Sunday, October 24, 2010

Reprise: The Day it Rained Gold

I love Northern Colorado Writers. There are always so many opportunities to learn and to connect with the writing world of creative people working on their dreams. We are partners in our individual as well as corporate tasks, helping each other , cheering each other on to whatever goals we have set. We may want to become published or to finish that manuscript, or just to try new things or to re-try something that has been in a drawer or a file just waiting for the right time to bring it out again.
Well, it doesn’t come out on its own. Something sparks it, something demands you take another look.
This week I had that experience as I attended the Meet the Poets evening and then took the workshop the following evening led by Antoinette Voute Roeder. I discovered that poetry is still a voice within me that has needed to come out of hiding. It really does enhance and deepen my passion for writing. Kerry Flanagan, our director suggested I incorporate a poem a month into my blog. It would be a good way to keep in touch with that side of myself but would not remove me from my other stated writing goals. And it might just infuse some passion into my other writing.
After some review and discussion we were asked to spend a few minutes writing a poem at the end of the session. It felt awkward to me. Like putting on some old worn out shoes I hadn’t had on in a long time that had stiffened up in the previous form. So I’ll share with you what spurted out and then my rewrite. Antoinette said that poems take on a life of their own. The original idea is played with, you think of a different slant, some new words and poetry becomes fun to do. And that is what she emphasized over and over. Writing poetry needs to be fun!

First version
In Fort Collins fall 1965

It was the day the leaves rained gold, boldly dressed breezes
Blew them here and there, they scurried, collected around
Broad tree trunks, sidewalks,across yards still a bit green
From summer. Little voices sparkle through crisp air
While busy feet scoot the pieces of gold into piles
That glimmer today as they did so long ago

Second version
The day it rained gold

The day it rained gold,
leaves fluttered to the ground,
boldy dressed breezes lifted them,
hemmed the sidewalks, wound them
around solid tree trunks like scarves
and danced them across yards
still a bit green from summer.

I remember crisp air ,
busy little feet scooting
the fragile pieces of gold into piles
to glimmer today as they did so long ago.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"My" Desiderata

Many of us have heard the words that begin this prose poem written in 1927 by Max Ehrman.

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
....Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.

I wish current politicians would heed these words. How far we have come as our ears are battered every day from angry, exaggerated, and unthinking words that bend information into unrecognizable knots if not outright lies that assail us on T.V.,radio, newspapers and flyers that invade our homes through the mail. I want to know positions of the candidates, but please, lets be decent. Listening is not all that difficult, if you can speak your truth "quietly and clearly", I will be more likely to listen, otherwise I will ignore and turn off the noise. Then sadly the flow of information will be lost.

This prose poem has touched me through the years for different reasons though.
It brings me back to wondering what my desired things are during this season of my life, as I look at my elder years what advice or desired things do I want to give myself?

Believe it or not being honest when you get older is pretty difficult. You have to face up to a bunch of things. Mainly because my experience of "putting things away on the shelf to look at later" just ends up being laziness. Pretty soon those things on the shelf are heavy enough to begin to drag you down. As you get older you already have plenty of things that slow you down. So here is an attempt at my own desiderata. It has to begin with

Go placidly amid the noise and haste:
I have always sought out my own space as I deeply value peace and quiet but now I vow to not use that need as a way to hide from the uncomfortable. The next words: "speak your truth quietly and clearly" is the least I can do. For me it includes advice to myself to stand up for things I believe because the more I stuff them the more bellyaches I get. To be sure I need to speak the words so that I will have the best chance of being :"without surrender (be) on good terms with all persons" (as much as possible)

But in order to do that sometimes I may need to "avoid loud and aggressive persons".It is a way I can give myself a better chance of having a good day. But for me that means I have to look inside to see what messages I have been giving myself that day. Before any of my own internal critique gets going I have to reach out to myself and give myself a hug. It is said we need 3 hugs a day but what if you are not in an environment where that happens. Give yourself a mental hug. Say out loud, "I love you, Pam" (you) then notice something beautiful around you during the day, and speak out loud of the beauty. I think the more messages we give to ourselves (and hear from ourselves) especially during this time of anger and disappointment in the way the world is evolving, the more chance we can truly enjoy our lives and what is remaining of them. and we can decide when to 'speak our mind quietly and clearly' or avoid vexing persons (or turn off the T.V.)

Later on in the poem the line "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should."

In order to believe it I vow to practice it daily, give myself a hug. I think small things make a difference."Go placidly amid the noise and haste"

(Find the poem on google or something similar, go by the title)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


The idea of making a pilgrimage back to my hometown caught my attention ever since I spoke with an old friend about his return to our home town. Two years ago, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, suffered what later was called not a hundred years flood but according to some residents, a thousand year flood. Cedar Rapids is unique in that it is the only town in the country that has its municipal buildings including the courthouse and jail on an Island in the middle of a river. The Cedar River.
It was a major disaster, the river rose 20 feet above flood stage and covered the bridges that crossed the island to reach each side of town. Sandbagging there or anywhere near the river was useless. The town was warned that a flood was coming but no one predicted the magnitude of the rising water that hit its peak after six inches of rainfall.
I wanted to return. I wanted to see for myself. I had to in order to really believe it so I could reach out my arms to offer some kind of solace to those I knew and didn’t know too who experienced it. I needed to hold it close to work through my pain and frustration. My broken heart wanted to keep it out of arms reach, to not think about it. But more than anything else I knew I had to make my memories of my home town real. I wanted to remove from my mind the memories that I had boarded up like the buildings still with wood plastered over doors and windows.
I didn’t want to continue to pretend It was the place I remembered from my youth, a pristine place, well ordered, many parks, a family town, a farming town and a place that grew to be the second largest city in Iowa because of its location on the river. It was a crossroads, a destination and a striking out place. I wanted to embrace it, as it was now even in disarray with rebuilding and the cleaning that continued to make a dent in the ugliness a disaster always leaves behind.
A pilgrimage? Yes. A journey to a sacred place, absolutely. A journey of thanksgiving for the people who joined in the recovery effort that has already made a huge difference. And a journey of devotion that brought acceptance and appreciation of the people who lived through the disaster to their town and went on with plans and determination to continue to do what it takes to bring it back and yes, to make some new things out of it. I was not looking for supernatural aid, as some pilgrimages do, but natural healing that belongs to a brave Midwestern town. It was truly an act of devotion and a taking into my soul the beautiful, hurting, healing soul of my home town.
Have you ever made a pilgrimage? If so where to?