A Call of Words poem
Using words from Mary Oliver’s
The Real Prayers Are Not The Words But The Attention That Comes First


In the sideways moments
  when life seems tilted
     and conscience tussled,
        fists clenching the wheel

She appears-
    silvery wings
         against the backdrop of sky
             a hawk on a wire

A calming reassurance

Challenge from Stacey Joy: craft a Call of Words poem
By reading a favorite poem or passage and selecting key words to use to construct new ideas and arrangements.

My inspiration poem:

Southern Gothic by Natasha Trethewey
I have lain down into 1970, into the bed
my parents will share for only a few more years.
Early evening, they have not yet turned from each other
In sleep, their bodies covered – parentheses
framing the separate lives they’ll wake to.  Dreaming
I am again the child with too many questions –
the endless why and why and why
my mother cannot answer, her mouth closed, a gesture
toward her future:  cold lips stitched shut.
The lines in my father’s face deepen
Toward an expression of grief. I have come home
From the schoolyard with the words that shadow us
In this small Southern town – peckerwood and nigger
lover, half-breed and zebra – words that take shape
outside us. We’re huddled on the tiny island of bed, quiet
in the language of blood:  the house, unsteady
on its cinderblock haunches, sinking deeper
into the muck of ancestry. Oil lamps flicker
around us – our shadows, dark glyphs on the wall,
bigger and stranger than we are.

My Call of Words poem: 

Endless Grief By Kim Johnson

From the shadows of the cruel flickers of awareness
of the disease that closed the door to a golden sunset future,
my mother wasn’t asking for answers
to the endless questions.
She became the island she lived on, her
intermittent unsteady steps
sinking into the muck
of Lewy Body Dementia,
a deepening cold toward the strangers she’d always loved,
dreaming of years long ago as today.
Four years later, why won’t my father face his grief?
He lives on in their house,
sleeping in their bed,
dreaming of catching glimpses of Miriam
In the expressions of another who cannot
see that she will never separate
his heart from Miriam – his high school sweetheart, the Love of his Life.

Challenge from Stacey Joy: write a verse letter to your younger self
Dear younger self who thinks you know it all,
Before you go any further in life,
arrange for yourself a dozen
non-family members
from different walks of life
who don’t know each other
who can give you advice and perspective
and share their stories
from neutral turf.
Feel your own heartbeat
against the backdrop of sound counsel
and don’t fear mistakes
but see them as experience
and learn from them.
Read all you can.
Get involved.
Speak out.
Help others.
Oh, and you’ll need millions in lottery winnings
to pay off your student loans.
1/21/15’s Powerball numbers will be 11-12-15-28-57
And the Powerball will be 23.
Wiser self who realizes life has more questions than answers

Challenge from Stacey Joy:  Write a Wonder Women poem, using only two words per line

Hot Women: a blend of Wonder Women and Hot Lines poetry
After reading Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott, I found these hot lines for Joan:

Jeanne d’Arc
Maid d’Orleans
Red dress
Captive bird
Advance! Onward!
Needle threading
Hemming, mending
Spinning, churning
Cooking, cleaning
Advance! Onward!
Archangel visions
Inner voices
Determined mindset
Fearless determination
Advance! Onward!
Thwarted expectations
Refused marriage
Changed clothes
Battle armor
Advance! Onward!
Powerful voice
Wielded sword
Led resistance
French Savior
Advance! Onward!
Sacred light?
Mad girl?
Holy One?
Patron saint?
Advance! Onward!
Tower cell
Hands bound
Pyre built
Flames swallowed
Advance! Onward!
High price
Selfless sacrifice
Martyr wings
Advance! Onward!

Challenge from Stacey Joy:  Write a Hot Lines poem, which is similar to a Found Poem.  A Hot Lines poem uses snippets from lines of text that are rearranged, added to, or changed.

I used a Found Poem I wrote April 6, 2019 as inspiration for my Hot Line poem today.  My inspiration for the Found Poem was Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet, entitled “To Be an Artist.”  My Hot Line poem is “A Matter of Living,” taken from the Found Poem.  I’m sharing both below. 

