Tag: poetry (Page 1 of 2)

50: Memorization, The Brain Food of Champions


(The Daily Dahlia)

A Morning Offering

I bless the night that nourished my heart
To set the ghosts of longing free
Into the flow and figure of dream
That went to harvest from the dark
Bread for the hunger no one sees.

All that is eternal in me
Welcome the wonder of this day,
The field of brightness it creates
Offering time for each thing
To arise and illuminate.

I place on the altar of dawn:
The quiet loyalty of breath,
The tent of thought where I shelter,
Wave of desire I am shore to
And all beauty drawn to the eye.

May my mind come alive today
To the invisible geography
That invites me to new frontiers,
To break the dead shell of yesterdays,
To risk being disturbed and changed.

May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.

~ John O’Donohue ~


In her late 90s,
Aunt Lucile still recites the ditties and poems
she learned in primary school.
Though she’d kill me if I told you her age,
I think my mother would be okay with me telling you
that she can still recall the words to
a little something she memorized
in elementary school: Thanatopsis.
It’s not exactly light fare even for an adult,
and she admits she didn’t have any idea
what it was about when she chose it.
It was the level of difficulty that made her select it.

Once upon a lifetime,
memorization was a part of the curriculum.
I think it should be brought back.

Some people do crossword puzzles to exercise their brain.
Me? I memorize.
And this beautiful Morning Offering
is what I’m currently weaving into my soul.


IOOL4 16

In Our Own Language 4:16

And here’s today’s installment of the Nancy and Jeanne collaboration.
Nancy (my developmentally disabled sister-in-law) draws.
I (the woman who flat-out loves her) stitch her drawings.


Thank you for joining me on my story quest.
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or my stitchings,
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. . . a language delicate and quiet,
that maybe will take root
and maybe not.


words unspun
11″ x 15″
hand stitched
embroidery floss, commercial fabrics from my scrap bin

words from the poem “Terms” by Anne Coray

ancient skins


she fed us from her vast garden,
neatly-plowed rows that stretched on and on
as far as my short eyes could see.
we drank from assorted jelly glasses
ate from mismatched plates
most of them chipped or cracked,
bruised by life.
she didn’t draw attention to the
imperfections by way of
apology or neon sign,
but she didn’t hide them in the 
back of the cabinet, either,
any more than she hid the bruises
just underneath her parchment skin,
oceans of color splashing forth
at the mere thought of
getting too close to a hard surface.


Ancient Skins
12.5″ x 11″
commercial cotton cloth and embroidery floss from my scrap bowl
hand stitched

of then, of now, of forever


it seems there’s so little time left
which means i must be selective
not must
but want
i want to be selective about how i spend the time i have left.

i want to do big little things that 
will change not the world
but my world.

near the top of The List:
to spend some time reconciling with
and poetry.


it seems to me that prayer is usually a petition
made on behalf of self or someone else.
it’s a turning over (something i’m not very good at).

poetry is more of a turning out.
turning inside out.

maybe prayer is a turning inside out when there’s nowhere else to turn.

i’ve been mad at both for too long
poetry because of
that english teacher who
focused too much on the rules
(which sounded a lot like history class
with its unending string of dates)
and was too generous with her red ink.
with prayer
because i was taught
that not everybody could do it.
everybody should do it
everybody must do it
but not everybody could do it.
only men
were to speak to god.
my contribution was to be part of the
every-head-bowed-every-eye-closed gang.
i was first puzzled then angry
that i couldn’t pray by my own self.
not in front of anybody anyway.
it was okay if i prayed without moving my lips.

but now i pray throughout the day.
i pray to trees, asking for strength and wisdom.
and to the falls asking for relief and clearing.
i pray to the sky asking for a bigger vision
and to the clouds for nap time.
to the blooms i pray delight and gratitude
and to the boulders, i pray a sigh.
to the afternoon i pray a dance.
sometimes i lay out my ponderments and uncertainties
and ask for clarity and maybe a sign.
i pray to daddy asking for help with this or that.
i pray in a host of ways to a host of recipients
and i still don’t move my lips all that much.

one thing prayer and poetry have in common:
no words are necessarily required.
walking can be a prayer or a poem.
same goes for
and even cleaning.

with the right attitude and choices,
days can be prayers and poems.
entire lives can be prayers and poems.


the engineer planted flowers yesterday.
my son called.
my daughter smiled.
the sky thundered.
the trees danced.
the cats napped.
i stitched.

i rest my case.

It’s Not Exactly an Encore, but It Kinda’ Helps to Think of It That Way . . . Kinda’.


I ran out of drawings before I ran out of fabric.
I considered just stopping, letting that be that.
I considered cutting off the blank bottom and going with a flat tire look.
I considered stitching some of the drawings a second time – maybe as a mirror image – but none of those ideas felt right, so I waited.


Then one day I considered taking out the stitcherings nearest the border of the fabric, giving the cloth an extra wider border that just might be visually pleasing and might also come in quite handy when hanging it for viewing.


Tis an idea that that felt right – quite right – even though it meant spending 23 hours (yes, I counted) removing the stitcherings then re-stitching some 53 of the drawings a second time.


