Mary Oliver Mashup Poem – May 6, 2019
OM3 – Observations Mary Oliver Modestly Offers Me

Look! Look! (“The Egret”)

Look, and look again. (“To Begin With, the Sweet Grass”)

How dull we grow from hurrying here and there! (“Going to Walden”)

No doubt clocks are ticking loudly all over the world. (“Softest of Mornings”)

The years to come – this is a promise – will grant you ample time. (“Terns”)

Fields everywhere invite you into them. (“Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches”)

You have a life – just imagine that! (“To Begin With, the Sweet Grass”)

The past is the past, and the present is what your life is and you are capable of choosing what that will be. (“Mornings at Blackwater”)

Wild sings the bird of the heart in the forests of our lives. (“Wild, Wild”)

The birds who own nothing – the reason they can fly! (“Storage”)

So listen to them and watch them, singing as they fly. (“Whistling Swans”)

A poem should always have birds in it. (“Singapore”)

For each of us, there is the daily life. Let us live it, gesture by gesture. (“At the River Clarion”)

When the thumb of fear lifts, we are so alive! (“May”)

Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous to be understood. (“Mysterious, Yes”)

We are nourished by the mystery. (“The Fish”)

   -Kim Johnson, composed with borrowed lines from the poetry of Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver Mashup – May 5

OM2 – Opinions Mary Oliver Modestly Offers Me

You do not have to be good. (“Wild Geese”)

In every heart, there is a coward and a procrastinator. (“The Kookaburras”)

That’s scary, plain scary! (“You Never Know Where a Conversation is Going to Go”)

Remember, you can’t fix everything in the world for everybody. (“Show Time”)

It does no good to bark at the television. (“Show Time”)

Each of us wears a shadow. (“The Pond”)

Sometimes breaking the rules is just extending the rules. (“Three Things to Remember”)

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination. (“Wild Geese”)

A lifetime isn’t long enough for the beauty of this world and the responsibilities of your life. (“Flare”)

How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly looking at everything and calling out. (“Yes! No!”)

Nothing you understand will be sweeter or more binding than this deepest affinity between your eyes and the world. (“Terns”)

One or two things are all you need. (“One or Two Things”)

In every heart, there is a god of flowers, just waiting to come out of its cloud and lift its wings. (The Kookaburras”)

Eternity is not later, or in any unfindable place. (“From the Book of Time”)

Gladness gleams all the way to the grave. (“Honey Locust”)

“Thank you” should appear somewhere. (“I Have Just Said”)

Joy is not made to be a crumb. (“Don’t Hesitate”)

How necessary it is to have opinions. (“Yes! No!”)
                           -Kim Johnson, using borrowed lines from Mary Oliver’s poetry

Mary Oliver Mash-Up – May 4th
OM 1 – Orienteering Mary Oliver Modestly Offers Me
Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? (“Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches”)

Consider the orderliness of the world. (“Flare”)

Consider the other kingdoms. (“The Other Kingdoms”)

Come with me into the woods. (“Bazougey”)

Sit now very quietly in some lovely, wild place and listen to the silence. (“A Lesson from James Wright”)

Notice something you have never noticed before. (“Flare”)

Do your best. (“Ropes”)

Have you noticed? (“Ghosts”)

Live with the beetle, and the wind. (“Flare”)

Imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going. (“At the River Clarion”)

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable. (“Evidence”)

I want you to fill your hands with the mud, like a blessing. (“Rice”)

Accept the miracle. (“Logos”)

Let God and the world know you are grateful that the gift has been given. (“The Gift”)

Visit the garden. (“To Begin With, the Sweet Grass”)

Count the roses, red and fluttering. (“From the Book of Time”)

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate.  Give in to it. (“Don’t Hesitate)

Just keep on liking things. And praying. (“You Never Know Where a Conversation is Going to Go”)

Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance. (“Flare”)

In the glare of your mind, be modest. (“Flare”)

Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it. (“Sometimes”)

Things! Burn them, burn them! (Storage)

Eat, drink, be happy.  (“Logos”)