To Be An Artist

Go inside yourself. Discover the motive that bids you write.
Draw near to nature. Depict your sorrows and desires.
Express the images that surround you – your dreams, objects of your memory.
Try to raise the submerged sensations over that distant past of your childhood.
Explore the depths whence your life wells forth.
Seek for the depth of things.
Live for a while in books and learn from them what seems to you worth learning – but above all, love them.
Have patience with everything that is unsolved in your heart and try to cherish the questions themselves.
It is a matter of living everything.
Love your solitude.
Be glad of your growing into which you can take no one else with you.
Your solitude will be your home and haven even in the midst of very strange conditions, and from there you will discover all your paths.
There is not more beauty in Rome than anywhere else but much beauty in Rome because there is much beauty everywhere.
Go into yourself and meet no one for hours on end.
Be alone as you were in childhood.
Think of the world which you carry within yourself. Pay attention to what arises in you.
Be without resentment.
Be glad and comforted.
To love is good: for love is difficult, and the fact that a thing is difficult must be one more reason for our doing it.
Be brave in the face of the strangest, most singular and most inexplicable things.
You must not be frightened when a sorrow rises up before you.
Most people get to know only one corner of their room.
Do not observe yourself too closely.
Do not derive too rapid conclusions from what happens to you; let it simply happen to you.
Do not think that the man who seeks to comfort you lives untroubled.
Find patience enough in yourself to endure
and single-heartedness enough to believe.
Let life happen to you.
Conduct yourself carefully and consistently.
May the year that lies before you preserve and strengthen you.

A Matter of Living
Pay Attention


Challenge from Stacey Joy: write an Abuelita Who poem, inspired by Sandra Cisneros
Pat Who
Pat who ran the town
scheduled the blood drives
orchestrated Christmas shoeboxes
rocked Volunteer of the Year
waved and smiled from parade floats
chauffeured the seniors
called her favorite commissioner her son
laughed over lunches at the cafe
who ran the church
changed the marquee
typed the bulletin
wrote the newsletter
watered the plants
tended the gardens
organized the missions
rocked the nursery babies
visited the sick
held the hands of the dying
who ran the family
planned the birthdays
reserved the tables
baked the cakes
talked Christmas lists in October
approved the Christmas trees
distributed farm land
doled out tree money
scrutinized the VRBOs
sanitized clean hotel rooms
Pat who loved me as her own
when I married her son
when my mother died
when the sun was shining
when the moon was rising
when time was ticking
who taught her daughter AND sons
to scrub floors
to wash, fold, and iron clothes
to negotiate traffic
to choose steaks
to make beds
to love animals
to listen to others
Pat who was Christmas shopping one day
and fell out of bed the next
who was taken to the hospital
and rushed for brain surgery
to remove what they could
of a stage 4 glioblastoma
the day after Christmas shopping
Pat who ran the hospital
picked her own room
sent tasteless food back
then called for café takeout
got the scoop on nurses’ life stories
then s l o w l y tried to tell us each one
introduced her PT as her tormenter
bravely wore the white mask
courageously tried to smile
even laughed once or twice
before coming home
Pat who sits in the recliner
as twinkling Christmas lights
are boxed up
who watches from the other side
of the glass
sometimes transparent
always reflective
praying the treatments
buy more days that keep
passing the 2-way mirror
fingernail test…..
Got your diagnosis from the pathology lab – you
Lying in room 491 of piedmont atlanta hospital
In the starched white sheets at a 30-degree angle the
Oncologist prescribes following
Brain surgery – along with protein and avastin and   
                      chemotherapy and radiation
Lying in room 491 of piedmont atlanta hospital
As we wonder glassy-eyed how the world can change
So instantly from frantic december shopping to partial 
                     paralysis with
Three weeks of intense in-patient treatments ahead
Of you – of us – of this family – to see if the white
Mask with the two-inch hole and the pills and protein
                      and 30-degree bed and 
All our prayers will keep you here with us