries pressed out

     in unpunctured volcanic dicots

returned to the unchanging inner monocot—

I’ve learned I’m too skiddish to be a contemplative for now,

my last name is Jennings, not Merton,

and maybe that’s a ton better for me,

nothingness being flowers, la mer, and nothingness—

inside the dead ladybug on my windowsill,

clouds beckon unswept revelations…


—Tom Jennings

The day I learned what “Sow” meant

 The day I learned what “Sow” meant 

After “Saint Francis and the Sow” by Galway Kinnell


Sow sat, ‘neath ferny vernal waterfall,

      sewing seeds of dispassioned 

compassionate awakening,

     the True Sow of No Title—

      hooves rooting and melting

into stationary sewn soil,

     its own clover solar flare,

chanting the nameless

     sewn threads of the

     thatchy tails of trees

     above, 

with milken dreamy love—

      In the modal darkness of dusky

tree bark, Sow sees the

      millipedal centipedes

nesting in unimpeded emptiness,

     sewing their own selfless blessings,--

        kissing the 

        violet waters of age—

Sow sees loamy mud, each divot

      a pew for mildew’s salvation,

tails of time tracked and milled by other

peregrine-sows,

pebbles in the mud

      blebbing stupas and surging granulites

rounding to starbathed coil

      of the sun’s ray-seeds

and the egg-seeds of beached

saintly horseshoe crabs on 

the innate shore of Sow,

bleached in Sow’s

     resoundingly silent stillness—

Sow, whose stomach acid

      is sulfurously placidly absolving,

wouldn’t even dissolve bone, fanning own

      borne molecules in liquid cremation

but nurture them into needlepoint-glowing

firefly bacterioles and 

       throw them back out, to love

into neatly monasteries of pig-pillow algae,

      hooved with the stardust

      of countless galaxies of

      Franciscan birds, opening their membranes to all,

         crying 

         and

         wanting nothing.


—Tom Jennings

“Essence” is a Phony Word

 Bodhisattvas in empty earth

       but never really—up past wormy holy

underworld—to mind without walls

       innate in

empty eggshell

      already hatched

and having nothing,

       solar cumulus columnar, wordlessness,

    immanence

of speechless symphonic grasses,

    their aquaporins precisely 

        minute:

    voidfabric, whole waterfall canyons

of watery veins

         ambivalent of apical self-natures

or idea outside of valent electrons

         pulsing the stillness of

froggy hollow waters, sky delicately wrapped

in the gaps of cells

        and so vesicles veritably gloved suchly,

a voyagerless return—

the drunken idiotboat

with harpsichord of splinters

lapping tongues underneath the

other shore—

and salamander sidles up to frog

in the hills of unchanging 

         untreaded tadpole evolutions and asks:

“why did the dinosaurs come from 

           the pangea west?”  and frog says:

“I will tell you”

           and before frog can say a word

           frog is eaten by swallowbird

and the eye of unfathomed essence

is consummated and 

        frog reappears—

and bodhisattva’s flowers are resplendored

and get stepped on by accident,

the sky still pervading everything,

clouds pointing at your own head

and the head of the knobby rhythmic 

knees of herons with tapestries

of lulling pine-smell forest history

within them, forgotten and unrealized,

taped with words and

extinguished by extant is-ness

      and its soft

unblown

     breath


—Tom Jennings

Dish

 



Porous Line

Waiting at the
porous line
twixt night & day,
Silence
embraces me
with the ease
of a lover,
whispering
sweet truth,
“Enough, enough.”
I surrender, willing
to be satisfied.

—Martha Koock Ward

When I Rise

When I rise in the morning
the world is dark.
I fall, seeing the darkness,
thinking dark is the day.
When light edges in timid
in mist in the east
I fall timid to meet the day.
I fall timid, reaching for this to do
thinking, oh no, avoid, refrain--
do and refrain, gain this, lose that.
I fall into dark before the day rises
fall into the small confine of my body
and the day not begun.

When I rise in the morning
the floor cold on my feet
water cold in my mouth
and my mind still caught in the cool of dream
and the day glimmers through the blinds,
I turn from the room where I cannot see,
to the day that is turning to morning
to a junco on the wire of the feeder
to steam from the kettle under the stove lamp
and I do not say, this is what to do
this what I expect, what I expect of you.
Then the day rises with me and around me
and the sun appears over the hill.

—Sarah Webb


No Time to Spare

“How rich we are in knowledge, and in all that lies around us yet to learn.
Billionaires, all of us.” - Ursula LeGuin

No Time to Spare

Each day hundreds of intersections
breached. Whether to stop, pause or
gun through are my pivotal choices.
More & more these bisections are
dissections of lives in debris.

Through layers of life lived, choices made,
paths never explored, diversions,
loss & pain devour the remains of this
and that person before my very eyes.

No time to spare. Where is the dollar tucked,
the bag of snacks, clean socks, and such to
share, to say I see you there? And, yet where
am I going, so urgently? How am I going
down the road to my inevitable demise?

Aren’t I and this beleaguered road side
guy on the same side of the time lane?

Sometimes delayed by factors of construction
or a jam, I come upon a scene of destruction
crash site, injured soul, chaos of crisis,
bodies to dispose. Here in thought, I pause
reckon with whatever cause to which I’m
rushing, and I give thanks to this person gone,
who likely took my place, as I move on,
with no time to spare

Martha Koock Ward

Imperfection



KINTSUGI

KINTSUGI
the Japanese art
of golden repair

“If the ice cracks
And no one is there
to hear it,
does it make
a sound?”

