On the First Day of Summer

My sister Mary died on the Summer Solstice, June 21, 2018.  I’m not ready to write about it yet, but I came across a phrase in some Facebook post this morning that lead me directly here, with a need to start sharing the wealth and sorrows leading up to this summer that began in death.

Until I find my own words, I’d like to share some of Mary Oliver’s.  This is one of the poems read at her memorial service:

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
—Mary Oliver

Herald of the Spring

IMG_0227Every year, since I was in my late teens, I herald the spring’s coming with a rousing recitation of my favorite spring poem: Jabberwocky.

josh waiting 1The reason for this is lost in memory, but I am unfailingly tormented family and friends each March — going so far one year as to call my son, who was in the Navy, stationed in Washington State, to be sure spring arrived safely in the armed forces. He listened with sangfroid the military had helped him achieve, thanked me politely, and went back to his electronics work….I remain convince, that he didn’t manage to avoid at least an inner smile.

So here, in honor of the season, for all who are out of reach of my voice, is Lewis Carroll’s happy nonsense:

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.


“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!”


He took his vorpal sword in hand:
    Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
    And stood awhile in thought.


And, as in uffish thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
    And burbled as it came!


One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.


“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
     He chortled in his joy.


`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.


Blessings to all this bright season
beautiful bird cropped


zen circleI’m fascinated by this whole twitter poetry thing (I guess the proper blog terminology would be “meme” or “trope”). Scotty at Earth-House-Hold explained today how he constructs a twit-aiku in this post.  It’s a different process than I use. When I learned in high school to write (or attempt) haiku, I started out with a thought fragment, wrote the basic three lines, then went  back and edited for the proper length. I find myself approaching twitter-ku or twit-aiku in the same manner.

Thus far — with my grand total of 4 twitter poems to my oeuvre — I’ve more frequently had to add words to reach the character count than pare down. I also look at the time sense, trying to keep the images in the present. I don’t want moon, june, loon rhymes either!

I’m delighted that people seem to like the twitter-kus I’ve posted: it has stirred the old poetry-writing juices and next thing you know I’ll be turning out sonnets and odes!

Twitter Poem 2

I must be on a roll….

A sultry night, stars’ edges blurred by summer’s moist exhale.
In the magnolia tree, a night bird calls.
The breeze cools me, swinging slow beneath the sweet blossoms.

I’ve dubbed these twitter-kus.

UPDATE: (6/1/09)  I found out that I am not the first person to coin the term twitter-ku. There’s actually a very recent very short Wikipedia entry for the term. Wiki’s entry describes a different format, with internal rhyming and other characteristics. Just wanted to clarify since I didn’t really invent the term afterall.

Twitter Poem 1

A post by Earth-House-Hold led me to try my hand at a new artform: twitter poetry.  Earth-House-Hold quotes actor Hugh Laurie on tha banality of most tweets. While I haven’t twittered, the concept of a haiku-like rigid limit (140 characters) fascinated me.

Here’s my first effort, dedicated to birders everywhere:

Where is God but in a bird?
The flexing bright muscle, voracious feeding, rapturous flight:
sweet song, flashing feathers, earth and flesh and sky, vitality abounds!