You stand on Lake Placid’s shore
clear water revealing
fish just hanging out,
four ducks sailing into what was nothing like
a South Carolina August afternoon
because the sun kisses gentle
while breeze lays ripples on wet
like your fingers ruffling my hair at night
when we’re falling asleep;
swallowtails—yellow wings flirting with currents,
to a sound I am sure
Where does your Muse like to hang out? Mine relishes nature. My husband Ron and I hiked around Lake Placid at Paris Mountain State Park, Greenville, SC, yesterday. It was one of those rare late summer days when the light already has dipped its angle and a nip in the air whets the taste buds for fall. A waterfall glimpsed through leaves charmed my Muse. This morning, she surprised me with a love poem. I first thought the poem was going to be about falling water and taking care of our beloved Earth—something like, “We are all falling water.” But when a person fills your heart to the brim, you just gotta write a love poem! I love you, Ron. Here it is with the image that beckoned my Muse: “the wheel turns.” Please comment below to share where you most often find your Muse. Happy writing!
Here are the promised poems created by extraordinary ordinary people during the Poetry in the Park class I led in July at the Middle Tyger Library in Lyman, SC. Participant Marjorie Garrett wrote after the class, “I was quite impressed with what each person managed to write in such a short time.” I agree, Marjorie! After I told my husband, Ron DeKett, about the poems, he photographed some scenes in the park, which I’ve included with the poems. Click on the link after each poet’s name to read wonderful, spur-of-the-moment creations. Marjorie Garrett, “Whitewater by the Mill,” M.M. Griffin, “River Watching,” Mary Ellen Lives, “The Sign Says,” K.G. McAbee, “Dam,” and Chris Thackston, “Odd Number.” Please register with MooingAround.com at the top of the home page and comment, if you like. We promise not to share your email addresses. Thank you to all who already have registered. You are helping us build a creative community.
Playing in or around
It is not forbidden
It is not illegal
You will not be punished
The sign is not my mother
Like overflowing water
Brown with silt
It is not my father
Beneath the white water
The sign is calm
The sign is quiet
I hear cackles from earlier generations
and echoes of past conversations
in the water’s thucks and bubbles.
The voices are wet branches against the sky.
I see images of vaguely familiar faces
and distant places in the foamy water
crashing over rocks and swirling
in the river’s spiral.
I want to wade in the shallow water
and revel in the current’s resistance,
but there is not enough time.
I watch a man toss his rod into brown water.
After three attempts, he catches a small fish.
I try to remember something unseen
and wonder how far the river flows.
I want to stay and play for a while,
but I must go.
Extraordinary ordinary people let their talent shine this morning during the Poetry in the Park class I led at the Middle Tyger Library in Lyman, SC. We spent the first hour of the class talking about poetry and the second half, writing poetry. Participants walked outside to mosey about in the wooded park on a busy, rumbling river—the library’s setting. There they observed and mused and “found” poems they came back to class and shared. They blew me away! Every one of the six participants wrote a meaningful poem very much worth sharing. I’ve invited them to submit their Poetry in the Park poems to mooingaround.com. I hope we’ll be able to share them here soon.
Silly title of this entry aside, I want to blog today about writing when you feel blue, when you’re down. It’s “when I’m weary of considerations;” it’s when “one eye is weeping/From a twig’s having lashed across it open,” as Robert Frost so brilliantly writes in his poem, “Birches.”
Last week, I wrote that when you free your creative process you will delight in the debut of stories you’ll find hidden inside.
Your stories will delight, but they may not all be happy. At times, pain or grief will surface. When that happens, should you cast those stories out because they risk bringing somebody down with you? I think not. I can’t tell you how many times Frost’s poem has brought me comfort. Frost balances the poem with the fun and risk of swinging on birches and with his choice to live. But it’s his five lines expressing the down-and-out feelings we’ve all had that I remember the best.
Consider the tenderness in Theodore Roethke’s “Elegy for Jane,” a student of his who was killed by a fall from her horse. He speaks of her: “the neckcurls, limp and damp as tendrils;/ and her quick look, the sidelong pickerel smile.”
Contemporary poet J. Stephen Rhodes shares inspired work in his book of poems, The Time I Didn’t Know What To Do Next. Some of his poems address his daughter’s suicide. I was honored to share a podium with him at a reading in Greenville, South Carolina. His work expressed the hard edge of grief tempered by grace.
I grappled for words when we laid to rest a grandbaby who never had a chance at life. It was a bitter winter’s day, and our hearts felt as cold as the sleet stinging the open grave. Some time later words came to me in the form of a poem I wrote, “Digging for Mercy,” published by The Petigru Review. I share the last stanza of that poem with you here:
Grace, grant us wisdom
to wrench open our hearts
lest mercy meet a closed door.
Brenda Ueland, a 20th-century writing guru, said, “Writing is not a performance but a generosity.”
I agree. When you include grief or pain in what you share with others, you may be giving expression to something that another person cannot. You may be giving voice to pain. And that can be healing.
What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments. Please register and share your ideas. We promise we won’t share your email address.
Actually, my favorite poets write poems I understand. I may not catch all the nuances, but the Pulitzer has been given to understandable poets despite the misconception on the part of some folks that all poetry is difficult. Read my column “poetry we can understand” here.