If a friend is having
a birthday
and you are sheltered
in at home
and the world is chaotic
and you can’t celebrate,
is it really a birthday?

If your husband
drops the coffee pot
into the sink to clean it
and breaks your
last little juice cup
of your favorite set,
then fusses at you
for leaving it
where it does not belong
after a million demands
not to do so,

If the gold glitter
glue you bought
months ago
and left sitting on
the kitchen counter
among vitamin bottles
seems to suddenly
call out with possibilities
and obviously there
is no coincidence
because a few
years ago
you read about Kintsugi
and thought you might try it
and that’s why the glue
was there in the first place

for accomplishing
the art of embracing flaws
and imperfections and
making everything
more beautiful

and really that
is what everyone
needs the most of right now—
more and more beauty

---the golden repair of
Kintsugi,
the essence of resilience,
something we all
can use as we age,
believe me I know——

So here, your own Kintsugi,
my personal expression
of gratitude
for you, my friend,
on this, your day--

Wabi Sabi,
the beauty of
the imperfect
made perfect
especially for you!

Happy Birthday!

Judy B. Myers

A Bag of Grateful Bones

Walking with Ollie

He stopped us at the park looking for the orange ball we played with two days ago,
the ball I picked up, carried home and left on the front porch,
the ball we stepped over to walk down the steps,
the ball that was ideal for his small mouth.
Maybe he thought another one would magically appear
just as the first one did.
It's hard to know the mind of a dog.

I met a neighbor and fellow teacher
who talked about her hair falling out in patches due to stress
And I talked about my gray roots.
What can you do during a pandemic?
Somehow hair just doesn't seem that important.
en if the beauty shops are starting to open.

We walked down Burnet Road, the road dividing the two jewelry stores
that were robbed last week.
Everything looks normal now, but it doesn't feel normal yet.
Random violence leaves its mark no matter if one is directly involved or not.
It reminds you that anything can happen at any time.
I guess that is not so bad a thing to remember.

At last we returned home to see two very sunny day lilies
Smiling, beckoning us to draw near as they swayed in the breeze.
As we approached, Ollie was oblivious
Or more likely, he was aware of something imperceptible to me
A smell intriguing only to a dog perhaps.

I, however, quickly narrowed in the motionless change in color: See both photos.




— Laurie Winnette

Turning Toward

I reach out to touch their hands,
my beloved grandchildren
I cannot reach their palms
or feel their touches now—

I am so near at times,
yet far away
we walk together
mindful not to
touch,

six feet away—the rule,
you are too close.
we want you to stay well.

days, now weeks
of distancing,
no touching

sometimes my mind
says, “do as you please,
you are 80,
no one can tell you
what to do,"

then I remember
what has taken
all these years to learn,
it’s not about me,
nothing is or ever was

now in the spaces
between us
moon lilies sprout
from the swamp of silence
with unexpected beauty.

—Judybmyers

Our Thread


— Kim Mosley (https://blog.kimmosley.com)

Copper & Glass Web

Proximity no longer connects us.
Six feet isn't very sociable.  Now
ductile copper and glass fiber
connects: sight & sound. Not touch,
not hugs in a time of plague.

Mikes muted we extend our thoughts,
pens, souls into a space hoping
to attach to something, reel it in,
bind it to paper with ink & pen.

Fling it forth into our space bound
together with copper wire, glass fiber.
Community of the distanced
only in space, not in time together.

—Jeffrey Taylor

The Order of Time

They are everywhere, following their own threads,
often thoughtless about whether their movements
will snarl, worry, pull or fray the thread of another
or others.
Tragedies happen people get hurt or die; yet these
“righteous rafflers” seem oblivious.

Today, I saw eight people in a neighborhood pocket park,
for whom 6ft physical distance & wearing of a mask
had no relevance. Their vulnerability blinded by the
sense of invincibility, menacing the larger community
with whom they will doubtlessly interact.

Nothing can stop time’s unfolding.

— Martha Koock Ward

A Reminder:

Beloved, why do you continue beating your head through walls that don’t matter? Don’t you see the stars?
Don’t miss those stars…
Orion, Andromeda, Cassiopeia… perpetually upside down as punishment for foolish behavior?

Don’t be foolish—that point you so desire making or that ego-driven fact—
is it necessary?
Will getting a few more trivialities in
change the color of the leaves?

Will it stall the tulips from falling after their triumphant surge up through the earth?
Or did you miss the tulips…
what with worrying yourself over the thoughts and opinions of others?

The quiet wisdom of the willow tree
proves how menial that emotional charge you carry is,
how shallow of a fall that let down really was.

Does water still somersault, laughing its way down stream?
Does the breeze still blow, twirling with it each leaf as it dances through the trees?
Do the mountains still breathe in stillness
and exhale a grounded calm as they elegantly ebb
from green… to blue… to purple, as day turns to dusk?

So you do, too.

— Jordan

gathering sun

gathering sun
not by looking at where it comes from
but where it lands

collecting rain
not by escaping from your umbrella
but by memorizing the sound it makes

hoarding candy
not by running around on Halloween
but by never forgetting the first time
chocolate melted in your mouth,
that unexpected delight

assembling a lifetime of memories
not by rushing through adventures
but by remembering the shape of the sun rays
the sound of rain drops
the taste of surprise

— Jesco Puluj