Thankful Thursday: Stones


Sunday morning on Stonefield Beach

On the beach

gathering stones

every appreciation

is prayer

- Drew Myron


Speaking of stones, check out A Handful of Stones, a lovely source of small, powerful poems of observation and appreciation.

It's Thankful Thursday, a weekly pause of gratitude, praise and appreciation. Please join me. What are you thankful for today?

Do you take part in Thankful Thursdays? I'm making a list and will gladly add a link to your website or blog.


No obligation

The restaurants are packed with moony lovers bent over pricey meals and bad service. The television blasts must-have gifts: jewelry, flowers, stale chocolates in flimsy cardboard.

Forgive me, St. Valentine, but I've never cared for you. Contrived adoration combined with obligation makes me anxious. I imagine Hallmark counting bags of money and roaring with laughter.

I'm not bitter, really, I'm not. I am gooey with sentiment. I just feel manipulated.

Despite all the hoopla and show, I am thankful that tender, real, private love abounds: in taking out the trash, emptying the dishwasher, making dinner, cleaning the gutters, in gifts without reason and just-because notes. When love shows its beautiful, unforced, unadvertised self, I am almost always surprised and grateful — and not at all obligated.


Valentine for Ernest Mann

You can't order a poem like you order a taco.
Walk up to the counter and say, "I'll take two"
and expect it to be handed back to you
on a shiny plate.

Still, I like your spirit.
Anyone who says, "Here's my address,
write me a poem," deserves something in reply.
So I'll tell a secret instead:
poems hide. In the bottoms of our shoes,
they are sleeping. They are the shadows
drifting across our ceilings the moment
before we wake up. What we have to do
is live in a way that lets us find them.

Once I knew a man who gave his wife
two skunks for a valentine.
He couldn't understand why she was crying.
"I thought they had such beautiful eyes."
And he was serious. He was a serious man
who lived in a serious way. Nothing was ugly
just because the world said so. He really
liked those skunks. So, he re-invented them
as valentines and they became beautiful.
At least, to him. And the poems that had been hiding
in the eyes of skunks for centuries
crawled out and curled up at his feet.

Maybe if we re-invent whatever our lives give us
we find poems. Check your garage, the odd sock
in your drawer, the person you almost like, but not quite.
And let me know.

— Naomi Shihab Nye




Thankful Thursday: Mrs. Allison, smoking

It's Thankful Thursday. Joy expands and contracts in direct relation to our gratitude. Please join me in a weekly pause to appreciate the people, places & things that bring joy. What are you thankful for today?

On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for:

Peckish, the word
peck·ish  (pksh)
1. Ill-tempered; irritable, surly.
2. Chiefly British: Somewhat hungry.

This reminder:
"This corresponds to what I have learned as a writer about seeing 'dry spells' through: it helps considerably if one has developed writerly habits. People often remark that they would write, or paint, or sculpt, if only they had the time. But this is pure fantasy: the artist does whatever is necessary to arrange her life so that she will have the time to make her art." 

— Kathleen Norris
from Acedia & me: A Marriage, Monks, and A Writer's Life

Mrs. Allison in the grocery store, smoking
When I was 12 years old,  I spotted my beloved teacher, Mrs Allison, shopping the frozen foods aisle at King Soopers. I was thrilled to see my teacher out of the classroom and in the real world but when I looked closer I was stunned: Mrs Allison was wearing jeans, and she was smoking a cigarette!

This week after a vigorous run, I dashed into the grocery store. Bare-faced, sweaty and clad in see-every-lump  spandex, I loaded up on the essentials: chips and wine. Just then two of my young students rushed with happiness to see me. I think I recognized the second look they took. Like Mrs. Allison, I am, sadly, human.

Thanks for the memory, Mrs. Allison.



A Month of Letters 

I'm writing letters.

To an old friend who understands the missing pieces.

To a young friend I write: I don't have answers but here, consider this, and this, and maybe this.

To a niece.

To a poet.

To a student.

To a mother-in-law.

To myself.

Letters let us wonder and search, and sometimes declare.

You like letters, too? Please join me in A Month of Letters, a challenge presented by novelist (and letter writer) Mary Robinette Kowal.


Elegy for the Personal Letter 

I miss the rumpled corners of correspondence,

the ink blots and crossouts that show

someone lives on the other end, a person

whose hands make errors, leave traces.

I miss fine stationary, its raised elegant

lettering prominent on creamy shades of ivory

or pearl grey. I even miss hasty notes

dashed off on notebook paper, edges

ragged as their scribbled messages—

can't much write nowthinking of you.

When letters come now, they are formatted

by some distant computer, addressed

to Occupant or To the family living at

meager greetings at best,

salutations made by committee.

Among the glossy catalogs

and one time only offers

the bills and invoices,

letters arrive so rarely now that I drop

all other mail to the floor when

an envelope arrives and the handwriting

is actual handwriting, the return address

somewhere I can locate on any map.

So seldom is it that letters come

That I stop everything else

to identify the scrawl that has come this far—

the twist and the whirl of the letters,

the loops of the numerals. I open

those envelopes first, forgetting

the claim of any other mail,

hoping for news I could not read

in any other way but this.


— Allison Joseph




Sticks, Stones & Stretch

Let's write together! Id' love to see you here:

Stretch! Expand Your Poem Possibilities
Friday, Feb 17 - Saturday, Feb 18, 2012
17th Annual South Coast Writers Conference
Gold Beach, Oregon

With an emphasis on poetry, this workshop will focus on fresh writing with prompts and practices designed to inspire and energize. Writers will explore the terrain of poem possibilities as they generate, and share, new work in a supportive, encouraging atmosphere. This workshop is open to writers of all skills and experience. More info here.

Sticks, Stones, Shore:
Exploring Place through Poems & Prose

Sitka Center for Art & Ecology
Sunday, July 15, 2012
near Lincoln City, Oregon

Through walks, talks and nature-rich wanderings, writers will explore place — both emotional and physical. From poetry to prose, fact to fiction, the focus is on fresh writing with prompts and practices designed to inspire and energize. Participants will generate new work in an encouraging and serene setting. This workshop will serve as a creative springboard, providing writing practices, along with opportunity to meet other writers and share experiences that will help shape, shift and propel your own writing.

More info here.