Eat bread and understand conflict. Drink water and understand delight. (“To Begin With, the Sweet Grass”)

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then love the world. (“To Begin With, the Sweet Grass”)

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away. (“Flare”)

Think about what it is that music is trying to say. (“Drifting”)

Put your lips to the world and live your life. (“Mornings at Blackwater”)
  -Kim Johnson, using borrowed lines from selected poems by Mary Oliver


Mary Oliver Mashup Month – May 3

Mary Oliver credits Christopher Smart for his original poem “For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffrey,”
(Jubilate Agno, Fragment B) and uses his framework for a mirror poem in “For I Will Consider My Dog Percy.”  As a Mary Oliver Mashup for May 3, I use her framework for a mirror poem as well.

For I Will Consider My Dog Fitz
For I will consider my dog Fitz.
For he was rescued with a broken leg and road rash.
For he is of the tribe of Schnauzer.
For his rescue name was Henry, like the transcendental Thoreau.
For his name now is Fitz, like the reckless partier F. Scott Fitzgerald.  

For his uncle calls him Rorschach, like the ink blot he appears to be in photographs.

For he is not photogenic.
For he will bite the finger that points at him.
For he goes wayward if let off his leash outdoors.
For he runs from scissors.
For he is far too dignified for silly play.
For he is appalled and offended by rough play.
For he squeal-barks and whines like a baby girl when he sees a deer or squirrel in his yard.
For his humans have to spell the words D-E-E-R and S-Q-U-I-R-R-E-L.
For he taught his brother Boo to lift his leg when sprinkling.
For he also taught his brother Boo to catch popcorn in mid-air.
For he kneads and nooks his toys to soothe himself.
For he camps out on the back of the couch.
For he prefers to be outdoors with his nose to the ground, digging a hole and smelling everything.
For he scratches off after his business like four match-heads that won’t ignite.
For his breath is worse than a truckload of rotting goat carcasses.
For Greenies have not cured his Halitosis.
For he is a silent stalker who strikes his brother Boo without warning.
For he will devour unattended dinner plates.
For he is a food hog.
For he eagerly awaits his treats at established intervals throughout the day.
For he is fed breakfast in bed on weekends.
For he will snap at anyone who gets too close to his female human.
For he naps on the purse shelf in his female human’s closet.
For he throws himself against the door in excitement when his humans arrive home. 
For he demands physical attention by rooting hands with his nose.
For he is loved and adored and nurtured like the sweet baby that he is.

-Kim Johnson



Mary Oliver Mash-Up, May 2

Yesterday’s poem was modeled after Mary Oliver’s “If You are Holding This Book,” from her book Dog Songs.

If You Are Holding My Hand

you may not agree, you may not care, but
if you are holding my hand you should know
that of all the sights I love in this world –
and there are plenty – very near the top of
the list is this one:  a mountain cabin
in a raging blizzard
with a blazing fireplace
and obscure books.

   -Kim Johnson

Poetry challenge: Borrow lines from your favorite poet to create a new poem.

Mary Oliver Mash-Up
Have you ever been so happy in your life?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
I, too, have known loneliness.
I also know the way the old life haunts the new. 
I do not live happily or comfortably.
I keep looking around me.
Sometimes there are no rules.
Light is an invitation to happiness.
One or two things are all you need.
Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.
Only if there are angels in your head will you ever possibly see one. 
What blazes the trail is not necessarily pretty.
Meanwhile the world goes on. 
Excuse me, I have work to do.
I have put on my boots and opened the kitchen door and stepped out.
-Kim Johnson
Lines borrowed from these poems, in order:
Summer Day
Benjamin, Who Came From Who Knows Where
With Thanks to the Field Sparrow
Some Questions You Might Ask
Three Things to Remember
One or Two Things
It Was Early
The World I Live In
Skunk Cabbage
Wild Geese
I Go Down to the Shore
Farm Country

Poetry challenge from Sarah Donovan: choose any day of our 39 days of poetry and borrow the lines of various poets to create a new poem.

