When the back yard was a riot of roses, the honeysuckle was shadowed over, barely a bloom each year, one withered vine barely winding its escape from the thorny canes. But my daughter cut those roses out mostly, and with all that new sun, the honeysuckle sweetly surges. It’s a good reminder: Sometimes we need a little more light.

honeysuckle blooming

I’ve been feeling like I need more light–even in these gloriously long days. I thought of when I used to post a weekly gratitude journal, and it seemed a good practice to return to. Not just the private morning gratitude in my journals, but a thankfulness shared. Daily, if I can do it. One small thing, maybe with a photo, maybe a link to a poem.

Today, it’s the honeysuckle blooming. And the poem is The Daylight is Huge, by Amy MacLennan.

What’s brought you joy today?

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words all over the pageWhen a friend suggested writing a poem a day for 100 days, starting on inauguration day, I signed on. By day 30, I thought, “How am I ever going to do this?” Just after the 50-day mark, I missed four days. But I ended up with 96 poems and I use the term loosely–sometimes the poems were just a few lines. One was only one line.

Usually I spent about an hour. (Let’s call them all drafts of poems.) Sometimes much less. A couple of times, just an exercise. Once, I hauled out the art supplies. For me, it wasn’t about making great art, but about showing up. My practice. Now I wish I had been more rigorous about showing up at the same time every day–to get the initial writing down so it could sit, rise, rest until later in the day when I would attempt to shape it into something. Even as I write this, I know that some days I was waiting until later, hoping for some inspiration, some about for the writing. I think of William Stafford sitting down each morning, confident that a poem would arrive. He was open and ready for it, and he waited. I, on the other hand, met most mornings saying “I’m so tired,” or dashing off to work.

I haven’t written since, which is kind of scary. But I will, maybe today. (Get back on the horse!)

Anyway, all that writing gave me poems to work on for school, and I just sent off my final packet for this first year. Other poems I just sent out into the world to see what would happen. And I thought I’d share a few of them here. I mentioned the one-sentence poem, and here it is:

To the Rain

Stop, and watch the green glisten.

 

How do you get the practice of poetry, or any art, into your life every day?

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It’s (almost) here! Poetry Month and NaPoWriMo! And the good folks at The Daily Poet 2 have linked to my prompts from last year (many of which were from the first edition of The Daily Poet), and so I’m going to use those too.

Can you write a poem a day for 30 days? Sure you can!

Back on January 20th, I joined some other friends in an effort to write a poem a day for the first 100 days of the current administration. I made it to Day 50, and then I missed four days. But I started back up, and just passed day 70 yesterday. At the beginning, this seemed impossible—and exciting (as well as therapeutic; as I’ve mentioned before, some of those poems were not nice). At about day 40, my inner needle was tilting more toward impossible. But here are some things I’ve learned about endurance:

You don’t have to think of it as Great Art. Instead, try thinking of your daily poem as a practice. You show up. You write. Some days you might feel brilliant, in the zone, have lots of time to review and revise. Some days you don’t. Lower your standards. (Thank you, William Stafford!)

You don’t have to start with The Poem. If any of the prompts you’ve found aren’t inspiring you, start with a list. If that doesn’t get you started, take a look at the words in that list. What words can you put with them?

A poem doesn’t have to be long. A couplet works. Two lines. You can do this.

Take a walk. Look around. Be sure to bring a notebook and a pencil or pen.

What are you feeling? Recently, Bethany Reid wrote a wise and helpful post about feelings. Often, I turn away from mine. And although I’m happy to chat about craft anytime, and I think that craft can play a big role in revising, I’m more and more convinced that feelings are what fuel my best poems. It starts there and then moves into a word, into an image.

Most important, have fun! Be generous with yourself. Even if April is the cruelest month, we can revel in words and breathe deeply this new spring.

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I confess that while I’m spending a lot less time playing computer solitaire, I’m spending a lot more time (too much) reading news headlines. And I’ve been writing a poem a day (or a draft of a poem), starting on January 20. I’m still at it, and yesterday was day 50. What? Only halfway through? It wasn’t my best effort–but driving out of the parking lot after work I got the line “Billy Collins says it’s like / The Yellow Rose of Texas” and I went with it.

Earlier in the week, this poem was gifted to me–yes, at 2:30 in the morning.

Waking at 2:30 a.m. I Think of Her

Say what you want, pat platitudes
about a better business climate,
fat cats padding pockets.
Tick. Tick. Feel
the pendulum swing,
tick, take it back
to trust lost at Love Canal,
back to the Cuyahoga burning,
moth wings mutating,
matching soot-darkened bark.
Tick. Steamroller in reverse.
The plants are factories—
what will grow from that?

The catch of the day floats,
silver bellies slack on the surface,
dead eyes skyward.
Tock. I wake in this night
and think of Erin Brokovich,
the movie and the real one
sleuthing stacks of evidence,
the real water a poison then
long before a spark struck in Flint.
Tick. Tock. Tell us
to punch a clock. Say what you want
about the state of the state,
but don’t drink the water,
don’t drink the rain.

 

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Yesterday, my son, daughter, and daughter-in-law took me for our second annual cross-country ski trip, driving up to Snoqualmie Pass and over to Hyak on the east side of the summit. (This is important, because it was raining on the west side.) A gray day, sometimes snowing, a little misty drizzle, and a whole lot of quiet. Plus fun—laughter and a few tumbles. Last year, we’d heard about some picnic tables just around the bend from where we’d stopped, and this year I was determined to find them—so determined that we skied at least half again as far. I felt good, although in the back of my mind I wondered about the trip back.

As I was working on the rhythm of the kick and glide and the poles, I started to think about that perfect moment rowing crew, when the boat is set, and everyone is in sync, every oar entering the water at the same time, everyone moving as one organism, how it is a blessed moment. I felt the same way while I was skiing—often awkwardly, but every once in a while, I would really feel the glide, feel the right muscles kicking in, my arms helping instead of flailing. For a moment. A blessing. And then another long stretch of trying to get it again—meanwhile, enjoying the snow and the trees, the general emptiness of the trail, the long ice-covered lake, stumps sticking up from the snow.

Then I thought about writing, how the flow—or getting into the zone—is the sweet spot, and one I don’t get to often, maybe less than when I’m on cross-country skis. But maybe if I keep writing, the 12-mile equivalent, I’ll have moments of flow, moments where I’m writing outside of time, outside of everything else, and it’s just the pen and me moving forward across the page. And I don’t have to worry about making it back to the car.

When do you feel flow in your writing and in your living?

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