It may not be fun, but it is the right thing to do. Isn’t that usually the way?


I came across this bit by Mary Oliver, and it seems to fit Nancy quite nicely: “Someone I knew once gave me a box of darkness. It took me a while to realize that this was a gift, too.”

southern fried haiku . . . at least on the surface

so there i was: on a productive track. whizzing through the day, feeling on top of the world and in control of my life by ticking things off The List. then the mail came, bearing my copy of rhonda’s book.

opening that book – holding it in my hands – i could do nothing but stop, drop, and read the afternoon away.

i cried as i read – i cried big, i tell you – each tear filled with love, sorrow, admiration. i grieved things and people passed: rhonda, graduate school, friends, life. so much.

so much.

rhonda wrote honestly, openly, about her body dressed in multiple sclerosis. her words will tear you apart and put you back together in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. i am immediately thrown back to admonishments about the wickedness of a woman’s body . . . of my body. rhonda heard those same admonitions, heard them from the same (though different) sources, but when multiple sclerosis struck, she could no longer hide or deny her body. she learned to live large within the confines of her body, writing openly about her step quota, her falls, her bladder issues, her libido. as i read her candidness about how she learned to work around the “numbness of her crotch” to achieve orgasm, i thought Well, shoot. if she can write about that, surely I can share my southern-style efforts at haiku.

so here goes, red-face and all:

Cloud your thinking mind
Send it behind yonder tree
Then run away. Fast.

Laugh was her real name.
She married a man named Moore.
No sense of humor.

Pay tribute to them,
those society discards.
You will never be sorry.

Peer around the bin
The looney tunes await you.
You don’t have to stay.

The shadows open up
To let the light trickle in.
Boulders block the way.

Iron the wrinkles in.
It’s not the usual way.
It takes less time, though.

i’m not much of one to saddle the dead with responsibility for my life, but i swear i’m hard-pressed not to think about rhonda and ask myself what the hell am i waiting for . . .

[ ::: ]

“You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.” ~ Unknown

[ ::: ]

i bought each of my children a copy of her book, you know. not so they’ll go blind at the sight of their naked mother, but as a sticky note to remind them that to be vulnerable is its own kind of strength; to keep after what your heart just will not set aside, even if it takes you 16 times longer than it should because of things you cannot control; and to always, always, always open yourself up to something new . . . even if it looks like a squirrel.

[ :: ] [ :: ] [ :: ]

maybe you’re ready, too?



meet Evidence, the hymn of cloth that documents this year of my life – the year dedicated to building a body that works and a body of work – beginning on 11/15/13. (because every day is new year’s day, right?) it’s color coded by what elements constitute, for me, a day well spent:

red = moving (as in walking, yoga, etc.)
orange = making (stitching, mostly, but also collages and photographs)
aqua = marking (writing, as in journals and books and blog posts)
purple = laughing (as in the surprises and wonders of the day that don’t go unnoticed)


i was filled with excited anticipation when i started work on Evidence back in november, and decided to use my sewing machine (a christmas gift from my husband 40 years ago, bought and paid for with winnings from a radio show contest) instead of stitching it all by hand as is my standard, my preference, my love. it quickly turned unfun, though, on account of the bulk. and if all goes according to plan, the bulk will become greater and greater.


today i pushed up my sleeves and set about getting caught up. with the walking foot on the machine, i put an audio book on and started, telling myself that i would not abandon this project and i would make this enjoyable and worthwhile. period.

as i sewed, i noticed that i had a tendency to push and pull the fabric in an effort to speed things up. sewing was much easier and more enjoyable when i relaxed and worked with the machine instead of against it. ditto when i quit disregarding and underestimating the flexibility and forgiving nature of fabric – when i let it be what it is instead of trying to make it something else, like a glass or an egg. this may be a transferable epiphany.


later, along comes this David Walcott poem titled Love After Love sent by my friend tom:

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott

which is what often happens when you capture and preserve your life stories . . .

Blue Morning Glory


Voracious, yes. But when you see it,
shy blue flowers blaring like trumpets in spite of themselves,
center star shaped and yellow; when it startles you,
early in the morning, all over a white picket fence, say,
in Massachusetts, you might think “triumphal,” “prodigal,”

Of course you don’t want it in your rose garden
among all the pruned, the decorous bushes. You don’t want it
in the vegetables, for it will romp through the tomatoes,
beans and peas, will leave no room on the ground, or even
in the air, for the leafy lettuces and cabbages soberly
queueing up in their furrows. It will hog all the sky it can get
knowing as it does what enormous thirst is satisfied by blue.

Father Michael says Follow the God of abundance
Says we hurry from the moment’s wealth
for fear it will be taken. Think of this:

the morning glory has been blossoming for so long
without permission that in some gardens it is no longer censored.
What does that tell you? See how it opens its tender throats
to a world that can sting it, how, without apology for its excess,
it blooms and blooms, though even yet
it seems surprised.

Anne Pitkin

(I want to be a Blue Morning Glory. Just so you know.)

((The photo is actually a Blue Wave Petunia, but you get the idea.))

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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