Facing May Without My Fellow Poets
Today, somehow I knew
A cloud has rolled in
Its teeth like bones that landed wrong
There is a WAR going on
The wind howls
In a brazen blizzard
Waves approaching
Reality of this world’s daily strife
Let me go!
Take this burden
Shut the drapes
Pull down the shades
Fading in the rearview are the dusty roads
Joy lives in the noticing
-Kim Johnson
Day 10 Lines – A Patchwork Poem – special thanks to Melinda Buchanan, Susie Morice, Gail Saathoff, Alex, Michelle Hubbard, Amy Rasmussen, Steve Z, Ambre Lee, Glenda Funk, Anna Roseboro, Deb Matero, and Sarah Donovan for your quilt-squares

Poetry challenge from Aida Salazar:  Take an original poem you’ve written, but change words and punctuation to rewrite it in a different voice, such as a child’s voice, a comedian’s voice, a mortician’s voice, etc. 

What a fun challenge to write in another voice.  Here is my original poem:

A Second Letter

The Yellow Envelope
contains The Secret –
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister
Three Days Missing
After The Funeral,
as you are Learning To Walk In The Dark
there is A Hope in the Unseen
when you feel Alone
may you find Peace Like A River
Remember Me Always
i’ll be Where The Heart Is

-Kim Johnson

Here it is rewritten, in the voice of a small southern town gossipin’ woman in church:

The Grievin’ Widder

That there cheap pine box
seals the mystery she reckons she’s keepin’.

Talk of the Town! 

“A wife and at least a dozen mistresses…..”
“Poor Beverly,” they’s sayin’.

Well, let me tell you – she may be wearin’ her black dress today.

But after the funeral, she’ll go shoppin’ for
Velvet violet
Silver sequins
Glitzy gold

After the funeral,
There’ll be a rich widder runnin’ loose in the town.

Once she’s figgered right,
She’ll marry another rich ‘un –
richer’n the others.

She’ll be keepin’ her black dress ready. 

  -Kim Johnson

Poetry challenge from Aida Salazar:  Write a poem of a cycle or process from beginning to end – a seed or plant, birth to death or anywhere in between.

Mayan Frost

Big round waking orb
Eye opening slowly
Peering out over the blanket of pines
Ready or not to face the day

Rising slowly
Sluggish day jobber
Not quite ready to fully emerge
But still you rise

Both feet on the ground
Embracing the day
Extending full rays
Flashing a just-brushed toothy gleam
To a rapt audience

Like an over-charged cup of Starbucks
Sudden jolting glares
Blinding sunglassed drivers
Through windshields

You shine most brightly
At the height of your day
Climbing the ladder as high as it can take you
In this job
Lunch on the run – airplanes, kites, birds
Fuel for the day

Rain and clouds darken your shine
But you steal their thunder –
A light surge of effort for you

You clock out and head home
Miles to go before you sleep
Change into more comfy duds
Shed all the glinting bling

You stretch out to reflect on the day
Glimmers of hope for a brighter tomorrow
Succumb to a nightcap
Feet-first, climb under the covers
Call it a day

Big round blanketed orb,
Shooting stars patting your upturned bottom
Dreams alive in other worlds
Until tomorrow

-Kim Johnson

Poetry challenge from Aida Salazar:  write a FREE VERSE poem that describes how celestial bodies affect you


Cancer the Crab:  a sign of water – blue water
Island girl born peaceful and tranquilly crabby

Dim constellation in a quiet corner of the universe
She’s an oyster

Requires a telescope to see all his stars
Keeps her layers hidden, too

He boasts a beehive cluster of stars
Rich honey blocked by bees

Northern Donkey and Southern Donkey Stars at his heart
Explain the blue donkey at hers

Asellus Borealis and Asellus Australis
She’s Double-Stubborn, too

Origin of nativity pictures – donkeys behind a manger
She’s behind that manger as well

“Blind Stars” predict poor eyesight
Bumps into walls, but prophetic like Teiresias

“Stubborn donkeys” see what others cannot see in the path –
     protect others as they resist
She perceives what others don’t

His Superearth a “diamond world”
She’s the strongest stuff on Earth

 -Kim Johnson